GalCiv 2 - The 20 Day War

I don’t know if this was posted already, but I couldn’t find anything on it in the search. Apologies if a repeat.

The 20 Day War is the saga of one Tom Francis of PC Gamer, who meticulously logged his progress in a game of GalCiv 2: Dark Avatar of the course of a 20 (real life) day game. It’s a good read, and I particularly enjoyed Day 15. Been there myself.

tl;draoibsoiaispc (too long; didn’t read all of it but skimmed over it and it seemed pretty cool)

When I first say your post, Keil, I figured the guy played all day for 20 days, which doesn’t seem to be the case. This Tom Francis fellow is a big wuss. I seem to recall someone doing a real-time 30-day tour in Silent Hunter III. Now that’s hardcore!

  • Disclaimer: I co-wrote the manual, so take anything I say about this article, or about how much Sword of the Stars sucks, with a grain of salt.

Dear Christ, that was fucking hilarious. I’m really wondering if all that justification of the AI behavior is at all accurate or if he’s just humanizing dumb counterintuitive behavior. Regardless, it’s making me feel like firing up GalCiv again.

Great read.

Yeah, exactly. It’s my favourite thing of Mr Francis’ I’ve ever read, and I don’t even care if he’s over-humanising the AI - that he’s THINKING about that stuff says a lot about your relationship with game.


Loved the Iain M Banks reference as the heading of Day 10’s summary.

Nice article. I need to revisit GC2/DA, so it’s done its job.

Yeah, I read that a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was great. As for humanizing the AI, I wish I could suspend my disbelief the way he does. The AI is not bad at most of the economic stuff, but in terms of managing its fleets, either on the offense or defense, it’s just terrible.

Edit: grammar

That article was what made me buy GCII.

I had just purchased this game plus the expansion, when my motherboard died. Then I had to move to Oregon, and so now I don’t have the $ to fix my pc to play this game. I’m about to install XP on my fiancee’s MacBook Pro just to play this game, it is so good.

Great writeup for a great game. Makes me wanna go back and give it another shot, since I didn’t really do it justice back when I got it.

As others implied, he humanizes the AI too much in certain aspects. In other aspects, the AI is much better than himself, a human player (he said in in the first page that he played in the third level of difficulty, while all the AI ruotines and algorithms are only activated in the seventh level of difficulty or more).

Good point!


Understandable, it was written in bite-sized instalments as I went along, and it’s rather daunting in its finished form.

Oh, it’s not even that hardcore - those twenty days were spread out over six weeks. It was positively leisurely.

I’m talking about the medium-sized game I’d just finished there, to illustrate how little of the game I’d really bitten off. For the big game, I set all AIs to ‘Random’, so to this day I don’t know what level they were operating at.

I’m sure I embellish my post-game analysis of the AI with a few overly human terms, but the thrust of that section isn’t conjecture. The Drengin would have lost the game if they’d defeated me. If you think they were trying in vain to do so, I’ve failed to communicate their power. They crushed empires six times the size of mine in four turns flat, with ruthlessly precise use of the fleets that only ever loomed at my planets.

Whatever level they were on, I also had full AI processing checked, which uses the brawn of modern processors to perform much more complex and long-term analyses of the results of each potential move, so that may have helped. But really, it’d be pretty surprising if there wasn’t a “Don’t crush race X if doing so will lose you the game” rule, even at basic levels.

PS. Turin, might I suggest a more opaque name for your secret alter ego?

I do love his summing up of “what was going on”, it really felt like an exciting twist at the end of a thriller :) Made me want to play the game again… I just find the whole thing too dry and really wish it had as much humanity as this article injects.

Holy cats, Pentaduct just outed himself! Hi, Tom!


That was a beautiful fucking article. Like many others it’s given me a hankering to play GalCiv II again.

Dude! Want me to denounce all the British journalists operating secretly in your midst?


Same here, excellent article. I really wished that they were able to get in the post game report story generators to work, and that I was any good at the game.

I really like this kind of stuff, because it reminds me of the grand and epic sagas my gameplaying was in my head when I was a kid. A simple game of Karateka or Archon was an earthshaking story of heartbreaking importance, often accompanied on the stereo by such virtuosos as Roxette or Whitesnake.

The humanization of the AI just makes it better (if less accurate), because it captures the feeling of being in a personal struggle with the CPU player, personifying it as your nemesis. I’d read a magazine that was just stuff like this and Versus Chronicles like what Tom and Bruce do. It’s often more useful in terms of deciding if I’d like a game than any review could be.

I would subscribe to that.

Really enjoyed that article too, especially when it got down to the breakdown of what happened. I chuckled more than once over the image of the Drengin so spitting mad they couldn’t see straight, yet unable to act with out losing despite their clear military advantage.