For thousands of years, our galaxy has been populated by advanced, space-faring civilizations. While we humans were still deciding whether fire was a good thing, advanced alien cultures were uniting their worlds under one rule. It wasn't until the dawn of the 23rd century on Earth that humans, a relative newcomer on the scene, introduced the galaxy to Hyperdrive. This technology enabled quick and cheap interstellar travel between worlds.
The unintended consequence of Hyperdrive was the infamous "Colony Rush" that many have spoken of (and is told in Galactic Civilizations I). The galaxy quickly became colonized by the major galactic powers.
Two of those empires, The Drengin Empire and the Arcean Empire, had the resources and logistics to dominate the galactic colony rush. They also both had the military power to protect their claims.
The humans, by contrast, presented themselves as the merchants and diplomats of the galaxy. A benign, youthful power with little interest in military. The ruthless and cruel Drengin Empire saw the humans as weak and a ripe target once the Arcean Empire was dealt with.
As the 23rd century began, an undeclared war between the Drengin Empire and the Arcean Empire unfolded. Fought almost exclusively in isolated quadrants of the galaxy, the Drengin Empire slowly ground down the Arceans.
The Drengin set their sights on the humans who they saw as easy prey. But they were no fools, the Drengin were quite familiar with the diplomatic skills of the Terran Alliance. Instead of directly assaulting the humans, they set up a puppet regime using the minor civilization known as the Xendar.
The warlike Xendar were armed and funded by the Drengin and soon began to terrorize Terran Alliance colonies. In 2215 (which falls after GalCiv I: Altarian Prophecy but before GalCiv II: Dread Lords) the Xendar conquered a Terran Alliance colony in the most brutal fashion imaginable.
This is where the Drengin Empire got to see the real nature of human beings. The Xendar no longer exist. The Terran Alliance responded militarily so ruthlessly and swiftly that the Xendar were destroyed. The Terran Alliance defeated the Xendar so completely that the the Xendar ceased to exist, even as a minor civilization (and don't even appear in Galactic Civilizations II in any form despite lengthy discussions of them).
It was only at this time that the Drengin Empire started to take a serious look at the humans and came to realize that, up until recently, the humans were master war makers. In fact, human success, in their opinion, came so quickly (relatively speaking -- the apes of Sol 3 were still hunting and gathering just 6,000 years ago while the Drengin Empire were occupying other planets) because of their war making ability. The benign diplomat facade of the humans was a very thin layer on top of a formidable warrior race. The humans, it would seem, were not ones to be trifled with.
Of the Thalan
In 2225, a new civilization showed up out of nowhere called the Thalan. Little was/is known about the Thalan other than rumor that their initial colony/military force came from the future with the intent to stop the humans from destroying the entire galaxy.
Yet, as 2226 rolled around, the Drengin Empire had emerged victorious in their military conquest of much of the galaxy. As the events of Dark Avatar unfolded, the only serious threat to the Drengin Empire was the Drengin Empire which fell into civil war as the Korath faction (who make up the bulk of the shock troops) rebelled against the main Drengin Empire.
The humans, however, remained onconquered. Earth, protected behind an energy shield, remains free with its primary military fleet inside a pocket universe from which the Dread Lords emerged. Of their fate, we know nothing of yet.
Lest one thing that the Drengin Empire is all powerful, it is worth nothing that the Terran Alliance, with only a fraction of the resources and manpower of the ancient and terrible Drengin Empire, was able to go toe to toe with the Drengin. Only the intevention of the Dread Lords, whom the human-led coalition defeated, were the Drengin able to win decisively.
By the end of 2226, however, with the Drengin and Korath in control of vast amounts of resources, they are, essentially unstoppable. The civil war between them has allowed both sides to become immensely powerful. Even if the human fleet returned completely intact from the pocket universe, its force wouldn't even equal one sub-group of a single Drengin or Korath fleet (of which each has 5 or 6 of and each had 3 sub-groups) -- a 15 to 1 disadvantage against each.
Worse, the human-led coalition is gone. The Arceans are defeated. The Torians are occupied. The Altarians are occupied. And two of the major powers were utterly annihilated (which is covered in Dark Avatar).
But what of the Thalan? Neither the Drengin nor the Korath can even find a Thalan home world. While the Thalan are sometimes defeated in a given quadrant when found, they seem to keep popping up.
This is the story of the battle of the Ceres Quadrant in which only the Drengin, Humans, and Thalan fought it out. The Thalan know the Drengin are vile but seem convinced that the destiny of the human race is to destroy the galaxy.
The war is not over
In the Ceres quadrant, the war is not over. The governor of Paramount is General Arathon. A veteran of the Xendar war, Arathon has no intention to allow the Drengin Empire to take this quadrant. But he has been given relatively little to work with. The planet Paramount is nothing special and no survey ship has been provided to explore this quadrant and capture any remaining Precursor technology.
Only the TAS Hope and Space Miner 3 are quickly available for General Arathon. A whole quadrant waits and we know that the Drengin are out there..somewhere.
The Terran Alliance base planet in this quadrant is called Paramount. It is, basically, a giant grass planet with a small ocean.
But what makes the general have hope is the discovery of Qualis. A masive world with a smaller than normal iron core causing the overall gravity to be not too much different from Earth's yet with much more surface area. It's a class 26 paradise!
Qualis is possibly the most beautiful world the Terran Alliance has ever seen. A class 26 world on the doorstep of planet Paramount.
While all seemed to be going well, it was that first summer that the Ceres expeditionary force came into contact with the Thalan. The Thalan had largely sat out the war and were no friends of the Terran Alliance. At the same time, they generally were not hostile in tactical quadrant meetings like this.
The Thalan don't trust humans but they never explain precisely why other than cryptically alluding to crimes to be committed by humans at some future date.
One of the most debated topics on Earth throughout the war has been the subject of "localized diplomacy". That is, Quadrant expeditionary force commanders (like General Arathon) being able to negotiate treaties that cover a given quadrant. This first came up in a big way back in 2180 (now over 40 years ago) when Governor Tsula in the Vega quadrant had an all out war with the Drengin Empire that only affected his quadrant.
The most notorious example of localized diplomacy was the recently declassified alliance between the Drengin Empire and the Terran Alliance versus the Yor for a shared control of the Gamalon quadrant in 2205. What people don't realize is just how vast space is. They see tactical maps of quadrants and everything looks very close. But in reality, these plants and stars are light years apart. In that kind of isolation, Quadrant commanders make all kinds of deals.
Now that the Terran Alliance and Drengin Empire are in a galaxy-wide war, localized diplomacy is even more controversial since in many cases, the Drengin and Humans are not immediately at war with one another on the spot. That is because there are many other powers in this galaxy, some of whom are still unknown to us and control of the quadrant is the goal, not slaughter for the sake of slaughter.
Still, General Arathon, while many light years from Earth, is under tremendous pressure to not make any deals with the Drengin.
Since General Arathon wasn't provided with any survey ships, he had to design his own. Without the help of Earth, it was a much less impressive ship than the typical survey ship but it would do the job.
Arathon used the standard issue F-1 series of star fighters but upgraded with sensors. The F-1 Space Warrior was the result:
The F-1 Space Warrior is a basic but effective ship.
The Survey team had found the edge of Drengin influence in this quadrant. A massive asteroid belt called the Auran cloud presented a moddest obstacle. While displayed in 2D as a "line", it was in reality massive cloud of debris. The Survey ship believes that a massive Precursor battle was fought in this quadrant (Which would explain why Qualis -- the class 26 planet -- is here).
Soon, the quadrant was set. The players had made their claims. Now it was just a matter of who would own the quadrant when all was said and done.
The Terran Alliance (blue) has a strong position versus the Drengin (red). But the Thalan have unexpectedly taken a strong claim.
To hold this territory, General Arathon's team designed the F-3 War Hawk. This ship had a reasonably good defense capability coupled with the ability to survey space for Precursor artifacts!
The War Hawk was the new ship of the line for surveying and defense in this first phase of the quadrant battle.
So what were the Drengin and Thalan doing at this phase? While no one can be certain what was in the hearts and minds of the Thalan and Drengin before the war began, it is clear each had their own strategies.
The Drengin Empire
The Drengin home world of Ulca had a generally decent lay out:
Drengin's Ulca base world had a decent mix.
But it was their space superiority fighter that made us nervous:
The Drengin Heavy Fighter "Ulk'athit" was superior to our fighters in virtually every way. Nearly a football field long, they had a crew of 5 and cost 152bc.
Thalan Base World of Nehte
Nehte was much more concentrated on research than the Drengin were. But their apparent military units were not demonstrating this technological advantage:
The Thalan fighter was relatively wimpy.
By no means can we say that the Thalans aren't a threat. The Terran Alliance power in this quadrant was relatively poor too.
The power of spies
Through our spying network, we learned that the Thalan were well on their way to constructing The Restaurant of Eternity which would have vastly magnified their influence in this quadrant. Arathon ordered the rush construction of our own Restaurant of Eternity even though it would put the quadrant into 3.1 trillion credits in debt stopping all production for some time.
It was time to go on the offensive.
The build up
The Drengin Empire were our enemies on a galactic scale. There was no question they would need to be removed from the quadrant.
The galaxy in the twilight of the peaceful time
The new F-20 Space superiority fighter was the top in the quadrant.
Backing up the F-20 was the Phalanx class Frigate with 16 beam attack and 8 defense against mass drives (what the Drengin have specialized in).
The Thalan were slowly taking apart my spy network.
The Pirate Wars had begun
The galaxy is a big place and we know there are other civilizations out there who we simply don't know about. Occasionally their forces come into play in the form of pirates. Sometimes, they are quite lethal. The great pirate war came in the midst of the build up of all sides and would have a great impact on the destiny of the quadrant.
Across the galaxy, the migrating swarms of "pirates" decimated the military power of all three civilizations.
Impossibly powerful, the pirates were overwhelming.
The Pirate's main weapons platform carried "Nano Ripper" based mass drivers giving each an attack of 35.
So who are the Pirates? The handful that have been captured over the years speak a language that is untranslatable (and they aren't cooperative). There are several different species of pirate. Some are migratory. That is, they pass through "civilized" parts of the galaxy looking for soft targets to raid. Others appear to be part of a vanguard of powerful civilizations that lurk within the unexplored depths of the Milky Way galaxy.
While all 3 sides had to contend with the pirates. The Terran Alliance had special anti-Pirate forces put together into task forces:
But against the pirates...
...They were canon fodder
As General Arathon noted at the time, the scary thing isn't that these ships are preying on our quadrants. The scary thing is that there is at least one unknown civilization in the galaxy that is producing ships that have an unlimited range that can decimate entire fleets of our best ships.
Soon, not a single ship remained. The pirates had wiped out every ship in the galaxy. Our stealth probes enabled us to watch helplessly as the pirates harvested the resources from destroyed ships.
And as if things couldn't get worse...
The pirates control space and microbes are wiping us out. Is there a connection? It seems pretty obvious that the Pirates have a larger plan. We are being..exterminated. It is not at all clear whether a cure can be found in time.
The path to a cure is not easy and it is very expensive. But with thousands dying a day, what choice did the Terran Alliance have?
The economic damage was massive. Millions had died from the disease before a cure was found. The Drengin and Thalan were not far behind in researching the cure (with the ability to research this boosted in v1.6b2).
Slowly over time, as the cure took its effect, the pirates started to move on. Those that didn't move on were taken out bit by bit by the military power of the 3 civilizations in the quadrant.
Moreover, a new Dreadnought level ship was developed -- the Arathon Dreadnought.
The Arathon was designed to finish off the pirates and lead the vanguard to take the quadrant.
The Thalan War
The Thalan leader in this quadrant was assassinated on a routine business trip. A flimsy pretext for the war we suspected the Thalan always wanted.
The Drengin see an opportunity and use it!
The Drengin are always looking for a fight...
But the Thalan are no pushovers...
The Thalan war machine gears up faster than anyone could have expected. And soon their coordinated attacks have paved the way for planetary invasion. Lucille is taken.
The Thalans take a world
The Thalans also introduce an incredibly scary looking ship. Their Dreadnought!
The Thalan Dreadnought is over 1.5KM long and has a crew of nearly 1,400.
The Thalan are just obscenely tough here. Even the Drengin are having problems.
The Drengin come for aid.
The Thalan take Paramount.
The Thalan go right for the throat and conquer Paramount in a surgical attack. General Arathon moves to Qualis, the most powerful world in the Terran Alliance (in this quadrant anyway).
After battling to a stalemate, the Thalan agree to a truce. The human diplomacy super-ability comes in handy and the Drengin and Thalan now struggle to the death while we rebuild.
We're not proud to admit it but while the Thalan were preoccupied with the Drengin, the Terran Alliance launched a surprise attack to retake Paramount. It was successful though it cost a lot of troops.
In response, the Thalan put together human extermination task forces. The first of which is on its way to Gibraltar in the Lentz system.
The Terran Alliance starts to regain local space superiority. But has a long way to go to move from the defensive to the offensive.
The Thalan strategy was starting to become clear. They had researched infrastructure technologies early on rather than weapons. Now that war was afoot, they were rapidly building up advanced weaponry. It was now a race. The Terran Alliance had better weapons and defenses but a much smaller economy.
In head to head battles, the two sides slugged it out. Massive damage on both sides but the Terran Alliance was slowly clearing out its space.
With any luck, soon the border worlds within the Terran Alliance sphere of influence would be ready to take. The balance of power militarily was still far in favor of the Thalan, however.
The Thalan were successfully holding off and in fact edging out the combined strength of the Drengin Empire and Terran Alliance. The Drengin military was nearly crushed as the Thalan had total space superiority in Drengin space. The Terran Alliance, by contrast, could claim its space was..contested.
The only way to keep up economically with the Thalan was the decision to use a Star Federation as the form of government. This meant that General Arathon could no longer just dictate but now had to answer to a very cranky senate, many of whom could care less about Earth's overall agenda.
The Drengin do not accept failure. With their military being brought to its knees by the Thalan, their attempts to find super weapons have grown more desperate. An energy pulse was detected from very far away. It is that "Dark Energy" spectrum which, for all intent and purposes might as well be called magic. But according to our intelligence, the effect of this pulse is to work on the Drengin DNA (the ones who captured the artifact that generated the pulse). It doesn't work galaxy-wide thankfully but it will affect the Drengin in this quadrant.
There is considerable debate as to whether an artifact such as this one is where the Korath came from in the first place. But that is a different story. The bottom line is that the Drengin, if they survive, will become increasingly more powerful.
Two ships in particular gained a fierce reputation. The TAS Michigan and the TAS Virginia.
As level 8 capital ships, the experience gained by their crew had resulted in a ship that had twice as many hitpoints as a base ship of the same class. They were incredibly lethal. A recent refit (an expensive one) had increased their weapons and defenses to be optimal against the Thalan. They would lead the spearhead.
The Arathon IV class ships were a Mark 8 (8th generation) ship. They had become incredibly effective against the Thalan Mark 7 ships. The Thalan mostly built battleships. We hadn't seen a Mark 8 Dreadnought yet. But to give you an idea, a Mark 7 Dreadnought, which we have seen, has an attack rating of 81 and a defense of 11 (the TAS Michigan has an attack rating of 80 and defense rating of 60). We had the lead but they were catching up.
The TAS Virginia -- Level 8 with 152 hit points. About double the base thanks to all its XP.
The Tide Turns
Rhetoric can be a powerful tool. But when the question "Should all wars be ended" is put to a vote and you vote "Yes" and your opponents vote No, you know that the fat lady is warming up. The tide had turned.
The Thalan vs. Human bar graphs showed things to be pretty close.
But this was the key graph. The Thalan might have a technological edge but they could no longer out-produce the Terran Alliance. The Thalan weapon technology didn't catch up. It had a better infrastructure in many other areas but in terms of weapons, its ships used Phasors Mark IV whereas the Terran Alliance were Mark V.
What was really wearing the Thalan down was espionage. The Drengin and Terran Alliance (mostly the Drengin) were beating down the Thalan with spies.
Nyarna would have been a lethal world if it weren't for all the Drengin spies holding down its production.
General Arathon had other problems though besides the Thalan. Mobilizing his economy behind the war effort was no small task. The military machine was a hungry beast.
Qualis was now an amazing class 28 world. It was the lynchpin. But its deficit spending was bringing the Terran Alliance to its knees.
Nyarna's fate would be decided in a climatic battle.
The Terran Alliance was definitely on the offensive now. While Task for 3 lost all but one ship, the Thalan had suffered a major defeat.
The military strategy of the two sides was a story of contrasts. The Thalan went for quantity. Their fleets were larger, their logistics better (36 vs 24), their build times shorter. But the Terran Alliance had quality and experience on its side. Its ships were tougher and more expensive and they had fewer support ships.
But both were converging...While the Terran Alliance went for Expert Logistics, the Thalan were trying to leap-frog the humans with Phasors VI.
But a new problem was growing...
The Drengin Empire Reigns Supreme
While technically the humans and the Drengin were fighting the Thalan, the Drengin, as was the case with the Dread Lords, were mostly holding back and allowing the Terran Alliance to face the bulk of the threat. In the meantime, the Drengin military had grown.
This is a Drengin frigate. It has more fire power than the Arathon-V dreadnought.
The Drengin Dreadnought...
Twice the punch of the Terran Alliance equivalent.
The Thalans recognize the same problem.
The Thalan recognized the Drengin threat and requested peace. But was it too late?
All of Task Force 1 (which includes the TAS Michigan and TAS Virginia) is only roughly equivalent to the 2-ship Drengin fleet.
The Drengin weren't at war with us yet. But they had other ways to get at us:
And remember, the Drengin are getting increasingly powerful thanks to the Precursor artifact. Time was working against us.
Along the border is that massive cloud of asteroids that separates the Drengin Empire from the Terran Alliance. General Arathon orders the construction of an influencer starbase in the hopes of encouraging some of those Drengin mining bases to defect thus robbing the Drengin of valuable resources.
The Drengin, however, are not amused.
The Drengin Empire's war against the Thalan was going very well. A task force called "Death Brood" had an attack of 467. This was far greater than any Terran Alliance task force in existence. We can only watch helplessly as it crushes a Thalan colony.
The Drengin-Human war would come soon...
And when they do, it would be with fleets like this one with an attack of 1,121.
Into the middle of this comes the Independent league...
As civilizations grow there is always the chance of splintering. And in a galactic civilization, these odds increase a great deal due to the relative isolation. With so much war and death, there is the natural tendency of local governors to take their planets independent.
Unfortunately, it's a naive belief typically. The major powers are not likely to allow a minor civilization with a good planet to remain independent. It is essentially a race for the major powers to claim the worlds.
At roughly the same time, unrest across the quadrant results in sabotage and strikes. The I-league is really just a symptom of a larger issue that Arathon and the others must come to terms with.
During the Thalan-Drengin war, the Terran Alliance supplies ships and economic aid to the Thalans to keep them in the war.
The Terran Alliance (blue) is powerful...on paper. See: "Paper Tiger"
The Terran Alliance gains from the I-League. The Drengin and Thalan are simply too busy to pay attention to what the humans are up to.
Especially when the Thalan surrender to the Drengin...
War is no longer an option
The Drengin Empire's economy is now too large for us to overcome. With 744bc trade and only 2075 from taxes (a corruption issue is currently working its way through) there is no way that we can mount a military offensive. We have to find another way.
War is an option for the Drengin Empire of course.
The final battle begins..
The Drengin fight a war of attrition. The Terran Alliance must make surgical strikes to cripple key points.
The main obstacle between Task Force 1 and the Drengin base world is Drengin Fleet 362. It is the most powerful fleet we've ever encountered. With 2 Dreadnoughts and 3 battleships, it is insanely powerful. Over 5,200 crew are on board.
Task Force 1 includs both the TAS Michigan and the TAS Virgina alone with 2 Sydney class Battleships, 2 Arathon Dreadnoughts, and a F-41 upgraded fighter. This is the best the Terran Alliance can do. With nearly 9,000 crew involved, it is one of the largest fleets in the Terran Alliance.
The Drengin's main thrust, on the other hand, looks promising -- for them!
Task force 3 (the ones surrounded above) is a better group than any around. It absolutely must protect that starbase.
On this day, Task Force 3 would be facing many battles. This is just one of many.
Task Force 2 had an even tougher situation...
Task force 2 has two of those killer fleets (like the one guarding the Drengin base world) to defend against.
Amazingly, Task Force 2 takes out one of the enemy fleets but not without being wiped out in the process.
And the last Task 4 is guarding against a swarm of Drengin Corvettes:
Those are the 4 task forces of the Terran Alliance in this quadrant.
Drengin/Terran War: Week 1 Report:
Task Force 1 has not engaged enemy yet.
Task Force 2 destroyed enemy Killer fleet but is destroyed in process
Task Force 3 wipes out several fleets, weakened but still functional.
Task Force 4 wipes out several swarms, little return damage.
But Task Force 2 didn't destroy both killer fleets. Just one. The other one was moving into the heart of the Terran Alliance.
Drengin/Terran War: Week 2 Report:
The Drengin Empire has 5 "Killer Fleets" (fleets with >1000 attack rating). The Terran Alliance has 3 intact battle fleets, each of which is roughly enough to take out a killer fleet at the cost of itself.
Task Force 1 has managed to get to the Drengin base world of Ulca without having to engage a killer fleet. However, upon arrival at the planet, the Killer fleet intercepts. The final show down and the end of the TAS Virginia and the TAS Virginia.
The TAS Virginia and the TAS Michigan fight their last battle. But not before taking out a lot of Drengin with them.
The TAS Michigan battles to the end.
A total defeat and leaving many millions of troops undefended. Task Force 1 is gone.
And the 4 fully loaded advanced transports are taken out.
Task Force 1 and 2 are gone. Task force 3 and 4 survive so far.
Drengin/Terran War: Week 4:
Task Force 4 engages Killer Fleet 3. It takes out Killer Fleet 3 but is also taken out.
Task Force 3 engages Killer Fleet 4. Task Force 3 eliminated (including the loss of the TAS Vanguard). A single Mark 10 Drengin dreadnought survives (though it has 272 attack all by itself).
There are no task forces left. The Drengin have 3 fully intact Killer Fleets plus scatterings of lethal force elsewhere. The money is about to run out.
Nothing short of surrender will appease the Drengin Empire.
They have won.
Without any remaining task forces, the Drengin Killer Fleets move in and take out all defenses within a few weeks.
Following them, come the invasion transports. Qualis, the class 26 planet, is quickly taken.
Moreover, the loss of Qualis removes access to the Hyperion Shrinker. The Terran Alliance can't even build the ships they once could build (which weren't powerful enough to defeat the Drengin in the first place).
General Arathon orders an evacuation of Paramount. Several guard fleets are near the planet but they are not nimble enough to deal with fast moving evacuation ships. As many troops and personnel are moved out but millions of humans remain on the planets as Drengin shock troops begin to arrive. Even without the benefit of the Korath, the Drengin are lethal ground warriors.
With the last remaining forces along with a newly designed ship called the TAS Emperor, a tiny task force holds the Drengin at bay to give time for those to flee.
Task Force hope guards the exit as transports remove key personnel from the quadrant. But the Drengin have become so powerful here that their ships are optimally designed against our beam based weapons. Only the flag ship survives (the TAS Emperor).
On the exit of the command staff, the civilian government that is left surrenders.
The Terran Alliance holds this at the time of surrender.
The end has arrived.
The Drengin Empire were not by any means predestined for victory. They got some luck but mostly the Thalan and the Terran Alliance were their own worst enemies. The Drengin should have been the primary focus. Instead, the Thalan and Terrans fought each other giving the Drengin time to build up and take over.
Some Final Thoughts...
Galactic Civilizations II is a turn-based strategy game. What it does best is let players play in a sandbox of their own creation. Users of the expansion pack, Dark Avatar, can actually create their very own civilizations to play against and have them use starship designs of their own making. Strategy gaming can be so much more than simply moving units around. It can be a really fun, imaginative thing. Create your own epic stories and your own universe to play in. Galactic Civilizations II gives you everything you need to make your own sci-fi universe to play in.
Each game is a very different experience. If you read through this entire example, you saw many different events that tend to only happen occasionally. It takes months of playing to see even most of the events crammed into the game. We saw empires splintering into wholly new civilizations, we saw assassinations, civil wars, economic corruption, strikes, diseases, all in a single game. And a different game is likely to have a whole different set of things to help keep things fresh and interesting.
I had no preconceived notions on how this game would turn out. Only that it would fit into the mythos and back story for the game no matter what. Learn more about Galactic Civilizations II at www.galciv2.com. I hope you enjoyed this game play example.