Part 5: Callisto or BustCallisto or Bust
They're really coming out of the woodwork now. Took about 25-30 turns longer on Average, so as expected there's a significant difficulty bump.
I'm feeling a bit better about things now. We're pretty well sandwiched between the two competitors we've met in terms of progress. In MOO1, if you can keep up in the early game victory is assured. We'll see if it's the same here.
Like us, the cybernetics are suffering from the ravages of red stars and have yet to expand. Erratic Industrialists, they have the Fusion Beam and Deuterium Fuel Cells but nothing else of note. No agreements or wars, but I'm on edge with a race of their mindset - and MOO2's more aggressive AI in general - in the vicinity.
Now we can get into actual diplomatic matters.
** Propose Treaty - Trade isn't as important as it was in the original but it's still a significant option. As far as I know diplomatic relations are built on the same system - small bonuses over time for existing agreements, attacks/tributes/demands shift relations on a short-term basis, tendency to drift back towards neutral, etc. Trade deals take five turns to equalize, then provide a positive benefit to the reserve of both empires. That means there's much less of a cost for doing those. A new option, Research treaties, works the same except its benefit is RP, not BC. Non-Aggression Pact and Alliances are still the higher-level cooperative stuff.
** Can't break a treaty when you don't have one, and Exchange Tech is off because we don't have anything they want.
Putting the war declaration, break treaty, etc. options here makes more sense. The annual tribute options are also completely new and also available in the other direction as gifts. The specific demand for tech or to stop espionage, give us a system, etc. are all added. Overall a lot of new choices. I'm curious to see how diplomacy ends up shaking out, esp. with no option to increase trade/research deals - you just have one your don't, and I assume they are just kept at the maximum given the relative economics at play.
A research deal was approved with the comment 'There is wisdom in your words, Emperor Ender'. But even a bribe of Fighter Bays couldn't get them to part with their hard currency for a trade agreement. Still, it's a start. I'm just approaching this in classical MOO fashion, start small and make sure I stay on their good side. With only a five-turn warmup period, I don't feel a need to be as wary of the erratic thing in making these investments.
Relations are improved to a little above-average, and we have a -5 BC cost currently for the research deal.
In a few turns, Stardate 3506.4, the Meklar expand to the Weg system, towards the lower-left corner away from us. I figure this is a positive development overall.
We're now starting to head into research areas where I'm really not sure what's best yet. Due to the cost difference though I'll head to Astro Biology. Biospheres increase the maximum population of a colony by 2, improving your best systems. Hydroponic Farms allow 2 extra food to be grown on any planet, even those where normal farming is impossible. They're pretty much required to make some of the rougher environments self-sustaining.
Preferring to get more planets, I go with the hydroponics. I think this is an example of good choice though where there isn't a super-obvious best selection. I thought about going for more range, but we've still got a couple systems within reach and the ships will take time.
SD 3507.0 - Think I'll annotate the game turn this way from now on. Sol reaches maximum population, increasing to 23 Industry for the moment.
Would be nice, but we don't have the money nor will we anytime soon. I go back to the Meklar, and sign a trade agreement. I think they mostly didn't want to go so negative in funds at first. Perhaps.
Despite the slightly higher price, Military Tactics is our last entry-level tech. Training ship crews is a thing, and that will happen automatically when in a system with a Space Academy. They get two points a turn, and it takes hundreds of points to get to the highest levels, so it's something you plan ahead on or it doesn't happen.
Finally. I need to get at least one Freighter group done in order to send anything with it afterwards - I decide to build a couple here. I want at least one more colony ship to send to Praxis, but first things first.
Now we can call ourselves a galactic empire. Sort of.
In another returning feature, we can change the name of the star when we colonize it - and only then. The landing sequence is much different, with two small landers. That cost 500 Industry? Where's the rest of that ship?? Cause that looks nothing like the thing we built. Anyway, the game does a good job of making sure you don't accidentally pick the wrong planet by mistake.
I thought this would round down, but it didn't. Perhaps it only rounds down when at 0.5 or below?
First experience with a new colony this game, and we need to make sure we set a proper build order. Automated Factories first so we can build other things more quickly, barracks to handle morale, lab for automatic research. I'll hopefully be doing this process many times.
The delay time is dependent on distance and our warp drive tech as far as I know. I want to build up Callisto IV as quickly as I reasonably can. A second citizen was sent shortly afterwards, with the second freighter group being completed.
We were now in range of another system, Iras - which has another wormhole. A gas giant and a small desert planet are here. Desert planets are Mars-likes, 1 food per farmer and 25% maintenance penalty. Unfortunately the other end of the wormhole, Zirkal, just has a pair of gas giants.
SD 3508.8. We have a spy. He's that purple - because what other color would he be in this game? - guy down at the bottom of the screen. If we leave him there, he does internal security stuff and tries to catch enemy spies. Otherwhise, we can drag him up to the similar area by one of our rivals. For example Geode says No Treaty and then there's a line underneath it - below that line is where we'd put our agent. From time to time, both our spies and enemy ones will get killed and I'll need to replace them.
This is one of those things where it's cool at first, and then you ask yourself why it couldn't just be done with the slider approach from the first game, since it serves the exact same function. The answer is: because then we wouldn't be adding more time-wasting micromanagement to the planetary build queues, duh. The addition I can see here is that you can move spies between the two (internal security and deep cover with a rival). That part of it is a small but useful add.
This is Hera, last system for us to scout right now. The other two planets are gas giants. Hera sucks, and I don't mean maybe. Also, the Silicoids recently expanded to a fourth system, Anchat. I'm worried about them.
SD 3509.1 - There's still a markup here, but I think it's worth it at this point to jumpstart Callisto IV.
I'm worried about Rav. I have to keep the Silicoids from taking it. I'd like to grab that small Ocean world in Praxis - I can eventually send out more bases locally in Callisto so I don't want to waste a full colony ship on that. But Praxis isn't as important I don't think. So next time, I need to design my first combat ship.