Stellar Relic

Tag - AAR

The Iron Chalice, Part Two: Under Attack


In the last installment of The Iron Chalice, I introduced Davelandia to the world. We installed a regent, gave him a bride, and set them to the all-important task of making babies. The chalice itself was given the task of coming up with a health potion drink thing and everything was okay in the world. Five years had passed since my elevation to impotent godhood. Seven more would pass before the reality of Davelandia’s plight as the last bastion of humanity would rear it’s ugly head. Before we get to all that, though, GOOD NEWS:

Also they cost you a fortune until they leave the house

Sure she looks cute but have you ever seen a poopy diaper?

Aoife O Nuallain is our very first born-and-bred Davelandian superhero! Isn’t she cute? That cuteness is helped in part by Davelandia’s top ranked Department of Eugenics; hawkeyed, strong as a bear, and hearty as a lumberjack, Aoife is evidence that our mating policy is a good one. She is also my first Brewtalist, which I’m still not sure is a ranged or melee class, or even what it does. We’ll find out in 15 years though, I’m sure!

Shortly after baby Aoife’s arrival into this apocalypse-in-progress, the Massive Chalice informs us that the health potion research has been completed! It only took a few years to figure out what to put with the whiskey, apparently. That out of the way, I commission the building of another Keep, as that is the only way more babies can be produced. Survival through superior birth rate should be Davelandia’s motto. Actually, since I’m the demigod around here, I’ll just go ahead and say that’s exactly what it is now. Put that on the national seal!

The next keep will take 9 years to build, a substantial amount of time by mortal reckoning but in the weird immortal state of being I share with the Chalice, this is considered ‘Fast’. Ebbot Marsh and The Cinderlands both carry class-specific bonuses, so I write those off immediately. It comes down to the Salt Flats and The Pale Sea in terms of outer-region candidates, but The Pale Sea kind of wins by default as it carries a Reduced Construction Time bonus. Construction begins immediately and proceeds uninterrupted for 2 years when:

Naturally, the Cadence choose to threaten the only completed Keep I have.

Both The Augurs and Ebbot Marsh are threatened by the Cadence, but in this game of false choices I can only defend one (in reality I have more than enough superheroes to field two full Vanguards but apparently that wouldn’t be very fun). As The Augurs contains my one and only completed Keep, I choose to defend that. Should I successfully repel the invaders, I’ll be the recipient of a brand spankin’ new baby boy, fresh off the assembly line. Time to turn on the Bat Signal – next time on The Iron Chalice.



Floating Follies: Rule The Waves AAR Part 1

from Puck Magazine, September 1909

Rule the Waves is a game about building, maintaining, and commanding a great navy in the age of the dreadnought. In peacetime, you design, construct and deploy your ships, handle your budget, respond to events, play politics, and exert some influence on other areas of policy. In times of war, you do all this and additionally play out the naval battles yourself in the tactical layer.

I initially wanted to review this game for Stellar Relic, but Tim Stone already said almost everything I would say. Here’s an abbreviated version of my review: I love this game dearly. The best way to explain why is to write up a playthrough and show you some of the amazing emergent storytelling that this 1990s-looking oddity can produce. That’s what this is.

So! What nation shall we play? There’s a lot to choose from – all the European Great Powers of the turn of the century, plus Japan and the USA. The two included “custom nations” are Spain and the Confederate States of America.

Nation Select: Germany

I’ve gone with Germany. A game of Britain would be too easy. France and Italy are fun but I’ve played them a lot, and I’m a little tired of the Mediterranean. Austria-Hungary’s economy is too weak to be much fun. Germany, now… large economy, good technology, research advantages galore. It should be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. I’m excited to see how I might stack up against Russia or the UK.


Tirpitz? No, we’d like Grossadmiral von Howell, please. I check the “manual build of legacy fleet” box and go for it.

Worth class Battleship

Every nation obviously has to begin with a navy when the game starts – it’s not like someone came up with the idea of putting guns on boats in January 1900. Normally, this “legacy fleet” is automatically designed and generated by the AI; “manual build of legacy fleet” means I get to throw it together myself. As technology unlocks, I’ll be able to build better ships, but the legacy fleet is limited to baseline tech. Above is me designing the current pride of the Imperial German Navy: the Wörth-class battleship. I’ll go more into ship design in the next post, but for now, it suffices to say that it’s not as complicated and terrifying as it appears.

Starting Navy

Here’s what the High Seas Fleet looks like I’m done: a core of six pre-dreadnought battleships (“B”), five armoured cruisers (“CA”), eight light cruisers (“CL”), and a hungry pack of 500-ton torpedo boats. They’re all fairly reasonable, balanced designs for their tonnage. Nothing crazy yet! This is just the legacy fleet. Oh, and I threw some cash at building bigger docks, too, so I can construct larger vessels in the future.


There’s a research component to the game, as well. I bump up my budget to the maximum 10% and prioritize ship design, armour development, and damage control, while deprioritizing submarines and a few other subsystems. This is a bit of a gamble, but I’ve decided to focus on Germany’s strengths. The Kaiser’s fleet will be tough.


The world of Rule The Waves is broken up into various zones. The vast majority of the German fleet is in Germany, of course, but I do in fact own colonial possessions that need protecting in Africa and the Pacific.


I decide to build up my defenses in the Pacific, improving the base in the Caroline Islands. I don’t expect to get in a war with Japan or the US (the great Pacific powers), but it’s nice to be prepared, and I can use the Carolines as a base for long-range raiders on other powers.

So: most of my preparations are done. I’ve advanced the game a couple of the monthly turns at this point, and since I’m not constructing any ships right now, the German Navy is flush with cash. I’ve got a decent battleline, I’m improving my bases, and with the benefit of hindsight, I’m ready to jump on any breakthrough in ship design.

In September 1900, my first three key technological advances are made.


With these research improvements and a massive $76 million budget surplus that needs to be spent, I decide it’s time to build the next generation of German battleships. And maybe start poking the Russians a little. I suspect a nice, easy war with the Tsar will help my the Imperial Navy’s prestige immensely. My intelligence budget is jacked up to the maximum and a wave of German spies are dispatched to the Slavic empire.

I have no idea how stupidly arrogant I’m being. Join me next time to find out!

The Iron Chalice, Part One


Massive Chalice is a ‘tactical strategy game’ developed by Double Fine and released on Steam Early Access way back on November 11, 2014. On June 1, 2015, it hit launch on both PC and Xbox One. To learn more about Massive Chalice, check out our roundtable on it (coming soon). For this AAR, I’ll be playing on Hard difficulty with Iron Mode enabled – meaning every choice is saved immediately.

Behold, I am the Lord thy…uh..demigod?

Truth be told, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be. I know there is some lip service about how I am some sort of immortal demigod emperor of whatever this place is, but I have no idea who I was before this came to be. Was I a King? A tribal chieftain? A baker? No clue. All I know for sure is now that Massive Chalice has begun, I’m going to be the God Emperor this place needs. Whatever it’s called. For the next 300 years I will command my soldiers and researchers in order to hold out against The Evil Bad Guys Cadence in what is essentially a centuries-long rearguard action. We’re all that is left and salvation is right around the corner and now we need to make babies. Yes, babies.

Before we get to that though, we need to assemble our noble heroes! These are men and women who have but a drop of the Chalice-y good stuff I do, making them pretty powerful – but not so powerful as to prohibit them leaving their chair (like me). After some quick randomizing, this is what I end up with:

that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them

My early favorite? The House Jett – they get me. Jaaksi seems a bit too upbeat, what with their positive and proactive house words, but at least they aren’t the super-downer Fireshaper clan. Strength among the ashes? Seriously? Anyways, with that sorted we can get down to the business of running this place, which since it lacks a name I’m gonna call Davelandia.

Davelandia is divided into five parts: The Pale Sea (that has no sea); The Augurs; Ebott Marsh; The Salt Stacks; and The Cinterlands. Each has an inner and outer realm, or put another way: places that are relatively safe and places that are going to be destroyed in the next 300 years. I, of course, elect to build Davelandia’s first Keep (we were ranked 273rd in country infrastructure prior to the Cadence showing up, sorry) in the latter place, out in The Augurs, which grants me more XP per kill for all heroes of the Vanguard.

"how many birds do you see?" "I dunno, six?"

In a scant five years (Davelandians are quite hard workers when they have an immortal Emperor threatening death on one side and weird alien bad guys threatening death on the other) the first Keep is built and a decision must be made: who shall sit as its regent and found the first Heroic Dynasty of Davelandia? Massive Chalice is a game of genetics as much as it is a game of blowing up enemies, and having completed one (failed) play through previously, I now know exactly what I want from my bloodlines. Thus, anyone who is puny, a dullard, a drunk, or asthmatic is immediately disqualified. Unfortunately, this reduces my options down to two: Clotoric Jett or Eochaidh O Nuallain.

Davelandia needs some help in the given name rankings too, if we're honest

Jett is perhaps the better choice, but is younger and slightly higher level, useful in the Vanguard for the next 20+ years (as long as he doesn’t get himself killed); O Nuallain is a solid pick in the genetics department but relatively replaceable on the Vanguard, and so:


All Hail House O Nuallain (the house of a thousand pronunciations)! And for his partner I have picked the very demure Lady Bloody Boar. Take notice as well, for their children will be a class (I’ve) never before seen: the Brewtalist! I have no idea what I’m doing but hopefully they can make some not-terrible children.

With research renewed on something called a ‘health potion’ (which I’m pretty sure involves whiskey) Davelandia seems well prepared for the next onslaught. By which I mean probably totally fucked.