For previous columns in this Let’s Play series, click here.

Last time on Let’s Play Twilight Imperium, the galaxy reacted to Justin’s complete and utter destruction of Jon’s already weakened empire, which in turn gave Justin a huge advantage as he potentially had access to many undefended worlds (and unclaimed resources). The rest of the players all paused their own personal vendettas against each other to focus their efforts on Justin; Greg pushed a huge fleet towards Justin’s home system while Janelle positioned her own forces to attack via wormhole. Josh and Paul entered an armistice, and built up their own fleets in the hopes of also entering the fray, although neither knew for sure where they should direct their efforts.

Things over the next two rounds, however, became tense as a very important objective card was revealed – one that could instantly determine the winner of the game…

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High Priestess Janelle Bonnano of the Yin Brotherhood Says: Plans have been set and it is time to force them into motion. The end to the war with the Jol-Nar depends on it.

Taking the bulk of our forces, we hopped one of the wormholes in our territory, only to be blockaded by the Mindnet before we could arrive. Forced to stop in the wormhole nexus, there was little we could accomplish other than engage the blockade, which we could not do. This would cause our fleets to be next to the Mindnet Death Fleet, rather than on it. Doing so would throw all our planning into the nether, as the Mindnet utilizes the opportunity to take us out before we could engage on the battlefield of our choosing.

All was not lost. Taking advantage of an otherwise suboptimal situation, the Jol-Nar moved East instead, and took the Mindnet homeworld. To aid them, we jammed the Death Fleet’s communication signals, leaving them stranded in space and unable to retaliate. With the Mindnet homeworld now in Jol-Nar hands, the Death Fleet is without a home to aid them, stopping their endless expansion throughout the stars.

With our battle-ready fleet suspended in space among the Nexus, we have time to reflect on our actions and those of others. We promised never to be taken unawares by the drums of war again, and now might be the time to make good on that promise. Uniting the inhabitants of the planets to our cause, our people rally against the threat our potential enemies pose. The rise of the messiah has begun and local religious leaders stand to support our growing empire. Our shipyards begin to work overtime and the recruitment efforts of our military boom, allowing us to amass ground force control of each planet in our territory.

But we cannot continue to blind ourselves by only looking inward. Peace may have been made with the Jol-Nar, but it is a tenuous peace at best. Once the Mindnet no longer pose a threat, will they return their warfaring ways to our borders? Perhaps. We cannot allow this to happen and thus, must secure our borders by any means necessary. With our ships in temporary stasis and the Mindnet forces out of reach, we decide that it is time to liberate Hercalor from the Jol-Nar occupation. Freedom spreads like wildfire, infecting the neighboring planet of Lesab. Their people rise up, casting the Jol-Nar out and destroying their ship production facility on our doorstep. All this allows us to take a deep breath, as the web of threats around our homeworld untangle and dissipate.

King Paul of the Xxcha Kingdom Says: The war against the Mindnet has gone swiftly. The Jol-Nar have seized the cyborg race’s capital while the Yin Brotherhood have managed to jam communications to the so-called “Death Fleet,” preventing them from quickly reacting to the loss of their home system. The Federation have pushed forward and restaged their claim to Mecatol Rex, constructing a Space Dock and fortifying the world for a possible Mindnet counter-attack, while seizing a few of the undefended worlds deep within Mindnet territory in a multi-pronged resource raid. The Yin main battlefleet sits waiting in the Wormhole Nexus, unsure of its next move, though our agents report that a proxy war fought by Yin-supported separatists have overthrown at least one of the Jol-Nar’s planets through civil unrest.

Part of the Xxcha fleet awaits orders to deploy.

We have constructed a significant battle fleet of carriers fully loaded with the most technologically advanced fighters and supported by Hylar-armed cruisers our military has to offer, but our admirals are unsure over where to deploy their strength. The ion storms that blocked our route to Sardokk N’orr territory are no longer of concern thanks to new engine designs, and we are able to reach many locations lightly defended by the Mindnet’s fleets. But the Federation, through what we suspect is technological espionage, now have access to War Suns.

This turns our situation dire. Our only neighbor, and in a way, our only rival, now have the ability and the means to construct the greatest weapons of mass destruction in our time. Their Commodore claims they have no intention of breaking the armistice, but we cannot trust them fully if they follow through and construct a War Sun given the horrific capacity for destruction a single ship of that magnitude can bring to bear. Meanwhile, the Mindnet are quickly reversing their advance and for once using diplomatic channels, trying to delay any further assault on their territory by the Jol-Nar, Yin and The Federation while they scramble to move their ships back into position to reclaim their lost worlds. This does leave their outer borders weakened, and several useful planets open to invasion. We could benefit greatly from their resources.

We find ourselves at an impasse. What are the Xxcha to do? Press the attack on the Mindnet and claim a few of their lesser defended worlds, and leave our home system vulnerable to the Federation’s war machine if it chooses to cast its eager eye towards our borders? Or fortify our defenses and pray that any Federation aggression would be rebuffed?

This decision is one that requires great thought.

The Sol fleet retake Mecatol, revealing a Gravity Rift in the process.

Commodore Josh Vanderwall of the Sol Federation says: After careful planning, the Sons of Sol were able to wrest control of four planets in two systems from the villains that slaughtered our fleet and stole Mecatol from us. With Mecatol Rex back in our control, we are gearing up as quickly as possible to finally achieve our long-standing aims. With the resources available now, thanks to the tireless researchers back home, we have been able to construct a Space Dock on Mecatol once again, in preparation for our final push to our objective.

Working with the Jol-Nar proved ultimately futile, since the Mindnet fled Mecatol in fear of our glorious fleet’s might, but he has not betrayed us yet, as he did with our longest standing trade partner, so we’ll see whether the Universities prove good to their word.

The triumphant reclamation of Everra has finally come to pass. Jord’s sister planet in the nearby nebula was out of our control for too long, but we have made peace with our aggressors again – now to see how long it lasts this time.

A true testament to human ingenuity and resolve, we have most recently completed our goal to control Mecatol Rex, have a Space Dock present there, and have eight ships in the system’s orbiting fleet. This pushes us ever closer to victory, and I couldn’t be more proud of the scientists, captains, and soldiers who are responsible for this incredible feat. For glory and for Sol!

Turing Host Protocol “Justin Clouse” of the L1z1x Mindnet Says:

Galactic Standardized Unit Of Temporal Measurement 001010 to 001011

Command: Access 001010, 001011

Status: Retrieving directory

Status: Offsets: Server: 0. Local system: -101001. Galactic Variance: +101001

The Mindnet armada prepares to withdraw home.

Response: Connected to Galactic.Mindnet.Advancement

Warning: Connection severed with primary fleet 0001. Fleet unable to transit for this cycle until communications restored. Analysis indicates source of jamming to be Brotherhood of Yin.

Status: The Universities of Jol-Nar fleet within range to strike Mindnet homeworld [0.0.0]. Diplomatic protocols enabled to determine logic of The Universities of Jol-Nar aggression. Protocols fail to compile a response before Jol-Nar fleet transits into [0.0.0] sector. Home defense fleet 0010 no longer functional. Federation of Sol scout fleets seize additional planets in Mindnet home sectors. Production output calculated to -64% decreases in efficiency and resources. The great memory banks and stardocks of the Mindnet have been invaded by organics.

Warning: Galactic.Mindnet.Advancement strategic analyzes indicates 92.899999% chance of Brotherhood of Yin forces using wormhole to flank primary fleet 0001. Recommend dispatch cruiser 0.1.0.1_v3.2 to scout wormhole exit.

Query: Galactic.Mindnet.Advancement calculating response.

Response: Diplomatic protocols and algorithms flushed from logic centers. Prime directive of all available computational resources to combat and strategic operations.

Status: Communications reestablished with primary fleet 0001. Primary fleet 0001 engine output temporarily enhanced to 150% efficiency. Primary fleet 0001 will transit to Mindnet homeworld [0.0.0] in two cycles. Virus introduced into Universities of Jol-Nar defensive network. One planetary defense installation offline. Jol-Nar fleet seizes control of planets New Albion and Starport. Production output calculated to -35% decreases in efficiency and resources. Expeditionary fleet 0011 tasked with assaulting Federation of Sol conquered planets.

Pending: Assembly of galactic senate convened for first time in three cycles. Docket of voting entry Warship Commission.

Command: Access 001010, 001011

Log out: Integrated Turning Host Protocol “Justin” Subserver Galactic Mindnet Advancement Algorithm

The Jol-Nar fleet on Null ponders its next move.

Chancellor Greg Tito of the Jol Nar Universities says: The forces surrounding the Mindnet’s homeworld of Null had retreated to the planet’s orbit, but it was not enough to defend against the J.N.S. Hylarim’s fleet. Our commanders issued a beacon keyed into a frequency broadcast from the Hylarim which granted a greater concentration of firepower from our laser banks. Doing so also disrupted the Mindnet’s communications – again – and didn’t allow their commander to issue any other orders during the battle. The enemy destroyers did decimate our fighter squadrons, but the University was able to occupy the neural nets of Null with a sizeable ground force.

The Death Fleet is stranded. Null is ours. The dice were rolled, and they seemed to have most pips facing up.

We intercepted a communication from Null sent to the Yin Brotherhood. Now that this operation is complete, I planned to protect our flank and build another fleet at Lesab. Unfortunately, Mindnet agents were able to sabotage the space dock in orbit around that planet. I ramped up production on Jol instead, but those ships are far from the conflict.

A recent breakthough proposed in jest by one of my inner circle of scientists and advisors might actually alleviate this predicament. What if we could fold space so that systems light years away could be traveled to as if they were next much closer? We could create wormholes, essentially. My colleague called creating these artificially-created passages a “spatial conduit network.” It is genius.

Recently, we have been reminded the Yin Brotherhood are not our allies. Through subterfuge, they destroyed the forces on two planets near their space, including Lesab. We have no choice but to treat this as an act of aggression and have begun building our forces to match the trillions of Yin and their myriad of ships.

In tandem, the Death Fleet of the Mindnet, still representing a significant threat, has moved within striking distance of retaking Null. Rather than risk battle, I have deduced it is more logically sound to cede the home planet back to the algorithm. I only hope the Mindnet leader removes emotion from their decision and decides to pursue the true enemy of the galaxy right now – the Yin.

A new objective that may determine the winner of the game.

The Wrap-Up

Things have become incredibly tense on the board; what was considered to be a slow race to be the first to get the most victory points has now turned into a tense stand-off with the arrival of the Public Objective card that grants the first player to hold two enemy home systems with instant victory. While Justin has lost his own home world, he does still hold the Sardokk N’orr’s, and could very well secure the win if he manages to retake what he’s lost quickly. Greg is also in a position to win (albeit tenuous), provided he can find a way to put vessels in orbit over someone else’s home system quickly.

At the end of Round 10, Janelle manages to stay in the lead with 8 victory points, while Josh and Justin are now tied for second with 7 apiece. Greg is now in third with 6 victory points, and Paul remains in last with 4.

The final battle lines are being drawn… what surprises will the last few rounds of Twilight Imperium bring? Stay tuned to find out!

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