It's a free browser game with wonderfully simple rules. You check in once or twice a day, move your ships, upgrade your stars, then let the galactic war play out over hours and days. Last time in our massive war, the Poisoned Sponge was hoping and praying that Graham wouldn't join the onslaught against him. He was not fortunate.
Phill Cameron/Poisoned Sponge, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Tom Francis, PC Gamer
Kieron Gillen, Rock Paper Shotgun
Hentzau, Freelance Soldier of Fortune
Chris Pelling, Inventive Dingo Games
Quinns, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Jim Rossignol, Rock Paper Shotgun
Graham Smith, PC Gamer
This diary is going up in seven parts, one a day, both here and simultaneously over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. We've added commas.
Graham: Let me explain. I have an alliance with Sponge to kill Kieron. I have an alliance with Kieron and Jim to kill Sponge. Whatever move I make, I betray someone. The difference is, if I move against Kieron now, I'm betraying both him and Jim. It's a double-betrayal, and diplomatically a bad idea.
It makes sense on the map, too. If I move into Kieron's territory, then I'm going to be squashing myself between Quinns and Sponge. At this point, Quinns is enormously wealthy and overburdened with ships. Taking him down is the ultimate goal, but I want to delay that war for as long as possible. Plus, if Sponge ever wanted to expand, he'd almost have no choice but to attack me.
It took me a long time to come to this conclusion. I had a couple of days off work; days where I did almost nothing but stare at Neptune's Pride, head in my hands, brow furrowed. While thinking about it, I had Sponge relay details of Kieron's stars and fleets beyond my scan range. It was useful in helping me make my decision, and it'd be useful down the road when I finally turned on Kieron. When I made my mind up, I continued to string Sponge along. Those massive fleets moving onto our border? Oh, yeah, those are meant for Kieron, sure. Uh huh.
Kieron: This is, as Graham notes, where my initially precarious position starts paying off a bit. If one person takes me, they extend their flank enormously. If Graham takes me, he's opened up to Quinns, Jim and Sponge. If Jim takes me, he opens himself to Sponge, Quinns and Graham. And if Sponge takes me... well, you get the idea.
Except it's become clear Sponge isn't going to take me. I'm going to take him. It's at this point where the game's extreme-slow-form starts really mattering. My first attacks are sent at around midnight, after Sponge has probably gone to bed, hitting his central stars in morning, before he can scramble proper defences. He is toast, for breakfast. This is standard tactics from now on in. When you move, you move in force, at the place that most hurts him.
Tom: So I guess we should do something about me going catatonic for days at a time, paralysing our empire.
Spit it out, Pembleton, what is it?
"It's just... some of the admirals are of the opinion that we've been doing fairly well in your absence."
I beg your pardon?
"The galaxy is at war, sir, millions are dying. Meanwhile, we're at peace with all our neighbours, we have a healthy armada, and the unthinkable interdimensional non-Euclidian atrocity The Poisoned Sponge is sending us some of the most advanced technology in the galaxy, simply because he doesn't deem us a threat. This policy of inaction may end up looking like your political masterstroke."
Hm. Nevertheless, if I black out again for more than three days, I want you to bring the Governator 3000 online.