Before the report, a few words about the setup of this game. Evolutionary War is a 3x3 teamgame with teams based on racial background, and with that on similarity, rather than making three mixed teams. Teams consist of the Humans (Feds, Rebels and Colonies), Deviants (Lizards, Birds and Fascists) and the Machines (Borg, Empire and Robots).
As can be concluded from these formations, the Deviants would be on one side of the tactical spectrum (cloak and dagger, utilize groundattack advantages) with the Machines on the other end (build large carriers, build lots of fighters and start rolling) with the Humans somewhere between that (plenty of medium ships and a couple of nice large carriers). This was the first time this setup with its few configuration tweaks was used, so we did not know if the teams would be balanced or not.
Pre-War Decision Making
Before the dispute over total dominance on the evolutionary ladder could start, the cluster was divided in three and each species got to pick their homeworlds within their part of the cluster. We, the Humans, were assigned the northeast portion of the cluster. Choosing homeworlds was more difficult than we thought. Should we pick homeworlds close to the borders with the other races so they would not venture in to our space too much before running into us, but with the risk of being the victim of an early attack? Or should we place our homeworlds way back in the safe part of the cluster at the risk of having our enemies colonize and/or assimilate a whole bunch of "our" empty planets before we could stop them? In the end, we decided to go for the throat - place homeworlds near the border with the other species.
At this point, we didn’t know who was on which side of us. So the next decision we had to make was which of our races to put where. This wasn’t at all easy either - Feds had to be in a position to offer refit to both others and were also the most likely candidate to do most of the minelaying, Colonies had to sweep mines and make fuel on their Aries’, Rebels had to have most of the bases to build Rushes and had to provide us with Falcons to jump around. The Colonies with their minesweeping abilities and their bioscanner were finally placed in the center, with the Feds to the north and the Rebels to the east. Homeworlds were placed near hyperjump-distances from each other, so Falcons could connect our empires and assist in exchanging ships and planets.
Early Stages of Evolution
The beginning of the game was a bit of a gamble, when we placed a lot of emphasis on connecting our empires. The Rebel built a second base to produce Falcons as early as turn four, while the Feds checked planets near their homeworld for a next Rebel base, which would produce the necessary Rushes as soon as possible. In turn 8, the Rebels possessed a nice Bovinoid planet near the Federation homeworld which became a base in turn 13. These Bovinoids had a tribal government so not having them taxed by the Feds with their 200% tax rate wasn’t much of a setback, and the nice amounts of minerals in the planet’s core were much easier mined by the Rebels than the Feds could ever do. The Colonies and Feds in the meantime sent a Cobol and a Brynhild towards enemy space, checking for planets with nice climates and native populations. This would come in handy later on, when we would know what planets would hurt our enemies most if we were to take them from them.
The honor of first contact went to the Colonies, who ran into a Borg probe no later than turn 5 when the probe took over a freshly colonized Colonial planet. Fortunately it had a rather bad climate and no native population, so this planet was of no immediate concern. In turn six, the Brynhild discovered it’s first enemies: Fascist-colonized planets. Fortunately, this was quite a nice distance from our own planets so our fears of a heavy groundattack-war on our own planets in the early stage of the game would not come true. However, in hindsight this made us feel too secure about our positions and we decided not to lay too many minefields yet but rely on defending ships orbiting our key planets.
Come turn 10, we were getting a clear picture of our enemies’ locations. The Fascists were obviously to the west of the Feds, in the center of the cluster huge Robotic minefields were detected, Lizards took over a Colonial outpost by groundattack and a lone Birdmen Resolute was heading straight for the Colonial homeworld. Turn 14, add the Borg to the list of sightings: freighters to the south. The Empire was apparently located near the border between the Machines and the Deviants.
The Colonies Getting "Lost"
Turn 15, The Lizards decided to help the Colonies into character by taking out their Homeworld. An unexpected setback, but nothing we couldn’t overcome. Luckily, the Deviants were unwilling or unable to push any further and stopped at the Colonial Homeworld. This left the Colonies without a home but still in ownership of their two most important planets - with a halfway decent colonist population, 9 million Monarchy Bovinoids and 10 million Unity Reptilians the Colonies were nowhere near exterminated. What was annoying though that taking the Colonial homeworld delivered the Lizards a freshly built Merlin. And the Colonies also had to go looking for a new homeworld on a safe location. In the meantime, we also had to stop the cloaker invasion. This is where the Machines came in.
Word was sent to the Machines of the cloaker invasion, and their help was asked - presented in the form of a golden opportunity for them. We figured with the Colonies on the run and cloakers pouring into the center of the cluster, the Robots might like to claim the territory by laying some nice big minefields. This would halt the cloakers, and with the Colonies "out of the way" it would be hard for anyone to get through there. After some consideration, Robot minefields started to pop up while we had started to lay some minefields of our own as well. Some Lizard cloakers suffered a mine hit and were consequently killed by our defending ships, which was the last we would see of the Deviants in quite a while. The plot to secure the center had worked.
Going to War
The actual war began between the Rebels and the Robots. I suppose they were just too close to each other or something, or they were just eager to get into battle. Whichever way, these two got at it and that was the beginning of the end. The end for the machines, that is. The Rebels sent out some groups of Rushes, supported by Colonial minesweepers and the odd Federation-controlled Rush for extra firepower. The Machines, to put things mildly, were not ready for this. Many planets that used to belong to the Borg and the Robots fell into Rebel hands, the huge minefields the Robots had laid in defense were swiftly removed and the Rebel empire prospered.
While the Rebels were pushing the machines around in the south, the Colonies had time to rebuild an empire and produce hordes of Virgos. Aided by the Rebels and the Federation, they came to play a dominant role in the center of the cluster after all. The Colonials had found a new home at a humanoid planet deep inside safe territory. With what they had gathered on their way there, they built a new base on and the friendly Rebels HYPed in clans and money, which were unloaded the same turn the Falcons arrived via starbase unload.
This base produced some 5 or 6 Virgos before the shiplimit hit and about the same amount was built on a Fed-supplied Colonial base in safely mined Federation territory. The Colonies, aided by the Federation, set up a strong beachhead around the two Colonial planets near the old Colonial homeworld, with lots of small minefields and Virgos protecting the two important bases. At turn 45, the Colonies reclaimed their homeworld from the Borg who had apparently taken it from the Deviants.
During the buildup of the war, Federation efforts consisted mainly of minelaying and a lot of refitting. The Rebels and Colonies combined had built heaps of large carriers, a quick count around turn 45 showed 31 Virgos and close to 70 Rushes. It was quite a lot of work to supply such a big fleet with fighters and fuel, although the Rebels seemed to manage quite nicely despite their large numbers of carriers in operation. The alchemy facilities of our Aries’ and Merlins (we had decided early in the game we’d need lots of them and built them accordingly) were working day and night.
The Deviant Annoyance
As far as we can tell, the Deviants have been pretty quiet during the war. We suppose they’ve been going at it against the Machines, because they have not bothered us much - at least not in an organized fashion. All in all, the Deviants have taken out the Colonial homeworld early on and some minor planets through groundattack later on, but the only Darkwing we ever saw faced a Federation Rush (actually that is when we first and last saw it, in the VCR), which was the end of that.
The Fascist, located next to the Federation, succeeded in making minelaying a top priority for the Feds, and were about to finally take out a Falcon-built Fed base deep inside their own territory when the game ended, but otherwise played no role of importance. The Lizards and Birdmen were all but invisible. Of course cloaking is the nature of these races, but we had expected some serious trouble for them. Perhaps the game’s premature end came at a time they were just planning their attack, but we’ll never know.
Ending it All
The war was called to an end at turn 58, with all races still alive and not even in that bad a shape. The Machines and Deviants together proclaimed the Humans to be the winner. We do not know the reasons for this decision. The Machines were, in their own words, being overrun by Human firepower. Which is true to some extent, but they were not as chance less as they probably thought themselves. But then again, perhaps the regular scores are a poor reflection of their strength/weakness.
Why the Deviants gave up so easily we’ll never know. Both the Machines and the Deviants had had to look for replacement commanders during the game and had missed some turns for those races (Fascists and Empire),which probably had something to do with it. Team spirit and thinking together accounted for a lot of fun and good moves within the Human team (bouncing ideas back and forth, combining moves, talking strategy etceteras) so the lack of team cohesion probably put a damper on things on the other teams.
All in all most of the fighting was done by the Rebels, who had an average of maybe a dozen VCRs per turn for the last 20 turns. Due to some mistakes by the Machines, the Rebels even encountered a handful of fighter-less cubes. Throughout the whole game the Rebels kept on harassing the Machines with several RGAs every turn.
The Rebels, set to break the Lair’s all time record for most kilotons sunk, sunk close to 16,000 kts of battle mass on their own. The Feds managed to sink 8,700 kilotons, the Colonies 5,500, while the Machines together sunk only a good 11,000 kilotons.
The most fun we’ve had was probably the propaganda war on the Lair forum, trying to get our enemies to think we were having serious conflicts within the team really added to the fun. We really recommend active use of the forum to anyone, especially in team games.
Thanks a bundle to Pick for hosting this game, especially since it’s such a custom setup which is always a risk. Many thanks to our enemies too, who had the courage to sign up for an experimental scenario in which they didn’t know in advance how balanced the teams would be. We are looking forward to playing in Evolutionary War II, and are happy to offer everyone a shot at revenge there.