The Robots have three things going for them:
- cheap fighters (3 Tri, 2 Moly, 5 supplies)
- big carriers
- cheap minefields (4 times cheaper)
- Hulls need lots of Duranium
- No true fuel carrier (Q-Tanker only)
- High fuel consumption, due to high-mass ships
The Robots’ need for Duranium (Dur) that can be severely crippling early to mid game. Once they start making massive numbers of fighters for their carriers (using Tri and Moly), this handicap becomes somewhat of a benefit, as their mineral usage evens out. However, when they are trying to build a fleet of freighters, and then get some warships built to protect that freighter fleet, they run short of Duranium really quickly.
The solution to this dilemma lies in luck, and in building one ship: the Merlin. To feed this Merlin with supplies, you’d really like a Bovinoid world near your homeworld. If you are lucky enough to get a high-yield, high-abundance duranium mining world nearby instead, this might delay your dire need for the Merlin, but I would still make the Merlin even without the Bovinoid world.
However, the Merlin ALSO needs loads of duranium, meaning that you’ve already depleted your Homeworld reserves for freighters, and now you need to come up with even more! The solution to this problem is to develop ANY high-extraction duranium world with 500 reserve or more, and pull minerals off it as fast as possible. Once you have your Merlin up, the Factories on those worlds can feed the Merlin.
Diplomacy: Alliances & Trades
Like every race in Planets, the Robots benefit greatly from diplomacy. The Robots objectives in diplomacy are:
- Negotiate non-aggression treaties (NARs) for a period of time until after the Merlin is built.
- Negotiate a trade of ships for a cloaker or other decent minelayer with at least Mark 4’s, and preferably Mark 7’s or 8’s.
- Generate goodwill for an alliance or at least a temporary coalition (based on win conditions)
- Arrange for the ultimate demise of, or an alliance with, the Colonies, who take away your greatest strength and defense: minefields, and laugh at your greatest weakness: fuel.
- Arrange for the ultimate demise of, or an alliance with, the Crystals, whose minefields are better than yours, and whose mines you will have a terrible time sweeping with the low beam count on your ships
If you can ally with one neighbour, you should first help him kill his neighbour before you conspire to kill your other neighbour, because you are stalling for time. However, you can feed him fighters or go minelaying to help out.
If you can’t get a NAR with at least one neighbour, focus on one neighbour while liberally seeding your other border with minefields. Early in the game, it’s very difficult to keep up with minesweeping, and very expensive to lay enough mines to destroy Robot minefields. Against an enemy, you should attempt to lay mines in his space, and interdict combat and freighter movement as much as possible.
I don’t actually think the Robots have any “best” allies, as most other races will bring something to the alliance that the Robots lack, such as cloakers, fuel, terraformers, special abilities, or torpedo ships. It should be noted that having a cheap battleship precede a carrier in combat will almost guarantee that the carrier will win the battle, and battleships are generally cheaper than carriers. There are a few less-than-optimal allies, such as the Empire and the Rebels, both of whom have similar weaknesses and strengths to the Robots. However, most other races fit the Robots quite well. For example:
- Robots + Crystals: Nasty, nasty compound minefields. The Emerald is also a superb minelayer and sweeper.
- Robots + Colonies: Minefield dominance – you will have the only minefields in your combat area, and the Colonies provide the fuel, too.
- Robots + Feds: the Fed Loki is useful, as are terraformers, super-refit, fighter bay bonus, and a variety of torpedo ships.
- Robots + Fascists: cloaking minelayers, glory devices, ships that can’t be attacked by planets, and possibly also fast beam recharge (host setting dependent).
Robot Ships: A Review
Cat’s Paw: your minelayer. Try not to use it in combat – it dies easily. It DOES make a decent planet-killer if you’re sure there are no defenders or starbases.
Q-Tanker: your fighter-builder. You can and should use it as a fuel carrier as well, although your big ships have decent fuel tanks of their own.
Pawn Class Baseship: Many Robot players build one of these first turn, run the Bioscan, and then immediately recycle it for the Duranium. It’s worth knowing where those good native worlds are, and you can save a lot of scouting time by doing this, even though you’ll be down a ship.
Instrumentality: your “medium” carrier. This carrier is pretty darn big, and if you can stock enough fighters, it can kill just about anyone else’s medium ships and keep coming. Follow it around with a Q-Tanker and a Cat’s Paw, so you can top it up with fuel and fighters, and it can retreat back into a minefield to refill.
Automa Baseship: your main attack and defense ship. Costs less than the Golem, but does almost the same job, 80% of the time. It’s also cheaper to build than the Golem, and with more of them, you are less likely to be in the wrong place when defending.
Golem Baseship: your big carrier. Use this against big enemy carriers and against fully-stocked starbases. Precede it with an Automa, and you’ll be sure to take out your target without fear of losing the Golem.
The Robots also have access to the generic ships including the freighters, the Merlin, and the Neutronic Refinery.