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Jeffery Bass
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What's this? Why, it's the Hiller Flying Platform! It flew in 1955.
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Hello fans of Outreach! I know there are at least six of you lurking out there peeking into this forum now and then just to keep abreast of things while on your journey through BGG.

This is a brief report of my recent solo session of Outreach with the Three-Player Scenario called "Route to the Nucleus". Outreach responds well to solo play (it had better, since there isn't much opportunity for face-to-face play). Solo Outreach works because there isn't really a highly developed politics/diplomacy system in the game that makes solo play unworkable. Of course, fog-of-war *is* built into the game but this is no more a problem for Outreach than any other wargame when played solo.

The official and proper way to play "Route to the Nucleus" involves one player taking the role of a super-civilization, the "Guardians", whose mission is to prevent the other two players, representing two weaker civlizations, from getting near the Galactic Nucleus. Apparently, there is something in the Nucleus the Guardians don't want the others to know about. If either of the weaker players can create a string of StarGates, four hexes apart, connecting their home area to the edges of the Galactic Nucleus, they win and the Guardian player loses. The Guardian wins by avoiding this situation before 50 game turns. Unfortunately, a 50-turn game of Outreach could conceivably last a couple of days! In the scenario as published there are special rules to limit the way the Guardian operates so he can't just walk all over the other players.

But I didn't want to play this scenario exactly as written.

What I wanted to try was lifting the special rules and restrictions on the Guardian player. I did this in a single evening and the result was a fast and furious brouhaha that came to a conclusion in only ten Game Turns. It was fun and only took about 3 hours, including setup time. It also provided an easy way to experience the game's system of economic development, necessary for growth of the weaker Civilizations, while providing the fun of stomping around the Galaxy with a high-level, well-developed Civilization in possession of big, powerful Task Forces and Fleets. All of the normal rules of Outreach were followed and the setup of the scenario was exactly as outlined in the rules.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Guardians, a Level 3 Civilization, begin with a small cluster of StarGates, worth about 40 System Points, centered upon the Sol-Rigel-Deneb region of the Milky Way Galaxy (apparently they are descendants of humans). They also have a couple of outlying StarGates that form an extremely loose perimeter beyond the core systems. These distant StarGates are each within nine hexes of their neighbors which is conveniently within the Civlization Level Range (CLR) of Guardian Fleets. The Guardian starts the game with four "Navies" packing fairly potent firepower, with lots of Dreadnoughts and Regular StarFleets in each of four Guardian Task Forces. Of course, the massive physical and temporal scope of Outreach is such that these units are really representative of vast commitments of not just material resources but political will and effort, all distilled into quantities called "Fleets". But anyway...

The Perseits, a Level 1 Civilization, have StarGates worth 18 System Points within two zones of control to the "north west" of the Guardians, centered upon Epsilon Aurigae and 9 Persei. They also have the beginnings of a war fleet with a couple of Task Forces containing Dreadnoughts. The Perseits are the stronger of the two "weakling" races, which is offset by the fact that they are in relatively close proximity to the Guardians at the outset. This will prove to be a bit of a problem for the Perseits...

Meanwhile, minding their own business in the outer reaches of the Galaxy, to the "south" of the Guardians, are the Centaurians, another Level 1 Civilization. They should really be called "Doradans" as their home area is centered around Beta Doradus. I believe the game designers chose "Centaurians" as a subtle hint to the players as to what the strategy of this race should be, namely, to expand "east" towards Omicron-1 Centauri. The Centaurians have a paltry collection of StarGates and a ragtag fleet of Exploration and Regular Task Forces. Hardly a contender, seemingly. What they have going for them is a fairly large gulf of empty space between themselves and the Guardians.

This is the initial setup.



Remember, my version of this scenario involves taking the gloves off the Guardians and seeing what happens. They have no restrictions that limit how they use their StarGates nor are there any restrictions as to the composition of their Fleets.

Rather than spend Game Turns building up ever more powerful Guardian Fleets, while allowing their opponents to do the same, I decided that the Guardians should leap out of their StarGates on Game Turn #1 with the powerful Navies they already have at the beginning of the game and try to knock out their neighbors, the Perseits. Then, with the Perseits dealt with, the Guardians can mop up with the Centaurians.

The Centaurians on the other hand, way down at the edge of the galaxy, will thank their lucky stars for the enormous distance between themselves and the Guardians and use the precious time alloted to them by the annihilation of the Perseits to quietly extend their own influence all the way to the Galactic Nucleus, sneaking their way to a win while the Guardians aren't looking.

Of course, the Perseits will try to avoid their own destruction by fighting a defensive action while using what wealth they have to extend a feeler, too, toward the Galactic Nucleus. If they can hold out long enough against the Guardian onslaught, the inevitable success of the upstart Centaurians may draw off enough of the Guardians to give the Perseits a chance while the Guardians struggle with a developing two-front war.

The planned course of events.


Within two Game-Turns, the Guardians already make contact with the Perseit StarGates centered on Epsilon Aurigae. This is somewhat anticlimactic for them as the Perseits have already beat a hasty retreat with their Dreadnought Fleet back to their more substantial home area, the StarGates of 9 Persei. The hope of the Perseits is that the forward bastion of StarGates around Epsilon Aurigae will serve as speed bumps for the Guardians while the Perseits use at least two or three precious Game Turns to beef up the firepower of their Fleets back home.

Indeed, since the only way to knock a player out of Outreach is to Neutralize all of their friendly StarGates, the Guardians spend at least a couple of turns doing just that to the handful of StarGates in Epsilon Aurigae.

Meanwhile, away from the fray, the Centaurians make progress with the development of two well placed StarGates that get them within halfway of the Galactic Nucleus in only three or four Game Turns. Their biggest obstacle toward progress is an Interstellar Dust barrier (hex 2126). And one other thing for the Centaurians to worry about: A lone Guardian Navy that broke off from the Perseit campaign is now cruising down the vast reaches of the Sagittarius Arm, heading straight towards the Centaurians.

While the Guardians pause to Neutralize the vacated Perseit StarGates of Epsilon Aurigae, the Perseits aren't just twiddling their thumbs. While frantically producing Dreadnoughts for the epic defense of their home worlds, the Perseits also scrape together enough Explorers and Regular fleets to spin off an expeditionary force "eastward" toward the Galactic Nucleus, on a flanking trajectory that might draw off some of the Guardian forces. This works, as the Guardians split off another Navy to intercept this new developing threat. But the remaining two powerful Guardian Navies begin their cruise toward the precious StarGates of 9 Persei, the ancestral home of the Perseits. The Perseits brace themselves and wait for the hammer to fall.

Meanwhile, after initial successes that brought them to the Interstellar Dust barrier at hex 2126, the Centaurians get stalled in their Exploration efforts with a couple of unlucky die rolls. They lose precious time as the approaching Guardian Navy gets closer. Finally, the Centaurian exploration Fleet overcomes the Interstellar Dust and enters a completely unknown portion of the galaxy. The Nucleus is now only eight hexes away. If they can place two more StarGates, unmolested, they can win the game. (This is accomplished, btw, by a series of Regular Star Fleets that follow up behind the expeditionary Fleet, in the usual manner in Outreach of building and Augmenting StarGates).

The Centaurian crossing of the Interstellar Dust barrier results in the discovery of six new Beacon Stars, some of which are placed conveniently along the Centaurian's path by the Perseits. The Centaurians hope that the Guardians will be lured past the Interstellar Dust barrier such that if their movement causes a "Scatter" result, the entire Guardian Navy can be eliminated. This is a long shot, but the caution this provokes in the Guardians should slow them down.

The Battle for 9 Persei is in its final stages, now. In the end, the Perseits put up a valiant fight with one merged Fleet containing eight Dreadnoughts delivering a good dose of Guardian losses but the Perseits succumb to the vicious depredations of the two Guardian Navies massed into one Task Force of over 15 Fleets. At about the same time, the Guardians finally catch up with the hapless Explorer Task Force, some 10,000 light years away, sent earlier by the Perseits as a flanking maneuver. It meets its demise in the lonely wasteland of stars between the Cygnus-Carina Arm and the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. The moral: When the Guardians say, "Do not attempt to approach the Galactic Nucleus", they mean it.

The Perseits come to their end.


But the Centaurians are still alive and kicking. With the Interstellar Dust barrier behind them, they resume their push toward the Galactic Nucleus while back home a Dreadnought Fleet is being hastily constructed to challenge the expected Guardian attack. But the lone Guardian Navy that has been approaching all this time bypasses the potential Dreadnought threat and manages to push itself past the Dust barrier and intercept the Centaurian expeditionary Fleet on the edges of the Norma-Scutum Arm of the Galaxy. The Centaurians are annihilated within sight of Moscow, I mean, the Galactic Nucleus. This is terrible news for the Centaurian Civilization who comes to grips with the knowledge that their days of ascendancy are numbered.

Flush with victory, the Guardian Navy leisurely turns "west" toward the string of defenseless Centaurian StarGates stretching for thousands of light years all the way back to Beta Doradus and begins the process of Neutralizing them, one by one, while working their way back toward the ancient home of the Centaurians.

With the destruction of the Perseits and the full brunt of all four victorious Guardian Navies now closing on a trajectory toward the Centaurian Home Worlds, and with the Centaurian expeditionary Task Force destroyed, the Centaurians realize their cause is lost. The secrets of the Galactic Nucleus are denied to them. The game is conceded to the Guardians at this point on Game Turn ten.

The Centaurians designs are thwarted.


* * * * * * * * * * *

This was a fun bit of Outreach action. The counter density was low, the fiddling with economics and production was minimal (the necessary tasks were obvious) and things got down to the nitty-gritty very quickly in the game. I think it was probably a foregone conclusion that the Perseits would be destroyed, but it's possible that if they had a Game Turn or two of luckier die rolls the "Centaurus Second Front" would have possibly opened up enough relief to give the Perseits a chance. Basically, working the Perseits felt like playing the Japanese in a PTO game. They are pushed back inexorably toward their homeland for a last-ditch stand. Although the Guardians enjoyed, essentially, a cake walk, the victory requirements of the other players were within possible reach, especially for the weak Centaurians, as it wasn't required that they defeat the Guardians but simply evade them long enough to complete their Route to the Nucleus. In this instance, it didn't work but who knows?

I'd like to give it another try. I think there may be a winning strategy in there, somewhere, for the non-Guardian players.

[edited for spelling. edited trying to get the blasted pictures to work ]
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Rob Johnson
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wow
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Martin McCleary
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I've owned a copy of this game since new but have never had the opportunity to play it face to face. Turns out a guy at work who moved here not long ago has the game and we've agreed to play it on the upcoming 4th July weekend.
 
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Leong Yew Lam
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I inherited my copy from a friend who has since passed on. Played this once when he was still around. Remembered we enjoyed the session, but it took a whole sunday!!
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Rob Johnson
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Now just who added that bar-like feature to the nucleus, eh??..........

Now Jeffrey.......confess!!


Too bad we don't have any Catholic School Nun-with-ruler icons!



(terrific scenario write-up, though. One of the best I've read cool )
 
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Jeffery Bass
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What's this? Why, it's the Hiller Flying Platform! It flew in 1955.
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I confess, I added the bar. Our galaxy has *always* needed a good bar...right downtown, too.
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Francisco Colmenares
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Over on Consimworld someone published a re-vamped version of the outreach map, very pretty too.
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