Author Topic: Race to the Stars  (Read 3435 times)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2020, 12:53:07 AM »
   2117

The EU is the first nation to push the field of Xenogeology to the point where large-scale planetary probing for additional undiscovered resource deposits is viable. Possible leads for a number of ground-based surveys have been known for years, for instance on Mars, Venus and Titan, but were considered of minimal likelyhood to actually uncover unknown deposits. Now they will be investigated.

The crew of the Japanese explorer Chuyo makes a potentially groundbreaking discovery on a dwarf planet in the Kurashiki system, 7 jumps from Sol. An alien structure, apparently largely still intact, stands tall on the surface. It's purpose is unknown, and unlike the ruins found by the Russians recently this structure does not appear to be part of a larger settlement or outpost. In addition, the body itself is a great find, bearing 5 TN minerals at high accessibility and quantities. The path towards the system has already been stabilized by EU the long-distance stabilization project, plans to exploit the minerals and study the ancient construct are drawn up right away.

A PRL explorer meets it's end at the hand of alien weapons. The alien ships appear identical in type and numbers to the ones encountered in the first contact battle at Quanzhou, or Petropavlovsk by it's Russian name. That this alien force is identical to the other one was, of course, unknown to the Argentine explorers which were similarly destroyed in this system years before, but let's the PRL make better assumptions about the nature and objectives of the aliens than the other nations. By now they are reasonably confident that no active threat outside of the encounter systems is posed by these vessels. The other sentient alien species encountered by the Chinese, the Xining, may prove to be a different matter.

   2118

The next Martian warship design, the Utopia Planitia class Carrier, is being finalized. The 20k ton vessel, bigger than the Mega class missile destroyers, will carry 12 F-94 Eagle strike/ground support fighters and serve as a flagship for the Martian navy. It is heavily armored and shielded but only carries a small defensive turret to protect itself. Instead of fighting directly it is intended to be at the heart of a fleet and provide support through it's sensor coverage and CnC functions.

Code: [Select]
Utopia Planitia class Carrier (P)      20 000 tons       339 Crew       2 150.6 BP       TCS 400    TH 1 425    EM 4 260
3562 km/s      Armour 5-65       Shields 142-1065       HTK 96      Sensors 5/0/0/0      DCR 6      PPV 10.59
Maint Life 1.15 Years     MSP 563    AFR 533%    IFR 7.4%    1YR 435    5YR 6 521    Max Repair 125 MSP
Hangar Deck Capacity 3 000 tons     Magazine 384   
Captain    Control Rating 2   BRG   FLG   
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Flight Crew Berths 60    Morale Check Required   

General Motors INPE Impulse Drive (6)    Power 1425.0    Fuel Use 44.51%    Signature 237.5    Explosion 9%
Fuel Capacity 1 566 000 Litres    Range 31.7 billion km (102 days at full power)
Bulwark Shield Generator (2)     Recharge Time 1065 seconds (0.1 per second)

Twin Raygun Turret (1x2)    Range 30 000km     TS: 9000 km/s     Power 6-4     RM 10 000 km    ROF 10       
Raytheon Raygun Turret Target System (1)     Max Range: 32 000 km   TS: 9 000 km/s     69 38 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Power Bank v2 (4)     Total Power Output 4    Exp 5%

BMB-8 "Sticky Load" (12)    Armour Penetration: 8     Damage: 8     Shots: 3
LRT1 Cruise Missile (36)    Speed: 10 300 km/s    End: 57m     Range: 35.2m km    WH: 16    Size: 8    TH: 51/30/15

ARS2 "Acquisition Redundancy System" (1)     GPS 288     Range 9.4m km    Resolution 240
MDS1 Missile Detection Sensor (1)     GPS 35     Range 7.5m km    MCR 671.7k km    Resolution 1
ASS2-35M (1)     GPS 2448     Range 35.6m km    Resolution 120
Knighten Electronics Heat Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 5     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  17.7m km

Strike Group
12x F-94 Eagle Attack Craft   Speed: 8013 km/s    Size: 4.99

Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Combined EU/ARG exploration efforts discover a massive B-type Giant two jumps behind the La Tablada colony. The already very large star of 17 solar masses is on a fast track to end it's short life through a supernova before collapsing into either a neutron star or a black hole. Practically, the sheer mass of the star makes the system not viable to map with current technology as each survey point requires more than 4 times the survey effort than a Sol-like star and each survey point is roughly 10b km away from another. Remaining planets range between 40b and 300b km orbital distance, outside of the stars current habitable zone.

   2119

An unexpected breakthrough suddenly makes orbital troop drops a possibility for all nations but the isolationist Martian Consortium. Direct insertion of combat-ready troops from a ship in orbit, bypassing the day-long unloading phase of regular troop transports, will make it possible to attack bodies with planetary weapons and may well change the face of interplanetary conflict as we know it. The newly discovered methodology will require specialized drop ships in order to be used, however.


Tech diffusion and these new auto research techs interact weirdly.

A PRL explorer stumbles upon the wreck of an old US Discoverer class survey ship. This is the same one an EU explorer found several years ago, who proceeded to warn a Russian ship entering the system right after. The PRL ship activates it's sensors upon detecting emissions from a planetary surface, detecting two alien defensive stations in orbit. They are of known design and two have been destroyed by PRL warships during the first contact battle in 2103. No mobile units are detected. Being able to take readings without fear of retaliation allows the PRL intelligence service to improve their estimates about these aliens further, by now turning them into relative experts on the subject. For instance, it is believed that these warships and stations are leftover defense systems from a dead species of sentients, which would explain why no evidence of life has been found in the locations they guard. Accordingly, the name "Qián ti", meaning precursor, is increasingly being used to refer to these aliens. While the PRL does not share details of their findings and dealings with aliens with outsiders, the short "Qian" is entering usage as a standard name for these aliens among all of humanity.


China ran out of system names.

Argentina begins the mammoth project of moving an entire spaceport to their Tablada colony to enable it to refuel and resupply explorers. The 80 freighter loads worth of components will take the nation's shipping sector some time to transfer as the colony is 21b km from Earth, roughly twice the flying distance than the Santa María colony. The necessary jump point stabilization will be carried out by an EU stabilizer.

Eager to take advantage of the new troop drop technology Argentina conducts a series of design studies.
The first study uses existing troop transports as a base and replaces all transport bays with drop bays. As they are bulkier due to the extra equipment involved this would make a drop capable troop transport bigger than the 50k ton mark, meaning it wouldn't be able to use the existing civilian jump tenders and require a yard expansion, both of which are downsides, but not dealbreakers. However, it is expected that such a ship would be used to drop on bodies defended by hostile ships or STO forces and come under fire while dropping. Armoring a ship of ~55k tons size would be somewhat expensive in Duranium and Neutronium, but possible. Alternatively the drop tonnage can be reduced from 25k to 20k to get the ship within standard sizes. More questionable are the low speeds of such a vessel, at ~1.6k km/s a ship will be exposed to fire for longer while approaching a target compared to military ship speeds.
Being as fast or almost as fast as a warship would have large advantages in strategic movement as well as the tactical scenario of planetary assaults. However, a military-engined vessel able to keep up with modern ion-engined warships (like the new generation of Esperanza attack destroyers) would be prohibitively large and expensive. Even a drop tonnage of 5k tons, a single brigade, is projected to need a 25k ton warship to be dropped - costing nearly 3k BP, more than half of that in Gallicite alone. While the ideal solution, the Argentine state has neither the funds nor the shipbuilding capabilities for a vessel of these dimensions.
As such, only the first option, a drop-capable and possibly armored freighter, is possible. The main advantage of such a vessel over conventional troop transports is that the usual two-day unloading phase can be avoided. The ship remains vulnerable to detection and interception due to it's slow speed, though may be much harder to disable if armored like it happened during the third Machholz incident. On approach to a hostile world armor would need to be extreme to absorb even a standard 10 unit STO brigade's fire during approach and retreat. The costs for armor and the specialized drop bays is high, but not unaffordable. Including shipyard retooling, they amount to 3.5k BP, mostly in Duranium and Neutronium. 2.4k are available of each, but there is no Neutronium being mined at current.
In the end the government decides not to go ahead with the project, citing modest advantages and resources better being spent elsewhere. The nation's reliance on a single troop transport, a role a dropship could also fulfill, is a point of failure highlighted during the years the vessel in question was stuck in repair recently, but can be mitigated in an emergency by relying on allied EU transports to move troops for them.

   2120 - Alien warfare

Something of a situation has developed in the Xining system, the point of contact between the alien Xining Monarchy and the People's Republic of Luna. A new alien vessel from a different and previously unknown species has appeared near the planet which the PRL diplomatic vessel and the Xining's ships are orbiting. The new ship moves quickly, but away from the planet, and the Xining's ships are leaving orbit, although not on a direct intercept course to the newcomer. No active sensors are detected, but could the sensors of the diplomatic vessel just be too weak or malfunctioning? Despite his reservations about being considered a threat to both parties, Zhong Jiang Gong Tian Qiao, captain and head diplomat of the DIP Xining, orders his own sensors activated. His vessel carries defensive weaponry and he must know if he needs to use it. Neither side seems to react to the act and he continues to detect no active sensor emissions from the aliens. There does not seem to be a specific location the Xining are heading towards, although their course brings them very close to the second planet. The newcomer appears to be moving towards the second JP of the system, another JP stabilized by non-humans with an unknown destination. For now, he decides to follow the Xining fleet, hoping to find out their destination. He can't fulfill his primary mission of being a diplomatic envoy if he does not know where his point of contact is, after all.
A few hours later it becomes apparent that the Xining were likely heading towards the Fuzhou JP, towards Sol. Then, before they disappeared out of his sensor range, they changed course, either towards the also unknown JP1 or a location in the B component system. Also, an unintelligible transmission of some kind was sent by the newcomer to his ship. At least talking is in their repertoire.
Qiao enters the stabilized JP1. Emerging on the other side he finds the Xining fleet in waiting 150k off the JP. He assumes this a defensive position should the new alien vessel have followed them. To his relief the Xining are true to their word of considering him a friendly and don't fire on him. He then notes the presence of two potentially habitable worlds in the system. One a slightly warm desert world, the other a cold and mountainous planet with an atmosphere too thick with oxygen for humans to breathe. Either one could be the Xining homeworld. Then, thirdly, he is informed that this side of the JP they just jumped through is not stabilized. His ship is trapped in this system until the navy can send a jump tender to escort him back. Could it be that the JPs weren't stabilized by the Xining after all? While they were always glad to regale him with cultural tales of their homeworld and society, they spoke next to nothing about their capabilities or the location of their homeworld. Of course, neither did he, hoping that they have as little an idea about the location of Sol as he does of their worlds.
The next thirty hours are quiet. Qiao ordered a course to be set towards the inner system in an effort to locate and contact the Xining's populations directly, but then his sensor officer reports energy flashes associated with weapons fire 150k km off the Xining JP - the last known location of the Xining fleet. Fifteen seconds later impacts are detected again, and the 17k ton wreck of the Xining's flagship (he had always assumed) appears on sensors along a number of powerful secondary explosions. The tactical officer conjectures it was an ammunition transport instead.


It appears their quarry has found them.

The two hostile volleys detected were not especially powerful, certainly not enough to destroy an armored ship, and actually match the damage profile of a PRL destroyer quite well. Notably, the damage profile of a single destroyer. It is assumed that this is indeed the Xining fleet duking it out with the single alien ship detected a few days ago. Strangely, there are no more energy readings after that. No return fire by the Xining, no more energy volleys. Either the alien has retreated or the fight has moved past the JP. While he itches to find out more about the incident, Envoy Qiao is not planning to take his lightly armed vessel into a combat zone and stays on course towards the inner system.
Several days later he is woken up to the news: the remainder of the Xining fleet has been destroyed some 200m km past the JP they were guarding. Huge energy weapon signatures were detected, it must have been quite a battle. Still, no wreckage of the other side was detected.


Did that happen all in one increment, or did multiple turns of fighting get compressed because I was running large increments? Either way, the Xining got rekt.

Qiao's ship arrives on the first planet. An unknown wreck circles the star at this planet's distance, suggesting that this was a lived in system and some hull was abandoned of maintenance failure or something similar. Such was assumed when he entered the system. Now, "[SPLIT] Ground Forces Signature 4 500 tons" was shown in large letters on the main screen, with an arrow pointing towards the planet's moon. "Split" here being the temporary designation for the new alien force detected in Xining last week as the tactical officer split the new signature off from the existing alien FoF signals. If this ground force is indeed an STO force responsible for the wreck elsewhere in orbit it can most likely hit them too, with the moon orbiting close to the planet. Qiao orders the ship to flee. Fortunately, no alien fire comes.
In an effort to prevent being seen as hostile he left his ship's transponder on, as such everyone in the system knows his ship's location at all times. There was little question to him that this system was the home or at least an important colony of the Xining, but the Split presence just detected on an inner planet makes him doubt these assumptions and the wisdom of leaving his transmitter on. Previous communication attempts sent by a Split source - coming from deeper inside the system - he had decided to chalk up to an advance scout of theirs.
The approach to the fourth planet, the desert world, confirms it. A large Split population is detected. This is not the Xining's system. Were they involved in a war against these aliens? If so, they never made any mention of it in the six years he was assigned as envoy to their fleet, holding position just one jump away from here. Daring to get within sensor range, he gets a reading on the ships in orbit of the planet: None. Only a shipyard complex is detected. Were all ships sent to fight the Xining fleet and all civilians evacuated? Do these aliens even have the same concept of civilian and military ships as humans do? The mystery thickens.


...and no ships whatsoever.

Planet V, the mountain world with the thick atmosphere, is uninhabited. Having decided he's seen enough of the system, and owing it to the jump tender en route not to jump into a warzone, he sets out to get a reading on the jump point. Halfway there he crosses a Split force of eight frigates, apparently on a course towards the (uninhabited) second planet from which his ship set out. He would love to follow them to get a more complete picture of what is going on in this system, but at 4.5k km/s the ships are too fast to keep up with.
Arriving near the JP the Split frigates overtake his ship towards the JP once more and another 19 heavier split warships come into view, sitting directly on the JP. All in all he has almost half a million tons of alien warships on sensors - more than any human nation. Both the EU and his PRL have around 350k tons of military ships at current.


That's a lot of hardware. No wonder the other aliens got annihilated like that.

He can only hope that the Split will continue to ignore his ship and the jump tender en route. Until that is here, he has a job as an envoy to do and prepares to stay on station and attempt to establish communications. Upon stopping the Split frigates react - closing in on his vessel. It seems they are not content to ignore him after all.


They weren't heading into the inner system for some other reason, they were trying to chase down our ship!

The commanders and decision-makers on Luna have followed Qiao's reports over the last weeks with great interest. Despite six years of diplomatic contact and the exchange of meaningless pleasantries virtually no substantial information had been gained about alien affairs, ships, systems and politics. Now a great deal of new information has been uncovered, the most worrying of which is Qiao's final report of almost half a million tons of alien warships. Granted, they were nine jumps from Sol and apparently busy fighting other aliens, but a worrying thought nontheless. A combined human defensive against alien aggression would be possible, all empires have signaled some degree of willingness to participate in such an effort, but politically very difficult. So far the PRL has successfully kept it's relations with the Xining secret. Coming forward with the information gained about the threat posed by a powerful alien navy now instead of only when an invasion is imminent will undoubtably ease an international effort. Still, none of the ships and weapon signatures detected indicated capabilities far outpacing human technology, in particular all of the ship speeds reported were consistent with current generation warships employed by all human navies, with next-generation ion ships like the Jade Rabbit cruisers outspeeding them. The decision is made not to share any information with the public.



The Martian Consortium is the last state to develop a functional ion drive. From it they first develop a better cruise missile that isn't so dreadfully susceptible to intercept fire, going from 10k km/s to 17k km/s. For comparison, the current Russian and EU missiles have 27k km/s speed. The large size-8 device retains it's long 35m km range and the str-16 warhead. The oversized warhead once was a requirement by marketing to be able to say that it is not weaker than a blast from a plasma weapon which were very popular with navy procurement after winning the battle of Mars.

A PRL explorer investigating the systems near Xining discovers a jump point connection leading back to the Qian precursor system discovered last year. The connection is unlikely to form a travel link, even though this would be possible for the apparant lack of Qian warships in that system.


Human flags indicate major colony sites, not necessarily claims or exclusivity. The system where all the action was witnessed this year is now renamed Split Fire down at the bottom. All the systems beyond Xiamen only the PRL knows.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 04:06:40 PM by Zap0 »
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2020, 07:56:16 PM »
Two more quiet years. The general mineral scarcity, especially Gallicite, has slowed construction and progress somewhat, leading to a somewhat stabilized strategic situation. Nobody can really rely on their extrasolar colonies yet, Sol is still the center of the universe, even if a lot of minerals are coming in from outside it.

A 5d increment takes about 20s time to process for me at current.



   2121

The Japanese navy lacks long-ranged sensors. The warships only carry short and medium-range sensors and there are no dedicated sensor ships. This will now change with the deployment of the Sendai class recons: small and fast 1k ton vessels with moderate range, able to be deployed in high numbers. They are mankinds first dedicated scout vessels.

Code: [Select]
Sendai class Recon Craft (P)      1 000 tons       23 Crew       149.9 BP       TCS 20    TH 156    EM 0
7815 km/s      Armour 1-8       Shields 0-0       HTK 8      Sensors 5/0/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 1.09 Years     MSP 18    AFR 40%    IFR 0.6%    1YR 15    5YR 227    Max Repair 78.125 MSP
Kaigun-Ch?sa    Control Rating 1   
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Mitsubishi ION Small Craft Thruster (1)    Power 156.2    Fuel Use 122.28%    Signature 156.25    Explosion 12%
Fuel Capacity 179 000 Litres    Range 26.4 billion km (39 days at full power)

Hiraseli Short-Range Sensor (1)     GPS 40     Range 5.4m km    Resolution 10
Modegi Long-Range Detection System (1)     GPS 2880     Range 35.7m km    Resolution 80
Matsuhita Electric Thermic Detector (1)     Sensitivity 5     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  17.7m km

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   2122

A PRL explorer sent to explore beyond the other unknown but stabilized JP in the Xining system finds a small Xining colony on the third planet, along with some kind of alien construct that appears much older than the Xining colony on the planet. It appears they are studying this alien ruin. Could this be a factor in their war with the Split? The planet itself bears several mineral deposits and would, with a slightly lower oxygen content in the atmosphere, be habitable for humans, too.
No ship was sent to explore beyond the Xining system until now to avoid upsetting the Xining, but their recent "declaration of friendship" is being taken as a promise not to fire on PRL ships. Either way, it appears their homeworld is farther out.

The EU discovers a habitable world three jumps behind the La Tablada colony and eight jumps from Sol. The world is remarkably Earth-like, albeit with more extreme tectonics and corresponding geographical features. A mineral survey and probing for eventual Qian forces in orbit remains to be carried out.

The star of European logistics operations is the starship Aachen, a multifunctional supply and 20k ton support vessel able to carry supplies, ordnance and a moderate amount of fuel. Military oilers like the Japanese or Chinese ones tend to have too little fuel capacity or are too inefficient to be useful outside their intended roles, the large Starfreighter tankers are too slow and carry too great an amount of fuel. In order to relieve the demands on the Aachen a set of more mordern supply vessels with similar proportions are being built.

The Russian exploration of the small alien outpost they discovered has identified 9 alien installations for potential reactivation. It'll take several years yet again to deploy an engineering force capable of recovering them here in Sverdlovsk, 7 jumps from Sol, but won't be a high priority. Other information gained by the exploration does not yield any strategic advantage, so the findings are publicized for national prestige.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 08:06:02 PM by Zap0 »
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2020, 09:50:48 PM »
A 5d increment takes about 20s time to process for me at current.

You have many empires, so many civilians. In my game I have turn the time back to 5/7 secs by purging them plus another thing I left at the end. So I keep around only civilian companies with a decent amount of ships and get the rid of the others. For instance I had an average of 5 civvies per race (3 in total) and I kept only the biggest per race plus another race I kept a second one because strangely there werent enough freighters in the big company. Both lagging and zooming issues were sorted in many systems as well.

I have also removed all other games and kept only the one I was playing. But this helped most with loading times as these were getting pretty long as well (around the minute versus 30/40 secs after the purge).

You can try to see if works for you by copying the database as backup, do the procudure and save.

Beware: First save will still be a long one, maybe longer.

Finally I have been playing on HDD and want to move to SSD and see if there will be increase in performances as I suspect there should be at least in saving/loading but not processing, that should still land on CPU shoulders.

EDIT: you will encounter a non threatening bug http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=11565.msg139813#msg139813
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 10:18:34 PM by froggiest1982 »
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2020, 11:58:06 AM »
A 5d increment takes about 20s time to process for me at current.
Finally I have been playing on HDD and want to move to SSD and see if there will be increase in performances as I suspect there should be at least in saving/loading but not processing, that should still land on CPU shoulders.

EDIT: you will encounter a non threatening bug http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=11565.msg139813#msg139813

Save times are definitely shorter with SSD in comparison with normal HDD, but turn time in my games was not affected. I even played from flash drive and only difference were long save times.
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2020, 07:25:59 PM »
You have many empires, so many civilians.

SO MANY civilians. Over 37m tons of civilian shipping. The Chinese have not just one, but two lines with a hundred ships in them!
The universe being alive with activity is nice, but I actively fear getting the human empires into a war with another where they start targeting each others civilians or having an NPR prey on their shipping, as there are just so many ships to chew through.

The slowdown is still bearable to me, I'm sure it wouldn't if this was still VB6 Aurora. If it gets longer than I'm willing to tolerate I'll look into cutting down on the number of civvies. Is it really just as easy as deleting a line and all the associated ships will vanish with it, or would the ships need to be deleted individually?

Save and load times are in the same ballpark of ~20s with my fast SSD. The db file has expanded itself to 94MB now.
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #35 on: September 14, 2020, 03:02:09 AM »
You have many empires, so many civilians.
Is it really just as easy as deleting a line and all the associated ships will vanish with it, or would the ships need to be deleted individually?

Yep, just as easy as that. You can try it out without saving.

At least they disappear from any view. I don't know if they remain in the database idle though. For that, you should have a look in there. Anyway, as long as they are gone I don't really care what happens behind the scenes.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2020, 03:05:18 AM by froggiest1982 »
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #36 on: September 14, 2020, 09:24:09 AM »
Just one year but a bunch of pictures this time.



   2123

The European Union is under great political pressure. The situation on Earth is not good economically, with all TN minerals now being mined off-world and having to be imported. Earth, and the EU especially, are still rich, but the radical economic changes over the last generation or two have left Earth with a deep economic inequality among it's citizens. On Mars, the source of much of the EU's wealth, government policy is actively being undermined by the corporations of the Martian Consortium and nationalist sentiments stirred - the idea of Martian independence is openly discussed. On Taíno, the domed Santa María colony soon to crack the 300m inhabitants mark, there is a hotbed of economic activity thanks to the mineral richness of the system. An effectively self-sufficient trans-newtonian economy has been created, a first for humanity outside of Sol. This stark contrast to Earth's economic staleness continues to attract more and more immigrants looking for a better life. As a silver lining at least most of Earth's member states now have similar interests due to them all facing the same problems on off-world issues and aren't as divided as in the past. The EU parliament is as such more and more looking like a parliament composed of parties representing different worlds rather than nation states. At current at least there are no perceived outside threats due Russia being kept in check by the large space navy and relatively good relations being maintained with all other powers.

The PRL explorer Aristarchus is still surveying the other system behind the Xining system where it found an alien construct on a world with a Xining colony. By the end of April it detects combat signatures in the inner system. They are a match for the Split fleet which destroyed a Xining fleet three years ago. The emerging Xining ship wrecks are a match, too. It appears the Split are on the move. After the initial destruction of four Xining vessels another two much larger wrecks emerge, assumed to be Xining support ships. Xining survivors are being picked up, unlike last time.


The same powerful energy weapon signatures as before. The Xining are getting their asses handed to them.

Russia is in something of a maintenance crisis. For quite some time most maintenance installations were being operated on Callisto, where the majority of the fleet was stationed. Earth's facilities were cut down again and again, until eventually they could not keep up anymore with the required production of precision-manufactured spare parts, which the facilities moved to Callisto could not help out with as all TN-based manufacturing is still done on Earth.
The navy can only have said to have survived the long period of near-total lack of maintenance that followed eventually due to their remarkable engineered resilience and sturdiness. Now all ships are stationed on Earth and most facilities are moved back to assist with the maintenance of the navy, but a lot of ships still have holes in their spare parts manifests and have to take turns undergoing overhauls.
Additionally, the 40 automines on Venus can't keep up with the increased demand on Gallicite between the MSP usage and ordnance production. Now even ordnance production has been paused. Without the compactness of the Russian navy, barely above the Argentine one in total military tonnage, it is unlikely that all ships could continue to be maintained in this situation. Colonization of the Novokutzneck colony, which the brave Russian navy dared the mighty PRL to take from them, is going slowly. Manned mining operations excavating it's 0.5 Gallicite deposits would help the situation immensely. 110 mines can be transferred from Callisto, where they are just mining relatively worthless Corbomite and Vendarite, but there are neither enough people nor infrastructure for them at the distant colony yet.

The "Dinosaur" line of PRL destroyers is as old as it's naming scheme suggests. The remaining five of originally six ships have all seen active duty, but after fifty years in space it is hard to continue justifying their maintenance when ships more than twice their speed are being built today. The combat ships will be recycled and the gained Gallicite will go towards another two modern strike cruisers, but the equally old supporting jump ships and tankers will remain in service.


This one took it's damage during the Battle of Mars and the second Machholz incident. Ships of few other nations can claim to have been part of as much action as the PRL navy.

Results are in: the habitable world found three jumps past the La Tablada colony is inhabited. Large thermal signatures are detected before the survey ship even gets close. The EU/ARG crew of the Tavernier was not prepared to find a live alien civilization, being unaware of the contact the PRL had with aliens.
The crew activates the transponder and is very surprised when they are greeted in spoken Mandarin.


Their home is a cozy quarternary system with a G-type subgiant as it's primary.

"...and they speak Chinese" was the especially shocking part to most people when they learned of first contact between an EU exploration cruiser and the aliens of the Xining Kingdom. Called "Shining" in the mouths of the populace in somewhat of a mispronunciation, but also appearing somewhat appropriate given the pictures showing alien... creatures in the bright light of their star. Yes, the EU has managed to stumble upon what the PRL has failed to locate for a decade: The homeworld of the Xining. And investigating a completely different chain of jump points at that.
The populace does not react well to the revelation that an active alien empire, not just the remnants of some, is out there. After the first contact battle and various losses against Qian precursors aliens are seen as a threat amongst the common folk. Learning that other empires already had secret dealings with aliens only fuels the paranoia. This could be the external threat that makes or breaks the EU as it is.
The Xining for their part are surprised at the surprise of the team contacting them. It appears that the PRL has failed to mention that they do not, in fact, rule all of humanity, and that they also kept their contact to themselves. This is likely to damage Human-Xining relations.
Over the following months the PRL eventually releases the rough outline of their alien relations: First contact with the Xining at an undisclosed location 13 years ago, establishment of diplomatic relations, discovery of a war between the Xining and a second alien empire with whom no communication has been established yet.


Location of the Xining homeworld on the EU map. The La Tablada colony is actually closer to them than it is to Sol.
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2020, 02:35:25 PM »
Hey really love the series and your writing! Just had a question from a gameplay point of view:

How much do you actually play in this game vs observe? I think I saw in an earlier post you were playing as the Argentinians since they were struggling the most, but do you actually play like one normally would in Aurora or just intervene sparingly?

I was thinking of doing my own version of a multi NPR on Earth start, seems like a fun experience just watching the AI develop and act on their own.  Can't wait for the next write up!
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2020, 04:00:54 PM »
It's nice to hear that people are reading and enjoying my story, thanks!

In a sense, I do all playing and no observing: All six human empires are player races. It's a little like playing six games in parallel. The event log is set to show events for all races (an SM option) and I react to whatever happens with whatever empire is affected. The Xining and all other aliens are NPRs on the other hand, I can't look at what they're doing.

Having an NPR on Earth really limits the way you can interact with them - either you'll be friendly or it's all-out war. Witnessing NPR-NPR interactions can be really cool however, like with that alien conflict the PRL just stumbled into.
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #39 on: Yesterday at 11:24:36 PM »
   2124 - the Five Nation Flotilla

Partially to recover lost trust by the publicization of their alien dealings, partially to position themselves as leaders of humanity, the PRL suggests a combined human military operation against a Qian target to serve as a test run for more serious cooperation against a possible alien threat. The other nations are of course doubtful of the PRL's motives but with aliens perceived a threat and the Xining demanding no ships enter their home system the proposal gains enough popularity not to be dismissed out of hand.

The target would be the Qian outpost on "Procyon's Rest" in Baton Rouge. With no Qian ships detected in the system so far and only two orbital weapon platforms of known design present this is as close to a known quantity as can be. There may potentially be an as of yet undetected STO force on the planet, but that should be much easier to dislodge than the STO force which ripped apart the PRL fleet during the first contact battle in Quanzhou, that one was dug in in a jungle, this is a desert world.

The PRL has been considering attacking the location for quite some time but figured a force too large would be required, leaving Sol open to Martian aggression. The main partner the PRL is courting for this project is the EU navy, who will hopefully pull in the Argentinians and the Japanese, at which point the Martians don't want to be left out and contribute ships themselves, allowing the balance of power in Sol to be maintained during the operation.

As no party is interested in expending their expensive missile stocks on an exercise such as this the task force will be composed of predominantly beam-armed ships. The PRL sets forth six of it's nine Dolphin type destroyers. The European Hades cruisers are too slow and rely on missiles and are therefore unsuited for the operation in question, but the PRL manages to get a squadron of escort destroyers promised to them. Smelling an opportunity to profilerate themselves and show everyone that they too play in the big boy leagues, Argentina offers to contribute ships as well. At that point the critical mass has been reached and Japan eventually commits two attack and two escort destroyers to the operation after facing pressure from it's relatively xenophobic population where the idea of pan-human military cooperation is very popular, or rather, the disunity shown since the advent of space colonization is not. The Martian businessmen were easier to convince than anticipated, a flashy operation like this with distinctly Martian ships contributing can be used for their propagandist agenda and the laser frigates they promise are old and expendable. Only the Russian state declines cooperation, citing budgetary issues preventing "non-essential" military maneuvers at current. Their all-missile doctrine does not fit in the planned operation anyhow. Any information gained as a result of the operation will be shared among the participants and physical loot will be divided according to warship tonnage contribution.

A Martian offer to use their flagship, the carrier Utopia Planitia, as a command and control platform is dismissed by EU delegates as needless showmanship as the vessel carries no offensive capabilities useful in the operation and will likely have to be defended outside hostile weapons range by escorts, likely EU escorts. European delegates are well aware of the Martian strategy regarding the EU Mars colony, and having a Martian ship steal the show as largest vessel in the fleet and center of operations would be a big boon to their agenda. Unfortunately for them the other participants see the practical benefits of using the carrier as a CnC platform, a role it was designed for after all. Martian negotiators accede that the tonnage of the vessel will not be counted in determining any eventual spoils and convince their own admirals to plan the operation with keeping the ship with the main fleet and bringing it into hostile weapons range, something they were quite opposed to. And so one more ship joins the fight. The enemy should be hopelessly outmassed and victory practically assured barring any major surprises - so goes the planning.

The real challenge begins now in organizing five different navies and their systems to interoperate smoothly, but that is the whole point, and likely the only real gain, from this operation. In addition each navy has to take care of their own supply chain, as Procyon's Rest is 24b km away from Sol no warship can reach there without refueling. Argentina does not even have the system mapped and will require assistance locating the jump points leading there.

By the time the various squabbles and negotiations finish it is already May. Until the ship dispatched to stabilize the last jump point into the Baton Rouge system arrives and finishes it's job another year is expected to pass. Smaller ships could likely all share the same few jump tenders but there are no tenders big enough to jump the large 20k ton capital ships used by the three largest powers.



Extrasolar fleet bases are becoming more and more popular. The EU and PRL colonies in Santa María are regularly overhauling explorers, especially now that the EU has as the second nation found the hidden JP connection back into the Santa María pocket that led the PRL to it's early contact with the Xining. Aside from Santa María the PRL's Wuhan colony is fully operational and serves as the nation's send-off base for it's contribution to the Procyon operation, as it's being called now. The Martian base in Salto, inbetween Sol, Santa María and Wuhan, is growing at rates exceeding everyone's expectation and now home to a squadron of plasma frigates in an interesting strategic location close to the Sol JP. Russia's Novokuznetsk colony is the farthest out of all but will no doubt serve as a great jump-off point for further expeditions. Even Argentina's Tablada colony is nearly operational with most of the spaceport facilities now in place.

   2125

A small, new Split colony is found by the PRL while surveying a planet. Activating it's sensors to determine threat from STO forces, the Astiarchus does indeed find ground force signatures - two of them, one of the Split, and one, one-tenth it's size, from the Xining. Are they fighting over this planet? Either way, no fire is directed against the Aristarchus in orbit.


The sizes didn't change while the ship was in orbit. Think they're slave laborers?

The long-awaited dedicated missile defense system for use by future PRL escorts is being unveiled: It is a dome of superconducting materials with a hypercapacitor at the center. Once the capacitor releases it's charge very finely tuned magnetic fields direct the energy to flow towards the incoming projectile. As it leaves the dome the energy is converted into a particle stream. Not relying on moving mechanical parts and barrels allow the system to hit incoming targets with near-perfect accuracy at up to 16k m/s, as fast as the electronics can resolve it.
Each unit and the systems behind it is still rather bulky at nearly 800 tons but can fire 72 times per minute. The principle engineering challenge was how to make the sensitive emission dome resistant to damage.
There has been debate over the platform which will mount these systems. A repurposement of the new and fast Jade Rabbit hull has been proposed. Such ships could protect the existing Jade Rabbits on approach to a target without forcing them to lower their speed, which would sacrifice their main advantage. Then there's also the reality that Gallicite is very scarce and an engine-heavy platform like the Jade Rabbit can't be mass-produced at current. A destroyer platform after the old model uses the available Gallicite more efficiently. A "Mighty Dolphin" type destroyer only has insignificantly less tonnage dedicted to it's mission payload (weapons) despite being limited to 12k tons as opposed to a Jade Rabbit's 20k tons. It also costs only 40% of the Gallicite.
In the end the need to deploy missile defense systems en masse wins out and a destroyer platform is chosen.



   Procyon's Rest

At the start of the year the fleets and their various support units are set into motion, for in March, the gates open. The Argentine ship gets to the meeting point first as it has high speed and was conceived with long-distance operations in mind. The Martian squadron in particular has problems arriving as there are no dedicated tankers in their navy - they have to refuel off of a PRL and a JAP tanker on the way. A direct result from their continued focus on Sol. Last was actually the EU squadron which had to wait for a tanker to catch up while sitting just 1b from the rest of the fleet on the Baton Rouge JP.


The Five Nation Flotilla - including support ships.

The assembled fleet is quite a sight. Total contributions to the operation are as follows:

Procyon Squadron PRL - 72k tons
Mighty Dolphin IIa class Destroyer - Codster, Devilfish, Great White, Halibut, Hammerhead, Humpback - Laser destroyer
Also underway: 2 troop transports to secure and investigate the surface

Procyon Squadron EU - 32k tons
Adana C class Escort - Kirikkale, Malatya, Manisa, Trabzon - Escort destroyer, railguns
Also there: salvage vessels

Procyon Squadron MARS - 36k tons (59k with carrier + fighters)
Utopia Planitia class Carrier - Utopia Planitia
Enterprise class Frigate: USS Ault, USS Bagley, USS Ernest G. Small, USS Hambleton, USS Herbert, USS Kidd - Outdated escort frigate, PD laser turrets
8x F-94 Eagle v2 class Attack Craft - ground support fighter, can alternatively launch single cruise missile
4x F-94 Eagle v2a class Attack Craft

Procyon Squadron JAP - 48k tons
Tama D class Destroyer: Ikazuchi, Yamagiri - Modern attack destroyer, particle beams
Yayoi B class Destroyer Escort: Kaba, Katsura - Modern escort destroyer, AMM

Procyon Squadron ARG - 12k tons
Esperanza 1 R10 class Destroyer: Salient - Modern attack destroyer, railguns

200k tons total. Expected enemy tonnage: 28k

When the order is given all ships activate sensors and proceed with the jump sequence. The jump is smooth as expected and the stabilizer begins working on the way back out. The fleet heads towards the target.


The planet was named in memory of the USS Procyon who's wreck is visible in the screenshot.

Tension rises as the fleet approaches and at 1.6m from target the first hostile AMM volley is detected - quite as expected. Despite everything going according to plan several ships leave formation as they decelerate in the face of an oncoming barrage. One Japanese escort launches interceptors, but all 20 "Shurikens" miss the extremely quick Qian projectiles. In a further display of disorganization, no point-defense fire is made and all 33 projectiles impact the PRL destroyer Codster. The next volley is absorbed more professionally, with half of incoming destroyed by PD fire. It seems the disorganization was only momentary.


A typical increment during the approach. The EU destroyers ended up getting the most missile kills.

The Japanese AMM volleys keep being too late to intercept the faster enemy volleys, so the escorts cease fire. It seems enemy targeting prefers targeting the escorts now, probably because they've outed themselves as launch platforms. Their shields fail and they start to retreat, giving a few counter-volleys again as the time-to-intercept is now lessened and there is no final fire cover from the rest of the fleet anymore. The AMM hail does not stop coming, however, and the Katsura and Kaba eventually receive internal damage. Before they get out of range the Katsura loses 20% engine capacity. The main fleet is now halfway through the hostile fire zone of 2m km.

A malfunction or something must have happened on the enemy stations as they now reduced their volley size to 27, instead sending the remaining 6 projectiles offset from the others. That makes them easier to destroy. The PRL destroyer Codster is still frequently receiving hits and it's heavy armor belt is getting worryingly light, if the enemy can keep up their assault for the remainder of the approach (which is the prediction) the ship may well get destroyed. Very unfortunate happenings accelerate it's demise: soon after the first hits penetrate and take out the first component on the Codster one of it's engines suffers a critical hit. The ship does not survive the str 62 secondary explosion.


Very unlucky to explode just after the armor has been penetrated! The PRL navy never really recoverd from the first contact battle where they fielded 15 modern destroyers. With this one lost now only 8 remain.

Still, the fleet presses on. It'll be all over once the allied ships are in weapons range of the planet. Subsequent volleys target the Utopia Planitia. Distance: 700k. It's mighty shields hold, but as the distance shrinks further there is no time anymore to coordinate point-defense fire between each volley launch and impact. The enemy uses this fact and changes his target once more to a PRL destroyer. The distance closes to beneath 240k and therefore within weapons range of the Japanese. Targeting data for the Qian AMM platform is relayed and the counter-fire begins. The attack ships break formation and charge forward, a few shots hit the platform - but once the PRL destroyers get in range their sheer volume of fire blows away the platform in one blast. Still, the Qian weren't silenced before they could inflict a good amount of internal damage on the PRL Devilfish.
Combined fire from all attack ships hits the remaining platform which just sits helplessly just outside it's weapons range.


Fear the might of Humanity!


The micromanagement involved in coordinating five different empires was actually rather managable. This engagement was a test run for me too.

The second kill goes to the Yamagiri and it's particle beamers. The fleet enters orbit, but no ground force is detected. The victory is celebrated, the crews and commanders are congratulated, hands are shaken. The support ships are called in, there are four wrecks in the system to salvage: The wreck of the Codster, the two Qian platforms and the old American survey ship in orbit.
PRL troopers land on the surface and, as expected, find no live population, only ruins. There is also a curious alien construct present which may or may not have been constructed by the people that once inhabited this world. There is very little functioning infrastructure left but a basic sensor station and a cargo lift, plainly designed to resupply the AMM platform in orbit. At it's base the real find is made: almost 12k of the alien AMM missiles that the fleet had to face in orbit. As their performance is plainly superior to human-built ones they are classed as alien artifacts and will be distributed among the participating nations according to the pre-arranged contribution key.

4250 - PRL
2833 - JAP
2125 - MARS
1889 - EU
708 - ARG

This is the distribution of AMMs between nations. Several of these do not even have AMM-capable ships at current, but such technology is not hard to develop. Most human nations having access to such advanced anti-missile technology is likely to encourage more offensive beam doctrines rather than missile doctrines in the future.

As for the other uses of the planet, each participating nation will be invited to found colonies on the surface for study of the alien relics. An orbital survey by the nearby Argentine explorer Aguaray confirms that there are no other structures nor any mineral deposits on the planet. Whether colonies will be established depends on what the Lunar Xenoarcheologists can make of the ruins and the dormant construct. Some of the technology salvaged still intact from the Qian wreckage provides clues to improving current technology, but the gains are relatively minor.

The discovery of advanced and immediately usable alien weapons, even if just AMMs, is not going to fuel more cooperative adventures of this sort. It would not be surprising to see the competing human nations try and secure such advantages on their own in the future. But given that all other Qian outposts detected so far are stronger than this one there won't be much of a rush to tackle them right now - just less incentive to cooperate in taking them down. Any real military cooperation in the future will likely be targeted against live aliens like the Xining, if any.

The Russian state is not too pleased that advanced alien missile defenses are now in all their competitors hands but not in theirs, especially as such weapons are very effective against the heavy Russian missiles. Still, as Russian doctrine calls for a massed strike, not a continuous barrage, it does not invalidate current doctrine entirely. Regardless, the best time for an offensive may be now before these alien AMMs enter regular service. Not being able to study the alien structures to derive more technology from them may prove a disadvantage long-term, but first the value of a research outpost on that planet must become clear. The state does not believe that this exercise will spark humanity to finally unite, as some dreamers are hoping, and is only concerned with the material changes in the strategic situation.

The actual efficacy of the Qian interceptor missiles recovered may have been overestimated by initial appraisal. While their speed is impressive and twice that of even the most modern human prototypes, the missile relies completely on it's high speed and accurate launch trajectory to hit a target, no special maneuvering capability is present. That makes each projectile incredibly hard to shoot down, as was the problem in both Human-Qian battles so far. But in it's intended use as a missile interceptor EU military R&D demonstrates a highly maneuverable prototype that can reach and even exceed the projected destruction rate of the captured Qian interceptors. A devious weapon: flexibly useful against the enemy but not as effective in their hands.



A new Japanese construction project begins: a military dropship capable of dropping 4k tons of ground forces. The hull is an elongated version of the currently active destroyers and can match their speeds. The indended use is to approach a defended planet under the cover from other destroyers and drop it's Gekishin TSF Squadron, a unit of 10 super-heavy mechas. Multiple dropships are required to drop supporting units and supplies as well. Three ships are planned.

By the end of the year most ships involved in the raid on Procyon's Rest are home again. The PRL's gambit to reduce Solar fleet strengths proportionally has worked and there were no major incidents in Sol during the operation. The gained technology is nice, but to the PRL the real gain in the project was the creation of a precedent for pan-human military cooperation that can serve as an example in case of a conflict with the Split. The large fleet numbers discovered by the diplomatic ship Xining several years ago have not been made available to the other nations. If it comes to war it'll be a great advantage to be able to use the other nations to soften the blow.

The project to terraform Luna began in the early 70's and was declared "finished" in 2083, but only now it's secondary effects are beginning to materialize. Creating an artificial atmosphere and seas can be done with technology, but a biosphere requires time to grow and adapt. The PRL's efforts have born fruit and Luna has become an idyll where plants and a few low-gravity adaptable animal populations are thriving. Massive forests with trees of sizes already outgrowing the largest on Earth span an increasingly large portion of the Lunar land, together with other plant species they have begun to form a sustainable ecosystem. Luna is now a jungle world.


Welcome to the jungle

Although they would never admit publicly that it was done for military reasons, the lush vegetation covering Luna's continents is going to be a great boon to the defender in any ground campaign on the body. Likewise it will make orbital targeting very hard. Together with the massive numbers of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) Luna is now an unstormable stronghold - just outside of weapons range of Earth itself.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 11:57:31 PM by Zap0 »
 
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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #40 on: Today at 08:39:07 AM »
FYI: it is not currently possible to actually use captured alien missiles. They can only be scrapped for resources.
 

Online Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #41 on: Today at 12:15:31 PM »
FYI: it is not currently possible to actually use captured alien missiles. They can only be scrapped for resources.

It does appear so. But I am a magician!

Or at least somebody with DB access. Distributing the missiles between the empires required some DB editing too. In order to make them usable I then also added the missile to every empire's tech list. That means they now show up in the ordnance selection screens like any race-designed missile - and can be built like one too. I'll be refraining from building any more of them, unless I want to role-play that they got fully reverse-engineered at some point.

That's probably the most "invasive" DB edit I've done. Other edits I've done:
  • Components with sizes (engineering spaces, fuel tanks, maintenance bays etc.) are renamed: Tiny Engineering Space -> Enginering Space (5t) - Script here: https://old.reddit.com/r/aurora4x_mods/comments/h17gfv/db_script_to_rename_components_engineering_spaces/
  • Tractor beam changed to 1 HS instead of 10 - They were going to be part of the Russian experimental new doctrine, but then they spent all their Gallicite on much-needed upgrades of what they already had and have been struggling to build up a stock again.
  • I changed the flag for precursors (the Qian), was initially a British Bermudas flag.
  • I disabled the player interrupt for discovering a JP. I don't usually investigate them right away anymore.
  • And I set the Xining to have established communications with the EU as the "establish comms" SM button does not go both ways, it seems.

Did you SM Luna as Jungle in the last AAR? Just out of curiosity

No, they just moved all their terraformers away to Mars and then Sheng Yúe in Santa María when Luna became habitable. They specifically built a few more terraformers recently to change the terrain of Luna. If I'm understanding the mechanics right there was a chance it could have been any of several terrain types, and I changed the temperature specifically to be above the minimum required for jungles. Mars was also trying the same, but Mars is already Prairie and I don't think I can change the terrain without giving the planet a CC cost again. Everyone still has infrastructure there, but it'd seem like a step back, so I won't do it.
Terrain rules post: http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=8495.msg104912#msg104912
« Last Edit: Today at 12:21:43 PM by Zap0 »
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #42 on: Today at 12:50:07 PM »
You should be able to change terrain of Mars if you increase water coverage or change temperature. Some terrains have 25% or 30% water coverage requirement or 20-25°C temperature requirement. Terrain can change if you cross these thresholds.
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #43 on: Today at 01:04:51 PM »
You should be able to change terrain of Mars if you increase water coverage or change temperature. Some terrains have 25% or 30% water coverage requirement or 20-25°C temperature requirement. Terrain can change if you cross these thresholds.

You say every time it crosses those thresholds there's a chance it rerolls? Mars is already above 30% water, I've attached the current environment screen.
 

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #44 on: Today at 02:07:34 PM »
I checked again and in your situation it seems you are stuck because there are some limitations for terrain change and for Prairie there is no upper limit for water coverage. I was mistaken in this as I thought that there was a limit for Prairie, sorry about the confusion.

In your case you would need to get above 50°C and go back down to change the terrain.

Edit: I suppose you could go below 0°C (Prairie has minimum temperature requirement of 0°C) that should force the terrain re-roll to Taiga or Steppe and still keep the colony cost at 0
« Last Edit: Today at 02:25:06 PM by Black »
 

 

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