GWJ Strategy Club Retirement Throne Room

Inspired by the CRPG Club, the GWJ Strategy Club now has a Retirement Throne Room.

Here's your chance to catch up on titles we played in the past and still get credit. You can play any of the following games and gain a rank with a few caveats:

1. You will need to post your experience playing the game.
2. In the spirit of fairness, you should try to finish a retired game's campaign to get credit within reason. We recognize that some strategy games can take hundreds of hours to beat, so don't feel like you need to go that crazy.
3. Please send me a PM if you finish a past game so that I can get you credit.

Looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

Eligible Games:

Battletech
Endless Space 2
Age of Wonders: Planetfall
Imperator
Into The Breach
Frostpunk
Qvadriga
Warhammer 40K Mechanicus
Crusader Kings 3
Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
Troubleshooter: Abandoned Children
Old World
Cities: Skylines
Invisible, Inc.

I’m actually playing a game of Endless Space 2 right now. Got to like it a lot, after playing it with the club. For all that, though, I’ve never finished the game.

Okay if I contribute my campaign in progress, or should I start from scratch and write about it for the Retirement Throne Room?

LastSurprise wrote:

I’m actually playing a game of Endless Space 2 right now. Got to like it a lot, after playing it with the club. For all that, though, I’ve never finished the game.

Okay if I contribute my campaign in progress, or should I start from scratch and write about it for the Retirement Throne Room?

Either is fine with me. Looking forward to it LastSurprise!

All right, I decided to start a new game in Endless Space. Whenever I get started, I tend to pick either the Vaulters - spacefaring nomad humans, and one of the playable races in Endless Legend - or the Vodyani - basically a group of sentient trees. I think they were awakened to space travel by first contact with an alien race, and they have a quite unique mechanic: in order to settle new star systems, they need to entwine them with celestial vines, which makes those systems part of the Vodyani network, makes travel between planets faster, increases diplomatic pressure on enemy systems that are entwined, etc. It's conceptually weird, but I tend to think of it like Norse mythology. We're all living in Yggdrasil and I'm at the heart.

As things stand, we're twenty turns in.

Spoiler: "The Starting Settings

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/5ab7btg.png)

Spoiler: My First Story Quest

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/CkXinJ3.png)
I'm pursuing knowledge, and need to get 2 amenities in my empire. Shame my home system starts with 0

Spoiler: "Met the Lumeris; They Don't Want Peace

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/BJ5F87s.png)

Spoiler: The Star System at Turn 20

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/a7Fi3pi.png)

Above you can see that one nice thing I got, from the jump, was an asteroid field that gave me +50 industry on my homeworld. Excellent little boost.

Damn it this is such an enabling thread

Begins reinstalling Endless Space 2 and BATTLETECH

Erm. Aren’t the Vodyani the space vampires and the trees the Unfallen?

Haha, whoops! Yes, the trees are the Unfallen, which is what I'm playing as.

The Vodyani are the "virtual" race that simulate copies of themselves. I've never tried playing as them. Maybe they are the space vampires? I guess the Cravers could be described that way too, though I picture them more like a plague of locusts.

Good stuff LastSurprise! I've been away the past couple weeks but I'm looking forward to seeing how everything works out! Now I need to get back to Arbiter and get my perfect streak.

All right, back in! The tale of the Unfallen continues, from turn 20 to turn 42:

Seems like there's an Academy of Heroes somewhere, but I didn't find it:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/R12qi8T.png)

Meanwhile, I've been exploring a ton of curiosities:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/k46OS3B.png)

The Unfallen, as you all might know, are pacifist by nature. In fact, as I type this (at turn 42), more than half of my Senate is made up of pacifists. But my peace-loving tendencies are challenged by two things: the "aggressive" settling of the nearby Lumeris (not actually aggressive, just taking systems I'd like) and the spawning of the Seek the Unique - Part 1 quest -- which awards a hero. As I'm not playing the Sophons or Vaulters, I can't complete this quest by searching curiosities. I can only achieve it by colonizing two unique planets. And, right now, in my corner of the galaxy, I can only see two: mine, and theirs.

Heroes are so, so valuable, and ... bye bye, principles.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/BLCleyv.png)

My vines reached Giasar by Turn 37, making Giazar the second system I've settled. Settling on Giazar made me fail a quest to search a quest marker there, which was for the best: it would have triggered.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/dCFB77c.png)

This is a great system, by the way, as I will have access to Hyperium as soon as I research the requisite tech.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/dCFB77c.png)

And as I prepare for war, the Unfallen choose fire, not light. Meaning that I can get access to special firearms that will basically jump me a couple of technological stages in the military quadrant. (The Pacifist reward gives a module that lets me gain Influence by destroying command points in space battles, which strikes me as less useful than something that helps me win those battles -- at least in the short term.)

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/lI24qM7.png)

As I write this on Turn 42, I've also entwined Procyon, wihch is the final system between me and the Lumeris (Koyasil [my homeworld] - Asteroid Field - Giazar - Procyon - Jenes [their homeworld].) On my way!

So ... I abandoned the game that I was playing. I got mired in a conflict with the Lumeris that I wasn't fully prepared for, and several turns out from the end of that "gain a hero" quest, I could tell I was going to fail at it. That sort of setback often prompts me to restart, as I did here. So I've restarted and I am playing as the Vaulters.

I'll post more of a story soon, hopefully this weekend. But I'm somewhere between 60-80 turns deep, and have just started a war with the Horatio. I'm much more confident in this game.

Finally I beat a regular Old World game! On second easiest difficulty but what the hell it's still a win. Obligatory victory picks.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/CvMOPqZ.jpg)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/VTXXUTi.jpg)

I've decided that this month ahead, I want to dive into the 4X games I've been meaning to finish, but that I keep getting distracted from. So, the first order of business: actually finish an Endless Space 2 campaign. Back at it as the Vaulters, who are my go-to when starting up a new game. I've played from Turn 1 to Turn 61. Screen shots are spoiler tagged to avoid clutter.

Spoiler: The game settings

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/2r9fhSa.png)

On starting, I discover a bunch of planets clustered around the Rejuvination Field. I’m going for Qarius because I can see the titanium, and I want that right away. To the left of Quarius, and straight down from the Rejuvination Field, we have two systems that harbor minor races. And as it turns out, this constellation is tiny.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/qSv8YSU.png)

Turn 5:
A new world: I choose the Sentinels (Militarist) option, to build 4 military structures. This will probably take a little longer than building the scientific structures. But, again, this gets me titanium.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/YAwmLQv.png)

I make a point of exploring widely at the beginning, and quickly discover a pair of unique planets: Bigeli (in turn 13) and Sahar (in turn 18). No Auriga, though, which I usually discover very eary.

Spoiler: Bigeli

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/jT8uyD4.png)

Spoiler: Sahar

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/822vUQX.png)

Turn 28: I assimilate the Kal'Tik'Ma (to the left of Qarius) after addressing their prophecy of doom. This is one of my favorite sidequests: the minor race is convinced that the apocalypse is coming, and you prevent it by basically showing them some real science.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/l52spV1.png)
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/HGdnxwt.png)

Turn 33: I finish building those military structures and the next Vaulters mission -- destroy a pirate lair, or sympathize with the pirates. Usually, I go with option #2. But that will take 12 turns minimum, and here I don't even have enough money or influence to get started right away. So, time for the pirates to die. Unfortunately the game chooses a pirate planet that’s outside of my starlanes, which will make it take longer for me to get there. (Note: the reward for clearing this version of the quest is Hellraiser Torpedos, and I have plenty of titanium to arm my ships with them.)

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Mfs2c6M.png)

Also, I assimilate the Z’Vali on Tylus (down from the Rejuvination Field.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/BvLx0Uo.png)

Turn 46: I destroy the pirate lair (it took me 13 turns, so this was the faster option!) and begin the Search for Auriga queust. Search, indeed: I still haven't found it! I don't think I've ever started this quest without already knowing where Auriga is. Definitely going with the "observe" option, as I love the Geological Vault improvement.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/TXXSUjB.png)

The map highlight says it's down and to the left of Corvus, in an area just beyond where I've explored:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/aftrhqx.png)

Turn 47 (the next turn): I find Auriga:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/NHbofUA.png)

Usually, as the Vaulters, I make a point of colonizing Auriga. It's already colonized this time by the Lumeris, but it's a low-priority planet: it's by itself in the system. Fitting.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/YdLoTmr.png)

Turn 61: The Standoff -- The galaxy is getting more crowded, and I finally obliterate the pirates at Sahar (one of the unique planets, above. I manage to swoop in with my colony ship and settle it right away, because the Sophons are en route and about to steal it out from under me. They settle in around my system just as I bring in my fleet, hopefully to prevent them from launching a ground assault. Here's the location of the standoff, and you can see our fleets highlighted in the bottom left of each image.

Spoiler: My fleet

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/e72HgYv.png)

Spoiler: The Sophons

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/vJ2LasC.png)

Also on Turn 61, I choose to save Opbot DV8. I always choose to save Opbot!

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/y1Rg9OP.png)

Love the Vaulters - thanks for the update that is very cool!

Thanks! I'm now up through about turn 110 and am within striking distance of the first of 4 techs needed for a science victory. Another writeup to come, as I sift through my screen shots!

Here's where things stand, through turn 116:

I went a while without taking any screenshots. But at around turn 98, several of the other empires started sending me messages saying that they're losing a war and that they'd be sending me a proposal for alliance -- without, then, actually offering me an alliance. This isn't the first time I've seen such messages, and I find them really confusing.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/w2erZec.png)

Turn 100: I constructed the ITER (Intergalactic Technology Center)! This is important to a science victory, though I think I waited too long to build it. It gives a discount on tech inflation but I think that only applies prospectively, so building it sooner will see a greater cumulative impact, kind of like reverse compound interest.

Spoiler: Construction Queue

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/w6x3q8u.png)

Spoiler: Constructed improvements

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/r5LOcUz.png)

Turn 101: I research Hyperfolding! Next up, Offensive Laboratories, which is also the last tech I'll need from the Science quadrant. Offensive Laboratories is one I'm curious about: it allows an improvement that boosts science by 20% for each empire you're at war with. I'm wondering if I can build a few of these, declare war on everyone, and supercharge my production.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ndid2k1.png)

Turn 103: I begin the siege of Veran, the Vodyani's homeworld. (This time, I am using the name "Vodyani" correctly.) They are a frustrating race to siege because if you don't bring their planet down in a single turn, they have a nearly limitless capacity to replenish their population and manpower. Like so:

Spoiler: Turn 103

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/WAgPOVa.png)

Spoiler: Turn 106

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Rmx5iE1.png)

Spoiler: Turn 107

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/gI2FtJo.png)

Spoiler: Turn 108

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/oaBO2jd.png)

Spoiler: The answer is tanks

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/CBoDvGt.png)

Also, during the siege: here's how profitable it can be to take down a behemoth with the right policies:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/d4JTcTr.png)

Turn 107: I hit tier 5 of the Economy & Trade section of the tech tree (wheel?). And, my science production is high enough that it feels like I'm just chewing through these techs. I move my scientific behemoth to orbit a node that will give me a discount on economy and trade techs, and I think the behemoth gives me about a 12% or 15% discount overall. Here's what it looks like, applied:

Spoiler: I select 2 techs to research

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/7Aygbu4.png)

Spoiler: And here are the tech boosts, and turns saved, after my behemoth finishes traveling

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ugQAMND.png)

Turn 112: Settled Ibany, the system right near my starting system. With anyone other than the Vaulters, I'd have picked this up long ago.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/OBJBLCr.png)

Turn 113: Here's a look at my victory progress:

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/MBLmub3.png)

Turn 116: I unlock the first of my Endless technologies. LET'S GO!

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/GpGq0R5.png)

And, I get my second scientific behemoth out. Because I've researched all the techs I need from the Science and Economy & Trade sections, I put this second behemoth on a node that'll boost military research. I'll move my first behemoth to the rejuvination field, where it'll boost my Empire section. But I'm not going to move it until I'm done with that first Endless tech.

Spoiler:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/fmf1CbM.png)

My plan for future science production: see how much of a warmonger I can be & how much that helps.

Science victory on turn 159!
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/ZzE5qiV.png)

Once I had that dual behemoth setup, I was just chewing through techs. I'll skip through a lot of the stuff right after where I was, and just go right to images from the end.

It's the only Endless Legend campaign that I've finished. Here, you can see that my score is actually second-place, but that is because four of the empires (Horatio / Lumeris / Sophons / Unfallen) had a four-way alliance set up, so their score counted collectively.
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/3JaITKE.png)

And here are some charts: overall score over time, and science production over time. You can see how much my science accelerated in the endgame:
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/DNvyNDo.png)
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/o5MDdV3.png)

Hey I beat Into The Breach. Back when the club was playing it I jumped back in to 100% the achievements.

100%ing those achievements is damn impressive. I love strategy games but for some reason I never really felt like I grasped that one.

Thanks guys and congrats! I’ll promote both of you here directly.

I'm going to take another pass at Old World, and see if I can actually finish a game. Pics & progress to come!

LastSurprise wrote:

I'm going to take another pass at Old World, and see if I can actually finish a game. Pics & progress to come!

Oh, nice! I look forward to this. I might join you in giving this a shot again. It's long been on my list.

Looking forward to hearing about it! Warning it’s extremely brutal - I consider myself a solid strategy player and I had to drop it to normal to have a shot. Also failed like 3 campaigns before beating it.

jdzappa wrote:

Looking forward to hearing about it! Warning it’s extremely brutal - I consider myself a solid strategy player and I had to drop it to normal to have a shot. Also failed like 3 campaigns before beating it.

Good to know. I might start with baby mode then.

EDIT: Played through the first two Learn to Play tutorials again after lunch. Baby steps.

Alright, so after much waiting, and an embarassing number of restarts, I'm back into Old World! I'm Babylon, on the Old World map, and as I write this I am at about Turn 67.

I started off as Babylon, restarted a whole bunch of times, then eventually gave up. It kept feeling like I got hemmed in by Assyria and Persia, and that I was forced into war, or got bottled up, too fast.

Then I played a game as Greece. And here, I felt like I got off to a good start, but then got constrained. Fighting wars on two fronts: against the Hatti, and against a constant wave of barbarian / tribal raiders. But ... during the Greek game, I had an ambition to explore 40% of the map. And in the course of that, I found that there were actually a couple of city sites near Babylon that I had never found, before! The map actually extended south a little farther than I thought, into the Persian Gulf.

So, armed with the knowledge that there were a couple more city sites, I dove back in. And, with a more aggressive push, I took control of a couple sites right on the border with Persia: in my last game, I lost out on one of those.

Pics:

Spoiler: Turn 1

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/94VhyMi.png)

Spoiler: The Extra City Sites are This Way

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/y1pDF3A.png)

Spoiler: Built The Oracle - Great Wonder for a Science-y Culture

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Sb1Zcff.png)

Spoiler: Turn 20

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/4RVN1HU.png)

In turn 20, you'll notice a scout perched on a city site. This will eventually become Susa, and it's the city that I lost to the Persians in my last go-round. As things stand, in this last image, Babylon's at the top with 8 victory points! (Of 71. This game likely will be decided by ambitions).

Nice! You look off to a great start LastSurprise!

Through turn 37:

Spoiler: The Third Ambition

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/AzOcIgy.png)

I got a really interesting ambition to build 6 barracks (for training melee) and ranges (for training ranged units). This came at the right time as I was thinking ahead to war with Assyria. And, because I didn't chose Babylon's military family, I didn't have any cities that were really good at military production. So this was great, for me.

Though if I had chosen the first option, stockpile 2,000 training, I would have finished much faster.

Spoiler: "Unfortunately, Nebuchadnezzar died before I could finish his goals.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/tSDNHBu.png)

Spoiler: The third option

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/d1JGyvO.png)

I love how this game often gives a choice between 2 options, with pros and cons, but if the leader has a certain trait you can chose an option with only positive outcomes--sometimes, a combination of the two. It happens infrequently enough to be a pleasant surprise, but not like something you can optimize for.

Spoiler: The Legacy of Nebuchadnezzar

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/KffBQtm.png)

Control 5 elder specialists? That tracks real well with my builder tendencies!

Spoiler: Queen Kashashya is an absolute beast of a governor, giving Babylon massive buffs

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/cTBRgIY.png)

Spoiler: Turn 34 - and, settling the Persian gulf

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/TnACacD.png)

Spoiler: Turn 37 - three ambitions done, two more in the queue

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/OnPPMzs.png)

I think I am pulling a classic move: deciding that I’m just not enjoying my current game enough, and starting over.

With Babylon it was a two-prong thing. First, as I’ve played, I’ve learned some basic things that will improve my play during the next go-round. For instance, did you know that workers are slightly more efficient in territory owned by their matching family? I didn’t, and I feel like paying attention to that simple rule will help my overall gameplay.

But second, just as I finished conquering Assyria, Persia’s leader died — and their new leader wanted either tribute or war. The tribute will be too much to bear, honestly. And war is exhausting: war with Assyria took a lot of time and energy, including a bunch of restarts to feel like I was even competent in using my units. And they were listed as “Similar” in terms of power. Persia is listed as stronger and I can see a lot of units in their territory.

So… lost the urge to keep playing, started over as Greece, again on the Old World map.

LastSurprise wrote:

I think I am pulling a classic move: deciding that I’m just not enjoying my current game enough, and starting over.

With Babylon it was a two-prong thing. First, as I’ve played, I’ve learned some basic things that will improve my play during the next go-round. For instance, did you know that workers are slightly more efficient in territory owned by their matching family? I didn’t, and I feel like paying attention to that simple rule will help my overall gameplay.

But second, just as I finished conquering Assyria, Persia’s leader died — and their new leader wanted either tribute or war. The tribute will be too much to bear, honestly. And war is exhausting: war with Assyria took a lot of time and energy, including a bunch of restarts to feel like I was even competent in using my units. And they were listed as “Similar” in terms of power. Persia is listed as stronger and I can see a lot of units in their territory.

So… lost the urge to keep playing, started over as Greece, again on the Old World map.

Sounds like you ran into the same problem I did with the game. While I like new ruler interactions in games like CK 3, they just feel out of place in a Civ-style game. I hate how a random new leader can just blow up plans you've been working on for the past 20 turns and there's nothing you can do about it. (Versus say Crusader Kings where you can assassinate them or afford to buy them off).

Yeah, I think it is partly that, and partly that I find turns so cumbersome sometimes. There is so much to do, so many things to manipulate. So I was really looking forward to some breathing room after the one war.

I also have a feeling that the orders system, and multiple moves / turn for a unit, is just needlessly complicated and hard to understand. When playing Civ, for instance, I never felt like I needed an extra system that limited the number of units I could move in any given turn, or would force me to trade promoting my governor, or using a worker, against fighting a battle. The opportunity cost of deciding what to build in which city, and on which tile, already produces plenty of trade-offs. And it feels like war requires me to commit all my orders to moving and attacking with my units, because the AI's pretty good and can easily make headway. Nor does the order system feels like it makes a whole lot of sense: if I'm governing Athens and my army's fighting a battle over at Byzantium, all the troop movements don't intuitively have anything to do with whether I have enough time to tutor my kid or make friends with an important noble.

It seems like the system is made necessary by the fact that units get multiple movements per turn -- which, to be honest, I also don't love. It's cool that the player gets flexibility, but then every turn it feels like untis come from out of nowhere, deep in enemy territory, and I lose the sense of being able to plan for where the enemy will come from.

Anyway, up to about turn 90 on my game with the Greeks, and I got brought back into war with the Hatti. I'm getting tired of these guys and may try to take one or two of their cities.