VGA Planets Super Site

Using Randmax & Randgen
By Dirk Fischbach

The following article is copied from the Player Forum at Lord Firefall's lair

VGA Planets is a strategic war-game but to build those wonderful Empire Gorbie Class Death Stars, you need a strong economy. Managing that is time-consuming and often boring. Randmax v3.0b and Randgen v1.4.11 (both freeware!) ease that duty, tell you the best tax levels (simply spoken: how much money you can squeeze out without having people riot and destroy your precious factories/mines) and the number of mines/factories you should build on any planet.

Both Randmax and Randgen are rather crude but very useful, so getting to know them is worth your time:
Randgen suggests tax levels and the number of mines/factories for a planet, Randmax is the program that actually executes the orders. As always, VPA can undo these orders if you do not like them, Winplan can not.

Randmax/Randgen are not very intuitive but this is how I use it. After unpacking the turn file I run a batch with three commands:

RANDGEN.EXE gamedir -px -d15 -o35 -a
-px is the player #
-d15 builds 15 defense posts (20 is default but I go with 15 posts, if no bioscan race is anywhere near)
-oxx is the number of turns used for determining the needed number of mines,
-a avoids auto-changing existing entries (meteor hits might require updating the mine number, though.)
There is one flaw in Randgen: If a planet has huge amounts of a mineral in low density, Randgen suggests 400 mines although that outmines all other minerals in just a few turns. To avoid this I use the Echoview ( predictions and check new planets 20 turns into the future. If a planet has 400 mines suggested, I then reduce the mine number in 95% of all cases to avoid early outmining (=wasting valuable supplies/MCs).

Open RANDMAX.INI with a word processor to check (and maybe manually change entries). With the new Echoview features only needed once as future changes can be made very conveniently via Echoview.

The Randmax/Randgen documentation is not very good, e.g. you can use 20 commands per line (<110 characters per line), not just 10.
RANDMAX.INI has three sections.

Section 1: Friendly Codes that you do NOT want to get randomized. ATT/NUK are standard but I always add more (see my sample Randmax.ini in the end of this message).

Section 2 has a line for every planet and a generic order (planet 000). That one is not needed if you run Randgen every turn but does not hurt:
000 f15 m20 d15 n70

You can have multiple build entries per line, i.e.
100 f15 m20 d15 f100 m100 f d41

Randgen will sometimes suggest a maximum factory number (esp. on bovinoid or unity planets). By default this number is up to 9 factories too low as Randgen rounds to 'neat' values (10s). A future version of Randgen will hopefully allow to go for the maximum rather than neat values (Thomas said that it is easy to implement.) For newly added planets I insert the orders "f15 m20 d15" prior to the ones that Randgen suggests.
The key benefit of Randmax/Randgen is that it suggests tax rates. I do not always stick to these (sometimes I need the money earlier, often I prefer growth to money) but having these suggested is helpful.

Randmax has two concepts to set the tax rates: safe taxing sets a standard rate that lets happiness drop to your predefined value (e.g. 70) and keeps it there. Growth taxing is better for longer games. Also, I tend to avoid taxing my colonists as growth is more important to me than money. When playing the Lizards or Feds, this would give up a race advantage (200% tax/hissing), so it does not apply to such games.
The idea behind growth-taxing is this: It is better to leave tax at zero for several turns to encourage growth and then drop happiness from 100 to 70 in one turn of 'Socialist' taxing. :-). This generates almost the same amount of money as taxing at a steady rate would but alllows natives/clans to grow faster in the 0% tax turns. Randmax taxes clans on planets where they could not grow (arctic/deserts if applicable). The same logic applies to natives, though and especially Bovinoids do not get safe-taxed by Randmax although they cannot grow either. Thus I add "t70 a70" to the section 2 entries for all planets with arctic or desert temperatures (i.e. no growth) unless I play the Crystals or the native race is Siliconoid.

If the game setup includes frequent meteor hits, it is better to keep even native happiness at 100 but normally I go for 100 colonist and 70 native happiness.

Runs RANDMAX to execute commands (prior to starting VPA where I check every planet and manually undo some of the changes.

Tip: If you get the error message "Planets-Datas garbelled or missed" you either have entered a wrong command or you have game files open while running Randmax. Shut down Winplan/VPA and retry.

Best of luck,


The following is an example randmax.ini file. Copy the text and paste it into a plain text file, save as "randmax.ini" in your game file directory, or download the plain text randmax.ini here.

Generic RANDMAX.INI (to be put in your game file directory):
# 1. Section (save frienly codes)

# 2. Section (planetary orders)
# 000 is the global order, which works if no special
# planet-order exists
000 f15 m20 d15 f m d21 c t

# 3. Section (Global Switches)

# rno = randomization of planetary friendly codes : no?
# not active --> friendly codes will be randomized

# nt% = code for percents: how much money has to come # at least by the last tax percent from the natives
nt% 30
# forgo the last percent of taxes, if you can not
# collect at least 30% of the money generated by it

not ; overtax natives when using growth method
cot ; overtax colonists when using growth method

# Global tax order for natives (nt) / colonist (ct)
ctx 6 ; growth method colonist taxing but no tax until
# high population (6 Mio.) is reached
# - (save method: cts)
ntx 70 ; growth method native - taxing with 70 as
# desired happiness - (save method: nts)

# When we will reach MaxPopulation we are content:
# with a natives/colonist happiness of
nth 70;safetax at max. population drops happiness
# to 70 (to 40 only if urgend cash need!)
cth 70;safetax at max. population drops happiness to 70

# Max Tax for natives/colonists
mnt 100 ; max. native tax 100%, 200% for Feds,
# 20% for Cyborg unless atypical game setup
mct 100 ; max. colonist tax 100%, 200% for Feds,
# unless atypical game setup

# Minimum natives/colonists required
# for taxing the natives
mnn 1 ; tax natives if at least 1 native clan on planet
mnc 1 ; tax natives if at least 1 col. clan on planet

# Minimum MC we want gain from the natives
mnm 1 ; tax natives if it generates at least 1 MC
# (is default = not needed)

# Maximum MC we are allowed to gain from the natives
mmc 5000 ; host limit of 5000 MC per planet
# (excess money is not collected)

# CrystalDesertAdvantage:
# enable with "cda" else start the line with "#"
cda ; CrystalDesertAdvantage = Yes (host setting)

# DOS- or WinPlan?
wpl ; for WinPlan users only

# HappyChange-test if we want tax includes Avian-bonus
hca 1 ; (0 = no , 1 = yes)

# do we want NO overtaxing?
# = natives/colonists always calm?
not ; overtax natives when using growth method
cot ; overtax colonists when using growth method
# Does the climate limit the maximum population?:
# LIMIT for COLONISTS as known
# (to disable the limit use "cco")
# LIMIT for NATIVES as known
# (to disable the limit use "nco")

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