VGA Planets Super Site


Where eleven races are trying to gain dominance in the Echo Cluster, some are bound to run in to eachother. When that happens, players usually either form an alliance or start a good old fight. In VGA Planets, (not counting groundcombat), there are two major battle phases. First, all ship vs. ship battles are resolved, and then ships can fight planets.

Combat mechanics
There is a number of rules that determine whether or not a ship will fight another ship or planet:

  • The ship may not be fuelless: fuelless ships can not attack ships or planets, and can not be attacked by other ships. Planets can attack (most) fuelless ships.
  • To initiate the fight, the ship must....
        -have the owner of the other ship or planet set as it's primary enemy, and/or
        -have it's mission set to KILL
  • If the enemy ship has set one or both of the above, it can be the one initiating the fight. As long as your ship is not fuelless you will fight the enemy ship.
  • For enemy planets to initiate a fight, they must use friendly codes of "ATT" or "NUK" and your ship must not be immune to those codes.
  • For ship vs ship combat to occur, the ships may not have the same friendly codes. If two ships have the same friendly code they WILL NOT FIGHT EACHOTHER. So if for example two enemy ships both have a friendly code of  "die" they will not fight eachother. They will fight other enemy ships that do not have the same friendly code however. There are three exceptions to this rule: "NTP", "mkt" and "lfm". If two ships have the same one of these codes, they will still fight eachother.
  • The same rule applies when it comes to ship vs planet combat: a ship will not fight a planet if it matches it's friendly code. The two exceptions to this rule are the "ATT" and "NUK" friendly codes.
  • For combat to occur, the owners of the ships / planet may not be allied.

The damage done to an enemy target is measured in two different ways, killing power and destructive power. Killing power is a measure of how deadly the weapon is to the crew of an enemy ship. If a ship's crew is killed in battle with another ship, it is captured. The destructive power is a measure of how much damage can be done to the superstructure, engines and weapon systems of an enemy ship. To list a full in-depth description of the battle mechanics and mathematics in VGA Planets here would be beyond the scope of these documents, Moreso, it would be re-inventing the wheel: for a highly detailed and in-depth explanation of everything concerning battle, read Sirius' Master at Arms article. Below are the basic rules.

Combat rules:

  1. Fighters are launched first. Torpedoes are armed second. Beam weapons fire last.
  2. Fighters tend to do more damage to larger ships than torpedoes.
  3. Torpedoes and beam weapons tend to do more damage to smaller ships than fighters.
  4. Torpedoes are fired at ships or planets and can not be shot down
    Beams are used to shoot down fighters and shot at the enemy ship or planet
    Fighters fly towards the enemy ship and fire several shots at it, enemy fighters also shoot eachother down when they pass eachother inbetween the enemy ships
  5. The strength of the shields and the ship's armour is determined by the mass of the ship's hull. The mass of cargo, fuel, weapons and engines does not count toward stronger shields. The type of engines that the ship has may influence the ship's shieldstrength however, when the Engine Shield Bonus is enabled
  6. All torpedoes have a 35% chance of missing their target.
  7. When a ship's crew is dead the ship is captured if it is fighting an enemy ship. Planets can not capture ships. The ship will continue to fight the planet until it explodes, or the battle times out. At that point, the ship will explode (although not visible).
  8. A ship may disable its torpedo systems or not launch it's fighters by using the friendly code "NTP"

Ships damaged from previous battles
Ships that start a battle with damage from previous battle are at a disadvantage. First of all, the ship's shieldlevel is limited by the formula (100% - damage). Second, the ship's beamweapons will not be charged at the beginning of the battle and it's torpedoes will not yet be ready to fire. Fighters however are launced immediately.

Last but not least, damaged ships will probably not use all their weapons. Whether or not they do use their full amount of weapons depends on the amount of weapons the ship has to begin with and the amount of damage the ship has. Typically, ships will use a maximum of 10 - ( TRUNC (damage/10) ) weapons. Ships owned by the Lizards use a maximum of 15 - (TRUNC (damage/10) ), ofcourse still limited to 10 beams, torpedotubes or fighterbays.

If the amount of weapons used by this formula is greater than or equal to the ship's number of weapons, the ship will use it's full set of weapons. A Fascist Victorious (ten beams, six tubes) for example with 20% damage will only use 8 beams but will still use all six of it's tubes.

Ships owned by the Federation, when the Federation Crew Bonus is enabled, always fight with full weaponry regardless of their damage.

Federation crew bonus
The Federation battle advantage, also known as the Federation crew bonus, can greatly help the Federation when fighting their enemies. First, 50 kilotons are added to the ship's weight. This makes the ship more resistant to enemy fire. Second, Federation carriers launch fighters at a rate as if they had three bays more than they actually have. This holds true for all Federation-owned carriers, including the Kittyhawk (effectively uses nine bays) and carriers that already have the maximum of ten bays (a Federation Gorbie launches fighters from thirteen bays). In-between battles, the shields of Federation ships regenerate with 25%. The shield level is limited by the damage the ship has (maximum is 100-damage) and can never exceed 100%. Last but not least, all ships owned by the Federation fight with full weaponry, regardless of the damage the ship already has at the beginning of the battle. The Federation Crew Bonus can be disabled in the host configuration.

Beams and torpedoes
There are different types of torpedoes and beams that can be placed on a starship hull when building a ship. The various types differ, next to their cost, in the amount of damage they do to enemy ships and shields (exploding power) and how good they are at killing enemy crew (kill power). Beams and torpedoes with a low explosive power but a high kill power can be used to capture enemy starships: they kill the crew without inflicting too much damage to the hull.

Torpedoes Kill Explode   Beamweapons Kill Explode
Mark 1 Photon 4 5 Laser 10 3
Proton torp 6 8 X-Ray Laser 15 1
Mark 2 Photon 3 10 Plasma Bolt 3 10
Gamma Bomb 15 2 Blaster 10 25
Mark 3 Photon 9 15 Positron Beam 9 29
Mark 4 Photon 13 30 Disruptor 30 20
Mark 5 Photon 17 35 Heavy Blaster 20 40
Mark 6 Photon 23 40 Phaser 30 35
Mark 7 Photon 25 48 Heavy Disruptor 50 35
Mark 8 Photon 35 55 Heavy Phaser 35 45

The Privateers, pirates at heart, have found a way to tweak their beamweapons so that the kill-rate is tripled when they fire their beamweapons at enemy ships. This makes the Privateers very well-equipped to capture enemy ships.

The Engine Shield Bonus
When enabled in the host configuration, the type of engines a ship has can influence the strength of that ship in combat with other ships. When the ES Bonus is enabled, a configurable percentage of the cost of one engine is added to the ship's mass (note: only in battle, this does not influence the ship's normal mass and has no influence on fuelconsumption or damage taken from minehits and glory devices). When for example the ES Bonus is set to it's default 50%, a ship with transwarp engines (no matter how many) will have 50% of 300 (the cost of one engine) kilotons of mass added to it's battlemass. Such a ship effectively has 150 extra kilotons of battlemass, making it less vulnerable to impacting torpedoes, beams and fighter-hits. Keep in mind, the Engine Shield bonus only works in ship vs. ship combat.

Ship to ship combat
Whenever a ship ends up in the same place as an enemy ship and either one has the other race set as their primary enemy and/or has a "Kill!" mission, the ships will fight eachother - unless they have matching friendly codes. Ships will not fight allied ships, even when their mission is "Kill!" and they have their ally set as primary enemy.

Cloaked ships are not involved in battles, unless the cloaked ship is at the same location as a ship belonging to it's primary enemy and "cloaked ships attack" is allowed in the host configuration.

A ship may disable its torpedo systems or not launch it's fighters by using the friendly code "NTP"

Ships fight according to the Friendly Code Battle-order, only preceded by what is referred to as "cloaked intercept". The Kill mission or primary enemy are needed to initiate the fight, but do not cause ships to fight before other ships. Thus, there are two "phases" in ship to ship combat, 'cloaked intercept' and the normal combat phase in which ships fight according to their friendly code battle order.

"Cloaked Intercept"
Though this procedure is called "Cloaked Intercept" the ship is in fact not trying to cloak, it is on an intercept mission!

Before resolving "normal" combat, Host checks to see if there are ships equipped with a cloaking device set to intercept an enemy ship. If this is the case and the intercept is successful, Host checks if those ships will fight. This is not necessarily caused by the intercepting ship having it's primary enemy set to the ship it intercepts. If a ship with a cloaking device successfully intercepts an enemy ship but does not have it's primary enemy set, the Host program will check if the intercepted ship starts a fight with the interceptor (has interceptor as primary enemy or has a kill mission).

If so, the two ships will fight in the "cloaked intercept" phase. The highest ID ship with a cloaking device on an intercept mission attacks before lower ID ships with a cloaking device on intercept missions. Anytime a ship on an intercept mission goes into combat it loses it's intercept lock. Ships that initiate a battle through cloaked intercept always fight from the righthand side of the VCR.

Friendly Code Battle Order
After all ships on "cloaked intercept" have fought their battles, all remaining ships fight according to the 'normal' battle order. They will fight in an order that depends on their battle value. This battle value is based on a ship's friendly code. Numerical friendly codes can give a battlevalue from 1 (friendly code of "001") to 999 (friendly code of "999"). Note that friendly codes below 100 do not always work correctly. It can give problems especially when used in battles where both your and your ally's ships are set to fight the enemy in a certain order. To make sure your ships fight in the order you want them to fight in, don't use codes lower than 100.

Friendly codes with one or more non-digits (letters, spaces and odd characters) in them are considered to be at least 1000 (i.e. higher than any code consisting of three numbers). The Winplan helpfile is wrong at this point. If a ship has a non-numerical friendly code, having NO Kill mission adds 10 points to it's attack value, having NO primary enemy set adds five points. For ships with a numerical friendly codes, having no KILL mission or having no primary enemy is of no influence on their battlevalue.

Some examples:

Friendly code Kill mission? Primary enemy Battle value
619 yes yes 619
631 no no 631
h45 yes yes 1000
65p yes no 1005
k p no yes 1010
m7v no no 1015

If two ships have the same battle value (both 1005, for example) the ship with the lowest ID will have the lower battlevalue of the two and will thus fight first.

If two ships have the same friendly code they WILL NOT FIGHT EACHOTHER. So if for example two enemy ships both have a friendly code of  "die" they will not fight eachother. They will fight other enemy ships that do not have the same friendly code however. There are three exceptions to this rule: "NTP", "mkt" and "lfm". If two ships have the same one of these codes, they will still fight eachother.

Initiator and Agressor
To determine the order in which battles are fought, the Host program first orders all ships in one location in ascending battlevalue. Then it starts at the top of the list, and sees if the ship with the lowest battle value meets the criteria for fighting the next ship on the list. This is not necessarily caused by this ship itself: if the ship has no kill mission and no primary enemy set, it can still fight if there is an enemy ship there with this ship's owner as primary enemy or on a kill mission.

(more info on the details page)

Left / right side of the VCR
In ship to ship combat, ships are lined up against eachother one by one. One ship fights from the left-hand side of the VCR, the other ship from the right-hand side. Which ship gets which side depends on their battlevalue. Basically, the ship with the lowest battlevalue fights from the righthand side. The only exception to this is when two ships fight eachother twice. In the first battle, the ship with the lowest battlevalue gets the right side. If this battle times out and the two ships fight eachother again, the ship with the highest battlevalue of the two will get the righthand side.

There is a difference between fighting from the left-hand side of the VCR and the right-hand side, when carriers are involved. Put simply, fighters launched by carriers from the lefthand side have a better chance in fighter vs fighter dogfights in mid air, and thus carriers from the left side have a better chance against carriers from the right side. To compensate for this, the ship on the right-hand side has a chance to get a bonus mass, making it less vulnerable to fighterhits. This chance of a bonus mass also exists for torpedo-ships fighting from the righthand side, if they fight against a carrier.

The following summary is a blunt generalisation. It assumes the carriers involved are large ones with sufficient fighterbays (so no Geminis, Q-tankers etc), where in general beams never get to hit the enemy ship; fighters do the work for the carrier, torps for the torper, one of them dies before ships start firing beams against eachother (or upon the first beams being fired). If combat involves carriers where eventually beams are fired against ships, the mass of each ship becomes more important and thus getting the bonus mass from the righthand side becomes more important.

  • Torper vs torper: no difference between left and right
  • Torper vs carrier: torper has an advantage from the right side, so...
    - If the torper weighs more than 140 but less than 320 kilotons, it wants the right side for the bonus mass
    - If the torper is lighter than 140 kilotons there is no chance for a bonus mass,
      so the torper will want the left side to deny the carrier the left side advantage
    - If the torper weighs 320 kilotons or more already bonus mass has no influence,
      so the torper will want the left side to deny the carrier the left side advantage
  • Carrier vs carrier: fighters fight better from the left, chance of bonus mass from the right:
    - if both carriers weigh 140 kilotons or less, there's no chance of a bonus mass so each carrier wants the left side
    - if both carriers weigh 320 kilotons or more, bonus mass doesn't help much so the left side is desirable
    - if one of the carriers weighs between 140 and 320 kilotons, it gets complicated *

* See details page for this

In all cases, the weight of each ship is including the engine shield bonus. As said, this is a generalisation and it is advised to test battles before you head into them. More info on this subject can be found on the details page.

Borg gather enemy debris
When defeating enemy ships in battle, the Borg gather the debris of the ships they have blown up. In order molybdenum, tritanium and duranium are beamd onboard until the Borg ship's cargohold is filled. Then the fuel from the enemy ship is beamed onboard, until the ship's fueltank is full.

Only the Borg ship that has killed another ship gathers debris, and then only of the ship(s) it has killed itself. If in a pack of five cubes, the first cubes kills three enemy ships, only that first cube gathers debris. If it's cargoholds and/or fueltank are full, no more debris is gathered even though there are other Borg ships present with room left in their cargoholds and/or fueltanks

Recalculate ship mass
After all ship vs. ship battles are handled, the Host program checks ship's masses. Actually what it does is check damages. Ships belonging to any race other than the Lizards with damage over 100% blow up. Lizard ships can take 150% damage and they can exist with over 100% damage at this point. Ships with less than 100% damage (and Lizard ships with less than 150% damage) that have supplies onboard are (partially) repaired using those supplies. At this point the Host program also checks if there is a ship set to "mkt" to build torpedoes in space.

Exploding ships
When a starship is destroyed in a battle the resulting anti-matter warp core explosion can be detected by anyone within 5,000 Lightyears. The ship will also send out a distress call with the name and location of the destroyed ship. The distress call does not include the ID number or race that the ship belonged to. Ships using their Glory Device do not send a distress call, but their victims will if they are destroyed.

(-x0001)<< Long Range Sensors >>

Distress call and explosion
detected from a starship at:
( 729 , 2215 )
The name of the ship was the:

Ships fight enemy planets and bases
Ships can attack enemy planets and bases by setting the owner of that planet as their primary enemy and/or setting the ship's mission to "Kill".

If the option "cloaked ships attack" is set to YES, cloaked ships can have the owner of a planet they are orbiting as their primary enemy without attacking the planet. This enables them to attack enemy ships at that position and then cloak again. If they successfully cloak they will not fight the planet. If the cloak fails for whatever reason, they will fight the planet.

Planets and bases can initiate a fight with orbiting ships themselves by having a friendly code of "ATT" or "NUK".
"ATT" will cause a planet or base to fight all enemy ships with fuel that are in orbit of the planet or base. The "NUK" friendly code will cause a planet to fight all enemy ships in orbit, whether they have fuel or not. In order for a planet to attack an enemy ship via the NUK friendly code, it must have planetary defenseposts. Even if the planet has a fully loaded starbase to defend it, if it has no planetary defenseposts it can not NUK an enemy ship.

If there are multiple ships in orbit, ships are fought in the friendly code battle order of those ships. If a planet fights ships using the NUK friendly code, ships with fuel are fought first the normal battle order. Then, fuelless ships are fought in a modified battle-order. For this modified battle order, the influence of the friendly code is eliminated. A fuelless ship with a friendly code of 418 will have the same battle-value as a fuelless ship with a friendly code of 'jql' - ships are fought in order of their ID number. Fuelless ships with primary enemy set are all (in order of ID) fought before any fuelles ships without primary enemy set.

A planet can only attack ships using the NUK friendly code as long as it has defenseposts. When a planet is conquered during combat, it will lose all it's defenseposts and it's ownership will be transferred to the race of ship that conquered it. It's friendly code will be changed to a random code.

Several ships can not be attacked by planets at all, unless they choose to fight themselves (through a Kill mission or having the planet's owner set as primary enemy). These ships are often referred to as "ATT and NUK - immune" The following ships are immune to ATT and NUK:

  • All ships owned by the Fascists (by default, this is host-configurable)
  • All ships owned by the Rebels (by default, this is host-configurable)
  • The Super Star Destroyer, regardless of ownership
  • Fuelless warships with beams, when owned by the Birdmen

Races that are allied through the "ffX" ship friendly codes will not attack eachother, so a "NUK" or "ATT" code will not make a planet/base attack allied ships and a ship set to KILL or even with his ally set as primary enemy will not attack it's ally's planets.

It is impossible for planets to capture ships in combat. If a ship runs out of crew during combat, it will continue to fight the planet until the battle times out. After that, the ship will explode (though this is not actually visible in the VCR). The owner of the planet will not own the ship the next turn. The same mechanic is used if a ship with no crew actually wins the fight with the planet - the planet will be conquered, but the ship will be gone.

A Lizard ship that ends a battle with a planet with more than 100% damage, regardless of the outcome of that battle, will get ripped apart by the planet's tidal waves.

<<< Fleet Message >>>

has been destroyed by
the defense systems on
Sigma 1212
a Fascist planet.
The planet's tidal forces
ripped our ship apart, before
we could get away.
We exploded with : 124%
hull damage.

If a planet is taken over in combat, 25% of the native population dies. The happiness of the native population also drops 20 points per takeover. If during ship to planet combat the ship does not win the battle (the planet does not change ownership) the colonist population's happiness drops 10 point per battle.

Strength of planets
The amount of weapons a planet fights with depends on the number of planetary defenseposts and whether or not there is a starbase in orbit. Generally speaking, a planet's defenses are quite weak when there is no starbase in orbit. It requires a lot of defenseposts to build up weapons sufficient to ward off more than nosy hyperjumping ships and scouts.

Only planets with a very large colonist population can hold enough defenseposts to build up defenses that will beat medium battleships, but most medium ships and certainly any heavy battleship can defeat a planet that does not have a starbase in orbit.

Planets defend themselves with beamweapons and fighters only, never with torpedoes. Also, planets never capture enemy ships. Even if the ship has lost all it's crew, the planet will keep fighting it and the ship will keep fighting back.

The number of planetary defenseposts relates to the number of beams the planet has, the type of beams, the number of fighterbays and the number of fighters. Starbase defenseposts, fighters and beamtechlevel further influence the amount and type of weapons planets defend themselves with.

(formulas on the details page)

Planets and damage from (previous) battles
Planets will always start a battle with 0 damage. Even if a planet has been damaged to 70% in one battle, it will start the next battle without any damage. The number of weapons it has, however, is influenced by the first battle.

First of all the number of defenseposts the planet will have left is reduced by the same percentage as it has sustained damage in the first battle. Taking 30% damage makes the planet lose 30% of it's defence outposts - if a planet had 60 defenseposts when it entered the first battle and took 30% damage in that battle, it lost 18 defenseposts.

If a planet has a starbase, the number of fighters stored at the starbase and the number of fighters generated by the defenseposts are combined and used to defend the planet. When enemy ships shoot down fighters, the starbase fighters are killed off first. A nasty side-effect to having fighters shot down is that the amount of defenseposts is reduced by the number of planetarry fighters that were shot down - i.e. if all starbase fighters are shot down and then some planetary fighters are also shot down, this reduces the amount of defenseposts on the planet. When 5 planetary fighters are shot down, the planet will have 5 less defenseposts when engaging in the next battle. This ofcourse influences the number and type of beams, the number of fighters and fighterbays and the planetary battlemass.

If a starbase gets damaged in combat, it's techlevels will be reduced by the percentage of damage the base (and the planet) has suffered. A planet/base that gets 70% damage for example, will have all it's techlevels reduced by 70% (from 10 to 3 for example, or from 7 to 2). Note that this only applies to newly inflicted damage: if a base that was already 30% damaged suffers another 20% damage, it's techlevels will be downgraded 20% (and not 50%). With these diminished techlevels, previous build-orders will be maintained (if the base was set to build an all tech 10 ship, it still will) but it is impossible to buy new parts unless the techlevels are upgraded again.

Damage inflicted to a starbase is added up over the course of time. This amount, visible in the starbase command window, may not exceed 100% (same for Lizards as any other race). Even though a base/planet will always engage combat with 0% damage, if the total amount of damage adds up to or exceeds 100%, the base is destroyed. This can happen independently of the planet's survival. If a base that is already 90% damaged successfully defends against an enemy ship but is damaged another 10% in this combat, the base vanishes even though the planet is not conquered.

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