Jarenth Plays Civilization: Beyond Earth — Episode 20: Boogeyman

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Beyond Earth, everyone on Terra Atlantea up and decided to start wearing new clothes. Everyone! Even Hutama, sneak-mongering bastard that he is, seems to have taken my advice re: getting a better tailor to heart. Let’s hope he’s equally receptive to my other advice, which involves never ever messing with my civilization again under penalty of obliteration.

Seriously though, that suit looks *much* better on him.

Oh yeah! And Vadim Kozlov decided that it’d be a good idea to start colonizing my shores. In the very last paragraph of the previous episode, I’d just discovered a very recent Slavic Federation Outpost fouling up the place. And I’m… I’m not actually as angry about this as I figured I would be? In a way, I can respect Vadim proactively trying to keep tabs on me. As if he doesn’t have his best operative in my capital anyway, but I digress. Settling an Outpost on my shores is a perfectly valid move from a tactical perspective, and I’m not about to throw a hissy fit over it.

I will probably burn it to the ground, though.

I see no alternative solution here but plasma fire.

Ring ring, ring ring. Ring ring, ring ring. Click. “Hey Vadim. What’s up?”

“Comrade. I would squash you like an insect if you had not retained even the barest resemblance to our human heritage.”

“Jesus, Vadim.”

“Yeah yeah, listen. Remember that time I asked you not to settle near my lands? And you said you’d agree to that, and we reached an amicable gentleman’s agreement? Well, I’m calling because… it’s just that… you’re settling near my lands right now. I mean, I can see your Outpost, Svyatoy. It’s right there. So could you just… I dunno, pack that shit back in and go home?”

“I do not think that that will happen.”

“I see, I see. Determined, I respect that. Could I maybe convince you to trade me that Outpost, then?… No? You’re literally not even open to the idea of me buying it off you?”

“Not on the table, comrade.”

Welp. I tried. You all saw I tried! I wanted to be the reasonable one, here, but this stubborn crew cut and his pointless jacket rope are forcing me into this confrontation. Time to take down that ‘it has been this many days without war’ sign, guys!

I literally have no other option.

And just like that, Samatar, Suzanne and I find ourselves in another conflict. I wonder if either of thing imaged this outcome when they signed the alliance papers.

Hutama you are picking the wrong time to grovel.

Go show off your new suit somewhere else.

Well… I say ‘conflict’, but honestly, there’s not a whole lot to it. It turns out developing Outposts are a lot easier to destroy than cities are. By which I mean, I attack it with one Overseer and one Disciple and it goes down like a house of cards. The Overseer wasn’t even necessary. I’m pretty sure any normal melee attack would’ve destroyed it instantly. And yes, I do mean ‘destroyed’: unlike cities, which can be puppeted, annexed or razed, Outposts just… stop existing.

Now, on the one hand, I could halt this conflict right here and now. I can’t actually call Vadim and suggest peace yet, because of the mandatory enforced conflict length. And also because he hates me, I guess. But I could choose to not do anything for the next nine turns or so. Barring Vadim sailing over to attack us, that would free me up to do things I actually enjoy doing. Like researching technologies, building buildings, and finally finding my way to Samatar’s cities and civilization.

Huh. Those buildings look… pretty disgusting? Sorry, sorry, I mean ‘organic’. I guess this is what Harmony players get as their visual city ‘upgrade’, huh?

Yup. Suzanne’s cities have this same goop look now, albeit still less.

Their soldiers look pretty funky in the flesh, too.

Are these, like… *crab* people?

I could let this conflict just peter out… but on the other hand, why let a perfectly good conflict go to waste? I might as well send some of my units in Vadim’s general direction. I know where Khrabrost is, more or less, so I might as well scout the immediate area. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and find a poorly guarded Outpost or new city. Maybe I’ll get double luck and team up with Suzanne’s or Samatar’s units, deal some real damage to Vadim. And even if not… sending military units to Hutama got him so frightened that he bribed me a city to back off. I dunno about you, readers, but I’d love to see if I can play that trick a second time.

Let’s see. I have… one Disciple, one Overseer, one CNDR… I had an Armor unit nearby as well, but I sent that one out to scout Samatar’s turf. Good job if you spotted that on the previous screenshot! I figured, hey, exploring stuff with tanks worked a hell of a lot better than exploring stuff with Explorers so far, maybe I should keep that up! At the very least, land-bound tanks are a little less likely to get insta-ganked by angry aliens.

I do still have one Explorer on the prowl right now, though. Remember that guy who dug up the Ancient Tomb? He’s doing alright, comparatively speaking. I’m having him explore the southern edge of Hutama’s territory at the moment. Hutama’s one of the players I’ve seen obsessively attack Wolf Beetles off my coasts, so I figure his coastline should be all rights be a… safe enough place to… check out…

I was wrong.

I want you guys to understand that I’m not doing this on purpose, okay? I’m not sending these Explorers to their horrible alien deaths for comic effect or anything like that. I’m apparently just really bad at judging risks.

Anyway. Who needs exploration when we’ve got Quests? I skipped over an earlier one about a Rocket Battery that I don’t remember building getting either stronger rockets or better-range rockets, blah blah blah, who cares, I’ll never use it anyway. But my recently-built Holosuite just unlocked a Quest that’s actually pretty interesting. Both narratively and decision-wise. Here:

I find this Quest narrative cool, because ‘the total collapse of civilization’ is something that would actually be a *realistic threat* with the invention of holodecks (which is what these things are).

Reward-wise, siding with the Artists grants each Holosuite building +2 Culture, on top of the 2 Culture it already provides and the +1 Culture from Firaxite tiles. Siding with the Protesters, on the other hand, provides one free Virtue, lifetime. Initially, the Artist option seems like the better one: a permanent increase in gained Culture should, overall, get me many Virtues quicker. However… +2 Culture per Holosuite isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, particularly at the game stage I’m at. My next Virtue requires a little under 900 Culture to unlock! If siding with the Protesters gets me that 900-point Virtue for free, one Artist-enhanced Holosuite would need to run for 450 turns to even catch up.

Obviously, building more Holosuites in different cities swings the balance more and more towards the Artist side. But given that a) I don’t know if I’ll actually get around to doing that, and b) I don’t even know how many turns I have left in this game, I’m going to follow my mind over my heart and follow the angry mob. Sorry, Artists! You’ll find something else to express yourselves with, I’m pretty sure. Something that’s just as good as the limitless creative power of a functional holodeck.

A holodeck that, from now on, will *only* be used for propaganda.

Oh, and the Virtue I pick? ‘Creative Class’, funneling 30% of my positive Health into new Culture. So all the artists I just denied their ultimate creative expression can now… not actually enjoy the benefits of their state-mandated creative status, because everyone else is too sick to care.

Gotta give Hutama credit: whatever negative things I may think about the man, he’s ballsy. I just burned an Outpost to the ground and started a new war over it with the second-strongest force on the planet, and he pulls this?

He’s not even trying to hide it. Right under my nose.

You know what? I respect that move so much, I’ll let him have it. The fact that I don’t really want to be fighting a two-front war weighs in as well, a little, but it’s also the respect thing. Between this and Hutama immediately restarting trade with his own former city, I really believe he and I could have been friends-of-a-sort if he hadn’t tried to steal my capital.

Speaking of capital-stealers: as my troops slowly, really slowly sail their way in Vadim’s general direction, some good news from Khrabrost my way comes. Agent Tabora completed her Steal Technology operation! Sure, she was ‘identified’, whatever that means. I guess Vadim now knows that I used his city to perpetrate the victimless crime of increasing my science output at the expense of absolutely nothing of his? But more to the point: agent Tabora got ‘promoted’, whatever the hell that entails, and I’m now the proud owner of…

Terraforming, huh? That’s a pretty mid-tier technology, if I remember correctly. I haven’t gotten it yet, because as far as I can tell, its principal purpose is to allow you to access the Floatstone strategic resource. Those floating purple rocks, yes. Floatstone is useful for Purity players, as it’s necessary in the construction of their unique flying tanks. For a Supremacy player such as myself, though…

As it turns out, though, I was wrong there. The Terraforming technology has one other major benefit: allowing Workers to construct an improvement called a ‘Terrascape’. Essentially a hyper-idealized slice of Old Earth, the Terrascape boosts Food, Production and Culture in its tile by 2… at the cost of an impressive 6 Energy per turn.

Yes, I’m building one here. The romantic attachment to Old Earth doesn’t really hold for my robotic civilization, but I *do* want to see what this Terrascape looks like.

Good job, agent Tabora! You stay in Khrabrost and… steal some more Tech, I guess, if you can pull it off! And new recruit Kamina, you go to… let’s say Mandira, the capital of Kavitha Thakur’s Kavithan Protectorate. She and I aren’t exactly enemies, but it can’t hurt to keep tabs on your reluctant non-friends either, I figure. Plus, Mandira’s Intrigue is at 3 and rising, so maybe… maybe I’ll be able to do something cool there.

I won’t say *what* kind of cool thing I’m hoping for. Maybe you can guess?

And hello, what’s this? I receive another one of those strange spy-related Quests. ‘Operative Extraction’, it is called, and it requires me to steal Science in… Central? Suzanne’s capital? That’s a pretty big thing of you to ask of me, Quest. Suzanne’s a pal! You really think I’d betray her unconditional trust in my by sending covert operatives at her cities at the behest of… oh, okay, you know me too well, I’ve already deployed one.

This had better be good, though.

And hey, look! A call from Vadim. My guess is, he’s either calling to be angry about my espionage success, or to suggest a peace arrangement. Or both. Wouldn’t that be a thing? “Your despicable operatives have stolen our glorious technology! Shall we stop fighting?”

I hope it’s peace. Like I said, I’m not really feeling this whole war right now, and I’m only really sending these soldiers over as an intimidation tactic. And if Vadim is offering peace, the offer he sets me should give me some valuable information as to how he perceives his standing relative to me. Given that nothing much happened in this ‘conflict’, I’m expecting him to suggest a straight cease-fire deal. But maybe he’ll try to demand some compensation for his destroyed Outpost, too? It could happen.

Or maybe he’ll throw almost everything he owns on the negotiating table in order to buy off my advance. That could happen, too.

I, er… wow. Yeah.

Christ on a cracker, look at this. Two thousand Energy, two dozen Energy per turn… 4 Floatstone, 3 Firaxite, and Open Borders. It’s not quite everything and the kitchen sink, but unless I’m mistaken, this… this represents the majority of Vadim’s Energy stockpiles and Strategic Resources. All for me, if I deign to stop this war.

I think the lesson here is pretty clear. You know how, when kids are afraid about insects and small animals, parents will try to comfort them by saying ‘they’re more afraid of you then you are of them’? All this time, I was so focused on the threat Vadim poses to me… I never stopped to realize what my deposing him and taking first place must have looked like from his perspective. I mean, look at my track record: I’m currently the highest-scoring civilization on the planet. I have two powerful allies. My capital city was taken from me, and I got it back in two turns. I felt even the vaguest bit threatened by my neighbour and almost-friend, so I smacked her civilization down to a single city. I took a city she gave me and set it on fire just to watch it burn.

And that’s only what I’ve done to people I circumstantially didn’t like. But Vadim? Vadim I very specifically singled out as someone I disliked, back in Episode 10.

Now, I’m not saying Vadim Kozlov’s currently shitting his Purity pants at the thought of warring against me. I respect the man slightly too much to belittle him like that. But I am saying that, as much as I’m sure that Vadim is the greatest threat to my victory and probably the one player who has a decent chance of winning before me, the reality of the matter is that he thinks he has more to fear from me than I have to fear from him.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is: if Vadim Kozlov was the half-glimpsed monster supposedly hiding in my closet, then I am the incredibly clear and well-defined monster in his closet, chilling and persisting in the face of incredulous parents and low-quality flashlights. “Hey, how’s it going? Roar, and stuff.”

Yeah, Vadim. I’ll take that deal. You can live. For now.

I’ll call off my elite cadre of assault allies.

It feels good to officially be the big man on campus.

Next episode: The powerful walk a lonely path. I’m about to find out just how lonely.

5 comments

  1. And yet another step is taken on your path to the ultimate police state. Only approved art that furthers the cause of the Motherland on this planet!

  2. This is actually my favorite part of Beyond Earth: the stories that are formed. Instead of being a large spreadsheet for Le Coeur, we have a version of Casablanca run by autocratic cyborgs.

    1. This is honestly also my favourite part of writing Let’s Plays: transforming the bare events of the game into an interesting narrative by running them through the combined filter of my strange imagination and audience input. I mean, I didn’t imagine and act out all these narrative twists while playing the game: for most of my game, Le Coeur was just a spreadsheet of numbers for me. It’s not until after wrapping up my game and going into Storytelling Mode that most of these arcs and stories appear.

      Exception: I had my ‘I’m probably the bad guy in this story’ revelation fairly early on. And after defeating Daoming, too, exactly where I put it in-LP.

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