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Vanilla VI

Once upon a time in the Echo Cluster…

Write-up about Vanilla VI by Michiel van Dam playing the Lizards


When I joined this game I expected that I would be killed by turn 30 anyway, but playing against 10 human players would be a nice experience. My friends had told me that players on the www are really good and ship limits were even reached before turn 18 (at which point I usually have 5 T-Rexes at most). My only goal was to have fun with my 30:1 Ground combat advantage and my cloaking devices until I was killed by the other races, and not to make alliances unless other players asked me to…

The Beginning

My homeworld was in a cluster of four planets, which I began to explore. There were no natives on the first 6 planets I explored, and I began to fear that there weren’t any natives in the cluster at all (I didn’t have much experience with this host), which would make the Hisss mission almost useless on any planets besides my homeworld. It took me 6 turns of exploring before I finally found a few natives. I noticed that my two neighbours were the Privateers and the Colonies. I knew that the Privateers could do nothing against the Lizards: they cannot rob cloaked ships, and they cannot fight my starbases or ships because of their the lack of firepower …

The Colonies were a far more dangerous enemy, so I sent as many LCC’s (Lizard Class Cruisers) to his space as possible, but at the time I had 4 LCC’s in his space he offered me an alliance, which I accepted because we both could focus on our other neighbours then, and I could get the firepower the Lizards lack by trading LCC’s and LOKI’s for COBOL’s and VIRGO’s. We agreed in a second degree alliance and RST-file sharing.

The Midgame

The Colonies were fighting the Robots while I was simply expanding. I knew where the Privateers were, but since this game was about score I didn’t bother to send in some heavy ships to kill him. I only sent half-a-dozen LCC’s to a border planet on approximately 130 Ly from his homeworld. I didn’t fly to his planets because he had dropped a large minefield, and since my LCC’s were designed to cloak and to drop clans on his worlds, they didn’t have the beams to sweep his minefield in a few turns. So I waited and expanded, waited and expanded, waited and………

There were about 10 ships at that location, all decloaked, and the privateers must have simply overlooked it until turn 33, when they robbed and tow-captured one of those ships (I still wonder why he didn’t take all ships since they were all not cloaked).

I became angry and started sweeping with every single X-ray I could get there, and the minefield shrank. I towed in a Virgo I got in a trade a few turns before, and a Loki with heavy phasers.

In the mean time I sent 4 T-Rexes with low-tech beams to the Colonies to help them against the Robots, because all I needed was a Virgo, since the privateer’s strongest ship is the BLOODFANG, which only has 4 beams and 7 bays… He gave me some ships to hisss above his planets and I sent also some ships of my own to turn his planets into gold mines.

End Game

After eight turns the Privateer minefield was completely gone and I destroyed his homeworld and two more starbases before the game was over. I also ground-assaulted a few planets and captured two MBR’s.

I started to worry about score somewhere about turn 38, and I realized that I would need lots of starbases to beat the Federation, who had 3100 points by then, while I only had 2200. I started with a plan to make as many planets as I could capable of building a starbase as soon as possible, and then to build them all in turn 48 or 49, hoping I would surprise the feds. I succeeded in building 18 starbases in one turn, and capturing one in the same turn, which made my score rise tremendously, which gave me a score of 5000, while the Fed’s had only 3600; the roles had been changed…

My ally was planning to do the same, but since the Robots were invading his space with large fleets he could only build 16 starbases, while he has been counting on 10 more, which would have made him on #1 and me on #2. The Fed’s weren’t expecting any trouble winning the game because they had been on #1 for nearly 30 turns, which made that he could do nothing in the one turn he got for anticipating on my 19 new starbases!

Looking Back

I learned a lot from this game. First, I learned how important it is to use economics. In former games I played with friend I usually built only ships which the planet was capable of, and almost never transported anything but colonists and cash. In my alliance with the Colonies I saw how he kept building lots of Virgos, while my minerals would have been spent already. A good alliance in which you trust each other is also important. When you play a whole game on your own you will eventually get kicked, whichever race you have, and whichever races your enemies have.

You need to know the race you play well, and you need to know your enemy even better! This is where I was lucky having the Pirates as neighbour, because I usually play the Pirates, but my #2 choice was Lizard, which I know almost as well as the Pirates. While fighting them I also got lucky when he made mistakes that cost him a few ships and gave me some PBP’s. And, most importantly, you need to surprise your enemies; while the Fed’s were already celebrating their victory I was working on a plan to capture his #1 spot, which he didn’t knew until turn 49 (when it was already too late for him). Some luck will also help in most cases…

Thanks to my ally Denis Krishenko playing the Colonies. (Without that alliance I would really have been killed before turn 30…)

Thanks to everybody who gave me advice, not only on the www, but also in my neighbourhood.

Special thanks to Denis Krishenko and Roderick de Jong who played turns for me while I was on vacation.

See you in next games, where I will be stealing your ships as the Pirates…

Group Lieut. Cmdr. Michiel van Dam