Dogfights are a game format supported at Planets.nu and created by Talespin. It is a short-format game, usually taking 15-20 turns to complete. There are 8 players and 60 planets, with the "top 4 players advance" win condition. The format is quite popular. It was created by Talespin for his private tournament, but it was included in Planets.nu's League short-format games. In these games there is no diplomacy allowed, no communication between players, no renaming ships and no giving away ships. League Dogfight games only support Standard (as of July, 2020), but Talespin's private tournaments have used Campaign in its season 3 tournament.
Players can play any race, though in Talespin's tournaments there have been some restrictions. For season 2 (Standard), players could only play a race once. In season 3 (Campaign), players could play a single race twice. This was partly done because campaign advantages are expensive to unlock for many races.
How to Play Dogfights
To win in a competitive Dogfight, you should pick a strong race. The generally accepted strongest races (based on their win/loss ratio in tournaments) are:
Other races can win, but they are less likely, and not favored for competitive play. They should generally be avoided.
One untested possibility for competitive gameplay (especially Campaign) is:
- Evil Empire (which takes first place sometimes)
However, not many players have played EE in dogfights games, so there is not enough data to know how good they are yet.
Dogfights are known for brutal rush strategies, so be prepared for them. You might want to consider this if you think you can surprise an unsuspecting opponent. However, if you can, stay out of the fighting and let your opponents kill each other while you build up your economy. This is a good strategy for Crystals and Robots, who can protect their economic assets effectively with webs or large minefields.
Because Dogfights are on such small maps, you do not need to upgrade to warp 8 or warp 9 engines. Build warp 7 or less. Distances are very small, and overdriving is not a huge loss of fuel. Most of your ships should be as cheap as possible, with warp 5 engines unless you know they will need more fuel efficiency (e.g. if towing another ship, or hauling lots of cargo long distances). Warp 6 engines are still very cheap, but cost twice the molybdenum than warp 5. Warp 7 costs the same moly as warp 6, but costs three times more MC ($106 vs $340 for 2 engines), so it's best to avoid warp 7 unless you really need it. Remember: you can overdrive whenever you need to!
General economic tips:
Tax your homeworld with a growth tax strategy (taxing down to 70 happiness in one turn, and letting happiness return to 100). Some players tax down to 40 happiness right away, which is OK but not usually necessary. Even in short games, population growth can be important. Tax as needed, whenever you want to build a ship.
A very common mistake players make is to spend all their money very quickly, then have nothing left to build ships with. So plan your money and make sure you can always build a useful, cheap ship every turn (e.g. MDSF) instead of miss turns of building.
Mining is very imporant in Dogfights, including mining small amounts on rocks. You will not always have a lot of planets under your control, so you want to spend some money on mines, even on planets with low amounts of reserves. For example, if you are Robots and really need duranium, and you find a planet with 500 duranium underground and 50% mining rate, you should build mines there. 500 is not a lot, but it's enough for 2 Automas, so you can really use it. Have an MDSF build enough for ~100 mines on the planet, to mine it out in about 10 turns. Building factories is not necessarily important, it's the mining operation that you want to start up ASAP.
Time is of the essence when colonizing worlds, so use your turns efficiently. Make sure you make good use of each trip of your ships transporting colonists. Try to avoid losing ships, as each additional ship you have allows you to colonize planets nearby faster. You can only replace ships at 1 per turn, so do not waste them.
Though it is tempting to move your MDSF far away on your first turn, that can get it killed or captured. It's safer to move your MDSF nearby to explore worlds suitable for colonization, looking for good natives, duranium or moly (esp. if you are Crystals). Most players will put up a minefield early to defend against attack. This also gives away their homeworld location. Consider what is more important to you: having a minefield up or being stealthy for a rush of an opponent. If you are Crystals, you should lay webs, unless your neighbours are also crystal. Crystals are not affected by the webs of other Crystal players, and so can rush them easily. Lizards can almost ignore minefields, as they can sustain minehits and still fight effectively with Lizard Crew Bonus. Traversing a minefield can take an enemy by surprise who thought they were safe behind the mines.
Have a plan for your first 5 turns of ship building. Plan for what resources will be required and what you can afford. You will usually want at least one battleship within the first few turns. You can do it with the help of a Ship Build Planner.
Generally, it is better to colonize planets with warships with large cargo space (Emerald, Ill Wind, Cat's Paw, Tranquility, LCC). However, there may be times when it makes sense to build an LDSF. This is when you need to transfer a lot of clans very fast to an excellent native planet. Usually it is not worth the duranium to build an LDSF, and they are weak and defenseless.
You will want probably 1 T-rex defending your planet early against a rush. Build LCCs to find planets with good natives to tax. Consider hissing a lot by building a 2nd starbase for hiss ships.
Campaign: Saurian Heavy has many beams, which can be useful sometimes, as sacrificial lambs vs. against carriers or for minesweeping. Also very good against gunbaots.
Try to defend an area with webs before enemies show up, to try to mark that territory as your own. Most players don't want to challenge the webs. This strategy allows you to defend many planets with minimal forces. Finding a molybdenum planet is essential to your future, if you want to build heavier ships like the Diamond Flame. Avoid heavy blasters to conserve moly until you have a good source.
Campaign: Get Imperial Topaz and Selenite. Sapphire might be useful in some situations.
Build a Cat's paw and then an Automa for self-defense and fighter production. (Avoid Q Tankers if you can, since they produce only 12 fighters per turn). You might want to keep fighers on board the Automa, in case of an ambush. Instrumentalities are not good at fighter production, with their 80 cargo vs Automa's 200, even though Automas cost the same duranium as instrus.
Campaign: Get Fortress for defense against ground attack.
You'll want to build a Rush to do your fighter production. You can use it to search for enemy homeworlds and RGA them.
If you are playing
Campaign: get Energy Defense Fields. EDFs will protect your planets from attack, which helps you hold more planets in the scoreboard. Iron Lady command ships are also helpful, as well as Shock Troops.
Campaign: If you can afford them, get Saber Shield Generator, Plunder, Armored Ore Condenser. D9 Usva is also intersting, with a very large mass, big cargo and 10 beams, it can beat all medium ships easily, but at a high 600 MC hull cost. Ore Condenser can greatly increase your homeworld's duranium production, allowing you to build more Vickies.
Warp 9 SSD rushes are excellent (turn 3 over HW), and a clever EE commander might carry the day, if luck is on his side. They are a bit vulnerable with lack of torpers and relatively low fighter production. This can be made up for if you find really good natives, allowing you to purchase fighters for Gorbies.
Campaign: With Campaign advantages, EE is potentially much stronger, with very powerful Ru30 gunboats and increased fighter production.