My childhood contained two Christmases I most remember. The first was spending winter in the snowy mountains of Newfoundland, Canada. — This has little relevance to the article, but it sets the mood rather well. — The second memory – and the more important glimmer of my past – was opening the best gift ever: a Nintendo Entertainment System. As I played Super Mario Bros. for the first time, I felt an odd sense of euphoria. The world filled with wonder and possibilities; and I knew I was special and super lucky to have this gift. Later in my life, this type of joy occurred three more times: finding a twenty dollar bill at an exhibition fair, winning the grand prize from a granola bar package, and receiving an orbital scan from a Planets starship above a world of indigenous Insectoids. These last moments appear as mundane but they felt like Christmas.
In Planets, most of our time is spent calculating, planning, and negotiating; yet the game still gives us moments which feel “like Christmas” however gray and grungy turns become. I’m referring to those joyful – and rare – instances when we discover AMAZING planets. These bright spots (I apologize for this oddly amusing and totally accidental pun.) not only benefit our expansion, but they feed our inner explorers and remind us what originally drew us to the game.
After playing Planets for years, moments of discovery are hard to come by, but grizzled veterans are still excited to find a ship orbiting an extremely useful planet. And they are delighted because they know what these planets mean in the larger context of the game. Veterans understand how specific types of worlds are “gifts that keep on giving”; moreover, they have experienced how the benefits of these planets reverberate throughout an entire empire.
“Christmas Planets” are loaded with resources and/or natives. There are plenty of useful planets out there, but these ones make life easier and can put you in a winning position. They can boost the economy of entire planet clusters, pump out vast fleets, and support an empire deep into the end game. These gifts are a huge boost when you capture or stumble upon one at a later stage in the game, but their magic is strongest when you find them very early, especially before Turn 10. For this reason, it’s extremely important to scout near your home world.
In a follow-up article, I will highlight some of these Christmas Planets and their uses. Keep your eyes open, in the meantime, and make sure you capitalize on and protect planets which make you cry, “Yus!”
It’s 2022: Take care of those who love you, and especially those who don’t.
Thanks for reading. – TS
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