The No-Frauds Club ยป Cosmonarchy

The definitive real-time strategy experience.
For the Brood War mod, see this page.


Primer


Cosmonarchy is an isometric 2D real-time strategy game set in the Xibalba universe and made in the Antikythera engine.

Cosmonarchy is defined by its unrivaled scale, with a jaw-dropping roster of units and structures, and thousands of combatants doing battle in any given skirmish. Its immersive missions respect the player's time, leveraging only mechanics and scenarios that reinforce real-time strategy gameplay. Its cooperative missions challenge players with competent AI-controlled opponents, which additionally serve as respectable enemies in immersive levels and valuable training partners in custom maps. In addition to supporting 1v1 matchmaking, its competitive environment allows for teams of all sizes to queue into balanced matches. Finally, its expansive development tools allow interested parties to produce custom content, from accessory campaigns and skirmish maps to custom regencies and total conversions.


Game Flow


In Cosmonarchy, players act as commanders of regencies with expansive techtrees. Players control massive armies made up of individual units and have no max unit cap. Units are trained from structures that are in turn built by workers or other structures. Workers harvest resources to provide the materials necessary to construct bases and field armies. Factors like the scale of the environment, the quantity of resources in the level, the number of allies and opponents, and the game mode all determine how long players will have to explore their techtrees and interact with their enemies. The text below assumes an average of 45 to 60 minutes of gameplay, with some hints of how games may end outside of that range.

Note that the descriptions that follow only apply to these game types:
In immersive play, starting conditions are not guaranteed to be equal. Symmetrical map layouts are very rare in immersive scenarios, and free-for-alls and imbalanced teams are commonplace. Dialogue events are used to present persistent narratives, characterize commanders, and relay information from AI-controlled allies. As immersive levels are always singleplayer and often part of a larger map set, the player's regency is often predetermined. In some cases, a list of allied regencies will be available for selection before a mission begins. Immersive scenarios often have cutscenes that bookend the mission's running time, but first-party content will never interrupt gameplay mid-map.

In cooperative play, players generally have synchronized starting conditions, and must compete against AI-controlled regencies. As with singleplayer levels, cooperative scenarios are rarely symmetrical in their layout and often have imbalanced teams, but cooperative play tends to boast more even map design (i.e. proximity to expansions, defender's advantage, access to upstart strongholds) when compared to their strictly-immersive counterparts. Every cooperative scenario can be played in immersive play, with AI-controlled allies standing in for human ones. Dialogue is kept to a minimum and maps are designed around replayability, with all regencies available for play.

In competitive play, all players begin with the same quantity of resources and no preplaced units or structures. Dialogue is absent and maps are designed with even play in mind. Competitive levels aren't always symmetrical, but mirrored layouts are more common than in the other game modes. As with cooperative scenarios, all regencies are available for play in competitive modes.

Regardless of game mode, a match of Cosmonarchy begins in the ready room - a pregame viewport where players select their ideal starting location from a list of predetermined coordinates. Once all origin points are chosen, players have one minute to spend their initial resources and lock in their choices. If specified in the game's lobby, possible start locations for hostiles are highlighted in the early game, and the entire map's features are visible on the minimap as if the player had already explored it. These options are defaults in ranked play, and reduce the knowledge gap between players who are new to a map and players who are veterans.

When all players lock in their choices (or the timer expires), the prebuilding phase ends and the proper game begins. Worker units are ordered to harvest resources, construct buildings, and scout out locations. Assuming a map of middling size, experienced players scout early to determine the build orders and opening playstyles of their opponents. AI-controlled, upstart squads take arms against all regencies, guarding high-yield expansions and their own distant strongholds that can be destroyed for resource injections, rescuable combatants, or other rewards. Players maintain a scouting presence, finding and monitoring their enemy's early army movements. This persistent information gathering helps to flank hostile armies should they engage upstarts or take roundabout paths to their targets, especially in team games or on maps with larger distances between players.

The choice between consolidating one's infrastructure, technology, and military is a crucial one, and until an economic advantage is secured, players must balance these elements. Opening gambits involving greedy resource spending on quick tech-ups or additional mining investments can be easily disrupted if an opponent chooses to rush out low-tier combatants, and the variety of options available to players and teams puts a high priority on scouting.

As players strengthen their militaries, expand their mining operations, and begin scaling up their techtrees, the impact of unaffiliated upstarts is reduced. Player tech now outstrips the lesser powers, and many of their strongholds and territorial squads have been dismantled for the resources and rewards they guarded. In solo or team free-for-alls, some forces have already shown signs of weakness or perhaps even fallen outright, and regional superpowers are beginning to take shape. What was previously a chaotic war between multiple belligerents is now consolidating into a showdown between the most stable and competent players, and if one is not outright favored as the early-game fades into memory, a longer game is on the cards.

Armies clash, find some success, and are pushed back. Resource nodes are exploited and drained. The true extents of each player's arsenal are on the horizon, as expensive and brutal weapons of war enter the battlefield. The ebb and flow of army movements and combat success is reflected in the complexity of the armies themselves - as resources become scarce, a technological downswing occurs, requiring more frugal spending on lower-tier units and more precise tactics for armies to find success. Players have maintained focus for upwards of an hour by this point, and fatigue manifests itself in more common mistakes, some of which will likely cost one of them the game.

Some of the above can also apply to custom play, which often features altered melee conditions, custom scenarios with player vs player elements, modified techtrees, and other twists on the RTS gameplay provided by Cosmonarchy. Other custom content will diverge entirely from RTS convention, at which point many elements of the above will no longer apply.


Control Scheme


Cosmonarchy's control scheme tests for a mixture of mechanical skill (defined as speed and accuracy), and game knowledge (defined as general strategy and compositional design). Players that excel at these twin principles will consistently find success when interacting with the systems of Cosmonarchy. The following documentation details what each key combination and mouse click does.


Viewport

Moving the mouse cursor to any side or corner of the screen will pan the viewport in that direction. By default, pressing the arrow keys also move the viewport. Holding SHIFT during either action speeds up the viewport panning. Left-clicking on the minimap navigates the viewport to the selected position. Holding SPACEBAR will lock the screen in place, preventing viewport movement.

Viewport positions can be saved by holding CTRL and pressing any any function key other than F12. Pressing the key without holding SHIFT will then instantly move the viewport to the saved position. An option to display saved viewport positions on the UI can be toggled.

Resource bars help visualize vital statistics in the midst of battle, and can be permanently displayed for no units, selected units, or all units. Energy bars of neutral and hostile units will only be displayed if they are within the vision of an observant ally. Holding CTRL hides permanent resource bars for the duration of the keypress.


Selection

Players can left-click units to select them, and hold a left-click and drag their mouse cursor to box select multiple units at once. Selection is unlimited in Cosmonarchy. This is a necessary step for facilitating large-scale battles that involve thousands of units per player.

Multiple structures can be group-selected, and mixed unit and structure selections are possible. Box-selecting is limited to units, but any unit or structure can be added to the current selection by holding SHIFT and left-clicking, and all onscreen units of the same type can be added by holding ALT and left-clicking.

When a structure is queued, its placement position will be visible to allies and selectable by the owning player. Orders tasked to structures in this state will be assigned if the structure is completed. As with other selections, these future-structures can be added to control groups.

Command cards display in accordance with a unit's rank, an internal stat that also governs which portrait and unit responses are seen and heard when selecting a mixed group. As a general rule, the more powerful a unit is, and the more abilities it has, the higher its rank will be. It is not possible to switch between command cards of selected units without changing the active selection.

Mixed selections display the count of each unit type, allowing for fast selection of a particular unit type. To select a specific unit of a given unit type, players can left-click on the unit group, and then left-click on the desired unit's icon. The icons of selected units also display their resource bars - life, shields, energy, and so on - allowing for experienced players to quickly select a vital unit without needing to look at the battlefield.

In accordance with RTS customs, selections can be stored in control groups by holding CTRL and pressing a home row number key (1 through =) to store the selection. Units can be added to a control group by holding SHIFT and pressing the desired number key. An option to display saved control groups on the UI can be toggled.

There are no 'idle worker' or 'select entire army' buttons or prompts in Cosmonarchy.


Orders

Both standard and quick ordering exist in Cosmonarchy, the latter of which allows for an increased speed of issuing orders. If quick ordering is enabled, an order will be issued immediately when its keyboard shortcut is pressed, targeting the mouse cursor's current location. If standard ordering is enabled, players must manually confirm the order location with a left-click before it is issued. Order confirmations only apply to orders that require targets.

Right-clicking issues contextual orders, which vary based on the selected unit and the target. The following list describes contextual order cases. Note that units exiting a production structure with a rally point will act as if they were issued a contextual order targeting the rally point.

Contextual orders:
  • Move to target point: Selection includes a mobile unit or structure, target is terrain or an allied unit (does not follow)
  • Face target point: Selection includes an immobile unit or structure with turning capabilities, target is anything
  • Attack target unit: Selection includes a unit with a weapon, target is a hostile unit
  • Set new rally point: Selection includes a production structure, target is anything
  • Harvest resources: Selection includes a resource harvester, target is a resource node
  • Return resources: Selection includes a resource harvester with resources, target is a resource depot
  • Enter transport: Selection includes a mobile unit, target is an allied transport with sufficient weight capacity (does not issue an order to the transport)

The ordering of individual selected units, called "smartcasting", is not present within Cosmonarchy. Any order given to a selection of units is issued to the entire selection.


Ready Rooms


As described in the game flow section, matches of Cosmonarchy begin with a pregame phase where players configure their starting locations and retinues. In immersive, cooperative, and custom scenarios, introductory cinematics are commonplace, and begin playing when a map is initialized. These cinematics are always skippable. After the cinematic ends or is skipped, players enter their respective ready rooms and begin the preparation phase.

Mission-critical information is displayed in the ready room, including mission objectives, key map features, and known enemy compositions. Players can also consult prepared intelligence reports, if they are supplied by the map author. The first step of planning that players engage with is selecting their desired starting location, though this choice may have been made for a player if it is locked in the scenario's configuration.

After starting locations have been chosen by all human players, the next phase of preparation begins, where an initial retinue of units and structures are requisitioned with each player's starting resources. In some cases, a default configuration is provided by the map author, which can be selected and modified if desired. These default configurations will generally be used by AI players. As with starting locations, players may have their initial retinue specified for them, depending on scenario settings and the game mode. Starting resources will also vary between scenarios.

Once all human players have configured their starting locations and retinues, a 5-second countdown timer will initiate, after which the game will begin in full.