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Echo Cluster
The Official VGA Planets Newsletter
Volume 2. / Issue Number 2.
Feburary 2004

Ed Robinson E-mail me

Lady Kate
Shawn McPherson
Bob Mizel
Tim Wisseman

This Months Featured Site

Visit Relic Host Today!!

Welcome to the VGA Planets Newsletter! This last month has seen some progress made in the area of Version 3, and some new hosts have popped up, one belongs to our monthly contributor, Lady Kate, and her host is featured this month! Read on and enjoy the monthly article by Lady Kate (Thanks Kate), and Merlyn's monthly contribution also! VGA Planets continues to be the largest PBEM (play by email) strategy game on the market today.

Ed Robinson, Editor

"Thoughts From the Cave"
By Merlyn

Is the Echo Cluster shrinking?

First, lets all congratulate Ed for running this newsletter for a year now!

Nice job Ed.

A VGA Planets convention?

Why haven't we had one yet. I know it was tried a couple of years ago and for some reason just went silent. We should start some talk about summertime 2005? If you are interested we could use Ed's Yahoo Group (VGAPLanets2) to discuss the details.

It does not have to be held in a large convention center maybe a local bar would like to have 20, 30, 40 or more geeks with laptops spend some cash and a couple of days in their establishment. We could also probably get a large room at a hotel for a good rate and use their connections for a couple of days.

Just throwing out some ideas for everyone to get started with.

I know this can be a very expensive venture for some and the economy has not been the greatest but if we plan a year or two in advance everyone could put aside 10 or 20 bucks a week and that would surely be enough.

Just a few more Ideas, we could have a few speakers (Maybe Tim?) to talk about planets, what got them started, their best games, their strategies etc. We could also setup a few games to run continuously.

I think we could get some great participation and finally meet some of those people we only know by nicknames.

Give it some thought and I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

See you in the Echo Cluster!

If there is anything you would like discussed or you agree or disagree with anything in our column send us your comments at: Merlyn@thelastdomain.com and we would be happy to talk about it or post it in the upcoming months.


The Secret Weapon of the Echo Cluster (Part II)
by Lady Kate

Everything started out rather smoothly. The first field was laid around a remote planet, about 200 light years from the home world, and about 10 light years from the Crystal Facist border. As more units were being added to the field, several observation craft noticed a curious thing happening. The units were organizing them selves into a dense rigidly organized web like lattice. Further investigation revealed that this behavior was due to the specific harmonics within the waste mines containment field. The fact that the mine units were smaller and self organized, meant that they could be deployed in much denser quantities than the standard mines, making avoiding them much more difficult.

Once the first minefield was laid, the minelayers proceeded to the next rendezvous leaving behind the research vessels. Over the next several weeks, many waste minefields were laid around most of the critical worlds in the empire. There were ceremonies and celebrations on several worlds, and on the home world, the emperor gave a rather rousing speech about how the new minefields would be the ultimate protection for his people, and everyone should feel totally safe now. Even with the increase in hostilities between the Facist government and their own empire, these mines would be the defense that they could all ride in security. During the speech, he showed many images of the fields during deployment. He espoused the beauty of the web like lattice the minefield formed, and took the opportunity to point out that even in military defense, the Crystal people exhibit unusual creativity and aesthetics. What the emperor did not point out, either because he did not want to, or he did not know, was the fact that the waste mines were less effective against the Facists than they had hoped.

The weeks that followed saw these pictures beamed all across the empire. The beauty of the minefields was astounding, and they quickly became known as web minefields, and the components became known as web mines. Nobody is exactly sure where this term originated, but it spread quickly, and undoubtedly there are many stories about how the fields became known as web minefields, and most of the stories have some element of truth in them, but the fact is, the name traveled quickly and stuck.

Several Facist raids against Crystalline outposts within the space of a few days left many people questioning the effectiveness of the web mines. Military officials were publicly at a loss as to how the Facists were avoiding the mines, but assured the public that they would get to the bottom of it. The fact was that they already knew how. The experimental minelayer that had been stolen from the research facility several months earlier was coming back to haunt them.

As the raids became more frequent, and more bloody, the public outcry to do something reached the boiling point. There were massive demonstrations on many worlds within the empire, and on the home world, there were repeated calls for the emperor to step aside and let the military take over during this crisis.

The military response to the raids had been swift. For each Facist raid, the Crystal military would launch an offensive of similar scale. While the Crystalline leadership tried to assure the people that this conflict would soon be resolved, and would not escalate into full scale war, the highest military leaders had been charged with making contingency plans for use in the event of a full scale war.

One night, reports of several Crystalline minelayer ships rocked the military hierarchy. Several large and valuable ships were lost, not to mention the crews. The cause of the explosions was unknown, but the public and government immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Facists were responsible, however several military scientists knew the real reason. It had been discovered that the modified containment field that was being used to protect the neutronium and keep it from destabilizing actually caused an energy buildup within the neutronium causing a massive release of energy.

What they did not expect was the massive explosion. Neutronium, by its nature is unstable, but not highly explosive, so the scientists anticipated an energy release, but thought it would be controlled by the already in place safeguards in the neutronium storage tanks.

The loss of the ships was tragic, but to some in the high military, there was a thin silver lining. They now confirmed that the ship the Facists had stolen, and the clones they had made of it would not last long. The emperor was torn on whether this information should be released, or kept secret. On one hand it would cause a rift between the public and the military, but on the other hand, it could cause the Facists to stop using the ships they had cloned. Once they stopped using the ships, the raids would certainly slow or even stop. The emperor opted to keep the information secret.

After several tough speeches decrying the Facist insurgence into Crystalline territory, many ranking government officials began promising an end to the conflict. Within several weeks of the ship explosions, the Facist raids did indeed slow. The military claimed several key victories in repelling attacks, and many reports included full video of spectacular explosions involving Facist ships.

Here ends part II

Lady Kate


This month, the Strategy section will feature the second of several parts involving Strategy on how to play the Fascists, one of several races in VGA Planets. The contributor to this is known to his enemies as R'bok, and to his friends as Bob. After this section is another submission on Strategy for the Pirates submitted by Shawn McPherson, Thanks Shawn!

(R'bok's Guide to the Fascists.. continued)

Fascist strategy revolves around getting started as quickly as possible and keeping the enemy off balance until you can deliver a death blow. Harassment and confusion help the Fascist keep the enemy busy while the attack fleet is build to an acceptable level. As mentioned previously, your strategy will vary depending upon game parameters. A total tonnage game is much different than a highest score or most planets game. We will discuss basic strategy here and leave it to you, as a rookie Fascist Commander, to apply these ideas to your own battle plan.

Starting Out

I usually start out by raising the tech levels enough so I can build a Coldpain armed with x-rays and mark seven torps. Leave the beam techs low for now. The first two ships I build are Coldpains. Fill each with thirty torps and either 70 clans or a combination of clans and supplies. You can usually send these first couple of ships out with 100 or so fuel and expect them to forage. Get these first ships out, cloaked, in opposite directions. Drop one or two clans off on planets along your route to act as observers until you can get more people out to colonize. Scout the planets and especially scout the enemy. Watch ship movements and get an idea who is close and where their home worlds are located. If possible, park a Coldpain on the enemy home world and wait. Watch his progress and if he happens to be foolish enough to leave the home planet unguarded, you can launch a pillage mission. The pillage is a mission so your ship will uncloak. Since the Fascists are immune to NUK and ATT friendly codes on planets (oh, didn't I mention that?) the planet will not attack you, only ships in orbit will. The pillage mission, unlike a Rebel Ground Assault, benefits the attacker. You will kill 20% of the population and steal all of his money and supplies. If you can't find the home world or it is heavily defended, you can attack or pillage his planets and interdict his shipping. Even a well developed planet with seventy defense posts can be killed by a Coldpain. Kill the planet, get gassed up, make more torps and generally be a pain in the ass. The enemy will have to devote warships to patrolling the home area and losing a large deep early in the game really hurts. Keep your Coldpains out there, spying and messing with the enemy throughout the entire game.

Once the first two Coldpains are out doing their thing, the third ship on my build list is an Ill Wind with x-rays and at least mark 7 torps. (Note here that if the game is one of those where you start out with very little cash and lean minerals, those Coldpains and maybe even the first Ill Wind might have to have mark four torps. Not ideal, but okay.) I know you are wondering: "Where are the freighters?" Don't worry, they're coming, we have to be prepared for a quick strike. If the Coldpains find a poorly defended enemy area, the Ill Wind can move in and wreak havoc in an enemy area. In the mean time, the Ill Wind can colonize close planets or take loads of colonists to good Bovonoid or Insect worlds and at the same time protect the home area.

Now that you have your Coldpains out on patrol and an Ill Wind available, build your first large deep space freighter. Fill it with a thousand colonists and two hundred supplies and send it off. I am not going to get into colonization since that function is not unique to the Fascists but remember that Amorphous planets should be colonized according to the minerals there. You will pop the planet later to reap the benefits of the worms but don't overlook what is in the ground.

At this stage, resources permitting, I will build yet another Coldpain to either support the first two or to go in another direction. If I have seen Birds, Lizards or Privateers close, I will build a Nefarious with star drive one engines and lazer beams. Another nice thing about a Nefarious is its ability to trigger if a cloaked ship is present. Set the mission to "kill" and friendly code to "trg". If a cloaked ship enters the same space as the Nefarious, the Glory Device will be activated and the ensuing explosion will give the cloaked ship one mine hit of damage. In the case of a Meteor Class Blockade Runner or Swiftheart Class Scout, they will both be toast. Larger ships like a Resolute, Lizard or Fearless Wing will be greatly damaged. Since THEY are not immune to NUK or ATT, your planet should take care of them, if not, they will be uncloaked and wounded, ready for the Ill Wind to finish off. Always leave one Nefarious set to trg on your home world to protect it against cloak ship attack.

Continue to develop your cluster and don't get impatient and raise your tech levels too soon. Early on this is a waste of money as you will not have the resources to build big battleships anyway. Ill Winds and Coldpains with their Nefarious brothers will see you through the first twenty turns or so.

Becoming an ally with another race can be a good idea but it can backfire also. If the other player is not trustworthy, he could stab you in the back and be a major hindrance. Some people play like this, making agreements and then using it against you later. I generally will ally myself only with someone I know and trust. Even then, watch out as this is a game afterall and eveyone wants to win.

Here end's R'boks second section.. read on for Shawn's strategy!


Have you ever had one of those games? You know, the kind where you were sailing smoothly, your economy was robust, ship production was nominal, colonists were happy and allies happier when suddenly....out of nowhere, several of your biggest carriers are * Poof * gone! Captured by those sneaky privateers!

Even for the most seasoned veterans, a talented Privateer player can be more than annoying -- they can be downright deadly. I have seen games flip from the Privateer being somewhere in the middle of the score and watched him/her progressively consume all the assets of the leading players and crush them into spacedust. Clearly, Privateer presence (or Orions as some call them) must be taken seriously and a good player needs to know how to defend themselves against this oft called menace.

Why then can they be such a problem? The chief characteristic that sets them apart from other races is their ability to steal fuel and tow-capture fuelless enemy vessels. That, combined with their gravitonically accelerated cloaking ships makes them the most stealthy and maneuverable race in the game.

The mainstay of a good Pirate's fleet is the Meteor Class Blockade Runner or MCBR for short. This ship is light, giving it an excellent range even while cloaked. It moves at double speed for a full 162 light years per turn. As well, it has a decent cargo capacity of 120 kilotons -- plenty for laying mines or hauling small shipments or colonist teams. Most importantly, it has a big fuel tank -- 280 kilotons -- allowing it to rob most other enemy ships dry. Its main drawback, as with most Priv ships is that it is too light to be effective in most direct ship-to-ship or ship-to-planet combats.

To understand how to defend yourself against these guys, we must follow the old axiom of war, "Know thy enemy." Privateer tactics are guided by utilizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. Any of their ships by itself is weak. However, cloaking over your planets in sufficient numbers (called Wolfpacks), they can rob even a Golem class carrier dry and tow capture it in the same turn. At first this can be frustrating but when they later attack you with your own ships the result is downright devastating!

Simply put, a Privateer's main strategy is to procure by stealth and robbing what they cannot build themselves. Some might call it insidious, even parasitic but love them or leave them, they cannot survive or win without acquiring someone else's heavy ships.

So what can we do? A good defense must be layered and redundant because all those cloaking privateer ships will be no doubt snooping around to exploit any weakness. Here are some key techniques to at your disposal:

Stay Cool - You can't see them. You can't trust them, but you CAN beat them. Keep a level head and don't get frustrated. Check your turns and pay attention to details. Good Generals fight well but great Generals fight well under pressure.

Mines -- Your most important defense against any cloaking race is mine fields. Lay them frequently and overlap them to increase the odds of a hit (Yes, this does indeed work, I've tested it). Don't leave minefields lying around to be swept up or avoided. Instead, scoop them up and re-drop them somewhere else. This will keep enemies on their toes. You change from having a passive defense to an active one. Priv cloakers cannot survive even one mine hit and it can feel very satisfying to blast a few especially when a Priv player says, "Oh sure, I will keep my ships out of your space." Yeah, right!

Codes - Minefield codes are determined by the nearest friendly planetary code. Never leave your minefield codes the same! Often players get paranoid and set codes to NUK. This is an easy guess for enemies and they can coast right through your defenses. I prefer to use VPA as a client, making re-setting mine codes very easy. Use ctrl-R to reset all planets (to remove NUK & ATT codes) and alt-R to randomize. Also, periodically change your base codes to "mkt". Sometimes a player may set their codes to make torpedoes en route to one of your bases. With a matching code and the bases set to "Force a surrender", you capture their ship.

Ion Storms - These are our friends. They decloak all cloakers (except Birdman ships). This makes them useful to us good guys to move our ships through and spot any robbers. Just make sure the strength of the storm is not too strong or you risk be carried along and even destroyed by the storm. Move along the edges so you have a chance of moving free of it if things get too dangerous.

Planet Defense - Keep your planetary defenses maintained. This avoids giving the Orions a place to decloak and refuel, minesweep or whatever. A planet needs around 130 Defense posts to start damaging a typical MCBR armed with Mark 7 torps and disruptors. (Note: Pirate players usually choose anti-personal beam weapons because they receive a triple damage bonus, making a combat vessel-capture much easier via wiping out the crew). Again, don't forget to set your bases to "Force a surrender" just in case they run out of fuel while cloaking over your planet.

Glory Ships - If you can trade with the Fascists, get some of these babies and set them to "trg" over key assets to boobytrap any cloaking ships.

Assume the Worst - If you see one of his ships, assume there are at least 5 more you don't see and plan accordingly.

Allies - Leverage the assets of an ally. Combined race advantages are often the only thing that can uproot an established pirate. Even then, it may take a lot of work. Consider races such as the Robots (quadruple minelaying ability), Crystals (webs), Feds & lizards (Loki class decloakers), any cloaking race (Pirates can't rob what they can't see), and Fascists (Glory ships). On the other hand, Fighter races such as the Borg, Empire, Rebels, and Colonies have the most difficult time against the Privs and are usually prime targets because of their big carriers.

Build smaller - Avoid letting big, heavy ships fall into enemy hands. Don't build them! Or at least, build fewer. Smaller class minelayers are more suited to anti-priv tactics.

The Buddy System - Keep your ships in groups. It is harder to rob many fuel laden ships than just one.

Watch the Fuel - If you do get robbed, don't give him much. When ships are idle over planets, leave only 1 kt on board. A Priv player must jettison his tanks to make room for robbed fuel. If you let him rob only 1 kt, he might not have enough to tow or escape later. As well, if you expect to lose any planets, scoop up what you can off the surface, especially fuel. Any ships doomed to be captured should likewise be jettisoned of all cargo and fuel.

Intercept Your Own Ships - If you suspect imminent tow-capture among a group of ships, target your best asset with your own ships that can defeat an MCBR in combat. For example, you are a Rebel player with a rush and 2 patriots around a planet. Set the patriots to intercept your Rush. When the Priv tows it, you intercept him. Set 1 patriot to warp 1 and another to warp 9. If he uses a favorite trick of towing within the warpwell, your warp 1 ship will capture him. If not, the warp 9 ship will catch him (provided he does not move more than 81 LY, in which case he will outrun you).

Beam up fuel - This little technique is often your only defense against a robbing attack. How it works is simple: "Beam up fuel" commands happen after the rob command during Host processing. This means that the Orion ships rob you dry, then you beam up fuel, then the Orions tow you. Because you have fuel again on your ship (and you've set your primary enemy to Privateer), you will engage in combat. This is a very useful defense for big carriers. You may even want to bait him with a ship custom built for MCBR capture using this technique. MCBRs are difficult to capture, but if you build a custom ship with anti-personnel weapons (i.e.. Ill-Wind with Heavy Disruptors and gamma bombs), you just might pull it off.

Noting the above tactics, some Priv players will use the sacrificial lamb gambit. i.e.. They will intentionally sacrifice a towing ship to tow you to a position in open space where they have a cloaking wolfpack waiting for you. The wolfpack will rob you and you can't beam up fuel anywhere. Unfortunately, if this happens, there's nothing you can do to minimize your losses, except jettison your cargo!

Don't take the Bait - If you see an apparently fuelless Orion ship stranded in open space, ignore the temptation to go tow it to a starbase! It is likely accompanied by a cloaked task force waiting for you to show up so they can rob you. Unless you or an ally have your own cloaked ships for a snatch 'n grab, leave it there.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense - Don't rest on your laurels waiting to be attacked. Choose the offensive, it can make your quarry think defensively and relocate or reassign assets. To play the Privs well, a player must be focused and pay attention to all details. Rattle him and he will make mistakes.

Economic Warfare - Pick off any freighters or planets. Weaken their economic base. Short of robbing and mines, the Privs have a hard time protecting their planets due to their lack of heavy ships.

Pre-emptive Strikes - The Privs are nasty when they've built up. So why let them? The Privs and the Borg are particularly vulnerable in the early part of the game. Most players will try to kill them sooner than later before they reach the "infestation" stage.

Change tactics - Don't let them predict your next move. Do the unexpected. Zig zag to planets more than one hop away to avoid a cloaked intercept. Move halfway somewhere and then move back. Keep them guessing. As Commander-in-chief of your fleet, you reserve the right to change your mind, right?

Be a Friend - Why fight? Better to have a Privateer as an ally than a foe. Many races mutually benefit rather nicely from complimentary race advantages and fleet strengths in a Privateer alliance. But be careful! Unless you know where his/her ships are via allied codes or Rst files, you leave yourself open to being betrayed later.

In short, defending yourself against this challenging race can be difficult, even hairpullingly frustrating. However, with some of the above techniques, you can hold your own and even win against these guys. Remember, stay cool and learn from any mistakes. The unique character of the Privateers can make your gaming experience that much more rewarding. With patience and cunning you will prevail.

Have Fun !

Shawn McPherson

Shawn is a 5 year veteran of VGAP and can be frequently found fighting Pirates on the www.Echocluster.com host site. You can reach him at seann@echoclusterNO_SPAM@.com

Monthly Help brought to you by Donovan!

Starbase orders

Starbases can have one of six Primary Orders set. Five of these orders take place after all ships have moved:

1. Maximum defense: The base will automatically build up defense strength to max. It will build as many base-defenseposts as it has money and Duranium minerals for. This mission does not influence the amount of defenseposts built on the planet, and does not build any fighters. One base-defense costs 10 megecredits and one unit of Duranium.

2. Unload Freighters: The base will automatically unload all cargo and money from ships at the base location that are of the base-owner's race or have the same friendly code as the planet/base. If the planet/base has a friendly code of "dmp" (dump ship components) or "bum" (beam up money) it can not unload cargo from ships belonging to other races. Colonists, unloaded from enemy or allied ships are added to the population of the starbase's owner. 3. Repair Base: The base will repair damage done to the base by enemy ships. This is done by 5% per turn and does not cost any resources.

4. Load torps onto ships: The starbase automatically loads all available torpedoes on all ships belonging to the same owner or his allies at that starbase. Only torpedoes which match the torpedo types of the ship(s) are loaded, and the amount of torpedoes loaded on the ships is ofcourse limited by their cargohold. Ships are loaded in order of ID: the lowest ID is loaded first, then the next and so on. To load torps onto allied or enemy ships they have to match the base's friendly code. Setting a formal alliance is not enough (and not necessary).

5. Refuel: The starbase will automatically transfer all it's fuel to orbiting ships, until there is no more fuel on the planet. Ships receive fuel in order of ID and ofcourse never more than there is room in their fueltanks. To refuel enemy or allied ships they have to match the base's friendly code. They don't need to be allied through the "ffX" ship-friendly codes.

Force Surrender

"Force a surrender" is the sixth possible Primary Order for a starbase. A starbase with this order set will attempt to force a surrender on all ships belonging to other races that are orbiting the starbase. Contrary to the other Primary Orders, this one is executed before ships move. A ship that is forced to surrender at a starbase will have it's waypoint reset and it's warp set to zero.

To surrender, a ship has to meet at least one of the following criteria:

* The ship's friendly code must be the same as that of the base.
* The ship must be out of fuel

Birdmen starships on a super spy mission are immune to the surrendering functions of starbases as long as they have at least one unit of fuel - if on Super Spy, they will likely match the planet's friendly code but will not surrender because of this. If the Birdmen ship switches it's mission to anything other than Super Spy it will surrender to a planets starbase if it has a matching friendly code and the starbase mission is set to force surrender.

A ship surrendering to a base will send a last message to it's (old) owner, while the new owner receives a similar message from his starbase:


The Bird Man starship Rejoice
has surrendered to the Fed starbase at Uri

Free fighters

Through the host configuration, it is possible to give the races a number of free fighters per turn at each of their starbases. By default, only the Evil Empire gets these 'free' fighters, they get five fighters per turn. These free fighters are built with minerals from the planet (3 tritanium and 2 molybdenum per fighter, as with all fighters). These fighters do not cost any money or supply-units. When you are given free fighters through the hostconfig, you can not disable this unless you make sure one or both of the required mineral are not present on the planet.

Dump parts By setting a friendly code of "dmp" a starbase will convert most of the parts in the starbases storage bins back into minerals and dump them on the planets surface. Engines, beams and torpedoe tubes are disassembled into separate minerals and dumped on the planet's surface. This way, 100% of the minerals that were used to build the parts are converted back to raw minerals - regardless of the host-configurable colonisation rate. Torpedoes and fighters will not be dumped. While the planet/base's friendly code is set to "dmp" it can not unload cargo from ships belonging to other races using the starbase mission "unload freighters".

The preceeding section is but a small portion of Donovan's Help Section. To visit Donovan's Site, go to http://www.xs4all.nl/~donovan

Featured Host

This month's featured host is Lady Kate, the creator and host at Relic Host! Read on to find out more about Kate. ** You can also find a section about Kate in the Peoples section of Donovan's website!

1. When did you start playing VGA PLanets?

I started playing in 1992 with version 2.2, when I was 22 and working towards my PhD.

2. When did you decide to start Hosting?

I have hosted games off and on for many years. They were mainly private games in which I was playing as well. I have finally decided to get a real host site up and running. My intention is to keep it small. Various concerns will keep it small, but definitely exciting, and hopefully offering some game setups that the other sites do not commonly host.

3. When did you create your Host site?

The current site is under development still, but is pretty much fully functional. I have had other host sites, but once again, they were pretty much private sites for private games. I have finally decided to open things up for the rest of the community.

4. Which do you prefer, A plain game with no addons, or a game with addons, and why?

Personally, I see the value of the nearly endless number of addons out there, but I prefer a game with minimal addons. I do insist on custom maps, and it takes a lot to get me to play in a game without fleet combat. I enjoy orbiter, sphere and homeworld. Notice the pattern here? Other than fleet combat, the addons I like to play with alter the dynamics of the universe, but do not require any input from the player. One of my biggest complaints about VGAP v4 is that there is too much micro-management. Being a wife and mother, I should be good at micro management, but when a game has too many addons, there is just too much to manage.

5. What Country are you from?

I am from the United States of America

6. Do you like hosting more than playing? or vise versa. And why

I do not have nearly as much experience hosting games as many of the larger hosts, and most of the games I have hosted, I was also a player. I have not really had a chance to see some of the drawbacks to hosting others have seen, but I am sure that as my site grows, I will. I want to have a site that is reliable, stable and fun for the players. I believe that I can offer that.

7. What do you see as the most progressive change in VGA Planets recently or in the past, and why.

I have been with this game for a very long time, and the changes between versions 2.x and 3.x were huge.

8. What is your favorite Addon?

Tactical VCR 2 by Ken Strom is without any doubt my favorite add on. One thing that I always disliked about VGAP v.3 was linear combat. I was really excited about v.4 because it offered fleet combat, however, other issues have made me less than excited about v.4 but that is another discussion. When TKF was released, I loved it! Finally fleet combat had arrived. Then Ken, aka Relic, released Tactical VCR. This in my opinion is the most revolutionary addon to VGAP. Finally, fleet combat where you can set individual ships to play certain roles within combat. With the advent of Tactical VCR 2, planets and bases become much more powerful. This fixed another issue I had with traditional combat. A medium ship could take out a moderately defended planet. Not any more.

9. Where would you like to see VGA Planets go in the next 5 years?

Since VGAP v.3 is in maintenance mode by Tim, I do not think many changes are coming in the v.3 arena, other than what dedicated players and programmers can come up with. I would either like to see Tim work something out with VGAP v.4 to allow it to be configurable to the point that is can be played like a v.3 game, ie getting rid of many of the new objects and such, but allowing for other v.4 features like huge numbers of planets, ships, and races, while keeping the simplicity of v.3, or (and not to start a flame war) have the PHost development team devise a way to allow more than 11 races, more than 500 planets etc.

10. Do you think VGA Planets is dying off with no new players, or does it continue to appeal to new people?

I think that the VGA Planets v.3 community is strong. Over the last several months, I have noticed some new faces, and some old faces returning. The news group has been at the same activity level for the last several years. The IRC channel has continued to be active. There have been new addons, and updates to old addons. While we have lost a few great established host sites, and some old information sites, I think most of the leading indicators show that the community is not dying.

Bulletin Board

New for Hosts

There is a new Yahoo Group for VGA Planets hosts. Check it out. You can find it at:

VPA 3.62 is out now.

Piotr has added some more simulation features. For example, press Shift-F1 to show minerals here next turn.

Thanks Bernhard you can now iterate through your empire in order of *position*, not *Id*, to avoid jumping around all the time. Hit 'o' to go to the nearest object; shift-o marks the current object done (will be skipped next iteration, see 'actual list' from previous version) and goes to next object. Bernhard also added a simple mistake finder (Shift-F11).

VPA can now derive your score from your RST file even if it is blanked, so you'll see a sensible graph in this case.

VPA now also uses the correct formulas to predict movement, so if it says you need one turn, you definitely should be there in one turn. VPA uses the formulas for HOST 3.22.026. I think VPA was already using correct PHost formulas for a while.

All in all, quite enough to justify an increase by 0.01 in the version number :-)



New Host!

The Planetarium

Check it out!

Looking for a Host? Here are some for you! Including our Featured Host this month, Relic Host!

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