In the beginning, there was a void. It was the Echo Cluster. 11 races migrated into the emptiness forming empires. These empires were quick to war with ANYTHING that made incursions into their space, denied their trade routes or played havoc with the delicate balance of their worlds.
Their wars were fought the old way…toe to toe, face to face. The same way the old wars on earth were fought with opposing armies standing 100 ft. apart pouring firepower into the other until till only one was left standing. That was the old way…and as earth progressed in methods of warfare, so too did the Echo Cluster. Now there is FHOST.
Imagine the ‘Battle of Midway' in space! That is the essence of FHOST. FHOST is not replacement to Tim's host, but an add-on to VGAP providing a whole new spin on game play. Believe me when I tell you that if you play a FHOST game with the mind set of a standard VGAP game you may well lose.
In the ‘Battle of Midway', carriers never were within range to see each other. The entire battle was fought by the various fighter/bomber/torpedo wings of the opposing fleets. Using FHOST your ships to do not have to be at the same point in space. Carriers can launch attack wings from 120 light years out. They can attack other ships, planets, starbases or jumpgates. You can deploy a CAP (Combat Air Patrols) over your fleets to guard against reprisals or sneak attacks. Your torpedo ships have the capability of launching long range cruise missiles to harass enemies at a distance. There is also technology in the game so devastating that 1 missile hitting the sun will cause the entire planet to burn up and explode making that planet unusable for the remainder of the game. Its nickname is ‘The Sunbuster'. It is hard to obtain, expensive to build and is without a doubt, an ARMAGEDDON weapon.
As you know by now, some races in VGAP have great carriers and while others have less than desirable ones. We all know that. FHost is the great equalizer in that respect. A Valiant Wind can now at least stand a chance against the big carriers. Small carriers like the Red Winds can work in teams to defeat larger enemies. This add-on doesn’t take anything away from what you can do presently. It is a true addition of features and strategy to an already brilliant game .
AFM – Advanced Fighter Missions. Nothing brings home FHOST like the fighter missions. There are nine of them. I’ll touch on each briefly.
With these friendly codes and the ones for the torpedo missions the parameter of X can be replaced by a(ll), h(alf), q(uarter) or the numbers 1 to 0 with 1=10%, 2=20%...0=100% indicating the percentage of fighters sent out on a mission.
FAx – Use this code to send a squadron of fighters to attack an enemy ship. They will try and attack the largest enemy ship at that position and then return to your carrier.
FBx – indicates a bombing mission. Your fighters proceed to the targeted planet and start a bombing run, killing some of the population, mines and factories. If there is a starbase present, they will attack that too.
FOx - sends fighter squadrons to an enemy planet looking for a stargate and if found will attempt to destroy it.
FPx - orders your fighters to patrol around an area you marked with a waypoint. The size of the patrol area depends on the number active fighters but cannot exceed half of the maximum fighter range.
FMx - Minesweeping. This command orders your fighters seek out and sweep enemy minefields. Be careful, inexperienced pilots don’t do too well in the minefields. This translates to-You could lose some fighters during a sweep. This mission is also available to starbases.
FGx, FGy Fighter Gather Resources. This is a two part command. FGx lets the first carrier send out a certain number of fighter squadrons to a planet pointed at with its waypoint. A second carrier sets it friendly code to FGy, where Y now indicates a certain resource: n(eutronium), t(ritanium), d(uranium), m(olybdenum), s(upplies) or $ (megacredits).
A single fighter transports one kiloton of minerals/supplies or 100 MC.
FTx,FTR - Fighter Transfers. Using the FTx command on a carrier with the waypoint set on another carrier. It will send the ordered amount of fighters to the other carrier. If there is more than one carrier please make sure to designate which carrier is to receive the influx of fighters by using the command FTR.
Fighters and their missions have become more versatile. So to, have torpedo's. Gone are the days of watching VCRs of your ship firing spreads, waiting for what seemed like an eternity for them to reload and have half of them go anywhere but on target. (Not one of the highlights of my game.)
With FHOST, these dull torpedo's have been equipped with passive warp coils, a simple power source and a small targeting computer, turning these babies into self-guiding cruise missiles.
There are only 3 codes to use for torpedo missions. They are:
TAx - Torpedo Attack Ship
TBx - Torpedo Bomb Planet
TMx - Torpedo Remote Minelaying
The mechanics are simple. X = %(total tubes). For example, if you had a Nova Dreadnaught with ten tubes and set the friendly code to TA9. The Nova would fire nine tubes or 90% . If you have a ship with eight tubes and entered TA9 it would fire seven tubes.
The probability of scoring a direct hit with a torpedo/cruise missile launch is determined by several factors or values:
Targeting computers assign a value to each ship. The range is 0-2 with 1 being a standard target. The value is determined by the target ship’s scanner silhouette. This means a big, bulky slow ship is a much better target for a torpedo that a small fast ship.
The second value is the torpedo tech level. The better the tech, the better the targeting computer which means a better hit probability.
The third value is distance from target. Face it, hit probability decreases as the distance to the target increases.
To use the commands you will need to do the following:
Put in the friendly code ex.(TA7) and set your waypoint on the target. Your cruise missiles will then seek out the primary enemy’s ships with the biggest signature (size).
TBx is really the same thing except you are bombing a planet instead of a ship. If the planet has a starbase, that will be attacked first. One note however, you must be at LEAST 1 light year from the planet.
TMx instructs your gunners to fire cruise missiles to a target location in space and convert them into a minefield upon arrival. Please note that fully functional mine units will decrease as you set your target location to a more distant point.
Let me give you a few examples of FHOST in action using fighters and torpedoes. You might have a task force heading into enemy space. You’ve sent a cloaked ship in ahead of you to pinpoint prime targets. They could be starbases, fleets or some prime real estate. Let’s say you are able to slip into orbit of an enemy planet undetected and find your adversary has a fleet in orbit lying in wait. Your cloaked ship relays the coordinates and disposition of the fleet to your task force. In the old days you would either roll on in and throw down or you would rethink your plan and leave. With FHOST you could have a section of torpedo ships fire a spread of torpedo's (configured with a friendly code) that convert into cruise missiles and seek out the largest enemy targets, inflicting damage. At the same time you could have another section of ships fire a spread of torpedo's (configured with a friendly code) that reach the target and deploy into minefields. Talk about pissing in someone’s corn flakes…at this point you’ve damaged some ships with cruise missiles, dropped minefields in and around your enemy and now you send in 4 or 5 squadrons of fighters…half to attack the fleet and half to attack the planet. Your opponent is going to feel like he’s been 15 rounds with Tyson and you two have not yet met face to face. I would suggest that while this is going on you have a fighter patrol up and sweeping (did I mention fighters can pull minesweeping duty and gather resources…all done with friendly codes.) It is intense and anything I just described could also happen to you. Although combat is not shown in VCRs as in combat within VGAP, the entire battle is sent to you in messages within the game.
I haven’t mentioned the use of stargates. Stargates can be constructed with the right amount of resources and megacredits. For it to work properly you will need to build two gates. They are not listed on the starmap. They are built over the planet, in the gravity well. If you are allied with other players and they have stargates, you can use them via friendly codes. Stargates are pretty self explanatory.
Before ending let me mention two bad pieces of hardware. They are the ‘Sunbuster’ and the ‘Core’ torpedo. A SUNBUSTER torpedo fired directly into a sun stops ALL thermonuclear reactions almost instantly and therefore makes the sun go nova and turn into a white dwarf afterwards which renders the planetary system lifeless and useless for the remainder of the game.
The CORE torpedo was originally used like a genesis device turning dead planets into lush thriving worlds by rearranging the molecular structure of everything. Needless to say, when this thing is fired at a healthy planet with a thriving population…REALLY bad things happen!
With this short article I’ve tried to get your attention and have you take a look at a fine piece of add-on software for VGAP. If you’ve ever played a FHOST game then you’re shaking your head going….damn right! If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to try a game, especially if the Sysop uses a modified ship list that balances the races.