Matt the Merciless Campaign Guide
Many will look here after they have had their tails whipped. That is right and proper. Before any great knowledge can be learnt, one must learn that you need the knowledge.
So sit back children and listen to my tale.
Becoming Galactic Overlord is not for the feint hearted. It is not winning a battle or two and retiring for the night feeling pleased with yourself. Being a Galactic Overlord is a lifestyle choice that requires dedication, commitment and resolve in the face of sometimes overwhelming resistance by the misguided Sophonts you intend to liberate.
However, it does become easier as time goes on. The earliest years are the hardest, when it seems no-one else agrees with the obvious fact that you should be Galactic Overlord. But soon with perseverance, your resource base will be powerful enough to overwhelm the misguided resistance of even the strongest of planets.
Pick on the little guys first and those with resources you need for faster expansion (Crew Academies to start with). In the face of equal or worse odds, give a friendly wave, thank them for their hospitality and leave expeditiously. Most times they will wave back and you will depart on good terms. Occasionally they will send fighters after you and you will lose every ship you have.
Here-in lies the first principle of Fleet design, make your Fleet FIGHTER RESISTANT. If you get chased when honourably heading for home, generally only fighters can catch you. Always design with the view you may get chased. If you wish to “have a look” at a system, always do so either in strength ready to take it over if resistance is weak or with a single fighter squadron than can look and run fast. You will be pleasantly surprised how fast you can expand in the early game by being selective about who you fight. Of course holding your hard won territory now becomes the difficult part.
On the Galactic map are choke points for the would-be Galactic Overlord. These are points you can defend with the minimal number of Fleets. There are two in the initial map. I can’t look up the names right now, my GSB is in its 12th hour of crushing Aliens as I write, but hopefully you will be able to locate them easily. Your first goal should be to capture these two and every world behind them. Spend some time defending these two points and raising the loyalty of your subjects. No one likes disloyal subjects. Employ dissenters in your shipyards and keep them busy.
But, getting to this point is actually the hardest part. After this point you have the resources to pretty much smash most opposition.
Most of your Fleet opponents are poorly designed (player) fleets. Over time you can bet that as players get better, the fleets will get better. If you are reading this a year after the game has officially launched, you will need to be very confident you can design and fight a fleet better than 50% of the other players in the game. That means time in the battle simulators.
As I write this there is great discussion on Fighter swarm tactics winning the day (21 plus Fighter squadrons). To a degree this will become self-balancing, as the AI uses more player designed Fighter swarms, players to win will design more effective Anti-fighter fleets. At the point where the game designer can see the only effective defence to a Fighter Swarm is another Fighter Swarm, leading to a game dominated by Fighters. He will change the game balance more in favour of balanced Fleets.
The fleets you design will go through phases. You will start with big multi-purpose ships that can beat anything thrown at them, everyone likes BIG ships. In the early part of Galactic Overlordship this experience will come in handy. You will have limited resources and a couple of big ships may win you early victories increasing your resource base. Be wary though, big ships run away slowly, you need to make them FIGHTER RESISTANT to ensure they get away if you don’t like the odds. At this stage fighter resistance = armour 12 or 14 or better.
Soon you will discover fighters are pretty cool. Bring enough and sometimes they win the battle all by themselves (many players are not aware of the first rule of Fleet design and you are facing player designed fleets). There are many schools of thought on fighter design, but the two biggest lessons are speed (fast fighters last longer) and orders.
Fleet orders allow for inter-ship co-operation. When you discover Fighters can protect Capital Ships from other fighters, you realise the anti-fighter defences (armour & small lasers) can be dropped on the Capital Ships in favour of more BIG GUNS. Herein lies the second rule of Fleet design. He who carries the most BIG GUNS wins the battle and co-operation between ships allows you to specialise ship types gaining better both protection and better punch than if you used just general purpose designs.
Take a look at your best general purpose Cruiser. What weapon systems are on board that do not contribute to your BIG GUNS count. Then look to the third rule of Fleet design, SURVIVABILITY. The fleet that SURVIVES the longest gets far better usage out of its BIG GUNS. Look at your non-weapon systems, which ones do not contribute to its SURVIVABILITY against enemy BIG GUNS.
Everything not related to carrying BIG GUNS, resisting BIG GUNS and getting you there to use BIG GUNS, should be dropped and put on something that carries little guns and is cheap to replace. That’s Fighters and Frigates. Remember also to check your BIG GUNS of choice give BIG BANGS for your credits.
Over time you will learn other Cruiser ploys like Tank Cruisers, Missile Cruisers and Close Range Cruisers, but others have already covered those discussions well. You will find discussions on shield use of huge interest also.
Frigates in stand-alone battles are almost useless. Against player designed fleets however, they tend to last as most player designed Fleets prioritise your Cruisers as targets. In the campaign game Frigates can be used behind your Cruisers (Formation orders) in a supporting stand-off role, carrying perhaps anti fighter defences (Target Fighters orders- 100%) and/or long range missiles (Vulture orders). Other tactics are also valid and are worth reading up on. Be wary though as many assume a one off battle and use them as disposable weapon systems. This doesn’t work so great in a campaign where it can take several turns and valuable resources to replenish your “disposable weapon systems”.
Frigates are also useful for increasing loyalty on a world. Big Fleets increase loyalty fast, but in a troubled Galaxy you need those Big Fleets on the front line. A single Frigate is enough to get loyalty improving, albeit very slowly. Use cheap Frigates to patrol your subject worlds. Behind the front lines, each systems Threat level will very quickly reach 0%. Frigates can cope with that threat level very nicely and your newly liberated citizens will rejoice at the sight of your fine ships.
So to summarise.
First Rule of Fleet design, FIGHTER RESISTANCE. Build Fleets that can run away, often an early Fleet comes across a lightly defended system for an easy victory. There is no need to wait long periods to build up resources without performing some “reconnaissance in strength”.
Second Rule of Fleet design, carry BIG GUNS. The Fleet with the most BIG GUNS will usually win the day. Make sure your BIG GUNS of choice give you BIG BANGS for your credits.
Third Rule of Fleet design, SURVIVABILITY. The longer lasting Fleet gets far better value from its BIG GUNS as they get to fire for far longer.
Forth Rule of Fleet design, DESIGN FLEETS. Ships are only component parts of Fleets, each ship should contribute to the Fleets, FIGHTER RESISTANCE, BIG GUNS and SURVIVABILTY. No ship on its own can do all of this, it takes co-operation between ships and it takes Fleet Orders to ensure that co-operation.
As I write this, I’m feeling a little frustrated. I want to get back into the campaign game, but I’m running my Veil Nebula (never ending challenge) Federation Fleet. I am not using any mods or cheats, its vanilla GSB. Cliff has recently fixed a memory leak and this is the first run its had without crashing. So far its lasted near 13 hours on fast speed and accumulated 1.7 million points of gratuitous destruction with 58% of the fleet still alive & fighting.
Its worth repeating, stand alone battles are great ways of fine tuning your fleet designs/ideas and in the process getting better at designing Fleets.
Matt the Merciless