Civilizations one: the Pantheon Alliance.

A fantasy civilization who's technology level is about the same as the Roman Empire or early stages of the Renaissance.

Magic users

  1. Elementals: control the elements (earth, fire, water & lightning)

  2. Telepaths control animals, plants and (the stronger ones) humans. Most can only control a dozen of so creatures (or humans) at once, but those that are consider gods and control entire cities.

  3. Magnetic field manipulator: control metal using magnetic fields.

  4. Teleporters: able to teleport across the Universe. Some are also able to open portals and leave them open, allowing people to cross between worlds without a teleporter physically present.

Gods: each planet colonized has Pantheon of 12 and only 12 gods. The gods are extremely powerful magic users (capable of destroying cities in minutes and entire continents in a matter of days). Whenever one of the twelve dies, their power is transferred to another magic user, who then joins the Pantheon (Gods are not immortal. They age, so they must be replaced every generation).

Each Pantheon has two Gods who serve as representatives. One is in the Alliance, which is a legislative body made up of Gods making the laws for the entire Alliance. The other is in the Teleportation Corporation, which handles all travel between planets.

Magic users (not counting the Gods) make up about a fourth of the population on most colonized planets.

Second civilization: the human Union.

Advanced technology:

  1. Planet-destroying weapons (rarely used, since habitable planets are rare and extremely valuable)

  2. Light-speed-traveling ships: they take several decades to reach their destination but time slows down for the passengers as they move through space close to the speed of light. Making a trip that last decades feel like a matter of weeks.

  3. Interplanetary communication: a Network that allows sending of electronic signals through space 100 times faster than the speed of light.

Other than this, their technology is pretty much the same as ours (this includes nukes and bio-weapons).

If a conflict arises between these two space-faring civilizations over habitable planets, which one would have the advantage and why?

More details: this particular conflict takes place when both sides lay claim to a habitable planet. The planet is 22 light years away from the space occupied by the human Union.

Both sides are aware that the other has laid claim to the planet, so both sides will arrive prepared for conflict.

The pantheon Alliance will, however, arrive 22 years before the human Union.

Neither side wants to destroy the planet as it is an important resource, and habitable planets are not abandoned in this universe. Because of this, either side will not use weapons that they think might be dangerous to the planet's environment.

But any weapon that can kill off the enemy without disrupting the planet's environment is acceptable to use.

each party controls about a dozen or so planets each once with various degrees of habitability.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Bryan, this sort of question is very similar to the "who would win in a fight between two superheroes" or "who would win a fight between the Star Trek Federation and the Star Wars Empire". Both depend entirely upon the person writing the story. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Apr 8, 2016 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim2B you misunderstand me and I asked not who would win I'm just asking which one has the advantage based on the tools available. If war broke out between let's say the US and the UK we could predict which one has the advantage based on the resources and tools available to each one. That doesn't mean we know which one will win it just means that we know which one has the best chance of winning. That's exactly what I'm asking here. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 17:17
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Bryan, it still depends upon the writer. What objectives does each side have? Certain objectives nullify certain advantages. For instance, in a fight to the death war using advanced technology - the loser is the one who is at a predictable place at a predictable time. The winner only needs to launch 100s of asteroids to pulverize the face of the planet to kill the loser. But if the technology side wished to enslave the people, that's not such a good strategy. Really, this isn't an easy question to unravel and most of the omitted details are important. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Apr 8, 2016 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim2B I see let me add a few more details and see if I can satisfied your requirements $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim2B is this better, Or is more information needed? $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 17:59

7 Answers 7


The Alliance has a massive advantage in the form of Gods. When one dies, their power is passed on to someone else, so they literally have a Special forces unit of Gods that is self replenishing. If each one can kill a thousand soldiers before dieing, than the Union would need a thousand times the population of the Alliance that can become gods. If they use basic strategy, then that number is more like a million if used right (eg the bombs or other destructive forces in the bridge or other critical locations in the ship). If an elemental god got teleported into the center of the Main capital ship, they could probably blow it up without issue.

If the Alliance really wanted to win, they would use the gods to their fullest extent, the Union would stand no chance without virtually blowing up the planets from really really long range, which is not acceptable because of the resource situation. Their only hope is that the Alliance is incompetent and does not use their powers properly or effectively, and to none the less use super weapons from long range to wipe out the potential god candidates before they become gods and be used in the fight.

  • $\begingroup$ Why the bloodshed? Just control their leaders telepathically and any focussed effort by the Alliance would instantly collapse $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Oct 5, 2023 at 9:52

The Alliance should win in a very short while. It has the ability to perform decapitation strikes on the Union forces at will. Teleporting a small bomb into the headquarters of the enemy is not easily countered. Political and military leaders will have very short lifespans, and the Alliance will be able to maneuver at will.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Beat me to it. Spaceships are fragile machines. Teleporting a squad of suicidal metal-benders into the Union's fleet would break up any assault. And the Union's homeworld wouldn't even know about it for almost 3 months (.22 years). $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Apr 8, 2016 at 18:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How does the teleporter know where to teleport to? What position does a ship flying FTL actually have in our reality? $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Apr 8, 2016 at 19:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Plus, hey effectively have immortal gods (even though they must be replaced). $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2016 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ The short lifespan of leaders only applies to those that can resist telepathic control ;) [Which absolutely does not change the outcome, just makes it less bloody] $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Oct 5, 2023 at 9:51

It's all logistics. Being able to transport what you want and need to where you want it or need it will trump anything else. Killing the leader of an attack force can put it in disarray. Being able to be somewhere ahead of your enemy long before they can get there will make a huge difference, especially when you can be gone again before they have a chance to retaliate.

So the Alliance will win, as long as they have an even mediocre tactician in charge. In this case the Union has a 22 year lag for reinforcements and supplies, the Alliance has basically unlimited logistics so no contest.

  • $\begingroup$ "Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics." - Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, circa 1980 $\endgroup$
    – T.J.L.
    May 6, 2016 at 18:13

The Union have a simple and powerful solution to this problem:

biological warfare.

Based on the provided information, it would occur to me that there is nothing to prevent the Union from releasing a plague-like virus or micro-organism upon the Pantheon worlds, then entering light-speed travel until the released strain has become inert or has died out completely.

Because it is biological, removing oneself from an infected planet to another planet does nothing more than act as a vector for infection, and is a greater threat than a solution.

Secondly, unless the Pantheon has the ability to instantaneously track an object moving faster than light and then teleport aboard it, they have no means of retaliation available to them if the Union continue to travel at FTL speeds.

  • $\begingroup$ The gods, being very powerful humanoids like superheroes, could have extremely strong immune systems which would not be hit by biological warfare, or at least not damaged so much. OP had mentioned that the Pantheon have gods which can control plants and animals, implying that they have some kind of biological powers. They could just produce mutations so that the virus doesn't affect them any more. They probably have advanced energy based healing powers too, so even if they do get sick they could recover rather quickly. $\endgroup$
    – Galaxy
    Jan 16, 2021 at 22:19

Who shoots first? The only thing that matters when you have two civilisations that are capable of wiping each other out is who's willing and able to pull the trigger first, if the Union drop plague bombs before the Alliance suspects they might need to deploy military assets they win hands down, if the Alliance kicks off with their teleporting gods they can lay waste to the military power of the Union overnight.

Although that said if the Union have already launched their bio-strike then it may be that nothing the Alliance does counts for much. The Union can win with a single good strike if they're willing to genocide the Alliance, the same is not true in reverse, the Alliance must actually go out and win individual victories. It could be that the Alliance win every on Union world and take them over and still lose the war when the Union fleets hit their home systems.


The Union win hands down by sheer scale. The "gods" are powerful but there are too few to make any difference. The power transfers to someone else when they die, but how long does it take to find that person and train them? Do they accidentally blow up a city because they were lighting a fire magically when the powers kicked in. Keeping a god injured and trapped may take a lot of resources but there aren't many of them. Teleportation is fast but the quantities that can be transported are tiny and you can't hit an enemy ship because you can't see them. (until they are very nearby) The union can surround the planet with huge swarms of autonomous satellites. The totally winning solution is to modify algae to produce something super-toxic and release it. Then with a dead but habitable planet you release something that destroys the first algae and removes the toxin. Then bring plants you want to have. (You have to wipe the biosphere anyway as it wouldn't be compatible with your biology. )

How did the Parthenon set up civilization as a long distance teleport almost guarantees a suffocation? Even if they landed on a planet, the chances of it having a breathable atmosphere is tiny. (and they would probably appear moving at km/s because of different orbits) Granting them that fluke, you are now on an unknown, alien world with few resources and no idea what to do. Given that planets move, and that you have no way to make measurements or do calculations, how do you get home, how do you show your friends the planet? (if you make a portal then they could still be moving very fast and you wipe out a whole city when you open a portal to a star) How do you set up a thriving civilization without any crops? Do you try to wipe out the indigenous life and plant your own, or taste all the plants to see which are poisonous?

Actually how come they weren't wiped out when one of the gods turned out to be a nutter?

  • $\begingroup$ Answer your question teleporters have a way of finding things such as ships or habitable planets and they can bind their portals to those places so they move as they move. This does take some time though. But a teleporter should be able to sweep a fairly large area of space for habitable planets in only a couple hours $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2017 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ As for the planet itself to answer your question, I must go back to what I stated in my question. some of the Gods and other magic users have control over plant life. This allows them decide which plants die off and which plants spread. It also allows them to alter the plants on a genetic level ( this requires more skill power and training) as well as increased any Harvest by 100 fold from what it wouldn't actually be without their intervention. This ensures that wherever they go the pantheon Alliance will never fear starvation. $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2017 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ As for your third question let me remind you that which planet has multiple gods and there are many planets in the alliance. Even if one God is "nutter" he can be contained or killed by the other gods. Or perhaps a large army of lesser magic users. Even if he does Wipe Out a city or two first hasn't greatly harmed the alliance as they have control over a multiple worlds $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2017 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ I have to clarify native plant life of a settled world is either altered by the gods to suit human needs or they are wiped out by the Gods as I explained in my earlier comment $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2017 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ The transfer of power doesn't happen automatically there is a ritual involved and the candidates are not randomly chosen you said there are chosen from Highest tier mages who are not gods. They already have a training in their powers of course but they do need to adjust to there New power level over all I'd say that Choosing and training a new God probly take about a month Maybe 2 However Even without training They can still be useful $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2021 at 16:57

Pantheon Alliance, by a HUGE margin.

If their portal travel is instantaneous, or nearly so, then the Alliance are utterly unbeatable. It virtually eliminates the mere concept of "supply lines" from war, and supply lines ARE what determines who wins. Every.Single.Time.

The Alliance has an INFINITE logistic and Information advantage. They have, effectively, time-travel to assist them with intelligence, because they only need to determine the enemy's strength and intentions at any time during the 22-years travel to know exactly when and what the attacking force's strength is. Knowing this, they can do thing like "Institute a new breeding program, we will need an addition 150 million footsoldiers in 21 years time".

They need only have a smallish army in total, just big enough to defeat any one battlefleet of the Union. Why? Because by use of the portals they can concentrate all of their firepower in one place. Have all of their combatants functional and active. Have all the supplies that they possess available wherever it is needed.

Meanwhile, the poor Union has a huge army, 99% of which is..... in transit between places.
The Union also has no idea how many supplies they will need when the battle starts, so they need to manufacture everything, then send it on a 22 year trip. And if the battle begins and the Admiral sees "Hmm, we need more torpedoes" then too bad for him. He will need to send a requisition back home. Which takes 5 months to get home, then home sends the torpedoes, which arrive in time for the Admiral's first grandson to be born in the new system.

War consists of 3 aspects:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Logistics
  3. Firepower
    In that order of importance.
    Just their portals, give the Alliance a deal-breaking advantage in the first two fields.

For analogy: On contemporary earth, who would win, on an inter-continental world war:
Side A that has radios and Airplanes
Side B, that has 10 times the army but all their material AND information movement has to move by foot courier.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .