The gigantic cedar-like trees of the Snathi capital of Idar-Los, a marriage of architecture and environment unique in the galaxy, burned like torches in the night, the flames stretching nearly a mile into the smoke-choked sky. Hours before, a small Colonial Union taskforce blasted through the derelict trade and colony ships in Snathi Prime’s orbit allowing the troop ships Chateau Thierry and Choson Reservoir to deploy millions of Colonial marines and mini-soldier drones without resistance. The ensuing carnage and wanton destruction of horded nuts and squirrel nets sickened all but the most hardened marines.
As the few remaining insurgents were rounded up amidst the smoldering ruins of the once-proud Snathi civilization, Colonial leaders reflected on the years of failed policy that had brought them to this terrible pass. Discovered during the heyday of expansion, Snathi Prime was strategically located between the Colonial world of Haven and the armistice line with the Drengin Imperium. Rather than seize the world and turn it into a military base, the Colonial government opted to treat the Snathi as an ally and trade partner, arming them against Drengin encroachment by providing this backward civilization with starships, money, and advanced technology.
For reasons still debated by the Colonial Union’s diplomats and military planners, the Snathi squandered these gifts with the reckless abandon of drunken squirrels. Budget support to the Snathi treasury sat in low-interest bearing accounts and lethal weapons like the BAE-Raytheon Harpoon missile system were never even installed on their ships. Inexplicably, advanced warships given to the Snathi to bolster their defenses sat abandoned in orbit around Colonial worlds while their government impetuously used even the slighted pretexts to declare war on more powerful neighbors. When it came right down to it, the Snathi did absolutely nothing to prepare themselves for the inevitable retaliation of the enemies they provoked. Where did this curious lack of self-preservation come from? Did it have religious, biological, philosophical, racial, political, or other roots? Why did they frivolously spend their resources to build countless centers extolling the virtues of their culture on Snathi Prime? Why did they send fleets of constructors to the empty ends of the galaxy to build empty consulates and gigantic shopping malls hawking second-rate wares? Why, even with an interstellar colony ship at their disposal, did they not take Haven before the Colonial Union ever reached that part of space? These questions were now academic, perhaps to be tackled in the dissertation of some second-rate graduate student hoping to make a name for himself in a niche corner of xeno-sociology. But none of that really mattered anymore because when the threat came from across the armistice line, the Snathi exposed their furry little throats to the cruel Drengin knife, forcing the Colonial Union to launch the preemptive attack that laid waste to their erstwhile ally. In the end, the Colonial Union had to destroy Snathi Prime in order to save it.
Now, I’m not telling this tale (which is from a recent 1.40X game, but it could just as easily been about the Paulons, Dark Yor, or any number of hapless minor races that I’ve stomped upon from conquests past) to argue for a return to the GC1 days of marauding mega-minor races that could kick my sorry empire back to the stone age. But I am arguing for something stronger than what currently exists in GC2 (and seems to exist in the DA beta as well). I do believe that there are good reasons to have minor races in the game and that these races should be minor races. One can imagine any number of rational or bizarre reasons why a civilization would not be a major player on the galactic stage. One can even imagine "martyr" races that seek out their own destruction. But IMHO, adding some backbone and survival instinct to our little minor friends would greatly increase the diversity of the GC galaxy and gaming experience. In GC2, I feel like my only viable option is to invade a nearby minor before any of the other majors can get around to it. Strategies to use them as allies, trade partners, or military proxies do not work for very long, even when you do something extreme like gift planets to them.
There are a lot of posts out there with excellent ideas that would introduce some modest improvement to the minors, e.g., increasing the tendency for minor-major alliances; increasing the minor’s use of technology and ships gifted from majors; keeping the minors from wasting time and resources on influence starbases and improvements; and allowing minors to colonize a planet or two in their vicinity.
Please, please, please oh Gods of Stardock, heed the death squeak of the dying Snathi. Let their cautionary tale of hubris and folly persuade you to give them the tools they need to stave off death for just a couple more turns.