I'm used to steamrolling in Stellaris. It's not particularly difficult once you know what you're doing. The recent AI improvements do seem to have made the AI more competitive, but I've still played a couple of games where I can go toe to toe with them. So I decided to try the Doomsday origin since it billed itself as a "challenging origin".
Off the bat, there are no worlds anywhere around your start. Cue me spamming science ships to go look around for them. I find one continental world about 3 jumps away, but I'm a desert species so that's no good. Other than that, fuck all for about 10 years.
I finally find some habitable worlds. Great! Only then I imediately find the empire living right next to those worlds, who immediately afterwards colonizes their systems. I look around some more, find some more habitable worlds, they get gobbled up to.
Eventually I run out of space. All the worlds around me are owned. I'm going to have to fight for my existence.
Around 20 years into the game, I hatch a plan. To the north of me are the Voor Technocracy and a Megacorp. They hate each other. They both have habitable worlds. I'm too weak to take on either of them alone, but what if…?
I find out the Megacorp are willing to join me in a war against the Voor. Together we attack, and I claim the three systems leading up to the only world in Voor space habitable to me. It's a quick war, and with the Megacorp's support, I best them and take my prize. It's then I actually look at my so-called "promised land".
It's a size 8 moon. My homeworld has about 40 pops at this point. It's 10 years to doomsday.
I rush out a colony ship, settle the tiny world and begin rapidly developing it. As jobs become available I begin resettling my homeworld population over. At this point the debuffs to the homeworld are tanking my economy. Food is scarce. Consumer goods are non-existent. I'm having to sell most of my minerals and alloys just to stay afloat.
And the world is just too damn small. I can only build 2 farms, a generator and some cities to house everyone. Mass unemployment. No science. I'm able to aleviate it a bit with research to remove blockers but I'm still basically having to clowncar my population in.
The hour approaches. With less than a year left to doomsday, I resettle the last pop. And then my homeworld goes boom. It's chaos. Energy, food, consumer goods are in the red. Alloys are only barely afloat. There's no research or unity. I'm barely keeping my head above water by selling minerals. Aside from a few basically OPMs, I'm at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Fortunately, I'm able to smooth things over with the Voor. I only took a few systems after all, they're willing to forgive and forget*. And now I'm able to get them to join me in a war against the Megacorp. The tables have turned, and I'm able to gain a bunch of new systems from them. But I'm unable to take any of their habitable worlds just yet, they've got them locked down behind forts. That'll have to wait until next time.
In the end, I'm able to stabilize things on my tiny new home. Using a bunch of commerce centres I'm able to get most people employed and lots of amenities and energy to help right the economy. Now, the main priority is to prepare for a second war with the Megacorp, possibly join the Voor in a federation, and build up our lost people from there.
I'm doing absolutely crap, all things considered. But I've never had so much fun in Stellaris.
*Another thing I like about the new expansion. It's actually possible to fix a damaged relationship now. Before if you ever took even one system from an empire they would be your enemy for the rest of time.
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