Stellaris: The T’Jell Wars

The continued story of my narrative from Stellaris, Paradox’s Grand Strategy space game. As you can read about here, I am playing a nation of egalitarian spiritualist humans, who spend their time living in utopian abundance and building temples to worship the stars. As at the end of the last post, I had explored a significant portion of the galaxy and won (with the help of raider mercenaries and a friendly nation of Honourbound Warrior ‘Goat Klingons’) a bloodless victory against the T’Jell, a neighbouring military dictatorship, taking several systems and a planet.

Peace Time

The first thing I did on signing the peace treaty, I examined the planet I took. Immediately I notice that about half the citizens hate me (understandably, as I’ve just conquered them) but the other half quite like me. Puzzled, I look more closely to see that they have the modifier ‘saved from slavery’. So it seems the T’Jell, an authoritarian militaristic society of ‘Space Wolverines’ enslave their own species. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Reflecting that ‘egalitarian spiritualist’ is a good description of Wilberforce, I immediately resolve to resume hostilities just as soon as the ten year truce is up, to fight a war of liberation for the oppressed T’Jell slaves.

Meanwhile, I have a planet with a lot of unrest, so I put all their living standards up to utopian abundance to match those of the species already in my nation, whilst reluctantly spending influence to invoke martial law, hoping that ten years of utopia will make the former slave owners forget their grievances. Meanwhile I have ten years to spend building up.

Thanks to my massive focus on temples I’ve built up a large stack of unity, which has allowed me to unlock a number of traditions and Ascension Perks. My first was the fairly useless Consecrated Worlds, which felt in character but didn’t help all that much; my second the much more solid choice of a 10% technology research boost. For my next, feeling that expansion is getting expensive, I take a perk that reduces the cost of all claims (on occupied or unoccupied systems) by 20%. More excitingly, I then open the Diplomatic tree which unlocks Federations, powerful permanent alliances which come with numerous benefits.

My two obvious federation partners are either the Kedeshi – another egalitarian democracy – or the Goat Klingons, who I don’t have that much in common with but who were my allies in the recent war against the T’Jell. The Goat Klingons aren’t interested but the Kedeshi – almost – are; however, the fact that they’re benighted materialists makes them denigrate my spiritual pursuits enough to refuse to federate. Fortunately, a number of extraordinarily generous trade deals soften them up just to push them over the border and hooray, I’m established the galaxy’s first Federation. As well as having a common foreign policy, we also get benefits such as a powerful new federation fleet and a big increase in trust. The only downside is that it turns out the Goat Klingons don’t really like the Kedeshi and it knocks my relationship with them down a fair bit – we’re still friendly, but they’re probably not going to join me in a war again any time soon.

After this, I spend a fair bit of time building up my economy and fortifying some key systems. The planetary system I captured from the T’Jell occupies a key strategic position: not only is it the only way they reach me, it also cut 15% of their empire off from the rest. Accordingly I fortify it as strongly as I can with a star fortress and, simultaneously, bee-line for a similar bottleneck system on the other side of my nation that borders the Kazam Commonality and fortify that too. They’re pacifists, but it never hurts to be sure, plus it gives me a fair bit of space to expand into at my leisure.

The Second and Third T’Jell Wars

After my strategic maneuvering won me such an easy victory, I decide to be clever again for the second war. I claim only the five systems (including one planet) in the isolated part of the T’Jell Empire: I’ll will mop any resistance there, whilst by Star Fortress holds off any counter-attack – meanwhile, my fleet will be close enough to return to aid the defence if needed.

A nice plan; unfortunately it utterly fails. I underestimate how long it takes my fleet to return and rather than crushing the T’Jell, their fleet wipes out first my star fortress and then my fleet in two separate battles. I manage to save about half the fleet by jumping into hyperspace, but they’re out of action for over a year. The only saving grace is that the T’Jell prioritise reclaiming the systems I just took from them rather than plunging into my own systems.

I’m building as fast as I can, but so are the T’Jell, and as militarists they can build faster.Just when I think I’ll be forced into a humiliating retreat, I notice that my new federation allies, the Kedeshi, are coming to my aid. They send 1/4 of their own fleet (embarrassingly, about the same size as my entire navy), plus our federation fleet – it’s taking ages to get here, but it’s coming, if I can just hold on. When it arrives, together we force the T’Jell back, reclaiming the bottle-neck system. At this point, seeing the T’Jell are down, the Goat Klingons pile in from the other side. The T’Jell fold rapidly and I succeed in my original war aims, only about five years after intended.

Another period of rebuilding, this time focused on my fleet. The diplomatic panel is telling me that the Kedeshi’s attitude toward me is ‘Protective: they consider you weak and helpless, in need of protecting’ – which is really not what you want to see, even from an ally. I’ve not bothered with anchorages much, so I invest in a good number of these and increase the fleet to match; I also discover how to build cruisers. Unfortunately the next attack on the T’Jell has to be delayed because the Kedeshi want to attack the Kazam. I don’t really want to fight them – they seem like a nice nation and they’re nowhere near me; the Kedeshi’s animosity seems purely border friction – but refusing seems churlish after the Kedeshi saved my bacon, plus I don’t want them to veto my next liberation war against the T’Jell. I agree to the war and don’t do anything other than to move my secondary fleet up to reinforce my fortified space fortress on my only border.

Suddenly, two medium sized Kazam fleets (3k each) appear on my southern border, 1/3 of the galaxy away from their home nation and in an area I have no defences for the very good reason that there’s no-one anywhere near there. Puzzled, I soon realise that the Kazam must have discovered wormhole travel, exploiting a natural wormhole to move halfway round the galaxy. My fleet build up pays up and I manage to fight a number of battles to eventually drive them off, feeling gratified that I have played a part after all. Eventually the war ends with the Kedeshi taking a couple of systems, but I have to fight off a pirate incursion and then a raid by the Marauders, all of which feels is consuming resources without much gain.

When I finally manage to attack the T’Jell, it’s almost an anticlimax. This time I wait until I’m Federation President (and control the fleet) and am strong enough to take them in a straight-up fight. The T’Jell fight strongly, but ultimately they can’t match my numbers. Once they’re all but beaten, the Goat Klingons pile in again, once more ending things rapidly and leaving me with nearly 2/3 of their remaining empire. Shortly after this I develop the Tradition that allows me to vassalise them and, with that, I have my first vassal. Meanwhile I integrate my new planets into the Empire in the same way as before.

Other interesting events

While all this is going on I’m continuing to secure new empty systems, develop and explore. I’ve not been as good as I could be in sneaking around other nations, but by bee-lining I have managed to block off some fairly large areas which just need to be gradually filled in. The Kedeshi and the Goat Klingons also both have a lot of space to develop, so we’re all quite happy.

Some of the more interesting things that happen include:

– I find an ‘odd’ factory built by a long-dead alien race on one of my planets. I send people to work in it but, unfortunately, one of them vanishes mysteriously. I get given the option of ‘send in more people to see if it happens again’ but sensible decide to raze it to the ground again.

– I discover an ancient cruiser at the bottom of the ocean. Recovering it takes a long time but, on doing so, although the cruiser itself is unusable, reengineering their technology gives me a permanent, empire-wide bonus to evasion.

– I discover the archive of an alien race on a barren planet. They had uploaded the last of their kind in digital form to archives, which I’ve now found. Although I can’t bring them back to life, I decide to keep it rather than scrapping it for minerals, as it seems more respectful. A bit later, the Fallen Empire near me, which enjoys preserving less developed races, contacts me to say they can restore the species and will I give it to them. I say yes. Then, a couple of years they contact me again to say that they’ve succeeded and, in thanks, give me a 25% bonus to scientific research for 10 years.

This last, in particular, is transformative. I’m researching economic technologies faster than I can build the buildings that go with them. I research wormhole travel and begin scouting the part of the wormhole network near me. Most excitingly of all, I discover psionics, which after a little bit (when I’ve unlocked more traditions) lets me take the Mind Over Matter Ascension Perk. The spiritual pursuits of my people over the millennia are at long last penetrating the true mysteries of the cosmos and a small number of my citizens begin to unlock psionic powers, giving me not just nation-wide bonuses to science and energy, but enabling new technologies to research and the emergence of some powerful psionic leaders. And the hints are that this is just the beginning…