Most wars are won or lost long before the fighting starts. 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 heaviest warship buildable by the Privateer Bands is the Bloodfang Class Carrier, a passable medium warship but hardly a vessel designed to stand in the line of battle. The Privateer’s preferred venue is in fact elsewhere, in the area of speed, mobility, robbery, and ship capture. Thus, uniquely among the Eleven Races, the Privateer is in a very real sense less dependent on their own economy than their neighbor’s.
It is nevertheless essential for the aggressive Privateer (and there is no viable path to victory that is not aggressive) to make swift and effective use of the massive unopposed productivity available during the opening portion of the war. Their chief weapon is the Meteor, particularly operating in wolfpacks alongside a variety of cloaking vessels. However, the potential afforded by the vast fuel tanks of the Lady Royale must not be discounted.
For Privateer commanders to be effective late in the war, they must seize their advantage in the opening turns. Before the Ship Limit hits, they should have constructed a truly huge fleet of Gravitonic vessels while still generating multiple starbases which they must use to clog the Queue. This is entirely impracticable without access to at least one early Merlin. For the Privateer to have a fighting chance, the Ship Limit should be reached before Turn 30.
NOTE: In Standard play, the 1-point hull penalty robs them of much of the queue dominance potential attainable by their Classic brethren. Regardless, it is only through mass ship ownership that the Privateer can achieve victory.
Rules Of Expansion:
The Privateer Bands rely on speed and audacity to win the day. They must rapidly construct multiple secondary starbases, each capable of producing at least marginal vessels for cloaked robbery. Fortunately, BR4s are light enough that they remain quite functional with sub-par engines, and their weapons systems are often somewhat unimportant.
The scattered nature of Privateer production will demand dedicated vessels on regular routes to collect and deliver supplies and minerals to your early starbase hubs. It is tempting to construct an entirely functional war fleet, but failure to provide sufficient freighters and logistical support will doom your fledgling empire.
Because you rely on top-level engines for your cloaking wolfpacks, you’ll want to seek out Ghipsoldal worlds for early production. Humanoid starbases are invaluable for the construction of pre-Limit alchemy ships. Siliconoid bases are similarly useful, particularly as countermining is often more reliable in a sustained advance than sweeping — though the advantages conferred by Amphibian worlds ought not be neglected; a sweeper can be towed quite easily, and the Privateer can construct several low-tech vessels with six beams.
One final note: The Privateer is absolutely dependent on secrecy to maintain a sustained advance. This can be maintained by concealing your expansion from your neighbors using Defense Posts on every developed world near their territory before you strike. Even failing this precaution, if you move with sufficient celerity, you ought to be able to both claim territory and land a powerful early strike. If you can’t, they might acquire Lokis — or worse, Quantum Torpedo Lokis — making your task nearly impossible.
- Stranglehold: Unlike with other races, the Privateer prospers from retaining enemy production while denying them ships and, eventually, economy. A successful opening assault will place a network of friendly X-Ray and Disruptor-equipped vessels around the target’s production facilities, all prepared to capture freighters and Rob-then-tow-capture both combat ships and infrastructure vessels intact. It is within the capacity of an aggressive Privateer commander to land a deadly assault of this nature against a vulnerable neighbor well before the Ship Limit.
Remember: It’s pointless to kill your neighbor if it’s his other neighbor and not you that takes the territory.
- Economic: Your best bet for early success is rapid, concealed expansion in every direction. Therefore, using your initial freighter as a scout, one of your next two builds can be a Large Deep Space Freighter and the other a Meteor. If your first scout wasn’t your guaranteed ‘good’ natives, the LDSF should be sent out to one of the others; otherwise, it can drop a large number of colonists where they can do the most good: Earning you taxes.
The LDSF should be sent out with at least 100 Supplies and 300 MC, enough to instantly construct 100 Factories on the target planet. 200/600 is often more to the point (when not playing Classic); the freighter can circle back by way of the first world colonized by the Medium and drop 100 instant factories there before heading home. Then it can go back out with an instant Starbase-In-A-Box kit so as to start generating PBP, and possibly even useful ships, at the earliest possible convenience.
- Hidden Growth: Multiple cloaked Gravitonic vessels are used for cloaked expansion to every neighboring cluster, particularly those in the direction of your neighbors. Every viable world should get six Colonists plus a factory; only the best native worlds get more. Set PE to engage any of the three HYP probe races; race for the end of the constellation and as close to the enemy’s homeworld as practicable.
Beam weapons should play to your strengths, which means X-Rays and Disruptors. Mk4 torpedo tubes are best for the first wave of ships, as minerals are far more common than cash while one is out exploring. Bring some spare MC for torpedoes; the hold is for Colonists and Supplies.
Remember the target: Dominate the Queue. Every ship you own is one your opponents don’t.
Preparing for the Ship Limit is essential. Whether in Standard or Classic, once the Limit hits, you’ll need to destroy Merlins (and/or Refineries, if you’re on a world overburdened with Moly) in order to maintain dominance. Much as you might like to, you can’t count on your prey to construct enough for you.
Use these pre-limit to construct bases wherever practicable: on Ghipsoldal worlds to produce inexpensive cloakers, on Humanoid worlds for Merlins, and so on. Other bases can be used to produce Lady Royales and other vessels with large fuel tanks to assist your wolfpacks in rob traps.
The mainstay of your fleet is the Meteor, which, along with other cloaked vessels, can be used in packs to overwhelm, rob, and steal entire enemy squadrons.
Despite — or, perhaps, due to — the relative ease of early success, the Privateers are one of the more difficult races to win with. One must begin with highly aggressive planetary expansion protected by ruthless diplomacy. The Federation, Lizards, Fascists, Robots, Crystals, and Colonies all have an advantage in direct competition, so care must be taken to avoid a fair fight at all costs.
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