It was early in the game, turn 3 to be precise, and the Colonies were expanding rapidly, putting all of their resources into building freighters and sending them forth. He could spy a cluster just out of range of a one-turn jump with his warp 9 engines. To reach it hidden would take 2 turns and he really wanted to continue pushing his planet count upwards. So early in the game, what are the chances that someone would see his Medium Freighter crossing that void?
Turn 4 at the headquarters of the Empire of the Birds, Commander Bacchus peers over his latest reports.
“Commander, our Southern Scout has made contact with the enemy, we have remained undetected, and have extrapolated his course which has given us the coordinates of his homeworld with 99% certainty. What are your orders?”
“Ensign, order the Scout to take on fuel and head directly for the Colonial homeworld. Set spies on the planet to assess the defenses we will face and await reinforcements”
Commander Bacchus knows that an early strike such as this will cost him dearly in the early development of his economy, but the opportunity to remove such a nearby neighbour is difficult for a Birdman to pass up. The timing is critical.
In much the same way as Pearl Harbour could easily have been detected by several early clues, on turn 13 the rouse was nearly given up when two Colonial freighters had strayed too close to Bird planets, both were captured without incident. By this point the Birds had succeeded in placing a Deth Specula in orbit around the homeworld as well, and with a Resolute and Dark Wing inbound, time was running out for the Colonials to prepare themselves. On turn 14 the Empire of the Birds attacked and captured an outlying Colonial planet, and yet still no military response indicated preparations. By this time the Resolute had joined orbit and the assault was prepared.
The Battle for the Colonial Homeworld began on Turn 15, the Colonial officer had been producing fighters with his Gemini so it was assumed that we would be facing a fully loaded starbase with the entire 60 fighter complement on board. Of course, our spying could tell us that the planetary defenses still remained at 20. With that knowledge, the Deth Specula silently locked a tractor beam onto the Gemini and towed it into space, where the death screams of the crew could not be heard. At the same time, the Resolute and the incoming Dark Wing began their attack run.
In war, casualties can be expected, so like any good military leader Commander Bacchus had anticipated losing his mighty Dark Wing. The Dark Wing’s crew were flying with life pods at the ready so they could escape at a moment’s notice. They knew that their Resolute partner was close behind, ready to finish the job that they started, they also knew that the Swift was flying high cover, ready to intervene should the need arise, ready to pick up survivors should they fall short in their great charge.
Decloaking as close as possible to the enemy starbase, the crew of the Dark Wing caught the defenders unaware. Quickly, fighters began to launch as the defenders ran to their stations. Who was this attacker? Where did they come from?
On board the Dark Wing our loyal crew pushed their hearty ship to maximum impulse speed as we closed with the imposing star base. We could see specks of light as the defending fighters began to launch, driving toward our great ship. Our beam weapons lanced outward, leaving death and debris with every shot. The first wave of 10 fighters were destroyed as they left the bays. The second wave of 10 were destroyed before they reached the half way point. Now our beams were charging, having spent their stored energy, as the third and fourth wave of fighters swept across our sides. The small beams of the fighters did not do much damage each, but in union they easily ripped the shields from the great and proud ship. At last, we had reached Torpedo range! Our crews frantically loaded and re-loaded our Mk4 Torpedoes as explosions wracked our great ship. Fiery explosions fountained from the starbase as her shields vanished under the blistering attack of our torpedoes. Then finally, the 18th torpedo fired found a weakened point of armour, it crashed through the starbase’s exterior and finished in an enormous explosion scattering highly radioactive debris across the entire planet’s surface. All life on the planet had been eradicated, leaving over 2.5 million Colonial colonists dead from the radiation from their dying starbase.
Post Mortem – Moral of the story:
Hiding your ships in the early game can be a critical strategic move. Until you have made contact with your enemies, assume that you have cloakers nearby. And if you have cloakers nearby, assume that they are within your space by turn 4 (if not sooner given the speed with which the Privateers can travel). Never leave from your homeworld and travel into open space. It might seem like a waste of time, but covering your tracks can be well worth the hassle to avoid the site of a squad of cloaking ships coming in to wreck your day.
Once you have discovered a cloaking race near you, build a mine layer and start dropping mines. This attack could have been severely compromised by a minefield dropped on turn 13. If by turn 10 you haven’t spotted activity with your furthest scouts, assume that you are dealing with a cloaking race. Lay minefields and defend your starbases, because that is where they will be headed when they come in.12