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Echo Cluster
The Official VGA Planets Newsletter
Volume 2. / Issue Number 6.
July 2004


Editor
Contributors
Ed Robinson   E-mail me

Merlyn
Donovan
Peter Taal
Tim Wisseman



This Months Featured Site

HYPERSPACE-a VGA Planets website

Visit HYPERSPACE Today!!


Welcome to the VGA Planets Newsletter! This is the July 2004 issue of The Echo Cluster, a continuing extra of VGA Planets. This issue features a strategy guide for the Colonies by Cain. A two part series on playing the Colonies of Man. It also features a section on Hosts using Alternate Shiplists in VGA Planets. There is also the monthly contribution by Merlyn, along with our featured site for July, HYPERSPACE, a website done by Peter Taal. 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

The Privateers/Pirates/Privies/Ferengi.

More on my continuing thoughts about the Privateers.

I took a 6/7 year break from playing to concentrate on hosting. I did play a couple in those years but very limited. So this year I decided to start playing again. Previously I was going between the Colonies and the Robots, I have tried them all at one time or another but this year I started concentrating on the Privateers. Now I know why so many like them!

Playing the Privateers is not for everyone, they take a lot of time to play correctly, but when played the right way they are just about unbeatable. The right way to play the pirates takes a lot of time and the turns cannot be whipped out in minutes. A serious Privateer takes a lot of time to make his/her turns. It is not good to play the Privateers unless you have played against them as "all" the other races. You must learn the hard way how to fight against them which will make you a much better player when you play them.

When you do play them remember, they are very weak in the beginning and most races try to stop them right off the bat. I have been in a few games where almost every race came after the Privateers(me) from trn 1 till the Privateers(me) were eliminated.

To play the Privateers takes a lot of patience. I have planted ships at planets and waited up to 20 trns for the reward. If you are an impatient player then choose another race. There are actually only a few ships needed to play the Privateers. MCBR's (Meteor Class Blockade Runners) build lot's of these. It is very hard in the beginning of the game but my suggestion is TransWarp Drives, Heavy Disruptors and Tech 7/8 torps. BR4/Br5 and Lady Royals.

The Heavy Disruptors are great because of the Privateers get triple kill bonus which only works with Disruptors and Heavy Disruptors. It is also dangerous because this is basically a very expensive mcbr and a popper or a mine hit can eliminate your ship. But now the Tech 7 Torps come into effect. Most of you already know the best way to fight a Privateer is with mines but that backfires when you come up against a Privateer that also likes to lay mines. I know what you are going to say next, a Privateer that lays mines gives his position away. Well if I was a Privateer who liked to lay mines then I would have all the planets just outside of the minefield seeded with Privateer wolf packs. AH! Yes! the ships that are mine sweeping will have to give their positions away and if they try to mine sweep from a planet at the edge of the minefield then it is easy picking!

Well so much for the only strategy I will give away in this article. I will say if you play the Privateers you will have a better shot if have a good Ally. Next month we will discuss the benefits of each race when allied with the Privateers.

This is also a sad time for the Privateers as the NUK-Trap no longer works which was one of the Privateers best weapons. We will discuss this in later issues as I am going to continue publishing Privateer secrets and strategies in the coming months.

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.

Regards

Merlyn

Merlyn@thelastdomain.com

STRATEGY SECTION
This month the strategy section is about playing the Colonies of Man, by Cain.

Introduction

After many months of playing the Colonies, and being busy with my website design, I finally got the time to sit down and compile my own guide on how to play one the races in VGA Planets. The Colonies are one of my favorite races to play, (as evidenced by my Alias.. Cain). For those who don't know who Cain is... or was... He was Commander Cain, one of the most colorful characters in the Television show Battlestar Galactica.. and in a lot of respects.. a legend. Well know that you know that, you probably want to get into the strategy and information I have to give about how to play the Colonies in VGA Planets. Ok.. well here it goes....

The Colonies Overview

The Missing Colonies of Man as you may or may not know are patterned after the Colonial Warriors in the Television series of the late 70s, Battlestar Galactica. Tim Wisseman used them as the background for this race, and as such the Colonies are considered what is commonly called, a "carrier race" in VGA Planets. If you don't know what a carrier race is, then let me simply say that it is a race whose primary strengths revolve around Carriers, or ships that house fighters.. And those ships are used for fighting.

Since the Colonies are a carrier race, that leads us into their special abilities... the use of fighters. The Colonies use fighters for more than just shooting up other races' ships. They use them for a myriad of other tasks, both in the regular "vanilla" games, as well as in games with certain addons, Like Raceplus (which I won't discuss here), and Starbase Plus (which I also won't discuss here).

So the Colonies main abilities pretty much revolve around their most valuable commodity.. the fighter. Many races value the Colonies friendship for this reason. So lets not bother with getting into the Colonies special abilities. If you want a run-down on all of their special abilities, then you should leave this section and go look at "THE RACES" section of the website, where all of their abilities and characteristics are looked at in detail. I am writing this with the hope that the player is somewhat familiar with their special abilities already.

Starting Out

There are lots of opinions out there as to how the Colonies player should start their game. I am of the opinion that one of your valuable commodities besides the fighter, is your clans. At the start of the game, I set my homeworld tax rate at 0.. yes.. At 0... this will make your clans grow much faster than if they are taxed. Why do this? For a couple of reasons. Number one is that you have access to money other than taxing your clans. You have that ship called the "Lady Royale". This ship is very valuable to you... not as a fighting ship per se this early in the game, but as an income generator. I usually wait until around Turn 3 or 4 to build one these, but since it came up I will talk about it here. If you don't know what the Lady Royale does, then go read about it (See above). Its very important to your strategy and economy. So, since you have set your taxes at 0, you probably also started out with two free ships, maybe. If this is the case, then you should have a Taurus class Scout, and a Small Deep Space Freighter. The Small Deep Space Freighter (hereafter referred to as SDSF), is pretty much useless to you in the future.. Load it with some clans, and head it out into space.. With some supplies on it preferably. Your goal is to send this to an unexplored planet and use your COLONIZE mission with it.. to colonize a planet. (This will cause the ship to be lost, but like I said, its useless to you in the future anyway.) The other ship, the Taurus Class Scout, load it with some clans, and supplies and send it out to find a planet to colonize.. but keep this ship.. it can serve a purpose later. Ok, so you have your taxes set, and your two ships going, now what to do with your Starbase? Well.. you need to make sure that you get your hull techs up to at least Tech Level 4. This is because you are going to build your first ship, which is the Cobol Class Research Cruiser. This is one of your MOST IMPORTANT ships in the game. This ship has a ramscoop that allows it to basically "fly for free", and generates its own gas... enough to give to other ships (we will get into that later). So this ship will be able to go into deep space without worry of getting fuel.. so you want to get your techs up to build this ship. Give it some decent beams, X-Rays are ok, and it doesn't matter what type of torps it has, this ship isn't designed to fight.. its designed for other uses... which will also be talked about in depth later. For now you are going to use this first Cobol as an explorer.. because it also can use its Bioscanner to scan for Native Life forms... so this is the first ship I build.. so build this puppy.

Ok, now you have your first ship being built, and your taxes set, and your empire is beginning, so lets go into the later turns... after you first start.

When you get into your second turn, you have built your Cobol, so now you load it. It has a cargo of 250, so load it with a combination of Clans and Supplies. This first Cobol will be one of your early Colonizing ships. Send it to distant planets, that is uses it's Bioscanner to detect good native planets, and colonize them for later upgrading. You will be bringing in more colonists later with your Large Deep Space Freighters (hereafter referred to as LDSFs). Here is where your personal preference comes into play as to what your next ship to build is. You pretty much have a choice depending on how you want to play your cards. Do want a military build up or do you want to expand your empire further? If you want a military build-up, if worried about hostile neighbors, then I prefer at this point to build a Patriot Class Light Carrier. This is a very versatile ship, and sometimes neglected, but I build lots of these. (You will find out later). The Patriot only holds 30 fighters, but this early in the game it is a good homeworld defense ship. Plus you should already have some fighters on your Starbase (and you build fighters in space) so 30 fighters isn't a big problem right now. If you want to expand your empire, then I suggest you build another Cobol, just like your first, and use it for the same thing you are using your first one. To colonize. (These two ships are also very good bargaining or trading tools also.. Since they can be traded or sold, and you aren't giving them Cobols with high tech beams or Torps.)

Here ends the first section on this strategy. Look for the rest of it in Next Month's Newsletter!

Monthly Help
brought to you by Donovan!

Happiness

Colonist and native population have a certain happiness level, ranging from perfectly happy to a sate of civil war. The exact happiness level is measured in points, ranging from 100 (perfectly happy) to rates below zero. The lowest possible happiness level is -300. The level of happiness has an influence on the growth of the populations (there is no growth when natives or colonists are unhappy), and if natives or colonists are really unhappy they won't pay any taxes.

The amount of happiness points of a population can be translated to the mood they are in:

Happiness
Mood
100-90 Happy
89-70 Calm
69-50 Unhappy
49-40 Very angry
39-20 Rioting
below 20 Civil war


Happiness change

Colonist and native happiness are influenced by a number of factors: the size of their respective populations, the taxlevel and the number of factories and mines on the planet. Apart from these, for native populations their government type plays an important role and for colonists the temperature of the planet is of influence.

When you set the taxlevel in Winplan it does not show you the exact predicted happiness change, but describes how the natives or colonists feel about you. This feeling is used to categorise the happiness change:

* Love you: +5 and better
* Like your leadership: +1 to +4
* Are undecided about you: 0 (no change)
* Are angry at you: -1 to -5
* Hate you: -6 and worse

Avian natives are very happy and very forgiving, their happiness will grow much faster than other natives and they don't become quite as upset as other natives when being taxed.

Without getting into the details of happiness change too much, happiness drops considerably when a population is taxed. With taxes set to zero, happiness will roughly grow by 2 to 5 points per turn up to the maximum of 100. How fast happiness grows depends on the above-mentioned factors. In some cases, for really large native populations with a really poor government on a planet with a lot of mines and factories, happiness will not grow even if natives are not taxed.

(Exact formulas for calculating the happiness change are on the details page)

There are a couple of numbers to take into account when considering the happiness of your natives:

* the amount of natives only grows if happiness is 70 points or higher.
* below 40 points, natives start rioting. They'll destroy mines and factories.
* at 30 points or lower, natives won't pay any taxes.
* below 0 points, the natives are in civil war. They will now also start to kill your colonists and eachother.

Apart from the factors listed above native happiness is also influenced by other factors, although in other stages of the hostorder:

* A Rebel Ground Attack will add 30 happiness points to a native population and deduct 60 points off a colonist population.
* Whenever a planet fights a ship-to-planet combat and doesn't change hands (i.e. it wins), colonist happiness drops 10 points. Natives have no problems with the planet being in combat.
* When a planet is taken over in ship-to-planet combat, the native happiness drops 20 points.
* Pillaging will deduct 10 happiness points.
* Lizards can use their hiss mission to increase happiness.
* A large meteor impact decreases happiness, by how much seems to be a random event.
* Various addons introduce buildings or special missions to influence both the native happiness as well as their government type

Riots

When the happiness of colonists or natives is (or falls) below 40 points, they will be rioting. When rioting, they destroy a number of factories and mineral mines. Defenseposts will not be destroyed.

Rioting natives will destroy 3 factories and 5 mineral mines per turn.
Rioting colonists will destroy 8 factories and 10 minerals mines per turn.

-------------------------
(-p2424)NEWS FLASH:
The natives are rioting on
Fornacis 424 Planet ID# : 424
They have become very upset.
They are burning down the factories
and demolishing mines in protest!
-------------------------


If native or colonists happiness is below 0 points, they are officially in a state of civil war. In that case they will destroy structures both while rioting and while in civil war; the destruction will be cumulative so technically they are both rioting and in civil war.

It is often documented that rioting natives or colonists do not pay taxes. This is not exactly true: as long as happiness is higher than 30 (both before and after happiness change is computed), taxes will be paid. The limit for riots is at 40 happiness points. So between 31 and 40 points colonists or natives can be rioting as well as pay taxes.

A little undocumented feature, which is probably a bug: natives will not riot if there is no fuel on a planet. True op to and including 3.22.026, don't know if it's considered important enough to fix in future versions.

Civil War

When the happiness of colonists or natives is (or falls) below 0 points, they will be in civil war. In Civil war natives and colonists kill eachother, and additionally they burn down factories and mineral mines. Defenseposts will not be destroyed.

------------------------
(p2479)NEWS FLASH:
Civil War! on
Olber 479Planet ID# : 479
The population is upset about the riots.
They are burning down the factories
and demolishing mines and killing
each other.
------------------------


Clans killed

A number of colonists and natives are killed when either natives or colonists are at civil war. This means that if colonists are in civil war they kill both colonists and natives; when natives are in civil war they kill both natives and colonists. For each turn that natives and/or colonists are in civil war, 30% of the population plus an additional 100 clans (of both the native and the colonist population) are killed. Amorphous natives are not killed during civil wars.

Structures destroyed

As a result of the civil wars, eight factories and ten minerals mines are burned down. This destruction is cumulative with the destruction from riots: the Host program first checks if natives and/or colonists are "rioting" (happiness < 40), and destroys structures accordingly. Then it checks if there are any civil wars going on (happiness < 0) and destroys more structures accordingly.


 

 
 
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