VGA Planets Super Site

The Borg: Collective Strategies
by Shaun "Noysh" Gilroy

I recently got in on a game of planets as the Cyborg. Since I usually favour the Birdmen point of view, I began to search the Internet for strategies, hints--anything that might help me dominate the Echo Cluster quickly and efficiently.

The information that I found was a different sort entirely.

The only real strategies that I found on how to play the Cyborg were advisories not to play them. There were those few who admitted to playing them, but the best they could give me was: "The Cyborg really aren't that bad." They continued to explain how the Cyborg's local space could be saturated with B41s. Others argued that the Quietus class cruiser was the saturation ship of choice. There were passing references about cubes and Fireclouds with no explanation as to why they were good, just that they were.

I left my college's computer lab utterly discouraged. How was I to trample the other ten players with such a mediocre race? A race that had initially shown so much promise.

I finally gave up on web sites somewhere around turn five. I was not going to lose just because others before me had not succeeded. That was not an option.

I sat down at my computer with an empty notebook and my finger on f1, determined to create my own strategy guide.

The Cyborg do not have the most well rounded out of fleets. As a matter of fact, if you surf the web looking for key stratagem, you will hear this harped on over and over again. You will hear countless reports of how the only real ship that the Cyborg have, other than the cubes is the Firecloud Class Cruiser. Don't bet on this ship to see you through a battle, with a ship of any sort of mass to it.

In the beginning, when priority is on securing resources for yourself, it is wise to invest in a small retinue of B200 class probes. It is true that as a warship, these ships are only useful to prey on unsuspecting freighters, but they are beneficial to beginning an empire as the Cyborg.

When putting together a probe, don't bother to load the beams with anything higher than x-ray lasers because although it is a possibility that you might take a smaller warship with a probe' there is even more chance that more heavily arming it will allow it to be captured by opponents rather than be destroyed. If you do this, you will be peddling off your racial advantages to the. Because of this, it is best to make a probe as fragile as you can. This way, you can deny the most careful of attackers a hyperjumping vessel at the advantage of discovering the other race's location.

It would also be wise to find out if the engine/shield bonus has been activated in the host configuration, because to give a disposable ship extra shield strength would be counterproductive. Since you will be primarily planet hopping using hyperjumps, it isn't really worth loading up the ship with transwarp drives anyway. Merely work up a routine of hyperjumping to planet, beaming up fuel and moving on with the primary mission on sensor sweep.

A final thing that took me some unnecessary trial and error to realise about the probe is that under host version 3.2, hyperjumping is a mandatory 350 light years, no more, no less. No matter what your documentation tells you, make sure that you don't set a waypoint that is any less than this. It is not advisable to come out of a hyperjump in the middle of nowhere, but in view of everyone. Your model can only perform one jump per load of fuel.

The next ship with any advisable advantage is, of course, the Firecloud class cruiser.

There are many advantages to a Firecloud . The primary advantage is accessibility.

If you have a fleet of Fireclouds at your command, you are capable of being anywhere that you have another Firecloud stationed due to the wonderful art of chunneling.

Chunneling is a supreme advantage because of its utter versatility. Whereas hyperjumping will send your ship a mandatory 350 light years, a chunnel will send you 50 to 5000 light years as well as any ships at that same point in space that aren't moving away. This gives you similar advantages to hyperjumping with the added convenience of bringing a much more sizeable force than a simple probe to practically any point in space. The real advantages of this are discussed later on in the entry on alliances.

Your final, and most commonly mentioned advantage are the cubes: The Annihilation and Biocide class warships. The Biocide is powerful to mop the floor with a Gorbie. The resource requisites are steep, though.

Most strategy guides will stop at this point and tell you that there is no use in building anything besides these ships. That is part right and part way off.

None of the other ships have much uses form a conventional point of view, but the possibilities are endless if you are creative.

All the Cyborg starships (excluding the probe) have massive fuel tanks. This is an issue for planning ahead.

If you still have any delusions of remaining quiet while colonising in your corner, out of sight until you are powerful enough to strike at anyone else, forget about it. The Cyborg were not designed as a subtle race, so it is important that you abolish that idea before I go any further.

When you are getting started, it is imperative that you find out who your closest neighbours are and let them know how much they need you as an ally, and one of the best ways to find out who your neighbours are is to load up a one of your small warships (Preferably the Quietus class cruiser) with the highest tech level engines possible and send it out planet hopping with no other purpose than to sensor sweep and find out who's next door.

Try not to make any enemies until you know who's inhabiting the nearest star clusters, because you will probably have little in the way of military might in the initial stages of the game.

This end of the starship discussion brings me to the point of cubes. The Annihilation and the Biocide are the two ships that will put you on the starmap when you have the resources to build them. That is the real issue when worrying about cubes: resources. One cube has the potential to cost you more than three starbase’s in both capital and minerals.

The only real difference between the two different models of the cube is that one is a carrier and one is a torpedo boat. Although the Biocide class carrier has the potential to be the more powerful of the two ships because of its ability to launch fighters, that may be the less economical of decisions, because you have to build each, and every fighter for your ship. Unless you have an ally that can build free fighters for you, this ship is best saved for later stages in the game when the 500 ship marker has almost been reached and you know that you won't be able to build any more ships for a while. In any other case, the Annihilation is your best bet.

Try to make sure that your Annihilations travel in lances of two or more. By doing this, you may intimidate a lot of would-be attackers. You also insure if the first one doesn't get it the second one will.

In the first issue of the Planeteer, a technique called sacrificial lambs is outlined to enhance your interstellar navy. I will quickly summarise that technique to those who haven't read the first issue.

The technique known as sacrificial lambs consists of a player setting up lances of his biggest ship, one with tech level 10 engines the other with tech level 1 engines and using the ship with the tech level 10 engines to tow the ship with the tech level 1 engines around and using the friendly codes to set the weaker ship first in order of battle. This, would generally be a good idea, but there are some considerations to think about.

When I play the Birdmen, I send out my cloaking ships in battle groups and strike my opponent's ships one at a time. To see two of an enemies big ships, just moving along together would be a temptation for me to send one of my Dark Wing battle groups out to strike it. What happens when the towing ship is the one targeted by the cloaking battlegroup?

Answer is: you have a massive ship sitting alone and immobile (effectively) out in the middle of nowhere, waiting for someone else to see it and swoop in to finish it off. Thus, you loose two ships to bad luck.

At this point that ship with the stardrive 1's becomes a marooned gun platform, until you can manage a rescue, or someone else destroys or captures it. A cube can eventually be captured if allowed to sit, because it regenerates damage at 10% a turn, but not crew members.

Mainly, I pointed this out, because it is just plain irritating when something like that happens. And by Murphy's Law, it's bound to happen to you sooner or later and at the most inconvenient time.

When you begin sending out cubes and Fireclouds, be sure to not fill them completely with their appropriate payload, however. I state this because it will make blowing up someone else's ships a lot more fun.

When a Cyborg ship destroys an opponent's ship, the victorious ship beams aboard the debris. With the cargo space of the larger warships, this victory can end up being as profitable as it is a loss if you are in dire need of minerals. Mainly it is just a perk, though, because it this racial ability rarely yields a significant amount of minerals unless you are just a few short of those minerals at a nearby starbase.

These ships aren't the only ones to be considered, however; they are merely the more practical ones. There are plenty of uses for the smaller models at the Cyborg' command.

The other practical of the small ships are the B222 and the Watcher class. These ships may appear nearly pointless at first glance, with their exclusive payload of beams and only moderate sized (40-50kt) cargo capacity. However each of them has a sizeable fuel tank, and loaded with a transwarp drive, they can really be worthwhile investments as scout ships.

In the case of the Iron Slave and the B41, you will be hard pressed to find jobs for them that the other ships aren't more efficient for. Just think of them as light freighters with guns. Later on in the game, you'll probably want to do away with them; but, these ships can be handy for colonisation. The Iron Slave is really quite useless as a carrier, though.

Advantages of the Cyborg' include the ability to assimilate native races; their ships regenerate as well as beam aboard the debris from vanquished enemy craft; they can clone captured enemy ships; hyperjumping and chunneling starships; and the fact that the Annihilation and Biocide ships are some of the biggest craft in the game. All these advantages make up a descent list of credentials. The key behind success with the Cyborg is patience and quick thinking: an unlikely combination.

Starbases always tend to be a problematic issue, no matter which race is concerned. Managing them as the Cyborg is no less subjective in execution.

One thing that cannot be emphasised enough is the necessity of freighter networks. When dealing with a starbase, it is not going to be capable of living on its own in the production of minerals and megacredits. It is going to need support from the surrounding planets. This will make it wise to build a starbase where it is directly accessible to other planets without starbase’s. You should have support coming from about 5 planets for each starbase. In this way you can milk one planet at a time and have one large or super transport freighter to "run the loop."

Another thing to look at is the native life. This is less of an issue with the Cyborg as other races, because you will eventually have so many colonists that you don't know what to do with them. When you find a planet with a native race that will give you a tech-level advantage, such as Ghipsoidal, Humanoid, Siliconoid, or Amphibious, build the starbase as soon as you can and worry about the repercussions later. It is well worth the 4500MC savings. You will be amazed how quickly natives disappear with your colonists assimilating natives every turn. Take advantage of the a native race's advantages while you can, because they won't stick around long.

Technology levels are another issue to be aware of when setting up a starbase. Some technologies should take priority.

Hull technology is more important to the Cyborg than it is to other races due to your lack of medium sized ships. There are only so many probes, watchers, B41s, and Quietus Class Cruisers you can put in your service before they become utterly redundant. Because of this fact, you need access to all your hulls as soon as possible.

Engine technology, however, should be in priority slot 1. The reason for this being: How do you dominate a galaxy that you cannot get to. Tech level 10 on engines is not a luxury for any race in this game. It is a requirement.

Beam technology is more important in the long run because that is what most of your ships are armed with. X-ray lasers or blasters have better kill to damage ratios than larger weapons if you intend to take a freighter or capture opponents' warships. Your race's nature is to use beam weapons. Do not go against your nature, it will weaken your fleet.

Torpedoes, by and large, are more versatile a weapon. However, you will find that you have a serious shortage of torpedo boats in your fleet, aside from the Annihilation. However, torpedoes should be priority in building up of the two offensive technologies. the reason for this is that this will make sure that your normally easy target Fireclouds will be well-protected this way. If you feel the need to take out a freighter with a torpedo boat, set the friendly code to NTP and hope your massive beams don't do them in. It should be okay for larger freighters.

Planet management is somewhat less problematic and yet more so for the Cyborg. This is because of the assimilation rate. Since you can assimilate natives, there is no real reason to drop a lot of colonists on a planet. However, you will run into problems when colonising a world with no natives if you run by this system of managing the colonisation methods. There is also the problem of loosing the natives racial advantages as well.

In the early portions of the game, you will want to build several probes and send them all out in different directions loaded with 5 clans, 10 units of supplies and about 30 megacredits. Then, hyperjump to a remote planet and drop the entire cargo onto the planet. If there are already natives there, begin to tax them and build five factories to produce the supplies that the planet will need to get going. If the planet is uninhabited, check the mineral survey, it may still be worth taking, but you will need a few more loads of colonists hyperjumped out. Also search the outlying for other races ships. if you can watch their movements from the planet, it may be worth setting up an outpost at for strategic reasons. Be aware, however, your version of hyperjumping ship is the only one in the game that has to refuel between every jump. Plan your hyperjumps.

Do not bother to drop the aforementioned types of colonies on amorphous populated planets. That is a waste of resources.

For your local empire, you will need several large freighters to establish a local galactic ecology. You need to organise your planets in a way that you can deliver colonists and supplies to your colony worlds and bring back minerals and megacredits on your return. Each freighter should service about 3-4 planets before returning to your starbase with the motherload. Eventually, when you get your satellite empires you founded with your hyperjumping probes off the ground, you need to send a Firecloud out there. Make sure that the candidate has transwarp drives.

There are several reasons for having Fireclouds stationed at your satellite empires. the most obvious is that this makes your satellites much more accessible by your larger ships via chunnel. There is also the chance that you will need to get out of harm's way at the beginning of the game. When you are just starting, for the first 20 turns, the Cyborg tend to be the most vulnerable of races. If you begin within striking distance of another race, you are most likely toast unless you can exodus to another location. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses and run to survive. This is especially true in the invasion scenario of ref.

All is fair in love and war. Especially war with two of the biggest warships in the game at your command. Your problem is that their price is proportionate to their effectiveness.

Since the Biocide could face a Gorbie and still limp away, you have quite an advantage if you can ever find the resources to produce Biocides and Annihilations. In the beginning, for warships, stake your money on lots of Quietus and Fireclouds. Both make passable, medium size fighters if you have Mark 8 torpedoes and tubes (which can be shut off to attack freighters). Dropping lots of mines in you territory is not such a bad idea either.

The point is. Keep them all away until you can make your cubes.

An easy way to do this is bluff. It doesn't always work, but if you do it well, it cannot hurt.

Since you will be cranking out little ships (probes, Quietus, Fireclouds) in the initial stages of the game, your score should be at a healthy level, despite the fact that you could not really stand up against a serious assault. First of all, use your probes for what they are for and probe the outlying star clusters for your neighbours. Find out who is next door and then start sending them misleading messages.

It is imperative that you do not threaten, or implicate danger to them because that kind of strategy could blow up in your face and have them all sending in attacks together. What you need to do is negotiate an alliance with them that would profit them and don't let them know that you intend it to profit them. When you send out a message. Never beg either. Your race could conceivably wipe everyone else's out with a several cubes up its sleeve. Act like it.

The art of combat does not suddenly become simple once you have your cubes to move about. In fact, it becomes all the more complex. Assuming that you've read the first issue's stratagem about the Missing Colonies of Man (if you have not, do so; know your enemies) and read about sacrificial lambs. To you, this is a threat. Make your own sacrificial lambs and play the same game. That happens to be a good idea and would serve you well.

Another thing that you should actively worry about is being baited by those who find your cubes intimidating. Use a tow beam to drag a Firecloud with supplies and a full fuel tank along with your cubes. This is why:

Let's say that one of your fringe worlds was struck by the Feds. You send your Biocide and Annihilation (which is the sacrificial lamb) out to defend and, and perhaps even strike a return blow to those darn Missouri Class Battleships. Then about 5 turns later, you engage a Missouri left as a planetary garrison and eat it for lunch. You garrison that planet with your cubes, watching for retaliation and to lick your wounds. This very turn, 2 triads of Dark Wings uncloak and each triad takes out one in an identical pair of the cubes that you have watching the other end of your empire which is now over 8 turns away at Warp 9. On the other side, there are 3 Fireclouds littered amongst the planets. As two fully operational Dark Wings cloak once more and a crippled Dark Wing heads slowly out of sensor range, you begin to wish there was a Firecloud that you could use to get over to the other side and wipe out that last Dark Wing.

This is why you make sure that every cube or group of cubes is escorted by a Firecloud.

Due to the nature of the Warp Chunnel that your Fireclouds can perform, you have the potential to be important in any alliance- especially a multi-racial one. You can offer the quick and silent transportation of a chunnel directly into a common foes territory to several allied races if you play your cards right. Just choose a rendezvous point and sneak a Firecloud into orbit around a planet behind enemy lines. Then chunnel in the biggest, most dangerous fleet that the poor sot has ever seen. And crush him.

This marks your primary gift to an ally. You have power and mobility if you plan ahead and are patient enough to wait a few more turns before acting on a plan.

Feds: Other than firepower (I'm not discrediting that), the Feds have little to offer you. if you plan your shipbuilding well, you'll have little need of their refitting abilities. They can provide you with some much needed currency while you provide them with some much needed minerals, though. Especially if you have several mineral rich planets.

Lizards: The Lizards are one of the four races in the game to have cloaking ships. You do not. Therefore, if you're the type that trades ships, this is a good ally to have. You can also profit from the Lizards' hiss missions as well. This is another solution to the looming currency problem. The lizards can also extract loads of those precious minerals. In case you had not noticed, a cube takes 550 Kt. of Molybdenum. Their Ground Attack is convenient against a planet with lots of defence as well.

Birdmen: Having command of half the designs of cloaking ships that are distributed amongst the cloaking races, the Birdmen tend to get around without anyone else knowing it. They generally know where everyone is by the 30th turn of the game. Be that as it may, the Birdmen pose little use to you as allies aside from the fact that this keeps them off your back.

Fascists: The Fascists' Glory Device is great to get rid of Amorphous on planets that would be darn nice if it wasn't for the fact that you can't keep the planet stocked for colonists. They also have cloaking ships. They get a bonus to start a ground war with enemy colonists like the lizards, but its not as powerful.

Privateers: Because of the Fireclouds chunnel, the Privateers' gravitronic accelerators are not quite as useful to your race. The Privateers are the fourth race that has cloaking ships, however.

Crystals: The Crystals have little to offer you that you do not have the same thing, only better. Except for mines around your that is. In the early parts of the game, they can lay web mines as you because they get other people's ships out of the deal. perimeter and intercept invaders. They profit from this as much This arrangement eventually outlives its usefulness, however.

*Note - All of the following races can build fighters for free. This advantage would relieve you an immense financial burden of building fighters to fill a Biocide. A fighterless Biocide is hardly worth the effort to build.

Empire: Dark Sense gathers some useful information that you could use for constructive purposes. Although the Empire produces free fighters, it is only at a set rate. The default in HCONFIG is 5. It would take a while for them to stock their own carriers, let alone your 320 capacity Biocide.

Robots: The final three races all can produce masses of free fighters in a given turn. What the Robots have for you that the Rebels and Colonies do not is a 4X mine laying rate. If they lay mines in your identity and you sweep them, the net gain is that you have 4X the torpedoes that were dropped.

Rebels: Of the free fighter builders, the Rebels are the least useful as allies. They have a Ground attack that is very similar to the Imperial Assault, or the Fascists' Pillage Planet mission. The other 4 races offer more along the lines of advantages to compliment you than do the Rebels.

Colonies: The Missing Colonies of Man are the most useful allies of the free fighter building races because of their ability to use their fighters to sweep mines. The default setting allows them to clear 20 mines per fighter. Thus they can make short work of a minefield, even one that the Robots dropped.

The important part of making allies is to look at what you cannot do that someone else can. If it is an insignificant drawback, then don't bother. If you ally with everyone, they may proclaim your treachery to everyone when you betray one of them. Then you are screwed.

Watch other races movements for strategic strength. No matter what race they are, if their player is a good strategist, they will make a good ally.

The Cyborg, despite popular opinion, are a sound race to play. They may be a bit ponderous to get off the ground, but remember: you are dangerous. So don't let other's opinions sway you from playing the Cyborg. They are definitely one of the more challenging and, in turn, rewarding races to play. See you on the other end of a cube.

This article was submitted by the Editor of the, now defunct, E-Zine Planeteer Resurrection.
Other articles, fiction & humour from the Planeteer Resurrection have been submitted to the "UK Atheist & Science E-Zine

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