Hey. Stellaris went on sale for 75% off this week, and if you ask me, for $11 CAD it’s well worth the money. I’ve spent nearly 30 hours on it in the last few days:
If you’re not already aware, Stellaris is a 4X (I’ve recently learned that the term means eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. The more you know!) space strategy game in which you control your very own interstellar empire, taking inspiration from a few well-known sci-fi settings (including one some readers of this blog will find very familiar). It’s a very deep game, where you can manage your empire’s government, political factions, planetary colonies, military forces, economy, and a whole bunch of other things that I don’t really want to go into detail for at the moment. If you’re really interested, maybe go check out the game on Steam?
Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about is a particular story I’ve had while trying to learn this hulking beast of a game. Grab some popcorn, while I recount to you the tale of:
The Second War of Yapathi Subjugation, or: The Titanic Testicles of the Yapathi Independent Commonwealth
So, first and foremost, a disclaimer: I didn’t plan on writing this article, so all the things I’m about so say and the images added to this article are going to be created post-haste. All my screenshots are going to be pretty inaccurate. I’ll try to point out the inconsistencies, but ultimately you’ll just have to use your imagination for a few things. Sorry.
I don’t call myself a good storyteller, so bear with me, but here’s some background.
First, let’s go over the good guys, shall we? The blue faction in the center of the map with the teardrop-looking icon is the Greater Colony of Ish, a enlightened monarchy that’s made up of a molluscoid race known as the Myukuru.
Believing that they’ve been cast down from greatness in the heavens beyond the mortal plane, the Ishtari have been striving to achieve greater and greater heights, literally and figuratively. Their ambitions have led them on a campaign across the stars, resulting in roughly the empire you’re seeing now. They’re also the empire that I’m playing as, so you should be rooting for them!
I gave the Ishtari the Lost Colony origin, which spawns another more advanced empire of the same race elsewhere in the galaxy at the start of the game; that empire is the Myukuru Commissariat, which is located right next to the Greater Colony, bordered in an orange color.
Unlike the Ishtari, they’re more of a religious democratic republic. Early on I thought it was a good idea to form a federation with them– the Ishtari Combine— since “hey, we’re all Myukuru, so we should stick together, because that’s what race-bros do”, though if you asked me now I’m not so sure if I’d be proud of that decision. Despite their strength at the beginning of the game, the Commissariat has been showing signs of decline all throughout the mid-game: emaciated fleet sizes, a weaker economy, you know the deal. I would also later learn that they’re huge assholes.
I don’t know what they did to piss everyone off, but I don’t think there’s any other empire in the galaxy that wants to join the Combine knowing that they’d be shacking up with the Ishtari’s aging, raging twin brother. Come on guys, they’re not that bad, I swear.
And now, the bad guys:
The Ishtari are bordered to the north by a big brown blob known as the Jubaran Sovereignty, a theocratic oligarchy that has claimed a good portion of the northern regions of the galaxy:
The Jubarans are also assholes. I don’t even know why; I was just having my science ships roaming about near their space and they just decided to snub us by closing their borders. So what if the Ishtari’s economy is mostly made up of indentured slaves? That doesn’t mean you have the authority to to act like pricks whenever we’re around.
They were the first empire we encountered too, which makes their existence doubly as sad. I’d punish them for their insolence, but right now they’re in serious contention for being the most powerful empire in the galaxy, and a war with them could end very, very poorly for us. At one point they had decided to one-up the Ishtari by forming their own federation with the Hierarchy of Belo’vi, another galactic superpower located towards the southern end of the galaxy. Unfortunately for them, that fell apart relatively quickly. Karma hurts, bitch.
To the south of Commissariat space lies the Cynn Alliance, another theocratic oligarchy that doesn’t like us.
If I don’t know why the Jubarans hate us so much, then I can’t be expected to know why the Alliance also hates us. I’ve barely touched these guys all game, so it’s got to be for some weird religious reason. I’ll admit, out of all the assholes in this story, they’re probably the least assholish. Outside of that, they’re known for repeatedly entering and leaving defensive pacts with the much smaller Husko Pact. I think they’re flirting or something. Who knows.
Military-wise the Cynn aren’t necessarily in contention for the most powerful in the galaxy, but they shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially considering the state of the Commissariat. This will come into play later.
And finally, the titular empire (or, more accurately, former empire). This is the Yapathi Citizen Republic:
The Yapathi are the most assholish of the galaxy’s assholes. Ever since the Ishtari had discovered them one hundred and seventy years ago, they’ve acted like smug pricks, goading and taunting the Colony as if it were a bug to be squashed under its heel.
Reality would show a much different state of affairs, however: while the Jubarans, Belo’vi, and Ishtari are in contention for the most powerful force in the galaxy, the Yapathi are front-runners for the worst shithole this side of the universe. You see that screenshot I’m using to represent them? The Republic wasn’t much better in its prime, and yet they continued to taunt their betters incessantly for years on end. Even the Commissariat cut a sizable divide in their empire in an earlier war. Absolutely fucking disgraceful.
Fortunately for the Ishtari, punishing them for their insolence was well within their power. Let’s look at the galaxy map again:
You see all those little pockets of Greater Colony space? All of that was Yapathi territory, give or take a few systems. During the First War of Yapathi Subjugation, we fucked their shit up. We fucked it so hard that we vassalized and later assimilated them into our empire. This is what’s left of them now, and I’ll have to say I haven’t been taking care of the new territory too well.
I’ve named the new sector in that picture Eastern Lancord, because there’s another former Yapathi sector that’s named Western Lancord. They both have planets called Lancord. I’m not making this up; the Yapathi are just so dumb that they can’t come up with unique planet names.
The Ishtari were not prepared economically to support these two new sectors, as pathetic as they were. Despite being pants-on-head retarded, the Yapathi had access to upgraded buildings that required special resources as well as a lot of starports. Our poor powergrid couldn’t handle the additional load, so I was forced to downgrade all of our new starports and disable or downgrade some of those shiny new buildings. Unemployment and chaos ran wild; the screenshots above don’t do the scene justice because hey, I eventually mostly fixed things with careful development.
Despite the challenges, we were well on our way to a less assholish galaxy. However, little did we know at the time that this wasn’t the end of the Yapathi’s legendary arrogance. Let’s look just a little bit north of Western Lancord for a moment:
This is Amlitzer, a tiny system sitting in the middle of former Yapathi space, now controlled by the Commissariat. When the Ishtari claimed ultimate victory over the Citizen Republic by integrating them into their Greater Colony, a small rebel faction rose up shortly thereafter. Calling themselves the Yapathi Independent Commonwealth, they had seized control of the planet Yoergen and eventually the entirety of Amlitzer. I don’t know how they managed it, but I’m going to blame the Commissariat for this.
Naturally, this was an unsightly blemish on the Ishtari’s otherwise perfect victory. After all that’s been said between the two empires, I don’t think it was too out of character for the Colony to let this insurrection go uncontested. Thus, the Ishtari Combine started up their great fleets once again, parked them right next to Amlitzer, and demanded the Commonwealth submit to their might, knowing full well what their response was going to be.
“no”~ the Yapathi Independent Commonwealth, probably
And thus, the siege began. The most powerful of the Ishtari forces, the Saoezuno Liberators, named after they royally slaughtered some rogue mining drones in the first stellar engagement the Colony had ever seen, eradicated the Commonwealth’s single puny fleet with a pull of nearly a hundred triggers. They joined another fleet, the Lancord Preservers (named after this whole shitshow happened) in the orbital bombardment of the Commonwealth’s homeworld, Yoergen.
The Liberators and Preservers would not stay long, however. Seeing a ripe opportunity for some galactic assholism, the Cynn Alliance threw down their gauntlet and declared war on the Ishtari Combine; a move that I was not expecting. All of Lancord was suddenly at risk, so I had to move our heroes and a few fleets from Colony space into the choke points between Alliance and Combine space. I’ve left a few smaller Yapathi loyalist fleets at Amlitzer to continue the siege in their stead. That should break their morale, right? Anyway…
The Alliance had a significant advantage; with the starports of East Lancord downgraded to measly starbases, their forces swept through most of the sector without them doing as much as lifting a finger. At this point, what was supposed to be a quick culling for the Ishtari became a long, bloody nightmare.
And then, I got a notification from my advisor:
“Hostile fleet detected”~ The voice of an oddly calm robot-man.
Of course, I clicked it; I was doubly unprepared for what the game camera was going to show me:
That’s Jubaran space, all the way on the other side of Combine territory. I’ll admit that I didn’t read the war declaration properly; we’re at war with the Jubarans as well, and they’ve brought massive fleets to the party, with scary names like The Typhoon and Fuck You, Node. There was no fucking way the Alliance and the Jubarans didn’t plan this out, the bastards.
The Ishtari fleet stationed at the Ishtari-Jubaran border, the Deteenal Vanguard, the first of the Greater Colony’s stellar forces, didn’t stand a chance; they were melted as soon as the conflict started.
Fortunately, fleet death doesn’t really happen all too often in Stellaris; they just kind of screw off for a while and come back in a weaker capacity. The Jubarans shaved off about half of the ships in the Vanguard’s forces in short order, and they were poised to tear their way into the very heart of Ishtari space.
There is a silver lining to all this, however: I was preparing for this scenario. The systems of Deteenal, Iflore, Tigira, and Gardener make up a region that I like to call The Gauntlet, because I’m not very creative. The starports in those systems are filled to the brim with guns and defense platforms, ready to hold off all sorts of threats, or at least bolster the Vanguard’s forces and any other fleets that happen to be defending the area.
And it worked. Throughout the entire conflict, the Jubarans would never get further than Iflore. Glory to the Ishtari!
But this didn’t really help my morale, though. The Gauntlet could only hold for so long, and the tide of the Alliance seemed unstoppable with the defending Ishtari forces split up across their own territory. The Jubarans had backed off for a moment, giving me the time to think of a new strategy:
It was obvious to me at this point that the Cynn-Jubaran forces would win this war, and I was prepared for a game over (this was my first game of Stellaris, after all. It was a good run, all things considered). My decision was clear:
I would deliver a final “fuck you” of equal magnitude right into Alliance space.
The Alliance had two main entry points that they could use to get to Combine territory: the east, which would take them to Eastern Lancord, and the south, which would take them to the middle of Commissariat space. They invaded from both, however the southern invasion force was quickly exterminated thanks to the tactical superiority of the Liberators and the Preservers.
With the southern theatre basically uncontested, I took the Liberators and drove them as deep into Alliance territory as I could. Fortunately there wasn’t much resistance: the bulk of their fleets were busy devouring East Lancord, and it’d be months of in-game time for them to change course. Their starbases were just as ripe for the taking as the ones in Lancord as well, making it no problem to blast through them.
The Liberators slaughtered their way to the Cynn homeworld, Cynndor, and occupied it without any significant resistance. I opened up the Policies menu, set my Orbital Bombardment policy to “Indiscriminate” to the dismay of the greater galactic community (because that’s a real, political entity in Stellaris), and started going to town on the planet. Swathes of the Cynn burned in the holy wrath of the Ishtari.
I really wish I had one of those neat world crackers.
The Cynn didn’t really shit themselves like I expected them to: they broke off maybe a few fleets to deal with the asshole tearing their shit apart from behind their lines, but this was enough to get some smaller victories in with the Preservers. Gradually, defending against the Alliance was getting easier, though I don’t think we would have lasted for much longer with the Jubarans knocking at our door.
The fighting kept on for a while before the Alliance sent us a peace treaty. It’s anticlimactic, but it was a gift from God and ultimately very welcome. I didn’t even read it before accepting its terms; we needed to get the fuck out of this nightmare as soon as possible. Luckily for the Ishtari, the Alliance didn’t have any claims on the vast majority of systems they took, so we got off relatively scot-free territory-wise. As for what they did take… well, it’s their problem now.
So that’s great and all, but… weren’t they forgetting about something?
Yeah… they didn’t do anything about the siege on Yoergen. According to the game, that whole thing with the Alliance and the Jubarans was an entirely separate conflict. I’ll leave the implications of that up to you.
Here’s what I do know, though: with no one left to oppose us, it was finally time to do what we came here for, and that was punishing the Commonwealth! I brought the Liberators back to Amlitzer, and let them do their thing, wrecking the planet.
I sent the Commonwealth a peace treaty that would end the war if they would submit; they refused. Well, that’s fine; we can sit here and wait for them to come around. After a few minutes, I sent them another one, and they refused again. And again. And again, and again, and again. This war had been going on for two decades at this point, and at no point did I ever stop dropping bombs on Yoergen; figuring out who was still alive and in possession of enough limbs to even write a formal refusal of the treaty at this point was a mystery in itself.
The Yapathi, in their bottomless reserve of pure, refined assholism, would not let up. The source of their titanic balls came from their single ace-in-the-hole: the Combine was exhausted. If they could drag out the war long enough, they could force a “status-quo” resolution, which would make this entire shitstorm be for nothing. I couldn’t let that happen.
It turns out that there are ground forces in Stellaris, too, and you need those to actually occupy planets. That means, despite me having well over a hundred ships hovering over Yoergen blasting the damn world to bits, it would mean nothing if there weren’t boots on the ground.
Victory was just a matter of sending a few assault forces to make landfall upon Yoergen. So, I built some in Western Lancord, and had them fly over. I told them to make haste; time was of the essence.
They proceeded to fly right into these assholes and die.
wait no no no fuck you fuck you fuck you that is total bullshit
One saved game later…
I had the assault armies fly out to Yoergen, carefully avoiding the bullshit void clouds in the way. And thankfully before the Commonwealth could force the Combine to lay down their arms, the Ishtari forces landed on the tattered planet’s surface and claimed it once and for all, ending the war with a decisive victory for the Ishtari Combine. Never again would the Yapathi lay their treacherous hands on Combine soil.
So uh… that’s the closest thing I have to a review of Stellaris. It’s a great game, and I highly recommend you pick it up. I was considering doing a run with a bigger galaxy and more empires, covering the various exploits of the Ishtari on this blog once I got better at the game. Let me know if you want to see more of this stuff, because it was a blast to write!
As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.