Turkey Shoot II had throughout the game problems with players joining, and then leaving the game for some reasons. Hence, with this in mind, I would like to commend the commander of the Borg Collective, Peter Doherty, for his persistence. Apparently, he was almost wiped out by Lizard ground attacks in the beginning of the game, but he never gave up. In the final turns of this game, he got his revenge by the help of the Fascist.
Also, it has to be said that my "victory" came after using a nasty trick - hence I would like to share the victory with my main two enemies during the game, Patrick Martin (Privateers) and Alexander Mermi (Robots). It wasn't against the rules to blow up ones ships, but after Patrick and I started some self-destruction, Pick stepped in and stopped it. I agree, it just isn't that fun.
I started this game as my first game, and I chose the Crystals since someone told me that it is not such a good race for beginners. Trust me, they are wrong. You should choose a race that fits your style. In my case I figured I would like to play a game based on tactics and economy, and the Crystals seemed to fit the bill. It was also said that you should try to stay out of trouble in the beginning of the game, but I beg to differ. It is always better to fight over enemy planets, simply because you are destroying his economy in the process.
I started out fairly ok, with a Bovinoid planet one hop south of my home world. I had to try to expand out of my home cluster quickly (since there was only 6 planets in it), hence the Rebels detected me and I allied with them early. So, I was expanding quickly to the south, to meet no other than the Colonies.
If you compare the Colonies and the Crystal ships, you will find that the Colonies are much stronger. One Virgo takes out a Crystal Thunder every time, but by sacrificing two Diamond Flames first, the Crystal Thunder wins! Also, it is pointless to throw minefields over the Colonies, but web-fields do drain resources, even against Cobols.
So, I put my economy on full war production, rolling out Diamond Flames and Crystal Thunders almost every turn and sent them south. I seized a very important Bovonoid planet and built a star base there. Using two attack routes, I was able to kick some serious butt. I killed 4 Virgos and captured two in my webs. I demolished his home world, and when he retreated to a cluster to the southeast, I followed and killed his last star base. No mercy! It was over by turn 50.
The reason I won was simply an overwhelming force capable of taking out all of those Virgos, combined with the ability to pick what I fought when. The ability to divide his forces with web-mines meant that he never got the upper hand. I could usually simulate the battles ahead of time, and I would win battle after battle.
It is also worth mentioning what I called the Lonely Wolf tactic. He had a couple of planets south of his home world, and I wanted to attract him away from my main force. With a single Diamond Flame I jumped from planet to planet (I knew he didn't have any bases of force there) killing everything in sight. To stop this, he tried to send a Virgo, but he ran into web-mines, and he never caught my Lonely Wolf!
After this victory I was leading the tonnage-sunk score, but I needed more. Also, the commander of the Rebels was having a hard time with the Privateer/Robot alliance. Initially he had taken out his neighbor the Evil Empire, but faced with this new threat he desperately needed some help. I also allied with the Lizard player, but this turned out to be no help at all. We never even traded ships. The main reason I wanted him as an ally was to secure my southern border, but none of the players in the southern part of the map had any interest in a war with the Crystals.
I had offered defensive web-mines to the Rebel earlier in the game, but I think he overestimated his forces, because we started way too late. The Robots got within 100 light years from the Rebels home world and seized a strategic area between his planets in the north and in the south. Faced with this, I sent my whole southern fleet to a cluster south of the Rebels and took over three planets in order to push through a counter-attack. I also kept on expanding, mainly in order to keep the Privateers from being able to snoop around in my back yard, and also kept webbing central Rebel planets.
I was amazed by the effectiveness of my web-mines. The Rebel was being beat badly, but with a handful of web-fields I managed to stop their assault. Only the north was a disappointment. We simply didn't have forces and resources necessary to keep the planets alive. A joint Privateer/Robot assault on the Rebels northern planets was successful, and we had to let the northern cluster go.
In the mean time, the Privateer/Robot alliance had taken control over the old Empire cluster and I set out to try to take it back. It was a huge mistake. I went straight into a cleverly set up trap! The privateers robbed me blind, and to top it off they got hold of my minesweepers (three Diamond Flames w/ 10 H. Disruptor beams). These were essential when faced with robot minefields.
After this fiasco, I had to regroup. I barely escaped with the rest of my ships. My main focus after that was simply to make life as hard as possible for the Robot/Privateers. I managed to set up huge web-fields, and captured quite a few ships. The Privateers tried to set up more robbing traps inside my web-fields, but this failed because I was a lot more careful. Don't ever go after Privateer ship caught in the web. Make sure to wait at least 5 turns, so that any hidden cloaking ships with fuel are empty of fuel as well. A good way of noticing this trap is by observing if the ships in the web try to move. If they're sitting ducks, then the Privateer might have a surprise for you. [This method of figuring out if the Privateers are setting up a rob-trap inside your web is obviously not fool proof, but if the cloaking ships have to move the danger of losing fuel is much higher.] Of course, never bring too much fuel for the towers. If they are robbed, at least they will not contribute to the hidden ships' ability to stay cloaked in the web-field.
So, the war ended with a stalemate, a trench-war, and the fun factor wasn't all that great. However, when looked upon as a whole, it was a great game for me, and I would like to thank the other players for the brilliant time.
My advice to people wanting to try the Crystals is, in order of importance:
1. Focus on logistics and economy - A necessity when playing Crystals!
2. Plan carefully all your moves - I spent up to three hours on a single turn at times.
3. Don't be afraid to be attacking early - With enough support [web-mines] behind you, you will win!
4. Team up Crystal Thunders and Diamond Flames.
5. Build many Emeralds.