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 Solar Federation fields a wide variety of top-end battleships, battlecruisers, and utility vessels. They lack a heavy carrier, but their diplomatic advantages, broad ship list, and above all crew combat bonus more than make up for this.
The Federation’s chief advantage, however, lies in the logistical benefit conveyed by Super Refit technology. Rather than being bound by the constraints of a single starbase for production, a Tech 10 hull can be towed to a Ghipsoldal base for new engines, a Siliconoid base for new torpedoes, and an Amphibious base for new beam weapons. This, especially when combined with the tremendous cash influx generated by the Federation taxation advantage, makes it a complex yet certainly practicable matter to field a top-end fleet, continuing to improve it well past the Ship Limit.
The Federation builds no cloakers, but if they should trade for some they have the same Loki resistance as the Lizards and Birds. Loki production is their major defense against cloaked enemies, and their economy makes it easy to afford overlapping minefields. Additionally, the crew bonus ensures that weapons systems remain functional through a substantial amount of ship damage.
However, their disadvantage in minerals mining is significant, and demands Merlins. For Federation commanders to be effective late in the war, they must take full advantage of their economic talents in the opening phase to produce multiple alchemy ships. Before the Ship Limit hits, they should have constructed at least three Merlins and a Refinery, several light terraformers and utility ships, a scattering of armed scouts, and as many Nova, Diplomacy, Missouri, and Kittyhawk hulls as practicable — these last with or without sufficient armament.
Rules Of Expansion:
The Solar Feds have a talent for farming natives for income. As minerals will be in unusually short supply, it is essential for the developing commander to pursue their first Merlin with exceptional celerity, and to early establish large Supplies stockpiles on every potential factory and support world.
Because the Feds have such a high income potential, it is less essential for them to take advantage of the tech boosts normally offered by Humanoids, Ghipsoldals, Amphibians, and Siliconoids. However, they do require rather more early freight capacity and minerals transmutation than the average race. Similarly, income gathered yet idle on a planet is just loot waiting to be captured. Precautions should be taken lest this make of the Federation an attractive (and profitable!) target for invasion.
The most vital aspect for Federation success is for them to establish early alliances and trade partners, in addition to selecting a profitable nearby target for conquest. The ships of rival factions, particularly heavy carriers and cloaked scouts, can be enormously powerful in Federation hands.
One final note: Early or late, the Ship Limit will determine the relative power of the Federation fleet in any given cluster. It is important to determine early on whether one’s fortune lies with carrier races or torpedo in order to properly select the proper moment for the Limit to occur, even if one does so by building and then, perhaps, recycling otherwise useless hulls — often Medium Deep Space Freighters or terraformers, due to the inability of the Feds to construct the SDSF.
(Remember that in Classic, one can bank a maximum of 20 PBP before the Limit.)
- Terraformer Spamming: Your first LDSF should be sent out with a large number of colonists, the second with an instant Starbase-In-A-Box kit so as to start generating disposable terraformers at the earliest possible convenience. Marginal worlds can be rapidly turned profitable, which is invaluable. However, a vast stockpile of recyclable hulls is also its own reward, as it can be exploited to time the Ship Limit.
- Gunboat Diplomacy: Early expansion into a neighbor’s immediate vicinity and even rear areas can be an effective method for forcibly encouraging their cooperation. It is important to secure territory early, but having an ally with no choice but to support your agenda can be invaluable.
- Power and Trade: A well-protected stack of unimproved Nova and Missouri hulls make up the majority of most early Federation fleets. However, the Federation is the king of trade, and an early deal for a low-cost cloneable carrier can lead to an overwhelming early fleet.
Remember the initial goals: At least four Merlins and a Refinery, several light terraformers and utility ships, a scattering of armed scouts, and as many Nova, Diplomacy, Missouri, and Kittyhawk hulls as practicable — these last with or without sufficient armament.
Controlling the ship queue is essential. Whether in Classic or Standard, Feds often spam MDSFs, Eroses, or Bohemians at secondary starbases. In addition, setting up a Humanoid or high-income second base to produce Merlins and ships of the line is absolutely essential. Multiple line of battle ships per turn is your main objective, and it both can and should be accomplished very early.
The Solar Federation, once its mining disadvantage is overcome, becomes one of the easiest races to manage as well as the most forgiving. They can create a path to victory through direct application of firepower in concentrations, but diplomacy and trade is where their true talents shine.
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