Stars! Blitz, the Early Years.

  In blitzing, the opening years are key to the game.  A player who is able to manage his early years well will generally have a major advantage in blitzing.  To that end, it might be worth examining the early years (through 2420) of a blitz.

2400:  This is your first gen, and you have several priorities in getting started.  As a rule the first thing I do is go to the research page and set my research percentage to 0.  You have more important things to do.  Then, build factories and mines for 3 years.  Also, set the queue to make 7 (for Joat) or 10 (everyone else) scouts to be completed by the end of the 4th year.   The other scouting possibility is to build say 5 this gen, and 5 next gen.   Submit.

2404:  This is the first severely time consuming turn of the game.  By this point, you should have the build queue on your HW cleared down to the autobuilds.  Let it continue with them for the time being.

Send out your scouts.  Your ultimate goal is to have every single planet scouted by 2416, so set your paths and speeds to be able to do this.  As a side note, it's easy for JOAT's to give away their PRT at this point, by not hitting planets, but just flying around.  This is probably not a good idea.  They will figure your PRT out easily enough, but go to planets that are the "central" planets of clusters, thus you still have the speed advantage of not having to hit every single planet, but are able to hide your PRT for a time.

Otherwise, your goal is have Prop 2 (or 3 if non-IFE) and Con 4 (usually... 3 is acceptable if you have Low I *and* high G) by 2408, so set your research to do this.  Some races (such as IS no start at 3) probably cannot make this level, but if possible you want to have those levels by 2408.

2408:  Examine your scout reports, and decide how many high priority planets you want to colonize.  Obviously planets that have both good hab and good minerals are high priority, but position also plays a role.  Build colonization fleets to get to these planets. Your goal is to start colonies with at least 50k pop per colony.  You have 2 approaches to doing this

 Build a small col fleet, perhaps just the default colony ship with 2500 people, and send it off. Then, build a followup fleet with Privateers (and maybe DD's for escort) to arrive the next year, and have those ships beam down the rest of the colonists.  This has the advantage of saving the privateers for later use in pop and min balancing.

 The other method is "Crash and burn", where you just pack your colony ship and your privs into one fleet, give the whole thing colony orders.  This is faster in terms of MM, but you destroy the privs, and you lose 25% of the minerals you used to build them.

Once you have your colony tech, you should start on weapons research.

2412:  You should have found most or all of the enemy home worlds.  Keep a close eye on them. If you see warships, consider building defensive ships.  Beamer DD's are probably best at this point, especially if you have manuvering jets.  Also, consider putting up a better SB on your HW that can fight off a fair sized attack.  Otherwise, you may want to send out a second wave of colonists.  Also, build a few extra scouts, and send them off to planets you want to keep an eye on.  Special targets would include planets close to your HW that can stage an enemy attack, enemy HW's, any enemy occupied world, and any world you wish to colonize later.

2416:  Your first wave of colony  fleets should all be off.  Preferably, they should have been out in 2412, but this is the absolute latest.  Spend this turn expanding your econ.  If possible, some pop balancing would be appropriate.  A good idea around this point would be to put up empty, or lightly armed Orbital Forts on your colonies. They prevent enemy freighters from popdropping you. They have to destroy the Fort first.  It may be helpful to send some mins along with the colony fleet to aid in building this initial fort.

2420:  Most blitzes are with Public Player Scores, and here they come out.  It's time to judge how you stack up against others.  The key stat to look to is the number of escorts. If someone has a number of escorts, and they largely share your hab, then prepare for war, because it is most likely coming.  Likewise, if someone is showing the earmarks of  being a 1WW, prepare your defenses.

 Then, look at 3 factors. Planet Count, Resources and Tech.  One common sight is a race with relatively few planets, bottom half resources, but top end tech.  They will only be a threat for the next few gens, then they will usually get left behind.  Much more dangerous is a race with a good number of planets, and strong resources, even if they have lesser tech. This is a race that in all probibility will grow to be a very strong threat in the very near future.  This is likely an HR "Hyper Resource" or Hybred race.

 Another possibility is a large number of planets, low to middlin resources and low to middlin tech. This is the "fingerprint" of the classic "HG" or HyperGrowth race.  While the HR races may peak earlier, the HG will be more dangerous for the very long haul. Once they get strongly established, you have a problem.

  Also, if anyone has only 1 (or maybe 2 planets) but very good resources for those planets, and middlin to above tech, they are probably a 1WW (maybe got lucky and found a second green), and will likely be looking to attack in the very near future.

General tips:
1. Consider that you are in 4 year gens.  That means a few things. First of all, a sneak attack is always possible, and any fleet that is within 4 years travel is capable of being at your HW before you can react, so keep a close eye on any fleets, or fleet producers in that area.

2. Also, denying the enemy information is always useful. One trick is to make sure your fleets end "gen years" (2404, 2408, and the like) at a planet, instead of in space, it will cut down on the amount of inforamation available.

3. Sometimes, you can speed up your colony fleets if you underload them slightly (less weight). This can be useful if it allows you to get somewhere within 1 gen, instead of taking parts of 2.

4. If you find yourself using Medium Freighters, attach DD escorts. You not only get protection, but also an extra fuel supply.  Then, leave the DD at the planet to help protect it.

5. Another use for DD's is to give them patrol orders, to hunt down enemy col fleets.  You WILL make your opponent mad, but keeping them from getting to their planets can be worth it.  Set fleets like this  with battle orders to kill secondary ships, so they will go after freighters before they go for warships.

6. If you use Privateers, shielding them can help them survive against destroyers who are trying to interdict them.

7. You can use the DD hull for colonizers (using the general slot). Leave it weaponless.  A bit more expensive, but more survivable in certain circumstances (such as SD's being around)

8. If you can get a colony 1-2 years travel from an enemy HW, it can prove a useful forward base for a strike.  Now, a lot of players will stomp on it ASAP (and if someone does it to you, you should strongly consider it) but especially once you have gates, you can sneak a fleet in and crack your enemy a good one.

This is just a few thoughts, and hopefully they will help you as you get started.
Thank you to Orca and Omnivore for their help and tips.

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