Glistening Gems: Autarch's Guide to the Crystals

Contents:

1.) Intro.
1a.) Guide description
1b.) Race description
1c.) Players
2.) Setup
3.) Ships
3a.) Ship Designs
3b.) Arming your ships
4.) Advantages
4a.) Web mines
4b.) Regular Mines
4c.) Boarding party
4d.)Terraforming
4e.) Population
5.) Disadvantages
5a.) Web mines
5b.) Ship size
5c.) No cloning
6.) Offensive capabilities
6a.) Cloakers
6b.) Battle Groups
6c.) How to Attack with the Crystal Race
7.) Defensive capabilities
7a.) Web fields
7b.) Ship Jobs
7c.) How to Defend the Crystal Race
8.) Planet Management
9.) Analysis of the other Races
9a.) Feds
9b.) Lizards
9c.) Bird Men
9d.) Fascists
9e.) Privateers (Privs)
9f.) Cyborg
9g.) Empire
9h.) Robots
9i.) Rebels
9j.) Colonies
10.) General Tips and Summary

11.) Thanks and info

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1.) Introduction:

1a.) Guide Description

This guide was written due to the frustrating lack of Crystal guides on the Net. The Crystals are an often over-looked race, brushed off as weak and not much of a threat. That is, until one either plays them, or one runs into someone who KNOWS how to play them...

For the beginner and intermediate, this is the guide for you. If you're an expert, and I am not, you don't need this. The Guide is a conglomeration of stuff I have read, learned, and played. This guide is based on Host 3.22.16, but I don't think real significant changes have occurred in the newer host programs. I use VPA (Vga Planets Assistant), and I have been playing for almost a year now. Many thanks are in order, and I'll get to them in the end.

1b.) Race Description

So, who are these Crystals, anyway? Well, the docs say this: "Crystal People are a silicon based life forms about 3 foot tall, with no limbs and a metallic color. They have two large glowing eyes in the middle of their polyhedron form. Larger Crystalline ships are very powerful and tend to favor beam type weapons. They have several small ship types that are useful in exploring planets and capturing freighters. Their main weapon of choice is the dreaded web minefield. They use these fields to trap enemy vessels, drain them of fuel and then tow the victim home after it is out of fuel to force it to surrender using a tow capture.

They own a ship that will turn all planets into deserts. Onyx Class Frigate: Will make any planet turn into a hot boiling pool of rock and desert (temp 100). The Crystal People can lay WEB MINES in space that cause starships to come to a dead stop for one month. Any ship that is in a web minefield loses 25 KT of fuel per turn trying to keep the shields up."

This pretty much sums it up, and gives you an idea of some advantages, which I'll explain in a minute. But be forewarned: you are a wanted race. The Borg, Privs, and Crystals, in that order, are what people want exterminated quickly. You're #3 on the most wanted list, so watch your back.

1c.) Players

Before I go any farther, I want you to know what kind of a person should play the Crystals. Don't get me wrong- anyone can do it. But in order to be successful, it helps if you have a certain mindset. If you like coordinating large fleets of huge, impressive carriers, this race is not for you. If you like using cloakers to sneak around into enemy territory, hitting and running all the time, this is not for you. If, however, you like to wait, watch, lay traps, out-think and out-maneuver your opponents, then you found the race for you. The Crystals are often called the "thinking man's race." This is true- you're the one who lays the webs like a spider, catching all those flies, and then using them to destroy your foe...

2.) Setup:

The Crystals are a fun and flexible race to play, but there are certain settings which will help you along in playing.

A.) Web mines:
Make sure that they are on. Plain and simple, they help you survive and win.

B.) Crystal/Privateer Boarding Party= YES
You can board ships after they are drained by your webs and take control. You want this, as you can use the ship right away.

C.) Crystals like Desert Worlds= YES Your race thrives on these planets, and make sure your host gives you a homeworld that's desert, too. You don't need this handicap.

D.) Web Sweep Range= 0 Light-years
You want your enemy to be INSIDE your Webs, which is what, most of the time, the case will be anyway.

E.) Normal Mines Destroy Web mines= NO
The Bots will come, drop their 4X minefields on yours, and come steaming right in. Any race could pull this stunt, not necessarily the 'Bots. You don't want this.

F.) Chances of hitting a Web Mine per lightyear= 5%
Default for normal mines is one percent, the higher for webs the better. Don't play if this is lower than 5%. This is for cloakers as well. Regular mines cloaked is 0.5%, while 5% with webs.

G.) Web minefield Decay= 5%
Both normal and web minefields decay at the same rate. The lower, the better especially for you.

H.) Colonies can sweep Webs= NO
This would allow the Colonies to come in with their scores of fighters and sweep your mines away. Default web mines per fighter is 3, meaning each fighter destroys three mines. Multiply that by 120 fighters, and you have 360 mines gone, that might not have been. Kiss your small fields good-bye.

I.) Science Vessels= Yes
Can't use your terraformer with out it. No terraformers will work, and you need these to.

J.) Ship with one engine can tow= YES
Very handy, allowing your Opals and Topaz to tow, and your smaller freighter versions. Also, with your tow/capture, use the freighter with 1 engine to run out an grab 'em.

K.) Ships without fuel can move= NO
This really doesn't bother you all that much, because if they have no fuel, they aren't going to get out of your web fast. And you'll have captured them soon anyway.

3.) Ships
I am going to use the default ship designs, as I know that there are slightly different versions of ships out there.

Opal Class Torpedo Boat (Beams: 1 Torps: 1)

Uses: Use it as a scout in the beginning. But, once the game is going, and you get those planets up and running, use this to be a pain in the butt. Make sure that it has high-tech torpedo launchers, and you can make a nice little web. Hopefully snagging that nasty ship chasing you.

Topez Class Gunboat (Beams: 4)

Uses: Practically useless. No tubes, use the Opals instead. Don't even waste the shipslot for it.

 

Ruby Class Cruiser: (Beams: 4 Torps: 2)

Uses: Use this as my main intermediate warship. It's cheap, light, and has a *huge* cargobay- 370 kilotons! Put Mark 8 torpedoes on it, and a 192 light-year minefield pops up, nailing ships all over. If you are low on stuff, and need to build a good ship, build one of these.

 

Sky Garnet Class Destroyer: (Beams: 7 Torps: 1)

Uses: You can use this as the tow/capture ship. It could be used as a minesweeper as well, with it's 7 beams. I prefer the former use. Don't build too many, you have better ships than this.

Emerald Class Battlecruiser: (Beams: 8 Torps: 3)

Uses: Nice compact ship. One of the best for all you unregistered players (but it's more fun to register!). Cargoroom is 510 kilotons- better than two MDSF combined. Almost half the cargo room of a large deep space freighter (LDSF), but with weapons on it. Use these to fix up those deteriorating web mines. Diamond Flame is much better for conflicts though. So use this in beginning battles, and lightly defended planets.

Diamond Flame Class Battleship: (Beams: 10 Torps: 6)

Uses: This is your tech 9 ship, and you can't sneeze at it. The major problem is the mineral cost- 390 kts of Moly! Ouch. This is the ship you send into battle. The cargobay of only 90 kts can put a damper on it's effectiveness though.

Crystal Thunder Class Carrier: (Beams: 6 Torps:0 Fighter Bays:8)

Uses: Even though this is a tech 10 ship, it's only slightly better than an Instrumentality. It can be more. The Dreadlord Battlemanual says that you'll lose 8480 mc and 393 Molybdenum if she goes down. (That's 80 fighters, and the hull cost.) Not cheap- but if you pair it with a Diamond Flame, you can kick serious butt. How serious? Try Golems, Biocides, and the like. Will you be damaged? Sure. You might lose now and then too. But your ships are cheaper than most other's.

Freighters:

Uses: The Small (SDSF) one is no good. Too small. Use it in the beginning, then colonize it. The Medium (MDSF) one I use alot. The cargo is okay, and it helps to shuttle stuff around to your homeworld or nearby bases.

The Large (LDSF) one is the best for your money, with a decent cargo hold.

The Super Transport- forget it. Waste of time, money, minerals, and a shipslot.

The Neutronic Fuel Carrier: The Feds, Borg, and Robots don't have 'em. Trade them, and use them, since you need the fuel to fuel those captured ships.

Refinery Ships:

Uses: The Neutronic Refinery ship makes gas out of a mineral and supplies. Nice to have around.

The Merlin Class Alchemy Ship makes any mineral except

neutronium out of supplies. Put it around a Bovonoid planet. Build them if you need them.

3b.) How to arm your ships

You aren't seeking combat. Therefore, you don't need to arm your ships heavily. X-Rays are fine for your ships. The highest you need to go is Blasters (tech level 3), if you need punch. Let your enemy send you those nice high-tech beamed ships. They are going to need them to sweep your webs. So then you get them to use against their minefields. As for torps, I upgrade to Mark 7s (Tech level 8). I use Mark 4 (MK4s) in the beginning, as they costs 13 megacredits per torpedo. The MK7s I use for my Diamond Flame, since it will need them to take down enemy shields.

This way, you save a whole lot of money, since other races are going to upgrade their stuff, and be low on cash for a while. You need the cash to get going, and this way you have some.

4.) Advantages:

4a.) Web Mines

These are your race specialty, and are the things that let you win. Web mines suck gas out of the ships that are in the field. 25 kts per turn of fuel, per turn, per ship. What if a ship strikes a web mine? Then the ship loses 1/6 of it's fuel, or 50 kts, which ever is greater. They are also stuck, and have stopped moving. This means that next turn they lose *another* 25 kts of fuel for starting out in the web field.

4b.) Regular Mines

You can make these, like every other race. I usually don't, web mines are more effective, and cost the same. But you can throw these in a minefield for extra explosions. Nothing is worse than running into a web mine, and then next turn running into a regular one. Or vice versa. Then the ship is as good as yours, that is, if it isn't toast...

4c.) Boarding Party

This is a feature that the Privateers (Privs) have as well. What it means is this: any ship without fuel you waltz up to, but a tow lock on, and next turn, it's all yours. You take the crew of the ship and stuff them out the nearest airlock, and take over. Some races have cowardly soldiers, and they'll defect to your side. These are the four races, and the percentage of the crew who will go traitor:

Race %traitor

Feds 90 %

Privateer 100 %

Empire 40 %

Colonial 70 %

When you board the ship, unless they are Privs, you are going to have to have someone over there to run the captured ship. So you divide the crew complement of the first ship. Example: Let's say you get lucky, and a Bird Man Resolute gets caught in a web. The Resolute has about 380 crew members. You chug out there with an Opal, with a crew of 25. You put a tow lock on the ship. What happens? You take all the Bird Men, tell them to go fly in the vacuum, and 12 Crystals stay to take control of the Resolute. Why twelve? Because 12 is roughly half of 25.

The tow/capture can be disabled with the friendly code: "nbr".

4d.) Terraforming

You have in your possession the Onyx Class Terraformer. What's it do? Cook planets. Your race likes it *hot*, and that's what these little guys are for. Suppose you find that Humanoid Unity planet, but it is Arctic 3? Bummer, huh? (It happened to me.) What do you do? Send a few Onyx ships over. NEVER use one by itself- it'll take forever. Besides, it's not very strong. Send about five, being towed by LDSFs, or by better teched Onyxes. Protect this guy with web mines over those important planets.

4e.) Population

Your race has a cool ability that is not well known. I had to try this for myself, upon reading it. Your race can have 1000 clans per degree of temperature! Remember that Arctic 3 Humanoid Unity planet I mentioned just a second ago? I dumped colonists on it, until I had 3000 clans. Then I brought a LDSF with another 1200 clans. I put them on the surface, and next turn, all 1200 clans had froze to death. Good thing you have that terraformer.

The formula is like this: 1000 clans x temperature on planet.

Type 50 planet: 5,000,000 Crystals max.

Figure it out: 100 colonists per clan x 1000 clans x 50 (the temp)= 5 million Crystals!

5.) Disadvantages:

5a.) Web mines

You're probably wondering why I put this in here as a DISadvantage. My reasoning is simple- webs cost a lot of cash to upkeep, and lay in the first place. You say, "They cost the same as regular mines." Exactly. Regular mines are expensive too, and the Crystals main problem is money. Or the lack of it. Get your economy going FAST.

5b.) Ship size

Let's face it- your ships stink. They are great armed transports, but aside from the Thunder, Diamond Flame, and maybe the Emerald, your ships are not big. You see a fleet of high-teched- beamed Biocides coming, and all you have are Emeralds and Rubies, well, you're dead. Armed transports aren't worth a spit in the wind against most other ships.

5c.) No Cloning

And on top of all this, you can't clone! When you finally get that Dark Wing, and you really want it cloned, go find someone you can trust besides the Privs. (They can't clone either.) Otherwise, start using the captured ship.

6.) Offensive Capabilities:

6a.) Cloakers

Many guides say that you need cloakers to be offensive in the game. This is partly true. Having a cloaker in Crystal hands will make

other races bite their nails. Why? Because you could drop a big web minefield right in their shipping lanes. See a ship you want? Drop a web. See a planet you want? Drop a web, and have a fleet take it. If the cloaking races are smart, and are attacking, they'll throw high beamed, no torp tube cloakers at you. No matter what they are, cloakers are a great help to you, but torped ones are prefered.

6b.) Battle Groups

One ship will not win the war for you. A fleet will. As stated earlier, don't plan on coordinating huge carriers if you're playing the Crystals. (Unless you capture them...) A good battle group is an Emerald or a Ruby, paired with some Opals. Opals don't suck gas, and they can go far. What you are aiming for in this battle group is to make overlapping minefields. The more fields, the higher chance you enemy gets stuck, and the more fuel gets taken. You Emerald/Ruby should be fueled up, and loaded with torps. It then lays a big minefield, which the Opals scoop up the torps, carry them away a bit, and lays more fields for an overlapping effect. Viola!

Another battle group, essential for your survival, is the Diamond Flame/Crystal Thunder combo. The Diamond Flame either tows around your Thunder, or is at least with it. You send your Diamond Flame in first, loaded with some torps. It brings down the shields, of, let's say a Golem. The Crystal Thunder comes in, shields up, launches the fighters, and wastes it.

You might be scratching your head at this. But think- the Crystal Thunder/Diamond Flame combo is cheaper to use and maintain than a fleet of Golems/Rushes/Gorbies, or whatever. The Diamond Flame gets eaten, but you will use the Crystal Thunder more. Make sure that you have supplies onboard or nearby, to fix the Crystal Thunder. You don't want to lose one, if possible.

6c.) How to Attack with the Crystal Race

First off, please, don't attack until you are set up. If you attack, and don't have a place to scurry back to, you'll wind up as jewelry for the other races. Not a noble end for a great spacefaring race. Once you are setup, attack. When I mean setup, I mean all shipping lanes covered with webs, all major planets, and several starbase up and running. Get your self up and able to withstand a long siege. Then, attack your neighbors. Don't fight a two front war. Get a truce with one, and go for another. The races are explained in better detail later, but here is some general attack policies.

Move slowly. See a cluster of planets you'd like? Send a convoy. Diamond Flames make a good impression, just make sure you have enough for your combo battle groups. Take the planets, and then web mine the whole place. You see, your web mines are like moats. You effectively cut off anyone attacking, like a castle surrounded by a moat. You take the cluster of planets, it's gonna be hard to get them back. Use your webs as moats. Storm a planet, drop several web fields, and make it a fortress.

Trench warfare- remember World War I? Trenches stretched for hundreds of miles, and men died for several yards of ground. I'm an avid WWI fan, but that's a different story. How does this apply to VGAP? Simple- like your webs are moats, they are also trenches. You don't advance fast- that is not the style for your race. You grow slowly, and you want your enemy to feel the pinch. Find a good planet- let him burn his resources fighting you over it. You have plenty in reserve, and your webs make an exacting toll. What if he doesn't buy it and attack you? Taunt him. You *are* impregnable by this time, and start teasing him. You will eventually overwhelm him by just slowly eating his resources. Eventually, he'll get tired of retreating, and then attack you. He has to- otherwise he loses. Then you lay your traps, outthink him, and capture fleets of ships. Then, storm him and kill him. But do it wisely. Don't lose ships foolheartedly.

Cloakers- use your cloakers to disrupt enemy shipping lanes. See major traffic? Get right in the middle, and drop a ton of mines. Freighters slam into them, as do war ships. The your enemy has 2 choices- let it decay, or sweep it. And either way, it'll take a while to get rid of it.

7.) Defensive Capabilities:

7a.) Web Mines

You have the ability to withstand an attack, if you are entrenched. Don't go gung ho, and get clobbered, only to have the Biocides come knocking at your door. You *don't* need every single planet covered by web mines. This is a waste if you do. What do you cover then? Major planets, starbases, terraformers, battle group stations, and mutual borders with hostile races. Especially the last one. I played the Fascists once, and I was invaded by the Robots. I held him off, remarkably, but his minefields were all over. Then the Borg came up from underneath him, and attacked him. His minefields started decaying, and I say a *3* light-year gap between two of them, leading to the heart of his space. I took one cloaker (I didn't have many left), and slipped through, saying my prayers as I went. I made it through, and caused some havoc, blasted Qtankers and such. Never let kinks develop in your armor. These develop into holes, where enemy arrows can find a weak spot. As long as you have them covered, they have to go into a web field, and sweep, not slip by you.

7b.) Ship Jobs

There are certain jobs that your ships should do for defense. Tow/capture ships. You capture something nice, and you're not going to let it sit out there and collect dust are you? No. Send out your Sky Garnet, and tow it away, or board it. Or an Opal (if "one engine can tow" settings is on). Your Rubies and Emerald should be used as transports, and light attackers. Opals/Topaz as scouts, early colonizers, and battle group members. Crystal Thunder/Diamond Flame as defense with starbases, or offensive weapons. Use your ships wisely to kick someone out, if they get in.

7c.) How to Defend with the Crystals

First off, this shouldn't happen. There shouldn't be anyone smashing your core planets. Lay your webs here to stop them. The rule your enemies are going to follow is: high-tech beams. Lots of them. Which is where you have to figure out some things. You have a fleet knocking on your door, sweping your webs. Who's the biggest threat? The Brynhild with 6 Heavy Phasers? Or the Nocturne with 4 Blasters and 4 torp tubes? The Brynhild. Take it out. And remember- they have to be *in* your web to sweep them.

Use your smaller ships (Rubies/Emeralds) to attack medium ships. For the bigger ones, attack with the Diamond Flame/Crystal Thunder combo.

Surprise your enemies, move your webs. Scoop them up, lay them a couple of lys in a different spot. Keep the moving, make your enemy unsure, and he'll slow down. Got cloakers? Sneak up, and lay a couple of overlapping web fields for more fuel drain. You have the power to stuff and capture any fleet coming at you. There is no safer feeling in all of VGAP, then having an empire surrounded by web mines, making you impregnable.

8.) Planet Management

Money is your problem. Find those Unity planets, or Insectoid/Bovonoid planets fast. If it's cold, cook it with an Onyx. Get your defense posts up to 16 fast. 15 is the minimum to avoid scans, I prefer 16 better. Build 20 if you have the Feds, Robots, or Colonies nearby. It takes 20 dfs (defense posts) to block a bioscanner, which those races have. Tax your natives. More colonists = more money. More money = more web mines. Easy, eh? Build Starbases (SBs). You can't survive with one starbase alone. Find those Ghipsodial planets, and build those good engine warships. Your ships are rather inexpensive to build and arm, just see (3b.)

Use Amorphous planets. "What? How?" you might ask. "They'll eat my people, and I can't collect taxes from them." But supposed that a nearby Amorph planet got hit by a big meteor? Tons of Moly in the core.... This is what you do: Take a MDSF, fill it with 150 clans, some supplies, and some cash. Go over, and drop everything at once. Keep your tax rate at zero, but build those defense posts, mines and factories. *Your people will out breed the Amorphous eating machines.* Sure, you can't collect taxes, and people get eaten, but most people bypass these planets. You get into the endgame, where minerals start to get scarce to haul, and you have at least 50-75 Amorph planets in the Cluster. Untouched. Unblemished. Perfect. If you don't want to settle with the worms, ask your Fascist buddy to "pop" a Glory Device over the the planet, turning all Amorphs into supplies. This allows new natives to appear too (if option is on).

9.) Analysis of the Other Races

Here is where I am going to outline the races, what you get from allying with them, what they get, and how to deal with them if they are hostile. To save space, the 10 other races get from you: Web mine protection, a terraformer, decent transports/torp ships (Ruby,etc.), fuel carrier (Feds, Borg, Robots) and if they lack a half-way decent carrier (i.e Birds, Privs) you can give them one.

9a.) Feds

The Feds are a nice ally for you. They can clone no problem. They have cash with their 2x tax rate, something you need. Their ships are good, with a decent amount of beams. They can super-refit your stuff as well, if you feel the need to upgrade cheaply. The Feds are not a hard enemy. They are weak in the beginning, and their strength is in the empty hulls that they have, upgrading as they go. Use you webs, and snag their ships. They don't have a fuel carrier, so they have to haul gas to their front lines with LDSFs. Watch for their Lokis, you don't want your only cloakers blasted.

9b.) Lizards

The Lizards are nice to ally with. They provide you with cloakers, minerals galore (2x mining), and can HISS your planets for more cash. They have a very strong economy, and you can get a great deal from them. They can clone too. As enemies, they can be tough. The Lizards have a ground attack ratio, and their LCCs have a nice cargo space. Keep your planets stocked with people, and especially your secondary Starbases. You don't want to lose one because you didn't have enough people on the surface. Use your webs, and avoid combat directly. Their tech 10 ships (T-Rex and Madonzilla) are not that strong, and come into pairs or groups, like your Diamond Flame and Crystal Thunder. Lay traps for them, break up the fleets. Try to keep them out, and play in their yard. Watch for Lokis, if you get a cloaker, since the Lizards can build one like the Feds. Use the Thunder/Flame Combo wisely, as the Lizards take 150% damage.

9c.) Bird Men

The Bird Man fleet is almost entirely made of cloakers. You'd like a couple, and he doesn't want to fight you. His economy is worse off than yours, believe it or not. Ask for a Resolute (Advanced Cloak) or White Falcon (Huge gas tank - 430kts) You can get info from their superspy mission, and they'll clone the ships you capture. Don't tick these guys off, until you are entrenched. They'll come and rip all your money off, with their "bum" friendly code. You need the cash. Get your webs set, and if you catch a cloaker, increase the webbing. Especially if it is a Resolute. Dark Wings eat too much gas. If you can catch their lower tech ships out of cloak, nail them with a Diamond Flame, or teched up Emerald.

9d.) Fascists

Nice race, I like them. They clone, and have cloakers. They have their nasty pillage mission, which can generate a ton of cash. They also have Glory Devices (GDs), which explode when they detect a cloaker other than theirs. This is a ship advantage, and GDs would be nice for those snotty cloakers that get past your webs. Watch out if they attack. They can attack you, and your planets can not fight back. They are immune to ATT/NUK codes. Spring a Web mine surprise for them, since they cannot cloak and pillage at the same time. They also have a Ground Attack advantage, like the Lizards, a bit weaker though. Still, populate your planets. These guys can survive with 60 clans on desert planets. So even if you cook a planet, they can still live on it.

9e.) Privateers (Privs)

These guys have relatively weak ships. They have the tow/capture you do, and also have gravitronic cloaking ships. The one you want is their Meteor Blockade Runner (MBR). Their power relies on stolen ships, and they can't clone. Not a great ally. As enemies, they can be dangerous. They are the last of the cloaking races, but they can travel 162 lys in one turn. You don't see the attack coming, since it is far away, and probably cloaked. Keep your webs up, and if necessary, escort your ships. Make sure if you are in Priv territory, you set your fuel down on the planet, and set the mission to beam up fuel. They Privs will rob you, you beam up fuel, and toast them all.

9f.) Cyborg

Either ally with them, or destroy them, if they are close. That simple. As allies, they can clone, provide you with Cubes, chunnelers, and HYP ships. As enemies, they aren't that dangerous to a strong Crystal. If you see a Firecloud, destroy it. See the Firecloud, kill the Firecloud. See Firecloud, kill Firecloud. Simple. Their cubes are gas guzzlers, and they lack decent medium warships. Their HYP ship can be a pain, so beef up your defenses on your planets to prevent them from taking over and assimilating. Once they get a foothold on your native-occupied planets, it's gonna be a pain and time consuming to kick him out again. Web mines, Diamond Flame/Crystal Thunder combos, moving minefields, and the Borg will beat their cybernetic heads in frustration.

9g.) Evil Empire

They can provide you with free fighters for your Crystal Thunder. Their Dark Sense mission will let you know where to hit your enemy. They clone, and have the most powerful ship in the game, the Gorbie. Their Super Star Destroyer is immune to ATT/NUK codes, and all you have to do is drop ten clans on the surface of *any* planet, and it's yours. Even Homeworlds. This is a ship ability, not a race one. As enemies, they can be a pain. They can HYP to your planets, or Dark Sense any planets you own. He'll know right where to hit you. As such, think like him. Where would you go, if you knew what was vital? And go guard that spot. Keep his SSDs from your planet, and damage it, so it can't perform it's Imperial Assault. Avoid direct combat, unless necessary. Bait him, trap him, don't fight. He's got the greatest ship in the game, the Gorbie. The Empire has a tendency to spread out too thin, so look to break him.

9h.) Robots

These guys are *great* allies. They require excessive amounts of Duranium, but their ships are some of the best around. Heavy, tough, packed with fighters, and have huge gas tanks. Now, about that 4X mines per torp bonus. Everyway I have tried it, it doesn't work that well for you. If he lays the torps in your name, he lays them regularly, like you do.If he lays them, and scoops them, he doesn't scoop at one-quarter of what he laid. (Follow me?) So either I missed something, or I am right and it doesn't help you out that much. They can build fighters in space, so they can give you some. They can clone, and they'd like your Rubies, since the Cat's Paw is the only torp ship they have. As enemies, they can be scary. If "normal mines destroy webs" is on, they'll clean your clock for 1/4 of the price. Avoid direct combat with them, becasue you won't win. A Diamond Flame loses *every time* to an Instrumentality packed with fighters. Even if the Diamond Flame has Blasters and MK7s. Use your Flame/Thunder combo to take out their Automas, Golems, and Instrumentalities. Use overlapping web mines, otherwise the fuel drain won't stop them. Destroy their Cat's Paws, since then they can't make minefields. Watch out, since he'll probably be upgraded to MK8 torps. Find their Qtankers, and destroy them, limiting their free fighter ability. They, like the Fascists, can survive on desert planets with 60 clans.

9i.) Rebels

The Rebels are not the most stellar ally for you. They have a HYP ship, but they have no need for your terraformer. They survive nicely on Arctic planets. They are immune to ATT/NUK codes, can clone, and make free fighters for you. Their Rebel Ground Attack is very nasty. Two to three turns of RGAing, and you people are plunging into a civil war. Hence, get small web fields over your planets, to drain fuel quicker. Their ships are crappy, and you can beat them hands down, if you get them quickly. Otherwise they'll HYP away, or counter attack. Destroy their fighter factories, the Gemini Fighter Transport. One Ruby with MK4s will beat this thing easily. Diamond Flame/Crystal Thunder combo will toast their Rush.

9j.) Colonies

The can clone, have free fighters, and their Cobol. The Cobol is a bioscanner, and collects fuel from nowhere. Very handy to have around. They also have the Aires Class Transport, a much cheaper ship than the Neut. Refinery ship. It makes fuel out of minerals and supplies, but the hull is dirt cheap. Patriots are nasty, and will often be used in groups. Watch for them, and the Rebels have them too. If "Colonies can sweep webs" is on, get on their good side. Use your webs, and your Diamond Flame/Thunder combo to destroy his Virgo. They will probably be towed by Cobols, so count that into your combat simulations. (You do run sims, don't you?) They also have the Gemini, so destroy those. They are a very strong race when played right.

10.) General Tips and Summary

A.) Stay out of sight. You're a wanted race.

B.) Don't get a cloaking race mad early on.

C.) Be patient. Don't be aggressive, if you want to live.

D.) Get your economy going quickly.

E.) Use your Web fields. Overlap them, and scoop 'em. Keep them moving.

F.) Make an ally- 10 races against you will be a short game.

G.) Check your settings, and don't play if you're getting cheated.

H.) With HYP probes, set your Bases to "force a surrender", and the planet code HYP. That way, they HYP in, and they are yours. Otherwise, change your planet codes constantly.

I.) Have fun! It's a game!

11.) Thanks and Info

All in all, the Crystals are a very fun race to play. I enjoy them very much, and hope you learn some stuff from this guide. If not, well, it's not my fault. <G> If you want my advice, or want to offer your opinions, you are welcome to do so. I'd like to hear from you. I'd like to thank my friend Derek, who's a great host. If anyone like to play against me (I'm Crystals, of course), contact him. You have to like a "plain vanilla game." No add-ons, just you, your enemies, and your wits. His address is: dkalweit@eznet.net.

If you'd like to get in contact with me, the address is:

ewesta@juno.com.

If you can't reach me, talk to Derek, as he's a good friend, and he'll know where I am. I'd like to thank my friend Fred, as well, for getting me guides. Also my friend Dan, for being there. Before I go, if you are an avid Federation lover, check out the League Of Admirals, started by yours truly. The head Admiral now is Donovan, at donovan@xs4all.nl. He'll fill you in. If you can't reach him, get me, and I'll help you.

See you in my web!