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Mikael Andersson
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tl;dr neolib space humans ftw

I've been playing a humanoid race called the Yldar, whose empire is Pacifist and Xenophilic. They navigate by hyperlanes, and started out the game cut off from most of the galaxy by a choke point guarded by an Ether Drake until I cleared out a back exit to take the long way around. This stalled my growth for a long time, but the other empires were surprisingly defensive and I still managed to occupy a bunch of territory. It helped a bit that a neighbouring Fallen Empire I was worried about patronizingly decided my people were their cute degenerate cousins or something, gave me some fancy tech, and then left me alone.

I also aggressively built Frontier Outposts to encircle any smaller neighbours I could find to prevent their expansion, slowly replacing them with settled planets now that my empire is more multicultural and adaptive. Those three encircled neighbours are now in my Federation.

By this point there are basically two factions in the galaxy, my federation on the right side and a defensive pact by three other empires on the left, and a very mean Fallen Empire called the Human Vestige in the centre that will reflexively purge any colony built nearby their borders (I tried once - wasn't pretty). There has been some tension between the two active factions but no longtime enmity or anything, until I decided to "liberate" a strategically useful cluster of planets from the major power in the alliance (as Pacifist, I cannot ask them to Cede planets). Commence big war with doomstacks moving all over the place, made all the more frustrating by the fact that they navigated quite freely in their own territory via Wormholes while I had to make do with much less efficient Hyperlanes. I knew the drive function you choose impacts gameplay a lot, but it's fascinating how it interacts with your ability to play offensive or defensive as well. My Wormhole-using federation members helped out a lot.

There doesn't seem to exist any prerequisites for being able to liberate a population, such as pre-existing strife between factions or oppression or anything. So "Liberation" wars seem pretty cynical, considering the warscore requirement is lower and how easy it is to vassalize the people on the planets you've liberated and then integrate them into your empire. No annoying factions of conquered aliens to deal with either.

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I actually have been playing, just haven't had time to reflect for the group yet.
But hey, in the meantime:

I introduced Angie to the wonderful world of Crusader Kings 2. She played the King of Scotland, I as the King of England... except I was deposed nearly instantly, and after a couple generations played as a (still rather powerful) Duchess.

Angie took a Seduction focus for her King and started coming after me with gifts. I had decided to take a monastic, pious route with that character since she kind of sucked in most other ways. This had already made her Chaste and I was worried for my ability to produce an heir, so sure, I took a tumble in the hay with the King of Scotland (who wouldn't, really). My husband, the deposed formed King of Navarra, was none the wiser and all was fine. Then I got pregnant. I didn't really have much of a relationship with my husband - you know, he's fine and everything, but between statework and praying there's just not a lot of time left in the day to get to know each other - so I pretty much knew whose child it was. Gave birth to a healthy young girl that year. Raised her well.

I joined the Benedictine Order and advanced up the ranks, eventually turning into a full-on Vow of Chastity, so that rules out the possibility for any more heirs (-1000% fertility - seems a bit overkill but, very effective birth control). I focused on my worship and concentrating my power under the English King while I bided my time - it would not be I who rebelled and took the crown back, and probably not my daughter either. I accumulated three duchies and pretty much owned southern England. Then one day I got a nice little betrothal proposal for my daughter, which I accepted.

It had come from the King of Scotland (Angie, remember). He conveniently had a 13 year old Prince to match my 13 year old future Duchess. How lovely! We both looked at each other in glee mixed with horror. Why did you send that proposal?? I don't know, I wasn't thinking, why did you accept it??

So now they're both on the eve of their 16th birthdays and the marriage is looming, and my daughter is now the Duchess (after her godfearing mother was stabbed in an unsuccessful attempt at stealing a holy relic, but that's another story - after which "dad" took a host of people and sailed off to retake Navarra). A real power-couple, they'll be, with an alliance strong enough to probably take back the Crown of England. And brother and sister to boot, though literally nobody knows since mom took her secret to the grave.

Considering using console commands to rename them to Cersei and Jaime.

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Friendship Town aka Stockholm

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going-away cake from my wonderful co-workers
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+Brand Robins irl

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via +Lilith Dawn 
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