Strategy: The Empire Probe Gambit
By Donald L. Worrell
Early in a game the Empires most deadly weapon is the PL-21 probe. The first mission for the probes is to seek out and find all enemy starbase’s using the Dark Sense. After this is accomplished the PL-21 can then be turned into one of the most feared weapons in the game. With your probes in enemy space you can see and know all. You can get a turn by turn report of what new planets the enemy colonies. This is important because you want your probes to be able to move about freely with out fear of the enemy.
Lets say you have the Robots for a neighbor. Early in the game say on the second turn you had sent a PL-21 probe out and it reported the presence of the Robots to your east. The Dark Sense will tell you were his Homeworld is and what other planets he holds. Since it is turn two the dark sense should have informed you of all of the Robots planets. With this PL-21 probe in the area with mission set to dark sense each turn from now on you will get a dark sense report of the Robots colonization efforts. You will now send a second PL-21 probe into the Robots area . These probes will take over a planet were they can stay hidden from the enemy. You will now lie in wait for the enemy to send out a freighter.
With the PL-21s on station when the enemy sends a freighter into open space you will be able to plan to meet it at its destination. Just watch the enemies expansion and go after the enemies freighters when ever they appear un-escorted. You should be able to tell which planet the enemy is moving the freighter to because they will not be worried about losing the freighters in there own back yard. But once you pick the planet that the freighter is moving to, then draw a hyper warp circle around it. Then draw hyper circles around your probes. If you are lucky you might have a probe in position to meet the freighter at the planet it is moving to. If you can do this with enemy FC set you have just captured a freighter. If you have to take two turns to get there that will work as well. The freighter will move to the planet, then the next turn it will have to drop clans to take possession of the planet. You probe will arrive on the second turn capture the freighter and attack the planet. But since you have the dark sense you will know that the planet was unoccupied so there will be no defense post to worry about.
That’s the basic tactics. Just watch the enemies expansion and go after the enemies freighters when every they appear un-escorted. Remember that you should know every planet the enemy has and how long they have been held. How long they have been held will let you guess whether they have built defense posts or not. So in closing the Empire probes should rule the galaxy at the beginning of the game. If you can force the enemy to escort all their freighters you will slow down there growth. That in it self will make the Empire probe gambit a success. If you can capture a couple of LDSF that would be icing on the cake.