Make an alliance with a fighter race
is crucial for the Crystals: only than they can make efficiently use of
their torp/carrier combo, the Diamond/Crystal Thunder pair!
In my ARENA game all races get 2 free fighters each turn/SB (Empire: 8) so its ideal for the Crystals, but even without that, one could exchange fighters against wefields (= torps) with an ally.
The Crystal Thunder shares the same
problem like the Patriot: only useful and deadly if fully loaded. But beside
that there's no other race that have it both way: a medium battleship
and a medium carrier! ("medium" means it's affordable to build lot's of
this battlegroups and they are reasonable in fuel consumption too!).
In fact if you manage your economy wisely you could afford to fight *solely* with such combos (let the Diamond always fight first!!) and you should try and see what the Diamond alone does against undefended bases or medium sized battle ships :-)
Let's compare the Crystals ship list to the other races:
Feds: good torpedo ships but the Kittyhawk with only 65 units cargo space (almost useless as a combo).
Lizards: mostly even with the Crystals but nevertheless, IMHO, a bit weaker in a head to head fight: T-Rex only 5 tubes/Madonzilla only 5 bays!
Birds and Fascists don't have a *real* carrier
Privateer: no good torp vessel/only 4 bays at the Bloodfang; okay they rather steal than fight in their own ships - I know!
Cyborg: very nice, but expensive and don't ask at the filling station for the bill... (They've the Firecloud for chunneling? Well, how much of this monster pairs you could've *equipped* at, say, turn 50? 5 or 6? Don't know I've never played the Borgs myself, but the Crystals could have equipped more than 20 of their Diamond/Thunder-groups.)
Empire: no real battleship; the SSFrigate is weaker than the Emerald...
Rebels: the Guardian is impressive but a cargo bay of 20 ?
Colonies: no torpedoeship.
So much for the introduction; maybe you see already what I'm trying to say:
The Crystals aren't the race to lay only webs, webs, webs and die in the meanwhile from boredom, waiting that someone will get stuck in their minefields. Their attack potential is sufficient to play them aggressive as well! And just in case you've underestimated your opponents forces you'll have the reassuring certainty of your webmines! 5% hit propability per LY (host configurable) / drains at least 25kt fuel/turn = four overlapping fields will drain 100kt fuel per turn!
Webfields give you the comfort of
a relatively security against
1) the Birds
2) the Privateers
3) the Lizards
that's very valuable!
Last but not least: the Emerald: *Huge*
cargo space, reasonable mass so it's a good armed freighter. With its _eight_
beams and (okay: only) three tubes it's as well a good planet taker.
To lay minefields I'm using rather a Ruby (lots of them); you don't need all the cargo space of an Emerald to lay mines - remember the 5% hit propability of a webmine ---> the fields only needs to be 1/5 in size, compared to regular minefields, to get a fair chance to catch an enemy ship ~ (20-30 ly).
One of the drawbacks of the Crystals is their need for molybdenium. But you can see it as an advantage as well: search for a planet with Bovinoids in the vicinity of one of your starbases and build a Merlin Alchemy ship there early in the game. Than you can concentrate on converting supplies to molybdenium and transport it to your base. You will need only small amounts of the other minerals to build your ships.
Here's the shiplist for the Crystals
(it contains only the ships that I found useful for them):
# # Empty Max Max
CLASS Req MCr Tr Dr Mb Eng Crew Mass Fuel Cargo Main Aux
Opal TorpedoBoat 2 60 29 12 20 1 25 67 55 19 1 1T
Ruby Light Cruiser 3 95 47 32 43 2 136 120 390 370 4 2T
Emerald BattleCru. 6 390 71 52 93 2 258 180 480 510 8 3T
Onyx Frigate 8 280 35 25 95 2 320 153 150 10 8 1T
DiamondFlame 9 410 93 70 390 2 570 451 400 90 10 6T
Crystal Carrier 10 480 61 42 233 4 422 320 290 80 6 8F
Beside of fighters try to trade, borrow
or steal a cloaking ship with good minelaying capabilities. Because you
can't clone ships you should rather try to trade some of them (MBRs from
the Privateers would be ideal!). Than you have the possibility to lay unexpected
webfields infront of an approaching enemy fleet or in the heart of enemy
Just my thoughts, Max.