Wisseman's Fighting Planets
An Intelligence Briefing On Racial Characteristics In VGA PLANETS Tactics
by Ted Foster
In our last installment , we took a broad view of Tim Wisseman's multi-player
strategic slugfest, VGA PLANETS. This month, we
ll get into specifics with each
of the various star-faring races that you can play. Whether you prefer the
cold-blooded Lizards, the mechanistic Cyborgs, or even the Evil Empire, every
race has unique strengths and weaknesses in Tim Wisseman's intergalactic
slugfest, VGA PLANETS. As a result, each requires a very different style of
play. It is this diversity that keeps VGA PLANETS interesting and challenging
over many games.
<*> The Solar Federation
<*> The Lizards
<*> The Empire of the Birds
<*> The Fascists
<*> The Privateer Bands
<*> The Cyborgs
<*> The Crystal Confederation
<*> The Evil Empire
<*> The Robots
<*> The Rebels
<*> The Lost Colonies of Man
The Solar Federation:
The Federation's Nocturne-class destroyers, Nebula-class cruisers, and
Missouri-class battleships can be used as pseudo-freighters, giving you lots of
transporting capabilities with well-armed ships. The early use of these classes
of vessels will give you an edge when you reach the Phony War (see last month
article for an explanation of the "Phony War" phase ).
The Nova-class Dreadnought is one of the best battleships in the game with 10
beams and 10 torpedo tubes. However, be aware of its limitations, since even if
fully armed with tech-10 weapons, a single Nova will be destroyed by a large
fighter-carrier. The Nova will cause some damage, but it will lose nonetheless,
so send these ships out in packs whenever possible.
Use your excellent medium-sized ships to give an opponent grief during the
Phony War. Since all of your ships carry torpedoes, use them frequently to lay
mines to keep other ships out°especially those that are cloaked.
This race has a good array of medium sized vessels, with my favorite being the
Lizard-class cruiser. Be careful when using the Serpent, Reptile, and
Vendetta-class ships, as they are easy to capture when their shields are
knocked down. The Madonzilla carrier can end up being too large to be used as a
light carrier and too small to compete with the other large carriers in the
game. Fighters are very expensive for this race as well, so use this ship with
caution. The T-Rex battleship, however, is one of the best battlewagons for its
size available. Few enemy battleships can get it to 150% damage before
The improved ground combat of the Lizard race is very valuable as it allows
them to take worlds without necessarily having to fight for them. Because the
attack ratio is usually set to 20:1 or better, this means that a mere 501
lizard clans (50,100 colonists) can conquer an enemy world of 1,000,000
colonists. Since most starbase worlds are about that size, Lizard troops are
exceptional for taking worlds with starbases intact, inheriting whatever tech
levels and defenses already established by your foe.
The Empire of the Birds:
Nearly all of the Feathered One's ships have large crew complements, making
them very hard to capture. Additionally, almost all of them can cloak, creating
some difficult defensive problems for your opponents. Two of the best vessels
are the Fearless Wing cruiser, with its ample cargo space, and the Deth
Specula- class frigate with its tremendous firepower.
Similar to the Lizards, the two carriers that the Bird Men can build are
generally not worth the cost. The Dark Wing-class battleship, on the other
hand, is a fine capital ship, the only Dreadnought in the game that can cloak.
Imagine an enemy commander who looks at his own worlds and never really knows
if a cloaked Dark Wing is there waiting to strike. The only drawback of this
deadly ship is its relatively small fuel load, which limits its range.
When the fighting starts, use your ships to choke off enemy supplies and to lie
in wait until the perfect time to take a ship or colony. Use your battleships
in wolf packs to invisibly penetrate enemy lines and deliver heavy strikes to
starbases. Be wary if the cloaking fail rate is set to a high percentage (20%
or higher) as you run the risk of detection when crossing large distances.
Utterly evil, these beings seem to exist only to cause pain and suffering to
neighboring empires. The aptly named D7a Painmaker and Little Pest scout are
ideal raiders, while the cloaking D7 Coldpain and Deth Specula frigates can
make mincemeat of other medium warships. A masterpiece is the Ill Wind
battlecruiser, which manages to cram 10 beams and two torpedoes onto a tech
level 5 hull, making it one of the most potent cruisers in the game. The
Victorius-class battleship is an average Dreadnought which should be used with
caution, especially if fighting alone.
Especially in a mineral-poor game°PLUNDER! It's a quick and easy way to turn
natives (or colonists if you can afford it!) into supplies and cash. Be
careful°it is all too easy to over-plunder a world into ineffectiveness. Use
your fine raiders to greatly upset your enemy's backfield, preventing him from
re-stocking the warships at the front lines. If you keep the war in his
interior, victory shall be yours. Kup'Lah!
The Privateer Bands:
The Privateers don't win the game by defeating you with their fleet. Instead,
they defeat you with your own fleet. Of the many ship types they can build, the
Meteor blockade-runner is the top performer. I recommend you build them in
groups of five or more, so that they make more efficient pickpockets. Your
larger cruisers and carriers are generally too small for extended combat, so
build them only as a last resort.
Have BR4 and BR5 ships cloak near enemy lines and wait for a freighter to come
within 162 light years. They can hit it, wipe the crew, capture the freighter,
and be gone before help can arrive. Beware of the Privateer's Achilles'
heel°large minefields and situations where the cloak failure rate is higher
than 0%. The Meteors are ideally suited for obtaining a fleet for you. Sent out
cloaked in wolf-packs, they can rob a large ship of fuel. Within 1-2 turns the
ship will be helpless and ready for towing to the nearest Privateer starbase.
These ships are so fast that they can actually tow a carrier or battleship
faster than normal ships can pursue, making them deadly foes indeed.
Cyborgs are the strongest race in the game offensively...
The only race to have both an excellent battleship and carrier, Cyborgs are the
strongest race in the game offensively. The main limitation for the Cyborgs is
their inability to build automatic fighters as other races can. The Fire
Cloud-class cruiser is one of the better medium ships, and the B222-class
destroyer has seven beam weapons, incredible for its small size. Other ship
types such as the B41 Explorer, Quietus cruiser, and Iron Slave base ship, are
too small to be very useful, so hold off building them in favor of the larger
ships and freighters.
The Cyborgs' two capital ships are both brimming with mass and firepower. The
Annihilation-class battleship is equal in armament to the Federation's
Nova-class with 20% more mass, making it vulnerable only to the larger
fighter-carriers. Even more powerful, the Biocide-class carrier is only a tech
9 hull, so build it frequently and often! Use your assimilation ability to
quickly establish large populations and get starbases built. Dedicate several
bases to doing nothing but building fighters, something they can do with no
tech level increases. Use the fighters to support the Biocide carriers, then
keep those supply lines open. After that it's time to assimilate, assimilate,
The Crystal Confederation:
Although suffering from a deplorable lack of good small vessels, this race can
still be a formidable opponent. The Ruby-class light cruiser and Sky
Garnet-class destroyers have good punch, but like all of their smaller ships
are far too easily captured. The Emerald-class battlecruiser fares better with
its eight guns and an incredible 510 unit cargo hold, making it your premier
medium ship and incidentally, one of the best mine-layers in the game.
The two capital ships are similar to the Lizards' in size. The Crystal Thunder
carrier is the weakest large carrier in the game, requiring judicious use for
good results. The Diamond-class battleship is a good ship in terms of power and
defensive strength, but should still be used in groups to maximize its worth.
Your entire economy should be set up to produce as many web mines as possible.
Employ your Emeralds to unload large minefields in both your space and your
enemies. Then tow the enemy
s vessels home when they are trapped and drained of
fuel. Use this technique to simply take away any fleet trying to invade and to
make it your own. Your Onyx-class frigates are best used to make ordinary
planets into the broiling lava balls that you like best, so use them often. It
becomes another tool to deter aggression° who wants to capture worlds that are
the worst to colonize?
The Evil Empire:
Our other ultimate villain has been blessed with an array of fair cruiser-size
ships and an awesome knock-out punch. The PL21-class probes are
hyperspace-capable to cover a lot of ground in a hurry, though they have little
cargo space. The Super Star carriers and cruisers are weak in combat but make
excellent fighter supply ships.
The Star Frigate is your only ship with torpedoes, so it should be used wisely
as a mine- layer. The Super Star destroyer and Moscow-class escort are too
small to be much use in combat, but can be an effective deterrent when fighting
the Privateer or other group with many small ships. The Empire's crowning
achievement is the Death Star look-alike, the Gorbie-class carrier. It is
unquestionably the strongest individual ship in the game. Build as many
starbases as you can to take advantage of your "free" fighters which are made
there. Keep good supply lines of fighters and fuel to your Gorbies using the
Super Star carriers. Use your Dark Sense ability to gain optimum intelligence
on your opponent, and then loose your "Ping-pong balls from Hell" into his most
These mechanical types rely almost solely on fighter-carriers for their fleet.
What an irony, then, that their only torpedo-capable ship, the Cat's Paw-class
destroyer, is one of the best small ships in the game. Heavily gunned and
impossible to capture, it augments these abilities with a large cargo capacity.
Of the Robots' many base ships, the Iron Slave-, Pawn-, and Cybernaut-class
ships are too small to be worthwhile. However, the Instrumentality, Automa, and
Golem classes are exceptional ships, each capable of launching large waves of
fighters which will devastate even a battleship. The larger Golem carrier needs
only fear packs of enemy capital ships.
Use your excellent Cat's Paw ships to colonize and patrol your perimeter. They
make great mine-layers as well, so use them to take full advantage of the
Robots mine-laying bonus. Try some of your base ships as fighter factories to
produce the many small craft you will need to make your carriers effective.
Q-Tankers may be employed in similar fashion.
The Rebels suffer from a lack of good medium ship designs. The Taurus and Deep
Space scouts make excellent armed merchantmen, but are prone to capture by
warships. The Falcon-class escort is one of the few ships capable of hyper-
space travel, and should be used to settle distant regions quickly. The
Cygnus-class destroyer has good guns but cannot absorb much damage.
Of the medium-sized ships, the Tranquillity-class cruiser is the best, but has
much less armament than similarly-sized cruisers of other races. The Sage,
Guardian, and Iron Lady-class frigates have good armament, but once their
shields are down, those hulls belong to the enemy.
The Sagittarius and Gemini transports make wonderful fighter factories. Simply
park them over a world and keep them supplied with minerals and supplies, and
they will cheaply keep your fighter wings stocked. The Rush-class ship is a
great carrier in this game. Though equipped with only five beam weapons, it
more than makes up for this fault with its large mass and 10 fighter bays.
Use armored transports like your Deep Space scout to expand and to defend your
early borders. Try to quickly build up to the Rush ships to make up for your
lack of good secondary ships. Use Tranquillity ships as mine-layers and Gemini
freighters as traveling fighter supply bases to support your carriers.
The Lost Colonies Of Man:
The Colonies share many designs with the Rebels, including a deficiency in good
medium ships. The Little Joe escort has good punch with its six guns, but
suffers from low mass and is unable to take punishment. Moving up to the light
carrier, the Scorpius makes a good fighter manufacturing ship, and is also
useful as a minesweeper during invasions. The real carrier is the Virgo-class
battlestar, which actually matches up well with opposing carriers. Ten guns
give it excellent punch, and its only failings are its lower mass and two fewer
fighter tubes than some of the other heavy carriers.
Build fighters on your ships, particularly the light carriers and Gemini
freighters, to manufacture them in large quantities for your battlestars and
starbases. Make the most of your ability to sweep mines at long range. The
Colonial fighter-carriers are the only vessels in VGA PLANETS able to sweep
mines faster than they can travel at warp 9. If a light carrier is available,
send it along during invasions to sweep mines, while keeping the battlestars
ready for combat.
That wraps up this strategy guide. One sign of quality in a game is how much
versatility it gives you to develop your own tactics and strategy tricks, and
VGA PLANETS gives you ample room to add upon what I've suggested here. Now it
time for all you would-be Emperors to find a new game at a local bulletin board
near you and start building!