Birdmen in VGAP4
23rd January 2001. | Suggestions welcome
Latest additions since (January 2001)
in red, to help folk who've read this before
See also: Tim
Wisseman's guide to the Birdmen, at http://www.vgaplanets.com/v4guide/birdmen.htm
and Doug & Maries' guide at http://home.postnet.com/~dougnmarie/NuQonoS.html
The Birdmen are the cloaking,
sneaking, backstabbing bastards of V4 (at least until the
Privateers are out). They have reasonable ground assault
attack capabilities, fairly capable ships; they are
potentially VERY powerful when they can do what they do best,
Spy and Board. To enable the boarding advantages of the
Birdmen their nearly blind ships need a seeing eyed dog. To
take full advantage of your spying you need to be a pretty
good diplomat to negotiate with potential allies and
blackmail known enemies (you can only spy on one race at a
- The Birdmen have very weak
- Their ships can't tow well and
most repair holds are small.
- As mentioned elsewhere, the
leader looks like Moe.
- The best cloaking ships and
bases in the game.
- Great spying ability plus
Praetorian High Guard Masters.
- High training and growth rates.
- Plasmatron replaces mines and
smelters, and kicks in major ground assault
- Similar to Stormers, they have
a very high conversion ratio of colonists-->
Crew-->Troops-->Highguard. Feds, Peeps,
University Alliance, and Borg have good reason to
fear ground assault from cloakers.
- Their cloaking ships can carry
huge numbers of troops (and some can carry assault
vehicles in pods too).
Using special racial abilities
See the section on how
to capture ships in combat
on the Combat Tips page. Bear in mind the Deth Spec has a Boarding
Laser. Leave this switched on all the time, it costs
nothing to run.
The Praetorian High Guard Masters do
their thing without your intervention. They become
active once your population crosses the 10 million
mark. If they succeed in the capture of an enemy
universal friendly code, advance with as many cloaked ships
as you can muster as the mines and ships arrayed against you
will pay no attention. Refer to the strategy section
for more spying ideas.
The Plasmatron Assault Vehicle
decreases the effectiveness of enemy ground and air assault
mechs. They also work as low impact mines and
smelters. I build them in large units and move them
from planet to planet mining each one out.
You have stealthy bases and
ships. Bases have a signature of 20 instead of 800.
You have a number of anti-Borg
capabilities: recover a higher
number of "killed" Borg in ground combat as
colonists, nanovirus device turns Borg into natives, and Borg
do not get goodies when they assimilate Birdmen.
- Using special ship devices
guide for information on how Cloaking
The various player guides out there present
several colonization options.
- Pods slow, inefficient,
colonists in pods don't breed. Despite your
slightly higher pod speed, I don't think this
is a good idea for you. Use your pods for
positioning material that is primarily just
stockpiled such as minerals, food, repair,
and ord. Pods of people should be
docked. Your colonists, money and
supplies are too valuable to send drifting
along at 32 LYPT.
- SDSF's This is a better idea,
but is slow with low tech engines. Use this
as mop up of stars you passed up as lower
- Small Capitol Ships You need to
get your startup Skyfires out and about to
scan. As long as there is only one transfer
per turn, tow SDSF's with your Skyfires to
seed a planet with the SDSF and Colonize with
the Skyfire. In the early game establishing 6
new bases a turn will give you a great start.
Have colonists loaded into a pod to restock
the Skyfires. Use some of your startup
equipment (FTL-5 engines) to build White
Falcon's. Since your Skyfires are fast,
get them out a substantial distance and work
back in a spiral. Establish some bases that
will have concentrations of training centers.
You will have more crew than you will need,
so send them off to training center bases to
become troops and highguard.
You should try to spread your people out
throughout your territory to get a marginally
improved overall growth rate. More importantly, you
should consider tactics for positioning your troops
like others consider ordinance. Try to push them
towards the front lines where they are needed most.
Also, by spreading out your resources you are not as
vulnerable to an assault on one of your bases. Once
you have a substantial empire, make use of autopilot
ships to move your resources around so you don't have
to deal with the tedium. The exotic tech Pod Kicker
can be used to bump up pod speed. This is most cost
effective if you build up the need for a lot of pod
activity and do it all at once so you don't have the
tech cost. Growth of your population compounds, so
boosting your rate with exotic tech may make sense to
push some planets over critical 1 million, 2 million,
5 million thresholds.
- Similar to the Stormers,
your training centres are efficient, so do not
build many training centres on your homeworld. Otherwise
all your breeders (colonists) get converted to non
tax paying, non breeding crew and troops too
quickly. Instead, establish training centres
along your primary lanes out from your homeworld.
You will probably have excess tax exempt crew, so
load some up with your colonization pods to train
into troops and highguard where the training
rates are the highest.
You have the best spying
capability in the game. Be sure to use it!
- The addition of spy mana
each turn is proportional to the square root of
your contribution. You get the most bang for the
buck with your initial 100 MC with each
additional point coming at a higher price. Until
1000MC is of little consequence do not max out
- Choose ONE enemy to be your
primary focus. As it is seldom smart to fight a
war along multiple fronts, you will be most
effective against a single target. Consider races
that have desirable ship plans to steal or races
that may pose a major threat later in the game.
Factors that will reduce your spying
effectiveness are the targets Leadership,
Lawfulness and PSI. Peek at the training rates,
since highguard help to protect against some
forms of spy attacks.
- My favorite targets would
be the Peeps, Feds or University. They can fill
your holes (scanners, ship devices, towing) and
are relatively easier targets. The Lizards with
their hisser units can pump their happiness up if
necessary. The Stormers are a hard target. The
Cyborg is impossible. You can't keep
Crystal plans anyway, so what is the point.
- Your impact will be on the
happiness of the target race and will have a
cumulative impact over time since spying is more
effective with lower happiness. With lower
happiness the economy slows down and a weak
economy slows down tech, structures, ships,
EVERYTHING. Initially, set your spy mode to
sabotage bases. If you hit in the first couple
turns it can be very effective because you are
likely to whack the target race's homeworld. The
impact can be severe (e.g. blow up ord plant
killing 15,000 colonists). If you destroy a
higher tech initial structure (e.g. assault
plant) it may be many turns before they have the
planet tech to build a new one. Every couple of
turns "Incite Disorder". If you get
them heading down enough in happiness their
income and growth rate will slow down.
- You want your mana to build
up to 400 to 500 to try first attempt at stealing
ship plans. If you try to steal plans right away
you may get the target's good startup capital
ship, but you are more likely to get a start-up
freighter. Fortunately their highguard
cannot stop you from stealing plans.
- Once you start capturing
and enslaving prisoners get more aggressive with
your physical and spy attacks. Kicking someone
around like this is no way to make a friend so do
not let your initial target get on their feet.
You will be their one and only target. Keep your
boot on their throat and keep it there for the
duration. One could reach "terms" but
you will never sleep easy.
- So that you don't line up
everyone against you, good diplomacy is
necessary. You want to cultivate a
"working" relationship with allies and
neutrals. You want to be able to counter any
offer your target will make to gain a
protector/ally. Share information with the
bullies of the game so they go along with you to
pound on the weak instead of being their
bodyguard. Maybe you can convince others to
choose the same spy target. For the timid that
will not join in, share your successful
"hits" with other players trying to
leave them with a sense of "better them than
- Labour Camps and Mines now generate 10mc each, so
are worth building. More to the point, if a camp
/ mine has enemy prisoners in it, the enemy's
happiness goes down - I believe the rate is one
point for EVERY full camp / mine. This has a
direct result on their tax returns /
susceptibility to Spying, so try to catch
prisoners and imprison them! The slave
trade could work out to mutual benefit if an ally
has a fortified base to set up labor camps
- You have lots of High Guard, compared to most
races. Put one on each ship, making the ships
almost immune to Spying. (It also improves their
weapon accuracy.) Put at least one at each
valuable Base: 40% of the time a high guard
ranger can stop an enemy spy attack on a base
that would have otherwise caused damage.
- You have the best
cloakers and some of the best troop ships in the
game. Be sure to use them for what
they were designed for!
- Boarding Your best offense in the game is to use
your troops to board enemy vessels. The only
ships with the guest quarters capable of
withstanding yours are the Cyborg Quietus and
Cubes and Peeps Offworld Colony. Even the
Stormer's Victorious is vulnerable to boarding if
you have the initiative, and yes, despite their
toughness, none of the Lizard ships stand up to a
full Fearless load of Troops. You have the Deth
Spec at tech level 6. The boarding laser can come
in handy in a number of circumstances. This very
versatile ship should be
liberally sprinkled throughout the universe. They
can board small ships on their own. If you team
them up with another one of your ships with large
guest quarters, you can give yourself a head
start by eliminating many of the target crew and
passengers with the boarding laser. If you would
rather just blast a ship (e.g. Borg Cubes with
more than 1,000,000 passengers) four Deth Spec
boarding laser hits will destroy ANY ship,
potentially before any regular combat. If you can
either steal or blast the heart out of an enemy
fleet on the move before combat, the balance
could swing in your favor. Don't be afraid of a
fight, but make it on your terms. Cloak and
scatter if a situation is not to your advantage.
Try leaving a light ship vulnerable so you can
identify boarding targets for the next turn.
- Tax rates: Liberal and
Complex give you slightly more cash but you take
a big hit on Happiness. Use Conservative or Ultra
Conservative for max happiness. Max happiness is
best strategy because it gives you more money in
the long run (I believe colonist happiness
figures in the tax formulae); it means your
colonists and natives breed faster; it makes your
empire resistant to spying; and happy natives
attract more natives.
Technologies: In general I have
found upgrading ships to be a bit of a pain, so I
plan out my overall tech strategy ahead of time.
I don't move my hull tech up past 2 (White
Falcon) until I can outfit ships with decent
components. You shouldn't be worried about overt
aggression until later anyway. Of course if the
Ghipsoidals build you engines, get your hull tech
up ASAP so you can fling tons of full speed ships
out early. Don't bother with Small Weapon Tech
past level 2 for a long time (or ever).
Raise shield and engine tech every turn. The
point defense systems below tech 5 (micro-sand)
are poor, so get that tech up and then take your
time. Raise your Large Weapon Tech when you have
the money, but not at the expense of items more
on your critical path. I usually am not in much
of a hurry to raise planet tech.
- Along the theme of doing
what you do well, decide what you are going to do
with your ships before you build them. My best
advice for arming your ships is to look over the
tables and experiment with Diplomat. The weapons
you use should be tailored to your opponent.
Concentrate on Ord weapons against the Crystals,
armor draining against the Lizards, shield drain
against the Feds, arcing against the
you get the idea. When your cash
flow allows, boost your scan range exotic tech to
improve your whole fleet.
I classify the roles for my fleet
in the following way:
A fleet of ships for a thrust into
enemy territory, or mustered against an
opponent's fleet. Good ships for this are
the Darkwing, DWG against Borg, with
Resolute, Deth Spec and Bright Heart to
go after opponent's light ships with
evasive bonus. Support the fleet with
additional Bright Hearts if enemy mines
are a problem or you want to lay your
own. Add the Red Wing to throw in some
fighters if you have the money. Use the
Skyfires to scan and haul cargo.
You need to have a spread of ships
scanning your borders. The Skyfire is
your only ship with decent scanners. You
will want to steal, barter, or spy your
way into a ship with long range scanners.
The Deth Spec has a fair amount of
firepower, huge attack bonus and is light
weight enough to sip fuel at 95LY/turn.
For good information on this ship go to
the Stormers Guide.
The White Falcon is a good armed
freighter. Of course your three startup
Skyfires will be primarily freighters at
first. I like to use SDSF's to seed lower
priority targets. Once you have the
engines, Neutronics can tow an SDSF out
to a cluster of planets sped up from
50LYPT to 90 LYPT.
The White Falcon, Fearless, and Resolute
have large guest quarters to lurk around
and board unsuspecting ships. The
Darkwing has large quarters as well and
will board, but that is not its primary
mission. The boarding laser from the Deth
Spec can be a big help, but since you
have low repair holds on most of your
ships, just stomp them with 30,000 troops
and drive away a pristine ship.
- Planet Defense
- The Avalor Station packs some powerful
heat and can do some major housekeeping
while it is at it. You need to nick some
ship plans to tow these around to realize
their full benefit. If the Ghipsoidal's
have left you a pile of engines, this is
a good place to use them. The Swift may
fend off very light ships and freighters.
Mostly it is just an alarm system (I just
blew up over planet X), but what do you
expect for Tech 1. If you see them coming
your 200 guests can board a lightly
will want to round out the holes in this fleet.
You need some terraforming ships. You can't tow,
so look to an ally for this trade, since you
won't have to give up a great ship plan to get a
mediocre ship with decent tow power. How about
the Stormer's Saber? It is not their best ship,
but paired up to tow an Avalor station it looks a
lot better. The Feds have good scanners on most
of their ships. The Peeps Anthem Intelligence
Probe would light things up quite nicely and
would be efficient to tow around with a hull mass
of 8 KT. You have the best cloakers in the game,
so you could go after the "do
everything" University Incident in trade.
Since you will be trying to hijack ships instead
of blowing them up, a hacker droid will be very
valuable. There are only a few in the game, try
to get one.
Anti - Birdmen Tactics
- Keep your happiness up
- Share information about
their location with others because stealth is
their critical strategic advantage.
- Try to be unpredictable
about ship movements unless you want to see them
coming back at you flying the Birdmen Flag.
- You need lots of plantary
defenses to counter the Birds fairly high ground
combat rates. (Watch out for them establishing a
base on your planet as well since they are hard
- On offensive, blast their
bases from the safety of orbit.
- Mines, mines, and more
- Blind them by taking out
any ship you see. The cloaking ships all have
- Use Lokis to decloak ships
- Ally with Crystals or
Lizards. The Birds are most vulnerable to