I went into this game almost completely blind, meaning, i saw someone play on youtube and thought it looked like fun. I had no previous experience playing any paradox game. I played only with the base game. This is what happened.
I stuck to the strategy that I like most in strategy games. I turtle up (using loads of star fortresses in this case) and stick to tech. Fittingly, there was a tortoise icon, so it was a natural fit. Most of the game goes by just as planned. I keep myself out of galactic politics, only doing enough to piss my neighbours off, whereupon I stomped their fleets and ended up taking my claims from them. It went swimmingly and I quickly dominated the galaxy – I had only one slightly inferior rival left, anyone else was beaten into submission and/or asked to be my vassal. My empire had a few chokepoints for entry, with a ton of star citadels and fortresses guarding them.
Then a fallen empire awakened (and swallowed the sleeping one right next to it). They were jingoist reclaimers, too, and I did not know about this sort of thing happening… but I thought, I was in a good position. They were literally on the opposite side of the galaxy from my position and I had plenty of time to stock up and prepare. Predictably, they stomped all over their side of the galaxy and tried to come over. At which point I managed to beat their attack back, under heavy losses. That was a glorious moment.
It also heralded a costly, fifty year stalemate. If I attacked their holdings, my fleets would surely get stomped over and leave me too crippled to defend myself from their counterattack. I suspect for them, the situation was not quite as dire, but their behaviour at least suggested a similar calculation. Thus, a stalemate, with some probings into vassal/thrall territories here and there, while the vassal states between us started to disintegrate into micro empires, making it even more of a hassle to try and get at the enemy from that position.
Of course, it is exactly in that mire that the "Unbidden" Crisis faction spawned. I did not know that would happen either. Either way, myself and the fallen empire could not get to the critical portal in time, especially since that might leave us vulnerable to each other while we were making war on the small nations between us and the unstoppably advancing Unbidden. by the time they reached our borders, they were too large and spawned too fast for us to stop. We held on as long as we could – me, because my star fortresses were powerful enough to defeat the average unbidden fleet; the fallen empire because of their massive fleets themselves.
But we were losing the fight. The fallen empire had too many points from which the Unbidden fleets could enter their territory, while I was surely bled dry in resources and by my expanding population that I could not keep sustaining with sporadic conquest. The end was coming, so I assembled all my fleets in one place, closest to the portal, and prepared for the final push – victory or death. And right before I embark, what do I see? The fallen empire using a gateway nearby and sending a bunch of their strongest fleets over. First I thought "those opportunistic bastards", but we were 'at peace' in that moment and instead of launching such a surprise attack, they instead came to the same place as my fleet (now, we were not allied or anything, but a close system had been formerly theirs before the unbidden took it, which might be the actual reason they came over). Their empire was shrinking fast and these had to be some of their last fleets as well. I saw the image forming in my head:
The last march of the Zaratan
In the end, we were not strong enough, even combined. We penetrated decently far toward the nearest portal of the unbidden, but our fleets were bled dry by the constant battles. They came from four sides, coverging on our battered armada and crushing us between them. We never recovered.
I do not regret buying this game. Rarely I could get such a story out of any other game I played. I look forward to learning how to get better and creating, perhaps, a less tragic ending. Thanks for reading.
Remember the Zaratan.
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© Post "So my first game went well…" for game Stellaris.
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