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Playing the Philosopher - Feature Article by Thierry (Xichiro)

One of the more complex characters in Imperial Wars is the Philosopher. Unlike the Trader, who makes allies easily because of the services he or she provides, the philosopher has to work to get allies, and work even harder to maintain them. If players allow philosophers access to their worlds, the population will begin to convert, eventually taking over the planet.

However, like all characters in Imperial Wars, there are benefits to having a philosopher as your ally. First, they are wealthy, and can be convinced to share the wealth. Second, unless you are a Baron, owning planets isn’t really all that important. As a warlord, you can recapture your own worlds and gain more points. As a raider, you can ravage, and as a terminator, destroy them, all without making an enemy, since the philosopher gains points for martyrs.

Xichiro, a player in the first Universe 101 beta test, played a philosopher and was the winner. This issue, he shares some of his experiences and tips for playing the Philosopher character.

I was lucky enough to be chosen to play in U101 after I met Larry at a game developer’s conference. He told me about IWars - turn base strategy meets diplomacy - That sounded good. Some months later, I was chosen to playtest in the first beta, and was assigned to play a philosopher. My goal: convert population into minions - no need for conquest, no need for greedy expansion, just convert the whole galaxy - that sounded even better.

The game started. At first, I mostly just moved my fleets, exploring the universe. Then I began to meet other Starlords - Gobla Tem, the mighty Warlord, whom I feared at first, but learned to respect the warrior’s ways. Athena Silverdance, a Houri, who was cautious at first, but later turned out to be a great ally. Loki, the friendly trader, was soon supplying my worlds with raw material, and myself with information. Leto Atreides, Ekoe and Justinian were greedy Barons that wanted their share of my planets. Let's be nice to them, I told myself, and maybe they'll let me convert their population. And it worked great. I was officially allied with 6 other Starlords, and was spreading belief all around. The development team was calling me the Teflon player because I was avoiding trouble. It did require some juggling, especially when two Starlords were battling each other, and I was a friend of both. But I was able to stay neutral in most conflicts. Then my minions started appearing everywhere and other Starlords realized I had too many minions. They started killing them - but my score just soared higher and higher because of the martyrs. By that time it was too late. I had reached the point total to finish the game. Personally, I did not want the game to end. The whole universe was so alive that I would have given up all my points to keep it going, but that was not meant to be. Instead, I rejoice knowing that I'll encounter other Starlords in the future in parallel universes.

Xichiro's tips for philosophers

  1. Early in the game - for at least 4 turns, you should have only one concern - explore every possible world you can, so that you can grab as many fleets as possible (and worlds, and gems, and relics!). Fleets are the most important things. Every player needs them, and they are limited in number. The more you have, the easier it will be for your empire to prosper. Philosophers need them to convert minions. Each fleet will convert one population into minions every turn, so your conversion rate is directly linked to the number of fleets you have. Be friendly - While a philosopher can be prosperous in either a peaceful or wary universe, you will need allies, and it is better that your fleets convert population into minions instead of fighting.

  2. Spread your minions evenly in the known universe - A lot of worlds with a reasonable amount of minions are better that a lot of minions on a small number of worlds. Other Starlords tend to be afraid of your minions. If you keep minionizing the same planet, you will soon take over some of them. As a result some Starlords might start killing your minions - and you don’t want that until late in the game. A dead minion might be worth 2 points, but a live one is 1 point/turn - try to keep them alive as long as possible.

    The best planets to minionize are either very low population (< 5) worlds, and high population worlds. Very low population worlds will be fully converted very fast, giving you more points. But they are usually of low value to other Starlords, and shouldn’t cause any hostilities when they fully convert. High population worlds can, by definition, accept a high number of minions, and won’t convert until later in the game. At this point, martyr points will be of greater value, so it won’t matter as much if they are killed.

  3. Give away your worlds - you do not need them. Your homeworld will be the main source of money for you (and plentifully - you'll be one of the richest players!). Of course, spread your gifts among other players - you do not want to give every world to the same Baron - they will get too powerful. And by giving to different Starlords, you'll make more friends. The more allies you have, the easier it will be to spread minions.

  4. Get some worlds from other players- That might seem to contradict the previous point, but not really. In U101, I found myself to be Gobla Tem's client (a warlord), and would receive every world he conquered for about 5 turns. At first, I didn't care about them, but in the long term, it turned out to be a very good thing. First, no Baron benefited from those worlds. Second, I could give them away to whomever I wanted. At one point, the warlord was attacking Ekoe (a Baron who was an ally). As Gobla Tem captured Ekoe’s worlds they became mine and I gave many back to the Baron. I also found myself managing Loki's homeworld (a trader). Again, no Baron benefited from this world (and a homeworld is worth a lot for a Baron), and it secured a long term alliance between me and the trader.

  5. You should not attack a terminator unless needed - I attacked a Terminator in U101 because he was threatening my ally, and he had a stack of gems on his homeworld, but I had too many fleets over robotized worlds at the end of the game, and robots cannot be converted into minions - this is a missed opportunity to convert more population into minions.

  6. If you are in a war, do not be afraid to declare your enemy a holy war target. - Of course, when you declare a holy war, any minions you lose in the war won’t be martyrs, so you will lose martyrs benefits against him or her, but you will earn more points by killing your enemy’s populations - and there are more populations than minions overall.

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