Commander rank starts at the beginning of Disc 2. On this page:
4.3.1 New Resources
- New Screens: Research. Quick Time speed now available.
- Fleet Changes: Flagship 1 with 4x Light Tank.
- New Planets:
- Zeuson: Rocky, population 4230, moderate tax, 8x Light Tank, Colony Hub, Nuclear Plant, Radar Telescope.
- New Production: Flagship 1 (although needs un-researched Orbital factory to produce), Space Base 1.
- New Research: Fighter 3, Destroyer 2, Cruiser 1, Spy Satellite, Orbital Factory, Hyperdrive 2, Cargo Pod, Field Array, Pulse Laser, Ion Gun, Medium Tank, Rocket Sled, Solar Plant, Phood(TM) Factory, Inversion Shield, Field Telescope, Plasma Projector.
- Earliest Date: Mid October 3427.
4.3.2 Strategy Overview
The objective for this rank is to defeat the Garthog. This primarily means capturing all of their planets. Research what you can, then rapidly capture the weakest three Garthog planets. Research everything else available and build up a technologically superior fleet, while finishing the war against the Garthog. You’ll have to deal with a few side missions, although less than in previous ranks. This rank is altogether less scripted, and the game will begin to feel more like an open-ended strategy game.
4.3.3 Colony development
Zeuson needs to be developed, and should be the focus of almost all your colony building prior to invading the Garthog. Its defenses and tax base need to be brought up to a similar standard to all your other colonies. Zeuson can probably sustain Oppressive taxation with a full set of morale boosting buildings. Take care that you don’t run out of workforce for your buildings, which may happen if you immediately build *everything*. Within a week, your treasury should be increasing by about 80,000 credits a day. Most of that cash will be needed for research and production, in preparation for the coming war with the Garthog. If you start this rank with an under-developed tax base, you’ll start to struggle with production. For example, a fully equipped Flagship will cost about 100,000 credits, and you’ll need at least three before starting any invasion. Your old colonies will need new buildings occasional: Three new Dev. Centres are need for research (see below). Population growth will require additional facilities for food, housing, and similar. Watch out for declining tax morale, and build additional Police Stations at the first sign of trouble. Lastly, keep up with technological advances, notably the introduction of Phood Factories (overall, superior to Hydroponic Food Farms) and Solar Plants (superior to Nuclear Plants on planets that cannot build Fusion Plants).
4.3.4 Research and production
Research, specifically the right kind of research, is the key to winning this rank. It is important to understand what limits research. You start with Dev. Centres on Achilles (Mil), New Caroline (AI) and Centronom (Comp). Assuming you haven’t built any more, you have three planets without Dev. Centres. You can only have one Dev. Centre per planet. Since you can’t colonise planets at this rank, only invade, you’ll be limited to six Dev. Centres until you start taking Garthog planets. Focus on what you need for an invasion, because until you capture an enemy colony, you won’t be able to develop much else. This primarily means better tanks, and the means to move them in volume. Aim for 1 Civ, 1 Mech, 1 Comp, 1 AI, and 2 Mil: New-build 1 Civ, 1 Mech and 1 Mil between the three planets without Dev. Centres. This will allow:
- Medium Tanks – Invasions with Light Tanks will be drawn out and messy. Medium Tanks have greater range and armor. If you favour ground combat defense against invaders, these tanks will help there too.
- Orbital Factories – Allow Flagships to be built. Flagships carry vehicles and start to make space battles with the Garthog more balanced.
- Cargo Pods – Increase the number of vehicles that a flagship can carry by 3. This increases the maximum number of vehicles you can drop into any one ground battle when invading (at this rank) from 15 to 24.
- Spy Satellites – Gain additional information about invasion targets (marginal bonus advantage).
- Ion Guns – Improve the offensive strength of your flagships and Cruiser (marginal bonus advantage).
An alternative strategy involves early development of Pulse Laser and Destroyer 2. This favours early space combat, however leaves you without new flagships or ground combat advances, and so ultimately makes invasion really tough.
Divert resources towards completing available research throughout this level: Always be researching something (even if you can only partly complete it), and try to allocate the maximum amount of credits to research. Don’t produce new Destroyer 1 unless your fleet was badly damaged by the last battle of Captain rank: You don’t need many Destroyers if you invade quickly using Flagships with Missile and Bomb tactics, and they’ll rapidly become obsolete. As soon as research allows, build fully equipped Flagships (aim for a total of 6), plenty of Medium Tanks (aim for 40+), and surplus supplies of Missiles and Bombs (close to 100 of each by the end of the rank). If you find your Equipment factories are under-utilised initially, consider building Light Shields (your Destroyer 2 will need them), but only if you have enough credits once everything else is being researched and produced.
4.3.5 Blockade Zeuson
A week after promotion, the Colonel will order you to impose a blockade on Zeuson to prevent the rebel governor from leaving. Do *not* impose any kind of blockade against passing traders, as the orders suggest. Move your main fleet to Zeuson and wait. Let the grey coloured traders come and go freely. After three or four days, a blue coloured (Free Traders Alliance) fleet labelled “Unknown” will leave Zeuson. Attack it. When the battle starts, pause and talk to the enemy fleet via the text box to get some extra storyline, but don’t let them pass >:) . Once they’ve sustained heavy damage they’ll say they are returning to the planet. Let them. Later that day you’ll see a short video sequence and get a congratulatory message from the Colonel. Move your fleet towards the Garthog side of the map, in preparation for coming events.
4.3.6 Why does nothing happens after the Zeuson blockade order?
Several people have reported that the storyline appears to stall at this point, with nothing happening for months, and no further contact with the Colonel after the initial order to blockade. First, ensure that you are not blockading Zeuson to regular traders, only prevent the blue “Unknown” fleet from leaving. Secondly, make sure when engaging the “Unknown” fleet, you don’t kill their capital ship – allow it to return to the planet.
4.3.7 More dreams
The flashbacks will continue. Around this time, check the Local (F9). Talk to Brian, your ship technician about research and then robotics.
4.3.8 Garthog attacks
About two weeks after promotion, the Garthogs will resume attacking your planets. Either deal with them on the ground, or engage their fleets before they arrive. The former tactic tends to be an easier fight if you have a few Barracks on the target planet, but inevitably causes damage to population and buildings. Engaging their fleet is viable if you have two or three flagships available, which you may do by the time of the first attack: Firing at their (vehicle carrying) flagship(s) with missiles is a great opener – once the flagship(s) are badly damaged they will turn and run. You have a small speed advantage over them, so keep on re-attacking as they flee, until they have nothing left. These attacks will continue somewhat randomly until the Garthogs are defeated, however, once you start capturing their planets, the frequency of invasion seem to drop.
4.3.9 Initial invasion strategy
From anemofrost: “…You took too long in invading the Garthogs. When I was playing, I invaded with only one fleet carrying max amount of tanks. The enemy had only about 8 or 9 on each planet and I succeeded easily. It was the first time I played, so I must have went through it as fast as possible.” At the start of November, planets Garthog 1, 2, 3 and 5 are lightly defended: Typically by a few Ion Projectors (although you may come up against the odd Plasma Projector or Inversion Shield), around 10 mixed vehicles (mostly Light and Medium Tanks), and at least one Fortress. Garthog 1 and 5 tend to be slightly better defended. Garthog 4 is the toughest, since it has all of the above, plus a pair of Base 1s in space. Garthog 4 also has about twice the population of the other planets.
As soon as you have 3 fully loaded Flagships (with 24 Medium Tanks and bombs), start picking off the easiest three Garthog planets. Avoid attacking whilst their main fleet is in the area. Bomb the planet based defenses from outside their firing range, sending bombs in very quick succession to reduce the chance of them being shot down. If faced with an Inversion Shield, destroy that first. Once the space defenses are destroyed, ground battle will commence. Place your units away from their buildings, and don’t engage the enemy until they are clear of the Fortresses. Once their vehicles are destroyed, attack the Fortresses one at a time. After the battle re-equip with new bombs.
4.3.10 Garthog colony development
Captured Garthog colonies have a few initial problems. Firstly, you can’t build Barracks or Fortresses. The basic Garthog military building is a Fortress, but you can’t research Fortresses at this rank, and you probably won’t be able to capture them: The manual refers to the possibility of these buildings surrendering, but I’ve never seen it happen. This probably means that these planets will need to be defended from space for the rest of this rank. Secondly, the aliens hate you. Population growth will go negative, and tax morale will drop dramatically. You can’t build the types of morale boosting buildings you can on your human colonies. Instead, drop the tax to nothing, build Police Stations, and repair damaged buildings. After a few days the situation will start to recover, and you can raise tax back up to Low while sustaining population growth. The more police stations you build, the higher tax morale. Don’t expect to raise tax above Low without population declining.
Garthog colonies will contribute production (most will already have Spaceship and Weapons factories), and you can build those all-important Dev. Centres straight away. You will capture the plans for Phood Factories in one of your invasions – you’ll be able to build them on your human colonies too.
4.3.11 Escort prototype
About two weeks after the Zeuson blockade, the Colonel will order you to escort a cargo ship. A fleet labelled “Prototype” will appear off Zeuson and head towards the right hand side of the map – escort it with at least a pair of flagships and a few destroyers. This mission can catch you off-guard on the wrong side of the map. The Prototype fleet moves very slowly, so you should have enough time to reach it before it is attacked by a Garthog fleet. Defeat the Garthog fleet to gain a Destroyer 2. Be warned that the Garthog may launch an attack on one of your planets around this time, and the escort will take a few days to complete, so you may wish to split your fleet before commencing the escort.
4.3.12 Why does nothing happen after escorting the prototype?
The scripted missions stop after this point. Some players get stuck here because they don’t realise what the main objective of this rank is: Defeating the Garthogs.
4.3.13 Defeating the Garthogs
It is possible to take all of the Garthog planets rapidly without new technology. The battle would be tough, but you could win. The problem with this approach is you will start Admiral rank lacking technology, fleet power, and full colony development. Once you reach Admiral you’ll have other new problems to deal with. Complete this rank too quickly, and you may find yourself over-stretched as Admiral.
By the time the Escort Prototype mission is complete, you should be close to having Destroyer 2 in production. Don’t neglect Bombs, you’ll need plenty of those if you follow the method below. All this new technology will put a lot of strain on your factories, particularly Weapons factories, which will be busily turning out Tanks and Bombs. Don’t waste resources trying to re-equip Destroyer 1s. The best Destroyer 1 loadout still has half the firepower of a Destroyer 2. It is better just to build new Destroyer 2s and eventually use your Destroyer 1s as a strategic reserve. Cruiser 1 are mostly inferior to Destroyer 2s. They can mount radars (and later make good cheap scouts) and a pair of Ion Cannons, which are great against targets that don’t move much. When dealing with lots of smaller targets, the 14 Pulse Lasers each Destroyer 2 can carry make a big difference to battles. At this stage, your Flagships should be capable of handling most of the larger targets. Do not produce large volumes of Pulse Lasers to replace Lasers – they become almost obsolete early in the next rank.
Once you have a moderately well equipped, undamaged fleet (no need for a full stack of Destroyer 2), engage and destroy the main Garthog fleet as it travels between planets. Their fleet is fast, so you will need to position your fleet directly in their path to attack. Don’t engage it near either planet because the planetary defenses hinder you. If the their fleet retreats damaged, wait for it to come past again in a few hours (it only has two planets to patrol, so its actions are kind of predictable ;-) ) – eventually you’ll destroy it.
Re-equip and add in newly produced equipment. You should by now have six flagships, in two fleets, with bombs, missiles and vehicles, and a mix of Destroyers and Fighters of different classes. If you don’t have two fleets, you will need to fly back and forth quite a lot, delaying your invasion, and giving the Garthogs more time to counter it. Move everything close to Garthog 4. Take your first three flagships with a small Destroyer escort (not a full stack, just enough to counter fighters and not get in the way of flagships). Bomb the planetary defenses at range. Release bombs rapidly in batches of 6-9 to reduce the number that get shot down. Once you are out of bombs, retreat. Send in the second set of flagships to bombs the remaining defenses. Retreat, and return with your other set of Flagships, this time with more Destroyers and Fighters. Close in one of the Bases, letting the smaller ships draw fire whilst the larger ships do the damage. You will lose some ships, just make sure all your flagships survive. Once one Base is destroyed, retreat. Rinse and repeat with your second fleet on the remaining Base. Ground combat will follow. Try to destroy the Rocket Sleds early, else they’ll destroy you from afar. You may not have enough firepower to take the planet in the first wave. If so, immediately attack with your other fleet, and the second wave should capture the planet.
This will be the hardest fight against the Garthogs, so why take Garthog 4 now? It severely limits their ability to invade you (you’ll probably never see another invasion fleet). It gives you more resources to complete the final available research projects (Garthog 4 has *2* Dev. Centres – Civ and Comp) and build up your fleets in preparation for Admiral. It will give your fleets time to recover and repair.
Replenish loses, build at least a full stack of Destroyer 2, and give the fleet they are with Hyperdrive 2s: If all the capital ships in a fleet are equipped with upgraded drives, the fleet will move faster across the map. Since the map is about to get quite a bit bigger, you’ll appreciate the speed bonus. When ready and repaired, go and invade the final Garthog planet. Capturing the last Garthog planet promotes you to Admiral.
4.3.14 Why can’t I attack Garthog 5?
If the planet shows with grey text rather than red, add a Spy Satellite to the planet. This will identify the planet’s race, and allow you to attack.
4.3.15 I got promoted to Admiral without capturing any Garthog planets. What happened?
You probably engaged a passing Dargslan fleet in combat. This will skip the rest of the rank, and opens up the whole map. Unfortunately you will have a new (technologically advanced and aggressive) enemy, a small fleet, only a handful of planets, and lousy technology. This option is nothing short of suicide. Only attack Garthog fleets and planets during this rank. Also see Don’t make enemies of races you can avoid at the start of the game, below.