Threat Assessment: The Crystal Confederation

This is the fourth in a series of anonymous reports that, redacted, were approved by the Senate for immediate publication, so they can be read by commanders of each respective race in order that they can review their own vulnerabilities in the face of the unknown external threat that commissioned the studies. In this dispatch we focus on that faction known as the Crystal Confederation: its strengths, its weaknesses, and how best to defeat it in battle.

Overview

Ease Of Command: Expert
Difficulty To Defeat: High
Style: Defensive

General: The Crystal Confederation is a union of siliconoid life forms.  Agile while young, elder Crystallines slow over time and become sessile, enduring for eons.  Crystals have the ability to cast and manipulate the Web, an interspatial barrier to which they alone have immunity. This gives them a perspective unique in the Echo Cluster.

Identification: If your flagship unexpectedly drops out of warp and is struggling to keep its shields up, you’ve probably met the Crystals. If you’re very lucky, you can sweep your way clear of this web field, but then there’s the next and the next. Soon, your own vessels stop broadcasting IFF signals and suddenly turn up attacking you. Welcome to the Web.

Fleet Composition: Notable for having one of the weakest ship lists in the Echo Cluster, the Crystals field a wide variety of cutters, tenders, destroyers, and cruisers. Their battleship, the Diamond Flame, is weaker even than the Fascist Victorious (due to its small cargo hold). Their saving graces are the Emerald, a battlecruiser with exceptional cargo capacity, and the Crystal Thunder, a light but deadly fleet carrier.

Strengths And Weaknesses:

Economic: Since the Crystals, to be effective, require a large number of ships of different sizes and types, they will need multiple starbases capable of production. Tenders and scoopers can be inexpensive, but battleships should have high-end torpedo tubes at the least, and even carriers need high hull tech. Minerals costs are not small, and torpedoes are quite expensive, especially in the early stages of construction. Crystals thus demand a vast economy to feed their war machine. They are crippled by slow colonist growth but are capable of colonizing planets of any climate for factories and mines.

Military: Their main weapon and primary defense is the Web, combined with tow-capture. However, their mainstay battlecruiser, the Emerald, can stand in the line of battle, and the Diamond Flame and Crystal Thunder combine to make for a fearsome destructive capability.

NOTE: While the Classic-era Crystals were capable of allying readily with any other race, most Crystals find cooperation restricted by the modern Web’s evolution to semi-sentience, which prevents its bypass using friendly codes. A few splinter groups have access to high-end web manipulation tools that make the Crystal a far more dynamic race.

Key Vulnerabilities:

  • Crystals lack any efficient method of defeating starbases in the end game unless they can capture a Super Star Destroyer. 200/60 starbases, well-populated, are a reliable defense.
  • During initial construction, the Crystal fleet is created through compromise. Light ships will often have low-grade engines; heavy ships may lack top-tier weaponry.
  • The intense need for multiple low-end ships often forces the Crystal to scrimp on their battle fleet.
  • Standard space mines can block many Crystal tactics, including captures.
  • Massed high-end beam weapons, readily available to most civilizations toward the end stages of a conflict, can concentrate to eliminate even the largest Web.

Trade and Alliances:

  • The Emerald Class Battlecruiser is a powerful logistics and support vessel; any fleet presently lacking one should be pleased to trade.
  • Mercenary Weblaying (for a price) may well become the new standard model. Whereas in the Classic era it could easily have been done cooperatively, at present ceding territory in exchange for security is likely to become more prevalent.
  • The Crystal Thunder is a highly capable anti-ship carrier, invaluable to those lacking one.

Anything the Crystal fleet lacks, it tends to make up for in capture. However, Crystalline economics are always highly stressed, and Crystal commanders will be eager to deal with anyone who can provide a substantial boost to their income or savings to their production — free fighter races, Cyborg, Lizards, and to a lesser extent Fascists are always welcome friends.

Summary:

The Crystal Confederacy is often underrated, particularly in the present setting. However, with intelligent construction programs combined with superior commander skills in logistics, even now they remain a highly potent threat.


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