A Guide to Knowing Everything

Gathering military intelligence in the game of Planets

When it comes to the most important aspects of Planets strategy, most players talk about diplomacy, tactics, and economy. These skills are certainly of great importance, but in this article, I would like to suggest there is a more important talent which underlies them all: gathering information.

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Here’s Johnny! – Shining the Light on Enemy Homeworlds

Be proactive

There is something terrifying about having a warship show up at your door on Turn 7. If you did not see it coming, your empire is in grave danger. At the very least, you will be crippled for a long time and have to beg for help from other players. This early-game maneuver is known as “The Headshot”, and – if it wasn’t obvious – the goal is to remove your head.

This tactic can be prevented by a variety of actions, but perhaps the strongest defense – or at least it is the boldest – is to axe down your neighbour’s door before they come calling. To do that, you need to know the location of your enemy’s homeworld. Here’s how:

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Axioms Of Ethical Diplomacy

or: Use a sharp knife.


“War is the continuation of politics by other means.”
Clausewitz

“Diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.”
Zhou Enlai


There are as many philosophies of diplomacy in this game as there are Planets players, and it takes a wise man indeed to know which is right. In the end, no one can decide for you; you must choose your own path.

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How To Break The New Nu Queue

NOTE: PPQ is an experimental system, still in development. Joshua has mentioned that he’s not satisfied with some aspects of it and intends to make a few changes. So this should not be considered an authoritative guide, but rather a collection of logistics tactics and stratagems that anyone can read and use. That way, we’re all facing what could otherwise be an intimidating innovation on a relatively equal footing. That’s the intent, anyway. -G


Well, it’s official: We’re using the New Nu Queue in League games as well as in some private ones, and a lot of you will have run into it by now. That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone will be equally familiar with how it works and how best to take advantage.

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The Autonomous Fighter Factory

There are very few Planets races designed to dominate the cluster alone. Those with the strongest ships are vulnerable to cloaking races; those with the weakest ships have secret weapons which, properly used, add balance. And every faction must be played differently, with a precisely balanced economic system designed specifically to support the advantages — and correct for the disadvantages — of each race. Continue reading

The Future Of The Planets Nu Merchant Marine

or, On Operational Mobility

There’s an old saying: that sergeants and captains think about tactics, colonels about strategy, but generals obsess over logistics. We here, safe in our virtual universe, we imagine logistics to be a matter of keeping diesel in the tanks, gas in the trucks, bullets in the guns, food in the kitchens — that sort of thing. But we have only the vaguest inkling what the problem must be like with an army in the field unless we’ve been there. Continue reading

On Grand Strategy

It is said of Hannibal that he won every battle but lost the war. The same has been claimed for other historical conflicts with more or less justification: the American conflict in Vietnam, the campaigns of Gustav Adolf den Store of Sweden, and even that Pyrrhus of Epirus from whose name the very phrase “Pyrrhic victory” comes.

But how is this possible? Is war not, more or less, a succession of battles which creates a metaphoric path over which the winner ascends to eventual victory?

As it happens, it is — and then again, it isn’t. Continue reading

On The Pursuit Of Victory

There are a lot of articles out there on the mechanics of the game – how many mines you can get out of a Mk6 torpedo, how much an X-Ray Laser masses, that sort of thing. And there are several articles on good general strategies, opening gambits, the best way to defeat a Privateer ambush et cetera. But not much has been written on the big question: How do I win?

Perhaps this is because flawless generals are few; as such, it would require a good deal of arrogance to claim enough expertise to offer a definitive Continue reading

Getting To Second Base: Comparing Tactics

Before you get too excited, this article is about neither sex nor baseball. Keep your shirt on.

In both the early PBP and the modern PQ systems, it’s highly advantageous to construct a second starbase early in the game. Many players believe the best move is to use their homeworld to produce the needed minerals, loading them up on a Large Freighter and shipping the whole “starbase-in-a-box” kit out to the first prime native world they discover. It’s a solid move; it creates a potential source for new vessels early on, generates an advantage in the PBP/PP race, and Continue reading

Master Class 6: The Ship Limit (Turn 33ish)

Disclaimer: I’m writing this article while motion-sick and insomniac on a cross-country train ride. Amtrak uses cutting-edge 1965 technology to transport people and provides a true example of that lauded American technological superiority in non-military applications that we’ve all grown to know and love. As a corollary, the language and clarity of this article may have suffered somewhat, for which I do most sincerely apologize. After all, one cannot expect any writer to do other than revel in the sybaritic luxury available to those of us that ride Coach.*


By now either you’ve noticed the vastly increasing number of ships relative to the Ship Limit or you’ve read chatter on the subject in the message feed. (In case you haven’t, I’m going to suggest that you start paying closer attention to the Scoreboard.)

These games are played in the “Production Queue” system, which is at the same time more and less forgiving than a Classic game, insofar as the Ship Limit is concerned. On the plus side, if you’ve Continue reading