If you’re like me, when you first looked at the Federation’s “Enhanced Recycle” advantage, you thought, “what possible value could that be?” It looked like another useless campaign advantage that was not worth having. But I’m here to tell you that Enhanced Recycle (ER) is very powerful and cheap to equip, costing only 15 fleet points.
How does it work? Simply, ER gives you ¾ of the priority point value of a ship when you recycle it (rounding up). So, for instance a Merlin is worth 20 PP, so when you recycle it you get 15 PP back instead of the normal 1 PP. This 15 PP is enough to build a Nova (14 PP).
For Best Results: Use With Advanced Cloning
By far the best way to leverage Enhanced Recycle is by using it with Advanced Cloning. ER gives you the priority points you need to clone foreign ships after ship limit.
Without having PPs, Advanced Cloning is a lot less useful.
Your Main Tool: The Merlin
The Merlin will be your best tool to use with Enhanced Recycle, so make sure you keep it enabled in your Campaign game. Why is the Merlin so great? Because it gives you a whopping 15 priority points every time you recycle one.
How to use it: Simply build warp 1 Merlins with every regular build you get,, then recycle them. In this way, you never have to waste your regular builds on a smaller ship. Instead you can build 1 Merlin, and divide 15 PPs among several smaller ships that you priority build. In this way, you get more out of every regular build, by always building a Merlin that can transform PP into whatever other ships you want.
For example, the 15 PPs from a Merlin can be used to build 3 Diplomacy Class Cruisers. In this sense, building a single Merlin is worth building 3 Diplomacies, and therefore all your regular builds should be Merlins.
Advanced Cloning. Merlin recycling is essential to give you the PPs you need to do advanced cloning. With advanced cloning, you can create as many copies of enemy ships as you want, as long as you have your regular-built Merlins to recycle. You can then be an “arms merchant” in your game, trading whatever you can get your hands on to other people, or offering them ships built with your priority builds that they can’t afford in exchange for diplomatic favours.
You will want to eventually get all your starbases with enough minerals to keep a Merlin in queue. When a player FoF’s in a game, many build slots can free up. It’s not unusual to get 2 or 3 builds regular builds in game when a player is eliminated, so you will want to keep your starbases queued up. You can then use PPs to build the ships at whichever starbase you want. Toward the end of the game, you can get 5 or 10 regular builds per turn sometimes. Queuing Merlins at all your bases can simplify logistics a great deal as well, as you won’t have to worry about putting engines or torps on the ships you build at your starbases.
What your starbases should look like, when you are stockpiling PPs:
Dominating PPs before the ship limit
One of the tricks you can use is to build Merlins and recycle them before ship limit in order to stockpile PPs. This is an efficient use of your starbase’s minerals. If you cannot afford the minerals to build a Nova hull every turn, then you should be building Merlins and recycling them instead. This will generate you +15 PP per turn, which is much greater than the +2 PPs per turn you would get for leaving the starbase idle. It is also much greater than the value of a Missouri (9 PP).
Using this technique before ship limit is necessary in the early game because the Fed player will not have a lot of minerals at this early stage to build Novas every turn. This is partly due to the Fed mining penalty. Because of this, Fed players will have to focus on making smaller ships for 5-10 turns before they build their Missouris and Novas in large numbers. It is more profitable to recycle a Merlin and gain 15 PP which can be used for Novas later instead. Essentially, by building a Merlin every turn and recycling it, you are building a Nova, only later in the game, after the ship limit.
Saving Minerals. Since Enhanced Recycling the Merlin gives you all the minerals back from the hull, this process of making and recycling Merlins costs you no net minerals! This means that it is an extremely mineral-efficient strategy at generating a lot of PPs. Before ship limit, instead of sweating about building Nova hulls, you can stockpile PP instead, at no mineral cost.
As an alternative to building 2 Merlins at once, which will require 1200+ duranium (which you probably don’t have as the Fed) you can alternate building Merlins and Neutronic Refinery Ships. This is convenient because Merlins cost duranium, while Refineries cost molybdenum. You will probably need to do this in the early game, since you will have moly available but not a lot of duranium. Usually you will want to start by building Refineries (recycled gives you 12 PPs), since their duranium cost is low. You can see an example of this strategy in my game here; on turn 14 I start by building a Refinery, since I have spent all my dura on LDSFs. By turn 23 I build my first Merlin, after recycling several Refineries. After this point, I alternate Merlin and Refinery every turn. This averages to 13.5 PP per turn generated in this way.
In my game, the ship limit hit on turn 28. I had 108 PP, despite having only 4 starbases, and fighting a Horwasp and a Lizard neighbour at the same time.
Timing your Recycling to Trigger Regular Builds
After ship limit hits, you might have several Merlins in play waiting to be recycled. You can recycle them to bring the ship total below 500 again, in order to trigger a new round of regular builds. Note that if you don’t want your enemies to have regular builds at this time, you should not recycle your ships if it will bring the ship count below 500. You can priority build some new ships in order to jam and keep the ships above 500. As long as there are over 500 ships, you can keep recycling your Merlins, without triggering a regular build for your enemies.
If you happen to have a lot of ships that you would like to recycle all at once, you can take advantage of the extra build slots that open up, while your opponents are not prepared with builds in queue. Once you have enough starbases with regular builds queued up to take advantage of open build slots, you can start a mass recycle. This will allow you to gain many builds that you prepared for, while your opponent may only be prepared with 1 major RBx build queued up (capital ship).
Even with the new RBx friendly codes which allow you to place your regular builds anywhere on the map, you do not always get to choose where your regular builds are. This is because sometimes you get multiple regular builds in a turn, while you may only have 1 starbase in the region where you wish to build your ships. This means you will have to build your regular build ships in other locations, further from the front. Also, starbases can run out of minerals sometimes, if they are building Novas every turn. ER allows you to recycle those ships built far away and turn them into PP. That PP can later be spent at the desired location, at a time which is convenient.
“Chunneling” across the map. When you no longer need ships at one end of the map, they have to go on a long journey to where they are needed. This can easily take 10 turns or more. A faster way to move your resources across the map is to recycle the ship in question, and then use the priority points to build them somewhere else. Granted, this does waste ¼ of your PPs in doing this. But this is a viable strategy when you have stockpiled PPs with Enhanced Recycling. Recycling your ships in this way can also be used to trigger a new regular build cycle by going below 500 ships.
If you ever need to build new ships in the old region of space where you recycled your fleet, your torpedo tubes and engines will still be there, so building your ships again is not as difficult.
Jamming the Queue for Free (or for profit)
If you are wanting to quickly jam the queue by building up to 500 ships as soon as possible, Enhanced Recycling makes that a more economical option. (Normally, torpedo races like Fed will want to reach ship limit faster, to prevent carrier races from having more turns to build carriers, which outmatch torpedo ships.) To dis-incentivize jamming the queue, Nu Standard gives you +2 PP per idle starbase. This is to make it profitable to be idle, rather than building an SDSF to jam the queue, and later recycling it for only +1 PP. But ER changes all that math by allowing you to recycle a ship for more than 1 PP after you build it to fill the queue. So in this case, you could build an Outrider at a starbase to jam the queue, then recycle it later for 2 PP. This favours queue jamming for the Feds by making it profitable in PPs, compared to letting your starbase be idle for +2 PP generation and not jamming the queue. (If you want, you can build bigger ships to jam the queue, then recycle them later for even more PPs).
Fed fleet? With Advanced Cloning you can clone anything, as long as you have the PPs.
Real Life Examples
In my Campaign Melee game where I used this strategy, I relied heavily on building Merlins at new starbases in conquered areas. My fleet was composed mostly of Virgos, Novas and MBRs. I also relied on Nebulas and Diplomacies which are cheaper in PPs to build but still decent warships. Advanced Cloning allowed me to clone as many copies as I wanted, and Enhanced Recycling gave me the PPs I needed to clone a foreign fleet.
I could build as many Virgos and MBRs as I needed. As players started to FoF, you would have amazing builds on some turns. On turn 49, I built 6 Merlins, which yielded me 75 PPs.
I ended the game in 1st place, with 1753 PPs, which I think is unheard of for a non-PLS game.
Your Campaign Build. Since Advanced Cloning is expensive as a campaign advantage to select, I had to disable some ships to afford it. I disabled the Missouri and Eros ships, along with Lay Large Minefields. Disabling the Brynhild is an alternative.
Check out my Campaign Advantage Selector spreadsheet to design a Fed build using Enhanced Recycle and Advanced Cloning.
For best results, you will want the Neutronic Refinery Ship enabled. This will allow you to recycle for PPs before ship limit, when you are still low on duranium (Refinery requires mostly molybdenum). You can even have a Enhanced Recycle build that uses only Refineries if you want to disable your Merlin to save 25 fleet points. It only gives you 12 PP instead of the Merlin’s 15 PP, but it’s still effective.
Go and try Enhanced Recycling, with advanced cloning for best results. You will have fun, as long as you like Feds.
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