Well, this should be a short article. Control the most planets. Game over. You won. As it turns out, it’s not quite that simple. When you look at the planets scoreboard, there are several other columns including one labeled military and one labeled score. In addition, what happens if there is a tie in planet count at the end? Well, it pays to be the Colonies or at least to be the higher ID race, as the ranking algorithm will show you as first winner. You will get your 4x achievement points. However, the lower ID race which appears as the second place winner will also get 4x achievement points so long as they end with an identical planet count. This is how you score in your standard, diplomatic planets games. Those achievement points are crucial to advancing in rank. Experience is required as well but you mostly get that for showing up enough times whether you win or lose.
Originally, Nu used to rank winners according to military score. Military score is based on the original VGA Planets add-on called Autoscore. Autoscore awards 1 point each for megacredit and 5 points for each mineral used in the construction of warships defined as any ship with a beam, torpedo tube or fighter bay. The values of the engines, beams and torpedo tubes and on board torpedoes and fighters are calculated as well. In addition starbase defense posts, planetary defense posts, minefields and starbase defense fighters are totaled but subsequently divided in half as a penalty for not being a mobile military asset. A fighter on a ship would be worth 125 military points because it costs 100 megacredits to build the fighter and 5 minerals which are multplied by 5. If this fighter were stored at a starbase, it would lose half its value and only be worth 62.5 military points.
Military score is no longer routinely used to determine victors in Nu games. There were peculiarities such as a stardrive 1 engine, xray gemini loaded with 400 fighters being worth 50,755 military points while a transwarp drive engine annihilation with 10 heavy phasers, 10 mk8 tubes and 320 torpedoes is worth 38,965 military points. The Gemini would boost military score tremendously although it was poorly suited to destroy any ships or planets. The races that could build fighters in space for free would have a huge boost to their military scores even if these fleets were ineffective in actual combat.
So if military score is no longer the standard for declaring the winner, why bother learning about it? Those who fail to properly understand and utilize data from the military score will not reach their full potential. In addition, a higher military score facilitates the destruction of ships, starbases and defense posts. This will directly translate into achievement points which is the primary rate limiting step in promotions to higher ranks.
The true utility of the military score is the intel that it provides, particularly in those crucial early turns of a new game. With a little common sense, you should be able to determine many of the ships built by the other races. Bookmark this webpage and study it well:
Although the combinations of various ship builds might seem daunting, recognizing the strengths and likely strategies of each race will narrow down the possibilities tremendously. The Borg, Evil Empire and Rebels are likely to build their hyperspace capable ships early on. You can determine their engine and beams with relative ease. The Lizards are likely to build their ubiquitous lizard class cruiser and it should not be terribly difficult to know the beams on their ship if you assume transwarp engines and mk4 torpedo tubes. Bioscanning ships such as the Federation Brynhild class escort, Robotic Pawn class baseship and Colonial Cobol class ships will be built early on. The privateers of course will build many MBRs and careful tracking of his military points will tell you if they are equipped with only xray lasers and no torpedo tubes. The Crystals will build Rubies and Emeralds initially with mk4 tubes and you can reverse engineer the beams. I pay special attention to the Birds in the opening turns to track how many Resolutes they are building as these ships can put a swift end to your homeworld if you are unprepared.
Examples of early builds:
|Fed||Nebula Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||None||2438|
|Lizards||Lizard Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||2273|
|Birds||Resolute Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Plasma Bolt||Mk4||2910|
|Swift Heart Class Scout||Transwarp||Xray||n.a.||799|
|Fascists||D7 Coldpain Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||2268|
|Cyborg||B200 Class Probe||Transwarp||Xray||n.a.||794|
|Firecloud Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||2387|
|Crystals||Ruby Class Light Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||1973|
|Emerald Class Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||2816|
|5 free fighters at SB||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||312,5|
|Super Star Destroyer||Transwarp||Disruptor||n.a.||3219|
|Robots||Cat’s Paw Class Destroyer||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||1878|
|Pawn Class Baseship||Transwarp||Xray||n.a.||3159|
|Rebels||Falcon Class Escort||Transwarp||Xray||n.a.||744|
|Star Drive 1||Xray||n.a.||205|
|Gemini Class Transport||Transwarp||Xray||n.a.||1833|
|Colonies||Cobol Class Research Cruiser||Transwarp||Xray||Mk4||1878|
As the turns progress, minefields will be laid and fighters in space will be built so it will be more difficult to deduce the ship builds. Also, if you wish to disguise your ship builds early on, it would be prudent to consider building a defense post, starbase defense post or torpedo or two so your incremental military points on any given turn don’t exactly total to a typical build which will be broadcast to all your more observant opponents. If your opponent knows from your military score that you have mostly built probes and weakly armed ships, you may find yourself eliminated with the loss of your homeworld within the first 15 turns. The astute player tracks how many Resolutes and MBRs are built early on and will take appropriate defensive measures if they have not definitively identified their immediate neighbors assuming an early homeworld strike is in progress. Even in the mid-game, the military score can be manipulated in ways that disguise your ship builds. If your enemy is closing on one of your starbases believing it to be poorly defended, you can build your best warship while simultaneously laying minefields elsewhere or transferring ship fighters to a starbase so you get your best ship built but the military score increment will be blunted to the extent that your enemy believes you have built a weaker warship and continues his attack only to be unpleasantly surprised. Even when the ship limit has been reached, the military score can protect you against nasty surprises. Did the crystals just lose 3450 military points without losing a warship? Perhaps they just converted 100 mk 8 torpedoes into a minefield measuring 100 light year radius in an area beyond your mine scanning range.
Lastly, there is the scoreboard column simply labeled score. It is the original VGA Planets scoring system which awards 120 points per starbase, 10 points per planet, 10 points per warship and 1 point per freighter. It is not used in determining victors on the Nu site and is of historical significance.
|Race||Caveats in classic Planets Nu games|
|Federation||For any given military score, the Fed Crew bonus will make their ships more effective (Footnote 1). Also keep in mind that the Feds will often build a ship with minimal weapons only to upgrade them later with their super refit mission. I often assume the initial Federation warships lack torpedo tubes initially and will be refit with high tech torp tubes when necessary. The super refit mission allows the Feds to easily disguise their true military threat. They will often have Missouris or Novas with tech 1 engines, no beams or tubes which are awaiting refit.|
|Lizards||For any given military score, Lizard ships fare better in combat because of their 150% bonus.|
|Birds||No special caveat to their military score other then they are one of the races that could completely annihilate you in the first 15 turns so pay special attention to their builds. If they are your neighbor, it is imperative to keep track of the turns they build Resolutes and Dark Wings.|
|Fascists||For any given military score, recall that even their weakest ship with beams can devastate your planet with their pillage mission. Also, recall that they gain pbp from utilizing their glory device so special attention to PBP and to change in miltary score can alert you to when they have exploded a glory device to destroy an enemy ship. Often, you can deduce the particular glory ship utilized.|
|Privateers||No special caveat to their military scores except that as for the Birdmen, you need to pay special attention to their builds or you risk early elimination. Even the lowliest beamed privateer ship with low military score is a potentially devastating threat because of the Rob ability.|
|Cyborg||No special caveat to their military score. However, even a single B200 probe is a huge strategic military threat because of the planets he can assimilate but this will be evident in planet count as well. Similarly, their Firecloud chunnel ability allows the Borg to apply their entire military assets to virtually any location on the map so long as they can reach it with a single firecloud.|
|Crystals||No special caveat to their military score which is calculated identically to other races but the true strength of the Cystals is in their web mines that capture your ships. This means the Crystals grow stronger when they lay web mines which actually suppresses their military score.|
|Evil Empire||They will have a somewhat inflated military score because of their free fighters. This amounts to 312 military points per starbase per turn. On the turns they load these fighters onto their carriers, they will see a boost in military score of 312 military points per fighters loaded.|
|Robots||Robots are the only race with unique features to both inflate and suppress their military points on any given turn. With 4 times minefield size per torpedo as a special racial ability, the Robots will double their military score laying mines while other races cut their military score in half. The Robots are able to suppress their military score by minescooping whereas this would inflate other races military scores. The Robots can also build free fighters in space allowing them to boost their military score dramatically even when no warships on built on any given turn (Footnote 2).|
|Rebels||For any given military score, the Rebels can substantially inflate their military score by building fighters in space (Footnote 2). Other combat advantages include the RGA mission which allows even a defenseless freighter the ability to devastate one of your planets. The RGA ability virtually guarantees them the left side of the VCR advantage in carrier vs carrier battles if they are invading your territories as you need to protect against the RGA mission.|
|Colonies||For any given military score, the Colonies can substantially inflate their military score by building fighters in space (Footnote 2). Their Cobol and Aries combination allow them to avoid the fuel issues which hinder most other races so they can effectively organize a fully fueled strike fleet more quickly or attack even without having sufficient fuel counting on their Cobols to make the fuel enroute.|
Federation Bonus – “First, 50 kilotons are added to the ship’s weight. This makes the ship more resistant to enemy fire. Second, Federation carriers launch fighters at a rate as if they had three bays more than they actually have. This holds true for all Federation-owned carriers, including the Kittyhawk (effectively uses nine bays) and carriers that already have the maximum of ten bays (a Federation Gorbie launches fighters from thirteen bays). In-between battles, the shields of Federation ships regenerate with 25%. The shield level is limited by the damage the ship has (maximum is 100-damage) and can never exceed 100%. Last but not least, all ships owned by the Federation fight with full weaponry, regardless of the damage the ship already has at the beginning of the battle”.
For each fighter built in space, the military score will increase by 125 military points. A single Gemini could thus add in 5000 military points by building 40 fighters that turn. Two Geminis could double those military points while a simple scout is built and it would be difficult to deduce the actual warship built that turn unless a freighter was built.
Fezzik: We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.17