HRII was my second game as Borg, the first one being abandoned after a few turns when the host went belly-up. Just enough time for me to realize that assimilation is everything.
The game started with a note from the Crystal commander, Dines Petersen, inviting me to the conference table. I knew his reputation, but not his location, and I did not want to get involved in diplomacy before having an idea of my neighbors. When the first turn file arrived, I saw 2 clusters worth exploring - one north of my HW, and one large cluster south-west. The only approach less than 81 ly to this cluster from the west was through one planet, so my first probe went there in 2 jumps to set up a forward observation post. This was a good move, because a Crystal ship appeared there a few turns later. Dialogue was established, and my best move of the game was made: an alliance with the Crystals. Suddenly, the slow-developing Borg were assured of a shield that would defeat sneaky cloakers, and slow down any surprise attack.
It did not take too long before I discovered that my northern neighbours were the Privateers. I suddenly felt *very* happy about those webmines. A few MCBRs were eventually captured and a cloning program yielded some very nice tugboats.
I received a few communications from the Feds, who were to the west of the Crystals. We agreed to swap an FCC for a Loki. The cloning program now had to cope with cloning 2 useful ships. Fortunately, I had about 6 bases at the time, and could build or clone something almost every turn.
(Who profited from this trade? The Feds had a chance to build a chunnel net, but I don't think they ever got very far with it. The Lokis allowed me to attack Priv planets with impunity.)
The mineral situation was poor, as the game advertised, but I found a few planets with good deposits. The Borg talent for overstuffing planets with clans was useful, because supplies were piling up everywhere. A few Bovinoid planets were farmed, and later handed over to the Crystals. The Merlins repayed the minerals used to build them very quickly, and were kept busy supplying the vast quantities of minerals needed to build cubes. The Crystals farmed high-government planets, often with Borg clans, and provided MC when needed. Close co-operation between the Borg and Crystal allowed the building program to go well.
With the ship limit approaching, I switched to cube production. Only a few were built by the time the limit hit (I think about a dozen), but I had plans to open up the queue (evil grin).
The Feds were far too comfortable to the west of the Crystals. The treaty between the Crystals and Feds had expired, and the Fed made the cardinal error of not immediately defending his heartland with minefields and some heavy ships. I risked 3 MCBRs on a grav-pull, and was rewarded by capturing the Fed HW from 160 ly away. The queue moved! The fortune in MC lying around the place funded my building program nicely. I would have liked to have a spy in the Fed commander's HQ when he read the RST.
At this stage the game was won. None of the other players had built a war fleet or empire that could threaten the Borg/Crystal combination. We expanded slowly, fighting the Privateers in the North, and the Rebels in the West. (The Fed did not pose much of a threat after his HW and secondary base was destroyed.) Heavy carriers were coming in from the webfields, and we were taking no chances. I was still farming my factories and building cubes as fast as I could, leading the queue nicely to assure myself of a cube or two in exchange for useless ships on most turns. With the game lacking any excitement, the Borg demanded surrender from the other races.
This was my first game at the Lair, and I would like to thank Pick for this excellent service. I will certainly play here again.
Thanks to all the players who made HRII possible, in particular to my ally Dines who gave me much advice in the developmental stage of the game.
If there is a HRIII, I think the Borg should have a severely limited assimilation rate (say 34%). Their ability to manufacture supplies turned this game, because with few minerals the key to a large fleet is alchemy. However, the Borg still have to survive the early battles, and in this area force will not avail - diplomacy is the only way. This game was won because the Borg (the ultimate producer) was allowed to produce behind the webs of his ally.