The purpose of this article is to provide information on finding and invading bases. There are two major sections. Section one will cover methods for finding an opponents base and section two will cover methods of taking it once you have found it.
Finding a base:
The key to finding an opponent’s base is to start early. On your first day in the game you should complete as accurate of a ZTM as possible. Once this is complete you’ll want to process the data for a list of dead ends in the game. These will be the most likely base locations.
With a well organized team, you should be able to send ether probes to each of the dead ends within 3-4 days. For each sector, place avoids on the sectors where ether probes are destroyed and then probe the target dead end again. You will want to repeat this until the probe is either able to make it to the target or it is unable to find a path within x hops. If it is unable to find a path, record the sector for manual checking later. Once you have probed the entire list of dead ends, if you still have a large supply of credits, it is often best to send probes to all of the unexplored sectors in the game. If it takes multiple days to do this or you have multiple people doing it, make sure you trade your avoid lists so you don’t have to waste probes on places where you already know there are enemy fighters. Once you have completed your probing, run a CIM script to record the ports currently visible for future reference.
The next step is to visit the blocked dead ends. This can be a dangerous thing to do. To maximize your chances of survival, it is best to use a macro to kill enemy fighters. A good macro for this purpose would be “m**any9999**f1*cd” where * is an enter. If you have trouble with being photoned, adding a transport at the end should remedy it. When going out to check on these sectors, make sure you drop at least one fighter in each sector you pass through. This will help stop other people from probing for your base, allow you to eliminate possible base locations, and give you twarp points closer to areas you wish to explore. If there is a base you cannot find in a dead end, begin expanding your search to those sectors your probes hit. Order your search in such a way that you give preference to sectors with fewer warps in. For example, you would want to check a sector with 2 warps in over one with 5 warps in. Also, keep watch on visible ports with a CIM script. If you know the enemy is continuing to build bases, sectors with blocked ports give you a good place to start looking for new ones. So long as you are methodical in your searching, you should find bases relatively quickly.
Invading a base:
Once you have found an enemy’s base, you quite obviously will want to deny the enemy the use of it. There are three basic ways of doing this. The first is to invade the planets and capture everything in the sector. This has the benefit of giving you whatever the enemy had, but is often too expensive. The second method is to try to collide the planets when extern runs. This is much cheaper than invading but is far less sure. The third method is to block enemy access to it by way of your fighters or planets. This method is risky because you are forced to put a sizable amount of your own resources in a location known to other players.
To help you decide which method is best, you need to evaluate your enemy. If your enemies are experienced players, it will be difficult to block them from the sector. If your enemies have more resources than you, especially fighters on the planets, it will be difficult to invade. If your enemies’ planets are level 4 or higher, they will likely not stay around until extern for a collision attempt. Often times your best recourse is to do some combination of methods. For example, you can invade two planets and try to collide the other three at extern. Alternately, you could try to block the enemy from the sector until extern and then attempt collide them.
Another factor that needs to be considered is whether or not the planets are shielded. If they are not shielded, you can use photons to bypass any cannon settings or military reactions. If they are shielded, you will need to take into account what ore they have. If shielded, you will most likely need to get podded mothing one or more times.
The first step once you have found enemy planets is entering the sector with them. If they are not yet shielded, the best method is to launch a photon then enter the sector while the wave is in effect. This will prevent you from taking any blasts from any quasar cannons the planets might have. This too you should macro with something along the lines of “cpy*qm
If the planets are shielded, entering the sector can be trickier. While a photon will still disable sector fighters, the quasar cannons on the planets will still fire. Assuming no death limit, the best method is to disrupt all mines and then enter the sector in a cheap ship with around 1100 fighters. At this point a lot of things can happen. The goal is to get the planets firing small enough blasts so that you can enter the sector and kill the fighters. Be warned, every time you fire at the sector fighters and you do not kill all of them, the quasar cannons will fire at you. The formula for sector quasar cannon damage is figured as: (sector percent * total ore) / 3. From this it is easy to determine how much ore is left on a planet after you have had two blasts. The formula for this is: percent = (1 – (second hit / first hit)) * 100. To find the total ore on the planet before that blast was fired, you use the formula: (sector blast * 3) / (percent / 100). You then subtract the amount of ore that was just used for the last blast from that number and you have the current amount of ore on that planet. If you take that times the percent it is firing at and then divide it by three you will have the strength of the next quasar blast. It is often useful to add 50-100 damage on to this, as there will likely be colonists producing ore.
The basic goal of mothing planets is to drain as much ore as possible using the fewest fighters possible. As each circumstance is different, you will have to determine what is optimum for your current situation. Keep in mind that each person is only allowed to be podded twice each day. The third time will #SD# them. Keep in mind that a planet needs at least 200 shields to block a photon. It is cheapest to drain a planet of some ore and then land to destroy a few shields. Once it is below 200, you can treat the planet as an unshielded planet. Keep in mind, however, that when you destroy the last shield on a planet, the atmospheric cannon will fire on you again if a photon wave is not currently active.
If there is a death limit in the game, using the fewest figs possible may not be feasible. If you have someone one #SD# from being eliminated, this is the person you want to start off testing defenses. When there’s a death limit, instead of trying to get into the sector with as few fighters as possible, you want to try to get in with as few deaths for people not within one death of being #SD#. This normally involves sending in full interdictor cruisers to eat the ore down as quickly as possible. Since the people you have doing this are close to being eliminated, you will want to make sure that they are safe. When a cannon kills you, your pod always goes to your previous sector. For more information on where your previous sector is in different circumstances, please refer to the article on that subject. In this case, the sector you are moving from next door is your previous sector. To that end, you will want to put several shielded planets in the sector you are moving in from, and make sure you are not invading from a one-way sector. You want enough planets that it would take the enemy multiple attempts to enter the sector and kill the pod of the person who just got killed by the ore. Also, you will want to make sure you have a path of your own fighters at least four to five hops out from where you are invading. If you are killed ship to ship and do not have that many sectors claimed, the pod probably will not flee and the person attempting to invade will end up #SD#.
Sometimes it is possible to drain an enemy’s ore using very few fighters to do it. There are two basic methods to do this. The first is if any enemy has an interdictor on their planet turned on, but no cannons. In this case you can attempt retreat from a sector fighter at no turn cost to you. The interdictor will hold you, using 500 ore from the enemy’s planet. Since the cannon is off, you will just be held and put back at the sector fighter prompt. You can repeatedly attempt to retreat until you drain all of an opponents ore. The second method is a little trickier and requires at least two people invading at once. The upside to this is it can be done on a planet with active sector cannons, so long as the interdictor is turned on. To set up, Player A will have fewer fighters than player B and will drop off of the corp with player B. Player B will make sure there is an empty sector that player A can potentially flee to. Player B will then fire one fighter at player A. Player A will attempt to flee, but will be stopped by the interdictor on the enemy planet. No cannons will fire. This will use 500 ore off of the enemy planet for each repetition. Please note, both of these methods will only drain the ore on planets with active interdictors. It will not affect planets in the sector without active interdictors.
One of the hardest planetary setups in terms of getting into the sector is several planets with mild cannon settings and several million offensive sector fighters. Since sector offensive fighters will attack with 1.25 * the max fighters and shields a ship can carry, the mild cannon blasts are enough to allow the sector fighters to finish off the ship entering. To counter this, you must first get enough ships with fighters in the sector under the sector fighters to either drain the cannons or kill the sector fighters. To do this, you will need to drain the cannons enough that the ship with maximum fighters and shields can survive all of the cannon blasts. You will then photon under the sector fighters, probably wanting to tow second ship full of fighters into the sector with you. You will want to do this until you have enough fighters in the sector to completely drain the planets of ore. Once that is accomplished, you must drain the sector cannons to the point that a ship with at least 1.3:1 defensive odds can enter the sector and live through the cannon blasts. Now you will need to have player A enter the sector in the ship with the best odds that can enter the sector and survive the cannon blasts. Once this person enters, he will wait at the pause after the cannons fire. Player B will then transport into one (or more) of the empty ships in the sector and fill up player A’s ship with fighters. He will then transport back so that he is not able to be photoned. Player A will then hit enter and the sector fighters will attack him. Since he has at least 1.3:1 defensive odds and full fighters, he will survive the fighter attack. Player B will then transport back into the sector and refill him. Player A will then fire one fighter at the sector fighters. This will trigger the sector cannons to fire. Player B will then continue to refill him as he does that until the cannons are empty. At this point, it is a simple matter of killing the sector fighters to claim the sector. Please note, this is difficult to impossible to do with the enemy online and actively defending.
Once you have the sector, direct invading is the surest way of taking an enemy’s planets. Fighters on planets get 3:1 odds when defending, or 2:1 odds when attacking with a military reaction level. Ships in the sector with a planetary defense bonus get four times their normal defensive odds. Planetary shields get 20:1 odds. A cannon firing in the atmosphere either does 2 damage for every ore used if the game is MBBS mode or does 1 damage for every 2 ore used if it isn’t MBBS mode. Once you know these odds, it’s just a matter of doing the math to see if you can invade the planets. Normally, if there are a small number of planetary shields, it’s advantageous to eat one atmospheric cannon blast to drop the number below 200, then photon in to finish off the shields and kill off the fighters on the planet. Keep in mind, once you kill the shields, the cannon will fire again and any offensive fighters on the planet will attack. That being the case, make sure you kill off the last shield while in a photon duration. If there are a large amount of shields on all of the planets, it is often best to drain all of the ore from the planets in the sector before attempting to land, since it will take few fighters that way. If you don’t have enough fighters to directly invade all of the planets, you need to evaluate if invading some of the planets are worthwhile. If they are, and you can take them, do it. If they are not, you can try to collide the rest of the planets at extern.
Colliding planets is far from a sure thing. At extern, there is a 10% chance of a collision of planets in a sector for each planet over the maximum. That means, if you have ten planets over the maximum in a sector and extern runs, you are guaranteed a collision. This is the best amount to overload someone’s sector to try to get a collision, if you add more planets the odds of you colliding the planets you are aiming for decreases. Even if you do everything correctly, you are still dependent on luck. Also, leaving planets until extern to collide them can give your opponent the opportunity to move them if they are warpable. There are three methods for collision that will work in most cases. The first method is to leave the sector in enemy hands until right before extern, then photon under their sector fighters, create ten planets, then transport out to another ship. You can do this method without ever having claimed the sector, but the downside is that you risk being killed by sector defenses. Also, you have to make sure the sector one hop out is clear of mines and nav haz so you do not set off your photon on the way in. The second method requires you to claim the sector at some point during the day. You then get a lock on the sector with a planet but do not engage. Just before extern you engage your lock, lift off of the planet, create ten planets, land back on the planet, and warp back home. The upside to this is that you don’t have to worry about photons or sector defenses. The downsides are that you first have to spend the resources to claim the sector, and then you risk colliding your own planet if you mistime it or mess up your macro. The third method is to claim the sector and then lock you opponents out of the sector until extern.
Attempting to lock an opponent out of a sector is a risky move at best. There are only two ways to guarantee success. One is to have enough shielded planets with large enough sector blasts that they are unable to spend enough pods in one day to get in. The other is to put enough in the sector so the opposition does not have enough fighters to make it through. The first method is fairly self-explanatory. For the second, a good combination is often a large number of sector fighters combined with a planet with an interdictor generator. Be warned, the invasion tactics explained above can also be applied to your block. If you do attempt to lock an opponent out of a sector, you should only be doing it for one of three reasons. The first is that you need more time to generate more resources to take the rest of their planets. The second is that you wish to hold the opposition out long enough to make a collision attempt at extern. The third is that you are wishing to entirely lock your opponent out of the game.
Before you attempt any sort of invasion, make sure you have it clear what your goals are and that you can achieve them. If you attempt an invasion and fail, you are normally much worse off than when you started. To help you succeed in an invasion, it is best to do all of your planning and setup before you ever begin. Once you commit yourself to an invasion, speed is key. The faster you are able to act, the less time you give your opponent to stop you.