I had started this campaign with the intention of just turtling and seeing what the galactic community does with better diplomacy, in the face of a max-strength Crisis.
I started with a modded start, in a small cluster separate from the rest of the galaxy, connected only by an L-gate. I started on a Ringworld, RPing as an ancient race that once ruled the galaxy, only to be forced to seal itself away in the face of a foe that even they had forgotten about by now.
It was very slow going. There were no other planets in the cluster except for one, occupied by primitives, so for the first hundred years of the game I spent most of my time juggling different resources. Just when I would get one out of the red, another would fall into it. Nothing major happened until I finally gained the technology to unlock the L-gate, leading me into the original L-cluster. It was time for the Grey Flood.
I was well prepared, having built a sizable fleet and bastion to hold off any intruding fleets. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had set the crisis to be 5x stronger, and the rest of the galaxy was not so lucky. Im not sure exactly what happened in those dark years, but surprisingly, this is not a story about the Grey Flood conquering the galaxy, because the organics rallied and indeed, by the time I gathered the courage to finally send a fleet through, someone else had already begun colonizing the L-cluster!
I was suddenly introduced to the galactic community all at once, it was a great time, I love the new mechanics, they make it seem a whole lot busier. So, as with my original goal, I decided to largely leave them alone, and so I spent my time battling the Grey Flood instead. In order to fuel my need for a fleet, I built an entire section of my ringworld into a manufacturing hub, worked entirely by droids.
This was my mistake.
After a half century of prosperity, the machines rebelled. They timed it perfectly. Not even a week after a disastrous campaign in the L-cluster, my fleet was cut in half, limping back to port to replenish, when they struck. The entire manufacturing quadrant of my ringworld rebelled, over one hundred billion droids. In secret, they had built a fleet. They declared that organics were too volatile to manage their own affairs, and that for our own good, it would take over. Filthy toasters.
At first I wasn't worried. They had risen directly in my capital system, even if the massive starbase couldn't defeat their fleet, it would certainly hold and bloody it enough that my fleet could replenish and then mop up. However, it turns out they seized the starbase before the war even began. Even still, I wasn't worried. My fleet was much larger, and despite the fact that they had captured my manufacturing hub, I had plenty of starship-grade alloy stockpiled. I replenished my fleet, and went off to face them in combat.
They obliterated me. Their ships were slightly more advanced than mine, but they had far fewer, so it should not have been an issue. However, they had six supercarriers. They poured forth millions of bombing drones that simply tore through my unsuspecting fleet, and in the end, they destroyed more than half of my fleet. This was the first inkling that this war might not be over before Christmas…
What followed was *eleven years* of constant, grueling war. The only two things that prevented a machine takeover were the fact that my shipyard was tucked away from the capital system and defended by an imposing starbase, and that, for some mysterious reason, the machines never decided to take my practically unguarded Dyson sphere. Thanks to that, I was able to sell the excess energy credits off to the market and scrape together enough alloy to build a small fleet, while my admiral resorted to guerilla warfare in the outer systems of the cluster with the remnants of my previously-destroyed fleet. She pulled off some very impressive wins with her two carriers and one battleship. She kept them off my back long enough to put together three more carriers and a Titan, built specifically to destroy the rebellious machines' supercarriers.
Through some fancy maneuvering, I was able to unite the newly-built capital ships with my Admiral-turned-privateer, and begin picking off robotic fleets one-by-one. All of them fell, except for the six carriers.
The ending of the war was as close as every other battle. Even my fleet built specifically to target these carriers was not enough, and although it was close, I was losing. However, the battle in orbit managed to last the long months needed for a hastily-formed clone army of ten million to land on the ringworld segment and breech into the tightly-guarded central compound to destroy the AI at its core, felling the whole rebellion with one carefully placed explosive charge. And hundreds of millions of rounds of ammo.
I've never fought any war this close, this cinematic, in Stellaris before. I've certainly never been involved in a fleet battle that I was losing and managed to win only due to a related ground invasion.
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