Q: What's the best way to win?
A: A winning strategy involves balancing the goals of defending your planets,
exploring new planets and colonizing those which are hospitable, eliminating
the assets of your opponents, maintaining superior technology, and ensuring
your own flexible response capability by stockpiling metal and adding to your
Q: Is The Ho! a war game or a game of economics?
A: You can decide that for yourself. Your short term goal is to protect your
assets, while your long term goal is to increase your income.
Many strategic principles were first described by Sun Tzu in The Art of War
during the fourth century B.C. These principles are still used today by
military strategists and in other competitive arenas. Several relevant quotes
from his book have been included throughout this section, like this:
"Your aim must be to take All-under-Heaven intact. Thus your troops are not
worn out and your gains will be complete. This is the art of offensive
strategy. When ten to the enemy's one, surround him. When five times his
strength, attack him. If double his strength, divide him. If equally matched
you may engage him. If weaker numerically, be capable of withdrawing. And if
in all respects unequal, be capable of eluding him, for a small force is but
booty for one more powerful."
Q: How do Sun Tsu's strategic principles apply to The Ho!?
A: Attack where the enemy is weakest. Avoid fighting heavy battles on two
fronts simultaneously. Deceive the enemy before your attack by feigning an
attack somewhere else first. Try to get the enemy to attack you where you are
strong, such as a well defended planet.
"All warfare is based on deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity;
when active, inactivity."
Q: What can I do to deceive the enemy?
A: Before launching your attack send a few ships to explore some other planets
that are some distance away. The enemy will respond by toughening the defense
of those planets.
"Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them; make trouble for
them, and keep them constantly engaged; hold out specious allurements, and
make them rush to any given point."
"That the impact of your arms may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg,
use the science of weak points and strong."
"He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what
establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is
"A wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy."
"Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks;
numerical strength from compelling our adversary to make these preparations
Q: What's all this stuff about diminishing returns?
A: The best way to advance your technology, extract metal, and terraform
planets is to keep your spending nearly constant over a period of time. Make
your adjustments gradually. A small allocation that continues over a long
period has a much greater effect than the same money spent in a few turns.
Q: How should I budget my spending on new technologies?
A: The weapons technology is most important, with speed and shields close
behind. Range tech should get some money, too, and if you have extra cash
spend it on radical tech. Be sure to spend plenty on weapons and shields, even
if you don't expect any battles soon. Mini tech is less important in the
beginning, but it becomes more important as the game goes on. Speed is very
important because the faster fleet shoots first in a battle, and that can be
the deciding factor.
Q: How does galaxy type affect the game strategy?
A: In circle, random, and spiral galaxies, the central portion is the most
desirable and hence the most bitterly fought region of the galaxy. If you
colonize any planets in the central region you must defend them strongly.
This is true to a lesser extent in the grid galaxy. The ring and cluster
galaxies have no central region, so you can only be threatened by one or two
enemies at a time. In those galaxies you don't need to explore very many
planets, just grit your teeth and prepare for a fierce battle with one of your
"When he prepares everywhere he will be weak everywhere."
Q: What are ship savings for?
A: If you maintain a stockpile of metal and plenty of ship savings you will be
ready to respond to an attack. This gives you the flexibility to leave some
Q: Which phase of the game is most important?
A: Getting a strong start is very important. On your first move you want to
send scouts to some or all of your neighboring planets. If you're playing at
novice level you will start with plenty of metal, so you can send scouts to
all reachable planets. When you find a good planet, send your colony ship
immediately. Keep sending scouts while you are terraforming your first colony,
so you can find any nearby enemy planets.
Q: What are the advantages to playing aggressively?
A: If you locate an enemy's home planet before he or she finds your home
planet you have an advantage. You can press that advantage by sending a fleet
to destroy their home planet. That will only succeed if you commit a large
portion of your metal and money to the task, and you'll have to leave your
home planet lightly defended during this operation. If you are willing to take
some risk you can often get a jump on the enemy.
Also, bear in mind that the computer opponents are somewhat predictable. They
will send a single scout to investigate before sending their fighters to
attack. Human opponents are much less predictable, and they might send a big
fleet to check out the neighborhood. This strategy works quite well if there
are several planets close to your home planet. You can send a colony ship to
refuel your big fleet of fighters, then move on to the next planet. Don't get
too far from home, though. The key to this aggressive strategy is to commit a
lot of money and metal to the assault fleet. In the beginning phase of the
game you can wreak havoc with around 5 fighters at 3/3.
Q: What if my home planet is off in a corner someplace?
A: If you start out with few close neighbors you can take more risks, because
you are probably some distance from your nearest enemy. The bad news is that
you don't have many planets to explore and colonize. Take advantage of the
relative safety by sending a colony ship to explore your closest neighbor.
Send scouts to the other neighbors, if any. This saves a lot of time, metal,
and money. This situation can occur in a sparse galaxy, or sometimes in a
dense galaxy. You can find yourself at the edge of the galaxy in circle,
random, and especially spiral galaxies.
Q: My assault fleet was crushed and my colony ship is following close behind.
What can I do?
(suggestion courtesy of Donald Wong)
A: Create a meteor shower! While your ship is en route to a planet scrap the
entire ship type. When the scrapped ship was scheduled to arrive a meteor
shower will occur at the destination planet. Meteor showers will go through
satellite defenses. The down side is that your ship type is gone, so new
colony ships must be built at full development cost.
Q: Should I delay my counterattack?
A: The general consensus is that an immediate counterattack yields the best
results. The enemy's colony ship will arrive around the same time as your
counterattack, and the enemy's attack fleet will still be there, unless it has
enough fuel for a double hop.
Q: What if I'd rather play defensively?
A: A defensive strategy works quite well, and should be used when your
neighbors are strongly defended. You will save money and metal by building
satellites instead of fighters.
Q: What other principles fit into a defensive strategy?
A: Strip mine all the planets you find, making it harder for the enemy to find
metal (the scorched earth tactic). Create satellite traps where you expect an
attack. Spend little on range tech, favoring weapons and shields.
Q: Where can I expect to be attacked?
A: When you destroy an opponent's colony you can expect a counterattack. Also,
if your opponent finds one of your colonies lightly defended, and is rebuffed,
you can expect a big attack there shortly.
"What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer,
and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men is foreknowledge."
Q: How can I find my opponent's home planet as quickly as possible?
A: When you encounter enemy scouts early in the game you know several things.
their speed is 2,
their range is 8,
they were launched from their home planet, and
they were probably launched on the first turn
Therefore, you can determine the distance from point of contact to the enemy's
home planet. Sometimes it only takes one or two contacts to pinpoint the
location of the enemy.
Q: What about later in the game?
A: After a planet has been explored and possibly strip-mined it is common
practice to leave a lone satellite or scout before abandoning the planet,
especially if it is near a large colony or the home planet. If you find a
planet with enemy ships abandoned on them, check out the weapon/shield levels
of those ships. Lower tech levels indicate earlier discovery, hence the closer
you are to the enemy's home world.
If you abandon the planet Hope, you will see the message: "Dost thou truly
wish to abandon Hope? All is not yet lost!" If you abandon a planet named
Ship, you will see: "Abandon Ship? Abandon Ship! All hands abandon ship! Women
and children first!"
If you play The Ho! on Christmas Day, your home planet will have a white beard
and a Santa hat.
If you give your name as Falkien and your password as Joshua, you get:
>Greetings, Professor Falkien.
>Would you like to play a game of Galaxial Thermonuclear War?
There are two special ship graphics; a 10/10 ship looks like a shark, and a
13/13 (?) ship looks like a skeleton.
If you name a tanker "Valdez", you may see "Oh no! The Valdez has sprung a
leak! The ecology on is in shambles! The citizens are suing you for negligence
for twice your net worth!" (You don't actually lose any money.)
Technology levels will max out at 50, although the ship graphics stop changing
well before that. Ship savings hits the ceiling at $1 billion.
Planet Name Origins
Sol, Sirius, Rigel, Altair, Antares & Deneb are real stars
Regulus, Risha, Binar, Romula & Vulcan are from Star Trek
Kessel, Sith & Yavin are from Star Wars
Zaphod is a character in "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy"
Arrakis is the desert world in Frank Herbert's "Dune"
Ender is from "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
Foundat is from Isaac Asimov
Remulak is the home world of the Coneheads
Smaug, Gollum & Thorin are from The Hobbit
Krypton is the birthplace of Superman
Klah is used in both the Myth Adventures and Pern books
Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio & Pisces are
Calvin, Hobbes, Pooh, Tigger, Bambi, Dumbo, Tweety & Bugs are cartoon
Ben Beecher and Brian Davies