VGA Planets Super Site

The Lost Colonies of Man
by James "Undead" Rocks

Like the rebels (with whom they share several ship types) the colonies can build free (well nearly) fighters in space & they can use those fighters to clear enemy minefields. Their main ship (the tech 10 Virgo Class Carrier) is one serious beast but few of the others really make good warships. High temperature worlds are more useful to them than most races as they can put at least 60 clans on a desert planet. On the negative side, they use minerals unevenly particularly molybdenum, already rare, which they are always running short of.

The flag ship of their fleet is one of the most powerful ships in the game ("is this a game .... or is it real?"). This juggernaut (the tech 10 Virgo class battlestar) can hold up to 40 more fighters then the Evil Empire's battlecarrier, just over half its' size ... and room for 10 beams. However it must be borne in mind that the Virgo IS the weakest of the five large carriers in the game .... it still beats the crap out of a DarkWing though!

The Colonials can use fighters to sweep for mines. In the standard game each fighter can destroy 4 mines per turn, traveling 100 light years from the carrier to do so. If the ship doing the mine sweeping has beam weapons then the ship will also use the beam weapons to destroy mines simultaneously. Colonist ships that have fighters bays can build fighters in space using 3 tritanium, 2 molybdenum and 5 supply units per fighter.

In common with any other race the only freighters worth building (except in rare circumstances) are the large and super freighters, medium and small freighters are good for nothing except recycling. Neutronic fuel carriers and neutronic refineries are, under Host V3.2, largely redundant because of the Cobol and its fuel-scooping capability.

Few of the beam-based ("gun-platform") ships are of much use, except very early in the game, as the Torpedo based Iron Lady (with its 8 beam weapons) does a better job as a gun platform (and can be fitted with torps) and the patriot, with it's 30 fighters, does a better job as an escort. The specialist Refinery & Alchemy ships should be built early in the game as the type of warship's you'll need will be expensive in both minerals (construction) and fuel (movement).

Whereas under earlier hosts the colonies best mine-laying ship was the Tranquillity because of its 360KT cargo space the Cobol now takes it's place ... mainly because it can go any distance without need for fuel since it scoops fuel as it flys! The best torpedo based fighting-ship is the Iron Lady.

Fighters is where the colonies (like the Empire, Robots & Rebels) excel, but only 3 carriers are worth the effort. The patriot with 6 launch bays and 30KT cargo space can launch all, or nearly all its fighters in a very short time, this means it will take-out many torpedo based craft, on-paper, its superior. It is cheap (one engine, two guns), nasty and can be considered a throw-away craft ... it is particularly useful in the earlier phases of the game. Little needs to be said about the Virgo (except to re-emphasise it's specs, 8 launch bays, 290KT cargo & 10 beams) it'll take out any torpedo based craft even the Crystals' Diamond Flame. The only other fighter-based craft worth building, a life-expectancy of something only slightly greater than 0, is the Gemini. With its 400KT cargo bay & equipped with stardrive 1's it can be stationed at a starbase to build up to 40 fighters each turn. The Sagittarius is similar to the Gemini but has only 300KT cargo space so there's little it can do that the Gemini can't. Lo-tech Virgo's can also be used as fighter builders which allows them to occupy a key role as Planetary/SB guardian AND fighter builder .... in the light of the Empire's new Super Star Destroyer Assault craft this role becomes even more attractive. The Scorpious with 4 engines, 4 beams and 2 bays can hold its own against a freighter but very little else ... it isn't worth the paper it was designed on!

The colonies special advantages are fighter-building and mine-sweeping. Use them and help your ships to make use of them .... by that I mean don't build the wrong ships, build the right ones.

Build starbases on a factory principle, i.e. depending on planetary mineral content and native types build a starbase in a location where it can be "fed" by two or three freighters covering a group of planets. The freighters continually fly out from the starbase with low fuel heading to the most distant planet in a loop, pick-up minerals and fuel and fly back down the chain of planets picking up more minerals and fuel as they go. I also work on the principle that the more minerals I get close to my starbase the better it is for me so I don't worry too much if all I can get at the outer planets are the minerals I don't want ... then! The freighter should, ideally, arrive back at your starbase full of the sorts of minerals, cash & supplies you actually need and relatively full of fuel ... so dump the lot (generally speaking the best starbase order is "Unload All Freighters" which means only cash and fuel need unloading) and off it goes again, boring for the crews but does wonders for the economy!

Choose a Ghipsoldal (engines), Amphibian (beams) or Humanoid (hulls) world to build your starbase as it will save you another 4500MC ... of course, building it on an avian world ain't such a bad idea either. Up hull tech's to 6 and build Gemini's (two for each base, built with Stardrive 1's and cheap beam weapons). Once built set their mission, permanently, to "BUILD FIGHTERS", give them 1KT of fuel and load them with stuff (a full load for an empty Gemini is 200 supplies, 120 Tritanium & 80 Molybdenum) ... next turn you got 40 fighters. Transfer the first 60 fighters to the starbase and after that use one Gemini as a fighter storage facility and the other to manufacture 40 fighters every turn (believe me it's simpler that way, does my head in trying to calculate the exact ratios for the cargo space I've got left!) and use any spare room on your storage Gemini to build as well. Transfer fighters whenever possible to your Patriots and Virgo's. Next take engine tech's to 10 and build a couple of large freighters (the ideal is to build freighters first but unless you've done some serious forward planning you're going to have to compromise). Upgrade beam weapons to 10 and start building Patriots. Finally upgrade hulls to 10 so that, given sufficient cash & minerals you can build Virgo's. Think carefully about torpedoes. I'd estimate that you only need to upgrade torpedo tech's at, maybe, 1 in 5 starbases and every time you don't you'll save yourself 4500 MC (the colonies simply don't use torps that much!). The last set of ships you're going to need are Alchemy and Refinery ships. Again these only need Stardrive 1's and if the base itself is not the best place to use them they can be towed to a more suitable world.

The ideal temperature of a world is 50 degrees so like any other race (bar the Crystals) you'll be looking for worlds that are temperate (cool or warm) or tropical in order to sustain colony growth. However it's worth noting that on desert worlds the colonies can maintain 60 clans without loss. The most crucial problem for the colonies is minerals. You've been happily mining away, building ships & fighters like there's no tomorrow, and then you find that your supplies of molybdenum & tritanium are drying up .... if you've made no preparations for this event then you've got problems however the sensible colonial will have already built Merlin Alchemy ships (with Tech 1 engines and not much better beams) loaded it with 1KT fuel (so it'll do its job) and towed it to the nearest Bovinoid world, there the friendly code will have been set to the create the rarest mineral in the region (usually "alt" or "alm" i.e. tritanium or molybdenum respectively) and the regular freighters to the planet will be picking up something in excess of 300 tons of your required minerals for every turn since the freight-call. Also, since the colonials only have two really good fighting ships and the best of those is the Virgo, ship get a bit expensive to move around (particularly a Virgo with 200 plus fighters and towing a 'sacrificial lamb' (more later).

Even amorphous worlds are necessary to the colonials. You'll find you'll need minerals wherever you can get them and if that means the loss of 5 or more (on desert, amorphous) clans per turn then so be it! Actually it doesn't have to be that bad! You can go to an amorphous world and if it's temperate drop 300 clans, they'll grow, slowly, but they'll grow. On desert & Arctic amorphous you can drop a heavy load of clans build the mines up (having bought the money & supplies with you!) then pull a large number of the clans off again so they don't die in such large numbers. You'll still have to keep topping them up from time to time but you'll appreciate the minerals. You should station a Merlin Alchemy or Neutronic Refinery (or both) at Bovinoid worlds and it has to be said that a Bovinoid SB world with a Merlin overhead is absolutely invaluable .... particularly at the 500 ship limit. If a Merlin is round a Bovie, non-SB, world then it's cheaper to convert the supplies to minerals & then (if necessary) to fuel, on-site, than to ship to a starbase and do it there, once you've got that a regular large or super-freighter run can come and pick up the required minerals, supplies (for fighter production) and cash (by converting the remaining supplies) for transfer to your nearest starbase. The advantages of the other worlds are fairly obvious (see closing statements).

The colonies only have two really good fighting ships; the Patriot and the Virgo. Initially you should tend to build a fair number of Patriots but later, as your "factory principle" (Gemini's, Merlin's, Neutronic Refineries & freighters etc.) begins to pay off you'll find that you can begin to build Virgo's. Do it! A single Virgo is worth 10 or more patriots in a battle. Another technique worth using is the "sacrificial lamb". Essentially this involves building crippled Virgo's. First build a ship capable of towing (usually any ship with two or more engines (preferably transwarp & preferably a full-spec Virgo) and then build a Tech 1 Virgo (T1V) i.e. a Virgo hull with Stardrive 1's, and lasers. The lasers take out a fighter as well as any other beam weapon (& will recharge as quickly) and the Stardrive 1's won't be used at all. Load the towing ship, if it's a Virgo, with as many fighters as it will carry (easy if you've been building lots of fighters with your Gemini's) and the T1V with around 125 fighters & 1KT of fuel (more if the destination is long-distance). Set the T1V's mission to minesweep, it's attack code so that it will be first to attack (I usually use "1xx") and the towing ship's mission (obviously) to "TOW". The T1V can be towed into battles to absorb the worst of the punishment forming a fighting shield that will handle most things the enemy can dish out and leave the kills to the full spec ships. The T1V's usually get destroyed in any large scale battle but will destroy enough enemy to tilt the balance in your favour ... of course if the enemy also has "sacrificial lambs" then .......

It is worth forming fleets ("wolf packs") when you plan an attack on your enemy/s and Cobols are great to extend the range of a fleet AND, with Mk. 8 torps, they are excellent for dropping minefields to prevent enemy escape and damage in-coming warships ... it is, however, worth pulling them clear of battles because to allow the enemy to capture one of these valuable craft is not good ..... I would recommend strenuous efforts to avoid these craft falling into enemy hands .... if the worst comes to the worst .... use the COLONIZE mission (that way ... at least you get the build points!). As a rough estimate I would recommend that 1 Cobol for two Virgo's is a good balance. Another interesting idea for early in the game is to tow around a Virgo using a Gemini ... keeping both craft half stocked with supplies and fighters ... this way the Gemini is protected by the Virgo but can supply the Virgo with fighters and supplies for battles and damage-repair. The Virgo will, almost certainly, be destroyed in battle and a Transwarp Gemini is really only any good in the hands of a free-fighter building race.

The one thing I will say about alliances before outlining some potential advantages. Make sure that you can, at the very least, cause your allies serious damage if they turn on you (the only alliance that really works is one formed from a position of strength). Disguise your alliances from other races (throw a few craft at each other from time to time to make it look like you are at war with each other), a few antagonistic messages ostensibly aimed at your allies won't go amiss either, but don't make it too obvious or your enemies may guess the truth. Also get commitments, build starbases in each other's territory ... agree to declare the game over the moment your alliance has swept away any purposeful opposition ..... AND trust your allies ..... how can you expect them to trust you if you don't trust them!

As an alliance member there are a few things that you can provide:

Fighters this appears quite difficult to set-up since you and your ally will have to set up bases close to each other so you can build fighters at one base then surrender a ship full of fighters to your ally at their starbase; Fuel & Minerals - if your ally has not planned as carefully as you then you may be in a position to offer them such resources
Mine Sweeping a Virgo with 290 fighters minesweeping for a fleet of mixed race ships will destroy more mines than several allied ships can destroy and, more importantly, will destroy them before the fleet crosses the minefield border
Ships if your allies are some of the non-fighter based races then you can supply them with some serious fighter based ships (namely the Virgo) .... the good thing about your help is that IF you supply an ally with free-fighters and carrier ships and the alliance, later, breaks down the usefulness of those ships to him will become progressively less so because carriers like the Patriot and the Virgo are useless without fighters and, unless you build them for free, they cost 100MC each .... work it .... that's 29000MC per Virgo! Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the Cobol ... once built they are as useful to anyone else as they are to you ... so be cautious of who you give them too ... they only need one then they can clone away like there's no tomorrow!

The colonials appear to be a fairly up-front type of race, relying more on brute strength than any other attribute. They would tend to gain from alliances through ship swaps i.e. cloaking ships (which they can gain through alliances with races such as the lizards, birds, Fascists & privateers), hyperdrive ships (Cyborgs, Empire & Rebels), Gravitronics (Privateers), terraformers (Feds, Lizards & Crystals) and information (Birds & Empire). In addition they could make use of various planetary suppression missions such as those used by the Lizards and Fascists. In addition there are degrees of alliance ranging from the border-pact & ship-swapping alliance's right through to a full blown alliance where you act together through common mutual interest (e.g. the desire to defeat a common enemy) ... but be careful of the border alliance ... it is, basically, meaningless and in my experience is quite often the prelude to war!

Played correctly, the colonials have, easily, the potential to beat the others in the game. VPL is a game of war, but at it's heart it's a game of management ... plan ahead, play defensively to begin with, build a solid base from which to strike, establish some allies that can offer you the things you don't have, then strike at your enemies.

The one final thing I would say to new (and maybe even experienced) players. Read the manual. Yeah! Yeah! I know we all have to read the manual (only a fool wouldn't), but have you re-read the manual after, say, your first 6 months of playing? I did and ... I didn't know I could do that!

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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