Part 1: A Not So Valiant Start
Right, now to get into the game proper. Galactic conquest is turn based: each side can stock up on bonuses or recruit new units during their turn as well as create fleets.
As we said before, my fleet is currently orbiting Mustafar. During my turn, I can move any fleet I have into any adjacent region of space. If that region of space contains an enemy planet, an invasion is launched on that planet. If that region of space contains an enemy fleet, a space battle between fleets occurs. If a fleet is orbiting a planet and an opposing fleet moves in to attack, the attacking fleet must destroy the defending fleet before it can attack the planet. In this way, if I wanted to, I could create fleets and position them above planets to defend them if I didn’t want to risk the Republic capturing a particular planet.
Each faction has a “narrator” or “announcer” that lets the player know of how things are going. The CIS announcer speaks in that instantly recognisable, synthesized battle droid voice.
“Please select a fleet to command.”
Alright, let’s go. You can see from the above screenshot that I have three possible destinations this turn. There are two Republic-controlled planets within two moves of my fleet: there’s Polis Massa on the left and Dagobah on the right (it’s a little hard to see, so I’ve highlighted it with the cursor). Let’s look at the region of space to the right of the above screenshot.
Again, Dagobah is highlighted with the cursor. As you can see, moving right would bring my fleet closer to many more Republic planets. Notice the little icon indicating Geonosis, my base planet, at the bottom of the screen; I’d also much rather my fleet be close to my base planet in the early game, ready to defend it. I’d rather not lose Geonosis (you’ll see why as we move further along). At this point, the Republic fleet could reach Geonosis in four moves. The BF2 AI moves a little predictably here, and I’m fairly confident that it’s going to move towards Geonosis. If all goes well, I’d like to intercept them at Naboo (the red planet just below the centre of the screen), after taking Dagobah. So I move right. As there’s no danger of a battle in the next turn, I don’t buy any bonuses yet. Let’s wait and see what the Republic does.
And thus, my turn ends (or is about to end). At the end of each turn I get a summary of how many planets I control and how many fleets I have deployed. By clicking back, I could cancel my move and rethink my turn, but I’m sure of what I want to do. I click End Turn.
Oh dear. The Republic has done the opposite of what I expected them to do, and moved the other way.
They are now within two moves of Mustafar. At this point, I have two options worth considering: I can keep going with my original plan of taking Dagobah and Naboo and count on defending Mustafar successfully from the ground, or I can move my fleet back to Mustafar and intercept the enemy. In this case, I will choose to continue with my original plan, for several reasons: my fleet will be closer to Geonosis, and (assuming I win both battles), I will have taken two more planets before one of mine is under attack. Plus, ground battles will earn me many more credits than space battles. I will move to attack Dagobah, but first things first: bonuses. When buying them, I must account for what will happen in my turn as well as my enemy’s next turn, as I won’t have a chance to buy more bonuses until after my enemy has moved (and, as a consequence, potentially attacked). At this point, though, we see that the Republic won’t reach any of my planets in their next turn, so I can safely only buy one bonus.
For planetary battles, there is one bonus I consider an absolute must: the Garrison bonus. For only 200 credits, it’s one of the cheapest bonuses in the game (in fact, it ranks equal cheapest with Supplies and Energy Boost, both also at 200 credits), but its effect on a battle can (without exaggeration) turn the tide.
Now is a fitting time to explain how ground-side battles work in BF2. Whilst there are a whole bunch of gametypes for ground battles in BF2, galactic conquest uses the standard Conquest gametype for all ground battles: specific points on the map are dubbed “Command Posts”. The two sides work to eliminate their opponents and/or capture all Command Posts (CPs) on the map. Victory is achieved by either capturing all CPs or by defeating all opposing reinforcements. By default, each side starts off with 150 reinforcements. You can think of reinforcement points as respawns, basically. Each time an AI unit (or I) die, we can respawn at any friendly-controlled CP. Doing so deducts one reinforcement point. The Garrison bonus works simply: the first time that the reinforcement count of a side using it drops to 30, it adds another 30, boosting it to 60. This has won me more battles than I care to count, and so I’ll be making almost exclusive use of it during this LP.
So I buy one. Each side can carry up to three bonuses at a time, but I won’t be buying any more now for the reasons I mentioned before.
I move to attack Dagobah.
Below the planet’s name we see the amount of credits winning the battle will get me, and the planet’s planetary bonus (I’ll explain what that is shortly). For now, we know that taking over Dagobah will earn me 500 credits.
My fleet orbits the hapless planet of Dagobah, where no doubt Republic troops are scrambling to assemble a force even as my ships unload emotionless, cold killing automatons onto the surface. Attack!
Here we have a screen that allows me to select a bonus for this battle. Since we only have Garrison, I choose that.
The Republic chooses Autoturrets. This bonus places an automatic sentry gun at each Republic-controlled Command Post, giving it an extra layer of protection. These things tend to be annoying, but they shouldn’t be a major hindrance. Assuming all goes well.
Here is the spawn screen. I can select a unit to spawn as (obviously I’ve only got the Super, so not much choice there), and which Command Post to spawn at. To the right is a map of the battlefield. You may have to squint a bit, but you’ll see there are six CPs on this map (and pretty much every other map). Some ground battles start off with three a side, while others (like Dagobah) start off with one a side and the rest unclaimed. It’s up to me and my troops to claim as many as possible at the start to gain an initial advantage.
I spawn and rush to the nearest Command Post (that ray of light there). The little icon on the right (which is white at the moment) shows which side is in the process of capturing the CP. As I stay within a certain radius of the Command Post, the icon will fill up with blue. When it is fully blue, the CIS has captured a Command Post.
I capture it successfully, and move on. As I rush towards the middle of the map, the announcer lets me know that my allies have captured another CP, and a few seconds later, that the Republic has captured two. We're even.
I emerge into the middle of a battle with Republic forces, shoot down a few, but am quickly shot down myself. Not to worry, time to respawn.
I spawn at one of our newly captured Command Posts and engage the enemy. In very small writing up the top of the screen, you might be able to make out two numbers, one blue, one red. Those are each side’s respective reinforcement counts. If either of those hits zero, the battle is over. Currently it’s sitting at 139-141. Relatively even. I take down a few more Republic troops, and respawn again just as the announcer tells me that one of our CPs is being contested. We lose control of it before I can spawn there, so I’m limited to trying to rush over there from the nearest CP. I spawn, start sprinting, and hear:
“A command post is under enemy control.”
Then, in a slightly more urgent voice:
“Reinforcements are being depleted!”
That’s another thing Command Posts do. If a side controls the majority of the CPs on a map, the enemy’s reinforcement count will slowly drop.
You can see the effect of this immediately: the reinforcements now stand at 93-111. It’s important that we recapture at least one CP to stop our reinforcements being drained.
Initially, I am not very successful. The Republic troops are walking all over my droids, and I myself am not good enough yet to make up for all of that. The battle is looking increasingly grim.
By the time I finally make it over there, the numbers are at 32-71. A huge lead for the Republic. However, only moments after I took that screenshot...
The count is now at 60-71. This is our Garrison bonus at work. I had hoped that by the time we’d get to this point it would put us in the lead, but at least now we’re on much more even footing. If we can hold out from here, we should be able to make it.
Initially after the Garrison boost, it seems the CIS is going to win. The numbers stay even, and I do my best to wrest control of another CP from the Republic. But as the battle continues, the Republic establishes a fledgling lead, presses it, and quickly comes out in front.
We trade several more command posts, but ultimately my troops cannot hold, and the Republic captures four and places a fifth one in jeopardy. The count is now 6-27. I die and respawn, moving to a Republic command post to try and capture it, and get taken down by the autoturret I forgot was there. It seems the autoturrets were indeed making it difficult for my troops to capture CPs.
Alas, we do not hold. With a shot to the left shoulder, a clone trooper dispatches my last droid, bringing our reinforcement count to zero. The battle is lost. Droid fragments litter the swampy marshes of Dagobah, which remains firmly under Republic control.
The above three screens show some post-battle statistics. I’m not big on those, so I won’t be showing them again unless something extraordinary comes up.
And the post-battle summary. My fleet has just disappeared in a mighty conflagration, and Dagobah floats peacefully through space as though nothing has happened. Each side receives credits based on whether they won or lost and how many planets they already have. That’s what the planetary bonus amount shown before the battle was for: each planet you hold gives you extra credits at the end of each battle, regardless of whether you win or lose.
Ah. That was... unexpected. I told you I was rusty. In a move I did not foresee, the Republic created another fleet and has moved straight to attacking Geonosis. My base planet is now in jeopardy.
And they’ve used the Garrison bonus. That’s not good. The CIS is at a big disadvantage. But we fight nevertheless.
I start off by getting in a vehicle. It is on wide, open planets like Geonosis that my lack of specialist units is a disadvantage. If I had snipers here, we’d have a much easier time. But oh well. No use crying over spilt milk.
We come out with an early lead. The CIS has the aid of the Geonosians, the native species, and we seem to do well. With three command posts apiece, we wither down the enemy.
The Republic strikes back, however, and pushes forward. 105-121. Surprisingly, my troops manage to capture a fourth command post, meaning that the Republic’s reinforcements slowly decrease. I decide to defend this command post, as it will soon come under heavy attack, being in Republic “territory”.
The battle continues to rage. Trooper corpses and droid parts crash and fall. Vehicles are destroyed. Lasers and missiles replace various gases as the main component of the atmosphere, and Geonosis is witness to war as it has never been waged before. 58-66 on the reinforcement count. Still fairly even, but tipping towards the Republic.
But then the tide turns. For reasons unknown, my droid compatriots begin to falter, and the clones push their advantage, bringing the reinforcement count down to 5-36. I am perched up on the top of a cliff and am “sniping” Republic troopers down below. With the scarceness of my reinforcements at this point, the clones have almost run out of targets, and easily fall prey to my laser cannon. I might still have singlehandedly won the battle for us if the Republic had not used Garrison, and as soon as it hits 30, their reinforcement count jumps up to 60. My last few remaining allies fall as I frantically try to take down as many clones as I can with me.
The battle is lost. The CIS has lost its base planet.
The Republic gains a staggering 1000 credits on top of any planetary bonuses they have. I earn a meagre 410. I am now down to only two planets, Mustafar and Utapau, with no fleets of my own, and two enemy fleets on my doorstep. Will the CIS survive and make a dramatic comeback? Or will the Republic use its momentum to surge forward, crushing what forces I have remaining?
Find out next time.