Making the Grade: On Prowess, Vol. 1 — Agility

You say you survived to the end of the game, but if you didn’t win, who cares?

The overarching goal of this series is to give players the knowledge, and therefore the confidence, to choose the path of action. This volume examines the agility of fleets on the battlefield as influenced by fuel consumption, attack accuracy, and warship maneuverability.


For deciding fuel consumption grades, I asked the question: On an attack run, can you advance your most powerful battleships without burning too much neutronium? I selected the big guns of each race and calculated how much fuel was spent on an 81 light-year (LY) trip, what percentage of the tank was used, and how many similar movements could be tried. In addition to tech-ten warship operations, it was important to consider hyperjumping and cloaking, as both can potentially burn a significant amount of fuel. All combined, these calculations give a fuel efficiency rating (FER).

The Solar Federation’s big ship is the Nova Class Super-dreadnought. Coming in with a hull mass of 650 kilotons (KTs), this is one of the bulkiest, sturdiest torpedo vessels you can buy. With a full tank of gas, a complement of heavy phasers, transwarp drive engines, and the maximum number of quantum torpedoes, the Nova’s total mass reaches 1,630 KTs and consumes 131 KTs of neutronium. Its FER is 1.6 KTs/LY, and the Feds grade for fuel consumption lands at a C.

The Lizard Alliance is known for its light ships, and its capitals follow suit. The T-Rex Class Battleship is the backbone of the reptilian fleet, and its maxed-out mass comes to 1,176 KTs. When it travels 81 LYs, the T-Rex consumes 94 KTs and proves to have an FER of 1.1 KTs/LY. This would give the Lizards a decent rank in fuel consumption, but their cloakers’ use of extra fuel lowers their overall grade to a C.

The Empire of the Birds sports the sleek, advanced-cloaking Dark Wing Class Battleship (DW). With top tech and cloaked, the DW weighs 1,015 KTs and burns 81 KTs of fuel with one warp 9 jump. This brings its FER to 1.0 KTs/LY. Advanced cloaking keeps cloak-burn low, so the Birds earn a grade of B for fuel consumption.

The Victorious Class Battleship weighs in at 949 KTs and burns 76 KTs every 81 LYs. This results in an FER of 0.9 KTs/LY. Success for the Hordes of Fury (formally Fascists) relies on their ability to move around while cloaked, so they tend to burn a lot of neutronium pillaging, getting into position, and towing ships to their death. Due to this reliance on fuel-guzzling cloak technology, the Fury grade drops to a C.

In typical Planets order, the Privateers are the next race to examine, but I want to discuss the Cyborgs in conjunction with the robbers. First, do not forget the thieves only advance when they are towing stolen warships, so their fuel use is based on what they steal. While their Meteor Class Blockade Runner easily zips about on little fuel when it is on logistics duty, fuel tanks are quickly drained if those gravitonic engines are maneuvering carriers in the battlefield. With a base FER of 0.5 KTs/LY, the Privateer Bands outpace everyone except the Cyborgs. Yes, a fully armed Biocide Class Carrier has a mass of 2,500 KTs and an FER of 2.4 KTs/LY. — This is as bad as the Evil Empire, but I will get to that later. — As you know, Biocides do not float about the Echo Cluster on their own engine power but by the Chunnel power of the Firecloud Class Cruiser. The FER of an FCC is 0.025 KTs/LY; in theory, the Firecloud can transport four-hundred ninety-eight cubes up to 2,000 LYs for only 50 KTs of fuel. The Cyborgs undoubtedly receive an A grade in fuel consumption, while the Privateers fall to a B.

The Crystal’s steady march is reflected in their fuel efficiency. Their heaviest ship, the Diamond Flame Class Battleship, maxes out at 1,019 KTs of mass and drains 81 KTs of warp-9 fuel. This is a solid FER of 1.0 KTs/LY. Without any cloakers or other ways of leaking gas, the Crystalline Conferation finishes with a grade of B on fuel consumption.

Robots and Evils guzzle black gold like it’s free and on tap. The Gorbie Class Battlecarrier and the Golem Class Baseship each weigh over 3,000 KTs and sap over 300 KTs of fuel to travel 81 LYs. They waste so much fuel that it is not worth providing exact numbers. Sadly, the Evil Empire’s hyperjumping drains even more fuel (particularly given the probe’s tiny cargohold) and places them at the bottom of the heap. They manage an FER of 3.0 KTs/LY and a grade of D; similarly, the Robotic Imperium receives a D for an FER of 3.1 KTs/LY.

The Rebel Confederation and Missing Colonies of Man are two races which share common struggles. A max-tech Virgo Class Battlestar weighs 2,525 KTs, and a Rush Class Heavy Carrier bears 2,615 KTs; for an 81-LY move, the former uses 240 fuel and the latter 211. They also have a similarly poor FER: 2.4 KTs/LY for the Colonies and 2.6 for the other. This is where the parallels end. Hyperjumping makes things worse for the Rebels, while ramscoop and alchemy improves things for the other. Creating fuel while you move cannot be discounted. In the end, the Confederation receives a C grade in fuel consumption and the Missing Colonies picks up a well-earned A.


For finding accuracy grades, I asked the question: On an attack run, can you choose when and where to fight? If a race is capable of dictating how a fight occurs, it usually has access to all or some of the following factors: starships capable of performing a cloaked tow-kill (when a cloaked ship tows an enemy vessel to a waiting attack group), means to quickly out-maneuver enemy movement, and other special abilities which force combat to go the way you want it to.

The Feds and Robots are mostly incapable of dictating when and where a fight occurs. They have no cloaking technology and no means of outmaneuvering the enemy. However, the Loki Class Destroyer allows Feds to force combat with enemy cloakers, and, for both races, bioscanners direct attacks against planets. These two features give a slight boost, but they are not enough to give either race a high grade in accuracy. Feds and Bots are both juggernauts, ploughing forward without much finesse, and they each receive the lowest grade of all, D.

The Lizards and Birds are similar in this category. Both have Loki immunity and can wait in the shadows for enemies to approach. Tow-kills are a way of life for both. Like the Feds, the cold bloods can force combat on cloakers with tachyon technology, but again, this is not a true form of dictating combat. The Birds surpass the Lizards due to a few abilities: They do not burn fuel while cloaked, they intercept while cloaked, they spy on enemy friendly codes, and they are partially immune to planetary defences. For accuracy, the Lizards receive a grade of B, and the Birds top the list with an A.

In the area of accuracy, the Fury and Privateers are ahead of most non-cloaking races, but their cloaking ability can be countered with tachyon devices. This weakness can often make tow-kills difficult to perform. As a slight boost, the Fury force combat with the mobile-missile glory devices and pillaging, but the Privateers surpass them with gravitonic accelerators. With their special engines, they overpower all other towing which is a robust tool for dictating combat. Furthermore, the speed of ships like the Meteor Class Blockade Runner allows the Privs to get ahead of enemy convoys to set traps. Due to their engine power, the Privateers receive a grade of A in the category of accuracy, while the Fury receive a B.

The Cyborgs, Crystals, and Colonies all lack a definite means to control the when and how of battle, but they each have a special ability so dominant that it significantly boosts their accuracy score. The chunnel technology of the Firecloud Class Cruiser allows cubic warships to pop up all over the sector, the crystalline webs ensnare and immobilise enemy vessels, and the combination of excess fuel and fighter mine sweep blesses the Colonies with unhindered movement to strike quickly and decisively. All three of these races receive an accuracy grade of B but are one cloaker shy of an A.

Some might wonder why the Empire and the Rebels are not in the D-grade boat, but they each have a few specific powers which boost their score. Both races have some immunity to planetary defences, and both have the means to ensure left-side combat — a powerful battle tool in the hands of a carrier race. On top of this, the imperials can also use dark magic to sense enemy defences. A bit of patience enables Empire and Rebel commanders to dictate combat. With these extras, both carrier races earn a grade of C.


For figuring out maneuverability grades, I asked the question: On an attack run, can you move fast and/or stay hidden? This was a simple evaluation. A strong grade in this area required one or both features: speed and/or cloaking.

The Solar Federation, Crystalline Confederation, Robotic Imperium, Evil Empire, and Rebel Confederation could not justify a high maneuverability score. The Feds, Crystals, and Robots had no means to cloak or move quickly. This revealed an inability to outmaneuver enemy vessels or direct combat. This was particularly worrisome for the Federation, whose fleet is only successful when its commander controls battle order and whose fleet contains no means to bring fuel on the attack run. While the first three received a dismal D, the last two earned a hope-filled C. Imperial and Rebel redemption emerged from their ability to carry fuel in their massive carriers and refuel in enemy territory with hyperjump ships. These two boons added a bit of speed to their attack runs. Also, the Rebel combination of rebel ground attack and the Falcon Class Escort gave them another slight edge. Considering actual performance, a grade of C might be more than they deserved.

The Lizard Alliance, Hordes of Fury, and Missing Colonies of Man each excelled at one of the two factors of maneuveratibility. The first two had cloaking technology, and the last gained more fuel and speed as it pushed forward. The Lizards and Fury used cloaking to get ahead of and set traps for enemy ships. While remaining unseen, they could cross gaps, bypass battle groups, and avoid planetary defences. What these two races did with stealth, the Colonies did with an ever-growing supply of fuel. With the ramscoop technology of the Cobol Class Research Cruiser, the Colonial war machine’s speed proved directly proportional to distance travelled. The more territory it covered, the further and faster it could push. This was especially potent when combined with fighter mine sweep, which allowed Colonial warships to outpace enemy movement, strike at vulnerable areas when enemy vessels were out of position, and quickly take undefended territory. These three races received a well-earned grade of B in maneuverability.

With the top scores, the Empire of the Birds, Privateer Bands, and Cyborgs each deserved an A grade. The Privs checked all the right boxes as their gravitonic engines were twice as fast as all other engines, and their important ships were able to stay hidden. They were so maneuverable, they could quickly set traps and steal entire enemy fleets. Once they obtained the power of heavy carriers, they could position them at double the speed. With a similar speed advantage, the Cyborg chunnel technology enabled them to zip about enemy territory or even to the other side of the sector. Chunneling allowed their cubic carriers to skip gaps or hop to the other side of the map, essentially remaining unseen and unscanned. The enemy was left with the impression that Biocide Class Carriers were anywhere and everywhere. In the case of the Birds, cloaking devices were equipped on most of their ships, and they could easily hide all their movement. Generally, they were not much faster than the B-grade races, but their possession of a cloaking battlecruiser and battleship, the only ones in the Echo Cluster, put them in a special category. Their overall speed was further boosted by the fuel-saving potential of advanced cloaking and the ability to intercept while cloaked. With these two ships as the core of their fleet, they had an uncanny ability to rack up battlefield kills.

Solar FederationCDCC
Lizard AllianceCBBB
Empire of the BirdsBAAA
Hordes of FuryCBBB
Privateer BandsBAAA
Crystalline ConfederationBBDB
Evil EmpireDCDD
Robotic ImperiumDDDD
Rebel ConfederationCCCC
Missing Colonies of ManABBB
Agility score is an average of the three influencing factors.


The clever combatant chooses his own ground and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.

Sun Tzu, “The Art Of War”

A fleet’s agility influences a race’s prowess on the battlefield. If a fleet burns too much fuel, ships lag and split up. If a commander cannot dictate which ships fight, when combat occurs, and where events unfold, the enemy will. If warships struggle to maneuver quickly and invisibly during an attack run, the opponent is given an opportunity to prepare, and potentially even to counter.

The application of agility is as a fighter pummelling an opponent to his knees and keeping him there. If the attack falters – if the attacker hesitates even once – the defender may find an opening to retaliate with a mortal blow.

Final Thoughts

Remember that prowess on the battlefield is determined by several factors, and agility is just one. In the next volume, I will examine the deadliness of each race’s fleet.

In the mean while, I hope you found some helpful tips which will put you in a fighting mood for your next match.

If you wish to support me on my writer’s journey, please join my Patreon.

Thanks for reading. – TS

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