Jarenth Plays Civilization: Beyond Earth — Episode 7: Casus Belli

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Beyond Earth, I set my first tentative steps on the path of Supremacy. With the number of aliens in my small section of the world at an all-time high, I felt it better to be safe than to be sorry. I’m still holding out hope that the giant bugs of this world and I will manage to simply get along… but if not, at least my doofy astronaut soldiers are slightly less doofy now.

Of course, with upgrading my soldiers this way comes the inevitable realization that every other colony on the map is ahead of me in Affinity points, meaning all their militaries are either as powerful as mine, or even stronger. And I’m betting most of them will have more soldiers, too. But hey: one problem at a time. Let’s tackle the issue of peaceful alien coexistence first, and then I’ll get to finding out which human players I can and cannot wipe off the map.

Let’s see, where we at? Prospérité, Le Coeur and Aintza are all happily chugging away at building: a Trade Depot, a Thorium Reactor, a Pharmalab. Research-wise, I’m looking into Biochemistry now. Primarily because researching that will allow me to build the Petrochemical Plant that last episode’s ‘Familiar Exotics’ Affinity-quest is clamoring for. Sure, I still can’t build it in Le Coeur, but… I dunno. Maybe the quest isn’t going to be as picky as it looks like, right now? I can definitely build the Plant in Aintza, so maybe that’ll complete it. And even not, it’s still a decent-enough building, getting me extra Production and extra Energy from the petroleum tile I’m putting a well on as we speak.

In a similar vein, Biochemistry also unlocks access to the Water Refinery building, which boosts the Food and Production output of all water tiles. Given that two of my three cities are coastal, and given that regular water tiles currently output… er, more or less nothing, this seems like it could be a decent investment. Both Prospérité and Le Coeur have plenty of land tiles to work, so it’s not like they’re starved for choice… but better safe than sorry, eh?

As for my alien friends…

Yup, they’re still hanging out.

The aliens are still doing what they were doing: hanging around in the area between Prospérité and Le Coeur, impeding my efforts to build roads and generally being non-hostile nuisances. One unit of Wolf Beetles has actually made its way all the way up to Le Coeur… presumably to gaze, starry-eyed, at the wonders of human civilization. Or maybe it’s just visiting relatives, and its relatives happen to be the Chitin bugs we’ve enslaved for our own benefit. Either/or.

“Hey, uncle Larry. What’s up?”

I get a satellite de-orbit warning. Ah, is that for Le Coeur’s Solar Collector? …No, that one de-orbited ages ago and I just forgot about it. Turns out the warning is actually for the Miasmic Repulsor satellite, which… only stays in orbit for ten turns? Huh, I guess it is more fast-acting than I thought. Or rather, I hope it is: five turns in, and all it’s cleared so far is the Miasma tile right underneath it. I’m going to be pretty disappointed if these things only clear one tile per launch.

They don’t make satellites like they used to.

Time, as always, passes. Even more aliens run into my land: we’re up to five packs of Wolf Beetles and two Siege Worms, now. Wary of the growing alien threat, I have Le Coeur construct a Tacjet.

At least I’m not the only one dealing with Siege Worms, I guess:

I for one am glad we came to this planet infested with hellish super worms.

Hey, look, Virtues! For my next trick, I pick… I figure I might as well go back to the Knowledge tree after getting my free Worker, given that both Health-boosting Virtues and the free Colonist I was eyeballing are still fairly far off. I develop ‘Laboratory Apprenticeship’, which boosts city Science output by 0.25 per Population unit…

Good to see we decided to bring back apprenticeships. That whole schooling system we built over the past couple of centuries on Old Earth was getting dull, anyway.

…and because that particular Virtue was my sixth tier-one Virtue, I get the tier-one bonus. Which, hey, is a free Virtue! I opt for the tier-two Knowledge Virtue ‘Cohesive Values’, which lowers the Culture cost of new Virtues by 10%.

So, in summary: I got a Virtue. By selecting that Virtue, I got another Virtue. And with that Virtue, I chose an option that’s going to make future Virtues happen faster. I’d make a joke about ethics here, but I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

I am trying my damn hardest to get a road going between Prospérité and Le Coeur. But these Wolf Beetles are just not letting up. A similar road between Le Coeur and Aintza gets done in, like, five turns, but Prospérité is at the far end of my metaphorical Calm Lands. It’s just taking me so long to get through this.

Whether or not my Soldiers Marines have anything to do with it, I don’t know. But while I haven’t seen any overt hostilities yet, these aliens are definitely not making my work easy. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they’re being… passive-aggressive at me?

“We’re not touching you.”

Still, though, no hostility means no hostility. The Siege Worms actually leave my lands again, for reasons unknown. And the aliens south of Aintza, I know you guys are there, only occasionally come up to check the weather. Maybe…

I briefly check my score. Hey, look at that, I’m second-place again! All of a sudden! It’s almost like these scores are an ever-shifting landscape of madness and I shouldn’t put too much stock into them.

Rejinaldo is currently the number-one guy. I call him up, chat for a little, then gift him my one barrel of petroleum for thirty turns. I have no idea if presenting gifts like this does anything for the AI’s disposition towards you, but I might as well try. Not like I’m using that fuel, anyway.

Rejinaldo, you grin like a total creep. Maybe work on that in the mirror sometime.

Speaking of disposition: while the Diplomacy screen is open anyway, I figure I might as well make a call to Samatar. He and I have been cooperating and trading Open Borders for quite a while, now. I’m not sure why Samatar is so friendly while everyone else is putting high price tags on any kind of collaboration, but whatever. Maybe Samatar is interesting in taking our teamwork to the next level? The Alliance level?

I ring Samatar, and he picks up the video phone with that same goofy smile he’s always wearing. “Hey, Jarenth-Elodie! Good to see you! No village was ever hurt by trade.”

Sigh. “I… I know ‘no village was ever hurt by trade’, Samatar. You say that exact line every single time you call me to renew our Cooperation Agreement or our Open Borders. I’ve heard it like six times in the past ninety turns.”

“Well, it’s true.” Samatar pouts. “No village was ever hurt by trade.”

“Yeah, alright, you’re right there. But listen, that’s not why I’m calling…”

“Oh?” He perks up.

“Listen… how would you feel about entering into an military Alliance with me?” I carefully start. “Now, before you say anything, I know that since I’m the one asking, I’m probably more attached to the idea than you are. So while I think this could be a good idea for both of us, I’m willing to trade you some stuff to make this thing happen. Just let me know what you want, and…”

“That’s alright, Elmo,” Samatar interrupts me, “I don’t need anything. An Alliance sounds good! Let’s make it happen.”

“R…really? Just like that?”

“What can I say, you seem like a cool dude.”

Well. Talk about an unexpected windfall.

As with most Civilization games, the terms of the military Alliance are fairly simple: if one member of the Alliance gets into a war, all get into that war. I… don’t think it has any other benefits? Still, this declaration of mutual protection should benefit both me and Samatar, letting all the world know that if you mess with either of us, you mess with both of us.

I try to make a similar thing happen with Daoming, but no luck. I even gift her a small amount of Energy, which immediately counts as a positive point in her appraisal of me. But it’s not positive enough.

This is literally the only thing she thinks of me.

Doop de doop… Building and moving, moving and building… finishing Biochemistry, studying… let’s say Alien Lifeforms, which boosts Culture and unlocks access to the Alien Preserve building. I need that for my previous Affinity quest.

Doop de doop… Building a Production-boosting Recycler in Le Coeur, and another one in Prospérité…

Already, we’re getting to the point of Beyond Earth where sometimes, time just passes without much happening in-between. With the aliens being nothing more than obstinate jerks, and all other players far away and more or less unreachable, there’s not a whole lot more I can do than just keep grinding away at being the coolest guy.

Not that the other players are content to just let me gun for the top spot, mind. For instance: as turn 117 rolls by, I’m informed that ‘General Vadim Kozlov has completed Gene Vault’. Which… what?

I guess that’s a thing I need to be told about?

Looking through the Civilopedia reveals that the Gene Vault is an early-technology Wonder, a structure that strongly boosts Food output and slightly improves Culture. It’s the only construction folded under the Purity-affiliated Genetic Mapping technology, which explains why Kozlov has it and I don’t. And now his city growth and overall score are going to skyrocket, leaving me in the dust.

Yup, he’s number one on the score list. Bah. That Slavic bastard is going to be trouble for me, mark my words.

The same turn 117 holds an additional, actually beneficial surprise. My internal trade route between Le Coeur and Aintza has expired, which means I have to manually re-assign it. But when I look at the list of possible trading targets for my Convoy, not only do I see Aintza and Prospérité… but thanks to Explorer Three’s valiant efforts, I now also know the way to several of PAC’s colonies.

Bloody *finally*, I get to trade with other people!

Interesting. It looks like internal city-to-city trade benefits Food and Production, while international trade benefits Energy and Science. So either trade with yourself to grow big and strong, or trade with others to grow rich and wise… at the ‘expense’ of them growing rich and wise, too. Too bad I haven’t found a path to Samatar, yet.

Well, whatever. Daoming seems like a decent neighbour, so far. I set a path for her city of Nhiet Ting, watch my Convoy roll away, and hope against hope that the roving Wolf Beetle packs decide to leave it alone.

The Convoy hasn’t even *left* Le Coeur yet, and Daoming is already calling to convey her appreciation.

The cars roll along my proto-road… past Marines and Workers… past Wolf Beetles fair… I end my turn… and…

Yes! None of the five packs of Wolf Beetles infesting my lands attack the Trade Convoy! Better use my time phone to call Adam Smith, because the invisible hand of the market is rocking it.

The Trade Convoy rolls on, away from my city, over the small land bridge connecting my lands with PAC’s. It gets within sight range of the — abandoned? — Fort Barca, comes to a halt on a coastal hex with strange rocky outcroppings, and then gets instantly destroyed by a Siege Worm I hadn’t spotted lying in wait there.

What in the goddamn *hell*, aliens!

Oh come on, aliens, what are you doing? And to believe that, for a minute, I actually thought we might be able to coexist. But every time I extend even the slightest amount of trust to you guys…

It gets worse, though. Remember how I’ve been trying to get that intercity road up? It was difficult for a while: aliens blocking the path, Miasma messing up my Workers — though that’s actually been cleared, now, thanks to the Repulsor doing an admirable job — and even weird, unrelated quest-failure notifications…

Seriously, I have no idea what this is about. ‘Cultural Burden’ is a quest without objectives, that I don’t remember getting, and *every time* I try to complete this road, that counts as ‘failing it’.

…but then I finally managed to complete the circuit…

…and then this asshole rolls in and destroys it again.

“Ha ha!” — Siege Worm, presumably.

I mean, in fairness: I can see how there’s no actual malice behind that. The Siege Worm is a giant roiling earth-displacing tube of teeth and tentacles. When it passes one of my road-bearing hexes, that road’s going to get destroyed as a side effect of its passage. And I’m almost magnanimous enough to forgive it for doing so: I mean, how can a Siege Worm even know what a road is?

It keeps doing it, though. Over and over. It’s not passing through, or going anywhere: best I can tell, it’s messing my shit up for the express purpose of messing my shit up.

“What? I’m just lying here. There’s no *laws* against me lying here, are there?”

Once again, I decide to get my military in the ready position. My Marines and my Tacjet are both in a good place, my next research topic of Tactical Robotics should get me another Supremacy point and with that, another unit upgrade, and a Thorium-Reactor-specific quest ensures I’ll get even more Energy per turn. I still don’t have a particularly strong military, true, but I’m hoping a display of power might… I dunno, scare the aliens into submission again?

To that end, I pull the Rangers currently stationed in Aintza to Le Coeur as well. This doesn’t actually take very long, thanks to the functional road I was able to construct here. I park the Rangers outside Le Coeur, partially to show that I mean business, and partially to place them so that their ranged attack can support the Marines’ melee assault.

They can take potshots at the Siege Worm, that’ll be fun.

I still don’t really want to fight the aliens, mind. Obnoxious as they’re being right now, I kinda got used to their scurrying around. They’re cute, almost, in a way. I mean, look at this pack of Wolf Beetles next to Le Coeur! They’re just, I don’t know, still hanging out with their distant relatives! They’ve been sitting there for a dozen turns, not harming anyone or obstructing anything, and it would just break my heart to…

The aforementioned Wolf Beetles lunge for my Rangers. Given that the Wolf Beetles are melee-centric and the Rangers are, well, ranged, they’re able to inflict significant damage without taking any serious injury themselves.

Why, Wolf Beetles? Just… why?

You sons of bitches are going down.

Next episode: the first shots of the Jarenth-aliens war are fired! Predictably, it doesn’t go very well for the aliens.

6 comments

  1. I but…but..THEY’RE GREEN! Guh, everything the alien-human coexistence handbook says is a LIE. It’s almost as if it’s just full of alien propaganda!

    Damn you Firaxis! YOU’RE IN LEAGUE WITH THEM!

    Also dammit, they’re in *your* territory! Don’t they respect the boundaries you have placed upon their planet?!

    1. That attack surprises me – I can’t see an alien nest nearby, so I would have probably moved out without clearing the beetle too. Mind you, I tend to prioritise ultrasonic fences, so I’d probably encounter it further away.

      I’m not surprised by the siege worm’s antics though. It’s just doing what they do.

    1. Jarenth doesn’t believe in sharing the wisdom of this great planet. I believe he intends to poison his people and the land with biomechanical contraptions and augmentations (the supremacy path).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *