So after struggling with Beyond Earth i decided to turn to the original Master of Orion. One of the very few games that i actually _like_ playing on the hardest difficulty setting. The basic gameplay is simple enough not to overload you with details, but the limited range and environment types you can settle at the beginning always makes the opening an interesting puzzle, and the randomized Tech Grass (like a Tech Tree, but there's multiple starting points and no branching) sometimes presents unexpected challenges to overcome.
But anyways i started this game as the Klackons, one of the two easiest races in the game. So even though it was on Impossible difficulty it shouldn't have been _that_ bad.
There were three planets in range of my starting planet, so i sent my colony ship to the "most likely to be habitable" one and my scouts to the other two. My colony ship arrived first and i discovered a habitable planet! Yay! A habitable planet with Poor minerals! Less yay!
But despite that i resolved to try and carry on. I will often revert to the bad habit of reloading when things start to go pear shaped, but i try to roll with the punches early on whenever possible. (With the one exception of the rare case where i send my first colony ship to Orion and it's immediately blasted by the Guardian =P)
So the next turn my scouts arrived at the other two planets in range to find an inhospitable planet, yuck, and a Rich mineral planet! ...that was also inhospitable. Double yuck and WTH?
Well at least my new colony on the Poor planet put two more planets in range, and there were three other planets i could scout but not reach with a colony ship yet. Two of the three scoutable planets were back towards the corner, past the two inhospitable planets, and they both turned out to be hospitable! One of them was Poor and the other was Ultra Poor.
The two planets within range of my new colony (at least after researching the cheapest range tech) turned out to be a small hospitable Desert planet, not great but better than my first colony, and a rather large hospitable planet! That was Ultra Poor =P
I colonized both of them anyways, because what else was i going to do? And the Ultra Poor crap world also turned out to be very near the Alkari homeworld! But for some reason they hadn't gotten around to colonizing it yet, i wonder why?
That left one remaining planet, 5 parsecs away form my home world, that was more towards the upper center of the map. It turned out to be on the smaller size, but it was a hospitable world with perfectly adequate minerals!
The remained my one hope for breaking out of the stupid Poor box i was in for about a dozen rounds or so until the Bulrathi showed up in force and colonzied it themselves. At which point i learned it was rather near the Bularthi homeworld.
This was around the point i realized this was going to be a truly crappy, er "challenging" game.
From that point on i struggled to get the range and planetary tech to expand back towards the corner. I did get the range tech to colonize the Poor and Ultra Poor worlds behind my homeworld. And about that point the Alkari decided to invade my Ultra Poor world right next to their home. It was a "peaceful" invasion so i washed my hands of the poorly located crap planet and told the Alkari they could suck on it for all i cared.
So that got me in scouting range of three good planets to the west that were all habitable and didn't suck!
Unfortunately the Psilon were in the lower left corner below me and closer to those planets than i was. It should be pointed out for those unaware that the Psilons are the _other_ great race in the game besides the Klackon. And this AI Psilon player already had the most planets int he galaxy. On the plus side they were at least being friendly with me, in fact they were the only race that seemed to be on good terms with me at all.
Which made it very unfortunate when they then proceeded to snag two of the three planets while my colony ships were on the way over =P
And around this point the Bulrathi randomly decided to declare war on me, which is a truly terrifying prospect that early in the game. However they then proceeded to do... exactly nothing about it. My best guess is that they were having the same issue bridging the 5 parsec gab between the world they'd grabbed from me as i'd originally had trying to get a colony ship over there in the first place.
So they kept up the silent actionless war for a dozen or so turns, then offered peace which i happily accepted. Then a dozen or so turns later they declared war again and continued to do nothing. I was partly amused, partly annoyed, and partly grateful.
But in the meantime the Alkari sent a "peaceful" fleet to attack my Desert world. Thankfully they chose that one instead of my Poor first colony, which i'm not sure had even finished building all its factories yet. I was able to build enough missile bases to drive back the "visitors" (barely.)
Meanwhile i did manage to settle three more "normal" planets up north. That brought me to a grand total of ten planets, which sounds like a lot, Which might _almost_ have been enough to get by on, if i could keep the Alkari and Bulrathi from actually prosecuting a successful attack against me, and i could keep the Psilons from getting angry at me, and i could keep the Psilons from getting a council victory, and...
And at that point the Psilons started sending colony ships to the Radiated and Toxic worlds i'd been parked over for most of the game and _really_ been hoping to keep for myself. And just as i'd given up hope of fending them off the Alkari decided to actually declare war. I was not able to stop the second fleet of their that came calling at my worlds.
Since it was getting late at that point i decided to just give up. I may reload the game and go back a few turns and see if i some crash-build enough defense to beat back the Alkari again and somehow recover. On the other hand given the truly horrendous starting position this might be one of the rare times where it's actually worth restarting from the beginning and trying again with a fair bit of foreknowledge.
Even with that knowledge i'm not 100% sure what the best course of action would be. I don't think i'd have any choice but to colonize that first Poor world. I'd probably scout the Ultra Poor world next to the Alkari homeworld but not waste a Colony ship on it. It would practically be a requirement to get some Long Range defense over to the western worlds and try to keep them away from the Psilons.
The real question would be what to do about the very nice world 5 parsecs away, next to the Bulrathi homeworld. It would be quite the coup to get it, but it would probably increase tensions with the Bulrathi, and it would be _very_ easy for them to launch invasions, "friendly" or otherwise, against it.