Stars!-R-Us Article

Advanced IT Design and Play, v2.0?
By Dieter Wallisch

Note: This is the latest version of my article, written end of february 1998. Ive made some significant changes in
race-design as well as some in gameplay, which I want to let you know. By the way, the testbed results changed,
hmmm, a little bit. Some passages in this document are completely new (I did them in italics), some have not
been changed, so please re-read carefully. Maybe, youll find something helpful.

Ive finally decided to give away my favourite IT race-design combined with a few tips playing it, as well as
some testbed results, because due to lack of time - Im not able to participate in multiplayer games as much as I
want to. Please excuse my poor English, but I didnt want to write this in German, in order to reach as many
Stars!-freaks as possible.

1)    Race name and leftover points

Of course, this race does have a unique name, but I wont reveal it, because Idont want other players in future
multiplayer games to know about my race data (so you see this REALLY is my favourite race design). Be
creative!
If I have leftover points I always go for surface minerals, because you simply cant have enough at the start. If
you have a better argument for another choice, please let me know.

2)    IT pros and cons

The ITs are a very strong (maybe the strongest one, playing in a large or better universe with normal or sparse
density) and versatile race, allowing a quick start (grabbing early territory over hundreds of ly) as well as strong
offensive and defensive play (including unique and interesting diplomatic abilities).

You start with two planets, five ships and tech 0-0-5-5-0-0 at least. You may build (cheaper) stargates with
unlimited capacities, which also act as longrange (LR) scanners. And most importantly you are the only race in
the game, able to gate minerals and colonists as well (exceeding the safety limits of stargates A LOT).

ITs have only one disadvantage, which is insignificant in my opinion: their reduced ability to fling mineral
packets. But those would only cost you lots of resources to produce and would never reach their destination in
one turn. There are disadvantages in flinging packets as well: used as scanners (by a PP) or as weapons, they cost
you lots of minerals and will reveal your homeworlds position to other players. Besides, they could be
intercepted by others (especially by a SS-race), even at highest speed, using an utility like e.g. the
Stars!calculator by Mathias Dellaert.
If there is any significant advantage in flinging packets, the IT certainly makes even, gating minerals (and
colonists!!) and using the 100/any stargate as the ultimate LR scanner.

Let me point out a very important exclusive component, that is often overlooked in discussions concerning the
IT: the anti-matter generator (200 mg fueltank + 50 mg xtra fuel/yr.; available at weapons tech 12 and bio tech
7). Of course, this item will cost you one electrical or general slot, but, in combination with being IT, it certainly
gives you the ability to renounce IFE and will speed up all your ship designs especially those with the great
interspace 10 engine, which you get at prop tech 11 (which I consider quite early in the game), if you choose
NRSE (just a shame you cant put this generator into an orbital fort would be a great cheap gas station).

3)    IT and LRTs

I wont discuss all the LRTs in detail, but I will tell you, which ones Ive chosen for my race and which ones
would make another great choice, if you prefer a different style of play. You will also find some gameplay tips in
this section.

IFE     Probably my hardest decision, not to take this one for my race. The fuel-mizer really is a great engine,
especially at warp 9. If  put on a frigate with 3 fuelpods only, all your ships in the fleet may travel at high
warpspeeds for quite a while; not to mention warp 4 for free. But beeing an IT, this as well as the other IFE-
advantages is less important: using your two starting planets and stargates, you may even spread into a larger
part of the universe, using a normal engine. Besides you wont have the fuel-mizer in your starting ships,
because as an IT with prop tech 5 you always get the daddy long legs 7. Considering the anti-matter generator,
the fuel reduction wont pay off as well. And as I always do choose NRSE, I would loose the scoop engines
anyway. So I decided to keep the points.

TT     Great, but costs a lot of points, which I cannot afford. Id rather go for a better HAB range to find more
suitable planets. Maybe you will be able to ally with a CA, giving him access to your stargate-network and/or
tech xfer and/or intersettling in return you could receive some orbital adjuster ships for cheaper terraforming.

(Note: Ive recently tested a variant of this race, including TT. But in order to get the points, you have to choose
a lower HAB-range, of course: lets say around 1 in 6, close to 1 in 7. And youll also have to sacrifice IS, what
will influence speed as well as defence. Making worse your economy, I dont consider beeing an option. I was
not impressed by the results: besides making terraforming cheaper, the real advantage (terraforming up to 30%)
occurs to late in the game. I could neither see my number of inhabitable planets increase, nor did I have more
production centers. Choosing bio tech normal or 50% cheaper may change the result, but where should I get the
points from?).

ARM     Never, as I need OBRM to get the important xtra 10% of  population, in order to compete with JOAT
and CA races in possible maximum planetary output as well as with HEs concerning fast growth.

IS    A good choice, as I will build many orbital forts and space docks with stargates, which will now cost
less resources. Cloaking is always fine and an ultra station may give an xtra round needed to gate in my
defensive units, if attacked. Besides, as an IT Ill be able to build those space docks (with only a stargate) right
from the start of the game, giving me the ability to build and send out ships from my second planet as soon as
possible. As I can also refuel there, this is another reason why I dont have to choose IFE.

GR     Never, disadvantages are to hard; maybe good for an SS race, if you try to hide and win without
diplomacy and tech xfer (I dont think thats possible) because of the xtra free research points. But I dont want
to spend points on all techs all the time (think of bio tech later in the game or of specializing in two areas for tech
xfer); I also prefer to gain a level faster, if I desperatly need to.

UR     No, Id rather carefully choose the point, when to design a new vessel. Also, I like the idea of confusing
other players, by showing them (only) my obsolete ship designs, not revealing my true strength. Old ships may
also be useful in diplomatic terms (transfer fleet) or as defense units in less important zones; maybe even for a
diversion attack, in order to decoy the defensive units from the real target. If nothing else, use them as a freighter
escort (this sort of protection is often overlooked anyway just think of the cloaking abilities  of SS races!) or
sacrifice them in order to learn about the ship designs of your enemies.

MA     Waste of points as my race builds cheap mines and gates minerals. Even with MA, transferring
resources is too expensive.

NRSE     As Im a fan of the interspace 10 engine (available rather early in the game, see above) and dont like
the ramscoops anyway (less movement in battle, weaker in minefields) I took this LRT. OK, some scoops are
fine, but they arrive too late in the game and as an IT I have the anti-matter generator anyway (besides using my
stargates!!). And I need the points.

CE     Is considered a reasonable choice especially for ITs by some authors, but I say: Never. No explosive
start possible, makes you slower throughout the whole game and an easy target even for players with lower prop
tech.

OBMR     If you can afford cheap mines, this is a good choice thinking of growth and max planet output (see
above under ARM). Considering the points, I took it.

NAS     A lot of points I went for, though I admit that advanced planetary scanners have both a fine defensive
and offensive potential. Try to get scouts with penetrating scanners from your allies (from a SS race?) or visit
mystery traders when you have the minerals in order to get the langston shell (megapoly shell or multi contained
munition have even better penetrating scanners,but may be available too late in the game because of tech
requirements). Pro: your scanners have double range! I like to use scouts with e.g. the dna (or possum) scanner
instead of building planetary ones: saves both germanium and resources and you see any (uncloaked) ship-
movements within 250-300 ly. If you take NAS, it wont be necessary to spend resources on elec-tech research,
so you can save resources for other tech research (remeber I said I dont like GR get the point?). On the other
hand later in the game you may need cloaking, jammers, advanced computers, but until then...

LSP     Never, because I want an explosive start (though I dont see this as a pure quickstart race it has high
if not hyperproduction qualities as well). Please consider that starting an IT is always slower, because the starting
population is divided for two planets and the second one may have a poor percentage so even with a high
growth rate the disadvantage is too big for the points.

BET     Rather not, because miniaturisation occurs too late and what is new tech good for, if you cant use it
because of its costs (Ive to admit, that Im not absolutely sure about this in terms of very long games. Maybe
worth a try, if you can afford to start slower).

RS     Would be fine if I could afford ener tech cheap, because my ships would be lighter (faster + range + less
fuel). But remember the anti-matter generator as well as our need to research const tech anyway for our special
unlimited stargates so we will have good armor (also very fine: organic armor at bio tech 7) and enough fuel
for warships with it.

4)     Growth rate and HAB range

As I told you, Im going for a good start and I want to gate as many colonists as possible to my new worlds. So
Im taking the highest GR I can afford also, to make that OBRM-choice worth while! Id love to take 20%, but
the last one costs xtra points, so I settle for 19%.

Though this race travels very fast, its not too good in scanning (NAS). So you cant afford to set your HAB
range too low. Another point is, that with an higher HAB range, your max planet output can be a bit lower while
giving you the same resources in the end (because of more possible production centers, wider use for
terraforming).

Lets take a look at the following (updated!) ranges:
 

Gravity:              0,58 to 5,12
Temperature:     -72 to 152
Radiation:            12 to 68
 

Yes, I changed those quite a bit. First, there is no reason to move a bar all the way to the edge (except for the
points, but this will cost you inhabitable planets), considering that you waste half of your terraforming abilities.
Second, those settings are still quite centered, allowing you to also inhibit worlds with either very high or very
low values, using your terraforming abilities. I hope you get the point.

 In some games, it seemed to me that there were rather more planets, having the gravity and temperature values
on opposit edges, than planets with those two on the same edge. Unfortunately, I dont have any statistics about
that and therefore I didnt change anything. If you do, please let me know!

Race wizard tells us, that the result is 1 in 4, but it is close to 1 in 5. Doesnt sound too good to you? Well, we
will have a testbed anyway, so lets wait and see.

Id like to say a bit about my choice in radiation: the Stars! user guide says, that the radiation value of a planet is
chosen completely at random, while the other two values tend to be more often around the center. So you may
choose a value thats near the edge, without having disadvantages (and get points).
Try to move the radiation-bar to the other edge of the scale! Now what, you will get more points if you choose a
higher radiation level?? Yes, thats right. And therefore I took the lower one. But stop it, are we wasting points
here??

Definitely not. More points for a higher level makes it more likely, that other players will choose so (especially if
they have to get points from a higher rad range and tend to transport colonists with the radiating ramscoop
engine). But as I dont want to fight for all of my planets later in the game, and as I took NRSE I will go for the
opposit choice. This may also give me a higher chance of a peace treaty, that rather includes an intersettling
program than fixed borders (I will be able to take all the low rad worlds, that the others dont want). With my
stargate technology, such a program could be the opportunity to go far beyond my neighbours borders.

5)     Economy

Im not absolutely sure about this in terms of hyperproduction, but I tend to leave the resources per colonists
(RPC) rate at 1000 (note: an older version of this race design had a RPC of 2300, allowing a max of 25 factories
and an efficency of 15 resources/factories. In combination with OBRM that resulted in a max planetary output of
4603 resources great. But there were cons: I had to go for a smaller HAB range, and the start was not as
explosive; besides it takes longer to establish new colonies, especially to build an orbital fort with a stargate, in
order to gate in colonists, minerals and ships. A year or two can be very important in an offensive conflict
situation will my other offensive units, which are gateable whatever their size is, arrive faster than his
defensive ones? Testbed results did the rest, so I changed the RPC to 1000! Take the old design as a variant, if
you want to but before playing it, compare both in a testbed).

My factories are now at 12_7_22 (produce_require_operateable), with OBRM resulting in a max planetary
output of 4004 resources/year, which is significantly better than the 3740 resources in the former version of this
document. Great, considering my HAB range is 1 in 4. I also reduced the costs of the factories, because I found
it quite difficult to get anywhere near to 25k in 2450 with the old settings (certainly, the ITs arent a race with
significant advantages in economy like HE, CA or JOAT please refer to other articles on that particular topic).

I always check costs less G! Costs cheap points if you think about it (maxed out 100% world would be 1100000
colonists = 2420 max factories = 7260 units G. Or would you rather spend 9680 units G? The difference is the
equivalent of 34 (!) planetary scanners. Look at my mine settings, consider  OBRM and think about it!).

Mines are now set to 10_3_11 (slightly cheaper and one more operateable); they have to be cheap in the early
game. You should not have problems with this settings in combination with OBRM, as minerals are gateable for
the IT (see testbed results). If you do (poor homeworld ? poor management ?) use diplomacy to get some
advanced miners from an ally (remember you can gate them in any size for yourself or for him) or pray for
the alien mining robot (very strong item!!) if you sacrifice your last 5000 kt of minerals to the mystery trader.

6)     Research

In order to survive early conflicts, Id like to choose weap tech standard; in order to get the all-important
any/300 stargate and big ship hulls early enough, I would also like to select const tech standard as I did in the
older version of my race. But I had to free some points for economy and, as you will see in the testbed results,
research is the best way to do that (remember that your exclusive ability to gate huge warships and bombers
over 1000ly and more in a few turns will help you to get any tech from your allies, if you let them use your gate
network e.g. weap tech from a WM?). This race might suffer without tech trade in a very long game though.

Ive set all techs to +75% now and did NOT check the start at three box (dont worry; in most games you wont
need all the weapons tech etc early on experienced players avoid early conflicts and rather ally with their
neighbours. As the years pass, you will produce enough resources to have all the goodies you need and if you
get some tech in xchange from your neighbours: even better!).

7)     The result

If you followed my suggestions step-by-step, you should now have 2 points leftover. In case my English is too
poor or my decision to give some playing and diplomacy tips during race creation has confused you a little bit,
here is a summary of my favourite race:
 

NAME:   ??? (see above)
LEFTOVER POINTS: surface minerals
PRT:   IT
LRTs:   IS, NRSE, OBRM, NAS
GROWTH:  19%
HAB-RANGE:  1 of 4 (0,58_5,12 / -72_152 / 12_68)
RPC:   1000
FACTORIES:  12_7_22 (max planet output 4004); less G checked
MINES:   10_3_11
RESEARCH:  all at +75%; start at 3 NOT checked
(2 points leftover)
 

8)     Testbed results

In order to be able to compare a certain race with another (even of another PRT), let them compete in a testbed.
Important: dont play them against each other (or you wont see which is the better starter or better in
longterms), but compare the results you get when you play a single race all alone in the universe. This is also a
fine practice before you are using a race, which was created by another person, in a multiplayer game.

I decided to give you testbed results with settings to allow you a comparison with other listings on various
websites.

My settings in the testbed were:

DIFFICULTY:  harder (dont know if this is of any influence to the score, just in case)
SIZE:   small
DENSITY:  normal
POSITIONS:  farther (should not be of any influence, as your race is all alone)
SLOWER TECH ADV: checked
GALAXY CLUMPING: checked

!!! Important note: when you check the results, please consider that they are NOT from an Acc Bbs game. This
game was started normally. Also, through the lack of competition, I may have made some bad decisions during
play. Of course, as there are no enemies in such a game, there is no need of building warships, minelayers or
anything. So in a real game, you would have to spend xtra resources and minerals, but therefore there is possibly
trade, tech xchange, tech gained in battle etc. Remember, this test is only a test of growth, HAB, expansion and
of course - economy.

At the beginning, I set the tech research to 0% and bio tech; later on, I changed the subject, but not the rate. Of
course I got lots of research points, when my production-queues were empty, and because of some artifacts.

HOMEWORLD: 100% (what else); I and B conc was 30 (the minimum possible); G was around 100
(excellent).
PLANET 2: 81% (excellent); I conc 17, B conc around 100 (very good); but G conc only 23
(rather bad).

I suffered a bit from the low G on the second at the start (not as fast as I hoped), as I
had to use the G from my HW for Planet2 as well as for all the early colonized worlds.
Therefore, the history graph on resources is too flat between yr 20 and yr 25, but then
heads skywards. Maybe I should play another 10 or 20 turns to see the results.

RESULTS:

Please take a close look at the results, they have changed significantly!

YEAR 10:  417 resources (IT usually starts slow, as population is divided on 2 planets)
YEAR 20:  1824 resources (remember: this is NOT Acc Bbs play)
YEAR 30:  4805 resources
YEAR  40:  ~11000 resources (Some terraforming already done)
YEAR 50:  20446 resources (sheet does not give exact figures, but planet report does!!)

Lets have a closer look at the numbers of year 50:

20446 resources (I think I couldve done better see above).

I had (only) 27 of ~125 available planets, which really is around 1 in 4, but close to 1 in 5, but:
There were still 6 green ones left on the edge of the universe map as well as 13 big or medium yellows. I had
already discovered all planets, of course. So the possible max number of planets (disregarding a significant
number of little yellows) could have been increased by an additional 19. This makes a total of 46 in 125, which is
better than 1 in 3.

8 of these planets were 80% or  better, 4 could still be terraformed to this value. More than half of the total (14)
were 50 % or better, the worst one could still be terraformed to a value of 45%. Bear in mind,that much
terraforming technology was not yet discovered, as you can see, looking at the tech levels.

Tech was at 43 levels (costing twice the normal amount due to slower tech adv setting), which is 3 levels more
than I achieved with a slightly weaker economy and two techs set at normal cost(!), distributed 5_10_6_10_5_7,
giving me cruisers with colladials, pulsed sappers and/or delta torpedoes. Besides I had smart bombs and
organic armor (both bio tech 7), the possum scanner (300 ly range with NAS), the stealth cloak, at least
terraforming +/-7 everywhere (+/-11 in radiation) and the any/300 stargate. Some important items were only 1
single turn away from discovery:  e.g. the galleon, gattling gun, M80 bomb or the scoper 220 (440 ly range with
NAS). Please remember, that the slower tech adv setting makes all tech twice as expensive as in a normal game!

I could have saved some resources if I had used medium transporters with a fuel pod instead of my privateers
with a cargo and 2 fuel pods (optional: 3 fuel pods), but therefor I would have lost some speed and more
importantly some Germanium, so I took that decision.

Unfortunately, I didnt have the time (yet) to test this race with acc bbs start (as I did in the former version of
this article), but I think that over 20k resources in 2450 with a normal start and a so called non economic race is
evidence enough.

If you look at the results now and compare them with your own races or with listings on other websites, there
can only be one conclusion: this is not only a real quickstart race-design, but also a hyperproducing one. I would
not call it an hypergrowth one (though it is a fast growing one), as expansion depends a lot on playing style:
grabbing many planets early in offensive style or picking the better ones and playing rather a cautious, defensive
game whatever you prefer, this is the IT-race to do it.

Well, no records, but Im really satisfied with the performance now (considering the testbed settings). Still some
reserves in more concentrated gameplay and more G on Planet2 (allowing freighters instead of privateers); also,
beeing IT, in a real game you could gain a lot from diplomacy. You may not be guaranteed to win a game with
these settings, but you will have fun competing (I had). If you do not like the results, or if you think they are
insufficent for multiplayer games on the net, please let me know. Id appreciate some suggestions for
improvement!

9)     Tips

If youve read all this carefully, you will already have discovered some tips on gameplay and diplomacy. You
still want some more? Ok:

Maybe Ill also be writing something more about gameplay, if the reactions on this one are positive. By the way,
there are some fine articles about IT for beginners available at different websites (containing lots of gameplay
tips).
Iwont write anything more about diplomacy, first, because I dont have enough multiplay-experience, second,
because the Scott Phelps diplomacy series (8 parts I think) is a lot better than I ever could do and is available
everywhere.

10)     Reactions

Any sort of reaction is appreciated (except about my poor English). If you have suggestions on IT race-design, or
if you want to inform me about game (-testbed) results with this race, or if you want to share your favourite race-
design (of whatever PRT) with me, please send me an e-mail to the following address:

 
                                                                a8800428@unet.univie.ac.at
 

11)     Please

If you want to publish this on your website, just go ahead. But, please, if you do so, dont change the text and
credit me as the author, leaving my name and e-mail address within. If you want to do me an xtra favour, send
me a short e-mail of where to find your website, on which you published it. As my native language is German,
you can imagine that this was not written in a few minutes (why dont you try to write something in a foreign
language?). Thank you.

Greetings to all Stars!-freaks in the Universe
(If you are keen on my other PRT-designs now, why dont you just send an e-mail?)

Dieter Wallisch, written late february 98
 

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