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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.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 
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As part of the update outlined in the 7th February post, turn fees have been increased as from today.

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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 

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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