or the Thoughts of the Confused Lizard
It has been a good tradition to thank all other players in the game for making it hard to win, and for providing an enormous stimulation to my neural activity while playing in Blind Blitz. I would also like to thank Pick, our charming host, for providing the opportunity for us to play on his site.
I would also mention that Vano Opulsky, my good friend in life and my teacher in VGA Planets, deserves as much credit for this pole position as I do. Despite his super-busy schedule, a family to care for, and a new pain-in-the-ass supervisor, he took over the game while I was on a "lovely" trip to Tajikistan.
I played one of my favorite races - the Lizards (second only to Colonies). From the very beginning I realized that some players, Dirk and Gil in particular, would love to kill me in the game, a realization which forced me to play extra careful. Thank you Gil and Dirk (hmm, should have mentioned them in the Epilogue).
The game, in Pick's explanation, had "random rich minerals, classic homeworlds in a medium circle around a random point; very high pop, cash and minerals on HW; default hconfig save for Loki's do NOT decloak Birds." The ExploreMap and Sphere add-ons were also used. The scenario was Invasion with 30 points to win the game.
I started in the top left corner of the map. The first turn I saw only my home and two other planets. That was it - not much and not promising.
My first action, naturally, was to abuse my enemies! Just to give you an impression about the information warfare, I will include some exerts from in-game messages.
"(I think either Gil or Dirk wrote this) Lizard Barbecue is next Friday, 7PM: Courtesy of our Reptile Brain, the Echo Cluster is kindly invited to an informal get-together at the Lizard homeworld. Please bring your beer along, food will be plentiful. Our chef plans on serving snake tongue in sauropod sauce, toasted turtle and amphibian appetizers. See you there, George Brag-A-Lot
FROM: The Fascist Empire, TO: The Lizard Alliance: Hey Lizard boy! No warships for me...just freighters. A little peaceful colonization, some mining and quiet exploring. I'm going to build a nice community with a stable economy. ....your friendly Fascist.
FROM: The Lizard Alliance, TO: The Fascist Empire: Hey Klingon boy! Lizards feature poorly in a stable society, particularly one with a stable economy. Be warned that if we find you we will attempt to destroy it! Defense against us is futile! Conceit! George
FROM: The Fascist Empire, TO: The Lizard Alliance: Lizard boy if I see any of your ships with their grubby little crews near my peaceful planets I'll change my non-aggression policy to one of extermination! Once I get started, this Echo Cluster will be filled with Lizard droppings left by your scared crews!"
All these messages were fun to read and write, of course, but I was losing the info warfare. Every player in the game must have thought I was an absolute asshole, so info on me started pouring towards the enemy, and by Turn 4 Dirk, the Robots, sent me a message informing me that he knew where I lived. Soon thereafter, he sent a universal message (most of the messages were universal) in which he openly gave the coordinates of my homeworld. I started feeling a bad taste in my mouth and prepared for the worst.
Fortunately, at Turn 2, I detected the ships of my neighbors. On my right was the Privateer. On my left were the Birds. From the location of those ships, I was able to determine (as it turned out later on, quite accurately) where the homes of the two were although I still did not see any planets outside my immediate area.
When I realized that the Priv lived only 230ly away from my home, and the Bird only 251ly on the other side, I knew I was going to get visitors VERY soon. So I immediately set to produce a Loki on Transwarps, with Disruptors and Mark8s. I wanted to use it to uncover the area towards the Privateer. Later on, I thought that Mark8s were an overkill and that I could have done well with Mark7s, but at the point of building the ship, I wanted to make something that could kill almost everything the Priv would set against me. Plus, I had the money to do so :)
The next turn, I set to build another Loki. This time with StarDrive1 engines, X-rays and Gamma tubes. Don't be laughing at me! Let me finish. That ship proved INVALUABLE, for your information. I understand that such a ship is very weak. But it was not a fighting ship - its purpose was to capture MBRs :). How could it do that? Check F5 in VPA and you will see. My logic was simple: judging from experience from playing for the Priv and fighting against them, I knew that it was a rare Priv who equipped his ships to fight. Why put expensive weaponry when your strategy is robbing, and not fighting? So, I thought, the MBRs would have no tubes, and nothing more than x-rays.
Someone once said - build them and they will come! And so the Priv came. Three turns later. At Turn 7, to be precise. My weakling ship had his fcode set to fight first. And he did :). And who did he fight? An MBR with x-rays :).
After getting my MBR, I felt a lot more confident. First, I knew the Priv would not come back (afterall, very few of us are masochists and want to be hurt multiple times). That gave me some breeding room. Second, I could now fly 160ly a turn, expanding my possessions, not fearing that somebody would decloak me, and not fearing that I would lose the ship after just a single minehit. That is the beauty of the Lizard. By then (turn 9), I have also built three additional bases on Sili, Bovi and Amphi worlds, producing hissers and hissing like crazy for the money. Everybody's happines was at 40, sometimes even below that, but I was getting a nice paycheck every turn!
The money was important. By turn 10, I already had a nicely-armed rex guarding my home. I also bought some fighters for the base. Just to play it safe against those nasty DarkWings of my nearby "friend." Better safe than sorry, they say. The money also allowed me to clone the captured MBR (man, those things are expensive as hell for the money one has that early in the game).
In terms of strategy, I made the decision to strike against the Priv first (surprise, surprise). But I had to play it safe with the Birds. If I were to sign a treaty with him, I would have reduced my targets from which to get points. On the other hand, I did not have the power to take both the Priv and the Birds, while at the same time expanding my economy. So I concentrated on creating a mobile attack unit to strike against the Priv, while taking careful expansion steps not to scare the Birds. I decided that expanding towards him would have made him attack me, so I put only 1 clan on most of our border planets (for early warning if he were to attack me). I built one strong base in that area, again mostly for defensive purposes.
The Birds had a number of ships checking my area (I kept getting constant reports on my planet codes being changed). He kept insisting that we sign an alliance. I kept postponing my answer and generally winning time.
Then hell broke loose. The Robotic hell, of course. Dirk went mad and, with or without Gil's help (I don't know for sure) scored an early kill against the Evil. Turn 13 marked the end of the Evil, who died easily, painlessly and left no legacy behind. The Robots started earning points. Damn! The game was slipping right under my feet! Naturally, I did not want to be excluded from the apportionment of the universe. And naturally, by that turn the game entered into the mid-game phase.
Ok, I understand I have written a lot. If you are already bored, then set this piece aside and go do something else. But for those that find it useful, I will continue writing....
The Mid Game
As I mentioned, the Robot started earning points, while I was still into "diplomacy" mode. But then suddenly I got help. Not directly, of course, but by attacking the Birds, the Rebel and the Fed kept him too busy to engage in harmful activity against me. Feeling bold, and realizing it is time to seize the day, I sent a cloaked LCC stocked with fuel and clans towards the Birds' home, and 2 rexes in the company of a Loki towards the Priv. At turn 17, I went on a trip, placing the command in the able hands of Vano Opulsky.
For those who don't know him, let me mention that he is the greatest guerrilla leader after Ho Chi Min. He not only continued my forceful drive, but added an extra punch to it :).
At Turn 18, the Priv home was attacked with 2 rexes and a Loki. The Priv successfully held the planet with a NUK trap, thus delaying by 1 turn my point-earning. By dropping colonists and towing off his fuelless ships I ended that nonsense and the planet became, starting at turn 19, permanently mine.
Turn 18 also marked the beginning of the end for the Crystal, who lost his home. More points to the Robot/Fascist alliance!
Fast forward to Turn 20. While not "seeing" the Borg home, its position could be determined from his wild jumps. Since the Borg was way down in the Tim score, an assumption was made that he probably lacks ships to defend his home, so 2 MBRs picked up 2 rexes and towed them in Borg's direction, taking on the way Priv planets and staying covered from curious eyes.
While I was dealing with the Priv and making my hideous plans to take control over the Borg's home from his unable hands, a Rebel/Fed alliance was successfully canning the Birds. At Turn 24, they finally canned him for good and destroyed his home. The Bird had it for a turn by using the NUK trap, but he couldn't do much past that.
The Rebel/Fed took everything into account to kill the Bird, but they must have forgotten about me and my ambitions. Since Turn 17, I had an LCC over Birds home, patiently awaiting my chance. At Turn 25, I unseccussfully attempted taking the planet from the Rebel with ground assault. I did not succeed, but I took his Tranq for a ride next door, where a pack of rexes swiftly dealt with it. With no mine-laying ships, the Rebel's Rushes were doomed. Now, I understand that each Rush is capable of destroying 2-3 rexes, but I had about 15 in the area. With MBRs to constantly replenish the dead rexes, I felt confident.
Then suddenly, out of the blue, the Robot comes with a probe and takes over the planet! I am not sure what arrangements were made, but apparently Bird's home was stated to go to the Robots. Not a chance!
Turn 28 was absolutely the turning point in the game! It should be affixed to the history of that game. Had the operation undertaken over the Bird's home not happened, I wouldn't have finished at the pole.
On that turn, I had an LCC and an MBR over the Bird's home. They had the company of 2 Fed Lokis and a Kitty, a Rush a Robotic probe. The planet was in Robot's hands. My calculations showed that unless I take the planet this turn, the Robot would finish first. This is how it all happened:
I realized that killing all the enemy ships at one location would have been impossible, as I could not assemble that many rexes in one position at that turn. So I had the LCC ground assault the planet and towing a Kitty towards a rex that was being pulled by an MBR. The MBR (which was over the Bird's home) towed away the Rush to an approaching pack of 4 rexes. Another pack of 4 rexes attacked the planet. In a huge battle, the enemy lost the planet, a Kitty, a Rush, 2 Lokis, a Missouri and a Diplomacy. Only the probe got away :). My losses in comparison were very modest - 3 rexes.
After the Turn 28 operation, the enemy was at a total loss. They did not have enough ships that could reach the Bird's home before the end of the game. While I had a constant supply of rexes (thank you Priv for that early MBR!), only at the very end did they enlist the Priv as a taxi driver, and by then it was all over. The Rebel tried to change the course of history by bringing over some Rushes, but they all died fighting - the odds were overwhelmingly against them.
The game ended at Turn 34, never even approaching the typical end game conditions - i.e. the ship or minefield limits were never reached.
Thoughts on my opponents:
Robot: excellent play; made an early kill against the Evil. Protected his possessions well - the MBRs that I sent died in his fields, never reaching the target. It was only a miracle (and Vano's help) that he did not win the game.
Fascist: dedicated too much effort in helping the Robot. Allowed me to take Borg's home despite being much closer to it than I. Overall, uninspiring play. Then again, I never saw his ships or saw battles to factually comment on his performance.
Fed & Rebel: good blitz against the Bird. Unable to handle real opposition though :).
Evil: ay-ay-ay, how could you die so quickly? Your should have known where the Robot is and should have planned to stop him. Loosing 2 Gorbies and not killing any of his ships is a disaster. What exactly did you do with the free fighters from your base? Why didn't you build more bases?
Priv: definitely a player who need evaluate his play. You should have been the king of the rock. When you have a nearby Lizard, always find friends to help you or enemies to supply you with the pumping iron. Did you steal a ship for the entire game?
Borg: became known for the guy to lose the most medium freighters ever. That seemed his biggest achievement.
Birds: competent player, but should have made more attempts at defending. Never saw a minefield. Flew freely through the territory. Nice guy!
Crystal & Colonies: never figured how these two races can lose in such a game. A Crystal player should always make intricate webs protecting his home. Throw some webs, and no one, with the exception of the Colonies, can do much about it without loosing a sizable portion of its force in it. And how could the Colonies lose? You have the fuel, you have the cheap Virgo, you have the fighters. What more is there to ask?
Message to Pick: IMHO, with such a scenario, particularly when homes are so close to one another, you need to strengthen such races like Evil, Fascist and Fed.