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FH - game log of another noob
#31
<static>
...the damn shields up, you idiot! put them up NOW!"

"They ARE up, Captain! We've been at battle stations for over an hour, with the flux capacitors at 113%! Except now they're all offline. All of them."

"Nevermind them, then! Divert all power to plasma beams! We've still got a few of those pumping! Just make sure we HIT the buggers!"

"... Charge complete, sir. But the targeting computer is not getting a lock. 'Granny' is too far away!"

"Then how in hell are THEY hitting US?? Nevermind, you idiot! Turn fire control over to me! I'm going to widen the beam and try to 'use the force' or whatever. Now where's my cowboy hat? If we're gonna go down, I'm gonna need that hat..."

<static>

"That's the feed, my fellow council members. That's all we got from the black box recovered from the wreckage of the AntiVirus."

The room fell into a stunned silence for a moment.

The Communications Minister spoke first. "Perhaps they were trying to communicate? Perhaps they use energy beams as a form of greeting?"

The Chair jumped out of his seat, turned around, and picked up, well, the chair he was sitting on. It was heavier than he thought, and bounced once on the conference table, but it did land more or less on the bridge of the minister's nose, causing a fair amount of bleeding. "GREETING?!?! You can't be SERIOUS! I have HAD it with you hippies! Those mutant freaks were FIRING at us! We fired at THEM! This is a WAR, gentlemen! WAR! A HOT MESS of a WAR! The question is, what are we going to DO about it?"

The Science Minister cleared his throat. "I think we need to analyze the situation, just to make sure we understand how we got to this point. Let's be logical, let's be focused, and let's make sure we advance towards a new common goal -- nuking those green bastards back to glass."

This was met with general approval, and the meeting kicked into high gear...

* * *

So, here are the factoids that must be filtered in to our planning:

1. Darkseid invaded our system. He visited the system with a scout ship, then left, then returned with an escort-class warship. There is no other way to interpret such an action, other than war. He even had his ship there an extra turn, during which we did not fire. If this had been a mistake, he would have left promptly. But there can be no mistake.

2. On around turn 9, we sent Darkseid a message, alerting him to the fact that we laid claim to this system. We also sent him a communication frequency with which to reply if he wished to talk privately. There was never any reply.

3. Last turn we warned him to leave the system immediately, and placed our fleet on high alert, though we did not fire a shot.

4. This turn, we engaged, seeing this invasion for what it was.

5. Our ship was the same size -- Escort class.

6. We fired twice and missed. Granny Goodness fired twice and hit. End of combat. We have not put an especially high investment into military tech, but our Life Support tech is fairly strong. Or so we thought. Life Support is what powers shields, and I had thought our shields would be enough to win the day in an evenly matched battle. Clearly I was wrong.

So much for the Darkseid situation. Now we ALSO have quite a surprise on our hands, with the unexpected visit of a Tilkatian colony ship! This is not actually threatening, but it would seem either risky for them to move a big fleet into our system unannounced, or presumptuous on their part that they go ahead and pick through the planets in our system without so much as a 'by your leave'. Still, the Tilkatians HAVE communicated friendly intentions with us in the past, and this is not a military incursion, and we basically welcome the integration of the star cluster. But still.

So we are left with how to respond to this horrible defeat. While we dare not telegraph our plans through the aether again, I will pose the following questions, to log our options:

1. How can we defend OfflineCache, our small colony in that system? With AntiVirus gone, we have no defenses and he's got an Escort class warship without so much as a dent in the fender.

2. Will we be able to extract SystemBus before she meets a similar fate?

3. How can we reach out to the other species? What level of cooperation can we hope to achieve? Information gathering? The location of Seidian systems? Economic support? Tech swaps? Fleet maneuvers?

4. How best to remedy our apparent deep deficit in military tech?

5. How, indeed, to deal with our tech deficit in general? I got a message from the NeoHumans suggesting that our Gravitics tech was unusually primitive, and that some other species he had been communicating with had very high levels of certain other tech! We are way behind. I am beginning to suspect that even in our most developed area - the economy - we are only just keeping our head above water. We may be playing with some experienced FH hacks, and might just get clobbered soon, even if Darkseid gets taken down.

It is probably not helping to keep a public game log going, but this is what makes it all fun for me and I can't imagine cutting back. I very VERY much like reading everyone's related threads. Cheers to the new posters, and a special invitation to the mysterious Tilkatians, who seem to be on EVERYONE's radar. And a tip of the bloody captains hat to Grim, who has succeeded in giving me the first Finger...
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#32
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We shall see what ashes we are going to reform our empire out of soon. Very soon...
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#33
Loving your reports.
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#34
G.A.P.H. Emergency Alert!

All citizens are advised, our home system is under attack. This is not a test. This is an actual emergency. If this had been an actual test, you would have heard a long annoying beep coming from your screen. Instead, we broadcast this footage from the bridge of the giant colonizer ship, SystemBus:

[cut to scene on starship bridge, flames and broken computer equipment everywhere, smoke pouring out of the elevator doors, captain's face bloody and fearful.] "AAAACK!!! GAAAAAHH!"

Those were the last words of the captain of SystemBus, an unarmed ship destroyed in an instant by the overwhelming firepower of the Darkseid fleet. That same fleet was thought to be targeting our defenseless out-system colony (OfflineCache), but instead it has jumped straight to our home system.

Our shipyards have just completed rushing out the largest warship we've ever built, the new FF frigate "Shockwave". It is being launched just as our military scientists have pushed out a series of equipment upgrades and weapon system enhancements. "Shockwave" joins our Escort class "FireWall" to form up a last ditch defense of our beloved home. In spite of the loss of ES Antivirus last year, the Consortium navy is now more powerful than ever. But most among the Consortium elite now believe that we are still many years behind Darkseid in critical technologies.

The Seidian ship "Granny Goodness" not only vaporized both "AntiVirus" and "SystemBus", but also attacked and savagely boarded the Tilkatian ship "Colony Prime", reaping untold material wealth while ejecting all surviving Tilkatians out into the vacuum of space. That same ship is now in our home system and has been joined by the enormous "Mantis", a hideous malevolent frigate-class behemoth bristling with the latest Seidian military tech.

While Consortium forces are now matched up with the invaders in terms of ship sizes, we are still far behind them in military capabilities. We advise all citizens that these Seidian ships will be every bit as savage and bloodthirsty as they were in our out-system colony. They are apparently bent on the destruction and pillage of all other life forms.

Please join us all in sending prayers to the desperate crew of our two brave warships. They will need all the help they can get.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

* * *

Okay! We are dead. We have a violent invader jumping us in our home system. We scrambled to up our military tech and build a frigate, only to find that THEY have a NEW frigate on our doorstep along with their unscathed escort. A one-on-one match is clearly in their favor. We are doomed.

For the benefit of other species, who might be listening. HEED THESE WARNINGS:

1. Darkseid does not respond to communication, and will apparently attack anything that moves.

2. Darkseid is undefeated in multiple combats, suggesting superior military tech.

3. Darkseid has fielded a frigate, so his Manufacturing tech is at least 20.

4. Darkseid has played us all for fools with his pretense at being hapless and confused by this game. He has projected large amounts of force-concentration and demonstrated high tech levels. He also mastered the art of "hijacking" the Tilkatian colonizer. He knows very well how to play this game, and is very comfortable with setting up his orders.

5. Darkseid has executed the classic "rush strategy" -- amass forces early and clobber the nearest neighbor fast. Any deficiencies in economic development can be more than made up for in the pillaging of entire homeworlds. His hijacking of a mere transport netted over 700 economic units. I have played this strategy many times in other games. The only way to stop him is to take advantage of his over-extension now, before he can consolidate power.

6. Darkseid has been playing us all like a fiddle, masterfully. Is he new at FH? I don't know. But he is certainly an experienced PBM gamer, and I have a strong suspicion that his game log was designed at least in part to lull his competitors into a false sense of security. And it worked. Bastard.

Orders are due tomorrow morning! What will the future hold? How will the other species react? What will the now-bloodied Tilkatians do? Have the friendly NeoHumans seen the threat? What do we make of this mysterious "Mold" gathering at the edge of our dim interstellar awareness? Time will tell...
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#35
We take a moment now to drop out of character...

* * *

Hahahahahahaha! Darkseid's logic is as tortured as the now-deceased crew of the Tilkatian colonizer were, no doubt, just prior to their demise!

This little colony we had was an insignificant little presence in a nothing-burger star system. Had Darkseid come in with his own colonizer and demanded a planet, I would have made no strenuous objection. I will even go so far as to say that if he had returned with a warship with at least a small colonizer-type freighter to lend at least a stamp of legitimacy to establishing a military presence there, I would have been unable to justify a deep-space attack.

But he had an escort-class warship, present at my colony, with no stated reason for being there and no communication of any kind for that matter. It is only through an accident of my own poor planning that I had my own escort there at the same time. Otherwise, that colony would be toast now.

I recognize that his attack had strategic merit, but there is no way to claim the moral high ground here. Darkseid is a dangerous presence and an unpredictable wildcard in this star cluster. Even apart from this little imbroglio, he must be held to close scrutiny for pretending lo these many turns to be unable to master the intricacies of FH arcana, barely able to scratch out some research orders. PHTHTHTT!! He *hijacked* a ship -- something I haven't even read the rules on yet!

Tread carefully, my FH friends. Keep your eye on this one...

;-)
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#36
Greetings after a long absence, fans of the Consortium!

I would like to mirror Darkseid's end-of-game post. This was a fun game while it lasted, mainly because of the chatter here on this forum.

The game itself is very simple -- perhaps needlessly so. It had a generic feel, and there was nothing to differentiate the players to add flavor. Yes, each player had their own biological profile that would guide them to colonize certain planets over others, but this never came into play in our short game.

There is some level of detail in certain technologies and capabilities, but not nearly enough. There are 6 technology tracks, and each indexes a handful of possible game-altering effects. Why only 6 tracks? And why so few actual impacts on gameplay? For that matter, technological advancement seemed to come very rapidly, leading to a hesitance to commit economic resources until the next turns research results.

And about those economic resources -- each planet/colony can mine a single kind of raw material, transform it into a single kind of generic "finished product", and then assemble that into a bare minimum number of colony fixtures (mines and factories), ships, and bases. Why go to the trouble of setting each race up with their own biological profile when we all end up using the same generic mining and manufacturing techs?

And finally, ships. You can pick from a handful of ship sizes, with a small choice of weapons/shields/cargo to put in the holds. Seems overly simplistic.

But I am a recovering empyrean challenge player. There is something to be said for simplicity if it improves playability. Look at the grandfather of all PBM for instance -- that old boardgame Diplomacy. Could not be simpler, yet always fun to play.

I wasn't overwhelmed with playability here, but it wasn't bad. The GM was very helpful, the rules were reasonably clear, and the process for submitting orders was pretty clean. The turn results needed work, and some flavor could be added. But overall it was a fairly acceptable old-school PBM game, serving as an able platform for some awesome role-playing. In that sense, Far Horizons excelled.

I was immediately entertained by Darkseid's thread and endeavored to join him. I was totally elated when other players dipped their toes in the water! I found myself drafting posts (and riposts) quite enthusiastically, and took great delight in each and every one of Darkseid's machinations. Clearly, he handed me my shirt in this game, but it was great fun all the same!

I ended up with my homeworld, one in-system colony, and one out-system. The colonies sucked up a fair amount of my resources -- not out of necessity, but because I wanted to see how fast I could grow them. Still, that distraction left me unprepared for Darkseid's invasion. I went for the basic builder strategy, hoping to do lots of communicating and outreach and amp-up the role-playing, particularly since this game had no stated "victory conditions".

Darkseid went for the early-rush and ended up with very positive results. He crippled my navy, established space superiority, and was in a good position to put his fleet to the test against my planetary defenses. Moreover, he took in some incredible plunder from that Tilkatian ship -- nice return on his military investment!

Were we to play this game again, I would put a little more focus on systematic scouting, naval development, etc, and a little less on early colonization.

at game-end:
Tech Levels:
Mining = 26
Manufacturing = 24
Military = 14
Gravitics = 7
Life Support = 18
Biology = 9

production capacity on my homeworld was 1689, 298 at the in-system colony, and 34 at the out-system place.

I had an Escort and a Frigate at the homeworld, and a single big freighter. I believe Darkseid and I were evenly matched for our home-system battle, but now that we see his much-more-advanced military tech, perhaps I was toast. And perhaps that explains why my ships didn't put a scratch on him in our earlier battles.

I had thought his tech might be falling behind, since my economy might be bigger, but that was evidently wrong! His production tech and biology were on par with mine, and his military and gravitics were well in advance of me. I was ahead only in life support. But even so, if I had turned all my life-support research over toward military, I doubt I would have outpaced him. Again, it is evident that my investment in colonization sucked resources away from military preparedness.

And in that sense, this was a good game. We make choices with our limited resources and limited knowledge, and suffer the opportunity costs.

To the game-master, I thank you. It was lots of fun. I was disappointed that you dropped off, but that's sadly a fact-of-life in PBM. Were you to show up here again and offer up a new round, I would gladly sign up.

To the players at large, good game. I was really enjoying the emerging sense of role-play. Good space opera stuff, that.

And to Darkseid, beware. We will meet again, in some other universe, some alternate dimension. And I will not so easily be caught with my pants down. Next time, I will keep my pants up high enough TO RULE THE GALAXY! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
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#37
At the point that I made the decision to go to war with you, I began investing more in military tech. You, on the other hand, opted to continue colonizing and developing your colonies. Since we all started out even, for the most part, I theorized that the military tech would give me an initial advantage in our conflict, but that you would probably gain an economic advantage, as the conflict proceeded. Thus, the initial turns of combat could prove decisive.

Once our two empires were at war, I theorized that it was you who would be forced to adapt, more so than myself. Far better to let the other guy adjust his strategy, than to adjust my own, was my line of thinking.

The unknown, of course, can be a powerful tool to use against enemy players in some PBM games. The advantage of learning your home world location, combined with the fact that you had no clue where my home world was, was a powerful advantage. I could send my starships to your colony world and to your home world, and even if I lost my entire fleet, your ability to then launch retaliatory measures against my empire was effectively zilch. The Far Horizon of space cloaked and protected my empire.

Not knowing how to colonize other planets was a disadvantage to me, but one that I turned to my own advantage, since that lack of knowledge effectively foreclosed that option to me. Thus, your enemy's lack of knowledge of the game's mechanics worked more to your disadvantage than to your enemy. There's more than a little irony in that, I think.

In war, there are perceptions and there are realities. To the player whose homeworld is under attack early on, and who has no clue where the other guy's home world is, in order to at least offer the prospect of retaliation as an option, perceptions can quickly and easily become reality.

You telling the entire universe that half the Consortium navy had been vaporized probably didn't help your cause. If I kill one ship, and that constitutes half of your fleet, then it doesn't take a lot of skill in mathematics to deduce how many starships that your empire has left at its disposal.

Your biggest failure in our relatively short-lived conflict, from my perspective as your enemy, lay in the area of how you chose to communicate with your enemy. Your forum postings were humorous, at times, but you made no real use of communications to gain reprieve from Darkseid's fury. The message that you sent to Darkseid was that your species was arrogant, boastful, inconsistent, and fearful. That's not to say that it was never entertaining. Rather, your method of communicating facilitated me giving priority to the role playing aspect over all else. If one knows that Darkseid is the enemy, what message does one truly think is wise to send to an entity of that nature?

Winning was never an issue, concern, nor priority of mine. The slow pace of traditional Play By Mail games is one factor that helps to ensure that players of such games tend to seek out conflict, early on. It makes such games more fun and entertaining.
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#38
Reading your post, I just remembered one other aspect of my strategy that I forgot to mention. I chose to put a lot into Life Support tech, because I considered it a double-whammy. It makes colonizing easier AND powers your shield technology. So while I knew I was leaving military tech under-invested, I figured my shields would buy me cover as threats emerged.

But your military tech ended up being 21, and my shield tech was only 18. I don't know the formulas used in running combat, but I guess a 3-point tech spread can be decisive. Even so, there was clearly a difference in our overall tech performance. All totaled, your techs added up to 105, and mine came up to 98. So my focus on building ultimately 2 freighters and some colony equipment ended up costing me roughly 2 turns of scientific progress. Hefty.

If there is ever a next game, I am thinking I would put an early focus on tech and maybe just plant a few huts on nearby systems. Tech advances come rapidly at the beginning, so maybe players can't afford to dilute their investment until they hit higher levels.

I wasn't so worried about not knowing the location of your home world. It was a fairly compact star cluster, and I had 3 scouts flitting about on auto-explore. Your location was evidently near mine, so pinpointing your particular system wouldn't be hard. I was not in a position to counter-attack, in any case.

I agree that my practice of broadcasting much of my strategy each turn greatly weakened my position. But the role-playing was enormously entertaining, and I don't regret it. I didn't use the forum to communicate with you directly, because the forum was technically outside the game itself. It would have spoiled the metaphor. I did send you communications in-game, but never got any response (other than a hail of bullets). I admit my first message was not friendly, but neither was it hostile.

I was more positive with the friendly Tilkatians, and perhaps less icy with the neoHumans and the Mold. But point-taken -- I allowed my race to sense your malevolence in-game, and chose to take a less-than-open-armed stance with you when we met in my colony system as a result. I did so in no small part because I thought my freaking shields would be up to the task of protecting my ships.

This brings up one final complain about FH -- why not share the method by which combat is calculated?

Having said all this -- would anyone like to start up a new game? Our moderator is gone, but the game is open-source, right? Can we get enough people together and have another go at it?
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#39
"Man does not live by shields, alone."
- Unknown Starfarer

How amusing that you fancied that shields would be your species' salvation from the likes of Darkseid.

FOOL!!

Removing the unknown factor from combat would simply unravel the game further, for me. Everyone's entertainment value mileage may vary, of course, but I prefer that players look less to the math, rather than more. Why? Simply because I think that unknown factors, particularly with regard to core game mechanics, can be very helpful in building up the atmosphere factor of a game, especially a space conquest game involving different species.

How much atmosphere is created from knowing that all players start the game equal? That doesn't make the Klingons more Klingon-ish, does it?

I don't want a player to attack Darkseid and his minions, because that player knows that he will win by a 2.783421 attack advantage differential. Likewise, I don't want Klingons avoiding attacking the Federation, simply because the math shows that the Federation is more powerful.
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