First things first: We’ve all been there. It’s not just you.
The nature of the game is, one person wins. That generally means nine or ten lose — and don’t fool yourself: Unless you’re in the Victory Countdown, second place is just First Loser. All things being equal, nine games out of ten, you’re going to end up in a completely hopeless position. It sucks, but what are you gonna do about it? Cry a little?
You all know the story, but even if you don’t that’s OK, because I’m going to tell it again anyway.
Europe, 1914. Christmas week.
For months now, vast armies had battled across the face of the continent, each racing to outflank the other. Along the Western Front, the race had stopped for lack of room, and a continuous line of trenches ran from Switzerland to the North Sea. By Christmas, things had somewhat stabilized. Gas attacks and mass artillery barrages were still in the future, and the soldiers themselves still had great sympathy for the fellows in the trenches on the other side.
“…In the midst of our joking came a bloodcurdling screech. Twenty meters behind us, white cloud mixed with clods of dirt flew high among the branches. Blasts began rolling through the forest. With troubled eyes we stared at each other, bodies huddled against the ground in a depressing feeling of complete powerlessness. Shot followed shot. Stifling gases floated in the undergrowth, smoke shrouded the hilltops, trees and branches tumbled to the ground, and the screams of incoming rounds were deafening. We jumped up and ran blindly, chased by flashes and concussion from tree to tree, looking for cover and circling huge trunks like hunted game…” – Ernst Jünger, “In Stahlgewittern”, Battle of Les Eparges, 1915
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This is the seventh anonymous report analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of one of the Eleven Races. These redacted versions were approved by the Senate for immediate publication, to be read by commanders of each respective race in order that they can review their own vulnerabilities in the face of the unknown external threat that commissioned the studies. In this dispatch we focus on that faction known as the Rebel Confederation: its strengths, its weaknesses, and how best to defeat it in battle.
Most wars are won or lost long before the fighting starts. This series concentrates only on those critical few turns leading up to the Ship Limit as a key to achieving long-term goals necessary for victory.
The Cyborg field not one but two of the strongest warships in the Echo Cluster. The Annihilation is the most massive and powerful battleship, and the Biocide is a carrier nearly as huge as the Empire’s Gorbie — and with a larger cargo hold to boot. The Firecloud permits instantaneous travel across any distance, and there’s also a passable hyperspace probe that, when coupled with the Cyborg’s ability to assimilate natives, grants them the ability to expand rapidly across any cluster.
Most games are won or lost in the first few turns. This series concentrates only on those critical few turns leading up to the Ship Limit as a key to achieving long-term goals necessary for victory.
The Rebels have a powerful yet limited ship list, remarkable not only for its heavy carrier, the Rush, but also the Falcon, the only efficient hyperspace transport in the Echo Cluster. Their best shield-scratchers are the Tranquility, the Gaurdian, and the Iron Lady, which sets them at a late-war disadvantage against a more balanced race. However, their ability to undermine even the best-defended starbases through Rebel Ground Assault more than balances any slight disadvantage they face on the field of battle.
The Cognitium War is in its final turns, with players beginning to succumb to Accelerated Fight Or Fail and the final results of the game approaching certainty. Not long ago, I sat down with the three primary members of the surviving soon-to-be victorious alliance, and we spoke a bit about the game. The substance of that discussion follows.
(Editor’s Note: As always, we’ve edited this. The substance of what was said is unchanged, but some context is always, regrettably, removed for length and readability.)
Zacha, Morgens, and Fexer, welcome to the Forum. Thanks for joining me.