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Across a Sea of Stars: Neptune’s Pride Game Diary #3

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At the end of Part 2, things were starting to look a little sticky. The Galactic Peace Organisation still seemed to be holding things together, just about. Non-GPO signatories Leo2k5 (purple) and RoboCaptain (bright red) had almost annihilated Grand Space Lord Al (bright green) in the north-eastern region of the galaxy. Captain Wells (light blue) and myself (CitiesInDust, dark blue) had begun peacekeeping operations against Leo2k5, nibbling at his borders to encourage him to hold off from annihilating Grand Space Lord Al. Captain Wells and LiberalEurope (yellow) were also doing the same further northwards against RoboCaptain.

In the western quadrant, Blueshif2k5 (dark green) was champing at the bit, with large fleets gathering on his borders with myself and Sirron (dark red). And I’m not sure of this, but I believe Sirron and LiberalEurope were experiencing border skirmishes with the last non-GPO signatory, Sargent Hatred (orange).

Meanwhile, beyond the galactic rim a shadow was spreading across the fabric of the warp. Astrogators and psykers plummeted into madness when they attempted to penetrate this black shroud. Yes, from far beyond known space, the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan came to feed and repurpose…

Sorry, I don’t know what came over me there.

Before I go any further, a confession. At this point in the series my notes are a lot more sparse (they are essentially a bulleted list of key events) and cover almost as much of the game as the preceding two posts. Irritatingly, thanks to some urgent maintenance requirements for Arcadian Rhythms itself plus getting walloped with a brain-fuzzing headcold, I’d not written this piece as far in advance as I’d hoped to – and the game, Spearbeams and Tears (oh man, do Iron Helmet get space operatic melodrama or do they get space operatic melodrama? EDIT: actually that name was the work of game host Todd who was in turn inspired by Harbour Master) has now been wiped from Iron Helmet’s records. This means that I can no longer log in and read old messages.

Which means in turn that we are, unfortunately, almost wholly reliant on my memory, which makes the fallibility of ordinary human memory look like a delicately-engineered crystalline lattice by comparison. Fortunately, GPO founder LiberalEurope (yellow) is also writing up his experiences of the game – check out parts one and two – and if I get anything enormously wrong it’ll likely be corrected in his next piece, if not in the comments here by another player.

In any case, this is Neptune’s Pride. Of course we remember things differently. Many of us may have been allies but we were still rivals. Even the noble space turtles of galactic south had enough poetry in their hard-shelled souls that they occasionally wanted to yell “cowabunga!” and launch a deathfleet straight towards space war central.


Neptune's Pride Day 12

The Brief Respite

Here’s where we begin. Captain Wells and I have taken a few worlds from Leo2k5. I’m deliberately deploying a few fairly small fleets because no matter how committed I am to the GPO, I don’t fully trust my neighbours… well, not Blueshift2k5 or Sirron, at any rate. Neither has given me any actual cause to distrust them, but unlike Captain Wells they’ve not given me any reason to trust them, either.

As mentioned in the last piece, Leo2k5 starts to play ball around this time. Or at least, he starts to act like he’s playing ball. He’s evidently nervous because, despite being a powerful player with large fleets at this point, most of his ships are probably deployed towards what is left of Grand Space Lord Al’s territory, and now he has Captain Wells and myself nipping at his flanks. Captain Wells shares a border with him and is an equivalent power to boot. A fight must have seemed like a bad idea because he starts talking diplomacy – although he never actually signs the GPO pact. This is crucial. Perhaps we should have insisted upon him doing so rather than a cessation of hostilities toward Al – locking him in to a larger commitment so he had more to lose. As it was he successfully wasted our time for three or four days. Here’s a screenshot from a bit later.

Neptune's Pride Day 15

As you can see, Captain Wells has taken only one more world from him, and I have returned one (as a gesture of goodwill). Leo2k5 has also taken two worlds from RoboCaptain, though I’m not sure to what extent they were actually warring with each other. It’s possible they were opportunistic strikes, or maybe Leo2k5 was getting into the mythos of Doctor Terror and the Sleeping God.

Vying for Ascendancy (or, we will kick you in the Terriere)

Yep, the role-playing aspect of the game was still flying thick and fast. Personally, because there was so little going on in terms of fleet movement, I was spending most of my time bulking up my economy and industry (taking great care to perpetually maintain a stronger industry than Blueshift2k5, so that I had more ships than him and thus carried a large “Don’t Fuck With Me” stick) and sending diplomatic messages.

Alas, I have no more samples of these, but if you’ve read the previous articles. Then you can guess. At the form which they took. And at the content. Which plead for peace. In the face of a warring galaxy.

I was also drawing nice little constellations with fleet waypoints as I gathered up ships and concentrated them in fleets which I named Birthworlds Defence North, Birthworlds Defence West, Birthworlds Defence South, and Birthworlds Defence Central. There was no Birthworlds Defence East. It didn’t seem necessary.

Neptune's Pride Day 13

Going back to the two comparative screenshots above, you can see that not everyone was finding things as quiet as I was. Sirron has grabbed a dark red star from RoboCaptain: I think that may have been a trash world offered to him by LiberalEurope or Captain Wells so that he could join peacekeeping operations, or they at least suggested the target to him as the world looks to be well outside of scanning range.

You can also see that Sargent Hatred has struck at LiberalEurope and taken/retaken five stars – LiberalEurope was presumably busy hurling his entire armada toward Sham-Tau and Jabbar, the hell-worlds which Doctor Terror was rumoured to be interested in. Beneath the surface of one or another the Sleeping God H’lugh’hr lay, and the mind-slaved robot empire of RoboCaptain was burning through the Old God’s nine billion names with the fervor of the processed.

On which note, you can see the sizable chunks taken out of RoboCaptain in the second screenshot. He was obviously having a whale of a time playing the moustache-twirling galactic bad guy, and didn’t mind so much that this meant everyone was gunning for him.

Perhaps, once you introduce a spot of role-play, the dull mechanistic game of competitive numbers loses some of its allure – at least to some types of gamer.

The End of Doctor Terror… Or Is It?

At this point I find it more difficult to remember exactly what happened when, and for a while my own direct involvement diminished (except diplomatically, of course – I was still a talkative if stoical sort).

Ultimately, Leo2k5’s stalling is for naught. Captain Wells begins to make serious inroads and, like a vicious remora, I strike at the weaker worlds he bypasses. My two Expeditionary fleets are now supported by a third – called Antares’ Regret. This will prove to be somewhat poetic later in the game – remember when I mentioned Antares in part one? – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Eventually Leo2k5 announces that he is retreating his people to one final world, and that the rest of his worlds will be ‘abandoned’. This is effectively a declaration that he’s out of the game and doesn’t mind what happens so long as his last world is left alone. He is slightly annoyed that I have captured the world he intended to retreat to. I had no idea at the time – to me it was just a world with history. It was the one I had earlier captured and returned to him as an olive branch. Ah well.

RoboCaptain was similarly decisively smashed, and at some point he sent everyone else a message claiming that his people had broken free of Doctor Terror’s programming. Oh, so you want to play with the rest of us now, eh RoboCaptain! Well, since we were all now so invested in the story, we went along with this. What the hell was Terror up to next?

Spreading bloody dischord, that’s what. Blueshift2k5 was his next target. Or should I say… his next tool?

Keeping the Peace Back Home

For the next little while the game was all about Blueshift2k5. It seems that his estrangement from all of the action eventually became too much and he launched an all-out assault against Sirron, claiming that Sirron’s fleets had struck at him first. He was attempting to use the GPO’s web of alliance to his own advantage and get everyone else to accept his right to attack, or at least encourage us to not intervene. Within a day – at this point everyone’s research levels were high and fleets moved pretty quickly – he had made significant inroads against Sirron. Presumably the dark-red empire had over-committed to peacekeeping operations and left their borders relatively undefended. I felt faintly vindicated by this turn of events (although not for long – but be patient about that).

Once it became clear that Blueshift2k5 was going for all-out conquest, I decided to unilaterally strike against him. I launched every fleet I had available towards his nearest stars, including several captured from Sirron and several near Blueshift2k5’s homeworld. At the same time I announced this course of action to the entire GPO and swore that I would advance no further provided hostilities against Sirron halted immediately.

Neptune's Pride Day 20

I took every star I launched at then halted. Blueshift2k5 had left his own borders weakened thanks to his own assault. Presumably he assumed that, as a bit of a pacifist, I would dither as I had with Leo2k5. Nope. Not in the face of assaults on a GPO member, a technology trading ally, an active peacekeeper and with the aggressor a neighbour of mine.

Blueshift2k5 really didn’t like any of this. He complained to the GPO that my strikes were unwarranted, asking if they were going to let me get away with this.

Sirron’s reply was priceless: “Yep.”

The Gift

A day later it seemed that Blueshift2k5 had had enough. Fortunately, he chose to exit the game in the most superbly stylish way possible. He gave all of his friends gifts!

I really wish that I still had a copy of his message. Hopefully someone else does. The gist as I recall it is that he granted Captain Wells dominion over all of his stars north of Lesath (his homeworld). He granted Sirron all of his wealth. He granted someone else his technologies.

He granted the hard-shelled people of CitiesInDust his proud and powerful warships. They were ours to enjoy.

Neptune's Pride - The Gift

Yep, every single warfleet Blueshift2k5 possessed was heading straight for me. He had set waypoints on the stars I’d taken from him and my homeworlds – which were relatively undefended as I’d recently scooped up starships and concentrated them into larger fleets. Perhaps 500 ships were hurtling towards me from all directions.

Once I’d stopped laughing at the chutzpah of this fantastic fuck-you blitzkrieg, I rallied my fleets to my defence. I lost a few worlds but fortunately it was clear that Blueshift2k5 was more or less done with the game, and I outmanouevred his ships and mopped them up before retaking my stars. He kept launching more fleets as the game went on, but they were small and easy to manage.

Once the threat was dealt with I began to take his worlds. Captain Wells was already closing in to claim his gift. We diplomatically carved up Blueshift2k5’s empire and avoided as much accidental conflict as possible.

Neptune's Pride - mopping up
Blueshift2k5 continued to launch fleets at me all the way up until his banishment to the fringe world of Samakah. Yet even after all of this, the galaxy had another major event still to come.

The Betrayal

The day after smashing Blueshift and taking much of his empire, I woke up and logged on to the game to find my inbox full, a number of my worlds captured and the GPO in turmoil. LiberalEurope’s substantial holdings were being devoured. The aggressors? My closest ally through the game and the player who I had recently acted to save: Captain Wells and Sirron.

At this point Captain Wells was clearly the galaxy’s major player, so I chose to check my inbox before acting. And this I did take screenshots of.

The Betrayal #1

The Betrayal #2

The Betrayal #3

And that was it, for me. War were declared. I chose not to react aggressively but to accept, trusting the promise that no further worlds would be taken from me. I expressed a deep regret to the other players, but noted that pragmatically speaking, there was nothing I could do for my people but accept the olive branch offered me. Privately, I expressed sadness to Captain Wells that Antares had been taken, and he agreed to return it to me once the game’s outcome was impossible to alter.

He held true to that. Barely a day later he evacuated Antares and the hard-shelled fleets of CitiesInDust returned to the shocked world. Mere hours later, Wells captured his last few stars. The game was over. The globe-headed light blue aliens in the centre of the galaxy had won.

[This is part three of an ongoing series about a match of Neptune’s Pride played by fans of Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Electron Dance. The game is now concluded. The follow-ups to this post will appear on Mondays throughout February 2012. Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.]






21 responses to “Across a Sea of Stars: Neptune’s Pride Game Diary #3”

  1. Harbour Master Avatar
    Harbour Master

    Awesome stuff! I absolutely adore the "and I gift to you… all my ships. Here they come!"

    A mighty strange end indeed. Some sadness considering Liberal Europe was the "architect" of the GPO but, perhaps without this move, the game would not end. I got the feeling from his comments that Captain Wells was exhausted at the end, like the way that many in The Aspiration's game became strung out toward the game:s conclusion.

    I was expecting Doctor Terror to make another appearance at then end… something strange happened on the ED comments between Sirron and Liberal Europe in that regard.

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Indeed, I think the tale of Doctor Terror has a few more anecdotes to be shared and I hope others will be better able to do so. Unfortunately my involvement there tailed off. I was at the opposite end of the map to the two original 'devil worlds', and the third – which I'm not sure was ever actually colonised. It's 'north-west' of Sargent Hatred's space in the last map above – can't recall its name.

      I'm annoyed that I didn't get this series written before the game was erased from the IH servers, as that would have allowed me to dig up said anecdotes myself. Alas it was not to be. Ho-hum… that is the way life works.

      I didn't see the Betrayal coming any more than I expected the Gift (the wonderful, wonderful Gift). We had been discussing an endgame via the chat window for a little while. I was on the verge of suggesting that we try to get everyone to sign the GPO, elect a president – bugger!!! I entirely forgot to mention the Presidential Election campaigns!!! – and then mutually abandon the game to leave it running forever, as a tribute to doing something brilliantly wrong with Neptune's Pride. Instead we had Captain Wells apologetically assuming the role of a benevolent dictator in the name of galactic peace…

    2. Liberal Europe Avatar

      Oh, don't worry… there's much more to the Doctor Terror story. ;-) All will become clear(er) when I post my version of events tomorrow. Luckily, I managed to record most of the player messages before the game ended, so I'll be able to add detail to some the things Shaun wrote about. There's still loads of stuff he didn't mention – including the return of Doctor Terror and the presidential election campaigns! In fact, there's so much left to tell that I might have to squeeze an extra post in this week before the summary next Tuesday.

      I also have Blueshift2k5's message announcing the "Gift"… and it's a thing of beauty.

      1. ShaunCG Avatar

        This is all very heartening to read. I look forward to your upcoming posts!

        I've certainly learned a lot from writing this diary series: 1.) Take notes. 2.) Take screenshots. 3.) Take more notes. 4.) May as well take more screenshots, too…

  2. Adam Avatar

    I did consider the long lasting peace endgame. But I figured. One day some one will login, and win. It simply could not last forever. So, as noted I was prettry pooped with the whole thing by that point and thought….well its gonna be me or europe at this point (possibly the turtles), so I sat down with a calculator for 10 minuets and worked it out. I will not detail what happend on the front lines as I am sure europe will.

    Its a shame I dont have any of the 'plotting' messages saved for you. It made for quite a fun end game for me, conspiring with 2 very bitter players; whom Europe had eaten in the name of peace.

    The only regret is that the strikes were not launched at the inauguration of the galatic president, but to be sure of our advantage we needed to take our hostages while you were still recovering from your gift – one day earlier.

    Cheers for the write up though .

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Interesting to hear this side of things Adam… can you tell me who the two bitter players were? :)

      I would never have tried to 'win' the game by capturing more stars (though I was pleased that I ultimately came in 3rd), so really it was between yourself and Europe… the two most vulnerably-placed players at the start of the game!

      1. Adam Avatar

        sgt hatred and the robots – Both only had a few worlds and were camping massive formidable fleets on them, both also head flank postions and had suffed at the hands of europe…what else were they going to do?

        1. ShaunCG Avatar

          Haha, excellent. The revenge of the non-GPO empires! It's a shame Leo2k5 couldn't also join in. ^_^

        2. Harbour Master Avatar

          Incredible that the final betrayal was essentially borne of cynicism, that peace was fragile to tampering and could not last. That is, the usual Neptune's Pride paranoia that trust is finite. So it's true: the rules won out.

  3. smallcutepuppy Avatar

    You can still access the game by direct link:

    I just checked and my inbox seems to be intact. (I was Leo2k5)

    To clear up any curiousity, RoboCaptain and I were wary of each other at first and I had actually taken a couple of potshots at him, but then we decided to split up Green amenably, and we were firm allies from that point on. All of us non-GPO folks were trading tech too. I stopped posting so much after my Empire ICly retreated into hibernation but I was still logging on every day to check my mail. I was laughing like a loon when LiberalEurope "spambotted" us all.

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Oh man, the spambot era… another one I'm annoyed I forgot to mention. :)

      Cheers for the direct link!

  4. Blueshift Avatar

    I was a bit stuck in my little corner, so was pretty much just amassing tech.

    Of course the REAL reason why I never took any of the trash worlds to help attack Robocaptain or Leo was that I was actually in a secret alliance with them and Sgt Hatred, using my safe position to concentrate on researching weapons and throwing them their way to help keep up the fight.

    The original plan was that Sgt Hatred and I would launch against Sirron together, but Liberal Europe chose that point to start munching up Sgt's stars. Still, I'd waited til most of Sirron's ships had flown towards the battle in the far east before striking?

    I'm sure it was more like two-three days before you and the others decided to retaliate against me, I remember being rather petubed that everyone was suddenly so indecisive at my attack and bizarre claims that Sirron was space mafia. I had assumed that due to the alliance I'd get instantly swarmed, but no.

    1. Blueshift Avatar

      I think I was a bit more annoyed that people waited til the only day I was actually out of town before making demands and then an instant strike a few hours later, didn't really give me time to respond. But then hey, I hardly played fair! My main aim was to totally cripple Sirron, which I mostly did.

      >He granted Sirron all of his wealth
      Tee hee. I SAID I would give him all of my wealth, amounting to thousands of space dollars, but only sent him $25. The rest I sent to Robocaptain. I did actually give Liberal Europe all my tech though (which everyone could see by the stats screen) so hey, why would I lie about anything else ;)

      Also I gave Wells ALL of my stars, the idea being that he could get ansy when everyone else started grabbing the freebies.

      The alternative was to launch all of my ships at Sirron which would probably have destroyed him, but I thought that was too mean and that you deserved my ships more.

      1. ShaunCG Avatar

        Oh, absolutely. All those wonderful starships. Ahhhh. I'll remember The Gift for quite some time, I think.

        My faulty memory is probably to blame for the error on how far you cut through Sirron's territory. Or it may have been that I was away from the game for a day or two and came back to discover what had happened – so it felt like a quick reaction to me. Again, wish I'd taken better notes.

  5. Todd Avatar

    Another great write up! I was very intruiged to hear about the “space highway”, I wondered how sirron had managed to send a 150+ fleet through two other players in order to attack me.

    Also the name “spearbeams and tears” wasn’t a random Iron Helmet name; I chose it based on HM’s use of “spearbeam technology” from The Ascention game.

    Also also I absolutely love hearing about all the stuff I missed while I was sitting with my hundreds of ships on my sad 2 planets. When Wells asked me to join the surprise attack against Europe I may have cried tears of joy. Great game.

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Ah, the grand secrets of the GPO! ;)

      Full credit to you for the name, then, I shall edit that bit now.

      Thanks for hosting the game – it was a great deal of fun!

  6. mwm Avatar

    Oh, so 'Thief' was the rat. I was wondering who sold the GPO (my) tech to our enemies. I gave my tech to Europe, and he gave it to the GPO, (that's what he said anyway) and 'Thief' gave it to everyone else.

    Actually, I counted on Wells or someone jumping in to help me if I got in a fight. I also counted on having superior technology then my enemies. What actually happened exceeded my every calculation; it was two invaders short of 'worst case scenario'. At the most, 'Thief' managed to grab half my territory, and I sent all my money to Wells so that too wouldn't be stolen. Hatred tried to invade, but I blew his toilet-brush-men up (at one point, he sent two 18 ship fleets at me, when I had level 16 weapons tech. An hour before they hit, I got a tech upgrade). Also, let me say, that when the Gift was announced, I could've handled Thief's invasion, since tech started to gap again, because I had all my fleets in position, and because I actually outnumbered his ships a little.

    One last thing; you failed to mention my gift. It was two weapons levels, wasn't it?

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Ah, sorry I neglected to mention that – a combination of my fuzzy memory and the (false) belief that I couldn't access the game to check messages any more!

  7. […] already finished his write-up over on Arcadian Rhythms, and I’d recommend you read his parts three and four before continuing on with my version of events. I won’t be able to wrap everything […]

  8. […] this series on a Neptune’s Pride game, then please have a read of part one, part two and part three before carrying on. You may also want to read over LiberalEurope’s parallel series on the […]

  9. […] already finished his write-up over on Arcadian Rhythms, and I’d recommend you read his parts three and four before continuing on with my version of events. I won’t be able to wrap everything […]