How to make a WM monster, by Gary McClellan and Jason Cawley

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How to make a WM monster

By Gary McClellan and Jason Cawley

Alar Saard wrote

I have played Stars! about one year. By e-mail one year. Mostly I play WM. I heard that this race does not a very good. And this race have two good designs. But I never got my race a monster. Wide living race have terrible resouces and with good growth race I have terrible resreach too. Is there I play wrong are what must be good numbers in race file?


Gary McClellan's Response

WM has become one of my favorite races as well. I guess the answer to your question comes down to "What is meant by a monster?". WM is to my mind, a middle of the road race in terms of economy. The superior economic PRT's are JOAT, CA and IS of course. With their inherent advantages, no WM can hope to equal them on economy. That is to say, anything that WM can do to maximize it's econ, they can do better.

However, I don't think that this means that WM is dead as a monster race. First of all, it stands more or less equal to the other races in econ. While the PRT specials, and race wizard points may affect one or the other more (especially IT, both good and bad), WM stands solidly in that pack. So, you can build a economically solid WM fairly readily. In order to then match up with the monster PRT's you then have to look to your own advantages. WM's are fast starters militarily, so you may have to be ruthless, and expand your empire to make up for your shortcomings. The WM advantages are noteworty, especially the BC hull, which is superior to the CA, and even into the late game can make a usable horde ship for a strong WM.

That being said, what sorts of WM's can you build? I'll show you two here to give you an idea of how I work (I'm sure Jason can outdo either of these, but hey...)

  • Robotech Masters:
  • WM
  • G: .24 to 2.24
  • T: -180 to 4
  • R: 3 to 49 mR
  • 1/6 20% growth
  • 1/1000
  • 12/9/17
  • GE
  • 10/4/17
  • Weap -50%, Prop/Con standard, all other +75, no start at 3

This is a race designed for blitz games. So you would want to modify it for standard games (probably by dropping growth and using the points to move the hab off the extreme edges). You notice though, that it has 20% growth, facts slightly above monster standards, and usable tech settings. I've had good luck with this race overall.

Now for something a bit more radical:

  • The Zentradi
  • WM
  • 18% growth
  • 1/6 hab
  • 1/1000
  • 14/9/18
  • GE
  • 11/4/16
  • cheap weapons, all else +75

You notice that this race is getting into what I call the "HR" (Hyper-resource) races. It has very strong factory settings, (near those of a HP), but does not drop the pop efficiency at all. This race is a VERY strong starter, but can get into trouble later (5 +75 zones will catch up with you). This is designed to get out, and get into peoples faces off the bat. Try to have a dominating position before anyone else can catch up with you.

That all being said, my contention is that while WM cannot top the potential of the super races, it can stay close enough to make its own special abilities count. And that is all I ask, because frankly I don't want to ever see Stars! become the duel of this weeks "Joat-o-death".

Gary McClellan

JFeeple on #stars!

Jason Cawley's Response

A fine question about WM race design :-)

It is certainly possible to make "monster" WM races. Naturally you have to make trade-offs to get a monster economy, and have to decide what to give up. There are also certain things one usually wants to avoid, and others one often wants to try, as a WM.

To get the points needed to improve the econ screen and growth rate variables to "monster" levels, there are basically 3 places you can look for the points. You can take many weakness LRTs, more expensive tech, or narrower hab. Each of those has drawbacks, naturally.

On weakness LRTs, usually one should avoid NAS when playing WM, in my experience (a tiny galaxy may be an exception to that though). Penscanners are needed on the attack, and WMs live and die by accepting or avoiding battle based on whether they can win them. Having no minelayers, or only a few transfered ones, also makes penscanners more important - to spot planet hoppers in your space and the like. Yeh, you can try posted small ships to deal with that, but once the enemy has mines about too and fast ships to catch such scouts, it doesn't work very well. I have been in the situation of being stuck in the middle of the galaxy, with enemies on many fronts, playing a WM with an inadequate number of transfered minelayers and with NAS and some SS race enemies. I really don't recommend that nightmare to anyone else ;-)

NRSE can work fine for WMs, if you have IFE as well. IFE is nice for a monster WM, because it gives you great early speed on the map (naturally) but also because the main drawback of the fuel-mizer engine is its poor battlespeed. The WM move bonus goes a long way, making up for that, so IFE is great. NRSE can help pay for it, but isn't necessary of course. Skipping it lets you make cheaper warships, especially before the BB and DN era - and that works with the lower cost of WM weapons, so a WM with rams winds up buying fighting power much more cheaply than a NRSE non-WM race.

OBRM is usually a good idea for WMs. It is hard to defend many remote mining sites without a lot of minelayers. Also, playing WM you usually want to try to win relatively quickly - if you are worrying about long-run minerals after tech is maxed, you are in trouble anyway, since after others have nubians the special WM hulls don't go nearly as far toward winning battles.

LSP is fine to grab points with if the growth rate is high. 18% LSP is borderline; 18% no LSP or 19% LSP are fine.

So, a WM trying to grab many points from LRTs might take IFE, NRSE, OBRM, LSP. Regen shields can be thrown in too if desired (the WM special hulls cover the usual armor-weakness periods RS causes for other races, leaving that nice +40% +14% per round shield strength).

CE is another idea, replacing the LSP in the example above. Sure, missed moves can be bad in warfighting. But -25% weapons cost and -50% engine cost can make for some pretty cheap warships. Personally, I prefer the tactical flexibility on the map of no CE, but it can work.

A WM race that *doesn't* try to get its points from the LRT screen might consider ISB, in order to "unlock" most of the economy for ship-building rapidly and expand spatially as much as possible with the early warfighting advantages. Expensive, but sometimes helpful for certain WM designs that are really gunning for the quick kills.

As for the tech screen, more expensive tech to pay for monster econ is quite common and usually works quite well. Weapons should be cheap. Everything else expensive and starting at 3 can work well; you start with nice yakamora-mizer DDs that way, and the ability to move pop well right off the bat, too. Getting fewer points from the tech screen, cheap (or normal) construction tech can also make sense, with the idea of getting the dreadnought hulls at an relatively early date (like right after weapons 16). But that is not necessary - it is not like you have to go all the way to con 26 to fight, when you have dreadnoughts at con 16. Some one-immune WM designs might take cheap or normal energy to go with regen shields and provide faster temperature terraforming. Other than those cases, there is little on the tech screen you want or need to spend advantage points on; better to spend them on the economy.

Well, once you decide what LRT weaknesses you can live with and what tech settings you want, the remaining trade-off reduces to hab scheme vs. econ variables.

There are two main ways to "monster" the economy - HG and HP. With HP, you want 1/2500 pop efficiency and 15/7/18-25 factories, plus the G box. Mines you want around 10/3/18. Those settings can be afforded, and with decent hab width if you gathered points from LRTs and tech, and can monster your economy. But HPs are slower to develop, and usually harder to defend (harder to rebuild a bombed planet for instance - with limited planetary defenses and few mines, that can be a problem sometimes). The more usual thing to try with a WM is an HG-style monster economy, going for ramp-up speed for an early attack. Typical settings might be 1/1000 to 1/1200 pop efficiency, with factories 11-12/8-9/16 and G box, mines 10/3/13-15 or so.

You can get the points for the LRT and tech goodies by taking relatively toned- down versions of the HG or HP econ settings, and combining it with relatively poor hab width - like 1/5 or 1/6, with two ranges wide and one range narrow (typically rad narrow, about 30 mR wide or so). Those types can start well and have nice toys. Their weakness comes in the longer-run - they only live on about 1/2 of all planets even with full terra, and more like 1/4 or 1/3 with decent values on them. When you can't remote mine (OBRM), that limits the minerals available, and means your war-machine is liable to "stall out" after a decade or two of the dreadnought era. Sometimes that will be enough to win anyway, if you can conquer enough enemy worlds, hold salvage from the bigger battles, etc. But risky.

With more ruthless point-gathering from tech and LRTs, though, you can get the monster econ settings with a decent investment in the hab screen. 1/3 or 1/4 hab, well centered, for example (from 1 click above 1/5, up to say 60/60/68 widths - e.g. grav and temp click to immune and back - gives 60 width there - rad start with humanoid and narrow 1 click). 60/60 and the rad somewhat narrower, and moved over to 86 mR and below or 14 mR and above for the 1/4 cases. That sort of wider centered hab will let you use most planets in the long run, though a fair number of them will be poor yellows. Like, 30% green or easy (-3 or better) yellow, 30% decent yellow, 30% "hard" yellow, 10% red - down to 25 in each of those categories. The result for mineral purposes is that the late-developing yellows come on-line as the older worlds deplete, letting you keep building for far longer than the narrower hab versions.

Another hab scheme that can work for a monster WM, provided you are in a galaxy with enough room or you can ally with someone, is one-immune two-narrow. Like grav immune, each of the other ranges 30 wide, giving only 1/10 initially habitable. If you do that though, usually you want to be able to remote mine to get minerals, and want somewhat stronger econ variables to make up for the smaller planet size.

That can be hard to afford, but is doable with another weak LRT to replace the OBRM. E.g. IFE, NRSE, NAS, LSP, grav immune, 0/120C, 62/92mR, 19%, 1/1000, 12/9/17 3G factories, 10/3/15 mines, weapons cheap rest expensive and start at 3. Or Drop the NAS, add CE and RS, move the rad to 66/96 mR. The idea of the one-immune HG is very rapid ramp-up, though at the cost of longer-run capacity. That 1/10 looks scary until you are used to it. But you get more like 1/5 with decent yellows early on, and go to them (like the -7s or better), and more like 1/4 or 1/3 with all the yellows. The initial greens are all the "breeders" that then fill the other worlds, while those others terraform to green.

Not the only way to monster an HG WM, and it can be tricky (have to remote mine, and live with the LRT weakness, limited longer-run resource capacity from fewer worlds controlled, and expensive tech). But done right it will also get quite a rapid attack.

The wider hab HG versions (1/4 or so, typically) are easier and more forgiving to play, and can certainly reach "monster" econ status. E.g. -

  • Klingons
  • Warmonger
  • 0.33/3.44 G, -116/124 C, 32/86mR
  • 1/4 overall
  • 18% pop growth (with, note, no LSP)
  • 1/1200 pop eff
  • 12/9/16 3G factories
  • 10/3/13 mines
  • weapons cheap, rest expensive and start at 3.
  • Leaves 0 points

This race basically takes points from tech and puts them into HG-style econ, and trades somewhat narrower hab (compared to the humanoid) for higher pop growth to go with that. They can get a little over 3000 resources from each 100% world, can use the cheaper ram-equipped warships and skimp on armor in favor of the cheaper RS shields. They start with DD, mizer, 1 shield 2 yaks - quite a capable and cheap early "horde" warship - and develop fairly rapidly to battlecruiser tech and make lots of those to attack someone with. Longer term, the minerals are not stellar but they are adequate to keep a beam-heavy war- economy running for a long time, building DNs after those come out and skipping the armor on them to keep them cheap. In the right hands they can give monster- style econ performance, with enough space, etc. Not going to set any records, but they can get you a game. Take them out for a spin againt the AIs. You might like them :-)

Also you can use them as a starting point for other "trades", to try to improve the design or move it more toward your own style of play (e.g. adding NRSE in favor of more mines operated - if you like attacking later with the DNs where the engine expense issue scarcely matters but more minerals are needed - or CE in return for 19% pop and a bit wider hab, if you like attacking right out of the gate, with say a bazooka-DD+minibomber horde, making engine expense a big part of the bill and lower cost important to get the numbers you need - and if you can live with CE as a weakness).

Naturally, if you insist on cheap con tech too, then the design choices are going to get harder - and you might for instance move to a 2 wide-one narrow hab scheme to pay for that, as well as taking NRSE (idea being that you will get to the DNs soon, so don't care as much about the engine expense). You would probably run into mineral trouble that way at some point, but hey every design is going to have *some* weakness, and fast DNs are a big edge. Maybe you get minerals from an ally who can remote mine (want one for minelayers anyway), or get them the warmonger way - via conquest :-)

I hope these WM design ideas are useful, and have fun.


Jason Cawley