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Galaxy Next Generation FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Galaxy

Introduction

A game master usually gets a lot of questions about Galaxy, simple ones, but also rather difficult ones. Beginners are usually confused on how to interpret the rules, and come up with questions such as "can I produce more than one product on a planet?". As soon as players become more experienced they come up with far more detailed questions about the exact working of the Galaxy code. This FAQ tries to give answers to both kind of questions.

This is the first version of the FAQ, and there are no doubt many more questions to be answered. If you can think of any, think you have a better answer to the ones listed here, discovered an error, created another FAQ, please send a email to, fslothouber@acm.org, and I'll include it in the next version.

Frans Slothouber.

Questions Answered in this FAQ

0. General

0.1: What is Galaxy?

Galaxy is a play-by-email interstellar wargame for several players created by Russel Wallace somewhere in 1992.

A game usually has somewhere between 10 and 80 players and one Game Master that runs the game. Each player gets to play one nation. The game is set in a Galaxy filled with many planets. Each nation starts with one populated planet. The other planets are empty. The goal of the game is to conquer the whole Galaxy by colonising the empty planets and killing the other nations.

A game runs several turns a week. Players send in orders before each turn. These orders tell what the player wants his nation to do, and after each turn runs each player receives a report that states what happened that turn.

When you play a nations you can do many things. You can design your own ships. Each ship has many parameters, drive, number of weapons, shields, and cargo capabilities. These can all be tweaked to create many different ship designs. Populated planets can be used to build the ships you designed. The ships can be used to transport cargo and colonize planets, or to fight battles with your neighbours to take over their planets. Ships can be improved by technology research.

Experienced players do not operate alone, they use diplomacy to create a pacts with other players, and attack their enemies together. Back stabbing, double deals, and other treason are of course also possible, no-one is to be completely trusted, and you will find that Galaxy is a good simulation of real-world politics. It is also very addictive :)

0.2: How can I join a game?

If you want to play a game of Galaxy the best thing is to check the galaxyng sites mentioned in the games page or to watch the newsgroup: rec.games.pbm for announcements. You can also watch for anouncements on the general discussion mailing list.

To subscribe to the General discussion mailing list, see:
http://www.badcheese.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/galaxy.

If you want, you can view there the Subscriber list, or you can view the collection of prior postings to the list, visiting the Galaxy Archives:
http://www.badcheese.com/pipermail/galaxy/

You can post a message to all the list members, sending an e-mail to: galaxy@badcheese.com

0.3: How long does a game take?

Depending on how many turns are played a week, a Galaxy game can last from 4 months till 1 year. Preparing orders can take an hour or more per turn.

0.4: Where can I find more information about Galaxy?

There are several WWW and FTP sites that contain information about Galaxy, links to these sites can be found on games page: http://www.galaxyng.com/ng/games.html

See also: 4.2 and 5.1.

1. Technical

1.1: What is the sequence of events in Galaxy?

The exact sequence of events is a good way to get answers to many questions about Galaxy. This is how the Galaxy program computes what happens during a turn:

  1. Join phase: Similar ships are merged into groups.
  2. Fight phase: Enemy ships fight each other.
  3. Bomb phase: Planets are bombed.
  4. Load phase: Cargo is uploaded into ships.
  5. Fleet phase:
  6. Intercept phase:
  7. Move phase: Ships move through hyperspace.
  8. Join phase: Similar ships are merged into groups.
  9. Fight phase: Enemy ships fight each other.
  10. Bomb phase: Planets are bombed.
  11. Produce phase: Production takes place.
  12. Unload phase: Cargo is downloaded to the planet.


A number of things follow from this:

  1. Any COL and CAP you transport to a planet during a turn has no effect on the production of that turn.
  2. You can upload cargo, send it to another planet, and download it all in the same turn. See 3.1
  3. You can bomb two planets in the same turn with the same ship. See 4.1.

2. Production

2.1: Can I produce more than one thing on a planet?

No you can not. A planet can only produce one product at a time. If you want to produce several products each turns, you have to use more planets.

2.2: If I research technology on one planet can I also use it on other planets?

Yes you can. Technology levels are global.

2.3: I have this -very- tiny planet and I use it to produce drive tech, will this have any effect?

Yes it will, even if your planet produces tiny amounts, they do have effect, since Galaxy internally stores techlevels with more than two digits after the decimal point.

2.4: Do I have to repeat the P order to state what a planet has to produce even if I want to make it produce the same product?

No you have not. Once you used a P order to state a planet has to produce something, for instance capital, the planet continues producing this until told otherwise.

2.5: My planets have very low resources, what do I do?

Low resources mean that when ever a planet is used to build a ship or capital, a lot of industry points are wasted on building materials. This means that the total mass a planet can produce is smaller than that of planets with higher resources (see also 2.6).

There are two options two solve this problem:

  1. Only use the planet for technology research or upgrading ships, since this does not require materials.
  2. Start shipping materials to that planet. For instance, use one turn to produce materials on your home planet, this will provide you with enough materials to last 30 or more turns, and then use a large cargo ship to ship the materials to the planets with low resources.

2.6: What largest ship I can produce at planet X?

The size of a ship you can produce at a planet depends on a number of factors: the effective industry, the resources, and the material stockpiled.

The ship mass you can produce is calculated as follows:

       effective_industry = (population - industry)/4.0 + industry

                effective_industry + materials/resources
       mass =  ------------------------------------------
                           10.0 + 1.0/resources

       if the mass turns out to be larger than effective_industry/10
       then the mass = effective_industry/10

For instance:

A home planet, Pop=1000, Industry=1000, resources=10, and no materials stockpiled


       effective_industry =  0/4 + 1000 = 1000
       mass = (1000 + 0/10) / (10 + 1/10) = 99.0099

A half developed planet, Pop=750, Industry=300, resources=5, and 25 Materials stockpiled.


       effective_industry =  (750-300)/4 + 300 = 412.5
       mass = (412.5 + 25/5)/(10+1/5) = 40.93

A half developed planet , Pop=750, Industry=300, resources=5, and 2500 Materials stockpiled.


       effective_industry =  (750-300)/4 + 300 = 412.5
       mass = (412.5 + 2500/5)/(10+1/5) = 89.46

Since this is larger than 412.5/10 the mass is 41.25.

3. Transport

3.1: Can I transport and unload cargo onto a planet in the same turn?

Yes you can. There are two different cases. One, You already own the planet. In this case you use the option AUTOUNLOAD. Use the order:

  
       O AUTOUNLOAD

to turn this option on. If you now send ships with cargo to a planet, the cargo is automatically unloaded that same turn.

Case 2, the planet is empty. In this case you use both the AUTOUNLOAD option and Routes. Example. Your home planet is called Coosy_Home, and some light years away from it is am empty planet called 111. If you use the orders:

  
       R Coosy_Home COL 111
       O AUTOUNLOAD

then all your cargo ships at Coosy_home will be automatically loaded with Colonists, the ships will be send to 111, and their the colonist will be automatically unloaded. This all in one turn.

3.2: Can I unload cargo and send the cargo ship to another planet in the same turn?

Yes you can. Just use the U and S orders.

3.3: I have 100 cargo ships, I want to use 50 of them to transport COL to planet X and 50 to transport CAP to planet Y, how is this done?

Suppose the 100 cargo ships have the group number 20, then you use the following orders:

 
       B 20 50
       L MAX COL
       S MAX X
       L 20 CAP
       S 20 Y

4. Battle

4.1: War and Peace

A common question is, "I am at war with everybody. I send a probe to a planet but it was not shot down, how can this be?" It is sometimes confusing to determine whether or not a ship will be shot down, or a planet will be bombed or not. It depends on the peace/war status of all the nations. We will try to clarify this with a number of scenarios:

Scenario 1:

  • Nation X has declared peace on Nation Y.
  • Nation Y has declared war on Nation X.
  • Planet Friendly is owned by Nation X. Orbiting Friendly are a number of armed ships of X.
  • Planet Evil is owned by Nation Y, Orbiting Evil are a number of armed ships of Y.

Consider the following situations:

  • Y sends a probe to Friendly. This probe is -NOT- shot down, since the ships of X only fire when fired upon.
  • X sends a probe to Evil. This probe is shot down.
  • Y sends a big armed ship to Friendly. A battle will take place. If Y wins, Friendly is bombed.
  • X sends a big armed ship to Evil. A battle will take place, (since the ships of Y will fire first). If X wins, Evil will -NOT- be bombed, since X declared peace on Y.

Scenario 2:

  • Nations X and Y have both declared peace.
  • Planet Friendly is owned by Nation X. Orbiting Friendly are a is a big armed ship of X and a big armed ship of Y.
  • Planet Snoody is also owned by Nation X, there are no ships orbiting Snoody.

Consider the following situations:

  • Y declares War on X, and sends its ship on Friendly to planet Snoody. The following will happen:
    1. Before any ships move a battle takes place on Friendly. Lets suppose Y wins it; planet Friendly is bombed.
    2. The ship of Y moves from Friendly to Snoody.
    3. Planet Snoody is bombed.

As you can see it is possible to bomb to planets in one turn.

4.2: Where can I learn more about Strategy or Tactics?

Get a copy of the Galaxy Strategy Guide written by Jacco van Weert Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. You have to read this to be able to survive more than a few turns.

4.3: Bombing Rules

The outcome of a bombing depends on many factors and can therefore be hard to predict. In the most simple case if there is a battle between two nations. If the owner loses the battle the planet is bombed. The population and industry is reduced to 25% of the original value. The winner of the battle becomes the owner of the planet.

The battle can also end in a draw. This happends when at the end of the battle ships are left that are not strong enough to destroy each other. For instance two ships with a huge shield and a tiny gun. In this case the planet is still bombed and the population and industry are reduced to 25% of the original value, however the planet will become neutral. Neutral means that nobody owns the planet. The planet will show be listed as uninhabited. The population is still there though, and the first nation to recolonize the planet gets the population and industry.

A more complicated scenario is when there is a battle between more than 2 players. In this case if the owner of the planet loses the battle, the owner ship will go to the one of the winning nations. Who this is, is determined by the order the nation has in the nation list (the one in the turn report). The one that comes first in this list gets the planet. Since this is unfair, a nation can claim ownership over a planet with the 'V' order. This allows allies to divide the planets the bomb amongst them. The 'V' order has to be issued before the battle takes place.

An interesting situation occurs when two or more allies all issue a 'V' command (they are then probably cheating on eachother :). In this case again the planet is bombed and becomes neutral, and the first one to colonize the planet becomes the owner.

4.3: The Intercept Command

With the intercept command you can order your fleet or groups to follow an enemy fleet that is on another planet.

This is an except from the Galaxy Manual: "..with the Intercept order, if alien ships leave the target planet that turn, your group will be sent towards whatever planet has the largest total mass of alien ships sent to it from the target planet, except that only planets which your group can reach in no more than two turns will be considered. Otherwise your group will be sent to the target planet itself."

A handy command. Be careful though. The sting is in the details. Imagine the following situation.

  • You have a large number of groups at planet A.
  • Your enemy has all its groups, including many drones on planet B.
  • You give all your groups the intercept order to intercept on planet B.
  • Your enemy gives one of its drones the order to go to planet C.
  • Planet C happens to be just within 2 turn range of all your groups.

What will happen is that all your groups will follow that single probe to planet C! They will be in space for one turn and the groups of your enemy are free to do some damage.

You might expect that the intercept order would cause your groups to go to planet B. Planet B has the larger mass after all. However, the intercept command only takes in account the mass of groups that leave the planet you intercept on.

In this case, the mass of one probe.

The situation would be even worse if planet C was in two turn range of part of your groups. In this case, some of your groups will follow the probe, while the others will go to planet B, and stand a smaller chance of winning the battle. This problem does not occur of cource if you organized your groups in fleets.

On the upside of this all. The rules apply both ways; if the roles are reversed you can use the same trick on your enemy.

5. Ship Design

5.1: What are the best ship designs?

First you must read Ship Design in Galaxy and Blind Galaxy, written by Howard Bampton.

6. Tools

6.1: What is GalaxyTV?

Galaxy TV is a turn viewer. It creates a graphical representation of the Galaxy that you can use to analyse your current situation and create your orders. Many players use this program, though you need a MS-Windows machine to use it gtv4_3.zip. This was one of the first turn viewers, there are many more nowadays link to them can be found on http://www.galaxyng.com/ng/Tools/tools.html.

6.2: Is there a battle Simulator?

Yes you can download one from here batsim32.zip (MSWindows) and another one you can find on http://www.galaxyng.com/ng/Tools/wopr.html (C Source).

6.3: Where can I find more tools?

Take a look at http://galaxyview.sourceforge.net/tools.html

or http://www.galaxyng.com/ng/Tools/tools.html.