Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
All for Drengin
Published on February 16, 2006 By Draginol In GalCiv Journals

This is an example of what a game of Galactic Civilizations II goes like.  What I did is play the game and then took screenshots and provided some commentary.  Each game is quite different from the other, the idea being is that you, the player, are creating your own epic history as you play.

Here we go...

The galaxy is a dangerous place.  I have set up a game in which I play as the Altarian Republic.  I modified it however. I changed the name to the "Altarian Doom Squad". And I changed the leader to "Bill". All hail Bill, future galactic overlord and pastry chef!

I made a few cosmetic changes too.  I made the Altarian ships white with red trim and the UI to be brown.  The galaxy size is medium which is on the smallish side but large enough to occupy a full day's worth of gameplay.  My job isn't just to play the game. I write the computer AI for the game. So whenever I play it, I look at what the computer players are doing and make adjustments so that they will continue to provide a challenge to players both today and in the future.  We will be updating the computer AI for months to come.  Don't worry, at lower difficulty levels we will starve the computer players of more and more money to offset its improved ability to play.

This game example also demonstrates how much control you have over the look of the game. I set up my colors and lighting such that my ships almost look like plastic toys.  And yet I could have set it up so that it looked like a gritty dark "real" space look too.

The Altarians expand.  Westerfeld I will be part of the new Altarian greater prosperity sphere forever! The people love Bill.

I got really lucky early on by finding this really cool planet.

I decided to focus early on mostly on research.

It's always the Yor that I seem to come across first.

and then their blood lusting buddies, the Drengin.


I hadn't picked any influence abilities and this was definitely going to be a pain since I was constantly being marginalized. Even my home planet of Altaria was in the Torian sphere of influence.  I love the Altarian ships. It's kind of too bad that they default to being light blue. Look how neat they look at being white and red.

On my ATI 9800, running in the debugger still getting almost 80fps.  The Altarian ships have their own style. You can pick any style you want for your ships at the start. But nearly all the shots of GalCiv have used the human ship style even though there's something like 5 different styles.

The Altarians are a peaceful, gentle race.  But they are also a race of righteous might.  My faction, the "Doom squad" with trusty leader "Bill" is not about to leave its people defenseless.  So I design the Squire class fighter:

The  new Squire class ship represents the latest in missile technology.  Short range but with a missile rating of 2, it should keep those that would consider the Altarians a potential target at arm's length.


And the meat of our story...

As 2225 had closed, the major civilizations had nearly completed carving up the galaxy.

The light blue at the bottom was my little chunk of the galaxy.

It is a period of kumbaya.  Trade would be protected from potential wars.

It was also a time of trade.


My primary concern was the Drengin Empire. They were big and mean.


My other issue was that the cultural influence of the Torian Confederation was swallowing up my worlds.

Sander V was losing the light of the Altarian Republic. Cut off by hundreds of lightyears from other Altarian colonies, the gentle wisdom and culture of our people was being replaced by the crass and decadant Torian culture.

In a recent "Word on the street" interview on Sander V, a young man named Altos (from the TetroTrancon clan) had this to say:

Not a good sign.  So it was time to build Influencer starbases.  Building this close to Torian planets would probably create some tension but I couldn't afford to lose this world.

The Drengin finally declare war.  I try to reason with them..

So it was time to put together a new ship for the Drengin threat:

The Shining Knight class. Armed with twin Virtue II missiles and literally armored with a new Duranthium composite, the Shining Knight would...explain to the Drengin the error of their ways. Through the governors I quickly have all my planets that are building constructors switch to building Shining Knights.

But initially, I would only have my Squires to defend my empire. And they were outnumbered badly.

I also try to enlist other races to help us against the Drengin menace.

The diplomatic humans are not willing to come to our aid. In fact, nobody wants to "get involved".

The Drengin know that if they can take out this starbase, I will lose this world. So they continually attempt to remove it.   The Drengin at this point are at war with both us and the Torians. While they are more powerful than both of us militarily, our combined economies outmatch theirs.

The Drengin had built up.  They didn't just send their ships in lightly.  They put them together into 3 fleets representing a single task force to remove us from the sector.  But I was only 9 weeks away from researching "advanced logistics" which would enable me to put 3 of my new "Shining Knights" together into a fleet.

It was going to a match up of engineering sophistication. 

Shining Knight

Designed: 2227
Weapons: 2 Generation 2 "Stinger" missiles.
Defenses: Duranthium armor reinforced with a coating of Titanium Armor
Hull rating: 17hp.
Summary: 4 attack (missile) 3 defense (against mass drivers)

Drengin Mark II Frigate

Designed: 2227
Weapons: 4 Mark IV Railguns purchased from the Terran Alliance. (mass drivers)
Defenses: None.
Hull rating: 16hp.
Summary: 5 attack (mass driver) 0 defense.

My Shining Knight class light cruiser vs. Drengin frigates.  Our analysist say that we will win most of the battles.  However, there are 3 times as many of theirs as ours.

The Drengin task force approaches, they destroy my influence starbase despite it being very heavily armed.

The Torians are being overwhelmed too.

I give them some ships:

The first battle is costly to both sides

But ultimately, my battle armor wins out.

But the Drengin were in trouble. I now had advanced logistics.

With advanced logistics, I could now put together a killing force of my Shining Knight frigates.  While not necessarily enough to win the war, I would be able to hold them off while I went for large hulls.  But the Torians were being ripped to pieces. They had pursued a cultural domination path and were simply not equipped to fight a military campaign of this nature.

The Drengin were like a machine. My array of sensor ships watched helplessly as the Drengin meticulously would wipe out a planet's defenses and then keep a military force there to eliminate any new resistance while the transports were on the way. And as the Torians got weaker, others began to move in. The Yor, always ready to snuff out a "fleshling" began to move in for the kill as well.

The Drengin seem unstoppable and with the Yor working with them, the galaxy is in serious trouble. I'm not the only one who notices this...

The Drath are concerned too.  They are not in the war yet but promise to provide covert aid to those who working against the Drengin. The Torians feel similarly. 

However, my spies tell me the Drengin aren't perfect. In fact, they've made some critical mistakes that I plan to exploit (for this time and then address in code for a future update).  Vizard V is barely developed. A class 17 jewel. The best planet in the galaxy and it's barely being used.

A key mistake, the Drengin economic planners are fools at times.  Simply because the rest of their civilization is heavily developed already doesn't mean they shouldn't look at their planets carefully.  (In this screen shot I've already sacked the Drengin economic planners and replaced it with one that uses a recently added O(N) API that tells me how many unused tiles there are on a planet. Using that, if there are a lot and the rest of the planets are not focusing on social production in general, then the planet will focus on social production. Hence you see the social area highlighted in this screenshot.  But will the new economic cabinet come too late for this time? We'll find out..

The Drengin Empire is willing to cut me some slack though...

Which means I'm going to do what any other galactic leader would do -- take the peace, build up and prepare to attack them later.  The Drengin military is simply not in a good position right now to deal with my ships.

The Shining Knights and their Duranthium armor make the Drengin mass driver rail guns practically useless.  While the Drengin do whatever it is they're going to do, I am going to build up a new class of Battleships.

To do that I first want to get warp drive. Then I want to improve my missile technology further and perhaps get even better armor so that the Drengin ships can't touch mine.  Using the cover of peace, I'm going to relieve the Drengin empire of Vizzard (named after the great former IBMer, Gabriel Vizzard).

However, the smug humans are starting to look out over the ruptured galaxy.  They are always trying to impose order.

Who do they think they are? They've slowly snuck up and become quite a powerful civilization. They have the largest economy.

The humans have been pulling strings.  IN the middle of 2228, the Yor suddenly surrender their forces to their Drengin friends creating a combined axis of doom.

This setback won't matter soon.  I am nearly ready to pounce.  The Vizzard colony is nearly ready to begin the war of liberation against the Drengin.

The big ships are Transports full of Altarian dog soldiers.

The Drengin Empire begins making various demands on us.  They are arrogant and brutal. In other words, typical Drengin trash.

I give them what they want. I just need a little more time to finish my build up.  I also provide some ships to the beleaguered  Drath.

Even with the Drath paint job on our ships, they still look pretty nice.

But the time had come to deal with the Drengin more directly.  While in the future the Drengin wouldn't be so blind to my build up (because their algorithm just got enhanced), I could still revel in their blindness for now and send in the new Phantom class Battle Cruiser.

Equipped with 4 Harpoon missiles and coated with Duranthium armor, it was more than a match for any Drengin ship we had seen thus far.

To accompany it would be a brand new Frigate class ship to replace the Shining Knight class. The Bird of Prey.

I then updated my planets accordingly.  I have my governors assign all planets that were building Shining Knights to now build the new Bird of Prey.


Soon I would pounce and the Drengin menace would disappear. But my spies told me that the Drengin were now aware of what I was up to. My build up had triggered their military to do more analysis on me.

The question the Drengin were now asking themselves, could they take me and the Torians and the Drath while the humans built up right on their doorstep? They were crunching the numbers.  Things were looking pretty grim for the Torians. Their home world was defenseless and patrolled by Drengin troops above.

And as for the Drath..

The Drath were a spent force.  I was now surrounded by the Drengin.  It was time to increase military spending to build up faster.


Worse: The Drengin had altered their weapon designs to no longer focus on mass drivers. My invasions fail.  But not all. My main invasion, the one I had worked so hard on, Vizzard, was successful but not without damaging the planet.  Mass drivers did some serious damage but the planet was still class 14, a great world still.

The battles raged across the galaxy.  The Drengin ships were mostly armed with beam weapons but not very advanced ones.

It is costly to switch weapon types. Not terribly costly mind you but it is a setback. The Drengin apparently decided that my armor technology was simply too high and that they were better off going to beam weapons.  They may be right.

My new Phantom class ships dwarf everything out there.

In the end of the battle, I do win, but not without losing my Phantom.

In the space above Vizzard, a battle wages in the planet's rings. A 12 ship battle. The Drengin are victorious.  Vizzard is undefended.  My trade income is down to 50bc per week (from 250) because of the loss of the Drath and other trade routes. The Drengin are strangling me. They bypass hard points and go for soft targets. When I try to counter, the Drengin base ships are there.

My once invincible Shining Knights are inferior. And my task force assigned to take and then hold Vizzard is gone.  Worse, they've surrounded my remaining fleet that is in that sector.

The fleet they have is very powerful. Far too powerful for this group to fight. I order them to flee. Too late.. they are gone. And in a few weeks, so is Vizzard.  The Torians are trying to hold but but Toria is now conquered. The Drengin now hold worlds that are less than a sector away from Altaria! 

On May 22, 2229, the Drengin destroy Starbase Dignity, created to spread the light of the Altarian Doom Squad (Bill is ticked).  The filth of the Drengin is now right on the doorstep of Altaria.

More battles across the galaxy throughout 2229:

The Torians and I know what's at stake and the Torians are much more willing to trade -- as am I.

This time, The Drengin don't want peace. They want my head.

2229 was almost over and the war was not going well.  What do you do when you can plainly see your enemy organizing their forces for a major assault but you have nothing to stop them?

In plain sight of Altaria, a Drengin armada comes in.  It was time to make a new type of ship for a new type of war.

The Spirit class Battle Cruiser was designed for a brave new universe. Gone were the dreams of foreign conquest. This was about saving our species. That meant no additional lfie support system, no extended range, no fast travel. We were now defending our home worlds. With 12 attack and 5 beam defense, it was only slightly better than the Phantom but it was now tailored to a war with the new Drengin beam weapons.

And before the first Spirits could come out, the Torians were gone.

As 2229 started to come to a close, the galaxy looked like this.  The Drengin in red, the humans in blue, the Korx in gray and us in the light blue.

At this point, I'm not spending anything on research. I need to take what I've got and use it effectively. And my taxes are sky high.  But my tactical ability is generally better. I may be out numbered but I can pick and choose my battles better.  Unfortunately, my choices seem to slowly get grimmer and grimmer.

The home fleet is eventually crushed, leaving Altaria defenseless.


The New Year opens grimly for the Altarian Death Squad. We are now qualitatively and quantitatively out numbered. Bill is starting to mumble about "super weapons" that are just over the horizon.

My high tax rates are taking a toll. My Federalist party barley squeaks by those fakey Populists.

I manage to build the Hyperion Logistics Center. So I can really concentrate military power. Will it be enough? Altaria is is defenseless. My only hope is to get peace at any price.

They know they have us.  There's nothing I can do.

Bill flees.

With my new higher logistics ability, I build ever greater fleets. My ships aren't as good now as the Drengin ships and I have fewer of them, but I can concentrate them now better. The battles get bigger and bigger.  15 ship battles, 18 ship battles.

My hopes at taking Altaria back are dashed when an interceptor takes out my unescorted Invasion ship. 4,000 legions are wiped out in an instant.

I lose Westerfeld in a coup! The Drengin get it without having to even set foot. Etu Westerfeld?

On June 1, 2230, the Korx declare war.  The only ones not currently butchering us are the Terran Alliance.

But the humans are not above cashing in on the situation.  My civilization is tucked into the corner.  I am going to attempt to build some starbases to defend these worlds.

Perhaps I can rebuild from that corner. I just need some time.

But I may not get that time, the Drengin Mark V units are starting to come.  They are very very powerful. Gone are the little laser canons. In their place the Drengin have installed advanced plasma beams. And they have switched to a blended defense. Enough to hold me down and still keep the humans, who are also focusing on beams, wary.

The Mark V Drengin Battle ship is a serious problem.

12 beam attack and a blended defense grid of Duranthium Armor, Smart Chaff and Barrier shield technology.  Its baseline rating is 12 attack, 6 defense. It can move 6 parsecs per week and has a hull rating of 32hp. 

It is faster than the Spirit, has more hit points than the Spirit, and has better defenses. And unlike the Spirit, there are a lot of Drengin battleships now.

The humans come with a Trick or Treat offering:

So this is my territory, or what's left of it.

Bill is depressed.

Starbase "Hope" is truly the last hope for the Altarian species. With it, all ships in the area get huge advantages to their weapons and defenses. In its oasis of protection, our ships can go toe to toe with the best Drengin ships -- for now.

Each ship becomes precious. Each starts to gain its own name, fame, and reputation.

The Drengin and Korx have figured out the power of the starbase and now try to bypass my fleets to get at it.  The starbase doesn't have any defenses (couldn't afford it).  So I must intercept the ships before they get to it.  Many bloody battles are fought in this way.

It was only a matter of time.

The starbase is destroyed.

And without it, my fleets are no match.

Bill decides it's time to come out and fight personally.  He is in a beefed up Bird of Prey class ship.

Bill mortgages the future of the Altarian Doom Squad to buy two last Spirit class battle cruisers.  We have a single fairly strong fleet.

Bill is fighting for his lfie now.

The noose is tightening.  Bill kills one after another. He's a machine. But they're unstoppable.  Bill's little Bird of Prey is so enhanced up now that it has more hitpoints than a battleship.


Bill's ship's on fire. He's having to take on two battle ships on his own in his heavy small ship and one wing man.  His weapons are barely able to penetrate the defenses of the Mark 5 battle shipos and there are two of them.

A Plasma beam goes right through the hull of Bill's ship. 

They concentrate on Bill.

Bill has died.

We have nothing left.  We are totally defenseless.

Two worlds left. Both entirely in the Drengin sphere of influence.  It is time to surrender.  I will speak to the humans.

There is something...vaguely ironic about me seeing this screen.

Mistakes made:

Early on I could have probably allied up with the Terrans. By the time I saw the need, it was too late.  I also should have progressed to huge sized ships when I had the chance and struck sooner against the Drengin.

I also had some bad luck.  The Torians, Yor, and Drath surrendering to the Drengin really concentrated power.  The Torians and Drath surrendering to the Drengin was fairly predictable.  But the Yor could have gone either way and that could have tipped the balance.

Game stats:

Time played: ~9 hours

Galaxy size: Medium

Difficulty: Tough (all players set to intelligent which is where they are playing their best game and on an equal economic footing)

Version: Started with 1.0 but made some modest AI tweaks during game play so this will go into 1.01.

Comments (Page 3)
on Feb 16, 2006

The AI in GalCiv II is much more toned down and colony rushing isn't the strategy anymore.

In GalCiv I, the AI knew where all the good planets were.  In II, they don't. They have to first explore.

on Feb 16, 2006
Wow that was alot of fun to read! I can imagine hundreds of people reading the bit where Bill dies.....


Or maybe not. Ahem.

Seriously though doing such a good journal entry so close to release is borderline sadism; is there anyone here who doesn't want this title more now than they did before they looked at this!

The highlight for me was when bill asked for peace and the drengin replied 'you been drinking again??' LOL
on Feb 16, 2006
Wow that was alot of fun to read! I can imagine hundreds of people reading the bit where Bill dies.....


Or maybe not. Ahem.

Seriously though doing such a good journal entry so close to release is borderline sadism; is there anyone here who doesn't want this title more now than they did before they looked at this!

The highlight for me was when bill asked for peace and the drengin replied 'you been drinking again??' LOL

Well, I know I was like "Bill! NOOO!!!!"

But about the AI decisions, what I said above is that I would choose Altaria over Drengin in that two cases. But who knows? Maybe I'll be crushed over and over again by evil AIs until I learn to not be a soft hearted Mr. Nice Guy.
on Feb 17, 2006
Then I'd say human history has been governed extensively by bad AI.

Not at all. There were definitely HUGE mistakes made in our history, but these shouldn't be the example for the AI in GC2.

By your example the US should help the Germans (or at least take advantage of it) in their conquest in Europe. Instead of helping the UK (and others, even the USSR) intensively LONG before entering the war themselves they should conquer them?

The Humans in your game could help others to destroy most Drengin fleets before attacking themseves and make quick progress through weakened Drengin territories. This way they would be allied to all others, look like saviours&heroes AND get the most out of the situation. The rest of the galaxy would be a mop-up.

Attacking you instead of making you their tool was the worst they could do. That's not best AI in my view.
on Feb 17, 2006
Great story!

Given their history with the Drengins, the Torians should have surrendered to the Altarians or Terrans instead!
on Feb 17, 2006
Great story!

Given their history with the Drengins, the Torians should have surrendered to the Altarians or Terrans instead!

well if u are under attack of drengin empire it is more likely that to avoid genocide of your race u will surrender to drengin instead other race. anyway drengin would never give you the chance to surrender to another race and strenghten them don't you think?if u are drengin wouldn't you do the same thing?
on Feb 17, 2006
If I were the terrans (or even the korx) I'd do one of several things

1) Feed the altarians secretly - If you give them aid, the Drengin have to fight them longer and harder thus allowing you more time. The quicker the altarians get taken out, the quicker the Drengin turn on you. So in this case it's in the best interests of the remaining civs to aid you and not the Drengin.

I agree with Stossel here. I would love to hear examples of more of this type of stuff going on. Although I'm guessing this sort of thing is more common between A.I. and A.I. - I think it would make for some very interesting reading. I wonder if the Drath (known for this type of covert manipulation behind the scenes) were involved in any of the decisions being made that Brad was not aware of.
on Feb 17, 2006
Brad, will the AI fixes you made following this game (e.g., fix for the AI not building up the PQ 17 planet) be available Feb. 21?

PQ15+ planets usually are host to one or more of my capitals (manufactory, research, economic, and/or political). If you build more than one stock exchange on a planet, do you get additional bonuses (i.e., should my economic capital have several stock exchanges) and are those bonuses local to that planet or global to your empire? In the Beta5 I would usually place 1 stock exchange per planet.
on Feb 17, 2006

Yep.  These fixes and a lot morre will be in the Feb 21 build of the game. 

As for the humans feeling they should have supported the Altarians instead of the Drengin, I don't agree.  The Altarians were a lost cause by that point. 

Moreover, even in World War II, a good chunk of the human race either appeased Nazi Germany or outright joined them.  In 1940, only Britain stood against the Germans.

The AI players will do what's in their own interest.  The Terran Alliance is neutral so they won't always come to the aid of those they are "good" (like the Altarians).  If I had played as a neutral, it would have probably increased the odds.

on Feb 17, 2006
The AI players will do what's in their own interest. The Terran Alliance is neutral so they won't always come to the aid of those they are "good" (like the Altarians). If I had played as a neutral, it would have probably increased the odds.

I was wondering if that may have been the case, and am glad to hear that alignment does make a difference in this sort of thing. Out of curiousity, are the alignments of the races "pre-coded" when you start every sandbox game (skirmish)? If so, will the neutral races lean toward good some games and toward evil other games?

It would be interesting if that were true, even if the A.I. does not do this. Let's say you were playing as the Altarians, and you met the Terrans. It would be interesting to see how different the game played out if the Terrans were more like "The Empire" as opposed to more like "The Rebel Alliance".
on Feb 17, 2006
I am curious about the criteria the AI uses to determine which race to surrender to.

I would think that it would choose the race with whixh it has the best relations, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Thanks for the great journal entry. The more I read about this game the more exited I get.

P.S. I am also glad I didn't follow the deveopment of this game closely, as every other game that I did wound up being utter crap, e.g. MoO3 and Reach for the Stars 2.

on Feb 17, 2006
The AI players will do what's in their own interest.

But from the map above it seems that the humans are absolutely unable to resist a Drengin invasion. Too few systems. Unless the humans were in a covert alliance with the Drengin all the time.
on Feb 17, 2006
The AI players will do what's in their own interest.

Many times I've been in PBEM games a "close to the top" player. In those games my biggest concern was usually how to bring down the top one player. Anything else would result in "game over - top player won". This threat alone was strong enough motivating factor for neighbours of our big "monster" to join the "anti-monster" alliance. So the AI in the game should recognize that, and act accordingly. If not openly attack, then help others in war with the "monster" coverly.

However I see the other side of this story too: imagine Brad playing Drengin. Would it still be fun when MOSTciv's in universe would ally against him (or other live player), after he'd become the No#1? His best buddy AI neighbour droping 30% income from the trade with his civ and declaring war to him, just because he's now the No#1?

IMO some balancing / coding would come handy in such cases of big monsters. Not too much however, just some more help among underdogs. The game is after all written to entertain US, not the AI.
BR, Iztok
on Feb 17, 2006
I thought there was a special relationship between the Terrans and the Alt's related to the backstory.Should not this be included ingame.
on Feb 17, 2006
Does the AI take into account the future of their citizenry if they surrender? I mean, if your race is going to be harvested for meat by the Drengin, why would you ever surrender, even if fighting results in genocide? And if you know that the Drengin are going to come to you for meat at some point, wouldn't you help other races no matter how hopeless it appears?

It's not like you become equal citizens when assimilated. The AI should take into account the species actually inhabiting a planet. A population point is not merely a "taxpayer".