Author: Leonard Dickens
Revised: 21st September 2000
ARs Compared to Normal Races
Hab and Growth
Mid and late game
Special AR problems
ARs Compared to Normal Races
ARs work very differently than the other races in Stars. This section
touches on each significant difference, and its effect on race design
or game play.
** Starbase Habitat: ARs live in starbases. Thus, while they use the
planetary compat as do normal races for purposes of determining the
growth-rate modification of the pop growth formula, they do *not* have
the same planetary maximum populations. Instead, they get a fixed
maxpop determined by the starbase type:
orbital fort 250000
space dock 500000
space station 1000000
ultra station 2000000
death star 3000000
The most obvious effect of starbase habitat is that when the starbase
is lost, so is the pop. It is thus much easier to attack an AR than a
normal race, since you don't need bombers.
** No factories: ARs cannot make factories, but rather, get resources
based on other factors (see below). As with any factoryless race,
this means that the need for early minerals is modest.
A less obvious effect of being without factories is that settlements
are cheap. Though they can be lost easily, they are also fast to set
up. If a normal race loses a planet and it gets bombed out, that race
may have to spend 10 to 20 turns to get the factories back up. The
cost in germanium (G) is large, probably requiring imports. An AR can
have a planet back in business in 2 turns, costing only a few minerals.
** AR mining: unlike normal races, an AR gets a small number of "mines"
just by being at a planet. The amount is 1/10sqrt(pop); thus, a
planet with 250000 pop has the effect of 50 mines. Not very much.
Offsetting this weakness is the special rule about remote mining for
AR planets: unlike any planet occupied by normal races, an AR planet may
always be remote mined.
** Infinite mining: Unlike the normal races, when an AR remote mines a
homeworld that it owns (meaning, has colonized), the homeworld floor
of 30 concentration applies to *all* of the AR's remote mining fleets
at that planet. This means that an AR can mine an almost unlimited
amount per turn, each turn, needing only the remote miners to do so.
(Remote mining for all players is subject to a limit of 4000
mine-equivalents per fleet; thus, ARs are limited in remote mining by
the 512 fleet limit.)
Thus, if the AR makes it to the late game, where tech is maxxed and
minerals are tight, he is a great position. Other races will be
spending most of their resources doing highly inefficient alchemy.
ARs will be spending all of their resources building, assuming they
set up their mineral distribution network properly. This is
potentially a game breaker.
** Resource Formula: the formula for AR resources is:
resources-from-planet = hab * sqrt(pop * energy / pop-coefficient)
hab = the planetary habitat
sqrt = square root
pop = the pop at that planet
energy = the AR's energy tech
pop-coefficient = the value from the race wizard
There are effects to all of these, so I will discuss each in turn.
hab: unlike normal races, the planetary habitat directly affects the
production of an AR. This means that, all other things equal, an AR
will do better with fewer, higher hab planets than with more low hab
ones. The value for "hab" is never lower than 0.25; if the planet is
lower value than that (or red), then 0.25 is used instead. This,
combined with the pop limits based on the starbase, make ARs good at
working up reds.
sqrt: the effect of this is huge. It means that all the factors
inside it -- pop, energy, and pop-coefficient -- are "squelched" in
effect. The larger they get, the less they matter. You will see the
"square root effect" mentioned several more times in this guide...
pop: with the sqrt, this factor means that an AR gets fewer and fewer
resources as a planet's pop increases. Normal races have a tough
problem with their planets: do they want to use them to grow pop on,
or to run factories at? If they decide to grow pop, they have to hold
the planet between 1/4 and 1/2 full; obviously that cuts the possible
production by the same amount. ARs grow using the same formula, but
the effect on them is much less: if the AR leaves the planet at 1/4
pop, he loses only half the resources (sqrt(0.25) = 0.5). If he
leaves it at 1/3 maxpop, which is the level yielding the largest
pop/turn, he loses only 42% of the resources.
This effect, combined with the raised planetary maxpop obtained from
starbase living, means that ARs are considerably less dependent on a
high growth rate (%grow) than normal races. A typical (OBRM) normal
race has a planetary max pop that tops out at 1100000. (JOATs get 20%
more.) In order to grow on average at a competitive rate, say, 10% or
so over the first 50 years, a normal race needs to have a much higher
growth rate -- 17-19% is typical. ARs can grow their pop much more
easily, especially after they get the larger stations.
Another very important aspect of the sqrt(pop) effect is its effect on
the maximum rate of economic growth possible for ARs. If pop is
growing exponentially at rate R, a normal race can increase its
economy at rate R. (Usually factories will lag pop, so the effect is
somewhat delayed in the early game, but over time this is the case.)
What holds back a normal race is crowding and low planet values. An
AR, though, growing at the same rate R, gains econ at only rate (R/2)!
Crowding holds an AR back somewhat less, low planet values the same.
But in general, this fact means it is much harder to grow the AR
economy than the normal race economy.
One final aspect of the sqrt(pop) factor is spreading. A normal race
gets no immediate benefit for spreading its pop out, as long as all
planets are below maxpop. (Spreading can increase the rate of growth,
though, for planets above 1/4 maxpop. Thus, it is certainly a good
idea, but not imperative.) For ARs, though, because of the sqrt(pop)
factory, spreading immediately increases the economy, as well as
potentially increasing the growth rate. For example, assume an AR has
two 100% planet available. If he puts 1M pop on one, and zero on the
other, he gets sqrt(1M*energy/eff), or 1000sqrt(energy/eff). If he
puts 500K on each planet, he gets 2*sqrt(500K*energy/eff), or
1414sqrt(energy/eff). 41% more, just for rearranging where the pop is!
Note, though, that the amount an AR gets from spreading drops off,
again as a result of the square root. Spreading his pop from 1 planet
to 4, an AR can double his econ. But to quadruple it, he needs 16
planets. And to octuple it, he needs 64. Obviously, this process is
only good for a relatively small amount of growth; getting 16 planets
is possible in most typical games. Getting 64 is unusual. Getting
256 is very unlikely -- if you are playing in a galaxy that large, you
are an idiot.
(In theory, a 6% AR could spread his initial 55000 pop out into a
large packed (910 planets), and get a 30x boost of his economy. Of
course, this would be less than 100 pop per planet. With some early
growth, though, there would be enough pop for 100/planet; with energy
10, say, this would have an economy of around 7900 resources! Growing
at 3%/year, and assuming energy 26, this would get to 55000 resources
by year 50.)
energy: obviously, this one means that taking energy cheap or normal
will be a good idea. Which is generally true; note, however, that the
sqrt involved means that the AR gets diminishing returns the higher
his energy goes. Going from energy 1 to 2 means a dramatic 41%
increase in resources (and the cost is very low). Going from 10 to 11
means a modest 4.9% increase (and the cost is also higher). Since the
cost increases and the return decreases the higher you go, cheap
energy is not as important as it would initially seem. Note, though,
that the cost of energy research is a fixed amount per level, whereas
the benefit applies empire wide. So, if your total economy is 1000
resources, getting energy 11 probably does not make sense; you are
paying over 1000 resources for a gain of 49/turn. If your economy is
up to 10000, though, you pay 1000 for a gain of 490/turn. That's a
very good deal.
pop-coefficient: you drop this from 1/10 to 1/25, you get 600 points.
That's a lot. But you lose 37% (sqrt((1/25)/(1/10)) = 0.63) of your
econ... that is also a lot.
** Movement losses: 2% of the AR pop on a freighter dies when it moves.
This is annoying, but a typical AR has so much pop that it is hardly
noticed. It can be bad for low growth ARs, though. In this case,
there is an important feature (or defect, perhaps) to be aware of: the
2% is rounded off. Thus, if you have 2200 or less pop in a fleet, you
lose zero. Each 3300 (or fraction thereof) added to that, you lose
The grand strategy of all ARs is the same. You are strong in two
parts of the game: the very start (where you get big resource gains
from spreading and energy tech, and when you have resources to spend
and nobody else does), and the end (where you have minerals, but
nobody else does). Thus, the game that an AR hopes for is to use the
first period to get established on a good number of planets without
angering his neighbors. Then, he plays defensively, using diplomacy
to avoid conflict as much as possible, building up his economy and
tech, playing to survive until the end. Once minerals become scarce,
he can go forth and conquer.
Game Parameters Discussed
Before you begin to design a race, or to adapt a design you already
have, you should sit down and think about the game you are going to
enter. Naturally, the game parameters and special rules can (and
should) influence your design. Probably the most basic decision is:
should one play an AR at all? If so, what sort of AR? Following is a
list of universe parameters and special rules, with discussion of how
they affect the AR.
** Universe Size and Crowding: ARs do best in uncrowded circumstances.
Of course, every race can do better with more planets to work with, by
scouting actively and "cherry picking" -- colonizing the best planets
first. But in addition to this effect, as previously mentioned ARs
increase their resource totals by simply spreading out. Finding four
100% planets does not immediately help a normal race; an AR can
benefit as soon as he can a colonizer there. A second aspect of
larger galaxies is that the more planets there are per player on
average, the more likely tech is to go to the maximum before serious
conflict starts. ARs benefit more from max tech than other races,
since it means they should have high energy for resources, and death
stars for growing pop.
The less crowded an AR is, the narrower he can make his hab. In the
extreme, an AR can be a one-immune with both other fields of minimum
width, for about 1/21 initial greens. Barry Kearn's "ARvids" is of
this ilk; it was the first public AR "monster" race. Such a race can
afford very high %grow, 1/10 pop efficiency, and good tech. In a very
uncrowded place (such as an unopposed small packed testbed), the race
monsters easily. However, in any reasonably constrained area, such as
a tiny normal, the ARvids flop. I call the artificial sense of
security people get from testbedding in absurdly large places with
narrow hab races "the ARvid effect".
One more point to add about choosing to play in uncrowded games:
although uncrowded places are good for AR and help them relative to
most other races, there is one PRT that benefits even more than ARs:
CAs, especially narrow-hab TT CAs. So, if CAs are banned in an
uncrowded game, that is the best possible situation for an AR.
** Game Definition: some of these would certainly affect my decision
to play an AR. Let's look at them.
Max Minerals: good for factory based races. Hurts ARs, though, since
their main ace in the hole -- the infinite minerals, eventually -- is
much less competitive the more "normal" minerals everyone else gets.
AccBBS: good for hypergrowth races. Hurts ARs, since with the square
root aspect of resource generation, starting with 25000 pop does not
hurt their production that greatly.
Slow Tech: puts a premium on resources, thus, hurts ARs. Depending on
the galaxy size, may make it completely impractical to play AR.
Galaxy Clumping: little effect.
No Random Events: helps ARs, slightly, since it means nobody will be
getting the Alien Miner or Genesis Device, and thereby partly or
completely nullifying your late-game mineral advantage. The existence
of other MT parts in the game is also probably bad for ARs, as many of
the parts tend to make BBs much better fighting ships, whereas AR tend
to have cheap con and therefore will often be the first to get
nubians. Also, ARs often have very few spare minerals until the early
BB era, later than other players, so will often miss the first few
Public Player Scores: generally, hurts ARs. People already know you
are weak, but because they cannot count your pop, they don't really
know how weak. Without knowing where your economy is, they cannot
know your tech. Thus, you have the diplomatic flexibility to lie a
little bit. Public player scores takes the guesswork out: your
neighbor will know exactly what your tech is, and what your econ is,
and how many ships you have.
** Special Game Rules:
Team games: ARs are nice to have in team games, since with teammates
you have built-in trustworthy trading partners; you offer minerals and
can get tech and protection.
Jump games: sometimes hosts do games in which there is an initial
"jump" of 500 to 1000 years where players can do tech but not
interact. You must examine these very carefully. If you can enter
one of these games and end up after the jump on equal footing, AR
would be a very strong race to play. Typically, the mineral shortage
won't happen for a while, but on the other hand the AR ability to grow
*fast* and cheap will put you in good stead. However, in my
experience most of these games are dreamed up without considering ARs,
and thus have no special rules for them. And given that ARs only
generate about one half the resources of a normal factory race,
playing an AR would be suicidal. So, be very careful about playing a
jump game with AR: ask yourself: if I were a IT, what could I do with
this setup? (The reason for IT, is that by starting with two planets
you can rather easily get twice the resources of any non-IT or PP.)
You should also consider what a narrow-hab TT CA might do in the
*** ISB: Almost mandatory. Very low %grow ARs may avoid it.
You get two things from ISB, both handy. First, the space dock.
These allow you a very cheap way to have up to 125000 pop on a planet
with full growth. They also give fuel, can build ships, etc., as they
do for normal races.
The main reason for taking ISB is ultrastations. Con 12 costs
around 13000 resources with cheap con; thus it can be obtained fairly
early by almost any AR. Con 17 costs around 70000 resources (again
with cheap con); this amount is fairly hard to obtain by most ARs
before severe crowding sets in.
*** IFE: Recommended. Very wide hab ARs may be able to get away
Generally, ARs will want IFE more than normal races. Unlike a normal
race, ARs need to be moving as soon as possible. It is true that ARs
have resources to spend, but they need every iota invested into
growth: energy, con, and terraforming. You need at *least* prop
5 to move far without IFE, and even that is pretty slow.
On the other hand, in denser universes with ARs that have very wide
hab and low growth, there should be enough planets very close by so
that the early engines are acceptable for the initial colonization.
If you do not take IFE, then taking prop cheap or at least normal is a
*** CE: sometimes. Yucky for any race.
CE sucks at all times, but of all the races to take it with, AR would
have to be among the most likely, second after IT. Several reasons.
First, taking CE means you can start at prop 2 for mizers. For other
races, not a big deal, but AR want to be moving immediately, not even
spending a small amount on prop. Second, early on with AR, you are
on the defensive. Building gateable horde style ships as specific
countermeasures to enemy designs can be quite useful. CE is never as
bad on defense as on offense.
CE is bad once you get later in the game, though, so avoid it in
larger places, team games, or other places where you have good reason
to think you will survive later.
And of course, if you are like me you would rather lose than play the
game with the micromanagement induced by CE, and never ever take it.
:) But this is not how some people feel. The points are pretty good.
*** NRSE: rarely. Better in larger places.
The downside of NRSE is, obviously, losing the ram engines other than
the fuel mizer. Generally, rams are cheaper than normal engines in
resources, which makes ARs like them more than others. Also, rams
cost more G than other engines, meaning that ARs, needing no G for
factories, can afford them better than most races.
The upside of NRSE is mainly the points. ARs don't have that many
places to scrape up advantage points.
Secondarily, NRSE provides the interspace-10 (the earliest warp 10
engine). However, it is very expensive, and you won't have the
resources or the minerals to really exploit it. Furthermore, as an AR
you don't plan to be on the attack in the midgame, and warp 10 is much
less useful for defense than attack. If I took CE, I would feel a lot
better about NRSE. And of course, I would always want IFE for the
mizer, but it is practically mandatory with NRSE.
Thus, I would recommend either IFE/CE/NRSE, or just IFE.
*** TT: sometimes. Recommended for 1/25 ARs.
TT is a very nice thing for an AR to have, because of the way
terraforming works in the resources equation. That is, that the value
of a planet directly produces resources, unlike normal races. Thus,
terraforming is a straight investment for ARs, in addition to a means
of increasing the rate of growth. As with any investment, making it
cheaper is good. Consider an average green for a one-immune: it might
start at 50% hab with each point of terraforming increasing the value
by 3%, say. Let's say there is enough pop there to produce 100
resources/turn. Spending that 100, you could increase the planet to
53% and thus the resources to 106. Without TT, the rate of return
from the terraforming is 6%: not great. With TT, the rate is better:
8.6%. By comparison, normal races invest in factories. A typical
12/9/x race gets 13.3%, given G.
TT also helps the AR work up yellows. Yellow colonization is
typically much more important for ARs than other races, since they are
so desperate for resources.
With all that good stuff to say about TT, why only "sometimes" take
it? Because it is very expensive. I recommend TT more readily to
1/25 ARs in part because they have fewer resources from pop, but also
because they have the extra points to invest.
Also, unlike normal races ARs have a hard time taking cheap bio,
because they need cheap energy and con (everyone needs cheap weapons).
Thus, the higher levels of TT will be out of reach of the AR until the
very late game.
*** LSP: OK for high growth ARs, though they should consider dropping
%grow instead. Not good for low growth ARs.
Some people swear by LSP for ARs, because the square root effect: you
lose 30% of the pop, but it is only 17% of the resources. But the
fact remains that you are two years back of where you would otherwise
be, or three for a midgrowth (13%) AR. This means there are planets
that you might have gotten, but will not, because you will be too
late. Is it worth it? As always, maybe. In a less crowded galaxy,
LSP (and high growth) seems like the right way to go. If you lose one
planet out of 50, it only reduces your econ by 2%. You may well be
able to buy 2% more econ with the points, perhaps with a wider hab.
On the other hand, if you are only getting 10 planets, then losing a
planet is 10% of your econ, and you will probably want to think twice
about LSP. Remember your grand strategy: get out of the gate quickly,
grab space and hold it.
*** OBRM: never.
The one mining module you get with OBRM is initially the equivalent of
about "mines cost 40", if that were possible. With full
miniaturization, at con 21/elec 20, the OBRM miner is about like
"mines cost 10". At the midlevels where you have to be starting to
buy miners, it is about mines cost 20. All of those are way, way too
*** ARM: Often. Good for any AR, but not necessary.
ARM provides several things beyond what you get with "normal" mining
(neither ARM nor OBRM). First, you get the two potato bugs to start
with. These are nice, but not necessary except perhaps for very low
growth ARs. You also get the ultraminer hull, which is the cheapest
way to buy mines, but not gateable. And there is the miner hull. Not
The main thing you get with ARM is superbugs: the midget miner hull
and the ultra miners. Superbugs are gateable, and very cheap.
Having miners be gateable has three benefits. First, you get the
minerals in places other than the homeworld. The minerals at home are
cheap, but the planet will quickly drop to its 30 min con. And so at
many places the minerals will be even cheaper. It also costs to
distribute the minerals out from the homeworld; you must buy
freighters or packets.
Second, gateable miners allow you build them anywhere, then gate them
home to mine. This means you can increase your mining very quickly,
if need be, by having all planets build miners.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that *other*
players can use the minerals in your planets quite nicely. They just
have to kick you off of the planets. Thus, one aspect of the gateable
superbugs is defensive: to quickly drain out any new planet, so as to
deny the minerals to enemies or would-be enemies. I would advocate
leaving a fleet or two of superbugs on every planet until it is
considerably below 30 con, for this reason.
*** NAS: often.
NAS is a good point mine. Not having penscans is not as great a
problem on defense, and the doubled range can be helpful. That said,
penscans are a great benefit to any race, and you should always think
twice before giving them up. For ARs the choice is perhaps a little
harder than most, since they need allies and friends in the midgame,
and trading penscans is one very helpful way to keep friends friendly.
*** RS: sometimes.
This LRT is nice to have in the very early game, and in the nubian
era, but weak in between. This is about the same zone as where ARs
are weak, so they should avoid RS if the midgame is likely to be long.
But, if the midgame is likely to be long, ARs should probably avoid
the entire game. That is, if you are considering AR at all, this may
be a good LRT.
RS will mean you cannot effectively armor your stations, so if you
like huge deathstars it may not be for you. It works well, though,
with the late game Mao-style war that ARs excel at.
RS also makes it a bad idea to armor your ships. This is not
necessarily a bad thing, just different; it means you will be building
twice as many BBs to get the same armor. On the plus side, you get
twice as many shields and they are up 40%, so your shield/armor
balance will be great. (Normal BBs tend to have much less shielding
than armor, making them fairly good targets for capital ship
missiles.) On the minus side, you effectively pay twice as much for
for the engines and electronics on the BB; thus, if you are thinking
about NRSE you should probably avoid RS.
*** GR: never. You need energy and con fast, not the others. Going
at 65% speed is going to hurt ARs more than any other race.
*** BET: never. You have cheap con. Don't waste the opportunity to
be the first to nubians by making them double price forever.
*** MA: never never never. Obviously, just build more remote miners.
*** UR: rarely. The main problem with Ultimate Recycling is that it is
quite costly, and ARs tend not to have points to spend. Also, the big
advantage to UR happens when you get to nubians, since it allows a
race to win the counterdesign wars. But if AR can make it to nubians,
he is already is a very good position. Getting there is the problem,
not winning once there. Finally, using UR can be fussy at best, and
it is usually possible to avoid building designs that won't last.
** Hab and Growth
There are two conflicting imperatives to keep in mind for AR habitat.
On the one hand, because of spreading and in general the low resources
an AR gets per planet, he wants all the planets he can get. This
argues for wide hab variables, which means centered habs or
immunities. On the other hand, ARs want the diplomatic advantages of
intersettlement, an argument against centered habs. This is one
reason immunities work well for ARs: they are wide without being
The following sections discuss various AR hab/growth strategies. They
are discussed in order of how strong they are, IMO, with the stronger
hab schemes coming first.
*** Single Immune ARs
Arguably the best AR hab, for general use, is one immunity, one
relatively wide variable, and one narrow and offset. %Grow from 13%
up to 17% or so; the higher values will require narrow habs.
Typically, it is done as immune grav, wide rad, and narrow offset
energy. This works with other standard AR choices. Immune grav means
prop research for terraforming is not needed; IFE, expensive prop, and
sometimes NRSE/CE build on this. ARs, like anyone else, need weapons,
so you are going to get the rad terraforming in any case. And ARs
tend to go high into energy fast; it is not uncommon to get energy 10
by 2415. A slight variant of this scheme uses immune grav, wide
centered temp, and narrow offset rad.
A second one-immune scheme is wide grav, rad immune, and narrow offset
temp. This has one disadvantage over the previous scheme: it requires
at least some prop research, and it "wastes" weapons research. But
the problem is less important than it seems: because the temp is much
narrower than grav, it is going to be the preferred field for
terraforming anyway. Offsetting this disadvantage is the advantage
gained from rad immunity: it raises your overall universal hab
slightly more than either of the other two immunities would, because
the distribution of rad is less centered than grav/temp.
1/25 pop efficiency can work well with one-immunes. In this case, I
would recommend spending the points on hab and TT. The reason for hab
is obvious: you are giving up 36% of your economy; the only way to get
it back is to get more planets and/or better planets. So, widen the
hab to get more. The reason for TT is less obvious: in shrinking each
planet but taking more of them, you have increased the amount of the
economy that will be spend on terraforming. This slows the race down,
so that even if you widened the hab enough to get 36% more planets,
you are still much slower. Thus, it is still a reasonable idea to
take expensive bio and TT with such a race.
*** Non immune ARs
Generally, the non immune AR is a less aggressive, more HPish style of
play than the one-immune. By not spending on the immunity, you are
getting points to put into two wide hab variables and one mid-width
one. Thus you will end up, in the long run, with more planets. The
downside is that in the early going, you have more low-value greens,
yellows and near reds which are not producing much.
Non immune ARs should consider TT for the higher terraforming levels,
not just the cheap terraforming. If they do take TT, they should
consider cheap or normal bio.
Given that weapons and energy are the two most important fields for
any AR, a non immune AR will want to have either temp or rad be the
narrowest hab variable, or both equally wide. Grav, therefore, should
be wide, no narrower than 15 clicks in from the edge. Wider is OK;
this increases hab values; IMO even full width is OK. Generally, I
like to take rad as the narrowest field, because it can be most
I do not recommend 1/25 efficiency for non-immune ARs. Generally,
they should find it hard to widen their hab by 36% without taking an
TT is recommended for non-immune ARs. Compared to a one-immune, they
are going to have 50% more terraforming expense (three fields to work
on instead of two), and they will have to get it somehow using all
those small planets.
*** Bi-immune ARs
Bi-immune ARs are, IMO, borderline playable. Some of them can reach
almost the resources totals of one-immunes. The typical bi-immune AR
has growth 13%, 1/25 pop efficiency, and immune in grav and rad,
with temp the narrowest possible and offset only somewhat. This gives
23% green initially; with 15 points of terraforming, 56% of planets
are green and all of them will be at least 41%. A second hab scheme
is to take grav and temp immune, rad narrow and offset, typically 12
points in from one edge or the other. This gives slightly fewer
greens, but by being more strongly offset it has a better chance of
successful intersettlement and noncompetition with monsters.
The HP version of bi-immunes is to take 9% growth with 1/10
efficiency. This race has better long term production, but it ramps
up quite slowly.
TT is optional for any biimmune. With two immunities, the amount of
terraforming you need to do is quite reduced.
*** The AR triimmune
The triimmune AR is not really viable for high level play. However,
it is certainly an idea to keep in mind for team games, or other games
with special rules. Generally, the triimmune is 6%, 1/8 pop
efficiency. Variants are possible, of course. 7% is possible, for
instance, though the points required are considerable, resulting in a
race with weak LRTs.
No triimmune should ever have worse pop efficiency than 1/10.
As with normal races, it is typical to only consider 1/10 or 1/25 for
an AR. The reason is similar: consider the drop from 1/10 to 1/11.
Here, you are sacrificing roughly 5% of your economy for 50 points.
Now consider the drop from 1/24 to 1/25. Here, the same 50 points
means losing only about 2% of your economy. 1/9 gains you 5%, but for
*200* points. ARs are desperate for resources, but usually not *that*
For most players, and certainly beginners, I would recommend the 1/10
AR. Compared to the 1/25 AR, it has fewer, better planets. That's
generally easier to run in MM terms. It is also easier to take a more
offset hab, when needing fewer planets. A typical 1/10 AR will use
perhaps 60% of planets with full terraforming. This gives diplomatic
advantages, which any AR needs.
1/25 ARs are viable, though. They tend to need better play, though,
because of their need for many more planets: with full terraforming, a
1/25 AR will use essentially all planets.
Tech is more important for ARs than ordinary races, since they need at
least some energy to get resources, and con to get the advanced space
stations. Like other races, they need weapons for defense.
Therefore, the traditional AR takes good tech -- cheap energy,
weapons, and con. Two or three of the others expensive; sometimes
normal prop or elect.
That said, ARs are also fairly desperate for advantage points from any
source, in order to get the growth, hab, LRTs, etc. that they will
need to survive. Thus, sometimes players want to mine the tech for
For the AR, the game may be broadly broken down into three main
sections: the early, mid, and late games. These correspond to the
AR's situation vis-a-vis other players. In the early game, the AR is
expanding outward into unoccupied space. In the midgame, the AR tries
to build upward, getting energy tech and con to increase his planet's
sizes. Finally, in the late game the AR goes on the offense, using
his mineral advantage achieve victory.
** Early game: Tech Strategy
This is a sketch of how I play ARs. First, a general idea of what you
should be doing in terms of tech. Here is the basic sequence of what
techs you want to get, in what order.
energy to 4+, higher is better...
[homeworld getting close to 250K]
con to 3, prop to 2 (if IFE), else 5 (if not IFE).
[medium freighter pop mover now possible]
[first colony getting near to 62500 colonists]
con to 4, for dock
energy to 10
cheap terraforming tech (weaps/prop 5 if you aren't immune in
con to 12, for ultrastations
bio 4 (for minelayers)
energy to 11-14
con to 17, for deathstars
elect to 8 for ultraminer
energy to 16
That's the basics. Of course you need to get low bio levels in
there (for terraform techs), but don't do them until you have at least
one colony that will actually use the tech. Another thing to keep in
mind is the sequence above is only the *economic* part of your tech
game. You may well be doing other tech within that sequence for
reasons of defense, mainly weapons but also electronics and even prop.
For instance, depending on the pressure from other races you may want
to get weapons 16 before death stars.
Regarding the very early production, generally you will do fine
building only scouts and colony ships before you get con 3. The
scouts are there to find good planets, the colony ships to get a
toehold. Many AR players don't start colonizing until they get their
home planet to 250000, but that is a mistake. You should colonize any
green, and even some yellows, well before then. Remember the square
root effect: your most efficient colonists are the first few.
However, don't send more pop (just the 2200 in a colony ship), until
the home planet is nearing 250000, unless the planet is in the high
With a very low growth race (9% or less), I sometimes build one or two
"minitrucks" -- small freighters with FM and fuel pod; they only move
7000 pop, but that is enough to double the production of a colony with
2200 pop... minitrucks are typically not needed with high growth rate
races, though, since they will get to 250K fast enough. For a
triimmune AR, you never want to move more than 2200 pop per fleet
until the midgame, and so you can make a slightly better minitruck by
using the colony ship hull.
Once you get near 250000 pop at the HW, get con 3. Then you can start
building 2 or 3 medium-freighter "trucks" each turn, until you have
enough out to continually carry off all pop above 250000 on the HW.
The "standard" medium truck is a medium freighter hull, a mizer, and a
fuel pod. It can just get 162 ly at warp 9 and return empty, or 192
ly at warp 8; beyond 192 ly you need to add fuel somehow. Building
docks in strategic places can be very useful in this regard, since
they provide gas. For more distant planets, you will have to augment
trucks with fuel-pod scouts, that is, a scout with just FM and a fuel
pod. These are quite cheap, and will allow you to do warp-8 or 9 runs
to any distance and back, if you add enough. Some players use fuel
DDs instead of scouts; they are a bit more expensive but can be armed,
which may be very helpful.
Unlike normal races, you should spread your pop exports. Generally, I
try to use them to keep all planets at the same pop level, excepting
an extra load or two early to high value planets.
* Mid game and later game considerations
After the early game, there is no cookie-cutter prescription for what
to do as AR. The situations will vary far too much for that.
Probably the best situation for you (that is likely, anyway) would be
to be part of an alliance against a distant leader, one of a group of
more or less peers. Your allies need you too much for them to turn on
you or let you be killed, allowing you to get through to the late game
where your minerals will dominate. In this case, you need to play a
very machiavellian game. Let the enemy pound your allies if they are
starting to become dominant; keep the balance of power stable. If the
situation becomes unstable (i.e. your alliance beats the enemy and
takes their space), then your alliance will fracture, and you don't
want that to happen until you are ready.
A more likely scenario would be that you are on the front line versus
the enemy. Your allies do want you alive, just small enough that
their resources are the ones that turn your minerals into a win -- for
them. This situation must be played very carefully, giving your
allies minerals but driving a hard bargain in terms of getting tech
and planets from them. Generally it will be easier to get tech,
especially the less useful techs (prop and elect), so concentrate on
that. Remember that to you, resources are precious, much more than to
The midgame is the most dangerous era for an AR. This is the period
others have many more resources than you, and have caught up with your
earlier tech lead (at least in weapons, and maybe other fields). They
can therefore field more ships than you can.
Packing planets -- similar to the case of normal races, ARs should
first pack out very low value greens. However, it is for different
reasons; normal races should always pack their high value planets last
because of their pop growth rule. ARs pack out <25% greens because of
the minimum value on hab for the purposes of resource generation.
Unlike a normal race, it does not matter how you pack higher value
planets (>=25% greens, that is) with an AR; from low to high value
planets or from high to low. Just do what is convenient in terms of
where the planets and minerals are.
Reds -- ARs use reds better than most other races, so grab any free
planet you can get. Bring four large freighters of pop, if possible,
and build a dock in the first turn. Then queue a death star with a
300/500 gate (use a dock if you don't expect to keep the planet long),
and forget about the planet for a while. When the base completes,
find a free fleet of superbugs and gate it over to mine the planet out
as fast as possible.
Tech Trading -- You should always trade tech if you can, be you AR or
not. Most non-AR races will take cheap weapons and other tech
expensive, so you can very frequently trade energy and/or con for
weapons. Even races with good tech will rarely have superior energy
to yours, so you can almost always trade energy for something.
Late in the game, with an AR, you can expect a time to come when you
can outproduce the rest of the galaxy combined, since they have no
minerals left and you do. Even once this happens, you still may be in
danger -- they have their fleets in being, and may be able to stomp
you before you can build up enough to match theirs. But beyond point,
the game will be more or less won. You just need to mop up.
I am not discussing this part of the game much, because the warfare is
much like the standard Stars war. "Mahan" style, you take your
massive fleet and go to the enemy, destroying his planets until he is
desperate enough to commit his fleet, or until you have so much force
that you can beat his fleet even spread out.
What I am more interested in, is the style of warfare before this
point in the game is reached. That is, for an AR that has made it
into the midgame. Your tech might be 18/20/12/17/12/9 or so. You
have starting making superbugs in many places and have minerals to
spend, but so do your enemies. People are starting to make noise with
ARs are, by their nature, factoryless. They grow pop better than any
other PRT. They use reds well, and should typically be designed so
that with high terraforming tech, between 50% and 100% of planets will
be yellow or green. Furthermore, until the very late game when their
mineral edge finally becomes dominant, they will always have fewer
resources/lower tech/fewer ships than normal races. This means they
fight at a disadvantage, typically, in terms of fleet size, though
they can hope to be part of an alliance so that combined fleets are
more or less balanced. But that does not always happen.
All of these things point at one style of operational warfare for the
AR: a spread out war on the map, denying the decisive battle to the
enemy while fighting him in a population/resource war. This strategy
of warfare has been dubbed the "Mao" strategy by Jason Cawley, in a
excellent article on it that can be found on the net (search google
for "Epworthian"), and in a modified form in the official strategy
(The funny thing about this article, is that it is really fairly
useless for most races in planning strategy. Most races rely on
factories for the majority or vast majority of their resource
production; for these races, factory sites need to be defended.
Cawley's race in the article in question happened to be perfect for a
Mao strategy, which is why he did it. But it is not something you
will get to do every day in stars, unless you play factoryless races
Rather than repeat everything that Cawley says in his article, I
suggest that you find it and read it now. Go on. And now, I will
merely comment on some differences between how the AR fights a Mao
style war, and what Cawley did with the Saxons.
First, the Saxons had a big advantage that ARs don't have: they did
not die with their battlestation. So, the Epworthians had to bring
lots of bombers, and even then had to spend a lot of time bombing.
This slowed their attack. And it allowed bomber-killing kamikazi
actions against the bombers, by the Saxons and his ally.
As an AR, you should expect to lose planets to a superior enemy very
quickly. The enemy should be able to kill at least one planet per
turn, and probably more if he guesses well, sweeps aggressively, and
is willing to take losses. Therefore, you need to be able to colonize
at least two planets a turn, to make up for your losses. However, you
can do that. Keep a reserve of one or two colony ships at each
planet. And keep a few large freighters at each planet near the
Whenever the enemy looks like he might destroy one of your starbases,
take inventory of the local situation. First, determine if you are
likely to win the battle. If not, the freighters should be used to
remove any minerals, especially germanium, from the planet, and
population after that. Deny germ to the enemy especially, and he will
have a hard time consolidating his advances.
If you are going to win a battle, but lose the starbase (i.e. the
enemy is sending in kamikazis to kill bases), then you should gather
all the pop possible into the local freighters but don't move them.
Order a colony ship to the planet from a nearby planet (so that you
get waypoint 1 colonization). If the enemy does not attack, you lose
little, just that turn's resources from the pop you lifted. If he
does attack and kills the starbase, then *after* combat, the colonizer
coming in will put up a new orbital fort. You can then load up to
500000 pop on it, and queue for the first build a space dock. The
next turn, you can put on whatever more pop you can arrange to have
there, up to 3M, and queue a death star.
Don't be too concerned with losing population, with most ARs (low
growth ARs, though, should give more thought to saving pop). Because
of the square root effect, and AR can afford to strip off half the pop
from all of his planets if he needs it for recolonization.
One point to note about Mao-style wars with AR: unlike the Saxons, who
were truly decentralized, an AR *does* have a central point that is
vulnerable: his home planet. And the mining fleets themselves may be
vulnerable, especially for a non-ARM AR. (This is yet another reason
that superbugs are great.) So it is generally a good idea to play in
places large enough that homeworlds are not packed together. But note
that until the very late game, you don't have to hold your homeworld;
it is nice but not necessary, because there should still be plenty of
minerals in remote places.
There is an upside to the "mine vulnerability" gap, though. And that
is that a race like the Saxons *does* have the problem of
reestablishing mines on planets that get bombed out, when it retakes
them. Losing 1000 mines costs 3000 resources. In this sense, an AR
(especially with ARM) is again a sort of super factoryless Maoist:
more vulnerable, but also faster to recover.
On the other side of the coin, your offensive operations. Your goal
here is threefold: to pull the enemy fleet away from killing your
planets; to destroy factories; and to gain space for yourself. All of
these will be accomplished in the normal mode of attacking. Let's
look at that.
First off, to attack you need at least a bit of battle strength. But
it does not really take that much. A bunch of light and cheap mine
sweeper DDs. Just enough of a warfleet to take an orbit, and enough
bombs to kill a planet in a turn or three. As is always the case in
these things, the exterior circumstances matter a lot. Does he have
penscans? If not, things are easier for you. Does he have light
forces present? Mines? Etc.
Your general idea, on the attack, will be to take risks with small
forces to try to knock down bases so you can bomb. Your bombs, even
against good defenses, cost him serious resources, and germanium.
Once you get the defenses lowered, you get to add population to the
list of things endangered.
For instance, consider a light force with enough cherry bombs to
destroy an undefended planet in a turn: that would be 40 cherries.
That would also destroy 400 installations on an undefended planet.
Against maximum planetary shield defenses, it destroys 210
installations. For an average sort of planet, with maybe 500000 pop
and 12/9/16(checked) factories and 10/3/16 mines, that would be on the
order of 90 factories and mines, and 11 defenses destroyed. The total
cost to the enemy: whatever the starbase cost, plus 1245 resources,
plus 55/55/325 iron/boron/germ. So you see, if you capture orbits,
you *can* hurt the enemy quite a bit, without needing to take the
planet or even be in orbit for more than a turn. However, to win you
have to be hurting the enemy faster and more than he hurts you.
It is much better for you, if you can arrange things to keep orbits
captured for long enough to bomb out the enemy. (Of course that is
not always possible.) Unlike other races, you have no interest at all
in leaving any installations standing on the planet; they can only
help the enemy. So, if you decide to go with B-52 bombers, or two
designs, then going with LBUs as your main skirmishing bomber is a
In a larger galaxy, I would recommend using minibombers with LBU-45s
as your main bomber, supported by B-52s with cherries to finish off
planets with your main fleet, when it attacks. The LBUs can skirmish
nicely; they are cheap, they kill lots of installations, and they can
be gated about quickly. Spread them out into enemy space with light
forces, and force the enemy to concentrate there. If he is putting
forces there, they are not in your space killing your planets.
In smaller places, just use a B-52 design with mostly LBUs and one
slot of cherries. 7 of them together is sufficient to kill an
undefended planet, but should inflict serious economic hurt on the
enemy even against full defenses.
One final difference between an AR and other races, even factoryless
normal races, on the attack. An AR can very sensibly bring population
with him on the attack, and gain ground there. Normal races have to
bring a substantial amount of population to a planet to have much
effect; i.e. assume you drop 55000 Saxons on a planet in enemy space.
Well, they can put up a dock, perhaps, and turn whatever enemy
minerals are left (probably little G to use) to make light ships. But
they only have 55 resources per turn, initially, to do it with.
Contrast that with bringing 55000 AR civvies to the same planet. With
energy 18, they would get 314 resources if the planet was 100%, or as
little as 78 if the planet is red or low value green. With even fewer
civvies at risk, the AR has an even greater advantage (i.e., with
10000 pop the Saxons get 10 resources; an AR gets 33-134).
Only if the enemy has no bombers or packet launchers around, should a
normal race put hundreds of thousands of pop at risk in enemy space.
AR can, and should, make much better use of this potential. Every
planet withing 81 ly of one of yours that is empty, you should have
your eye on to colonize. Send over a colony ship, and a large
freighter with 100000 pop and some minerals. (If the enemy has no
range-3 beamers with battle speed 2.25+, you can use galleons with
overthrusters.) If you get the colony there, great, build a dock
(they are very, very cheap), and build light ships until threatened
enough that you have to run away.
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