Welcome to my VGA Planets strategy guide for the Crystalline Race.
This is the "Light Ship" from Battlestar Galactic (Galacticia 1980).
(Thank you Tim W!) But nevertheless, I still think it is a cool picture because it is a mysterious picture that no one can seem to figure out. Much like many players who don't play the Crystals. They just don't know how to use them or take the time to do so. They want fighting warships, or ones that can sneak off cloaked, or the big huge carriers. When you look at the Crystalline fleet next time, you will notice that they have only a few decent warships that will generally be wiped out anyway by another fleet. This is because that other races generally have larger warships. The Crystals don't. Well, not at first anyway, until you start taking those nice large warships from your opponents. And hence the players soon figure out that the Crystalline race isn't as bad as they thought it was.
For starters, take a look at the Gallactic Traveller's hints on how to begin using the Crystals. They give very good points here that will at least help you begin to create a decent war fleet and get you started. There are however, disagreements that I have with him. I have been using the Crystals for two consecutive games now and have learned even more about how to effectively use them (and I'm still not done learning yet). I had on my first game started off by creating a couple of Emerald Class ships. And still to this day I will swear that these ships are one of the best warships that you could possibly build. With a 510 cargo capacity, these ships make the best armed transports in the game. The Ruby's are very nice as well, but they don't have as much capacity. But I would first suggest that you build freighters first. This should be common knowledge now, but I could have used this when I first started using the Crystals. Go out and collonize. All over. Just load up and take over all planets in sight. After you have a few freighters made, make about 5 or so Onyx class warships. Now to some this is a bad strategy, but I found this one to work out quite nicely especially when executed early on in the game. You don't need to put the highest tech engines on them, or even high torps or beams. I would suggest maybe a tech 5 or 6 engine at the highest (in the begining anyway). If they need to go any further distance than that, tow them. They will basically sit derilect on a planet slowly nuking it away anyway, so warp factor is not as essential. The good of this will be that for every one of these that you have built and hovering over a planet, it will begin cooking that planet that many degrees. And it is permanent. This will (1) help you begin to better your conditions in collonizing your planets for maximum potential, and (2) will make these planets basically useless for other races to use, so they will leave you alone (for now...) This is especially useful for placing them on the best planets you have. If they are crappy planets, leave them the way they are. But if you have a Bovinoid planet that has about 2 Million or so collonists on it (maybe even more, like 5 Million, maybe even 10!) and it has minerals so rich that you are forced to weep upon sight of it, nuke it. Nuke it for 100 degrees. Let the collonists know that you love them and that you won't let those other nasty races clutch them from out of your hands. The natives will still grow regardless of the temperature. And of course that is just ONE example. We won't mention the potential of an Insect planet with 15 Million natives on it with rich minerals... Then as your collonists begin to multiply rampantly now to the new temperature conditions, begin to build your Emeralds (or Rubys for now if you lack the neccessities). These ships can then be used to transport anything as well as defend any invaders if any are around. (Usually though you won't run into these problems unless your host has put everyone close together which then results in a lot of fighting. In which case, build fighting vessels in replacement of the Onyx's. The game will probably run too short for you to actually use these to their full potential.) And finally, if at all possible, find major planets with gobs of Neutronium on it (explained below...)
After a while, you will then begin to start having to do some combat. During my first campaign I was actually able to use the Onyx's to capture a Falcon Class (which shows that they can be of some use other than nuking planets in emergencies). They are also very nice to use to capture freighters with if you are using them on a border of another race's territory. But the main thing that you want to use is MINES. LOTS AND LOTS OF WEB MINES. These are pretty neat for a few reasons.
They have a much better success rate at hitting other race's ships. Usually the default is 5%, which is far better than a regular mine's chance of 1%. If your host changes this default for the worse, they better have it balance out some other way. This is very significant.
The chances of you uncloaking enemy vessels are greater. Since the % does not go down regardless if a vessel is cloaking (cloakers have a 0.5% chance instead of a 1% chance of hitting a regular mine), this will indeed help aid you in discovering your cloaked invading enemy.
They stop the ship's movement to a dead hault. Now they are stuck. And since other invading warships along with it will hit them also, it will scatter them in different places, forcing them to be easily singled out. Now, yes, the warships could continue going further or sweep it, but they will soon notice something else about the mine field...
They suck gas. By the simple notion of even being within a (singlular) minefield, it will drain every ship within it 25 kts of fuel A TURN. If they strike a mine within it, it will suck out 1/6 of their gas tank or 50 kts. of fuel (whichever is more) ON TOP OF the 25 kts of fuel for being in there in the first place. So you are going to drain at a minimum of 75 kts of fuel upon a strike of a mine.
Web mines can be layered for an even better effect. Yes, ONE web mine field will drain every ship 25 kts. of fuel a turn. But how about 4 of them, or maybe even 8 if you are crazy enough? Well, since each web field does cummulative draining (yes, that is 25 kts of fuel PER mine field PER turn), you could conceiveably lay so many mine fields that as soon as a fleet enters your territory they will automatically be drained of all of their fuel. But you are going to have to lure them in there first, and not to mention it will be very expensive to do so. But it may just be well worth it.
The Boarding party. Once you have drained them of all of their fuel, you can then use the Crystal's second special trait and board their ships. Just go up and tow the ship, and next turn you will have a brand new ship. Yep, they're yours now. No fighting needed, they're just yours. So fly them off wherever you'd like them to go (and now you know why you are going to need a lot of Neutronium rich planets).This comes in very handy when the ship queue is full (500 ship limit slot).
Now that you have your ships (and everyone else's ships) use them against the other races that invaded you! (or if you invaded them...). If you can at all get yourself a cloaker, get some. Steal it, trade for it, buy it, do whatever it takes to get some. They can be used for really sneaky maneuvers by cloaking into enemy territory fully loaded with torps (or a group of them, oh the agony!!) and web their area! If you could collonize a nearby planet to sneak to in order to obtain more minerals that will allow you to create more torps do so. Bring some cash with you though so that you can make them.
As far as defending your own area is concerned, build a few Crystal Thunders and a couple of Diamond flames. Some people say that building the Diamonds aren't worth it because of the cost. Well, if you want to still keep your webbing up, then I suggest building them so that your other little ships don't get eaten for lunch. I'm not saying that your whole fleet should consist of them, but if you have a few they can be very nice. In my current campaign, I built a few of them and gave them some disruptors and tech 10 torps. Two of them went head to head with a couple of Darkwings that weren't so teched out (Mark 4 torps) and they ended up blowing up the Darkwings. They were injured yes, but they could be cured. Teaming these ships up with the Crystal Thunder, you can take out any huge ship in the game and only lose one of yours (Vs. Golem, Biocide, Gorbie, etc.) A small price to pay to get rid of a big problem. I suggest attacking with the Diamond first and then go after them with the Carrier. You'll use the Carrier a lot more, although the upkeep on it is a lot too. Just make sure that you have a nearby planet to run to or another ship with you that has supplies on board to repair it. And if you have an entire fleet after you, build that rediculously huge web field with tons of layers on top of it (mine drop 20 torps at a time with each ship for those who have tech 10 torps, or more if you don't have tech 10's). If you can see it coming you can prepare ahead of time. Be sure that each planet has a mine field orbiting it not including the massive one mentioned above to further ensure that you won't have your homeworld invaded (at least easily). After their fuel is all gone take their ships and refuel them, and afterwards scoop up the remaining mines that weren't swept away. Another key note is that only one mine field can be swept away at a time, so if you can produce more mine fields in case they break through the first few (layered or not) you may be able to hold off long enough to either take their ships or at the very least slow them down so that you buy yourself time to get your reinforcements in.
In another campaign that I am in, we are allowed to be two races to control (there are only 4 people playing). In this one, I am the Crystalline and the Rebels. After a few turns I made a couple of hyperjumping ships, and one of them is now heading for my Crystalline base. At that time I will transport the remaining colonists on a planet that is designated for them that is most suitable to them (50 degrees) so that they can multiply more and get money from the planet. (Why nuke it to 100 and waste your resources and time when you can have the other race use it more effectively using less time and resources?) Once the ship is emptied, I plan to give the ship to the Crystal race and send it back to my Rebel base full of Crystal collonists to do the same. Once this is done, I will then build a starbase on those planets for the two to cooperatively build and exchange ships. Not to mention, I'll have web mines up on my Rebel area for protection. And I'll have a Rush waiting for anyone who plans on invading my Crystalline area. This same strategy can be used for alliances, although you better make sure that you trust the other one well enough that they won't turn their back on you, not to mention, have them stationed near your homeworld (I suggest a different starbase location instead for this reason). And if they do decide to backstab you, they probably won't have enough collonists on it to defend themselves with (important when making defense posts, lots of defense=lots of collonists), they will shortly run out of supplies/minerals more than likely since they will be getting them from your planets, and your force will probably end up being more concentrated in that area for you to destroy whatever ships they may have made to rebel against you (reminder again, the ships being made will be given to you/them with the gs# friendly code, any that are not should be noted as suspicious).
There have been a few requests to update this page and feeling obligated I have decided that I should do so. There have been a few new things I have learned so far that will help Crystal users come closer to reaching their full potential. First of all, for the layering effect to work with the web mines described above, groups of mine layers must be in different locations at the time of the laying. If you have a group travelling together and they all lay mine fields at the same point in space, it will combine into one mine field instead of several. This will increase the chances of ships hitting mines, but will also negate the layering effect as mentioned above. Now, had they been on separate nearby planets, or if one or more ships went ahead first, this will create mine fields in different areas, and thus creating the stacking effect.
Another nice hint is to always wait until your enemy is lured into a desired area, and not jump the gun. Doing so will always result in them smashing into one of your mines and taking even more drain. Then to conserve, scoop them the next turn. Then your opponent will usually continue to move forward after there are no mines to scoop, or sit derilect in a defensive position. Regardless, you will already have them beaten by already laying another web field without them realizing it. They go to move and get smashed anyway, or it will keep them in that derilect position in fear. Eventually they will suffer complete fuel loss, and you will have another ship on your way.
Unless however they start to run away... Cowards. I suggest that if you have any of your enemies run away on you that you change their primary color of their race to yellow. ^ _ ^ There is nothing more severe than to lose one's reputation and pride in this game. You can lose your whole fleet and still go down as a real hero. But to have the whole echo cluster know that you ran away from a battle and now have the primary color of yellow from a foe will make every race want to attack that person. After all, this is a war game, not a game for coward sissies.
Finally, let me stress again to get yourself a cloaked ship. You can't imagine how useful it is to be able to lay web mines without having anyone realize where you are. Then to follow them around and scoop them all back up again. Oh the irritation of it! Your enemies will be absolutely frustrated beyond death. And for that reason, I suggest that you get more cloaking ships. Then your opponent will dread every turn they take to see what else has happened to their fleet, that is, if they still have one left with any fuel. Just make sure that you get rid of any Loki ships if they have any so they don't spot you.
Special Thanks to Tim Wisseman for helping me find out what and where the "Light Ship" image was and where it came from, and also for the nice background that blends in better than my original. What a nice guy! Now I'm going to go lay a bunch of my web mines all over in Tim's name using the proper friendly code (mit). ^ _ ^
That is all for now. More will be added later when I find more neat stuff out.