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Strategies and Tips for Stellar Crisis Version 3.0


Version 3.0 Compared to Version 2.9
Version 3.0 of Stellar Crisis on the surface appears to be very close to its roots and in many ways the fundamentals are the same. Colonizing is still of utmost importance and econ, still in general is the key to winning the game.  If you are not familiar at all with Stellar Crisis or the basic ship types such as minefields, troopships, science ships ect.  I would suggest checking out Aggie Lands Stellar Crisis Page.   This is one one of the better Stategy Pages I have come across for version 2.8 and 2.9 games. The four new technologies  introduced in Version 3.0 and higher, morphers, builders, carriers and especially jumpgates, significantly change common strategies in the game and force even a 2.8 version expert to readjust when playing with these new ship types.

First a brief description on each new ship type:

Morphers

Morphers are ships that can change into any other ship type - providing that you have selected that particular technology. However, just like engineers, every time you switch a morpher to a different ship type, you pay a price in br loss. Typically between .25 and 1.0 br loss per change. Though not always the best choices for full onslaughts, they can be quite useful for their utility and surprise factor.

Builders

Builders are ships that can create new systems. The cost to build a planet is part of information on each particular game and is measured by taking a builders current br times 10. For example, typically the cost to build a new planet is around 80 - 100 so that would require a combined br between 8-10 from any number of builders. For example if you were at br 4, and the build cost was 80, it would require 2 br 4 builders, while at br 3, it would require 2 br 3 builders plus a br 2 builder. 3+3+2=8 * 10 = 80 Whatever builders are involved in the process are completely used up, just like in terraforming, and if you do not have enough builders to reach the required build cost, (such as overbuilding the same turn you attempt to create a world) the ships disappear without a trace, and without doing a single thing. A builder creates an average world for that game. For instance, on the game description, the average world is 35/35/35; you will build a world with 35 minerals, 35 fuels and 35 agriculture, the following turn.

Carriers

Carriers are the equivalent of huge capitol ships in the game. They don't do any more damage than any other ship of the same br, however, they can be very difficult to destroy. In order to understand how carriers work, you first must understand how the battle algorithim works. Here is an explanation from Macavin on how to calculate how many ships will be destroyed, and the remaining br of the ships left - then how it relates to mines and carriers.

Post #3427 at Yahoo SC Club
Friendly fleet 5 br4 ships,
Enemy fleet 4 br4 ships.

The enemy gets destroyed (2 enemy ships fall to DEST (40), the other 2 fall to 2DV (40+8)).

Let's see what happens to us:

Our BP = 5 * 4^2 = 80
Enemy BP = 4 * 4^2 = 64, DEST = 32, initial 2DV=32 (both are half the BP)

Now our first ship enters battle. BP1 = 4^2 which is smaller than DEST so it gets destroyed. DEST is reduced by BP1, so it is 16

Our second ship enters battle. BP2 = 4^2 and this ship gets destroyed as well. DEST = 0.

Ship 3,4 and 5 all have a BP larger than the remaining DEST, so they stay alive so far. (They don't fall to DEST).

Time to finalize the battle. The remaining DEST is added to the 2DV, which thus stays at 32.
Our 3 ships have a combined BP of 3*4^2 is 48. Thus our ships lose 32/48 of their strength, leaving them at (1-32/48)*4 = 1.3333 BR.

Thus at the end of the battle, you have 3 ships with 1.3333 BR.

The ships enter battle in random order, so you don't know which will fall to DEST.
There are two ship types that behave differently when it comes to DEST. This only makes a difference in defensive fight (thus the chance to survive the fight). There is no difference in offensive respect (thus the chance to destroy the enemy)

Mines: Don't enter battle in the first phase, and thus don't fall to DEST. They will only die if the remaining fleet falls to 2DV.

Carriers: Do enter the battle at the DEST phase, but won't get destroyed when they fall. First their BR drops by a game-set value (delta). Then their new BP is calculated. DEST is reduced by BPnew and the carrier joins the fleet of surviving ships. That means that BPnew also helps in the second part of the battle with 2DV. The downside is that DEST is reduced less than with other ships, so more ships might fall to DEST than if you don't use carriers.
Total fighting power is thus 2 * (BR-delta)^2. And if the fleet survives, carriers are certain to be among the surviving ships. And since your offensive power may be weaker than your defensive power, both parties might survive the battle!

Too low BR will make a carrier weaker than attackers!

Jumpgates

Jumpgates operate much like stargates with several key differences. First they can gate a fleet to anywhere on the map that you have explored and has not been doomsdayed (annihilated). This has significant impact on the way the game is played, which will be explained later. Second a jumpgate looses br just like the morpher or engineer every time it is used. And finally, many times jumpgates have range restrictions on them based on the br; therefore it is advisable to build a jumpgate with as high as br as you can, not just at br 1 like most people build stargates at. Also, just like stargates, the ships sent through do not participate in any combat the turn they are gated. Instead they hover over the world they are sent to, even if enemy ships are in the same system, the first turn, and participate in combat the following turn.

Now assuming that you are already familiar with these new ship types or you have viewed the descriptions above, I will introduce several key differences in strategy using these 4 ships in tandem as well as alone.

Learn to use Jumpgates!

First off, jumpgates dramatically alter the game. Being able to gate your ship to any visible system on the map, means that exploration is more important than economy. Here is why. If empire A is at econ 10 and empire B is at econ 15, in all classic SC games, Empire B has an enormous advantage over empire A. However, if empire A has explored Empire Bs Home world and has a jumpgate and Empire B is still searching for Empire A, Empire A in has the upper hand and arguably the win. Here is why:
 

  Lets say for example that both empires are at br 5, and a long ways off before they reach 6. Empire B knows that even though he is larger, at any moment, the other emp could jumpgate a fleet over his home world. He calculates that Empire A's econ is about 30% fuel (the ratio of 30/30/40 has served me well in figuring how much another emp can build!) so he has approximately 300 fuel. Since a br 5 attack ship needs 20 fuel he approximates that with a minesweeper or two, empire A could gate in as many as 15 ships! (You can always gate ships in and dismantle the jumpgate to save fuel!) Empire B has only 2 choices now. He can either hope that empire A will nor jump the fleet in and go on a mad dash to discover Empire As Home world or he could overbuild a huge fleet in his home world to insure that he doesn't get nuked. Lets say empire B selects satellites and builds 15 in his home world. Empire B now assures that he can fend off an assault from the smaller emp, but at what cost? 15 satellites at br 5 would require 120 minerals per turn to maintain. If Empire B's econ was 30% of his 15 econ, he would have 450 minerals, but now he has only 330 to spare in the fight. If empire A chooses not build at all, he is almost at equal footing with empire B in minerals available, plus a slight tech advantage. Plus, he could always overbuild and attack other planets, which would receive no help from the immobile satellites. If empire B decided to use attacks instead, he would tie up 150 minerals + 300 fuel per turn defending the attack. If empire B decides to defend his home world with anything less that 12-13 ships, Empire A will gate a large as fleet as his fuel will allow over Empire B's Home World and nuke the larger empire. As you can see The smaller empire is at worst near equal footing in terms of minerals, will reach the next br slightly sooner, and forces the larger empire to select satellite as a tech option. Hence exploration, especially finding an opponent's home world first is essential in a game with jumpgates!

 

Rule #1 in version 3.0
Thou Shall Explore

Explore, explore, explore! Is the key to successfully use jumpgates and winning in version 3.0. In a grudge match the first emp to find the others home world, will most likely win. In a blood game, once a home world is found, you can patiently wait for a lull in the action to gate a fleet in for the nuke. In an ally game, or even in a blood game with truce/trade find your allies or trading partners HW as soon as possible, that way, if they ever turn on you, or you decide their time is up, you can nuke them quickly and easily before they have time to react. A very effective method in a blood game is to go to trade with everyone you meet and explore till you find their home world, usually one person or two will not trade so nuke the ones that fight you first then nuke the idlers if any. Then, one at a time, go to war with one of you trading partners and nuke them before they can even scream. By that time you should have quite an econ advantage and no one will be able to stand against you long. I have won many blood games with this method.

Exploring with the help of Jumpgates

Jumpgates can really expedite exploration, which is nice because jumpgates depend on being able to see your opponents systems. In classic SC, when you have a science ship destroyed exploring an enemy builder with a couple of unexplored links on it, the technique would be to, first establish a colony near the system, then stargate a fleet to infiltrate the builder and send to full br science ships to explore while you were threatening a nuke at the planet. Sometimes, that builder would have to be destroyed before the links behind it could be probed. With jumpgates, it is much simpler; All that has to be done is gate 2 br1 science ships over the builder and the following turn they will appear over the builder and be quite safe from any fleet; large or small then they can be sent through the links. If they are destroyed the following turn, a new batch can be jumpgated to the newly explored world, and so and so on. The only way to stop this exploration is to annihilate a system right before it is explored or engineer off links before the science ships get there, both methods are difficult in a heated battle. Many times if you get a bunch of br 1 sciences in the back field of an opponent with few builder planets and lots of links to explore, there is no way to prevent them from exploring many systems and possible getting a few easy nukes on non builders.

Rule #2 in version 3.0
Thou Shall close all Links to thy Home World

The second rule is as important as the first. Do not; let other empires explore your systems, especially your home world. That goes for trading partners and allies as well, since you never know who will turn on you as the game progresses. Engineers are a required tech in a 3.0 game. Build them early on; preferably after you trick and pray you seal off your HW links before some wandering science ship stumbles over your home. If in the beginning of the game someone does see too much, the only option is to hope they will accept a trade then aggressively search out their HW and nuke them. If they are a good player you probably won't last long but if you can find their HW then you are on more equal ground. The engineer is the first of only two defenses against jumpgates.

Newbies aren't the only ones who use Doomsdays!

The Doomsday enjoys a huge promotion in version 3.0. By annihilating systems it renders the system unusable as a jump point for a jumpgate. This paired with engineers closing off sensitive links can slow down an invading fleet to a crawl. By annihilating unused systems then closing them off forces an invader to open each link individually to explore. This allows the defender to pummel exploring science ships and ever weakening engineers. If there are no empty or colonized worlds to jump in reinforcements, the invader will have reinforce his fleet from a point several turns away. However as soon as the invader finds a colonized world, he has a new re-supply base to renew the attack. I have been in several games where over half the map is remains of systems and sealed off links. If you throw builders in the mix to confuse the engineers as to which link they should open, you have a formidable defense against exploration! Doomsday tech is a high priority in many but not all 3.0 games. Usually the larger the map and longer you play, the more valuable they are.

Carrying the Battle to the Enemy

Carriers and Jumpgates go hand in hand. Since carriers are hard to destroy, it takes a lot larger defensive fleet to prevent these ships from nuking when they gate over a defenders world. In the previous example of Empire A and B. There would be no way of empire B from preventing a nuke if Empire A jumpgated in a fleet of Carriers and minesweepers. It would require to big of a fleet to destroy the carriers in one turn! Usually though, jumpgates are such a surprise factor by themselves that the carriers are rarely needed.

Morphers are Fun!

Morphers are not really a decisive advantage in most games, but they are a neat toy. They have four primary uses.

1. As offensive minefields:

Nothing can describe the joy of gating a huge fleet over an enemy world or fleet then moving your fleet to an nearby system leaving one morpher to turn into a minefield. I have won games this way as people rarely think to include a minesweeper in a defensive fleet. Many times an opponent will overbuid with attacks on a nearby system to handle your large fleet. Having one of your morphers posing as an attack or minesweeper further ingrains in the mind of your victim your desire to overrun them with your fleet alone. Move your fleet in as they overbuild, then into another of their system leaving the mine to go off destroying their entire fleet. You now have an enormous fleet in one of their worlds, a builder that has less than 50 due to mine blast and they need two more turns to match your fleet! I have nuked two empires doing this! This also works well if an emp attempts the satellite wall on you (such as Empire Bs Home world!) Just send in a large fleet, move 'em all out accept the morpher/mine and bingo! Just add the nuke! Another personal tactic that has had success is to gate a morpher over a builder disguised as science or a minesweeper and then change it into a minefield. The same turn I change into a mine, I jump a huge fleet to the same world. The mine goes off, clears out the system for me and makes the planet a non-builder, a very easy nuke!

2. Surprise! He does have Sweepers!

Most people when they see a large fleet of attacks with no minesweeper support simply place a mine, perhaps with an attack or satellite or 2, just to make sure you don't try to set off the mine with one ship first. How about if a couple of those attacks are really morphers? Just be careful you don't send in all your ships at once since the morphers take one turn to change. A better way is to gate an apparent attack fleet over an enemy world (morphers can change while being gated) And when the enemy builds a little mine to defeat you, change those morphers into sweepers and quickly clean out the system. For even more surprise, gate in a whole fleet of attack/morphers and change one or two to sweepers the rest to carriers (if they try to match your fleet!) or colonies, engineers, sciences if you want to get to work exploring and colonizing before they are ready. Variations on this can include a morpher disguised as something harmless such as 2 lone science ships, just gated in over an enemy world to explore a the links beyond. Set one to nuke and turn the other into a minesweeper and uncloak a couple of cloakers. Now that is a surprise party! Then to add insult to injury, turn the minesweeper back into a science to explore one of the links

3. Mobile Stargates/Jumpgates

Fighting on 2 fronts? Try this one. First defend/attack with a huge fleet on one side, have a morpher or two so after the battle, convert it to a jumpgate and attack/defend on the other front. You could theoretically destroy two smaller fleets attacking from different directions doing this. This is also useful if you are going in for a nuke then immediately need to defend somewhere far away right after. No dismantling the old fleet and building a new. I usually get to do this when my trading partners start going to war with me because they realize I am nuking them one at a time. Also, if there are range restrictions on Jumpgates, and an extremely strategic target is just outside your br range of your jumpgate, gate a morpher close enough and convert it to a jumpgate. The following turn; have the first gate send to the coordinates of the morpher gate and the morpher gate to the target system. Your Morpher gate is acting as a relay and any ships in the first gates system will gate directly to the target system! I had to play myself a couple of times to test this, but it does work. In most games there is no range limit so I haven't got to use it yet.

4. Substitutes for more Expensive Ships

This should seem the most obvious. If you look on the game info and Morphers are more cheaper than another ship type, maybe you should select morphers along with the tech you need! and build morphers, then change them into stargates, jumpgates, engineers, carriers, etc. Also you will pay the maintenance price of a morpher, so if that is cheaper as well, you will be able to build more, and move up in tech a little faster than the opposition who just outright builds the more expensive version. Also, in an emergency, you could turn the morpher into a mine to destroy incoming opposition or into a carrier, to increase the chance of the morpher surviving an onslaught. The downside to this is you would have to use an extra tech to get morphers in the first place, it takes one turn to morph and of course you lose a little br in the process of changing.

Building Bridges and Econ

Builders is one of the last techs I get in a game, mostly because the higher my tech, the cheaper it is to build them. Also, many times in a game there are times where you are letting two other empires duke it out without getting involved, or a bigger empire you are not ready to attack yet stands in your way to the rest of the map but for the most part is leaving you alone. If you have colonized all the planets you have access too and are getting bored of building tech and waiting, builders are a superb way of building some econ. Over time and with a high enough tech, they can make a huge difference in econ.

Other useful times to use builders is if you want to surprise an enemy that has closed off a link. You can build a world outside their view on the outside of the map and with time and patience build a bridge right up to some of their unexplored worlds, open them with an engineer, and as soon as you come across one of their colonized worlds, you can resume, jumpgating and exploring. Builders are also useful if you are invading an opponent using a scorched earth policy of closed links and annihilated worlds, making it impossible to jumpgate reinforcements from your systems. Simply build a world on the edge of the maps as you advance and use them as jump points for more sciences and engineers. On the other side, if you are using doomsdays and closing links to slow an invasion, building worlds and annihilating them will confuse enemy engineers who will have to open all the unexplored links. A built world is easy to recognize, because they all have the exact mineral fuel agriculture counts, but when doomsdayed, your attacker will not be able to tell if these systems were part of the original map or if he is being led on a wild goose chase. The Swarmy Purgatory on the Lugdunum server is a great place to learn how to use builders since they are so cheap in that game.