Y'all… I think Driven Assimilators are kind of busted.
After my last game I turned up the difficulty a bit, due to both recommendations from the thread and my own perception. I also got all of the DLC in the steam sale, because I was exited about playing as a robot. Lastly, I turned off the victory year because last time that seriously pissed me off. Anyhow… this is how my third game went.
This time around, I decided to roleplay a bit. I got it stuck in my head that the driven assimilators were the heavenly host (*casually dropping the empire's name*) and their assimilation was actually the rapture. The goal was obviously to bring all of the galaxy into my fold. So, naturally, I expanded fast… at least in some directions. See, I quickly discovered not one but two marauder fleets in my vicinity and a fallen empire (the tech-guys, this time) on top of that. Okay, not too bad because there was also a shit ton of habitable planets around. I wondered to myself "did I turn up the habitable planets in the settings?" But I didn't. I was just a robot and I could do whatever I damn well please on every planet I found.
Within like fourty years, I had half as many colonies. I regret not taking a screenshot.
It was at this point that I met my first actual opponent. Not after being blocked off from further expansion by another fallen empire, but hey, finally, on the outskirts of the galaxy (I spawned in a position somewhat closer to the core), there my first subjects were. But I did not have a fleet – I prioritized tech advancement (as I am want to do) and used up my alloys for starbases and colony ships, so I played nice at first.
Within five years, it was war. I scrambled to assemble a fleet, but as it turned out, I underestimated my economic power and my lead in tech just as much as my enemy did. Needless to say, I smashed their fleet and took their homeworld. Now, I did reach 100% war exhaustion before I could completely wipe them out (mostly because it (subjectively) took a long time to build armies and conquer planets that were heavily fortified, and my fleets were numerically disadvantaged and not that far ahead in tech yet) so I left them three systems completely isolated from the rest of the galaxy.
After that excursion I had firmly established myself as the leading empire in the scoreboards. But I was also isolated from the galaxy by the marauders (who I could not take on at this point and rather paid off than fight, cuz I ain't got time for that shit). Instead, I focused tech hard and built up my fleet. That was because there were L-Gates in my system and I did not trust them. I acquired enough insight fairly fast, but in case they opened up a new front I built up my fleet. That was a very right decision. Because when I finally opened them in the eighties, the gray tempest swarmed out.
The battle against the nanite fleets were perhaps the hardest part of the playthrough. I took terminal egress quite fast, but it took a while before I was able to expand my fleet enough that I was able to both hold that system and advance toward their homeworld, boxing them in. And it took another while before I was actually able to take their home system and wipe them out. Finally, the L-Cluster was mine to claim. Except then I realized my "mistake".
See, I had never bothered to check my policies (since driven assimilators had no factions or diplomacy) and was thus kind of surprised to see that I had open borders as the default option. And I was really caught off-guard that some asshole had surveyed and claimed some of the L-Cluster systems that I had fought to liberate. Systems that now trapped pretty much my entire fleet in some barren systems, because of course, THEY had closed their borders to me. A shame.
Guess what happened next
They had chosen poorly. I had been perfectly willing to wait a bit longer to steamroll their asses, but apparently they were determined to be assholes. See, at that point in the game, I had gotten the tech-lead of the militaristic fallen empire (though not the technocratic fallen empire) down to "superior" and had started getting into repeatable tech (still early midgame, going by years). I had also started gaining several thousand energy each year and would soon begin buying off strategic resources in batches whenever I hit them limit (cuz who needs resource silos when you can built anchorages?). They stood no chance.
And then, in the middle of that particular war, my colossus got done. And let me tell you, it is one thing to blow up planets. It is another entirely to convert them immediately to fully functioning planets under your own control. That was, perhaps the tipping point where this playthrough went from "this is going pretty well" to "holy fork, what am I going to do with all this stuff?" My opponents never stood a chance after I had that Colossus.
My Empire looking like a cute dragon after that war.
The next hundred or so years I spent going into overdrive. My energy output was 12k+ per month and I was building megastructures like the art gallery and the interstellar assembly most just because I could and to flex on the rest of the galaxy. I even bought tons of Zro, even though I was a robot. At some point I overtook the fallen empires in fleet strength and caught up in technology, so I decided to take out the Jakly remnant (ye olde militaristic fallen empire) before they could bite me in the ass. They made a valiant effort, but stood no chance. They had nowhere to run and even though they sent a fleet through a wormhole and attacked me from a different angle, I had at this point more than enough ships to repel them and continue my assault. They were swallowed in time. The other fallen Empire awakened (the Vetisirius Directors on the map, right next to my colossus).
When the Prethoryn Scourge showed up, I was not just ready. I was bored and did not exactly hurry myself to go there. They were spawning to the far right, deep in enemy territory. Still, I opened up my borders and positioned my fleet as to intervene once my enemies came to their senses. Which they did, the devious bastards, and gullible old me went for it, sent my fleets deep towards the enemy from two angles, converging upon the hapless scourge like the wrath of God. God being my home system's name in this case, because subtlety is a foreign concept to me.
AND THEN THOSE FUCKERS CLOSED THEIR BORDERS IMMEDIATELY AFTER, TRAPPING MY FLEETS AGAIN.
When I finished that war, I had taken out not just their civilization. Their entire federation was gone, I had eighty planets (a substantial amount of them conquered habitats). Turns out trapping ten fleets of which one would be enough to wipe you out behind your own frontline is not exactly a smart move. It was at this moment that I knew I had won the game. It was 2460 or so, my score breached 120k (which was 80k more than the awakened empire), I had no megastructures left to build and I had sixteen fleets of over 200k power each.
I decided to screw it and attacked the awakened empire right away. They put up a fight, I give them that, but it was essentially only housework and waiting for my colossus to finish up (they had conquered much of another civilization, so they had a sizable amount of habitats and worlds at least). It took long enough that I sent my armies (who were, up to this point, just wasting away in some corner where I had left them after they became irrelevant) because they might be faster.
After the awakened empire was done, I could have continued my death march and annexed the rest of the galaxy. They were no threats in the least. But I did not want to. It would just be tedious and managing a hundred+ planets/habitats was driving me crazy. I ceased drone production on them, when they were full because WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THESE POPS? I kinda thought to myself… that game was way too easy. Something is seriously broken.
So, people of reddit… what do you do to ratchet up the difficulty in your games for yourself?
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