Wot I Think: Galactic Civilizations III

And then there’s war. The game’s ship designer is wonderful. If you’re so inclined, you could spend hours fussing over the aesthetics of every vessel, creating a customised fleet for every customised race you produce (brilliantly, both custom-built ships and user-designed races become part of a database that can be re-used from one game to the next, and the AI will dip into that pool). On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate looking at other peoples’ creations but will prefer function over beauty. You can create a new destroyer, incorporating all of your new research, in a couple of minutes.

When fleets meet, the missiles fly and the lasers lase in automated battle sequences. While I appreciate being able to see my ships in action, the default top-down camera often misses parts of that action, fixed as it is on the ‘centre’ of the combat zone. Dogfights that take place at the periphery are barely visible. There are cinematic and free cameras as well, but I tend to jump straight to the conclusion, skipping the lightshow.

The information you’re given before and after a scrap is more important than bells and missiles, and everything is in order on that front. Hover over a fleet and you’re shown how powerful its various categories of weaponry and defense are, allowing you quickly ensure you’re not sending a heavily armoured but unshielded flock into battle against a bristling wall of beam weapons. Crucially, war doesn’t feel like an added layer of complexity – planetary invasions (utilising transports), orbital defenses and attack fleets can all be managed with a few clicks of the mouse.

Ship construction is slightly more complicated than in GalCiv II, thanks to the addition of off-planet shipyards. I think the change improves the game, allowing multiple planets to sponsor a single shipyard and making them a distinct feature on the map, to defend or assault. It doesn’t fundamentally change the way you’ll handle fleets, judging by my first forty hours of play, but it makes me think of the shipyard as an entity in itself rather than a simple improvement.

Construction on the surface of planets is slightly more involved. A rather lovely map shows the continents and seas, along with territories that can support an improvement. Some of these provide buffs to specific types of building and a rare few contain feautures/flora that provide significant bonuses. Placement is important beyond those geographical quirks thanks to adjacency bonuses conferred from each improvement to its neighbours.

Like so much else in the game, colony management is deceptively simple but shot through with opportunities for min-maxing, strong thematic touches and brief but effective flavour text. Looking back at screenshots, I’m surprised by how plain the game appears – while playing, it feels far richer thanks to the regular textual reminders that each new galaxy is packed with mystery and invention.

It’s that “min-maxing” element that worries me a little. Thanks to a long stint in Early Access, the game has already had its innards laid out for the dedicated to pick through and, despite myself, I can’t help but look at their discoveries. That’s how I found out about overpowered sensor ships. I’ll explain why that’s a problem.

As in almost every 4X game, the early stages are defined by expansion and the search for good places to settle. Sometimes that’s a river delta or pleasant coastal spot with good fishing prospects. Here, you’re looking for lush or paradise-level planets, preferably in the vicinity of resources and strategically well-positioned so as to hem in or avoid neighbouring empires.

Early in the game, the right research choices allow you to build a sensor ship with HEAPS of sensor arrays on it. The effect stacks, weirdly, so a ship with more sensors can see farther into the unknown. With such a ship, you can pick out the best planets before anyone else is even close. Scouts become unnecessary and exploration is a case of dragging the camera around the revealed map rather than visiting distant stars.

They’re not game-breaking, those ridiculous sensor ships, but they illuminate the sometimes uneven qualities of the difficult path GalCiv III has taken. By providing so much choice – whether in the size and design of a galaxy or the details of an individual ship – there’s a risk of exposing the One Correct Choice. The ideology system is on safer ground and its three-way decisions always offer roughly equivalent pros and cons, permitting them to be a choice based on the assumed morality of your empire or, on occasion, a compromise to alleviate a temporary woe.

When the choices aren’t as clearly defined, as with the ship designs and the potential enormity of the maps, it’s tempting to look for gaps. I find myself wondering how certain aspects of the game will work in two or three years time, when expansions have given them a more direct purpose. None of that is to say that the game feels unfinished – at worst, it’s a small step forward, as I wrote right at the start – but it’s a game clearly made with future expansion in mind.

It’s also a game that will almost certainly benefit from expansion. While it’d be understandable to consider the few areas of real change insufficient, the core of the game is as engaging as ever. The interface is improved (although I still find tracking opponents’ movements and intentions tricker than I’d like), the tech tree specialisations are effective, and the strong personality of the AI is intact. The latter is also transferable to customised races, which slot into the game seamlessly once created (I really really want a random opponent option though – I don’t want to know which races are out there before I meet them).

If you’re interested in the mathematics of its systems, or in creating an efficient empire of space-robots, GalCiv III may be ideal. It’s a game that rewards understanding of its deeper mechanics. That said, it’s also a game with AI that remains interesting campaign after campaign, and that manages to communicate the complexity and majesty of interstellar government. Despite my uncertainty about some of the specifics, it’s a game that has me firmly in its clutches and I’m happy to be there. Maybe it’s a hug rather than a clutch.

It’s also worth noting that GalCiv III will most likely be a better game in two, three, five and seven years than it is now. Currently, it’s neither a perfected version of its predecessor or a successful step in a radical new direction. So what is it? On a medium map (maybe large with scarce habitable planets if you fancy losing a couple of weeks), with a good mix of AI opponents, it’s a fantastic update to one of the best 4X games in existence. Whether that’s enough, only you can decide. Don’t be surprised if I’m revisiting in a couple of years to tell you it’s become something much more remarkable though.


  1. GCU Speak Softly says:

    It’s also worth noting that GalCiv III will most likely be a better game in two, three, five and seven years than it is now.

    Looks like I’ll wait for a while until a GOTY or Bundle turns up.

    • Vayra says:

      Knowing Stardock’s excellent Sins of a Solar Empire release, I feel it is more than safe to say that GalCiv 3 is already very much worth buying, and waiting for the expansions or a GOTY is really not as necessary as with your average Ubisoft/EA turd.

      • JM says:

        Sins of a Solar Empire was developed by Ironclad. It’s indeed a good game. Stardock merely published it.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Stardock generally has pretty solid releases, though they foten get even better with time patches/expansions. The beta for this was very playable.

  2. Lacero says:

    If you prefer your space strategy turn based Star Ruler 2 is out and is a lot better (and better looking) than it’s slightly ropey original. It’d suit you Adam it has endless maps.

    I will probably buy galciv3 eventually too though.

    • killias2 says:

      The initial impressions I saw were pretty ho hum for Star Ruler 2. What is it that you like about it? I’m a fan of 4x games, so I’m just curious.

      • Lacero says:

        Diplomacy is actually an interesting game you can specialise in. It lets you protect systems from attack for a certain amount of time or give bonuses to fighting ability in systems. It’s much nicer than just having everyone vote on everything, you can bait them out to use all their influence to stop one thing and then spend yours pushing something else through, giving you a bonuses to research or something.

        Ship design has armour placement affecting how well protected each component is but limiting firing arcs of weapons. I like making flagships with one large cannon with little armour so it has a wide firing arc, then piling on range booster mods. I think this layout based ship design allows much more interesting gameplay than just lists of guns.

        But my favourite bit is the economy. It’s about moving resources around to level up planets, which makes the game feel very different to normal moo2/civ style gameplay. You can choose which plents level up to support more population and direct different resources to them to make them research hubs or manufacturing plants. Most of the planets have little bonuses, and the resources which aren’t needed for levelling up planets have different bonuses like instant building construction or increasing colony ship speed.
        It’s an entire game in itself to me, choosing which planets to target for colonisation to level up existing ones quickly so I have enough money to target other planets. Which ones will give me enough research so I can have ships capable of fighting off the remnant ships and taking good places? Which ones do I just upgrade through buildings and money rather then building a pyramid of support planets? Which do I terraform to give different resources?

        It’s as big a deal as the nemesis system in Shadow of Mordor but for a different genre. I really hope people iterate on it in general and abandon this civ like trap the genre has fallen into.

        This review on a specialist 4x site is good. If you like 4x in general it’s a good place to visit. (Sorry RPS)
        link to explorminate4x.com

        • killias2 says:

          Thank you for that in depth response! That certainly all sounds quite interesting. I remember buying the first game but never playing it, but I’ll put this one on my wishlist for now.

          • Harlander says:

            I’d second this recommendation. A lot of the mechanics in SR2 feel like they could be from a board game, in a good way – the diplomacy cards most of all.

            A recent update (yesterday, perhaps) has improved its previously very-hard-to-read tech tree interface, too.

          • Lacero says:

            Yeah when I pressed Opinion away I realised I’d written too much :D
            It just kills me that people churn out the same mechanics we’ve been playing for decades and when someone comes up with something really new (and Harlander you’re completely right about it feeling board game like) it’s mostly ignored.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I think there is plenty of room for both rehashes of old mechanics done better, and people breaking new ground. That said I think a lot of the new ground broken in Star Ruler and Star Ruler 2 is amazing and I cannot wait until more game incorporate those elements or for Star Ruler 3. That guys is doing tremendous creative work even if the game is a little lacking on the polish/AI/balance/lore side of things.

  3. Lacero says:

    not turn based! NOT!
    curse you edit function.

  4. Ejia says:

    Hex tiles turn me off. It’s one reason why I never got into Space Empires V. Or Civ V, for that matter. Even if I do love hexagons in general.

    Does GalCivIII have any huge bugs? (well, aside from the Thalans.) I really hated that the appearance of the Dread Lords in GalCiv II would crash my game ~75% of the time.

    • BluePencil says:

      Adam Smith, I was watching a Stardock stream the other day and they said “randomised enemies are for release 1.1”. I’m of the same view: it’s much more exciting not to know who’s out there.

  5. slerbal says:

    I have a question about the steam store page for GalCiv III: Am I correct in thinking that the developers can choose to highlight a particular curator’s review over all others? If so, then you’ll probably see what I am indirectly referring too.

    • killias2 says:

      Brad Wardell is a GamerGater, so it’s not even the least bit surprising. He’s also a bit of an asshole.

      It’s so weird. I was such a fan of his company’s work for years… then I interacted with him on Twitter.

      Long story short, until/unless this game is considered an URGENT, MUST HAVE game, I’ll look to alternatives.

      • frightlever says:

        Brad’s an asshole. Pretty sure that’s by intention.

      • slerbal says:

        Your experience is exactly like my own. I loved Stardock games for years but after one actual conversation with Wardell I was done with them. Ah well, it’s not like there are plenty of other good games out there.

        • montorsi says:

          I remain conflicted but do still buy Stardock games because he employs some good people who are working in a fairly bleak economic area. I can totally understand where you are coming from, though.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Meh a lot of developers are a-holes. Kind of comes with the whole antisocial spent my teens coding instead of hanging out with friends mentality of many of the best ones. Nothing makes for a more unpleasant person than someone who was socially awkward and spurned in their youth, but then gets a lot of power and authority for their talents in adulthood.

          Of course not all programmers are like that, but a noticeable portion are. Anyway lucky you don’t have to actually talk to him to play the game last I checked :)

          • Grizzly says:

            I can get being an asshole, sometimes being very standoff-ish is a good way to deflect some of the flak you get and to prevent it getting to you. However, with the recommendation being spotlit like it is right now, it looks as if Brad Wardell is using the accusations of sexual harassment against him as a selling point. Putting those kind of recommendations at the forefront is unemphatic behaviour way beyond that of an asshole.

      • Shadow says:

        Again with the pointless Wardell drama. Who gives a flying damn?

        So he’s an asshole executive. If people really cared about boycotting companies with asshole executives, they would hardly own any electronics and their wardrobe would be half as varied, to give a couple of examples.

        You ultimately buy a product due to its quality, and look the other way if convenient. A disproportionate amount of people seem to care about Wardell being a bastard, but they’re perfectly okay with purchasing from certain big name electronics companies which ultimately benefit from near-slave labour in certain stages of their production chains.

        Does this mean I don’t care about all that? Not necessarily, but given I do own plenty of electronics and therefore implicitly condone the aforementioned practices, it seems incredibly petty and selective to get my knickers in a bunch over Wardell’s vastly lesser offenses.

        • slerbal says:

          Your missing the point. I didn’t bring it up: he did! He, or someone senior in Stardock, put it as a positive on a store page.

          I am very happy to judge my games on more than just the game and always have, just like I do with all products and claiming anything else is disingenuous. Take for instance a talented development team like Klei – their whole ethos to games design is really interesting and in my opinion makes the games more than the sum of the whole. But to each their own.

          Personally I thought highlighting that curator’s “review” was a dick move, especially as it isn’t even a review…

        • ix says:

          Again with the pointless nihilism, you mean. Some people do care.

      • pepperfez says:

        In the words of The New Yorker: “Christ, what an asshole.”

    • notenome says:

      “Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock was victim of corrupt journalism when a false claim of sexual harassment was spread on the internet.”

      Holy Shit! What an asshole. Right in the front page of the game.

      I knew Brad was a deuche but I genuilnely liked Stardock games. But this is just so crass and tasteless that I’ve lost all interest in his game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malarious says:

        Yeah, what an asshole!! How dare he be accused of sexual harassment. Don’t you know, being accused of something on the internet is just as bad as being found guilty of it?

        …I don’t even think developers are the ones who choose which curator to showcase. I believe it defaults to showcasing curators you follow, then after that, curators with the most followers. So it’s really a null point entirely. Stardock isn’t responsible for whatever some curator writes on their page.

        • LexW1 says:

          It’s kind of like being endorsed by UKIP or the Tea Party or something, though, isn’t it?

          Even if you previously thought that thing was a good idea, an endorsement from such a group makes you think twice. Wardell can’t help false accusations, but “corrupt journalism”, jesus wept, what a lot of bollocks. I bet if he wanted that removed from the page, it’d be gone, too (TBF I’d be unsurprised if it is soon).

        • notenome says:

          You’re not getting the point. I’m not sayin he’s an asshole because he was accused. I’m saying he’s an asshole because he put that front and center on the store page like a badge of honor. Nevermind that it has -nothing- to do with the actual game, its just so tasteless and petty.

    • Bugamn says:

      Right now the curator comment is from StarDock, so maybe someone thought that wasn’t the best one to see?

      • Grizzly says:

        Yup, looks like they axed both the GG and 8chan thing. Good call from them, really.

  6. Loyal_Viggo says:

    This still looks meh. The GalCiv series has always had weak-sauce combat, is it improved now?

    Stardrive 2 is where it’s at. Closest to a MOO2 successor yet. A month after release of steady patches led by the community and the game is all-consuming… I must conquer all… one.. more… turn… (sleep is overrated).

    • Drakythe says:

      Stardrive 2 looked pretty rad, but I was turned off by the initial reviews saying that the AI was a little nuts in the diplomacy department. Has that improved? (as in, no randomly declaring war on your despite good relations since the word go).

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        TLDR: Yes on release AI was insanely good and homicidal, and there were some bugs (as in most games, but I never experienced any). Now with frequent patches and balance it’s really enjoyable.

        Long version: On release the AI was supercharged to just wage all-out war regardless of your empire placement or strength, but the one-man dev team has been working on frequent patches to address the AI, bugs and balance. Now, AI considers your placement and strength relative to theirs, does not threaten or declare war for tiny things, actually wants to trade, and also does not constantly try to colonise your space now. It also sues for peace and wants to trade technology and resources. There are many difficulty options and I like a challenge, and the AI does not cheat, the dev stated they are just more efficient in resource allocation.

        The dev plans to add more victory conditions because currently its just Total War: Stardrive, but the depth of ship design and battles are superb, and it has such a MOO2 feel to it. All the weapons have been balanced (which is ongoing) and new weapon mounts (for broadsides for example) are out, and there are mod tools for the community.

        I’m playing on the test branch via steam. I do recommend it, and if you own SD1 you get 1/3 off (at least I did). One important thing to remember is that this is just one man… and boy what a game he made.

        • Drakythe says:

          Thanks for the feedback, I’ve gotta figure out which game I’m getting next for my empire strategy fix. Stardrive 2, Star Ruler 2, or do I bite the bullet and get Distant Worlds…

          Oh wait, I don’t have any time to play these anyway! *sigh*

          • Loyal_Viggo says:

            I’ve not played Star Ruler 2 so can’t comment, but Distant Worlds I’m very familiar with. Again, another small studio and the game is excellent and very absorbing, but they both scratch (for me) different itches.

            DW is grand strategy where I feel more detached, combat is less engaging and ship design is ok, and it’s realtime, meaning you have to always pay attention. Stardrive 2 is IMO far superior in terms of graphics, ship design, and combat. The MOO2 vibe and gorgeous galaxy graphics and special events to interact with are also superb.

            They are both great, but overall I much prefer SD2 but it is brand new and DW is a few years old now. Some cool mods for DW though, and SD2 has some interesting mods already too.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        The initial AI was a little weak so it just rushed you. They have been improving it, but frankly no 4x games actually have good AI. It is too hard a problem.

    • Vayra says:

      Stardrive 2 in my opinion is an abomination. Many systems don’t work too well, ship building/design SEEMS very interesting but really isn’t (just as it was in Stardrive 1) and the AI has very little personality and doesn’t really work too well either.

      Stardrive 1 also wasn’t a project that was properly finished, only after a very long time did the developers actually deliver on set and promised goals; and still it is a very meagre game with only a skirmish/random map mode available. Some races were even missing ship hulls until not too long ago. Stardrive DOES introduce some interesting concepts, but they really aren’t fleshed out too well.

      • Vayra says:

        Lacking an edit button: Stardrive 2’s ground combat is a perfect example of concept and system not being fleshed out.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Stardrive 2’s ground combat is just a terrible terrible idea. It is soooo slow and crummy and bad looking. They really need to just make it like Moo2. That worked great for this type of game and Stradrive 2’s combat is just painful in comparison.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        An ‘abomination’? I think you need some perspective.

        Alia Atreides was an abomination. Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ was an abomination. Canada’s Tar Sands are an abomination. Jar Jar Binks is an abomination.

        But a game made by one man which has been improved in a month of patches since release?

        Your comment questions your credibility and demonstrates a lack of the subtle critical-thinking skills necessary to make independent, well-reasoned judgments.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          I think he may mean it in the other sense of it being a mishmash of parts. Somethings are cool and innovative, some or retread (not necessarily a bad thing) or outright terrible. Overall I like the game quite a bit, but it is a bit uneven and could use some better AI and an editor to tell him what elements of the design to cut/simplify..

  7. Laurentius says:

    Is this another one of these modern 4X games that feels so “tamed” and “flat” in SP campagin because it’s either tailored for MP or devs are prematurly afraid of MP people screaming “broken” or “imabalnce” etc. ?

    • mike2R says:

      Unless there has been a really major change from the previous game, no, its single player only.

      • killias2 says:

        I’m pretty sure this one introduced multiplayer.

        • mike2R says:



          (I tend to agree with Laurentius – there are inevitable sacrifices to the single player game involved in making a good multiplayer one)

          • Wilson says:

            I’ve only played one game so far and started another, but I don’t feel like anything has been sacrificed in the interests of multiplayer. I’m not missing anything from GalCiv II yet (some stuff is gone, like espionage, political parties, the deathstar type super stations I think?) but I didn’t really get much fun out of most of those bits and pieces anyway.

  8. BlackeyeVuk says:

    Can Dobby get one FREE GAL.CIV 3 please? Dobby will clean socks for life.

  9. mike2R says:

    I suppose its too much to hope that the changes to shipyards include some sort of tooling, a la Aurora 4X?

    While the idea of designing pretty ships in GalCiv 2 seemed a good one, I always quickly found myself dreading the constant research new component => redesign entire fleet => upgrade existing ships treadmill.

    Some sort of shipyard tooling mechanic (basically requiring an significant investment of time, resources and shipyard space in order to produce a new class of ships) turns ship design into a set of interesting strategic choices regarding when to halt production, and retool for an updated class incorporating recent tech advances.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Lots of games (especially this one) could really benefit from the concept of tooling. The Hearts of Iron series had some great tooling mechanics.

    • teije says:

      Totally with you on this one. Ship/unit customization should be fun, not eventually a chore. It’s the bane of many 4xs that support customization at that level. There were times in GCII where I intentionally delayed researching ship techs (e.g. new weapons) because I didn’t want to have to go and redo all my designs.

      • mike2R says:

        “There were times in GCII where I intentionally delayed researching ship techs (e.g. new weapons) because I didn’t want to have to go and redo all my designs.”

        Yeah so much! That’s where a tooling system can really help – it now makes gameplay sense to do exactly that. There’s little point in researching the odd bit of ship-tech. It becomes a case of “my Missile Cruiser is getting a bit long in the tooth” and you dedicate all your research capacity to the relevant techs for a while, then make a new design and tool a shipyard for it.

        Though actually the original Master of Orion managed something similar in a much simpler way – you could only have, I think, 6 ship designs – probably due to the memory limitations of computers at the time – and if you retired a design it scrapped all the ships. So it made sense to do upgrades in big steps, rather than knowing the optimal way to play was to redesign everything after each incremental upgrade.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Wasn’t there supposed to be a way to auto-upgrade your current ship design with new components?

  10. drygear says:

    Maybe I’ll pick it up if it’s ever in a bundle where I can set the slider for the developer’s share to $0.00

  11. Vandelay says:

    This is a surprise after cursory glances at the Early Access responses made it look very much more of the same (you would be pretty hard pressed to tell the difference between screenshots of 2 and 3.)

    Still, think I will wait awhile for some expansions or DLC. As good as some of this sounds, it also sounds like it will benefit hugely from a few more features.

  12. teije says:

    As a massive fan of GCI and GCII, this seems pretty underwhelming as far as significant enhancements from GCII. I was hoping for more large changes from GCII gamplay, not the cautious and iterative approach Stardock took.

    I’ll wait a year at least and then see how it is with bugs ironed out and expansions added to it. Which is frankly the best policy for any game nowadays.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Waiting is always the best policy. If you can get yourself to always be a year or two behind your gaming life is wonderful other than multiplayer.

  13. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Any chance RPS could take some of those mountains* of cash they’ve been given by us supporters and fling some of it at Tom Francis to try and tempt him into writing a third GalCiv diary please?

    * or mounds, or piles, or small unimpressive heaps or whatever is left after you’ve paid Horace’s meal bill…

  14. Colwolf77 says:

    ‘Despite a fairly decent empire-wide governor system that can handle the basics of build queues and fleet commands, playing with a massive civilisation is like playing Distant Worlds without the support of customisable automation. A lot of clicking without a great deal of decision-making.’

    This is the deal breaker for me, there’s no fun to be had once your empire reaches a huge size as you end up spending more time managing mundane build queues than making important decisions. I’m surprised more 4x developers don’t take a leaf out of Distant Worlds book when it comes to empire automation.

  15. racccoon says:

    Nooooooo………………. please no more………. HEX!

  16. Neutrino says:

    “I really really want a random opponent option though – I don’t want to know which races are out there before I meet them.”

    Totally this. I love space strategy games but bounced hard off GalCiv II because you have to manually define in advance every aspect of the galaxy you are going to explore. Where’s the fun in exploring it if I already know exactly what’s out there before I even start?

    Got enough games on my Want List that I won’t be buying this until this gets added that’s for sure.

  17. BlueTemplar says:

    So, as someone that found GalCiv2 so boring I just stopped playing halfway through the Dread Lords campaign, is there any hope for me to like GalCiv3?

    It’s weird, I generally *love* this :
    “If you’re interested in the mathematics of its systems, or in creating an efficient empire of space-robots, GalCiv III may be ideal. It’s a game that rewards understanding of its deeper mechanics.”

    But I guess if there’s no tactical space combat to serve as a “reward”, I just cannot get into the game enough to start digging for the deeper mechanics.
    (OTOH, I did like Endless Space, so there might be something else involved… that Stardock is bad at making a galaxy that feels alive maybe?)

    I guess I should first try GalCiv2 again (as sandbox, and with all the expansions and patches) to be sure I still find it boring…

    • Zenicetus says:

      I decided to buy it, because I did enjoy GalCiv2, and I can never tell with games like this if they’ll stick, until I spend some time with them.

      Based on my first couple of games, I’d say if you didn’t enjoy GalCiv2, then you won’t like this update either. It’s basically GalCiv2 with a few more bells and whistles, but still very much the same game. Just more stuff to tinker with as you expand, and the combat is still auto-resolved.

      If you do give GalCiv2 another shot as a preview, then I recommend avoiding the Dreadlords campaign. That’s just a tutorial and it’s not very well done. The heart of the game is sandbox mode. Pick a faction and run with it, on a small to medium sized map. When it comes to fleet battles, see if you can get into the headspace of an Emperor commanding subordinates, instead of an on-site commander. You don’t care so much about the details of the battles, just the end results. Otherwise the lack of tactical control will still be frustrating. It’s just not that kind of game.

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