Getting started - Max' Top Ten Tips for the unexperienced VGAP player!

After hosting a few games I found that the first 10-20 turns are the most important for the
economic and military might later in the game. Nevertheless many players are doing better than
others in this crucial first part of the game. The following list is for the unexperienced player
who is searching some basic hints how to improve the expansion of his empire. (Download)

I] General tips:

In VGAP 3 the economy plays a minor role compared to the military strength and strategy, but it is the fundamental basis on which you build up your fleet later in the game. Therefore you should create a decent economy first: your aim should be to build an economic powerhouse in which your homeworld and its starbase is your first centerpoint.

1) Draw an 81 ly circle around your homeworld (HW): in this area you'll find your "core worlds".
Move out and explore the surrounding planets, drop one or more clans with your first ship(s),
than fly to the next planet.

2) Concentrate on the most valuable planets first: build 2-3 Large Deep Space Freighters and
fill them with colonists, supplies and lots of megacredits(!). Send them out to the worlds you
colonized in step 1 and where you found minerals and/or natives. In the early stage of the game you'll need money (megacredits or supplies) more than anything else! Look out if you can find a planet with Insectoid or Bovinoid natives first! Check their governmental status:
"Monarchy" will give you 100% tax revenues while "Unity" will give you 180% - Anarchy 20%...

Insectoids double the collected taxes while Bovinoids will "produce" supplies each turn.
Make sure you have enough colonists(!!) on this worlds to get the maximum out of the natives: for each megacredit you wish to collect you need 100 colonists (1 clan).

3) Stay stealthy! Even if you don't have cloaking ships in your inventory you can "semi-cloak":
never ever fly straight in open space between your planets! Use transwarp drives only and jump
from one world to the next. If you hide your ships in planetary orbit you may move around a bit slower but it pays later when you can hide your location long enough until you have built up
a fleet, that is strong enough for self-defense. Ships in open space are visible up to 300 ly!

4) Don't build mines (>9) or factories (>14) before you can shield their energy emissions
by defense outposts. With 21 defenses you are preventing that an potential enemy will be able
to scan your location by doing a simple "Sensor Sweep" (up to 200 ly)! Don't build more
than 21 outposts in the beginning - they are much too weak to defend a planet.
If you build more defense outposts later in the game, know how much will make a difference:

# of planetary defenses| # of beams| beam tech:
1                                        1          Laser
7                                        2          X-Ray
13                                      2          Plasma
19                                      3          Plasma
21                                      3          Plasma
31                                      3          Blaster
37                                      4          Blaster
43                                      4          Positron
57                                      5          Positron
61                                      5          Disruptor (weaker than positron!)

5) After you have blocked any emissions you should quickly build up an economy that serves your needs and strenghten your industrial power:
50-100 mines and at least 100 factories on a mineral rich planet.

This will cost you:
100 mines x 4mcr = 400 mcr + 100 supplies
100 factories x 3mcr = 300 mcr + 100 supplies
21 defenses x 10mcr = 210 mcr + 21 supplies

total = 910 mcr and 221 supplies!

6) Be unpredictable: change your planetary and ship codes! All your new ships will have
the same code! Player 1 = AAA, player 2 = BBB, player 3 = CCC etc. If your enemy assumes
you don't have changed the ship code he could prevent fighting and robbing simply by setting
the same code than yours!

7) If you can't avoid to cross open space with a non-cloaking ship than do not (!) fly more
than 81 ly! If you do, your enemy will see the vector in which direction and maybe to which
planet your ship is travelling. It's easy to calculate from where your vessel departed too...
Split up a longer distance in equal parts: for e.g, you'll have to cross 120 ly, than fly 2x 60!
Another race may watch your ship passing by with warp 9 (max. = 81 ly), but he can't know
from where you came or to which world you'll move on next turn. All he can do is
drawing an 81 ly circle around your ship and look which planets are inside this area!

8) Get your minerals and money back to your center after you have build up an economy on your new colonies! Now it's payback time :-) Your HW has financed the infrastructure on the other planets now it should get the profit! Let some of your freighters fly back and forth on a
standard route.

9) Build more ships and choose a valuable planet >81 ly away from your HW where you build your next starbase (Remember that some of the natives will give you tech 10 in one area when you build a SB above their planet!). Start at # 1 in this list.
Your aim should be to build up a network of starbases, each surrounded by developed planets
which deliver money and minerals.

10) Don't forget to spread out your clans! With one large meteor hitting each turn, imagine
what it could do to your HW...! Limit the risk of being eradicated by sending out as many clans
to as many different worlds as possible!

And last but not least: you may not be strong enough to fight an opponent in the first 10-20 turns of the game but you can always negotiate and may reach a treaty/alliance...

II] Specific hints for some races (use your race specific abilities!!):

1) Feds: ?? (Never played this race.)
2) Lizards: HISS, cloak, ground-attack
3) Birdmen: Cloak, choose your fights wisely due to cloaking(!), lay mines unpredicted
4) Fascist: Pillage amorphous natives, cloak, glory device, ground-attack
5) Privateers: Rob rather than fight(!), use your gravitronic(?) engines to tow your freigthers, cloak
6) Cyborg: Spread out fast and far away, be Mr. Niceguy first and send out cubes later... ;-)
7) Crystals: Webmines for defence, Crystal Thunder and Diamond Flame combos for attack (Diamond fights first!)
8) Empire: Get a picture where every race is located, trade for some torpedo ships
9) Robots: Lay many small to medium sized minefields rather than a huge one, trade for some torpedo based battleships
10 Colonies: ?? (Never played this race.)
11) Rebels: Use your Falcons(HYP!), ground attack, Guardian/Patriot combos, Rushes later

Disclaimer: The above tips are what I did in my previous games and found useful to transform
minerals and megacredits into a strong fleet. Different situations may force you to create
your own strategy! Read more about VGAP strategy here.
If you think there is much more a good player should do, you are right.
If you think I have left out some important strategies and/or race abilities, you are right too.
But do you really consider yourself an unexperienced player...? ;-)

(c)Max Steller, 1999. /

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