Strategy: The Privateers

By Benson Wong

Golden Rule for the Privateers
“If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.”

Table of Contents

Racial Advantages
Sneaky Tactics
Privateers and Cloakers
Mine fields
Loki’s in a Fleet
Rob After Combat

Racial Advantages

Rob enemy ships
3x “Kill Power” when using beam weapons
Cloaking ships
Tow Capture beam
Lady Royale gambling ship
Three ships with Gravitonic Accelerators


The Privateers are generally considered the “pests” of the Echo Cluster. It is a race that not many people may want to play. It is a patient, cunning race. It is a race that requires careful and creative approach. It is a race, if played correctly and executed precisely, that will bring the player a sense of pride and accomplishment.

The Pirates have many light weight ships that cannot withstand even a single mine hit. The Meteor Class Blockade Runner is a relatively inexpensive, but very useful ship. Its cloaking capability and spacious fuel tank is extremely useful for the Privateers’ ROB! mission. It is a good idea to put tech 5 or better beams (for mine sweeping) and Mark IV, or Mark VII torpedo tubes (for mines destroy mines) on the Meteors, as minefields are a part of every Privateer player’s life. I’ve been told that kill and explosive power of Mark VIIs and Mark VIIIs are roughly the same. Mark VII torpedoes are the most efficient for mine laying. The ROB! mission needs at least one beam in order to be executed. Build at least one beam of any type if megacredits or minerals are low.

The Privateers’ General follow these golden rules:

  1. ROB! Never fight! Never fight ship to ship.

  2. Mine sweep, mine sweep, mine sweep!

Why should the Privateers never fight? The answer is very simple: if you fight you will most likely lose the battle or you may risk having your Meteor captured. Fight only freighters, or if you are certain that victory is yours.


Because the Privateers’ gravitonic accelerator ships (BR4 Class Gunship, BR5 Kaye Class Torpedo Boat, and Meteor Class Blockade Runner) are able to travel at twice the distance, you should be able to colonize planets much quicker than other races. An experienced Privateers player will have about 50 planets by turn 25. You can expect to lose most of them from your attackers. The ideal condition is to expand your empire and wait for unsuspecting enemy fleets to waltz into your waiting Meteor wolf packs. This tactic helps to prevent you from losing your more valuable inner planets. To prevent being spotted on enemy radar, it is a good idea to cloak your Meteors if you are moving more than 162Ly, or if you have a freighter that is going more than 81Ly, tow it with your Meteors. The main point is to not let your enemy know about your valuable planets. An approaching fleet with a will to destroy is harder to ROB!. The Privateers do a good job of staying out of sight for most of the game. During your quest, you should discover your neighbors quicker than they can. Contact them and offer them an alliance. The Privateers do not fare well by themselves, but do well in an alliance. Each race has its own pros and cons.

  • The Feds offer you protection with their many torp ships. By allying yourself with them, you also terminate the threat of having them defeat you soundly. Their Loki’s make it very hard for you to successfully ROB! their ships. Their terraformers will come into good use. In return, you can offer the Feds enemy locations and your Meteors. A Fed-owned Meteor is immune to Loki’s (unfortunately, not to Glory Devices).

  • The Lizards can defeat you soundly, too. The 30:1 ground assault, especially executed from Lizard Class Cruisers (which will most likely be cloaked) is deadly. If he becomes your nemesis, you can expect lose most of your planets from ground assaults (unless “Robbed Cloaked Ships” is allowed by HCONFIG.EXE). The Loki will make life for you miserable. He can either accept or refuse your hand of friendship. The only thing the Lizards would want from you is the Meteors. With them, he can ground assault his enemies faster (as Meteors travel 162Ly in one month).

  • The Birdmen do well without the Privateers as allies, unless “Robbed Cloaked Ships” is allowed by HCONFIG.EXE.

  • The Fascists also do well without the Privateers as allies, unless “Robbed Cloaked Ships” is allowed by HCONFIG.EXE. Their Glory Devices are the Pirates’ worst nightmare (1 Glory Device explosion is the same as 1 mine hit).

  • The Cyborg may most likely accept the Privateers’ offer of alliance, as they are weak during the first 25-30 turns of the game. The Privateers will be able to defeat the Cyborg easily. By accepting the Pirates’ alliance, the Cyborg rid themselves of a threat and also gain scouting information. The Pirates may obtain Cyborg ships with larger fuel tanks. It is hard to tell whether a Privateer ship has fuel or not.

  • The Crystalline can single-handedly defeat the Privateers. Their web mines are virtually unstoppable (Privateer ships do not have too many beams) and extremely troublesome. To sweep a web mine, you must be in one. Web drain occurs before movement, so it is possible to move into the web one turn, then set the ship’s mission to sweep it the next. Overlapping web mines have a cumulative draining effect. You can benefit the Crystalline by supplying cloakers to him so that he can do his dirty work.

  • The Evil Empire will have a hard time fighting the Privateers. They would probably much rather be your ally than your nemesis. Evil Empire ships have small fuel tanks and are easier to ROB! In addition, the only torpedo ship he has is the Super Star Frigate. Offer him your Meteors in exchange for Super Star Destroyers and Dark Sense Messages.

  • The Robots will not have a particularly hard time fighting the Pirates. The Robots’ 4X mine laying is a formidable challenge against the Pirates. If the Pirates are able to convince the Robots to be their allies, it would be good, as 4X mine laying will help to destroy your enemy’s mine fields.

  • The Rebels’ “Rebel Ground Assault” mission is hard to execute without any cloakers. By giving the Rebels a Meteor, you can effectively destroy your enemies. The Rebels themselves will have a hard time fighting the Privateers. The Pirates can provide reconnaissance and tow cheap Rushes into battle. The two races benefit each other in an alliance.

  • As with all non-cloaking races, the Colonies will gladly accept the Privateers’ hand of friendship. The Colonies have large fuel tanks which should benefit the Pirates greatly. The Pirates can provide reconnaissance and tow cheap Virgos into battle. By working together, both races have a lot to gain and very little to lose.

Sneaky Tactics

Cloaking races escape the Privateers’ ROB! mission by just activating their ships’ cloaking devices (assuming “ROB cloaked ships” is off). These tactics are for non-cloaking races, though cloaking races have been known (or seen) flying around without taking advantage of the fact that they can cloak. Here are some of the Privateers’ favorite tactics to use against their enemies:

  • The Sacrificial Lamb tactic for non-cloaking enemies (your enemy must be somewhat experienced or stupid to be the victim of this trick)—Leave an unfueled Meteor visible in deep space. Maliciously in the same point in space, you have enough Meteors waiting to rob the victim. He intercepts and tries to attack the Meteor (unfueled ships do not fight fueled ships). Set your Meteors to ROB! all his fuel and tow the same turn. Move away from that point in space, as he may try to send some reinforcements to rescue his ship or toast yours. Alternatively, sent in some more cloaked Meteors to ROB! those ships. If you succeed in draining ships of their fuel, they may not lay mines (ROB! occurs before mine laying mission). If your enemy is capable of cloak, he will move in cloaked and try to tow your ship away to his starbase. If you intercept and try to fight him, you risk losing your Meteors.

  • The wolfpack tactic (for non-cloaking enemies)—Wait cloaked for the approaching enemy at your planet. Make sure it is a worthless planet, as his Primary Enemy will always be set to Privateers.  He has nothing to lose by setting his Primary Enemy setting 100 per cent of the time.  If your enemy is a veteran, he will beam down all fuel to the planet below and use the BEAM UP FUEL in order to deter your ROB! mission.  One way to defeat this strategy is to have ships with lower IDs than your target at the planet with BEAM UP FUEL, as BEAM UP FUEL starts from lowest ID ships first.  Make sure you have enough ships to beam up the fuel he just beamed down.  One way to estimate the amount of fuel is to look at the starship’s mass (fuel + beams + torps_tubes + torps + cargo + hull_mass= total_mass].  After you beam up the fuel that your enemy just beamed down, ROB! him, too.  This step is a failsafe in case meteor showers impact the planet with Neutronium.  The final step is to tow-capture.

  • The Privateers-Super Star Destroyer tactic (for planets)—Tow an unfueled Super Star Destroyer with 10 or more colonists on board to an enemy planet of your choice (starbase in orbit preferably). Make sure your Meteor runs out of fuel just when it gets to the planet (Make sure the trip is only one month. Space travel involving two or more months will report possibly incorrect fuel usage.). Accompany these two ships with another fully fueled and cloaked Meteor. The Meteor-Super Star Destroyer arrives at the planet without fighting any battles. Transfer some fuel to the Super Star Destroyer and drop down 10 colonists from the SSD. Just in case your foe comes in with reinforcements to retake his starbase (it is really futile since the only colonists left on the planet will be your 10 colonists), set your SSD to warp 1 and fly 3Ly within the gravity well. Leave the two Meteors “as-is” so you can hopefully ROB! those enemy ships as well.
    *Make sure the friendly codes of your ships are not “NUK, ATT, or mkt”, as these are favorite ways to force unsuspecting cloakers to surrender.

  • The Privateers-Glory Device tactic (for planets and any kinds ships)—Tow a glory device(not owned by you so that the Meteor will be destroyed in the blast) to an enemy planet. Set the glory device to “pop”. When the glory device arrives at the planet, it will explode, causing planetary damage and killing off a number of his colonists and natives. Any ships in orbit will also be damaged or destroyed. In addition, your Meteor* will be destroyed, reducing the risk of losing it to the enemy.
    *You may use any gravitonic accelerator ship, in order to ensure total surprise, for this tactic.

By completely robbing a ship of its fuel, you are depriving your enemy many functions, primarily being able to engage in battle. The ROB! mission occurs before the BEAM UP FUEL mission (ships do not need fuel for this mission). Your enemy, if he is smart, will attack the planet, always.  This serves two functions: 1. He can use the planet to beam down fuel, then beam up fuel after the ROB! mission takes place; 2. Even if you beam down colonists to take over his planet, he will know the friendly code of the planet and can still beam up fuel by matching friendly codes.

Ships cannot perform cargo beam up/beam down missions to enemy planets if they do not have fuel. Your enemy cannot save his ship by having a cloaked ship transfer fuel to the ship that is about to be robbed, as ROB! occurs after cargo transfers between owned ships and planets.

Privateers and Cloakers

The Privateers do not do well when their neighbors are cloakers. When their neighbors are the Fascists or Lizards, the Privateers can expect to do little or no damage. Fighting the Fascists is as bad as fighting the Feds, Lizards, or Crystalline. Not only do you have to deal with his mines, but also his glory device ships. A common tactic cloaking races use against glory device ships is to send in relatively inexpensive and poor ships to trigger these glory device, then move in with the good ships. Even then, you may not do any damage to the Fascists, as you cannot ROB! his cloaked ships. If you can strike an alliance with the Fascists, get a hold of the D7 Coldpains, as they have large fuel tanks. If the Fascists do not want to be allies, try to be friends with another neighbor. Together, you will be stronger.

Mine fields

Remember that most Privateer ships cannot withstand even one mine hit. Because most of your fleet will comprise of Meteor Blockade Runners, hitting one single mine will destroy it. What this means is that your ships should be on “Mine sweep” mission whenever possible. What this also means is that your ships should have good beams and torpedo tubes, too. Good beams sweep more mines per one turn. Laying mines with good torpedo tubes can lay waste to mine fields, too. If you must move out of the mine field, at least try to reduce the number of mine field radius around you and cloak when you fly out. Some player build Dwarfstars Class Transport (this ship can cloak and has more beams than other Privateer ships) with good beams, such as Heavy Blasters or Phrasers for minesweeping purposes, only. If you have the Robots for allies, do not hesitate to ask him to lay numerous mines over your enemy’s mine fields. If you have the Colonies for allies, strategically position Sagittarius Class Transport or Gemini Class Transport ships at various places in order to sweep enemy mines. You do not need to wait for the Colonies to put fighters on board before coming to you. With the newest HOST v3.22.014, he can use friendly code “lfm” to beam up materials from your planet to construct fighters (assuming ffX has been set).

Lokis in a Fleet

Lokis in a fleet provide protection from cloakers. Nevertheless, it is possible to take out Lokis, leaving that fleet hapless so that your Meteors may ROB! them. The Intercept attack is ideal in this situation. If you ship has a cloaking device and Primary Enemy set and intercepts a ship, your ship will fight that ship regardless of all other enemy ships. This is a good feature of cloakers. To intercept a ship, you must know the target ship’s ID number and the target must stay in sight for the duration of the interception. Do not use Meteors to intercept Lokis, unless you know you can win and not fight other ships afterwards. If you must use Meteors, make sure it is destroyed so your enemy will not have a tactical advantage.  After the 500 ship limit, however, you need not worry about him cloning it, only using it for malicious purposes, such as spying or ground assaults.

Rob After Combat

Sometimes, your enemy will attack your planets fearlessly, hoping to destroy your starbases without planet-hopping. In those cases, you cannot ROB! his enemy fleet before he attacks you. The only thing you can hope to do is to ROB! him the following turn. Unfortunately, he may counteract against this. For example, a Colonial Virgo just destroyed your starbase. You have enough Meteors in orbit with the Virgo to ROB! it before it can leave. The Colonies figure you may do this, too. He empties his Virgo fuel tanks so that you will have nothing to ROB! next turn. He also sets the Virgo’s mission to BEAM UP FUEL, knowing that BEAM UP FUEL takes place after the ROB! mission. He can beam up fuel from HIS planet and leave. You can attempt to drop down colonists and retake the planet, but chances are that he thought of this, too, and set his Virgo’s friendly code to match the friendly code of the planet in case this does happen so that he may still BEAM UP FUEL and leave. A more devastating approach for him would be to leave his Virgo on the planet and fight your MBRs, though a good Pirate often moves his MBRs away after the ROB! mission in case something does goes wrong.

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