How Paradox tricked me into wasting a month fighting an unwinnable war.
First game, built a small civ, was boxed-in by hostile nighbors, gaps between galaxy arms, and limited wormhole range. Finally through working what I had to advance drive tech, and careful placement of a new wormhole generator, got a toe-hold on my first planet outside that.
For daring to venture outside my little box, the Shabtak decided I should be punished. A LOT.
You do not know the Shabtak Continuum, (all randomly generated races, not like civ with its historical figures), so imagine this. Ancient advanced race. Very creepy insects, ships like flying shields. Spiritual extremist alignment.
I was going to just stay away from the ancients, and never bother them. The Shabtak wouldn't let me. Said my first colony outside The Box was a holy planet.
For immediately apologizing and removing the colony as-asked, the Shabtak... destroyed my ENTIRE navy, every ship, EVERY spaceport around every planet, EVERY little mining station, then invaded a major colony and broke its defense force with genetically-engineered monsters. Only then, having beat me within an inch of extinction, did they offer a cease-fire, IF I accepted a Humiliation Penalty, which made ALL my surviving citizens unhappy, and drained my civilization's political influence.
Accepting the Humiliation, at the peace treaty signing ceremony, they ASSASSINATED MY LEADER. (What they didn't seem to get was my Republic changed leaders so frequently I barely remember which character is in which slot half the time, lol)
Wars have been started over less, but I was completely at their mercy, so I had to bear whatever they did to me.
Ordinary races in this game are less aggressive than AIs in Civ, which was a nice change of pace, but, these Ancients are bullies. Beat you down, then kick you while you curl into a fetal-position type bullies.
AFTER that, since I'd shown submission, the Shabtak spoke to me condensceningly, all the time, as they were wise sensei and I was their little adopted child. Just pouring salt in the psychological wound, grinding it in, grinding it in...
"Why hello there, child." "What do you want, little one?" "We warn you, foolish child..."
There was, against all odds, a couple patches of debris from damaged Shabtak ships. I scanned it, unlocked their core technologies. They had all apex weapons, shields, armor, and reactors. I still had to do the hard work of researching them myself. It took 50 simulated years.
An alliance of half the Galaxy decided I was easy pickings since I had nothing (the AIs were blissfully ignorant WHY all fleets were space dust now) and I fought them off. They had superior numbers and good tactics, but, I was building up for a higher-caliber opponent, and snagged half their territory to discourage them. I had the cruellest teachers imaginable, after all, and I needed the planets for the resources to support a large enough fleet to kill those teachers.
It took 100 simulated years. My Republic now had 6 different races working together in mixed planets of every type and a mix of leaders, (Star Trek) and spanned half the Galaxy with an amphibian admiral commanding the grand fleet of 150 vessels (Star Wars). My poor PC could barely render it, and the CPU core temp shot up whenever it was on-screen. If I advance any further I'm in-danger of not being able to get revenge on the Shabtak BECAUSE OF WINNING THE GAME AND ENDING IT.
At H-Hour, without warning, wormholes opened in every system of the Shabtak Continuum. I remembered from the first war what they had, how strong it was, where it was based in peacetime. I didn't even need to scout and tip my hand.
I was right, and I was also misled. The combat strengths stated BY THE GAME ENGINE were a lie. 20k fleets were shredded by 10k fleets. Each individual turret fired 3 shots for every 1 of mine. The Shabtak versions of the apex technologies were cheat-level good. Maybe they had rediculously high levels in generic technologies, say, Flash Coolant 30 for their beam weapons, and Shield Harmonics 25, and so on, IF they weren't cheating.
I saw "reinforcements" jump-in that weren't there before. If I'd seen them frantically construct out of starbases, I'd buy that, but no, the Ancients can just "beam in" cheating-good ships at will, by hack.
I fell for it, fake combat strengths, goading into rage, and all.
Good one, Paradox.
I just uninstalled the game. Never again.
You might have the impression I played this one save file and no others. Incorrect. I made many starts. I had fun hitting the random civ button to see what combinations would appear. It was one of 2 games I liked my race and start, and played to high advancement levels. I knew it was burdened by n00b mistakes by being my first playthrough, but I wanted that sweet, sweet revenge, and in the end, the Shabtak bullied me one last time by moving the goalpost when I made my final lunge.
Paradox are the 4X-genre equivalent of that sadistic GM who leaves you with a stack of dead player characters.