you take a look at VGA-Planets, one of the most exciting
things in a game is the starting position. Where am I located?
Are there any clusters of planets nearby, what is the range
to other empires? Of course, a lot of things are dependent
on the host-settings, but it is a player's choice whether
or not he or she joins a game.
article, I would like to focus on the early game strategy,
which will enclose the first 15-20 turns in a game. It is
my opinion, that there are three crucial things in the beginning
of a game: economy, strategy and diplomacy. All of these interesting
fields overlap, so I'll try to include all of them. But let's
start with the beginning, the host-configuration. Imagine
you are joining a game with the following, standard, settings:
visible range (Starcharts): 300 LY
mission range: 200 LY
eats supplies: No
detect range: 200 LY
Death rate: 10 %
have gravity wells: Yes
limits population: Yes
ships can attack: Yes
to other players: Medium
Classic, in a circle, starting point random.
Pwrap & Explorer
can see, these are the default settings of hconfig.exe. So,
all other settings not listed here are by default as well,
for those of you who want to know that.The Add-ons Pwrap and
Explorer make the game more interesting, since you can fly
around the map and end up on the other side. Explorer limits
your vision to what you have scanned with your ships, so you
start at a position where you will only be able to see about
of all I would like to say that the early-game strategy I'm
going to describe here, is one of the many possibilities.
It is written from the experience I have in playing VGA-Planets
and hosting the game as well. A second thing to mention is
the choice of which host program to use. There are differences
between Phost and Host, both have their pro's, but also some
contra's. This article is based on a Host game, but the strategy
given here is also implementable in a Phost game.
beginning.... there was void. You start with two ships, engine
tech 7, and 15000 MC. You see east and south-east from your
homeworld two planets, range about 60 LY. There is a cluster
of four planets north-west, range 180 LY to the nearest planet,
a cluster of four north-east of you, range 150 LY and several
planets west and south of you, with a range > 80 LY. What
should you do? A lot of people who will be asked this question
will say: "That's race dependent", and they are
right about it. Nevertheless it is possible to generalize.
Max your factories and don't max your mines. Build a Bioscanner
or a Large Deep Space Freighter (LDSF) and send out your two
I would like to make the first remark about strategy. Stay
invisible as long as possible. What if your opponents, not
necessary enemies but still opponents, are located in that
beautiful looking cluster north-west of your homeworld. Should
you be heading in it's way? I don't think so. Stay out of
sight, if you need to fly at a higher warp than your engines
are suitable for, so be it. Just remember the gravity wells,
which enable you to fly 84 LY with warp 9. As long as you
stay out of sight, you'll stay out of trouble. Don't be too
greedy and rush for the cluster(s).
is the point of filling your ships. A player I know, once
said that if you want to colonize a planet, you'll need at
least 100 clans. This would give you 100 factories and 100
mines. Unfortunatly, you don't have enough cargo-room in your
SDSF for 100 clans and additional supplies. Therefor keep
in mind that on a temperate-warm world 15 clans will reproduce,
while on a tropical or cool world 20 clans are needed. So
I'll say fill your SDSF with 60 clans and 10 supplies, which
will be enough for four warm-worlds or for three tropical-cool
worlds. But what if you encounter a desert or arctic world?
Here I would like to refer to the article written by Timo
Kreike, which was published in Echoes of the Cluster issue
#5, September 1996, called 'Push your Economy to the max'.
Economy is one of the most critical parts of VGA-Planets and
in this article allmost everything is explained. I will give
two formula's from this article, which are common knowledge
for the experienced players.
clans on a arctic world = (20100 - CDR% - 200 * (99 - temp))
encounter a world with a temp of 6, but it has a lot of
minerals so you want as many mines as possible on that
world. You would be able to drop, with the settings given
at the beginning of this article: (20100 - 10 - (200 *
93)) / 10 = 149 clans who will stay alive, so 149 mines.
clans on a desert world = (20100 - CDR% - 200 * temp) / CDR
world with a temp of 98 could have: (20090 - 19600) /
10 = 49 clans
game continues, it is turn two, you have found the two planets
mentioned above and your LDSF is ready for takeoff. Where
should it be heading too? There was this cluster northwest
and one northeast, but to fly there would make you visible
to other players. As mentioned before, avoid that as long
as possible, so send it out planet hopping to the onces west
and south. I usually fill my LDSF's with 1080 clans and 120
supplies and 100 MC. This enables me to drop 90 clans and
10 supplies on every planet I find, assuming that the climate
is good enough to support 90 clans. The 100 MC is for the
planet which has a lot of natives, so I'll be able to build
up an economy fast. However, if this is such a great planet,
I would like to defend it against enemy sensor-sweeps or Bioscans.
15 defense posts will block a sensor-sweep while 20 block
a Bioscan. A side effect of this is that my opponents might
think that there is no habitation if they scan the planet.
If they'll visit the planet, I'll be able to destroy the freighter,
of even a light ship when I build more defense posts. In general:
stay out of sight as long as possible, build 14 factories
on your new planets, then build 15 or 20 defense posts and
then max your factories and build as many mines as you like.
that this colonizing continues for a few more turns and it
is now turn 6. You have build two transwarp LDSF's and some
destroyers. Should you be heading towards the clusters by
now and probably show yourself to other players? If you have
planets within hopping range, no, but if you can't expand
further without traveling in open space you'll have to, since
it is necessary to enlarge your empire as soon as possible.
A good tactic is to fly to one of the planets next to your
homeworld and depart from there to the cluster. If you are
spotted, most players will assume that that's your homeworld.
different thing is diplomacy at this moment. Mostly, in this
stage of the game, diplomacy is just writing universal messages
that you will assimilate others, or wish them good luck (in
that order :-). I enjoy this part of the early-game as much
as the other parts in the game. It gives you an impression
of what your opponents are alike. But when you have set course
towards that cluster, 2 months away, diplomacy gains potential.
What if you sensor-sweep other worlds and find colonist on
them? Or even better, what if you see a Romulan LDSF pass
by? Should you build an attack-force and head towards his
empire? Should you drop minefields and waste precious money
and minerals? Or should you try to negotiate a border and
perhaps cooperate? The latter would be my choice, since you
can both benifit from cooperation. In the long run you could
exchange ships, minerals, money, colonist or whatever. I would
try to get a non-aggresion agreement between myself and the
spotted opponent. Later in the game this could evolve to a
alliance, but I think it's too early to form one now.
meantime, your colonists grow and you are starting to get
real low on minerals on your homeworld. I would set up transporter-routes,
to supply my starbase. A transporter-route is nothing more
then a fixed schedule of waypoints for one or more of your
freighters. It is also wise to determine where the best suitable
place is for a second starbase. Often the best choice is the
planet which will give you the most money and which has a
reasonable amount of minerals, but the choice could also be
a strategic point in your empire. Just make sure that you
can support it with enough minerals and money. A bovinoid
world is also a good choice, since this world will be able
to supply itself if a Merlin is stationed above it. The problem
is that a Merlin costs a lot of minerals, and one shouldn't
build a Merlin this early in the game.
continues and you are transporting more and more clans to
your rich worlds and bringing back the minerals to your starbase
and now the time has come to build up your forces. You have
probably build some medium-ships, but now, about turn 12-15,
your first heavy baseship should be rolling out of your base.
Depending on the situation with your neighbours, its task
should be defensive or, if you are being attacked, even offensive.
It will have major influence in the balance of power in your
region of the starmap. If you are forced in a defensive frame
of mind, try to build up battlegroups and start attacking
yourself, since it is true that the best defense is offense.
For a good description of a battlegroup for a certain race,
read the 'Dreadlord Battle Manual'.
is the issue of minefields. Mostly players cannot afford minefields
early in the games, but if you are being harrased by a cloaking
race, you will need to drop them. A good tactic for dropping
minefields is to create lots of overlapping, medium, minefields.
A medium minefield has a range of about 50 lightyears, which
is about 70 mark 4's (910 mc). Remember that the mark 4 is
the best torp for the buck (read the h-files or the infolist
for more info). If you drop three of these fields around your
crucial worlds, you'll have a decent defense. Andrew Sterian
wrote an excellent article about mine-hit probabilities in
Echoes of the Cluster issue 2 and 3.
like to end with the remark that there is no one right way
to play VGA-Planets, and that is what makes it such an exciting
game. All of the above is written from my experience as a
player and as a host. Mostly it worked out well, at least
I never got beaten in the first 20 turns of a game.