MegaWars III Ship to Ship Combat
The third in a series of articles about how to play MegaWars III
by Admiral Starbuck
If there is anything that discourages a new player more than getting
killed ten times in as many minutes when first entering the game, I sure have
never heard of it! Yet this is a common occurance.
Although most of the players in MegaWars III hold to a Code of Honor
and do not attack new players, there are some who prey upon the helpless
novice players with a vengeance. Also, neophytes may be attacked by accident,
through mistaken identity, or merely the confusion of a battle.
This article is to help you learn how to defend yourself and your ship,
and how to effectively counter-attack. I will also cover some more advanced
offensive and defensive strategies for ship to ship combat.
Your ship has three kinds of weaponry - Lasers, Torpedos, and Missiles.
While missiles do heavy damage, and are target-seeking, they are expensive,
and a beginning ship will not have any. Torpedos do the most damage, but are
often difficult to aim. Lasers can only be used in normal space (near a star)
not in Hyperspace, while Torpedos and Missiles can only be fired in Hyperspace
although Missiles will follow their target into normal space.
Your ship begins with 25 torpedos and three torpedo tubes, none of which
are loaded. You must first load a torpedo into a tube before it can be fired.
This is done with the LOAd command. Type LOAd to load a torpedo into
a tube (for instance "LOA 1" to load tube#1). Loading a torpedo tube uses up
50 units of fuel from your ship.
To fire a torpedo, you must be in Hyperspace, and your target must also
be in Hyperspace, within 35 lightyears of your ship. The command is:
If you do not specify a direction, tubes 1 & 2 will fire straight forward
(course 0), or tube 3 will fire straight behind you (course 200). If you have
more than 3 tubes, the last (highest numbered) tube faces backward, the last
two if you have 6 or more tubes. Any tube can be fired in any direction if
you specify the direction to fire in.
Directions are in gradians - 400 grads to a circle, so 100 would be to
your right, 300 (or -100) to your left, 200 behind you, and 0 straight ahead.
Your screen should display any enemy ships in range, with their Heading from
your ship - that is the direction that they are in at the moment. You should
remember that both you and he are moving, so it takes a bit of practice before
you can learn to aim well enough to hit. Also, it is very possible to hit the
wrong target by accident, so be very careful with torpedos in a crowded area!
Torpedos do heavy damage - 200 to 500 units of energy worth of damage.
If you hit, your enemy's shields will have to absorb that damage, and any
additional damage that the shields cannot absorb will damage the ship. Since
shields cannot be more powerful than 400, a torpedo almost always does
significant damage if it hits.
Your ship begins the War with no Missiles, and it will probably be quite
a while before you can afford them - they cost 150 units each! However, your
planets may produce some within the first two days, or you could get lucky and
gain a few some other way.
Missiles are devastating weapons. You can fire two at a time, and they
will hunt down and hit their target all of the time! They do slightly less
damage than torpedos, but firing two at once you can do more damage total.
Missiles must be fired from Hyperspace, although the target may be in
normal space. However, the farther the target is from you, the more fuel will
be used firing the missile. Missiles travel at a speed of Warp 10, and lose
their target (and are wasted) if the target ship gets further than 200 light
years away from the missile, if the target enters Drydock, or if the target
leaves the game.
Missiles can also be destroyed by defensive fire. A laser hit will
usually destroy a missile, and a torpedo hit always destroys one. However,
each hit destroys only one missile - two hits are needed to destroy a salvo of
To launch missiles, type:
If you do not put ",2" at the end of the command, only one missile will
be launched. (For example, typing "MIS 1234,2" will launch two missiles at
ship number 1234. "MIS 1234" or "MIS 1234,1" will launch 1 missile). If you
discover that you have fired at the wrong target and wish to abort the missile
before it hits, you can type "MIS". This will detonate the missile whereever
it is (and waste it). The game will ask for confirmation by saying:
"Detonate missile?". Type "Y" to destroy your missile.
Only one missile (or group of two missiles) can be in flight at a time,
so you must either wait until your missile(s) have hit, or else abort the
missile(s) before you can fire again. You may use other weapon systems,
however, while missiles are in flight.
Lasers can be used only in normal space, unlike missiles and torpedos.
Your ship has two lasers, one forward and the other aft (on the rear of your
ship). The forward laser can fire at any target that is from -125 (or 275) to
125 heading from you. The aft (rear) laser can fire at any target that is
from -75 (or 325) to 75 heading from you. Therefore, any target that is
coming towards you (or retreating) from the side can be hit by both lasers.
Lasers must first be locked on target, using the LOCk command:
If you specify only one ship#, both lasers are locked on to that ship.
You may specify two ship numbers, the forward laser will be locked on the
first ship, and the aft laser on the second. Lasers, once locked on target,
can be fired using the FIRe command:
FIR 1 would fire the forward laser only, FIR 2 would fire only the aft
laser, and just "FIR" would fire both. Lasers do as much damage as their
strength. Your lasers each start with 200 power, and can be built up as high
as 500 power.
Lasers are more effective at close range, generally best at ranges of
under 10 AU, and broadside attacks (hitting with both lasers) from short range
can quickly destroy even a large ship. However, it is difficult to keep a
lock on any target which is either jumping in and out of hyperspace, or in
orbit around a planet (to lock onto a target in orbit, you must also be in
orbit. When in orbit, you cannot lock onto any target which is not in orbit
also. Targets in orbit are also periodically hidden behind the planet.)
In any combat situation, one of three conditions exist. Both ships may
wish to fight (dogfight); you may be attacking a ship which is fleeing, or you
may be attacked and wish to flee.
In a dogfight situation, both ships usually manuever to a convenient
position (either in hyperspace or normal space) and blast away at each other.
Alternately, they may continue to manuever around each other, trying to get a
good attack angle, while keeping the opponent offbalance. There is also the
tactic of jumping into hyperspace, launching a missile, and returning to
normal space to attack with lasers while the missile is in flight. This is
the most common dogfighting tactic among the better players.
In an attack situation, you must constantly be sure to maintain range and
heading with the enemy ship. If you are traveling too fast, you will overtake
and pass him, quickly going out of range. If you are too slow, he will
escape. And if you are not heading directly towards the enemy ship, you will
slowly separate, getting farther and farther apart during a running battle.
After each two or three attacks, you should adjust your course and/or speed to
maintain a reasonably close range (5-15 ly) and heading with your target.
When you are trying to escape, remember that your aft shield will be most
exposed to enemy fire. You should dodge often, so that the enemy will be
forced to adjust his course more, and get off fewer attacks. Another
excellent tactic, once your ships are both traveling at high speed, is to
suddenly reverse direction, heading towards the enemy ship. Once you pass him
(very quickly usually), you will be heading in opposite directions until he
adjusts his course - and you may get far enough away to be able to jump into a
star system and hide (or leave the game temporarily).
Since all hull damage is instantly repaired (for free) whenever you dock
at an Imperial base (or any base capable of building new hulls), and all other
ships systems are repaired to at least minimum values also for free, combat in
an Imperial system is difficult at best. I have destroyed three Destroyers
while I was flying a basic Scout by simply sitting on top of an Imperial base,
and drydocking whenever damage began to reach significant levels, immediately
returning to space, and attacking again.
Another useful tactic in normal space is to travel far away from the
star, and sit, waiting for enemy ships or missiles to come into range, while
you are already positioned to hit with both lasers. If no target appears, you
can WARp to the system you are in, and appear (instantly) in another position,
usually 10-15 AU away from the star. The technique of WARping to the same
system is also useful in breaking laser locks, and in rapidly changing your
location in the system.
All weapons systems can be fired once per command. However, the system
will not accept another command until all output is printed. Therefore,
combat is almost always done in COMbat mode (TTY mode), instead of cursor-
controlled mode. If you have a cursor-controlled terminal, type COM to enter
combat mode. You will no longer get the "picture" of your surroundings, which
takes time to be printed.
Also, using Control-O to cancel output will speed up your attacks,
although you will not see any attacks which hit you, radio messages, or ship
locations. I generally make two or three such "rapid-fire" attacks, and then
let the information print out once, to see what changes in other ships'
locations have occurred, and what new ships have entered the immediate area.
Since you cannot fire missiles while a missile is traveling towards its
target, missiles are best used at short range, under 10 ly. However, firing a
missile at medium range (10-30 ly), and following it with a torpedo attack,
which will hopefully hit in the same combat round, is a very effective attack.
Long-range missile attacks should only be made when you have plenty of
fuel. A large ship, carrying a large amount of fuel, can fire missiles at
ranges of 200 ly or more - although it will take quite a long time for the
missile to travel that far. Such "pot shots" can be useful when firing into a
battle that is occuring some distance away, since it adds to the total
firepower in that battle.
In group attacks and Team battles, the major objective is to gain a local
superiority of firepower. If you can overwhelm one enemy's defenses quickly,
he will fall, and thus reduce the total enemy firepower accordingly. By using
several sequential attacks in this manner, a numerically superior force can be
defeated with ease, merely by avoiding some of the enemy forces while
destroying a few targets with overwhelming local superiority.
Group defense of a star system (or a blockade) can be a very effective
tactic in MegaWars III. Generally, one ship should be sitting (not moving)
directly "above" the star system, in hyperspace, watching for approaching
enemy ships. Another ship should be in normal space, directly "above" the
planet being defended/blockaded. Two thirds of the remaining ships should be
spread in normal space at the perimeter of the star system, 12-15 AU away from
the star, and fairly distant from each other. The remaining ships should be
in hyperspace, patroling the immediate area.
With this configuration, any enemy ship approaching can be attacked by
the ships in hyperspace with several rounds of missiles or torpedos. When the
enemy ship enters normal space, he will be at point-blank range to one of the
perimeter guards, and can be attacked by at least three ships at close range
or short range, plus any ships who follow from hyperspace (if any other enemy
ships are approaching, ships in hyperspace should remain there to attack other
approaching enemies.) If the enemy ship approaches the planet, it will be
subjected to attack from the planet guard, plus 75% of the perimeter guards,
at close range. The remaining perimeter guards (who were on the opposite side
of the star) should spread out to guard the remaining perimeter, while firing
medium-range laser bursts.
More combat techniques will be discussed in a future article. Until
then, good luck and good shooting!