Donovan's
VGA Planets Super Site

The Birdmen guide to the galaxy
(version 1.2 - May 1998)
By Timo Kreike & the clan of twelve


0. Introduction
1. The Birdmen: an Analysis
      1.1 Strong points
      1.2 Weak Points
      1.3 How to overcome your weak points
      1.4 Birdmen DOs
      1.5 Birdmen DON'Ts
2. Playing the Birdmen
      2.1 Your game
      2.2 Your ships
      2.3 More on Scouts
3. About Super Spy
      3.1 The ship mission
      3.2 Notes about the spy info
      3.3 Advanced Super Spy
      3.4 Using (Advanced) Super Spy
4. Useful host settings
      4.1 Cloaked ships attack
      4.2 Cloak Prevent Damage
      4.3 Odds of cloak failure
      4.4 Privateer rob cloaked ships
      4.5 Cloak fuel burn per 100 kT
      4.6 Cloaked mine odds
      4.7 Ground attack ratio
      4.8 Free fighters
      4.9 Engine Shield Bonus
5. Interacting with races
      5.1 Useful Allies
      5.2 Useful Ships
      5.3 Trading your ships
6. Eliminating other races
      6.1 Dealing with Lokis
      6.2 Dealing with Glory Devices
      6.3 Notes on the Federation
      6.4 Dealing with the Lizards
      6.5 Dealing with the Privateers
      6.6 Dealing with the Cyborg
      6.7 Dealing with the Crystal People
      6.8 Dealing with the Empire
      6.9 Dealing with the Robots
      6.10 Notes on the Rebels
      6.11 Dealing with the Colonies
7. Sneaky Combat Tactics
      7.1 Towing ships
      7.2 Creative use of the NUK FC
      7.3 Ambush
      7.4 Carriers and your Starbases
      7.5 Glory Devices
      7.6 Freighter Hunting
      7.7 Conquering planets
      7.8 Cloaked ships attack
      7.9 Cloak Prevent Damage
      7.10 Steal minerals from a planet with a Starbase
      7.11 Using (Moving) Minefields
      7.12 Using good baits
      7.13 Cloaking your entire empire
      7.14 Enemy starbases
      7.15 Cloaking all your ships
      7.16 Super Spy bug in host.exe
8. More than host alone
      8.1 PHost
      8.2 RacePlus
      8.3 Borders
      8.4 FHost
      8.5 Nemesis
      8.6 Starbase+
      8.7 Tachyon
      8.8 Jumpgate
      8.9 Portal
      8.10 Tantalus Machine
      8.11 Alternative Shiplists
      8.12 AHost
      8.13 The Killing Floor (TKF)
9. More information
     9.1 Romulans in VGA-Planets
     9.2 Romulans in Star Trek
10. About this guide
     10.1 Credits
     10.2 Questions
     10.3 Additions
     10.4 Updates
     10.5 Complaints
     10.6 Distribution
11. Famous last words


0.    Introduction

The Guide and its History
The idea of compiling a Birdmen FAQ was developed in the high-days of the Galactic Guilds. The initial idea was to create a file that should be the first help for newbie Birdmen players and that should answer their first questions, and by doing so removing some of the workload from the feathered shoulders of the Birdmen Guild Master.

However it was not until six months after the sudden extermination of the immortal Guilds by evil forces in the Battle of Krell that I, Alistair MacBird, started writing this guide to help the early Birds through the first stages of their existence.

The opinions about the Birdmen are quite in contradiction. Some will say it's a perfect race to start with while others will tell you it's a race for experienced players. The truth is always simple: you can play any race you want as long as you know how. That's where the Guide comes in.

The Quest through the Galaxy
At 35% of the current size of the Guide I realised that the Galaxy was too large - there were just too many dimensions I didn't know (enough) about to get all important information covered. Messages were sent on several bandwidths, reaching out to the edges of the Galaxy searching for those Birdmen Admirals operating in the outer (unknown) dimensions.

The High Council
And thus the Council of Twelve was formed. Twelve of the most experienced Admirals became Member of the High Council of the Birdmen and contributed their knowledge of the outer dimensions and their experience in Birdmen
strategy to this evident act of Birdmen superiority: The Birdmen Guide to the Galaxy. Some of their individual contributions are marked [x].

The Guide and Beyond
The Guide and the memory of the Council of Twelve will probably live forever in this Galaxy. The ten Counsellors will return to their own dimensions to continue doing whatever they did before they founded the High Council - increasing their knowledge, improving their strategy, enlarging the Birdmen Empire and spreading the Birdmen Doctrine among the worlds. The Counsellors may or may not be reached again using the spaceways I used to contact them - it all depends on the interstellar rifts, but then, maybe another experienced Birdmen Admiral may decloak his/her flagship near your residence.

One thing for sure: the Counsellors might get lost in the outer dimensions, the Guide may get obsolete by the invention of newer technology, but the race of the Birdmen will never get exterminated.

Sailing off to the edge of our Empire,

Alistair MacBird of the clan MacBird,
Founder of the Council of Twelve


1.    The Birdmen: An Analysis
What exactly are these Birdmen guys anyway?

1.1 Strong points

Cloaking ships.
Most of the ship types you can build are able to cloak. You've even got a cloaking battleship!

Mineral Balance.
The minerals you need to build ships are pretty good balanced, maybe more than any other race. You won't get stuck with this enormous pile of surplus mineral of type x.

Small ships
Your ships are relatively small. This gives you an advantage early in the game where other players are struggling to put out a decent ship using the resources on their homebase and nearby planets.

1.2 Weak points

Big ships.
You don't have any *big* heavy capital ships. You're missing decent fighter carriers.

Fuel usage
As most of your ships you have can cloak and cloaking costs fuel, it is very likely that you will end up with large fuel shortages. The fuel a ship needs to cloak is dependent of the host settings. Default is 5 kT fuel per 100 kT hull. Since host 3.22.005 and phost 2.13b the Resolute and the Dark Wing don't need any more fuel to cloak.

Cash
You're not that heavy on cash as many other races. The Federation have their double tax profit and the Lizards can use HISS to increase the %% tax till over 50%. The Fascists can occasionally Pillage a native population for MC or set off an Glory Device to turn an entire Amorphous population into supplies. The Cyborg can assimilate natives and they will have almost an unlimited supply of colonists (tax!), cash and supplies (Bovinoids!). The Empire, the Borg and the Rebels have HYP ships they will use to expand their empire (and economy) very, very fast.

The Privateers and the Colonies have their Lady Royale pleasure ship, although the maximum of 160 MC per turn per ship they get is almost nothing when compared to the income of the Federation and the Lizards. The Fascists, the Robots and the Rebels have climate advantages to withstand barren climates. The Crystals have their own (best!) particular way to survive - their growth rate depends liniar on the temperature and can't be compared to the other races. They can have 1000 clans (clans!, not colonists) for every degree of temperature. This means 1000 clans on temp 1 planets (and 0 clans on temp 0 planets). Keep in mind the Crystals need a lot of cash for their WEB mines - their race specialty, main means of defence and way to get better ships - all in one - and are usually short on cash. Some races (Federation, Lizards, Crystals) can change the climate to their liking. Those six races will use their planets to a higher rate than you! And the Privateers don't need that much money: they will only build MBRs, they won't fight but ROB, so they don't need to spend their money on the techlevels of starbases. And they expand much, much faster!
You've got none of it all: you're basically screwed. So believe me when I say that you will have to pay much attention to your economy!

1.3 How to overcome your weak points

Big ships
You don't have any real big capital ships, the biggest ship you can build is the Dark Wing. The Dark Wing needs about three times less minerals than one of the 5 big carriers. However you'll need three Dark Wings to be sure to destroy a big carrier. (Take these three Dark Wings as an average; you'll need to find the right combination of Resolutes and Dark Wings for each large enemy battleship. You will certainly need a battle simulator like BSIM by Thomas Voigt, or P.A.C.T. by Chris Holz, Jan Klingele and Timo Kreike.)

The Dark Wing is quite good as a torps ship: it is better than the Victorious, Diamond Flame or T-Rex (even with Lizard crew) and comes close to the Nova and the Annihilation (especially if the Engine Shield Bonus is high). So you've got space superiority against the Lizard, the Fascists and the Privs, while you lose against the best ships of the Feds (Kittyhawk), the Crystals (Crystal Thunder) and the big five carriers of the Borg, Empire, Robots, Rebels and the Colonies. That places you in the 8th rank which is the best for a race without a decent carrier.[11]

Fuel usage
Use your Super Spy abilities, get the FC of an enemy planet and beam up the fuel from the planet. Serves two purposes: you will have fuel, and your enemy will have less. This, however, is nearly impossible if your opponent uses a tool like RandMax (by Steffen Pietsch) to change the FCs every turn.  You must rely on your Resolutes to transport fuel : their cloaking is free (in newer hosts) and they have a much larger fuel capacity than the Dark Wing. Supplies can only be refilled in enemy territory by capturing an unprotected or weakly protected planet, or from an uncolonised planet (read: amorphous).   Note that Resolutes to support the fuel-hungry Dark Wings are truly critical.[8]

Use freighters and Neutronic Fuel Carriers inside your territory - where your opponents can't see them.

Cash

  1. Use your Super Spy abilities and set the FC of an enemy planet to 'bum'. This will cause the planet to beam up its megacredits to all ships in orbit - including own and enemy ships. It's a pity a ship can't carry more than 10,000 MC....
    (Watch out for ion pulses! Only use Swifties for this! Or battle-ready Dark Wings....)
  2. You'll need to put extra attention to your economy. Try to squeeze the most tax out of your natives, maximise the number of factories on your planets etc. (Don't do this on planets with good natives: your decrease in tax income
    will in most cases be greater than your increase in supplies.) In Eden Tans Infolist you can find formulas to make optimal use of your planets. Use them. Use the Growth method (high/low tax) to make your colonists and natives grow quicker while getting the same or more tax.. Keep colonists HP over 70 at all times! RandMax can do that for you - it sure is a valuable tool.

1.4 Birdmen DOs

  • Try to build at least one starbase early in the game (near turn 15 - 20) over a Ghipsoidal planet. This starbase  will be operative from the first turn: on this base you will be able to build Swift Heart Scouts with Transwarp drives and x-ray lasers. These ships with only an engine will be capable of capturing freighters and spying in the enemy worlds. [1] * Two words: freighter hunting!
  • Attack, attack, attack! Think and be aggressive from turn one, never ever be put on the defence. This holds true for all cloaking races, and extremely so for the birds. Because you don't have big ships you shouldn't wait until your opponent can build his large carriers. Move in, capture planets before they are productive and kill supply lines. This is what you're good at, you can move into enemy territory and snipe freighters with dirt cheap scouts. The cloaked intercept makes this even more fun, even if your opponent escorts his large freighters you can still take them out first. If it's empty follow a LDSF or a STF to a planet and intercept it the next turn when it's full. Make a good estimate of the odds whether you can fly it into your own territory (use x-rays) or whether your enemy will capture the freighter back (deep in enemy territory. Use something that destroys the ship).
  • Don't be afraid of building Starbases, they can always be used to build scouts (warp 6 or higher engines, or only to take up shipslots/gain PBPs). Also good for defence later (if needed...) [6]

1.5 Birdmen DON'Ts

  • Don't use any non-cloaking ships. You've got the most different types of cloaking ships of all races so use them. [It is however hard to run a productive economy without large freighters.] And if you do want to use non-cloaking ships, like LDSF, make sure they planet hop, and NEVER show your heading!
  • Don't trade your large capital ships. The Dark Wing is so terrible that it is a big threat for you. One of the best combos I have found it's a Meteor towing a Dark Wing. Be sure that the Privateer never gets one. Don't trade Resolutes either!! In Privateer, Robotic or Crystalline hands, they're much more lethal than a Dark Wing...
  • Don't play in games where Privs robbed cloaked = ON, cloak failure >5% or games where cost of cloaking is high (>5N/turn) Birdmen are also favoured by low mineral settings. Some hosts give Birdmen 5x ground att/def bonus, which is fine! [6]
  • Don't build anything but Resolutes, Dark Wings and Swifties after 20-30 turns.. They can accomplish everything you want! (Maybe an occasional Merlin or Refinery.)

2.    Playing the Birdmen
What should a 'typical' Birdmen game look like?

2.1 Your game
You'll try to stay cloaked/hidden for at least the first 10 - 20 turns. If you get the two free ships, fill the Swift Heart Class Scout (tech 6 engines, X-rays) with 20 clans and send it away to drop a clan on every planet. The Small Deep Space Freighter... if you can't planet-hop to keep the ship hidden you won't use it. (Maybe you could tow it to get 70 kT extra cargo hold.) Increase your engine tech to 10 and send out 2 - 4 Swift Hearts filled with 20 clans. When you find a good planet, build a Fearless Wing Cruiser as a cloaking transporter and start expanding your economy. * Check if you can move between a couple of planets that are < 81 LY's away from each other, then use a LDSF, much quicker expansion in the beginning - IMPORTANT for Birdmen!

Your money will be gone soon - your cloaking ships (except the Scout) need 2 engines and that is very expensive in the first 10 - 15 turns. Don't buy fighters or starbase defence for the same reason. You'd better find a nice planet with a large native population. Tax! Just like in any other game, start thinking about your second starbase at turn 10-15 and build it between turn 15-20. A tech 10 hull or tech 10 engines base is useful - you really don't need tech 10 beams/torps yet. Depending on your neighbour you'll have to start thinking about some defence. Think about the Deth Specula, the Resolute and the Dark Wing.

Find that Bovinoid planet fast. As you search for it put the SB to build mainly Swift Hearts. When you find the Bovinoid planet put all resources into building 1 Merlin to place lots of clans on the Bovinoid planet. Build a SB there. This way you'll have hundreds of each mineral each turn. Don't forget to place enough clans to receive all those supplies. (Divide no of Bovinoids with 10000 to find out how many clans you need!) With this you will have lots of minerals and so distribute them to all the nearby planets and build SB on all of them. Start building ships as fast as you can. Mainly Resolutes, Dark Wings, White Falcons, Fearless Wings, Swift Hearts and Freighters. [2]

Early on the game, players don't have the resources to lay enormous minefields, or to build Lokis or Glory Devices so take advantage of that and scout their territory looking for valuable planets and ships. Use Swift Hearts for scouting and White Falcons for smaller ships.

About starbases: Generally, unless its a long game, don't build them. They use an incredible amount of resources which could be shipped to your HomeWorld to make Dark Wings. I do think there is one great point about starbases in a short-medium game and that is on a Ghipsoidal planet. You have an instant Swift heart factory! New starbases are also hard to defend and you generally won't find that perfect planet in which there are a lot of natives, a lot of minerals, and a nice temperature. [7]

You should be building Swift Hearts throughout the entire game, sending them off into your opponent's territory. As the Birdmen, you should know where every planet of every opponent is located.[8]

Remember to use scouts when exploring ANY new territory, remember the movie Aliens - what kind of bozo sends civilians to examine unexplored territory? Hopefully not you. Moral: Resist the urge to "get there first". It's very rare that you will discover a tropical 15 million Bovinoid unity planet. Don't use large freighters to explore new clusters.[9]

This race is possibly the most "human" when it comes to advantages, no tax or mining help, just good old fashioned "crazy-like-a-fox" strategy and planning. [9]

2.2 Your ships
This is the standard shiplist. Alternate shiplists will be described in Chapter 8.11.

Small Deep Space Freighter
Too small for most of your needs. Use it at your own risk. Use it for Reverse Alchemy (see article in The Planeteer - issue 4 or 5) or to get free ship slots.

Swift Heart Class Scout
The ultimate scout. Equip it with 2 X-ray lasers to capture freighters and unprotected planets. Build lots of them: 20% of your fleet may not be enough, because you will lose lots of them performing their dangerous spy mission in minefields finding Glory Devices and Loki's. It may seem silly to use Heavy Phasers on Scouts, but as your Scouts will in most cases operate in teams, such a team could need heavy beams to sweep an enemy minefield when trapped inside. When equipped with Transwarp drives it will never get obsolete in a game. It's low mass and relatively large fuel tank will let you take the Scout deep into enemy territory.

Neutronic Fuel Carrier
A dilemma... You will certainly need ships to carry fuel, but this one doesn't cloak. When you use this Fuel Carrier you will expose the location of your starbases, important planets and your ships. You'd better not. Use White Falcons (430 kT), Fearless Wings (360 kT) or Resolutes (480 kT) to transport fuel. Those ships are heavier and their cloaking devices will need fuel. :-( (Except for the Resolute of course.)

Medium Deep Space Freighter, Large Deep Space Freighter, Super Transport Freighter
They won't cloak. Believe me, I've tried it very, very hard, but those damn bastard ships won't cloak. So only use these freighters when you can planet-hop. If not, you'd better use the White Falcon (140 kT cargo), Fearless Wing (240 kT) or Resolute (280 kT).

[1200 kT (LDSF) vs. 280 kT (Resolute) = 4.2 times worse economy!]

White Falcon Class Cruiser
Needs just one large tube to lay large minefields. Cheap ship to tow enemy warships.

Bright Heart Cls Destroyer
Cheapest ship to tow enemy ships. Has a very, very small fuel tank which makes its use very limited. Cheap mineral cost and four tubes make this a good defender. When build with tech 5 engines they can defend your planets and freighters against enemy HYP probes.

Small Transport
Worthless.

Fearless Wing Cruiser
Needs just one large tube to lay large minefields. Perfect minesweeper. Use it as a freighter.

Skyfire Class Cruiser
Doesn't cloak. Don't build it.

Valiant Wind Class Carrier
Doesn't cloak. Don't build it. Maybe for defending starbases? Excellent for trading. When the E-S Bonus is high and you have access to cheap fighters, it fights well against torp ships.

Deth Specula Class Frigate
Nice ship, nice ship indeed. Multi-purpose: excellent minesweeper with high tech beams, prefect mid-size destroyer. It's only large (!) disadvantage is it's small fuel tank. A fully loaded Deth flying cloaked will run dry within 5 turns. Use it as a short-range defender/attacker/patrol ship. Use it to soften up large torp ships for your Dark Wing. Some Birdmen players won't use the Deth when the E-S Bonus is low or off: its mass is to low for the ship to be of any good use, and the fuel tank is too small.

Resolute Class Battlecruiser
One of your best ships. Perfect minesweeper, great minelayer. A Resolute can take out a medium starbase stocked with 30 fighters without taking any damage. Large cargo hold, large fuel tank. Perfect for long range missions in enemy territory. Since host 3.22.005 and phost 2.13b it's cloaking device doesn't need any fuel any more. Resolutes and Dark Wings also stay cloaked inside Ion-storms! Very good once you have a huge storm over your territory!

Red Wind Class Carrier
Right. Two beams and two fighterbays doesn't make it a very useful ship. But... with access to free fighters it is a perfect fighter transporter. Exactly 60 fighters fit in the cargohold: a complete starbase fighter (re)fill. Very useful in teamgames!

Dark Wing Class Battleship
Remember you'll loose two good ships to a large fightercarrier - only the third ship (a Dark Wing) will kill it. Except for big Fed carriers: for example for a Fed Gorbie you'll definitely need more Dark Wings. The Dark Wing is cheap - build lots of them. Since host 3.22.005 and phost 2.13b it's cloaking device doesn't need any fuel any more. But remember, every 3 or 4 turns it will need a full cargo of fuel. Resolutes and Dark Wings also stay cloaked inside Ion-storms! Very good once you have a huge storm over your territory!

Neutronic Refinery Ship / Merlin Class Alchemy Ship
In a mineral rich game you probably won't need any: build one when you need one. (Simple eh?)

The White Falcon makes a real good towing ship (warp 9)! Build a LDSF with low-level engines (5), fill it up with for example 1150 colonists, 50 supplies and enough money (600 MC), tow it to a star-cluster and start colonising. Use the LDSF to colonise the nearer planets (planet to planet - moves). Use the White Falcon (cloaked) to colonise the planets more far away. Don't waste your colonists! 100 clans on a normal planet is sufficient. Build up one planet (having a temp near 50/Temperate-Warm) as "breeding"-planet. Undocumented and unverified feature: Towing will burn less fuel than the LDSF would have burned. Its a way to spread out quickly and it's not that expensive. It's a real quick way to build up a couple of planets. [3]

When you're building White Falcons for misisons deep inside enemy territory, try equipping them with Gamma Bombs and Blasters. When you detect an enemy freighter or little capital ship you can always choose if you want to _capture_ it using the Gamma Bombs or to _kill_ it using your Blasters (FC: 'NTP') * If you've got freighters, set their missions to Mine Sweep, or Sensor Sweep. Your capital ships will be cloaked most of the time and can't perform Mine/Sensor sweeps at the same time, your freighters can't sweep mines but they can detect them and keep you up-to-date of the current status of your minefields and the enemy minefields near your empire. [1] - This way you can update the datafiles of your EchoView and/or Informer game aids. It gives you valuable information. - This is particular useful when you capture an enemy freighter in enemy territory: your raider can cloak again whilst the captured freighter will update your enemy minefield info. - Same to any non-cloaking ship you might possess: the Merlins and Neutronic Refinery Ships in orbit of your starbases make great minesweepers.

About freighters: Nonetheless you'll need those ships, 280 kT cargo space is way too little, large populations of natives can be taxed so much sooner when you drop large loads of clans, making expanding so much easier. Plus, you'll need clans in the front-line, because one of the hardest parts of playing planets is still how to occupy newly conquered territory. If you moved out lots of clans early in the game, you'll have huge stocks next to the places where you need them. Too bad enemies may guess where you are, but once you are the one that's doing the attacking all this knowledge is nothing compared to the advantages you have with a good freighter fleet. And when you can use the freighters in a "safe" zone this frees up the cloakers for spying and sniping at your neighbours. [4].

2.3 More on Scouts
I am constantly amazed at the attitude of some players regarding scouts. Sure, they are great in the beginning when you can't build anything else, but let's take another look at these wonderful little vermin.

Scouts are light, cheap and have a long range.  Combine a cloaking device with that and you have a great intelligence ship. My experience comes with working with the Archaeopterix class scout, a single-engine 3-beam PList ship, but the standard Swift Heart works just as well.

Things to do with your scouts:

SCOUTS IN EXPANSION:
Exploration:
a full fuel tank and a few colonists to use as markers.  Put Transwarps on them and Heavy Blasters (Birdmen scouts have more beams and mass than other scouts ships, i.e. Borg or Rebel hyper-warp ships)  Set a waypoint, and as Picard says, "engage!".  Vital in games with Exploremap.

Couriers:
A cloaking cash vault. Send one to that far away insectoid unity planet, and shuttle your cash home with peace of mind.

Minefields:
Found a minefield? Find the owner's planet closest to the center of the field, send in 5 ships and change the friendly code, neutralising it and letting your warships cruise on in. Just set all the f-codes the same value, and set
your fleet all to the same code as well.

Only got a few scouts?  Enter orbit and spy anyway and read the code, just make sure to check it every turn. Some players will use RandMax to change their codes after each turn. note that NUK, ATT etc. will not work - you will need to change the planet code with 5 ships if that's the case.

SCOUTS IN COMBAT:
Too often a game will proceed as follows:
- turns  1 - 20 expand, colonise, establish starbases and supply routes.
- turns 21 - ?? pump out Resolutes and Dark Wings and prepare to invade the territory of other players.
You will almost never see a scout from any race ever again. This is bad. Why? read on...

Scouts as advance warning for the fleet:
Planning to invade enemy space? Build 3 scouts and send them out 2 turns before your main fleet is ready to go. This is _essential_ to a successful invasion.  Not only will you get advance notice of enemy fleet movement, but once your main fleet shows up your scouts will probably already be deep inside enemy lines, and can snipe away at support vehicles (fuel carriers and freighters) once the battle gets really heavy.

Scouts as part of the assault:
Dark Wings are great for killing starbases and capital ships, but they can't be everywhere. And what's the sense in sending a resolute after a freighter? Kind of like sandblasting a soup cracker... Mop them up with those little guys!

** Host 3.22.05 allows Dark Wings and Resolutes to cloak without extra fuel, so disregard the following advice if you're playing in a newer host game. **

It is not always necessary to cloak every ship leaving your HomeWorld. There is a 200 LY scan range for ships and planets, so if you can guarantee the safety of your immediate space, don't cloak your main ships until your scouts
make contact with the enemy (either via seeing enemy ships, entering orbit over an enemy planet, or driving through 81 LY of mines :))

Decoys:
In a game I once played in, the Privateers managed to sneak two Blockade Runners behind the Colonial minefield lines, and managed to wreak havoc just by decloaking in full view and then hiding and running all over the place. It threw my ally into a state of panic because he assumed there must be more, and stopped an invasion in progress to mop up these little ships. The same can work for you - 3 or 4 small ships appearing at once in a pack or apart can cause a player to split up a defensive fleet to take care of you, or at least lay a minefield to try and slow you down.  The minefield laid is that many torps less that will hit your warships (just make sure to sweep as you go!) And the ship that breaks off of the main group to intercept you is one less your ships will have to fight that turn - these things can make or break a battle.

Note:
Scouts typically have small crew - if at all possible, try to avoid capture (drive through a minefield at warp 9, cloak and stay still, or run like hell if you can). [9]


3.    About Superspy
(What to do with your special mission.)

3.1 The ship mission
All your ships can perform a Super Spy. This is a special ship mission, just like other missions like Lay Mines and Sensor Sweep. Every ship that can cloak, will cloak when its mission is set to Super Spy. A ship that needs fuel to cloak, will use fuel. The Super Spy mission will give you certain information of enemy planet. You will get this information in two messages. The first message is exactly the same as you would get when your ship is on Exploration mission:

(-z0180)<<<Sub Space Message >>>

From: BSC Cyborg Tracker
At:Tera 9
Temp: 57 ( Temperate - warm )
There are enemy colonists
living on this planet.
The colonists are part of the
Colonial race.
Sensors show that there are
283 enemy clans.
They have a starbase.

Needless to say the last line only appears when your ship (in this example the BSC Cyborg Tracker) is orbiting a planet (in this example Tera 9, ID #180) with a starbase.

The second message includes the extra spy info:

(-z0180)<<<Sub Space Message >>>

From: BSC Cyborg Tracker
At:Tera 9
The planet has 0 megacredits
68 mineral mines
114 factories
65 defence outposts
The planetary friendly code is : D12
Minerals on/in the planet
N: 1415 M: 1214 T: 1422 D: 1239
Supplies : 0

3.2 Notes about the spy info
The Friendly Code you get is the FC of this turn, and there is no guarantee it will be the same next turn. Your opponent might change it. Scouting an enemy territory to make a collection of his Friendly Codes is rather senseless.

You can't scan enemy planets for natives, but you can be pretty sure that when you've found this planet with a large amount of MC you've found yourself a planet with natives. Selling all supplies on a regular planet having about 100 factories for four turns results in 400 MC. When you find a planet with 2000 MC or more you can be for almost 100% sure it will have natives. (Or a starbase: your enemy might accumulate money for new ships. Easy to check: the starbase should be mentioned in the first message.)


When you see a planet that has a far lower number of factories and/or defence units than the maximum number that would be allowed by the number of clans, you've found an enemy planet that is still in development. Decide whether it is an outpost at the edge of your enemies territory or a minor, unimportant planet. In any case: if it has megacredits it has natives.

Planets with an extreme amount of supplies will have a Bovinoid population. Same could apply to planets with orbiting Merlins/Refinery ships.

You will get some info about the minerals on and in the planet. You can't be sure how much minerals of type X there are on the surface ready to be beamed up by you. It will however give you the odds: the more kT mineral of type X there are, the more kT mineral there will probably be on the surface. Don't forget to look how many mines there are to make an estimation of your future bait. To state clearly: the 1415 kT Neutronium of the example above means that the combined amounts of Neutronium on the surface and the Neutronium buried deep in the core equal 1415 kT.

Since host v3.22.010 the last line mentions the number of supplies. For host v3.22.009 and earlier (v3.14!) this line shows the number of megacredits (for the second time.)

3.3 Advanced Super Spy
Since host version 3.22 the Super Spy mission is slightly enhanced. Next to the functionality described above, a Birdmen ship with its mission set to Super Spy has a 20% chance to change the FC of an enemy planet to match its own ship FC. This can be turned of using a ship FC starting with x or X.

This FC change only applies to enemy planets, not to unowned or own planets.

Advanced Super Spy happens before all other missions and after all other missions. So you have a chance to change the FC of a planet just before you leave its orbit (i.e. before movement), and just after you've entered its orbit (i.e. after movement). However you will get the regular Super Spy info only after movement.

If you change the FC you will get a message like this:

(-p0180)<<< Spy Report >>>

From: BSC Cyborg Tracker
Our spy team has
changed the planetary
friendly code on:
Tera 9 ID #180
to: bum

In the same turn your enemy will also get a message:

(-p0180)<<< Planetary Message >>>

Distress CALL!
From: Tera 9
We have found Birdmen
spies on the planet.
They have CHANGED the planet's
friendly code!
The code is now: bum

Every ship has a 20% chance of changing the FC, so if you've got more ships with the same FC in orbit you've got an higher chance. Five ships will have 100% chance of changing the planetary FC.

If you succeeded in changing the FC of a planet/starbase, this planet/starbase has 20% chance to strike back if it has more than 30 defence units. If so, the planet will destroy 10 defence units. The blast of those 10 exploding defence units will decloak all ships in orbit. You will get a message like:

(-p0180)<<< Spy Report >>>

From: BSC Cyborg Tracker
Our spy team has
changed the planetary
friendly code on:
Tera 9 ID #180
to: bum
Enemy defence outposts
are using an ion
discharge overload
to decloak all ships in orbit!
They sacrificed ten outposts.

In the same turn your enemy will also get a message:

(-p0180)<<< Planetary Message >>>

Distress CALL!
From: Tera 9
We have found Birdmen
spies on the planet.
They have CHANGED the planet's
friendly code!
The code is now: bum
Defence outposts using an
ion discharge overload to
decloak all ships in orbit.
Ten outposts sacrificed.

This is not cumulative: no matter how many ships you've used to change the FC, the chance of a counter-attack is always 20%.

When you succeeded changing the FC of an enemy planet/starbase to 'mfX' to manipulate his minefields (see below) and that planet has more than 30 defence units, the chance of such an ion discharge is not 20% but 100%! You'd better know what you're doing. Remember that if you decloak for the ion discharge the planet will not attack your spying ships because both the planet and your ships have the same FCode. But enemy ships in orbit will if they have their mission on KILL or if they have their primary enemy set! Your ship will not surrender to the Starbase even if it has been set to Force Surrender, because your mission is still Super Spy.

3.4 Using (Advanced) Super Spy
Few people know that SS and SSD are separate missions and occur at different times in the host processing. As always: information is power. If you are in deep space and end your turn in orbit over an enemy planet with your mission set to "super spy" you will only get the Super Spy part of the mission. So, if you don't want to risk having an ionic pulse short out your cloaking device, set your mission to "cloak" instead of super spy, or use a Friendly Code of 'X..'.

If you WANT to try changing the code, just leave its mission on super spy. This is particularly useful if you want to steal everything and leave in one turn, just bring in 5 ships with the same code with mission CLOAK, next turn set fcode to 'bum' (or, if using the AHost host addon: BMM, BUT, BUD, etc) and set a waypoint for a few LY away. You change the code, beam it up, AND leave all in the same turn. Now make a run for it.[9]

1. Beaming up minerals from a starbase can be risky: when you set your ship FC to the FC of the enemy planet and the starbase has its mission set to Force Surrender you'll lose your ship the moment you'll change the ship mission from Super Spy to another mission! Planets however can't force a ship to surrender...

2. Use a couple of Scouts to lock the FC and use Fearless Wings and Resolutes to beam everything off the surface: fuel and minerals! You could combine this with tip 3. Don't bother to return the minerals to your planets when you're deep in enemy territory. Use the minerals to build new torpedoes, and jettison the remaining minerals in space.

3. You could use 'battle'groups of 5 Swift Hearts be sure to lock a FC..[7]

4. Keep a couple of your ships in orbit of an enemy starbase/planet with their mission set to Super Spy and their FC set to 'bum'. This will force the enemy starbase/planet to beam up its megacredits to _all_ ships in orbit. Every ship will get an equal share of MC... Success guaranteed!

5. Of course you're not messing around with enemy planet at random: your spy info will guide you to the key planets of the enemy. Scout for starbases. Look for possible starbase locations and rob them blind before they get built. Search for natives (see 3.2 notes above) and milk the cash cows of your enemy. Remember which enemy planets have an high concentration of minerals and a lot of mines, and use those planets to refuel your ships. Use his supplies to repair your ships.

6. Annoy your enemy.. Same as 3 but with another FC: 'dmp'. The starbase will now dump all its unused ship parts. You never know what the damage is you've done, but some players do build lots of ship parts they won't use immediately. Works perfectly for the Federation: their Refit mission tends to stock lots of ship parts on starbases.

7. Remember that lowercase FCs like 'bum' and 'dmp' only work for registered players. If your enemy is not registered, you'd better find yourself a better cash cow (i.e. a registered player).

8. When fighting an enemy that makes heavy use of his minefields you can change his universal minefield code. If you put a "mfX" being x a character of your choice on a planet owned by him, all the minefields will not affect your ships that have this code. An universal mfX code will be overridden when a planet with a higher ID has a different mfX FC. The best way to make use of this feature is to find a planet without starbase and recently colonised. Also if the planet has defence posts but when there is no ship nearby to attack you, you can change the FC of the planet during several turns. Also, if this planet is the planet with the highest ID of all the planets of this player he can do nothing to break your control over his minefields.

A dangerous toy, but may be a serious option. It has been tried and proven worthful in special circumstances. If you have many ships that have to move through many different minefields (webs!!) owned by the same race you can try and lock the FC of a planet with five ships, but make sure they are either cheap (scouts) or can win a battle (Dark Wing with lowest ID# plus 4 others). It all depends on the question if the fast progression you can make by free movement through the minefields outweighs the cost. Remember if there are more planets with mfX as a friendly code the planet with the highest ID will determine the universal minefield friendly code. [4]

9. This advanced Super Spy mission makes it more risky to spy on your allies and friendly neighbours...:-(
If you SuperSpy and set the first letter in your FC to x or X (Example "xF1") your ships will NOT try to change the FC, and therefore will NOT be decloaked if unlucky! This will work for the latest versions of Host (v3.22.10) and Phost.


4    Useful Hostsettings
What to check if you're looking for a new game.

4.1 Cloaked ships attack
Default: YES
This will let you attack enemy ships while you're cloaked. You simply fly in with your mission set to 'Super Spy' or 'Cloak' and your Primary Enemy set to race XXX. If there is a ship of that race your ship will engage combat. If there are more ships of race XXX, you will engage them all.
If your ship has survived combat and it didn't get too much damage to prevent cloak, your ship will cloak again. If it has too much damage, it will attack the planet if it is owned by your Primary Enemy or when the planetary FC is set to ATT or NUK. A cloaked ship with the Primary Enemy set will only attack the ships of your primary enemy but not their planets. It is easy to imagine that the default setting YES gives you some great combat tactics - more than any other cloaking race. You've got the largest cloaking ships in the game!

4.2 Cloak Prevent Damage
Default: 1
This number is the maximum percentage of damage you ship can have before its cloak fails. For example when the cloak prevents damage % is 15, you'll decloak when your damage is 15; you will still be able to cloak when your damage is 14 %. So the higher this percentage the better! Note: if your ship carries supplies they will immediately be used to repair the damage -between ship vs ship and ship vs planet combat -after ship vs planet combat -after all ships have moved through the minefields -after all Glory Device attacks. However if you are decloaked by the damage you will only cloak again at the end of the turn!

4.3 Odds of cloak failure
Default: 0%
Title says it all. Don't play in a game where this %% is too high, or you'll get screwed. Your strong points make use of the cloak option. If this fails, your only advantages are gone.

4.4 Privateer rob cloaked ships
Default: NO
If this option is YES than this means that the Privateers can rob your ships from fuel and cargo even if he can't see them. This can make it very hard to beat the Privateers. See section 6.5 'Dealing with the Privateers'.

4.5 Cloak fuel burn per 100 kT
Default: 5
This means that your ships need fuel to cloak. The amount of fuel that is used for cloaking is depending on the mass of the ship. Lucky for you your ships have a low mass. The Deth Specula, the Swift Heart and the Red Wind all use 5 kT fuel in the default host settings. The lower this value is the better! Since host v3.22.005 and phost v2.13b the Resolute and Dark Wing don't apply to this setting any more: their advanced cloaking devices won't use fuel.

4.6 Cloaked mine odds
Default: 0.5 %
This means you've got a lower chance to hit an enemy mine when you're flying cloaked. Nice eh? The setting could vary between 0.2 and 0.9.

4.7 Ground attack ratio
Default: 1 : 1
You're a cloaking race, and you have cloaking ships with useable large cargoholds - it would be very welcome to play in a game where you get a ground attack advantage of say 5 : 1 to 10 : 1. (Using default game settings the Lizards get a ground attack advantage of 30 : 1, the Fascists get 15 : 1.) Use this advantage to conquer low-populated enemy starbases without having to destroy them.

4.8 Free fighters
Default: 0
Your economy is quite bad, so 1 or 2 free fighters per starbase per turn wouldn't hurt you. In fact it would save you lots of MC that you can use to buy the techlevels for your Dark Wings. The number of free fighters doesn't have to be high, 2 free fighters is OK because you will only use those fighters as defence on your starbases. (The Evil Empire get 5 free fighter by default, but they need the fighters in their assault vessels.)

4.9 Engine Shield Bonus
The effects of this host setting are quite complicated for the Birds. Your important warships have only two engines, you are an aggressive race which has to move constantly and you have usually a fuel shortage. If you would have ships with poor engines you would have to tow them into combat, what results in the towing ship being uncloaked. Therefore you will have Transwarp Engines on nearly all of your ships.

An high setting for the Engine Shield Bonus (ESB) will help you with all your transwarped ships more than the other races during the early stages of the game since your relatively light ships fight much better with the added bonus mass. The situation changes however drastically in the later part of the game. Most of your enemies will start pumping out large carriers that you will confront primarily with your Dark Wings. Since the hull of a Dark Wing is already heavier than 320 kT, an ESB does not help you al all against incoming fighters, while your enemies can gain additional resistance against your torpedoes from their ESB.

An high setting gives you therefore a clean disadvantage when you fight against large carriers. And later in the game all races but the Fascists will throw carriers at you. (The Privateers will fight you only if they have stolen something massive to impress you, everybody else has carriers that are superior to the Dark Wing.)

Only if you plan to use your Resolutes to fight the big carriers as well (which I recommend not to do), you need an engine shield bonus of at least 47% to give your Resolutes the necessary battle mass for a more effective resistance against fighter hits. So in short games, especially if they are mineral poor, you as a Birdmen prefer a high Engine Shield Bonus, while in long games with lots of resources a low setting is much better for you. [11]


5    Interacting with races
About alliances, trading and getting what you need most from your allies.

5.1 Useful Allies
Every player would like to make some kind of agreement with you. Your cloaking capabilities together with the information you will gather about your enemies will be regarded formidable. When you're attacking you are a fearsome opponent. Every player would like to have spy info about their enemies. Every player would like to have the cloaking minelayers, minesweepers, battlecruisers and battleships you have. So _you_ will be the one to choose your ally. Pick the one you like most.

Remember: you don't have to ally. You could always sell or trade spy information. Other players may hire your ships - the ships will still be in your possession.

You don't need ships of other players to fight: fighting is not your special ability. Choose your ally wisely, and try to fix one or more of your major problems.

A free-fighter race would be a nice ally. Hammering again on your bad economy, your free-fighter ally could provide you with fighters that are at least 95% cheaper. You will have to buy your fighters, but the Robots, the Rebels and the Colonies can make a fighter from 3 Tritatium, 2 Molybdenum and 5 supply units where you will need the same minerals and 100 MC. Filling a starbase will cost you 60 x 100 MC == 6000 MC. With a little help from your ally it will cost you 300 supplies.... Very good deal: trade info for fighters.

Use cloaking Red Winds to carry the fighters to your starbases, they can hold exactly 60 fighters. Why tell your ally where your starbases are? Example: Drop your minerals on a Rebel planet. The orbiting Gemini will use the minerals to make fighters. The FC of the Gemini is set to 'btf' - your Red Wind will fly by cloaking and will be loaded with fighters on the fly. (Transfer Fighters happens before Movement.)

  • Ally to the Empire or the Cyborg to overcome your lack of big carriers. Get him to send you some decent carriers to defend your empire.
  • Ally to the Federation or the Lizards to solve your economy problem. Borrow some climate changers and extract some cash from your ally.
  • Ally to the Privateers to provide you with meteors. A meteor will tow a Dark Wing without fuel problems.
  • Ally to the Crystals. You just don't want to fight against them. Their webmines take away most of your cloaking advantage.

5.2 Useful Ships

  • MBRs. For their speed. MBRs can serve you in two ways: the first being a very, very fast Super Spy ship, the second a way to tow large freighters 162 LY a turn. (for planet-hopping large distances.) Are also very easy to capture but you'll be lucky to hit one.
  • Aries. To solve your fuel problem. The Aries needs minerals to make fuel but it functions cheaper than a Neutronic Refinery Ship. You can put the ship on a starbase to keep it hidden.
  • Cobol. To solve your fuel problem. The Cobol makes fuel dirt cheap but it will reveal the position of your planets. A cloned Cobol with Transwarp drives and low tech arms will repay its total costs within 5 turns use. (Compared to the standard supply/mineral conversions of the Merlin and the Refinery Ship.) With some special precautions a Cobol can be captured in combat.
  • Fireclouds. This solves your fuel problem like no other ship can, and makes you more versatile. Only 50 kT of fuel and many ships can be ported to anywhere in your empire. Remember, the turn you chunnel you won't have shields, so make sure you won't be attacked that turn. A detailed course on chunneling is out of the scope of this manual, but it can serve many purposes, transferring whole battlegroups, large stocks of minerals and clans at relatively low cost, so if you can get your hands on one of these babies do your most to get them.
  • Carriers, carriers, carriers... etc.
  • HYP ships. Very useful to expand your economy fast. HYP ships are easy to capture but hard to find. In decreasing order of usefulness: Rebel Falcon, Empire Probe, Cyborg Probe.
  • Terraformers to give your planetary economy the push it needs.
  • Don't be afraid of using Super Star Destroyers, Lokis or Glory Devices.

5.3 Trading your ships
[More than everything else written down here: this is my opinion. Take it as you want it.]

Every player would like to get one of your cloaking ships. Cloaking minelayers, minesweepers etc. You'll have to think twice before trading a ship with a cloaking device to a race that doesn't cloak. You'll give him something he/she doesn't have: Invisibility. Trading a cloaking ship can have devastating effects: other than non-cloaking ships you won't see it coming when it comes your way again.... Imagine your former ally, now your backstabbing opponent will use your ex-cloakers as the first strike fleet.

You can build a few ships that are 'safe' to trade: the Skyfire Class Cruiser and the Valiant Wind Class Carrier. Why anybody should want a Skyfire I don't know, but the Valiant with its 7 beams and 3 bays can be very useful. There are a couple of races that lack a decent mid-size carrier. The Lizards for example only have their Madonzilla with 4 beams and 5 bays. They can afford the fighters and their 150 % damage will turn the carrier into a dangerous weapon.
When you trade it to the Feds, they will add their 3 bonus bays when the Fed Crew Bonus is on, and they'll transform it into a 7 beams and 6 bays ship. Same to the Cyborg: they have a lot of money but they've got no carriers... Just their Biocides.

You can even sell your Valiant to the Rebels and/or the Colonies. Yeah, right! Next to their tech 10 battleships (Rush and Virgo) they only have their single-use Patriot Class Light Carrier. The Patriot has 2 beams, a mass of 90 and a cargohold for 30 fighters. It will explode when entering any minefield, it's beams won't do nothing and after one combat the number of fighters will have to be replenished. Your Valiant on the contrary weights 180 kT, has 7 beams and it will hold 80 fighters! I'm sure you will be able to convince your ally the Valiant is the one ship he/she is missing!

There are ships that you NEVER must trade. The first one is the Swift Heart. This ship is very cheap to clone and you, with your strategy of not build freighters, will have many planets without enough defences to defend from a cloaked attack. Never let the Privateer get his hands on a White Falcon - with its fuel capacity of 430 it will rob almost any ship making him too strong. Neither a Dark Wing. Think on what you would do against a Privateer Dark Wing towed by a MBR.... [1]


6    Eliminating other races
Some of them just won't cooperate!

6.1 Dealing with Lokis
In host v3.22.020 the Birdmen are immune to Loki's and since host version 3.22.021 the immunity of the Birdmen against Loki's is host configurable. This section gives you some tips if you're not immune

Loki's aren't that heavy, they're just annoying. A Loki can carry 4 tubes and two beams, but the hull weighs only 101 kT. Use a Deth Specula or a Resolute with high tech torps to intercept and destroy a Loki in mid-space. Because your ships have cloaking devices they will attack before all other ships without cloaking device. This is the so called 'Cloaked Intercept'. Take note: the word is very misleading, because you're not cloaked at all.

The trick is to spot Loki's before you start spying on a planet. If you do fly to a planet protected by the 10 LY radius Tachyon (20 LY diameter) wave of a Loki you will be decloaked. If you decloak orbiting a planet the results can be devastating for you... So don't fly to the planet directly, but warp to a location 5 - 9.9 LY from a planet. If you don't get decloaked it's safe to fly to the planet. (Beware of planet-hopping Loki's.) If you do get decloaked it's time to move on. By careful probing you'll know how many Loki's there are, and where they are...

If you find a Loki in this way, be almost sure that the mission for this ship in the next turn will be Lay Mines. If you flee you will be decloaked and more vulnerable. Remember that Decloaking happens before and after Movement. [1]

If you receive a Loki from an other player remember that this ship will decloak all your cloaking ships. The tachyon device can not be deactivated. The only way to deactivate is to leave the Loki without fuel. [However, in older host versions even Loki's without fuel will decloak you. This is a very annoying bug, but it will be fixed. A player can tow a fuelless Loki with a battleship. The Loki will always decloak you, and when you try to destroy it by Cloaked Intercept, your interceptor will be fried by the battleship.]

An example of the message you'll receive when one of your ships gets decloaked by a Loki:

(-s0025)<<< Cloak Failure Report >>>

From: BSC Cyborg Tracker
ID # 25
We have been detected
by a Loki class ship.
They found us with a
tachyon field. Our cloaking
device has failed
Loki Ship ID# 136
Name: V'Karr
Race: Lizard

6.2 Dealing with Glory Devices
When you're flying in Fascist territory (or any other race with Glory Devices) you will lose ships. So it goes without saying that the ships you will use to scout such an secured empire are cheap ships: the Swift Heart Class Scout. Each exploding Scout will send you its last greeting by sending this message:

(e0296)<<< DISTRESS CALL! >>>

BSC Fascists Spy
SWIFT HEART CLASS SCOUT
ID # 296
Glory Device!
We have been hit by
Level 6 shockwave!
At: ( 2595 , 1527 )
Damage is at 100%

A Swift Heart with 2 X-ray lasers and a Transwarp Drive costs

    22 Duranium, 25 Tritanium, 40 Molybdenum and 364 MegaCredits.

The cheapest ship with a Glory Device - the D19 with X-ray lasers and 2 Transwarp drives costs

    64 Duranium, 66 Tritanium, 135 Molybdenum and 794 MegaCredits.

Or the Fascist player could cut the costs by using low tech engines and thus decreasing the mobility of their Glory Devices. With no weapons and Warp-1 drives:

    34 Duranium, 63 Tritanium, 65 Molybdenum and 182 MegaCredits

This is still more costly in minerals than the Swift Heart, but you will need an adequate money supply.

The Fascist player will continue to build Glory Devices to protect his empire. You will be sending him new Scouts to spy on his planets. It's a match, but you're winning because your costs are lower. In many cases the Fascist player doesn't have enough Glory Devices to cover all his planets, so you won't have to sacrifice one ship for every planet.
The Fascist player has just two advantages: his supply lines are shorter. This is easy to overcome: make sure you've got enough new Scouts on their way to his territory. The second advantage is that he gets all the Priority Build Points under host.exe, both for blowing up his own ships as for destroying your Scout.

The shockwave of a Glory Device will also damage the ships of your enemy. His cloaking ships will be forced out of cloak... nice target eh?

Supplies will repair your ships (at 5 units per % damage) so take some extra with you to repair between glory-device explosion and combat, just in case he had two of them present (or a new one just flew in). Another good tactic is to load a Dark Wing with supplies and move in cloaked. The glory device will trigger and damage your hull, but the damage will be repaired, you will stay cloaked and the glory device is gone.

Now, we can use these basic elements to make a one-two punch. For example, move in a Dark Wing with 110 supplies (enough for 40 torps, and enough to repair the Glory Device Damage). A Glory Device will explode, but you'll repair yourself. His other ships will be damaged (10% or 20% of normal mine damage, but he may have supplies too). Now your ship will attack. Alternatively, throwing Swifties at his starbases will usually set off a glory device, and frequently take out a Neutronic carrier or SDSF. Finally, if you ever do get a good ship in to his starbases, simply sit there with your primary enemy set: when the mission of his starbase is set to 'Refuel' he may build glory ships but you'll take them out before he can set their FC.

If you are more cautious, you can throw Swifties at him, then follow with cruisers. After blowing up two GD ships, he'll probably build something else, giving you a chance to slip in.

There are certain problems : glory devices do not damage his planets, but they do damage yours. Keep him away! Be offensive, as always. Glory Devices will knock your shields out even if you do use supplies to repair.[8]

6.3 Notes on the Federation

  • The Feds tend to stock large amounts of unarmed battleship hulls on their starbases to be refitted later. Nevertheless their default 70% mining rate they will build twice or three times the number of hulls as you. If you don't destroy those empty hulls the Feds will outnumber you soon! So you'd better find those hull before they find you. Needless to say those unarmed hulls without beams, tubes, torps and fighters are easy to destroy.
  • The Feds have lots of money, so they have enough MC for lots of mines. But on the other hand it's the perfect race to steal MC from.
  • They have a low mining rate, so they tend to be low on minerals. Disrupt their freighter lines and destroy their alchemy ships since the Feds rely more on them than other races.
  • Carriers in Fed hands are very dangerous since they get 3 bays more than the original ship design. Stay away from them, even if you have acquired a craaier of equivalent size. Since the Feds can use even damaged weapons in combat, their big ships are especially difficult to kill. A big Fed carrier needs more then two destroyed Dark Wings to be killed. Avoid such battles or plan them at least very carfully! [11]
  • Also see section 6.1 'Dealing with Lokis'.

6.4 Dealing with the Lizards

  • The Lizard Ground Attack is unstoppable, even by you. Once his cloakers are there, the only defence you've got is laying minefields. You could of course try to get some Glory Devices from the Fascists - the ships won't bite you.
  • The Lizards have a great economy: huge income of minerals and megacredits. You'd better don't rely on T-Rex's having low tech beams/torps... he has enough cash and minerals to equip every ship with high tech ship parts.
  • Your Dark Wing has more tubes, but the Lizard ships take 150 % damage by default before exploding. You'd better use a battle simulator to check out the best configuration, your ship ratio might be 1:1, you'll need one Dark Wing for every T-Rex. The Dark Wing has a slight advantage over a Lizard T-Rex.
  • The best defence is the counter-attack. Keep his ships in his own territory. Keep his Lokis bound to his own planets. Don't let him even try to get to your planets. Instead, try to mess up his economy. You can't stop him, but he can't stop you.
  • Don't try to hunt down those Reptile and Saurian scouts - unless they conquer a planet, they can't refuel on an enemy planet as you can. Protect your freighters, or use them as bait.
  • You can do the Lizards great harm if you can destroy all HISSing ships orbiting his cash planets. When all the HISSing ships are gone, the high tax will immediately cause the natives to riot. This makes the planet worthless for at least a couple of turns: no income. Such a planet will likely be protected by a Loki to decloak all evil-minded ships - time for a suicide attack by some Deth Specula's. You could of course try to destroy the planet with Resolutes/Dark Wings, but it may be a starbase. If the 'Cloaked ships attack PE' setting is YES, fly in with your mission set to Super Spy, your PE to Lizard, and your FC set to 'bum'....
  • Also see section 6.1 'Dealing with Lokis'.

6.5 Dealing with the Privateers

  • Most important is the host setting 'Rob Cloaked Ships'. If it is 'yes' you're situation is far worse than when it was 'no'. If the Privateer can't rob cloaked ships, you will be able to attack his planets and recloak the next turn - he can't rob your ships. If the Privateer can rob cloaked ships, they will set their ships on your planets to rob at random. If you try to scout their territory, you will encounter decloaked ships on Privateer starbases that will rob you when you try to fly away - when the starbase is set to Force Surrender you will lose the scout in the same turn.
  • A HomeWorld can be very dangerous: it will have Lady Royale's and Alchemy ships in orbit, and they will rob you blind. When you're departing from your planets, do it at warp 9 and set your waypoint in mid-space and your mission to beam up fuel. This will make sure that you will leave the orbit of the planet because will have fuel and you will break tow. Of course you've dropped your fuel on the planet. Have your ship FCs to match your planetary FCs when beaming up fuel. (Watch out for a Privateer ground attacks - don't do this on planets with only 1 clan: you're asking for trouble then!)
  • You ships are superior to their ships. You're probably the best race to terminate the Privateers. Use Deth Specula's, Resolutes and Dark Wings and kill everything in sight.
  • When fighting the Privs, do what you always do: stay cloaked. If you've build any freighters (for planet-hopping) they will be an easy target for the Privs. Get rid of your freighters and use Fearless Wings/Resolutes as transports.
  • Lay moving minefields. Lay huge minefields, scoop the mines up again (with another ship) and lay the minefields again on another place.

6.6 Dealing with the Cyborg

While Biocides and Annihilations are the backbone of the empire of the Cyborg, the Fireclouds are the veins. To set up a stable connection between two Starbases the Cyborg need three Fireclouds: One on every starbase and one doing the chunneling. It's easy to take out his transport system. Use Resolutes and eliminate all Fireclouds. An attacking Cyborg player will in most cases try to chunnel his fleet to you. When you've destroyed any incoming Firecloud, he has to fly to you just like any other player. (And his heavy Cubes will need huge amounts of fuel..:-) This holds true for any player opposing the Cyborg. A FireCloud is bad news and should be shot on first sight. If you leave it alone, next turn there may be several brothers which can spread around and beam in cubes all across your empire. Next thing you're dead.

The Cyborgs tend to spread out over the entire cluster - their empire doesn't have to be aligned. Such an empire is hard to exterminate: finding all his planets and starbases can be a real pain. Try to get some ships (Resolutes) chunneled to the other end of the galaxy, to his outposts. Then cut off his means of communication (i.e. destroy all FireClouds) and mess up his economy/ planets.

Be aware of the Chunnel facilities of the Cyborg! A Cyborg player can fly one single FireCloud to your territory by flying it > 300 LY outside the map, i.e. the ship will remain outside your range and you will not detect it until it is to late. When the FireCloud runs out of fuel, a second Firecloud is simply chunneled in to refuel the first one... When the Cyborg player sets his foot on your less heavily defended backyard planets/starbases you won't be able to kick him out again. He will just chunnel in more reinforcements. To prevent such a disaster, just put a picket ship outside the map, say at a 150 LY distance. A Resolute will do great: it cloaks so the Cyborg won't see it coming and won't chunnel in a fleet to destroy it, the ship doesn't use fuel to cloak so it doesn't need to be refuelled and the ship itself is capable enough of dealing with one single FireCloud.

6.7 Dealing with the Crystal People

  • Most often someone will have taken out the crystal people early in the game, since they are a relatively weak race. But once they've become established they can mean bad news. Their webmines make great anti-cloak weapons, if they can afford them.
  • This holds true especially in PHost where they can form minefield alliances with other races and lay overlapping minefields in different race-identities, so the draining of fuel goes way faster.
  • Use high tech beams to sweep away his fields before he can tow\capture your cloakers.
  • They rely heavily on molybdenum, so you could try to beam up that mineral if you want to annoy them and have nothing better to do after a SuperSpy.
  • Never ever let them get a cloaking ship!

The Crystals are probably the most dangerous enemy since their Web minefields render your cloaking advantage nearly useless. So generally stay away from them. Especially do not send Swift Hearts to them as scouts since you are going to lose them and in the end it will be like giving them cloaking scouts. The odds of hitting a web mine are ten times higher than the odds of hitting a regular mine when running cloaked. It is therefore very likely that you hit a web mine and with a Swift Heart this means that you lose not only 50 kT of fuel but also your cloaking capability since you are damaged far beyond the damage limit for cloaking even if the Swift Heart was full with supplies. Now you have to move away quickly because you will be losing 25 kT of fuel every turn in the web minefield, and because you're decloaked you are also vulnerable to intercepts.
But any good Crystalline player will increase the number and size of his web minefields drastically as soon as you have entered his web. Therefore you will start your turn in a big web minefield even if you set your ship on minesweeping (which cost you 25 kT fuel) and you will hit another web mine when trying to move out (which will cost you 50 kT fuel). Together with the 50 kT fuel you lost the previous turn and the fuel you burned for moving (and cloaking) you probably have exhausted your 170 kT fuel tank completely and your Swift Heart is history.

If you really want to Scout on the Crystals then send in Resolutes with good beams (for sweeping those webmines) filled with supplies (to repair web minehit damage to stay cloaked) and lots of fuel (to compensate for the web fuel drain). Do not put any torpedo launchers on these Resolutes because you still might lose some of them to the Crystals and you absolutely do not want a cloaking minelayer in their hands!

Beware of the Crystal Thunder! If the Engine Shield Bonus is 50%, the Thunder will easily kill a Dark Wing equipped with the best weapon technology. Do not make the mistake to consider the Thunder to be equivalent to your 3 bay Valiant Wind (Both ships can hold 80 fighters and have roughly the same number of beams) because the Thunder with its 8 fighterbays has nearly the same offensive firepower as a Virgo! If you have obtained non-cloaking ships from other races (especially battleships or heavy carriers with good beams) then send them to the Crystalline front. You cannot cloak effectively against the Crystals anyhow, but you should be cloaked on all other fronts. Make sure that you bring sufficient fuel to them and try to sweep the webmines with them long and intensively until the Crystals (hopefully) run out of resources to maintain their web minefields.

The weak point of the Crystals is their economy. With the exception of his ability to withstand all climates but zero degree worlds, he is in exactly the same economic situation as you. But the webmines and the fighters for the Thunders are very expensive. So if you manage to knock out his money generating planets or to steal his cash, you might break the Crystalline economy.

If you can get control over the Crystalline minefields by changing the friendly code of the controlling planets (see section 3.4) your task will be much, much more easier. [11]

6.8 Dealing with the Empire

  • The Empire is a fighter-race, and has only one type of torpedo ship: The Super Star Frigate. Once you've eliminated all SSFs your ships won't get hit by mines any more. Use Deth Specula's or Resolutes with Mark 4 torps or higher and Heavy Blasters or higher: you will easily capture the SSF.
  • The Empire starbases tend to build 5 free fighters every turn. (Host configurable). The bases will get stronger every turn they exist, so you'd better take them out soon, before they've got the full 60 fighters. Use a Resolute or a Dark Wing.
  • When you see a H-Ross Class Light Carrier or a Moscow Class Star Escort flying around, don't forget they're worthless in a battle. The Empire player will use them to transport fighters from his stocked starbases to his ships in the front-line. So if you see such a fully loaded light carrier departing from a starbase, take out the starbase because it's low on fighters and don't forget to destroy the carrier and the fighters it is carrying before the fighters are used in a much more dangerous ship like a Super Star Cruiser or a Gorbie.
  • When you're beaming up minerals from Empire planets, beam up Molybdenum. The mineral balance of the Empire is not as good as yours, and they tend to use far more Molybdenum (for ships and fighters!) than Tritanium or Duranium.

6.9 Dealing with the Robots

  • The Robots are a fighter-race, and they only have one type of torpedo ship: the Cat's Paw. Those Cat's Paws are extremely dangerous as they tend to lay *huge* minefields. Save your ships and take them out with your Dark Wings and Resolutes.
  • Use Resolutes with high tech beams as minesweepers deep inside enemy territory. Merlins and Dark Wings are the better choice: they take less damage from a minehit, and the Merlin has more cargospace for supplies to repair itself after a minehit. (Remember to put the FC to 'NAL' - No ALchemy.)
  • The Robots will keep a couple of Q-Tankers on starbases to build fighters. Eliminate the source of his fighters by capturing those Q-tankers. The fighters of those capture Q-tankers make a perfect use to you as starbase fighters!
  • When you're beaming up minerals from Robotic planets, beam up Duranium. The mineral balance of the Robots is the worst in the whole game, and they tend to use far more Duranium than Tritanium or Molybdenum.
  • Be careful not to surrender one of your ships to a Robotic starbase - when it will get back to you it will do enormous damage by laying *huge* minefields in your territory.
  • Read the section about the Minefield Universal Code carefully. It will help you a lot against their minefields.
  • Never ever let them get a cloaking ship!

6.10 Notes on the Rebels

  • The Rebels are also a fighter-building race, therefore you should knock out their fighter factories, especially their Gemini's.
  • The Rebels have the best hyperjumping ship (the Falcon) which you could also use nicely to expand your economy. Try to intercept and capture them when they hyperjump into your area. (They have only 27 crew on board.) If you can guess where they will be jumping to in the future, try to move a cloaker there. [11]

6.11 Dealing with the Colonies

  • Since they can sweep mines with their fighters over long distances (100 LY by default) very efficiently, it is usually absolutely useless to lay mines if large colonial carriers are nearby. Don't waste your torpedo's and scoop up all your minefields near the Colonies with the 'msc' FC in order not to lose them.
  • The Colonies rely a lot on their ability to build cheap fighters in space. Without them it is very costly for them to maintain a fleet of Virgos. So try to find their fighter factories orbiting their production planets (often with Bovinoid native population) far away from the front lines. Typically the Colonies use Geminis and nearly empty Virgos for fighter building. Those ships can be destroyed easily if you can find them with your cloaked scouts.
  • Since the Virgo is a ship with eight engines, the Colonies can often not afford to put Transwarp drives on it, especially at the beginning of the game. Typically they will tow their low-powered Virgos with Cobols into battle. Try to intercept the Cobols with Resolutes. If you can take them out, the Colonial fleet will lose their fuel generators, minelayers and the mobility of their Virgos all at once. [11]

7    Sneaky combat tactics
About doing what you're designed to do: attack!

7.1 Towing ships
Destroy large enemy fleets ship by ship. Wait till a fleet arrives at a planet, or predict their course and tow the ships to your waiting fleets of Dark Wings and Resolutes. Perfect way to remove defending ships from planets/starbases. If your opponent is already used to you towing ships from planets and starbases into midspace and intercepts his ships with large battleships, change your tactic: try to get a MBR and tow an enemy > 81 LY. It will keep your enemy busy for a couple of turns adjusting to your new strategy and rearranging his ships and tactics...

7.2 Creative use of the NUK FC
[For old versions of host and phost only!]
Imagine an enemy starbase defended by a large number of heavily armed battleships.... You use your scouts and lock the FC to 'NUK'. Your fleet of Dark Wings are waiting just outside the warpwell, they transfer their fuel to another cloaking ship and move without fuel to the enemy starbase. Your ships will be ignored by the enemy battleships because they don't have fuel, but the starbase is set to NUK and will be destroyed by your fleet. (Use the cloaking fueltank to refuel and repair (supplies) your Dark Wings. Note: This won't work for the newer versions of both host and phost, i.e. Birdmen ships with weapons and without fuel are immune to the planetary NUK friendly code. Let it be clear that this is an undocumented feature - it can't be found in the (host) docs. [8,10]

When two enemy players are playing in co-operation, try to set the FC of the planet/starbase of enemy A to ATT or NUK the turn a battleship/fleet of enemy B arrives on that planet/starbase. Watch the fleet destroy the starbase/planet or vice versa - it doesn't matter: any which way you win! [Obviously this won't work for allies in host v3.22.007 (and higher) and PHost.] * Don't forget to leave orbit in case if your ships get decloaked by an Ion Discharge, or else your ships might get fried too. * If the planet/starbase gets toasted, return to the planet (cloaked) and perform a Ground Attack with the 5 - 20 clans you always carry in your cargohold...

[This works all the time...!] There is a Bird tactic that is still being bandied about in the newsgroups and on BBSes. This is offered as a devastating attack on a well-guarded and fortified enemy Starbase. The tactic is to have five Superspying ships set the Base's code to "NUK" while two Darkwings arrive without fuel (either through careful planning or being towed in by sacrifice ships). The Base will then attack the Darkwings and be destroyed while the enemy ships guarding the base ignore the Darkwings because they're out of fuel. The problem with this tactic is that it doesn't work. Any Bird capital ship that is out of fuel is immune to the "NUK" code and therefore will not be attacked by the planet/base. What will work, however, is giving the two Darkwings to an ally (other than Fascists or Rebels) and having them arrive empty. Note that the Darkwings, or any other heavy warships being used, have to arrive at the base empty the same turn that the five Superspying ships change the code to "NUK." If instead, the Darkwings arrive early and drop their fuel, and the enemy has the Base set to "Force Surrender," the enemy will take control of the empty ships before they can attack the base.

7.3 Ambush
If a large unstoppable fleet is coming your way, setup an ambush on your own planet/starbase. When an enemy fleet arrives, break up the fleet into smaller pieces and smash them at your will. (For the desperate only. You don't want any enemy in your place, go play in their territory.)

7.4 Carriers and your Starbases
A fully stocked starbase and a Dark Wing can take care of most of those monster carriers. Starbases are the best defence for a Birdmen player, especially when the ship limit is reached. And if the enemy battleship won't come near your base, tow it to the base using a White Falcon or a Dark Wing (when you don't want to lose the White Falcon). Some Lizard and Fed carriers can get away if they are really lucky - all other big carriers will be destroyed.

7.5 Glory Devices
When dealing with the Fascists or any race that uses Glory Devices, send in a Scout. If it blows, go in and look for damaged cloak capable ships, they are an easy target now. Tow them from his starbase and destroy them in mid-space. (Easier than waiting for those cloaking ships to intercept attack your own ships or to get hit in a minefield.)

There is a great chance that the player would use the starbase FIX mission to repair one ship a turn, so if there are multiple cloak capable ships on that base they will be an easy target.

Note: An expert player would probably carry supplies in his ships to repair the GD damage instantly, or keep a second non-triggered GD as backup in case the first one blows...

7.6 Freighter Hunting
This should be a standard thing to do for every Birdmen player: disrupt your enemies economy by capturing/destroying all his freighters. Use Swift Hearts to intercept freighters in mid-space or use White Falcons to tow those freighters out of orbit into mid-space. Arm them with X-ray lasers.

Beware of traps when intercepting, your enemy might intercept his own freighters too.

Swift Hearts are cheaper, but the 140 kT cargohold of the White Falcons opens more possibilities:

  • if you capture a freighter with clans, you might perform a ground attack on a planet/starbase with a low population.
  • if you capture a freighter with minerals (and MC), you could restock your torp supply in mid-space and lay this minefield in the enemies shipping routes.

What to do with a captured freighter?

  • You could set it's mission to Sensor Sweep or Mine Sweep, and thus giving you the opportunity to gather information while you can cloak again. You could do this for instance for one turn by giving the freighter 1 kT of fuel and to set the waypoint so that the freighter will run out of fuel at the end of the turn.
  • You could move it a few LY and put your cloaked ship at the same coordinates. If the freighter has fuel and the enemy intercepts the it, you will see the armament of the new enemy ship. If your ship is a good match, tow the new ship and capture/destroy it. (The freighter is even more damaged, or destroyed, and won't get very far. Get it later.)
  • If the freighter doesn't have fuel and the enemy intercepts it, it won't fight. You will then decide what to do: 1. tow/attack the new ship, 2. let the freighter be towed away to surrender, 3. transfer 1 kT of fuel to the freighter and let it get captured/destroyed by the new ship/another ship/ an enemy starbase.
  • If you let the freighter be captured again/let the fuelless freighter surrender at a starbase you will be able to recapture it later when it's filled again... When the enemy doesn't have that much freighters he will have to re-use the ship instead of recycling it. This gives you the change to recapture it when it's cargohold is full. Anyway, your opponent will have to waste several turns with a 2-engine ship to recapture the freighter and then repair it at a starbase... That ship won't be used against you!
  • Be aware if you let the freighter be captured again by the enemy, or even destroyed, the enemy will get Priority Build Points. (1 PBP for capturing - host 3.22.007 and older) - If you don't want to let the enemy get his hands on the freighter again, there are two very effective destructive methods:
    1. Colonise the freighter on an uninhabited (amorphous?) planet or a planet that you've captured on your enemy. This will give you 1 PBP but on the other hand when the enemy colonises the planet he will be able to use/beam up the minerals.
    2. Smash the freighter into an enemy minefield. It will explode even if it doesn't have fuel. You won't get anything, but neither will he. Perfect, fast and deadly.

Often a player will make a mistake of killing anything with the name "freighter" in it's name just because it's an easy kill. Don't be too trigger happy, Look at the ship first. Is it full or empty? An empty freighter is a useless catch, follow it to a planet, it will be full and worth much more. A favourite tactic of mine is to jettison all the cargo and then drive it at full speed towards the nearest minefield with it's mission to "mine sweep". This does a few things: 1. updates minefield info, 2. destroys freighter and 3. freaks out opponent if he manages to capture it ("where'd all the Moly on board go? aaargh!!!") [9]

Advanced Freighter Killing
This tactic takes a bit of practice to perfect, but is devastating in the right hands. First off, what are things that can go wrong with freighter killing? Right, escorts and minefields. You forgot one, though: the freighter itself.

1. Freighter:
An experienced player will usually never set a waypoint over 3 months in a straight line. What that means is that if a planet is 120 LY away and the freighter is doing warp 7, he will not travel in a straight line towards the planet. He will probably move his target up or down a few LYs. This is called "zigging" and it makes life hell for the privateers who try to land on top of ships and rob them, but that's another story. What we want to do is get in the way of the ship and "zig" in front of it. How we do that is, sit about 100 LY away of the planet, between where the freighter is and where it's going. Turn 1, you are cloaked and see it moving towards you, heading for a base or something. Look at it. Does it have an escort? No? Is it full or empty? If you suspect that it's carrying cash, hit it anyway. Set mission for Intercept freighter, and set warp speed to 4. Now this gives you a 16 LY radius to intercept the freighter in. Some people forget the warp 4 part and leave their speed at warp 9. Then they are surprised when the freighter heads in a completely different direction and they ram a mine after travelling 81 LY through the field. Leave the brakes on, if you miss you will not go zooming after it (and probably not catch it).

2. Escort:
So, your enemy is getting desperate, is he? Escorts are the best sign in the world that the war is going badly for him. Anyone who needs to devote a capital ship to secure a load of minerals in his own space is getting desperate. So cheer up, the war is going well. Run a few sims and see if you can take the escort, second, run the sim and see what happens if you intercept the freighter, then get blown up, then HE fights his own freighter. If he doesn't blow it up, don't bother - all you'll have done is some damage to his freighter, which he can fix at the next stop or starbase.[9]

7.7 Conquering planets
A Resolute with Heavy Blasters or higher and Mark 4 torps or higher can take out every medium populated sized non-starbase planet. It can even destroy a starbase with less 30 starbase fighters without taking damage (Depending on the shield, host configurable). It will blow on a planet with 350 defence posts.

White Falcons, Fearless Wings and Deth Specula's aren't afraid of planets too. Use high tech torps on the 1 torp ships, and Heavy Blasters when there are a lot of planetary defence units.

If the planet is deep in enemy territory, or on a location where the enemy can reconquer it quickly, completely _waste_ the planet:

  • If there are natives, set the native tax to 100% for two or three turns - it will make the planet useless for at least 10 turns. No tax income, and the rioting natives will destroy planetary structures and eventually will begin to kill colonists! (They will kill your clan, and when the planet becomes inhibited the native happiness will remain the same. When the planet is recolonised, a percentage of the first colonists will be killed immediately.)
  • If there are enough minerals and cash for a starbase, build the starbase and remove your clan. Next turn the starbase will be build and crash. This way you will destroy 420 kT Tritanium, 120 kT Duranium, 340 Molybdenum and 900 MC at the same time!

You might follow another approach: if the enemy is a fighter-race, he might use the minerals on the planet to restock his fighter supply when he reconquers the planet. Simply remove all Tritanium or Molybdemum from the planet - whichever is less. If the enemy is a torp race, choose one of the minerals and dump it in space. If there are enough minerals on the planet for a starbase and you want that planet and the starbase later, just temporarily remove one critical mineral from the surface. (Wait for your backup: a load of clans and/or lots of cash and/or a captured carrier (or cloaked Red Wind) with fighters for the future starbase.) Keep an eye on the minerals in the core and the number of mines!

7.8 Cloaked ships attack
Use the 'Cloaked ships attack' host setting to your benefit: If you stay cloaked with several warships over a enemy starbase you will be capable to attack his newly built ships if the starbase orders are set to Refuel. Then you will attack his ships that will have no torps or fighters on board. This will surely work early in the game when the enemy HomeWorld has plenty of fuel.

7.9 Cloak Prevent Damage
Use the 'Cloak Prevent Damage' host setting! Try to carry a cargo of supplies inside your cargo bays. It will repair some damage after combat and your ship might be cloaked again at the end of the turn. Note that the supply-repair is scattered around the battle order:
- repair
- move (minehits!)
- repair
- glory device
- repair
- ship vs. ship combat
- repair
- ship vs. planet combat
- repair

However, cloak-checking is only done at the beginning and end of the turn, so if you take a mine-hit or glory device explosion during the turn, you will repair prior to combat, but will not be cloaked.[8]

7.10 Steal minerals from a planet with a Starbase
[Use with caution and read carefully!]
For this to work you need 5 cheap ships to do SuperSpy and to change the FC. For the beam up you will gather as many ships as you want. But you will need the same number of ships to tow them. Here's the deal: Move the entire fleet to the target starbase. Put the 5 cheap ships in orbit with a common FC and all on SuperSpy. Transfer all fuel from the gather ships to the towers, set their FC to the common FC and the mission to Gather Anything. Let the towers set their FC to something different than the common FC and let each tow one of your now fuelless gather ships out of orbit.

Result: The ships gather minerals since even without fuel they gather with matching FCs. The towers will tow the now stocked transporters out of orbit. Transfer fuel to the transporters and carry the minerals to your own bases.

If the SB is set on 'Force a surrender' the fuelless ships (transporters) will go to the enemy. Then the transporters are towed to one of your nearby Starbase to surrender. The enemy will surely dump the minerals into space since they are his ships now. You will lose the minerals, but heck - he doesn't have them and that's what you wanted eh? [2]
If you planet-hop constantly, the enemy can no dump the minerals in space.

Notes:

  • Don't beam up fuel! Tritanium, Duranium and Molybdenum only! And supplies - if you really need them :-)
  • Think of this strategy when you're allied to the Privs or the Crystals. Let them tow/capture the fuelless transporters. Success guaranteed!
  • If your ships surrendered to the enemy starbase, and the enemy already got his hands on a cloaker, he might anticipate to which starbase you will bring his new cloakers to surrender. Using this cloaker he will wait in orbit for his fuelless cloakers to come: he will transfer fuel to all fuelless cloakers and they won't surrender, they will even fly away or engage combat.
  • If your starbase is just one turn away from his, your enemy doesn't have to change to drop the minerals. It might even be worth to build that temporary starbase... Try using Gravitronic Accelerated ships to shorten the distance.
  • This tactic will cost you a lot of resources: time, fuel and ships. On the other hand you will be able to completely strip an enemy starbase of minerals. The more transporters you use, the more effective and economical it will be. Say if you would use 5 Fearless Wings to beam up minerals, you will need 5 other 2-engine ships and the ships to set the FC, 15 in total!
  • Set the FC to 'bum' and you'll get his money too!
  • This tactic uses a lot of resources. Use it wisely and not to often - you'd spend your time better using those 15 ships for freighter hunting!

7.11 Using (Moving) Minefields
Minefields are a very effective defence against cloakers. Even when you play the Birdmen you occasionally might want to lay some when you have cloaking neighbours/ enemies. When laid from a cloaking ship this effectiveness gets multiplied by a unexpectedness factor: such a minefield can be really devastating. To increase the unexpectedness, the mines of a newly laid minefield can be scooped up again next turn to be used again later as another minefield. This is what is called 'Moving Minefields'. (Of course Moving Minefields can also be created by non-cloaking ships.)

The ideal situation is to have two cloaking vessels with a large cargohold. (Resolutes or else Fearless Wings). The two ships fly together all the time. The first vessel having its cargohold stocked with torps will decloak and lay this _enourmous_ minefield. The next turn the first vessel will cloak again and the second vessel will scoop the mines up again.

Very clear until now eh? Let's continue and refine this scheme a bit: To be able to continue laying this moving minefield you will have to take some action to preserve your mines/torpedo's as your opponent will try to sweep it, and if he succeeds you will have to return to your base/planets and spend more cash on torps :-( This can easily be prevented when you know the order of actions: minesweeping happens by ship ID, the ship having a lower ID sweeping first. So the only thing you will have to do is to arrange one low ID Resolute (or Fearless Wing) with high tech torps. (A Resolute ID#1 would be ultimate, and a ship with an ID between 1 and 25 would do alright.) First turn, let the Resolute with the higher ID convert all its torps into mines. Next, transfer all cargo from the low ID Resolute to the high ID Resolute (another set of 280 torps!) and scoop the minefield up in the cargohold of the low ID Resolute.

This way your minefield can only be destroyed by an enemy minefield (if the 'mines destroy enemy mines' host setting is on), or by an enemy vessel sweeping it by pure luck. Usually all enemy ships that do not have anything else to do will be on a minesweep mission. So there is a good chance that they could get lucky.

Two remarks: if the enemy sets all his ships to Mine Sweep, he can't cloak or do anything else, and if he used his ships in pairs to sweep/cloak on a turn he will bind a lot of resources (ships) to your waiting Resolutes. 280 Mark 8 will make 10 x 10 x 280 = 28000 mines. A MBR, or LCC, or Saurian with 4 Heavy Phasers will sweep 10 x 10 x 4 x 4 = 1600 mines at a time (host default settings). Your enemy will sure need a lot of those ships (working in pairs) to try to sweep your minefield!) Expect non-cloaking battleships armed with Heavy Phasers. Second, if your enemy decides to destroy the minefield by laying another minefield that is as large as yours, it will cost him as much as you, with this respect that his reaction is provoked by you and that he will be withdrawing resources from other projects. Until then, you will be able to harass him with your minefield.

And what the hell, if he destroys your minefield you will still have the other set of torps, don't you? :-)

How to get a low ID Resolute? Well, the turn you know for sure you're going to get a lot of PBPs, try building Resolutes only on all your starbases.

7.12 Using good baits
You can use baits (a resolute without fuel in mid space) to get enemy ships, just keep a Dark Wing or two cloaked at the same place with PE set to your enemy... A Resolute is a NICE bait to many races.. Also keep a Swift Heart without PE set, so you can transfer fuel if all Dark Wings are killed!

Please note that this doesn't work well against other cloakers and especially no against the Privateers. They will sneak up on your ship and tow it away! If the 'zero fuel moves' host setting is on, keep your empty Resolute and cloaked Dark Wings moving for a few LY a turn to prevent any cloaker to approach then without coming out of cloak to intercept them.

If somebody smells the trap and intercepts you with one or several heavy carriers your ships are history anyway.

7.13 Cloaking your entire empire
Everyone laughs when they read that the Birdmen would cloak a planet if they could, but few know that we CAN and DO cloak entire empires (sorta).

TimHost and PHost both have ranges for planet and sensor sweep settings. These are default 200 LY, meaning that each planet and each ship can see a maximum distance of 200 LY. Now, what if you have 50 Dark Wings uncloaked 201 LY away? That's right, they're invisible. Now wouldn't it be nice to know where that 200 LY "border" is? The answer is simple: put cloaking scouts at your borders, or 100 LY beyond your borders, and leave them there. Any ships you see approaching can be dealt with as you see fit.

Hyper-probes will continue to be a problem, my only advice is get your defence posts to "un-scannable" size as soon as possible (15 in TimHost, PHost is configurable).[9]

You'll need 20 defence posts to be immune from Bioscanners.[10]

7.14 Enemy starbases
Starbases can't move. Warships can. Take out Starbases whenever possible. True, you might lose the planet again later on, but the economic damage is significant. For the one turn you hold it, make sure to: - Convert all the supplies into money and beam it up. - Set native tax rate to 100% and watch them tear down whatever is still standing. Plus, the enemy won't be able to build that many factories with the natives still running around with axes, and cash will be scarce.[9]

It is sometimes better to ignore a starbase and go after the real economic or tactical targets. You should differentiate between reall productive starbases (usually over resourceful planets) and the purely fighting starbase over otherwise unimportant planets, which have been build only as non-moving carriers to knock out your ships.[11]

7.15 Cloaking all your ships
Someone suggested staying hidden no matter what the cost, and recommended using Fearless Wings as cloaking freighters. I'm not too sure about that advice, I mean, is 200 kT Molybdenum worth the extra 10 kT fuel it takes per turn to cloak it? On a large scale, you would need 5 Fearless Wings for every large freighter. That's expensive and time consuming, both production and material-wise. And there are also Super Transport Freighters.

When the above tactic is useful: Let's say that you live next to a lazy player. He has expanded to a certain size but never got around to colonising that cluster up near the edge of the map. Your scouts have been through there and report some decent mineral planets and a few natives. You decide that you want that sector.

One Fearless Wing will be enough for this "mission". Basically you want is to be able to set up shop in one or two turns and not be caught with your "pants down". You may want 1 or 2 Dark Wings along for protection just in case of cloak failure, etc.

Depending on the range of the target, you may wish to add another Fearless Wing solely as a cloaked fuel reserve. Your range with a fully loaded Fearless Wing will be about 3-4 months depending on engines used.

Your Fearless Wing should be hold: 100 colonists 140 supplies 850 credits. Once you are in orbit, beam down everything. Build 15 defence posts and 100 factories. You will have 400 credits left over, next turn take that and the 100 supplies you just made and build 100 mines.

There you have it - you're weak, poor, but undetected.

I did the calculations for a fully-built starbase in one turn but deemed it too expensive (5 Fearless Wings, all of them fully loaded, plus about 15,000 credits) and you'd still only have 15 defence posts and a tech 1 starbase.[9]

Alternatively, fill the Falcon with 175 colonists 65 supplies 850 credits to build 15 defence posts and 50 factories. The extra colonists can be used to tax natives or colonise a second planet. Next turn build more factories and mines on the first planet. Use supplies from the first planet to expand the economy on the second planet rapidly.[11]

7.16 Super Spy bug in host.exe
In the older Hosts there used to be a Super Spy bug. Super Spy is cumulative, and it takes 5 ships to garantee the planetary FC change. Nevertheless, it was sufficient to have only one ship on Super Spy, and 4 just Cloaking.

Reply from Tim Wisseman (cocomax@aol.com):

| It was fixed in 3.22.010, the ships must have their mission set to "9"
| (Super Spy) | | Tim


8    More than Host alone
About alternative hosts and host add-ons

Make sure you READ the manual all the way through, make sure you know the ORDER of events in the add-on, and possibly which order they are run by the host, and by all means get the correct CONFIG SETTINGS. Most add-ons have a 'con' code of some sort to send the variables back to you.

One add-on adds flavour to gameplay, but if your host goes ballistic and loads every add-on he can find into the game, you may have 3 pages of friendly codes to get used to. Go through all the doc files and paste together as much quick-reference info as you can. The last thing you want to do is accidentally self-destruct one of your ships by using the wrong friendly code.

8.1 PHost
Assuming you're going to play a PHost game, you'll probably also play with PList (see below) or another shiplist that takes advantage of Phosts capacity for up to 20 beams/launchers or fighterbays in a single ship. Otherwise planetary defence is just way too tough to deal with. But there's much more to PHost than the increased planetary defence and the large battleships. Most of that goes beyond the scope of this manual, therefore it is highly recommended to read the documentation before you start. But a lot of things are much the same, you still have a neat array of cloakers, including your battleship the D'deridex (the fed nova can also cloak in plist). You still have the powerful superspy mission. You still need to snipe and cut supply lines before your enemies get a chance to grow big. You will find yourself stealing fuel and megacredits as these remain your strongholds.

Note: with PHost special friendly codes never match, so if you for example set a planetary FC to 'bum' the ships locking the FC can still hit the minefield around that planet.

Phost 2.13b has introduced advanced cloaking.[10]

Latest Phost features not described in this Guide: - BeamUpMultiple extended command - Alternative Anti-Cloak feature - AlternativeTowing (this especially has a huge effect on the game where it is way harder for cloakers to tow out big ships one by one)

8.1.1 PHost Configuration
Make sure the settings that affect you as Romulans are somewhat decent, cloak failure should be kept low, rob cloaked should be disabled, the fuel cost of cloaking reasonable, cloaked mine odds approx. half of uncloaked etc. In the default settings everything is OK for you, you will even get a free fighter every turn on every starbase (as all other non-fighter races will). Towing cloaked ships is a configurable option in PHost as well, and the default is no! This is good news, because it means you can escape an established tow beam just by cloaking. Wow! Even though I personally don't think this is a good thing for the game in general, I don't care if I'm playing the Romulans, and will abuse it whenever appropriate. Combat parameters are not a toy, fooling around with them will heavily affect combat in play, so make sure the host either uses default settings for these, or he should be damn sure of what he's doing. You'll need a copy of the pconfig.src anyway for use with battlesimulators anyway (Thomas Voigt's Bsim 2.2). Fool around with the simulator, especially if you haven't played PHost before. * PHost 2.13b has introduced advanced cloaking. The advanced cloaking ship for the Birdmen is the King Condor Battleship. The other advanced cloaking ship is the D3 CHA'DICH Destroyer belonging to the Klingons. Unfortunately, PLIST was crafted before advanced cloaking was introduced so the two advanced cloaking ships are not both owned by the Birds.[10]

8.1.2 PHost Alliances
This is a real advantage over TimHost. The ability to establish alliances and dropping them. In practice this means that you don't have to worry that your ships will fight your allies, strike a mine laid by one of your friends and will have info on both his ships and the ones visible to him, and his planets (all depending on the status of the alliance established). With the newer versions of TimHost, most of this advantage disappeared.

8.1.3 Planetary and starbase defence
To overcome the problem in host.exe that planets are too easily conquered PHost defence features planets (and bases) with torplaunchers. This increases their strength enormously, so you can forget about having a cheap B'rell in deep enemy territory and taking freighters and planets with it. Just taking out freighters and SuperSpying is all you can do with a weakly armed ship. On the other hand, once driven on the defence you will benefit. Especially once you know that you could stock up on torps in a starbase which will be used when that base is attacked. And that a base is capable of fighting prior to the ships orbiting it. The effects of this can be enormous, make sure you test this at home.

8.1.4 PHost Armament
One of the features in PHost-plist is that high tech stuff tends to pay off. High tech torps and beams do way much more damage than in host.exe, and they discharge at a higher rate. Tech one beams don't perform the same way against fighters as tech 10's do. So you've got to invest. Less known is that against a carrier you're better off with either ion cannons (tech 7) or electron rams (tech 6) but against bases you have a better outcome with tech 10 Multitrafs. This is because in ship to ship combat your Multitrafs discharge so fast that they take out the fighters which are on their way back to the carrier, whereas Ioncannons due to their slowness only take on the incoming fighters.

8.1.5 PHost Combat
Although it looks different, combat is as different for Romulans as for all other races. Simply get used to PHost, use Bsim a lot, and you will manage. As mentioned above you will not fight anyone that has a combatlevel alliance with you. This enables you and your allies to attack a mixed fleet of enemies with mission set to KILL, whilst saving your friendly codes to make up the best possible battle order. I simply cannot stress enough the importance of high tech stuff. Invest in it, it pays off. Of course this means that you need a well established economy to pay for all these goodies and you'll have to steal the rest. * Several extended missions are implemented in PHost that move the fcode-driven missions (like torpedo building, fighter building, etc.) to extended missions, leaving the FCode free to select battle order. Use these extended missions for rebuilding torps etc. during combat without losing control over your battle order.[10]

8.2 RacePlus
The Birds gain the ability to plant eggs (mines) aboard enemy ships with their Bright Hearts. You need a full cargo of supplies and at least 41 crew aboard to attempt the mission. You risk losing some crew and getting uncloaked by the mission if unsuccessful. Multiple eggs can be planted by a flock of Bright Hearts aboard a single ship resulting in instantaneous destruction. You could also plant one or more eggs on a ship to weaken it for easier destruction by other waiting birds. Mating a Resolute - or Fearless, to a flock of 2-4 Bright Hearts will allow you to refuel and resupply the flock for additional strikes without having to return to a friendly planet.[5]

The new EGG bomb ability is just what the Birdmen needed to stop those huge battleships. The bomb is perfect for crippling large battlefleets. Keep small groups of Bright Hearts near the front-line filled up with 40 supplies and let them operate in pairs or groups. The effective radius of the Bright Heart is not that large (90 kT fuel tank), so you'll have to operate on front-line planets. Or send in a Resolute stocked with 280 supplies for refuelling when operating in enemy territory.

Know the RPCONFIG settings of RacePlus: there might be a limit of the number of EGG bombs, and there will be a fixed percentage of failure.

Of course there are dangers of losing crew and the ship, but this shouldn't withhold you of using the bomb, right? * Keep your mission on Super Spy when using the EGG bomb orbiting an enemy starbase: it might have its FC set to EGG and its mission to Force Surrender.

If you do happen to find a Crystal starbase with a FC of 'MKn', you'll know the planet has Siliconoid natives. Don't neglect to try to reset the FC to something senseless - if only it was for one turn.

You can also try to 'HUD' Federation planets. If the Federation player does find the Government Upgrade useful, you'll only be doing his work. But maybe he doesn't find it useful on that particular planet, or maybe it isn't the right time and does he need the supplies and megacredits for another job. This is just another example of reading the docs well and extracting the information you can use when playing the Birdmen. Planetary FC's are always great very handy to annoy your opponents. Anyway in this case just beaming up the megacredits will also do. :-)

8.3 Borders
This very simply allows players to setup a tripwire early warning line between up to 4 planets. A cloaker crossing the line has a chance of setting off a warning. All the owner receives is a note stating a cloaker passed between planet x and y. No specific ship info, location, race nor heading are relayed.

As the Birdmen you can play games with this by moving a single ship back and forth across a suspected line and possibly cause all kinds of panic. You could also disable or reset these lines using your SuperSpy abilities.[5]

8.4 FHost
FHost brings a lot of new combat thinking and tactics to Planets, as with all new add-ons (especially this one) read the manual thoroughly. Study the order of events, paste in FHost events into where they'll occur in Tim-or-P HOST. Combat before movement takes some getting used to. Also the variables can radically alter the way a game is played. FHost comes with a program called FHUTIL.EXE make sure you get this from your host or go get it yourself off the net - it will provide hit probabilities based on tech and range modifiers. Don't play without it.[9]

FHost dramatically changes the nature of VGA Planets as you can now "reach out and touch someone" at a distance with fighters and missiles. This addon is very configurable so my comments will be limited to some general observations based on default settings. I'm also presuming FHost to run in AUXHOST1.INI - which is before most other host activities. If FHost is run later, it drastically alters the tactics you will want to employ.[5]

Fighters:
The big carrier races can really zap you now so wandering about uncloaked - or sitting uncloaked over a planet, within fighter range is asking for some serious trouble. The Valiant doesn't have much cargo capacity so it is not the most exciting weapon under FHost. The Red Wind, on the other hand, becomes a lot more intriguing as a build since it can cloak and only carries 20 less fighters. It's limited fuel capacity means you'll need to have a Resolute or other high capacity ship around to refuel. If you use a "shoot'n'scoot" approach - alternate fighter strikes with cloaking and moving some distance, you can avoid getting tagged by enemy fighters or missiles.[5] * I found fighter missions to be largely useless, I launched four fully loaded Redwing carriers against a Klingon Ever-victorious and only managed to take down the shields. Three Dark Wings launching tech 10 torps at close range were able to rip the ship in half. Once again, host settings make all the difference.[9]

Missiles:
Cruise missiles are the greatest thing to ever happen to the Birdmen. You can easily demolish an entire fleet without taking any damage. FHost has a config switch for 'cloaked ships fire' if this is ON, (default off) your troubles are over. Load your Dark Wings with tech 10 tubes and spray everything that comes near you. Decloak to finish off crippled ships. Also starbases will really have to fear you, since you can bombard them from orbit, and they can't even send ships to take you out. Combine this with Host 3.22.005's no-fuel cloaking Dark Wing, and you're REALLY laughing...

The Dark Wing gets even nastier as a surprise strike weapon. With its eight tubes, it can fairly easily dispatch small and medium-sized targets at a distance. A flock of Dark Wings can pickoff bigger ships at minimal risk to themselves. Ships with limited tubes aren't going to be as useful for ranged combat as you only get 1 shot per tube per turn. Better TL tubes means better accuracy, so don't skimp on your tubes - especially for those ships with only a few tubes. If the switch, "cloaked ships may fire missiles" is ON, you can really run wild. Even if this is OFF, you can still use the tactic of "shoot'n'scoot" outlined earlier to stay safe from fighters and missiles.[5]

If you have to decloak to fire, it's not too bad. FHost happens before regular movement/combat so you can move in close on someone, fire a full spread, and if you miss, big deal, they've already moved away. You will be uncloaked for one turn, but can not be attacked, unless you are in orbit over a planet or unless someone move right on top of you.

Also, since FHOST battles take place before regular combat, you can soften up a target considerably before you actually fight it.

Picture this: 2 Dark Wings uncloak 15 LY away from the enemy HomeWorld, and unload a full salvo of torpedo tubes into the starbase, crippling it. During the same turn, a Resolute drives in set to "kill" and smashes up the few freighters and alchemy ships in orbit, then easily destroys the starbase.

Or: Gorbie-killing 101. The "unstoppable" death star has punched through your minefields and is headed directly for your HomeWorld. Your warships are pulling back from the front lines, but even at maximum warp they will be 1 month too late. What to do? Get as close as possible, then fire like crazy. Then pile in your ships, make sure your combat takes place ALL AT ONCE. Maybe you'll only drop his shields, that in itself is an achievement against a death star (considering you are in no danger while doing it).[9]

Build Free Torps:
By default, you can build torpedoes aboard ships in space using 5 supplies instead of MC. The torps cost 5 MC regardless of the techlevel, so you might as well go with Mk VIII's instead of the more commonly selected Mk VII's. This means you'll want to build more ships with good cargo bays as torp builders. You may even just park them over bases for this purpose - build them with cheap drives and beams. Also, this means you have some awesome mine-laying power - effectively equalling the Robots if you use MK VIII's.

Sunbusters:
These special missiles are very expensive and tricky to use, but very deadly. These missiles can totally wipe-out everything on a planet and can damage - or even destroy, ships which are within shockwave range the following turn. The key to success with these is timing. If any enemy ships are in orbit around the target planet, the missile will be shot down - even by freighters! Tow away defending ships with other cloakers and use cheap Swift Hearts as sacrificial forward observers to insure the target area is clear. You can even use these against ships if your opponent is unaware of your presence - or careless, and moves in predictable fashion. Targeting a planet ships will arrive at will result in the fleet getting nailed by the shockwave. Due to the cost - default is 8000 MC, you definitely want to chose your targets carefully and maximise your effectiveness of these weapons.[5]

This is an expensive party trick. Don't even think of ever using this in real combat, unless you are vaporising a Bovinoid tropical planet that you cannot take over yourself. It IS a good bargaining item - sell it to the Borg or the Lizards if you dare, they are better suited to handle it's ridiculous cost. Default says it can be shot down by 100 defence posts, so super spy first if you just HAVE to see it go off. Pardon me, there is *one* real use for this weapon. If you're playing an 'ashes of the empire' scenario, whacking the empire's only Neutronium planet will end the game real quickly if you manage to pull it off. Also, all ships in orbit will be damaged by the shockwave, including yours, so be prepared to write off your ship as it will probably decloak after successfully causing the sun to go nova.[9]

8.5 Nemesis
This is a very scary host addition. Why? Because it gives some of the races abilities that are still being debated as "fair" or "unfair". Like, it's not bad enough that the Evil Empire has the Imperial Assault, Nemesis gives the Borg a "strip planet" mission which does practically the same thing, except it demolishes all the mines and factories. In any case, it is too soon to tell whether Nemesis unbalances a game or not. Only lots of playtesting and feedback will reveal it's impact.[9]

Nemesis is a double-edged sword if running at defaults. Each race gains some very nasty abilities but - like all add-on's - some are definitely better than others. Like FHost, the order this add-on runs in the AUXHOST1 and AUXHOST2.INI in relation to other add-on's can have a major impact on tactics. I will not attempt to analyse all the implications all these new abilities these have on the birds, but will look at the benefits the Birds themselves gain, a few universal ones, and the Robot Viral Field.[5]

Birdmen abilities under Nemesis:

Planetary Cloaking Shields
As long as you have sufficient fuel, you can make your planets invulnerable to a single race by setting a FC. Naturally, if you're facing attack by several races in a joint fleet, you'll not be able to screen all of them. However, you can chose which one you don't want to fight - and cause the alliance some discomfort as they attempt to plan their attacks. You can also install this on other races worlds - and are unaffected by these shields yourself.[5]

Cloaking planets - neat idea - jam any race's combat computer, they can't beam down troops, attack, etc. Finally we can rest at ease even if there are a dozen Imperial Assault ships in orbit. Definitely a good thing to build. Note that it can't be used against you, so feel free to trade this ability for other goodies, like The Klingon Galactic Missile System, or the Feds' Genesis Device.[9]

LDSF/NFC Fuel Bonus
Your LDSFs and NFCs can move now at half the fuel cost. This will make expansion and fuel support for your cloakers a lot easier.

New Beamup Codes
Everyone can now selectively beam up stuff from planets via FC. Useful in conjunction with SuperSpy as you don't have to uncloak to rob enemy planets of resources.

Give planet FC
Players can now exchange planets via FC, with your super spy you could steal enemy planets if this option is enabled. (I personally turn it off in games I host.)

Orbital Defence Satellites
All races can build these devices which can be set to attack enemy ships which enter orbit. If the maximum number has been built, these can all be exploded to damage cloaked ships. Otherwise, your cloakers aren't affected by them.

Viral Field (Robots)
This is a very very nasty one. A Cybernaut can generate a field of up to 100 LY which will disable and decloak ALL ships! Ships within the field are adrift, unable to move or fight. You want to stay well clear of these guys if this is in play. Check the config so you know exactly what the radius of this is. Also, it won't work if another Cybernaut is within 100 LY.[5]

8.6 Starbase+

No race-specific abilities - in fact, this add-on seems to have been written to allow unregistered players to get all tech 10 ships put together. Hmmm. I wonder why Wisseman hasn't yelled at D&D for this. The starbase minelaying and sweeping is a nice thing to have, though.

Mental note: One Mark 8 torp costs 55 credits and costs one kT of each mineral. It makes 100 mine units. One Mark 4 torp costs 13 credits and costs one kT of each mineral. It makes 36 mine units. If you scoop a minefield made of mark 8 torps with a ship with mark 4 tubes, you will get a 3:1 return. This will save you a little bit of cash and a LOT of minerals.

Just remember that "msc" is a registered only friendly code.[9]

8.7 Tachyon
True this add-on is a hassle to cloakers, but two things work in your favour: 1. They can build only 2 devices. Destroy those two ships and you will never need to deal with them again - unlike Lokis. 2. If you are struck by a tachyon pulse, you will receive a message telling you the X,Y coordinates and ship ID# that originated the pulse. Write this down, and steer clear until you have a convenient time to destroy it. Tachyon pulses have a maximum range of 100 LY. 3. It is very fuel-costly to fire a tachyon burst at maximum range. With a bit of planning you can use this to your advantage, draining his fuel while in deep space. Most players who use this like to keep you uncloaked at all times. That tends to suck their planets dry. Therefore just driving around being obnoxious may do more damage economically than attacking him. Once again, VGA-Planets is not about combat so much as about domination. There are many ways to win.[9]

8.8 Jumpgate
Instantaneous travel from one jumpgate to another. Good idea, but remember that you decloak (unless otherwise config'd) when you jump through.[9]

8.9 Portal
Better than Jumpgate, IMHO. Allows alliance portals, configuring certain gates for private or for allied use. Also allows temporary jump portals to be created by ships (big fuel cost) that link back to portal stations. Still in beta at time of writing.[9]

8.10 Tantalus Machine
Destroying a race happens by the FC of a central planet with the Tantalus machine. Usually a race has to hold the Tantalus planet for a longer period of time (default is 20 turns) before the Tantalus machine becomes active. After that the machine can be fired against one race everyt run. It destroys all colonists but one clan on every planet, all defence posts, facories and mines buth 25 factoies and mines, and kills all crew on beoad of the target race's ships but 1 crew member. This effectively destroys the economic base of a race and forces all ships to return to starbases for recrewing before engaging a battle. You could try to lock that planetary FC so that the race that owns that planet fires the Tantalus machine against its own planets and ships and then conquer the Tantalus planet yourself. [4]

8.11 Alternative Shiplists
When you play in a game using an alternative shiplist, use the descriptions of the ships below and fit them to the standard ships described above.

8.11.1 PList (in combination with PHost)

Sparrow bird of prey
Somewhat OK. It's two beams and one tube limit fighting to small opponents. Fuel tank just enough for short range operations, near safe territory. Cargo combined with a good tube could turn it into a very useful cloaking minelayer though. 2 beams, 1 tube, 100 kT, cloaks.

Archeoptrix scout
Great. Cheap scout with three beams. Huge fuel tank makes it a good ship for SuperSpying deep in enemy territory. To hunt for freighters too. 3 beams, cloaks.

Dead parrot fuel carrier
Holds 900 kT of Neutronium, for supplying where ever you need it. A decent engine and 1 kT of fuel in the tank make it great for moving money.

Sirius cybernetics (250 kT cargo)
Foundation freighter ( 600 kT)
Talarian merchantman (1000 kT)
Hansa large transport (1500 kT)

No substitution for these babies if you  want to make it big. Your economy depends   on them, build as big as you can, and  build up a good transport system. Ferengi tradinger (2600 kT)

B'rell bird of prey
Good. Less useful than the death specula, but still a killer. Well equipped it can take out planets. Large fuel tank makes it a good ship for long range operations. Towing away targets from bases. 6 beams, 3 tubes, cloaks.

K'tinga B-cruiser
Not so good. Despite less beams and equal amount of tubes stronger than a B'rell due to it's mass. Maybe it may come in handy to capture weak planets, but don't build your empire on them. 3 beams, 3 tubes.

C7 qapla battlecarrier
Useful if you have enough bases which supply you with free fighters or if you're allied with a free- fighterrace. (Or trade with the Cylons or Rebels, who miss a mid-size carrier with many beams.) In that case it is the ship of choice to conquer planets with a good defence. And it is so cheap! 8 beams, 5 bays.

Phoenix destroyer
Not one of your best, but a decent mid-class ship. 3 beams, 7 tubes, cloaks.

Black bird light cruiser
Worthless. Sparrows make far better minelayers. 9 beams, 1 tube.

King condor battleship
Yes!!! This is a very good choice, relatively well armed, great in combat. On the downside, it takes quite some Tritanium, but it still isn't expensive if compared to what other races have. 8 beams, 9 tubes, cloaks.

Superhawk assaultcarrier (cloaks)
If you have access to fighters it makes hell of a ship. Otherwise use for transport of fighters or for trade. As it is the only cloaking carrier, make sure you will receive something special. 2 beams, 7 bays, cloaks.

D'deridex warbird
Well, this is it. Aim to build them in huge quantities, as the 12 beams and 10 tubes don't stand up to what some other races have. But as it cloaks, it's your call whether to fight or not. And their ships are far more expensive. On a comparative basis, this ship gives you much more for your resources than what most other races have access to. Use wisely. 12 beams, 10 tubes, cloaks.

Miraculix refinery/ Merlin Alchemy
Lots of supplies? Short on minerals or Merlin alchemy fuel? These may be what you need.

8.12 AHost
Not a thorough discussion here, but a subtile suggestion posted in the alt.games.vga-planets newsgroup by Bi0Menace:

>I have a question i hope some will be able to answer.
>
>In AHost, it says : All birdmen freighters have a cloaking device.
>Defenition of a freighter in AHost is : A SHIP WITHOUT BEAMS
>So...... Is it possible for the Birdmen to buy a ANNIHILATION CLASS
>BATTLESHIP without beams, and be able to cloak ? (10 Torpedoes and a
>mass of almost 1000 KT)

Yes. They can also cloak a no beam Gorbie, a no beam SSD, a no beam Firecloud, no beam Glory Devices, and (maybe) a no beam Loki (just heard this, so please correct me if I'm wrong).

8.13 The Killing Floor (TKF)
First, a quick definition of the add-on:

TKF resolves combat in VGAP using fleet battles; rather than the single ship combat that we all know and despise. You need a separate viewer to view the battles. TKF works on PHOST 3 as well as Host 3.22.015 and higher. Basically, VCR combat is eliminated and replaced with a big dogfight of all ships at once.

TKF changes totally the way that one must look at general strategy, and more importantly, battle tactics. It makes the most fundamental changes to almost every aspect of the game: ship building, combat, economic expansion, diplomacy, ship trading... the list goes on.

TKF itself is divided into three distinct phases:

Cloaked Intercept Ships vs. Immune Ships vs. Planet/Ship vs. Ship

Any ships that are set to cloak-intercept will fight those targets FIRST, before the rest of the battle. A DW set to pick off a firecloud out of a group of cubes will fight the firecloud by itself, THEN fight the rest of the fleet.

Next, TKF looks at the attacking hulls to determine if the ship is immune to NUK/ATT, such as anything klingon, rebel, or the empire's Imperial Assault. If there are any ships in orbit of the planet they will fight no matter what their mission. So your merlin will attack a falcon without mission kill or PE rebels. Note that the defending planet or starbase does NOT fight in this arrangement. This ships are intercepted before they enter the planet's atmosphere, if you want to put it that way.

If the attacker survives the defending orbiting ships, they then fight the planet if their mission is set to kill.

Battle order is of course redundant since everyone in a group fights, but there are a few important things to note:

1.
Multiple Primary Enemies. Fighting a war against the empire and feds combined? Rather than setting mission to kill, keep your mission on cloak or whatever, set one ship's enemy to Fed, the other to Empire. BOTH ships will now fight either race. Add another ship with another enemy, and your 3 ships will attack any of the 3 specified races.

2.
Numeric Friendly codes: The F-codes now provide a basis for aggression in combat, in a typical battle plan you want to send in your torp ships and order your carriers to hold back and fill the skies with fighters. Numeric codes of 001-499 are aggressive, with 500-999 being varying degrees of defensive. Non-numeric codes are interpreted as 500. As the Birds you can use this when forming a battle group including red winds, yes, those formerly useless carriers now have a purpose. Set the reds to 999 and your resolutes to 001-100. The resolutes will close with the enemy, with the fighters drawing the beams away. Minesweepers should also be set to defensive positions. And for God's sake, remember to set your freighters to 999. No one likes to see their LDSF leading the cavalry charge...

2a.
When assigning f-codes to carriers, bear in mind that the aggressive and defensive settings are transferred to the fighters. The carrier will hang back regardless of number code, but a carrier with a setting of 999 will launch a defensive screen of fighters - they will be more converned with dogfighting other fighters or picking on whatever comes close - a setting of 1-499 will have the effect of the fighters ignoring smaller ships and concentrating on the biggest thing the enemy has. They also seem to know a weak ship and will target it. An example: Attacked by the Colonies, he brought along a few Gemini's as resupply for the Virgo's, and had them hang back. My carriers, setting 001, avoided the Virgo and wasted the Gemini's first.

Now on to the tactical changes:
The first big change: Cloak Intercept

Two words: Cloaked Intercept.
Two more words: No Survivors.

The first phase of combat is the Cloak Intercept phase; that is, all ships that have a cloaking device, that intercept a ship, will be dumped into the combat "meat grinder" before all other ships. What does this mean for combat? It means... that you have more options in combat than any other race. Resolutes get a huge boost from this, as if they didn't have enough of a boost already, because they can pick apart the fleet during the combat phase. Say you have a swift heart scout around a planet, and lo and behold, there are two heavy carriers. You know that if you just send your three Darkwings in, they will be nuked. So, you decide to intercept one of the heavy carriers with all three Darkwings. Those three get to decloak, dump their cargo into the gut of that carrier while taking minimal damage; and then work over the other carrier and the planet.

That's just one of the many applications of cloakers... there are still the standard applications: Minelaying, terror attacks, tow splitting a fleet, but now they can intercept and swarm targets in a more favorable combat arena. Cloakers have always been a precision instrument.

The Wolfpack tactic is now just as valuable to the Fascists and Lizards as it once was to the Pirates. If you don't want to have to fight that other nasty carrier, just tow what you do want to fight out of orbit to a waiting wolfpack; and if you want to, you can split your fleet (you're a cloaking race, you can do that), and tow both carriers to waiting ships. Your options under TKF are just that much easier.

Ships in general:
The Resolute is an excellent ship to use with fleet combat; it is the primary component of a Romulan fleet, and fills a place that even the Darkwing cannot. 7 beams and 3 torps, combined with a very, very large fuel tank make it a ship to be feared in standard combat; but in fleets, this ship is no less than frightening. It can cloak intercept ships and direct firepower to an extent that, when combined with the heavy firepower of the Darkwings backing them up, could make the Romulan enemy look somewhere else for a fight, as well as having a fuel tank that will take it pretty well anywhere in enemy territory. Advance cloak is just the icing on the cake; it can sit and wait for an ideal target, or await fuel/torpedo resupply.

The Darkwing is a very very very nice ship, especially under TKF. It is a cloaking battleship. It can cloak intercept. It can fight, in teams, ships that really should not be fought against in teams. Two or three Darkwings can fight very well, providing they only have to fight one ship, and cloak intercept can do just that. Set two Darkwings to intercept that Nova, and watch it go boom, and then the Darkwings can take the support ships with little trouble. This is a very dangerous ship when you have fleet combat available; use it wisely, and build lots of them. Its only crippling factor is the small fuel tank; but this can be made up for somewhat with a Resolute escort; no other Bird cloaker has a larger fuel tank.

The best way to wean yourself off of VCR combat is to experiment with a few simulations in TKF. The old "one-two" punch combo's no longer apply. The days of a Cygnus w/Mark 8's + 2 patriots stomping everything are over. Try this combo in a TKF game, say, against a resolute or DW, and watch those three ships get blown out of the sky. Then again, a 6-pack of moderately equipped birds-of-prey can do a number on any large ship, maybe still losing the battle but doing ridiculous amounts of damage as well.


9    More information
Places to check when you're looking for more even more info.

9.1 Romulans in VGA-Planets
The latest issue of the free VGAP magazine 'The Planeteer' (issue 9) included an article about the Birdmen. Not as large as this guide, but you might as well read it too.

There are not many WWW sites that have VGAP tactics and that are frequently updated. If you're desperately looking for new ideas, I would recommend Ted York's site and/or my site. The current URLs are:

Ted's: http://www.teds-universe.com/~goldman
Timo's: http://www.chem.vu.nl/Studenten/kreike/vgap.html

Other options include posting a question to the alt.games.vga-planets Usenet newsgroup, and/or sending a message to an expert Birdmen player listed below.

I've heard there is a Birdmen Homepage being created... The author will be Dave Howard (Duckster2u@aol.com) and the URL will be: Check it out!

For a thorough discussion of the weapons in VGA-Planets I would recommend the 'Master at Arms' paper written by Jan Klingele. It was published in two parts in issue 9 and 10 of The Planeteer. This paper, and also the issues of The Planeteer will be available on my site. (http://www.chem.vu.nl/Studenten/kreike/vgap.html)

The current homepage of The Planeteer is here via the Museum link, then choose Planeteer.

9.2 Romulans in Star Trek
There are some sites on the Internet that carry information about the Romulans in Star Trek. There is a lot of good info about the Romulan history and language. Those sites are also the places to check for new Birdmen picts...

  • The Romulan Home World at http://www.geocities.com/Area51/2333/index.html. Information about the Romulans by Romulan lovers. Collection of links to other Romulan related sites. Dictionary! for naming your ships!!! (English-Romulan and Romulan-English). History of Romulans - read about the nasty Orion Pirates!
  • The Romulan Star Empire at http://www.homeworld.com. Non-profit organisation. Roleplaying site for real Romulan fans. Mailing list and meetings for members. Send a message to info@homeworld.com for an automated reply, for questions and comments mail to: rse@homeworld.com. Note: the site seems to be unaccessible...
  • There's a site that's related to the RSE at http://www.ts.umu.se/~ltcinge/Scandia/ called 'Base Scandia'. This site has info about the RSE and useful links to other Romulan/Star Trek sites. Too bad the picture gallery can't be accessed... :-(
  • At http://tos-www.tos.net/tos/romulan/romulan.html TOS TrekMUSE, Romulan Empire Good site! Large, still maintained Dictionary. Chronology of Romulan History. Of all sites I've visited, this one has the most links to other Romulan sites.
  • Original homepage of the Romulan Roleplaying Guide at http://www.math.grin.edu/~sarantit/rom_rp.html.
  • The Romulan International Empire at http://unix.mclv.net/staff/death/rie.html
  • The Romulan Web at http://www-iwi.unisg.ch/~sambucci/romulus/
  • The Romulan Empire at http://macgyver.pr.mcs.net/tos/romulan/romulan.html. Featuring the Romulan Roleplaying Guide.
  • Eeeeeh, site: http://tos-www.millcomm.com/trek.html

10    About this guide
161,397 characters, 23,956 words and 2,960 lines!

10.1 Credits

Thanks to all the co-authors - without their help this guide wouldn't be this complete! In random order:

  1. Josep Lluis Aguilo <hiper@dinky.bitel.es> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies.
  2. Ricardo Carvalho <cometa@cc.fc.ul.pt> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies.
  3. Georg Heyder <106027.30@compuserve.com> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies.
  4. jw <jacqg@dds.nl> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies He also wrote the Tantalus addon part.
  5. Mark Wilmot <mwilmot@gol.com> <markrendl@aol.com> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies. He also contributed to the sections of the following host addons: Fhost, Nemesis, Borders and RacePlus.
  6. MaGs <andersson@geocities.com> <mags@wineasy.se> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies. He's got his own site at: http://www.users.wineasy.se/mags
  7. Adam Lloyd <75130.2016@compuserve.com> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies
  8. Charles Bloom <cbloom@mail.utexas.edu> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies, both in TimHost as PHost games. He's got his own site at: http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~cbloom/index.html
  9. Travis Schneider <tschneid@rogers.wave.ca> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies. He also wrote the sections of the following host add-ons: Fhost, Starbase+, Tachyon, Nemesis, Jumpgate and Portal, and contributed to the Phost section.
  10. Andrew Sterian <asterian@eecs.umich.edu> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies and especially in Phost games. He's got his own site at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~asterian
  11. Jan Klingele <jhk@compuserve.com> Specialist in devious Birdmen strategies.

For me as the editor it was almost an impossible job to edit this guide: to include all submissions in their original state, to include all references to the authors of the submissions. Be sure that every one of them has written two or three times as mush as you might expect when browsing through this guide and looking at the references. Thanks guys!

Mail them all at once to say thanks!

Thanks to Kai-Uwe Clauswitz <clauswik@Mailer.Uni-Marburg.DE> for providing the ASCII art pict of the Romulan Logo.

10.2 Questions

If you have any questions about his guide, please send them to me. My current e-mail adress is kreike@chem.vu.nl. If you have questions about playing the Birdmen, you can try any of the expert player listed at the 'Credits' section above.

10.3 Additions
Additions to this guide are welcome, if not very welcome. We are aware this guide isn't complete, it won't be completed and it can't ever be completed simply because both host.exe and phost.exe will keep changing, and new addons will be created. Please send all additions and bugfixes to me at my current e-mail address: kreike@chem.vu.nl. I'll gladly update the guide.

Right now the guide could use information about eliminating the Federation, the Fascists and the Rebels. Altlist 3 and 6 are also frequently used but not discussed in this guide. Maybe some info about different game setups: custom races (Where to spend your credits on), custom starmaps (in general), and different game scenario's (Disunited Kingdoms, Ashes of the Empire, Capture the Flag etc.)

10.4 Updates
You can always find the latest version of this Guide at my homepage: the Elite Site. The current URL of the site is in the Museum link at Donovansvgap.com.

10.5 Complaints
I would like to redirect all complaints and annoying messages concerning this Birdmen Guide and the Birdmen in general to the 'Lenin BrotherHood', a group of VGAP players that love the Evil Empire. You can find their official homepage at the time of writing at URL: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/3524. Why? They just shouldn't have put that 'infamous recipe for the Cooked Birdman' on their site - it did hurt my feathered soul very deeply! :-)

10.6 Distribution
This Guide will be available on the NET free of charge. The twelve of us we created the guide and we should get the bucks. Since we're not charging anything, neither should someone else. You may distibute, copy and publish (parts of) this guide by every means you can imagine as long as the contents of the guide remain unmodified and our names remain included.

10.7 Version History
v1.0    March '97 Initial release
v1.1    September '97
            Fixed some typos and incorrect information.
            Extended chapter 9.
            Removed the linebreaks that caused some Windows-based apps to crash.
            Added more paragraphs to chapters 4, 6 and 7.


11    Famous last words
This guide has been written on my fabulous, fantastic and famous Power Macintosh 6100/60. The PowerMac!

If you do like this guide, you'll probably be infected by a Macintosh virus, i.e. the I-like-Macintosh virus :-) (I guess these words truely will be my last...:-)

Amsterdam - May 1998,

Timo Kreike (kreike@chem.vu.nl)


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