In Planets, like chess, there’s that hectic opening period where we rush out these patchwork abomination hulls any old how and just have to cope with for the rest of the game. There’s the serious middle game, which is all about optimizing logistics and supplying manufacturing hubs. Eventually, somehow, we arrive at the endgame, where one ragtag fleet end is battling the barrel-scrapings of another through exhaustion and out the other side.
It’s that ‘somehow’ on which I’d like to focus for just a moment: that poorly-defined transition point between the middle and the beginning of the end.
Have you ever sat down to a game full of excitement, played out the first dozen turns or so, and been suddenly and entirely frustrated by the absence of decent natives? In how many of these games were you forced to compromise on shipbuilding entirely too much, sacrificing engines or torpedo and beam tech to produce a second-class fleet?
Let me put it another way: Did you ever win without native luck?
A gender-neutral computer voice with hints of a high-class accent speaks through the intercom, "Commander, a medium freighter has been commissioned. Its captain is awaiting orders."Acreolized accentcomes from the radio, "Hoy, come in. Dis be Capt'n Johnson o' ECS Twenty-Three Hundredths. The hold be empty. We gutegow. Waiting on you, Bossmang. The 200-Kiloton lady be hungry."
On Turn 1, your empire controls a single Medium Deep Space Freighter and its first mission has rippling implications throughout the entire game. A well calculated move is required to set a strong pace so you’d better “put your best foot forward.” It equates to setting your feet in the blocks at the starting line of a hundred metre sprint. The one in the front is called your power foot and it generates a hundred percent of your forward momentum; your starting freighter is your Planets power foot and it determines the speed and direction of your economic develop.
(The following is a rebuttal to “Seeing Purple and Red“, by Talespin. The opinion is that of the author, and does not necessarily reflect that of the Planets Magazine as a whole.)
Hands Off My Minefields, Dammit!
My esteemed colleague has raised several points in his article, and it’s true that there are factors that need addressing. The prevalence of short-form Planets games alongside the rise of the new PPQ system (which I’ve referred to as the New Nu Queue, to spare confusion) certainly creates new questions of balance and game flow. Steady advances under solid logistics and impeccable defenses are no longer tenable in non-Classic, non-Standard scenarios.