By: C. D. Clagett, The Ultimate Admiral
So, you sent in your race choice in the game a little late, with the result that all of your top choices were already taken. Uncertain about which of the remainder you wanted to play, you sort of chose the Missing Colonies of Man. After looking more carefully at your ship list, you're not sure you didn't make a mistake. Your main torpedo carrying combatants are either a wimpy 2 tube/4 beam Tranquility Class cruiser or your 4 tube/4 beam Cygnus which is better but has very low hull mass, small cargo capacity, and a fairly small fuel tank. Weighing in under 100 kt, a single mine hit splatters the Cygnus into its component atoms. Your tech 9 Iron Lady Class frigate, with 2 tubes/8 beams is also relatively low mass and worse, has a glass jaw in that its crew of only 99 makes it an easy capture for anything firing a lot of high tech torpedos. Even high population Cyborg worlds without a starbase can capture it. The Patriot Class light carrier has a good punch, but has such small cargo capacity that it generally only punches once against a reasonably formidable ship that doesn't actually defeat it.
The Scorpius Class light carrier has more mass and more cargo room, but it only has two bays and so is almost useless against anything with more than 4 beams. Your premier capital ship, the Virgo Class battlestar, is formidable enough but it is the Sherman tank of the heavy carriers; all the other heavy carriers have ten rather than just eight bays and defeat it rather handily. Two high tech weapon battleships can take one battlestar out, giving the enemy an even trade since the second battleship survives. The Cobol is a neat ship with its bioscanner and fuel scooper, but nothing to brag about as a combatant. Do you have any reason for optimism? You better believe it.
If you have made it through all of the above except for the last line your problem is that you have failed to recognize your strengths along with your weaknesses. This is not an unreasonable mistake. The Colonies' strengths and the value of their special abilities are not as obvious as those of most of the other races. This article examines the strategic implications of the Colonies' strengths and weaknesses and makes recommendations with respect to specific strategies and general campaign directions for the Colonial player.
Handling Your Population
In the beginning... you are weak. But then, so is everybody else. What you do in the first twenty turns, however, will have significant impact on how strong you are at turn seventy or one hundred. The game default in Host version 3.22 has your homeworld start off with a moderate tax rate of eight percent. This is ruinous. Set the tax rate to zero immediately ! Your colonist population growth rate is determined by the planet temperature, modified by the colonist tax rate. The equation term governing clan growth with respect to taxes is 5/(5 + T) where T is your % tax rate. This term is multiplied by the growth rate potential determined by planetary temperature to yield actual growth rate. Therefore, if taxes are zero your clans increase at the maximum potential rate. If taxes are at 5%, growth rate is halved; if 10%, the growth rate is reduced by 2/3. A 50 degree planet with a zero tax rate grows at 5% per turn; this is the best possible growth rate. A 27 degree planet with zero taxes will only grow at about 1.5 % per turn. Now, a 5% exponential growth rate gives you a doubling time of about 14 turns, provided you are not removing clans for colonization, which of course you will be. Let's say your colonization efforts remove clans from the home world such that your doubling time is a constant 20 turns; by turn 60 you will have undergone two doublings, your home world will have a population around 4 million, and it will be producing 2000 clans per turn. Your actual growth performance if you have set taxes to zero early will be much better than this. Now, setting your tax rate to zero will make a little bit of a money problem for you in the beginning. You can make up for this by building the maximum amount of factories and selling supplies. Your max allowable factories will grow by up to 3 per turn, but perhaps not at all on turns in which you remove several hundred clans. Your object for the home world is to get it to 150,000 clans (15 million colonists) as soon as possible. Its main export, along with ships, will be clans. Resist the temptation to tax your homeworld until you are at 15 million colonists. This point is more crucial to you than the other players. The Cyborg's clans are his tax base, but he gets the vast majority of them from assimilated natives. Everybody else's tax base are the native populations on colonized worlds. You alone will have the capability of exporting many millions of colonists from your home world. No one else will have the fuel to support the movement of this much mass, in addition to supporting movement of warships and freighters loaded with minerals. You alone will be able to establish multiple multi-million colonist worlds like the Cyborg, which you will then tax like he does. You will never have as many large population worlds as the Cyborg, but in the mid-game when the cyborg worlds are fully assimilated your tax base of colonists will continue to expand at significant rates, far faster than anyone else's.
As you enter the mid-game and have several million colonists on the home world, you will want to begin establishing multiple worlds with multi-million colonist populations. Put these populations on uninhabited planets having moderate temperatures, preferably in the 40-60 range. In that temp range, growth of taxed populations, while small, is at least non-negligible in absolute terms provided you have a few million colonists. How you generate these worlds will be discussed later.
Ship Strategy in the Early Game
The very first ship you need to build is your Cobol. Whether you increase your engine tech to 8 and build hyperdrives is immaterial for your first cobol since a Quantum 7 driven cobol can travel indefinitely at warp 8 and still make a small surplus of fuel even if fully loaded. You will want to install hyperdrives on your early medium freighters. I do not recommend the small freighter due to insufficient cargo capacity. Set your cobol's mission to Sensor Sweep and begin collecting bioscanner reports. I recommend starting a log of bioscanner reports, since you will lose old reports if HCONFIG.EXE is set to delete old messages. If you choose, you may simply make notes on the planets in the starchart window. When you do this, it is helpful to note the turn in which the bioscan was done. If you later get another scan of the same world and the number has increased, you know that the planet is colonized. If it is decreased, you know it is either colonized by the Cyborg or the natives have been induced to fighting and killing each other by whoever else is there. Send your early ships out with 20% of cargo devoted to clans and the rest to supplies. On each new planet you arrive at, set down 1 clan and 4 supplies, and keep going, beaming up fuel if you need it. Don't head for home until empty. Sell 3 supplies the next turn and build one factory. If there are natives present, leave the tax rate at zero until you can get enough clans on the ground to collect non-trivial amounts of taxes. The growth rates of natives are determined identically to that of colonists. Several turns of zero taxes will substantially increase your collectible taxes when you finally arrive with people, and fifty turns down the road the results of your restraint are multiplied many fold. Always try to take the long view. In the larger ship picture for the early game, you will need to build many Cobols. These are the ships on whose backs your logistical and operational juggernauts are going to ride.
Defense: the First Requirement
If your game is set up so that you are not close enough to see your neighbors immediately (and hopefully your nearest neighbor isn't a cloaking race who wants nothing more than to destroy the Colonies) you will enjoy the luxury of developing your logistical infrastructure. The more you develop your logisitical infrastructure, the faster you will develop combat power when the need for it arises, although I wouln't wait until you see the enemy warship inbound. In that case, you waited a little too long. When you begin to bump up against other players' races you must figure out who is going to be an ally and who will be an enemy. More discussion on allies will follow later. You have ships that are excellent as components of your defensive infrastructure, ships that will do nothing but stand by and wait for another race to attempt the invasion of your terrritory. The first that comes to mind is the Lady Royale class cruiser. With four beams and one tube, it will defeat few if any of the ships that are likely to be used in offensive operations against you. But don't worry about that, because that is not what you want it for. The Lady Royale is light, with a hull mass of 130 kt, and has a large fuel tank (670 kt). Its cargo capacity is only 160, but if we're talking about torpedoes, that's a lot of torpedoes. The Lady Royale is an EXCELLENT interdiction warship, the more so because it is cheap. For less than 1200 megacredits you can build Lady Royale with heavy phasers and Mark 7 torpedoes. I favor Mark 7s at the high tech end of torpedoes because the cost ratio of megacredits to mines yielded is better than with Mark 8s. If your limiting factor is money, build Mark 7s. If your limiting factor is minerals, build Mark 8s. For the Colonies, megacredits are going to be the limiting factor more often than minerals. The heavy phasers are for mine sweeping, not combat. Rather than attempting to intercept and destroy invading enemy warships, use the Lady Royales to interdict the enemy's movement within your territory. Make no mistake, you are exceedingly unlikely to destroy anything with mines. Your purpose is to prevent him from moving somewhere you don't want him to, like away from your interception warships, or if he does so, to damage him and force him to use up any onboard supplies. Any ship reduced to warp 8 or less because of lack of supplies to repair with should be a sitting duck for you. In an ideal world, you would like to be able to converge on any invading warship or squadron of warships with at least three interdiction warships loaded with high tech torpedoes. Your second class of interdiction warship is the Cobol. By turn 50 you will have them everywhere anyway, supplying fuel to your massive logistical operations. Put a few torpedoes on a good fraction of them. If you are really strapped for cash, go with Mark 4s. At 13 megacredits a copy, they are very inexpensive, and they have the highest mine/megacredit ratio of all torpedoes. Voila! A standing, always ready movement interdiction force. The last component of your defense force will be your carriers. Initially, these will be Patriots unless you are fortunate enough to develop unmolested, in which case you will have Virgos. These are your interception warcraft. By the second half of the first hundred turns, you should have several starbases. While for logistical reasons it will be best to build most of your heavy carriers at your forward starbases, do not be reluctant to build some at your rearward starbases just because the commute to the battle will be long. These ships will constitute your interceptor force while they are moving forward to the front lines, to be ready in the event that your front lines are penetrated by enemy warships. You will vastly prefer intercepting an invader from ahead to chasing him from behind, slogging your way through any minefields he cares to lay. Once the carriers do arrive at your front lines, they augment the output of the forward starbases. Take the long view; a commander occasionally needs to exercise patience.
Passive Defense: The Neutronium Wastelands
You have one other defense which will be absolutely unavailable to other players. You have the capability of turning your forward areas--and any other areas you choose, into a fuel wasteland. How rigorously you pursue this policy is up to you, but you disadvantage yourself if you omit it altogether. This passive defense, which only the Colonies are capable of implementing, renders your territory extraordinarily difficult to penetrate in depth by warships of heavy mass or limited fuel capacity, i.e. short fuel tank range. The way you go about this is simple. Strip planets of fuel beyond what you are actually going to use for the transport of minerals and megacredits by freighters arriving no more than half a dozen turns or so in the future. This requires careful management on your part, but is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. Most planets don't produce that much fuel. For those that produce a lot of neutronium as well as a lot of the other minerals, well, just use that to fuel your large freighters. For those that yield a lot of fuel but little other minerals, you can either have your battlestars fuel up there, or send a fuel carrier to move it to where it will be used. In general, you have few potential uses for fuel carriers but this is one of them. The only way to overcome this defense is to send fuel carriers with the invading ships. On seeing this, you should start salivating with anticipation. You have merely to arrange for those fuel carriers (hull mass 10 kt) to drive through a few minefields. Can you say "component atoms"? Now, this defensive tactic can be defeated by the invader if he decides to tow the fuel carrier behind his larger warship, thus removing the danger of the fuel carrier hitting a mine. If he tows, however, he cannot simultaneously lay mines to annoy any warships which you may have pursuing him from behind; all options have their downsides. It is essential to remember that cobols on intercept missions do not make fuel. Therefore if you plan to use them to refuel ships which are engaged in interception missions, I recommend cruising through the area you think the pursuit will go, and then when the fuel tank is reasonably full set your mission to intercept your intercepting warship. One turn of no fuel production will not appreciably reduce the fuel in its tank, especially if the other ship's movement brings it close to the cobol. All you need do is have a care to avoid the invading warship, which will almost certainly be able to swat your cobol like an insect.
Deep Raiders Squadrons: The Bitter Edged Sword of Colonial Wrath
Master this offensive strategy, and your less perceptive opponents will learn entire new dimensions of the meanings of suffering and frustration. The concept is exquisitely simple. How you actually implement it is a little more difficult. In essence, this involves manuever warfare. Although your ships can be defeated by many of the top ships possessed by other races, and you might feel that you have less combat power than the other races, you must bear in mind that the efficacy of force is at least as dependent on where and when it is applied as it is on its magnitude. The big picture of what you are trying to accomplish here is simple: you have almost unlimited fuel, whereas for everybody else this is as scarce commodity. Therefore, you must make it an even scarcer commodity by forcing him to chase you with his warships. Each 100 kt of ship mass that you force the enemy to set in motion at warp 9 will result in a cost of 8 kt of neutronium. Big whoop, you think. You can well believe that it is. An armed and fueled battleship may well tip the scales over 1000 kt total mass. Since he'll never catch you with just one (and even if he did, you'd spank it), you will have caused him to pursue or intercept with two and probably more battleships. This adds up in a big way, turn after turn. You have presented your enemy with not just a problem, but a dilemma. Each of his options contains a major downside for him. If he chases you fuel becomes even more limited for him, and unavailable for his large freighters. If he doesn't chase you his planets will be destroyed. There is no attractive choice for him here. Do not make the mistake of using these squadrons to attack the planets along your mutual territorial borders, for the purpose of pushing back the border. This would resemble the trench warfare of WWI. If you do this you have failed to understand the objective here. Your purpose is not to take some particular piece of ground, but to damage his economy in general, by tying up and causing him to squander precious resources, and hitting targets as they become convenient. At some point you will also have to engage his ships and start destroying them because eventually they will become too numerous to maneuver between and induce to giving chase. Your objective here is to destroy ships faster than he can replace them. If you have more starbases than he does or can build at yours more often than he does at his you will eventually attrit him down and it will be all over except for the shouting.
What you need is a squadron of ships capable of indefinite movement without replenishment, and capable of indefinitely re-arming itself in enemy territory. The most basic combination is a battlestar, a gemini, and at least one but preferably two cobols. The battlestar is the muscle, the gemini maintains a full complement of fighters aboard the battlestar, and the cobols provide fuel, sniff out targets, and lay mines to deter pursuit. The reason two cobols are preferred is so that in case pursuit is relatively close and there are enough ships that some missions may be set to minesweep, you will be able to lay a minefield that is just barely too far away from the pursuing ships to be swept. Simply calculate the number of mines that will produce a minefield with radius one light year short of that needed to bring it into minesweep range (set by HCONFIG.EXE) and transfer torpedoes between ships so that one of them can lay the exact amount of mines needed for the optimum field.
You need the gemini because in most cases you won't want to have the battlestar devoid of supplies from having built fighters. If you have multiple battlestars (by which I mean at least three) in the group then this is less of an issue. There is one glaring problem with the basic configuration of the Deep Raider Squadron. Your torpedo race enemy will promptly reason that all he has to do is gang up on your lone battlestar with two of his battleships. In the case of the Fed, even though that second Nova Class Dreadful is at 85% damage all weapon systems still function and so it will handily mop up the rest of your squadron after finishing off the battlestar. The second Dreadful survives the battle, and you have just traded four ships for one. Needless to say, this is unacceptable.
The Expanded Deep Raider Squadron
There are two main ways to expand the basic Deep Raider Squadron. First, and most importantly, you need multiple battlestars. Three or more is ideal, but even two will give you a favorable trade against battleships. With three or more, you need not fear engaging two battleships because you will lose one battlestar and he will lose both battleships. When you are down to two battlestars, your next engagement with two battleships will leave you with only one and your next engagement after that against two battleships will be your last if the enemy is the Fed. Against the battleships of a torpedo race other than the Fed, the remnants of your squadron may be able to finish off the second battleship.
The second way to expand the basic squadron is to add Tranquility Class cruisers and Cygnus Class destroyers. I always put heavy phasers, for minesweeping, and usually Mark 7 tubes on them. The Cygnus is a pretty good little planet buster against anybody but the mid- or late-game Cyborg, and the Tranquility has great cargo capacity as well as a good fuel tank. Why is cargo capacity important? Because you will use it to steal his bloody minerals and dump them into space; you therefore want a ship with deep pockets. I preferentially take the molybdenum, since that is the rarest mineral in the game. That brings us to the other thing you do with the Deep Raiders, which is scour any planet you hit clean of fuel, and savor his pain. Whenever possible, arrive at a planet with plenty of room in your fuel tanks; dump it into space the turn before you hit the planet if necessary. You have two options of use with the Cygnus. First, you can keep it with the rest of the squadron until such time as the battlestars are destroyed, and possibly take out a batttleship damaged by the battlestars. This is a viable course against any enemy but the Fed. With his weapon systems advantage, any dreadnought that survives the battlestars will eliminate the rest of the squadron also, unless it runs clean out of torpedos, and maybe even then. The second use for the Cygnus is to let it peel off to hit targets of opportunity. Against any but the Cyborg, this ship will be more than adequate to destroy a planet, assuming no starbase.
Scorching the Planets!
Whenever you conquer a planet, you get one clan on that planet. You have a few options at this point. If the planet is uninhabited, you may riot your clans by jacking the tax rate and getting happiness below 40 of you're playing version 3.5. This will cause a loss of four factories and six mines per turn. Rioting by itself causes loss of three factories and five mines per turn. This is cumulative with the fact that you don't have enough clans to support all the structures, so you lose an additional mine and factory each turn for a total of four and six. It is unlikely that you will do this for very many turns before he gets around to taking the planet back. On an uninhabited world, therefore I recommend removing the clan, making the world unowned. If the world has natives, get the happiness down close to zero and then set it to 100%, especially if the world is deep in enemy territory. If it is a border world and you think you might possibly develop it by bringing in clans, you might not do this. In version 3.5, if the happiness of either colonists or natives goes negative, you lose 30% of both per turn, rounded up to the next integer in the case of clans. This means that one clan will only give you one turn in negative happiness before the planet becomes unowned. Two clans gives your two turns, and three clans will give you three turns. All the while you have set tax rate to 100%. You are gutting the enemy like a fish. This is an exponential decay curve with a coefficient of 0.7 raised to the Tth power, where T is the number of turns in negative happiness. Two turns of 30% loss reduces the native population by 51%, and every two turns negative will reduce it by an additional 51%, so that after four turns he has only about one quarter of the native population he had before you arrived to do your dirty work on him. To find the percentage of natives remaining after any number of turns of negative happiness, raise 0.7 to the power of the number of turns; it's positively awful. After your clans have died off in the melee, and his planet is well into negative happiness, he will get around to re-colonizing. The huge roaring sound after a mere two turns of 100% tax rate will be that of his taxable population going down the toilet on a rocket sled! His sense of urgency at re-taking any planets you have attacked will soar. Note that the ship to planet combat phase in the turn happens before taxes are applied and happiness recalculated. So, if he re-takes the planet the turn you leave for other targets (assuming you haven't lingered) you have not done very much to him except eliminate tax collection until he re-colonizes. If this is all you are accomplishing, however, don't fret over it. You have set him back badly on that world and if he has to re-colonize every planet you attack, and your bioscanners will lead you to the fat targets, you have seriously degraded his overall economic efficiency. If you have forgotten to send clans along with the squadron, pull up the clans from any uninhabited worlds you conquer and drop them on the inhabited worlds you take. This will give you a second turn with which to keep tax rates at 100%.
The Colonial Clan Conduit, or... The Titan Rising
Because of your extraordinary lift capacity, you will want to export clans off of your homeworld. Once you homeworld begins to have several million colonists on it, you will be extremely tempted to begin taxing the clans there. Resist this temptation. Build yourself a bunch of colonization squadrons consisting of two cobols and one super transport. Their combined capacity is 3100 kt, and the output from the two cobols will keep the three of them going indefinitely. Pick a world with moderate temperature, preferabbly within three or four turn movement from your homeworld, and begin cycling the colonization squadrons to between the planet you've chosen and the homeworld. If your homeworld tax rate is zero, and you have at least 6.2 million colonists there, you can remove 3100 clans every turn and not have any decrease in the homeworld population. Not inconceivably, you will eventually have six or eight of these little squadrons, and your chosen world population will grow by 3100 clans every turn, or almost every turn, apart from natural increase. At a 10% tax rate, that's 31 megacredits. Raise several planets like this to several million colonists each, and your tax base will be rapidly expanding late in the game, when even the Cyborg may be levelling off. Now, in addition to taxing your native populations, you can tax your colonists. Just continue building super transports, with cobols to fuel them, and while you may never rival the Cyborg in total clan mass you will begin to approach him, reducing his money advantage over you.
Allies and Enemies
The secret to dealing with many of your enemy opponents is analyzing their strengths and nullifying those strengths if possible. Some strengths are intrinsic; you can do little about these except adapt to them. Others are extrinsic. Need for fuel is the most universal extrinsic factor. All potential enemies are vulnerable with respect to fuel. With fuel they are all potentially strong; without it they are unquestionably all weak. Another important one is the tax income advantages of some races. The Fed, Cyborg, and Lizards fall into this group. The Fed collects double, the Cyborg converts natives to colonists, who tolerate a higher tax rate than most natives, especially as population becomes high. The Lizards have the Hiss mission to quell dissatisfaction. Because this property is part of the strength of these races, you need to make it one of your points of attack. For these races it is important to destroy their tax base, whether natives or clans. The reason that they have their taxation advantages is because their fleets are expensive. A battleship loaded with 100 high tech torpedoes can easily cost twice as much as your battlestar, and possibly even more. Cloaking races do not have much in the way of special vulnerabilities except that if anything they may be a little more dependent on fuel availability. Against the cloaker you will want to assiduously and rigorously pursue the neutronium wastelands policy. You cannot track down the cloaker's ships to destroy them? Well, can you find his planets? If you attack his planets is he likely to use his warships to defend them? Of course he will! All you need to do is show up loaded for bear, and arrange that the exchange of ships is at least in your favor.
One thing you should bear in mind is that you are without question the premier candidate for alliance in the whole game. Your problem may in some instances be that the other players are not astute enough to know this. Within twenty turns they will likely be looking for fuel. Point this out, and explain how the cobol works. There is absolutely nobody in the game whose overall effectiveness will not be improved by the fuel that only YOU can supply, and in abundance. Of course, they could try to capture one, or in the case of the Privateers, to steal one. The Privateers, however, cannot clone, so a single cobol or even a few of them will not have much impact, especially later in the game. Try to pick your allies by whose ship types will offer you correction for the defects in your own line of ships. Speaking strictly of ships, the Lizards have the least to offer you, since part of what makes them formidable is their ability to take 150% damage. Consequently, their ships are not that impressive, especially if owned and operated by you who will not get the damage tolerance advantage. Don't spurn an offer of a terraformer without careful consideration. Depending on your planets, the benefit to you could be huge. Your battlestar, on the other hand, is a huge improvement over the Madonzilla Class carrier, and the Lizard player would absolutely love to have a few. Therefore don't turn your nose up at a Lizard offer of alliance. Just make sure you understand how he can help you and, equally importantly, is willing to help you. Except for terrraformers, and cloaking ships which aren't that formidable in your hands, the Lizard doesn't have much to offer you in the way of ships. The Lizard can, on the other hand, be most helpful with mining and tax collection, and these are not necessarily trivial. The Lizard is just about the hardest player to see the benefits of forming an alliance with. Everybody else has a ship type that you can put to very effective use.
One word of caution when using the Cobol as a bargaining chip. For some races it may be your only bargaining chip. Be very sure of who you are giving them to. If you give Cobols to a race with a tax advantage who will not mind paying double for the ships, you will eliminate, or at least markedly reduce his fuel limitations thus improving his efficiency as an enemy should he intend to betray you. This goes double for the Fed, who can upgrade a low tech Cobol that you give him. He will clone it before Super Refitting, thus keeping his cloning costs down. His end cost of a Transwarp driven Cobol will then only slightly exceed yours, and with his tax advantage he will be able to afford as many of them as you have. Now he will have the cash to afford to build his fleet, and the fuel to drive a logistical engine as powerful as yours. You are basically toast for this game, and hopefully will have learned greater wisdom for the next. If you are confident that the Fed will be a faithful ally, give him a Cobol with Stardrive 1s, lasers, and Mark 1 tubes. Let him clone THAT before refitting, and the two of you will mop up the cluster with everybody else.
Starbases, Factories, and Merlins
One of the reasons you need to distribute your clans well and initially let them grow unimpeded by taxes is so that you will have large numbers of factories on your planets. Be careful not to overburden inhabited worlds with factories. A small number of excess factories on those worlds can cause you to lose hundreds of megacredits every turn in taxes because the maximal tax rate that the natives will tolerate will drop. Load up most heavily on uninhabited worlds, especially those with moderate temps. As you see, this will fit in with your clan policy.
Your high population worlds will also be your high factory worlds. Do not sell your supplies. These supplies are the straw that your Merlins are going to spin into gold. In the game I amplaying as of this writing, I have fourteen starbases and eight Merlins distributed among about 160 planets. Some of the starbases are sufficiently closely co-located that one Merlin can service more than one starbase. A Ghipsoldal world is your premier candidate for a starbase, since you know you want it to produce Transwarps. If you intend to build a logistical ship starbase there and manufacture only large freighters, the base will cost you only 2500 mc to raise to the necessary tech levels. Starbases that you plan to build freighters and lighter warships at actually have a relatively low rate of mineral use. Amphibian worlds are good candidates for bases that you plan to build warships at, since you know you will likely build heavy phasers. I personally like to cluster starbases (I have only done this in a couple locations, but it works very well); one base will make battlestars and the nearby bases will make Patriots, Cobols, and Cygnus class destroyers, etc. The geminis hover over the nearby Bovinoid world. Deep Raider Squadrons assemble very quickly under these conditions.
Dedicate a Cobol to accompany your Merlins. Provided HCONFIG.EXE is set to have Cobols produce at least 2 kt of neutronium per ly travelled, one Cobol can keep a Merlin, even loaded with 900 kt of minerals that it has just made, moving indefinitely. If planets are widely separated, other races are not going to want to pay the fuel costs of moving the fuel the extra distance. This consideration is, of course, immaterial to you. The only reason your Merlins should stop is to deal with supply backlogs accumulating on Bovinoid or other worlds. The Cobol supplying fuel to the Merlin should keep moving, laying down fuel at your future stops.
Sure, you have weaknesses. Big ones. But you have strengths as well, and the key to victory is recognizing them. Assess your enemies for what makes them strong. Does he have a tax advantage needed to fund expensive fleets? Destroy his tax base. Does he cloak such that you cannot track his ships down? Make his ships come to you. Does he have many starbases producing free fighters? Destroy his bases, many of which may be relatively weak and used mainly for fighter production; without those fighters he is toothless. I have not explored in this article the Colonial weaknesses for purposes of developing a strategy against the Colonies. That is for another commander to do. If you as the Colonial player wish to be maximally thorough, you will try to see things through the eyes of your enemy, so as to anticipate his offensive initiatives. Ask yourself on a turn by turn basis, if you were he, how you would attack the Colonies. Then, it only remains for you to be prepared.
C. D. Clagett, The Ultimate Admiral