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Evolutionary War | Vanilla VI  

Join 388


Well '' has recently opened, and there has already been a
report on a planetsserver game submitted by Maurits, so I thought I'd
try my hand at summing up a game or two.

I tend to keep track of past games via folders in 'Outlook Express'.
Emails recived from allies, and those containing rst files are stored
seperately to emails about game settings changes, so it is fairly easy
for me to glance back to take a look at my past "achievements" (cough).

...Now, which game to write about?

A bit of background is that most planetsserver games have _really_
unimaginative names... AFAIK this is due to a sequential numbering
system that until recently they were using to generate new games.

Should it be 'join388'?
My first online game, back in the days when I was an online newbie?

Should it be 'join402'?
My second online game, it saw a few shifting alliances and a lot of
name calling, but ended prematurely at turn 47 due to player dropouts?

Should it be 'join438'?
This is most recent game I have finished playing, and was posted about
in the newsgroup. The majority of the game saw me fighting a one-on-one
battle against the Empire (I was playing the Lizards). It finished on
turn 88 when the Imp player decided to quit, to play in another game.

Should it be a shorter game?

'Join421'? (shareware game, ended at turn 47)
'Weekly_game'? (fairly recent, ended at turn 56 after several
races were flattened and many dropped out)
'reliable18'? (ended on turn 17, best not to talk about that one!)

I'm playing in two games at the moment, and they are probably
the most interesting games I've played in yet.

Therefore whenever it finishes, I will be sure to tell of 'FastFun',
But for the moment, I shall attempt to recount the tale of 'Join388'.
This was my first ever online game, and it lasted until turn 71.

Join388.... now that game brings back a few memories...
It started on the 27th July 2001, lasting until 26th March 2002.

Taking a glance at my 'allies' folder, I can see 105 email messages.
This was a good game ;-)
(IMHO, a game is only as good as the banter between its players...)

The game started off as a kind of 'test' of playing Planets online
between myself and a friend of mine (named Michael) from university.

I had been trying to get two of my classmates into VGA planets
for some time, and one of them had agreed to give it a shot.
I had played planets offline in High school, and as a result of
that I still had a registered copy of Winplan lying about.

We set up Winplan on one of the University's Win95 computers, and
after playing a few offline thost games, we both decided to branch
out onto the 'net, and came across a site called 'planetsserver'.

I enrolled in the game as race #1, using a proper name and email
address. My friend (being slightly more net-savvy) set up a new
email address and entered the game as race #9, under the screenname
which is currently used by yours truly.....

The game started with Michael sitting along the upper leftmost edge
of the map and myself slightly below and to the left of the centre.

It's also worth mentioning that we were sharing RSTs by turn 5.
(Hey, we were 'net newbies... ;-)

++ The early turns:

It was a standard 'classic, no addons' game.
We each started off with no ships and your standard tech 1/7/1/1
starbase above a 50 degree/3 Million population/15000 MC Homeworld.

I got a decent break straight away: 3 planets were within 81 LY.
(I knew nothing about warpwells at this point... but it wouldn't have
made any difference since there were no extra worlds within 84 LY.)

For the first turn, I ramped up my engine tech and hull tech
a little, and built an Xray/Proton torpedo Nebula.
I loaded it up with 300 clans and 50 supplies and sent it exploring.

Yes, it was stupid. Though give me SOME credit for knowing about super
refit- I wanted to conserve minerals and planned to upgrade it later.
Also I hadn't yet realised the importance of LDSFs early in the game.

My friend Michael (the robots) built a Transwarp, Xray/Mark 8 CatsPaw...
250 clans and 50 supplies later, it was sent towards the only world
within 81 LY of his homeworld.

On turn 4, I recieved alliance offers from the Fascists and the Robots.
I had half expected my friend to ally with me, but the Fascist offer
was odd since as I hadn't even encountered them yet on the starmap!

I accepted my classmate's offer.. and told the Fascists that although I
was open to the idea, I'd prefer to wait until 'first contact'.

Foolish newbie that I was, I also sent a message to the privs asking if
they would consider trading an MCBR. In offline thost games, I *really*
liked that ship. (Of course, the offer I made was rejected by turn 5!)

++ Friends and enemies:

By turn 10, I had given up on planet-hopping and was resorting to the
old jump-into-deep-space-with-a-disguised-heading strategy.
Most of my ships were set to 'sensor sweep' or 'beam up fuel'.

At this stage my 'fleet' consisted of 2 Nebulas, 1 bohemian, 2 eros,
1 Brynhild (bioscanner) and 3 LDSF. I had colonised 14 planets, 9 of
these had natives, 3 were Bovonoid and had at least 'Feudal' natives.
By some amazing stroke of luck, I had a 5 Million Bovonoid Unity
planet just 68 LY from my Homeworld!! I was laughing! ;-)

I spotted a Fascist ship (a D7 coldpain) on turn 10.
Over the next few turns, I reopened negotiations with the Fascist
player, a guy called 'Ralph Schaaij'. We agreed to ally, but he was
also a newbie and it took several turns for us to get the phost
alliance properly set up.

We exchanged the odd email, complaining of our mutual Duranium
shortages and establishing our borders and plans of expansion.

Up North, Michael wasn't doing quite so well.
He had colonised 13 planets with his 4 LDSF, 3 CatsPaws, a Q-Tanker
and an Iron Slave... but only one of them was Bovonoid and it was
taking ages to get minerals back to his Homeworld due to its awkward
position along the North-Western edge of the galaxy.

To top this off, On turn 10 he recieved a message from the lizards:

(-r2000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: The Lizard Alliance <2>
TO : The Robotic Imperium
I am willing to know your goals, and if
you would accidentally meet me, what
reaction would follow. Alliance, or war?
Think about it, because we could go together
well. Or could kill each other.

Sincerely Lizard. Hisssss! :)

The lizards could easily have pasted the bots against the wall at this
very early stage in the game. Especially given that he had no baseships
out, and minerals were in very short supply.

My friend hastily agreed to the alliance offer and on turn 13 he spotted
the first lizard-owned planet, but there was a slight twist in this tale:

On turn 15, he recieved the following message.

(-r2000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: The Lizard Alliance <2>
TO : The Robotic Imperium
In fact some my ships are over some of
your important planets. But I guess your
race would be a nice addition to my powers.
I am agreed for alliance, but then I think
we should destroy crystal who is nearby.
So answer asap, for now I will hold my
forces, but not for long. And sorry, but
your planet 286 will be taken over
because of lack of fuel. Sorry once
more. So waitin for your answer.


Accompanying this was a VCR showing a planet getting nuked by an LCC.
This is not exactly how allies should work now is it?
It seemed more like a very thinly veiled threat... :-(

Anyway, the only combat ships he had to hand were CatsPaws, so fighting
back was for now out of the question. My friend let the incident pass.
(I have to say that I would not have been so forgiving in his place...)

Turn 15 was hosted just after the "September 11" incident.
There was a message of sympathy on the main planetsserver
webpage, and a global message from race #4 on turn 16:

(-r4000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: The Fascist Empire <4>
TO : The Robotic Imperium
<<< Universal Message >>>

for all who lost loved ones in the
horror attack in america, good luck,
my thoughts are with them.

To break the mood somewhat, there was also another message to the
robots from the Lizards, plotting war against the birds and
threatening retaliation if the bots were to step out of line.

This turn the lizards had also dropped ground troops on another
robotic planet, taking it over. Michael was livid!!!

His demand for returning the worlds met with the following message:

(-r2000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: The Lizard Alliance <2>
TO : The Robotic Imperium
You will get your worlds back, just get
me some fuel :)
At 286 send me 40 or more fuel.
At 318 take for me about 10 or more fuel

I think we could hit the crystal, he looks
like closer. At least he is using heavy
cargos, and bird isnt using them.

When you wll arrive I will have an infor
mation to make sure what should we do.

What could he do?

I had started building Merlins, and had LDSFs and MDSFs ferrying
minerals to my quickly growing empire... and was in 1st place in the
scores, but Michael still only had LDSFs and CatsPaws to work with.

He started prepping some ships with extra fuel, and sent them out.

But the seeds of discord had been sown [/crap metaphor],
and an anomymous message reached the birds next turn:

(-r0000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: ? <0>
TO : The Empire of the Birds

I have it on good authority that
the Lizards and the Robots are
preparing to invade your space.
Watch out for attacks from the

Mr X.

++ The midgame: Whatever happened to the Ship limit?

Turn 20. The first Robotic Instrumentality was built (about time too!)
and I (The feds) started to open trade negotiations with the Birdman
player 'Ronald Eilts'. Over the course of the game, Ronnie turned out
to be more than I could hope for in an ally.

The ship limit was very far off, only 129 ships were built and
the lizards were the only race with more than one base (he had two).

Looking back, it was a pretty pitiful sight, and said more about
the inexperience of the players than anything else could have...
Usually nowadays I tend to be on or above 3 bases by turn 20, unless
I am under attack or something strange happens like a large meteor hit.

The birds agreed to my proposed trade- a resolute for a loki, an eros
and a bohemian. The Feds' chronic lack of cloakers was annoying me,
and I wanted one with a decent sized fueltank and cargo hold.
Giving him a loki wouldn't hurt me (Feds, Lizards and Birds were immune)
and by this stage I had a few spare terriformer or two under my command.

At this point, I knew roughly where the lizards, the Fascists, the
crystals and the Birds were. The Colonials were only submitting turns
occasionally, and the location of the Borg and Privateers was still
unknown (though I correctly deduced from the scores that their space
lay on the eastern side of the starmap.)
The Empire and the Rebels were dead more-or-less from the start.

On turn 21, The lizards contacted Michael again. This time they
offered an LDSF with 1200kt of duranium for two Instumentalities...
This was rejected, but Michael agreed to participate with him in an
attack on the crystals, and offered to give them an instrumentality
in exchange for a loki and a saurian.

In the meantime, I had been building up stronger relations with the
birds and the Fascists. I asked the lizards if he would consider a
ship trade (a Maddonzilla for a Bohemian). He said no, and next
turn made a comment to the robots about targeting _me_ next.

That guy was really beginning to tick me off...

Anyway, through turn 25 and on to turn 30.

I negotiated a ship trade with the Fascists: a Loki for a D19b.
The poor guy had gotten robbed by the Privateers, and couldn't
afford to trade a Saber for it, so I agreed to accept a D19b.
I desperately wanted to get rid of some pesky amorphs, and
extra anti-cloaker security against the lizards was comforting.

Michael added ~p into his alliance settings with the lizards,
despite the lizards protesting that '+p' was somehow "better".

[For those of you not used to playing with phost, the
alliance options have three settings: -X, +X or ~X.

-X disables your ally access to a feature
+X allows your ally access to a feature.
~X allows your ally access to a feature ONLY IF YOUR

Therefore setting ~X is safer than +X, as if your ally suddenly
disables any of your benefits, you automatically disable theirs
in return. Michael still didn't trust the lizards an inch...]

Michael also negotiated a trade with the birds for a Mk4 Resolute.
Alliances were gearing up a notch or two here, but Mike was reluctant
to actively backstab the Lizards, even though they had still refused
to give up the planets that they had taken over earlier on.

In the midst of one of Mike's many communications with the Lizards,
I found this exchange:

> BTW, I heard from the Feds that the Privateers have been stealing
> Fascist ships near planet #191 and planet #226. If the rest of the
> privateer fleet is also to the southeast we shouldn't need to worry
> about them when we strike at the crystals."

Well, if fashist cannot beat Privateer (one of best races suited
to kill privateer) then he should be eliminated asap.
It means he is real weakling.

A real weakling?

Well maybe. He was a newbie like myself, but from what I had seen
he was putting up a good fight. Since playing in many more games,
I have decided that whilst the Fascists can win against the privs,
it takes a fair bit of planning and strategic thinking.

You need to be able to plan your fleet movements precisely, making
sure to always have enough glory devices on hand. Vickies and
clandrops are your main weapons against his planets, 'trg' glory
devices are your only real defense against his ships.

If the privateers are decent strategists, they can detonate or
cloaked-intercept all the glory devices using sacrificial ships,
then move in their robbing forces.

The Feds or lizards are much better at killing them off, since they
don't need to sacrifice a ship each time they need to decloak an MCBR,
and they also have the chance to CAPTURE one. An exploding glory
device causes 100kt of hull damage, which will destroy a MCBR outright.

The Birds also have a fairly easy time of it, as a cloaked ship is an
unrobbable ship [stupid host rules excepted]. Their ships are also more
than a match for Mk8 MCBRs in combat.

Turn 32 saw the promised birdman Resolute turning up on Michael's
doorstep, as well as an interesting message to Myself from the Fascists,
saying that they had managed to capture a MCBR and a Br4 and was I
interested in trading for either of them!!

That turn also saw the turning point in the game, and set the way for
the alliances to come. From what I know of it, the lizards backstabbed
the birds in a border deal and the birds retaliated by blowing up the
trespassing ships. War was inevitable.

++ The Big Alliances:

OK, a quick recap:

The Lizards pressganged the robots into their empire, the Fascists
were in the midst of a war against the Privateers, the Birds had
just gotten into a scrap with the lizards and the Feds were itching
for a good fight with ANYONE!! ;-)

The game was shaping up like this:
Myself (Feds) and Ronald (Birds) - against the Lizards.
Myself (Feds) and Ralph (Fascists) - against the Privateers.
Michael (Robots) and the Lizards - against the Crystals.

Michael still had little love for the Lizards, was allied with me,
and was sympathetic with the birds. He agreed to not set his ship's
missions to 'Kill' or PE = Bird and to target only Crystal forces.

Later on he granted the birds a 'minefield' level of alliance.

Unbeknownst to any of us, on the Eastern side of the cluster the Borg
had formed an alliance with the Privateers and was moving west...


Now it was Turn 32.
I had 6 Bases, Missourris flying about all over the place and 4 Merlins.
Michael had 2 bases, an Automa and a small fleet of Instrus supported by
Catspaws, plus a few Merlins and scores of freighters.

Somehow I was still top of the scorecharts.

At this point the second of my two aforementioned University classmates
pointed out that since myself and Michael were having so much fun, could
we possibly get him a place in the game as a replacement player?

Well the Rebels had been dead from very early on in the game, and they
only had a homeworld/base and a single LDSF to their name.....

Michael managed to get him added in as a replacement, so from turn 33
the game had a new player for race #10: under the screenname 'Ghent'.
(Before you ask: he wasn't much help. Quite the opposite in fact...)

++ The Last straw:

On turn 36 the lizards took over one of MY planets with a cloaked LCC
clandrop. It was time to strike back, I had had quite enough of that guy.

Minefields shot up, Missourris and Kittyhawks moved North.
As my forces swept up from the South, The birds were hampering him from
the West and the remains of the crystals were lashing out at everyone.

On turn 38 I retook my planet back. 3 Lokis, 3 Missouris, 2 Kittyhawks
and a Nebula were the first wave of resistance... Novas hadn't been my
top priority, but a few got built in quick succession and sent North.
At the same time, I sent a small Loki-kittyhawk fleet west near Fascist
territory in order to prepare for a possible Privateer attack.

Michael threw up some maxiumum-sized minefields over crystal territory,
and a combined lizard-robotic fleet glazed over the crystal planets that
birds had left behind in their expansion efforts.

I negotiated a Falcon trade with the rebels, but he wasn't that keen on
allying with anyone, especially the birds who had expanded very near him.

Turn 41 saw a VERY bad development.
(-r4000)<<< Sub Space Message >>>
FROM: The Fascist Empire <4>
TO : The Solar Federation

Well.. it ain't going very well.. a
borg cube has chunneld in!
Annihilation class...
So far a have nothing worth metioning
that can be used against it..

The borg had made their move, and the Fascists were too weak from
fighting the privateers to do anything to stop them.
The borg took out the Fascist Homeworld, and with it his only base.
...Time for some allied help methinks.

The next few turns saw a drift in Federation forces towards the west:
towards Fascist space, and the waiting borg cubes.

They also saw the Robots withdrawing from Lizard space.

Michael had decided not to backstab the lizards, but rather to retreat
to behind his borders and let the Feds and Birds engage the lizards
on their own.... Given that he was allied with both the lizards and
myself, it was probably the only thing he could do that wouldn't
involve backstabbing somebody...

++ The Showdown?:

Myself and the Birds against the Lizards, the Robots staying out of it.
The Birds and the Fascists both fighting off the Privateers, and to top
it off, the Borg were moving in to finish off the Fascists once the Privs
had finished softening them up.....

This was going to be tough.

Particularly since our redneck Rebel replacement had taken it into
his thick head to fly about RGAing birdman-owned planets....

Luckily this didn't so much bother as annoy Ronald, and a few Resolutes
halted Ghent's reign of terror (until he scraped enough resources together
to build a Rush... but after this he realised that he had no minerals left
to keep it stocked up with new fighters and dropped out, complaining that
"This game isn't really that much fun after all....") ;-)

Turn 44: A Nova/Kittyhawk/Loki combo and another loki/kittyhawk combo
reach Fascist space. They head straight for the cube. It runs away.
The Fascists retreat to behind my borders where I help them build a new
starbase... Though with little or no PBPs, ship production is very slow.

I continue to take out lizard planets as my forces head North.
Mike helps out a little bit: he has extended a few max-sized minefields
so that their limits go a bit beyond his borders and into lizard space!!

Turn 47 saw a somewhat surprising development:
Michael had finally had enough of sculking behind his borders and sent
some ships east towards lizard space, muttering something along the

The poor lizzies were now getting attacked from the South, East and West.

Turn 48 saw the first evidence of a priv-borg alliance. MCBRs towing
Cubes, within Fascist space. This was BAD NEWS to say the least, but
we were about to get a big helping hand from an unexpected source...

++ The ship limit finally hits!!!

Turn 49. Can you BELIEVE it??? How late is that?

Federation: 58 Planets, 12 Bases, 92 War Ships and 19 Freighters.
Lizards: 48 Planets, 7 Bases, 100 War ships and 26 Freighters.
Birds: 98 Planets, 6 Bases, 69 War Ships and 26 Freighters.
Fascists: 20 Planets, 0 Bases, 6 War Ships and 2 Freighters.
Privateers: 62 Planets, 5 Bases, 46 War Ships and 6 Freighters.
Borg: 51 Planets, 5 Bases, 31 War Ships and 10 Freighters.
Empire: 1 Planets, 1 Bases, 0 War Ships and 0 Freighters.
Crystalline: 4 Planets, 0 Bases, 2 War Ships and 0 Freighters.
Robots: 35 Planets, 4 Bases, 49 War Ships and 8 Freighters.
Rebels: 16 Planets, 1 Bases, 7 War Ships and 0 Freighters.
Colonial: 1 Planets, 1 Bases, 1 War Ships and 0 Freighters.
394 Planets, 42 Bases, 403 War Ships and 97 Freighters.

The Borg had run out of time, the Lizards had gotten the most capital
ships out and the Feds (smug grin) were not that far behind them.

++ The Later game

Well the Lizards didn't have much of a chance getting attacked from all
sides without any allies. I suspect that he attempted to make a deal
withthe Privs, but we managed to stomp him out before help arrived.

There were enough Lokis flying about by that stage to disuade any
Privateers from making a more "casual" apperance.

The lizards tried multiple tactics, from clandrops on my worlds to
sneaking up on my fleets with cloakers and towing ships out to a
wolfpack of T-rexes. I adapted my tactics accordingly, soon I was
making use of overlapping minefields and using fleets made up of high
ID ships being towed by low id ships.

Everything was escorted by Lokis: I didn't trust the Privs to stay put!

My best battle of this part of the game saw two Novas take out 5 Trexes
and 2 Maddonzillas in a row. I got more than a few PBPs for that one! ;-)


The Borg-Priv alliance remained a problem.
I lost 2 Kittyhawks to a sudden minefield- annoying to say the least!!

The constant "YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED!!!" messages didn't help matters.

Ronald was too far away to help us out, so I had to attempt to stem the
Borg tide whilst trying to provide Ralph with a new base. I had captured
a Falcon somewhere along the way... this was HYPed to the Robots, gs9ed,
then HYPed back again and used to give the robots a Mark 8 Nebula.

A few maximum-sized minefields later, the Borg advance was sufficently
slowed to handle with Fascist cloakers and Missouri-kittyhawk combos.

I took out 3 Cubes in as many turns, and that seemed to be all he had!!
It was rather pitiful. Turn 55 and he had 3 Annihililation Class cubes.
Oh, and about 20 Fireclouds and MCBRs. But then I had those Lokis...

By this stage I had 17 Lokis, 4 Thors, 2 Diplomacies, 4 Missouris, 10
Kittyhawks and 5 Novas. Plus a few Nebulas, and an LCC that I had
captured from the Lizards after he let it run out of fuel in my space.

The privateers were no problem at all once the Borg cubes had been
wasted. Interestingly, a few of their planets had the FC "GP6".

++ The Endgame

We finished up after turn 70, and the scores had changed a good bit.
The Lizards had gotten their asses handed to them and had dropped from
2nd place in the scores to 6th. They dropped out of the game, after
Cursing the lot of us for not being pacifists.

The Fascists helped me beat back the remains of the borg, and were
eventually able to re-claim their old Homeworld.

After that the Privs and Borg dropped out, 4th and 5th in the scores.

The top 3 scores were: Federation, Birdman and Robotic, with 964583,
687884 and 449531 points respectively before the "endgame" on turn 71.

After the last battle I had 428 VCRs, and 63484 new 'activity points'!
Two Lokis, Two Eros, a Merlin and a Refinery survived to tell the tale.

I learned a few things about economy management and cloaker warfare
in this game, and Whilst I still don't approve of his attitude, I admire
how long the Lizard player held out when the 3 of us were attacking him.

I am also exceedingly thankful to Ronnie for holding both the lizards
and the Privateers at bay. It made dealing with the Borg much easier.

Thanks also go to Mike for giving the game a decent chance. Although he
has since fallen away from VGAplanets, he has promised me that he will
buy his own copy of Winplan "someday"... ;-)

IMHO there are few things sweeter in VGAplanets than working hard for
and achieving an allied victory. Taking places 1,2 and 3 in the charts
in my first game was a real incentive for me to keep playing Planets.