No Ordinary Robber

A privateer is not a common criminal.  Far from an ordinary pirate, the privateer is a professional thief whose operations are supported by a legitimate government.  In human history, privateers were authorized to engage in piracy by governments that lacked sufficient resources for a traditional army or navy.  The privateers’ thievery was not illegal but rather licensed by heads of state and internationally recognized as a licit form of warfare.  Notably, privateering could reduce war casualties because the peaceful transfer of resources resulting from a successful robbery could damage a warring nation’s economy and cripple its military.

Privateering is not just an historical curiosity.  It is also an ideology based on the lesser-of-two-evils principle.  In war, given the choice between thievery and destruction, which is worse?  The privateer’s superior ethics dictate that leaving enemy capital intact and simply changing its ownership is the correct way of waging war.  Needless destruction harms everyone involved.  Through this deep and abiding moral sensibility, the privateer can proudly proclaim that violence is the wrong course of action when simple thievery will suffice.

We Privateers in the Echo Cluster follow the same lofty principles.  Our commanders authorize us to steal enemy capital and resources in order to attain our goals.  Often we are thus able to wage nonviolent war simply by exploiting the goods of others.

We have only one truly marvelous tool at our disposal, our prized Meteor Class Blockade Runner.  When this iconic starship appears, it may strike fear in your heart because you may recognize it as sign of coming misfortune.  When the looting begins and you are deprived of your riches and your starships, take consolation in knowing that your resources are being confiscated for higher purposes.  As you doubtless already know, there’s no escaping the robber unless you can somehow figure out some of the Echo Cluster’s most difficult puzzles.

In spite of the sheer magnificence of the venerable Meteor, its downfall is in self-preservation.  Our beloved flagship may be able to fly unseen through deep space at double speed, but one hit from a surprise minefield brings it permanent destruction.  It can scarcely survive combat and is easily captured.

Consider something for a moment: how would you feel if the strongest ship you could build was the Bloodfang Class Carrier?  It is a respectable vessel, but cannot stand up even against the medium-sized carriers of stronger races.  The Privateer gets no free fighters and can rarely afford to buy any.  Moreover, the Bloodfang is simply the only thing in the Privateer fleet that can reliably defeat the defenses of moderately well-defended planets.  Every other race has a medium-sized multipurpose ship that can accomplish this most basic feat of expansion.  Hence, we can conclude that indeed, in the Echo Cluster, the Privateers have no traditional military.

We Privateers therefore must go to great lengths to do simple tasks that everyone else takes for granted.  Our lack of traditional forces necessitates that we exploit the resources of others to compensate for our own shortcomings.  Moreover, when our opponents make life difficult for us with their minefields and their Loki Class Destroyers and their suicidal glory ships, we must respond by claiming their ships and their minerals and their money to subsidize our economy and to weaken theirs in order to prevent further violence.  When our enemies bring blatant, brutal attacks, using battleships and bloody destruction, we may choose not to parry with our Bloodfangs.  We will likely respond in the most honorable way known to our ideology.  We will purloin our enemies’ goods and emerge as happy, noble warriors who happen to have made a profit from others’ mistakes.

In our most triumphant hour many ages ago, we proudly sat at the table and added our signature to the Treaty of Nimbus 7.  No one else realized at the time that the hallowed Treaty would henceforth become the key to many of our greatest techniques of piracy.  For ages to come, we would send fuelless stolen freighters out into deep space, waiting patiently for anyone to take the bait.  The Treaty even allowed for any vessel with beam weapons to become a pod for larceny.  When guided by just one of our beloved blockade runners hidden in the background, these vessels could never be attacked by an enemy ship but their robbers could be secretly empowered through a surreptitious fuel transfer.

Dear reader, perhaps you have been the unfortunate victim of a burglary and have made the decision to guard yourself against such an occurence henceforth.  Perhaps you lay minefields any time you sniff a Privateer within a 4000LY radius.  Perhaps you set the primary enemy on all your capital ships to “Privateer” beginning on turn 1.  Perhaps your first serious task in any given campaign is to find a Fed or Lizard and trade for a Loki.  Perhaps you compulsively beam up even though you already have plenty of fuel.  Perhaps you even make a concerted effort to build two-engine ships between turns 2 and 5 so that you can have ID numbers low enough to tow yourself away from the robber’s grasp.

We, the Privateers, are terribly sorry to force you to take such precautions.  Please understand that in this non-meritocratic dystopia, someone must serve the cause of justice.  As the Robin Hoods of the Echo Cluster, we snatch the stockpiles of the wealthy and use the booty for righteous purposes.  When the strong and powerful initiate violence, we respond with cunning tactics.  We regret every bit of trepidation that we cause by our skulking and we wish to inconvenience no one.  Nonetheless, it is our honor and our sworn duty to follow our orders and emerge victorious.

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
        Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”

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6 thoughts on “No Ordinary Robber

  1. Really nice post. Totally agree. It’s really difficult to the people to understand that the Privateers are a honourable race :)

    I would like to add, that Bloodfang, more than combat, I see very useful to importants minesweep (where it’s open combat and non-surprise) and for fighting against Cat’sPawn and Lokis

  2. Haha!

    Just one addition: The Privateers have another excellent ship for conquering planets – the HB/HP-Merlin.

  3. Anyone have any suggestions for dealing with a nasty Fed that has overproduced Loki’s to defend against encroaching wolf packs? I played a game in which I ran into the mega mining robots on one side and a loki/Missouri obsessed Fed on the other… I ended up allying with the Bots trading MBR’s for loaded Golems and we won, but I really struggled to break the Fed’s and wasted many MBR’s in the process.

    Cheers,
    hawtsoop

  4. Hawt: thanks for the question.

    There is no other race that has the most easy prey and the most difficult enemies. It’s five and five. The Privateer loves to feast on Birds, Cyborg, Empire, Rebel, and Colonies. The Privateer runs helplessly screaming from Feds, Lizards, Fascists, Crystals, and Robots.

    The answer to your question is stay away from them, or make friends with them, if at all possible. If it’s not possible, then you have to play differently.

    All those old raceguides on Donovan’s (yuck!) will tell you that Privateers can steal any ship they want to steal and never have to fight. Well, they’re wrong. They are especially wrong in the era of Nu, because the cat’s out of the bag and everyone knows all the anti-Privateer tricks.

    If you must fight the Loki fight against Feds, here are my tips:
    1. Don’t wait around in wolfpacks for something to steal. That’s the 20th century way of Privateering. It’s not the 90s anymore.
    2. Find the Loki. It may seem that your opponent has a million of them, but there are only 500 ships on the board. If he has 50 ships and 30 of them are lokis, that’s not a very powerful fleet, is it?
    3. How to find the loki? It uncloaks you at the beginning and at the end of the turn. Wait in the warp wells, and dedicate cheap cloakers (BR4 maybe) as loki-detect ships.
    4. When you have found the Loki, you need to kill it. This means FIGHT. You must intercept it and kill it at all costs. The best ship to use to kill the Loki is the D3 Thorn Class Destroyer, equipped with bad beams and mark 8 tubes. 10 torpedoes is more than enough. If you don’t have Thorns, Meteors are another option, but they are less preferred as interceptors – early in the game I build them all without any tubes at all. But if you use them to kill Lokis, they must have mark 8.
    5. On the rare occasion that you capture/steal a Loki, you must IMMEDIATELY take it to your nearest starbase and recycle it. The components are exactly the same as a D3 Thorn, so turn that garbage into something useful. I once had an ally beg me to give him a captured Loki and he lost it and it got used against me again. Never again. If I’m a Privateer, the Loki must not exist AT ALL. There’s a raceguide somewhere called “the Privateer’s need for a Loki” and it talks about all the fun things you can do with Lokis. Well, if you ever read that raceguide, erase it from your mind. You want all Lokis off the board, period.
    6. If you have a particularly nasty opponent, they might put all their Lokis in warp wells, meaning you can’t safely land on the planet. Anything you can see, you can intercept. So consider swarming around his planets intercepting warp well Lokis at speeds lower than warp 9 so that it only fights if the Loki exits the warp well.
    7. The fuelless ship trap – you send a useless ship out of fuel to the planet where the Loki is, and then you can see the Loki and intercept it the next turn. If your opponent is smart, they will have NUK set on any planet holding a Loki to prevent this trick. But if you’re desperate…
    8. Finally, the very very very best way to get rid of a Loki is to pop it with glory devices (it takes 2).

    There’s all my tricks :) warp wells, fuelless ship, glory device, using the Thorn, and above all KNOWING where the Loki is at all times.

    Privateers are a VERY difficult race to play because it’s so nuanced. You have to go through and proofread all your ships because one mistake in warp speed, mission, PE, friendly code, can cost you a ship. You have to avoid making those mistakes so that you have enough ships to do the costly maneuvers like sacrificing to kill the Loki. Because on the other side, when you’re out of ships, you lose.

  5. One more thought about Lokis: their anti-cloaking doesn’t work if it has damage greater than 20%. So if it’s damaged in combat, you’re safe…

    And the Loki only has a cargo hold of 80 …. so if it’s damaged enough, it can only repair 16% per turn with supplies – less if it is carrying torpedoes. Keep track of how much damage the Loki has, and you will know how many turns your cloakers are safe in that vicinity!!

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