Strategy: The Crystalline FAQ

Tholian FAQ

Written by A. Grigat (Version 1.2 11.09.96) FIDO: 2:241/1036
Translated and updated to newer host version (3.022.026) by Matthais Gietl
[email protected]
(version 2.1 12.02.2000)
[All text in those brackets [ ] was added by me]
[Settings configurable by the host are marked with a [D]efault and should be checked at the beginning of the game]

[…] wanderers through time and space we are, never knowing, what the future will bring. The only thing we do really know is that we can influence the present time through word and deed, be it good or evil. Nobody is immortal, but many are still remembered. […]

0 Preface…

1 What do I do in general ?

1.1 These ships are worth building.
1.2 What structures do I build on my Planets ?
1.3 What techlevels do I upgrade my starbases to ?

2 How do I defend ?

3 How do I attack ?

3.1 Proper preparation is everything !
3.2 Allies ?

4 Special tactics

4.1 vs Fed
4.2 vs Lizard
4.3 vs Birdman
4.4 vs Fascist
4.5 vs Privateer
4.6 vs Borg
4.7 vs Empire
4.8 vs Robot
4.9 vs Rebel
4.10 vs Colonial

5 General tips

5.1 The special!
5.1.1 Ionstormsurfing
5.1.2 Fighters for free ? It works !!!
5.1.3 The NUK-Trap/tactic (old but still powerful)
5.2 Mining
5.3 Addons
5.4 Things to come

6 Conclusion


0. Preface….


There’s a lot to say about the Tholians. They are one of the three races that are the most difficult to play. Never ever one should judge from the difficulties of playing a certain race for that races power/force. To clear things up: When referring to the Tholians we are talking about race 7, also known as “Crystals” but they have nothing in common with the crystal entities appearing in some series of Star Trek [I really have no idea what he is referring to…].

This FAQ is just some advice and help. When playing with different shiplists, addons, etc. one has to think of other ways or try out totally new stuff.

Planets is a game intended to end the boring “always against the dumb computer” type of games. If one does it right, he or she can even have some serious fun. It’s up to the player himself, how he does that, though.

I personally always play Planets as a type of role-playing game, where I take over the role of the “Tholian” and play it to the very excess. This is the best way to distinguish between game and reality. Unfortunately there are some people who have problems in doing so. When they lose or get a nasty message, they take it as a personal insult and become angry. Anyway, I have my bit of fun and here comes the guide for the players who took the heavy but honorable burden of playing the Tholians and are in a need for some tips and tricks. No matter if one is playing the Tholians because they were the last available race, or because one just plays them to find out how it “feels” to play the different races. For every case there is a at least one trick from my personal experience.


1. What do I do in general ?

First of all, the most important thing is: Stay calm, don’t spend your first bucks on a big heavy warship, build medium freighters [I do recommend large deeps, though, this mostly depends on the starting money – 5000 and I normally go for some mediums first, 15000 at least large, if not super] instead. Once you have explored the first 5-10 planets, you roughly know what to expect and how to proceed in the near future [that applies to all races btw !]. You should be watchful not to use up too many minerals in the beginning. For example, if you find a Bovinoid planet in your cluster,you will be angry about yourself, if you spent all your Duranium shortly before.

1.1 These ships are worth building:


1.1.1 Medium Freighter
This ship is being used to transport smaller amounts of money and minerals. [Its advantages are the low mineral cost, the low tech level and only one engine
disadvantages are the relatively small cargo hold (only 200 – even your ruby has nearly twice that) and that a single mine hit will kill it, whereas a large deep can still limp away after a single mine hit, or even repair itself with supplies.]

1.1.2 Opal Class
The Opal is the ideal ship to be a sort of border guard and to stay above important planets, using “mkt” to make torps and lay them as webs. Also it destroys every HYP capable ship (Falcon, PL21 and B200) when equipped with mark4 torpedoes. If possible build those with transwarps, disruptors and mark7. The opal is very important at the beginning of the game or especially in a mineral rare universe…

1.1.3 Emerald Class
One of the most feared ships in the echo cluster. Where this ship appears, trouble is not far away. The Emerald is the all-round ship par excellence. Because of its massive cargo space of 510 it can used as a armed freighter and with its big fuel tank of 480 it has an extreme long operating range. The possible armaments are numerous for this tech6-ship. But also try to build them at least with mark7 torps [when you use them as a minelayer, one tube is fine] and disruptors, better still are heavy disruptors. Transwarp is a must. As a minelayer the Emerald is unmatched in the known universe. [The huge cargo hold also enables it to repair itself with supplies within one turn.]

1.1.4 Diamond Flame
This ship is the first part of the combo, which is ideal for the Tholian. When the Tholian can’t get away from an open fight, a Diamond with good torps should always fight first, to damage the enemy ship (if it can’t be destroyed). Can also be used on its own. It just eats all low-tech-ships [except the Robotic ones] (under tech 9) for breakfast. When fighting on its own, it should be equipped with Heavy Disruptors for capturing enemy ships.

1.1.5 Crystal Thunder
This is the second part of the Tholian combo. These pairs of ships should be equipped to fit exactly the purpose they are needed for. For big battles were direct fighting can’t be avoided, the Crystal Thunder usually tows the Diamond Flame. That’s the cause for the Diamond not having to have transwarp engines, and since it’s going to die anyway, it would be a waste of money and minerals, which is better spent on torps. But it should be equipped with mark7 torps a least, better still mark8. To fighting tactics more later on.

[1.1.6 Large Deep Space Freighter
This ship is needed to transport big amounts of minerals (a fully equipped Diamond will cost you some 1000 kts of moly) around, ideal to use for a tactic called “starbase in a can”: A single large deep transports everything needed for a starbase (900 mc, 120 Dur, 402 Trit and 340 Moly) plus some supplies and

1.1.7 Onyx Class Frigate
This is one of the ships your enemy is really going to hate you for, if you use them in huge numbers. They will turn all your (and especially your enemies’ precious) planets into boiling rocks. I personally do like to build those, whereas other players prefer to build cheap mark4 or mark7 rubies instead. But in all those games as the Tholian I played I always had enough cargo room for my torps, so I never regretted building Onyxes. They are also quite good for trading, and will shoot down a respectable amount of fighters (24 versus a fully maxed out starbase, which is nothing to complain about).]

1.2 What structures do I build on my planets?
Building structures on planets is always dependent on your own preferences. I personally did do best with 100 mines (with good minerals) or 50 mines (on poorer planets) and max factories and defense posts. MONEY is most important. Every planet with natives should be colonized with the needed amount of colonists [Remember: Crystals can have 1000 clans on a planet for every degree of temperature – so don’t try to settle 0 degree worlds, especially not by dropping several thousand clans there, they all will die within one turn!] to collect the maximum amount of cash. If things are quiet at the beginning of the game: Save money for times to come, build torps for webs to lay… Your enemies are waiting [????] and the Tholian is no offensive player (normally at least 🙂 ). What is important is that if you have too many mines/factories on a planet, the happiness increase of the natives per turn will go down. MONEY and MOLY are the most important things… [Moly makes the world go round – at least for the Tholian]

1.3 What tech levels do I upgrade my starbases to?
Where it will pay off (Bovinoids, huge numbers of Avians or Insectoids, etc…. ) you should be able to upgrade to tech 10/10/10/10. In all other cases starbases should have at least torptech 8 sooner or later. You will save one turn, if you build your torps directly on your starbase, instead of using “mkt” to make them. NEVER buy or make mark8 torps! Build mark7 instead, lay them as a minefield and scoop the up with a mark8 ship using “msc” and mission mine scoop. This will save you a lot of money. [Try to do that in the same turn, though, or you will lose 5 [D] percent of the mineunits per turn.]


2. How do I defend?

That depends on the situation, mainly on how strong your opponent is. You can either try to stop him by catching him in your webs and draining all his fuel, which will be difficult if the enemy fleet consists of lets say 20 Golems. Or for huge fleets the following tactics have proofed to be appropriate:

Some time sooner or later you will see your opponent, and then you should first roughly calculate how much fuel he will have, how big his fleet is and how much he will be able to sweep away.
When a big strike force charges into your territory, use your special abilities. Use the extended Friendly Codes (mainly mdh, mdq and mdx) to drop webs in a way that he won’t be inside them before his minesweeping and movement phase. If he moves on, he will hit those hard. Or lay a big normal minefield in his path and a small webfield at the end of it (one ship with mission lay mines and a FC of md7, the other one with mission lay webmines and FC md1).

Ships you can be sure of getting damaged should be intercepted. A damaged ship enters battle with beams uncharged. In a fight carrier on carrier this will be the decisive factor.

Use your long phase of preparation wisely. Its better to have few decent warships then a lot of crappy ones. Being the Tholian you will only need 20 – 30 % percent of the ships normally needed to secure a certain area, if played properly.

Show no fear. If you hesitate, life will punish you. A player that hesitates or is full of fear is easy to identify. You can even build your strategy against him on that.

At the beginning you should stay hidden as long as possible, so always planet hop, especially if the Birdman or the Pirates are nearby. By dropping webs surprisingly, you often can snatch one ore more cloakers

If an attack is not really threatening, you shouldn’t let yourself into some uncontrolled actions. Always play carefully.

The following tactics are also highly recommended:

Don’t present any targets for him, let him waste his fuel. When he attacks, evacuate the planets nearby, jettison all excess fuel and retreat a little. It’s the attacker that has the long ways to go, not you. As long as your empire and the area, where he can stomp around, is big enough and as long as you can keep his reinforcements away [mainly with webs] you are in control. Then you can decide where and when to fight.

Fly past your enemy (mostly your enemy won’t use mission intercept, because that’s pure suicide against a smart Tholian player, using md1 and lay webs).

Cut him off his reinforcements. An enemy fleet in your territory without the possibility to restock fighters and fuel is history [or yours] pretty soon. Even if he kills some of your bases – let him romp around and then get him.

If you have cloakers: Fly to his hinterland and reign terror with webs, intercept freighters and tankers, tow alchemy ships from orbits (that is always good fun :-)), who builds his alchemy ships with transwarps… If you can’t use those ships for your own purpose, let them attack his bases. An alchemy ship will shoot down some 20-30 fighters and he won’t get priority points for it, as it would be the case if he intercepts it himself and kills it.

Always be concentrated. The Tholian lives of the mistakes, his enemies make. At front lines, that are really entrenched, don’t go in head first and try to break through. When you have webs, you will be faster than your enemy wherever you want. With luck he will do some 20 lys a turn.

Intercept ? Hmm, should be used very wisely. Against experienced enemies you will have to be careful with that. Many do sense the webmines and don’t move their ships at all. If you want to use the damage advantage (beams uncharged) against a heavy carrier, you should use intercept like that: When the enemy carrier is inside a webfield and some 80 lys away from your ship that wants to intercept, you shouldn’t intercept with warp9 but with warp8 ! Why ? Pretty obvious: If he doesn’t move this turn (does not risk to run on a webmine) your ships won’t get there and you don’t risk a fight. [He might have supplies on board and then he will be repaired for the combat]. But if he moves, he will hit a webmine sooner or later and will lose the ship in the combat, if you reach him. When the target ship is still in webmine free space, it’s a lot easier. Just drop a let’s say 50 ly webfield and intercept with warp7 from the opposite side of the webfield. When he flies on he will hit a mine and you have him.


3. How do I attack?

Some time the president will be called to the high council and has to justify why he has this huge budget for the military but has so far failed to conquer new space by warfare. Anyway – here’s the guide for all those presidents.

3.1 Proper preparation is everything
According to my experience the ideal attacking fleet consists of the following ships:

1 Freighter with clans, supplies and money
3 Diamond Flames with transwarps and mark8
2 Chrystal Thunders
2 Emeralds, filled with mark7 torps
[some Onyx Class Frigates]

There are different possibilities to attack, depending on the race you are up to attack and the strength of this race. In enemy territory, where you don’t have an idea about the strength of your opponents ships, don’t just drop some webs and wait. Always keep your fleet together, lay webs in-between the planets, that will keep him busy for quite a while…

Never lay webs in a way so that they cover planets, because then he can just sit in orbit and sweep them away. If there are big enemy fleets trying to track you down, don’t bother, do some random mining and moving, after some web-hits he will come to the conclusion that it’s not such a good idea to intercept you. The Tholian is the one to intercept. Enemy ships hitting webs won’t do so on the same spot, so he will have to spend some time for regrouping and repairing. The main aim for your attack are his planets. When you are fast enough and mine properly, he will find himself suddenly in enemy territory with his fleet, because he either tried to intercept or to take back planet X.

Have a close look at the host settings. These are important for you:

Webmine decay
Web sweep range
Colonial can sweep WEB ?
max minefieldradius
Terraforming ON/OFF
Web sweep rate (veeeery important)
Crystal like desert

Planets which you can’t hold are best evacuated, so that no resources and fuel will be produced. Grab every drop of fuel in enemy territory, jettison is preferable to giving it to your enemy. If possible build starbases to use up his minerals.

Don’t fight in the open. Ignore him, if you can’t win, especially if he hasn’t enough sweeping capacities to clear your webs.

Guerrilla warfare is everything. Bring desperation to your enemies. As Tholian one has to be like the sand. Never to seize, always on the move. Always play straight. One should know that a slow struggle with small losses is preferable to a quick hard blow with heavy losses.

Laying out traps is also pretty interesting. Leave a damaged ship alive in webs, leave some ships empty in your webs without collecting them. Make him think you have no torps. And when he comes to reclaim his property or to rescue some of his ships, hit him hard.

From time to time you should play some psychological tricks, like flying a fleet straight to one of your opponent’s planets [you could even name your ships “Destroyer”, “Here I Come”, “Bring ’em on” or some other fancy names]. And then just drop some webs or fly past it instead of attacking. Those actions are especially rewarding if you possess cloakers, to first find out important planets and then second to watch his reaction.

3.2 Allies?
There are some races that are your ideal allies, some others are more or less useless. Top allies for you are:

Gives you the opportunity to get SSDs and Gorbies. If you succeed in getting the Empire as an ally the game is practically decided. [I think the author sort of overrates this alliance – still its pretty nice to have both: Dark sense AND webmines to operate totally as you wish and you also know where to hit.] Of course this only works, when the Empire player is no total newbie and you do good teamwork. With the Empire as an ally you can hit your enemies pretty good. You can play openly. Either just hit and run [covered by webs] or by just one big massive offensive. [Normally the Empire gets 5 [D] free fighters per turn per starbase, so you might get some cheap fighters for your Chrystal Thunders.]

Working together with the Fascists is on of the very best things that can happen to you, especially when you had a bad start off or when fighting against many opponents. With the Fascists as a partner you will have to use guerrilla tactics. Pillage and cloakers working together with webs is the ultimate way to destroy your enemies economy. With the cloakers you check the orbits and as soon as there is no enemy ship, the Tholian drops his webs and the Fascist plunders [pillages]. In most cases it even pays off to take over the planets by ground assault [especially starbases]. The Fascist uses the plundered money to “mkt” new torps and passes them on to the Crystal for the second attack.

Same as the Fascist, but without pillage, but with the feature of robbing the ship in your webs. Together with the Privateers, much can be achieved… [Has also the ultimate tool for a good economy: The good old MBR – will bring you, your torps, your freighters and your money anywhere twice as fast for half the fuel – ain’t this great ???]

Can give you cheaper ships (T-Rex) to damage those big nasty carriers, can give you cloakers with the biggest cargo hold available (LCC: 290 cargo) and can give you tons of money and minerals. What else do you want? In return the Lizards will get a nice carrier to mop up those huge enemy carriers, normally they also wont say no to your terraforming ability.]

Pretty handy to have as an ally – can superrefit your ships, has tons of cash to pay for those expensive minefields, but lacks minerals. Has a bioscanner installed on one of its ships, the Brynhild Class Escort, that will scan 20 % of the planets within 200 lys [D] for native life, reporting the temperature of the planet, and the type and size of the population of the natives. But there is very little you can give in return: The fed can also terraform, has also excellent minelayers, has lokis to detect those nosy cloakers and its flagship, the Nova Class Super Dreadnought is superior to both your big guns.]

Hmm – has the best cloakers in the echo cluster [Resolute and Darkwing) but nothing else you would dearly need.]

Rather bad ally. There’s really no profit in for you, perhaps you can use them for trading or if you can get your hands on fireclouds. But you can also use the means the Borg would use against you together with him. (Fly with the firecloud and chunnel the same turn [the drop-tow chunnel]) But this needs very accurate planning to work.

Can help you clear you enemy’s minefields by counter-mining, has a 100 % effective bioscanner (pawn class baseship), has cheap (especially mineral wise) carriers with huge fuel tanks (Golem: 2000 kt) and can give you free fighters. Unfortunately you have little to offer to the Bots, except your terraforming abilities and normally Duranium.]

Has a pretty nice, cheap carrier (Rush), can give you the best “HYP” ership in the cluster (Falcon) and can supply you with free fighters. Has (together with the Colonies) also the best fighter factory in the game, the Gemini that can produce 40 fighters every turn (even when orbiting your (allied) planet and the friendly code set to “lfm”). Can also support up to 9 000 000 colonists on ice (temp below 15 degrees) planets. The good thing for you is that the Rebel is in a desperate need for de-cloaking.]

Has some nice ships (Aries, Lady Royal, Virgo) and one very nice one: The infamous Cobol Class Research Cruiser, that produces 2 [D] kts of fuel for every ly traveled and is, as a bonus, equipped with a 20 % effective bio scanner. In addition to that it is also low-tech (hulltech 4), has a decent cargo room (250 kts) and is dirt cheap. Can build free fighters for you and is, as the rebels in a need for de-cloaking. Colonial ships with fighters on board are pretty good at minesweeping, one colonial fighter will sweep 20 [D] mine units per turn per enemy minefield within 100 lys.]


4.0 Special tactics

4.1 vs FED
Intercept Novas with Crystal Thunder. [I just simmed some fights – don’t do it, you will lose the Crystal Thunder, even to a Nova with a webhit. To surely kill a mark7 Nova, it has to have at least 20 percent damage (with 19 percent damage, it still can win 3 times out of 110, surviving with 99 percent damage), if you fight on the left side. If you fight on the right side, the Nova has to be damaged at least 23 percent. If you want to kill a Nova with mark8 torps with a Crystal Thunder the Nova needs to be damaged 55 %, if you are on the left side, on the right side you need to damage the Nova to 58 % ! If you want to take out a Nova with mark8 and Heavy Phasers also using a maxed out Diamond Flame it has to have 59% of damage…. ]

All other ships can be destroyed with Diamond Flames. [Simmed again – maxed out missouris have to have at least 1 % of damage if you want to be 96 % sure to kill them.]
Equip ships with Heavy-Disruptors and mark8 (for capturing)
If you have cloakers, never fly to planets, the danger of a Loki is far to great, and unfortunately you can’t clone.

4.2 vs LIZARD
Lay webmines (a lot of them) and capture LCCs
Build Diamond Flames with gamma bombs and heavy disruptors for capturing LCCs.
Direct fighting (fleets…) only pays off when you use Crystal Thunders. Here the rule: Provoke the enemy to make him attack, never show all your strength. If a LCC got 2 minehits in a regular minefield, DON’T tow-capture it, because it has more then 100 % of damage and will blow up, as soon as you get it. Before you tow him, beam over 1 kt of fuel and some supplies (when he is inside a webfield) to make him repair himself. He can’t do anything against this.

4.3 vs BIRDMAN
Don’t attack Darkwings, let them run out of fuel, they have a tiny fueltank
Ships for minesweeping (fueltank >300 and lots of beams, especially Resolutes should be killed. Also – provoke them until they charge after you, but if you encounter massive numbers of Darkwings and Resolutes, you will have to sacrifice some of your ships [But think of the gains: Resolutes make the ultimate minelayers].

4.4 vs FASCIST
Webs, webs, webs….
Open fighting is possible when using maxed out Diamonds (Heavy Phaser, mark8) to attack Victorous with webhits. With some luck [If the Fascist is on guard, it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to capture a popper, since he doesn’t need fuel to set them off] it is even possible to get one or more D19s. His main weapons (pillaging and glory device) are useless against you, since one just can’t do aimed pops and pillaging with cloakers when inside webs. Some Fascists even miscalculated so badly that they ended blowing up their own fleets….

No problem at all: Lay webs, grab those MBRs, laugh some dirty laughs and trade those MBRs like hell :-).
As long as the Privateer doesn’t get big guns from other opponents, it’s easy. The following is ideal: Always intercept the attacking ship [yours], all attacks should take place within webs (ships that are being robbed and captured are gone pretty fast normally). When you intercept the attacking ship with a Diamond, the risk of losing a ship is rather small. This can be done to the very extreme: When attacking with 5 Diamonds, the first one goes into the orbit shoots down everything that is possible. The turn after that, Diamond 1(if it’s still alive) gets intercepted by number 2 to destroy any rob and tow fleets. If it runs really well for him, he will be able to rob you 2 or 3 times, before he runs out of fuel on his cloakers and towers. He may capture your ships, but since you don’t give him any fuel and keep on shooting down his towing MBRs he won’t get far with them. [It’s obvious not to put good beams on your Diamonds, isn’t it?] Always change the weight of your ships by transferring fuel and/or cargo, in order to make it impossible for him to use the “Tow empty trick” (if well calculated, a tower can tow a ship to a certain point in space [where normally some lady royals and/or MBRs are sitting, ready to rob] and arrive with 0 fuel, becoming immune to attack)

4.6 vs BORG
Always intercept Fireclouds, if possible use cloakers to infiltrate his fleets and enter a chunnel, then cause havoc in his hinterland. Never fight in the open, lay only small webs. Be careful of repair in space; always intercept ships that will probably hit a webmine. Always remember, the Borg race advantage is repair in space. Be extremely careful with fireclouds – a firecloud that hits a web is regarded as not moving by the host [its warp factor is set to 0 and its waypoint is reset] and it’s possible to chunnel to it the same turn. Use those tricks for your own purpose, since ships traveling via chunnel will have 0 shields the turn they were chunneled (intercept).

4.7 vs EMPIRE
Use webs and regular mines [???], avoid open combat… Gorbies are gas guzzlers and the empire has no other real fighting ship. You don’t have to lose any sleep over SSDs, since a single webhit will inflict enough damage to prevent them from using imperial assault.

4.8 vs ROBOT
Only webmines, Golems, etc. should be intercepted in webmines, because of the damage inflicted by the mine hits and the resulting advantage for you [but beware of the huge robot minefields]. On special occasions – when there are not too many robotic ships around – it’s even possible to starve him out, because he has no real good minesweepers. Attack only with many good beams on your ships for minesweeping. Try to avoid trench warfare, since Golems [with their fueltank of 2000 kts] can sweep for a pretty long time.

4.9 vs REBEL
If possible have a Topaz or a Ruby with 4 Disruptors in orbit of every important planet (to counter RGAing Falcons), the rest see 4.7 , Vs Empire. Don’t panic, avoid open combat. Iron Ladies are the Rebels ideal minesweepers, but it is also one of the easiest ships to capture (I have never seen an Iron Lady being destroyed, I have always captured them). So, no matter what your Diamond looks like, just intercept.

4.10 vs COLONIES
No regular mines, the rest like rebels. Try to capture Patriots (a Diamond with X-ray and no torps on board is fine to shoot down those 30 fighters). Here also, when Iron Ladies appear, hunt them and capture them. A damaged Virgo will lose against a Crystal Thunder. So intercept him, before he can repair himself using supplies. [Better don’t: When the Virgo is on the left side, it has to have at least 40 % damage if you want a good chance (91 %) to destroy it. When you are fighting on the left side, 30 % damage is enough for a good chance (92%).]


5.0 General tips

[When fighting against other carriers, try to get to the left side of the battlefield, your carrier will fight a lot better there then on the right side.(So the left side is actually the right one 😉 ) For how to get there, you should read the list on undocumented host features. If you want to win against other carriers you have to remember two things: First of all, it does not really matter how heavy the carriers is, as long as its above 320 kts (this is the magic border, where one fighter shot only deals one point of damage and not two or more). Second, for every 10 points of damage, your opponent will lose one beam and one bay (so a Biocide with 30 % damage will fight with 7 beams and 7 bays and will be a lot weaker than your Crystal Thunder, since it’s the bays that really matter and he already has some damage and will start the fight with only 70 % shields and his beams uncharged; a Biocide with 39 % damage will also fight with 7/7, but will have only 61% shields.) (hmm, I am not totally sure of that, someone told me that the jumps would be between X4 and X5 percent of damage.]

If you want to set a certain battle order, be careful not to use things like fc 001 on your first ship, 002 on your second, or anything similar. Veteran players know things like that. They will set their Planet’s Fc to 002 and one of your attacking ships won’t fight. If you don’t watch out, the ship might even surrender….. . Never use kill mission. This leads to everything but your intended battle order [Which is wrong, but still it’s sort of useless to set mission to kill, unless you are fighting ships form multiple races].

Never use the same route twice. Never appear in open space with a waypoint set [unless you want to deceive your enemy] [But you could use a tool of a good friend of mine that sets your waypoint exactly 81 lys away and restores the original waypoint the next turn and even uses warpwells to save fuel – download it at (mind the capital T !)]. Sometimes you can have a lot of fun (especially with cloakers) when your enemy moves predictably, when you bring a popper or a loki to his waypoint.

Never show your real strength, as long as you are not sure you are winning. A SSD showing up surprisingly or a Biocide brought up casually from your sleeve is much more effective than bragging about the things you have.

Never play this game the same way. If you always use the same tactics, your moves can be predicted easily and you risk flops (this specially applies to the usage of planetary FCs).

Never underestimate your opponents. There will always be someone who is better than you. Instead of cursing him, study him, absorb what he does. Play the game to the very end. This is the one and only way to learn.

Stick to your word, and you will always find allies that will do the same.

Don’t expand your empire to a size, where you can’t defend it any more. What are 50 planets useful for, if you can’t keep them and the first one to come by can easily get them with all the minerals, factories and supplies. You should always have at least as many capital ships as you have planets. It’s even better to have more than that. This will discourage most attackers, because your enemy can already see that there probably is a minelayer in every orbit and there is no easy prey for him.

A ship with 99% damage sweeps as good as a ship without damage. Here one has to evaluate, what is preferable: To drain the wounded ship or to destroy it. A Gorbie with 30% damage and 1000 kts of fuel should be killed, as long as there is a chance to do so.

Use the Priority Building Points (PBPs). When all 500 ship slots are full, you can even become stronger by skilled building and fighting. One destroyed Crystal Thunder is worth 4 PBPs, whereas a destroyed Gorbie is worth 10. Normally the second Crystal Thunder kills the Gorbie, so you can build 1,25 Crystal Thunders for the price of one, but the empire has to destroy 5 Crystal Thunders before it can build a new Gorbie.

Set the friendly codes of your bases to common special friendly codes like mkt or mdx [If your opponent is lazy, you can even try AAA, BBB or the standard ones for your opponents race]. With this you can sometimes catch one cloaker or two, or avoid being attacked. Of course you have to watch out never to hang around enemy starbases cloaked with friendly codes like mkt. Sometimes when you are being attacked by Rebels, Colonials or Robots, using lfm will pay off, especially when playing against a “Roll-Robot” (a robotic player rolling over everything with a huge fleet, using his Golems set to “build fighters” and lfm to restock his ships). [in newer host versions, matching fcs of mkt and lfm will NOT prevent fighting.]

[Always try to pick the easiest pray: Even the worst (and thus least challenging to defeat) players will build some useful ships for you, will mine minerals (and won’ t use them up) and collect some taxes.]

5.1 The Special!
Yes, this is the place where I will talk about the most vicious tactics, which I should have better taken with me into my grave. These tactics should never (even though they are all totally legal) be used without prior announcement, since they can lead to wild accusations of you being a cheater.

5.1.1 Ion Storm Surfing!
Yes, nasty things happen to nearly everyone. But why not turn things that annoy you into your own advantage? When there is a mighty Ion Storm traveling through your empire, directly towards the enemy lines, why not profit on it ?

Needed is a Ion storm, (the bigger, the better, but not toooo big 🙂 )

  • One emerald (filled up with mark7 torps)
  • One Alchemy ship (friendly code set to NAL and filled with supplies (NAL only works with the registered version, means No Alchemy)
  • A good mix of warships

Take all those ships and fly them right in the path of the ion storm, so that they will be dragged into your enemy’s territory. Try to stay in the center of the storm (ships taking damage can always be repaired using supplies). Lay some small webs while being dragged into foreign space (always stay in the center of the storm). As soon as enemy ships are spotted, pump out webs like hell, pump out regular mines like hell. No matter how many Heavy Phasers your enemy has, minesweeping is impossible inside ion storms. [Except for the Colonies, who can sweep mines inside an ionstorm, using their beam weapons.] What to do then is obvious: Hit, plunder and take everything you can lay your hands on. Turn all planets into uninhabitable rocks [Onyx – lots of them !!!!].

5.1.2 Fighters for free ? IT WORKS !!!!
… and totally legal and cheat-free !!! All you need is one rebel ship. When its empty, DON’T tow-capture it, tow it home (friendly code nbr). Place it – still empty- close to one of your planets and nail it there [keep a tow lock on him, still with FC nbr] with one of your ships (if 0 fuel ships move is ON). Take a carrier with a low ID# (optimum is 1 🙂 ) and let the fun begin.

Transfer one clan to the rebel ship [he can’t get rid of it, because he has no fuel]. Then load fighter minerals on your carrier and leave it with 1 kt of fuel. Then use gsa to pass it on to the rebels – gsX will even give the ship to fuel-less ships but he can’t give it back to you, using gs7, because you don’t have a clan on board….

The Rebel gets the carrier, but it runs dry the same turn, because of webs, so he can’t do any harm with it. He might get the idea by now and try to get rid of the minerals, but now this happens: He has no fuel, and since his attempt to get rid of the stuff happens pretty much at the beginning of the host run, he does not succeed. But now a Tholian ship with a ID#higher then the carrier [I think that is not necessary, because transport to foreign ships happens way after jettison] now transfers 1 kt of fuel. He has fuel now, builds his fighters, but is drained the same turn [according to the newest version of the host help, this wouldn’t work, since building fighters comes before transfer from foreign ships, but since Rebels do build their fighters even without fuel and without mission build fighters, it works] and can be tow-captured the same turn [which won’t work, according to host help, since tow locks are pretty early in the host-run, long before fighter building…] to obtain the fighters….

5.1.3 The NUK-Trick
[This whole section represented the knowledge of battle orders some 3 years ago and is totally wrong, so I won’t translate most of it, but write down a description of the NUK-Trap.]

If you want to keep your enemy from getting your precious planet, or want to mine the minerals for one more turn (for instance, when you are in a desperate need for fuel) or want to use the minerals up by building a starbase, you can use the NUK-Trick, instead of the Tax 100 % percent method.

In order for this to work, you need the ship with the highest ID# on this particular planet. Set your Planet’s friendly code to NUK (not nuk, like the empire player (he dropped out some turns ago) in my current game, where I fly to his planets and attack when I want) and beam all your fuel down. Your ship needs at least 1 blaster or 2 lasers, in order to kill the planet before the timeout. The host looks for friendly code battle orders, and since you set your ship’s friendly code to some random letters and the ships has no primary enemy or mission kill (which would be reset anyway, because you have no fuel), it has the highest possible battle order (1015) and since it is has also the highest ID#, it will be the last ship to be attacked by the planet (via NUK). So, the next turn, the planet will be yours with your ship in orbit.Now, a starbase can be build to destroy minerals valuable for your enemy, you can tow the attacker away with your high ID# ship (ideally in such a way that you end up without fuel inside a webfield, but be careful, your enemy might transfer fuel to you!), fly another high ID# ship into orbit in such a fashion that it runs out of fuel and will have the highest battle order and ID# again the next turn, de-cloak a cloaker with high ID#, the possibilities are infinite…

For an in depth analysis of the NUK-Trap have a look on Donovans site, there is an excellent article concerning this.

[5.2 Mining
Lay webs, lots of them ! Everywhere !

Laying concentric minefields as Tholians: (snipped from Donovans hosthelp) Under normal circumstances, laying concentric minefields (centers of different minefields are on the exact same location) is impossible, unless a player lays mines in the identity of an ally. The Crystallines however have an “ability” to lay concentric minefields all by themselves. This ability holds true up to Host 3.22.025 and is considered a bug by Tim, so will likely be removed in more recent versions of Host. It is possible for the Crystallines to lay a webmine and a normal minefield centered on the exact same coordinates. So far, nothing special. Both the webmine and the normal minefield each get assigned a certain ID number. This too is perfectly normal. If however the minefield gets assigned a higher ID number than the webfield, any regular mines laid at the the same coordinates as both the minefield and the web will result in a new, concentric minefield. If the minefield has an ID lower than the webmines normal rules apply: extra mines are added to the minefield. The Crystals can use this “ability” to help their allies, too. This mechanic works not only with Crystalline webmines but with all webmines.

Countering counter-mining: The situation is as follows: You have got a really nice regular minefield, but you are unable to scoop it at the moment. Your opponent brought one of his own minelayers into your minefield, in order to lay some mines himself and blow your field up. Fortunately you have one of your own ships pretty close to his, with some torps left and by plain luck, your ship even has a lower id then your enemies. So what you do is to simply move the center of his minefield so far away from the center of your minefield that they wont overlap and blow up. This can be done by just dropping some of your own torps as enemy minefield (using a friendly code of miX (X being the other races’ number, a for Rebels and b for Colonies)) with your lower id ship. Then the enemy minelayer will lay its mines.But since its already inside an own minefield it will not make a new one but add mines to the existing one, which is too far away from your minefield to blow it up.

Lay lots of small webfields instead of only a few big ones.

Make use of how the host processes the turns. All mining stuff goes in order of ship ids, so you should try to have some low id ships that scoop up (web)minefields before your enemy can sweep them away.

Scoop your minefields wisely. Pretty often its better to just scoop a certain percentage of your field in order to get it away from an enemy ship using minesweep. This will save you a lot of torps and force your enemy to move and hit your webs if he wants to sweep them. Scooping a certain amount of torps can be achieved by filling up your cargo space will all sorts of junk (supplies, minerals, clans,etc.) and just leave one cargo space for every torp you want to scoop.

5.3 Addons

Since Donovan’s comment on this is quite good (as so often 😉 ) I will just paste it here: The absolute #1 favorite add-on for the Crystalline. Simply create your own ion storm where you want it. That is, on the border between you and your enemy. Once the storm is there, lay several small webs within the storm and then increase all of them in size. Use the Stormfront device to keep the storm in position, and your enemies will never see what drains them. Just be sure to put the Stormfront device on ships with fueltanks big enough to hold the fuel required to generate a storm, and preferably have some storms under your control before the universe is already blessed with the maximum number of storms. Basically, as soon as you can spare the resources and as soon as you can create a storm anywhere, make one. You can always make it disappear later, to make room for your other ion storm in a place where you need it. The Stormfront ship doesn’t have to be too strong, since it will be covered in webs all the time. It will never be in a battle, if you play it right.

Hmmm – nothing spectacular: On every planet with a base and Siliconoids you will get 10 [D] torps of your choice every turn. So for the cost of one starbase you get 540 mc plus 10 kt of every mineral for free every turn. But since Siliconoid worlds are not so common in the echo cluster (I would roughly say every 25th planet) (just like all other native planets), its more like a nice gift, but nothing decisive. The second feature is probably more useful: All the fuel being drained from enemy ships by webs (not by web-hits, but the 25 kts a ship loses when being inside a webfield) is distributed among all Tholian ships AND a message like “Minefield #138 has 1 non-Crystal ships inside it. All Crystal ships inside this minefield have received 25 tons of fuel.” will be sent to the Crystal player. Makes for a pretty nice cloaker “detection” (at least you know that there is something in your web and you know its losing 25 kts of fuel every turn 😉 ).

But there is a very fearsome combination (thanks for this tactics go to Akseli Mäki) in Raceplus: Webmines and the Gorbie Gravity Well Generator(GWG). Just lay some nice, overlapping webs (fourfold overlapping should be possible without a headache) and get the Gorbie to the middle of it. The best would be to have the Gorbie just appear the turn before the GWG will be used – so that the enemy has no chance of moving his ships out of range. Then, when you activate the GWG (which seems to happen in the Auxhost1 phase, so at the very beginning of the host-run) all ships (yours also) with a mass below 200 kts (so all freighters, all decent minelayers, all fighter-building ships, all terraformers and all cloakers except the Darkwing) will be pulled to the Gorbie AND their mission will be reset (so no cloaking, minelaying and NO MINESWEEPING) and their warp factor will be set to zero – just have some backup at the same spot as your Gorbie to deal with all those ships that had more than 100 kts of fuel.

This can be done a lot nastier: Needed: 3 GWG and 3 normal Gorbies. Or 3 towing ships that can have a lot of fuel, and a mass>200. Many webs, say 4 overlapping ones. At least 4. My (Tholian) ship(s) that ignore GWG. Meaning diamonds. Two would be fine. At least 6 enemy ships that are effected by GWG. Ok, maybe less enemy ships. The better ships, like meteors, the better for you. GWG ships and towers work as pairs. All ships are inside all webs. Center would be nice. Then first GWG activates, and is towed away the same turn. The rest of our ships are near, but not in the same place. Result: Enemy ships at the point, where GWG was activated. Inside 4 webs. No minesweep, no cloak, no warp. All enemy ships lose 100 fuel. No combat, because enemy ships can’t move, and GWG got towed away. At end of turn diamond(s) receive 4*(enemy ships)*25 fuel, minimum being 100. Diamond moves to same place as GWG1(and it’s tower). Then second GWG goes off. Diamond beams the received fuel to GWG1. Second GWG is towed away, enemy ships lose fuel. Diamond gets the fuel. Then the same with GWG3, after that GWG1 is active again (depends on the settings, range is 2-4 turns) and goes off. Repeat until all enemy ships are out of fuel. If more ships come, it’s only better. Only way for the enemy to prevent this is to come with big ships. Those should be dealt with Gorbies (if they come through the webs).

Starbase Plus:
Has its advantages and disadvantages for the Tholians: On the one hand, you can lay webs with your bases and scoop them with your ships further away, and you can also transfer money (does anyone use the ship part transportation via medium deeps????) from your richer bases to your poorer ones (which need at least 20 [D] points of tech (all tech-levels on your base added up), though) but on the other hand, enemy bases can sweep your webmines that cover the planet the base is on. If the host enables it (default seems to be “no”) even fighters from the bases will be able to sweep minefields within a certain range (up to 100 lys).

The Tholians (together with the Privateers probably) are the race profiting the most from Quadbenium jumps. Its always nice to jump 100 lys into enemy territory and lay webs the same turn. But be aware, that enemy minesweepers might also jump right into the middle of your webs and sweep the same turn ! Extra Moly delivered by the Asteroids is always welcome.

Again, Donovan’s comment was so good, I just copied it: Don’t lay webs overlapping your jumpgates or the ancient jumpgate. Ships arrive through jumpgates in auxhost2, then get to sweep webs the next turn before they are drained of any fuel. Instead, lay lots of small webs surrounding the jumpgates. If an enemy fleet arrives they can’t really go anywhere, and once they’re trapped you can increase the size of all webs so they become a four- or five-time overlapping web. The trick with jumpgates is to detect your enemy’s gate, and then jumping to it. Once you’re there, cover that gate (or at least the surrounding space) in webs. If he can’t depart through his own jumpgate, he’ll have a hard time moving ships around. Be careful though, there’s a good chance he has more than one gate so he can send ships from other gates (possibly even allied gates or the ancient jumpgate) to this jumpgate, in which case he’ll sweep your webs without any troubles.

Work in progress on:
Jupiter (Gryphon/Nemesis)

Not sure (no experience at all with Quadbenium jumps) about Asteroid, Unity, TKF and some others.

5.4 Things to come
-More add-ons will be valued for the Tholians (just playing my first two games with Jupiter)
-I am thinking about adding about a section about the different scoring methods and how they benefit the Crystals or not.


6.0 Conclusion

Hmm, everyone has his own ways of playing his game, and many people won’t master my tactics. After all this is no manual on how to play this game, but more of an inspiration, for both, newbies [I think intermediate would be better, newbies just won’t understand all of this with the basic stuff not being explained] and experts.

If there are at least 30 people showing interest, I might eventually add some examples as bmps, in order to display some different tactical situations and show the appropriate countermeasures. But mostly the reading of thick books about military tactics is sufficient. Since Planets is played only in 2D, also books that are a little bit older will do.

When I first played the Tholians two and a half years ago (before that I really liked to play fighter races) I had no idea that exactly this race, which was regarded as inferior at that time, is possibly one of the strongest races in the Echo Cluster when played right. In those days, I could join every game as the Tholians. Nobody wanted to play them. Today [3 years ago] I call myself lucky when I can take over some dropout in turn 50….

Playing the Tholian is not easy, and if you don’t take your time to analyze your tactical situation regularly, you will soon find yourself in a more or less hopeless situation. But if you like challenges, you can get the maximal entertainment out of it. Its not only the malicious grin, when the enemy MBR runs dry only 5 lys from the safety of web-free space, but also the honorable handshake you give to your opponent, after losing in a bloody war.

Let it be said: You can win with EVERY race [with some it’s just harder]. Planets is mainly just a sort of lottery, but with good game play you can minimize the luck factor.

Many thanks to the following Warriors:

Tim Wisseman
(For the invention of Planets, but honestly I would prefer a bug free host….)
Thore Schmechtig
(He suggested playing the Tholians to me)
Helmut Elit
(One of the mightiest Warriors)
Dietmar Schwill
(For the best trench war of my whole life)
Rainer Hjort
(The unchallenged master of subversive activity)
And also to everyone who had the “luck” to play in a game of Vpl, where I played the Tholians 🙂

[My thanks go to Thomas Klebes who brought VPL to me some 4 years ago, to Christoph Dörfler, who is my favourite ally and also programs nice tools and addons for me and to Armin Trott who runs Spaceport Hamburg, my favorite internet host.

Special greetings go to the Müller brothers, who are by far the worst VPL players I know.]

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