Part 4: Turns 21-26Turn 21
The initial explosion of Zuul into the galaxy had begun.
Across new worlds, colossal factories were churning out copy after copy of his videogames, which every Zuul had been instructed to enjoy. They gasped in excitement as Kharak burned, promising to deliver such fires everywhere across the galaxy where opposition to his genius still stood. Few were the voices that said his role in Homeworld had been relatively minor, and louder was the chorus that said of course the whole thing had been his idea all along. His plan to set out amongst the stars on his own - with his faithful dogs, of course - was coming to fruition. As he sipped maple syrup from a cup fashioned from Mother's skull, Greatfather Mecron looked upon what he had set in motion, and saw that it was good.
Lore note: Zuul call the race that created them Father, and the race whose minds they raped to gain knowledge Mother. Out of all the races in the SOTSverse, they have the most strongly defined patriarchy; Zuul males are sentient but Zuul females are not. One Zuul male controls a pack of females through mental coercion. They are evil, and their redemption requires reassessing their relationship with their pack. Much as I agree with the politics here, it's laid on a bit thick.
Dorsai is surveyed, and found to be good. Captain Foo's colony fleet heads to Kreelar.
Our farthest ranging scouts, the 2nd Survey Fleet, report that the single world around Corvus is ripe for exploitation. The fleet is ordered to push out further to Thundara.
Also shown is the mission menu. You can order a fleet to attack a attack at a system you haven't surveyed yet by using the Strike command. You can't survey a system in which there is opposition, as unless you eliminate it in a single turn the mission will be interrupted and the fleet will be sent back to base.
The fleet headed by the Lord Windy arrives at Kaprica. It will stay there until one of the farther-flung worlds is colonised and it can be rebased there.
A colony is established on Kreelar 1, and the 2nd Survey Fleet inches closer to Thundara. And out of the vastness of space comes a message, a message aimed at Greatfather Mecron himself:
The Customers! Ungrateful, hideous wretches, thinking they had the right to criticise his game just because they bought it! He would show them. His fleets would fall upon their worlds, stealing their people and forcing them into lifetimes of drudgery and despair as beta testers for the next game his genius designed. What's more, they'd be told that the game was in fact finished, and the bugs were merely figments of their imagination or the game working as intended. Greatfather Mecron laughed; nothing gave him more pleasure than implicitly telling people they were too stupid to understand how his games actually worked! Moreover, he would torture those who slipped through his clutches by making the refund process as complicated and annoying as possible. His vengeance upon a spiteful universe would begin now. He raised a claw, and spat out:
"Thundara must burn!"
Gameplay note: The Customers are a Human empire, and travel by means of the node drive. The invention of the node drive is one of the better stories in the SOTSverse, and you can find it here. Their ships have the fastest FTL speeds in the game (with the exception of the Hivers' gate network) and are capable all-rounders. They have an even chance to develop any tech, meaning they're strategically flexible. However, they are limited to travelling by static node lines, unlike Zuul who can build their tunnels anywhere.
This screen allows you to decide whether you'll play the combat yourself or autoresolve it. You can also decide whether an autoresolve will be set to avoid combat or maximise it. I've never seen any difference between these two settings, however. If we had more fleets, we could choose the order they go into combat in the top left hand corner.
At the start of combat, if no enemies are nearby, you're put into Accelerated Time mode. This allows you to cross the solar system quickly to find opponents, without running into the five minute barrier that you'd encounter pretty quickly if you had to move at normal speed. The circle at the top of the screen shows you the health of the enemy colony in this system, split into population (left) and infrastructure (right). If you squint, in the top left of the screen you'll see the turquoise circle that indicates the location of the enemy colony.
We've selected our ships and we've moved them towards the colony. You'll note that the segments of space are turning red as our ships pass over them. This indicates that we now control the sector, and can spawn in that sector the next turn if we want. This is very important for lengthy combats.
As we get closer to the planet, the fleet moves into the asteroid belt. Enemy sensors cannot penetrate the belt, which means they can't lock missiles on. Colonies can fire planetary missiles which pack a substantial wallop, and approaching them without point defence (like we're doing here) normally means your shit is getting kicked.
The fleet exits the asteroid belt at the point closest to the planet, and drops out of accelerated time owing to its proximity. You'll note the green & blue bars around the ship. They indicate the armour on each side - the blue bar is the damage absorbed by the armour, while the green bars indicate its current status. We'll look at combat stances later.
The planet starts launching missiles, and one of them strikes the command ship. You can see here the damage to the side armour that results.
We send a response. So far the planet has only launched one missile, indicating it's a young colony.
So young, in fact, that that single missile strike took it out. Colony sniping like this is an important part of the early game.
A tremulous underling approached. Mecron looked up in annoyance from his game of Fort Zombie, at which he was, of course, a master. "Well, what is it?" he snarled. "Greatfather, the heretics have been cleansed from Thundara, and our fleet now surveys the system to locate any remnants. We believe that the Customers lurk beyond Thundara, towards Galactic East. Mecron laughed: "Not even GalCiv2 can save them, now that we know where they are! Reinforce our forward base at Medea. Send the Lord Windy."