Chronicles of an Anonymous Berserker

By Jack Fulmer

Part Two

Part One of this article was published in SEDG #71 in April 2003. It is a chronicle of Starweb game SW-A1324 as I experienced it while playing an anonymous Berserker.

I have provided several maps of the web that was visible to me at various points in the game. This chronicle can be read either with or without referring to the maps. However I do believe the maps help to show the ebb and flow of the players’ positions that I could see.

In addition I have referred to the other players that I met by a generic “Player” number if I did not know their character type. Once their character type was known I refer to them by their type and a number (for example “Pirate 1”). Hopefully this will be easier for the reader to understand than attempting to remember player code names and their character types.

Here is a brief summary of what happened in SW-A1324 through turn 11. The reader should refer to SEDG #71 for more details.

The early turns of this game revealed that my Berserker was in a severely resource limited position. I had fewer than normal worlds within my ring 3. The available worlds had both low actual population and low population limits.

My immediate neighbors were also about as poor as a Berserker could expect. There were only two and both were Pirates. On the plus side I did have a more distant Apostle neighbor with whom I managed to make contact.

Pirate 1 and I did a bit of a dance on our border during the early turns but eventually seemed to settle into a wary (at least on my part) mutual alliance. Pirate 2 began an attack on me on turn 8 but suddenly backed out of my territory on turn 10. I followed right behind him with a counterattack into his empire.

Apostle 1 was the only other player with whom I had significant contact through turn 11. I demonstrated to him that I was a Berserker through a one-ship robot attack. He gave a couple of fleets to me for one-ship robot attacks.

OK, back to the action…

Turn 12- Now What v2.0?

This game’s tactical situation was beginning to approximate either a pretzel or possibly a Moebius strip.
My invasion of Pirate 2 was proceeding fairly well. I had two of his ring 1 worlds visible this turn. At one of them (world 30) I was outnumbered eleven fleets and 152 ships for Pirate 2 to my two fleets and 59 ships. But at the other ring 1 world (world 125) the route to Pirate 2’s homeworld was guarded by a single ISHP. Pirate 2 had also given to me his ring 2 world (world 183) which was my gateway to his empire.

I would not be bought off at this point with the gift of a world. Pirate 2 knew that I was a Berserker so he must have believed that his situation was getting desperate. Otherwise why would he give a world to me? He had to know that the world was useless to me while he must have needed it for plunder.

I was not sure why he would be desperate at that point. His defensive force still slightly outnumbered my invasion armada. I decided to invade his homeworld via his unprotected ring 1 world (world 125) while ignoring his forces at the protected one (world 30).

The pretzel part came in with my other neighbors.

Apostle 1 had stopped giving ships to me for my small robot attacks. Since I hadn’t given anything of consequence to him that was understandable. More worrisome was that he had moved a forty-ship fleet adjacent to one of my ring 3 worlds. Had he decided to make me a jihad target?

Also on this turn I had found out the hard way that Pirate 1 no longer considered me to be an ally. The small fleet I had sent to his homeworld last turn was ambushed by him on the way and pirate captured on arrival at his homeworld.

For added interest Player 5 had made his initial appearance on my printouts. He did so at the same ring 3 world of mine (world 213) where Player 4 showed himself on turn 7. Had Player 5 conquered Player 4?

Tactical Assessment #4 

On turn 12 my situation was:

- Score = 288

- Owned 14 worlds and 19 keys

It made no sense to me to abort my attack on Pirate 2. The majority of my ships and keys were deep into his territory. Our enmity for this game had to be chiseled in granite by then. Taking out his homeworld seemed to be not only the best offensive move but was also likely to be the best defensive move.

Therefor I had no large number of ships to spare for operations in another part of the web. Apostle 1, Player 5 and my own scoring would just have to be ignored for the moment.

The situation at Pirate 1’s homeworld was very interesting. Since he had ambushed and pirate captured my fleet I felt free to act as I pleased. In addition he was amazingly weak at his homeworld. He had only twenty metal to build with on turn 12. He had one ISHP and 3 fleets totaling eighteen ships visible at his homeworld and only one ISHP apiece at the ring 1 and ring 2 worlds that bordered my empire.

With Pirate 2 in a defensive position I decided to begin sending all new ship production at my homeworld toward Pirate 1. It would be a piecemeal attack but Pirate 1 appeared to be very weak indeed. If my attack on Pirate 2’s homeworld could deny the industry to him then I would withdraw my remaining ships and keys from the remainder of his empire. I had no intention of leaving Pirate 2 behind me in any condition to build a larger armada of his own.

Turn 13- Industrial Hara-Kiri

I arrived at Pirate 2’s homeworld (world 103) to find that I outnumbered him with three fleets and 99 ships to his one fleet and 56 ships. I had guessed right at his ring 1 world (world 30) on turn 12. I had left there with a one-ship and a 58-ship fleet. He split his fire and targeted seventy-eight shots at the one-ship key. I had salvaged the other fleet with forty ships intact.He could not stop a robot attack if it was properly executed.
The printout showed that a robot attack was not needed to take away Pirate 2’s industry. He had destroyed it himself!

His 56-ship key had attacked industry and destroyed twenty-eight. He was left with full population and sixty metal stockpiled but only two industry remained. I still didn’t understand why he was acting so defensively. He had thirteen fleets and 208 ships in total at his homeworld (world 103) and an adjacent ring 1 world (world 30) to my three fleets and 99 ships.

If he had pulled all of his ships and fleets back to his homeworld he might have thwarted my robot attack. With 238 ships including his turn 13 builds against me I would have had to put most of my ships on one fleet for my attack to succeed. I still would have captured the world but I would have had to very carefully plan my attack and accept the loss of all remaining ships and the three keys to Pirate captures to do it.

In any case my objective had been met. Pirate 2’s homeworld industry was permanently denied to him. As planned I would pull out of his empire while trying to get as many points as possible during the withdrawal. On turn 13 I moved all three fleets from his homeworld (world 103) to Pirate 2’s all but undefended ring 1 world that had 114 population (world 125). I also created a PBB on one of the fleets. I was assured of arriving with at least sixty ships and the PBB on the three fleets. I hoped that that would be enough to avoid a Pirate capture.

Meanwhile I was proceeding with the attack on Pirate 1. On turn 13 I robot attacked his ring 2 world (world 140). I also moved additional forces into and through that world. On turn 14 I would have two fleets and 36 ships at his ring 2 (world 140) and two fleets and 31 ships at his ring 1 (world 185). This was certainly a small invasion force particularly as late in the game as turn 13. Since it was everything I had except for the force that was engaging Pirate 2 and my metal hauling fleets it would have to do the job. I badly needed to capture the Pirate 1 homeworld.

Apostle 1 had destroyed my one-ship key at his homeworld. So long as he didn’t invade my empire I would be satisfied. He had made no other threatening moves that I could see. Player 5’s one-ship key had not moved. It was sitting at a ring 3 world (world 213) of mine. I sent a small key to the world that I guessed he would move to this turn (world 171). If he didn’t move there I expected to recapture the world. It was one that I had given to Pirate 1 on an earlier turn.

Turn 14- Motivation Revealed

Pirate 2’s reasons for being suicidally defensive were now clear. I had left his homeworld and so had Pirate 2. But a new face appeared. Player 6 arrived at Pirate 2’s homeworld with six fleets and 207 ships. Pirate 2 had been in a pincers between Player 6 and my forces for at least two or three turns. Now I understood the motivation for his actions.
I arrived safely at one of his ring 1 worlds (world 125) with three fleets, 73 ships and a PBB. Pirate 2 had sent his single key from his homeworld to another ring 1 world (world 30). I had probed that world and saw that he had thirteen fleets and 219 ships there. So he still had enough resources to be a problem for someone.

As per my current tactical plan I would attempt to finally get a few points while exiting Pirate 2’s dwindling empire. I dropped the PBB (world 125) and sent a 10-ship fleet to the ring 2 world (world 183) that Pirate 2 had given to me earlier. My intention was to robotize it on turn 15. I assumed that I would lose one or both fleets but at least the PBB would drop for sure. I moved the remainder of my Pirate 2 invasion armada back to my core worlds. I planned to start robotizing my empire starting with the worlds nearest to Pirate 2’s empire.

Apostle 1 had attacked and captured my last key in his empire. He still had made no other threatening moves. Player 5’s two small fleets did not move on this turn either. It appeared that he had dropped from the game. I attacked his one-ship fleet and made plans to eventually destroy his other fleet.

The attack on Pirate 1 was proceeding well. I robot attacked his ring 1 world (world 185) this turn and attacked a small key of his with 15 ships. I moved 36 more ships to that world; moved 27 ships to his ring 2 (world 140) and probed his homeworld (world 87). I didn’t think he had enough ships nearby to pirate capture me since he had not yet sent any significant force to oppose my invasion.

Turn 15- As the Worm Turns

Apostle 1 had given a fleet with a PBB to me and the whole game was looking much better everywhere!
Apparently Apostle 1 had chosen the “convert everybody and then make them martyrs” approach to playing an Apostle. Since I had never given him much of anything I guessed that I was the only Berserker available to him. If he wanted martyrs in carload lots he apparently needed my help. He would get all the help that I could spare.

The scoring withdrawal from Pirate 2’s empire was working very well. He had moved seven fleets and 118 ships to his ring 1 world (world 125) and captured my three-ship key. But the PBB had landed and the robot attack fleet was in place at his ring 2 (world 183) unopposed. My remaining ships and fleets had reached my ring 2 and were ready for robotizing, metal hauling or defensive operations.

Player 5 did not move for the third consecutive turn. I moved to finish off his other fleet and hoped that whoever put him out of the game stayed far away from me.

My probe of Pirate 1’s homeworld (world 87) revealed that I had worried far too much about a Pirate capture by him. He had only four fleets with a total of 9 ships and 3 ISHPs at his homeworld. On top of that his homeworld had been plundered. It was showing a “Plunder=1/1” status. I had four fleets and 79 ships ready to enter his homeworld.

Turn 16- More Good News but Some Bad News Too

I invaded Pirate 1’s homeworld to find that he had simultaneously abandoned it and given it to me! Almost as gratifying was that Apostle 1 had also given another fleet with a PBB to me. Plus I was in position to dispose of the remnants of Player 5’s fleets.
However, it looked as though Pirate 2 had decided that if he was going down in flames then I was going to go with him. Pirate 2 had a total of seven fleets and 93 ships at my ring 3 and 2 (worlds 248 and 247). He also had another 10 fleets and 64 ships at my ring 4 (world 183). I had two fleets and 37 ships at my ring 1 (world 245).

Tactical Assessment #5 

As of turn 16 I had:

- 1,745 points

- 18 worlds and 18 keys

- 67 industry including two homeworlds

To my amazement I was beginning to think that I might actually have a chance to score well or even win the game. I could see the scores of five other players. On turn 16 they ranged from 1,661 to 3,139. I was surprised that no one had a score at least in the 4,000+ range. Of course someone I couldn’t see could end the game at any time. Or the game might have had a relatively low ending score. Plus there were still a large number of variables in my own tactical situation.

But why not maximize my chances for a win by assuming that the conditions that I needed would in fact occur?

I assumed that Apostle 1 would continue to give more fleets and PBBs to me. I assumed that I could haul metal to Pirate 1’s homeworld industry and PBB or robotize his empire using only the ships I could build from “his” industry. I would use all of my remaining fleets and ships plus the ship builds at my original home world to hold off Pirate 2’s counterattack and then score what points I could in my own empire. Finally I assumed that I would have at least four or five more turns to accomplish all of this.

Alternatively I could have decided to robotize all of my original empire within a turn or two. This would have effectively conceded that Pirate 2 could destroy my homeworld and capture most of my keys. I would also have had to hope that it took him many turns to find his way to Pirate 1’s empire and thwart my plans there. Instead of taking this quick scoring but lower total score approach I decided to fight it out with Pirate 2.

My tactical plan would have four main aspects.

First, I would attempt to maintain control of my homeworld industry and simultaneously continue full ship production. Second, I would concede the temporary loss of any world other than my homeworld. Third, I would engage Pirate 2 in a war of attrition since I could replace lost ships and he could not. Fourth, I would concentrate my forces to avoid any Pirate captures by Pirate 2.

Turn 17- Tactics and Reality Mesh

On turn 16 I had agonized over what size of garrison to leave at my ring 1 (world 245). Did Pirate 2 know which one of two connections led to my homeworld? He had pushed a one-ship fleet to my ring 1 on turn 6. I had immediately destroyed it. I had received two points for the fleet destruction so I knew that he had not probed with that fleet. However, review of my turn 9 and 10 printouts indicated that he had probed one of the two connections that were unknown to him (from world 245) on turn 9.
Based on that analysis it was very likely that he knew the route to my homeworld. But would he try to blast right through a potential ambush? I decided to put 9 PSHPs in place (at world 245) and move the remaining ships on the two keys for other purposes.

Pirate 2 took the bold approach and invaded my homeworld directly from my ring 2 and 3. It cost him dearly. The turn 17 printout showed that he had attempted to move five fleets through the ambush and into my homeworld. Only three fleets made it through the ambush with a total of 48 ships remaining. I couldn’t be certain but it appeared that my nine-ship ambush had destroyed 39 Pirate 2 ships.

I hadn’t won the battle of the homeworld yet. But I did have enough force to be certain of saving my industry on turn 17. At my homeworld I had 98 ships available and three fleets. Pirate 2 had three fleets and 48 ships. He also had eight fleets with a total of 64 ships versus my 9 PSHPs at the adjacent ring 1 world (world 245).

To be certain of preserving the industry I put 24 ISHPs in place at my homeworld. I took a chance and did not put any PSHPs in place. I targeted Pirate 2’s three fleets with essentially equal strength attacks. Since I was going for attrition I would accept either destroying the maximum number of ships or forcing one or two of his keys neutral. My biggest worry for turn 18 was that he would bring all eight keys and ships from the adjacent world (world 245) and have more fleets than I could target. That sort of a guessing game appeared to be the one remaining way that I could lose my industry. I therefor ordered every available key back to my homeworld.

While the battle for my homeworld raged the game was proceeding extremely well everywhere else. Apostle 1 had given two more PBBs to me this turn. In addition I had built two PBBs of my own and had them in position to drop. The former Pirate 1 homeworld would be at full production on turn 18. Although the effort was hampered by a shortage of fleets I was exploring the area around it.

Turn 18- In the Lead

On turn 18 I had the lead score that I could see. I couldn’t have been more surprised given how the early stages of the game had gone. The high score of the three that I could see was 3,736. I had 4,442. Of course I could only see three other players. 4,442 was a very low score for a berserker on turn 18. But hey! I was still in the game and had not yet lost.
Pirate 2 refused to give up and drop or withdraw. My equal targeting of his fleets on turn 17 had killed two keys but missed the bulk of his ships. He had apparently placed his ships as 46, 1, and 1 on the three keys. That was OK with me. I was certain I could win that kind of war. He had fired all 48 shots at my industry and destroyed the 24 ISHPs. That was also OK because my industry was intact and could build.

As expected Pirate 2 had moved most of his additional keys and ships into my homeworld. I had done the right thing by moving as many keys as possible back to my homeworld. Including builds this turn I had nine fleets and 182 ships to his seven fleets and 79 ships. That may sound like an overwhelming margin but in fact I had to be careful how I distributed my ships.

To protect my industry took 39 ISHPs. 79 attacker ships were enough to kill up to 39 of my robots. To be sure that I had enough robots to support the industry on turn 19 I had to place 19 PSHPs. Then I balanced the remaining ships among my fleets so that I targeted Pirate 2’s fleets equally.

Apostle 1’s gifts had stopped. He was sitting over his homeworld with an 80-ship key and a PBB. If he was going to PBB his homeworld why not give the bomb to me and get points for the martyrs?

The conquest of Pirate 1 was grinding along. I wondered what had happened to his fleets and ships? I never saw more than a few of them at any time. I suspected he too was in battle elsewhere in the web.

Turn 19- Turned the Corner for Certain

All right! My attrition strategy versus Pirate 2 had succeeded. I still had to be careful but he no longer could seriously hurt me unless I made a stupid mistake.
At my homeworld I had eight fleets and 197 available ships versus his six fleets and 67 ships. He had targeted my robot population last turn so the PSHPs were gone but 31 robots remained. He fired at industry too but with only a couple of ships. I continued to whittle down relatively few of his ships but I had destroyed five of his keys this turn. Therefor my attacks on his fleets could be more concentrated on this and succeeding turns.

I decided to release a few ships from the defense of my homeworld to robotize more of my worlds. Maybe next turn I could even send out a PBB or two from my homeworld.

Apostle 1 had given another PBB to me on a one-ship fleet. A new player, Player 7, appeared at an Apostle 1 world this turn with an 81-ship fleet. My attacks on Pirate 1 worlds continued.

Turn 20- Time to Score

Pirate 2 attacked my robots with everything he had last turn. I had built four robots and had enough PSHPs in place so that my population actually went up to 35. I had destroyed five more of his fleets. He was now down to two fleets and 61 ships compared to my seven fleets and 180 available ships at my homeworld. In addition there were twelve neutral keys at my homeworld. With just a little bit more careful play Pirate 2 would be history.
Player 7 was now known as Pirate 3. He pirate captured two of my tiny fleets in Apostle 1’s empire. Suddenly I could see twelve Pirate 3 fleets with a total of 140 ships. Thankfully all of them were far away from my worlds.

Apostle 1 had abandoned his homeworld. He moved two fleets totaling 85 ships plus a PBB to a ring 4 world (world 102) I had robotized earlier in the game. Even if he had switched to a jihad against me the next two worlds in his path toward me were also robotized. He couldn’t really hurt me at that point in the game.

I could finally start redirecting significant force from defending my homeworld to scoring points.

Turns 21 to 23- The Final Push

As of turn 21 I had:
- 5,260 points

- 23 worlds and 22 keys

On turn 21 I had 5,260 points. I could see six other players. Four of the others had scores over 4,000 and one of them had 4,779. I had met two new players on turn 21, Player 8 and Player 9. I couldn’t tell what their character types were so I had no estimate of their scoring potential. However, the Player 9 world I had probed held two plastic artifacts and a negative 255 score showed for the first time on my turn 21 printout.

Apparently Player 9 had the negative score. Pirates 1, 2, and 3 were all visible to me on turn 21. None of those three pirates could credibly be assumed to have the scoring rate to beat what I could accomplish in the next few turns. Apostle 1 could theoretically score quickly through a jihad. However, I seriously doubted that he had the ship resources remaining to do it.

Therefor, of the players I could see, only Player 8 had a chance to out score me. To do it he had to be a merchant, a berserker or a collector with several museums. Obviously my best tactic was to score as fast as I could and end the game.

So that’s exactly what I did. I mounted an all out push of robotizing and PBBs wherever I could reach. The final turn, turn 23, revealed that Player 8 was Pirate 4. He had pirate-captured a few of my keys including one with a PBB on board. But it was too late to stop my scoring. I scored 1,319 points on turn 22 and 2,654 on turn 23 to end the game with a score of 9,233. The victory point limit had been 7,404.

Post Game Analysis and Comment

SW-A1324 truly was an unusually interesting game for me. I have a preference for multi-Starweb primarily because of the large numbers of worlds and fleets that you have at your disposal. In addition I like the logistical challenges inherent in multi-Starweb.

Yet SW-A1324 was a game that, for me, played out on a very small part of the web while remaining interesting for 23 turns. A lot of that interest was due to the seesaw battles I had with Pirate 2 that lasted throughout the game. Then just when it looked as if I could finally eliminate the danger from Pirate 2 my interest was renewed by the realization that I had a chance to win. Plus there were a number of other game situations and interactions that kept the game lively for me.

The final results that I received raised numerous questions in my mind. Here are those results followed by my questions and some comments. During the game I never met those players identified as Players 10 through 14.

Final Results of SW-A1324 -- Victory-point limit was 7404

(1)Jack Fulmer (Berserker 1)

[ZINC]: Berserker (Score=9233,Worlds=22,Keys=17,Ships=108,Industry=68,


(When the game ended I was poised to PBB and robotize my last two worlds with Badlife!)

(2)Pirate 4

[GORT]: Pirate (Score=5467,Worlds=46,Keys=30,Ships=823,Industry=88,


(3)Player 10

[ROME]: Pirate (Score=5463,Worlds=31,Keys=35,Ships=627,Industry=52,


(4)Player 4

[SIVA]: Pirate (Score=5294,Worlds=40,Keys=44,Ships=469,Industry=75,


(5)Player 11

[NULL]: Empire-Builder (Score=4828,Worlds=11,Keys=13,Ships=264,


(6)Apostle 1

[KING]: Apostle (Score=4801,Worlds=9,Keys=6,Ships=276,Industry=2,


(7)Pirate 3

[QUAD]: Pirate (Score=4639,Worlds=28,Keys=33,Ships=557,Industry=46,


(8)Pirate 1

[HALO]: Pirate (Score=4408,Worlds=3,Keys=22,Ships=110,Industry=2,


(9)Player 5

[ZERO]: Empire-Builder (Score=3112,Worlds=1,Keys=1,Ships=6,Mines=4,


(10) Player 12

[LENS]: Apostle (Score=2961,Worlds=9,Keys=6,Ships=186,Industry=35,


(11) Pirate 2

[ISIS]: Pirate (Score=1985,Keys=2,Ships=9)

(12) Player 13

[PION]: Berserker (Score=1049,Worlds=1,Keys=5,Ships=59,Industry=2,


(13) Player 6

[AURA]: Merchant (Score=-109,Worlds=29,Keys=25,Ships=611,Industry=72,


(14) Player 9

[OOZE]: Berserker (Score=-305,Worlds=1,Ships=75,Industry=30,Mines=5,


(15) Player 14

[JUNO]: Merchant (Score=-555,Worlds=1,Ships=1,Mines=6,People=93,


One obvious fact is that there were no other berserkers and no merchants who scored well in the game. The final results showed two berserkers and two merchants took the last four places. That was a very big reason why this game lasted 23 turns.

I knew why it took me 23 turns to score a lot of points but what happened to the players with the other berserkers and the merchants? I could see one partial answer to that question. The merchant who came in thirteenth was Player 6. I had seen him on only one turn in the game. That was on turn 14 when he was at Pirate 2’s homeworld with six fleets and 207 ships. Had he planned to play a fighting rather than a scoring merchant from the start of the game? Maybe the berserkers and the other merchant got blown away early by all of the pirates.

Speaking of “all of the pirates”…There were six pirates in the game. They took places 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 11. I found out that Player 4 and Player 8 were pirates on the last turn of the game. Why did Pirate 3 attack Apostle 1 at what appeared to be a late stage of the game? Once there are a lot of converts a pirate can’t get many points from attacking an apostle. Or were they battling from the beginning? Or did Pirate 3 simply want to slow down Apostle 1’s scoring?I’ve played a lot of pirates myself and based on the final results in my opinion there were a lot of good pirate players in this game.

It appears as if Player 5, one of the two empire builders in the game, held on for awhile but may have gotten overrun by one or more of those pirates. I’m impressed by the fifth place finish of the other empire builder, Player 11. How did he manage that surrounded by all those pirates?

Did everyone in the game have such distant neighbors? Certainly this web pattern tends to make the players more isolated than many of the other patterns I have seen. If Apostle 1 never met another berserker that may be why he gave those PBBs to me despite the fact that I never directly helped him. He couldn’t do a jihad against himself so who else would generate his martyr points?

Only 1,059 points separated second place from eighth place. We certainly were evenly matched in this game.

For me there are a lot of positive aspects to playing anonymous Starweb games. One of the few negatives is that you seldom know much about the other players and how they saw the game develop. Hopefully this article has explained what I saw in an entertaining fashion. Certainly I would like to hear more from the other players in this game so let Elliot hear from you. He can publish your perspectives in the SEDG.

If I get to play more games that are as interesting as this one it will certainly ensure that I continue playing Starweb for many more years. Have fun and see you somewhere on the web…

Jack Fulmer

May, 2003
Return to SEDG Volume 72