By Oliver Heddinga
Vanilla V was my first game on the Lair, my fifth overall and my first with a medium circle set up.
As it was a game for players new to this host, I knew nothing about my opponents. According to the Hall of Honor lots of good players started at the Lair with a vanilla game. So I was prepared for strong resistance.
Few days before the game began Terry (Empire) posted a team game challenge in the forum. Privateers and Crystals came from Canada like Terry. The former seems to be his relative and, it turns out, they where brothers. So I assumed a predefined Priv-Crystal-Empire alliance. Game development proved that I was right.
There was another predefined alliance consisting of Lizards, Borg and Robots, as I learned during the game.
I over-drived my initial ships and build a large freighter in the first turn. Found nothing interesting, build another freighter and over-drived my ships again. This time I forgot to change the warp setting on my Taurus. Bad mistake. With my ship in open space I spotted a Borg probe with high id two turns from my homeworld. Detecting his homeworld was easy. After my mistake, he should have known mine too. So I decided to send him a mail. I got no response. Consequently I send the new build Cobol to the planet probably being colonized by the probe and put a '"has to die" marker on the Borg race.
I found nothing on my first four planets. So during turn five I planed building a star-base assigned to Lady Royale production beside my homeworld in turn 7.
Then I opened the RST of turn six and got shocked. A Bird Resolute killed one of my two large freighters including 900 clans, 100 supplies and 1200 MC two turns from my homeworld.
I canceled my base building plans, switched to Virgo production immediately, threw out some minefields and calculated possibilities for the Bird homeworld.
In addition I decided to use diplomacy, sending a couple of mails with generous offers in case of help against the Birds. I got several friendly replies, but nobody seemed to be the other Bird neighbour. Empire offered dark sense support. Rebels (first player) offered an alliance and RGA support. I signed the Rebel alliance and got nothing from it. No Falcon, no RGA support, really nothing. He even took some planets in the center I wanted for myself. He dropped in turn 18. I kept the ffA setting while the Q took over and offered peace and help to his replacement. He was interested in the friendly border but never asked for my help. He had obviously no chance of getting into the victory ranks but had some fun in his war against the Feds.
Turn seven I build another Virgo, produced fighters and took a 5 million insectoid unity planet form the Borg. Finally I had some money.
Turn 8 I spotted the Bird freighter he build two turns ago. Finally I knew his homeworld for sure.
Turn 9 a Virgo killed a Resolute one turn from my homeworld. This gave me some breathing room.
Turn 11 Rebels took Fed homeworld. Empire took Liz homeworld by the classic MBR-SSD tactic.
In turn 14 the first of my Virgos took the Bird homeworld, while I had a second backup ship two turns away and a third in procuction. The promised Empire dark sense information came this turn and was useful, although too late for the homeworld.
Now it was time to deal with the Crystals. I discovered a few turns ago, that he was the Birds other neighbour. He had a very bad starting position. So he hadn't revealed himself after my first diplomatic attempt. Since he went for some Bird cloakers we singed a non-aggression pact to be renegotiated when the Birds are finished. I had the option to build my second star-base at an amphibian planet for Virgo construction. On the other hand I hate fighting Crystal had would be happy if I could fight those Borg, who ignored my diplomatic attempts. So I mailed him to choose between an immediate war or a stable border until the game ends, in which case I promised to attack the Borg. Now the Priv-Crystal-Empire alliance was already at war with the Liz-Borg-Robot alliance. They traded the Liz homeworld for a couple of turns, but the latter alliance grew much stronger. In addition I already promised fighters to the Empire for their dark sense support and he offered to use dark sense against the Borg too. So we signed the treaty and I sent two Virgos toward the Borg homeworld, leaving one to finish the Birds. They fought a brave but useless battle and got completely eliminated in turn 41. Beside the initial freighter in turn 6 I lost a single Cobol during the whole Bird campaign.
In turn 18 I got the dark sense info and saw that the Borg never got interested in colonizing his planets in my direction. Probably because they had natives and a bad climate, as I discovered later. So he wanted to save them for his allies. Hence I could arrive at their homeworld undetected in turn 24.
After destroying the Borg homeworld, is seems there was nothing left to do for me in the game. Looking at my friendly relations with the Empire - the promised Gemini for fighter production was already two turns away from his homeworld - and my stable and friendly border with the Crystals, I gladly joined the Priv-Crystal-Empire alliance in turn 25. They had serious problems. A considerable force took a Empire base one turn away from Empire homeworld. Empire homeworld was covered by a small web field. Luckily all opposing ships had x-rays. Otherwise my support would have arrived too late. I got a Gorbie, sent an additional Virgo with a good fighter load and started sweeping Robotic minefields.
In turn 29 our opponents chunneled a Biocide and four Instrumentality’s, all Lizard owned, to the former Borg territory. Again all opposing ships had x-rays. Hence they where very careful against 5 Virgos and a few small minefields and waited for Robotic reinforcements, which arrived in turn 38.
During this time Privateers got slaughtered by Loki supported Robots and ground assaulted by Lizards equipped with tons of Borg clans. My ships where too far away for a support.
Turn 40 Lizards began a raid into my territory. I threw out a couple of minefields and only a few cloaked LCCs survived this raid.
In the late thirties our opponents started to play for the score, building lots of star-bases. Consequently I switched my economy to score base building in turn 43. Hence my last turns where not very challenging with the exception of planing base building logistic. My fleets crushed Lizards and partially crushed Borg remainings. So we established the third place for Terry while my top position was never endangered as was the second place by the Robots, who was the only other player with a decent economy.
A lesson should be learned by all players in this game: equip your ships with good weapons and have enough ammo for them! Examples that violates this rule occurred a lot in this game:
Empire lost a Gorbie and a star-base to a Biocide with only 80 fighters!
Lizards build lots of x-ray, mark 1 LCCs. I haven't seen a single T-Rex!
Lizards lost a Biocide, an Instru and two LCCs while fighting two Virgos. The second Virgo not even got damaged.
Lizards lost LCCs to Cobols.
Robots lost two Automas to a single Virgo before a final Instru destroyed my ship. Even this was only due to the fact, that Barry skipped a lot of turns in the end and consequently my Virgo had not the usual load of fighters.
Minesweeping with x-rays is not a good idea unless you're Colonies. This is even more true, when facing web mines.
Finally I like to thank all players, allies and opponents, and Pick for hosting for the fun hours I spent on the game. The only disappointing fact was, that I started so far away from the Robots and I never met them in real combat.