It's been a while that I last posted any news about the mod, so it's high time to give you a little something. In the following articles we'll examine in some detail the three main factions of Evolution. Let's take a closer look on the Romulan Star Empire!
Historical and political background:
By the start of the game, the Romulan Star Empire is more than a thousand years old. It controls a significant part of the Beta Quadrant which was rich in uncolonized planets and weak - mostly pre-FTL - civilizations. Both were easy prey for the Romulans who built their wealth on the constant influx of good from newly conquered or colonized planets. This lifestyle granted by the Principle of Borderless Expansion granted wealth and prosperity, but the lack of serious opponent made the "Romulan giant" lax and slow, and the technology obsolete compared to the Alpha Quadrant powers. Romulan policy for centuries was to avoid any contact if possible with anyone who may be in contact with the Vulcans, to keep the true identity of the Romulans a secret.
The Romulan secret service, the Tal Shiar, that was originally a branch of the Military Police with the task of maintaining peace on conquered planets, was the first to venture into the unknowns of the galactic West, and who recognized both the backwardness of Romulan technology and the threat a new member of the interstellar community represents.
But even direct confrontation with the Praetor isn't enough to take action for a decade and by the time the Star Empire decides to act, it's already too late. The war against Earth, started in 2156 is a desperate last-minute attempt to stop the formation of a new interstellar political entity. But within four short years the Romulan Navy fleet is all but wiped out, Coalition fleets are on the border of Imperial space and occupied planets start to rebel. The Terran War - also known as the Coalition War - in the Romulan narrative is lost because of internal dissent but the truth is that the Senate horribly underestimated the gap between Romulan and Coalition technology.
Fortunately the Tal Shiar didn't make this mistake. Their long-term plan was not to win the war but to save the Empire from itself. They manage to convince the Senate to ask for peace before total collapse becomes inevitable and using their undercover resources most of the rebelling planets are pacified and the Empire is saved in exchange for establishing the Neutral Zone. But as the biggest Romulan secret - their relation to Vulcans - remains hidden, Romulan agents can still swarm the Alpha Quadrant in general and the newly formed Federation in particular, stealing several important piece of technology in the next fifty years, halving the gap between Romulan and Federation technology.
Meanwhile the Romulans watch with eager attention as the Four Powers War (started in 2221) escalates. But they are also dragged into the General War when the Federation decides to join, because there is nothing they want to see less than at he Federation victorious. Still carefully safeguarding their origin, Romulan involvement in the war on the Federation front remains rather limited, but it is enough to divide the Alliance's attention and stop Federation advancement into Klingon and Kzinthi space.
How to play as the Romulans?
Early Romulan ships are equipped with plasma torpedoes that are the strongest projectile weapon type in the game, but their guidance system is abysmal. They also have powerful Plasma Lances, that are capable of destroying a ship with a single shot, but they are extremely difficult to keep on target. In addition, they are slow, so if they are caught in a bad situation you'll have very hard time saving them, therefor Romulan players should focus more on defense and not on offense until stronger ships become available. I think form the image bellow it is obvious that the Imperial Starfleet is far from being a world conqueror...
The Star Empire is a centralized state and this is represented in how researches work. You have four big areas you have to develop: Warp Core, Warp drive, Shielding and Weapons. These can be upgraded in the Imperial Research Center. Ships are distributed into classes: Scouts, Cruisers, Battleships etc. To get a new ship in the class, you must order the Imperial Starship Design Institute to design it. Important note! In both research stations researches only become available (buttons only show up in the research screen) if tech requirements of that research are met!
Note on the picture above that in the Imperial Starship Design Institute you only see the (Romulan) naval classification code of what ship class you may design. Don't worry, for those who can't fluently read Rihan, the tooltips help you out. There will be a reference table in the manual as well.
While Romulan research is very simple and straightforward, every new research needs lots of resources and very long time to be finished, which represents the corruption and decadence within the Star Empire. Therefor you should keep a healthy stockpile of resources and constantly invest into new technologies, if available, otherwise you'll try to respond to new technologies your opponent throws at you but you will never be able to catch up.
Romulans have a single utility ship in the Corandor Class. This huge ship can be used both as a miner and a constructor ship, so you'll have to spend less on utility ships. Also note that the Corandor has the largest mining capacity in the game. On the picture bellow you may see two Corandor Class ships working.
The Romulan faction also can rely on the Tal Shiar. Constructing the Intelligence Center grants access to unique Tal Shiar resources that can be the greatest asset, especially in the early stages. Among others, the Tal Shiar may grant you with ships that are otherwise unattainable.
But by far the greatest asset in the Romulan arsenal is the Cloaking Device which is in the timeframe an exclusive technology and that may be available from the General War era. As nobody else heard about cloaking technology before, the other factions have no way to detect cloaked ships. However, as sensors become better in further expansions, the Romulan player has to invest heavily into cloaking technology. With every new Era Cloaking becomes unavailable, unless you invested into the necessary technologies.
On the picture above you may see the main Romulan stations. In the middle of the picture you may see the Imperial Research Center. To the left and behind is the Intelligence Center, and behind it is the Starship Design Institute. You can also see part of an Outpost on the right side. And take a look at those starship in the background... More on them a bit later.
Facing an opponent head-on is not a Romulan way. Romulans prefer to be sure that when the opponent is attacker, it won't e able to shoot back. Therefor Romulans totally lack fighter squadrons and hence they have no dedicated carriers. Also, Romulan boarding parties are the weakest of the three main factions, so keep that in mind when you try to occupy an enemy starbase.
Strengths & Weaknesses
+ Simple research tree
+ Big capacity mining ships
+ Cloaking Device
+ Tal Shiar
- Slow research
- Obsolete technology
- No squadrons/carriers
- Weak marines
The T'varo Controversy:
To get a coherent picture while you play the game, I had to clarify some controversies that came along the way. The first of these s the controversy between the Romulan ship seen in Star Trek: Enterprise, and the ships the Romulans are using in the mod. Bellow is the explanation how it works out in Evolution.
If you watched Enterprise, you are familiar with the only canon Romulan ship of the era that was later got the name T'Varo Class.
If you compare it to the general Romulan ships you will notice that the Sabinus looks like a jellyfish and it is clearly obsolete, while the T'Varo looks modern and threatening. But that's all what it does... The T'Varo Class is a secret project of the Tal Shiar, and although it may look good, under the impressive bird-like shape it has the same obsolete warp drive and fusion reactor core as the other Romulan ships. Knowing that their technology is not so fearsome, the Tal Shiar tried to make the ship meaner looking than it actually is to operate on the borders of the Alpha Quadrant. Although it is equipped with plasma pulse weapons, a technology the Tal Shiar may be willing to share with the player...
You may also notice that the Romulan ship in Enterprise used a cloaking device. In reality the ship involved, the ChR Praetor Polonius used only a series of experimental technologies that were able to fool the Enterprise's primitive sensors, but they are far from true cloaking technology. By the way, the Praetor Polonius was later destroyed in a catastrophic core breach caused by the experimental cloaking device, so the technology wasn't introduced until much later.
On the Federation
Last time I promised some news about the Federation. A few days ago I finished the last model necessary for the release. I present you the Maya type shipyard.