Discouraging Starts

This seems like something that has come up before, but as a new player, I felt I needed to comment.

My coworkers started up a game of this to introduce new people to the game and have some fun. They felt that their experience with the game would give them an advantage if they could see the entire map, so they decided to do a dark galaxy. The only other changes they made were Scanning 2, need to scan someone before trading with them, and Small (16 stars) size.

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and while other people are expanding and enjoying themselves, myself and another player were stuck in our initial six stars, because nothing else was in our scanning range. A few days ago, I finally got my scanning and range up to 3 and 2 so I could leave my starter stars, and that gave me access to two more (terrible) stars. But I was sure that they would lead me to other stars, and I hoped that my hard-to-access position would give me some defensive advantage to make up for my extremely slow start.

Then I woke up this morning to discover that, nope, those two stars are the only ones within my scan range. Meaning that I now have to get up to scanning FOUR and hyperspace THREE in order to have a chance of getting out anywhere.

I’ve read other responses on here that say that this is part of the game, that starts are going to be random, but this borders on the absurd. The fact that it can take weeks and weeks before someone can get out into the greater universe (and actually, you know, play the game) seems like a serious flaw. I was looking forward to playing this game, but this has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t know if it’s feasible to come back from this position, seeing as how all of my infrastructure upgrades are stupidly expensive at this point, and others in this game are getting income and ships from over twice my number of stars (plus probably trading science, which I can’t do because I haven’t met anyone.)

I understand that people aren’t supposed to play dark galaxy their first game, but this amount of isolation seems broken. The variance between starts is supposed to create variety, I know, but it makes the game dramatically less fun to have no options to explore or interact with other people.

Does the algorithm for star placement need to be tweaked? I’m sure that people will say no (as that seems to be the typical response), but a new player seeing this after such a discouraging start is going to lead to people saying, ‘screw this game then’ and leave.

If my coworkers decide to start a new game at some point, what would you suggest the settings be, especially if they still want to do dark galaxy?

Custom games like that are not normally recommended for new players. For a bunch of reasons, but one of them is the scenario you describe which will be incredibly frustrating to a new player. It’s frustrating for experienced players to, but we buy into that risk and already have a history with the game.

I doubt you will be able to recover from the position you are in. In the not too distant future your mates will arrive in scanner range on the way to taking out your systems. You won’t be able to hit back.

My advice is to start a standard game where you don’t get this happening and you can see the entire map. It’s a good place to start and hone your tactics. I regularly play standard games.

Update: I’m now consistently in the top three of planets.

Don’t want to give too much info since the game is still going on, but reaching scanning 4/hyperspace 3 gave me two ‘escapes’: one that led to 9 unclaimed planets (3 of which had high resources), and one that led directly behind another player’s homeworld.

When you only have one means of escape, and you haven’t fought anyone yet, it means you can send your entire fleet towards the first enemy you see, without worrying about defending. This makes for a great tactical advantage (or intimidation tool, if you plan on allying from the barrel of a gun.)

So getting such a start is not all doom and gloom, but it does require you to be ready to make your move and ‘burst out’ as soon as you can do so without crippling yourself on other techs.

Thanks for the update on your game, I’m glad it has taken a turn for the better. I’ve found in past games that I am tempted sometimes to quit after a tough start, but if I stick it out, I can have a great time still as the game evolves. I have a general no-quit policy for that reason because I want to see how it turns out. And indeed, avoiding early wars means you have a mighty fleet at your disposal once you make contact! Good luck.

This is so encuraging to read! I have a special frustration with those of us who believe, that if they get a bad start (i if i backstab them) then there doomed to fail. The people on the bottom of the barrel are the most dangerous, cause no one is looking at them!

Glad it’s turned around.

A couple things to add: This problem is MUCH worse in Dark Galaxy games because you cannot plan accordingly AND you need twice the tech. In a non-dark game, you would have known the importance of Range right from the start and would not have had to do Scan + Range in order to reach the relevant stars.

In terms of the variability of starts in general… honestly, in public games I have won or reached the podium far more frequently from a mediocre start than a “good” one. Early leaders tend to get a target on their back and cap out in the mid game.

I ended up winning.

The thing that saved it for me was that no one made a solid alliance from the beginning. Some people had non aggression pacts and traded techs, but as soon as I escaped my spot I basically gave my neighbor an offer he couldn’t refuse: become my ally for the rest of the game and go for #1 and #2, or lose his homeworld.

We traded every tech we got, covered each other’s backs, and dominated the field by having the best tech in the game.

Not sure what to do in such a situation if others are allying up first, but if you work with what you’ve got, there’s a chance.