Author Topic: Campaign Updates  (Read 38499 times)

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Offline Kurt (OP)

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Cold War: Month 221 - A few notes
« Reply #300 on: January 23, 2023, 12:01:29 PM »
Author’s Note, Month 221, Cold War Campaign
So, here we are, 221 turns into the Cold War Campaign.  The Alliance, the largest “player” race in the campaign, is finishing up a border conflict with the Lothari, and recently successfully concluded its war with the Aurarii as well.   With those conflicts closed out or on their last legs, I wanted to talk about some issues these wars illustrate. 

Basically, by the current rules, NPR-Player empire conflicts in the mid to late game in Starfire are suicidal for the NPR’s, and inevitable.  This is because of the nature of the game.  In the early game, NPR’s can provide credible threats, but by mid-game they have receded to minor and localized threats at best, mostly because a standard player race has gotten so large by this point in the game.  By way of example, the Aurarii economy was approximately 20% that of the Alliance, and the Lothari were just under 15%.  Together, they would have been a more formidable threat, but they were not acting together.  Even had they acted together, though, their defeat was inevitable. 

The current rules, as written, almost guarantee that some NPR’s will declare war on player races, regardless of the fact that such wars would be suicidal.  This is a reaction to earlier versions of the rules that made NPR’s pushovers.  In games based on those earlier rules, NPR’s were primarily targets for player race amalgamation, and the best player strategy was to discover as many NPR’s as possible, as quickly as possible, so that they could be amalgamated, thus growing their economy and fleet.  Indeed, under those rules, building exploration ships was by far the best investment of resources, and if you weren’t role playing that was what you wanted to do, to the exclusion of all else.  Naturally, later versions of the rules changed this, making NPR’s much more disagreeable.  This, however, led to the current situation where NPR’s engage in suicidal wars against immensely larger neighbors.  As this is primarily a role-playing campaign, I ignore or modify these results, in most cases.  However, with the Aurarii and the Lothari, what they did made sense.  To them. 

The Aurarii war was largely a result of their internal politics.  Their lack of open warp points to expand through was the event that ignited the war, aided by the Alliance’s distraction due to their own internal events, but the real cause was the instability within the imperial government and the attempt by the court to seize power and turn the emperor into a figurehead.  The navy was caught off guard and unprepared, and the people largely did not support the war or even really care.  Thus the war was prosecuted half-heartedly and when they suffered reverses their war effort fell apart.  The Lothari were different.  I’m not sure anyone could tell, because I’m very clever and inventive, but the Lothari were based on a certain country from World War 2.  Hah!  No one caught that, right?  Anyway, the Lothari government type was an Insane Dictator, and with that type of government their relationships with other races have to be re-rolled every twelve turns.  And guess what happened when they re-rolled for their relationship with the Alliance?  The nice thing about that type of government is that what they do doesn’t have to make sense. 

The thing is, as is typical of these kind of wars, neither aggressor had any chance of winning.  I have found that these kind of wars usually go the same way.  The NPR launches a surprise attack, making some initial gains, but then, when the player race brings up heavy reinforcements, they are forced back and ultimately beaten.  The NPR can delay things by using clever tactics or warp point defenses, but in the end they are going to get beaten.  In this case, the Aurarii never really wanted to win, exactly.  The Aurarii plan was to defeat the Doraz fleet, and then negotiate with the Doraz and the Alliance to gain access to open warp points.  That’s why they never really advanced into the Doraz home system once their fleet was beaten, and why they gave up once they were pushed back to their home system. 

The Lothari, on the other hands, were fighting for keeps.  Their great leader had told them that the war was for the survival of their race, and they believed him.  The great leader, of course, never thought that they could beat the Alliance in a single all-out war, but instead had a clever plan.  The Lothari intended to launch a surprise attack and take as much Alliance territory as possible before they brought up reinforcements.  Once their advances were stopped, the great leader, being a genius negotiator and manipulator, believed that he could negotiate a peace treaty with the Alliance, perhaps by giving up a portion of the territory that they had taken.  Then, they would wait a year or two and digest their conquests and build up their fleet, at which time they would attack again and do the whole thing all over, taking bite after bite of the Alliance, until they controlled it all.  I call this strategy the Traveller-Terran strategy.  Unfortunately, being a psychopath, the great leader did not realize just how the Alliance would react to their standard method of dealing with undesirables.  Namely, slow murder in concentration camps.  Thus, he never really had a chance of negotiating a peace treaty once the Alliance became outraged over the treatment of their military prisoners and civilians in conquered areas. 

In this case, I decided to let the wars go forward, in spite of their ultimate futility.  I have dealt with this issue differently in the past.  In the Phoenix Campaign, the largest “player” race was the Allied Sentient Races or ASR.  The ASR explored widely and had contacted lots of NPR’s, many of which were allied with them, however, some of them really, really, didn’t like the ASR.  None of them came close to being able to match the immense might of the ASR, though, so if they expressed their feelings, the resulting conflicts would be over quickly.  So, in this case, I decided that the ASR, which was all about growing mutual respect and communication between their member races, would provide conduits of communication between these races, none of which had direct contact with each other.  This would allow them to plan a war right under the ASR’s nose.  They did this; however, it almost immediately fell apart, mostly because once they declared war they lost their communications.  It was like the Germans and Japanese during World War 2.  The distance between them made communications difficult and coordination impossible.  The ASR was able to isolate and annihilate each in turn.  The Cold War conflicts went differently because, as I noted above, they weren’t planned. 

Hopefully, I made them at least somewhat enjoyable, in spite of the inevitable outcome. 
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