Crystalline -- A Winning Race For the Patient Commander
So whats the big deal? The Crystals do not have the big ships. They can't build fighters. They can't ground assault. And they can't clone. In fact, they can't do a lot of things. So why do you hear about others who see the Crystals and cry? Why are the Crystals becoming a popular race to play? And why are more and more Commanders making it a priority to knock the Crystals out early -- before it is too late!
In two words: web mines. They work like a charm. The amount of fuel lost from the enemy by a well-thought out track of web mines is incredible. They can disable a huge oncoming fleet before it gets close to any vital planets (I say this from experience). And very quickly the enemy's menacing ships can become part of your own invasion fleet to teach them a lesson they will not soon forget. Yet besides web mines, there are other big advantages the Crystals have that make them a force ... that make them one of VGAP's dangerous races.
Why should you consider playing the Crystals? First, web mines with the tow capture ability that allows you to capture the enemies' ships immediately. Second, your combination of the Diamond Flame and Crystal Thunder which does wonders against even the biggest of ships -- and they cost less to build. Third, your medium-size ships (Emerald and Ruby) have awesome cargo room to build up your empire while laying small web mines and protecting your planets and building torpedos as they go. Fourth, and most important, ALL planets are good for Crystals; either a planet is warm or hot -- great for growth -- or it is cold and it is terraformed into a boiling hot pool of rock. And fifth, it is nearly impossible to successfully attack a Crystal empire once it is entrenched -- there is no safer feeling in VGAP.
And once you are entrenched, you begin building an invasion force of your own. However, preferably not to attack, but to react. Your attack strategy should not be to go all out against your enemy ... but to have him come after you. Taunt them boldly: "Come Get Me!" Tell them what cowards they are. If they do not take the bait and you can not coax them towards you, then attack them one cluster at a time -- slowly. Until finally, your enemy can't stand it anymore and decides to retaliate against you and send ships to stop you. Thats when you web, web, WEB with the hundreds of the Mark 7 or Mark 8 torpedos loaded onto your ships. Grab their de-fueled ships. Take them. And grow faster than an amoeba.
Yes, the Crystals do have a weakness. It takes time for you to become a force. It takes time to terraform your planets. It takes time to build up the money and molybendium you will need to build the nice torpedos to make the web mines. And it takes time to successfully lay overlapping web mines throughout your empire and get your defense fleets in position. Overall, the first half of the game is needed to build up to do major damage later.
So as the Crystals it is imperative to make friends early so you do not get embroiled in a war that will prevent you to build up. It hurts all players to not build up your empire, but it devasts the Crystals. Besides, the Crystals can really use some friends to either trade for cloaking ships to lay web mines secretly or to trade for cheap fighters to load onto your Crystal Thunders.
Finally, be patient. If you are patient at first and focus on your economy and do not get into any major wars early on, then you will be amply rewarded in the end. You will have very nice looking vcrs to watch too. But if you are someone that likes to go for the kill early, then play another race like the Birdmen or Empire.
And hope you don't end up near the Crystalline.