Tactic 15b: Blind phalanx guide

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    • Blind Phalanx

      What is blind phalanx?

      A blind phalanx is any hit that involves one fleet being timed very accurately to arrive (on attack mission) just after another fleet, without being able to actually see (using sensor phalanx) when the enemy´s fleet will return. Hence the word “blind”.

      There are a few different types of blind phalanx hits and although the theory behind them is very similar, they might be calculated and executed very differently. So the guide will be divided into different parts, each addressing a particular kind of blind phalanx.

      The “regular” blind phalanx

      The most common and simplest type of blind phalanx is performed on a player that travels from a moon to a planet with any mission except “deployment” since that is not scheduled to return. Normally of course, the fleet will be caught during the return of an attack mission, since it´s very rare that a fleet big enough to warrant a blind lanx will be sent on a round trip to a planet on any other mission.

      There are different ways that this opportunity will present itself. You will either catch this attack yourself with sensor phalanx (on the enemy´s target planet of course) or someone that is being attacked will contact you, explaining the situation.

      Let´s say that you´ve just lanxed a planet and you see an incoming attack of a fleet that you would fairly easy be able to crash. How do you get this player returning to his moon?

      What you need here is the following
      • The time of impact on the target planet
      • The attackers engine levels
      • The speed on which the fleet was sent (in %)

      So how do you acquire this information?
      Well the impact time you would get either from using your sensor phalanx or from the player being attacked. To find out the attackers engine levels if you don´t already have them saved (in Galaxytool for instance) you simply probe any planet/moon with a sufficient amount of probes. What is relevant here is the engine level of the slowest ship participating in the attack, since that is the speed that the entire fleet will have to adapt to. The easiest way of calculating the actual speed of different ships is to use some kind of tool that has been made especially for ogame, for example o-calc.com.

      What might be a bit trickier to find out is on what speed the fleet was sent. Usually you don´t know for sure, but you can often times exclude a lot of possibilities.

      The way to analyze it is by checking the different attack-percentages and compare that to the time that was left of the attack when you first noticed it. Let´s do a practical example to make it easier to understand.

      Let´s say that you lanx a planet and there´s an attack on its way with 01:08:03 to go (HH: MM: SS) and the player is attacking from 10 systems away with only battlecruisers. The relevant engine here is of course the hyperspace drive and the player has this engine at level 9. Since an attack at 90% would take 01:04:33, you know that the fleet must have been sent on a slower speed than that. If you for some reason know that the attack must´ve been sent within the last 5 minutes, that only leaves 80%.

      The reason that you might know the earliest possible time the attacker could´ve sent the fleet might be that you just lanxed that planet 5 min ago and did it again after you saw (*), indicating that someone might be attacking or the player himself is moving fleets. Or if the player that´s being attacked contacted you and refreshed the overview page within the last 5 min.

      However most times when an attack is noticed (by yourself or another player) there is less time left than it would take the fleet to travel one way on 100% and by then it´s mostly a guessing game. Most players send their attacks on 100% though, especially when the target is in close proximity, because lowering the speed won´t significantly lower the deu consumption.

      So if you think that you know on what speed the fleet was sent, you can start calculating when the fleet will land back on the moon. To do this you just add the travel time (one way) to the time of impact. So let´s do a practical example again, using the conditions of the former example.

      The battle takes place at 17:10:20 (Server time) and you have already established that the fleet must´ve been sent on 80%, which in this case equals a travel time of 01:12:35 (one way). So if there is no delay made by the attacker, the impact time stays the same and the fleet will land back on his moon at 18:22:55.

      So now you know when your opponent´s fleet will land back on the moon. All you need to do now is to send your fleet to arrive very shortly after his does (1-4 secs) and he will have a very hard time escaping.

      Things to consider

      To be able to actually pull this kind of attack off there are a few things that you need to consider. Do you have the capacity in terms of fast ships to be able to travel to your target faster than he will travel one way? If not, then there´s almost no chance of succeeding since your target can simply recall his fleet if he sees your fleet being timed to lanx him, if you send your fleet prior to the battle taking place. What this means in practice is that you pretty much have to be located in between your target and the planet that he´s attacking.

      Another thing to consider is if it´s likely that you will get the DF. Most times in these situations, you simply don´t have time to get your recyclers to arrive just after your attack and the defender is very likely to have recyclers available at the moon from which he is attacking. So most of the time in these situations you will not be able to get any DF what so ever.

      When gathering the information you need for this kind of hit it´s very important that you do so without alarming the attacker more than is absolutely necessary. For instance, when trying to find out his engines, if you don´t already have them, you should never probe him at the coordinates that he´s attacking from, nor should you probe from the moon that you´re planning to attack him from.

      If there´s no DF outside your targets moon and you thereby can´t send any recyclers beforehand you pretty much have to create a DF, because sending your recyclers after the hit has occurred will almost certainly make you lose that DF.

      If you simply crash a probe into the player, he will most likely recall his fleet right away. So you need to just spy on him and hope that your probes will be shot down. Or if you think that he might not be online right now, you can spy on him and send a couple of probes on attack to arrive as close as possible. This way you will know that a DF will be created even if your probes won´t be shot down from spying and the defender most likely will not notice that you sent attack-probes, since there is no message saying if the probes were shot down or not, just the message saying how big the chance were of shooting them down. If your probes sent on spy mission crashes, you would of course need to recall the attack-probes immediately so there aren´t two CRs for the defender to find.

      There are of course many more things to consider trying to not raise any suspicions from your target. You just need to put yourself in his position, what would make you suspicious? Try to figure that out and go from there.

      Recalled missions
      A situation similar to the “regular” blind phalanx is recalled missions. This will almost exclusively be a recalled attack or a recalled deployment.

      Recalled attack

      Let´s start with the blind phalanx on recalled attacks because this would be the simplest version of this kind of hit. If you´re planning on a “regular” blind lanx or if you or someone you know is trying to set up a ninja, getting the attacker even If he recalls is usually the back-up plan.

      The information you need to catch a recalled attack is very similar to the “regular” blind lanx. Instead of the impact time you need to know the exact time the attacker recalled his attack.

      Normally the opportunity will present itself if you or someone you know is trying to ninja your target and he recalls his fleet when he spots the ninja. So, the time of recall will be caught by whoever is being attacked. The only thing you need to do in this instance is spam the “overview” button to see when the attacker´s fleet disappears from the event list.

      You also need the targets time of departure and engine levels of course, but they are calculated exactly the same as for the “regular” blind phalanx. So if you have forgotten how to do that, please read that section again.

      Now there is a bit of a difference here compared to the “regular” blind phalanx, the speed on which the fleet was sent on, doesn´t help you with anything more than knowing when the player sent his fleet. It doesn´t matter on what speed the fleet was sent, because the time it takes the fleet to get back after being recalled is always exactly the time it has traveled up to the point it was recalled. So if the fleet has been delayed prior to the recall, that delay has to be taken into consideration as well.

      A practical example:

      Your target attacks a player 10 systems away with only battlecruisers, on a speed of 90%, with level 9 hyperspace drive. The journey (one way) will be 01:04:33 assuming no delays or recall. Now let´s say that the player recalls with 20 sec left of the attack. The time it takes his fleet to return is then 01:04:13, i.e. 20 sec less than it would have taken if there was no recall. Now let´s assume that the player also delayed a total of 40 sec and recalled with the same amount of time left of the attack, 20 sec. Since the fleet has travelled 40 sec longer this time, it will also need 40 sec more to return home. The time it takes the fleet to return now is 01:04:53

      Aside from how you actually calculate the return of the fleet, there´s no difference between catching a recalled attack and doing a “regular” blind phalanx.

      Recalled deployment

      Before you have a moon to fleetsave from, using deployment mission is the most common and certainly the safest way to fs. It can be very hard to catch this kind of fleetsave, but it´s not in any way impossible.

      The reason that it´s the safest way to fs from a planet is that when a deployment is recalled, it´s invisible to the sensor phalanx. In fact it´s never visible on the planet that it´s sent from, due to the fact that the deployment is not supposed to return since it´s a one way trip.

      Technically there´s no difference in catching a recalled deployment and a recalled attack, you need exactly the same information, time of departure is calculated exactly the same etc. The only difference is that it´s way, way harder to get the time of recall on a recalled deployment.

      As you probably have figured out already, you need to use the sensor phalanx to know when the fleet is recalled. Knowing when it´s recalled is simple. As long as you can see the fleet flying towards the target planet on your sensor phalanx it hasn´t been recalled and the second it disappears it obviously isn´t flying towards the target anymore and has been recalled.

      The problem about the recalled deployment isn´t knowing when it has been recalled, it is that you pretty much need to know when this is going to happen beforehand. To get the timing right on your blind lanx you need to know when the fleet has been recalled within a timeframe of about 3 sec to be fairly certain that your target doesn´t have time to escape. Since it costs 5k deu every time you use the sensor phalanx, updating it every third second will cost you 100k deu per minute, or 6M per hour. So as you can see, the costs tend to escalate if you are just spamming the lanx blindly, waiting for a recall.

      There are fortunately a couple of ways of avoiding using up too much deu trying to catch the recall time. First of all, you need to know if the player normally lets the deployment land and if so, when he usually comes online. If he lets it land, you need to provoke a recall. I.e., you need to attack the deployment and hopefully the target usually comes online late, so that the time you need to use the sensor lanx is minimized. Knowing when the player has come online isn´t always that easy, but if he fleetsaved before 3 AM server time, he needs to log back in to recall and there will be a (*) on his home planet. That is when you start spamming the sensor phalanx.

      A trick that mostly newbies will fall for but normally is worth a try is to send your fleet to arrive before the deployment and if there has been no recall the last couple of minutes, you just delay your fleet to arrive a couple of seconds after your target. Most newbies will notice when this happens, but that leaves you with a couple of minutes of spamming the sensor phalanx instead of an hour.

      If however your target always recalls his fleet before the deployment lands you need to try to figure out some kind of pattern by narrowing down how long the fleet is in the air each day. Most people will fleetsave about the same time every day (with exceptions of course) and they will recall about the same time every day. It may differ an hour or two, but the fleet will be in the air about the same time since you´d normally want your fleet to be available to you at a specified time of day. There are of course players that will fleetsave and recall completely random every day and then there is nothing you can do but guess when the recall will come.

      Moon-DF hits

      A moon-DF hit can range from being very straightforward and easy to execute to near impossible, depending on how the fleetsave has been sent. Since there is almost an endless amount of strategies and tricks involving moon-DF hits, both from the attackers and defenders point of view, only the basic idea and most common situations will be explained in this chapter.
      First of all, the basic concept is the same as for a “regular” blind phalanx (mentioned above), i.e. all you need is:
      • The defenders engine levels
      • The speed on which the fleet was sent
      • The exact time that the fleet reaches the DF

      Acquiring this information however, may be easier said than done. First of all, you need to figure out from where the defender is fleetsaving and just as importantly to which DF the harvest mission is going. You find out the exact time that the fleet reaches the DF simply by updating the galaxyview and watching carefully for the DF to disappear, meaning that a harvest mission has reached the DF. This will be explained in greater detail later on. First we need some preparation.

      Choosing your target

      Some players are easier to catch with a moon-DF hit than others. The easier players to catch are usually those who don´t know themselves how it is done, or they don´t even know that it can be done. These are probably the type of players you should target if you´ve never actually done a moon-DF hit before, because they are way more predictable than more experienced players.

      How do you spot these players?

      Well you usually get a feel for how good a player is by observing how and what he´s building, planet placement throughout the uni, the fleet composition of his attacks etc. If he´s doing things in a way that is generally considered wrong, chances are that he´s not very knowledgeable and is a good candidate for a moon-DF hit.

      Knowing where to look

      When you have found a potential target, it´s time to start figuring out how, when and to where he usually fleetsaves. This is really the trickiest part. There are tons of ways to go about this, but we will assume that this player is not aware of the danger he is facing, making him pretty predictable.

      Assuming that this is a fairly young uni and most players do not yet use deathstars for fleetsave, the most common way that a player will fleetsave is against a DF in the same system as his own moon. This is because fleetsaving outside of your own system is way more expensive and players tend to try to save as much deu as possible. For the sake of simplicity we will also assume that the player you are after only has one moon. So you already know from where he´s fleetsaving and you have a pretty good idea to which system the harvest mission is going.

      When did he fleetsave?

      You can find this out either by simply probing him once in a while to see when the fleet is gone or more preferably, observing his habits for a couple of days. Usually you do however need to confirm that he has fleetsaved by probing and checking if the fleet is still there or not. Generally though, you should avoid probing as much as possible to avoid raising suspicion.

      Most commonly among the last actions a player performs before he logs off for the night is to fleetsave. So the last activity on that players moon should give a pretty good indication on when he fleetsaved.

      If you have observed your target for a couple of days or more, you should also have a pretty good idea on how long he usually fleetsaves for as well. This is pretty important information unless you´re willing to check every possible speed that he might´ve chosen.

      Finding the right debris field

      Now that we know roughly when he fleetsaved it´s time to figure out which debris field he´s going towards. Since there may be other players fleetsaving towards debris fields in the same system, we need to be able to tell the difference between other players picking up a DF and our target. This is why we need to have a good idea about when the target fleetsaved.

      Let´s say that we know that our target fleetsaved somewhere between 11:00 PM and 11:12 PM, based upon information we have collected. We have also observed him fleetsaving a little less than 8 hours per night. Assuming his combustion drive is at level 12, we know he´s been sending his harvest mission on 40% speed, with a one way travel time of between 03:40:34 and 03:47:35 (depending on where in the system he´s located and which DF he sent the fleet towards). This tells us that he should arrive at a DF between 02:40:34 AM and 02:59:35 AM. (Generally you don´t know the intervals with such accuracy, it´s just to illustrate the point). So if only one DF disappears within that timeframe you know that it must be your targets´ fleet that have picked up the DF. If more than one DF disappears within that time though, you pretty much need to guess which one is “right”.

      Calculating the return time

      When you see a DF disappear in the galaxyview, you need to press the “overview” button as soon as possible. If you have the “antigame” add-on for instance, you can choose to have two different timers. One that keeps counting continuously and one that shows the exact server time when you last pressed a button. The latter is very useful when doing a moon-df hit, because the time when the DF was picked freezes (minus the few seconds it takes you to press overview) and you can calmly write it down instead of trying to see the exact time on the moving clock.

      Now that you have the time the DF was picked, it´s very easy to calculate when the fleet will land back on the moon. Let’s say that the DF was picked at exactly 02:50:00 AM (to make it as simple as possible) and o-calc tells you that the one way travel time on 40% for that distance is 03:40:34. Adding those numbers tells you that your target will land back on his moon at exactly 06:30:34 AM. So all you need to do now is send a fleet to arrive just after that.

      Bear in mind that this has been extremely simplified. It´s rare for a moon-df hit to be this easy and straightforward. In reality the DF disappearance can lag and not be shown in the galaxy view until several seconds later, which might mean that your target gets a few extra seconds to escape. Your target might also FS with decoys (a group of recyclers meant to throw off potential attackers and make them attack the decoy), against an inactive player without any def to create new DFs, against a DF that doesn´t even have a planet below etc. In short there are countless ways of avoiding getting caught by moon-df and there are even more ways of figuring out how to catch the harder ones. The advanced tactics of moon-df, will however not be covered in this guide, because there´s simply too much to talk about. But you now possess the basic methods of thinking and hopefully you will form your own ways of succeeding with the harder moon-df hits.
    • I know that the moon-df section of this guide might be a bit slim, but I need to hear some other opinions about this. If I were to extend that section, the guide would be very long, but if that is the will of the majority, I will do so :P Anyway, i need feedback on the guide as a whole as well. Is something essential missing, is there more info than needed somewhere etc.?