Minefields on defense
– Used defensively, meaning against approaching enemy ships, the objective it to force the enemy ships to slow and sweep, or risk having minehit damage when they fight. However, it should be noted that ships with higher-tech hulls (tech 8 or above) do NOT stop when they hit a regular mine. They may, however, slow down based on their damage taken vs. maximum warp (see VGAP Calc). This means that mines are more effective at slowing an attack of small-to-medium ships than the high-tech large hulls of say, a Biocide.
– If you see ships moving towards you, DO NOT lay minefields that will overlap the enemy ships’ starting position. What you want is for the approaching enemy ships to have nothing to sweep in their sweeping range, but then run into your minefield after they start their movement. (add a pic for this if possible***)
– Ideally you want to lay minefields as the enemy approaches, not before they approach. That is, you want the enemy to move into a minefield that wasn’t there last turn. While the psychological impact of existing minefields may slow or deter some players, it also gives them the opportunity to build higher-tech beams into their ships while preparing for an attack.
– Once your neighbours know where you are, and you have minelayers on your border, I suggest randomly dropping and scooping minefields in different places, and leaving minefields up for different lengths of time, to make an enemy think twice about a sneak attack. However, you want at least two or three minelayers before you start this process, otherwise you’re just revealing where your minelayer is, and isn’t. The downside of this tactic is that you could inadvertently scoop a minefield just as a cloaker is approaching!
– Do not drop mines ONLY around your best planets! This practice is equivalent to putting a big red flag saying “please attack this planet”! Instead, it’s better to drop a big minefield that will cover multiple worlds, either in open space or at a planet at the center of a small cluster.
– Bigger is better with minefields. Although overlapping minefields is fantastic if you can afford it, bigger minefields take longer to sweep and are more likely to catch a ship.
– Each ship can only sweep 1 minefield at a time, so if you can arrange to have two minefields overlapping on top of an enemy ship, not only do enemy ships have twice the chance to hit a mine (yes, the % chance does double), but they will only be able to sweep 1 field at a time.
– Do not drop your whole load of mines in 1 turn. To use a card-playing analogy, this is like revealing your whole hand at once. Even if you want to drop a large field, I recommend holding back some of your torps, and either increasing the field in size unexpectedly, or laying another field just as the enemy thinks he’s going to finish sweeping the field.
Eventually, the enemy IS going to make it through your minefield, either damaged or not. Before they reach you, make the decision whether you have enough to win the fight or severely cripple the enemy force, or whether you need to give ground and retreat. If giving ground, use the Scorched Earth defense, similar to the Russians in WWII, leaving no fuel, minerals, supplies, or MC for the enemy.
Minefields for Harassment
In short, this tactic means sneaking a cloaker into an opponent’s main freighter routes, and dropping a large minefield. I’m not a big fan of this tactic because there’s a good chance you’ll get your cloaker captured before it can get out, although it can really hurt a player’s economy if they have no minelayers or sweepers in their rear area. Try to get your cloaker killed by a starbase instead of getting captured – at least you’ll take out some fighters, and planets can’t capture ships.
To defend against this tactic, you simply drop a large minefield of your own (preferably a larger one), and try to catch the cloaker in that minefield. Once the cloaker hits a mine and can no longer cloak, you send a Battleship with Disruptors and Gamma Bombs to go capture it, or simply send a ship to go destroy it.
Minefields on the offensive
I’m a big advocate of laying mines when going on the attack, because this prevents the worst case scenario of defensive minelaying against your moving ships, giving you no chance to slow down before you run into the minefield. Worse, because you may be out of range to sweep at the start of your turn, you may lose quite a few ships before you even know that there’s an enemy minelayer in the area.
The ideal way to lay mines is with forward-positioned cloakers, just prior to your main offensive force showing. You want to drop large minefields that will take the enemy more than 2 turns to sweep (hopefully), which will allow your own ships to move in without risking minehits (since they are traveling through their own minefields, which will counter any defensive minefields). This type of minelaying also prevents the enemy from easily positioning his defensive ships. Without cloakers, you must drop bigger minefields, such that you can move into your own field without risking enemy minehits.
It is worth noting that as you reach the edges our your own minefields, you should scoop them and drop them at your new, forward position. It is best to use two to four ships to do this minefield-moving, since they will scoop and lay by ID. You always want a lower-ID ship scooping, and a higher-ID laying, since you want to avoid adding to the existing minefield. With two ships, you simply need to have the lower ID one scoop first, and transfer excess torps beforehand to the higher-ID ship as needed. With four ships, one pair will be the highest and lowest IDs, and the other pair will be the middle-IDs. Thus, no matter which pair you use, you can always have one ship in each pair that can lay or scoop before a ship in the other pair. Again, transfer torps between ships so that you can scoop or lay in the correct order with either pair.
Torpedo Choice and Minelaying
Torpedo Efficiencies for Mine-Laying
|Cost per 100 mines
|MC / 100
|Min / 100
Large Mine Fields
The maximum size field that can be laid in most recent host versions is 150 ly (or 146 ly after decay). This size requires 22500 mine units. You can only achieve this size of a field with most races using the following:
– 225 Mark 8 torps (for 12150 MC and 225 x 3 = 675 minerals)
– 278 Mark 7 torps (for 10008 MC and 278 x 3 = 834 minerals)
– 625 Mark 4 torps (for 8125 MC and 625 x 3 = 1875 minerals)
– 56 Mark 8 torps (for 3024 MC and 56 x 3 = 168 minerals)
– 69 Mark 7 torps (for 2484 MC and 69 x 3 = 207 minerals)
– 156 Mark 4 torps (for 2028 MC and 156 x 3 = 468 minerals)
Because of these limits vs. your minelayer cargo room, you might need more than 1 ship to create a field this big. Unless you’re the Robots, in which case even a Deth Specula with Mark 7’s still puts down a 106 ly minefield with 35 torps!
Given these numbers, most players equip their ships with Mark 7’s for minelaying because of the MC-vs-minerals tradeoff.
Why Large Minefields are Better
Most new players don’t understand how, as a field gets larger, the number of mine units required to make it even larger grows exponentially. For example, you need 1620 mine units, or 5 Mark 7 torps, for a 40 ly field, but you need 6480 mines, or 20 Mark 7 torps, for an 80 ly field.
The effect of “mine units vs. radius” in game terms is that small minefields can easily be swept away, but larger ones take many turns to whittle down, and because they can’t be removed in one sweep, the mine-sweeping ship is forced to creep forward if they want to stay out of the minefield, and risks a defensive mine-layer expanding the field again as they creep forward.
Minefields as a Resource
Minefields affect your military score, but mines in a minefield are worth less than torpedoes on a ship.
Minefields decay, and decay your military score with it, but only in increments.
When engaging in “minefield wars” with your enemy, the one closest to his supply lines will usually win, barring a significant difference in wealth between the players.
Very late in the game, when players can’t spend resources on ships, they will tend to spend resources on giant minefields. Be prepared for this eventuality, with your own mine-layers and sweepers at the ready. If you have no ships with good beams by the ship limit, you can be easily defeated by the Crystals or Robots, since you will have very little defense against their minefields. Even other wealthy races like the Feds or Lizards may give you a lot of trouble, simply by dropping large minefields against you.
Tips on Using Minefields
Overlapping Minefields – The Easy Way
In empty deep space, lay multiple small minefields/webs.
After these “marker” minefields are in place, simply move a larger torpedo carrying ship into these ‘preemptive’ minefields and then lay a large amount of mines… normally if you already have a giant minefield, everything you lay will get added to it until you hit the maximum minefield size you are allowed. However, if you are inside TWO or more minefields of your own, it will only be able to add mines to the one you are closest to its center-point, or the one with the lower ID, depending on the host.
Tactically, instead of laying single a large minefield, and allow the enemy easily mine-sweep it away and move forward as much as they like, you lay another large minefield which is just out out of range of enemy mine-sweeping using one of these ‘preemptive’ minefields… and the enemy will fly straight into the newly enlarged one.
Increasing the odds of mine-hits by overlapping multiple fields is also a great idea… except minesweepers can sweep all minefields in range, thus making multiple fields an expensive proposition.