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From Missions to Meglomania

From Missions to Meglomania

Having read a couple of issues of IGN, been entertained by the stories and starting thinking that there is quite a bit to this game, you may now be ready to take the plunge. If this is the case or even if you have already signed up but are now confused, this article is for you.

You may be wondering where the game is. There is nothing obvious to point you mouse at and no graphics of a ship, just a big ol' table that looks like a forum. Where's the control interface and which buttons controls movement and how do you fire your weapons? Phoenix has none of this - if it did, how could you possibly control a hundred ships simultaneously, each acting independently? How could you march across a world and storm a stronghold with a hundred thousand soldiers? How could you conduct research in a dozen facilities and supervise factories while mining rigs churned up asteroids? Phoenix offers all this and because of this, such things as spinning planets, blaster sounds and real-time control of ships are superfluous to the game, in fact they would make the game unplayable. Phoenix is a strategy, roleplaying, resource and diplomacy game - things happen on all scales, from an assassin putting a bullet in the head of a beloved leader all the way up to a thousand ships launching salvo after salvo of antimatter missiles in a desperate bid to turn the tide of annihilation. What really separates it from massive multi-player games though is that you - yes, you - can do all this - on your own!


Is the game complicated?
Yes and no.

No because the basics are really simple - moving about and transfer items account for most of the things you will be doing and as your initial ships are already fully functional, you don't need to concern yourself with the nitty-gritty. To begin with all you need to do is follow the fairly clear instructions in your missions and get to know the players.

Yes because there is a hell of a lot of it and it is heavily nuanced - three types of movement for ships, more than five types of troops, three types of combat. There is always something new to learn. Many players have specialized in some aspect of the game but are utterly clueless about others. This also pretty much sets it apart from mainstream games that you can learn in a few minutes and equally tire of all too soon. While we are not trying to stop people from joining the game we do feel that a game is really only any good if you have to invest time into learning it and that even after years of playing there are still things to know. Phoenix has been designed as a game for life!

The game is strategic in its implementation in that you submit orders for any or all of your positions and they carry them out. As others are doing the same this can result in very complicated scenarios. There is a lot of planning and plotting in Phoenix. You can have plans that take years to come to fruition or react to events that are over in a day.

Nexus in a Nutshell
This online site has everything you need to play the game. This boils down to just three necessary features:

  • Submit orders for your assets
  • View your assets along with the results of the orders you submitted
  • Access data about the game universe

Everything else, the forums, messaging system, libraries, missions etc are simply bells and whistles that make the game easier and more enjoyable to play.

Missions
So, back to your situation - you have signed up, you have been thrown through the first mission, created your ship, chose a captain and pressed the submit button and wait... Er, why the wait, why not process all submitted orders in real time? And what is with all these bloody numbers?

Some History
Phoenix has its origins in the mists of multi-player gaming - it comes from a time when people used letters and even wrote things by hand - okay, you can stop chuckling now. A set of instructions would be sent into KJC by post, opened by the staff then the orders would be manually inputted. At the end of the day all the turns (the term for the results of the orders and the manifests of the positions) would be printed and posted out back to the players. Attempting to input (DOS screens) names for items, systems and planets was a nonstarter from a commercial point of view. As a consequence all the games used numbers to represent all these fields. While you now have dropdown menus, learning a few numbers can make for quick inputting of orders. For more about what fields exist and details, see the appended section below. Getting to know some of the common numbers can speed up inputting your orders no end though using the dropdowns is a useful way of double-checking your entries as are reviewing your orders on Nexus.
A key feature that endures even to today is the ability to play the game around normal working hours and even take a break for days while your positions are active in the game. Further, as turns were not (and still aren't) processed at the weekend you can play when convenient for you (often generating orders during work breaks).

So, the strategic nature of the game means that you generate orders, submit them and wait for the results. To begin with you are doing a lot of waiting around and then probably spending no more than an hour a week creating orders for your couple of ships (mostly spent looking at maps and rules) - not much to do but then again that's the point. As running individual ships often requires very little time, you can start to collect more ships especially as you can often send two, three or more to help do the same job - you are now on your way to megalomania.

Signing up for a political and joining an affiliation will open the doors to more assets really quickly. Before you know what has happened you could be controlling 20 ships, half a dozen outposts and maybe even a starbase. This will be a very exciting time as you work out things like manufacturing, searching for new ores, maybe even doing some exploration. There will be trade to get to grips with in order to pay for all the personnel that have come with your swelling asset base. You will have questions about blueprints, defenses, weapon systems, platforms, refitting ships, platforms and merchandising. You will be learning about squadrons and creating macro-orders in order to make submitting common sets of orders more efficient. You will be chuckling that you ever spent more than ten minutes a week dealing with a single ship as you become the spider at the centre of a web.


Infinite Expansion
You may look to start your own shipbuilding programme. You will need shipyards, blueprints for ship designs and the components from which ships are built. Are you going to buy these in or go the whole way, mining the minerals, building the hulls, armour and installed items as well as hiring mercenaries and training them up into crew? With large starbases, solid production and research you could be increasing your complement of ships by half a dozen small freighters a week or maybe just a couple of warships. By this point you could be running battle fleets patrolling your empire or trade fleets that span known space. Given a few years you could be running hundreds of ships, dozens of outposts and maybe even a handful of starbases - if your budget allows.

Keeping it Real
At some point however you have to look at what you have, what you want and what you can manage. Ideally all these should be the same, but if you have more than you want or can manage, get help - chat with your affiliation members and allies. Be realistic about your commitment and bin off excess assets. Burn out is a very real phenomena in Phoenix. Some players over the course of half a decade have ended up taking on more than they have time for and have had to go cold-turkey. Generally they return (because there is no game quite like Phoenix) after a break with a promise to themselves to resist the temptation of taking on too much and trying to single-handedly control and run the entire affiliation.

Appendix - Number Fields  [Recruit]

Back in the days of BSE (the postal/email forerunner to Phoenix) you submitted a list of instructions:

Ship Bob's Demise(4855)
Acct: 1234
Move to SS: 1052
Swap Engines
Jump: Capellan (1)
Enter orbit: Agin(854)
Buy from: Ratnest (445)
10 BCMs (35)
Leave Orbit
Jump Starling(160)
Swap Engines
Move to SS:135

This allowed for rapid entering of the instructions, making the game commercially viable.

Decades later, we are still employ the basic numbering system. We do use auto-complete in many places along with dropdowns in alphabetical order but for many veteran players knowing the number is very useful. It's handy knowing that metals is item 1, the Yank star system is 146 and the numbers of your favourite starbase and ships.

So it is handy to know something about the various number lists in the game.

Positions - each position has a unique number between 0 and 100,000
Positions include:

  • Starbases
  • Outposts
  • Ships
  • Ground Parties
  • Agents
  • Operatives
  • Platforms
  • Politicals
  • Cargo Dump


Items - items can have any number though they are rarely above 100,000. Originally items tended to be grouped around number ranges, such as ores with numbers below 50, trade goods with numbers over 30,000 and troops around the 500 region. Years of expanding the item lists due to player research and game upgrades has meant that there has been a blurring of the original structure. While not totally random, an advanced version or a common object may have been inserted into the database at much higher number if the next sequential number had already been assigned.

Item Types - are definitions of items that perform the same task. For example Troops accounts for everything from Felini Marines through to Human Mercenaries. Zero(0) is reserved for Any item. This is quite handy for emptying a position such as a cargo dump of all its contents. There are about 80 Item Types. It is not uncommon to accidently use Pick Up Item Type rather than Pick Up Item. The difference is that Item Type(1) is Troops, while Item (1) is Metals. I am sure more than one person has been as confused as all the soldiers in the cargo hold. It does therefore warrant a little look-see at the boxes, even if you are in a rush.

Officers - officers, though an item are each classed as unique. As there are thousands in the game, they each have their own data held on the item rather than assigning each a space in the item data base. Each officer is preceded with a #. Use this # system when dealing specifically with the officer. The manifests of positions have been designed so that there should be little confusion as officers will be listed in their own section. Just don't forget to use the # symbol when transferring them. Picking up item #1 will take the first officer from the target position. If you are on your way to rendezvous with the warfleet, last thing you want to do is try to explain why you have 1mu of metals(1) in your cargo and no officer on board...
One final point on officers, their numbers can change to accomodate changes to the officer list on a position. If you have an officer then the next one you pick up, even if #1 from the position you are picking up from, will become #2 at the time of being added to your position. If you intend to deliver this new officer, then remember to use #2 or you will transfer your original officer.

Systems - Each system has a unique number. While you can theoretically enter any number into the orders, i.e. Jump to system 5, unless the system is common knowledge or you have specific knowledge of the system you will be told in your report that you do not know about this system. Alternatively, if you do know about it, there may be no obvious route to it. There are a few reasons for this. The system may require your ship to move through stargates or wormholes or may be beyond a region of space that you do not know about. When starting the game it is best to simply follow the missions and study the maps.
Halo-Kastorian Space - the best way to leave Halo is to move to the wormhole in Agripeta and enter it. This will bring you out in Yank in safe Kastorian Space (Outer Capellan Periphery).

Planets - These include planets, moons, gas giants, asteroids, belts, nebulae, stargates wormholes and anomalies. They are unique numbers within a system. A moon in one system for example can share the same number as a planet in another.

Resources and Mineral Deposits (ID#'s) - These are unique to the world on which they exist. It is a common mistake to use the item number rather than the ID#. For example a resource of Food (30048) may have ID# (1085) - Exploit Resource order should therefore use 1085, not 30048.

There are other fields though armed with the above information, everything else should be relatively straight forward.


 
News
Is open for business...
 
******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 from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
    DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
    DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
    DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    KRL Krell (30) - Namica
    KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
    KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
    MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
    MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Return of the LiQuans

    A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

    Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


     

    Free Ship when you sign-up
    Complete missions for in game rewards
    Control everything, up to an entire empire
    Dedicated human moderators
    Player and Moderator driven plotlines
    Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
    Over 20 years of content development
    Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

    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