"Packet Protection" by Jason Cawley 1997 v2.6/7
Packets: Protection from
By Jason Cawley
Presently, there are two ways that I know of to protect your colony from packets:
There are a few packet calculators out there which, if applied in reverse, will give you an indication of how well your world will be protected from an incoming packet. If you have a mass driver on your colony, this will provide some protection from the evil packet preparing to slam into your colony. If there is some warning of 2 or more years, and you have prepared in advance, there is another way;
You absolutely must have fast cargo ships for this task (I prefer Large Freighters (LF) for their capacity/cost, but any freighter with sufficient space will do.) It is helpful to have a capacity of at least 5000kt (4 LF's with cargo pods will do.) The object is to intercept a packet and load the materials from the packet into your cargo hold. But, it doesn't always work. If you set your ships to intercept the packet with an auto load command, and you do not have the capacity, you will not pick up any of the packet. This is a drag, and is why you want to make sure that you have a high capacity for your ships.
If you know that you cannot intercept a packet in time, note the x/y coordinates where the packet "stops" between turns the year before it hits your colony. Send a cargo fleet there (cloaked freighters are best of course.) and wait for the next packet. Unless the speed of the packet changes, you should be in position to siphon off minerals, regardless of whether or not you have the full capacity.
These are quick answers to packet problems, and packets are problems. It is a shame that there is not a better planetary defense for packets. It would be interesting to have a "packet cannon" which could send some sort of projectile or energy long distances to break up and reduce the impact of an incoming packet. Or some such thing. They say for every offence there is a defence, but I think that you should have an alternative in your orbital slot to having another mass driver to catch packets.
> These are quick answers to packet problems, and packets are problems. It
> is a shame that there is not a better planetary defense for packets.
You left out the best defense against packets there is - planetary defenses. Build them. With energy tech 10 and full defenses you'll reduce the damage taken by a factor of 20. Not many situations reward shooting 30,000 minerals at a planet :-)
All the other techniques are ways to try to stop the packet attack "on the cheap", but none is as effective as the standard one (which works against bombs, too) - but which you must pay "full price" for.
Packets are deadliest against the overconfident and lazy. They are also effective early. Later, they are a useful part of a "combined arms" attack - finishing off planets whose drivers have been shot out of the sky by a battlefleet, killing smaller worlds with lower defenses, preventing rapid settlement of planets by conquerors (packet arrives right after the enemy marines - very nice). They can be used to kill pop after LBUs kill defenses, or after adjuster bombs prevent the defenses from being operated - lots of uses. But trying to bang away with them against someone with full, intact defenses will yield almost nothing for enourmous expense, and help your enemy more than it hurts him.
So, if you are fighting a human opponent who knows how to use packets well, forget the stupid AI tricks and put up defenses. You'd do the same if bombers were in orbit, wouldn't you? Well, if you are 253 LY or less from someone with Gorilla shields, the "bombers" are "two turns away" - build defenses.
One man's opinion...