This is the first in a series of articles I’m writing on tools and tactics for fighting against the Privateers. We’ll begin with what I consider the most effective tool: The Loki Class Destroyer. This will cover how to use them and how to protect them in various situations.
The Loki Class Destroyer
See the link above for information on the Loki Class Destroyer. Lokis are a powerful tool against the Privateers, due to their tachyon field that can decloak ships within 10ly. Unlike glory device ships, they are reusable. And unlike minefields they can be used offensively to hit planets the Privateers are waiting on. If you are playing the Federation or the Lizards, you get to build them, so you don’t have too much to worry about. If not you can try to trade or ally to get use of some.
The basic use is pretty simple
Leave a Loki at an important planet or a planet you expect the Privateers to go to. With the Loki also leave a warship or two that are equipped to destroy or capture an MCBR. Set the warship(s) to Primary Enemy: ‘Privateers’ or set the ‘Kill’ mission and make sure it comes before the Loki in the combat order. If a cloaked privateer ship shows up, looking for something to steal, the Loki will decloak it, the warship blows it up. Easy.
It doesn’t take much to blow Meteor Class Blockade Runners (MCBR) up. When I simulate possible matchups with the battle simulator I choose an enemy MCBR equipped with Mark VII torpedo tubes and Heavy Blasters, but that’s likely better than what most are carrying.
You may also want to use a warship equipped to capture an MCBR instead of destroying it, as they are very useful little ships to have. There are again many options using combinations of X-rays / Disruptors and Gamma bombs or limited torpedoes / fighters. For example, most big carriers can be used to capture MCBRs easily by arming them with X-rays / Disruptors and 13 fighters.
The Privateers might try a couple of different things to find out what planets your Loki Classes are at:
- They might send a ship with no fuel to your planet, since it will not be attacked by your ships. Then the ship can serve to spot your Loki in the ‘Fuelless Privateer Ship Trap’ (see below). To counter this, you should have planets with reasonable defenses set their friendly code to “NUK”, to attack fuelless ships.
- As ECV notes: “When [playing the Privateers] and invading a Lizard or anybody else with a Loki, I dedicate Loki-detect ships (BR4 or other less-useful cloakers) to hang out at the warp well to find them and know where they are at all times. If he’s watching the board carefully, your Privateer opponent will always know where all your Lokis are.”
Using the Warp Well
As an alternative to keeping your Loki Class at the planet, you can also safely keep it in the warp well and still decloak ships at to the planet. This can be preferable if you don’t have another warship to fight with, but the planet/base is strong enough to destroy the enemy ship. To quote Thin:
“I personally found that hanging around in the warpwell with the Loki can protect the planet very well – as a kind of repellant – the psychologic effect of this ship then maybe is even better than the actual use.”
Protecting two planets with one Loki
Advice from ECV: “If you have two adjacent planets that you want to protect and a limited number of Lokis, you can move between the planets each turn to automatically protect both planets [because Lokis decloak both before and after ship movement]. For some reason, my opponents have tended not to do that, and consequently I know where all their Lokis are all the time. If you move it, my Loki-detector will not know whether the Loki is there or if it just left!”
The idea is basically the same, send a Loki with your attacking fleet. If there are any privateers waiting at the planet, the Loki uncloaks them and your warships blow everything up. But you must keep one thing in mind…
If your Loki is somewhere the Privateers can see it, they will try to destroy it
Because of it’s strength against them, the Privateers will do almost anything to destroy your Loki. This will consist primarily of using the cloak-intercept mechanism. If the Privateers can see your Loki, they can (and likely will) set a ship (or ships) to intercept and destroy it. Because of the cloak-intercept rule, they will get to fight the Loki first, before the rest of your fleet. This means that you will likely destroy the ship(s) they send, but not before they kill your Loki. There are 3 ways a nearby Privateer can see your ship that you should then be aware of:
- Your ship is in open space.
- Your ship is at the same planet as a Privateer ship (or the planet belongs to the Privateers). This shouldn’t happen to you because you should be killing everything at every planet you go to. But there is one exception, the ‘Fuelless Privateer Ship Trap’ described below.
- Your ship is at a planet owned by another player (or they have a ship there), and that player is sharing information with the Privateers. This is particularly relevant if there is a possibility of cooperation between the Privateers and a “Loki-proof” race (feds, lizards, birds). This is also discussed some below.
Let’s look at the first situation, by far the most common. You should move your Loki attack fleets from planet to planet whenever possible to avoid showing it. But sometimes that will not be possible and you will have to put it out in space where the Privateers can see it. Once they do, and assuming they might try a cloak-intercept on it, how do you keep it safe?
How to keep your Loki safe:
- Use a really high ID Loki and set it to intercept a lower ID ship in your fleet. This works really well because intercepting ships move in order of ID, so essentially any Privateer ship with a lower ID than the Loki trying to intercept it will move to it, but the Loki will then move away and they will not be able to attack it . But be aware that you are vulnerable to minefields when doing this.
Privateer Counter-move: Aside from simply using a higher ID ship to intercept your Loki, the privateers can wait at a planet with a ship set to intercept your Loki and warp 0, and hope you move the Loki to the planet with the fleet. There they will successfully cloak-intercept it (since they did not move). This is risky for them though, because if you move your fleet to the planet, but only move the Loki nearby, their ship is lost.
- If you’re not going to a planet, you don’t need to have fuel on the Loki.
It won’t uncloak ships that turn, but the Privateers can’t predict where you move in space, so they can’t wait for you there anyways. If they try to cloak-intercept, they won’t attack the fuelless Loki and will instead be killed/captured by your warships. You can fake at heading to planets and often draw out interceptors this way. As ECV says:“The best thing to do is to drive your Privateer crazy by making him play whack-a-mole. Seriously. He knows that if you’re able to move your strong ships up, you will take his planets, and he needs to do everything possible to get rid of that Loki. Every turn you wait with a group of ships and an out-of-fuel Loki he will be tempted to try to whack the mole again, and every time he will get blown up if the Loki is fuelless. This is a true game-winning strategy, because if he runs out of cloakers, he loses, period.” Privateer counter-move: The Privateers can set cloak-intercepting ships at planets to warp 1. If the Loki comes to the planet, it will be cloak-intercepted. If not (a fake-out), the MCBR will only move out into the warp well instead of going to get killed by the warships. The downside is that the Privateers will of course give away the position of any ship trying this, but at least they won’t be destroyed.
- The Loki does not need to be AT the planet to decloak ships there.
If you need to attack a planet from open space, you just need to have a Loki with fuel within 10 ly. But not necessarilly at the planet. A good tactic is to move just 1 ly outside the point of the warp well with the Loki ending with 0 fuel (it either runs out or is being towed). On the next turn, you transfer fuel to the Loki and move it at warp 1 into the warp well point (the far spot 3 ly away from the planet, so you cannot be intercepted, gravitonic ships can move 2 lightyears at warp 1), while the rest of your fleet attack the planet. Any attempted cloak-interceptors will be pulled to the planet to fight your main fleet instead.
- Use more Lokis. If you have them to spare, most all of the above will work even better with 2 (or even better, more) Loki Classes, keeping the Privateers guessing as to which has fuel and which doesn’t, which is moving to the planet and which is going to the warp well, etc. It will require even more of their resources to try and stop your fleet, and the losses will likely be higher for them. As Thin says:
“When i go for the privateer or fascist i always take many lokis, more than i think i can use, also those with stardrive 1 and xrays.. And rather use the good Lokis to force the opponent to move around in my minefields, because i feel that especially vs. the Privateers the minefields are the no 1 weapon. You just need to force them to move.”
- Arm your Loki well. You don’t really ever want it to fight, but if it happens, Lokis armed with good (Mark VII or even better yet Mark VIII) torps have decent odds of winning against most any of the standard Privateer ships. It may however take more than 20% damage, which will stop it from decloaking, so be aware of that.
The Fuelless Privateer Ship Trap
So you’re happily hopping your Loki protected fleet from planet to planet, killing everything and feeling confident that your Loki is safe. You come to a planet and find a Privateer ship with no fuel there. Perhaps you’ve just caught them off-guard, but perhaps they are using that ship as a spotter to see your Loki. If you planet-hop again, they are likely to attempt to cloak-intercept, since the fuelless ship allows them to see the Loki.
The above tactics still apply in this situation. Moving the fleet into open space with the Loki having 0 fuel, or moving the Loki into the warp well (with fuel) while leaving the fleet at the planet are both viable techniques for killing attempted cloak-interceptors. The important thing is that you realize the loki can be seen and may be in danger. Also, you can tow the empty Privateer ship away if it’s something you want to keep (which is why it will usually be a small freighter or something else uninteresting).
The other main option the Privateers have to try and take out your Loki is minefields. A Loki with more than 20% damage will not decloak ships, so if your only Loki hits a mine the turn you arrive at a privateer stronghold, you might be in trouble. Ideally, you want to be confident of your minefield superiority (or your sweeping power) when attacking. But if not, you will likely want to tow your Lokis to take advantage of the fact that towed ships cannot hit mines. One thing to think about when towing a Loki is that you want to tow it with a ship of hull level 7 or greater. Ships with lower level hulls will slow down and not reach their target when they hit a mine, and it would be very bad for your whole fleet to show up at the planet… except the Loki.
A Note on Diplomacy
Diplomacy can work in your favor when using Lokis. If your Lokis are moving in a combined fleet with ally ships, you can randomly transfer ownership of them between you using the “gsX” friendly code. This makes it even more dangerous for the Privateer to try and cloak-intercept, since it won’t work if the does not have the correct Primary Enemy set.
Diplomacy amongst enemies is also something to keep in mind when using your Lokis. Any race can use their ships to “spot” Lokis for the Privateers, or give them ships with huge fuel tanks to rob with, but three are much more dangerous. The Feds, Llizards, and Birds are all immune to the Loki tachyon (decloak) field, which eliminates most of the security the Lokis provide. When at a planet with a Loki, you can be confident that your fleet won’t be robbed (since you would have decloaked and killed any Privateer ships). But more than likely what is about to happen is that cloaked ships from the Privateers “Loki-proof” ally are about to tow what ever ships they want off to Privateers waiting to rob them, and there’s not much you can do about it.
In the case of such an alliance, you will want to be much more careful, and look at other ways of dealing with cloakers (minefields, glories, etc). When approaching enemy planets in this situation, you will likely want to only move the Loki near the planet (remember they work up to 10 ly away), to keep it from being towed off and killed. Again, tucking it in the tip of the warp well works nicely. Then, if you have a big warship at the planet and think it might me towed off to a Privateer wolfpack, you can try to have the Loki intercept your warship (particularly if the Loki has a high ID). There is a chance you will catch and destroy a whole lot of Privateer (and maybe other) ships. But this is risky, as any decently-organized enemies will tow the warship out of range of the Loki, and it will be left vulnerable in open space. But if you were down to say a single carrier and a Loki in enemy territory it might be worth a shot. The reward is good if your opponent doesn’t play it right.19