How Neptune’s Pride broke me.

So Neptune’s Pride. It’s a 4x game, but browser-based, and really slow. It’ll take ten hours for a fleet to go from one star to another if they are close to each other, at the beginning. It’ll take more than a day for a new technology to research. It’s also very low-fi in terms of the game mechanics: there are a few different flavours of planetary infrastructure (economy, industry, and science), one resource (money), and one type of ship. Basically the thing that makes this game special is the opportunity to play politics with other real people. And that’s why it utterly broke me, because I can’t play the game of interstellar politics without feeling really bad about myself.

So here we are in space. From my original 4 stars (Acamar, Ruchbah, Canopus, and Situla), I’d expanded to this area, and now was starting to run up against borders of other empires: dark red above me, yellow below, and light blue to my left. As shown in the previous screengrab, light blue had already contacted me about red, and I’d decided to help out light blue so we could divide up the dark red empire. This would take out one avenue of attack, and let me focus on other places. So far, so good.

And the first attack on dark red was staged. ETA: a few days.

Ach! He’s taken Sasin! I did get a message from him saying he’d only taken Sasin temporarily (and frankly it was such a low-value planet that it probably didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things), but this was my first loss. I didn’t take too kindly to it.

My fleets creep ever closer, revealing that he’d built up Biham somewhat. Also a 29-strong fleet of his was about to take Muliphen, lengthening my front with him. At this point I’d cancelled the attack on Biham and only sent one fleet to take back Sasin, since he told me he didn’t mind if I did. I planned that this would allow me to drive deeper into his territory with a surprise attack.

And here’s the message that made me into an implicit liar. He’d given my permission to take back the star he’d taken to move against light blue, and I’d implicitly agreed to his terms, when infact my plan was to attack him using his peace-offering as a staging-post. Not good.

I’d also contacted bright red, in the south, in case I needed his help against Yellow.

And to further compound it, I then agreed to do to light blue what I was infact going to do to him. Backstabbing.

Fleets are reorganised, and sent into dark red’s space.

Biham is taken. Regulus’ defences hold, and Zubenelgenubi is taken by me but re-taken by a superior force. Not so much a decisive push as a small nudge.

The next stage of my attack goes ahead, and this was the last time I logged on until today. It really made me feel quite bad to dishonour my pact with dark red: to accept it knowing from the get-go that I wasn’t going to honour the agreement.

I logged on to see what’d happened: and I’d forgotten that the AI kicks in if you are inactive for a while. Looks like it didn’t do too bad a job: but bright red has now contacted me for a coordinated assault on yellow, orange wants to divvy-up the rest of dark red, and blue looks to be ahead on the territory stakes.

This is not a game for me, even though I can recognise what makes it good. If you like making strangers feel bad (or indeed getting fucked over by strangers), then this is the game for you: if you are a delicate flower like me, then don’t play it because you’ll feel awful.

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