"Naming Designs: Disinformation Tactics" by Barry Kearns 1997 Any

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Naming: Disinformation by: Barry Kearns> One of the things that I like to use in PBEM games (note that the following will do you NO GOOD WHATSOEVER against the computer players.. a human-only tip for a change!) is the power of disinformation. Rick has posted tips which can aid you in confusing your opponents. I'd like to add a few, specifically ones that have no "cost" in game terms to implement (just a little patience on your part..). These are especially useful in PBEM games, since there's typically a time gap between each turn, giving you a little extra time to implement these as frequently as you like.

I think that using several, or all, of these in combination can generate enough in headaches for your opponents that they justify the time/effort required on your part.

1. Name all of your ship designs the same name. The interface won't stop you from doing this. You'll have to be pretty careful when selecting them in the production queue (Hint: write down the production cost of each design, and adjust periodically for tech advances). If your opponents are the least bit complacent, they can easily miss design changes that you have made. Once your ships are out of the production queue and exist in reality, be sure to RENAME the fleet, to make it easier on you when you try to track them. Your opponent can't see your fleet names, only your ship design names. (This rename tactic applies also to many of the following ship-naming tips as well). A less drastic form of this is to "re-use" ship names that you used earlier, for an entirely different class of ship.

2. If you're not up to that much work, choose a non-descript category, like flowers, trees, boys/girls names, etc. and name all of your ship designs generically based on that category. There's no sense in advertising the fact that your cruiser *IS* a cruiser...

3. Conversely, if *you're* willing to pay close attention, try the "full disinformation" tactic. Name your scout and colonizer designs "Stalwart Defender", "Epsilon Cruiser", "Mog", "Crunchy Critter", etc. This works ESPECIALLY well if you combine it with the not-often-mentioned fact that you only get a "shortcut look" at whatever the MAJORITY ship-type is in a mixed-fleet. So if you're sending a mining/freighter mission to a particularly nice planet, you might also include four or five cheap scouts in the fleet. They're nice for diversionary tactics, but they're really there to mask your true ship designs. You name your mining ships "Delta Frigate" and your transports "Gamma Destroyers", but name your scouts "Armed Scout". Your opponent clicks on your fleet, sees listed "4 Armed Scouts, 3 Delta Frigates, 3 Gamma Destroyers", and right-clicks on the fleet picture. He sees that, sure enough, those "Armed Scouts" really ARE armed scouts, and (maybe) thinks twice before attacking the fleet.

4. If you know that you're playing against really detail-oriented opponents, here's one that'll drive 'em nuts. On a regular basis, go around and split all of your fleets using "Split All" (Be sure you have less that 512 ships, or that you do this carefully..) Then choose a ship other than the one that was "named" and merge them back again, then name the fleet back to what it was. This can have the net effect of changing the fleet number of EVERY fleet you have. If they've invested time and effort into trying to track your movements/strength by watching fleet numbers, this tends to make their work more difficult. If you're moving your fleets around from planet to planet at the same time, it makes it even worse.

5. If you're really a fan of putting "sand in the vaseline", try using ship names that have no pronounceable analog, and are all highly similar. You've got 26 characters in ship names to work with, so try something like _---_-_---_--_____--_-_-_ and VERY slight variants. It helps sometimes to take a tip from baseball, and come up with your own "code" system for recognizing these monstrosities. You might do something like put the "true indicator" as the first character, the last character, and the three characters after the first dash, etc. Other combinations that work well are zero's and letter O's, single and double quotes (my personal favorite... try out this: ""'"''"'''"'"'""''""""'''" as a ship name.), small L and the more pipe |, and single quotes with backquotes (the symbol under the tilde: ~) so this looks like: '`'`'`````'`'`'`'`'`'```'`

Combine this tip (or #1) with #3 above, and you can make it REALLY tough for your opponent to figure out what's in that armada that's rapidly closing in on his planet. Is it a heavy warship armada, or are those just freighters loaded down with colonists?!? I can't tell, because of those stupid scout hulls. Hmmm. Try to check the ship name in the enemy hulls dialog, let's see, was that five quotes and a double quote, or was it....

The real function of these types of tactics is to frustrate your opponents enough to where they stop TRYING to track and gather information about you and your fleets. Think of it as aversion therapy. Even if it doesn't work, at least you've tried, and it didn't really cost you anything.