Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Play recommendations
There's something about Scouting that I think I've forgotten to mention publicly...  There's a relatively new rule (that is not often needed) that hasn't made it into the rulebook yet.  However, you might find it useful, especially during this portion of the game.

Scouting is usually done with an expendable minimally-designed ship, since they are so often caught and destroyed.  This usually means keeping the cost as low as possible and still be useful, by equipping it with nothing but engines.  Of course, the number of star drives should be relatively high so the scouts can move across large distances quickly.  But if they engage in combat, inertia drives determine their combat ability instead.  Since an unarmed scout really has no chance of surviving armed combat anyway, there's no point in spending extra PI to put on lots of inertia engines.  So most scouts will be designed as //20-1 or //30-1 or similar.

If such a ship Scouts a system and finds enemy ships, and the enemy has no ships Patrolling (or on Sentry) there, then the scout ship will not be caught and will provide a scouting report on the enemy present.  If there are Patrols, then their chance of catching the scout depends on their inertia engines (1% per engine) - the more Patrolling inertia engines, the better their chance of catching the scout.  The scout's inertia engines are not taken into account here, only those on the Patrolling ships.

So, if you want to keep a system from being scouted by your opponents, place large numbers of inertia engines (use 20 each instead of 1) on Patrol there (since each one will have a separate chance to catch a Scout).  However, this leads to a difficulty - it's quite easy to place enough ships on Patrol to catch virtually any scout that enters, completely protecting the system against information-gathering, and thus preventing an enemy from knowing how big a fleet needs to be used to attack it.  From the attacker's point of view, this is a game-breaker.  So this leads me to the new rule to provide a partial way out of this dilemma.

The new rule allows for a scout, after being caught by patrols, to be nimble enough to get away while the patrols try to chase him down.  If he succeeds, he will be called an "Escaped Scout".  An Escaped Scout does get a scouting report, but without as much detail as an un-caught Scout.  In particular, they only learn the empire name of the enemy and the very rough size of the fleet (of which they only obtained a quick glimpse).  But that can be enough to tell an attacker whether he needs to bring in a 500-SSD attack fleet or a 5000-SSD attack fleet, and what would be completely hopeless.  (Note that an Escaped Scout needs to be given orders immediately afterwards or else it will almost certainly be destroyed in combat the next turn - it will be treated as if it had None orders by then.)

The chance of a scout escaping combat is small, but useful.  The percent chance to escape now depends on the number of inertia engines (1% per engine) on the Scouting ship and has nothing to do with the number of engines on the Patrolling ships nor on how many Patrols there are.  Since the largest number of inertia engines possible is 20, that's the largest percentage chance a Scout may have to escape.  However, it's possible to send in multiple Scouts, each with its own chance to escape, so that while most won't escape a heavy Patrol net, one or two might.

Of course, flooding a system with a large number of Scouts will also tell the defender that you're trying very hard to get his information and thus an attack may be imminent.  So there are strategic issues involved here, too.  Also, building all your scout ships with large numbers of inertia engines usually isn't very effective either, as they cost about twice as much as the cheaper everyday scout ships.

So, while you've got a new feature, to be taken into consideration by both attackers and defenders, it should be used only in circumstances that require it.
There's another relatively new rule about Scouts that isn't in the rulebook.  However, it's unlikely to ever be needed so you generally shouldn't be worried about it.  It's just there to close a game-system loophole.

When a Scout ship entered an occupied system, their chance of being caught depends entirely on the inertia engines on the Patrolling ships.  Well...  not quite.  Nobody in their right mind (well, human minds, at least) is going to send in large, expensive ships into a very dangerous situation.  They're going to use the smallest expendable ships they can manage.  But, what if some alien mind decided to send in a battleship on Scout duty?  (Well, maybe they're not expecting many defenders??)

It stands to reason that a tiny little ship is going to have a better chance of hiding from the Patrols than a gigantic battleship is of escaping their notice.

Enter the new rule...  a Scout ship's SSD (1% per SSD) is now added to the percent chance of being caught by a Patrolling ship.  This makes it really difficult to scout with large ships and helps convince everyone to use only small Scout ships.

In addition, this SSD rule includes an additional factor...  it's the SSD of the fleet rather the SSD of individual ships that may be Joined together.  So if you send in a half-dozen battleships Joined together, they'll be certain to be caught by any Patrol.  Scouting with a fleet, in general, is not a good idea since they all come in together.  So a Scouting fleet is either caught or not caught as a unit rather than individual ships, so don't Join together tiny ships to scout with, either.
Don't forget that Galac-Tac is, at its base, a game of total conquest -- "there can be only one".  But that does not mean that temporary alliances cannot be made with other empires.  For instance, if one opponent is being troublesome (either explicitly or implicitly), you may wish to discuss it with them before escalating aggressions.  Or, it might be worth your while to agree to a border with one or more of the players on the other side of your empire.  This early in the game it is also in their best interests to limit the fighting they have to do and with a common border (and a reasonable expectation of it being adhered to), that lets you both focus your (military) attentions in the other direction for the time being.

To send a note to another empire (in the PBM days it was done with a paper 3x5 card in the turn), go to your position on the web site and click on Messages.  Select one of the empire names it gives you (a choice from everyone you've run into) and type in your diplomatic communication.  It is available to them on the web site immediately, but only your empire names will be used.  If you want to tell them any more about who or where you are, you must say so yourself.

Any messages sent to your position will notify you immediately via email, if and only if your gaming account has been configured to do so.  (So anyone that hasn't done that yet might want to consider that option.)
A note about Production Centers...

An unclaimed star system can produce PV every turn in the amount of its PV value that can be collected.  Once Colonized, it produces three times its PV value each turn, but you must still collect (Load) it onto a ship (including Shuttles) each turn to claim it.  This means that most systems will be collected by Shuttles and taken to a nearby Production Center for conversion into PI to spend.  However, this process of delivering raw materials seems laborious at first and some players are tempted to avoid it.

The method for doing this is to Develop all the Colonies to turn them into Production Centers (PCs).  Now the PV will turn into PI automatically each turn.  As a bonus, you'll be acquiring five times its PV value instead of only three times.  But this does not usually turn out to be as good a plan as it seems at first.  By using many PCs your wealth is distributed widely and stretched thinly.  You'll rarely have enough in one place to build large battleships or carrier groups.  And while you can move PI around manually, it's much more difficult than using an ongoing Shuttle command for moving PV.  Likewise, PCs are more valuable and need more defenses, but it is unlikely that you can build enough defenses in every PC to be able to defend them adequately.  Many PCs also tends to require more actions than usual to maintain such an organization over the long term, and actions are often a limited resource.

So, the better strategy is to Develop only a few PCs where each one is fed raw materials by Shuttles from several nearby Colonies and focus your energies there.
Opening strategies...

In the beginning of a game of Galac-Tac it is important to develop your economic system by claiming territory (Colonies) and collecting PV (with Shuttles).  That much should be pretty obvious.  What's not so obvious to beginning players is that the rapid expansion of territory in the very beginning is absolutely crucial to the long-term growth of your empire.  If you can expand unopposed, do so as quickly as you can, using your PI and actions as efficiently as possible.  Of course, more Shuttles will bring in more PV which will allow you to build more Colonizers and Shuttles, but there will still be limits as to how fast you can expand in this way and setting up Shuttles means that you can explore and claim less early territory.

On the other hand, if you DO run into other empires, or you feel the need to prepare in case you do, then you have additional complications.  If the encounter is at one of your own Colonies, and they're aggressive, odds are you'll want to defend it militarily.  Unfortunately, that will cost PI, actions, and turns that you would rather spend on expansion.  How much is it worth to your economic system (and your apparent intentions) to defend the system with might?

If, on the other hand, the system is as yet unowned (as far as you can tell), your choices are to (1) enforce your claim with weapons, (2) give up and let them have it, or (3) wait around and see what they do.  Option (1) has similar costs to those mentioned above, and the other options aren't without cost to your eventual economic system either.

And finally, if the opponent has already Colonized it, you have two major options:  you can leave and look elsewhere for territory, or you can try to take it away from them (which will probably start a local war and be very expensive for both of you).

Of course, diplomatic discussions can give you further possible options, or perhaps aggravate your opponent into even more rash behavior.

The more expansion you can do in the early game, the more PI you'll have to work with later on.  So making decisions about how much military spending to include during this time and how much risk you're willing to accept during expansion can greatly affect your military might in the mid-game.
About unarmed ships and non-combat...

Unarmed ships (not counting carriers) are usually of two types:  cargo ships (for colonization or shuttling) or scout ships.  If you encounter such ships from an opponent then they cannot be a military threat to you.  You may discover them (typically scouts) on a combat report, and these are quite common.  The primary way that information is gathered in Galac-Tac is by sending out scout ships to unknown locations just to see who is there.  These should not be considered an attack on your empire and probably just tell the intruder not to bother coming this way as it is occupied.

Cargo ships usually end up producing "Cease Fire" messages when your ships are also present.  These, too, are not an attack and are only mildly disruptive if the timing is exactly wrong.  Generally, the incursion is unintentional and they may well turn around and leave immediately.  Cease Fire messages are saying that no combat took place because no ships were present with orders to start combat.  As long as nobody actively starts a combat, all the ships can just sit there with a Cease Fire staring at each other all day and nothing will happen.

If you see a message where one of your Colonies is complaining that it is "Under Attack", that doesn't mean that someone is actually attacking either.  What it means is that your colonists looked up in the sky and saw enemy ships present.  This alarms them and they're calling for help regardless of the intentions of those ships (which they can't know anyway).  If some of your own ships are also present then you will also get a Cease Fire message.  If only enemy ships are present then you will only hear the Under Attack complaint.  Either way, nothing bad is necessarily happening and you can wait to see if the ships leave or if they start more offensive actions in later turns.

So for those of you that tend to become worried by a Cease Fire or Under Attack message... don't worry.  It's usually an ordinary part of game play.
Gathering intelligence...

Military intelligence (where opponents are located and what resources do they have there) is very important late in the game, but this information needs to be collected throughout the course of the game rather than trying to wait until later.  For one thing, information is easier to get (and poses less of an affront) earlier in the game, and information about known ownership tends to change reasonably slowly (and any observed changes are themselves useful information).

For another thing, knowledge about where your neighbors are located is very useful even in the beginning of the game.  For instance, if you know what areas your neighbors occupy you'll be in a much better position to know in which direction to expand and where to suggest borders with friendly neighbors.  The best way to gain this kind of information is to send out a number of scouts whenever possible.  Of course, sending out scouts means spending a small amount to build them and spending a number of actions to get them built and sent out.  These requirements have to be balanced with your need for economic expansion, but you can often come up with a few actions and a few PI each turn to do some extra scouting while that's going on.

For your best use of actions, build as many as 3 scouts per Build command, and send them to as many as 4 consecutive locations in a Scout command.  They will then proceed from place to place sequentially without requiring any more actions until they run out of locations to visit.  Early in the game scouts are not likely to be caught (except at Home Worlds, which is also useful information) and can garner quite a lot of useful information.

Once you've started exploring more widely, chart your results on a map to see where other empires are located.  If you're using the GTac Assistant, the zone-of-control (Zones) map can help you visualize that more easily.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)