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214
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The Almighty Stellar

The Almighty Stellar

Create a political and get a one-time bonus of 100,000 stellars - a large number, but is it a large amount? I remember Dennis Pennis saying to Joan Collins she looked like a million lira (depending on which country, this was somewhere between 1.75 and 12.50) so some idea of the in-game value of the stellar is required.


Stellars are the lifeblood of the game. Personnel (ship's crew, troops and employees) all have to be paid every week in stellars. They will not accept anything else. Their wages effectively leave the game (transferred via the EEM - see Tal's Arrival in Issue 1). There are other activities that also cost stellars. These are generally associated with politicals, starbases and outposts. Examples include initiating research, requesting tech manuals and attempting orders that fail.



There are only two means by which stellars enter the game, via starbase merchandising including sales to civilian populations and political positions (which includes accessing income from system claims). This means that stellars flow from starbases and politicals through all other positions in the game. If you do not run either of these positions, then you need to find means of supporting your ships. You can generate all the unique trade goods you want, but you need to convert them into stellars in order to pay your personnel else they will eventually defect.



Playing for Free

As pointed out, the only way to pay your crew is to generate stellars. There are two obvious methods for this. The first is to travel between player controlled markets buying from one and selling at others in order to make a net profit. This is often very difficult for the following reasons:


  • There are a lot of ships in the game and transactions are on a first come, first served basis
  • Markets may be public but are in restricted regions of space
  • Often a market only buys what is not being sold and sells what is not being bought
  • Many markets are not public - you have no idea what's on them without talking to the owner
  • It is common to find markets buying at around and even below average market sell prices

I will leave the last one up to players to explain the logic.

Do not lose hope though for there is a second option. This is to get your hands on stuff that people want. This can be done through trading with local populations (code release due 213.4 - see Diary of a Merchant Captain in the next issue). You can land your ship on certain worlds (Corewards/Halo) that have civilian populations and determine if they have any imports or exports. If they do, you can then purchase goods from them for stellars. Most importantly these include unique trade goods that are worth considerably more when sold at the other end of space. As the purchase of these items is limited, you can be sure that what you have is desired by other players. You can then sell them for stellars in order to pay your crew. With some savvy trading you can finance your positions and even expand your control without ever paying to play the game. There are however drawbacks - you are in competition with other traders and there are pirates, mercenaries and privateers out there (oh, and rivals from other affiliations).



So, how much can you expect to get from a trade run between civilian worlds?

Typically, buying from civilians will net around 1,500mu of unique consumer goods. The price will be around twice as much as they are worth when sold directly back to the planet. You will pay around 600 stellars for them (base price 0.1 stellars/mu x2 local economy x2 mark-up). The value of this cargo however can be worth as much as 16x its base value at the other end of space. So while you may have paid 600 stellars for it, it is worth 2,400 stellars, maybe closer to 5,000 stellars depending on the local economy. Clearly nobody is going to pay this much for it but getting 1,500 stellars is not unreasonable especially if you are not responsible for transporting the merchandise very far.



Privateering

Of course there are other means of getting cargo - you could try your hand at privateering and even outright piracy. If you don't want the ship you have captured through boarding you can always render it down for patches or sell it on (though may be an idea to both re-register it and change its name).



What is a Stellar Worth?

A stellar is the equivalent to the weekly wage of standard personnel. A starting ship has a weekly outgoing of around 70 stellars. With other issues such as maintenance this is probably closer to 100 stellars. A typical small player will probably have a couple of dozen ships - so a wage bill of around 3,000 stellars/week is about right. With a weekly income of 10,000 stellars from a political, this is more than taken care of but leaves little room for expansion in the short-term.



Financing your first outpost

A small mining facility will require around 20 complexes, 200 employees, 200 troops and wages paid at 1.5 stellars/personnel for outposts. Your net outgoings have increased by around 600 stellars. On top of this you need to buy the modules to build the complexes. Modules are usually around 100 stellars each and complexes require 25 each = 50,000 stellars for your first outpost. Suddenly that bonus 100,000 stellars for creating a political is very handy.



Self-financing Outposts

Certain ores such as collidium are always in high demand. A typical yield is 10 while they can be sold for 30 stellars. A single mine therefore equates to a gross income of 300 stellars or a net of around 250 stellars per mine (after accounting for personnel and ancillary facilities). You can capitalise on this by searching for new sources. The problem however is that keeping what you find is not always straightforward. If you are going it alone and have nobody to back you up, be prepared to lose your outpost. You could invest in caves to try to hide the mining operation, but do not count on being hidden forever. If somebody else starts mining the same vein they may notice that the stockpile is being eroded faster than they are mining it and then start looking around.


Taking it Further
War is very expensive for the following reasons:
  • All transfers of personnel between positions cost 1 stellar per person
  • Virtually all naval engagements degrade ship integrity
  • Physical damage to ships need to be repaired


Transfer of Personnel

The first one may not be obvious but consider raising an army of 100,000 troops at your capital worlds and getting them to the conflict point on a frontier, then out again afterwards. The distance is invariably too long to move them all in a single action. As such you will most likely need to create a staging point. Even if a successful conflict you will generally want to pull most of the the survirors back. This requires the following logistics:


  • Recruit mercenaries at your starbases (100,000 stellars)
  • Over twenty weeks, therefore paying wages (500,000 stellars)
  • Train each one at a cost of 10 stellars each (1 million stellars)
  • Move them to the staging point (200,000 stellars)
  • And again to the attacking ground force (200,000 stellars)
  • Assuming 25% loss and 25% holding, getting rest back to staging point (100,000 stellars)
  • And again back home (100,000 stellars)

Total cost of the campaign for the movement of troops alone = 2,200,000 stellars. For this reason, campaigns of this nature are not overly common. From your point of view as an owner of a starbase this is good - it means that if your starbase has around 15,000 troops, the chances of somebody assaulting it on the ground as a whim are negligible unless your base is so nice that it is a steal even at a cost of over 2,000,000 stellars! This is very important from a game balance point of view. It means that slashing and burning of major bases in the game is very rare. If there is an assault, more often than not there a very serious political agenda and planning has taken months.

Integrity Losses
If a naval battle lasts a day, each ship involved will take a standard week's worth of integrity loss. For standard capital ships this can equate to around 3 patches. In terms of production costs, minerals and paying for the maintenance complex personnel, this is the equivalent to 150 stellars. Doesn't sound a lot, but if you have twenty ships and they are involved in a few days of combat over a few weeks, this equates to a bill of 10,000 stellars and that is before even accounting for repairs to hulls, armour and items.

Physical Damage

A typical capital ship has a base value in excess of 130,000 stellars. Losing a few of those in a conflict will certainly hit the coffers. Even suffering 30% damage to hulls will equate to around 15 patches and a further 25 patches if a quarter of the armour is blown off. This equates to 2,000 stellars to get the ship combat ready again. If your entire fleet was damaged it is really going to cost you. If forced to repair and maintain in somebody else's bases you can expect to pay more than twice this!



Balancing the Books

As can be seen, for an affiliation that is geared solely towards conflict, balancing the books is problematic and serious conflict requires a lot of planning and the combined resources of quite a few players. This is why the militaristic affiliations in Phoenix are generally allied to at least one mercantile affiliation while the less militaristic ones have a significant amount of their resources geared towards trade. As a player you can use this to your advantage - if you are looking to play for free or remain a small player and enjoy the trading side of the game, you can make good deals with the militaristic factions. They need stellars and have access to big civilian markets, you have access to unique goods that they can sell. Even if you don't want to join them, you may well be able to wrangle a place to set up your operation within their region of space - they may even protect you if your sales are worth it.


 
News
GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.

With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.

With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
 
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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RAGNAROK COMES

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A Forlorn Hope

The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.

Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.

The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.

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Newstart is lost

 
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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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RAGNAROK APPROACHES

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End Game Lost

A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.

While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.

Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

 
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 
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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic