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Gauging Interest Emperor of the Fading Suns PBEM


So a couple months back I got bit hard by the nostalgia bug for a game called Emperor of the Fading Suns. Specifically I've been playing Emperor of the Fading Suns with a mod (that is still in active development) called Emperor Wars, which is itself built on the old Reality mod. At any rate, I'd be really interested in playing a PbEM game with some of the fine folks here. I'm in one already but I'm playing against the guy who's been developing the EW mod, so I might as well be playing against a dev. It's been educational, but painful.



4956 AD

Centuries of scheming, assassinations and open warfare have now passed since the mysterious death of Emperor Vladimir. Five noble houses have emerged dominant, all fuelled by the ambition to claim for themselves the Imperial Throne.

Mother Church, meanwhile, tightens its loving grip on the common folk, preaching against the evils of technology, long-since having purged most worlds from mass-media and consumerism in favour of a sound and proper agrarian lifestyle. Its inquisitors roam the Known Worlds, and given the steady increase of Church troops, some believe the Patriarch may even consider establishing a theocratic world government of his own, to replace the crumbling Empire.

As a counter-weight, the depraved guilds of the Merchant League grow richer day by day, busily engaging in technological heresies, consorting with think machines, and, worst of all, harbouring among themselves twisted dreams of restoring the Libruhal Republic of old.

Each noble house holds five sceptres, symbols of Imperial authority, which allow them to vote for the appointment of the Imperial Regent. Associated as it is with managing what semblance of government there is left, not to mention, dividing control of the powerful Imperial Ministries among the noble houses, the position of Regent is no doubt greatly desired by all.

War appears inevitable, and will only end once a noble house has gathered enough support to not only control the Regency, but through it, make a successful bid for the Imperial Throne, all whilst maintaining political control on Byzantium Secundus, assuming, of course, that the League or indeed the Church do not conquer the Known Worlds themselves.

Changes from the Vanilla EFS
So if you ever played the original EFS you'll probably remember that it was a buggy train wreck. Emperor Wars fixes a lot of that. Not all of it, but as long as everyone can make a gentleman's agreement to avoid certain exploits there shouldn't be a problem. The modder has also gone through great stacks of Fading Suns (the RPG) sourcebooks with a fine tooth comb and set things up so that the start of the game now matches the Fading Suns cannon about as closely as is humanly possible. To give you an idea of how in depth he's gone, the current writers for Holistic have been in touch with him on a couple of occasions to make sure that the stuff they are working on fits.

One of the happy advantages of this is that all of the houses are much, much more powerful at the game start, each controlling multiple planets, a number of advanced tech units, and stuff like that. It creates a really interesting challenge in the early game when you have some extremely powerful units at your disposal, but your ability to build more of them is so far down the tech tree they might as well be irreplaceable. Do you use them, and risk loosing them? Or do you horde them and risk having your early game fodder units demolished by the more advanced units of another house?

The EW mod also introduces a large number of revenue (Firebird) producing units. Your nobles all produce money, your officers, produce money, there are guild and church representatives that produce money, and you can build noncombat units like serfs and freeholders that produce money. This is to balance out one of the other big changes in EW, mercenaries. After you go down the tech tree and research economics and macroeconomics you can hire mercenary units. Some of these are very powerful and don't cost very many resources but they are astoundingly expensive in terms of firebirds to maintain. In my current game one of the players probably sunk about 100,000 firebirds into a massive fleet.

The Noble Houses:

Li Halan: The most pious of the noble houses Li-Halan was once known for its decadance and sinful ways, but has reformed and been brought into the light of the Pantikrator. Overall a well balanced house. It's planets are near the 'southern side' of the map bordering House Decados, and Al-Malik.

Starting Units: Li-Halan has a lot of church influence and this reflects in it's units. It has a large number of church oriented FB generators like the Urth Orthodox priests and the like. They also have a significant number of non rebuildable "Brother Battle" units who are pretty badass infantry. Their fleet isn't much to write home about though. Three Cruisers and a handful of destroyers isn't going to have any of the other noble houses shaking in their boots. Other than that they have a pretty reasonable number of fodder units like infantry but they lack mobile armoured units.

Controlled Planets: Kish Homeworld, Mostly has Farms and Mines no advanced production facilities. Has one lab,
Midian Produces Chemicals and Biochems but cities are very spread out and a shortage of Exotica,
Rampart produces Chemicals and Electronics. Starts with one farm producing Exotica. Also has a second lab.
Icon Has a wetware factory but nothing to supply it with the materials it needs.

The Hazat: You know House Harkonin from Dune? Yeah, that's these guys. Tucked off to the right hand side of the map Hazat has two warp lanes going to Byzantium II and is the only house with direct access to Terra. They don't directly border any other houses, which gives them a fairly secure starting position, but can make expansion a bit more difficult and wars with the Church of the League can be a big threat.

Starting Units: Most of Hazat's money comes from their military units actually since the Cyberlords actually provide income. Has a fair number of Shelit Cyberlords who are pretty powerful, and the Hazat Dervish's have a powerful psychic attack in addition to a high spot value. They also have a large contingent of armoured units on Aragon and Kestral light hovertanks on Sutek. Four Cruisers form the core of their fleet and they have a large number of transport craft available. Overall the Hazat probably have the most powerful ground force available to them at the start of the game and sit in the middle of the pack as far as fleets go.

Controlled Planets: Aragon Homewold. Not much exiting here. Farms, Factories, Mines and a Lab.
Vera Cruz Much more interesting. Vera Cruz has a supply chain built up to producing Wetware and also can produce electronics. It even has a mine with access to Gems.
Sutek Has a Ceramasteel factory, but can't produce chemicals for it.

House Decados Sneaky Bastards. That about sums it up. Decados are on the left side of the map sandwiched between Al-Malik, Li-Halan and the Vau. Malignatius has warp lanes leading to both the Li-Halan and Al_Malik homeworlds so it can be a useful staging point in the event of a conflict with either of those houses. One problem with Decados is their distance from Byzantium II. They have no direct warp lines from their territory to the Imperial Capitol so it can be a bit tough to shuffle units around there especially if you end up at war with Al-Malik since the only direct route there goes right through their territory.

Starting Units: Kossaks are absolute beasts in close combat, but fragile out of it. They can do a lot of damage but need support. Decados also has a Ranger unit and a cloaking tank company which are mediocre combatants, but they have a stealth of 9. More significantly they have two cloaking cruisers which can fly around pretty much undetected. Add a couple of spys into the mix (including being the only house to begin the game with a spy on Byzantium II) and you've got a pretty clear idea of how they should play. They also have a starport on Byzantium, which is a pretty major advantage if they can hold onto it.

Controlled Planets:Serverus Homeworld. Not much exiting here. Farms, Factories, Mines and a Lab. This is a bit of a pattern. The homeworlds of all the houses tend to be pretty unremarkable, but they do produce a lot of food, metal and other basic materials.
Cadavus Has a chemical plant but lacks mines for the metal and trace.
Cadiz Has a couple factories, but lacks any mines to make full use of them.
Malignatius Has a Fusorium, but can't produce any of its prerequisites.
Pandemonium Produces everything up to Bio Chems, but you need to find a source of Exotics. Everyone else except Hazat have a presence on the planet though.

House Hawkwood So if Hazat is the Harkonan's, Hawkwood is Atreides. They're a solid all round house with a major rebel problem. They are located at the north end of the map with Al-Malik as their only direct neighbor. They are like The Hazat in that they have limited warp routes out of their territory with one route leading to the Imperial worlds and another leading to Bannokburn, a league world.

Starting Units: Hawkwood is the only house that doesn't start with badass infantry. Instead they have beastly frigging hovertanks. These things are tiny gods. They can move over any terrain (including water) at 16 hexes per turn and have insanely high direct damage capability. Of course, unsupported they can get torn apart by artillery, air units, or even infantry if enough gets thrown at them so it's best to mix them in with other units. Also Hawkwood have a lot fewer of these tanks than most the other houses have when it comes to their badass infantry so it's a tradeoff. They also have a couple birdmen guys on Ravenna, Crazy fast scouting units that don't get hampered by terrain. Fleet wise they're about equal to Li-Halan. Three cruisers and a handful of lighter ships. They have some fighters that are pretty powerful, but no carrier so they are stuck in orbit around Delphi until they can get their hands on one.

Controlled Planets:Delphi Homeworld. They actually have the facilities to produce Electronics here and it's probably one of the best homeworlds out of all the houses with an active gem mine and a couple locations to build more.
Ravenna Doesn't produce anything too exciting except exotics, but there are two starports here plus the potential for a third if you ever end up at war with the Church.
Gwynneth Has the potential to produce Ceramsteel but lacks the Chemicals. Lots of very isolated cities that you'll have a tough time defending from the massive numbers of rebels that hang out here. Also has two Starports.
Leminkainen Produces Chemicals. Lots and lots of ruins which are always nice. There's a big rebel held island to the East too.

Al-MalikThese guys have the worst army, they border Sybiote (think Tyrannid) space, and have a terrible start tech wise. That said though they have two huge advantages. First they have by far the best fleet, especially on defense. Second, they have mad bank. Most of the other houses start the game earning between 14,000 and 17,000 FB per turn. Al-Malik is raking in 24,000. This means that they can hire mercenaries like nobody's business. They can continue to grow their financial ability too since they start with two Agora's on their homeworld which lets them recruit one of the best money generating units in the form of Guild Bankers.

Starting Units: They have tiny number of Crystal Lantern Dancers who are probably the weakest of the 'special' units in terms of combat but they are very stealthy. They also have a fair number of Mutasih Secret Police where other factions would have Space Marines. They're about as good in combat as the Marines, but they have less armour in exchange for a better spot and stealth value. Other than that though their army is pretty mediocre. Where they really shine though is in the fleet. They have 7 Tulwar Heavy Cruisers. These ships are less versatile than the regular cruisers of the other factions but they have a beastly attack during the long range phase, and there are a lot of them. In a defensive fight in particular Al-Malik can probably take on the fleets of any other two houses and come out on top.

Controlled Planets:Istakhr Homeworld. Istakhr produces money. With two Agora's they can churn out guild bankers and other moneymaking units. What's scary though is it is one jump away from Stigmata so either hope you're good friends with whoever is in charge of the Imperial Fleet and/or Stigmata garrison or watch out for Symbiotes. There's a reason Al-Malik has a big navy.
Aylon Not much exiting here, fairly undeveloped planet. Produces exotics and a fair bit of the other basic resources though.
Criticorum Produces Chemicals and Cermsteel.
Shaprut Produces Electronics has a pretty major rebel problem though.

Anyhow, if you're still with me that probably means you're interested in playing. The game files can be downloaded here:

You should be able to just unzip the folder to wherever you want and double click on the EFS executable. There is no sound or cutscenes (64 bit OS's don't like em) but the game itself should work.

If you have trouble with that file just try following the instructions on this page.
You'll need to download and install the mods separately but it should work on both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

At any rate, there are some house rules that we are using in the current game I'm playing in.

  • 01. No chain-jumping, i.e. transferring transported goods/units to a waiting transport in the system you just jumped into within in the same turn.
    02. Always unload your transport spaceships when they end their turn on the ground, as the hexes they occupy cannot be attacked otherwise.
    03. Don't use ranged space bombardment against an unspotted hex. It is OK to bombard unknown cities.
    04. Don't attempt to land a spaceship in a hex and then cancel the landing, just to see if there's anything there.
    05. Don't attack empty orbit squares. This is a sneaky way of checking to see whether another player has unspotted ships (especially stealth ships) there.
    06. The Regent may not declare himself Emperor in an election year. If he does so, the usual 10 turn delay before he becomes Emperor is not enforced.
    07. Do not promise votes or ministry positions through the diplomacy window. This effectively locks your vote in and can cause the game to bug out if you later try to promise the votes or ministry to someone else. Use the messaging system instead. This also allows for more backstabbery and lying which is much more fun anyhow.
    08. Nobles on Byzantium Secundus must stay continuously on the surface for a full election term in order to be allowed to vote for their house, no transporting them around, dropping them on different tiles or keeping them in orbit. In the event that your noble on Byzantium is killed you can replace him within the regency but it must be done ASAP.
    09. Labs must never be surrounded with cities or units, nor built on single-hex islands, as this prevents the Inquisition from attacking them if you research proscribed technologies. Similarly, do not build labs on Holy Terra, the Inquisitors may not properly check them there (conquering church labs is of course okay).
    10. Do not make peace with the League or Church within the first five turns of war if you are the aggressor. If they attacked you first, it is of course fine, unless you have come to possess any of their sceptres.
    11. No replaying of your turn to get better results, explore uncharted territory etc.
    12. Do not increase unit pay past the starting rate. If players can increase their units' loyalty to 100%, it makes officers irrelevant.
    13. No selling of ministry resources. Otherwise, a minister can sell resources belonging to his ministry, adding the money to his house coffers.
    14. Don't deliberately leave your ministry cities, resources or spaceships undefended and open to capture by an ally, or by your own forces once your term of office is over.
    15. No selling maps to the Vau.
    16. If a player offers you a contract, asking you for more money than you currently possess, you must reject it. Otherwise, due to a bug, he would receive the full amount asked for - the extra money appears out of nowhere!
    17. If a player offers you a contract, asking you for a planet map that you do not possess, you must reject it. A bug allows you to give away maps you do not possess.
    18. You may not disband Nobles, Blademasters, Sceptres and Relics. The game does not normally allow you to do this, but there is a bug which makes it possible.
    19. Several players of other versions seem to experience problems if you alter sects of churches. As sect politics aren't in the game, it might be best to skip it.
    20. Do not alter your house's starting traits. This helps each house keep their 'theme' and prevent very gamey moves. You can pick your difficulty level as a handicap though. Just make sure the Li-Halan player knows what difficulty setting you want to start on since they'll be the one who has to set the game up.

As far as the actual game settings:
Universal Warehouse Off Which means that each planet tracks its resources separately. Adds a bit of micromanagement, but it forces you to actually have a trade fleet going to shuffle supplies around and make sure that you bring food with you when you go to invade a planet.
Plague On Means that planets can have outbreaks of the Plague which is never a good thing.
Rebellions On If the loyalty of your troops gets too low they can turn on you.
Consume Food On Your units also eat food, and if they don't have it they will starve, lowering their combat potential and morale.

I'd also suggest 36 hour turns. This seems to be a good balance between keeping the game moving and flexibility.

Anyhow, I've officially written a wall of text now. I'm going to stop. Hopefully this gets some interest, I really would like to get a game going.

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Deuce Traveler

Bumping. I don't have the time, myself, but you put a lot of time into this and I have heard a lot of good things about the setting. I hope you get enough volunteers who will play.


Bumping. I don't have the time, myself, but you put a lot of time into this and I have heard a lot of good things about the setting. I hope you get enough volunteers who will play.

Thanks for the bump. Still no joy though. Regarding the time commitment, with 36 hour turns and 5 players you'd typically be looking at 1 to 2 turns per week, so it isn't a massive time commitment. A turn usually takes me about 20 minutes to play, and then I'll spend another 20 or so sending diplomatic messages to the other players.

You can check out a short youtube series I did a while back when I first discovered the EW mod.


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