Saturday, 9 November 2013

Drox Ancients adds some much needed spice to the mix

So I was an earnest fan of Drox Operative. For a few weeks I couldn't be dragged away from it and blogged embarrassingly gushing reviews and accounts of my exploits. Unfortunately it eventually became a bit samey and I abandoned the grind for other games of emergent behaviour such as FTL and Don't Starve.

However, the release of the first major expansion, Invasion of the Ancients, has rekindled much of my enthusiasm. The alterations are fairly slight; one new playable ship, the Scavenger major race, the titular Ancients who have serious chips on their collective shoulders and a rather fiddly upgrade system for components using computer chips.

As ever the joy is not in any individual change but in suddenly being confronted with something new or seeing how a novel factor can completely rebalance a system's dynamics For example, I assumed that the invasion by a nakedly militaristic Ancient race would automatically lead to a union against them but, as in human history, jockeying for position and even outright wars between other races continued unabated.

So here is the inevitable account of how I got in in my first three Post-expansion galaxies. Having gained some familiarity with the setting I now play 'Hardcore' as standard.

Game 1: A fairly uneventful opening. Naturally I picked the new Scavenger ship to try out their new warlike model. I was pleased to find that the Scavengers were also generated as one of the resident races although they played little part in proceedings. I picked up missions in abundance and sailed to an economic victory with only one minor war to interrupt things.

Game 2: After this workmanlike beginning I was plonked down in the middle of a warlike galaxy inhabited by Brunt, Lithosoid, Cortex, Fringe and Hive. The latter were exterminated before they reached them but these vying races should have given me adequate cover to fulfil my secret objective of wiping out Cortex. However, in an unexpected twist they became my best and only real allies meaning that there never seemed to be an opportune moment to betray them. We ultimately prevailed in a major war against the Lithosoids and after approximately 50 ship kills and a couple of planet destructions I managed a Fear victory.

Game 3: The Herzog (the only Ancient race I have yet encountered) had made a brief appearance in the second galaxy but I had quickly exterminated them for declaring war on me. However, it was in this game that I saw what they could manage if left unchecked. Starting with a single rogue destroyer they managed to sweep the Utopians from a dangerous galaxy and establish a beachhead of two planets. By the time I moved to meet their threat they had already seized three planets in the next system and driven out all rivals. In an epic battle I single handedly swept them back to their first conquests. A raid into this territory found that they were in an unending war with the resident monsters there and by picking off their weakened fighters I managed a Legend victory. However, worryingly their survival meant that the Herzog 'emerged' as a race. I suspect that this will have bad consequences for future scenarios.

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