from the Clueless, But Very Lucky Colonies:)
Luck was the reason for the Clueless Colonies winning this "Blitzkrieg." Luck even had a numerical value: 50 KT of Neutronium. That was what the Fascist player failed to take along in turn 6 for the joint Fascist/Empire attack on my poor little Colony. Luck also had the 9 million friendly faces of representative Avians whom I discovered on Orlakwarr and my Pyxis homeworld in turn 2. This kind of luck was the greatest factor in my winning - it was just my third VGA Planets game ever (although I do admit to having won my only other completed game, too. :-)
The Blitzkrieg started seemingly slow - no ships on my sensor scans for the first couple of turns. Thus I allied with the Feds, Lizards and my Northwestern Rebel neighbor. In turn 5 I finally saw the first ship on my sensor scans: an Empire Superstar Destroyer. That meant Ramutis Giliauskas was my Southern neighbor. Gulp! I knew from communication with him that Gil was preparing a quick assault on one of his neighbors. He had even sent me drafts of his "Dreadlord Maxims" about such a strategy. I knew right away that I was the target to be. My Colonies were more conveniently located than the Birdmen, his other neighbor. Also, Gil probably expected me to be more of a challenge, i.e. more fun to play against. Of course I tried to change my focus from planetary development to defense but unfortunately my planets were awfully low on Tritanium. It forced me to keep the focus on building the economy even when all I wanted were war ships.
A key part of my defense became sending silent prayers to the Echo cluster heavens, especially after I saw a turn 7 SSD/Gorbie/RU25 combo heading my way. Gil took my outmost planet - 92 LY from my HW. Thereafter I spent ages analyzing the situation and developing defense strategies. Wrong on most counts but it helped me understand the game much better, so I am very grateful to Gil for his attack. It would have worked perfectly had Doug not forgotten to bring along the above-mentioned 50 KT of fuel. That was what the Fascists would have needed to get a ship to the Gorbie and take it over. Fascist ships are immune to ATT/NUK, i.e. the corner piece of my defense would have failed miserably. I had spent much money on setting up NUK traps on highly defended planets to burn off fighters and buy time. Thanks to Vladimir's Lizard scans I had seen the Fascist probes, but being a rookie, I never realized the true extent of the danger until Gil told me about it much later. Ironically, I was right about fuel being the problem while still erring about it. - I had wrongly calculated the Gorbie/SSD to have Quantam 7 drives instead of Transwarps and thus guessed that Doug delayed his attack until his probes brought in more fuel to allow for a direct attack route rather than needing a planetary stop-over on planets likely to be kept out of fuel. Back then I was busily preparing mine-fields and training my lousy defensive fleet for the expected attack. I was very vulnerable to it until I retook that border planet in turn 13. Instead of meeting the Gorbie/SSD there I saw these way to the South, now heading towards the Birdmen. At that time I learned from Gil that unlike the RU25, the Gorbie and SSD had turned around right when the original attack plan failed due to the probe being short on fuel. Had they continued and just made the exchange a few turns later, I would have still been easy prey for at least another five or six turns.
When I saw the SSD/Gorbie moving towards the Empire's other neighbor, the Birdmen, I knew that my only chance was to hit the Empire and hope that his home defense was weak. Once the Birds were defeated, I would again be the prime target. Yet, my fleet was designed to defend, i.e. equipped with low drives. It crawled South nevertheless, burning enough fuel to heat the whole Echo cluster. Even for me as the Colonies fuel suddenly became an issue - in this attack I used every gallon that I had. My fleet was to be too weak for a serious attack, so all I wanted was to hurt the Empire. My Rebel ally had a Falcon ready to take over my Virgos and send them on Rebel Ground Attacks. Also, I had given my trade-in Falcon to the Crystals. It returned to take over a few Cobols. Web-mines are a pain and I correctly figured that Gil was too low on money to afford high tech beams (Positron Beams were the best I ever saw.) Gladly, the Birdmen player was so delighted about my attack that he provided me with detailed super-spy info about the Empire fleet and HW defense. They were much weaker than expected and I took Gil's home world in turn 17. Doug had meanwhile procrastinated his attack on the Birdmen. He even moved the SSD back North and allowed it to get killed. When he finally attacked, it was right when I captured the Empire home. Gladly for me, Doug wasted his victory point by setting one of his probes to pillage the planet right after he took it. This killed off the lonely clan and gave me the lead. That much about the host order sequence. <LOL> This error forced Doug to catch up rather than sharing the lead. He soon won his war against the Pirates, and with two victory points per turn took a comfortable lead. One thing that did not work for me was the Crystal web-mine cover. Coordination turned out to be difficult, especially with the Crystals missing a few turns and scooping up rather than dropping minefields for reasons beyond my comprehension. Thus I took back control of my Cobols and started sending my Virgos towards enemy space. The Lizards had a few cloakers at the Birdmen home world. They captured it in ground attacks turn by turn, only to then lose the planet against the Gorbie. This was neat to watch: Doug used the supplies generated by the Birdmen factories to build defense posts. After the ground-attack the planet was in Lizard hands with all defenses still intact and the Gorbie was forced to attack his own defense posts. One should mean that humans learn from experience but Doug kept doing this, so it clearly nominates him for being the first inductee in the Royal Order of the Broken Light Saber. This repeated blunder steadily reduced the number of fighters aboard the Gorbie. I have no idea why Vladimir never sacrificed a ship by towing the Gorbie away. It would have allowed him to prepare a NUK trap at the planet and collect all the victory points that Doug got instead. When his own home world got attacked by a massive fleet of Cyborg Biocide and Annihilation cubes, he finally used that tactics. A few lousy Serpents frustrated the mighty Borg fleet for several turns until Fraser realized that transferring fuel to enemy ships and hoping for no cloakers to enter the equation might work. :-) As stated, the Lizard never tried this on the Birdmen home but the ground-attack/recapture cycles had one advantage: When I finally gave up on waiting for a Lizard attack and went to Blackstone myself, the Fascist Gorbie had no fighter left and fled the battle-field. At that time my focus on building the economy had long paid off - I was producing a steady flow of Cobols and Virgos, had all planets protected against pillaging probes and started covering the region with large mine-fields to catch the Glory ships that I expected all along. Doug usually had several probes able to reach my planets. These were given to him by Gil who was clearly into charity in this game. :-) Yet, Doug tried to pillage only once: In turn 20 he jumped to my home world and converted 20% of my colonists/natives into cash. One turn later he handed me the probe when trying to HYP back out again. The starbase was of course on FC HYP and mission "force surrender", so my intercepting Cobol did not even get to fight the probe (which would have given Doug a 20% chance of having the ship destroyed rather than captured). If I learned a lesson from this game it is the importance of understanding the host order sequence. :-)
After losing his home world Gil rightfully challenged me to hunt his Empire down while it was weak. Unfortunately I did not know where his (Humanoid!) backup base was and it was not until the final stage of the game until my scouting Cobols figured it out. For our mutual enjoyment, I decided to continue our fight even as it dropped Gil near the bottom of the score board. That position is completely undeserved. He SHOULD have won the game, Doug COULD have won it but instead I ended up in the lead. Thus I can only say "Thank you" to my enemies for allowing me to win, to my allies for helping me in the critical early stages and to Pick for being a great host.