Part 22: Turn 203TURN 203
Our southwestern fleet (now aspiring to become the "northwestern fleet") created a Starbase north of Federation space as a stepping stone toward Cardassia. But the intense Cardassian and Ferengi presence has forced them to remain and defend the Starbase. Once again, they're stuck.
TURN 204. A Ferengi Strike Cruiser has the misfortune of going to the empire's capital system apparently without realizing that it is no longer in Ferengi hands.
The Strike Cruiser is punished for his mistake. The former seat of the Ferengi empire now hosts the largest Romulan fleet yet.
...and the torpedoes. Too bad our Troop Transports don't have weapons like the Klingon version does, or we could really clutter the screen.
Our spies are still at work thinning out the Cardassian fleet. Another Scout ship is stolen. Seriously, these Cardassian ships are about as well protected as the cars in a Grand Theft Auto game.
TURN 205. The Ferengi and Cardassian fleets are doing a good job keeping the southwestern fleet bottled up at that Starbase, so we move to plan B. From Ferenginar, another group of Troop Transports will be escorted toward the northwest to find a place to put its own stepping stone.
TURN 206. Much of the remaining Ferengi fleet has launched an attack against the southwestern fleet's isolated Starbase. The Ferengi have brought a large number of Troop Transports with them, which is interesting because the Starbase is on an empty sector.
The Ferengi are kind of like those butterflies with eye-shaped markings on the wings to make them appear bigger. The Ferengi fleet looks menacing because its Troop Transports bear a strong resemblance to their Marauders.
Our fleet here isn't the biggest, but it's a shocker for the Ferengi. They may have intended to kill the Starbase and the Destroyers--which were not cloaked--but the 5 cloaked Battle Cruisers change the equation. Upon seeing them, the Ferengi ships fly wildly into retreat. We manage to kill many of them, but this Ferengi fleet is determined not to die.
Luckily, the Troop Transports, which we made our primary target, were slaughtered. This should save the undefended former Federation territories we took from facing invasion. (Two invasions are more than any system should have to take.)
In the northwest, the Cardassian fleet seems to be absolutely flooding its corner of the galaxy with little fleets. In the west, the Ferengi are doing a good job keeping our fleet from being able to do much of anything.
In the east are many of our industrial centers. They had been sending all of their new ships to Benzar for a long time, but now all of those ships are being sent to Ferenginar. Since the Ferengi fleet scattered westward, Ferengi space is actually relatively quiet.
TURN 207. The Ferengi send 3 Strike Cruisers south of Federation space to mess up our supply lines. Here, they manage to catch one of our Battle Cruisers that was being sent up to Sol.
There's only one problem with the Ferengi attempt at guerilla warfare: Our ships are cloaked and can always retreat to safety.
We're starting to get quite a collection of Cardassian ships in our fleet. The only thing we're missing is a Battleship. (I'm not sure if game mechanics actually allow you to steal battleships, or colony or troop transports.) Our spies also destroy some Cardassian intel centers this turn.
Like the rest of our enemies, the Ferengi discovered level 9 intel centers, allowing us to build them on Ferenginar. We cannot build these on Romulan systems however, since we never got the technology.
The Ferenginar spin-off fleet continues creeping to the northwest, and meets our range limit for medium-range vessels. We cannot build an Outpost on Cardassian territories, but directly north is an unclaimed sector.
TURN 208. The Ferengi scramble another large fleet of light ships to attack the "stepping stone" Starbase in the west. They're like a moth to flame, really.
The Destroyers and Battle Cruisers put on a light show to entertain our Troop Transport ships.
Several more small ships create a fireworks display.
Once again, however, several Ferengi ships manage to slip off into warp.
At the same time, the Ferengi send their 3 Strike Cruisers to hit the Starbase on the other end of Federation turf.
Fortunately, we left a few ships guarding the Starbase just in case. It's a small force, but it proves effective.
The Ferengi's two-pronged attack strategy fails: We now have enough ships to actually defend in multiple places at once. By contrast, we believe the Ferengi fleet should be on its last legs. They shouldn't be able to make another effort like that in multiple locations.
The Ferenginar spin-off fleet reaches its destination and orders the construction of a new Outpost to lengthen our range. It is not as far west as the "stepping stone" Starbase, but it is two sectors further northward. Even better, it has a more robust fleet, so it shouldn't be bottled up so easily.
TURN 209. Rhymus Major was one of our three original systems, and it is now producing intel centers rather than ships. Our economy is changing.
Partly this is because our fleet has grown too large to maintain. This turn, we net only +3 credits. In the lower right, you can see the new Romulan Outpost constructed by the fleet from Ferenginar. Our medium-range ships can now travel within two sectors of Cardassia. The Cardassians still have ships floating around, but they are clearly concerned about defending their homeworld, and have stockpiled a massive fleet.
TURN 210. Our spies apparently viewed the previous screenshot and noticed the Cardassian Outpost near our own Outpost. An agent saves our fleet the trouble and blows it up. We can now eliminate Cardassian defenses just by looking at them.
Wasting no time, the fleet from Ferenginar begins the convoy northwest toward Cardassia. This group will need to make one more Outpost/Starbase as a stepping stone before we can strike at the heart of the Cardassian empire. (With ships, that is--our spies practically live there.)
TURN 211. Every so often, a random event occurs in our vast empire. This one catches our attention, because an affected planet has its own unique name: Mars. Silly Humans, shouldn't that be "Sol IV"?
Thanks to that negative planetary biome shift, Sol can no longer support as many people. The Humans' home system is maxed out at 315 population units. As a side effect, it appears Pluto is no longer classified as a planet! This doesn't stop people from living there, however. I guess even while enslaved by Romulans, Humans just can't stop pondering Pluto's status.
TURN 212. Our saboteurs, many of whom have become comfortable on Cardassia and taken Cardassian wives, continue plying their trade. The Cardies suffer a major intelligence setback when 5 level 9 intel centers are destroyed simultaneously. They also lose a Colony Ship this turn.
A milestone is reached in El Adrel, another of our three original systems. Its population is now working full-time in intelligence, and there are no people left to man the factories. For the first time, an original system will build nothing.
With 10,315 intel points, only a token force of 5% are assigned to internal security, and the other 95% will sabotage the Cardassians now. We believe the Cardies are on full-time internal security, but we do want to keep the remaining Klingon and Ferengi agents from getting any bright ideas. We have a lot they would want to steal.
Most our heavy production systems are ordered to finish building their last ship, and quit making any new ones. For the first time, we are deeply in the red, netting -741 credits per turn. Luckily, we used times of surplus to build up a bankroll, so we are not concerned with going broke any time soon. But it's high time we used our extra Destroyers against some Orbital Batteries.