Hey Neilo! Hey qrtxian!
You have a good one going there Neilo. You're doing a lot more nuance customization than I am. It looks like an immersive game.
For those who don't know me, I'm an old scoremonger converted to the actual gaming experience too. The scoring part was fun while it lasted, but the soul of the game gets sucked out when you get too far into it.
I have a vanilla Torian game going now. Dark Avatar, Suicidal, 9 AI, 8 Minors, Gigantic Map, Abundant everything, Very Fast Tech.
The strategy is "all labs", which is a misnomer. There's at least one lab on every planet and no factories. The rest of the buildings are financial, farms and the occasional galactic wonder/super project/trade goods. My sliders are set to 100% Research, 0% Social and 0% Shipbuilding. Focus is set to Social.
I've imposed the following limits on myself:
I can't trade my ships for anything. (I can take ships in trade from the AI, but can't offer any back to them).
I can't trade peace for anything.
I can't build the Spin Control Center and if I get one from conquest, I can't park any ships under it.
Any warship taken in trade from the AI must be converted to a non-warship or scrapped. (This is a recent limit that I set when my military standing got too high and the AI was treating me too nicely).
I can only have two warships of my own except for unarmed troop transports and lightly armed survey ships. I'm looking at disarming the survey ships, since weapons aren't coming into play for them anyway.
My closest enemy was the Drengin at the start. The Thalans expanded quickly and became the closest before long. I built up my economy and traded techs for cash, planets and ships as well as I could. The Torians aren't as well equipped as the Terrans are in Diplo, but I was able to get a few goodies to help me along.
I found 3 Minor races early on and that helped a lot. My economy was falling below the -500 mark on occasion and the Minors helped me get out of the rut. The Major AIs weren't dealing as well at the beginning and I was just squeaking by.
My research was going very well with me being ahead in most of the techs and the AI only being ahead in extreme colonization and a few weapons techs. They also got invasion tech long before me, but they don't get in any hurry to use it.
I took the evil option whenever it presented itself. That got me some research bonuses and a couple of small planet quality boosts. There weren't many options coming up, so they weren't a lot of help.
After I got Xeno Ethics, I was so far in debt that I could go evil without having to pay for it. It showed up as costing 10k, but my economy didn't reflect it. At least there was a silver lining to the dark cloud of deficit spending.
Once my economy recovered, I decided to build my two warships. I wanted them to be huge hulls from the start, so I focused my research there. They were basic ships with Psionic Beams and stuffed full of Ion Drives. I figured I could upgrade them later. I then realized that I should have built them using the building that gives +1 speed to any ship built on that planet. Oops. I built the building on Toria and "upgraded" my warships to fast, but unarmed Survey Ships.
My plan was to declare war on the weakest AI, the Iconians. That plan was scrapped when the Thalans flipped 2 of my planets with their influence. I built my ships and killed one of their colony ships, automatically declaring war at the same time.
The Thalans were relentless in their invasion attempts, but they weren't real successful. They only took 1 planet out of maybe 20-30 attempts. In the meantime, they were depleting themselves of population and money. I took a planet at a time and kept building my ship experience for my 2 fighters. It took a while, but the Thalans fell.
The Arceans decided that they wanted some and declared war on me. They were much weaker than the Thalans and didn't put up much of a fight. My planet count was soaring and my economy went into overdrive. I was researching techs at an increasing rate too.
By this time, I had all research and economy treaties from the remaining AIs and all Minors. I had sent freighters to everyone, but it was getting way too peaceful.
The Drengin and Drath showed up as "Hostile" on the relationship charts, but they weren't going to war with me. I decided to try to goad the Drath into declaring war.
I removed my trading route from them, but they had one with me as well. I switched on the Trade Embargo with them to kill that and started spamming influence starbases in their territory. Still, they wouldn't declare war. My military level was the weakest on the charts, but something was keeping them from coming at me. I went as far as to get them to make peace with everyone else and went to the stronger AIs and bribed them to make peace with the Drath. Still, no war.
I finally attacked their flagship and went to war. The Altarians immediately declared war on me, so I guess they were friends with the Drath.
As it stands now, the Drath and Altarians think they're winning. I've taken roughly half of the Drath planets and haven't gotten to the Altarians yet. I only have the two fighters, so it takes some time to get from planet to planet.
My warships are now nicely equipped with doom rays and 300+ armor and their experience is up to level 5 and 7. The AI are still trying to hit me with bullets, which I traded to them. I didn't trade any shield tech and they're using heavy armor and medium missile defense. Almost nothing to defend against my beam weapons.
I've been using the old upgrade to the same type of ship ploy to repair after being damaged. This is where you have 2 identical designs and upgrade from one to the other when you need to repair.
I made another little mistake that I didn't catch for a while. This one had to do with the economic penalty when you have too much cash. I forgot that it happened at 20k and was spending down to 25k to try to avoid it. It was several months before I checked my economy and saw my mistake. Oops again.
I started paying off my leases to get my cash down quickly. I'm now running low on leases and the remaining ones are much cheaper to pay off than they were at the beginning. Buying buildings on my planets is getting tedious, so I might just have to take the penalty.
It's the middle of year 2 and counting.