The Alpha Nubian

Well, I'm presently in the early stages of updating my Stars page. When I get it all complete, it will be the Alpha Nubian! I hope to have more discussion of blitz Stars!, as well as some things on traditional PBEM play. For now though, my Intro to Blitz is still it.
An introduction to Stars! Blitz

What is Stars! blitz? Blitz is when you play the game Stars over IRC. It allows you to play a game in one night, where an email game might take two months or more to get to the same point. It is also a somewhat different experience than any other way of playing, as the combination of time pressure, multi year generations and the closeness of players creates an atmosphere much more frenetic than any other way of playing stars.

So, where do you play? The best place to go is the #stars! channel on StarLink. There you will find a number of players in and out who can teach you what you need to know. I'm often there as JFeeple.
So, how does blitzing differ from regular Stars? In a couple of different ways.
1. The turns are played in multi year generations. Typically, the first 40 years are generated in 4 year increments (in other words, you play 4 gens, submit orders, play 4 more years and so on). Then from 2440-60, it's 2 year gens, and after that 1 year gens. Now, in tiny universe it's common to play 2 year gens right from the start.

2. The time limit. Your orders are set to a time limit. Typically, this is 600 seconds from the time the first player turns in his orders for that generation, although often it is shorter. The effect of this is that micromanagement is limited, as you don't have time to do everything.

Now, all of this combines to form a very different way of playing Stars. I would like to now spend some time giving some basic pointers on blitz strategy. Now, many of the players at #stars! will tell you that I'm the last person who should be giving strategy (myself included ^_~), but I think I'm good enough to give you some basic hints.

Fast Growth: The nature of blitz games is that they are usually decided by 2460. The game may not be over, but the winner is generally clear. That means that the start is vital. This has several effects. You have to come out of the gate planning for that fast start. That starts first and foremost in race design. In planning your race, you must look to start explosively, because you will not have time to play from behind. This means that Hyper-producer races and the like are generally not viable. However, if you are agressive, and the universe is tiny, it is possible to win with 1WW (One World Wonder) races. These are races that are designed to only have the homeworld, and get a fast start and win before everyone else gets fully established.
So, how do you build one of these fast growth races? There are several different approaches, but some thoughts to keep in mind. First of all, you need a high planetary growth rate to even have a chance. The bare minimum is 17%, and that is optimistic, go for 18 or 19. Second, you must have a strong economy. Finally, a strong initial hab ratio (1/6 at worst, unless you are CA).

Initial Research So, how do you set your initial research for your race? My approach is to figure out where I want my tech level to be at a certain point, and aim for that. In particular, I want to have my major colonizers going out by 2416 at the latest. For that, I need to have Prop 3 (or 2 if you have IFE), and Con 3 or 4 (depending on if you want Medium Freighters or Privateers) by 2412. For example, one of my more common blitz races is a IFE IS. So I start with level 0 in everything but prop, and that is level 1. In that situation, I do no research from 2400-2404 (it is more important at that point to just grow your economy). In 2404 I set my research to give me 1 level of prop (to get Fuel Mizers) by 2408, and then set it to start on Con after prop is finished. Then, in the 2408 gen, I set my research high enough to get me the 3-4 levels of Con that I want, and in 2412 I'm ready to build my fleet.

Remember Pearl Harbor: One aspect of blitz is that it is not only possible, but very easy to sucker punch someone. If you are playing in 4 year generations, any fleet that is within 4 years of flight of one of your planets is perfectly capable of dropping by. Be aware of that, and be ready for it.

Blitz PRTs So, what are good PRTs to use in blitz? Here are some thoughts on each PRT in terms of blitz effectiveness.
HE: Very rarely used, the time limit means you don't have the time to micromanage your population to get the best out of this PRT.
CA: One of the most powerful blitz PRT's. Of course, this race is a very fast starter because of it's free terraforming. A good race for blitz beginners.
WM: Another very powerful blitz race. The combination of it's superior battle strength, and the BattleCruiser hull make this a very powerful, and very dangerous PRT.
IT Rarely used. I'm not particularily familiar with the use of this race in blitz, but I think a large part of the problem is that it's greatest advantages are nullified by multi-year generations, and by the fact that the super-gates rarely have a chance to come into play.
SS Another rarely used PRT. You really don't have a good chance to make use of the SS's special cloaking abilities. However, the tech advantages of this race are interesting, and can make it a sleeper.
IS: I'm one of the few players who uses IS on a regular basis in blitz. It's advantages are in the Fuel Transport, helping early growth, and it's ability to grow quickly with pop growth in space. That is balanced by it's expensive weapons, and bad starting tech. The minigun is a helpful little toy, as is the Croby Sharmor.
JOAT The Third of the major Blitz races. The superior early scanners and strong economy that this race provides makes it a very dangerous race..
AR: Basically unusable. The close starting positions that a tiny/small universe creates mean that this race never gets a chance to develop. Bringing out a blitz AR is usually the cause of much chuckling and chorteling in the channel.
SD: A very nasty blitz PRT. It's not used terribly often, but in a tiny universe especially, it has the potential of interdicting the entire galaxy in a very short period of time. The main weakness of this race is the lack of time to do the necessary micromanagement to maximize it's effectiveness.
PP: A dangerous blitz race. With it's ability to throw packets, and multi year gens, this race can DEVESTATE other races (especially in a tiny universe). In fact, this is so true that many times, Packets of any kind are banned by pregame agreement. So ask first before you bring out a PP.

Creating a Blitz Race
To give you an idea of how to create a race especially for blitz, I'm going to give you a step by step of one of my races. Once again, this is not to say that I am the ultimate blitz expert (far from it) but it should hopefully give you an idea of what is worth considering..

PRT: IS. Although as stated above IS is not a major blitz race it is one that I like, and is certainly usable.
Let's take a look at these, and others that may have been taken.
IFE: A very strong LRT for blitz, as the theme of fast growth is served here. That early Mizer will speed up all of your ships, and move you right along. It is also helpful in that you get that extra level of tech, which means you are only one prop level from the Mizer (remember, IS starts at 0 for everything until LRT's and "starts at 3" are taken into account.). The Mizer is a better early engine than the Long Hump 6 at every level, and takes one less tech level to boot.

NRSE: This reflects my own personal style. In short, I just don't find the higher level ramscoops to be so vital that I can't afford to go to NRSE for cheap points. Also, since this is an IS race, you can look forward to having Fuel Transports available soon. All this, combined with having IFE make this a common choice for me.

OBRM: This is an almost automatic blitz choice. With the time pressure, and the closeness of enemy fleets, orbital mining is not a terribly effective proposition. With OBRM you get cheap points on the Race Wizard, as well as the per planet population boost.

NAS: This is a bit more controversial. Having active scanners certainly helps in keeping track of the universe. On the other hand, it is possible to keep track of things without it. This is largely a matter of personal choice. However, realize that taking NAS, even in blitz is going to increase vastly the amount of micromanagement you need to undertake to keep track of the universe.

LSP: A common blitz choice for many. 95% of blitz games are played with an Accelerated Start, so the damage to you isn't that great. Also, it frankly can be hard to keep track of all your population as it is, and to properly manage it and ship it off to other planets. However, if you are playing 2 year generations from the start (common for tiny universes), this is not as good an idea. For the points then, this is not a bad idea.

Other LRTs: For most of the other LRT's the choices are pretty much the same as they would be if you were playing standard games. However, remember that most blitz games end with Gorilla Shields at the best (for Regenerating Shields). Also, the same reason that OBRM is an automatic means that ARM is a waste. Probably the most blitz worthwhile of all the other LRT's is Improved StarBases. Here, the big prize is not the Ultra Station, but the Space Dock, which can accelerate your growth by giving you early frontier bases. Likewise, TT is useful, especially if you are playing a CA race.

Hab Range
Gravity: .36g to 5.12g
Temp: -172c to 36c
Rad: 7mR to 63mR
Total: 1 in 4 planets
Growth Rate 19%

Couple of notes here. This being a 1 in 4 race should give you a number of early planets to look at in your quest to build the empire. More importantly, notice how the hab ranges are edge shifted. This accomplishes a couple of things. First of all, you get more points on the wizard. Second, it helps you avoid other players hab ranges (always a good thing). Both temp and rad are far-shifted, only 7 clicks from the end. This is because usually you won't have time to terraforming planets more than 7%, so may as well take advantage of that and get a few extra points to boot, as well as hopefully move out of someone elses hab range. Since grav tends to be a bell-curve, it is more centered.

Econ Settings
Population effeciency: 1/1000
Note, that because an early start is required, you don't want to drop this any lower than 1/1200 at the worst. HP races need not blitz.
Factory Settings: 12/9/18 GE checked
This will produce a strong effective economy. Anything equal to the standard Monster race settings (11/9/16) should work for you. Your goal should be to shoot for a potential 3k resources from a 100% planet. Notice, I think the GE box is a must. Not only does it save you minerals, but it speeds up your ramp up, as it takes less time to mine the Germanium you need to make the factories.
Mine Settings: 11/4/17
This should give you a sound mineral basis from which to fight. Remember, that since orbital mining is not a major option, you will need to count on your mines to support you.

Research: Weapons -50%, Construction Standard, all else +75%.
Once again we see the quest for points. Weapons is set at cheap, as the arms race is usually one of the hallmarks of the game. Construction is cheap because of the unique needs of this race. It is VITAL that you have Con level 3 at bare minimum by 2412 in order to join in the general world grabbing frenzy. You may even want Con 4, if you would rather use privateers (that decision is basically the same as in standard stars, minerals, and the Priv's better range). Since IS starts at Con level 0, you need to push early to get those levels. (Another possibility of course is to cut a few points from somewhere else and change Con to +75, and take all +75 starts at 3, but that has other pitfalls) To get those early levels, you need standard construction.

Well, I bet that as you looked at this race, you saw things you would do differently, tweak one way or the other. That's the great thing about it, we don't have one simple cookie cutter race that works for every player.

Feel free to use and adapt anything you find here, and I hope to be looking at you down the tube of a Jihad sometime soon!
Well, these are just some opening comments on Blitz Stars, and I hope they help you. I'll be adding more to this as time goes on.
Stars! Blitz: A guide to the early years

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