For this first post I’ll just talk about why I like this game so much. If you don't care about this, just scroll down to "All alone in the dark" below. Otherwise:
DW is a real-time 4x space game. It is probably the most complicated 4x game I know other than Aurora 4x. Although I like complicated games, it’s not so much fun when they’re complicated for their own sake, and… well, your mileage may vary on whether this is true for DW. I also hesitate to say DW is a *good* game, (although I do think it is) but I do like it a lot and recognize that Games I Like and Games That Are Good are not the same set. I’ll be talking on the basis of the first of these, not the second. That way if Flatfingers comes along and asks why I think it’s a good game I won’t be left with nothing to say.
I think ahead.
But I can proceed with features that make DW unusual or even unique, and at least worth thinking about.
- This, GalCiv and Stardrive, are the only space 4x I know of that allows altercations in deep space, out of any kind of zone of influence of a star. Space is continuous between star systems.
- Unlike GalCiv though (but as I recall still like Stardrive), the star systems have a kind of geography - planets lie in their orbits and move along them in real time. I don’t know if they obey Kepler’s laws but when that’s a question you can ask we’re already at a level not really present in most other 4x games.
- It models a private sector for each civilization, which is not (in most cases) directly controlled. (!!!!!!!!) In terms of the economy, this is ridiculously unusual among 4x games. The private sector builds its own stations, its own freighters, and shimmies them around the galaxy independently. If some goober comes around and blows these things up it will hurt your economy. It’s not just for show: it’s an essential part of your state economy.
- You can play as a pirate. A pirate!! You can play as a pirate. This isn’t some gimmick where you’re a civilization that does pirate stuff: you literally own just a space port in the middle of nowhere to begin with and you go and terrorize and racketeer off actual civs. It’s apparently super hard to play. And the game deals with the resulting pirate economy specially.
- You can play a game start as a pre-warp civilization. (Can’t remember if you could do this in Stardrive?) In fact, as far as I know, most people do.
Ship design is basically identical to MoO3, for whatever that’s worth.
One thing which is often touted as DW’s greatest strength I think is actually not something to be that proud of, because it could be considered a cover-up gimmick: you can automate your civilization to whatever degree you like. One could argue that being able to do this implies not all the game mechanics are fun, or even necessary. But as I think RPS once said, this means you can basically play captain Picard with your own ship that you designed, just tooling around the galaxy doing your own thing while your empire runs itself. If you want to.
This leads me to DW’s really strongest point: it has a huge narrative potential. The degree of skullduggery you can get up to, the sheer size of galaxies you can form, the way you interact with other empires, all fits into providing the raw material to provide a good story. I think in turn the biggest reason for this is the sense of habitation in the galaxy - another thing I’ve not seen in other 4x’s. The fact that private sectors are modeled means that there’s always life, and how it behaves in the galaxy is influenced by you and the other players, but it’s not directly controlled. That’s awesome.
I also like the semi-cheesy soundtrack, which seems like it’s basically a mix between Star Wars, Star Trek, and Babylon 5, although it’s got a lot of its own personality. Very tuneful, although there are one or two embarrassing ones in there. This is my favourite.
Through the course of the game I ended up getting pretty sick of the soundtrack because it’s so short. Good alternatives are Nigel Stanford’s Solar Echoes (which also works very well for Elite Dangerous), any Solar Fields album, and Nexus the Jupiter Incident soundtrack. The Tiberian Sun menu music is also pretty close to my heart for something of this kind, but I think it’ll be best applied after I’ve nuked all life from planets here.
It’s a bit fidgety to pick up. I don’t like fidgety. Fidgety isn’t good. If Achron weren’t fidgety it might have seen more traction*. After a while though you get used to the UI, which is not so much clunky as “iconic”, if you know what I mean, and start to
Alright so I’m going to start the game now.
*Achron: a real-time strategy game just like any other except as well as a minimap there’s a timeline, where you can jump to any time within the last 8 minutes and wage war in the past. It’s like playing a game of chess where the pieces on the board may change in location or even existence because one of you went back in time and changed the course of the game. You can fight a battle with someone in the past, traveling along timelines at different rates, and your actions make changes that ripple forward through the timeline. This is not an exaggeration. The game engine is designed to handle grandfather paradoxes because they can arise during play. Check it out, seriously. Also has a great soundtrack. It’s just a damned nuisance to play, is all.
All alone in the dark
The Dhayut are pretty vicious space spiders in space. They will kill you dead. Actually, a victory condition for playing them involves enslaving and conquering other dudes, so they won’t actually kill you dead at first, they will merely plebify you and feast off your manual labour. I’m playing these fellows because, as I understand it, and as you probably do now too, they’re quite aggressive and well-suited to waging quite a lot of war. Often the humans, who are reasonably balanced, are recommended for new players but a guide I saw suggested these guys and I believed his reasoning more than others. We will see how this turns out.
So what kind of galaxy did the Dhayut grow into/out of? Well, it’s an:
- Elliptical galaxy (with pretty clear spiral features) with a dense stellar population on the outer rim
- 800 stars, medium sized
- Mildly infested with pirates
- Full of giant
- Pre-warp start for everyone. (I believe you can set it so there are already advanced empires out, or that everyone starts at different levels, similarly to Stellaris)
- Standard victory conditions in addition to the racial ones
- Major story events disabled, because as I understand it these will give me a very bad day when they show up.
- Difficulty scales as I approach my victory conditions. Since I plan to be a monumental asshole to everyone else, I’m sure this will yield plenty of tension.
- My government style is monarchy - this is well-geared toward war, among other things, and I want to play to my strengths.
I’m playing with 12 other empires; independent colonies can grow into their own empires as well. Other empire aggressions are normal.
The Dhayut race started out on a small desert world on the outer rim, in the galactic west, in system Undos, sector A3. The sectors are labelled alphanumerically but I’m going to use names for the alpha part for flavour. Hence, Akmazian 3 is my sector. The king of the Undos Dominion is “Ruty Fossit”, and if that’s not a name to make you shudder with disgust I don’t know what is. Anyway, we proceed.
Undos is visible on the left edge of the galaxy, the little green speck in the box labeled “3”.