“It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa
Energized by a recent online conversation (Commander Koski, 2022), I set out to answer the question, “What makes a good sacrificial ship?” I found a good brunch spot and filled a notebook with statistics, thoughts, and ship specifications around this topic – Yes, at that time in Earth’s history, people still used pencil and paper; this writing exercise was referred to as a scrambled brainstorm. Somewhere between the bacon and the coffee, I noted the factor which defined a good sacrificial option was, what I called, the Balboa Quality (BQ) – the ability to take a beating and deal significant damage. This article provided an overview of a system for determining the value of this type of ship. The BQ system proved capable of determining which ships were economically and militarily efficient in sacrifical situations.
The following essay is an excerpt taken from Col. South’s upcoming book, his commentary on “The Art Of War”, and is exclusively available to readers of the Planets Magazine. The original essay was based on the text of a speech delivered before the Federation War College on Charmed World shortly before the first League War.
I’ve been studying Sun Tzu my entire professional life, from the Academy on. He’s the ultimate authority on the art of war, and in crisis after crisis in which I’ve found myself, his “Art Of War” has held the answer. Thirteen short chapters, less than twenty thousand words, dating from long before the age of space flight — and yet it is as valid and useful today as when it was first written.
If there exists a factor in warfare which Sun Tzu neglects, however, it must certainly be that of luck. I’ve seen too many people die due to random chance, too many attacks fail due to the influence of the unforeseeable, to neglect the power of luck in combat — and yet all he ever observes on the subject is that to rely on it is to lose.
Due to focusing on my studies, it has been months since my last article on Christmas Planets. I have a break between semesters, so I am taking time to write an article which might help players choose which race to embrace — if you are one of those who likes to focus on just one race. This piece examines the capabilities of the eleven Echo Cluster races to control the battlefield with minefields, i.e., strategic mine laying, and it assigns a letter grade to each race based on three skill categories: long term sustainability, countermining potential, and minefield specialisation.
In the first article of this two-part series, I introduced the concept of “Christmas planets” – those newly-scanned worlds which make you cry out, “Yus!” and unabashedly pump your fists. There’s lots of resources on a map, but these beautiful gifts bring joy to both new and experienced players. They supply every production facility within 2-3 turns and boost entire economies up to 2-3 clusters away. Most planets provide resources for 10-30 turns, but these anti-misers keep giving long into the end game. This article highlights several top-priority Christmas planets.
My childhood contained two Christmases I most remember. The first was spending winter in the snowy mountains of Newfoundland, Canada. — This has little relevance to the article, but it sets the mood rather well. — The second memory – and the more important glimmer of my past – was opening the best gift ever: a Nintendo Entertainment System. As I played Super Mario Bros. for the first time, I felt an odd sense of euphoria. The world filled with wonder and possibilities; and I knew I was special and super lucky to have this gift. Later in my life, this type of joy occurred three more times: finding a twenty dollar bill at an exhibition fair, winning the grand prize from a granola bar package, and receiving an orbital scan from a Planets starship above a world of indigenous Insectoids. These last moments appear as mundane but they felt like Christmas.