During the last cycle we saw an uptick in total undermining activity, with several Powers being affected; but none newly entering turmoil. Emperor Lavigny-Duval does remain in turmoil, slowly improving her economy by shedding another mildly unprofitable system. Yuri Grom continues to have unguided lossmaking expansions while Li Yong-Rui’s unprofitable expansion was avoided. All the while, the Empire and Federation continue their game of whack-a-mole with weaponised expansions into each other’s space. Of these, Winters’ expansions seem primarily intended to block fifth-column manoeuvres, while Torval’s expansions exist purely to pressure the Federation.


One of the Powers who sustained undermining was Simguru Pranav Antal of Utopia. Ten of his control systems reached the undermining threshold, which could have damaged his ending balance by 1,072 Command Capital (CC) if they were ignored. On the last day of the cycle, Utopians completed fortification of these ten systems before their undermining was publicly known. Sometime near the end of the cycle Utopian scouts must have found evidence of this hidden undermining attack. By countering the undermining with fortification, Pranav Antal was able to stay in the green with a narrow ending balance of 135 CC.


Shadow President Felicia Winters endured similar levels of undermining, with thirteen systems reaching the undermining trigger by the end of the cycle. Every last one of Winters’ systems was fortified, regardless of profitability. As a result, all undermining was cancelled and a positive ending balance of 250 CC attained. It should be noted that Powers usually advise their members to not fortify lossmakers unless there is another benefit to them such as contested CC, so their fortification may have been an act of sabotage.


On the side, Winters had a repetition of her expansion to Baal, a weaponised expansion which also blocked fifth-column preparation.  It heavily contested Lavigny-Duval, but difficult triggers meant the expansion was easy to oppose. As expected, the expansion was stopped with a comfortable lead.


This cycle, Winters is expanding to Diegakul; another weaponised expansion against the Empire which similarly prevented a fifth-column expansion from being prepared. It too contests Emperor Lavigny-Duval a little but mainly threatens Princess Duval for 112 CC. Triggers are more even but would still require Winters to work 53.6% harder than the opposition to succeed. During cycle 231’s repetition of Diegakul, Winters put more work into the expansion, but it is unclear whether the intent was to complete the expansion or to force the Empire to spend more time opposing it.


Emperor Arissa Lavigny-Duval’s turmoil continues into cycle 233. As a result, the unprofitable Lopemakinn was lost, improving the Emperor’s economy by 15 CC. Only one system is newly at risk: Antliae Sector RD-T b3-3. The system breaks even for Lavigny-Duval, but due to local dictatorships its fortification trigger has been increased to a cumbersome 17,806. Winters and Lavigny-Duval have competed for the system in the past and the system would be profitable to Winters as it is closer to her headquarters. Therefore, the Emperor needs to decide whether to improve defensibility by shedding the system, or prevent Winters from growing by keeping the system.


The turmoil was maintained due to seven systems being undermined, all of which were sniped in the last minutes of the cycle. Six were unprofitable, one break-even and none profitable. It is unlikely that hostile Powers interfered, as they would have targeted profitable systems and none of Lavigny-Duval’s profitable systems reached the undermining trigger. However, 12 unprofitable systems were fortified against the Emperor’s wishes. It is not possible to truly know whether the unwanted fortification was carried out by misinformed supporters or saboteurs.


Senator Zemina Torval attempted an expansion to L 206-187 in the last cycle, which would have heavily contested Hudson. A low expansion trigger meant that the opposition had to put in 2.92 times as much as Torval. By the end of the cycle, the opposition had earned 342,000 merits, putting them in a comfortable lead. Torval would have needed to haul 74,000 merits to catch up, on top of their ending merit count of 43,000. This cycle, Torval will be attempting to expand to LHS 184 again, which could contest Hudson for 55 CC and cost her 51 CC at maximum overheads. Difficult triggers will require the opposition to work 3.62 times as hard.


In addition to the usual weaponised expansions, Torval had fifteen of her systems reach the undermining trigger; three of which were cancelled due to fortification. The twelve other systems that were left undermined cost Torval 281 CC and resulted in an ending balance of 307 CC for Torval.


For the first time in months, one of EG Union Dictator Yuri Grom’s many expansion attempts was stopped through direct opposition rather than by undermining. Only 28,000 expansion merits were earned at Xi Ophiuchi; an unprofitable expansion which would have contested Hudson and Mahon. Triggers were overwhelmingly in favour of the expansion, meaning the opposition needed at least 6.31 times as many merits to succeed. Xi Ophiuchi was hit with 386,000 opposition merits, leaving the expansion 33,000 merits short of catching up.


Grom’s only other expansion last cycle, Yurok, completed with 161,000 expansion merits compared to only 2,000 opposition merits. Yurok will make a loss of 55 CC per cycle at maximum overheads; 41 at current overheads. Due to the increase of overheads across the board Yurok has lowered Grom’s default surplus by 137 CC. This cycle, Grom is expanding to Belu, which would cost him another 55 CC at maximum overheads and contest Mahon for 29 CC. At the time of writing the opposition has a solid lead, while the expansion effort has not yet reached even 50% of the required minimum.


SiriusGov CEO Li Yong-Rui’s unprofitable expansion to Shasir was stopped through undermining. Two existing control systems being undermined and minimal fortification lowered SiriusGov’s ending balance to 55 CC; too low to endure Shasir’s 65 CC loss. Whenever an unprofitable expansion threatens to put a Power in turmoil like this, it automatically fails. In addition to avoiding last cycle’s unprofitable expansion, the low ending balance means Li Yong-Rui is limited in what expansions he can prepare this cycle, as he will not be able to afford the ones with higher preparation costs.

Sagittarius Eye Breaking News team

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