by Ed Robinson
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.
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.)
Ok, now lets jump ahead a little. You have gotten colonizing started, and you have yourself a little force of ships that are colonizing and defending.. I wouldn't even think about being in a position to attack much before turn 20.. unless you have a hostile neighbor breathing down your neck. For your first 20 turns, you should build your Cobols, a couple of Patriots, and a few Lady Royales. The Lady Royales are built at your homeworld (since that's where your clans are), and load them with 160 clans each, this will give you 160 mc every turn per ship... this is where our money comes from since your aren't taxing your clans... REMEMBER? Ok, now the Lady Royales I usually build with low tech Engines, and low tech beams.. And low tech torps.. these ships only have 1 tube each anyway... and why waist money and minerals on a ship that all you are using it for is a money maker anyway? You might say since the LR has a cargo of 160, why not use it as a Torp ship? Well, let me tell you why. Because you have a Cruiser called the Tranquility, which will fill that function. You should have at least one of these Tranquilities built by now, with at least Tech 7 Torps on it. (Tech 7s are better yield for the money/minerals) . The Tranquility is your ULTIMATE torp ship, with 2 tubes, and a HUGE gas tank (460) and can carry up to 380 cargo, so you can carry a mixture of torps/supplies/clans, or whatever. This baby is very valuable, because it is your minelayer. Use these for this purpose.. they come in really handy. So you should have at least one built, and thats what he has been doing, laying protective minefields around your area. Lets see.. what else? Oh, ok.. I would hope that you would have at least one more starbase, if not two, built by now. Also by now you should have found a good Bovinoid world to colonize, and there is a reason for this, its called the GEMINI CLASS TRANSPORT. Find a Bovinoid (remember the Bioscanner?) world, and colonize the hell out of it. Then build a Gemini at one of your starbases, and tow it to the Bovinoid world. Why do this? Well, your GEMINI isn't used as a transport... its used as a Fighter builder. The Gemini can hold up to 400 fighters.. since its armed with 1 fighter bay. Take this ship to a bovinoid world, which is generating supplies every turn, and set its friendly code to "lfm" LOAD FIGHTER MINERALS... then every turn the Gemini will build you its maximum number of fighters which will supply your carriers. The Gemini has the capability to build 40 fighters a turn, provided you unload the 40 it builds every turn onto a Starbase or a carrier. So imagine what this does for your fighter production... very nice. Oh, and don't forget to set the Gemini's mission to "Build Fighters", that would help too.
Ok, so you have a good fighter production going, you are making money every turn, and have a good economy, and you should have LOTS of clans on your homeworld. So lets talk about what you need to be thinking about later on.
Further into the Game
As you have gotten further into the game, you have built Patriots, Tranquilities, Lady Royales, (just enough to make money), Geminis, and LDSFs. What about the other ships.. well lets talk about some of those other ships for a second...
Small Deep Space Freighter: Don't build it!
Taurus Class Scout: With two beams and no tubes, I really don't see a function for it.
Cygnus Class Destroyer: This ship only has a 50 cargo room, thus it doesn't due for laying mines, and with only one engine, in most games it can't tow.. so why have it?
Little Joe Class Escort: same as above, but it doesn't have torps.. the only thing I may build this ship for is transporting money back and force in my homeworld areas.
Aries Class Transport: This ship is basically a transport with beams.. Has a medium (260) cargo hold, so it has some use as an armed transport.. and it also generates gas from minerals... so it has some minor uses.. I don't build a lot of them though. The Cobols are much more efficient at making gas, and have just as much cargo room.
Sagittarius Class Transport: Has good cargo room, (300), and has 1 fighter bay and 2 beam weapons, so it has some use, it can make fighters for you in a pinch... and it has some uses in other Addons, but I don't make many of these either.
Scorpius Class Light Carrier: The only thing this ship has going for it is that it has a higher mass than the Patriot. But three patriots have just as many fighters, and aren't as expensive.. This ship with 4 Engines is just too expensive to make to justify its existence. You are better off saving the money and making a Virgo.
Gemini Class Transport: The Gemini is one of the best Colonial ( and Rebel) starships available. This ships power is derived, not by is ability in combat, but for its ability to make large amounts of fighters very quickly. The Gemini can be built cheaply and generate a huge fighter stockpile. If a Bovinoid world can be found that generates a great deal of daily supplies and minerals, the Gemini could be built with tech 1 engines and weapons, and be towed to this planet, and once there, could survive the game over this planet and never move. The Gemini will generate 1 fighter for every 3 Tritanium, 2 Moly, and 5 Supplies held on the Gemini a turn.. for a maximum of 40 fighters made a turn... if the fighters are offloaded to another ship. With this ship, there is no reason why the Colonies should ever need to spend a single MC on a fighter.
Iron Lady Class Frigate: With 8 Beams weapons and 2 tubes, this ship would make a good minesweeper.. however being the colonies, a Patriot can sweep just as many, if not more mines per turn than this ship. It has a very low mass (150), and low cargo, (60), so it really doesn't serve a function unless you want an expensive escort for your freighters.
Virgo Class Battlestar: Here is the workhorse and backbone of your fleet. These ships with their large cargo bay to hold up to 290 fighters, and their 10 beams, are very valuable to you. You team a Virgo up with a Cobol and you have an excellent attack force.
Now that I have talked about the ships, by the time you are into the mid-point of the game you should have built a Virgo or two. The Virgos play an important role in your conquest/defense. The Virgos can make fighters in space and do very well in combat. The Virgo however doesn't have a good combat record against other Races' heavy carriers. The Virgo is best used with right around 190 - 200 fighters, and use the empty space to store supplies to repair damage. A Virgo can use its fighters to sweep mines up to 200 lys away, which can really damage someone like the Robots or other minelaying races. You get a Virgo equipped with good mid-level beams and it's a good attack force. Early in the mid-point of the game, Virgos should be set with your Gemini's, and the Gemini's and Virgo together can "Build Fighters", with the Gemini transferring its fighters to the Virgo every turn... in a few turns the Virgo is ready to go.
Later Stages of game
Once you are into the later stages of the game, you should have a good mixture of ships in your fleet, but the backbone should be little task groups of Virgos and Cobols together. You may think that your Cobols should be towing Virgos around, to save you from having to fit Virgos with those big engines right? Wrong. Cobols won't make fuel while towing.. so its necessary to outfit your Virgos with good engines.. The Virgos are gas hogs though, so you may have need to have two Cobols with your force. These groups are what you are going to be using to fight with. I will combine two or three Virgos together with 2 or 3 Cobols, and may through in a Gemini, to help restock fighters. At least one of your Cobols should have tech 7 torps on it and be loaded with torps, to help lay minefields. The "drop and scoop" method of laying mines comes in handy while this group travels to deter any cloaking ships from "shadowing" this fleet. This fleet will be able to sustain itself into enemy territory without need of supplies of Neutronium. Thus this task force can reek havoc in an enemies territory because it has no need to take planets rich in gas to sustain itself. The backbone of this force is your Cobols, so protect them. Don't let them get into fights with other ships, that's what the Virgos are for. You have no worry of minefields, since your force can sit outside and minefield and watch it disappear!.... much to the frenzy and madness of the player who laid them.. it quite fun actually watching this...
Late in the game, since you have not been taxing your homeworld, you should get the maximum population on your homeworld quickly. By this time you should have built some Super Transport Freighters. They serve the function of taking your 2600 clans off your homeworld every turn, and populating your surrounding planets with them. You can do this every turn and come back and find your homeworld full of clans again. You can even tax them a little and get some extra cash. Couple the Super Freighters with a Cobol to keep them in gas... and you will see your homeplanets populating very fast. Be sure to keep some ships, like a couple of Patriots or Tranquilities in your rear area just in case a wayward cloaker shows up to try to disrupt your supply lines or other stuff... they can handle it.
With you populating your other planets, (the Bovinoid planets are good to populate)... you can build a massive supply of fighters for your Virgos, and have money to build torps for your Tranquilities to lay minefields for defense. By this stage of the game you should be a very awesome military power... and can project your power similar to the great Aircraft Carrier Task forces of the United States Navy... where they go they rule. Its very good for diplomacy too.
General Information and Strategy
The Colonies strengths and the value of their special abilities are not as obvious as those of the other races. One of the big strengths of the Colonies is their mine sweeping capability. The Colonies are the only race that can sweep minefields using their fighters. The Colonials have developed the ability to sweep mine fields in this manner. To keep their fighter pilots in practice, the Colonies developed the tactic of letting their fighter squadrons fly out up to 100 light years from the carrier and use their fighters to attack and destroy enemy mines.
Another ability that the Colonies have is the ability to build fighters in space. They can use free space in their carrier's cargo holds to build fighters. To do this the starship needs at least 3 Tritanium, 2 Moly, and 5 supply units for each fighter they wish to build. The primary mission for the ship must then be set to "Build Fighters", and the next turn the resources will be replaced with fighters.
Grand Strategy Overview
So lets go over some of the points I have made.
In the beginning of the game, the Colonies.. ( like everyone else) is pretty week. The first ship you should build is the Cobol. Load him up with Colonists and supplies and send him out. Use the ships Bioscanner to look for good native worlds to colonize. If you are starting out with a lot of money that is good.. If not, then I suggest building a Large Deep next.. Load it with Colonists and send it out also, following the Cobol with colonists to boost your colonies. Then build a couple of Lady Royales.. It is not necessary to build tech 10 engines or beams on them.. All you will be using them for is money.. So put 160 clans on each of them and leave them where they are... if you build 4 or 5 of them, you will have enough money generated every turn for whatever you want. I say this because you SHOULD NOT be taxing your homeworld at all... Set the tax rate to 0% and watch your clans GROW. In a matter of several turns you will be maxed out on population and sending clans out at 2600 per turn to other planets.. This is where your other ships come in.
Build groups of Super Transport Freighters.. And couple each freighter with two Cobols. These groups stay together.. The Cobols providing fuel for the Freighters.. And the freighters taking your colonists out to other worlds.
Now task groups are important for the Colonies... I am not talking about task forces of destroyers and cruisers and carriers. I am talking about task forces consisting of Cobols and Virgos. Here are your heavy hitters. For each Virgo you build.. You should be building one or two Cobols. These Cobols stay with the Virgos everywhere they go. It won't hurt to put a Gemini in there too. Have one of the Virgos tow the Gemini if you want... but this task force has an unlimited fuel supply and a big , steady supply of fighters. Thus these task forces can run independently and be used to harass an enemy's rear areas and supply lines without you worrying about having fueling locations. Usually a group of Two or three Virgos is good to have. It isn't a bad idea to have one of your Cobols loaded with torps too.. That way as they travel they can lay mines behind them.. To discourage any following cloaked ships.
Don't bother building those smaller ships, like the Cygnus or the Little Joe Escort. They don't really serve a function in a protracted game, and you could spend your resources on better ships. A couple of Patriots around your home worlds is good.. Just for the occasional cloaked raider or spy floating around. It is good to have a couple of Tranquilities also.. these ships would be the main mine laying ships of your fleet, with their large cargo hold, and torp tubes they can travel around your home area and lay massive mine fields.
Another note.... use the Virgos to their best ability... they have the ability to sweep mines from a distance of 100 lightyears using their fighters... with 290 fighters this is awesome... especially with two or three Virgos together... they take down a minefield with little effort. So don't go putting Virgos into a minefield to sweep it.. It isn't necessary, and too big a risk.. Sweep them from afar.. This really irritates other races when they see their nice big minefields reduced to nothing in one turn!!
Keep in mind. All the other races will wish an alliance with your or in the least a trade. They want your Cobols. Be careful how you give these away.. They are one of your most valuable tools against other races. Use them wisely.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to strategy for the Colonies.. but it should give you a head start. Good luck.
Feel free to copy this or use it however you want, just give me credit. Thanks