Solar Strategies: Lords Of The Black Sun

I’ve been away, gallivanting over vales and hills, and living the life of a rugged outdoorsman. Every day, I punched trees to collect firewood and caught fresh fish by sitting beside a babbling brook and engaging in a QTE-based minigame. A sequence of fifteen or higher bagged a sizeable trout, while a score of four or less meant I’d be chewing on a sticklebacks stickles and wondering whether it had been wise to leave all of the pot-based snacks at home.

During my break, I maintained radio silence, telephone silence and internet silence. I expected to return to a changed world, in which new genres had replaced old, and the Oculus Rift had been reduced to the size and weight of a pair of pince-nez spectacles. Instead, the first thing that greets me is a 4X strategy game set in space. Previously known as Star Lords, Lords of the Black Sun is of familiar stock, but it is still capable of capturing my interest.

The big claims from developers Arkavi relate to AI and randomisation. As regards the former, computer-controlled civilisations will follow the same rules of play as humans. No cheating, no shortcuts, no special treatment. I tend to feel that having a system of rules that supports intelligent artificial intelligence speaks well of those rule systems as well as the intent of the designers. Cutting out unusual AI behaviour in a strategy game isn’t the same as eliminating rubber-banding in a racing sim – it’s as much a stress test of the strategic simulation, ruleset and world creation as it is a means of balancing what is ‘fair’ and what is exciting.

There are plenty of systems to test in Lords of the Black Sun. Not only is the universe generated at the beginning of each game, tech trees and units are randomised as well. Diplomacy – so often as malnourished as an honest ambassador – is receiving plenty of attention as well, and should be robust enough to support secret plots and the unique traits of the eight major races.

Should you tire of the AI’s devious ways, multiplayer is supported “via LAN or IP/internet”. The game is out now and if I didn’t have a million other things to do (first on the list – file patent for pince-nez VR machine), I’d probably be playing it right now.

18 Comments

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    Harlander says:

    How random will the randomised tech trees be? Will the final breakthrough for fusion power be unlocked by discovering the perfect cheese sandwich?

  2. jasta85 says:

    after distant worlds universe I have a hard time getting into other space 4x games. I still enjoy turn based 4x games but they’re going to have to have something really special to grab my attention now

  3. xfstef says:

    kept saying “wow” with joy to each feature they presented, until I saw turn based …

    no offense, but you can play a lot of board 4x games

    alas, my search for the perfect real time 4x space game continues …

    • Ace Rimmer says:

      On the other hand, my old-man reflexes creak with joy at every turn-based game. Took me five minutes to think through the various options before clicking “Opinion, away!”

  4. Ace Rimmer says:

    I’m assuming one of those races will be weirdly crowbarred-in cannibalistic halflings.

  5. CKScientist says:

    I used to love space 4x games, but these days I mostly ignore them because the AIs are poor. I’m not particularly good at strategy games, and yet I can beat most 4x games on the highest ‘non cheating AI’ difficultly level on my first attempt, because the AI is never able to put up a decent fight.

    I wonder if this one will be different?

  6. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I’d play a game filled with nothing but Star Lords.

  7. rustybroomhandle says:

    I originally read the title as “Lords of the Slack Bun” … I’m a little disappointed now.

  8. phanatic62 says:

    I found myself on the Steam store page for this game and just couldn’t find a reason to pull the trigger. There are some really good games in this genre already, and I just find it difficult to see where this game is going to be different enough to warrant playing. Heck I’m already skeptical that GalCiv 3 is going to be different enough from 2 to bother with, at least at first.

    Would love to see a Wot I Think on this one to find out if it’s worth looking at seriously.

    • cptgone says:

      i find the Steam store page more informative than this write-up. at least it has some reviews (most of them bad, the others stemming from the time this game was in alpha, and mostly expressing the hope it’s shortcomings will be fixed). instead, RPS offers a lot of talk about the author’s holiday.

    • green frog says:

      If GalCiv 3 turns out to be pretty much GalCiv 2 but with hexes, better graphics and (finally!) multiplayer, that’s already worthy of a purchase in my book.

      Yeah it’d be cool if they moved the design forward in some great new way, but GalCiv 2 is such a strong foundation already. As long as they don’t manage to actually make the game worse, I think GalCiv 3 will be fine.

  9. FireStorm1010 says:

    Looks really interesting, but i been burn so many times by 4x games, I will wait for some reviews. IF they are tough at least half positive will buy it.

  10. Ejia says:

    Randomized tech tree? Well, on one hand, I guess it could lend to each game feeling very different from the other.

    On the other… Well, I don’t relish not getting a specific tech. I love my tech trees. I like cultivating orchards of them. It’s one of the reasons why I play the technologically-inclined Liir exclusively in Sword of the Stars (other than the psychic space dolphins are cute). The random tech rolls make me tear my hair out when the only viable weapons I get are large mass drivers. I want giant energy lances of doom.