By: MICHAEL LEMIEUX (VJNK46E)
can be one of the most fun races to play in VGA Planets. If
you examine their unique abilities, you'll begin to appreciate
why. No other race is quite so capable of making off with
an opponents resources & ships as the Privateer.
most potent weapon is the ROB mission. Any enemy ships occupying
the same point in space as a Privateer ship can be robbed
(remember, only those Privateer ships with beam weapons can
ROB). What happens during the ROB is the Privateer will take
all the fuel it can until either the target ship(s) are drained
dry or the Privateer is filled. Next the robber will take
any Mega-Credits available. Finally the Privateer will take,
in order, any Moly, Trit, Dura or Colonists until its cargo
bays are full. Combine a few robbing ships together &
you can see how devastating this can be to your enemy's logistics.
This also comes in very handy for capturing enemy ships. Remember
that a ship with no fuel cannot defend itself & it won't
be able to attack you while you are towing it. Haul off that
ship you have just drained dry to your Star Base that just
so happens to have it's mission set to Force Surrender and
voila, the ship joins the proud ranks of the Privateers.
plan your ROB missions, there are a couple of things that
have to be considered. One is you can bet your opponents aren't
going to be too thrilled about letting this happen & they
WILL have their primary enemy set to Privateer once they see
you are in the area. You'll want to keep your robbers CLOAKED
so your targets can't see you coming & can't force you
into combat. This makes robbing ships in deep space difficult.
Since you can't set your ship mission to INTERCEPT & remain
CLOAKED, you'll have to guess which point in space your "target"
ships are going or risk combat (not a Privateer strong point)
by uncloaking. Good luck!
you gotta remain CLOAKED & can't INTERCEPT in deep space,
from where do you ROB them? At planets of course! If you pay
attention to your maps, you'll be able to figure out to which
planets your target keeps going. Get your cloaked ships there
& wait for some juicy targets to show up. The ROB mission
is the very first ship mission to occur (which comes in handy
for preventing some pesky missions like LAY MINES or even
movement). It also happens before movement, so you have to
be waiting at the spot you want to ROB. Once you set your
mission to ROB, you will uncloak. So you'll most likely want
to move off the planet or risk tangling with planetary defenses.
have your ships at the planet & some targets have been
kind enough to show up, what next? Hopefully you've made sure
that your robbers have plenty of available fuel capacity &
empty cargo bays. If you go in with everything full, why bother
right? When you ROB, you will ROB the lowest numbered ship
first. If you take everything off that ship & still have
available capacity, you will then proceed to the next lowest
numbered ship and will continue until you either fill all
your robbing ships or all ships at the site are emptied. If
you use more than one ship to ROB, your lowest numbered ship
does the robbing first. A problem that can arise here is if
you are attempting a ROB mission at a planet that has more
than one race's ships in orbit. One of them may be an ally.
Unfortunately, VGAP does NOT allow you to designate ROB targets.
You'll ROB your friends just as readily as you enemies. You'll
still begin with the lowest numbered ship, no matter who owns
it. So, when dealing with allies, you have to be careful &
make sure communication is kept open so that you won't leave
them dead in space too.
use of the ROB mission is to simply make off with with some
of the things you need to succeed in the game. Wouldn't you
feel better using HIS minerals and supplies to build up YOUR
bases & ships? Just think of the warm feeling you'll get
when you discover which one of his planets is pumping out
thousands of MCs that you can quite nobly give to the nearest
charity (most likely located on the Privateer homeworld).
And while you're busy putting his resources to good use, he
won't be squandering them on his own ships & bases.
a far greater way to use the ROB mission is so you can liberate
the ships your opponents have so kindly built for you. Since
the Privateers don't have any real heavy fighting ships they
can build naturally, this is the best way to get some. It
will also give you some serious taunting ammunition with which
to chide those foolish enough to attempt aggression against
the mighty Privateers.
way to haul off those prizes is through the technique I call
the "Snatch & Run". Here's how it works. You are sitting
over an opponent's planet with your pack of 3 to 4 cloaked
ships (it's always best to operate in packs if you can). A
target has appeared that you want to add to your fleet. You
have enough of your ships move away from the planet with their
mission set to ROB so that your "target" ship will lose all
it's fuel. How many ships you use depends on a number of factors
such as: how many enemy ships and what type are present, what
the fuel capacity of those ships is, the ship number of the
one you want (lowest numbered ships get robbed first), and
fuel capacity of your robbing ships (you can find the fuel
capacity numbers in the docs). These numbers are important
because you want to make sureyour "target" has no fuel left.
Remember that a ship with no fuel cannot engage in battle.
use enough ships to drain away all the fuel (the "snatch")
and then have one of your remaining ships tow off your "target"
on the same turn (the "run"). Since ROB happens after transfers
between ships & planets but before movement, your "target"
won't get the chance to refuel and thus can't attack the towing
ship on the trip home (there is a way for the target to get
around this, but I can't give away all my secrets, right?).
Meanwhile, what you do with the ships that robbed depends
on what you made off with. If you happened to snatch away
some nifty stuff, like a few thousand MCs, they might as well
head home too. If not, just jettison the stuff you don't want,
re-cloak, and head back in for another visit.
also have the ability to fine tune their beam weapons so that
you can kill off those pesky crew members who so selfishly
wish to keep you off their ship. Privateer beam weapons receive
a 3X bonus vs. life. If you examine the beam weapons you'll
notice that 2 of them, the Disruptor & Heavy Disruptor,
already do quite heavy "life" damage. Combine these with the
3X advantage and you get a very powerful weapon. Buy these
beams for your ships.
plan to capture a ship via combat mode (i.e. using the 3X
advantage), the smart Privateer will remember that before
you start to kill off the crew, you must knock down the ship's
shields first. This brings you to the dilemma of having to
use your torps to knock down the shields while trying to keep
from blowing the ship up with the torps after the shields
are down. That's why I only recommend using combat to capture
freighters or lightly armed transports.
disable your ship's torps by setting your friendly code to
NTP (case sensitive, and BTW, this will also prevent your
fighter carriers from launching fighters) and since freighters
don't carry weapons, you can use just the beams to knock down
the shields and then polish off the crew at your leisure.
Never try to capture any kind of decent warship this way!
With your torps disabled, his torps will quickly kill your
ship before your beams can bust through the shields. You might
consider it with a heavy captured ship that can soak up damage,
but the ships that the Privateer can build just don't stand
up well to heavy combat.
a word on which ships the Privateer should build. METEOR CLASS
BLOCKADE RUNNERS. Alright, so that was four words, but the
MCBR is the best ship the Privateers have. The BR4 & BR5
ships also have uses since they too can cloak & have the
Grav Drives. However, the ship that can best accomplish the
ROB mission is the MCBR. It has the decent fuel and cargo
capacity necessary to make robbing worthwhile. Build as many
of them as you can and put the best weapons you can on them.
Yeah, I know, they don't stand up well in a fight. But if
you are forced to fight, you might as well be ready to do
as much damage as possible. Who knows? You may get lucky and
all his torps could miss. Looking at the rest of the ships,
you can pretty much figure out for yourself what uses can
be made for each one. In my next column, I'll discuss the
economics of playing VGAP (kinda boring, I know. But when
the boss makes a request, whattya gonna do?)
Note: If ya think you can get this kind of info anywhere else,
I'd sure like to know where! Good Stuff, Steel Rat!