Stellar Frontier Tips and Tricks for Mid-Level Players
-- Instalment Two --
7th January, 2001.

Flt. Adm. -Phoenix-
Fleet Command - H.O.P.E. & J.F.L.

:::Improving Your Kill Count:::

Kill count is simply a measure of how many enemy ships (including colonies and starbases) that you have destroyed. Roaming around the galaxy, looking to pick off enemy ships is not a good way to improve your kill count. Rushing into battles and not worrying about getting killed is also a bad idea. The AI system is set up in a way such that it responds to enemy activity. When you want to improve your kill count, and destroy a few hundred enemy ships in a short while, your need to get a steady stream of ships coming your way. This can be achieved by annoying your enemy, and making them believe that you are a serious threat. Attack colonies, and attack (or better yet, destroy) their starbases. The enemy AIs will respond, and will come streaming toward you. Be careful not to get killed however - if you do, then the enemy will think that the threat has been nullified, and all will return to normal. As your active kill count increases, the enemy AIs will get more and more angry with you, thus enabling you to rapidly increase your kill count.

:::Improving Your Game Score:::

Points are awarded for destroying enemies, colonising, capturing enemy ships (huge bonuses apply for capturing starbases) and conquering planets by blockading. During a game, you are awarded bonuses for the part that you have played in your side's conquest of the system. When your side wins the game, you get an end of game bonus (usually between 100 and 5000 points), which depends on your bonus. Unfortunately, none of the players appear to know exactly how your game bonus is calculated, but the afore-mentioned things usually improve your end of game bonus. The short of this is, that you should actively colonise aggressively, win at least two to three games in a row in any one session, and do all this often, and your game score will move in leaps and bounds.

:::Tips and Tricks for Colonization:::

Dropping a friendly colony on a planet is not the only way of winning it over to your side. Blockading a planet is the alternative, and is often useful a useful technique for Pirates. Blockading involves orbiting a planet until that planet's supplies run out, and they surrender to you. Not all planets can be successfully conquered by blockading - some planets do not need external supply, and are self-supporting. You can check a planet by reading the information on their navigational display. The easy way to do this is to orbit the planet, press N, and then read the letter in the bottom corner. An S indicates that the planet is self-supporting, and a B indicates that it can be blockaded. Once you have found it to be "blockadeable", the following procedure will allow you to conquer the planet:

1.) Begin by checking the planet to see that it is not self-supporting.
2.) Be careful when orbiting an enemy planet, because the AIs treat this as an attack; the colony will begin to fire upon you, and enemy ships will come to its rescue.
3.) Continue to orbit around the planet, blockading the planet. You will see the supply readout on that planet's navigational display gradually drop.
4.) Be careful that you don't drift out of orbit, continue pressing O to maintain a tight loop around the planet.
5.) To avoid a constant barrage of enemy fire, you will probably need at least one friendly vessel to help you take care of any unwelcome visitors, and to keep the colony on the planet from firing at you. While orbiting, it will be very difficult for you to use weapons.
6.) When the planets supply hits 0% they will surrender, and they will turn to your race. Note that the colony's population will remain the same.
7.) If you are lagging heavily, and you find that when you re-sync the supply for the planet jumps back up again by twenty or more percent, give up and use other methods - this is one thing which you need small lag in order to achieve.

If you are using colonies to drop onto planets, there are some tricks that you may find useful. Any game has an upper limit for the maximum number of colonies that can be in play at any one time - this is why the "Colony Available" sign on a planet will switch off when you obtain a new colony from it. If you take as many colonies from one planet as you can in the space of a few seconds, then you will quickly take up the full quota, thereby denying the enemy of any colonising activity while you get to work yourself. Be careful with this, because your friendly AIs are stupid, and often send the colonies that you created to their doom.

If you find an AI with a colony that you would prefer to take, you can steal their colony in the following way:

1.) Tractor the friendly ship, which is dragging the friendly colony, and dock with it. They will most likely immediately undock with you.
2.) When you dock with the friendly ship, it will have to let go of the colony.
3.) Before they have a chance to regain the colony, be sure to tractor and dock with it yourself.

Do not use Minor colonies for colonisation - they have little to no defensive capabilities. You may want to go one step further, and remove all Minor colonies from the moons of your planets when you start a new game. In addition to colony type, you should also consider colony size. Each planet which gives up colonies, will give colonies of a specific size. Usually in each system, only two or three planets give colonies of a decent size (starting at 500 million). It is important that you know which ones these are, and only use these for colonisation (and make sure they have Major colonies on them). If you are unsure of what size colonies a planet will give; the population count for a colony given by a planet is equal to ten percent of that planet's optimal population figure (optimal population is shown in the navigational display).

Another source for large colonies is existing colonies themselves. Entire groups of planets and moons can be rapidly colonised by taking one friendly colony with a population in excess of five billion, and just dropping it one planet at a time, each time conquering the enemy forces. (To pick up a colony directly from a planet, simply use your tractor beam). You should be very careful when doing this, because enemy AIs quickly respond to an empty planet, and will rush to colonise it while you are trying to move the gigantic colony across space. You should be especially careful when human players are around, as the elite players are always on the lookout for empty planets. The AI behaviour for colonising empty planets can also be used for your advantage, however. When you clear out a group of enemy colonies by successively moving and dumping a huge colony on top of them, your friendly AIs will also rush to colonise the newly vacated planets. As long as you make sure that the enemy does not re-take the planets, this method can be the quickest - even if not the most secure - way of winning a game.

Finally - when you are nearing the end of a game and have captured nearly all planets, keep an eye on the timer (press R to access the census display). When the timer hits zero, and the game resets, you do not want to be attached to a starbase or colony, as they tend to blow up, often destroying your own ship.

---End of Instalment Two.---