Making the Grade: Introducing Prowess

“The public supports war until the body bags come home” was a persistent thought meandering through my mind as I was writing these articles. I wanted to evaluate each race’s capacity for killing, and something in the back of my mind made that topic feel… uneasy. When I continued to hesitate putting it into words, I eventually recognised that my struggle existed because of the nature of what war games reflect. It also occurred to me that the trend of “winning games by making friends” surfaced, in part, because many of us were conflicted about aggression in competition.

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First Turns: The Missing Colonies of Man

Most games are won or lost in the first few turns. 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.

Overview:

The Colonies have a powerful yet limited ship list, remarkable for not only its low-cost heavy carrier, the Virgo, but also the fuel-generating Cobol. They lack low-cost endgame sacrifice ships and their best shield-scratchers are the Cygnus (against battleships only), the Tranquility, and the Iron Lady, which sets them at a late-war disadvantage against any powerful foe. However, their ability to sweep space mines from a distance with fighters alone balances the entire field in their favor.

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First Turns: The Solar Federation

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.

Overview:

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.

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Threat Assessment: The Evil Empire

This is the tenth in a series of anonymous reports that mysteriously appeared on the Editor’s desk. These redacted versions were approved by the Senate for immediate publication, to be read by commanders of each respective race so they can review their own vulnerabilities in the face of the unknown external threat that commissioned the studies. In this dispatch we focus on that faction known as the Evil Empire: its strengths, its weaknesses, and how best to defeat it in battle.

Overview

Ease Of Command: Veteran
Difficulty To Defeat: Moderate
Playstyle: Slow

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Intelligence Briefs: Fascists

This Articles of War document was decrypted and translated as a study model for Echo Cluster strategists. These intelligence briefs describe employable tactics and complementary ship combinations for the eleven races.

The underlying purpose of the this series is to encourage commanders to consider what happens before the game transitions to the end game. We often build our fleets with one thing in mind: maximum power, all the way — hooyah! Beyond theory, the majority of actions which lead to victory are done within the first forty to sixty turns; moreover, eight races have their best chance of winning if they gain a significant advantage before the transition to the final slog. Those first fifty turns can be used for more than just building ships and whipping the local indigenous populations. It’s the perfect time for Tech 1-9 to go forth and shine.

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Fleet Stacks: The Missing Colonies Of Man

Articles Of War, Supplemental

In this series of brief supplements, we examine not ships as individuals but when working together as a machine, in task groups or battle formations. These articles presume familiarity with the concepts of Battle Order and Left vs. Right Combat.

The Colonies, like four other races, field a heavy carrier that can take on any single vessel in the Echo Cluster on relatively equal ground. The Virgo has the further advantage of being cheap to build (minerals-wise) and arm (free fighters). However, the rest of the Colonial fleet is composed largely of vessels too lightweight to be allowed out on their own.

In consequence of this, in an appendix to the Dreadlord Manual of antique fame, Doug Suerich proposed grouping a Patriot with a Little Joe and a Cygnus. When employed properly, he contended, this trio could be deadly against most foes. Unfortunately, what was true in 1994 has not withstood the test of time; against cloakers, who can select their targets through Intercept, such a group can gain no advantage from stacking, and against even medium carriers, battleships, or battlecruisers, they’re often simply flying to their deaths — a gift to any adversary who chooses to seize it.

Instead, we shall focus on ship stacks that function in a group as greater than the sum of their parts.

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First Turns: The Privateer Bands

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.

Overview:

The heaviest warship buildable by the Privateer Bands is the Bloodfang Class Carrier, a passable medium warship but hardly a vessel designed to stand in the line of battle. The Privateer’s preferred venue is in fact elsewhere, in the area of speed, mobility, robbery, and ship capture. Thus, uniquely among the Eleven Races, the Privateer is in a very real sense less dependent on their own economy than their neighbor’s.

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Threat Assessment: The Lizard Alliance

This is the ninth in a series of anonymous reports that mysteriously appeared on the Editor’s desk. These redacted versions were approved by the Senate for immediate publication, to be read by commanders of each respective race so they can review their own vulnerabilities in the face of the unknown external threat that commissioned the studies. In this dispatch we focus on that faction known as the Lizard Alliance: its strengths, its weaknesses, and how best to defeat it in battle.

Overview

Ease Of Command: Novice and Up
Difficulty To Defeat: High
Style: Aggressive

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First Turns: The Robotic Imperium

Most games are won or lost in the first few turns. 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.

Overview:

The Robots have a powerful and unique, yet limited, ship list. They are remarkable not only for having not one but two effective heavy carriers, the Golem and the Automa, but also for their ability to control vast swathes of the battleground using their mass minelaying advantage by way of their lone minelayer, the Cat’s Paw. The inexpensive and relatively low-tech medium carrier, the Instrumentality, is the cherry on top.

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So You’re Doomed. Now What? (A Guide For The Hopeless)

First things first: We’ve all been there. It’s not just you.

The nature of the game is, one person wins. That generally means nine or ten lose — and don’t fool yourself: Unless you’re in the Victory Countdown, second place is just First Loser. All things being equal, nine games out of ten, you’re going to end up in a completely hopeless position. It sucks, but what are you gonna do about it? Cry a little?

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