Most games are won or lost in the first few turns. This series concentrates only on those critical few turns leading up to the Ship Limit as a key to achieving long-term goals necessary for victory.
The Rebels have a powerful yet limited ship list, remarkable not only for its heavy carrier, the Rush, but also the Falcon, the only efficient hyperspace transport in the Echo Cluster. Their best shield-scratchers are the Tranquility, the Gaurdian, and the Iron Lady, which sets them at a late-war disadvantage against a more balanced race. However, their ability to undermine even the best-defended starbases through Rebel Ground Assault more than balances any slight disadvantage they face on the field of battle.
The primary advantage of the Rush is its ability to RGA. Individual ships can invade enemy territory piecemeal, and without a Primary Enemy set, annihilating enemy infrastructure and populations en route. An opponent who opts to engage them can choose their ground, but will in all likelihood be forced to battle each heavy carrier from the right.
For Rebel commanders to be effective late in the war, they must expand rapidly in all directions during the opening turns. Before the Ship Limit hits, they should have constructed at least five alchemy ships, several Deep Space Scouts and Falcons, and as many Rushes as practicable. It is possible for a lucky Rebel commander to have a fighting chance if the Ship Limit is reached before Turn 35, particularly if he is also skilled in diplomatic arrangements.
Rules Of Expansion:
Rebel commanders require access to vast mineral concentrations, massive amounts of Supplies, and if at all possible Ghipsoldal and Humanoid native worlds to develop for ship construction. Low-tech production hubs can also be used to profitably generate Saggits and Geminis before the Ship Limit, for use as fighter factories. A Siliconoid base can be exploited for Tranquility minelayers, which can be towed if need be.
Note that the Deep Space Scout has the same cargo hold as a MDSF but is substantially lighter and has gun mounts. Additionally, it’s worth remembering that Falcons don’t need high-tech engines to move through hyperspace. Each can be built with a minimal investment at secondary bases.
“Free” fighters aren’t free; they cost minerals which otherwise could be used for more ships or starbases. They also require copious amounts of Supplies, so be certain to build massive numbers of factories both near your homeworld and along every likely axis of advance.
Building ships to transport parts between bases is easy for the Rebels; one Gaurdian has enough tubes for three Iron Ladies; the DSS can move four beams; the NFC is unmatched for moving engines — and a Rush only needs six engines.
(Remember that in Classic, one can bank a maximum of 20 PBP before the Limit.)
One final note: Many commanders waste their early funds on nonessentials, such as Defense Posts where they’re not needed. While a degree of secrecy ought to be maintained by concealing your initial expansion from your neighbors, if you develop aggressively, they will encounter you very early on regardless of your efforts.
- Economic: Your best bet for early success lies in early native detection and exploitation. Therefore, your early builds should include Falcons (which don’t necessarily need top-end gear) along with Large Deep Space Freighters. This means an instant Starbase-In-A-Box can be extremely useful; one can be constructed as early as the third turn, and it need not be native-dependent. However, after the first, and absent a large minerals supply, local starbases require far too many minerals that otherwise could become Rushes. Instead, focus on finding enough Duranium for an early Merlin as well as stockpiling sufficient Supplies to give it something to work on.
- RGA Headshot: If and only if you want to cripple your neighbor early on, locating their homeworld and dropping in a Falcon set to Rebel Ground Attack will spoil anyone’s day. To make it even more effective, putting Falcons on each of the neighboring worlds can have horrific consequences. It’s a gamble, but having them set to Kill instead of RGA can eliminate early freighters and populations. Such a raid can wreck their economy beyond the point of recovery for a minimal investment, and your surviving Falcons can colonize their territory with relative ease.
Remember the initial goals: two to three Merlins, a couple of Refineries, freighters and Deep Space Scouts, several Falcons, and a massive number of Rushes to form the backbone of your combat fleet. Your support vessels should contain at least a couple of Saggits or Geminis, depending on your preference. The first Merlin is simple enough if one hoards Duranium and hauls it back on empty freighters, and after that it’s just a matter of delaying the Ship Limit as long as is profitable.
Clogging the ship queue is, however, easier than keeping it free. In Classic, half the cluster will be spamming SDSFs at secondary starbases; you should do the same (including several Falcons and DSSes), but remember to recycle more than a few in order to bank your 20 points. Setting up a Ghipsoldal NFC factory and a Humanoid base to produce low-tech alchemy ships and towable Rushes is the key to getting your fleet up to strength in time. Most of the minerals will be too far from the homeworld for all construction to take place there, even if one could build multiple ships per base per turn — which one can’t.
The Rebels are powerful early and late, with tremendous economic and logistical advantages. When properly deployed, they have the potential to dominate most clusters early on. The Falcon provides them with efficient early expansion and logistical support, and their RGA capability grants them the ability to painlessly defeat even the strongest of fortifications.
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