Strategy: The Lost Colonies of Man
The Lost Colonies are unique among the eleven races in VGA Planets. They don’t have cloaking devices or warp chunnels, and their special ability is considerably less exciting than web mines or pillaging. They don’t have that “special something” that the other races have. The thing that makes the Colonies special is good old fashioned firepower. If you’re the kind of emperor who likes to send their fleets thundering through enemy space, obliterating everything in their path, the Colonies are for you.
Most of the general strategies that apply to the other races apply to the Colonies. You will need to build up a large economy, scout extensively, avoid two-front wars, and so on.
You will need larger-than-normal quantities of tritanium and molybdenum for building fighters. However, you will have an easier time with money and fuel than most other races.
A quick note before I continue: the advice given on this page assumes the game is being played with a reasonably recent host (around 3.22.05 or later) which uses all the newfangled toys such as bioscanners and fuel scoopers.
The Colonies have one of the largest fleets of useful ships in the game. They also have one or two ships which you should AVOID building at all costs. Naturally, the useful ships get listed first. 🙂
Cobol Class Research Cruiser
This is a ship you definitely should build. Build two or three, with Transwarp engines, as early as you can. With the possible exception of the Meteor (duh) the Cobol is the ultimate colony ship. Because it has fuel-scoopers, you can load it down with colonists and supplies and toss it off into space without ever worrying about fuel. You also don’t face the risk of causing a fuel shortage on your homeworld in an attempt to get colony ships out (believe me, it does happen!). Additionally, the ship’s bioscanners will allow you to find the best planets faster. With the ability to travel long distances and locate native populations, you’ll be able to get more good colonies sooner than anyone else in the game. (For colonizing, I personally prefer the Cobol over the both the Falcon and the Meteor!)
Once the initial wave of colonization is complete, the Cobol remains useful as a fuel-free transport and courier. You may wish to put a high-end torpedo launcher on your Cobols for dropping minefields later in the game. Aside from that, don’t worry about weapons. You’ll want to keep your Cobols away from fights.
Cygnus Class Destroyer
The Cygnus is pretty flimsy, but its four torpedo launchers give it a lot of punch. The Cygnus is most effective against scouts and beam-armed light cruisers such as the Cyborg B222 or the Crystalline Garnet. When you need a torpedo ship, the Cygnus will do nicely. Use it for escort duty, knife fights against other small ships, and for attacking poorly-defended border worlds. Also, you can arm it with Gamma torpedoes and disruptors to make concerted capture attempts against enemy ships.
Aries Class Transport
The Aries is an improved Neutronic Refinery Ship. It turns minerals into fuel on a unit-for-unit basis–but doesn’t need supplies. It’s also very cheap. Stick a Transwarp engine on it and send it wherever you would normally need a refinery ship. Send an Aries to the front lines if your warships are short on fuel. As you capture enemy planets, use the Aries to convert captured minerals into more fuel for your fleets–or simply use the Aries to “burn up” the minerals so your enemy can’t use them if they recapture the planet. Be sure to protect the Aries so it doesn’t get captured.
Neutronic Fuel Carrier
I include the NFC for technical reasons; it is a useful ship, after all. 🙂 Use it to move large amounts of fuel–or put one (1) unit of fuel in the tank and use it as a fuel-free money transport.
Again, included for technical reasons. Stick with the Large Deep Space Freighter and Super Transport Freighter.
Saggitarius Class Transport
Although it has a little less cargo space than the Gemini class transport, the Saggitarius is still handy; if you set its friendly code to “lfm” (to have it build fighters automatically), it will build 30 fighters in one turn–exactly the right number for a Patriot class light carrier. Not a devastating strategy, but a convenient one. If the Race Plus add-on is being used, you’ll need the Saggitarius to perform your special ability (long range robbery).
Lady Royale Gambling Ship
The Lady Royale is very handy if you need more money–but only then. It takes minerals to build one, and you’ll need to build several before the added cash really has an impact. The added income from a Lady Royale is only supplementary; it will not by any means replace a large empire with lots of tax-paying citizens. Build them, by all means, but don’t depend on them. Put cheap engines on your Lady Royales, and don’t bother with weapons. The LR is a poor warship, and its large fuel tank is useless when you consider that the Cobol has fuel scoopers and a larger cargo bay.
Gemini Class Transport
The Gemini is best-used for building fighters. You can either leave the Gemini sitting at your shipyard, and bring the raw materials to the Gemini, or (if you want to save fuel and aren’t in a hurry), you can send the Gemini foraging around your smaller colonies for the materials it needs. For the purpose of moving cargo, the larger transport ships will give you better fuel economy than the Gemini.
In a heavy fight, you may want to have a Gemini or two just behind the front lines to bring new fighters to your warships; the Patriot doesn’t have the cargo space to build fighters quickly, and a Virgo class Battlestar has more important things to do (i.e. killing people) than sit around building fighters for the rest of your fleet. You can build the fighters at home and ferry them to the front, or scavenge fighter-building materials from planets conquered by your fleets. Don’t let a Gemini get pasted with 400 fighters aboard. 🙂
If you like taking risks (or just doing strange things with your ships), a full load of 400 fighters makes the Gemini very good for long-range minesweeping. However, if there’s an enemy minefield within 100 light-years, it’s likely there are also enemy SHIPS within 100 light-years. If you lose a Gemini this way, don’t complain to me–I’ve got lawyers. 🙂
Patriot Class Light Carrier
If you’re wondering why I did the ships out of order and saved the Patriot for second-last, here’s why: the Patriot is the second-best ship in your fleet. Build lots of them. Build CLOUDS of them. And then build a few more, for good measure. Your opponents will hate you for it!
The Patriot is cheap and effective. With its six fighter bays, it can get its entire cargo of fighters out very quickly, and that makes it very deadly. A single Patriot can take out almost any other medium-sized ship (as well as planets that don’t have starbases) with little trouble. However, beam-heavy battle cruisers such as the Emerald or Iron Lady will give a Patriot problems, and against battleships, a Patriot has no chance.
Tactical advantage, however, is what really makes the Patriot the vicious little bastard that it is. A large battleship or carrier is expensive; your opponent won’t have many of them, and they can’t be everywhere at once. Four battleships can only protect four planets. When twelve Patriots are on the attack, hitting twelve planets at once, they are very difficult to stop. This will be discussed in more detail later.
Virgo Class Battlestar
This fearsome vessel isn’t only the best warship in your entire armada (MAJOR duh), it’s also, quite probably, the best warship in the entire game. With eight fighter bays, the Virgo can launch fighters almost as fast as a Gorbie, Biocide, or any other large carrier, allowing a Virgo to go nose-to-nose with the best of them. The Virgo is also one of the cheapest big ships in terms of minerals. Most importantly of all, the Virgo has a cool picture. 🙂
The design of your Battlestars will depend on their overall mission. Dedicated defensive Battlestars (i.e. the ones that will sit over your best planets) should get cheap engines because they’ll spend most of the game in one place. Front-line Battlestars should receive the best engines you can afford, especially if you plan on fighting torpedo-armed battleships. If you wish to save some resources, you can have one Battlestar with T-warp engines towing a second Battlestar with Mark-I engines. If you set your friendly codes so the Battlestar with cheap engines attacks first, you won’t run the risk of the cheap Battlestar getting stranded. Virgos should always be armed with ten lasers, unless you’re fighting the Crystals. (If you feel the extra firepower will help, try ten positron beams; if the Virgo gets in a beam shot on an enemy ship, positron bolts will do a little more damage).
Special trick: to send a Virgo class Battlestar a long distance without worrying about fuel, have a Virgo and a Cobol fly together (do NOT have one ship tow the other; towing or being towed disables the Cobol’s fuel scoops). There’s a balance point (depending on the total mass of the two ships) where the Cobol scoops as much fuel as the two ships burn–so the two ships can travel as far as they like, without ever running out of fuel. An enemy that possesses cloaking technology may attempt to strand your Virgo by using a cloak-intercept attack to destroy the Cobol. If this possibility exists, you can protect the Cobol by emptying its fuel tank and having the Virgo tow it.
(Federal HQ note: in current host versions the Cobol will scoop fuel while towing too)
Worthless Ships: Taurus, Little Joe, Tranquility, Scorpius, Medium Freighter
These ships can’t do anything that some other ship can’t do better.
The Taurus is a clumsy scout (build the Cobol instead).
The Tranquility actually isn’t all that bad; it can destroy most other light cruisers because of its larger mass, but a Patriot can do the same job. The Tranquility goes in that “mediocre” category.
The Scorpius has only two fighter bays, making it almost useless in a battle (again, a Patriot is more effective). .
The Little Joe can be armed with heavy phasers and used as a dedicated minesweeper (possibly useful against the Crystals). The LJ can also be armed with lasers and used for shooting the fighters off large carriers if you’re desperate. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Medium Freighter: The Cobol has more cargo space than a medium freighter and uses less fuel. Only build MDSFs if you really need a colony ship and you’re desparately short on minerals. If the Starbase+ add-on is being used, you’ll need MDSFs to transport starship parts.
Ships to AVOID
Iron Lady Class Frigate
I have caught many an unwary opponent building this sucker. It has reasonable weaponry, but it’s undercrewed; when attacked by torpedoes, the Iron Lady usually runs out of crew before it runs out of hull, and gets captured. Build a Cygnus or a Tranquility instead.
Neutronic Refinery Ship
Since you have the Aries, which is more efficient and MUCH cheaper, the only reason to build a Neutronic Refinery Ship is if you’re completely insane.
Meeting Your Neighbors
Aside from avoiding a war on two fronts (or twelve….), who you make alliances with is mostly a matter of convenience. Your minesweeping and fighter-building abilities make fairly useful bargaining chips in negotiations.
Your long-range minesweeping ability would be especially valuable to the Privateers, since they tend to run into minefields a lot. 🙂 Think of a fleet of cloaked MBR’s heading into Borg space, with a Virgo just behind, sweeping minefields aside with its fighters, and you’ll see the kind of horrors a Colonial/Pirate alliance can inflict. Such an alliance requires some honesty on the part of the Pirates, because your ships can only perform long-range minesweeping if YOU own them. However, don’t send a Virgo to minesweep for the Pirates. Send a Gemini. That way you’ll be preventing the Pirates from gaining a carrier if they backstab you…. 🙂
If you wish to exchange ships with another race, your Cobol, Aries, and Lady Royale designs will make good trades. They are useful to almost all the other races–and best of all, if the ally to whom you give the ship turns on you, the ship you gave won’t present the kind of military threat that a cloaker does….
The Cobol and Lady Royale are of reduced value to the Feds. However, they will probably want an Aries. They will also value neutronic fuel carriers, since their default fleet doesn’t have one and because their ships generally have small fuel tanks. They may also want Virgos to round out their battle fleet. In exchange, they can offer Terraforming ships, Missouri or Nova battleships to round out YOUR battle fleet (torpedo battleships are good for softening up big carriers such as the Gorbie), and the Loki anti-cloaker…. 🙂
The Lizards may wish to acquire some Battlestars (which become considerably more dangerous when they get the Lizards’ 50% hull strength bonus). They can offer Terraformers (though they don’t have the one that warms cold planets), cloakers, and Lokis. They can also send ships to HISS at one of your tax-paying planets so you can over-tax that planet.
The Borg don’t have much to offer except the Firecloud. Your fighter-building ability may be useful to them, but since they usually have huge populations, they won’t have much trouble getting the money to build their own fighters. “Phaser diplomacy” (i.e. “the best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank”) may be effective; if the Borg are unwilling to trade you a Firecloud, the threat presented by a dozen incoming Patriots will probably help to change their position….
The Crystals are a special case; they are one of the worst races for the Colonials to fight. There are a couple of special offers you can make in order to win their friendship: Send a Gemini to their space to build fighters for them; the Crystals will need fighters for their Crystal Thunder class carriers. The Crystals can’t clone captured ships; perhaps you could clone captured MBR’s for them? (Naturally, they won’t mind if you make an extra copy for yourself….)
Destroying Your Neighbors
At long last, the section you were really looking for. 🙂
If the players’ starting homeworlds are close together (i.e. within medium range), DON’T allow your first few ships to be seen if there’s any way you can avoid it. Don’t give away the exact location of your homeworld on the second turn of the game!
Bring your starbase’s engine tech to maximum and build some Cobols with T-Warp engines. Load them to the rim with colonists, and fling them out in all directions. Use your bioscanners. COLONIZE AGGRESSIVELY. The Cobol will give you an early edge on most of the other races; use it. When you move, employ the standard tricks: stay hidden at planets when you can; don’t give your course away when you DO show yourself; drop single clans on lots of worlds to use as observation posts. The Cobols will scoop their way up to full fuel tanks pretty quickly; drop caches of fuel at places you’re likely to return to later.
If the threat of attack exists early on (i.e. if the players’ homeworlds are close together) build a Saggitarius or Gemini. If and when that early attack does come, it will almost certainly consist of small ships; build some Patriots, and use the Saggitarius/Gemini to build fighters (the Patriot alone would only be able to build three fighters per turn; if you need fighters quickly, your only other choice would be to BUY them at the starbase!) If that early attack doesn’t come (or until it does), you can use the Sag/Gem for cargo hauling.
You may wish to consider building a Merlin early, so you can use supplies to produce whichever minerals you’re short of at any given time. Of course, the construction of the Merlin itself could cause a mineral shortage, so this is a judgement call.
Finally, if you locate your neighbors early and your economy is building up well, be prepared for the chance to build a swarm of Patriots and slaughter somebody.
The above is exactly what happened in my last game as the Colonies (well, actually my ONLY game as the Colonies). My scouts (i.e. Cobols) stumbled across the Borg at about turn ten in the game. I decided to hit them early, and hit them hard. No particular reason; they actually had fewer planets than I did, at a point in the game when the reverse is usually true. I guess I was just in that “wholesale planetary slaughter” mood. 🙂
Four turns later, I had three Patriots in his space, hitting three planets at a time. The Borg had only a B222 destroyer and a couple of Fireclouds for defense; I destroyed those ships, plus a couple of freighters, and captured several planets. My losses consisted of one Patriot, destroyed by a hastily-built Annihilator. A couple of turns later, four more Patriots joined the attack. This is how I discovered the lethal potential of the Patriot; my Patriots could destroy any Borg ship smaller than a cube, and they outnumbered his cubes (all two of them). I avoided his big ships, attacking wherever the cubes weren’t, slicing his economy to ribbons. Two Virgos arrived, destroyed both cubes and his homeworld, and that was that.
Some basic rules to observe when performing a Patriot swarm: DO NOT move all your Patriots as a pack. If you do, one enemy battleship or a starbase (if your fleet stumbles across a planet defended by one) will eat your entire pack for breakfast. The whole idea behind a swarm is to overload the enemy’s defenses so you can get PAST them. Your goal is to capture planets, kill planetary populations, incite natives to riot by raising taxes to 100%, and destroy mines and factories. So keep your Patriots apart, hitting several planets at the same time. Avoid the strong points and hit the weak ones. Individual Patriots should retreat if they take damage or lose too many fighters.
If you’re facing ships with lots of beams, include some Cygnuses (or is it Cygni?) in your swarm. A Cygnus can stay in a battle area longer before having to retreat to rearm.
Once you’ve got the standard “great big economy” going, you have several choices. All of them are pretty good ones. I’m assuming you’ve found somebody to attack at this point; after all, that’s the whole point of the game. 🙂
Your first choice is larger Patriot swarms. You can now churn out these little buzzbombs in greater numbers. However, this will be riskier. Your enemies will have had time to build more starbases and medium (or large) ships that can defend effectively against Patriots.
Second (and better) is a standard offensive, using a balanced fleet of Patriots, Cygnus destroyers, Virgos, minefields, etc. The basic idea is similar to a Patriot swarm: the Patriots and Cygnuses (Cygni?) avoid strong points and attack weak points; the Virgos destroy strong points. Your Battlestars should be armed with lasers (unless you’re fighting the Crystals) because you can use fighters to minesweep. Keep your Virgos together; enemy capital ships will take heavier losses fighting against stacked Virgos than the same number of separate Virgos (put groups of battleships up against single and grouped Virgos in a practice game, and watch the kill ratios). Feel free to attack enemy heavy carriers head-on; your Battlestars can give a tough fight to any other ship in the game, and if they’re armed with lasers, they’re cheaper than the full-bore carriers such as Gorbies. Again, keep your Battlestars grouped.
Third option: If you only have one front and lots of resources, you might choose to dispense with strategy altogether and go for brute force. The Virgo class Battlestar is a highly economical heavy carrier; build lots of them, armed with cheap beam weapons, move them out as one great big pack, and eat your opponent for breakfast one planet at a time. I know a war of attrition is inelegant–but it DOES work if you can rely on not getting attacked from another direction.
Fourth is defense. Your firepower will work equally well on the defensive. Patriots and Battlestars are your key defensive ships. Given the choice, use Virgos instead of starbases to defend your planets. Use minefields liberally; this will force your enemy to equip at least some of their ships with more expensive beam weapons. Getting money for high-end torpedoes to drop minefields shouldn’t be a problem.
Consider building some Cygnuses (Cygni?) armed with disruptors and Gamma torpedoes, in case the opportunity arises to capture a crippled enemy ship (example: a Resolute that takes enough damage to disable its cloaking device).
Whichever of the above options you use, one thing always holds true: you’ll never have to worry about enemy minefields. Your special ability, using your fighters to sweep mines at long range, is more useful than it might appear….
When performing an offensive, any carrier that doesn’t need the Mission slot for something else should be scanning for mines. With a hundred light-years of leeway for minesweeping, many of your ships should be able to destroy enemy mines without passing up the chance to attack an enemy planet. Always make the effort to sweep minefields; it either forces your opponent to drop more minefields (wasting resources) or gives you free run of your opponent’s space.
Beating the Privateers
No strategy guide would be complete without a special section on how to beat everyone’s least favorite race. 🙂
Unfortunately, the Colonies are rather poorly suited for taking on the Pirates; they don’t have any special tricks such as anti-cloaking fields or Glory Devices. The general anti-Privateer guidelines hold for the Colonies: don’t fly in straight lines; don’t orbit a planet if there’s a risk of robbery; drop minefields (lots of small minefields will be more effective than a few large fields).
If you can get a Loki from the Feds or Lizards, your situation changes. One Loki and one Battlestar will completely protect a valued planet from anything the Pirates throw at you.
Of course, the best anti-Privateer strategy is to destroy them. Okay, so you think I’m crazy. Trust me on this: a brute-force offensive against the Pirates CAN work if you do it right. I speak to you as one who has played the Privateers and found myself on the receiving end of two such offensives. 🙂
Patriot swarms will work reasonably well against them; the only ships in the Privateer fleet which stand a chance against a Patriot are the Meteor and the Bloodfang (battle odds are about 50/50 against either ship). Most of the Patriots you send against the Privateers will be lost; those that aren’t destroyed in battle will probably get robbed. Your goal with Patriots is to force the Privateers into a defensive frame of mind and do long-term economic damage (i.e. aim at Privateer PLANETS, not at their fleets).
A Virgo class Battlestar is another matter entirely. The Privateers have absolutely nothing in their entire fleet (except robbery) that can stop a Virgo. Even a fully-loaded Bloodfang carrier has no chance against your mighty Battlestars; the Virgo will destroy the Bloodfang, usually without even taking a single shield hit, and will lose only thirty or forty fighters in the process. If you launch a Virgo against the Privateers, it WILL NOT BE STOPPED until it reaches its target planet.
The Privateers probably won’t try to stop your Battlestars with force (unless they’ve captured a large number of Gorbies). They will wait for a chance to rob you. They will have cloaked ships in orbit around planets, waiting for you to step into orbit. Once you do, their most likely tactic will be to tow you off the planet, to a point in nearby empty space where a small group of cloaked MBR’s are waiting to rob your fuel tank dry.
Now, if you can avoid getting snagged in the first place, your losses will be considerably lower. As your fleet moves into Privateer space, don’t telegraph your intentions. Vary your course. Keep the Pirates guessing as to where your real target will be. That way, they won’t be able to put all their cloaked ships in position to snag your entire fleet at once. You will lose ships, but you WILL destroy Privateer planets.
If the score table shows that the Privateers are running low on ships, you may be able to risk a full-scale frontal assault. It takes several Pirate ships to steal one of your Virgos; if you can hit them in several places at once, they won’t have enough ships to defend themselves. Once again, the idea is to overload the enemy’s defenses.
Beating the Crystals
Attacking the Crystals calls for different strategies, since your racial ability is useless against Crystal web mines (with default host settings, anyway). You will need to adapt your strategy accordingly.
You’ll need ships with high-end beam weapons for minesweeping. Web minefields cost a lot of money (which is something the Crystals are almost always short of) and sweeping web mines IS worth the effort.
Patriots will NOT work here; the Crystals don’t have to build large ships to beat your Patriot swarm. They can simply dump a bunch of web mines and wait for your Patriots to get tangled up in them–and the Patriot doesn’t have a very large fuel tank….
To destroy your Battlestars, the Crystals will most likely use Diamond Flame battleships, Crystal Thunder carriers, or both in combination. A Diamond Flame followed by a Crystal Thunder is bad news. Keeping several Virgos together will maximize losses to the Crystals–which is very important because their ships are expensive. Try to figure out from long-range scans and Crystalline starship traffic where the Crystals’ best planets are. A planet that doesn’t show up on a long-range scan may be uninhabited–or it MAY have a large number of defense posts on it. A large web minefield centered exactly on a particular planet is an almost sure giveaway that the planet is valued by the Crystals.
When your fleet moves through a web minefield, individual ships will get stopped at different locations depending on exactly when they hit a web mine; this will break up your fleet, making it more vulnerable. Move your fleet a few light-years at a time in order to keep it together, and sweep mines all the way. Have a large fuel reserve for your ships. Have some of your Battlestars tow others (towed ships can’t get hit by web mines), and put most of your fuel on the TOWED ships. That way, if the tower hits a web mine, it will lose less fuel (merely being IN a web minefield drains you 25 kt’s, but actually COLLIDING WITH a web mine drains a full one-sixth of your fuel tank, or at least 50 kt’s, whichever is greater. A ship that has more fuel ,LOSES more fuel).
Your most important weapon against the Crystals is: PATIENCE.
In the end, your best bet against the Crystals is probably to avoid fighting them. Every race in VGA Planets has a “worst enemy”, and the Crystals are a good candidate as the worst enemy of the Colonies.
The Lost Colonies aren’t for everybody. Many players enjoy a degree of finesse, sneakiness, and cheap tricks. I am personally no exception. However, wholesale destruction on an interplanetary scale is also lots of fun. On that note–quit reading this page, and go slaughter somebody!!! 🙂
The information disclosed heretofore shall not be construed by any entity to constitute a certain guarantee of victory. The reader shall employ said information at his or her own risk. By reading this page, the reader further agrees not to hold the author or webmaster liable for any losses incurred as a result of employing said information, be those losses money, property, sanity, pride, hair, or an entire interplanetary empire. If the reader does not agree to all terms of this disclaimer, you’re screwed, because you’ve already read it!