(Sponsored by Flying Moose Technologies' Starweb Analyzer

VOLUME 87 January 2006

Feature Article - An article about SW-A1273 by Lou Sheehan
Errata - Correction to Volume 86 Feature article
Questions - All the art! How about Keys?
The Swap Corner


                       An article about SW-A1273
                      Warrior-Merchant vs. Pirate
                            Gold  vs. Gaia
                          The Battle for W183
                             Thermopylae II


                  Should a Pirate Ever Stand and Fight?

                              By Lou Sheehan

I played this game as Gold, a 'Warrior-Merchant' i.e., I wasn't at all
concerned about my score.  In fact, I finished 14th out of 14 with 241
points.  My opponent, the Pirate Gaia, finished 10th out of 14 with 2553

It is an old game now.  Perhaps I've revisited this old chestnut
because my games of late have not been going particularly well?  More
likely, I was moved to write about this game because, for me, it was a

Reflecting the nature of Starweb, this article has many numbers and
considerations in it, but the crux of the matter centered around the
battle for W183.  It was a nail-biter for me, with me trying to balance
my desire to take advantage of my hauling capacity vs. Gaia's Pirate-
capture ability.

I can be inherently criticized for playing as a 'Warrior-Merchant' and
perhaps for accumulating too many metals early (but it was hard to know
what the heck might be coming at me).  On the other hand, perhaps my
strategy more accurately can be viewed as having lured Gaia into a
trap?  I do not attempt to total the ships/total-ships-lost by each
side; I'm sure at the time I was calculating estimates/totals and my
current guess is that I lost more ships at W183 than did my opponent.
I do not directly address my concern on a turn-by-turn basis about the
limited number of keys available to conduct operations, but rest
assured this limited resource added stress to the situation.

In retrospect, the war might not have been as close as it seemed at the
time (although note that I was worried about an attack from Opel), but,
again, there is a thick fog of war in anonymous games.  I'm guessing
that if Gaia had not made a major mistake on PRINTOUT 15 that the war
would have dragged on longer but, absent the intervention of another
player (when apostle Cold's converts at Gaia's HW saw me take the Gaia
HW, Cold then started, sua sponte, attacking me), I think the outcome
in the long run would have favored me vis-a-vis Gaia.


I put an ending score of 10,000.  The turn is due 4/14/98.  My
homeworld is W71.


I've met only Gaia albeit at two places: W183 and W84.  Both of these
are third-ring worlds for me.

W84 has an industry, the Silver Crown, and an empty key.  Gaia has a 9
ship key and I have a 5 ship key.

W183 has a plastic art and an empty key.  I have a 6 ship key and Gaia
has a 1 ship key.


I've met Opal, Fang, Pain, Wyrm, Dome, and Gaia.

Yes, I fired at Gaia at W183 (and thereby destroyed his key) and
captured his key, an empty key, and the world.  I also dropped a
consumer good to indicate I was a merchant.  I can't tell if Gaia did
or did not try to evacuate W183; obviously, it was my guess he'd
reinforce at W84 before he would reinforce at W183.

However, I evacuated W84.  Gaia moved a 19 ship key to W84 to augment
the 9 ships he already had there; ironically, Gaia captured a newly
arrived Dome key at W84 which showed me Gaia was a Pirate.

My total Worlds (W) = 17, Keys (K) = 19, Ships (S) = 54


Gaia advances from W84 to my W113 (I had evacuated W84 to W1); W113 is
adjacent to W183 so, maybe, he's thinking of concentrating his forces?
Gaia captures a newly arrived Opal key at my W113. There is no activity
at W183.

Part of the calculus of fighting a war is to have enough keys to haul,
fight, shuttle newly produced ships to the battle and sometimes fend
off other players as they enter one's territory.  Figuring
simplistically, as a merchant it takes about 6 keys (and 30 ships) to
maintain full production.  At this juncture that simplistically leaves
me [Total keys 19 - hauling keys 6 - defensive key 1 =] 12 keys for
fighting and delivering ships.

W = 16, K = 19, S = 58


I've now met player Cold.

Gaia moves from W113 to my W127 (Gaia saw a fleet movement of mine on
the last printout; I had moved to W127 to throw Gaia off-track inasmuch
as W127 isn't a second ring world).  At W183, Gaia appears with 3 keys
and 29 ships whereas I have one homefleet.

W = 16, K = 19, S = 71


I have 37 metals on my homeworld and from this PRINTOUT forward I plan
to be at full production.

Gaia moves a 4 ship key to W113.  Gaia stays at W127 shooting off the
homefleet.  Gaia now has 3 keys and 49 ships at W183 and Gaia also
shoots off the homefleet at W183.

W = 15, K = 19, S = 82


Even as I have concerns on the side (Opal, for example), obviously I'm
concentrating on Pirate Gaia.  I have to balance my production vis--
vis Gaia's capture ability at W183; the more he throws into the war in
the short-term the less hauling he'll be able to do and thus the fewer
ships he'll have to fight me down the road assuming Gaia does not
otherwise have a successful Pirate capture of anyone's - but
particularly my own - ships and keys.

Obviously, I have to hope no other player launches a full-scale assault
on me, that Gaia doesn't have another merchant hauling for him, etc.

I've moved 4 keys and 56 ships to W113.  Gaia leaves 3 one-ship keys at
W127; W127 is only a one mine world so . what is Gaia up to?  Hauling,
or .?  His main force previously at W127 flies back over W113 to at
least W84 (I can not see if this force moves beyond W84).

Gaia has only his 4 ship key at W113; W113 is now neutral.

I have 70 metals at my homeworld.

W = 14, K = 19, S = 115


Gaia moves 34 ships on 8 keys to my W17 (still not a second ring world,
but, rather, a fourth-ring world!) and captures it from me.

Wyrm has gifted me a one-ship key at Wyrm's homeworld to haul  for him.

At W113 I've taken the Gaia key and recaptured the world.  At W183


                         Gold                         Gaia
Have               62 ships, 3 keys             93 ships, 8 keys
Lost                    --                           --

Metals at my HW:  119

Obviously, that Gaia has more keys at W183 means my fighting will
likely be less efficient than Gaia's.  All of Gaia's shots have a
higher likelihood of doing damage to me.  For example, say I allocate
my ships 20, 20, 22 and I end up shooting at 3 of his keys which -
because players can shuffle their ships around before firing - end up
with 8 ships per, then I'll have destroyed only 24 ships rather than
the optimum of 31 ships.  In contrast, his 93 ships have a high
likelihood of destroying 46 ships.  My higher losses might lead
directly and quickly to a more than 3:1 ratio of Gaia ships:Gold ships
and thus might lead to a disastrous Pirate capture . of me.

W = 14, K = 21, S = 148



                                Gold                    Gaia
Have (including Arrived)   68 ships, 6 keys       134 ships, 16 keys
Arrived                    30 ships, 1 key        53 ships, 10 keys
Lost                       1 key                  2 keys

Metals at my HW:  113

At this juncture, I have a grand total of 20 keys.  Gaia has 16 keys at
W183 alone!  How many more keys might Gaia realistically have?  I have
a grand total of 139 ships and Gaia has 134 ships at W183!  How many
more ships can he bring to W183?

Obviously, we're at the critical juncture of our game.

W = 13, K = 20, S = 139



                              Gold                   Gaia
Have (including Arrived)  56 ships, 8 keys      108 ships, 11 keys
Arrived                   30 ships, 1 key
Lost (Cumulative)         2 keys                7 keys

Metals at my HW: 126

W = 14, K = 19, S = 113



                              Gold               Gaia
Have (including Arrived)  78 ships, 6 keys     81 ships, 11 keys
Arrived                   61 ships, 2 keys
Lost (Cumulative)         6 keys               7 keys

Metals at my HW: 105

I shot 'AH' as shown on this printout to deprive Gaia the possibility
of fleeing and taking away the metals (16 at this point and
accumulating for Gaia at 4 per turn).  I was guessing Gaia's homeworld
was now starved for metals whereas my homeworld was at full production.
The AH effort cost me a key.  I note Gaia has brought no reinforcements
to W183 on the last two PRINTOUTs.

W = 13, K = 15, S = 107



                             Gold                Gaia
Have (including Arrived)  70 ships, 7 keys    46 ships, 9 keys
Arrived                   30 ships, one key
Lost (Cumulative)         6 keys              8 keys

Metals at my HW: 86

On this printout, Gaia removed one of his keys via W163 to, I assumed,
go to his homeworld.

W = 12, K = 15, S = 104


Wyrm's gifted fleet has been cut off from hauling for Wyrm by large
Opal forces; I had been concerned about Opel myself.  I decide to re-
route the 'Wyrm key' to haul for me and to return to help Wyrm against
Opel when Gaia is under control.


Gaia abandoned W183!  He left . with just one key!  Gaia transferred
one ship to an empty key seemingly hoping his transfer would keep all
of the unowned keys neutral, but that's not how it works.
Aggressively, Gaia moved to W113 where he moved one 42 ship key from
W183 and moved in a new/additional 5 ship key; I assumed Gaia was
guessing he was on his way to my homeworld.

I now own W183 and the 21 empty keys at W183.  This PRINTOUT I had 8
keys and 100 ships on W183, and 66 metals on my homeworld.

How differently might the remainder of this game have played in the
Gold vs. Gaia War if Gaia had not made the above-described mistake?

It subsequently becomes clear to me that Gaia and Cold were cooperating
at least to a limited extent.  What if Gaia had gifted a key to Cold at
W183 a few turns ago?

W = 13, K = 36, S = 141


The War moves to W113

I was hoping when Gaia saw all of my captures at W183 that he'd be
demoralized and drop out of the game.  However, at W113 Gaia shot off
my homefleet and otherwise sat there.  Perhaps Gaia was hoping for a
massive-miracle-ambush?  I arrived at W113 with 46 ships on 7 keys
whereas Gaia had 47 ships on 2 keys.  W113 is now neutral.


                             Gold               Gaia
Ships/Keys                   46/7               47/2

I also moved 44 ships with 3 keys to W163, i.e., toward Gaia's HW.
Gaia had 3 homefleets at W163.  Thanks to information gathered earlier
in the game, I was able to conclude W163 was a second-ring world for
Gaia.  That information had also allowed me to see Gaia move from W163
to W140, which suggested my upcoming invasion route.

W = 13, K = 36, S = 170



                               Gold                 Gaia
Have                       49 ships, 7 keys     30 ships, 1 key
Lost                           1 key               1 key


I have 71 ships and 5 keys.  I shot off the homefleets and captured the



                               Gold                 Gaia
Have                        55 ships, 7 keys    7 ships, 1 key
Lost (Cumulative)              2 keys              1 key


My forces moved on to W140 with 73 ships and 6 keys.  Gaia has 4
homefleets at W140.



I have 53 ships, 7 keys (4 empty keys captured).  Gaia is eliminated at


I captured W140 and moved in force (93 ships and 6 keys)  to W226 where
Gaia has 5 homefleets.  It turns out, however, that I guessed
incorrectly and W226 was not Gaia's HW.  However, I did splurge and
probe W39 and discovered W39 to be the Gaia HW with Cold converts.


I arrived in force on W39, i.e., Gaia's homeworld.  I arrived with 114
ships on 6 keys.  Gaia has one 2 ship key and 35 I-ships; I have Gaia's
industry fully suppressed.

I am not fully certain as to which turn Gaia dropped inasmuch as FBI's
computer will play 'dropped' players to a limited extent.  I am certain
Gaia was still moving at least as of PRINTOUT 16.

I have one key and 29 ships at W140.

On this printout, Pain does a limited yet unauthorized robot attack on
one of my worlds.  Cold unexpectedly appears at W163 with an 11 ship
key.  Opal takes one of my worlds.


SW-A1273 ended with PRINTOUT 21, which arrived 2/18/99.  In my
experience, this was an atypically short anonymous game.

I had taken Gaia's HW and I was ready to roll.  Capturing an intact
homeworld doesn't happen often for me!

I was moving on Opal.  Cold shot at my homefleet at W163 but I showed
up in force.; I also encountered a large Cold force at W219.

As it turns out, Wyrm was played by Rick Loomis; that's the first time
that I'm aware of that I've been in a game with Rick.

I'm curious as to how many readers struggled through this article to
this point.  But I'm even more curious to read if other Pirates would
have counseled Gaia to abandon W183 early on and keep moving?  Is there
a rule of thumb that Pirates should not 'stand and fight'?

After the end of the game, I had the below e-mail exchange with Rick
(excerpted).  It can be intriguing to think about how differently the
same anonymous game can be experienced by the other players.

Among my other thoughts, in a nutshell, mega-alliances don't exist in
anonymous games.

Me to Rick:

"I see we were both in SW A-1273.  Indeed, we both cooperated to some
extent (you were the apostle Wyrm on my printout). *** In the event I
was in a tooth-and-nail struggle with a pirate ***.  Eventually, my
superior hauling allowed me a few more resources and I prevailed to the
point of capturing his homeworld (tee hee).  I was on my way back to
take on [Opel] who I assumed was fighting you and, indeed, at the word
{sic} I had as world 42 I showed up to begin to tangle with him with 80
ships on 7 keys and I was going to gift you an empty key to let you
know help was on the way.  ***"

Rick to me:

"Yeah, that was a frustrating game.  I was in full-scale war with
[Opel].  We both showed up at a world with an industry, but I had a
bigger fleet.  The typical thing is for the smaller fleet to leave, or
go to peace and let the other guy have it.  If there is a key or
artifact, courtesy dictates that the guy who gets the world, gives that
to the other guy.  Anyway, we both sat there and he didn't go away for
two turns, so finally I blew away his fleet, and then on the following
turn after I captured the world, gave him his key back.  He used that
as an excuse to attack me.  It was no problem, I probably could have
beaten him, as I had two merchants helping me and a berserker had just
given me a key at his homeworld and obviously wanted to help, and was
right in the best spot to help me fight the pirate.  All I had to do
was give him a key in the middle of the battle, and we would make short
work of this obnoxious pirate.  Of course, the berserker and one of the
two merchants {not me} both dropped out right then.  ***    Was really
irritating, as both the pirate and I could have done VERY well taking
all the worlds these two left - but he was busy attacking me so I had
to plunder all of my worlds so he wouldn't get too many points.

I let him wipe out my home industry as I was being careful not to let
him capture my keys, and I was taking worlds like crazy in [the
berserker's and merchant's] territories.

Too bad the game ended so soon - I was about to take the berserker
homeworld and it had a couple of my artifacts on it.  I never even saw
the winning player, [a berserker named 'Pain'] until the last turn of
the game."

    Hi El, I just noticed that I typed something incorrectly in my
article regarding turn 1 fleet movement.

    In the section regarding "Single Position Starweb", "3-connector
Homeworlds" the text as currently published reads as follows:

"This homeworld configuration is the most likely to result in balanced
numbers of ships per fleet on turn 2."

    Unfortunately this is the exact opposite of what I intended to say.
That sentence should have read this way:


"This homeworld configuration is the most likely to result in
unbalanced numbers of ships per fleet on turn 2."

    Isn't it amazing how two missing letters can change the entire
meaning? It was my mistake for not proof reading carefully enough and a
great example that neither a spell checker nor a grammar checker can
catch all mistakes. Anyway could you please correct the text in the
online article and/or publish this correction in the SEDG?

    Thanks...    Jack
QUESTIONS - Can anyone answer these?
Last Issue's question "Can anyone claim they have finished the game
with all the art?"

Looks like Gary Schaefers who claimed the bragging rights for the
largest pirate capture in issue 86 can claim this prize also. Look at
his accomplishment as BUTTERFLY in SW-CH/1 on T28 when the game ends.

[BUTTERFLY]: Artifact-Collector

W182 (31,233,235,255) [BUTTERFLY]
      Limit=42,Turns=2,I-Ships=5,P-Ships=20)  V1:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. I
      V2:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. II  V3:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. III
      V4:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. IV  V5:Nebula Scrolls, Vol. V
      V6:Slippers of Venus  V7:Lesser of Two Evils  V8:Treasure of
      V9:Radioactive Isotope  V10:Plastic Crown  V11:Platinum Crown
      V12:Ancient Crown  V13:Silver Crown  V14:Golden Crown
      V15:Titanium Crown  V16:Blessed Crown  V17:Vegan Crown
      V18:Arcturian Crown  V19:Radiant Crown  V20:Plastic Pyramid
      V21:Platinum Pyramid  V22:Ancient Pyramid  V23:Silver Pyramid
      V24:Golden Pyramid  V25:Titanium Pyramid  V26:Blessed Pyramid
      V27:Vegan Pyramid  V28:Arcturian Pyramid  V29:Radiant Pyramid
      V30:Plastic Lodestar  V31:Platinum Lodestar  V32:Ancient Lodestar
      V33:Silver Lodestar  V34:Golden Lodestar  V35:Titanium Lodestar
      V36:Blessed Lodestar  V37:Vegan Lodestar  V38:Arcturian Lodestar
      V39:Radiant Lodestar  V40:Plastic Shekel  V41:Platinum Shekel
      V42:Ancient Shekel  V43:Silver Shekel  V44:Golden Shekel
      V45:Titanium Shekel  V46:Blessed Shekel  V47:Vegan Shekel
      V48:Arcturian Shekel  V49:Radiant Shekel  V50:Plastic Sword
      V51:Platinum Sword  V52:Ancient Sword  V53:Silver Sword
      V54:Golden Sword  V55:Titanium Sword  V56:Blessed Sword
      V57:Vegan Sword  V58:Arcturian Sword  V59:Radiant Sword
      V60:Plastic Sepulchre  V61:Platinum Sepulchre  V62:Ancient
      V63:Silver Sepulchre  V64:Golden Sepulchre  V65:Titanium
      V66:Blessed Sepulchre  V67:Vegan Sepulchre  V68:Arcturian
      V69:Radiant Sepulchre  V70:Plastic Moonstone  V71:Platinum
      V72:Ancient Moonstone  V73:Silver Moonstone  V74:Golden Moonstone
      V75:Titanium Moonstone  V76:Blessed Moonstone  V77:Vegan
      V78:Arcturian Moonstone  V79:Radiant Moonstone  V80:Plastic
      V81:Platinum Stardust  V82:Ancient Stardust  V83:Silver Stardust
      V84:Golden Stardust  V85:Titanium Stardust  V86:Blessed Stardust
      V87:Vegan Stardust  V88:Arcturian Stardust  V89:Radiant Stardust
      V90:Plastic Sphinx  V91:Platinum Sphinx  V92:Ancient Sphinx
      V93:Silver Sphinx  V94:Golden Sphinx  V95:Titanium Sphinx
      V96:Blessed Sphinx  V97:Vegan Sphinx  V98:Arcturian Sphinx
      V99:Radiant Sphinx  V100:The BLACK BOX
   F246[BUTTERFLY]=8 (At-Peace)

Gary also comments: I thought it would be a good idea to publish the
Bonus Calculations I made.

Here is what I think an ARTIFACT COLLECTOR should score if he owns all
100 ARTIFACTS, on one world.  Also if it is the last turn of the game I
am figuring out the BONUSES.  Please let me know if you agree, or more
importantly, if you can see an error.

There are 90 "standard" ART.  9 are plastics, 8 are ANCIENTS, 8 are
PYRAMIDS, plus 1, the ANCIENT PYRAMID. That leaves 64 standard ART, not
of the COLLECTOR category, nor plastics.
There are 10 "Special" ART.

64 standard ART  @ 15 ========================================== 960
16 ANCIENT or PYRAMID @ 30 ===================================== 480
1 - the ANCIENT PYRAMID @ 90 ===================================  90
9 PLASTICS @ 0 (ZERO) ==========================================   0
5 NEBULA SCROLLS @ 0 (ZERO) ====================================   0

TOTAL  (per turn)  =========================================== 1,680

ALL 9 ANCIENTS or all 9 PYRAMIDS ====@ 1,000 per set ========= 2,000
5 NEBULA SCROLLS  ============================================ 1,500
1 MUSEUM (all on 1 world)  ===================================   500

TOTAL BONUSES ================================================ 4,000

TOTAL POINTS FOR THE LAST TURN =============================== 5,680

Editor's note: And if you had the 100 art on 10 museums you could have
scored an additional 4500 points enabling a final turn worth 10,180

What is the largest number of keys anyone has owned at one time? I
fully expect an email from Gary on this one :-). To get the ball
rolling I will state for the record that in a recent Extra-Long SW
variant I managed to capture as a pirate a large number of keys by T27
out of 40 turns. After this turn I gave many to my allies so I never
again had so many. But with 152 keys I could get 456 points per turn
just from keys.

Game SW-L/31, Turn 27, [ENIGMA]

[ENIGMA]: Pirate
STARWEB EMAIL DISCUSSION GROUP - is now available on the web.

Look for our MAPPER'S SECTION on the SEDG Web Page.

STARWEB ANALYZER V1.5 - It's on the web site and it's no longer a Beta!
Go get it! As before - registered clients of any previous V1.x version
can upgrade for free.

Currently the StarGame Analyzer is being prepped for Starcon (another
game). V2.0 which handles both Starcon and Starweb won't be ready for
the Starweb audience for a while.

John Gault writes:
> Turn 1 Fleet Movement in Starweb
>     By Jack Fulmer
>     In a single position Starweb game of course we all get five keys
> and thirty-two ships to work with on turn 1. How we deploy them on
> turn 1 can have a lasting effect on our success in the game. The key
> uncertainty affecting fleet movement on turn 1 is of course "How many
> connections exist to my homeworld?" My key strategic principle
> guiding fleet deployment is to simultaneously maximize the number of
> worlds and keys captured while balancing the number of ships on my
> exploration fleets.

I agree with this goal, but in my experience the fleets WILL come out
uneven no matter how evenly you distribute your starting ships, because
your ring-1 worlds (and for that matter, your ring-2 worlds) will have
unequal numbers of empty keys, and/or some will have homefleets so you
have to fight for the world before you capture the keys.

As I see it, the best way to cope with this problem is to keep part of
your force home so that on T2, you can send it where it's needed to
balance the size of your fleets and to explore all your ring-2 worlds.

Thus my T1 orders for a single-position game will be to distribute my
32 ships evenly among all five fleets (7,7,6,6,6); send one fleet to
each ring-1 world, largest fleets first; and attempt blind two-world
moves (to different destinations) with all my remaining fleets.

The destinations of the blind moves are not random.  If (for instance)
my ring-1 worlds are 68 and 129, I will probably try something like
on the theory that these "similar" numbers are more likely to be
neighboring worlds than random chance would indicate.  I only hope the
guy creating the maps won't see this and stop creating these patterns.

Editor's note: I believe FBI has software that takes the same map and
randomly shifts the numbers so the same shape can be used in different
games with changed connections. For this reason I don't think that
there will be any patterns for worlds to connect.

For a multi-position game my starting orders will be similar, except
that the position I don't want owning worlds (typically the merchant)
will gift one fleet, plus its homeworld, to the other position.  (If
that position is a berserker it will gift two fleets, since its HW is
robotized and can't be gifted.)  The gifted fleet(s) still get the
normal number of ships, since the strategy of moving them out on T2
still holds.  Of course when T2 comes around, the non-gifted fleets
of that position which stayed put (because their two-world moves
didn't work) will be stripped down to one ship and gifted, while the
ones that were gifted T1 go out on T2.

> 5+ or 1-connector Homeworlds:
>     I suppose it may have happened but I've never seen a homeworld
> with  more than five connectors or with only one connector.

I've seen both.  One map had all the homeworlds as dead ends with a
huge hub (6-connector IIRC) at ring-1.  This effectively meant that
everybody was closer together.

> Last issue I asked "This one is directed at FBI - If I start a game
> under one of my account numbers can I transfer it to another one part
> way through?"
> Rick answered:
> Absolutely not. So, if it looks like you will lose the game, transfer
> it to the account where you don't care about the rating?

I wasn't aware that FBI allowed anybody to have more than one account.
Why is this permitted?

Certainly if there is a reason to allow it, the reason is financial or
administrative and not related to game play.  Thus I would recommend
that such a transfer be allowed, but that all accounts of one person be
combined for purposes of ratings.  Otherwise the ratings are bogus.

> Stephen Moore:
>  Also, I had a question about one  of your old SEDG articles.  In "On
> Being Metallic" in SEDG #1, you  offer this tip:
> "4)When deciding whether to R attack vs PBB - breakeven is 100
> population. To kill 100 takes an R25 and gives 400 points. To PBB a
> world 0f 100 takes 25 ships also and gives 400 points."
> Wouldn't an R25 kill 200 population (25 ships = 50 robots = 200 dead
> population)?  I'm sure I'm missing something simple here, but I'm
> thinking about trying a Berserker and want to get my facts straight.

The above agrees with my experience.  One robot does kill 4 humans.
I'm pretty sure you are wrong on this one.

Also, the original comment about balancing points is silly.  A
berserker who drops a PBB gets full points for the population it kills,
just as if he killed them by firing from ships or dropping robots --
PLUS the points for the PBB itself.  So a PBB will always score more
points than a robot attack, unless it is used on a world that has
already been PBBed and then somehow repopulated.

Editor's Note: OK - I dropped the ball on this one. I guess my math
skills are a little rusty. Both you and Stephen are correct. Every R1
takes 1 ship, creates 2 robots who each will kill 4 humanoids (8 in
total) and get 2 points for each for a total of 16 points per R1. And
yes, a PBB will get the same points for the kills plus the PBB bonus
over a R attack alone. But what I was trying to convey is the cost.
Where is the best return in terms of destroying your ships? For example
if you had a world with 48 pop an R6 will depopulate it completely and
get you the 96 points. A PBB will cost you 25 ships and get you 296
points. If you chose to do an R25 on various worlds (same cost in ships
as a PBB) you could depopulate 200 for 400 points. So the decision you
make on how to score as a berserker may be different if your resources
are different e.g. you don't own many ships or have few high population
worlds. I would suggest that if you have many high population worlds
(over 100) then PBBs make more sense. A pop of 160 that is cleared by
R20 gets you 320 points. The PBB only costs 5 more ships and gets you
520 points.

Gary Schaefers writes:
A long time back, there was a variant called SW-BH/1 - BLACK HOLE/1. To
gain entry into this variant, if you had a key swallowed up by a BH in
a regular game of SW, it had a chance of appearing in SW-BH/1.  It was
an ongoing game, with players joining at any time.  There were NO HW's.
There were connectors, as usual.  You entered with only the one key.
You entered with the # of ships you had on that key.  You entered as
the type you were. My entry was a 7 ship PIRATE key.  Wiht a PIR
capture, I soon expanded my assets (doubling my Keys to 2!).
     I then was able to scrap some ships to build an IND, once I was
sure I was in a safe place with no immediate invaders coming.  I made a
couple allies.  They secured my borders a bit.  When they dropped out,
they alerted me and I captured their small keys as well.  Soon I had
about 7 keys, and found a couple IND worlds to help boost my strength.
Rick never revealed the Victory Conditions of the game.  He said we had
to figure it out for ourselves.
     Soon I had a vast empire, about 30 worlds.  The map was simple to
plot. I eventually came upon one world in particular far in the center
of the map. As I talked to players, I noticed they all started on the
fringes of the map.  In this center, the world in question had 255
ISHIPS, 255 PSHIPS, and all 100 ART!!!
     Obviously this was the key to the game - capture the world.  Time
and effort prevailed, and eventually I was able to capture the world,
thus gaining all 100 ART, all on 1 world, and ending SW-BH/1.


I would love to play in that blackhole variant if Rick ever did
something like that again - that was cool.

Mike Wulkan (CEO of Flying Moose Technologies) writes:

A good read and I can't believe you are still keeping this going.

Two thumbs up!

Editor: Thanks. It's fun to put together the newsletter and mostly I
rely on submissions like in this past issue.

Well, that's it for Volume 87. Don't be afraid to submit articles or
suggestions. They don't have to be long. Address your correspondence
to Elliot Hudes at