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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Mar 18, 2016
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Part One: Wherein TBV explains what the hell he was thinking

"Hey TBV, you should do an AAR."

"I haven't got time to do an AAR. I have a novel to write."

"How's that coming along, hmmm? You haven't touched it for months. Why don't you spend the time you currently spend not writing the novel on actually writing something else?"

"Okay, but why an AAR?"

"Because the Stellaris forums have, for some unknowable reason, decided to give you an audience. They'll read your stuff and criticise the hell out of it if it sucks, and that's gold dust to someone who's trying to write."

"But I can't do an AAR. It won't be as good as Fire Warms the Northern Lands, and if I can't be the best in the world then I don't want to do it at all."

"So be the best in the world in some way. Find a niche."

"What niche?"

"It doesn't matter. Look at your own life: you're a pretty average scientist, a pretty average writer and a pretty average political activist, but in the tiny little space formed by the overlap of the three you're world class. Do something similar with AARs. If you can't compete with Rensslaer on character AARs or with DDRJake on gameplay AARs, define a niche where you're the king."

"What? Astrophysics AARs? Nobody's going to want to read that! Have you seen how few people bothered to look at my new forum series? People basically don't care about orbital dynamics! And as for politics - "

"No, dumbass, something new and interesting. Come on, you're good at this. You're the man who ran a tabletop RPG horror session based on the song Hotel California. You're the man who analysed a third-rate political screed as if it were performance art and got widely quoted. You've done a feminist Let's Play of Dwarf Fortress which was popular and which might have been good if the weregiraffes hadn't killed it off early. Think outside the box, even if cKnoor is right and that places you in another, larger box. Do something unexpected."

"But what?"

- Conversations TBV has had with himself in the shower, volume 14, part D



Right. So. Battleships.

As of the current state of Stellaris, corvettes rule the roost and there is no reason to build battleships. They're later in the game, more expensive, less effective per unit of mineral and energy cost, and most of all they don't possess much Evasion. They have their peak efficiency against cruisers, which the AI doesn't build many of; and their unique niche is that they can be carriers, a feature so badly implemented that I refuse to believe that QA signed off on it at all. No thinking admiral would use battleships, except possibly as single ships to give their special buffs to fleets.

This is going to be a Stellaris battleships AAR.

As if that wasn't tying my hands enough, the following rules will be observed about those battleships:

A. No Impurities
Once I've discovered battleships, there will be no warships built which are smaller than battleships. Escorts are for sensible people.

B. No Duplicates
There will be no duplicates. Every ship will be in a class of its own, with no other ship exactly like her.

C. No Half Measures
All possible battleships will be built and used. There are six front sections, six midsections and four rears, which means 144 possible combinations. We will have all of them. This will take over 1000 fleet cap, which may be expensive; but since I've already thrown moderation to the winds, I'm going to do this properly.

D. No Unnamed Ships
Every battleship is unique. They will all have names, as badass as I can come up with. If anyone can think of any good names, including human historical references, then by all means let's have them.

E. No Jokes
I learned long ago that the funniest thing you can do is to take an inherently ridiculous premise and take it very seriously. Sly winks to the audience destroy the effect. I hope that this AAR makes you laugh, but it is not a piece of comedy writing so much as absurdist performance art.

F. Done Before They Fix The Game
If XL weapon slots come out, evasion gets fixed and armour gets fixed, Stellaris battleships might become playable. This AAR relies upon battleships not being playable. Therefore, time is a factor.

Welcome aboard. Pull up a battleship. I would say pull up a chair, but we don't use chairs, only battleships.
 
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Eid3r

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Finally, someone who sees the virtue into building the biggest ship possible!
Earth circa 1914 would be proud of you!
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Well, this is a weird concept... which greatly appeals to me. Looking forward to you conquering the stars with massive, inefficient ships.
 

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Looking forward to this! very interesting concept. You have my support!
 

Iituem

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Ha ha! P.S. Loved the D- series coming up to launch. Can I name a battleship the "Shallow Hope"? (Name of my overly-armed junker from roleplays.)
 

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A. No Impurities
Once I've discovered battleships, there will be no warships built which are smaller than battleships. Escorts are for sensible people.

B. No Duplicates
There will be no duplicates. Every ship will be in a class of its own, with no other ship exactly like her.

C. No Half Measures
All possible battleships will be built and used. There are six front sections, six midsections and four rears, which means 144 possible combinations. We will have all of them. This will take over 1000 fleet cap, which may be expensive; but since I've already thrown sanity to the winds, I'm going to do this properly.

D. No Unnamed Ships
Every battleship is unique. They will all have names, as badass as I can come up with. If anyone can think of any good names, including human historical references, then by all means let's have them.

E. No Jokes
I learned long ago that the funniest thing you can do is to take an inherently ridiculous premise and take it very seriously. Sly winks to the audience destroy the effect. I hope that this AAR makes you laugh, but it is not a piece of comedy writing so much as absurdist performance art.

F. Done Before They Fix The Game
If XL weapon slots come out, evasion gets fixed and armour gets fixed, Stellaris battleships might become playable. This AAR relies upon battleships not being playable. Therefore, time is a factor.

Welcome aboard. Pull up a battleship. I would say pull up a chair, but we don't use chairs, only battleships.
There was a post recently about using capacitors to pull off something like 50-60 shield regen per day (pretty sure it's supposed to be per month, but per month regen sucks). I highly recommend you start there for ship designs as it does make them quite survivable. I've been also meaning to check if hull regen works the same way.

Also for naming there's some good name lists (2 or 3) already in the game that name ships like "XXX the Cruel", "XXX the Brave", which is something I like. Gives some personality to the ship too.
 
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Thank you all for your support.

Finally, someone who sees the virtue into building the biggest ship possible!
Earth circa 1914 would be proud of you!
The effectiveness of the ship is less important than its tonnage. It pleases me that you understand this.

I loved your astroknowledge series, here is hoping to find a similar affection for your AAR.
Subbed, may large ships block of the light of the sun!
That's very kind of you, thank you very much. I hope that my large ships may (especially if they have a mostly-L weapons layout) not so much block off the light of the sun as inflict it, in focused form.

Count me in ! Who does not like BIG SHIPS ?

I want a Yamato battleship !
Welcome! I'll add Yamato to my namelist.

Well, this is a weird concept... which greatly appeals to me. Looking forward to you conquering the stars with massive, inefficient ships.
In my opinion, AARs featuring optimal play are dull; DDRJake already did that and did it better than anyone else. Weird concepts are where it's at. Welcome aboard.

Looking forward to this! very interesting concept. You have my support!
Glad to have you with us!

Ha ha! P.S. Loved the D- series coming up to launch. Can I name a battleship the "Shallow Hope"? (Name of my overly-armed junker from roleplays.)
That's very kind of you, thank you. I shall add the Shallow Hope. Do you have any ideas about her weapons layout? Does she bristle with S hardpoints, or is she more about a few big guns?

There was a post recently about using capacitors to pull off something like 50-60 shield regen per day (pretty sure it's supposed to be per month, but per month regen sucks). I highly recommend you start there for ship designs as it does make them quite survivable. I've been also meaning to check if hull regen works the same way.

Also for naming there's some good name lists (2 or 3) already in the game that name ships like "XXX the Cruel", "XXX the Brave", which is something I like. Gives some personality to the ship too.
I'm going to be using that trick when I get capacitors, yes. It might be a bit exploity, but considering how weak battleships are, I'll take every advantage I can get.

All battleships will be named by hand. There's not that many of them so it's not that much of a hardship.
 
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Order of Battle, United Republic Fleet

These lists are cumulative, so any ship which appears in a higher one will appear in lower ones too. This is so that you can get a snapshot of what stuff looked like at any point.

Ships built before 2300
Achilles
Large-energy-weapon ship, with missiles and torpedoes in the smaller slots.

Emperor
Medium-weapon energy-weapon ship.

Eternal
Small- and medium-weapon kinetic-weapon ship.

Friedrich der Grosse
Energy-weapon ship, tending towards medium weapons.

Hanged Man
Balanced energy-weapon ship.

Harbinger
Medium-weapon energy-weapon ship.

Immortal
Large-weapon kinetic weapon ship.

Julius Caesar
Heavy carrier, armed with small-slot missiles.

Loom of Fate
Torpedo-armed ship, with large and small weapons.

Magician
Missile armed ship, with large and small weapons.

Majestic
Large-and-small energy-weapon ship.

Nikola Tesla
Experimental ship, with large and small slots full of lightning cannons.

Querant
Large- and small-slot missile-armed ship.

Tyrant
Small-weapon energy-weapon ship.

Willem de Zwijger
Heavy carrier, armed with large-slot torpedoes and lightning cannons.

Winston Churchill
Torpedo-armed ship, mostly with large weapons.

Ships built before 2321
Achilles
Large-energy-weapon ship, with missiles and torpedoes in the smaller slots.

Blind Judge
Light carrier.

Chariot
Large-energy-weapon ship.

Christian de Wet
Medium-size energy-weapons ship.

Day of Judgment
Light carrier.

Distant Star
Light carrier.

Diomedes
Mixed-size missile ship.

Defiant
Large energy-weapons ship.

Dominion
Medium-size energy-weapon ship.

El Cid
Heavy carrier.

Emperor
Medium-size energy-weapon ship.

Empress
Mixed-size energy-weapon ship.

Eternal
Small- and medium-weapon kinetic-weapon ship.

Finity's End
Light carrier, using the most advanced shields yet.

Friedrich der Grosse
Energy-weapon ship, tending towards medium weapons.

Gallant
Light carrier.

Habsburg
Mixed-size energy-weapons ship.

Hanged Man
Mixed-size energy-weapon ship.

Harbinger
Medium-weapon energy-weapon ship.

Hierophant
Medium-sized UV-laser ship.

Immortal
Large-weapon kinetic weapon ship.

Jan Sobieski
Heavy carrier.

Julius Caesar
Heavy carrier.

Lion
Mixed energy-weapons ship.

Loom of Fate
Torpedo-armed ship, with large and small weapons.

Magician
Missile armed ship, with large and small weapons.

Majestic
Large-and-small energy-weapon ship.

Matilda of Tuscany
Mixed-size energy-weapons ship.

Mercy
Small-size kinetic weapons ship.

Mindaugas
Balanced-sized ship with mixed armament.

Nikola Tesla
Experimental ship, with large and small slots full of lightning cannons.

Odysseus
Medium-size missile ship.

Pale King
Light carrier.

Querant
Large- and small-slot missile-armed ship.

Reaper
Light carrier.

Revenge
Large-energy-weapon ship.

Romanov
Medium-size energy-weapons ship.

Shaka
Mixed-size UV-laser ship.

Shallow Hope
UV-laser dedicated ship, mostly small slots.

Stefan cel Mare
UV-laser dedicated ship, mixed weapon sizes.

Terrible
Mixed-size energy-weapon ship.

Theseus
UV-laser dedicated ship, mostly large slots.

Tyrant
Small-weapon energy-weapon ship.

Willem de Zwijger
Heavy carrier, armed with large-slot torpedoes and lightning cannons.

Winston Churchill
Torpedo-armed ship, mostly with large weapons.

Yamato
Varied armament in varied sizes.
 
Last edited:

Iituem

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That's very kind of you, thank you. I shall add the Shallow Hope. Do you have any ideas about her weapons layout? Does she bristle with S hardpoints, or is she more about a few big guns?
Something thrown together. Impractical bristling with short-range S mass drivers? Whilst everyone else is enjoying long-range lasers, she might as well barrel into the glorious arms of destruction!
 
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Part Two: Overture

Welcome to the Unified Republic. It's 2288. We've been sprawling across the inner galaxy but haven't yet had to fight a war. The most violence we've had has involved blowing up crystalline entities. We have a lot of planets and quite a lot of minerals every year. This is ideal for our purposes.

001 Unified Republic.jpg
Fig 2.1. The Unified Republic, a pacifist, individualist, spiritualist state. The galaxy won't know what hit it.

To the north are the Drull'Perfen, a small but extremely violent empire trapped between us and a pair of xenophobe Fallen Empires. The Drull'Perfen have already eaten one minor empire and have been looking angrily at us. This threat has let us form a federation with our eastern neighbours, the Tebadorans.

To the west are the Hokajo, a client state that we found when they were atomic-age and have enlightened to modernity. They recently built their first colony. We're so proud.

To the south is a large empty space that we and the Tebadorans are eyeing up, and beyond them is an alliance of religious empires.

Let us begin.

Our first step is to disband our existing destroyer-based fleet entirely and order two battleships to be built at the spaceports at Ducal Uva and Ducal Vvarda. These are Friedrich der Grosse and Tyrant, and their delivery will immediately propel us to the next age of our empire.

As they build, we expand into the empty space to the south. This is the last colony-ship friendly empty space around us, except for a space to our northwest which is next to a xenophobic fallen empire. It's full of crystalline monsters and so we need to sail carefully and wait for our battleships to be constructed.

Soon enough, we have a fleet of four battleships, as Harbinger and Hanged Man join up with the other two. They sally out into the Jondus system.

003 First Fleet.jpg
Fig 2.2. Look at them go. The battleship age has begun.

They close in on a swarm of crystalline entities. The first shot of the new age is fired by Friedrich der Grosse, using its Large missile slot. It's an ominous portent.

004 First Shot.jpg
Fig 2.3. Pictured: History being made.

Soon the rest of the fleet begins firing, and as the crystalline entities close I start to wonder... will it work? Are the immensely expensive behemoths worth it? Will they triumph? Have I doomed my ironman game?

My fear quickly turns to relief and then to celebration. The four battleships wipe the floor with the crystals, including a bunch of elites. They take hardly a scratch, too. I shouldn't be surprised given the immense power disparity between the two, but it's nice to see.

Now let's test them against a tougher opponent.

New battleships: 4
Battleships lost: 0
 
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TheAnguishedOne

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Alright, we're starting this in medias res. Works for the purpose of the story. Have you researched any tech we should know about? Psionic soldiers or AI?
 
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Alright, we're starting this in medias res. Works for the purpose of the story. Have you researched any tech we should know about? Psionic soldiers or AI?
Good question.

I've researched psionics, which means that ships are being built with the psionic battle computer and I might one day get the psi yump drive.

I'm steering clear of robotics for now. There are no Materialist fallen empires on this map but I'm still leery of that particular chain of research. Among other things, I don't feel I can afford the energy costs of a robotic society.
 
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Tumultuosus

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That is very interesting! Down with sanity! Up with the crazy! :D
Subbed for sure :).

May I suggest a Battleship name? I think the "Handful of sorrow" would be very good. For reference, it's the name of a song in Knights of Honor, a game published by Paradox ;).
 
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Part Three: The First Drull'Perfen War

The fleet buildup continues. From four battleships, the Republic fleet soon gets to a total of twelve. Gradually, her civilian economy is becoming overwhelmed by the potential cost of keeping all of them in space at the same time. Investments in additional power plants are made.

To the north of the Republic lie the Drull'Perfen: a small domain full of extremely hostile religious zealots. The Republic is a spiritual domain, but even we think those people are weird. Up until now the Republic has used a federation as a means of avoiding battle with them. Now we no longer need to avoid battle. These people have been a threat to everyone around them for a while. They've already conquered one neighbour practically as soon as they discovered space travel. Now it's time to deal with them.

006 Drull Perfen.jpg
Fig 3.1. The Drull'Perfen state. Their own home planets are to the west. To the east, Elderak and Guma are populated by a peace-loving people who are now enslaved. Clearly we cannot allow this state of affairs to continue. Andack consists of a frontier post over a primitive planet, which they are busy enlightening. Liberating these people would be a secondary objective.

The Plan
007 The Plan.jpg
Fig 3.2. The plan.

According to Republic diplomats, the Drull'Perfen were equivalent to them in fleet power and technology, but lagged behind in naval capacity. Since the Republic wasn't using its full naval capacity yet, this was probably not going to be decisive. The captains were warned that this could be a rough war. Still, confidence was high amongst the officers and crews: they had the biggest ships, and that has to count for something, right?

005 Leave Federation.jpg
008 Diplomacy.jpg
Fig 3.3. The war surprised neither side. The Drull'Perfen had been stockpiling ships for a long time, and had probably only avoided starting the war themselves due to the federation.



From the thought-record diary of the Hanged Man:
We emerged from docks on 19 March, heading north towards the old Hathgum stars. We've been told to expect only light resistance, that there should only be stations in our way. I don't like this. Our mission may only be to escort in the ground troops for liberation duty, but it suddenly feels very lonely. There's three ships going into that system. What if their entire fleet is there?

I have to keep a brave face in front of the crew. We're in a state of the art battleship. If we aren't safe inside this hull, behind these shields, we aren't safe anywhere.

* * *

The system was deserted. There were a few civilian mining stations, but less than we'd thought. It looks as if the Drull'Perfen hadn't been investing in building up their conquered domain. We hailed the planet's orbital station and called for its surrender.

"We are not authorised to surrender," came back the reply. "Do not approach or we will fire upon you."

The captains of the three ships held a quick council of war, and then with a heavy heart commenced bombardment. Within days the station was destroyed without penetrating our shields once. When that was over, we bombarded the planetary defences until the ground forces could land.

People ask me what the war was like. I tell them that I don't know. I don't remember fighting a war: I remember sitting in an uncomfortable chair in absolute safety, and pressing a button that ended lives.



From the thought-record diary of the Emperor:
We dropped out of hyperdrive in the Skat system on the tenth of April along with five other ships, and pushed inwards. Our mission was to locate and engage the enemy battle fleet. It didn't seem to be here, so we proceeded in-system towards the planets. After a little while they jumped into the system.

Nobody who hasn't been to space space can understand what it's like. It can take far longer to cross a single system than to jump between them. Just being in the same system doesn't mean anything, really. We spotted them in late April. We engaged in mid July, four days after my birthday. The whole of May and June was taken up with routine work: maintenance, sensor checks and the like, whilst the enemy crept slowly towards us and us towards them.



From the thought-record diary of the Tyrant:
The battle of Skat began on 18 July. If I live to see a hundred I doubt I'll see anything as glorious. They outnumbered us immensely: our six battleships against their two battleships, six destroyers and thirty-two corvettes. I had heard whispers that eight corvettes could swarm and destroy a single battleship: that meant that if there were four of our battleships accounted for against their corvettes and two against their battleships, then the destroyers were extra weight we couldn't oppose.

The admiral gave orders to stick together. Our ship's weapons were small and close-range, which meant that for the first week of the battle we just watched as Friedrich der Grosse and Loom of Fate exchanged long-range missile and torpedo fire with their lead elements. Eventually we got close enough for their short ranged weapons to open up, and we returned fire.

Their weapons smashed into our shields. You can't hear anything in space but the impacts shook the ship, so it was something you felt rather than heard. The blue flash of the shields and the red stabs of the point defence filled our viewscreens. Then, one by one, our weapons opened up. The disruptors kept up a blanket of fire, stripping their shields. We heard them alright: the roar of the energy discharges and the whine of the capacitors is something that everyone on the ship heard. Once the enemy shields went down, the plasma throwers started hitting their defenceless hulls. At least, that was the plan: the enemy were nimble little things and even our small, quick-tracking weapons couldn't easily hit them. Day after day, we kept at it, one shift after another. Every few hours we'd score a hit and there would be a cheer passed across the length of the ship.



From the thought-record diary of the Loom of Fate:
After the enemy closed the distance at Skat, it got harder. Our torpedos weren't designed for this sort of close-quarters battle; even the smaller tubes had trouble tracking those nimble little things. We mostly just concentrated on the battleships, trading fire with them.

Their corvettes must have received some order, because after a few days of knife-fighting they converged on us at the same time as the battleships. Our shields couldn't take it - I remember the chief engineer bursting into tears as he reported it. The repair crews were working three, four days at a time with no sleep. We couldn't ask any more of them. All we could do was trust to the rest of the fleet to keep them off us while we served the weapons and did our best.

Eternal drew alongside us and I think that's what saved us. Not only were her small kinetic weapons deadly against the attackers, but she had a nanobot repair cloud which helped keep us going. Those things are eerie when you see them planetside - the metal just seems to regrow. In a space battle, though, it feels like the very Ancestors are fighting beside you. When your shields are gone and you're being swarmed, not even the ship's bishop can preach a sermon that's as reassuring.

Eventually the fire slackened. I'm told that when they fled there were only four corvettes left, so we must have scored more hits than we'd intended. We had lost our sensors weeks earlier so I can't confirm that. All I know is that I can't think of a finer crew to serve on a ship with than the company of the Loom of Fate during those four months of battle.



From the thought-record diary of the Majestic:
After Skat it got quiet. We watched as the infantry fought over the old Hathgum planets, liberating people from their twenty-year oppression. They didn't look that pleased to see us. It was dismaying but we shouldn't have been surprised: even as children we were always taught that Hathgum were very isolationist people and didn't like other species. To them, us standing on their soil made us every bit as bad as the Drell'Perfen. We set up a local government to run the place, but after a few meetings I stopped attending and just stayed on the ship. It was easier to feel like a liberator that way.

Two years into the war, Squadrons C and D had recovered from the battle and we got new orders. We were the lead element this time. We were going to jump into Drull Ikrel, the enemy home system, and prepare for the other ships to join us. We had missed out on the battle of Skat so it was nice to be honoured like this but it made me nervous - I hadn't seen proper action before, only planetary bombardment.

On the way into Drull Ikrel, while we were on the hyperlane, the bishop preached us a sermon about forgiveness - about how the petty differences and squabbles between us were futile considering the danger we were all in, and how it was silly to die holding a grudge against the person next to you. I remember breaking down in tears and everyone thinking I was having a moment of religious fervour. Nobody except me knew that I had gotten my divorce papers the previous day.



009 Achilles.jpg
Fig 3.4. The Achilles.

From the thought-record diary of the Achilles:
We jumped through the Oreb system on the way to Drull Ikrel. It wasn't a sightseeing tour - land, spool up the engines again and be on our way. It's a good thing too - they had been building defences there and those defences looked pretty terrifying. I wouldn't have wanted to have to fight a fleet battle amidst those stations.

Drull Ikrel, on the other hand, didn't have defensive stations, just ships. Lots of them. When we emerged from the lanes our ship was tasked with doing the system scan. I remember standing at the command deck as the reports came in of ship after ship identified - corvettes, cruisers, the whole lot. Eventually I walked down to the sensor room and looked over the warden's shoulders as the count of force against us grew larger. This was a bigger fleet than the one that was in Skat. If they had this many ships there then they'd have won, and here was us with only three ships instead of six.

They spotted us too. We were already spooling up the engines when the admiral came through with new orders. "Don't run to Oreb," she said. "Make for Skat. Join up with Squadrons C and D and prepare to return." We played the order over and over for a few minutes before running to the helm and punching in new coordinates. This was it. We were going to be in a fleet battle. I had read the reports of what had happened at Skat - everyone had - but this was going to be our first time.



From the thought-record diary of the 104th Armoured Assault Pioneers:
After years of sitting in the mud of a planet where the locals hate you, I have to admit I cheered when I got the order to mount up. The Navy were going to engage the enemy fleet over the blue skies of their home planet, and then we were going to go in, do some bayonet work and some dying, and it would all be over. The fighting on Soll'Gavace had been bad, and fighting the D's on their home soil would be much worse, but I joined the army to escape the sitting around.

We got onto the transports, prepared to jump... and then we got the word. The D's surrendered. Apparently the scouting run had scared them even more than it had scared the Navy. It was over.

There was this one gasbag, one of the locals we'd liberated, who wasn't such a bad sort considering what assholes they are as a species. We used to talk to xer sometimes. Xe'd tell us stories about xir childhood, about when space travel was still new and a planet was still a large place. We took some trideos of xer, you know, to show the kids? "Here's mum with a local. Look how liberated the gasbag looks. See, we're heroes."

The day we left, I went to say goodbye. I wasn't really hoping to get any thanks, but it would have been nice to part as friends. You know what xe said? "I shall consider myself truly liberated the day I see you leave and never return."

So fuck them. I hope our next war is against them.

New battleships: 8
Battleships lost: 0
Total battleships: 12
 
Last edited:

Iituem

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Ah, fanatic xenophobes. Good thing you're not a collectivist empire, or that Purge button would look mighty tempting.
 

Istarsamu

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Great idea to showcase the war out of the perspective of the different ship captains, it gives character to the ships and it's crew. I especially loved the line: "We set up a local government to run the place, but after a few meetings I stopped attending and just stayed on the ship. It was easier to feel like a liberator that way." Stuff like that engages me into a story!

May I suggest a name for a Battleship?
Istar - the elven name for the wizards from the LotR universe - it might be equiped with long range weapons maybe Lances if you have teched into energy weapons at all
 
Mar 18, 2016
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Oooh, naming battleships after the Five Istari, there's a thought. I have not got lance weaponry but when I do, I'll definitely make some ultra-long-range ships.