Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
This guide contains two parts.
Part One is intended for the beginner or inexperienced player and deals exclusively with playing the computer AI (Artificial intelligence) as a single game. I have designed it to familiarise the novice with aspects of the game that can seem overwhelming. If practiced and absorbed, the single-player game should easily and decisively win every time. Ships that I recommend and certain strategies that work well against the AI are not necessarily the ideal choice when playing online against human opponents. For players not completely familiar with the game, however, this is the place to start. If you can’t beat the AI time and time again without even breaking sweat then there is virtually no point in trying your luck with multiplay against other gamers, you will just be wiped out. When you’re confident that you can defeat the AI as any empire on any setting then you are ready to read Part Two.
Part Two is for highly experienced or expert single gamers looking to expand into multiplay. This section will have little meaning or reference for the novice as I’ll assume that anyone reading this far already knows the game like the back of their hand. In this section I will cover advanced strategies, maximisation tips/tricks and various scenarios. The dynamic here is very different and will only really benefit the fluent player.
I know that the temptation for a beginner might be to flick to this section but trust me, without the basic skills needed to build and nurture colonies, manage the morale/members of your empire and deal with a hundred other aspects of the game fluidly you will be out of your depth. Even mediocre online players see the AI as an easily defeated inconvenience and if you haven’t reached that stage you’ll be easy meat on the zone.
The Basic Single-Player Game
11. War (Defending systems, Attacking systems, Combat)
12. Systems management and structures
13. Random events
14. The Endgame (Scanners, War of attrition, Raiding, Blitzkrieg)
Botf is essentially a strategy game, based around micro-management, diplomacy and battle tactics. The single player game has two modes, domination and vendetta. Domination requires the player to control over 75% of the galaxy alone or 50% as part of an alliance, vendetta requires you to eliminate your two natural rivals in the galaxy.
The parameters of the game can be set by the player with difficulty levels, technological levels and galaxy size/type all optional, The greater part of this section will deal with the parameters set to a large irregular galaxy, victory conditions set to “domination,” minor race set to “many” with all competing empires at an “advanced” technological stage and the difficulty set to impossible.
The most difficult game to play is all players at “early” with no minor races. I’ll explain this later. Once you have cracked the “advanced” technological game you will be much better equipped to play the harder scenarios. Thus, mostly this section is for the “advanced” single-player game.
You can choose to play as one of the five major empires in the galaxy. If running around declaring war on everything alive floats your boat then try the Klingons. If you enjoy diplomacy, self-righteousness and loads of research (which is rewarded, believe me) then play the Federation. If you get a kick out of sending teams of spies and saboteurs to bomb murder and maim rivals then the Romulans or Cardassians are for you and if you get really excited about a big wad of cash then I suggest throwing your lot in with the Ferengi. Each empire has a different style design theme and way of playing. Some empires are harder to play than others. The easiest to win on all fronts in the single game is the Romulans followed in order by the Federation, Klingons, Cardassians and finally the Ferengi. The last two can be a bit of a challenge and I would suggest starting with one of the easier empires until you learn the ropes.
You begin with control of three star systems – one your home system, the other two advanced colonies. Scattered throughout the galaxy are many different worlds, some inhabited, some ripe for the picking. Your objective is to populate and control as many of these systems by whatever means possible until you dominate the galaxy and everyone kisses your ass.
The only way to win the game without cheating is to have a healthy economy. The more cold hard cash you’ve got, the more you can arm yourself. This is completely consistent with history – just ask Napoleon or Hitler. Without heavy industry, there’s no cash. With no cash, there are no fleets and no armies. No armies? No win! So it all comes down to cash in the end (as always).
How do I make loads of cash?
Simple. Each system you control within your empire has a population (measured in millions) who you can assign to five main areas of endeavour. These are:
Food Production: If you’re not running enough farms to support the population’s hamburger joints then they starve. Dead people = no cash.
Industry: Not enough people slaving away in the factories? = no cash.
Energy: Not enough people working in energy? = failing planetary defences, unpowered shipyards, special intelligence, research and food structures = no cash.
Intelligence: Not enough CIA types spooking around the galaxy? A lot of unemployed Odos? = bad internal security = enemy agents bombing all your hard work and stealing all your cash.
Research: Not enough eggheads blowing things up in the lab = no access to improved ships, industrial, espionage, food structures …cash.
So, the more systems, the more people. The more people, the more work you can give them. The more work, the more cash. The more cash, the more ships. The more ships, the more win. Remember, God is on the side of the big battalions or in the words of the Grand Nagus, ‘More is good, all is better.’
How do I acquire more planetary systems?
Simple. In any system with a shipyard you build a colony ship (you actually start the game with one in your home system). You then send this to a suitable uninhabited system and order it to terraform the planets there until all are class M (habitable for organic life). You then order the ship to colonise the system. Voila! New colony = more population = ultimately, more cash.
Which systems should I target for colonisation?
Ultimately, all you can. However, especially in the early stages of the game, it pays to be a little more strategic and grab the juiciest systems you can first. These are:
- The largest systems with the fastest rates of population growth
- Large systems with arctic, barren, oceanic and terran planets (more on this later)
- (With random events ‘on’) Any system where the star is not a red giant
- Any system with dilithium
And, best of all, a combination of all of the above
Which systems should I not waste my colony ships on?
Any small volcanic or jungle system. You can mop these up later in the game when you loll at the pinnacle of a large corrupt empire larging it with your Dominion buddies.
So, at the beginning of the game I should build a fleet of colony ships and rush around the galaxy spreading my people hither and thither to win, yes?
Ha ha ha. Just try it and see how far your little peace fleet gets when the Klingon High Council decides you’re getting too big for your boots or the Cardassians smell a weakness in your defences. Which leads us to:
“The general who understands how to employ troops is the minister of the people's fate and arbiter of the nation's destiny.“ Ships have many, many uses and there are many different types and classes of starship. All of these can be a little confusing so I shall concentrate on the main classes of starship available when your scientists and engineers have built the best they can. For the realistic purposes of the game I shall concentrate on eight different types that have similar uses and capabilities.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Colony Ships. For colonisation and terraforming.
All much of a muchness, these. They loaf through space at one sector a turn speed. They terraform and colonise and then they vanish. In any encounter with a hostile warship the pilgrim fathers are apt to become space dust. Their orders should always be set at ‘avoid.’ The best chance they have is to keep a low profile. If you really want them to reach their destination then they need an armed escort. The (sort of) exception is the lightly armed Klingon colony transport. If embroiled in battle all colony ships should be given the order to retreat. They might survive the encounter if shields and armour hold.
Scouts. For exploration and reconnaissance.
Lightly armoured and armed, generally crap in combat, these ships are far more important than you might suppose. Firstly, they have a much greater range than other ships allowing them to scout out future territories and minor races to exploit, and more importantly, they act as a mobile scanner allowing you to monitor enemy movements in space of which you would otherwise remain ignorant. Can’t be bothered with that? Wait till your newly colonised gloriously dilithium rich territory light years from home is brutally taken out of the blue by a humungous Ferengi army that materialises out of nowhere or your nice little task force boldly blunders into an innocuous little sector containing the entire skulking Romulan fleet who break out the romulan ale and fart over the debris of your finest. Well I’ve got news for you Admiral, the chances of being rudely surprised are greatly reduced if you have these little spies buzzing around your borders. They do have one other use in combat which often makes them the first target in any big clash, they give a full scan of opposing ships capabilities and crew experience levels. This could influence your decision about fight or flight. In most combat situations they should be given the ‘retreat’ order and in general should be set to ‘avoid’.
The best scouts belong to the Klingons and Romulans. Both can cloak. The Klingon ship is speedier with a galactic speed of 3. The Romulan model is more agile in combat and with a highly trained crew can outfight many warships. The others aren’t up to much.
Destroyers. For raiding strikes or border patrols.
The destroyer is the basic foot soldier of any given task force but not all destroyers are the same, not by a long way. In only two empires is it worthwhile building destroyers:
Not worth it:
Cardassian destroyer 2: Pretty crap, this. I never bother with it when playing Cardassia. Not too quick, not very agile, not much firepower.
Federation destroyer 2: A waste of space. Use it initially for minor race first contact then scrap it and build no more.
Ferengi light raider 2: The crappest of the lot, it’d need a highly rated crew to see off a Klingon or Romulan scout. For some reason the dopey computer insists on building loads of them. Do the same and you’ll sink without a trace. They make a great firework display.
Klingon destroyer 2: A tough little sod with some good weaponry. It can be very surprising with an experienced crew. Fast (3) though not hugely agile, it performs best in groups.
Romulan destroyer 2: The cream of the destroyers, fast (the only real option in Romulus as there are no heavy destroyers) with a speed of 3, it has powerful weapons and defences, is extremely agile and like all Romulan ships can cloak. Nine of these can pretty much venture where they want. Build loads as soon as you can.
Secondary Escorts. (Heavy destroyers and equivalents) For attack, defence and escort duty.
These ships are the ones you need for a powerful fleet, at least until your research bears fruit and you get to play with the really big guns. Generally fast and fairly agile with weaponry and armour to match. From best to worst:
Federation Heavy Destroyer 2: This should be the first warship on your list when playing the Federation. It is very fast for such a powerful ship (3, the fastest in the class), quite agile and very tough. The heavy won’t be beaten by any hostile minor race fleet and in one to one encounters with similar class and experience ships will usually emerge the victor. The big advantage is the speed. For patrolling and guarding colonies, the rapid response could save colonists necks many times over, and it’s cheap to maintain! Remember CASH!
Klingon Heavy Cruiser: Reasonable speed from this original bird of prey, superb weaponry and armour, and it cloaks! What more could a hardened warrior ask for?
Ferengi War Cruiser 2 and standard Raider: Two ships here. The first is classified as command but really competes in this category. It is heavily armed with good armour and a decent turn of speed – not very agile though. The second, the basic Raider, is damned good in groups. Fast, with a speed of 3, and pretty good weaponry systems. Definitely the ship to build when playing the Ferengi.
Romulan Cruiser 2: Slow and ponderous, it only beats the Cardassian ship because it can cloak.
Cardassian Cruiser 2: Well armoured (like all Cardassian ships) but crap.
Strike Cruisers. For planetary assault.
I have to admit that I’ve always found these ships to be a bit of a waste of time. They are all slow, not very well armoured and take loads of tactical segments to turn in combat; easy prey to agile destroyers after the initial assault. Once when playing the Ferengi, I was involved in combat with a surprise attack on the Romulans. The ensuing battle was the closest call I’ve ever had in the game. The Romulans rattled off their deadly cloaked first strike taking out several of my raiders and damaging several others, I did my standard Ferengi battle plan (excellent for such agile ships): a charge followed by an evade dispersal. The Warbirds bit the dust as did most of my Raiders. The end two turns resulted in two Romulan strike cruisers with shields at full strength and of my fleet, a single raider, badly damaged. If I were facing them I’d have been mashed potatoes but after an evade manoeuvre, my Raider, one phaser blast from oblivion, found itself directly behind and above the strike ships. The raider took them both out as they flailed around trying to turn and limped home to tell the tale.
The computer seems to enjoy building fleets of strike cruisers but I never bother. They’re supposed to be good for planetary assault but I’ve never noticed any difference against planetary defences from other large armoured ships. At best cannon fodder for attacking a heavily protected system when you don’t want to lose experienced crews and at worst a needless drain on your resources. The best ship in the class is probably the Romulan model because it cloaks.
Top Command ships: For command and control.
All the following ships represent the pinnacle of design and technology in their empires and are all really as good as each other, hence they are in no particular order. Don’t think however that to be effective in combat you should build loads of these. Not so. Sometimes they can be a liability. They are expensive to run, are usually the first target in any encounter, don’t really seem to give better co-ordination to smaller ships in an assault and are usually sitting ducks in a flyby. They do have some good points though. As escorts for fleets of troops they can draw enough fire to allow the other ships to escape. As guardians of a starbase their extended range weaponry is very effective, ditto as expendable support for fleets of heavies, drawing enough fire to enable the heavies to finish the job. Expect to lose them constantly in big battles.
Federation Command Ships: Starfleet has three principal big boys that you can acquire at various stages of development: the Command Cruiser 2, the Heavy Cruiser 2 and the Dreadnought 2. In the advanced game you can bypass the first altogether and just concentrate on the other two. Until research allows, the Heavy Cruiser is adequate but once you have the capability to build Dreadnought 2s I suggest you use it. It has massive shields, armour and weapons that it uses to great effect, but only at a distance.
Romulan Warbird 2: I love this ship (Maasenstodt: truer words were never spoken)! Great weaponry virtually doubled in effectiveness by the cloaking device. A bit short on the armour maybe but what are we here, eh? Scaredy cat Cardassians? The most agile of all the big command ships, it can pivot swiftly in combat. Build lots when you can. Cheapish to maintain.
Cardassian Battleship 2: A real brute. Armour, armour and more armour. Very nasty after a flyby as (like all Cardassian ships) it can fire from the rear so doesn’t need to turn quickly. It can give the enemy quite a shock when it wipes out half of their destroyers after the initial pass.
Ferengi Marauder 2: Another surprise from our big eared friends. I have seen a Marauder head to head with a Dreadnought 2 and win. Ditto a Federation starbase. Good long range weaponry it seems.
Klingon Attack Cruiser 2: I think that this is the most scary big command ship to face in combat. Very, very tough with the most frightening weaponry. Devastating in an initial assault.
Principal Heavy Destroyers/Escorts.
I have saved this category until last because it is the most important in the game. The reason the computer AI isn’t really up to much is because it very rarely builds many of these ships and one or two of them are awesome. Once your research allows you to build fleets of these the endgame is in sight. This time the order is from worst to best.
Cardassian Heavy Cruiser 2: All Cardassian ships are slow and this is no exception. With a speed of 2, interception is sluggish. As usual it compensates with heavy armour and rear firing capability but speed and agility is of the essence in this class hence bottom place.
Romulan Battle Cruiser 2: Nine cloaked Battle Cruisers would frighten a psychopathic Klingon on cocaine. Major firepower allows for gut wrenching first strike capability. The drawbacks are lack of speed, agility and armour; very effective nevertheless. My usual Romulan task force would consist of two of these, six destroyers and a scout. It would travel a long way to meet its match.
Ferengi Raider 2: A wicked piece of machinery from the crafty alliance. Joint winner of the speed prize (4) allows it to intercept anything, plunge deep into enemy territory to take out Starbases, troops, etc. Powerful weapons and viciously agile, the silly computer never builds any but you can. Zap them round the galaxy in groups of nine causing no end of mischief. Use the ‘evade’ function liberally in battle for best results. It flies rings around more cumbersome ships.
Klingon Heavy Cruiser 2: Another ship the computer never builds. If it did, I wouldn’t be so ready to tackle the Klingons. It’s got fantastic weapons and can cloak so the battle is usually over before it starts. A fleet of these can wipe out pretty much anything. Spec is similar to the Romulan Battle Cruiser. What places it above the other ships though is, as always, speed. In this case, 3.
Federation Heavy Escort: The Crème de la Crème, the zenith of research and development. This is the most awe inspiring and deadly warship in the game. I said research was worth it and when your first Defiant class Escort is built at Utopia Planatia by Jove you’ll find out why. I almost got to the point when I wondered if this ship was indestructible.
At a galactic speed of 4 the Defiant slices through space like a scythe, outpacing everything except the swiftest Ferengi raider. In combat it is virtually unbeatable with armour, shields and weaponry better than most command vessels and agility like a Romulan Scout. A cloaked Romulan Battle Cruiser and Starbase? Child’s play for two Defiants. Seven Defiants against a Ferengi force of 50 command ships and 100 fast attack? 125 floating Ferengi shipwrecks with six escorts scanning the debris for survivors (my personal kill record). And possibly the most astounding victory of them all: a single elite rated Defiant against 15 Ferengi command and 50 fast attack. After an amazing battle, the Defiant destroyed all but 20 of the attack ships who were lucky to retreat.
Try not to get too cocky though. There are a couple of ships that could piss on your parade if you take too many chances, the Klingon Attack Cruiser 2 among them. The best method of using the escort’s extraordinary capabilities is by charge, strafe and evade, twisting in space while firing its numerous lethal phaser arrays, its powerful shields easily absorbing any lucky hits, demolishing multiple enemy vessels in a single tactical turn. Designed to fight the Borg, this beautifully sculpted viper means destruction for anything that challenges it. I thought Federation ships were dull until I built these.
Troop Transports, Outposts and Starbases.
Troops are good. You should be building troop transports fairly frequently, their purpose is twofold.
They build outposts and Starbases.
An outpost allows you to extend the range of your ships, doubles as a repair facility for damaged ships, stakes out territory and provides a small measure of defence. As soon as possible you should convert them to Starbases which have a vastly greater defensive capability. Simply give the transport the order to build outpost (preferably several transports deployed together) and when finished instruct to build Starbase. The more ships engaged in this, the faster the construction. Stick a powerful command ship in there as a guardian and Bob’s your uncle! An outpost is easily destroyed but the power of a Starbase can be immense, I took out an entire Cardassian fleet with a Federation Starbase once. Get building.
They attack enemy systems (if war has been declared) and either liberate subjugated systems – should you feel generous – or steam down and do a bit of subjugating themselves. As a rule of thumb I would check the system’s ground defence capability and assign at least one transport to the attack per 100 units of ground defence. Even that would be touch and go. The more troops, the better the chances.
Troop ships should all be escorted if they are to survive. The best ones and the fastest are the Ferengi and Klingon ships. Both have a speed of 2 and the Klingons are armed (lightly). The others are all slow and defenceless.
Minor race ships.
Several races build their own ships nearly all of these can be acquired when they become members of your empire. In general (in the “advanced” game) they are slow and useless and best scrapped (look in the ships order list and select ‘scrap’ – the computer will give you some cash). The exception – if you don’t have access to cloaking technology – is the Yridian scout which is quite fast, agile, surprisingly competent in battle and can cloak.
If you are interested in ship’s specifications, description and the technological level need to build them go into research, then objects then ships.
Every empire has its strengths and weaknesses and these should be taken into account if you want a satisfying victory. The main characteristics and areas of concern are listed below.
“A speedy victory is the main object in war. If this is long in coming, weapons are blunted and morale depressed.” Only the most naïve player would consider this unimportant. The morale of citizens within your empire can make a huge difference to production and, if ignored and neglected, can result in the loss of colonies and member states as they declare independence and/or switch allegiance.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
How do I increase general morale within my empire?
4 basic methods:
- Acquire colonies or member states
- Build ‘morale boosting’ structures
- Run emergency morale programmes
Morale levels run from Fanatic, Loyal, Pleased, Content, Apathetic, Disgruntled, Defiant and Rebellious. At ‘Fanatic,’ your population is like the Germans in 1938: hugely confident, industrious and beavering away like clockwork. When they get to ‘Rebellious’ then it’s more like the Russians in 1917: wet boots, trenchfoot, angry as hell, ready to shoot the officer class, execute the Governor and withdraw from your control.
Can be tricky to keep these righteous democrats happy. Make peace as often as possible. Don’t break treaties. If you want war, provoke other empires into declaring it first (via sabotage, making demands, etc). Only attack one system in a given time period – the liberal population of the Federation gets a little squeamish over any kind of prolonged bombardment. Acquire colonies and member states.
Don’t break treaties (lack of honour), declare war often, refuse peace, bombard systems – they like it apparently. Acquire colonies and member states.
Don’t break treaties, declare war, bomb systems, acquire colonies and member states.
Don’t break treaties, make peace, declare war, bomb systems, acquire colonies and member states.
Don’t break treaties, make peace, declare war, acquire colonies and member states, entertain your population.
So you can see the central theme that runs through all the empires. Nothing will make your populations more unhappy than a string of military failures and broken treaties. Simple, really.
So, if a system that I recently conquered has a ‘defiant’ population, what should I do? Get more colonies? Members? Win a load more battles?
Yup, if you can. When playing the Federation I try, if possible, to have a few ‘morale boosting’ moves in place following a brutal subjugation, i.e., an easy military victory against a couple of scouts and troop ships, the colonisation of a crap system close to home, the closing of a peace treaty with an adversary. Any will do. Just feed that dumb population with the soothing medicine it craves. If all that is impractical then I have to do a number three.
What’s a number three?
Didn’t you read the above list? Every empire has its emergency morale programmes. For the Cardassians this is the Inquisition, the Romulans, a Tribunal, the Klingons, Police State, Federation, Martial law and the Ferengi the Festival of Fun. All are outside the rules of production (i.e., takes place over a set time period regardless of the colony size/industry), can’t be purchased and, we hope, stop the angry indigenous dissidents from overthrowing our rightful government and depriving the empire of a source of labour.
All a bit nasty isn’t it?
Yup. Welcome to the hassles that comes with complete power.
So what about ‘morale boosting structures’?
Plenty of these on the menu. Regimes with general morale problems like the Cardassians and Ferengi have them as standard build structures for every system. The Ferengi have their Holo Cinema and the Cardassians their Orwellian Re-education center. Federation structures such as private farms and trade centres all have a morale value. All need energy for power but could be worth it as a good drug for the individual system. Then, of course, there are empire-wide morale structures, all empires have access to one of these and there are also structures available from minor races.
And they are?
The Edo and the Bajorans. The hedonistic Edo have the ‘Palace of Edo’ while the religious Bajorans have the ‘Jolanda forum’. These specialised structures make your entire empire feel better about themselves.
Are these worth acquiring?
I would say so, yes. A small caveat however. Try not to conquer Bajor. You might not keep them for long. Make friends.
Mmmm. Keep an eye on morale, eh?
Oh yes. In a serious game try and fight battles you think you have a good chance of winning, every success delivers a few brownie points to morale. Don’t just throw ships to their slaughter, the people won’t like it. Nothing succeeds like success.
“All warfare is based on deception.” Intelligence with the sub sections of Internal security, espionage and sabotage can be very important, especially at the start of the game. The empires with the best spies, saboteurs and facilities are the Cardassians and Romulans. Everyone else has to seek out minor race technology to beef up their offensive capability. So don’t start the game if playing the others by trying to send out spies to other empires unless you want war, and you don’t… yet. If playing the Federation, Klingons or Ferengi, I generally start with part of my superfluous population engaged in research until I make first contact with the Romulans or Cardassians. Then I hastily shift them into intelligence.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Cardassians especially will immediately send shadow teams from the Obsidian Order and hit you where it hurts, usually bombing all your farms so your systems are tied up with the lengthy (and costly) procedure of preventing starvation, thus not building heavy destroyers and being effectively defenceless for several turns. The start of the game is the worst. Make sure internal security is strong, strong, strong after first contact with these empires or you may find yourself struggling with famine and a single scout ship as nine battle cruisers and a host of troops pour over the border smugly annexing all your territory and issuing arrogant demands. If playing Ferengi, Federation or Klingons, your intelligence should always be defensive until you are in a position of power. Then you can start sending out the hawks, a strangely satisfying experience. I would also refrain for quite some time if playing Cardassians or Romulans. Build intelligence structures and beef up internal security as much as possible; plenty of time for dumping on the opposition later in the game. At the start, you need colonies, member systems and a large powerful fleet, NOT a big intelligence headache, all other empires hating your guts, declaring war and retaliating in kind. You have been warned.
Which minor races are useful in intelligence?
There are 5 races who can really make you into a spy master with a nice sideline in deep penetration Rambo sabotage. In every game I make it my business to get them on my side if I can. In order of importance (in my opinion), they are the Betazoids, the Ulians, the Ktarians, then the Bolians and Yridians. The Betazoids beef up internal security with their telepathic Counselling Academy, the Ulians up your intelligence across the board with their Psychohistorical Archive, the Ktarians up your sabotage potential by distributing addictive computer games among your enemies from their notorious Game Studio (Oh my Gawd! I’m a victim! A victim, ya hear?!?). The Bolians are good at cosmetic alteration (make a fortune in Hollywood) and the Yridians peddle information. Befriend these races and make them part of your team. If someone else gets them first, make them your primary targets of war later in the game.
Later in the game? Sounds like fun!
It is. Don’t worry we’ll get there.
“The skillful warriors in ancient times first made themselves invincible and then awaited the enemy's moment of vulnerability.” So you’ve got the ships but have you got the crews? Kirk's, Picard's and Janeway's don’t just pop out of thin air, you know. They have to be trained. Crew ratings are graded green, regular, veteran, elite and legendary. The higher the rating, the better the damage control and the greater accuracy of strikes. You get a lot more bang for your buck out of a legendary crew than a green one in the same ship. The crew fix the ship quicker allowing it to remain longer in combat. They evade better, raid better, intercept more effectively and are more likely to escape if need be. Trained troops have a greater ground combat effectiveness and trained colonists terraform with greater speed.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Sounds useful. How do I train them?
- At a home system training facility
- In combat
At a minor race training facility
What’s a training facility?
A school structure where they take Wesley's and turn them into Worf's. Starfleet has the best with their Academy. It gives 50 points of experience per turn when the ship is ordered to ‘train’ on Sol. The Klingons come next with their Tactical College, giving 45, then the Cardassians with their Central Command at 40, then the Romulan Naval Academy (35). These facilities are all based in the home system. Make sure they are powered up then give the ship its orders. Easy peasy. Oh, and all ships built in the home system when the academy is powered are built with a rating of 700 (Regular).
What about the Ferengi?
Ah ha! The foolish Ferengi are obviously too busy in fantasy land to give much thought to training. There are no training structures on Ferenginar. Their crews come into the world with a big fat rating of 0 (Green). This is another reason why the Ferengi can be tricky to play.
Mmm. You mentioned combat?
Yup. This is the fastest and riskiest route. You can throw ‘em in at the deep end, make them learn the hard way. They gain points based on their kills. Pootling around blowing up colony ships or transports is given little worth whereas prevailing against a large bristling fleet of Klingon battle cruisers adds a shed-load of gongs to your tunic. It can turn a green ship into a veteran after one battle.
It can also get you dead, with the added pain that the Klingon fleet that wiped you out gains big rating points from the experience.
Oh. Well, what about the minor race facilities? There are two of these. The Andorian War College and the Zackdorn Military Academy. It pays, especially if you are a Ferengi, to acquire these minor races.
Tell me more about these two?
The structure on Andor uses a hundred units of energy to run and it gives ships an extra 25 rating per turn. Not quite as good as any of the home systems but better than nothing.
The Zackdorn are the cat’s pyjamas. The Military Academy uses a lot of energy to run (200) but the old masters give your crews an extra 100 rating points per turn.
Yup. Get out there and make friends with the Zackdorn before the Klingons do.
Finally, training is good but don’t spend all your time doing it. A veteran crew should be perfectly capable of holding its own in battle upping its rating with far greater speed than it could at an academy. Training colleges are most useful for training troop transports. Value your experienced crews. Don’t throw them away on planetary assaults or futile battles. Attach green and regular ships to legendary task forces, hopefully they will survive encounters and quickly gain experience.
“He who is well prepared and lies in wait for an enemy who is not well prepared will be victorious.” What’s the point of research in the advanced game you say? I just want to get out there, kill Ferengi and gallivant round the galaxy with my chums in the Talshiar!
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Tut tut. Without research you won’t get to use the best and baddest ships. Without research you won’t be able to upgrade to the best food, industry, energy and intelligence structures. Your chums in the Talshiar are going to look pretty silly trying to fend off the new and improved Obsidian order from a neglected dusty office. Not to mention your crews stuck at the helms of inferior ships when the Klingons unveil their gleaming new Attack Cruiser 2s or the Ferengi post you a brochure for their improved rapid Raider.
Point taken. Ok then, tell me about research.
There are six areas of research. You can find these by clicking on the research segment of the command hexagon, In the advanced game you start with a rating of 8 in each of the fields. To get all the top structures you need to attain 9 in every category, and getting the best ships can vary but usually demands a ten in more than one category. You can find out what you need by clicking on object database, then ships, then select the ship you want. At the bottom of the screen it will tell you what you need to be able to build the ship. If anything is red, that’s what you need (you can also get the info on all ships and structures available in this section).
How do I speed up my research?
- Build research structures (usually laboratories) and stick some population units to work them.
- Build energy powered research structures and power them.
Acquire minor races with research talents, then build and power their special structures.
You know what those are, you start the game with several research structures in your three systems, just under intelligence.
And energy powered research structures?
All races have access to stimulators. For the Federation and Romulans these are subatomic stimulators which give 150 research points when powered. The others have to make do with theoretical stimulators which only yield 100. In addition, depending on which empire you play, you may have energy structures that only you can build giving you a clear edge.
And these are?
Too numerous to mention. The Federation has a big lead in research with things like the Daystrom Institute and Genesis Lab. Go into Sol, then energy and have a look at all the goodies. After the Federation, the Romulans are best, then the Klingons, Cardassians, and finally the poor old Ferengi.
Ok, what about the minor races? Who can help me design those Defiants?
Most of the minor races out there are scientific races who have structures which can help you out in one area or another. There are, however, three in particular that I would recommend acquiring, their talents giving an empire-wide boost to all your efforts.
And these Einsteins are?
Top of the class is, yup, you guessed it, the Vulcans. They have a Science Academy that gives your empire a 35% increase in all research areas. You’ll need to reserve 170 energy units to run it. In at number two are everyone’s favourite symbiots, the Trill. Their Research Committee gives 30% across the board and needs 150 energy. Number three brainbox slot belongs to the Caldonians with a Research Think Tank at 25% needing 200 energy. Recruit all three of these races and every category of research will be boosted by a mega 90%, and that’s on top of your own structures and efforts.
Yes indeedy. Watch out for the many other races who have more localised research talents as well and it won’t be long before you can start kicking some ass with superior machinery.
“Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy. Next best is to disrupt his alliances by diplomacy.” Minor Races
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Ok ok, you keep telling me about all these minor races. How do I get them working for me?
- Conquer them
Butter them up with money until they join you Tell me about the conquering.
Nope. You can find that in the section under ‘War’. This is Diplomacy.
Ok, tell me about the buttering then.
When you encounter a new race the computer will tell you and give a brief outline of their capabilities and how useful to you they might be. Under their picture you will see a little ‘attitude bar.’ This tells you how much they like you. At worst it can read enraged, then icy, uncooperative, neutral, receptive, cordial, enthusiastic, then finally worshipful. Some races, depending on who you play, will like your more than others on first contact. Some empires are more popular than others. The Federation generally gets a cheerful reception with many races such as the Vulcans (receptive initially), whereas the Cardassians are disliked by many. The other empires are all somewhere in between.
So… The only way to get them on your side is to give them money, end of story. This is achieved through the ‘propose, gift’ functions. You get a choice of wording so be careful what you say. The more cash you send, the quicker you gain popularity. When they are ‘receptive,’ they can usually be persuaded into a friendship treaty. This allows trade. When the counter hits ‘cordial’ or even better, ‘enthusiastic,’ you’ve got an affiliation treaty in the bag. This gives you the use of their shipyards (if they have them), increasing your range. At this point you should be bunging them cash every turn if you can. When you’ve filled the bar all the way up and it reaches ‘worshipful,’ it's time to offer membership. You will usually get it and the system now joins your empire. You can get in there and build the Science Academy or whatever.
And that’s it?
Not quite. The first, absolute priority on your list when acquiring a minor race is to build a communication grid in that system and power it. If it takes more than one turn to build, then buy it and make sure you check its power.
What’s that all about then?
The chances are that others empires have either made first contact with your minor race or are going to at some point. They might have even got there before you and believe me, they won’t be twiddling their thumbs. If the system’s worth having and war is impractical they’ll be sending little gifts. When the system is affiliated with you or a member these ‘gifts’ will become bribes. The communication grid fortifies them against these bribes (500% to be exact) and usually – though not always – works for the duration of the game. You yourself have this option with minor race members of enemy empires. You’ll find it in diplomacy under ‘request.’ So, build those grids.
You said it doesn’t always work?
Yeah. You have to keep an eye on how happy they are. Go into ‘active’ and check out your treaties. If that attitude bar starts to slip by so much as one counter then bung them more cash, even if they are a member. Certain races do, on occasion, break their treaty with you only to join another empire. If you get a persistent treaty breaker during a game – and it is usually just the one – then conquering them is the only solution. This has happened to me many times. Some races seem to be repeat offenders. The Ktarians are always a pain and the Tamarians and Takarans have given me grief in the past. Also, surprisingly, the Mintakans. I liberated them from the oppression of Cardassian rule once, got them worshipful, built a grid and spent a lot of money on the system rebuilding only to have the ungrateful pointy-eared idiots break off and join their old oppressors. I was so pissed off at this that I declared war on the Cardassians and took the system by force before I was ready. My strategy now with an offender is to keep them sweet with regular payments as I amass troops in the system, sometimes built at their own shipyards. I then strip them of all defences (orbital batteries, bunkers and shields), wait until they declare independence, then invade. No more trouble.
Be warned: build communication grids and watch your members.
What about diplomacy with other empires?
Each empire has its own characteristics, attitudes and some are more trustworthy than others. The Klingons and Cardassians are most likely to refuse an offer of non-aggression on first contact, the Federation, Ferengi and Romulans most likely to accept. The most likely empires to break a treaty are the Ferengi and the Cardassians but quite frankly I don’t trust anybody.
Rival empires will constantly be sending you demands for money and/or territory. You’ll have to weigh these against your strategic objectives. If the Cardassians are on the opposite side of the galaxy and can’t really wage an effective war with you then you can reject every demand they send and not really bother about it. If they’re sat right next door and you need to keep the peace while you prepare your fleets to mash them later you might consider accepting. If you’re at war with someone and they send a demand, tell them to get lost. If you have a lucrative friendship treaty with trade bringing in serious cash then it may be politic to part with a few credits. Most of the time though you simply can’t afford it, especially with the Ferengi who always seem to demand the most outrageous amounts.
Sometimes it works but most often you’ll be told to go to hell. When playing the Federation I use this along with espionage as a handy device for provoking a war when declaring it myself would decrease my empire’s morale.
Replying to diplomatic messages
Be very mindful of which empire you are when deciding how to respond to messages. How you react could affect empire morale.
For example, if I’m playing the Federation and I receive a non-aggression proposal from, say, the Ferengi that I don’t want because its not part of my gameplan and I actively reject the proposal, then my empire loses morale points because the Federation is supposed to be a force of peace. Not too good. However, if I ignore the proposal, no one’s the wiser. BUT, if as the Klingons I receive an identical proposal in the same situation, I would actively reject it. In doing so my empire gains morale points because Klingons don’t like making peace. Simple really.
Depends. If you intend on declaring war anyway then send them out. If you receive them and you’re not ready then refuse them. Again be mindful of who you’re playing and how your actions affect morale.
Affiliations and alliances
Affiliations can be very useful but also very risky. When you sign an affiliation treaty with another empire it gives you the use of all their starbases outposts and shipyards effectively adding their range to your own and enabling you to find new colonies and make contact with more minor races. Unfortunately, they get the same benefits allowing them to lounge their fleets in all your precious colonies, meet your members and bribe them. There is also the substantial risk that they could suddenly break the treaty while their ships are swarming all over your space. I never trust them one little bit. If I’ve got 20 Cardassian Battleships and troops hanging around a sector somewhere I always have to tie up a task force to keep an eye on them should they start making trouble. Other empire affiliations can be a pain as well. If I’m at war with the Cardassians who’re on the other side of the galaxy with the Romulans separating us and they sign an affiliation treaty and if the Romulans have a non aggression agreement with me then I can’t enter their territory but the Cardies have carte blanche to mass on my borders and I can’t touch them without breaking my Romulan treaty – very frustrating.
Alliances are pretty much the same except you can win the game as part of an alliance. But you don’t really want that, do you? Much more fun on your own.
So be mindful of your decisions and how they affect morale. Don’t be bullied. Be wary of affiliations but use them to your advantage. Don’t trust anyone ever. The most worshipful friend could declare war at any time, especially the Cardassians or Ferengi.
“War is a matter of vital importance to the state; a matter of life or death, the road either to survival or to ruin. Hence, it is imperative that it be studied thoroughly.“ War! ooh! aah! What is it good for? Absolutely everything!!
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
Nobody likes breaking treaties but everyone except the Federation likes declaring war. To attack enemy systems and minor races you must declare war. Everybody likes attacking system except the Federation. When playing the Federation you have to be a bit more sneaky when it comes to war and try to get your enemies to declare it on you. Then the people are happy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always that easy.
Risks of war
Paradoxically, you are at your greatest likelihood of having war declared on you when you are at your most vulnerable and most powerful. In the very early stages of the advanced game, the first few contacts could yield disaster if you are under strength. One empire may have chosen to blithely build colony ships along with a couple of destroyers at the go and be absolutely wiped out in a short space of time. I usually adopt this strategy when playing the Klingons. If the geography of the galaxy is favourable I can absorb the entire Ferengi alliance almost before I’ve made contact with all the other empires. Neighbouring empires at the start (Federation excepted) can sense military weakness like a murder of Crows. Don’t think you will be left alone to peacefully colonise if you can’t defend yourself. Once you have deterred invaders and established a growing empire, things settle down and the game becomes a war of attrition. When you have grown hugely powerful, the computer usually makes a decision and everyone declares war on you simultaneously regardless of your relationship with them. If in an alliance and you reject the option of an alliance victory, your allies will turn on you fairly soon. Be prepared for this if you are not willing to accept the saccharine rewards of a joint triumph.
What about war against minor races?
Again, for everyone other than the Federation, this is the route to take during the early stages. There is usually a mad scramble of war declarations early on; most minor races being pretty defenceless, a few troopships easily adding profitable systems to a tyrannical empire. This does, however, result in half an empire that doesn’t want to work and spends most of its time trying to rebel, a bit of a pain in the ass. I have to say I like my citizens happy. It cuts the time I have to spend checking on them. Personally, I would weigh it all up carefully. If, for example, I’m playing the Ferengi and I encounter the Zackdorn (Military) and the Betazoids (Intelligence), knowing that my Romulan neighbours had made contact with them also, I would dispense with the niceties and conquer them as soon as possible. I would really need the Military Academy for my ships and the Counselling structure for internal security (especially against the Romulans). I couldn’t therefore take the risk that either race may join the Romulans so war and conquest is the speedy solution. I then have to contain morale problems as best I can. Some races knuckle down meekly under subjugation. Others spend most of their time hating their overlords and trying to assassinate the Governor.
Ha ha! You’ll find out Mister Gowron. Let’s just say, keep a special eye on the Talarians, the Chalnoth and all other warlike races. Be especially aware of the Bajorans. Way back when, I had to wipe them off the face of the galaxy and re-colonise the system with nice, loyal Romulans.
It works both ways though. If you get them as members, they will never defect, stubborn bastards.
So, If I’m playing anyone other than the Federation, I can just overrun all minor races I encounter?
Not all, I’m afraid. Some are very, very well defended, again mostly the warlike races. Watch out for these – they sometimes have enough orbital batteries to blast your ships directly to Sto-vo-kor.
I’m glad you asked that. I shall start with system defense and then move on to attack, Ok?
“Defend yourself when you cannot defeat the enemy,” During war you have (as does everyone else) five avenues of defence for a planetary system.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
And they are?
(Obviously) A fleet of ships guarding the system
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the rest?
- Orbital batteries
- Shield generators
- Bunker networks
Special minor race defence structures
Hokay. What are orbital batteries?
Orbital batteries are robotic defence machines that orbit a planetary system keeping an eye out for attacking enemy vessels. They are powered by energy units, each battery using 50 units of energy. When a foreign fleet with troops launches an assault against the system, the batteries open fire. If the batteries are hugely outnumbered (and outgunned) by the attacking fleet then they will be destroyed. If they outclass the invasion force then they will destroy a load of enemy shipping. They will always destroy troop transports on their own. You can never (in my experience) take a system with a battery using just troops.
So, how would I best attack such a defended system?
As a rule of thumb, assign at least 2 powerful starships to every orbital battery for a guaranteed success. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes a fairly small task force can get lucky with these defences but I like to make sure of a kill. The more ships assigned to a planetary assault, the fewer lost. A massive strike is the best chance for success. If playing the Federation, you should bear this in mind for morale purposes. The quicker you make your conquest, the less opportunity political renegades have to spread doom and gloom within your empire.
How about using orbital batteries for my own empire defense?
Simple. Build as many as you can power everywhere. You can use energy on other structures until the threat of invasion, then switch them on. There is no such thing as too many orbital batteries.
Shield generators have a two-fold benefit. Using the same principles as a starship shield, they provide a measure of protection for all structures in the system that you may have built and also hinder raiding (ships trying to intercept trade and steal money). When a task-force launches an assault, planetary shields minimise the damage. Costing 50 energy, they are worth their weight in latinum.
Available in all empires apart from the poor Ferengi. A bunker network only uses a 10 of energy yet gives a system a good boost for their ground defence once the batteries and shields have been overcome. It allows your population to dig down deep and annoy any invading troops with their resistance. Again, build them everywhere you can.
Special/minor race structures?
Several warlike minor races have nothing to offer to an empire other than their industry and fortified ground defences (Anticans and Selay with their ‘Mustering Base’ special structures, Angosians with their “super soldier” structure, etc.) Use these if practical.
Lastly, if you more the cursor over the star in your system on the small map a list will appear giving you the defensive statistics for that system, powered orbital batteries, shields (if you have them) and the ground defence number. Usually the level of ground defence is in ratio to the system's population size, the exception being Klingon systems which have a much greater ground defence capability than other empires due to a Klingon special structure. In times of peace, all defensive structures need not be powered so the energy can be used on other special structures. Make sure, however, that, if need be, you have enough energy for your defences. Batteries and shields without a usable energy source are a waste of time.
Much of the above about defence applies to attack, just in reverse. There are a couple of things to add. When attacking a subjugated minor race of an enemy, you are given the option to either liberate them or subjugate them yourself. With all empires bar the Federation, the second option has no effect on morale. With the Federation a liberation gives you morale but a subjugation decreases it. You’ll have to see how happy your citizens are in general before you decide which option to take. Subjugating too many systems in quick succession (as you might if playing the Klingons) can turn your empire from ‘fanatic’ to ‘disgruntled‘ in a short space of time, so be careful. Also, you can choose to wipe the system population out completely without bothering to invade. This can have advantages in certain situations. If say the Ferengi have recently colonised a prime system so it has a very low population you’d probably be better off getting rid of them completely and then re-colonising with your own people to avoid a subjugated Ferengi morale headache. Again, no-one except the Federation has too many problems with this, although, on occasion, the Romulans aren’t too keen on prolonged civilian bombardment. The more ships deployed on this the better. A huge fleet of powerful vessels can wipe a large system in a couple of turns.
“When ten to the enemy's one, surround him. When five times his strength, attack him. If double his strength, divide him. If equally matched, you may engage him with some good plan. If weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing. And if in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him, for a small force is but booty for one more powerful if it fights recklessly.” In times of war, first contact or in the absence of a non-aggression treaty, when your ships encounter others, you get a little siren and a box telling you how many ships you have facing the enemy. There are three options.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
- Open hailing frequencies
The only time I use Auto is when my ships vastly outnumber the enemy and I can’t be bothered watching 10 Command blow up a colony ship, but in virtually all other cases you should press fight. Don’t worry about the hailing frequencies. In the combat screen you are given this option again should you not want to fight. There are many instances for hailing, first contact with Vulcans say, when you want them as allies and won’t get very far if you destroy their ships.
Say I want to fight. How do I do it?
On the screen your fleet and the enemies are displayed facing each other. If you click on one your ships the whole class will be selected in green (i.e.: all fast attack, all command, all non-combatant, strike etc) and a list of orders will appear. After you have selected your orders you then select the opposing ship group that you want to target.
Orders vary depending on the ship’s class. The only order that is not available to fast attack ships is ‘assault’
- Group Assault (command)
- Group Charge
- Group Harry (fast attack) or circle (command)
- Group Strafe (fast attack) or flyby (command)
- Group Evade
- Group Ram
- Group Retreat
- Group Open hailing frequencies
If you press 'select ship', you are given the option to give individual ships separate orders. However, the best method is to first give the entire group its orders and then select individual ships. If you start by selecting ships, then any group order cancels out separate orders.
What do they do?
- Assault: Orders command or strike ships to fire using long range weapons.
- Charge: Orders all ships to charge firing all weapons at close range.
- Harry/Circle: Orders ships to circle the enemy firing long range weapons
- Strafe/Flyby: Orders ships to charge at an angle and attempt an outflanking move.
- Evade: Orders ships to evade enemy weaponry while firing, dogfight style.
- Ram: Orders ships to ram the enemy firing weapons.
- Retreat: Orders ships to retreat (they stay in the sector if you win and retreat from the sector if you lose).
Open hailing frequencies: Orders ships to open a channel/leaves them vulnerable.
So what’s the best?
It would take up half my hard disk to describe how each empire's individual ships respond to various orders and many might disagree with my opinions.
Ok. I’m going to make this snappy.
- Set all non-combat ships to retreat (unless you have Klingon ships and are facing a vastly inferior force).
- Give all cloaked Romulan/Klingon ships assault and charge orders first for maximum stealth strike damage.
- For small, agile ships (Romulan destroyers, Ferengi Raiders) charge and evade is very good. Be wary of initial strafing as your ships turns so quickly you could end up with your backs to the enemy.
- Harry and Circle orders are mostly effective for strike and command ships.
- Flyby after assault is a good idea for slowly turning command vessels (doesn’t much matter for Cardassians as they can fire from the rear).
- Ships with heavy damage should be either set to evade or retreat.
- Target the toughest enemy ships first.
- Don’t send small destroyers in to a starbase. It will pick them off one by one well before they can get within range.
- Set scouts to retreat if forces are evenly matched, evade if you have a large superiority.
- Look at enemy crew ratings before venturing into battle. A legendary task force will beat the crap out of an equal opposing green force.
- Don’t send heavily damaged ships into battle.
- Review the opposing ship types and keep an eye on nearby fleets. You don’t want to move to a sector to find the number of enemy has doubled.
- If behind enemy shipping, charge.
- For a damaged ship that you know won’t have time to retreat, set to ram the closest enemy.
- Target damaged enemy ships (to knock them out before damage control teams can strengthen the defences).
- Retreat as a last resort. Retreating ships are sitting ducks until they hit warp.
- Don’t be discouraged after an initial Romulan assault.
Don’t ever get too cocky with the Klingons.
There you go. All different ships react differently and have different strengths and weakness. A lot of this is trial and error. Look at the design of your machinery and use it accordingly. Only a total dimwit would set large ships to evade and small ones to charge at every turn, or send fleets of scouts after heavily armoured command ships (something I tried once as an experiment, 20 trained Klingons scouts against a single Cardassian Battleship 2; result = a roman candle of 20 scouts illuminating the heavens).
Half the time the computer is staggeringly stupid. I absolutely love it when the Romulans and Cardassians send destroyers in after my starbases or trained troops meaninglessly wander en masse round my space unescorted to be obliterated. Best of all though is the daft AI that sends defeated ships back in smaller numbers to the fleet that just kicked their butts to be finished off.
And that, my friends, is war.
“Generally, management of a large force is the same as management of a few men. It is a matter of organization.” In this section I will take two hypothetical, newly formed Federation colonies and try to walk you through how I would develop them throughout the game for optimum efficiency. If nurtured and used wisely both of these will be absolutely vital to my war effort and eventual galactic dominance. I have just started sending scouts out and have discovered two sites.
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
System 1. Mertens
I made first contact with the Ferengi in this sector and immediately went crazy. The first thing I sent to Mertens, which is 5 sectors distant from Sol, was a heavy destroyer and hot on its heels 2 colony ships and a pair of troop transports.
Because Mertens is a dream, dream, dream of a system. Its huge, with a maximum population potential of 435. The growth rate is massive, with a 4½ % growth rate, and it contains dream planets (find all this at the bottom of the screen, move the cursor over the planets for details): two large terran planets (no need for terraforming there), an oceanic planet (allows a special structure), a barren plant (allows a special structure) and an arctic planet (yup, allows a special structure) … and its got Dilithium!! The heavy destroyer is there to zap any opportunistic Ferengi colony or scout ships (and I know they’re on their way), the transports to build a starbase. Mertens could be the America to Sol’s Europe. An industrial powerhouse, a military and economic colossus!
Wow! What are these special structures?
- An aquaculture center for my oceanic planet gives me loads of food allowing me to free population units to work elsewhere.
- Wind turbines for my barren planet gives me 50 units of energy.
Charge collectors for my Arctic planet give me another 100 units of energy.
Yippee, yippee, yippe, ayayyyay!!!
Ok, ok, ok! What next?
When my colony ships and transports arrive the first thing I do is use one to colonise. That way the system’s mine and the Ferengi can’t scoop it out from under my nose. The remaining colony ship I set to terraforming at leisure the planets that need it. There’s no real rush now; the territory is mine, and short of declaring war there’s nothing the big-eared brigade can do about it. The troops are ordered to build an outpost and back home in Solarean (one of my initial colonies), another troop ship, freshly built, is already en route to Mertens. Its mission is to join the troops in construction of a starbase when the outpost’s finished. If nothing drastic happens in the meantime then the system will be heavily protected in short order.
I take a turn. Whoopee, ‘This system is now Federation territory.’ Great stuff. The people are happy. Now I’m going to send the Ferengi a non-aggression proposal which they’ll probably sign. This will keep them away from Mertens and make my people even happier, a double whammy!
Yup, the outpost is nearly finished. Time to go into the Mertens system and start building goodies.
I double click on the system and go into the build list screen. The row of buttons on the left hand side gives me access to all areas of Mertens production, all available structures, the energy structure portfolio, the full monty. The first thing I add to the build list on the right is an aquaculture center (which I buy). This is going to cost me 300 credits and gives Mertenfolk an extra 50 units of food. This population is going to balloon rapidly as the game progresses. I have about 30,000 credits. The aquaculture center is a one off purchase and it doesn’t use any energy – money well spent. Then I add my energy producing structures to the list, the wind turbines and charge collectors. In the following two turns I will buy both of these facilities. It’s going to cost me 200 for the turbines and 500 for the collectors but give me 150 units of permanent energy to play around with.
A turn. I buy the turbines. There is a message from the Ferengi: ‘You are expanding close to our borders, blah, blah, blah.’ I ignore it. Outpost completed. I order the troops to start construction of a starbase. When this is finished any interlopers are going to need heavy guns indeed to start messing with my Mertonians. Until then they are vulnerable and the heavy destroyer remains.
A turn. I buy the charge collectors. The Ferengi sign my non-aggression treaty. Suckers. The people are happy as pigs in shit.
Right. I now have Mertens with 150 available energy and a host of energy powered structures that I can build/buy (building is impractical at this stage, everything has to be bought).
Here’s the shopping list:
- A Trade Center. Cost 500. Energy requirement 20. Benefit: +50% credits.
- Federation Replicator. Cost 500. Energy 10. Benefit: +50 food.
- Subatomic Simulators. Cost 600. Energy requirement 80. Benefit: +150 research
- Starfleet Shipyard. Cost 500. Energy 25. Benefit: builds ships (irrelevant at the moment here), extends ships range (very relevant, but the starbase will perform the same function)
- Planetary Shields. Cost 500. Energy 50. Benefit: planetary defence.
- Private Farms. Cost 1500. Energy 80. Benefit: +20 food +1 morale.
- Orbital Battery. Cost 500. Energy 50. Benefit: Planetary defence.
- Dilithium Refinery. Cost 500. Energy 30. Benefit: (See below)
- Bunker Network. Cost 300. Energy 10. Benefit: Planetary defence.
Genesis Research Lab. Cost 2500. Energy 100. Benefit: +100 biotech research +1 Morale.
A Brief note on Dilithium:
The more Dilithium rich systems you can get, the better. The game allows you to build ships only according to the amount of dilithium resources you have. For example, if I have four dilithium refineries in operation throughout my empire yet am engaged in construction of shipping in eight separate colony shipyards, then I will only be allowed to built ships in four of those shipyards at any one time, the other four will be kept on hold until the first four are built. If I have three shipyards (like at the start) and only one dilithium plant then it won’t matter that all three ships are due to be built in a turn, they will have to wait in the ‘available dilithium’ queue. Hence, more dilithium, swifter ship construction.
Ok, here goes.
My instinctive purchases for this system (which add up to 150 energy requirement) after every turn are as follows and I’ll try and explain why.
- Dilithium refinery
- Federation replicator
- Trade center
- Subatomic stimulators
Dilithium Refinery. I’m at the start of the game, remember? I have three systems and only one (my home system Sol) has dilithium. This isn’t always the case but I’m trying to build ships in all three systems and I need to speed up production.
Federation Replicator. This (along with the aquaculture center) will give my fledgling Goliath a huge food resource right from the start. I can then take all population units out of the farms and put them to work in the factories, speeding up production within the system.
Trade Center. I’m spending a lot of cash on this colony. The trade center will repay me as a long term investment as the colony grows.
Subatomic Stimulators. It’s going to be a while before any meaningful research can be produced. My initial three starsystems will need to be engaged with internal security, otherwise I can kiss goodbye to all the structures built here as the Obsidian Order blows them up. The stimulators can keep the research ticking along until my intelligence is strong enough to allow a few population units into laboratories.
Bunker Network. I’m getting a reasonable income now and have only 10 energy units left to play with. Why leave them idle? There’s nothing else I can buy.
These structures have taken me several turns to buy (you can only buy one item per system per turn). The structures are all powered (find them in energy, on the left side of the system window). The Starbase is finished, my destroyer has other business, and the population of Mertens has started to grow (4.5% every turn). I now turn my attention to the system's basic industrial structures. These are found under ‘production’ on the left hand side of the window. My starting point is 3 class 1 farms and a single class 1 industrial structure.
In very little time in this colony, the food production bar has started to fill as the population grows. I can now see that there is a huge glut of food for the available population (a bit like the US). No problem, I’m going to take one unit out into the labour pool and then reassign it to my one industrial structure below (this will increase the general build rate), then I’m going to fill the queue with basic structure construction. As the populace swells, the idle are added by default to food production. If there are insufficient structures for them to operate, then they lounge in the unemployed bar at the bottom of the window. My job, as an efficient governor is to make sure that nobody in this system ever starves or is ever idle.
I now have to put my forecast hat on and make an executive decision (based on final colony size) about how many industrial structures/food structures/etc. I’ll need for the future. With such a massive colony this is going to be a lot. In the later stages of the game, I’m going to be expecting a turbo-charged Sol beating performance from these people so I need to keep an eye on them.
I start with industry structures (never upgrading initially; I prefer to build the basic model then upgrade when I have all I want/need). As a very, very loose rule I build approx. 20 for a large system, 15 for a medium and 10 for a small. Farms are next with approx. 8 for large, 6 for medium and 4 for small. For energy it would be 12 for large, 8 for medium and 6 for small. With intelligence and research structures, I would mirror energy. So, what do I do with Mertens?
I’m going to start with 15 industry structures in the queue (not the full compliment I want but I know that the population will exceed the food supply before all these structures are completed). I will purchase the first and possibly the second industrial structure as I know the food supply for the population will be ample for several turns and I can re-deploy food producers to industry. I will then add 8 farms and the intell and research structures in the numbers above. All of these structures will be class 1. As the population grows and the structures are built they will start to fill them and progression is smooth. It takes a large amount of skill and experience to predict at a glance if the population will outstrip the food supply before they start building the farms. You will get a feel for this. I will need to monitor this system closely as things progress. Assuming the population is on the breadline as the last of the industry structures are built and farms go into production, I know I’ve done my job well. When every basic structure I want is built then I can start with my upgrades, buying them if I’m wealthy and watching as the good people of Mertens progress confidently through construction of class 2 to class 8 and 9 structures. I can build orbital batteries, shipyards and everything else that these hardworking colonists deserve. I can defend them well, treat them well and they’ll help me to conquer the galaxy.
At the endgame.
Many, many turns later, my Mertonians have a huge population almost exclusively working in class 9 intelligence. They’ve contributed to so much bombing, stealing, poisoning and general mayhem within the Ferengi alliance that words just fail me. The system is hideously well armed with more than twenty orbital batteries (with a potential power source, of course). Before using their remarkable talents in intelligence, they manned the laboratories and my Defiants (many built here) arrogantly patrol the galaxy as a testament to their endeavour. Wasn’t it worth it at the start?
System 2. Catulan
Colony 2 is Catulan, right next door to Sol. It has a population potential of just over 100, a crap growth rate 0.5%, no planets allowing special structures (all are volcanic), nothing, zilch.
What do I do with Catulan?
I terraform it and colonise when I’ve got nothing better to do. I then go into the system and fill the build list with basic structures and then forget about it. Unless the people starve, they can just keep building while I ponce around the galaxy taking care of more important matters. When the queue is empty I upgrade. End of story.
You will get a feel for colonies. Remember, all empires have access to different structures. The Roms and Cardassians can build Phoenix facilities which enhance intelligence (as if they need it). You will have to decide what is important for your strategic objectives. As the Federation, I know that I can easily dominate the game with Defiant class ships so research is paramount. The only way to get a real feel for this is to play and make mistakes. The more colonies, the better. The domination game is, after all, based on how much you control so no system within your grasp should be ignored. Priorities may be different depending on the location of the newly acquired colony. A colony far away from Sol on the fringes of enemy space may be far more useful (if outposts/starbases are impractical) with energy used for a shipyard extending your range and with such an isolated colony, I may forego the replicators and stimulators to build batteries and shields. Money permitting, I would build all and power whatever was needed at the time.
And that’s system management.
I used to always play with random events set to ‘on,’ partly because I wanted the game to be as hard as I could get it and partly because I loved dealing with a Borg invasion. I changed my mind as I'll explain in a while. Firstly, what happens when this device is enabled? Accidents, accidents and more accidents + weird entities from outside the galaxy wandering around damaging systems and destroying starships.
What kind of accidents?
Various. They include colonies getting plagues resulting in millions dying, earthquakes that destroy structures and kill millions, energy meltdowns that destroy power plants, comets hitting planets and killing millions, red giants going nova and obliterating entire systems, renegade members of your own intelligence trying to assassinate allies, sub-space anomalies that disable all warp drives for several turns, planets undergoing climate change (sometimes quite handy), strange viral infections that eat into ships' hulls… I’m sure there are more I’ve only ever had the viral thing once. Most of these accidents are a pain but they do liven the game up a bit.
And the weird entities?
The Calamarain, a gaseous lifeform that floats around, quite tough, and needs several powerful ships to destroy it. The Chodak Dreadnought, a bloody great ship whose purpose is far from clear. Combat drones, deadly for most ships but can be taken by a single Defiant. A Husnock Raider, another ship from an extinct race wandering around looking for ships to fire on. Gomtuu, that sentient suicidal ship; ignore it and it will ignore you. The Tarrellian ship: kill it quickly, it wipes out systems. And of course, the Borg Cubes which you need to send a major task force after unless you want to lose your empire colony after colony after colony.
Sounds like fun.
It is, but sometimes it can wreck the game, and not for you.
After the first few encounters when I was new to the game, I never worried much about Borg invasions. Indeed, I welcomed them once I knew how many ships I needed to take them out (a lot). There’s just one small problem: the AI in the game isn’t too smart. There I am in the middle of a fantastic game, all the empires well balanced and a lot of intrigue going on when wallop!! The Borg invade Cardassia at the other end of the galaxy, well out of range. The computer couldn’t fight them off because it’s stupid so the entire game was ruined as the Borg wiped out the Cardassians and then moved on to the Ferengi leaving a string of barren systems in their wake. They wiped out my opponents and effectively spoiled the game. If the programme was such that they only invaded me then I’d have random events on all the time. Answer your question?
Mmm I dunno, I still want to meet them.
I thought you might.
“nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuvering for advantageous positions.”
Sun Tzu ‘The art of war’
When you have the ability to survive the bad times in the early stages and construct a large and powerful empire, usually balancing the galaxy between yourself and the other four empires, your colonies are all nearly up to full strength, your research nearing future tech 1 (11 in each category) and your fleets large, well trained and armed to the teeth, then you are ready to start the endgame. This stage usually coincides with your final ship upgrade being available through research. As soon as you have got to that ship there is no point in further research. You can then divert all of your vast research resources to espionage and sabotage in preparation for the final push. Every single subatomic and theoretical stimulator can be scrapped, every laboratory and hall of learning demolished, only retaining the ones that help with morale as an addition. For every structure scrapped you will get some cash. Your finances should be very healthy indeed at this point and you should be able to balance your fleet with your budget very nicely.
A short note on ships and finance:
Every ship you build costs a certain amount of credits to maintain per turn. If you build a larger fleet than your empire can sustain financially, then your credit income per turn will go into the red accordingly, subtracting that amount from your reserves every turn. Be aware of this or you will go bankrupt. Unnecessary and obsolete/inexperienced ships should always be a priority for scrapping. Keep an eye on that cash.
With a large empire I always feel very secure if I have an income of about 1000 credits per turn and reserves of at least 70 000. I’m quite willing to build many more ships and drop my income radically if I know that I’m going to be attacking / acquiring systems fairly soon so will gain territory and lose attacking ships in the process.
To scrap structures, go into your systems, then into structures, then click on the structures and you will be given the option. You can now turn your attention to super construction and advanced intelligence.
My large powerful empire is now very well-defended, almost impregnable. My internal security is strong and the computer has just told me that I have the capability to build Dreadnought 2s (or Warbird 2s, Battle cruiser 2s, Marauder 2s, Attack cruiser 2s). I am lucky enough to have recruited the Vulcans and Trill for my research but they are now no longer as important as they were. Now I want my intelligence and military people. I have the Ulians and the Ktarians well behind the front line and the Zackdorn (with a very large system) in a great strategic position a couple of sectors from the Klingon border, guarded by a starbase, two Defiant escorts and busy training a vast army of troop transports. Some of these transports have already attained a ‘legendary’ status. Other escorts patrol my borders, occasionally ploughing deep into Cardassian space (they declared war ages ago) and taking out their ships as they build them. The reason I don’t launch a full scale invasion of Cardassia is because I know that the other empires have huge fleets training away behind their borders. Most of the time I have no idea where the ships are or what they’re doing. I really don’t want an attack to come out of the blue. How can I get a decent advance warning of any invasion plan to my outer colonies so escorts can swiftly beat it back before any damage is done? The answer lies with my scanners.
In all systems you have the option to build scanners (home systems start with one which you should power up immediately). All empires can start with the basic subspace scanner. This gives you a +2 scan range around the system in which it is powered, detecting any ships when they enter scan range (also nearby undiscovered planetary systems). It uses 50 units of energy will cost you 500 credits and if you can afford it should be installed in all isolated systems or colonies near enemy borders to monitor for troop activity. The upgrade from this is the listening post. This will give you +3 scan range, costs a hefty 2000 credits and needs 100 energy to run. Then, finally, there are only two scanners on the market. The Federation, Klingons, Romulans and Ferengi have access to the isolinear scanner. This gives a scanning range of +4, costs a whopping 8000 credits and needs 150 energy, If playing these empires, I would make sure that all capable front line colonies were equipped with these. It is vital that I know where best to deploy my defences. But, for a change, it’s the Cardassians who have the edge with this technology. You gleefully get your greasy Obsidian paws on the super duper Covert Sensor Array. This is camouflaged to resemble a subspace relay telescope, making it less likely to be destroyed by saboteurs or attacking ships. It gives a huge range of +6 so it can spot things coming light years away (useful given the sloth of Cardassian ships) costs 5000 credits and need a vast amount of energy to run, 300. Difficult to power these up in an undeveloped system, but when you’ve got them you can see everything. This gives you a clear advantage in both attack and defence.
At the moment, although engaged in a cold war with all other empires and not really ready to steam into Cardassia, I am engaged in a different kind of war with them, a war of attrition, designed not so much to conquer as to fragment their empire through undermining their morale (this really works). I have built hundreds of intelligence structures all across my empire, all at class 9 and with millions of population units working them. I have the Ktarians and Ulians upping my percentages and I have assigned several units in the intelligence screen to spy on and sabotage Cardassian structures. I can choose which area to target and have opted for a general effort. My intelligence is now so powerful (60,000 is my all time record) and the Cardassians are so weak after a war with the Ferengi that virtually every turn I get information telling me that my agents have managed to bomb yet another load of structures or poison another population, or stolen/destroyed another Cardassian ship. I also get the option on occasion to blame all these dirty deeds on another empire. As the Romulans are affiliated and just next door, I plant evidence at the scene of every crime implicating them in the hope that this will alienate them from Cardassia further. On the ships front, I have several Defiant and scout task forces both raiding Cardassian systems and destroying any of their decimated fleet trying to stop me.
Destroyers make the best raiders (Defiants are good though, as they are at everything). The more engaged in the task, the better. I have 9 Defiants sitting in Cardassia with orders to raid. They will intercept and rob all commercial shipping in Cardassia and adjacent sectors and can steal a hell of a lot of the Cardassians' hard earned income in a very short space of time.
Every time I destroy a couple of Cardassian ships or cause starvation in their systems, their morale is diminished. I can check on this by going into intelligence on the command hexagon and then into empire status. Eventually, after a time, the war of attrition begins to bear fruit. I can see an outer colony of Cardassia lose its purple colour of allegiance and even though it's still populated by Cardassians, it is described as ‘unclaimed‘ and I know it has declared independence from the union. Make no mistake, I have been able to reduce a rival empire to just the home system through this strategy. Once the first system goes the rest tend to follow shortly; the good old domino theory in action. I can even send money to any Cardassian minor race members and then try to bribe them. After a time, the Cardassians will not even be worth bothering about and I can turn my full attention to the other three.
With all other large systems engaged in my war of attrition, I’m going to turn one specific system into a super production system, in this case Zackdorn. The Zackdorn have a huge, fully developed system on a par with my guys in Mertens and they have the added bonus of their fantastic military academy. Every ship built there will emerge with a regular rating and can get the finest training in the galaxy without having to travel anywhere. When the situation really heats up, I want the Zacks to be producing a troop transport every turn and Defiants and Dreadnought 2s every 3. I go into Zackdorn and work out the absolute maximum industry potential I can have while keeping the population fed and watered and build industrial structures accordingly (or if I’m loaded and impatient I buy them). There is another advantage to this. Assuming I won’t need a lot of ships suddenly, building them in only one system can allow me to be careful about how they bear on my finances. I could have seven ships over the empire pop up all at once putting me into the red and making me have to track down their origin and maybe scrap one or two, but with just Zackdorn producing I make life easier.
Everything is in place. I have task forces of nine Defiants each return to Zackdorn to top up on their training. There are also many heavy destroyers who’ve survived the scrap heap because of their rating. The Cardassians have only their home system and one other small one left. The Romulans seem to be minding their own business but I can’t really tell what’s going on in their space. The Ferengi have a large unwieldy territory on the other side. The Klingons hate me now – the attitude bar reads icy and our non-aggression treaty will expire in only a couple of turns. I transfer all my spies and saboteurs from the Cardassians over to them. Time to provoke a war and launch a blitzkrieg against the Klingons.
Since most ships in the other empires are kept in the home system for training, it pays to know where this system is and how easily and quickly it can be reached. The Blitzkrieg (lightning war) is exactly the same as the WW2 German method. A massive concentrated attack to decimate the enemy fleet. Once air superiority has been achieved, the troops can move in for occupation. I am lucky enough to have the Selay system complete with starbase and isolinear scanner only two sectors from Qo’nos. The numbers in the Klingon home system fluctuate and I’m unable to see how many ships they have in a great part of their territory. I shall want most of their ships concentrated in the same place when I make my attack. I don’t want a fragmented war where I have to split fleets to chase squadrons of Klingon destroyers through my space. When the treaty expires I’m going to send a scout directly into Qo’nos, sacrificing it and hopefully manipulating the Klingons into sending other ships to Qo’nos. Three units of Defiants, 4 Dreadnoughts and 1 heavy destroyer force wait in Selay. 18 Defiants, 3 Dreads and 9 Heavys will lead the assault on Qo’nos. They will reach it in one turn. The remaining Escorts will defend the starbase as I move my transports in from Zackdorn and also intercept any Klingon ships attempting to enter my space. The remaining Dread will provide backup to the starbase should the escorts need to leave in a hurry.
Very useful for fast attack ships. Your ships, when in your space, will intercept any intruders within their range. For Defiants, this is within 4 sectors, so it’s pretty deadly. One warning though: your ships will not always intercept enemies moving to a starbase sector for some reason. That’s why I would leave a ship in that sector. Your intercepts will have to be moved back to the starbase and re-issued with new interception orders if that’s where you want them based.
The treaties expire. The Klingons make a statement angrily denouncing my espionage. I send in my scout and issue a rude demand in reply.
The Klingons have sent a cloaked scout into Selay; it beats a hasty retreat. My scout in Qo’nos is destroyed. My task force will steam into Qo’nos on the next turn.
Crash, bang, wallop! My initial scout tempted hidden destroyers and cruisers back to Qo’nos. The size of their force is in larger than I anticipated – scary. I have 18 Defiant Heavy escorts (Elite), 3 Dreadnought 2s (Elite), 9 Heavy destroyer 2s (Legendary) and a scout. I know the scout is a dead duck whatever happens but I can read all ratings on opposing ships, allowing me to be more selective with targeting.
The Klingon force is gargantuan. Must be nearly every ship in their fleet. This is just what I wanted but I didn’t expect quite so many.
The Klingons have 20 Command ships, half of which are Attack cruiser 2s (oh dear), over 30 destroyers, an additional 5 strike, loads of cloaked scouts and troop transports with an outpost looming behind. Facing such a fleet, my guys look woefully inadequate but I’m confident that if my Defiants survive the initial mega-assault then I can use them to deadly effect. I issue strafe orders to every fast attack ship in my armada targeting Attack cruisers. I want these out as soon as possible. Their weaponry is frightening. I’ll turn attention to their destroyers later. My command ships are given the order to circle. With luck, this will keep them out of destroyer range with their humungous armour protecting them from the worst long distance salvoes.
‘Steady at the helm, there could be more of them.’ Scouts decloak. I was hoping for a troop retreat but it seems the Klingons want to use every gun in their arsenal.
The first clash is an explosion – the powerful shields on the leading Defiants blaze blue as they absorb the terrible energy from Klingon disruptors while blasting away with their own multiple arrays. Then come the torpedoes, red and blue bolts of energy stream past each other. The dreadnoughts rise like three great whales as they launch their circling manoeuvre. The Klingon salvo looks like a medieval catapult firestorm. I can see several red and blue explosions as ships on both sides are destroyed. I won’t know how bad the damage is until the turn is finished.
I’m now into the next tactical turn (each one represents 15 seconds). I’ve lost 8 of my heavies and the scout. All dreads are there but one is heavily damaged. I think a defiant bit the dust too, but the rest seem in good shape and I’m in a very good tactical position, with my escorts bang in the middle of the Klingon fleet. It’s hard to tell but I think I took out at least half of their Attack cruisers and several less powerful command ships. I know that my heavy destroyer won’t survive the next move so I set it to ram the nearest Klingon attack cruiser. The battle will now become a dogfight and rely on the agility and power of my 17 Defiants.
The escorts are well placed. Their shields and experience are more than enough to protect them from the circling destroyer formations and they have nearly overshot the Klingon command. The opposing 5 strike have started to circle and my force is facing their backs almost directly. I will issue another strafe order, targeting strikes at close quarters. They should decimate this cumbersome class, bringing me straight back facing the commands. Klingons have weak aft defences and my ships can pivot on a pin. As these giants vainly try to turn, they will have to endure the full firepower of my 17. Now that my three dreadnoughts are far from the hub of battle, I give them a flyby order targeting the hoard of destroyers. They should be able to blow a fair few out from a safe distance, taking some heat off my escorts.
A turn. The strikeships bite the dust, my Defiants take a concentrated disruptor pounding from the Klingon fast attack ships, several of whom are destroyed by my dreadnoughts. A couple of red torpedoes finish off my damaged command ship but the other two are fully powered up and facing the enemy at long range. It’ll be assault all the way with these big boys now until they reach the thick of things. Again, I target their fast attack.
My escort force is now facing their commands' sides as their destroyers come at me en masse. I give my escorts the order to evade. They will concentrate fire on the command vessels in a random swarm making them hard for the destroyers to target.
A turn. This time there are multiple red explosions as the Klingon command is overcome. I have lost three Defiants but the writing is now definitely on the wall. 2 of my ships are heavily damaged. I issue them both with evade orders. If they go into the red, I’ll instruct them to retreat. Let’s see how well my elite damage-control teams work. The main bulk of the force is now ordered to charge their destroyers as my dreadnoughts effortlessly glide in for the kill.
A turn. Klingon destroyers and scouts are hopelessly outclassed by Federation Defiants. They go up like a fourth of July display. I now have my force in the middle of a greatly reduced mass of scattered destroyers. The question is, are they stupid enough to fight it out or will they attempt a retreat? A missed, damaged strike ship lurks in the background. A single escort should take care of him now. My main force is ordered to charge, the dreads to assault.
A turn. The Klingons had one last valiant attempt and as a result were obliterated, with only a handful of damaged destroyers attempting a subsequent retreat. They couldn’t save a single ship.
This is fantastic news for me. My troops will be in Selay next turn and I have unchallenged superiority in Klingon space. My super-system in Zackdorn is already replacing the lost ships. The war has effectively been won in one massive strike and the roll call of Klingon dead seems endless. It’s all just a matter of logistics now, moving troops in, mopping up the unguarded transports and any newly built Klingon ships. My remaining Defiants are all now classed as ‘legendary.’ The Klingons will, at best, only have a kind of guerrilla capability. Their chances of amassing another large fleet are virtually nil. Their morale will be severely tested as mine will rise. They will spend their time in fruitless (but annoying) scout-ship sorties to my starbases as I raid Qo’nos unhindered and absorb their empire, one system after another. The Romulans and Ferengi will be next in my sights as I expand my borders, rallying morale with easy victories against rogue Klingon ships. Galactic domination is now only a matter of time.
And that’s Blitzkrieg.
A small note of caution: I would never dream of sending any other type of ship in such small numbers to attack so great a Klingon armada. A similar size force of Ferengi raiders or Romulan destroyers would be lucky to make it past the second tactical turn. Only Federation Defiant heavy escorts have such an awesome capability. Keep this in mind: fighting the above battle as any other empire would require many more ships and probably result in far higher losses. Klingon ships are hideously tough. If my force were a couple of ships less and my tactical moves foolish, the battle could have gone the other way.
Playing from “early”
The above strategy guide is for the “advanced” game. Playing the game with all empires set to “early” is far far more difficult. You will need to be extremely proficient and fluid at “advanced” (re: systems, tactics etc) before you are ready to try slogging up from an early stage.
Brutally put: THE COMPUTER CHEATS!!
Yup, that’s right, the perfidious computer CHEATS!!
You can observe this directly using the “Mudd” cheat when you get a full view of the map. From early, all other empires are capable of building ships at a far greater rate than you are in direct contradiction of the rules. The result makes it virtually impossible to fight them off, their fleets being three times the size of yours after several moves. If there are no minor races in the game and you are sat right next to another empire at the start and they declare war then you’ve just about had it.
I have built frantically and used all of my experience to maximise my fleet size in balance with everything else only to face far far greater numbers, why?
THE COMPUTER CHEATS!!
How do we get around this then?
Minor races are the answer. Your capability in the early game for building ships is absolutely crap. It’ll take you about 12 turns just to get a colony ship but any minor race you encounter is likely to be far more advanced than you, some with fully developed systems. These are the key. You need to get them and quick before you get mashed by the huge Ferengi fleet that the computer had no right to build so quickly (not if it really started off at the same level as you). Once you’ve got a couple of minor races on side, you’re in with a fighting chance and you should be maximising your fleet and researching as quickly as possible. It really is the most exciting game here as even an expert could come unstuck. Geography can play an important part so there is a large element of luck involved. You need to up your tech level as rapidly as possible, initial scouts being useless against virtually everything including minor race fleets. You are absolutely skint as well so actually getting a minor race is nail-biting stuff as you anxiously wait for your finances to increase so you can hand it all over to the greedy bastards on Selay or wherever.
Tips for playing the early game.
The entire dynamic of the early game is different from the advanced game. To start with, your home system has not reached its full population potential so you need to build some farms to prevent starvation. You also need to research like mad and find the best system you can for colonisation, not to mention a desperate need to get a minor race as part of your empire. The bigger the better. When you get very good at the advanced game, try it out.
At the beginning you said the Romulans were the easiest side to play. Why?
The Romulans have the best spread of everything. They are good on research with special structures and access to subatomic stimulators, almost rivalling the Federation. Their ships are impressive and all warships can cloak. They are able diplomats, their intelligence is very powerful and they are easy to keep happy. All other empires are lacking in one of these areas but the Romulans have it all. It’s no surprise the game’s tutorials are for the Roms.
What about the Cardassians and Ferengi?
The Cardassians in particular can be a major morale and diplomacy headache. Their strength lies in espionage and scanning ability. I really like the music and design when playing them though (particularly when colonising). A good Cardassian win isn’t as easy so it tends to be far more satisfying. The Ferengi don’t really possess anything other than money-making structures. The populations can also get miserable at the drop of a hat. I love the vocals though, such as ‘They underestimated us,’ ‘Victory! Our new strategy is working,’ and a couple of lines when facing the Romulans – ‘Aaarrgg! They’re de-cloaking! We’re all going to die!,’ and my favourite that I’ve only heard the once – ‘I wonder how much they’d want for those cloaking devices?’ Even when losing it’s fun, but winning as the Ferengi is very satisfying when the Grand Nagus delivers his victory speech.
And the other two?
If it weren’t for their ships, I would find the Federation pretty dull. The design, music and vocals don’t really have much character. The game can be slow as warlord-style conquest isn’t really an option (due to morale). It could do with a bit more of the gung-ho Captain Kirk spirit.
The Klingons are excellent. You can really get carried away as a conquistador when playing them, not giving a damn about anyone. Their internal security is a pain though. If it isn’t fortified rapidly, you can spend your time rebuilding farms and the warriors all start to get disgruntled.
You said earlier that the computer doesn’t build certain ships. Why?
I really don’t know, probably to make the game easier. It doesn’t build the best ships in any empire. I would find it far more exciting with the knowledge that my Federation opponents would be building Defiants at some point. It would add a lot more urgency to the game (they never do). The AI tactical moves tend to be ridiculous too. It sends destroyers out in groups of three and doesn’t always concentrate its forces to any great effect, fragmenting everything and making it easy to pick off. It rarely builds starbases until much later on and then mostly leaves them unguarded, providing experience fodder for my ships. It’s all just too predictable once you’ve played the game several times. I almost never get surprised now and every game is a winner. As a competitive chess player, I would prefer more of a challenge.
Why start every game on advanced?
Because the earlier stages are pretty much the same. It just takes more time to get things going. I see it as unnecessary as the research required to get to future tech 1 is quite lengthy from 8 in itself.
How is the final score worked out?
I don’t know. Can anyone tell me?
Expert Multiplayer gaming
So you’ve decided to take the plunge. Having become a complete master at the single player game and getting bored with the lacklustre AI, you’re ready to start playing flesh and blood human beings. Oh dear.
Being extremely good at the single game has a major benefit and a major disadvantage. The benefit is the speed with which you can play, the familiarity with all the structures and ships, the focus, the knowledge. All these things, if you are well practiced, will stand you in good stead against human players. The micro-management aspects of the game will come as second nature. I can absolutely plough through a list of colonies and know at a glance what each one needs. I can also make almost subconscious mental notes as to which can be left for a while, which are safe, vulnerable, which to watch, etc., etc. I know at a glance every type of ship and their capabilities, how fast they are, how powerful, what they can do. I know every minor race, what they have, how friendly they’ll be, how loyal. Only practice on the single player mode can give you this kind of familiarity and you will really need it when playing online.
And the disadvantage?
What do you think? You’re playing against a human being! The disadvantage is well known to any chess player who can shat all over chess programmes. The AI on this game is like a bark canoe compared with the battleship-intelligence of even the stupidest human player. Zeros and ones haven’t got a bat in hell's chance against the crappest bio-neural system. Simply put, people are smart and computers are thick. Playing the AI will have lulled you into a false sense of security and if you try to play the same game, you will get absolutely and completely slaughtered. You have to play in a totally different way. In this section I will firstly concentrate on the following scenario: a one-on-one game with another player, the galaxy set to “large,” minor races at “many,” and the tecnological level set at “advanced” for all empires (tech 5 in zone speak). Ok?
Remember the ships list in the first section? The descriptions of ships? The build recommendations? How you can easily win with your fleets of Heavy Destroyers? You can forget most of that. When playing a good human opponent in a large galaxy, your absolute priority is to get as many of the best ships as quickly as possible. The most efficient route to this involves three basic interrelated methods.
- Ship type
I will take a game scenario and explain in each exactly how I would optimise my fleet for the inevitable conflict with my human adversary.
A large galaxy, many races, impossible, top tech level.
Me = Federation
My opponent (Maus) = Cardassians
Maus and I have an agreement. We both want a good long campaign and for this we don’t want to meet too early. We restart the game until we get a map that places us approximately at opposite ends of the galaxy. This will give us both time to expand our empires and build large powerful fleets before attacking each other. Maus is a very efficient player and I know that by the time we meet I’d better be prepared. As the Cardassians, Maus has three major advantages over me and I know that he will play heavily on these strengths.
What are these advantages?
As the Cards, Maus will start with a formidable espionage and sabotage potential and we both know that he’s not going to leave it at that. Whenever he gets the chance he’ll be building intell structures in his major colonies. Every capable new colony will also be equipped with phoenix facilities and he’ll prioritise the acquisition of intel minor races (Ktarians, Ulians, etc.). Maus knows that if he catches me weak in this department, he can win the war virtually without firing a shot. Nothing is more crippling than major systems with no farms, systems that should be building ships.
Maus knows that he can expand steadily through conquest (minor races, AI empires) and smoothly boost his morale as he does so. He can literally conquer one system after another, gaining brownie points as he goes. He knows that as the Federation this strategy is tricky for me. In order to keep my empire happy, I have to take a more diplomatic line.
Maus has access to covert sensor arrays. As soon as he gets close to me he can monitor virtually all my ship movements, ship types, etc. I know his scan range and it’s difficult for me to keep my strengths/weaknesses from his prying eyes.
Whoa. Looks like Maus has got you beat! I didn’t know the Cardassians were so good.
Aha! All is not lost. As the Federation, I have four major advantages over Maus.
Phew! What are they?
I start the game with more cash. I can build trade centers giving me even more. My major systems and colonies will provide me with a much better income than him, allowing me to support a larger overall fleet.
Other empires and minor races like me much more than they do him. On just meeting Vulcans or Betazoids, I can get an affiliation treaty right out of the bag and because I’ve got a load more cash I can acquire members with ease. As the Cards, this is difficult for Maus on both fronts.
I’m way ahead of Maus on research. I have the Daystrom institute and Genesis research lab and I can build subatomic stimulators all over the place.
I can also acquire (eventually) better, faster and more powerful ships than Maus. He knows this. He knows what Defiants and Sovereigns are capable of and he knows that the longer the game progresses the greater the likelihood he has of facing fleets of these lethal vessels.
So. We both have three major priorities.
So, how do we start?
By optimising our fleet.
We’ll forget Maus for the moment. He’s at the other side of the galaxy building his power base – I need to concentrate on mine. In the single player game it’s easy. I would just build fleets of heavy destroyer 2s against the AI, wait until research progresses, then move on to Defiants. I’ve got all the time in the world. There’s no sense of urgency. The other empires would all be building crap ships and my heavies make a cheap, fast and powerful fleet.
So, that’s settled then. Heavy Destroyers on the build list, then when Maus comes calling we’ll pulverise him, then get our Defiants and pulverise him even more!! Game, set and match!
Go and stand in the corner and put that dunce-cap on until I say!
What?? What have I done??
Just lost the game, that’s what. If I start building heavies I’ll eventually get murdered. Maus’ll steamroller into Federation territory like the Borg. I might have a few lucky hits but ultimately I’ll be as sunk as the Titanic. When I’m able to build Defiants it’ll be much too late to stop him. It’ll be like the Wehrmacht taking Poland, swift and merciless. I’ll look at my Heavy Destroyer fleets with contempt and wonder why the hell I built them.
But, I thought you said they were the best ship to build when playing the Federation? At least until you get Defiants?
They are. Against the AI!! There’s no sense of urgency and the ships I face playing the AI are for the most part crap, so heavies do the job nicely throughout the single game. Against Maus, its suicide! The only ship I should be building at the start in any numbers should be the Heavy Cruiser.
Why? I don’t understand?
- The HD2 (Heavy Destroyer 2) is cheap but not much cheaper than the HC (Heavy Cruiser).
The HD2 can’t be upgraded. The model is the end of its line, the HC can, there is an upgrade available – the Heavy Cruiser 2.
Each HD2 costs 8140 credits to build/buy each HC 9730. If I want to scrap either of these ships (which I have to do in a system with a shipyard to get anything), they will add these amounts to my reserves. Are you following this?
Right. Nearly all ships have an upgrade model available when a certain research threshold is reached. The upgrade costs the same to maintain per turn but aside from being a superior ship than the original it costs far more to buy/build than the original. The standard HC costs 9730, the upgrade, the HC2 costs 15090!
So? The upgrade is a better and more expensive ship, how is that relevant?
It’s relevant because of the characteristics of research and how this affects upgrades. At tech 5 I can build Heavy Cruisers, each one is worth 9730. To obtain the Heavy Cruiser 2 I need to get a 9 in construction, energy, and weapons which isn’t too difficult to attain before turn 40. If I have a fleet of 18 Standard Heavy Cruisers worth a combined 175,140 credits and my research bears fruit, all these ships will automatically be converted by the computer to Heavy Cruiser 2s with a combined value of 271,620!! The financial benefit to my treasury is huge. An instant windfall of 96,480! If I concentrate on Heavy Destroyer 2s, there is no upgrade available and therefore no enormous profit, I’ll just have what I started with.
There’s more. When I get to around turn 80-90, which is just about the time Maus’ll be considering an invasion, I should be almost on the threshold of Defiant capability with my research. The value of each Defiant is 18270. Lets say I have a fleet of 30 Heavy Cruiser 2s and I move them all to shipyards for scrapping. I can now build Defiants. My scrapped HC2s will yield 452,700. After the scrapping, in every available shipyard I buy my Defiants. For the above amount I will get 24 of them almost instantly!!! Defiants will pop up all over the Federation like dragon's teeth warriors. I will have used the upgrade/generated credit method to amass a great fleet of the finest ships in a couple of turns!!
The exact same method can be used to cheaply and quickly attain Dreadnought 2s. Each standard Dread costs 14620 and each HC2 15090. Just before the Dreadnought 2 research threshold I can scrap HC2s and buy a nearly identical number of standard dreads for the same price. As soon as the computer upgrades, it converts them to Dread 2s (costing 21830 each) for nothing!! Voila!! Top fleet instantly for no extra cost, just a bit of care over my research and scrapping procedure.
So if I’m lazy and play against Maus as I would against the AI, I’ll end up in serious trouble. My fleets of Heavy Destroyer 2s, although great ships, will provide me with scant monetary benefit and won’t really be capable of defeating his fleet (which will probably be made up of Battleship 2s). I’ll be in a position where I can only built a couple of Defiants at a time. This will be too little, too late to stop Maus and’ll leave me dead in the water.
Mmmm.. Food for thought.
Yup. A few simple rules:
- Basic math, money and upgradable ships: find out what they are, their value and structure your proto-fleet accordingly.
- Make sure your fleets are swelled with these models before the upgrade occurs.
- Acquire as many dilithium sources and shipyards as possible for speedy mass purchase.
- Always scrap your ships in a system with a powered shipyard. You will get nothing if you scrap them elsewhere.
- Damaged ships yield nothing.
- Carefully structure and monitor your research to achieve the above.
- Have a plan and be methodical. I can assure you that gamers like Maus are.
Practice on the single player mode and experiment.
Finally, go into research and look at every single ship class in every single empire. Different empires have different dynamics. If playing Klingons there is hardly any need for any of this as the K’vort is the natural ship of choice throughout the game. Likewise the Cardassian Telok, unless research is mega and Battleship 2s are attainable.
And that’s advanced fleet optimisation.
Right, Admiral. Now that you have a fairly good idea of how to get hold of the best fleet possible (around turn 80), we need to think how best to defend our Federation from the enemy within. Any good player such as Maus will have been steadily building up his intel, ready to dispatch shadow teams into our empire, and we really need a defence against this. I can hardly stress how important it is. Strong intelligence can win the game just as surely as military might. As the Federation, I am keeping a very keen look-out for the Betazoids primarily. The other intel races are also a priority for me. I really don’t want Maus getting his hands on the Ktarians. I’m also, when I have the opportunity, going to be building highly rated intel structures in at least one advanced colony. When Maus lets his saboteurs off the leash I’ll want a very powerful internal security.
Defensive or offensive?
This should be fairly obvious. As the Feds against the Cards my intel is definitely going to be defensive. If our empires are of equal size, I’d be foolish indeed to go on the offensive against Maus. Once he gets the upper hand, then the sabotage could snowball. He may even destroy several of my top Databanks and weaken me exponentially. If that happens, then I’m really screwed. It’s unlikely that I could re-construct in time to stop him from doing serious damage. But it could be prudent if I have acquired a race like the Ktarians to assign a very small amount to espionage and sabotage (about 1% to each) on the off-chance that my teams get lucky and force him into assigning a significant percentage to his internal security. This puts him on the back foot. Fortunately for me, Federation internal security is fairly strong. The Klingons and Ferengi are weak when it comes to this.
So, who’s the best then?
Romulans, initially. They start off with 11 intel structures in their 3 systems compared with the Cardassian total of 8. The Cards gain a greater intel percentage from their Obsidian Order though. 30% to the Rom's Tal'shiar's 25%. A determined early Romulan intel assault can reduce a powerful military Klingon empire to a few starving systems.
Bonus points and keeping options open.
All intel successes deliver bonus points to intel as a whole. It is therefore very wise to keep at least a couple of units active even when on the defensive. If you ever seem to get the upper hand with your sabotage then steadily increase the percentage, forcing enemy units into internal security, but if your enemy is doing damage you should fortify your own security until you start catching him. Don’t try to retaliate all-out. You’ll be in real trouble if you do. Minor races with intel specialities are among the most coveted in the galaxy. Regardless of which empire you are you should prioritise their acquisition. A Cardassian opponent with the Betazoids, Ulians, Ktarians, Yridians and Bolians is an unthinkable nightmare. He would hardly even need to go to war. Keep this in mind. I might be pursuing research when playing Maus but I would probably make these races my priority over scientific ones. If I’m not sufficiently protected then I’ll lose all my laboratories, farms, databanks, everything. I once played someone who totally ruined my Klingon empire by destroying all farms in all three initial producing systems. Militarily, I should easily have won the game with my K’vorts but I was sunk. I learned a valuable lesson.
Don’t ignore intel. Whenever you have a spare moment, build intel structures and make them a priority over labs in new systems.
Colonies have an importance in multiplay which is different to that of the single game. This can be summarised thus:
How do you defend a good isolated system against the AI in the single player game? You build a starbase right? Then you add a couple of powerful ships as defense? Maybe a couple of batteries? That’s pretty much it, isn’t it? It,s as rare as rocking-horse shit that the AI ever gets past this simple defense. It usually sends in a few destroyers to be obliterated or at the very worst a small fleet of sub-standard cruisers. Great, isn’t it? You can have colonies far from home and they just sit there, growing, earning you credits and blowing up destroyers. What a utopia the single game is! Welcome to the real world. Maus is going to be very amused if I create a ring of these as some kind of defence against him. It won’t even slow him down. In fact, his morale will rise as he demolishes these starbases. Psychologically, they may make me feel secure but in a practical sense they are not only useless against a human player but a morale liability. Any colony far from Sol should be either defendable by ships or established for a very good strategic reason because these are where the attacks will take place and they can’t be defended by starbases and a couple of Heavy Cruisers. Any good large colonies that I really want to develop as productive systems (if I have time) should ideally be behind Sol and far, far from my opponent. I can then protect them with starbases against the AI empires.
Colonies for range.
To extend my range I need colonies far out there with powered shipyards. These are more practical than easily destroyed outposts. Regard them as stepping stones to the next system.
Surveillance is of the greatest importance. Scanners on the fringes of my space are far and away the best defence against slow Cardassian ships. An isolated colony with no scanner is a sitting duck to a couple of scouts and transports. Any advance warning of enemy movements gives me a clear advantage.
Need. Four explanations for this.
- Firstly, energy powered need. For me this is probably my subatomic stimulators for research and maybe a trade center to boost income. For Maus as the Cards, it may be another phoenix structure to increase intel plus theoretical stimulators for research.
- Fleet upkeep need. The more colonies, the more cash, the larger the sustainable fleet.
- Final fleet optimisation need. Remember? The more shipyards, the swifter my final fleet purchase strategy.
Fleet transference need. A very useful method of creating desired ships far from the production center. For example: I have a colony with a shipyard 10 sectors from my nearest large production system (Sol) and I need a troopship there straight away to invade Ktaria. Should I build it and then wait ten turns for it to arrive from Sol? No. I build it in Sol and immediately scrap it. Then with the generated credits, I buy it in my colony. Voila! In two turns I have my ship where I want it and don’t have to worry so much about the Ktarians falling into enemy hands for a while. So you see, colonies can become your pride and joy in the single-player game but against the likes of Maus, they should be regarded more as a means to an end. Remember, if you colonise all over the place and they get taken one after the other, your morale will plummet. Be very selective about where you colonise and take some advice from the Klingons: try not to form important colonies that you can’t defend.
A really neat little trick that is still unknown to many veteran gamers. Combining a colony ship with a troop transport will terraform any planet regardless of type or size in one turn, so now you know.
I start my game in Sol and one of my first contacts, two sectors away, is a cordial Vulcan. Sounds good doesn’t it? They offer affiliation almost immediately and I accept of course. Their civilisation is in its infancy. Although the system has a maximum population potential of nearly 350, only one planet has been terraformed and the current population is only 80. What should I do? Get them onside as members as soon as possible? No, no and NO!!
It’ll be very very easy to get the Vulcans to join me. I only need to send them a few gifts. I could have their system in no time, so why wouldn’t I do this?
If they join me now, then system Vulcan will almost be like a newly formed Federation colony. I will have to buy nearly everything and they will be virtually useless as a production powerhouse in the future game. If I leave them for a while then the system will grow far, far quicker than I could ever do. As the Vulcans upgrade and build with uncanny speed, they will terraform all their own planets and their population and structures will become highly developed in an unnatural space of time. If I know that they are unlikely to be contacted or threatened by my enemies in this period, then it is vital that I leave them to develop before delivering the membership coup de grace. When they join me, their system should be almost as productive as one of my initial systems. This is by far the best policy to pursue. Obviously, it is risky to do this with minor races who are caught between rival empires as they may join or be conquered by your enemies. This is a matter for individual judgement. Experience is the only teacher.
Trade makes them happy.
As it says, don’t neglect establishing trade routes with minors. It makes them like you more.
Use beligerent fleets as morale boosters.
The Sheliak are particularly useful as a super-morale arena. They generally hate everyone on first contact and take a lot of time and money to recruit so use the bastards to make your empire happy. Sometimes they have a fairly large fleet of about 4 or 5 vessels. If you send in several scouts you should get a decent fight before they retreat and if deploying more powerful vessels then they might retreat straight after a hail. In either situation, you gain morale and they always come back for more. Twenty turns of kicking Sheliak ass could make everyone fanatic.
Exploiting the Edo.
The biggest thing in the Rubicun sector literally is the Edo guardian. The Guardian is one powerful motherfucker, more powerful than a Borg cube. Cloaked destroyers can use this entity as a rapid-training ground if they are careful, and I mean careful. On the first cloaked turn assault the guardian but take great care not to penetrate its armour, then hail. All is well and your crews should emerge with many experience points. You can continue this and may gain legendary status in next to no time. One warning… if you damage the guardian’s armour then it may wipe out your fleet.
Build a starbase in Rubicun (when you have them as members). This makes the sector almost untakeable. Beware though. Do not fire at cloaked enemy ships sent in to provoke. If you fire, your starbase will also fire at the guardian automatically. Hail when the sector is breached. The largest fleet could take immense damage from the guardian as they destroy it, leaving you to finish them off.
Minor race ship salvage.
Back to the original point. When you have allowed a space-faring minor to develop fully before membership you could acquire valuable ships for the scrapyard. The Acamarians can build up to nine or more raiders. It’s a credit bonanza when you obtain these and scrap them.
Minor race list.
A Race formerly divided into feuding clans.
Acamarian Clan Hall: +100% Credits, +1 morale.
Once warlike insectoid race with peaceful intentions.
Andorian War College: +25 Ship Experience
A race who improved their troops through genetic conditioning.
Super-Soldier Academy: +50% Ground Combat (only in Angosian system).
A miserable bunch of Xenophobes.
Havesting Complex: +100% food.
Furry morons who hate the Selay.
Mustering Base: +50% Ground Defense.
Bajorans. * $
A spiritual race of great courage and loyalty.
Bajoran Jolanda Forum: +1 morale empire wide.
A primitive race skilled in architecture.
Architectural Center: +100% Construction Research.
Advanced race, whose barren environment encourages industry.
Industrial Center: +50% Industry.
Counselling Academy: +50% Internal security.
Masters of cosmetic alteration.
Cosmetology Center: +50% Espionage Total.
Computer dependent race who communicate in Binary code.
Planetary Computer: +100% Computer Research.
Tall humanoids with a love of research.
Research Think Tank: +25% Research empire wide.
Miserable feuding warrior race.
Gladiatorial Arena: +100% Weapons Research.
Primitive sybarites with draconian penalties for any crime.
Palace of Edo: +1 morale empire wide.
Ktarians. * $
Cunning makers of addictive computer games.
Ktarian Game Studio: +50% sabotage.
Cautious pre-warp scientific race.
Kinetics Laboratory: +100% Propulsion Research.
Proto-Vulcans with a talent for agriculture.
Mintakan Farm: +100% Food.
Pacifists with a superiority complex.
Monument of Surrender: +5 morale.
Recruitment Center, +40% Ground Combat.
Thick as pigshit race who collect discarded technology.
Collection Facility: +100 Research (localised).
Antican hating nutcases.
Mustering Base: +50% Ground Defense.
Arrogant, unfriendly, vaguely humanoid species.
Bioengineering center : +100% biotech research.
Slightly sneaky researchers.
Physics Institute: +100% Energy Research.
Warlike but honourable race.
Defense Network: +100% Ground Defense.
A race that communicates using metaphors.
Mythological Library: +300 Research.
Trill. * $
Symbiotic race with accumulated wisdom.
Research Committee: +30% Research empire wide.
Psychohistorical Archive: +25% total intelligence.
Vulcans. * $
Highly logical race with top reasearch abilities.
Vulcan Science Academy: +35% Research empire wide.
Yridians. * $
Related to the Ferengi, untrustworthy peddlars of information.
Intelligence Service: +40% Espionage Total.
Arrogant Tactical Geniuses
Military Academy: +100 Ship Experience.
* = Space faring race with guaranteed dilithium and a shipyard.
$ = Race with an empire wide resource.
All scientific races, except the Pakleds and Tamarians, give a percentage to general research. The remaining races only build localised structures.
If you are lucky enough to be right next to an AI empire at the start, then get in there and take it all as soon as you possibly can. There is one basic tip for this.
Large command vessels.
Is that it?
Yup. Let’s use an initial major system of the Ferengi alliance as an example. A typical one would be Deriben with a population of 350, 7 orbital batteries and a ground combat rating of 504. What would be the best and cheapest way of taking this system? You can use major command ships to absorb most of the orbital battery punishment without destroying the ships. With 7 powered batteries, I would assign about 8 ships and a minimum of 6 transports. This can be the best way of gaining a major system in its entirety without significant ship loss. There is another little trick which involves the use of scouts as the major assault ships. Scouts are usually destroyed but seldom damage structures or kill population. They also have one major advantage when used in the assault
Systems acquired in this way often have an operational dilithium refinery regardless of their dilithium status. It only seems to work with scouts. In theory, an entire enemy AI empire, if taken with scouts and troops, could have every system as a dilithium producer. A bug in the game no doubt. But while such bugs exist one would be foolish not to exploit them if you urgently need dilithium.
You should always allow your ships to recover from any damage before using them for another assault. This can take several turns. It might be wise to have a couple of planet-busting task forces in action. As one rests, the other conquers.
Note on planetary assaults
In case you hadn’t noticed by now, orbital batteries engage the first ships in your assault list. So, if I attack the system above but my troops are first in my deployment list, then I’m sunk. You need to juggle with your deployment like a Rubik’s cube until you have your assault task force set in the right order… i.e., 9 ships and then 6 transports. The batteries will subsequently attack the main ships – which is what you want.
Empire elimination and morale boosting
Any experienced multigamer will regard the AI empires like picking fruit off a tree and so should you. As I’ve said, if you find them even remotely challenging as opponents then you need more practice on the single-player mode. Once you have wiped out an AI empire, your empire morale should go skyward, giving you a good push toward the next challenge.
The faster you can eliminate an AI empire, the better. When you wipe them out completely, your empire gets a huge morale boost. A sneaky little tactic can then be used to repeat this process. Say I have just conquered the entire Cardassian Union. My empire will all be very happy. I can then concentrate on one small Cardassian system and do everything possible to decrease the morale in that system (maybe by building forced labour farms or something similar). Hopefully that system will then rebel and the Cardassians are re-born. I can then retake the system, re-eliminate the Union and gain another major morale boost for my entire empire.
Nearest AI empire rapid takeover strategy
When playing multigame you should identify the location of the nearest AI empire and concentrate every effort you can into their takeover and elimination. This will usually give you three further production centres on top of the three you start with but speed really is of the essence and this takes some practice. Some empires have the advantage with this due to the nature of their ships. You should follow a few simple methods, thoughi t’s not quite as easy as it sounds.
An early non-aggression treaty with a neighbouring power usually shows you the location of the centre of their empire, so now that you know where it is, you can concentrate on extending your range (starbases/shipyards/affiliations) so when ready, you can blitzkrieg the home system and, unchallenged, move the troops in. You need to build a “conquest core” of command vessels and troopships. It is a good idea – unless your production of troop ships is rapid – to have the tools to finish the job. 18 troopships and 12 top command will take any AI system with no losses and move straight onto the next. If you do take damage to a couple of command then the others can continue. Too few ships may mean all are damaged, and a wait of several turns which can be bad news.
You need (especially if you haven’t eliminated the enemy fleet through blitzkrieg) a very strong defensive force of principal escorts/destroyers. You never know who’s going to creep in through the back door and your conquest core could be extremely vulnerable on its own. If I launch into the Ferengi or Federation without establishing fleet superiority, then I could lose a great many valuable command ships. If my opponent has cleanly taken systems without such losses, then financially he would be way ahead. Money is the key in this game and ships should be viewed as mobile credit reserves. Don’t throw them away. A highly skilful player can win a game against the AI without losing a single ship in combat or on a planetary assault.
The quickest way of defending newly conquered territory against the AI is starbases. A large force of troops can knock these up in a couple of turns. Obviously, starbases can be useless against a determined human assault but against the AI they are usually impregnable. If you can (especially against the Klingons), knock out the home system first. This takes out all the special structures of that empire. You will take out their academies, intel services (if they have them), specialised research, morale and money making structures, and in the case of the Klingons, the ‘Hall of Warriors,’ which hugely fortifies Klingon planetary ground defense. This will make it twice as easy to take the remaining systems.
It is very unlikely that you will have the resources to overrun two AI empires (while defending your own) completely before turn 110. Geographical proximity alone is against it so make use of non-aggression treaties and try to keep your allies happy. Once you have another empire in the bag, then you can scrap all your command vessels and buy principals for the upgrade. You need to set yourself targets. Recently I managed 120 Raider IIs by turn 105 and I’m certainly not the best player I know. There are other gamers around who would regard that figure as average. Test yourself. See how many Defiants or K’vort IIs you can get by turn 120, turn 100 or even turn 80.
You said that some empires have the advantage? Who and why?
The Cardassians and (strangely enough) the Federation. The reasons are thus:
The Cards principle (and principal) game winner is the heavy cruiser. Fortunately this principal escort is also, due to its heavy armour, very effective as a planet buster so there’s no real need to build the expensive and slow battleships or any need for scrapping etc, you just build HCs and troops until the upgrade and then you have a fleet of them ready and waiting for upgrading. This cuts out a lot of the money management scrapping headaches and is financially advantageous – a fleet of top commands is a big drain on reserves. It also makes for a better defence. The Feds are similar with their heavy cruiser. It can take on either role, though possibly not as effectively as the Card ship.
And the others?
The Klingons and Romulans are the biggest pain with planet busting. Orbital batteries are K’vort killers. You have to build Attack Cruisers which can themselves sustain damage and need a recouperation period (not to mention their expense and the speed). Likewise with Rom Battle Cruisers and Warbirds. Weak armour makes the Battle Cruiser ill-suited for assault and Birds usually sustain damage. They are also at their most vulnerable when uncloaked. Most of the combat power for Rom ships comes with the cloak. Try playing a complete game with uncloaked ships and you’ll see what I mean.
The Ferengi have a funny combination of ships. Principal escorts and destroyers are completely unsuitable for planetary assaults but the command ships are pretty tough. War Cruisers take heavy damage but are cheap to build and run so you can effectively use them in rotation and I’m still not sure if the Marauder (the Marauder II anyway) isn’t the best top Command ship. It can often attack systems with no damage whatsoever and packs a terrific punch in defending itself. The Fergs can usually maintain a larger fleet which is an advantage. Fleets of swift raiders can easily cocoon and defend your conquest core and patrol your empire with their weapons and speed. A good spread of ships.
Extorting credits from the AI
There can be a lot of credits gained from begging the AI, especially the Ferengi. Ideally you should have a non-aggression treaty and they should be fairly neutral toward you. If you position a large fleet at their border within their scan range and then issue a demand, you can fill your coffers very quickly. Threatened AI Ferengi can give 40,000 – 50,000 in 6 turns if you play it right.
Optimisation of cloaked ships
The Klingon K’vort Heavy Cruiser 2 is an extraordinary vessel. Along with the Defiant, it shares the ability to destroy far greater numbers of similar class warships through pure firepower. The main advantage with the Defiant is its agility but with the K’vort, the cloak provides it with its true power. The thorn in the side here is the Romulans. They too have access to cloaking, so how can they best be tackled? If 9 K’vorts encountered 12 Battle Cruisers, then the outcome could be anyone’s guess. How can cloaked ships shift the balance in their favour when facing other cloaked ships? The answer lies with uncloaked ships. I would send a de-cloaked scout with my task force of K’vorts (the uncloaked ship should not be the same class as the main fleet). When encountering the Romulans, they only have two choices – either attack my scout or retreat. If they attack the scout they will have to de-cloak, leaving me with a free assault turn. This tactic can also be used by the Romulans against the Klingons. One warning though: if you have a task force of cloaked destroyers, then enemy shipping is likely to target all your fast attack vessels. In this event you should use a troop or colony ship as the decoy.
Remember, the decoy ship should not share the same classification as the main assault fleet.
In combat at close quarters, two empires have the advantage due to their shields and armour. The Cardassians can be deadly with ramming if they get too near. So can the Federation. This should be taken into account when engaging these fleets. Be especially careful if playing the Romulans or Ferengi – you might get a shock. Try to keep your distance and evade/harry for best results.
Empire strengths and weaknesses
The Federation are best played as part of a long game at tech 5, preferably with a large galaxy and many minor races. The reasons for this are fairly obvious. The best Fed ships (Defiants, Sovereigns) need a lot of research to acquire. Time is needed to recruit minor races, fortify security and, in the event of conquest, contain morale. Up to turn 80-100 the Federation, are extremely vulnerable and ideally need some kind of pre-game agreement with your opponent to allow you to grow. The best piece of gaming I ever witnessed was by Maus playing the Feds. We had an agreement to suspend hostilities until turn 100. By that time Maus had absorbed the Romulans, half of the Ferengi and amassed around 60 Defiants by super research and fleet optimisation techniques. A remarkable achievement making him virtually unbeatable. The vast majority of players could never equal this and when playing Maus with no pre-game agreement, I can usually beat his Federation fleet around turn 80, especially if I’m playing Klingons. At lower tech levels, smaller maps and with no agreements the Federation are easy prey to other empires. Fleet optimisation for the Feds I have described in the sections above. Prioritise scientific races and throw everything you can into research. The worst opponent for the Federation are the Klingons. The easiest to fight off are the Ferengi. With a strong intel, target the Klingon and Ferengi economies and the Rom and Card militaries.
The Klingons are probably the best empire in an unrestricted game. War and conquest make them very happy, their troopships are swift and their K’vort class cruisers are absolutely deadly. Research is also surprisingly easy. K’vort 2s can be reached around turn 30-40 and for a Klingon victory you don’t really need any other ship. If playing as part of an agreement (no war till turn 80 say), make sure that you freeze research just before the K’vort upgrade and keep it there until the deadline expires. That way you can built a large fleet of the basic model cheaply then convert them all precisely when you need them. If the Klingons have a major weakness, it is internal security. Intel minors such as Betazoids should be quickly acquired and structures should be built as soon as possible. As the Klingons, you should be constantly in motion, enlarging your empire as much as possible through conquest, making demands and going out of your way to engage in combat. A powerful, compact Klingon empire can prevail over much larger forces. If you manage to build an offensive intel, then target the Romulan and Cardassian militaries, the Federation's science and the Ferengi's economy.
The Romulans start out with the most intel structures but they are not potentially the most powerful intel in the game. The Tal'shiar comes second to the Obsidian Order for intel percentages and bonus. Intelligence should be built upon to maintain this initial advantage. Research is powerful and the Battle Cruiser 2 can be obtained fairly early. As with the Klingon K’vort, you should hold off the upgrade till the last moment to optimise your fleet. Destroyers along with the battle cruisers are a formidable force but should be scrapped just before the battle cruiser upgrade to optimise the fleet in preparation for warbird 2s. In great numbers, these are the game winners. The temptation when playing the Roms is to sit quietly in the corner and mind you own business. This can be a mistake. You should expand smoothly using diplomacy when necessary and force when practical. In the later stages of the game make sure your intel is very powerful. Seek out intel races to fortify it. Target the Klingon economy, Federation science, the Cardassian military and the Ferengi economy for best results.
The Cards are favoured by many gamers in multiplay. They strike a good balance between the Federation and the Romulans, with military and intelligence capability in equal measure. With a pre-gaming agreement, the Battleship 2 should be attainable around turn 80. Invest in heavy cruisers for the upgrade then buy standard battleships just before the next upgrade. The Cardassians are not particularly good at diplomacy so be wary of competing with rivals in this regard or you might waste a lot of money. Conquest and steady absorbtion is the way to play. A large part of your attention and resources should be directed at your intel. Late in the game you should be able to surpass the Romulans in these areas. The Obsidian Order can cripple other empires, especially the Klingons, making them easy pickings for your task forces. Cardassian ships perform best when part of a large fleet. Don’t overreach yourself with colonies, etc. Remember that your ships are the slowest in the galaxy. Another great Cardassian advantage is the covert sensor array. Use these wherever you can. In a medium map they give you vision over most of the galaxy. For best intel results target the Klingon and Ferengi economies, Federation science and the Romulan military.
The Ferengi, in common with the Federation, need time to grow to be at their most effective. In a small or medium galaxy, they are easily defeated by virtually everyone else. On a large map with a pre-agreement, they can prove a formidable opponent. Diplomacy is excellent with ample credits for bribes and a generally favourable reception from minors. You should start on raiders and maximise before the raider 2 threshold, then set your sights on the top marauder. Your expansion should be as rapid as possible. Ferengi ships, while fast and agile, need to face enemy fleets in greater numbers to be successful so your production should be powerful. Keep an eye on internal security and look out for the Zackdorn or Andorians. Remember the “green” status of all your ships. Facing cloaked Klingo K’vorts or Romulan D’deridex can be a nightmare for lightly armoured ships, so numbers count. Targetting intel on other empires' economies usually yields the best rewards.
A short note on intel targetting
The best way to approach this is to look at your enemies' strengths and your weaknesses. I would nearly always target Federation science. This slows down their development of Defiants and adds to my own research. Targetting the Cardassian and Romulan military weakens their intel which is always desirable. Targetting the Ferengi economy adds to mine and hopefully slows down their fleet maximisation and expansion, and the easiest way of slowing down Klingon K’vort production is to hit their farms and cause starvation so I would target them economically. Depending on how strong your intel is, you might want to experiment with these priorities.
I hope this little strategy guide has been of some use. If possible download the patch as the original has more than a few bugs and can bog down frustratingly as the game progresses. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this game yet would wish for a higher standard of AI. I would be very pleased indeed if the game were re-released with this. If you have the capability, try to play humans. Its much better. If you want to use all or part of this guide on your site then please credit me as the author. Any queries, drop me an email: Callidice1@aol.com
I would like to thank Snuiter and Aralon, two of the best practitioners of this game in the world for their invaluable advice.
Live long and prosper.
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This guide is copyright 2001 Callidice.