Hello, Dolly! or, Is Post-Limit Cloning Wise?

And now, as promised, some thoughts on the future desirability of post-limit cloning:

We are all certainly in agreement that, in TimHost 3.20, if this had occurred it would have been a glitch. As this is no longer TimHost, we are permitted to consider whether this ought to exist as a potential feature. We have this right simply because we are no longer bound by the original rules, conditions or balance; moreover, the Tim Continuum is unlikely to strike. (I do miss the Tim Continuum. Lovely pun.)

We now play in an environment where, at least in competitive play, the ship limit is frequently reached before Turn 30. For a player to build a valuable ship, fly it to a neighbor’s border for trade, receive a return, fly the return home and clone the return would take eight or more of those turns. It is a rare game (or race) that can identify the neighbors within a dozen turns, much less set up diplomatic relationships with them outside of pre-game alliances. This permits a likely window of three to eight turns (depending on ship limit) as the total permissible cloning timeframe.

Cloning was permitted in the original game and was frequently performed.

At present, then, we have a situation which makes likely the prospect that (1) only the Evil Empire (with SSD starbase capture), (2) players that snipe enemy homeworlds early, or (3) players with pre-game agreements and fortunate positioning will be able to use this feature with any great likelihood of success before the endgame.

In my analysis, I have determined that the present cloning option will only occur on turns where a substantial number of recycles take place; this is validated by the Host order, but of course it is uncertain. In the present circumstance, it is a highly unlikely outcome even given these conditions; to justify this, I would mention that I’ve had it happen five total times in many hundreds of turns, and that the ships in question had been immobile and set to “cln” for many turns before the actual cloning took place.

There is one more aspect that I’d like to mention:  This method sets the game into a state where, at least temporarily, the number of ships is under the Ship Limit and the number of immediately scheduled builds does not fill the quota.  This happens because most Priority builds take place at a different time than standard builds.  As such, I’d like to suggest that it doesn’t truly violate the Host order or the stated limits but is merely a special case generated by standard conditions.  It’s a bit like the thought of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series – it’s possible but unlikely, which means that if enough seasons go by it must eventually happen.  Just… probably not this year.

Hearsay has it that this has been determined to be a bug.  The term used to me was “loophole”, which really gives me no ethical direction.  I’ve heard that the “loophole” has been “plugged”, but there’s been no formal news release; moreover, people have reported spontaneous cloning events from time to time since this report reached me.  I have resolved to test it myself in order to determine the present state of affairs.

Anyway, back to my argument:  Since we have (1) a valuable ability that is (2) now practicably denied us in competitive play but that (3) is of sufficient interest to be denied to some races and not others, I would strongly suggest that a (4) difficult, (5) unreliable, (6) prohibitively expensive method to reintroduce this ability ought not be banned but rather documented and the information fully distributed in the How To Play section of the website (or in some other public spot).

I would like to hear other opinions on this subject, particularly from educated, experienced and veteran players.  This is a powerful ability and its continued use would likely alter the way this game is played in the future; whether for good or ill is the question now before us.  I would especially appreciate the opinion of our esteemed designers, but the debate is all-important; we cannot accept the practicability of the method as tacit approval of its use.  Likewise, I feel we ought not ban it simply because it isn’t the way the game was once played.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

9 thoughts on “Hello, Dolly! or, Is Post-Limit Cloning Wise?

  1. I understand that cloning after ship limit is possible but only in campaign games and if you have this officer advantage (bird example: http://planets.nu/#/race/3/advantages/52 ), an interesting trade tool (like fed retrofit). I am yet to confirm my understanding.

    I think “classic” games should be as close as possible (~99%) to THOST . While new ideas should be added to the advantage games (NUHOST?) at Joshua’s discretion.


  2. As of the last release, we are reliably informed that the “loophople” has been closed. We are presently engaged in testing to determine whether this is true; however, I can assure you that it did indeed work not long ago.


  3. Hi,

    Ahh a new cloning article. I came to look for new comments on the last one and am happy to see this one Gnerphk. I hope we get the definitive answer. As I stated in that post, I will try the recycle/pb1 technique (>20pbp, recycle a ship, cloning base set to pb1) whilst simultaneously trying to set up a clone at the next SB in the queue (maintaining pbp>20 just to be sure and setting that SB to pb1). I will post my findings either way.


    MEGALOMANIAC, The Benevolent Depot


  4. We’ve done fairly exhaustive testing (thanks, volunteers! thanks also to people that experimented independently and then told us!) and have concluded that this “loop-hole” has been thoroughly closed.

    I’d like to point out, however, that we do have the ability to change this in the future. By this I mean to say that, while Joshua is a despot, he’s benevolent; he makes the decisions on how the game is to be designed and run, but he listens to what we the players think and choose. Several times now he’s introduced changes based on our feedback, and this very topic has been addressed in this fashion.

    The discussion here is therefore still quite topical, and I maintain that the option should exist in just such a limited form as we’ve found and experienced.

    That’s my opinion. I welcome yours.


  5. Look, I really think this is our ye… oh forget it. Honestly I just appreciate that you said, given enough time, it *must* happen. I know others who would say different…
    And I will now stop hijacking your very nice article. Keep them coming, please. You’re very informative.


  6. I’m now using “Advanced Cloning” for the first time, in a Melee Campaign game. First of all it removes the urgency to clone those captured Falcons before the limit. As I approach the mid-game, I’m looking for opportunities to collect several key ships that I can clone later. I’ll check back here and add some thoughts once I see the full effects. Tom N


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