Last Planet Stand(ing)

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Last Planet Stand(ing):

Even when we were down to LPS, I kept on scoutbombing.  Should I have stopped to help defend in the LPS?
The quick answer:  use common sense.  Watch where the enemies are picking up their armies from.  Ask yourself if the armies you're bombing are affecting them adversely in some way:

  1. Forcing them to retreat further from the front to get armies
  2. Making them visible on your teams' galactic maps when they normally wouldn't be (i.e., by being the scout "forward observer").
  3. Forcing them to waste time dogfighting/chasing you (assuming you're not a squashable scout).
  4. Forcing them to actually wait for pops/compete with each other for armies (not likely if they have 15+ planets).

If you're bombing armies in a quadrant that enemy ships don't even enter, the answers are probably no/no/no/no.  The idea behind scout bombing is not to bomb for the sake of bombing.  It's to make life harder on your enemies. [Terence Chang]

     Opinions differ, but I think it's reasonable to keep scout bombing right up until genocide. You can't be everywhere, so if you set yourself a duty like this, be content to stick to it even while your team loses.
     However, keep in mind the real goal of bombing in such circumstances:  to help prevent them from taking your last planet(s).  They will probably always have a few armies (i.e. enough to genocide you) no matter what you do, so the main idea is to make sure that they have to travel a long ways to pick them up after they get a kill.  So your priority should be to flatten the fuel and repair planets between the two home worlds, because those are the most convenient places for them to pick up armies.  It's less important to bomb the far reaches where nobody goes anyway (although this is a highly suitable role when you have serious net lag).  Also, you want to reduce the number of enemy ships with kills, not increase it.  Bombing is my favorite way to og; I just bomb until somebody with a kill comes to try to stop me, then I go for mutual destruction.  It's not worth giving up a kill just to bomb a couple armies, unless you think you can keep ALL of their planets flat. If you find yourself giving up kills, adjust your style so you're running away more; even if you get no bombing done, you'll distract some enemies sometimes, and you enable your team to see enemies on the galactic map that are near you.
     Another consideration is how capable a fighter you are, compared to your teammates, and this is partly dependent on lag.  I guess the most crucial roles, the ones that you want good fighters to be handling, are (1) ogging and (2) protecting/using the few armies that your planet produces.  Also you want a clueful defender to stay near the planet, someone that will reliably phaser a cloaker.  If your team isn't filling these roles, then maybe you'd better stop bombing and do one of them, and hope that you can hold out long enough to get some new teammates. [Herbert Enderton]

     The thing about last planet stands is, the defenders have all these ships near the planet, and the attackers have to come a long way to get there.  So if the attackers don't synchronize their attack, they'll always be severely outnumbered at the planet, and with equal skill levels on both sides, they'll seldom take it.  But if the attackers synchronize, they can get eight ships in the action at one time (for a brief time, to be sure), and during that time there's some chance of taking the planet.  If they keep trying attacks like this, which really don't take that long to set up, the planet will likely  fall.  But I've seldom seem this kind of syncrhonization.  So here are a few words (well, you know me, lots of words) of advice on how I think it can be best achieved:

  • The basic idea is to get everybody ready to charge from diverse angles simultaneously.  It's  like a base ogg.  You don't want to all meet at some planet, because if you all come from the same angle it's too easy for them to stop you.  During the set-up time, when you're waiting for your teammates to get up to the striking distance (which is typically about 1/6 galaxy width away from the target), it's essential that you be able to AVOID fights.  This is the skill of waiting, to be able to keep your ship healthy and full of fuel, even when there are enemies that want to force a mutual kill.  Useful tactics for waiting include pressoring, cloaking, and running.  I usually just use a handful of torps on ships that charge me, just to make them slow down. If you can do useful things while you wait, like protecting carriers, faking attack runs (without going into danger), or grabbing nearby armies, more power to you.
  • When enough people are ready (and it might be nice if they send a message like "ready", or else send a message like "fuel" if they look like they're in position but they're not ready), somebody usually gives the "go" signal, and the real action starts.  I like to have everybody cloak at this time.  This is a nice acknowledgement of the "go" signal, and also serves both to disguise who is carrying and to help avoid premature engagements.  It's very important to be able to trap some of the good defending oggers away from the action, and not kill them.  So the best time for the charge to start is right when the oggers have come out to get you.  Everybody cloaks and blows past them, and perhaps some of the escorts uncloak to pressor them and spray a few torps to slow them down so they can't get back to the planet in time.
  • A good rule of thumb is, once  somebody has called "go", don't kill anybody unless they're right at the target planet.  Even then, you have to be careful that your army-carrier doesn't get caught in the splatter.
  • The main medium of communication for coordinating such an attack is the galactic map.
    The attackers can see each other, can judge when enough people are equidistant to the target and apparently ready, and so forth.  Distress calls are good too, especially to show that you carry armies.  And name the target you're going for, if there's a choice.  But too much typing of messages is detrimental.

     The same ideas work when the defenders have multiple planets.  In this case you usually want to attack all of them simultaneously. Be sure not to argue about which planet to "leave for last".  Everybody will probably have a pretty good idea which planets are most valuable, but that doesn't mean they'll always attack there first.  For one thing they don't want to be too predictable, and for another, the defenders have a lot of say about which planet ends up last too, in the way they distribute their forces.  Concentrate on getting synchronization, and let people attack what they want to attack.  Similarly, sometimes you have some people who want to og the plasma scums, some who want to beam down armies, some who want to og their base (if they have one), some who want ogg a suspected army-carrier, etc.  So long as they all do it at the same time, they'll help each other out, even when going for different goals. [Herbert Enderton]

 How to avoid hurting your own team in last planet stands
Recently I've been on some bad teams that got reduced to their last couple of planets and on some of these occassions we've been genocided despite my efforts. I've noticed my teammates doing some things which I think are worse than useless, mistakes that actually hurt our team more than playing down a player would.

  1. Cloaking near our planets. I can only sometimes figure out which cloakers are enemies and which are on our team. Cloaked ogging is certainly an important tactic for the defender, and if you're moving away from Earth at high speed I can safely assume you're on our side, but be careful. Somtimes someone on my team will go to pick up armies while cloaked, and they look exactly like a bomber when they do this.
  2. Orbiting our planets too much. I certainly want my team to be near our planets, and the orbit-a-fuel-planet-and-fire-constantly technique is useful, but be careful, because a crowd of Feds on Earth (say) is very vulnerable to chain-reaction explosions. And two is a crowd. If you are in a crowd, have the common decency to detonate any torpedos that you can't dodge.
    There have been times when I've been unable to orbit a planet to pick up or put down armies simply because there's a teammate orbiting the planet, getting hit by torpedos and threatening to explode. The other problem with crowding around a planet is it obscures any enemy cloakers that manage to get on the planet.
  3. Stealing armies. It's incredibly aggravating when somebody picks up the only army or armies your team has, doesn't pay attention to messages saying to bring it back, and dies with it or wastes it on a planet you can't take. The hard-won profit of all your careful guarding can be thrown away by one stupid player.
  4. Bombing planets we ask not to bomb except in an assault ship. An assault ship has a chance (20% or so) of bombing a planet to just 1 army. If your team has just 2 free armies available, by trying an assault ship bomb on each of the planets you're interested in taking, there's hope of taking one. Sometimes you have to wait for the planet you want to pop before you have any chance of taking it. Unfortunately I don't think I've been on a team bad enough to get reduced to 1 or 2 planets but good enough to read their team messages and forbear bombing those enticing enemy-owned core planets. Even more than #3 this is a case where one bad player can ruin a team's chances.
  5. Giving away kills. This is always a problem, but can be especially pronounced when the good fighters are hanging back defending the planets and the bad ones are blithely flying into streams of torpedos.
  6. Arguing with teammates and getting them upset. I'm certainly guilty of this much of the time. When I start to lose, and my teammates start doing stupid things such as the ones on this list, I get upset, tell them to "stop doing X", and then they either ignore me, question why, argue with me, or reply with abusive messages, any of which makes me more upset. It's difficult to play well while angry or upset, and impossible to play well while typing messages.
  7. Sometimes I count on somebody to do the obvious thing, and they don't. Like there might be two players staying near a planet, and I assume that they'll shoot at the incoming cloaker, so I do something else.

Now if you want to actually be helpful, not merely avoid being harmful, the main things are to dodge torpedos and to shoot nearby enemies, especially cloakers. Beyond that, there are lots of useful roles, e.g. ogger, defender of one planet, scout deep-bomber, assault ship nearby-planet bomber, space control fighter, planet taker, and flexible respond-where-needed defender.
Sorry if this all sounds critical and negative. Most likely the readers of this newsgroup aren't likely to make these mistakes too often anyway. I'm mainly posting this by way of explaining why I get upset and send nasty messages during the game sometimes, something that I really should never do. [Herbert Enderton]

After a brief argument via the message window that certainly harmed my team tonight, I thought I'd explain a strategy I like for defending the last planet. It's simple. You take an assault ship and orbit the planet (which must have fuel), firing continuously at all nearby enemies (especially the cloakers), and detting any torps that will hit you. When no enemy is in range, you go into repair mode. Why an assault ship?

  • With an adequate fuel supply, their torpedos are the BEST. They go warp 16, do 30 points each, and have a longer range than any other ship's. (Yes, they go off the screen. You can orbit Draconis and kill ships near Sirius; that's about where the torps peter out.) True, cruiser and battleship torps do 40 points each, but they're slower (warp 12), so if the same proportion of torpedos hit, all three ships deliver the same amount of torpedo-damage-per-second for any given distance. (Mulitply torp damage times speed). And with warp 16 torps you can expect to hit more often.
  • When the planet pops, you want an assault ships to carry the armies, not only because it's the best ship for beaming down armies (if you det often while beaming down it will take a lot of torps to blow you up, even with no shields), but because it can bomb a planet from 5 armies to 1 or 2 fairly often (40% chance). Also with one kill you can pick up three armies, which is almost always enough to take a second planet.

I'm not saying that everybody on the defending team should be an assault ship. A BB with plasma, waiting an inch away from the planet and dodging slowly will be a more reliable planet-defender. But you've got to have at least one assault ship on your team if you want to have much chance of retaking a second or third planet.
The orbit-the-planet trick has a couple of dangers. First of all, you can't dodge very well like that, so one good escort can easily take you out. Secondly, you might obscure an enemy cloaker, should you be careless enough to let one get by you. But most importantly, unless you religiously detonate any torps that will hit you, you present a danger to any of your teammates who might want to orbit the planet. Remember that any torps that hit you will damage everybody nearby (except the person that fired them). If you det them, they will not hurt your teammates at all, and won't hurt you nearly as much. If you explode from detting so much, that will hurt your nearby teammates too, but it's not as nearly bad as letting torpedos explode on you.
The other point I want to make about last planet stands is what to do when your planet pops. Before it pops, it's reasonable to have some people out trying to ogg, some people bombing (preferably anybody too lagged or too unskilled to be able to shoot a cloaker), and just a couple reliable defenders back at the planet as goalkeepers. But when it pops, everybody on the opposing team becomes a threat, not just those with a kill, and also you may need to control the space around the planet well enough that one of you can pick up the armies without getting ogged to death. This typically requires the entire team to be there. (I'm kind of assuming that a team in a last-planet stand is inferior to their attackers.) And then you then want to bomb the nearby candidate-second-planets intelligently. So if you're out ogging and your planet pops to 6 or more, I recommend dying and coming back in to assault-ship-bomb candidate planets (or non-assault-ship-bomb them to precisely 5), or else to intercept oggers and det torps in order to save your planet-taker. [Herbert Enderton]

I'm underwhelmed by Red Shirts (above) strategy. Here's why.

  1. During a last planet stand, the last thing you want is to have someone orbitting the planet in anything unless they are repairing or refueling. The more people on a planet, the higher the odds of a chain reaction. This means that one well timed ogg can often destroy 3 or 4 defenders, making a planet grab much easier. Having a ship that is regularly orbitting increases the odds of this.
  2. At extreme range, the dispersion of torpedos makes significant damage from an assault ship spread improbable. At shorter range, a Battleship can do more damage and has much stronger tractors/pressors. Since the main goal in most planetary defenses is to stop cloakers, the higher phaser damage from the battleship is far more significant than the assault ships faster torpedoes.
  3. A battleship or cruiser can leave the planet and fight if it has to far better than an assault ship. This increases the odds of both personal and team survival when a cloaker does get through.
  4. A battleship with shields takes almost as much damage as an assault ship with shields, and takes it in shields longer. Therefore, in a crunch the battleship can often get the armies off the planet more quickly and safely than an assault ship.
  5. An assault ship with kills is a much more likely target than a battleship with kills. And if oggers are attacking, the battleship has much better odds of fending them off. Again, this increases the armies chances for survival.
  6. While orbitting a planet, its difficult to place 8 torpedos into someone. its easy to place 2 or 3 and have the rest det when the player starts detting. The orbitting ship therefore is no safer.

From the battles I've been in, its much better to put a few battleships near the planet and have them crush anything that gets remotely close while the rest of the team oggs enemies with kills and bombs. This keeps the planet safe and keeps the enemy from having large numbers of people who can carry armies. Once you reach that state, you can target the dangers and eliminate them until your planet pops. Then have someone grab the armies while someone else in an assault ship clears a target. And have everyone guard the ship with armies. [Thomas Omar Smith]


>    Anyway, what other stategies are used to get the last planet?

I think the most important thing to get the last planet is to have some synchronization on your team. What screws most LPS breaking attempts is that at any one time, you have 3 people scumming kills, 3 people either picking up or ogging, and 2 people carrying to the home planet. So, what happens is a clue goes out, kills one of the people picking up, dies to a kill scum, and then reappears at the homeworld in time to kill one of the carriers coming in.
To take the last planet, you have to have some sense of what the other people on your team are doing, and try to work with them. If someone on your team is almost at the planet, obviously the worst thing you can do is teleport a good player home. Of course, when that good player is charging you with shields down trying to run into your torps, it's hard to remember that. This is why scums hate LPS, because they never bother to think about anyone but themselves, and so they are completely helpless in LPS since it's very hard to do anything useful by yourself.
It's generally a good idea to try to draw enemies away from the last planet. In fact, it can be useful to completely run away for a while, so that the defenders get bored and move out away from their last planet a bit.
It's usually a good idea to get multiple carriers, because that makes life much harder for the good defenders. If there's only one person carrying, then the good player can chase them all over the galaxy, while if there are multiple carriers, then he has to stay near the homeworld to make sure one doesn't sneak in behind him. If you are carrying, and a good player comes after you, the best thing you can do is try to get him to chase you, and live as long as you can so that your teammates can take the planet while the good player is away (and don't kill him! since you're just a decoy anyway, give your teammates as much time as possible,                       make him fly all the way home).
I usually don't pick a planet for the LPS. You always want to try to get the core agri when they are at 4 planets or so, and it's nice to try to pick off the homeworld, but I'm usually happy with any of the other three core planets for the LPS. If you take too long being choosy, it's too likely for them to get some armies and retake their core agri, which makes your life a lot harder. Many times it can be useful to leave one of the planets neutral, so that they might defend it, and if they get armies they might take the neutral instead of trying for the core agri (it's a lot easier to retake a random planet in the core than an agri).
One of my favorite plans for attacking LPS is the frisbee plan (it works a lot better if the LPS isn't fuel). Have everyone (or most everyone) on your team get a kill and pick up armies, preferably in a big ship like an assault. Once you have your kill, run away from oggers (preferably towards a teammate, so he can scum a kill too).
Once about 5 or 6 people have armies, have everyone cloak and run to the enemy last planet. First run around in circles for a while until the twinks waste all their fuel, then go in for the planet one at a time (send in the decoys first!). It will be a slaughterhouse as the clue slice one carrier after another, but as long as you avoid exploding on each other the clue just doesn't have enough fuel to kill everyone, and eventually one of the assaults gets on the planet and the great defender doesn't have enough fuel to kill you before you drop your armies.
The best part about it is that it's entertaining enough that you can convince your team to go for it. Everybody loves the frisbee plan :-) It doesn't work so well if the LPS is fuel (because the enemy can orbit the fuel planet and fire)..you have to have someone uncloak and ogg the guys orbitting the planet (but, on the other hand, if you can kill one of them then the explosions should take down all of them). Still, against a good defense it can work as well as anything else. [Andrew Markiel]

The basic method for defending a LPS is brute force space control.  In other words, take a CA and clobber the shit out of the nearest ship to your home planet, dying in the process.  (You have to die because it's the fastest way of refueling and repairing.)  Or alternatively take a BB and do the same.  BBs are probably better for beginners to do this in; experienced people will want the CA since it's more versatile.
The theory is simple.  If the enemy can't live in your space, they can't:

  1. take planets
  2. escort
  3. bomb

Since you are fighting close to your home planet, the enemy takes longer to get back to the scene of the action than you do.  This is the immense innate advantage of the LPS defender, and the way to use the advantage is massive slaughter.
The only problem is that you're on a team of twinks who got themselves into LPS in the first place.  Which means you might be better off just guarding the damn last planet.  You might be the only one who can do it properly.
If there are two of you, great.  You can play 'hammer and anvil'.  The anvil sits on the last planet and kills incomers.  The hammer goes out and attacks.  Hammer is a slightly harder (more fun) job since if done well no single attack will get past the hammer undamaged.  But do cooperate.  Two anvils, or two hammers, are worse than one hammer plus one anvil.  It doesn't take two to cooperate, either.  It only takes one.  Just have a look at what your one competent teammate is doing, and do the opposite.  You don't even need to send messages.
The hammer should know about space control.  When there are no carriers he should do space control pure and simple: kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out.  When there are carriers, things get more complicated. Actually when there is one carrier it's not so bad.
The algorithm is:

  1. Attack the carrier.
  2. If the carrier is escorted, kill the escorts first.
  3. If anybody gets in the way, he is considered an escort.

When there are two or more carriers, things are messier.  Consider this scenario:
Three carriers are incoming.  Two enemy ships are escorting one of the carriers.  You have a good 'anvil' at the last planet, and everybody else is clueless.  You have about 20 seconds to do whatever you want before everybody arrives.
So... what on earth to do?  Outnumbered 5 to 2...nice odds!  We pause ten seconds for station identification:
This is the netrek clue network.
Certainly you should not ogg one of the unescorted ships.  A few people are dumb enough to do such a thing.  But what will probably happen is that your target will run.  Then your anvil will be left alone against a doubly escorted carrier, who will have every chance of taking the planet.

  • Perhaps ogg the escorted ship?  No!  His escorts will prevent it; at worst they will cripple you and leave you behind, sweeping in to the planet, blowing away the anvil, and taking it.
  • Perhaps wait at the last planet?  Uh uh.  The two escorts will have a reasonable chance of killing both you and the anvil; then the carriers will get through.  At least one will drop armies.

I claim there's only one decent solution: ogg one of the escorts.  Reappear at the home planet before the wave arrives.  There, it'll be two of you against one escort.  The escort will ogg one of you, and the other, fully fueled and ready, can have some fun with the three now-unescorted carriers.  Holding off three unescorted carriers is well within the realm of what a clueful player can do.  Especially since he only has to hold them off long enough for you to reappear. 
Oh, and forget about Custer's last stand.  LPS is more like the Battle of Omdurman.