This is your Planets Mag Action News reporter coming to you live from the planet Kobol with a breaking story on ship cloning.

For the past two weeks, the Forums have been abuzz with the rumor that players have been cloning ships after the ship limit has been reached.  Veteran players from all over the cluster say it’s impossible, a hoax.  A few old-timers say it can happen, but only once in a blue moon.  We here at Planets Magazine have tracked down one player that says he’s done it – not once, but five times.

Action News:  Mr. Gnerphk, thanks for talking to us today.
Gnerphk: That’s “Fleet Admiral Gnerphk”, and it’s my pleasure.
AN: My apologies, Fleet Admiral.
G: No worries.
AN: I’m told you claim to have cloned ships post-limit, not once but five times. Is this correct?
G: Yes, Pat, it is.
AN: Can you tell us about it?
G: Well, I came across the method almost by accident. I’d been cloning ships from before the limit, and then when we hit it I had plenty. So I just left the first one that I’d been using as a template there at the starbase. Well, before too long, the queue rolled around–
AN: You mean the Build Queue, is that right?
G: That is correct. ECV just wrote an article on the Queue, very insightful. Anyway, so when the Queue got to that starbase, Bam! There it was – a new copy.
AN: So it was a pure accident.
G: Absolutely. Now, I’d always thought that it was impossible to clone after the Ship Limit was reached, but when it happened I got curious. So I read up on it over at Donovan’s and in the site documentation, and I discovered a curious thing – not everyone agreed that it was impossible, and some people had claimed to have done it.
AN: Like yourself.
G: Just like myself. An accidental build, right out of the blue. And then I discovered another thing.
AN: Which is?
G: Well, in the original documentation, you know, for the first game–
AN: The BBS version.
G: Right. In that manual, it clearly says that no more cloning can be done. BUT, on the Planets.Nu website, I saw no clear mention of it one way or another.
AN: Really! Well, that IS interesting.
G: I thought so myself. So I decided to try it out again, this time on purpose. And the second time… Bam! It worked!
AN: The second time. You mean the very next time you-
G: No, I tried once and failed first. But the second time I tried – deliberately tried – it worked.
AN: And so then you did it three more times?
G: Not quite. Twice then, and… well, really, late in the game, how many probes does a guy need? So I put the project aside and focused on winning the war.
AN: But what about the fifth–
G: I’m coming to that now. There was a question on the site forum–
AN: The newsfeed?
G: Yes, that. So someone asked if it was possible, one guy said yes, another (I think it was Veldan) said absolutely not, and then I put my two cents in.
AN: You said you’d done it.
G: Yes, and then I deliberately did it once more in the game, just to satisfy my curiosity.
AN: Now, this is kind of a delicate question…
G: Go ahead and ask.
AN: Some of our people… well, to be frank, they don’t think you’re telling the truth here.
G: What — that this is some sort of hoax?  Be serious.  What would I have to gain?
AN: Oh, well… some people do this for notoriety.  Fame, the talk show circuit–
G: I assure you, I have quite enough to do as it is.  I’m currently running two major wars, administering newly pacified systems and managing my homeworld.  I’ve also got my book-a-day commitment on GoodReads to keep up with.  I wouldn’t do a talk show for a mint of money.
AN: What about proof, though?  Would you agree to an independent investigation?
G: Well, I’m a private sort of person, and special tactics… I have things that I don’t want just anyone getting hold of.
AN: Yes, well, privacy, sure. But I’m talking about verification. Would you be willing to let someone from a neutral–
G: Joshua certainly has access. I don’t know why anyone else would need it.
AN: But don’t you think people may doubt just your word without corrobora–
G: Anyone that has played against me knows the value of my word, and anyone that hasn’t can find out for themselves. Now, if you’ll excuse me…
AN: Thank you for your time, Admiral.
G: Thank you.

We here at P.M. Action News have contacted Joshua, the enigmatic leader of the Galactic Senate, and this was his response:

“We have neither verified nor disproved the rumors of post ship limit cloning, but have launched an investigation. If we find there has been a breach of the normal channels of ship production we will close the loop-hole for good. Post ship limit cloning goes directly against the vision of our fore-father Tim Wisseman and will not be tolerated in such an uncontrolled manner. Sector commanders wanting such an obvious tactical advantage must pay the appropriate taxes and follow the rules of Advantage as defined by this Senate.”

We did find one veteran of the Echo Cluster who was willing to confirm the existence of the phenomenon, but only on condition of anonymity.  “We… did do an independent investigation and found out that, yes, it is true.”

“[He] recycled 3 and… the queue moved ahead… One of those was a clone instead of a Virgo.  I don’t know, man, the Privateer in me wants this loophole gone as soon as possible, because it’s a big one.”

However, when we asked if we could quote him, he indicated his fear of reprisals from the Tim Continuum.  Tim, the enigmatic Maker and master of the Continuum, could not be reached for comment, as sunspot activity is interfering with Spirit Radio transmissions.

We’ve got no doubt that the less skeptical commanders from all across the cosmos are trying this themselves, but what this means for the future is anyone’s guess.  And now we return you to your regularly scheduled article.

25 thoughts on “ACTION NEWS: CLONING

  1. For whatever it’s worth, I asked about this stuff as the ship limit was approaching in one of my games and was advised to try to clone AND build a ship at a SB once 450+ ships was reached. The result was that my clones were built but the star base did not build the queued ships. The SBs in question also had “pb1” set and I had plenty of PBPs to cover them. I spent down my PBPs that turn, but have no way of knowing how the game decided which builds used them.

    Not sure if this adds clarity or further mystery to this discussion (or perhaps it is irrelevant), but I thought I would share in case it adds a useful piece to the puzzle.


  2. As a point of order I want to correct Gnerphk. I never stated emphatically that cloning cannot happen after ship limit. Those that have read the thread can see clearly on my 1st and 4th post on his thread I think I did a pretty accurate accounting of when you could (according to hold thost behavior) clone.

    Regarding ~Stone~’s experience I advised him to do it, perhaps there’s quite a bit broken regarding the first build phase. I don’t think it was ever fully tested prior to last fall (when advanced cloning was added), nor has anyone fully tested it since then.


  3. Anaconda: Pat the Reporter mentioned to me in passing that he tried messaging you for a quote but got no response. The staff here is usually pretty good about journalistic ethics, and I imagine he felt no mention was wiser given that lack.

    Toast: I’ve got writing of my own to do, mate – a letter to the editor, for instance. :o)


  4. Gotta have a chat with Pat. The independent press should have more integrity than this foul journalism. Surely it’s not true. Everyone knows there is no cloning after the limit unless you have “paid” for the ability to do so in one of those newfangled campaign sectors!


  5. I’m no expert on Campaign games, though incidentally I do see them as the way of the future. (I’m a bit of an iconoclast but I do intend to try them soon.)

    I would suggest that the best course for a skeptic is to try it himself, preferably in the late turns of an already-decided game so that you won’t throw things off for the others. That’s if you’re worried at all about the moral considerations of this as a “loophole”, mind.

    We’ll discipline Pat for you, Anaconda. We’re sorry about that.


  6. So, it has been over a month since this article was posted. And at least two months that this was made public. Anyone got any news on this feature? In Die Hard 4 I have started to use this just to help bring the game to a close. But I am wondering when universal instructions are going to out. It is an easily reproducible feature.


  7. Well Veldan, perhaps you should point Joshua to this page?

    If (as you say) it’s so easily reproducible (yep, it is) and it’s theoretically supposed to be something that people actually pay for, he might be interested in a bug fix.

    It’s pretty simple: the first (pre-movement) build stage doesn’t check for all builds on the entire board before checking for clones. Every single starbase that has a regular build lined up is supposed to have an opportunity to build before any cloning happens at all. It can’t be that tough to fix.


  8. Of course, I’m perfectly willing to let this one keep going, so long as it has tacit approval. In today’s queue-jammed game, it’s quite difficult to do any meaningful cloning at all pre-Limit.


  9. Well Gnerphk, I was thinking of that today.

    I don’t want to reproduce the PBP threads here, but let’s just accept some practices for the sake of argument. Since this cloning “feature” does go off in the first build phase, it would give those folks who do try to seize up the regular build queue some incentive to let it run its course so they can get some clones out.

    If we were to keep this feature. Several things have to happen in my mind;

    1.) We publish a how-to. And frankly a how-to is long overdue. We should consider publishing it within the week. (I have emailed Joshua on this subject)

    2.) The Campaign advantage of advanced cloning goes from a 30 point advantage to a 10 – 20 point advantage. Being able to clone in either build phase and in the regular build phase vs. the priority build phase is something worth paying for, but most of the benefit of advanced cloning was that you could clone after ship limit.

    Frankly, I stand by my original opinion about this feature. It was an unintended consequence of adding advanced cloning to the host script(s). Joshua should be given a chance to fix his game to run the way he intended it to run.

    I’m just wondering how long we should wait to give him a chance? It is an unfair advantage and will remain so until published. The only reason I’m using it in Die Hard 4 is that I have reason to believe that my opponent is using it.


  10. Pardon me, Veldan, did you say Die Hard 4?????

    I am looking at the stats of that game and noticing that you are playing the Privateers, who are not supposed to be able to clone. Is that correct?


  11. Actually the how to that we posted earlier is overly complicated for what’s required. Basically the bug allows this;

    Meet basic pre-reqs for cloning
    Have 20+ PBP’s
    Recycle a ship
    have base cloning at set to PB1 (and have it so it’s the first PB base)
    Boom new clone.


  12. I’ve actually never had it work unless the queue had reached the starbase in question, PBP aside. It’s possible that it’s going via the PBP-cycle cloning subroutine without triggering the PBP loss due to a logic trap, but that’s all mumbo-jumbo unless the Host code is open to read, so I prefer to say “It works by magic”.


  13. As of today, the bug is not fixed, as my ally cloned a new firecloud before movement at the next base in the queue. The slot was freed before movement due to an ion storm destruction. My ally had 18 PBP at the beginning of the turn, earned none and spent none, and did not use a priority code.

    (I have a feeling that this technique is being used against me with Meteors in my Privateer game. Believe me, I’m not happy about this finding.)


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