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A Fight to the Death: A Colonies' Guide

By Lionel Cai

This guide assumes you've read the information from the help files and are aware of the Colonies' abilities. And what abilities they are to. This guide also assume you are playing in a normal game, so rich universe, with no add-ons as it will complicate things to no end.

My First Rant:
The absolute most important issue in any game is economy. How do you achieve that? It depends on a few things, but in terms of the pure cash, the Colonies might be one of your best bets. The Lady Royales are a great way to supplement your earnings. The only problem is it's minerals, it does eat up quite a bit of moly, personally I think it is acceptable, in my experience moly has never been too big of a problem. Even if you were to have shortages in minerals; a Merlin or two will do the trick, I try to put a Merlin out as soon as I can get the minerals, even if it's just sitting over my HW, at a later time you can move it to a bovi world. If ship limit hit, you won't be caught without it, and those few turns right after the ship limit are crucial to your ultimate survival. I'll get into that in more detail later.

The Colonial Ship List:
There are only a few ships that you should be concerned about producing:

  1. Cobol Class Research Cruiser
  2. Large Deep Space Freighter
  3. Patriot Class Light Carrier
  4. Lady Royale Class Cruiser
  5. Gemini Class Transport
  6. Virgo Class Battlestar
  7. Cygnus Class Destroyer
  8. Merlin Class Alchemy Ship
  9. Small Deep Space Freighter

1. Cobol Class Research Cruiser
The Cobol kind of goes without saying, you should attempt to put out a lot of these early on in the game. Your first ship should and always be a Cobol. The Cobol can scan for natives with 20% efficiency, making it the best ship in your fleet to colonize with. It doesn't ever need to be refuelled, so just let her rip, even if you put warp 8 engines on them and fully loaded it down with cargo it should still produce a small surplus of fuel (I usually always put transwarps on mine, trust me you're gonna need the extra fuel). I usually load my Cobols with 150 clans, and the rest in supplies, I also put about 700 MC on that ship as well (Unless your starting conditions are quiet poor and host has set 5000 MC as the initial start up cash), just in case you find a nice world you'd like to get started on it's production faster. Now with any planet you should drop 50 to 100 clans except crap planets (low minerals and/or low density), all other deserves at least 200 clans, especially native worlds. 200 clans will give you the ability to build 200 mines, much needed in early game, this is also where the 700 MC come in, and this will allow you to do 100 factories and 100 mines right away. Since your initial venture with the Cobol won't go too far from your planet, you should have colonized about 2 or 3 planets with a Cobol, sometimes less depending on situation. That way when you do make it home it should be absolutely topped off with fuel, drop off all except 30 to 50 KT of fuel, depends on host settings, pick up more colonies and supplies. Continue to colonize. On your way back retrace your steps with your planet hopping and collect all the minerals off the planets -- you're HW should be getting kind of low on minerals by now. The default host setting for HW concentration is crap to put it nicely. The armaments of the first few Cobols should consist of either disrupters or heavy blasters (HB), and mark IV's. This arrangement gives the Cobols the ability to mine enemy borders in the latter part of the game. From now all Cobols should be built with Mark 7s or Mark 8s unless you are in a rich universe where minerals are plenty but low on cash, which btw you shouldn't (Lady Royales). Now after you've build the initial say…three Cobols it's time to really start the hardcore colonizing. It's time to produce some LDSFs.

2. Large Deep Space Freighter
Large Deep Space Freighters are the backbone for your entire empire to rest on. This simple ship can make the difference between winning and losing, I am not trying to sound like it's an absolute, but you're best to try and have enough to ship minerals and colonists around. One of the most important commodities at a Colonies' disposal are its colonists, you are sitting on a massive opportunity almost no one can touch. Unlike the other races you possess the fuel to really ship your people to other worlds, you have the ability to produce multiple home worlds at various locations in your empire. With the previously mentioned fuel dumps on your HW from the Cobols you can very quickly colonize more planets and colonize them well. This is also the time to move colonists to those native worlds with very high priorities, (the ones with the high number of natives, high level of government and also minerals) load up the LDSF with 800 clans and 400 supplies for straight colonizing or about 1000 clans and 200 supplies if you plan on making a stop at a high priority planet and drop some clans off. This is also the time to start looking for a second SB location. For the second SB, it would be best if it is on a ghipsoldal planet, the transwarps engines are just what you need right now. Even if you have to take minerals off your HW but by turn 12 -15 a second SB should be up or if not a LDSF should be loaded with enough minerals and money to put one up at any planet you choose. In other words, have a “SB-in-a-bottle” fly out. Again on it's way back for more colonists and supplies the LDSF should be certain to bring minerals back as well.

3. Patriot Class Light Carrier
The Patriot is the pride and joy of your fleet; it's got the biggest punch of any ship of its size or class. You should always strive put out as many of these buggers as you can, in my case if I have a spare SB with the minerals and cash it's making a Patriot. There are two instances of building patriots: one is in the beginning of the game when the patriot is king and can take out a lot of the ships produced by other races, this seemingly simple idea is the key to early survival; the second and probably the most important time to build the patriot is after the ship limit. At this time, I would hope you are probably in a border dispute or in a war with a neighbouring race and are trading PBP already. After the 20 PBPs are reached, and you have the highest PBPs it's time to produce patriots. A very crucial piece of information must be at your disposal, and that is the position of the SB queue. You absolutely need to know where the queue is. Set the SBs much further down the queue or before the queue to PBn, where n is a number from 0 to 9. Produce patriots at those SBs (PBP builds bypass the normal movement of the queue and allow players to build a specific ships at a specific location), these later built patriots are more important to you than the ones you build before the ship limit was reach, because these are taking up other races' ship slots, possibility your enemy's At the SB just after where you think the queue is, set to build Virgos. If your PBP drop to below 20 and ship limit has not hit, you stop your patriot build using PBPs, but the queue will move, you get a Virgo built, if the queue hasn't move or haven't move far enough for that Virgo to be built, you know you will still have a Virgo coming up real soon. The other and probably the best outcome is, if after building a patriot, your PBP have not reached below 20, you will continue to build another patriots at the SB set to PB2. After the 2 Patriots were built, and the 500-ship limit has not hit yet, normal shipbuilding will take over. If your have the next SB in the queue, you get a Virgo. That might not seem like much, but in that one turn, you were able to produce THREE ships. When just one ship being made is rare occurrences, you put out three. The patriots great strength is in its small mass, it requires only 2 PBPs, and you can make many patriots with a single capital ship you destroy. One major host setting you would like to see in Engine-Shield Bonus set as on and set to 50 %. A transwarp patriot is actually quite cheap, so hopefully everyone of your SBs should be able to make those at least, with ES bonus on, the patriots is more deadly than ever. The added virtual mass allows it to hold out in battle longer and are able to tackle bigger and more ships as well. A wolf pack of six patriots if truly a force to be reckon with. One point I like to mention, a Patriots never needs more than disrupters at best. Its job is not to go into a fight with its beams. Any beam can take out fighters, and you don't need the beams to take out mines, your fighters will do a much better job. But the Patriot isn't the best ship to use for minesweeping anyway. A Gemini or Sagittarius will do a much better job. One thing I must caution you. The Patriot does have one major weakness, and that is its lack of cargo. Against a ship with lots of beams it will die every time, with only 30 fighters, they will all be shot down, the Patriot will die. So if you are in a fight with say the Empire, use the Patriots in the end when the ship is severely crippled and only a few beams are left.

4. Lady Royale Class Cruiser
There has been a long and ongoing discussion on the usefulness and effectiveness of the Lady Royale Casino Ship. A recent newsgroup thread dealt on this very subject. These are the two sides of the discussion, on the side of the pro ladies, it goes something like this: The money produced early on is really useful. The best way to wage a war is when the enemy is weak, and the only time they will always be at their weakest is during the beginning of the game. But like many you won't have the money to make enough ships to wipe out your enemies. The Lady Royale seems like the perfect solution, when you can't produce a decent ship, produce a Lady, the money will help. The con believers have many valid points. Mainly they have this to say: The Lady is a rip off, it doesn't produce all that much MC, a decent native planet can produce the equivalent of perhaps half a dozen ladies or more. The slot you used to put out a lady could be much better served building a patriot, a Gemini or any other capital ship. It uses up a lot of minerals; the minerals should be saved for a Virgo, in the mean time, put out a patriot. All this is very correct and important, but in my experience that has never been the case, minerals have always been plentiful, income was the only inconvenience. In a recent game of mine, because of the large amounts of Ladies I had, I was able to produce a Virgo on turn eight and at least one every other turn past that till ship limit. In the case of the Ladies, I guess it's best to be your call, depending on situation build them or not. For instance, if you found a very nice native world right next door, it's time to ship large amount of colonists, that way you probably won't need the supplement of the ladies, but if you couldn't find a decent money maker within the first few turn it might be time to start producing some ladies. Again it all depends on situation, but near the beginning, if you plan on teching up to any degree to produce some warships, you'll need more money.

5. Gemini Class Transport
Gemini Transports provide a very crucial role in your development and war waging. It is by all means, as the name suggests, an armed transport, but with only 4 beams and one fighter bay it can't take on too much. Anything past a scout will probably will blow it out of the water, but it will capture freighters and Hypers. But the Gemini's primary mission is not for transport. Its sole purpose should always be fighter production. Every turn it has the ability to produce 40 fighters, non-fighter building races will have to buy them at 4000 MC! A lot more than most planets can produce in one turn. The Gemini is an integral part of your war fleet. It is the ship that is supplying the fighters for the Virgos and Patriots. It should never, and I can't stress this enough, never, ever go into battle if you can help it (Unless it's sitting over a planet and the enemy just happens to attack that planet). It shouldn't even be on the front lines if you can help it. It's job it to supply fighters to the ships that are going to fight. All you do is load the ships up before they depart, have the fighters loaded and stay back in your own empire. Your Virgos will not need replacement fighters, trust me. They will die way before you run out of fighters. As long as you put at least 140 fighters per Virgo they should last the duration of a multi ship battle.

6. Virgo Class Battlestar
I was wrong before. The Virgo is THE pride and joy of your fleet. You must build these in droves. One of the greatest weaknesses of the Virgo is in its lack of mass. The other is its high cost in production, both in minerals and MC. Ladies can supplement the cost to a degree. The minerals, on the other hand, you'll have to go hunting for, but a Merlin will help this area. As I've wrote earlier, a Merlin is a priority, as soon as you can produce one, with tech 1 everything, build it. So hopefully by now that Merlin is sitting over your HW and doing nothing, now it's time to use it, start making moly. You'll find you will quickly run short of that as soon as your Virgo production starts. You might ask why, it's very simple, if you look at the minerals required to build and Virgo and that of any other tech 10 capital ship, you might find that they are pretty similar with one big discrepancy: all the other base ships require a lot less engines, with the exception of the bots. Now this is an absolute, put transwarps on your Virgo if ES bonus is on, and no less than 50%, unfortunately ES bonus is not turned on by default. But if set, the extra 150kt of mass added to the Virgo goes a long way, without it, you become a far weaker race in general. This again brings back the problem with increased mineral consumption, especially moly. Each engine need 35kt of moly, with eight engines you need 280kt just for the engine along, add the cost of the hull (142kt) plus armaments, you're looking at well over 500kt for a single Virgo. If you decide to deck out a Virgo with heavy phasers too, the max amount of moly goes up to 972kt! 972kt is more moly a Merlin can produce in one turn if all 2700kt of supplies are stuffed in the cargo hold. Now you see why moly gathering is more important than anything else using the Colonies.

7. Cygnus Class Destroyer
There is one last capital ship you should consider. The Cygnus Class Destroyer. It's quite a ship for a tech 1 hull. With 4 torp tubes and 4 beans and only one engine, it packs a pretty serious punch. The main purpose of this little ship is when you are in need of softening up a large capital ship. A single Cygnus will go a long way. After 2 or 3 volleys of torpedoes; it would have taken at least some shields off the other ship. A Virgo after that probably will finish the job. This ship does not need to be ever stocked with more than 12 torpedos. There is just no need. In a fight again a large ship, there is no way it can handle anything a torp ship will dish out, and against a fighter ship, it can only at the most put out 3 volleys before it dies.

8. Merlin Class Alchemy Ship
The Merlin Class Alchemy Ship is definitely something you should look into early on. As a fighter race, you consume large amounts of minerals for armament. This is due in large part to fighters. Each fighter will cost you 5kt of supplies, 2kt of tritanium and 3kt of molybdenum. It doesn't seem to be much but when you need to make 140 fighters per Virgo, it adds up really quick. Unless the host was kind, the default mineral normal rich universe is never great for big carrier races. Unlike torpedo races, your needs in minerals far surpasses theirs. When each torpedo only requires 1kt of each mineral, regardless of tech level. The only way to be able to keep your ships battle ready is have a Merlin. There's just no other way. By having one of these early on, it ensures production is kept up so hopefully you won't have to always rely on scrounging for minerals and bringing them back to a base. My rule is, when you find a Bovinoid with decent amount of natives start looking into getting a Merlin out. But be sure to have at least one before ship limit.

9. Small Deep Space Freighter
The Last ship you will need to consider is the Small Deep Space Freighter. Why you ask did I include this piece of crap as a built? It's very simple; the SDSF serves only two purposes and serves them very well. First is that it uses up PBP's. There will be a time when ship limit has arrived, but your economy has not reached a point where you can build capital ships at all your bases. Basically some bases are just empty shells -- 1,1,1,1-tech base. Useless right? During this time the queue moves very quickly, if you don't put a ship on order, it will simply pass over your base. What do you do? Order a SDSF. By ordering a SDSF, you gain a crucial ship build, one that you can later use to put your PBP's over 20 when you need to built a ship at a specific location and you need it now, without waiting for the queue to reach it. The other purpose of the SDSF is this: when you order it, and it gets buil t , you now know where approximately the queue is. This crucial information will help you win the game. Either than that, it has absolutely no purpose.

Thus concludes all the ships you will need to build.

The next matter of importance deals with armament. What should you place on your ships, which type of beams and which level of torpedo tubes to install? As you know, the Colonies do not need to build heavy beams unless they are close to the Crystals. If the Crystals are not near you, you'll survive by putting disrupters on your ships (anything higher starts to take up more moly). For the most part, you will probably use your carrier race ability and kill any adversary with Patriots and/or Virgos. On the other hand, nothing is a better offence than a good defence. Minefields are a great way to keep your enemies out. Mark 4 and Mark 7 are the most efficient way for you produce them. Mark 4 followed by Mark 7. Your initial Cobols should be a Mark 4; anything else would waste too much money to tech up.

After the initial Cobols are built, it's time for the large freighters. I like to put out 2 or 3 of those in the beginning. By now the Cobols must have found some decent planets for you to put more colonists on. Have the ships go out in all direction, colonize as fast as possible. By turn 5 or 6, you should probably see who your neighbours are. It's time for some fights. Start with a patriot, and then put out a Gemini, and 2 more patriots. At the moment, the patriots gives the most bang, except for the rebels (also have patriots), you should be able to take on anything anyone has so far produced.

At this point in time, you should probably start thinking about a second starbase. As I've pointed out before it's probably a good idea to have them on a ghipsoldal planet, a human one will also do nicely. The human world has only one task to be concerned with at the beginning – attempt to build a Virgo. Yes your patriots are deadly, but they cannot by any means take on a well-armed SB, it will die every time. The Virgo, even if armed with stardrive 1s and x-rays will have more than enough firepower to take the home world. That is the ultimate goal. Taking one of those will kill an enemy's hope for survival. If you can get the Virgo out by turn 12 or so, and have a few patriots, go for the HW. After that, you will have time to colonize in peace and gain respect, but most importantly - fear from your fellow players in the game.

By mid-game, (past turn 20 or so) basically after ship limit, it's like any other game, economy, shipbuilding, and wars are all part of the game. How to wage a successful war is the key to final victory. The colonies have a distance advantage over most other races in its early development capabilities. The patriots are able to take out anything that comes your way and a small wolf pack of five or six of those can take on an enemy's entire fleet. The colonies have the ability to cripple if not complete destroy another race in 20 turns or less! To do this is as much art as plain brute force. Faking your moves, intelligence and intimidation are the tools at your disposal. You begin with the most basic move, planet hop, try to never give away your heading, and try to move to planets within 81 ly, if you have to go around the long way by going around to that planet – do it. Mid-game is also the time to finally consolidate your planets and really get your economy going. Send out LDSF's fully loaded with clans; drop these clans on planets that will make you lots of money. If you want to make minerals just drop to a max of 200 clans on those planet total, 200 clans will allow you to build 200 mines, anymore will be on a parabolic curve, not worth it. You can use the colonists better at other worlds.

The most famous treatise ever written on philosophy, logistics, espionage, strategy and tactics was written thousands of years ago by an unknown Chinese author known only as Sun Tzu during the Warring States period between 453 B.C. and 221 B.C. For many centuries following, this great work known to the world simply as The Art of War has groomed generals, won wars, and helped shaped a continent. This text has influenced all of the major powers in Asia, and now is recognized by the business community and many others as the new bible. It stresses the importance of deception and surprise, the unpredictability of battle, and the intimate relationship between politics and military might. It is not simply just a guide for playing better VGAP, but more like a lesson in life. I strongly suggest anyone to read it. From my knowledge this remarkable bundle of words have been translated into every known language. This book will teach you not just how to fight, but how to win.

The word Blitzkrieg is a combination of the German word “blitz”, meaning lightning and “kreig”, the German word for war. First used during WWII, this brutal campaign of might and superiority almost won the Third Reich the war. The German Luftwaffe used this tactic to smashed Great Britain and many other nations to great effectiveness. It is a tactic one can use for VGA Planets. As I've noted earlier, achieving success with a blitz is as much art as military might. The most important element for a good blitz is to know the exact position of an enemy HW. An inexperienced player might give you their heading, and from that the HW can be extrapolated. Look for ships in open space early on; these ships can't be too far from the HW. With some careful scouting, you will have a very good idea where their HW is. The second most important element is speed of execution. As the name implies, you must be lightning fast. It is absolutely imperative you destroy them quickly. Here, it gets a bit complicated. This is something you might have to consider before you even start the game or at the very least within the first few turns: Do I first go for expansion, and colonization early on, or do I go into full-scale war production from turn one, and put colonizing, economy and expansion till later. Most likely the HW mineral concentration is crap, unless the host edited the game set-up, otherwise you'll need to find nearby planets to supply the minerals for this war effort. Most players have the notion that you should only transport colonists and supplies off the HW, that's wrong. Load a freighter with enough money, colonists and supplies to put 200 mines up on a good rock. You can forgo the factories if you want, or you can put more money and supplies on the freighter. You now have only one concern, putting out as many war ships as you can, find that humanoid, find that ghipsoldal, put up the bases and pump as many out as possible, use your HW's minerals if you have to, get those Virgos out. Make a good Virgo and make a crap one. Tow the crap one and let it fight first. After a few Virgos and Patriots, go directly to the HW. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 Mega-Credits, go directly to their HW. have a Cobol or 2 come along for the fuel, but proceed directly to his HW. After the HW has been bagged, it's all downhill from there, a lot of the times, a player will simply drop the game. But if not, you will ask for his complete and unconditional surrender. If not, go medieval on his ass!

During late-game, it calls for a completely different strategy. The greatest teaching of Sun Tzu states that the best battle is won without bloodshed. This calls for diplomacy. Maybe you're the one putting out the taunting Universal Messages, maybe it's your neighbour, but this is the time to make peace, make friends and make allies. A two front war is most ill advised. It is costly, and very likely a losing battle. An ancient Arabic proverb provides some words of wisdom: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Trust me, your enemies will gang up on you; so please if you can't destroy them early, make friends. Or, in many cases, make friends with the second neighbour you meet, the first you will destroy.

During late-game, every race pretty much plays with the same mindset. Expand and grow. I'd say around 60 to 75 planets will be a good resource base. It will provide for all of the minerals and the money you'll need. More planets become increasingly hard to manage, and any time not spent on strategy should be avoided.

Bases, bases, everywhere, yet not a single one is building. The ship limit has hit, it's now a game of cat and mouse. Find where the queue is, prep bases before the queue, and build more bases. Ideally, at some stage in the game, you would like 100 % of your planets to have bases orbiting. It takes full advantage of saturating the queue, and puts pressure on others. By this stage in the game, you will have prolonged periods with no builds, but all of your planets are still accumulating both minerals and cash. You can't spend them on ships, so you spend them on more bases.

In terms of a mature game strategy, the Colonies might have the simplest of all the races. You are and foremost an invasion race. Your job is to decimate and conquer. To over power the other races is all you need to be concerned with. You don't have cloakers, you don't have hyper jump. No pillage, no RGA, no Imperial Assault. You do have something that allows you do go on a warpath better than most races. You don't stop at minefields, period. Even with the bots' 4 times mining capability, there is a limit to the maximum size of a minefield, this is usually set to the default 150 ly. All you do is simply sweep them away like they aren't even there. Set the Virgos on Mine Sweeping and away you go, make sure to have a few Cobols to come along for the ride, to supply fuel and make some mines of your own.

To kill off a race to the bitter end takes a long time. Most mediocre players will continue to be a pain in the neck far after you've destroyed their HW. In most cases, it will be simply border planets, and they can't stand a chance if they come across any sizable fleet. Swarm them. Make minefield, it's the only way. Cloakers are notoriously pesky.

Thus concludes my little story. Feel free to voice your opinions… lionelcai@hotmail.com


Species Info:
The Colonial Fleet

Guide to the Colonies of Man
The Lost Colonies of Man
The Lost Colonies Fleet
A Fight to the Death: A Colonies Guide
A Guide to Playing the Colonies
(for the unregistered player)
Cain's Guide to Playing the Colonies

VGA Planets Homepage Donavan's VGA Planets Assistant

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