The comments contained within are my own, and you are free to disagree. Please do not communicate this disagreement to myself or my colleagues:)
I'll attempt to give some general hints and tips about the strategy employed by the Way of the Web Team (Crystals/Privs/Colonies)
1. Team selection. First pick had to be crystals. The only crystal weaknesses are poor warships and no economic advantage. The fact that you are on a team automatically fixes these problems, and properly used webmines are invincible, as our enemies discovered. After crystals, 2nd pick was pirates. Not that we cared about the robbing, which was a nice bonus, we were just interested in the speed advantage. Finally, of the carrier races, the colonies were actually our preferred race. The only defense against cloaked webs is minefields, and Virgos nullify that, as well, the advantage of denying our opponents the Cobol was an obvious perk.
2. Homeworld selection. Our enemies made a strategic error in selection of HW locations. All other teams of 3 placed the teams in an "L" with the teams all hugging the "wall" of the cluster. Though this seems to provide a defensive advantage in that your opponent must travel farther to get to you, in reality you are limiting your expansion, and thus your economy. Our team started with an empty space behind us, and aggressively colonized forward, so that by the time the opening scirmishes were happening, we were actually 4-6 turns from the enemy HW, and he was 12-15 or so away from us. (counting our MBR speed advantage)
3. Builds. Other than the HW, and a few little bases for Onyx production, the crystals did not need to build a single starbase. This meant that the full production of the crystals and pirates (whose ships are cheap) could be turned over to the Colonies for virgo production. The end result of this was that by the time the shup queue hit, the colonies had more virgos in the air than any other team had ships. All bases were built and then turned over to the colonies. The colonies had 5 Merlins given to them in the course of the game for added mineral generation.
4. Combat. The Fed/Rebel/Bird team was going to pose the greatest threat, and so our strategy from the beginning was to sweep west and seize the robots HW before sufficient pop ships could be employed. Meanwhile, our southern flank vs. the Fed team was supposed to be webbed and maintained by emeralds to prevent the fed team from taking our or the Borg/Liz HW.
5. Tactics. Though this certainly falls into the tactics category rather than strategy, it bears commenting upon. Once the robot team fell, and the probing of the fed team defenses revealed some weaknesses (owing mainly to the rear placement of the birdman HW) an offensive was decided to be mounted against the Fed team. Our main tactics employed were simple. A "loki-check" went in to see if the pirates would be of any use, and when this failed (the Fed defense net of loki was virtually impregnable) the brute force approach was needed. Virgos against Fed Rush is a truly unwelcome opportunity, and all main bases were defended thus. To try and even the odds, we needed to ensure left side advantage, and so, before each combat, the entire Virgo fleet (typically 4 each) would be turned over to pirate command. They would then go in with no PE set. The enemy quickly learned that setting PE was necessary, and this advantage allowed us to trade evenly against 13 bay carriers.
To summarize. The basic rules for success in team play are the same as the basic rules in solo play...economy, economy, economy. The only true difference is that you must play as an integrated unit. The Fed team having 10 starbases is an inefficient allocation of resources, because each of them could have been a Rebel starbase, and every Missouri/Diplomacy produced could have been a Rush. At it's height, the enemy team had less than a third the heavy carriers of our team, and many more medium and heavy battleships than were required.
Our thanks to Lord Firefall for hosting the game for us, and our thanks to our opponents, especially the Fed team, who we suspect will be even more fearsome the next time we meet.
Way of the Web
David Furey - Crystal Commander
Patrick Martin - Colonial Commander
Reginald Stoyles - Privateer Commander