VGA Planets Super Site

HAVOC'S  Finer Points
of VGA Planets Strategy and Tactics.

Most ships under tech 8 aren't worth the scrap metal that was used to build them unless they help perform a certain race advantage (i.e. Meteor Class Blockade Runner, Falcon Class Escort, Cobol Class Research Vessel, Gemini Class Fighter Builder, etc.). Stick with the big ships. They are a lot cheaper overall when you consider the damage they can dish out and withstand. The exception to this are the Freighters of course. The Large and the Medium are the most practical.

If you are building a ship that needs to move, put the Transwarp Drive on them (or the highest you can get). The exception to this is when you are defensive and need floating weapons platforms to defend bases.

There are only two types worth building. The X-ray laser for capturing freighters and the Disruptor for minesweep/ capture missions. Unless you have nothing better to do with your minerals, stick to these two.

Like beams, the are only two worth building. The Mark 4 is the best bang for the buck. The Mark 7 is next best and packs more of a wallop. The problem with the Mark 7 is it is costly, but it is better than the others. Use it if you have money to spare as it can make the difference between winning a fight and losing one.

Planet Defenses - Before Ship Limit
The best defense for a planet is to put a really big ship around it ! Don't waste money maxing out the defense outposts. Just bring them up to 37. This will stop all probes and small cloakers as well as shield your planet from bioscanners. Don't build fighters for your starbase. Don't increase the defense. The resources are much better used to build warships as they are much more cost effective. The Gorn Ground Attack ? If you take the fight to him, he won't have much time to hit you. Besides, defense outposts won't slow his ground assault much anyway. Be careful laying mines around a good planet. It can be like painting a bullseye on your enemy's targeting system. Only lay one if he knows there is something there and an attack is inevitable.

Planet Defenses - After Ship Limit
Starbase defenses can be a very good investment in the endgame when the 500 ship limit is reached. The numerous fighter bays on a starbase can overwhelm even the biggest carriers. Even if the enemy's second ship takes out the base, he receives no priority build points for his efforts and is down in the ship count. It can be a decent form of attrition warfare.

Two words : NEVER STOP ! No matter what your game situation, never forget to continue the colonization process that you started in the first 10 turns or so. If you are on the offensive, bring LDSF full of colonists along with the attacking force, or escort them a turn behind the main fleet if you are uncertain of the defenses of your enemy. If you are on the defense, continue expanding away from the conflict. This will bring you the much needed reinforcements later. You should also put colonists on warships if there is room. Even 50 clans per ship adds up quickly. On non-native planets, I drop 200 clans down to allow for 200 mines and over 100 factories (the optimum for the clans to mines and factories ratio). For the amount to drop on Native Planets, see below. I find that sending out scouts early to drop one colonist on every planet allows three things:

  1. A longer sensor range to spot enemies;
  2. The ability to drop off a chosen amount of megacredits instead of using the bdm friendly code (this helps so that a LDSF with 800 colonists, 400 supplies, and 1200 MCr could drop 200 colonists, 100 supplies, and 300 MCr on 4 planets without pausing for a turn to take control of a planet. You already own it !
  3. A higher score (see score below).

I have found that when deciding on how many clans to drop on native worlds, find out the income you would receive with a 20 %tax rate. This is the minimum number of colonists required. On Bovinoid worlds, divide the native population by 10 000 to determine the maximum supplies available as well. If the atmosphere is hostile and you can't terraform, you will have to make regular runs to the planet to maintain its population. Once colonized, set the native tax rate to 20% if happy points are above 95. Set the rate to zero if they are less. This will allow a quick growth rate and increased income. You can tax higher, but if you miss a turn for some reason, your natives may riot. Make sure that your happy points remain above 70 or your natives will not grow. Colonists need not be taxed unless they are in large numbers i.e. Homeworld, or Borg planet. You need your colonists to grow to keep up with the native population. Encyclopedia Galactica is a great little program for figuring optimum tax rates. You can download it here.

Many players skip over starbases that can't build the ship they want. When I get this situation, I ask myself why ? For example, if I am short of Tritanium, I need to get some there. I would build a LDSF or MDSF at that base and use that freighter to keep that base supplied. I like using the notepad system to keep my freighters organized. For each starbase you build, make sure there is at least 1 LDSF or 2 MDSF's to keep it producing. Don't build starbases too close together. For each starbase, I try to have about 4 or 5 planets supporting it. This will of course change depending on the hosts mineral settings, but it gives you the general idea. The ideal starbase is one over a Bovinoid world with a Merlin orbiting the planet. Colonize and conquer these worlds fiercely as they are pretty much self sufficient being able to build one of the heavy carriers every other turn. Another great world is a mineral rich one. All you have to do is ship $$$. This is much easier than mineral runs. One other note. If you just can't build anything worthwhile (tech 1 down the line and low minerals), build a small warship with tech 1 engines and 1 laser. This costs 62 MCR or less, and although useless, it will be one less ship that an enemy can build. As a last resort, build a SDSF with tech 1 engines (11 MCR !). Always build something. The ship limit comes up fast !

The Score
Although the score is an inaccurate method of determining your strength, a low score will invite attackers, while a high one will intimidate all but the most experienced players. This is not to say that you should build a starbase just to build one, but a small warship counts as much as a big one and a planet with one colonist on it counts as much as one with 1000 clans. Try not to be intimidated by other player's score's, especially the Empire. They require many starbases to take advantage of their free fighters and most won't be able to build ships of note.

Always a problem. Be careful with your fuel supply. Try to find Neutronium rich planets and use them as midpoints for your attacking fleet. Only put as much on a ship as you need to get to your destination and make sure there will be fuel on the planet when you get there ! Putting 10 % more fuel on a ship than what you need isn't a bad idea in case you make a mistake or get caught in an Ion Storm, but keep it limited !

Pacifist Players
If you want to die, just sit on your homeworld and someone like me will be along soon to blow you to space dust ! Do your best to take the fight to your opponents. Trying to fight in your own back yard is hard on your planets and demoralizing ! Once you have decided on an enemy, send a small attack force as early as possible to harass his freighters and keep him off balance. You would be amazed what panic you can cause with just one or two small warships. Cloaking races are the deadliest. Make sure you keep at least two warships in his space while preparing your main fleet. You don't even have to fight him. Just running around in his space is enough to drive most players insane. He will waste all kinds of fuel and resources trying to get rid of you. Attacking your homeworld area is usually furthest from his mind.

Sacrifice vs Overkill
Someone once said : "You can never bring too much force to a battle". I agree to a certain extent. In planets, waiting to have an incredible armada to attack is usually a mistake. If your ship attacks a starbase and is destroyed, you have to consider that your sacrifice was probably not made in vain. Damaging a starbase drops tech levels, defense, and upsets the planets inhabitants. For the loss of one ship, you may have prevented your opponent from building many. A good plan is to build a battleship or carrier and send it on a one-way mission towards the enemy. In alot of cases, many planets will fall by the wayside by the time you are stopped. Keep him guessing, never show waypoints, lay small minefields, dart back and forth. This kind of strategy will almost always be worth the cost of the ship you sacrifice. The only time you need overkill is when you come up against serious resistance.

Dirty Tricks
I will assume you know your race advantages and those of your opponents. Use them and be aware of your enemies using them. The Privs and the Lizards are the deadliest. Watch out for them ! Minefields in multiple small groups are also dangerous. There is nothing worse that taking on a carrier with a torp ship when you have taken a mine hit. Their
fighters will be all over you before you can even launch your first torp volley. Carrying supplies will help repair your ship just before combat. Its a good idea to load your minesweepers with them. Remember, there is no such thing as a fair fight. Especially in planets !

Writing Messages
This may seem a rather inconsequential part of the game, but always be careful of what you say. You can be colorful with your boasting, threats, and intimidation. In fact, I encourage it, but use generalities. Never tell them your detailed plans. i.e. " I am going to hit your homeworld with a fleet of Virgos in 3 turns and you can't stop me !" This may seem silly, and just common sense should prevail, but you would be amazed how it can come back to haunt you.

Diplomacy and Allies
No matter how good you are, you are going to need help to survive. This is probably the most important factor in the game and is in alot of cases, misused. If you can find a trusted ally, combine your race advantages. Work in sync and you can produce deadly results. i.e. : If you are the Crystals, try to find a cloaking race. Trade for one of the cloakers, fill it with torps, an lay a massive web mine in enemy territory just before you send a fleet at him. There are many good combinations, you just have to use your imagination. Watch out for the backstab ! Never leave yourself totally open to your ally. When all other enemies have been eliminated, it will come down to you and your allies fighting for top spot.

When you set a waypoint for a ship, and you won't reach your destination in one turn, click on the planet, then hold down the shift button and use the arrow keys to drop your distance to one month's journey. i.e. 81 LY at warp 9. This will help hide your intentions to the enemy's sensor scan. You can also vary your speed and distance to make it difficult to see where you came from. After all, a hidden planet is a safe one and an unpredictable warship is a scary one.

Sometimes you may feel sorry for a player you just annihilated and back off, or go pursue other targets. Finish him off !!! There is nothing worst that trying to fight a wounded animal (or planets player) who has had time to recover. They start doing crazy kamikaze attacks, riot their planets, among other nasty things. If you want to enjoy the spoils of your conquest, take him out as quick as you can.

Think Ahead
All the sections above are good, but the best players notice problems ahead of time. For instance : A player finds a Bovinoid Unity world with 10 million clans. Obviously, you will need 1000 colonists to collect the supplies, but you will also need alot of minerals to build a starbase instantly and build a Merlin as soon as possible. For this to happen, you will need 745 Duranium, 652 Tritanium, 474 molybdenum, and 6250 MCR !  With this you can tech up the hulls to the max and build a Merlin with tech 1 engines. Presto ! Instant Megabase ! Remember that you still haven't brought enough to build a single mine or factory, but the planet should be able to do that on its own. I know that this is sometimes impossible, but anything that you can bring to get closer to this goal will pay off immeasurably. Another thing to consider is the planet itself. If you have a high Tritanium extraction rate, you may not need to bring as much. Some planets produce MCR quickly. You just have to figure out what the planet will produce on its own by the time you can get there.

I realize that some advanced players may find some of my methods simplistic or not quite accurate (the taxing method for example). I didn't want to get too complicated, or write a 100 page thesis on the subject, I just wanted something simple to allow beginner to intermediate players advance their playing skill. Planets has many variables and random situations where some of this advice may not work. Common sense should prevail in most cases. This guide is far from complete and I plan to add more to it as time allows. Feel free to send comments, good or bad to HAVOC, as this guide is free and for the benefit of all planets players.

Special Thanks to the following people for their input,
Keth Kazar
Brent - The Colonial Nemisis

File posted at Donovan's with permission, original at Kteak's VGA Planets.

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