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Vanilla IV | Captains' Cup (Borg)  

Captains' Cup (Rebel)

How I nearly was eliminated in the first 20 moves

The Captain's Cup

The victor writes history, though in this tale the Borg, who were everywhere and at war with everyone may have the more interesting story.

(-h130) PHCc alien contacts
From: Lord Firefall's Lair
To: The Rebel Confederation

Known contacts:
The Feds:
The Lizards:
The Bird Men:
The Fascists:
The Privateers:
The Cyborg:
The Crystal People:
The Robots:
The Rebels:
The Colonies:

The Captain's Cup proved to be a challenging game against classy opposition.

We had a non-standard map, and were told that we were separated by 300 to 400 light years, each with two planets within a move. I found out later that the map was one of Pick's favourites, since it was being used in at least one other game (though I wasn't in it)! The map is quite good, with the lay out of the planets tending to force you down lines of development away from your HW, while leaving other planets quite close on a similar chain from perhaps another home world. These other planets you might leave untouched for a long while for fear of showing up in enemy radar.

The game also had Sphere and No Allies (which caused some out of game confusion later).

I played the Rebels and started out at 465 Vor, west or slightly south of west from the centre of the map.

How I was nearly eliminated in the first 20 moves.

I believe that the key to victory is a strong and balanced military; and the key to a strong and balanced military is a strong economy; and that a strong economy is directly proportional to the number of exported colonists. It was true of 5th and 6th century Athens, and its even more true in VGAP! The trick is not to be taken out before you have a strong and balanced military!

My small free ships discovered that the nearest planet, just 5 light years away, was a Bovoinoid world, a top destination except that the temperature was 92. It was another few moves before I discovered another planet with more natives, and consequently (despite exporting large numbers of colonists), my initial development fell only in the middle of the pack.

My first 3 ships were LDSF, followed by 3 Falcons. The LDSF moved outwards in the local area while the Falcons jumped out and colonised at 350ly away in the south, towards the centre, and to the north. I was careful never to reveal a ship in space, ending all moves on a planet. Well at least until Turn 5! Then I made a mistake which proved later to have near fatal consequences.

A large deep space LSDF set off for Moriak(485) which I thought was 83 light years away from Chirpsithra (142) and inside a one "gravity well adjusted" move, however it turned out to be 87 light years. Unbeknownst to me, the Birdman, whose home-world was under three hundred light years due north, saw this freighter as an early opportunity for an attack and he must have started his planing here. After all, I could only have been a very weak or inexperienced player to make such an elementary mistake. (It was actually only my seventh game, though I did know better).

On turn 8 at planet Pacifica (411), north nor west 350 light years from VOR (my HW), I had my first encounter. A Birdmen planet of 35 clans and a small SDSF were discovered by a Falcon. I turned it away (to the west) leaving them in peace and I e-mailed overtures to the Bird player. I assume that he had already fixed his plans by then, so I guess it is not surprising that I never received a response. It didn't stop me trying though.

By turn 10 my Falcons in the south were building up colonists in a little enclave there, and towards the centre of the map (to my north east) another world of 55,000 participatory reptilians would in a few moves have 120 colonists added every 2nd turn.

I discovered that the Empire were to my south east at New Philli (219). I moved onto and settled Madonna (354) next door, leaving New Philli alone while emailing peaceful overtures to the Empire.

The Empire negotiations started well enough, but soon fell apart. I didn't want to tell him where I was, and he was assuming (or bluffing) that I was much further back.

In the north east a Falcon hyper jumping from Vor discovered the Birdman home-world! The star base there, at Planet Galaxtia 173, with 31,500 clans and a temperature of 50 had just produced a Swift Heart Class Scout. A Crystal Ruby could also be seen in the far north.

With no communication from the Birds, a Bird home world exactly 350 light years from mine and no knowledge of where his fleet was, I upped the anti and decided to commence RGAing. This might be the last opportunity to inflict damage if a surprise attack was coming. After all, no communication virtually announced it.

Meanwhile, a period of intense and protracted dialogue began with the Empire. The Empire agreed that it was in both our interests to not bleed ourselves to death over some trivial matter while other players grew strong. Not only was he right, but my situation with the Birds made a conflict on two fronts untenable. I needed peace more than he did and we reached an agreement at some sacrifice of my territory. Perhaps, the Empire player sensed this for despite what he said, our hastily arranged treaty broke down when he claimed that he was surprised at how close some of my planets really were (when he discovered them next move). This was a tad odd since I had actually told him. He promptly broke the treaty. More on that in a moment.

The Darkest Hour.

Turn 12. The Birds counter attack. Narrowly missing a LDSF that had just left, the Birds take out Moriak (485), the first Ghipsoldal world I had discovered, the same one that I had made my mistake with back in turn 5. This was a significant setback because it had a been a focal point for the construction of a second star base. It obviously was a focal point of his interest as well! So on turn 12, I had a Dark Wing Class Battle ship just two and half moves from my HW and no effective defence.

Now, I shifted the newer Falcons into RGA attacks against the Birds, while the older (x-ray armed) Falcons continued to supply outlying colonies. The LDSFs continued local development, though I now tried to juggle them in ways that kept them out of the obvious paths of advance of the Birds, and generally not exposed in space. This continued development was important, and probably gave me the winning edge. The major point being, don't become so focused on the attack that you relinquish all interest in future development. Continue to develop where it is safe.

Still, despite the setbacks, one Falcon in particular must have caused the Birds considerable grief as, over time, it chewed up planets in a line back almost back to my HW.

By turn 14, I was inflicting useful damage on the planets near the Birdman HW with all the RGA attacks. Whatever my future in the game, the long term harm that this was causing to the Bird's development was probably terminal. Though, this move I did lose a Falcon, ironically, to a White Falcon Class Cruiser. Importantly, however, I did managed to scramble together a 2nd star base at Eden (357), an Amphibian world, and only two moves north west from my HW.

(-r8000)<< Sub Space Message >>

FROM: The Evil Empire
TO: The Rebel Confederation

It is fitting that a war between us
start over a woman. Madonna shall
be our rallying cry. As you will find out a
long distances relationship is a hard
thing to keep up with.

The situation was now fairly desperate. An Empire SSD was en route to Madonna (352) the original planet of contention. Birds on the attack. A war on two fronts. And, no defence. With no prospect of having any capacity to deal with the situation in the medium term near Madonna I was forced to agree to the terms the Empire offered. Given, that the Empire had already broken their word before, it was no wonder that I regarded this treaty with some suspicion. I made some noises and then conceded even this, swallowing much pride, and some territory for a 60 turn treaty from when we started at turn 12. These were dark times and getting darker.

Not to lose focus on economic development, the Falcons and the LDSFs kept up the supply routes, with strong colonies developing in the south and centre. A Gemini was built to beef up the fighter defence, followed by a Cygnus for mines (it should have been a Tranquillity). Meanwhile the Birds advanced.

Turn 15. With the first real warship, the Cygnus, I layed mine field at Pyxis (108), between the two SB's and in a fairly direct route back to the Bird HW. I though it might also act as a diversion (really I did - this is not just a bit of wisdom after the event!).

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation

You have cloakers in your area and
possibly above your HW.

Someone just sent me an anonymous
message about your HW location, asking
if I was within range to aid in an

Planet # 465 Vor

Turn 16 was the darkest hour. I was very much on the back foot, colonising planets at about the rate the Birds were taking them from me, while other players where growing fast.

Noting another Ruby, I entered negotiations with crystals and found a much more warm and positive response, for they too had been attacked by the Birds. This gave me more heart and suggested to me that the Birds may be more brittle than I had suspected, since this player sounded far too opportunistic, which amounted to short sightedness, in uniting others against him. This was great for the long term as I did not think the Birds could sustain a war on two fronts while under pressure from RGA harassment. The question was, could I survive the short term.

With Falcons frantically bringing back minerals and leaving with colonists and the return of the occasional skulking LDSF, I was able to construct the first Rush.

The Turning Tide.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation


Privateer's Starbase is Gone!

Did you do that?

Turn 17. And the Birds take out Pyxis (108), located between my HW and the SB at Eden. He probably took Pyxis because the minefield there "must have been" protecting something quite valuable. The Birds now had a dark wing in the middle of a mine field between two relatively vulnerable star bases. Eden especially, could be taken out by a single undamaged dark wing. Still, he could have taken Eden out the previous move. Did he know where things were? Where were the scouts? What did he know?

On the other side of the map, the Borg take out the privateer homeworld.

The following turn he did attack Eden. However, despite partly sweeping the mine field, the Darkwing collected one and so, in the ensuing conflict, Eden just survived the attack taking about 40% damage to the Starbase (I didn't recover the tech levels for 20 or 30 turns). But, beyond surviving to build Falcons the star base had robbed the Birds of a valuable Dark Wing with 53 mark 7 photons on board. When you consider RGA damage still in progress elsewhere this must have represented a fair amount of his available wealth. It was heaven, …well at least Eden.

And I believe it was the turning point of the game.

I moved this first Rush south west to Rock (341) in an effort to swing around the conflict, and come up from the rear towards Moriak (485) and sweep up the chain of stars there. It needed also pick up enough minerals and supplies to grow some more fighters. The temptation to throw it straight in was enormous! But if I could make him turn back, and fight the battles in his territory I felt I had a better chance in the long run. Plus, I had just enough minerals to build a second one, even if it would have few fighters.

Turn 18. While my second Rush retook Pyxus a Birdman Resolute had just taken back Organia (53) the last of a string of planets to the north from the fleeing Falcon. This turned out to be the limit of their advance.

Now, I was producing ships at twice the rate of the Birds and he was a major Dark Wing down.
The Birds are plucked.

Turn 19. With two Rushes I began slowly winding up the Birdman advances. At the same time (do you get the feeling I think this is important?) I continued my development, especially to the north east, the south and surprisingly to the west north west where the Birds, despite their closeness, had not yet made sizeable inroads. I started building freighters and Falcons again, partly because all the minerals and money had gone into the Rushes, and partly to sustain the economic drive. This building of freighters lasted to around move 33.

It was on turn 19 that I started sharing RST's with the Crystals. I suggested that I give him a Cygnus near my HW, and organise a Falcon to do the swap (jump out rebel jump back Crystal). Later, in my haste and in-experience I forget to turn off NUK on my HW, and blew up my own (well temporarily Crystal Falcon). I wonder what the other players thought! Dumb move. Though, I guess it disguised our alliance well!

Turn 20. The first Rush recaptured that Ghipsoldal world, Moriak (485), lost in turn 12.

Just when I though things were on the up, an Empire probe crossed the border breaking the treaty. Now, I thought, I would end up with no breathing space and no chance to roll up the Birds. I jumped in a Falcon. The probe was with drawn the following move presumably because of my hearty protests. Perhaps he saw the Rush that moved into space going north, but in fact en-route to the Birds HW. He was probably just probing the limits of my advance - testing for weakness (of which there was considerable amounts). It might even have been a mistake. But it was a clear breach of the treaty.

Turn 23 I have now gained back most of the territory lost to the Birds while still growing towards elsewhere. The Crystals were slowly but inexorably moving south. My Rushes having retaken both chains of planets leading back to the Bird HW and a number of large Bird ships for no loss, stood just two moves from the Birdmen HW.

The next move the Birds were down to six planets and about as many ships.

The Crystals and I agreed to web the Bird home world, and other areas, in an attempt to capture as many cloackers as possible, while at the same time denying the Birds any capacity to grow. The cloakers to be shared out on a one for one basis.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>
George in BB II was right.

Create a strong economy with a large
fleet of freighters by turn 30, then it
is easy to build 35 heavy capital ships
by turn 40.

My economy was now starting to take off. With a secure border and a very good ally in the crystals to the north and a less secure but currently stable border to the south and east against the Empire, I could now turn to expanding my economy towards the corner in the south west while remaining unmolested.

Turn 25, and the Birdmen have are down to just 3 planets. Over the next 15 turns the economy really starts cranking. By turn 35 I lead on every index except freighters, which as it turns out was a ruse by the Borg to keep the privateers from using beams on captured probes to rob him.

(deep resonant tones of dread...)
The Borg

(-r2000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Lizard Alliance
TO: The Rebel Confederation

build 35 heavy capital ships

Create a strong economy with a large
fleet of freighters by turn 30, then it
is easy to build 35 heavy capital ships
by turn 40.
You can do it only if your
neighbours allow you to do it :)

I saw the first Borg probe at Nekkar (295), the harbinger of considerable angst in the middle game. The Borg probe was warned off and threats that any more probes found would be summarily destroyed.

Turn 30. Some players are muttering that nothing much is happening. The Crystals are hemmed in by me to the south and the Feds to the north, but spread in a thin line east and west. The Robots are tonking it out with the Lizards. The Borg keep popping up everywhere.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>

FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>

Three hull losses and no builds. :(
I am going to start increasing my PBP's
otherwise, Rebels will be unstoppable!

Some where in this period the Borg start a series of rather direct taunts, designed to get me after him, I assume, or perhaps more importantly the other players after me. The Borg psych-ops was top notch!

The promised big Borg attack never materialised. I massed a large defensive fleet building at least 4 Rushes a move until the ship limit is reached. From then onwards, a Rush is built in every slot, and a slot not missed!

I invite the Borg not to colonise/probe in my space. This invites more taunts. (Having said that, we continue a private friendly and chatty dialogue critiqueing each others playing style)

A Borg probe hunt begins, and countless beamless probes are hunted down and destroyed. Old transport X-Ray Falcons being ideal for the task.

Turn 35 and I have colonised most of the South west corner of the map. The Empire to the east (still, remarkably, at peace!) are now not a major threat. To the south some ships cross over the seam into the very north of the map via sphere.

Around this time a patrolling Cygnus is taken off course into Empire space by an Ion storm.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>


a couple of losses and a couple gains..

The next several turns should get some
movement and more ship builds....also
some more vcr's.
I had 10 vcr's this turn.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>

I hoped you enjoyed Xmas and New Year's
The fun starts in two turns....

Mr Rebel are you ready?

Turn 40 and the Cygnus, damaged and almost out of fuel makes its way to way to what should have been an Empire border planet (I was going to try and negotiate/beg some fuel). It turns out to be invested with Borg! Falcons are dispatched (This planets is exactly 350 light years from my HW), and by turn 43 the planet is taken. Since the Cygnus has now disappeared, and no more ships appear to come or go, the Empire must assume the Humanoid world is now all Borg and worthless. One back for the Rebels! And I didn't even have to break the treaty!

Turn 45 A Borg Fire-cloud is spied 5 light years from the Federation HW. Since no battles are visible it seems obvious that the Borg and Feds are now allies.

Turn 48 and the Falcons are now further afield, some over the western edge to the Far east of the map, and more over the southern edge into the Far North.

The North, The Fascists and The Lizards.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>

Ok..... Rebel butt kicking will start


In the far north a skirmish breaks out against the Fascists.

The Lizards move in, and with only Patriots in the area (the Rushes are mostly in the centre and west), we start talks about a trade deal. He wants Rushes - I want cloakers. A deal is stuck, along with a non aggression pact. Independently we savage the Fascists, who make some unlucky wrong moves.

(-rA000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Rebel Confederation
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>

WHERE ARE THE BORG. (Date line 52)

"What a strange cluster we live in", announced Prime minister Obk Seven Kedoki at
the opening of this session of parliament. "First the Borg sound like Fascists,
issuing empty threats, and now the Fascists act like Borg, silent and run by machines." Denying that Rebel special forces were responsible for the change of Fascist
government, the Prime Minister said.

However, as a safeguard against Lizards Cloakers a couple of Rubies are sent south by the Crystals, which travel half the map to emerge in the north across the seam in much later in turn 54.

In the West, after waiting for the Borg attack that never materialised, I launch a task force towards the border. Its initial task it to act as a forward defence. A similar task force is prepared in the east.

Still no Borg attack eventuates. The best options seemed covered with the most likely place of advance being straight through the two fleets arrayed in defence.

Turn 54 and the captured Dark Wing spies out the first Borg SB in the Far east. A follow up Patriot (looking fairly harmless) begins an RGA. The rest of the Task Force West, less some reserves, moves across the seam. By moving them tight up to the edge the move before I can move a long way in on the first move. In fact the seam has been acting as a sort of cloak for Rushes!

At the same time the Rubies emerge in the north. They help the north look stronger than it really is.

To be (Allied) or Not to be.

Around this time out of the game Pick raised some issues about the Rebel Crystal alliance - possibly trigged by some issues we were having with the "srA" and "sr7" codes. Pick said it was a no allies game. We thought (along with several others evidently) that it was a No-Allies Add-on game, which simply limited the effect of allies - the most notable being the concentric mine-fields. After some confusion, it was agreed that it was OK to be allies, but not OK to have the alliance codes set, because the no allies add-on was not working correctly for some reason. Please don't get me wrong, this is a trivial criticism of an excellent host. A host who is reliable, informative, reliable, active, reliable, consistent and did I mention the most important thing - being reliable is a very valuable host who should not be deprecated.

Cutter summed up the issue better than I could:

> I am not sure that a game can have

> no alliances, unless everyone agrees to it from the beginning. I played in a

> game like that once, and all of the players agreed to have no contact and no

> deals, everyone stuck with it, but unless you get all the players together

> at the beginning and lay down the ground rules, then people will do what

> ever they can to get an advantage, cause if they don't someone else will.

We were very worried by the possibility of a Borg Fed and Lizard alliance. We knew all ready of the Borg and Fed alliance.

War with the Borg.

Turn 56. Across the seam to the west (or the far east of the map) I now have 5 Borg planets under RGA, and am lucky enough to find and destroy an almost fighter-less Cube for no loss. Some Borg planets with low populations are vulnerable to capture (if I don't happen over cook them first!).

The Privateers, now almost vanquished by the Borg, tell me where more Borg planets can be found. Generally the action starts hotting up, and everyone mixes in.

(-r6000)<< Sub Space Message >>
FROM: The Cyborg
TO: The Rebel Confederation
<<< Universal Message >>>


You can feel it in the Echo Cluster...
the excitement is growing, coupled with
the smell of burnt out ship hulls.

Ship slots are opening up now!

Turn 61, Borg bases captured, and then lost to over cooking by RGA. I find that 2 turns is not enough, and that 3 turns is too many. However, a good bridgehead is now established in an island of about 8 planets in the far east.

The Borg have capture many Meteors, but a few (4) from the decaying, now computer played, privateer fall into Rebel hands.

In the far north some Rushes have arrived and the star-bases there are starting production. Still the Lizards could ground assault at any time, and the area would fall. No Rebel MF's are yet deployed, and it is a long way to bring colonists - though I suspect I have more there than the Lizard player would have expected.

I am fryctused!

Turn 65 and the Borg are exploiting his cloak, drag and chunnel (modified fryctus?) manoeuvrer. The main action seems to be taking place south of the island bridgehead (now expanded) in the far east.

My E-mail to Cutter (Rob Cole) playing the Crystals shows the situation and that I was still making mistakes with NUK!

> Oops... dam... I did it again with the NUK thing. I was playing around

> with trying to trap the Borg probe. That is a real pain. Sorry about that.


> And... the Borg used an interesting trick to destroy two Rushes and

> basically guarantee taking one next turn. 3 x Meteors tow (through my mine

> field) to 3 x waiting Fire Clouds, who chunnel to 3 x waiting Biocides.

> Rushes fight sans shields. (Even so with left side advantage - somehow one

> managed to win!). We now know all of his ships less 3 ships (these seem

> likely to be meteors).


> Take the list in Echo view. 31 warships, plus 2 cloakers, and up to 4

> fire clouds not revealed, plus 1 Meteor to sweep some mines and move (no

> planets under 81 light years in range) - gives us 37 - his current total. If so I

> think he built the BIOCIDE I can see this turn!


> Anyhow he doesn't have that many Biocides.

Meanwhile halfway across the map near the centre (or the eastern part of the rebel space) a second fleet heads towards planets previously believed to be Empire, but with no empire ships seen now expected to be empty space. It turns out to be seriously infested with Borg, and I am caught by surprise for the first time in the game. This was where Gil made the best use of the so called Frycutus manoeuvre
In the battle that followed the Task Force East suffered a serious setback and is forced to halt while reinforcements are brought up. It is some while before they can more forward again and remove this Borg enclave.

In terms of numbers, it is my worst defeat of the game, although it hardly makes a dent in the overall size of my force. At the same time just to the south of this conflict the Borg are making gains against the Empire, indirectly helping me. In fact the Borg seem to be at war with everyone, except the Feds for sure, perhaps the robots and as I am about to find out the Lizards.

Cutter Cuts away

Shortly after this Rob (Cutter) announced that he was moving house, and that he could not longer continue. Rob tried to find a replacement player, and couldn't. I suggested Brad Finch, a friend of mine - on the basis that our alliance was rock solid. Pick, and then Rob agreed, Rob later asking to Brad that he should honour his alliances and treaties for at least five moves before going out on his own.

This might sound like good news for me, but in fact it wasn't. First, Brad is no lackey of mine - it was conceivable (though I'll admit not likely in this game) that he might turn on me. Secondly, he had a much looser style of play compared to Cutter's - which can only be described as very tight. While not a style I enjoy playing, it made him a very dependable ally. His moves were all safe, and he effectively made a wall of webs across the map.

Not only that, but Brad would take some time to pick up on what was to happening in the game. It is always harder to take over from some one, especially if their style is very different and, this was the first time that Brad had played the Crystals. In the meantime, Cutter still had some weeks of play left before he moved house.

The Crystal alliance with the Feds was under pressure. The Federation seemed to be major allies with the Borg, but despite this now had few direct opportunities. Pined south by the Crystals, and by the Lizards and Fascists in the north and the Borg in the Centre and across the seam, they needed a direction to expand. It would have been no surprise to me at all that they were under pressure from the Borg to make in roads against the Crystals. Cutter thought so:

>I almost have a line through the center. I think the Fed is coming after me.

>His ships are all headed south, and I don't think he is regrouping. Unless

>of course he didn't have a Firecloud near, and is planning to head into

>Cyborg space. I can see them consolidating against us shortly.

The line through the centre is the "Wall of Webs", the overall strategy being to hold the line against the north and secure the south, before moving from across the seam and elsewhere into the north. Much would depend in the south on what the Empire did.

It turned out that the Feds went after the Colonies in the first instance, still fairly small, in the middle north east of the map. No doubt chunnelled there by the Borg.

Meanwhile in the southern eastern corner of the map, Rebel forces crossing from the south western corner met Empire forces moving east, not far from the seam. The southern quarter of the map at this stage was now almost exclusively Rebel or Empire.

My Rebel forces are numerically superior, even massively so now, against the empire. And while a rouge SSD could still do considerable damage before it was stopped, it would make little sense for the Empire to attack and risk a major war now.

And yet, that is exactly what happened. The Empire (as far as I was concerned) broke the treaty and took a recently discovered Rebel held planet, later claiming the treaty didn't cover this part of the map. Rather than immediately respond, I am now resolved to not renew the treaty, while at the same time remaining apparently ambiguous about my intentions. I start moving forces into position a full 10 moves before the attack.

I won't break the treaty, but instead will launch a massive blitzkrieg when the treaty ends on Turn 72. In fact, I think I have been rather more tolerant of the Empire than he deserves. Perhaps the sheer size of my still growing economy now gives me an similar level of largess than I might expect to feel otherwise.

Things were no so good in the far south (or the north of the map).

I must admit to being a little lax here. I was busy in real life. Turns were now taking two hours just to do the very basics. I didn't respond to some E-Mails, and like the Birds in the early part of the game, I must have seemed unresponsive or even hostile. I wasn't, I was just too busy. This is a major mistake, and a big lesson to be learnt. Fiddling with a few moves, or fixing some taxation rates, are in the end less important that responding to diplomatic overtures. A tax rate can be fixed, ships lost in the wrong move can be rebuilt, but an enemy you didn't need to have could be fatal, and at the least may do you more harm than the wrong tax rate, and cost you a lot more ships.

So, despite my attempts to correct this oversight the Lizards cancelled our agreement and commenced trading with the Borg. You can understand why the Borg needed to make a better offer. And so I should have too. It meant trouble. The non-aggression pact in place with the Lizards was there just so we could trade. With trade no longer on the agenda and the Lizards now perhaps allies of the Borg, the end result is a likely war against the Lizards.

The Lizard attack could come at any time, and I was a long way from ready. Worse, everything was geared up and in place for the move against the Empire. Forces that might otherwise have arrived in the north had been diverted east. Those that had arrived in the North across the seam (or created in situ at the few star bases there) were swinging around to in a plan come up into the Empire from the south (over the seam). Should I cancel the attack on the Evil Empire, or build up to fight on two fronts?

The distances were too great to move forces from one theatre to another (effectually a quarter to half the map). So, there was the only one practical step - go ahead with the attack, consolidate the south and if necessary lose the bridgehead in (my south and the map's) north. Oh for a set of Fire-clouds! So, I continue to build up the north when ever and where ever I can. From now onwards, it is a race to see who can build the strongest force the fastest. The Lizards are committed heavily against the Robots, but are much stronger in the North than I am. I play it low key. The longer I get the better off I am.

Revenge of the Jedi

Turn 68, and the preparations for the attack against the Empire are now well under way. Everything is in my favour, surprise, overwhelming force, and intelligence. A old Bird Swift Heart Class Scout has mapped the location of every ship and planet the western part of the Evil Empire. The Empire, perhaps guessing that peace may not continue for ever, (after all attacking my planets may, just, perhaps have annoyed me) started laying mine fields. It was odd to watch as he was by bad luck consistently too late, generally just laying a mine field a move or two after the reconnoitre had passed. Only at the Empire HW is the Swift Heart nearly caught, moving off planet as a field is layed. It might have spoilt some of the surprise had it had been blown up, but luckily it wasn't hit!

Turn 69, two LDSF with 1200 colonists on each start moving along the Rebel - Evil Empire boarder, apparently lost, moving obliquely towards and sometimes away from some less populated Empire SB's. He doesn't know that I know that he has too few colonists on these bases to stand a ground assault.

Turn 71. Rushes move out (to attack? - or is it just escort the freighters back?) Everything is now in position. What about the Rush moving out in the south?

Turn 72. The 60 move treaty is over: The attack. Simultaneously, Patriots, Rushes and masses of Falcons from Task Force South descend on Every Empire planet within 350 light years of the border. 13 Planets are either taken outright, or RGAed. There are more rebel ships directly involved in this initial assault than in the entire Empire fleet.

Turn 74, Two SB's are captured by the LDSFs, and 4 more planets taken out. A few minor Empire Ships are destroyed for no loss.

The attack is very successful, and resistance in the western half of the Evil Empire crumbles.

Now the Task Force East (the centre fleet) formerly deployed against the Borg, turns south towards the Empire.

In the north, (against the Lizards) the arms race continues, though I am still very vulnerable. Mine layers are desperately needed.

Borg finds a sticky spot.

Somewhere around Turn 77 Brad took over the Crystals from Cutter. The Borg were watching closely, and in the middle of that line of webs across the centre, and away from any area of past action launched a significant assault. While small by comparison with the massive rebel assault under way against the Empire, it contained a large number of the Borg fighting ships, that is, 6 or 7 Fire-clouds with two cubes, supported by some cloakers.

The psychology was as clever as it was obvious, rattle the new player before he gets going, and see what get shaken out. It was a tough tussle. The Crystal were spread thin. Brad and I met, and over considerable doses of caffeine discussed tactics. I wonder what others made of the diagrams and arrows on the white board in his office? Brad did well, and managed to bloody the Borg nose, a result not expected by anyone, I think, especially not Brad. It was all over by turn 79 as Borg forces disappeared back to the established borders, except for a cloaker trapped in a web.

Out of gas.

By turn 80 the Borg are split in two with Rebel and Crystal forces meeting in the middle. The Crystals complete a web wall that runs the whole way across the map dividing north from south. Though later, the web wall decays as Brad does not agree with the principle, despite my earnest protestations. The Borg HW a final hold out in the wall of webs, is now under constant RGA attack.

In the centre the major problem is fuel, and the Empire despite the massive blow, is putting up what can only be described as a courageous defence against what must seem like overwhelming odds.

I started to notice that a large number of Crystal ships had turned south, and were making some threatening moves towards Rebel space, both in the west and in the far east. The five moves were up! Could the staunch allies, the Crystals be about to attack the Rebels!

If so, Brad was playing it well, there were no clues at all. But his denials were not nearly as emphatic as I would have liked! Was there an accommodation with the Borg, which could explain why that conflict ended there so quickly? The six ships moving south could rip through the now completely exposed Rebel rear, potentially altering the balance of the game (which I'll admit was now tilted heavily in favour of the Rebels and Crystals). I showed the deployment to another VGAP playing friend, and he concluded that Brad had to be attacking - though he didn't know why Brad would do it. I didn't know either. In fact, I didn't know what to think.

In any event, it amounted to nothing. Brad said later, that taking over half way through a complex game was hard, and he simply didn't know where everything was or where it was going.

It was a busy time, the action against the Empire proceeded as fast as it could, as did the action against the Borg. I was very fully committed. The Borg forces in the south were presumably being re-enforced by chunnel, and so these were isolated and eliminated first, the object being to remove them before finishing the Empire, which was now a fairly soft target. Slowly, and with some sacrifice of Rushes the noose is was tightened around the remaining Borg hold-outs, and the area secured.

How to Fry the Frycutus

A brief note about some of the tactics deployed against the Frycutus manoeuvre.

* In a straight one for one war of attrition I would win, so losses are acceptable to gain ground.

* Fire-clouds in space are vulnerable, so continually threatening moves against planets with attacks that may or may not eventuate can force ships into space. Once in space the FC's can be chased (some times at warp 1 just to see where they go).

* Large mines fields (from Tranquillity's, which Gil reminded me are better layers than the Cygnus') could prevent some dragging.

* Towing Rushes with other Rushes would breaks tows even against Meteors, if the tower has lower ID.

* Most importantly he can't be every where at once, so a massive attack against all possible chunnel point planets, means he can't risk leaving ships waiting within a move of my forces.
* Surround a pocket, an eliminate it all at once, rather than any piece meal action.

However, the Frycutus is overwhelming, and one for one it is very hard to stop. If your economy is weak you would be in big trouble, though it isn't all one sided. In one chunnel a shieldless Rush with left side advantage managed to defeat a shielded Cube!!! (Though the odds are really against this happening).

One other thing I tried (about 3 times before it worked) was to tow a cheap (warp 7 engines) Rush was to an expected chunnel point. This way two ships faced the Cube. Unfortunately both ships were defeated! And the simulations had shown this would be an expensive way to fight, so I didn't pursue this further.

Combinations of these tactics largely neutralised the Frycutus manoeuvre, and at one early stage the carrier loss was 3 all (though my losses soon ballooned out).

I am not certain how a Rebel player without numerical superiority could deal with this.

The Far South (or North of the Map)

Turn 83 and a Lizard spy ship is caught in one of the first Rebel mine fields to go up in the far north, which suggested that the Lizards have been or are everywhere spying me out. The cold war there just got a tad warmer. But I am still not strong enough to respond. Well, perhaps that is not quite true. I do not yet have the overwhelmingly superiority to guarantee a win if I attack. And I need that if I am to fight successfully on all these fronts. My moves are getting very hard to do - my economy is massive and still growing, and I own more ships than several of the next largest races put together.

Turn 90. Despite Rebel fuel shortages the Empire is a spent force, but hangs on to a few Gorbies for a last hurrah, presumably. The centre forces, having defeated the Borg now cut through the Empire, while more Rebels fleets pour in from the far west of the map, as task force west moves south.

There are now only a very few Borg enclaves in the south, and probably no ships.

Turn 94

Message to : The Feds The Lizards The Bird Men The Fascists The Privateers The Cyborg The Crystal People The Evil Empire The Robots The Rebels The Colonies Fed


Live from the scene our roving reporter
Aey Cee Alot, has confirmed that rebel
forces are now in control of Spica.
"There is a mess everywhere", he said,
"It seems that the leadership left in a
great hurry, and the ones left behind
went mad." Every where there were signs
of fighting, and very few survivors."
According to Military high command rebel
occupation forces met no resistance.


Turn 95 things go form bad to worse for the Empire, losing a Gorbie for no Rebel casualties (left side advantage).

By turn 100 The Evil Empire has no ships and only two star-bases, and with only a single Borg base in the south of the map, the south is declared secure and the focus now turns to the northern part of the map.

I now have over half the total number of available planets, close to 100 bases, and more than a third of the ships in the game. It sounds impressive, but it is a real pain to maintain - and the weakness of a player with this size of force, is that you cannot spare the time to concentrate on local actions.

Now that the build up in the north was nearly to acceptable levels, I started a recce (in force) with some Rushes against the Lizard star bases, no attacks - just overt spying. At the same time I increased the number of mines being layed to minimise the effect of the cloakers. In our haste to negotiate, the fate of the intertwined planets that the Lizards and Rebels had taken from the Fascists, left us in the odd situation of having no buffer space, with in some places alternating planets and star bases.

There was a shortage of suitable web layers in the North, so plans were made to move some up, and also transfer and construct more Tranquillises. Oddly, from building Rushes in every slot, Tranquillises were now being produces at a far greater rate, caused partly, by the offset in victory points. Once in place the war could begin.

The Long and shorter of it.

The detail of how all this was done, might be the subject of another tale (perhaps best from the Lizard perspective). After I started it with a rather pathetic RGA (it might even have been a mistake). In the end, after a hard and even fight by the Lizards, force of numbers and webs overwhelmed their defences, and the Lizards, the remaining Borg (still quite powerful), some Fed and Robot ships were forced into a rough circle in the middle of the northern half of the map. The outcome was obvious.

There was an aborted offer to conclude the game, followed not long after by real one from the Lizards, Borg and Feds. The game was effectively over with the place order unlikely to change, and the other players reduced to tiny fleets or gone. I was VERY keen to accept, since a basic turn was taking several hours to complete - and my "un forced error" level was now at an all time high. In truth, I was also starting to get a little bored with it.

My thanks to all who played in the game, especially to Pick who ran it, Cutter for being such a staunch ally when it counted, Brad for picking it up, Gil for being such a challenging opponent while continuing a civilised and informative dialogue on the side, and the Empire player for have the guts to fight it out to the end when many others would have quit instead. I can only hope that should I have the misfortune to be in the same position I too shall fight it out the hard way to the bitter end.