Playing a Role

Playing a Role
How I Gained and Lost an Empire

Alex Donks | 20 Jul 2010 11:54
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The "mhu-ha-ha-ha," straight from my belly, must have been heard a block away, as I prepared my response to these paltry demands, as well as showing why I hadn't reinforced my fleet. For my factory-worlds had been busy, very busy, indeed. They had been churning out doom stars; vast, round ships, as big as a moon. Yes, MoO II lets you build the equivalent of Death Stars. And when any game gives me the option to build Death Stars, then by all the gods, I am going to queue them by the truck-load. The final phase of the war was a mere formality, but a very brutal one. Not wanting the hassle of securing a ton of planets from constant streams of liberation attempts, all but the choicest worlds were simply vaporized by a press of the big, red button. My vast swarm of planet-killers ended all opposition, permanently.

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And then there were two. Just me and my Psilon allies, dividing the universe neatly in half. The star-charts presented a rather disconcerting picture, however, as the Psilons apparently had the decency of conquering their opponents, instead of simply blowing them to bits. Thus, the Psilon Empire was almost twice as large as mine. Now, that was a problem.
I could have ended it then and achieved a somewhat dubious victory as savior of the universe. Just build a dimensional gate, stuff my dozens of doom stars through it, and vanquish the evil Antarans.

But that wasn't the role that I was playing. I was the vengeful tyrant of the Darlocks; I couldn't fathom peace. And so multiple Psilon worlds suddenly found themselves in my greedy grasp. Bafflingly, no attempts were made to retake my bloody spoils of war. Instead, one single fleet was now en route to my capital planet, leaving the Psilon hinterland virtually unprotected. Scratching my head, I recalled all my fleets to my home-world and prepared for what was undoubtedly the deciding battle for galactic rule. The Psilon fleet arrived. My CPU was nearly brought to its knees by rendering the immense number of ships. Not my ships, though. Row upon row upon row of Psilon doom stars invaded my home-world, outnumbering my entire fleet ten-to-one. In the first exchange, I destroyed two of them, maybe, before my mighty war-machine was squashed like a gnat. As a final rebuke, they took my capital as if it was nothing.

I surrendered. I'd like to believe that my advisors presented my head on a plate as, all over the galaxy, people celebrated my inglorious demise, hailing the wise Psilons as masters of the universe. With a grin, I closed the game. I could have reloaded and beaten the Antarans, but that was not how the story should go. No, I played the part of petty tyrant and, like virtually all such dictators, was humiliatingly brought low by my own hubris. Satisfied, I turned off the computer and enjoyed the rest of my vacation like any ordinary, humble Earth boy.

Alex Donks is a Dutch philosophy bachelor and amateur writer making his first forays as a freelancer. For the past few years he's mainly written music reviews for Diabolical Conquest magazine and articles for the Dutch site Dorkside.

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