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5.1.1 Delaying tactics
From anemofrost: "Here's a tip for Grand Admiral Rank. The Dargslan invade with a full fleet of three flagships and 25 ships, all of which are fully loaded. Early on, any confrontation will result in your fleet being destroyed. What you can do is simply get any of you outdated vessel (destroyer 1, cruiser 1, destroyer 2, whatever) and send it to attack the invading Dargslan fleet. A fighter might work but I'm not sure. The vessel(s) you sent will be destroyed, and the invading Dargslan fleet will actually retreat back to their colony. This trick may or may not work on the other races you fight in Admiral or Grand Admiral Rank. As for me, I only use it on Dargslan because I find it fun to crush other fleet I come across."
From Dan Ward: "Scenario - Alien fleet on its way to one of your planets. You have no hope of destroying their vastly superior fleet, or of winning the ground battle. Solution - Send a fleet consisting of one fighter to intercept them in deep space. After the space 'battle' (which consists of one missile blowing up your fighter), the alien fleet will turn around and go home!"
This works best for those races that attack you from the other side of the map. The time it takes them to travel to and from your space is far greater then the time it takes you to build and equip new ships. For this reason it is probably the ultimate delaying tactic: buying you time to prepare while enemy resources are tied up shuttling across space.
Richard Harper uses this technique to capture planets: "I usually send weak fleets against the Dargslan giant sized but extremely poorly armed fleet, and once I have destroyed the bulk of the fighter defences I retreat, they bugger off back where they came from. I used this tactic many times to retake a planet after they invaded and never once having retaken a planet, or invaded it did I build any kind of defence on it because it was a piece of p*ss to retake."
From Shwatzy: "If you see an enemy fleet heading toward one of your planets, send your fleet with at least one tank near that planet. Once the AI takes over your planet, it will usually then go after another of your planets with all its tanks from the first invasion... meaning the planet is undefended. So just wait until the fleet has moved away a little bit then swoop in and reclaim your planet. The AI fleet will now turn around and go back to re-conquer that planet. So move your fleet off a a little ways, leave no tanks on the planet (and demolish any buildings the AI started) and repeat the process once the AI re-takes that planet. I have had the AI running around in circles for many years with this strategy. Note that if the AI fleet is faster than yours it will probably try and take out your fleet instead, but if you are just as fast you are usually safe. The great thing about this strategy is that you can put all your money into research early because you only need a small fleet or two, plus a few tanks."
5.1.2 Ground defense...?
From Robert Warren: "I rarely ever fight an Enemy fleet. Instead I build plenty of ground defences, let the enemy land and then destroy them on the ground. The fleet has no tanks and so retreats. I haven't lost a planet except the first one the Dargeslan invaded." Having absolutely no space defense will bounce a lot of attackers: Many of their fleets have no ground forces.
Shwatzy writes: "Instead of trying to take out an enemy fleet, research the Heavy Fortress ASAP and place 4 in a tight box on each colony. The AI is not too smart about attacking in force with tanks... I have easily taken out 50 enemy tanks with 4 Heavy Fortresses before. Note that you can select your turrets and manually target the most dangerous tanks first. Plus your fortresses have a much greater range than most tanks the AI builds."
5.1.3 Or space defense...?
From Brandon Moore: "I saw a fleet on course to hit one of my planets and my covering fleet just wasn't quite fast enough to catch it. I threw all the remaining fighters I had in defence of the colony, along with the single Ion Projector that it had. The fleet arrives, and to my surprise, it is the same fleet that has been making abortive attempts on my colonies all game. I had whittled it down to just 2 flagships and one of those other not so small, not so big ships, (I think it was a missile carrier). I spent my 18 fighters on the smaller ship and in the assault on one of the flagships. I ended up with an Ion projector nose to nose with a flagship. Just like the old west. So we began to slug it out. Something some of you may not know, the Garthog flagships shoot slower than the Ion Projector. I win. Around 40% damage to the projector and no more flagship."
From Doug Jacobs: "If you do come under attack from an invasion fleet, remember, only the flagships can carry tanks, so if you can blow them they can't invade. Planetary defenses (guns, starbases) are very useful."
One of the main advantages I see to space based defense is that your population doesn't get killed, which they do during ground attacks. Civilian deaths will dent your tax revenue for months or years after the battle.
5.1.4 Or no defense...?
From summon: "Never build any ground barracks - defend in space or just let the computer take the planet, then immediately take it back. If you defend on a planet, you may lose 40 units and the planet is devastated. If you build no defences, you get the planet back practically undamaged and you don't lose a million credits in lost structures defending the planet." Don't try this early in the game, when you have no vehicle carrying flagships.
Enemies will tend to attack poorly defended colonies in preference to colonies with large numbers of vehicles deployed. This means you can sometimes fool them into attacking a specific planet, by removing the entire garrison from one planet, and keeping small garrisons on all other planets. Once they have committed their fleet to the attack, deploy large numbers of tanks or move your fleet to engage their fleet. You can use this tactic to favour combat on or around certain planets. For example, those that have large numbers of Barracks/Fortresses, facilities like Fire Stations, are simply easier to defend, have lower resident population to be killed in the crossfire, or are a convenient base for your defensive fleets.
5.1.5 Ground combat
From Darrell999: "Always let the enemy tanks come to you, especially when you're invading. If you have two groups far away enough from each other to divide their forces, but close enough to support each other if necessary, helps a lot. Always concentrate fire from at least 3 of your tanks on to 1 of the enemy tanks and blast away one enemy at a time. Also, when invading, always stay away from the city and take out the enemy tanks first. THEN take care of the fortresses. NEVER attempt both at the same time."
From Mega Products: "Gun emplacements are about fifty percent effective when deprived of a power supply." While damaging power plants first may make fortresses and similar easier to take, such actions will leave a newly captured colony with chronic power shortages.
Doug Jacobs comments: "For planetary invasions, build fortresses. They'll allow you extra tanks during combat (more guns more better). Also, the fortress will add its guns to the foray (more guns more better). As for fighting the fight on a planet... use 4 or 5 of your tanks to attack 1 of his."
5.1.6 Space combat
From Doug Jacobs: "Flagships are essential for attacking planets and taking out other flagships, via missiles ;) . To use missiles/bombs in combat, because I couldn't figure it out, click on the ship you wish to fire, then click on Bomb/Fire, then right click on the target (ship or planetary building.) Each click fires one missile/bomb. I usually use them in groups *clickity*clickity*clickity*." Bombs, fired at range, can reduce casualties against heavily fortified planets (four or five Meson Projectors or similar) to nothing. The only disadvantage is the need to keep re-arming, which means regular trips back to planets with Military Spaceports, and full order books for bombs at Weapons factories (towards the end of the game, one planet might need an entire fleet-load - more than 50). From Mega Products: "The effective use of these two weapons [bombs and missiles] is the difference between a successful attack and an embarrassing debacle. Due to the speed of combat I would advise pausing the combat before firing to select the next ship to fire a salvo. Once you have a ship selected, un-pause, (as a fire order when paused will launch only one bomb or missile), and fire a full salvo at no more than two targets before pausing and repeating the operation. As with all combat in the game it's better to destroy a few targets quickly than damage many and let them all keep firing at you. Once in combat the guns and lasers will look after themselves but it's important to remember that the bombs and missiles will never be fired by the computer and consequently always need to be targeted and fired manually."
Make considerable use of the pause button to issue orders - yes it is a real time game, but controlling 30 or 50 units live-time is near impossible unless the enemy is overwhelmed. Early in the game don't be afraid to retreat units that are taking heavy fire to behind the frontline. Later, when battling with full stacks and far more firepower, retreating specific units can be hard because all the surrounding space is full of ships, and damage tends to occur faster.
Once you have them, use Meson Guns at the extreme of their range to destroy Space Bases. Move your (flag)ships to just outside the range of the Space Bases, leave them, and they will start firing on the Bases. Get too close and planetary defenses will start firing at your ships. Get the positioning just right, and one ship can destroy three Base 3 without taking any casualties.
Peter Knutsen notes: "Don't group your fighters (so you have all of them occupying a single square). It's neat because then your heavier ships can move close to the enemy and help kill him, but your fighters will die quickly. When a heavy ship has destroyed a fighter (any kind of ship, actually) it will have to aim the guns at a new ship, and this means that there is a brief time period where the enemy ship won't shoot (maybe 1/3 second, maybe a whole second). But if you have several fighters occupying the same square, then there is no need to aim the guns again, so your fighters will have a shorter lifespan."
5.1.7 Don't make enemies of races you can avoid at the start of the game
From Darrell999: "Leave the Yehoms alone. I took over their planet at Center II (up in the NW part of the map) right after they colonized it. Within two days, they hit me at New Caroline, then at Centronom. Kicked my ass at both planets... and I was as loaded defensively as I could be." At the start, let the plot make enemies for you - you should have quite enough to deal with, without making new enemies.
From bershe: "If you happen to see an evil-looking-dark-green fleet passing through your space, keep AWAY! Attacking it will promote you to Admiral, which, without at least a few Garth planets is complete suicide, since the other races are like 500% more advanced."
5.1.8 Defeating the Dargslans
Richard Wesson comments: "They don't have an unbeatable fleet. Your fleet, if packed full of ships with top technology, should be able to take out the typical Dargslan fleet. Once engaged, sit there and let the Dargslan ships come to you. Concentrate your fire on cruisers not fighters if you have a choice. Multi headed missiles seem to work well against fighters - use mostly those against fighters. If they're down to one planet, they should be willing to surrender, too. They surrendered to me with one or maybe two planets left. Try catching the fleet away from a planet, too. It can't magically regenerate that way. But I don't know if the fleet ever leaves the planet if they have only one planet left. So load up with 30 cruisers 3 flagships and 60 type5/type6 fighters." Whilst preparing, delay their attacks - see Delaying attackers above.
Clamato comments: "The thing I hate is that the race you fight when you hit Grand Admiral -always- has a full fleet. I blasted them to death and they ran with like 1 Flagship and a couple Cruisers. So I attacked again 2 seconds after the battle results screen disappeared. The fleet was back to full again. There were no planets around, no other fleets. They just -magically- received a new fleet." There are many accusations that the AI cheats and creates large fleets in the later stages of the game. While the method by which replacement ships are added seems to favour AI fleets, it is hard to prove that the ships are being created out of thin air. Most of the races you fight later in the game have spent their whole game quietly building up their empires. It is possible that they have a large number of ships in reserve (just as you can produce but not deploy units), but are restricted in the number of fleets they may have at any one time. Eventually the large fleets will stop being produced - I've seen them only able to produce a one-ship fleet once they were down to their last two planets.
5.2 Fleet Composition
5.2.1 Flagships and destroyers without fighters
From Stormcloud: "Each attack group consists of 1 Leviathan flagship + 2 Advanced flagship ... plus 15 Advanced Heavy Cruisers and 10 Advanced Destroyers. Why I chose this battle fleet mix up? 1) Leviathan class flagship sucks when in comes to carrying capacity of space-ground missiles (used to destroy those dangerous ground based space cannons), so it's pointless to use too many of these to assault planets. A few bad points are - it's bigger, turns like a pregnant whale and have a shield strength like a standard flagship. 2) Those 15 Heavy cruisers with flagship type shields will make mince meat out of any enemy fleet. Not to mention they also carry several space-ground missiles. 3) I use the destroyers to catch up on stragglers when the enemy retreat. They're fairly manoeuvrable ships, but with weak shielding. A few will die in each battle, but these are expendable. I don't really use fighters much. It takes too long to build a respectable amount, and they die like mayflies in battle."
5.2.2 Only operate a number of fleets your economy can resupply
From Robert Warren: "I find two powerful fleets are enough to carry out invasions, since I can only just afford new bombs, missiles and facilities to support them both."
5.2.3 Maximise ships' loadouts
Bershe writes: "Always make sure ALL of your ships have a shield generator and are fully loaded." This is particularly important in later battles, when you start using and attacking full stacks of ships, and the main limitation on fleet power is how many vessels you can stack in one fleet.
5.2.4 Fighters create a diversion
Early in the game, use fighters to swarm around enemy flagships: The fighters will mostly die, but they will soak a lot of enemy firepower in the process, giving time for your capital ships to do the real damage. From Mega Products: "You'll lose several each battle but they're a cheap screen for your flagships and have enough AI to be able to look after themselves."
5.3 Empire Building
5.3.1 Defend first, attack later, and only deploy just before you are attacked
From Richard Wesson: "There is no decisive technology, just incremental improvements. I can keep the Dargslans away with: 3 Starbase-2s, 5 Meson Projectors, and Hypershield. This combo takes down their usual fleet of three flagships 15 cruisers 60 fighters in pretty good order. I don't have 3 starbases everywhere; I just keep three ready when I see that nasty green fleet coming. But it is slow! There is a lot of production/building before you have an adequate force for invasion." The ability to deploy pre-produced units and bases from store is very useful. Pre-produced Starbases can be added to system defenses immediately, unlike colony based buildings, that cannot be pre-produced, and so may not get completed in the time between invaders being spotted and arriving. A highly aggressive strategy works if you can capture a significant proportion of your enemy's colonies very quickly. If not, they will start sending fleets to attack your colonies.
5.3.2 High tax paying, but happy citizens
From Doug Jacobs: "Keep the people happy, and taxes high (very high or demanding preferable)." I suggest striving for Demanding or Oppressive taxation >:) . Ensure highly populated worlds have a lot of morale boasting buildings - meaning at least one of each type they can build, plus a pair of Police Stations. This works well on planets which have a lot of room to build, but might not be a feasible for all planets. Captured alien colonies cannot build many morale increasing buildings (mostly you are stuck with Police Stations), and hate you from the start, so your options are more limited. Don't build secondary revenue raising buildings (like Traders' Spaceports) when you can construct things that raise morale instead - in the long term, ultra-high taxation will contribute far more to your treasury.
5.3.3 Research everything and build the best
Doug Jacobs wrote: "Naturally you've researched _everything_ [available at your current rank] right? Build the best of what you've got." You start the game technologically backward in comparison to other aliens. Research is fundamental to beating most of the alien races in combat. Fleet sizes and planetary deployments are capped, so you can't rely on overwhelming (low-tech) numbers in most circumstances. Where you can attempt to use overwhelming numbers (for example wave assaults), you'll probably find that the opposition can build their high-tech replacements faster than you can turn out low-tech replacements. Research also streamlines your colony operations, allowing new building types that tend to do what older buildings do, but better, or using less space for the same result, allowing more buildings in colonies.
5.3.4 Use the ground on planets wisely
The main long term limitation on colony development is how much space is available for building. Imperium Galactica is not a simulation, it's a game, and consequently you'll find oddities like planet Earth only able to sustain 20 buildings... Try to plan a few buildings ahead, and reserve space for large buildings that will be hard to fit in later. Later in the game, don't be afraid to demolish and rebuild a poorly positioned building if doing so will allow you to build several others. Accept that some planets simply won't be able to construct everything, and restrict development to essentials. For example, a Traders' Spaceports may be a nice money spinner in a low population colony, but they occupy a lot of space that might be better used providing facilities to support higher taxation of the resident population. Alternatively consider that Nuclear Plants are far cheaper than Fusion, but they occupy the same space and Fusion Plants have three or four times the energy output of Nuclear. Where possible, plan military buildings so that they can provide a useful defense. For example, group several towards the centre of the colony, making it hard for large numbers of enemy tanks to get near, and increasing the chance of the guns on these buildings doing any significant damage.
5.3.5 Maximise production
From bershe: "Build all three types of plants [factories] (weapon, ship, equipment) on ALL your planets. This will greatly improve your war machine." You can only build one of each type of factory per colony.
On normal difficulty setting, new spacecraft will be delivered with a partial set of weapons. In some cases (for example, fully equipped Cruiser 3s), production of weapons may be accelerated significantly by producing ships you don't need. These are added to a reserve fleet and immediately stripped of most of their weapons. The weapons are then re-deployed on the ships that will make up your main fighting force, maximising their loadout in a relatively short space of time.