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Subject: alt.games.gb Frequently Asked Questions (Part 1 of 2)
This article was archived around: Sun, 3 Apr 2011 15:08:26 -0600 (MDT)
Posted-By: auto-faq 3.3.1 (Perl 5.010)
Galactic Bloodshed FAQ Version 4.4 - Part 1 of 2
FAQ Originally written by Doug Ingram
FAQ versions -->4.1 by John P. Deragon and Evan Koffler
FAQ 4.1 --> 4.2 Old and wrong information corrected. New psmap help.
FAQ 4.2 --> 4.3 New addresses and information about current server codes.
Info about GB mailing list. New section: newbies deadly sins.
All addresses checked 1.6.97. Tapsa. (email@example.com)
FAQ 4.3 MAY 1997 by Tapio Ranta-aho (HTML format by Evan Koffler).
FAQ 4.4 March 2005 updates and reformatting by Michael Wilkinson
Subject: 1. Introduction
This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) was written to answer questions for
those interested in playing GB. It is oriented to those who are just getting
started with GB.
The latest version of the FAQ is available on SourceForge:
** This is the first of two parts **
Part 1 -- Frequently Asked Question
Part 2 -- Advice from GB vets for novices
Subject: 2. Table of Contents
(+) Indicates a new subject for this version
(*) Indicates an updated subject for this version
** PART 1 **
2. Table of Contents
-- Section I. Getting Started
3. What is GB?*
4. What is HAP?
5. What is GB+?+
6. Where can I get the client and/or server code?*
7. What are the different versions of the server?*
8. What are the different versions of the client?+
9. What if I have problems compiling something?*
10. How can I find out more about gb?*
11. Where are the current games running?
12. Is there a mailing list for GB?*
13. Do I need a client to play gb?*
14. How can I start playing a game?
15. How much time does it take to play gb?
16. Is there a newsgroup for GB?
-- Section II. The Game Set-Up
17. What is a racegen?+
18. What race should I choose?
19. What's the difference between a normal and a morph?
20. Which is better, morphs or normals?
21. What kind of planet should I choose?
22. What sector preferences should I take?
23. What happens if I get a rotten home planet?
24. How can I get a postscript map?*
-- Section III. Playing the Game
25. What is a move seg?
26. What is an update?
27. What strategy should I use?
28. How do I change scope?
29. How do I talk to others?
30. What should I do first?
31. How do I interpret the maps?
32. How do factories work?
33. What tax rate should I set?
34. What's the difference between military and civilians?
35. What should I set my mobilization level at?
36. How do planetary guns work?
37. How do atmosphere processors work?
38. What's the quickest way to jump to other systems?
39. How do I get hyperdrive on board ships?
40. How do I build ships in space?
41. How come I don't have any resources yet?
42. My pods didn't explode when they reached their destination.
43. How do I get a list of where my crystals are?
44. How do I get crystals?
45. How do I get a list of ship types I can build?
46. What are the worst mistakes I may do?
47. Final Warnings and Advice
** PART 2 **
48. Advice from Veterans
-- Section I. Setting up your race
49. Should I choose a metamorphic race or a normal race?
50. What type of home planet should I choose?
51. How should I spent my remaining points?
52. What sector preferences should I choose?
-- Section II. The Beginning of the Game
53. What should I do before the first update?
54. What is the first ship I should build? The second?
55. What can I do to increase my resource production on a given planet?
-- Section III. Later in the Game
56. Should I colonize the planets in my own system first, or
should I focus on arriving in other systems before opponents
57. What should I do when I see another ship other than my own?
Subject: 3. What is GB?
GB stands for "Galactic Bloodshed", it is a piece of Internet history.
GB is one of the original update-based client-server multi-player 4X
Internet text games. Expand your empire and exterminate your opponents
as you explore the galaxy and exploit its many resources.
GB was first written in 1989; it presented an alternative to the very
complex game 'Empire'. Both are 4X games, however, GB appealed to sci-fi
fans. It never quite gained the popularity of Empire, however, those that
played GB were hugely fanatical about it. The game itself required less
daily time to play than Empire and dealt more with combat and less with
starving civilians. GB is one of the first true examples of Open Source
on the Internet; most admins that ran the game also contributed to the
GB is a game played over the Internet by several users at various sites.
The remote site, where the game and its database reside, is generally
referred to as the "server". To connect to a game, players use a program
called a "client" that is run from their local computer.
Subject: 4. What is HAP?
"HAP" stands for "Heuristic Astronomy Project." HAP is a close
relative of GB, but there are many very important differences between
the two. Rather than go into the differences here, I suggest you
continue reading through this and then log in to one of the games
yourself. Ask around and experiment and decide for yourself what you
like best in a game. Both "flavors" of GB (original and extra crispy,
if you like) approach the game in a different way. For example, in HAP
games, communication among players who have not met is restricted
while on GB, global communication is the rule...thus for help, it
would be best to try a GB game first where players can hear you. Of
course, on the original HAP game, the deity and developer of HAP, Clay
Luther, is around most of the time, and there are no restrictions on
communicating with him in the game. As a general rule, HAP tries to
incorporate many of the best changes from new versions of the original
code while bowing more to "realism" where possible.
Subject: 5. What is GB+?
GB+ has extensive rewrites over the original GB. There have been many
flavors of GB that branched from the original GB. GB+ was created and
maintained by the GBDT (Galactic Bloodshed Development Team) mainly
as a code reorganization, bug fix, and architecture change effort.
However, many God players made their own mods to this (in the tradition
of HAP). Some of these mods where MarVin, Balanced Treehouse, Jekyll &
Hyde, and Vengeance of Solkan. After the GBDT ceased operations and a
period of inactivity GB+ was renewed by some Finnish students under their
own mod, HUT. HUT had some major bug fixes and additions. Finally in
2005 GB+ has found a new home at SourceForge. The newest GB+ now contains
most modifications, bug fixes, and enhancements ever conceived and
written into the various above-mentioned mods.
When playing a GB game you're actually connecting to a GB+ server.
Subject: 6. Where can I get the client and/or server code?
Both the client and server code is available under the Galactic Bloodshed
Project at SourceForge. <http://gbp.sourceforge.net>
The code you'll find there is tarred and gziped, so you'll need to know a
little bit about manipulating Unix files in order to set things up.
*** IMPORTANT ***
When you are ftping a binary file (ie: ends with .gz), you MUST set the
file transfer mode to binary! Most ftp programs and web browsers will
handle this automatically. However, if, for some reason, you do not
transfer the file in binary mode, it will be corrupt. If you experience
a problem unzipping or uncompressing a file, this is the problem 99% of
the time. Simply re-download the file in binary mode.
Here's a helpful example: Suppose you ftp gbII-2.6.0.tar.gz
First: gunzip gbII-2.6.0.tar.gz (gives you gbII-2.6.0.tar)
Next: tar -xf gbII-2.6.0.tar (separates out all the files)
Then: delete the original tar file if you wish.
Info on these processes can be found in your system's help files, but
if you continue to have problems, post your questions to alt.games.gb
newsgroup or connect to one of the running gb games as guest and ask
around for help. This is usually the first best thing to try when you
have any problems. After all, the players have all had to go through
the same things you will in order to get set up in gb.
Once the files are in your directory in a conventional format, there
will be help files and so forth included. It's a good idea to print
the help docs out and have them handy when you play.
Subject: 7. What are the different versions of the server out?
There have many different GB servers, almost every deity made their own
modifications. These were some of the good ones:
GB+ by the GBDT.
MarVin code by Ralf Zessin.
GB 5.0 HUT by a Finnish developing team.
V1.7.5 Balanced Treehouse (Valentines Day code) by Greg Merrill
However, the newest GB+ (6.0) available at SourceForge has brought together
all the mods and hacks that were available in the above servers.
Subject: 8. What are the different versions of the client?
Just like GB was the original name for the server, the first client for
GB (after telnet) was simply called gb. Then Evan Koffler (aka Keeshans)
wrote gbII for the Unix platform. Note that the gbII client successfully
compiles only on Unix machines or a close derivative of Unix (like Linux).
Scott Anderson (later modded by Rich Fitzgerald) wrote an X-windows
extension to gbII that displays map using an X display. This is now
included by default in the latest gbII (2.6.0).
There is/was also a version of a PC based client for GB available, written
by Chris Fodor (aka Feepness), however, at this time it is MIA and not
available at SourceForge (yet).
Additionally there's the Jurmunian Java Client, however, at this time it
is also MIA.
Subject: 9. What if I have problems compiling something?
As mentioned earlier, the first thing you should always try is to log
in to one of the existing games as a guest and start asking around.
There will often be someone on who can help you with simple problems,
but if they can't help you, you have a couple of different recourses:
The GB listserver <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> has a few folks savvy
with compiling the client on a few different platforms. When posting
to this list be courteous, give him informed questions rather than
just helplessly whining.
If you're having a problem with a bug in the server code, a good
bet is to post to alt.games.gb. There are enough users out there
familiar with the code to help you deal with whatever problem you're
There are also forums available on the Galactic Bloodshed Project's
SourceForge page. However, these are fairly new.
When posting to these groups be polite and clearly describe your compiling
problem. In other words, don't just write and say "It doesn't compile on
the NeXT and crashes when I try to boot it." At the least, run the code
through a debugger of some kind to get a line number within a routine
or at least get some kind of output sequence. This gives the person
helping you some reference point from which to track the problem down.
Subject: 10. How can I find out more about gb?
The Galactic Bloodshed Project's SourceForge page:
You can also try a google search for more information or (because it's
an old game) try www.waybackmachine.com on some old URLS:
GB Documentation Page:
Gardan's HUT Page:
Jurmunian Java Client Page:
GB Server development history:
Aldan Game Page:
Kaos Game Page:
Valentine's Day Massacre Page:
J & H Page: (Has VB and Java Clients)
Try logging in to one of the current games running. Some games have a
guest account set up specifically for new users to find their way
around and ask questions. When it asks for a password, simply type
"guest" or "guest 0" in most places, and you'll be logged in to the
game. There's no guarantee that there will be someone on who can help
you and/or has the time, but during the evening is generally the best
time to try.
There is also GB mailing list. See below.
Subject: 11. Where are the current games running?
I used to keep a list of this, but it's just too much of a pain. The
best way to keep track of which games are running (or about to be) is
to watch the alt.games.gb newsgroup. It's very low volume, so that
should be no problem. The FAQ gets out of date too quickly and easily
in any case.
Once you get a server address and part, use the following examples to
connect you to a game with telnet if you're not using a client. If
you're using a client, simply replace "telnet" with "gbII" or whatever
you've named the client executable in your directory. on Unix: "telnet
pooh.caltech.edu 2010" or "telnet 126.96.36.199 2010" or, on VMS:
"telnet pooh.caltech.edu /PORT=2010" etc.
Note: Some of these games are chronically off-line for one reason or
another; others are only up at certain (unknown to me) scheduled
times. Don't be surprised if you get a refused connection by more than
one game. If you want to enter one or more of the games that have not
started yet, check alt.games.gb for announcements about where to send
Other games will be announced in alt.games.gb as they are started,
including periodic "blitz games" run by various people. A blitz game
is essentially a gb game in which the updates are squeezed down into 5
to 20 minute intervals as opposed to the usual 1 or 2 per day. If
you're wondering what an "update" is, read section III about playing
Subject: 12. Is there a mailing list for GB?
Yes. This list is made for general conversation about the game.
Please post information about: new games / running games / thoughts /
problems / server ideas / scripts / etc... Or anything else GB related :-)
How to sign up to the Galactic Bloodshed mailing list:
To subscribe to the list, mail a message to email@example.com.
The subject line may be blank, but in your message text, type in:
Leave the rest of your message blank (remove sigs, etc.)
Subject: 13. Do I need a client to play gb?
If you're going to play seriously, then the answer is yes.
Theoretically, one could get by using only telnet, but only the client
will process maps correctly and enable you to encrypt your
conversations, which is a convenient way to communicate at no cost
without being overheard on the game.
Additionally the newest GB+ server can optionally require CHAP (Challenge
Handshake Authentication Protocol) authentication. If the GB server you
connect to requires this then you will require a client. Right now, only
the latest gbII (2.6.0) supports CHAP authentication.
Subject: 14. How can I start playing a game?
There are two ways to do this. First, you can wait until someone
announces the beginning of a game. The alt.games.gb newsgroup is where
you'll see such announcements. The person in charge of the new game will
either include (or point you to) a racegen program which you can then use
to specify what kind of race you want. Then you log in to the game and
start playing when it starts! Read on for more details on what racegen
is and how it works.
Another way to get into a game is to log onto a currently running game
and ask. In most big games, there are "sleepers," or races which have
dropped out for one reason or another (it's not always due to
weakness, sometimes time constraints are involved). Also, many players
with big races tend to look for people to help them out since playing
a big race in gb can be very time consuming.
Games now run with the "governor" code. This allows for races to have
one major leader who can delegate authority over given ships and
systems to his governors, who are independent players recruited by the
race leader. This is a great feature for those of you out there who
want to play gb but lack the immense amount of free time that leading
a fully active race requires.
If you see an announcement for a new game starting, but don't want to
run your own race, your best bet is to post to alt.games.gb asking if
anyone needs a governor.
Subject: 15. How much time does it take to play gb?
That depends entirely on the number of updates per day. For a
reasonably large race (say, control of 40 planets) in a game with 70
star systems or so (3-8 planets per system), it will take you at least
one hour of playing time per update (this is vastly dependent upon how
efficient you are...use macros!). This can go way up if you are
actively waging war with another player. This time tends to increase
as the game goes on and you grow in power, but the main variable in
the whole time equation is simply how active _you_ want to be. It
takes a very active race to come out on top in gb; even on a one
update per day schedule, it can eat up your time, so consider yourself
warned. GB 5.0 HUT server includes many time saving features, so it is
easiest version to play if time tends to come a problem.
Players who join only to play for a little while and then drop out,
leaving all that they've built to fall into ruin, are generally
frowned upon. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but all deities ask that
you plan ahead. Don't get yourself involved in more than you can
handle. Drop-out players who don't get replacements can seriously
upset the game balance, ruining the game for many other players.
The advent of team races may offset both of these disadvantages, but
it's still best to be aware of them.
Subject: 16. Is there a newsgroup for GB?
This newsgroup is for the discussion of everything that has anything
to do with Galactic Bloodshed, including game announcement, rules
discussion, game editorials, etc.
This is NOT a GAMEBOY group.
There is also alt.games.galatic-bloodshed, which was actually started
before alt.games.gb, however, the name was too long for some UNIXes (at
the time) so the official group was moved to alt.games.gb. This FAQ is
cross-posted to that group, however, alt.games.gb should be used in favor
of the other.
Subject: 17. What is a racegen?
Every new game that is coming on-line is accepting races generated by
a program called "racegen". Use racegen to generate your race and
automatically send it to the appropriate "deity".
Normally, you'll be asked to use your client to connect to a special
racegen daemon on the eventual gb server machine. This greatly
simplifies the old process of game registration since you don't have
to have your own copy of racegen, just your gb client. Watch for specifics
on connecting to the game's racegen given with new game announcements.
Use your gb client or telnet to connect to racegen on server machine
then you are ready to go!
OLD (STANDALONE) RACEGEN NOTES:
If you need your own copy of racegen (highly unlikely), you may still be
able to get a copy from one of the old URLs mentioned above; it compiles
pretty easily on most UNIX systems. Note that you usually have to compile
a whole new version with the proper destination address (for sendmail) in
the code, but this is easy...just find the destination address line (#TO,
I believe) in the code and change the address with your editor, then
compile. This standalone racegen is so rarely needed nowadays that it is
not clarified in this FAQ anymore.
Subject: 18. What race should I choose?
The creation of new races is controlled by the person hosting the
game. Player #1 (the first player enrolled into the game) should
always be given deity status, as many of the game default operations
are placed in player #1's control. Other players may be designated as
having deity status during the enrollment procedure, but this isn't
recommended (or needed in most cases).
Race generation is often done using a rather complex point based
system, the idea being that you must spend a limited number points to
get better attributes. The program that you do this creation process
with is called "racegen". There are five types of data associated with
each race that the player can choose:
* Name, password, and other profile information -- While none of these
have any direct effect on game play, they add interest. Name and
password can be set with racegen before enrolling in the game. All of
the others can be changed as needed; see also: name, personal, profile
* Home planet type -- A race's home planet can drastically affect its
game. Jovian home planets are the most costly type, because jovians
are huge planets with big % the sector area of the universe on them.
Jovians are the only worlds with gas sectors on them; gas tends to be
resource-poor but fertile. Class M (Earth-type) home planets are the
next most useful, with a good balance of fertility and resources.
Forest and water worlds are like class M's and generally more fertile,
but they are also smaller on average. Desert worlds have high resource
content but are not very fertile. Iceballs and airless worlds are too
small to make very good home planets, but they are very common in the
universe as a whole.
* Racial type -- There are two main racial types in GB: normal races
(think of humans, Klingons, Wookies, Pierson's Puppeteers, etc) and
metamorphs (Alien, the Thing, body snatchers, etc.) The primary
difference between these two race classes is that only metamorphs may
have pods. A secondary difference that is rather harder to notice is
that the price of various attribute combinations is slightly different
for normals and morphs in racegen, especially for some of the
* Compats -- The planets found in the GB universe are represented as
arrays of sectors of various types: ice, land, sea, etc. Various races
may have varying degrees of compatibility with these sector types,
which will affect the amount of population they can grow on that
sector type, and other things too.
* Attributes -- Attributes are quantizations of a race's abilities.
Currently there are 11 basic attributes for each race:
** Absorption -- Only metamorphs may have this attribute, which allows
them to absorb enemy troops and civilians in combat if the morph wins.
Combined with pods, it allows metamorphs to replace alien population
on planets when pods burst.
** Adventurism -- This described how willing a sector's population is
to move and explore other sectors. High value tend to settle planets
on their own far more efficiently. If you have a low value, you can
order movements with the 'move' option.
** Birthrate -- This factor determines how rapidly the population in
the sector will converge to the maximum population supportable on the
there. High values mean that the population multiplies faster.
** Fertilize -- This attribute represents the percentage chance that a
race will increase by one percent the fertility of any sector it owns.
Any race may take advantage of space plows for a similar effect, once
it gets to tech level 5.
** Fighting Ability - Higher values mean that the race is more likely
to kill an alien than a lower value. Races with lower values will
usually need to have larger forces to win in direct combat over a high
fighting ability. It is important to note that this effects only land
combat and ship boarding strengths, and not ship to ship fighting.
** IQ -- The raw growth rate of a race's technology is governed by the
race's intelligence. The technology increase per update is IQ/100.
Additional technology gain is available by technology investments on
the individual planets under the race's control.
** Collective IQ; IQ limit -- The intelligence of a race with
collective IQ is related to the race's total population, as follows:
IQ = IQ_limit * [ (2/PI) atan(population/50000)]^2. [Note: Be careful
with this one! If you can't build pods, then having a collective IQ
could be disastrous as you won't have the knowhow to build *any* kind
of useful ships for a looooong time.]
** Mass -- Each race has a mass. The heavier the individual, the more
fuel it will take to launch and land ships full of the race.
** Metabolism -- This value controls how industrious the race is.
Higher metabolism races will produce resources more rapidly than lower
metabolisms, and also increase the efficiency of sectors faster.
** Pods -- Pods are small ships, available only to metamorphs but at
tech level 0, buildable instantly on the surface of planets. Each one
may carry a single crew-thing; this makes them ideal for settling
other planets. Pods which enter a system after having frozen in deep
space will warm and eventually burst, possibly leading to spores
landing on worlds in the new system. If a spore lands on a sector, a
ton or more of biomass will be created, resulting in a new colony for
the podding race. Note that spores may never land on alien occupied
sectors unless the podding race has absorption.
** Sexes -- Each race has a number of sexes. This represent the
minimum population that a sector must have in order to be able to
reproduce. Lower values are preferable to high values for colonization
efforts. It is not recommended to have more than 3 to 6 sexes at the
outside, unless you are really looking for a challenge
Subject: 19. What's the difference between a normal and a morph?
A "morph," or "metamorph," is described in the standard docs as the
type of race you'd see in John Carpenter's "The Thing." The major
differences between morphs and normals can be summarized like this:
-- Morphs can absorb enemy bodies when they attack a sector
-- Morphs can build spore pods on planetary surfaces
-- Morphs' IQ is determined only by their population
It used to be the case that morphs had a very high metabolism and very
high fighting strength to go along with all of this, but the advent of
racegen has changed that considerably. Now, morphs can have all of the
basic characteristics of normal races -- but the three attributes
mentioned above are only available to metamorphs. The disadvantage
that offsets this option is that some items will be more expensive in
I'll discuss these three items in reverse order: First, morph IQ is
based on some exponential population formula. In all games, this means
their IQ starts at 0, and the maximum possible morph IQ can be set by
the player in racegen. A common practice is for morphs to spend a
great deal of tax money investing in tech to offset this disadvantage,
but it still takes a while to "take off." The low IQ means that morphs
cannot rely on shuttles (which require some minor tech ability to
build) to ferry them around to colonize planets early in the game.
Morphs, however, have the ability to build spore pods. These pods
require no tech to build and are very cheap.
The major advantage to spore pods is this low cost and the fact that
they can be built right on the planet's surface (while most other ship
types require factories which need resources to be turned on and time
to repair before actually building any ships). The drawbacks to pods
are that they are slow and that they explode upon entering star
systems. That's not _always_ a drawback, but early in the game, it
will mean that several pods must be sent to a system in order for you
to have a good chance at landing morphs on a planet or two. The
success rate of spore pods (ie. whether they explode harmlessly or
result in a colony) varies from game to game from 20% to 40%.
The other major difference between morphs and normals which is
mentioned above is morphs' special combat ability. If a morph attack
force defeats another race in ground combat, a large fraction of the
defeated enemy will be "absorbed" by the attacking morph race,
enabling morphs to actually _increase_ their population through
attacking. Thus, late in the game when all planets are covered and
well-defended by other races, morphs still have a chance to do some
serious damage by showering an enemy system with pods and perhaps
landing enough morphs in the system to cause a lot of problems, if not
to take over a planet or two.
Subject: 20. Which is better, morphs or normals?
This is debatable. Each race type has its own advantages and
drawbacks. It also depends upon the modifications made for the
particular game you are in. Generally, each race type can be led to
success by a good player, and alliances between morphs and normals are
quite common and can be very effective (since the normals generally
have the high tech levels while morph's pod launching ability and
generally high metabolism and/or fighting strength can help the
Subject: 21. What kind of planet should I choose?
This is covered in large part in the above racegen docs, but I can
make some comments about common questions that arise. Of all types of
planets, class M's are chosen for homeworlds around 75% of the time.
This is because they are the largest of any type planet except
Jovians. Thus, they can support a high population (for taxation and
tech purposes), and they usually have a fairly high number of
resources. Another common choice is desert, since it is on the same
order of size as a class M planet. Deserts have more resources, but
are less fertile and are rarer in some games than class M's (also, you
should take 100% desert as a sector preference, which means you can't
spend as much on the other, more common, sector types).
Big planets have two big advantages:
1) The larger the planet, the faster you will produce resources from
it once you have covered the planet. So the more sectors you have, the
better. Races that select small home planets tend to get left behind
early on in the race to build the first ships for this reason.
2) The planet is much harder to conquer. Even if an enemy manages to
field a temporarily superior force to your planetary population, odds
are he won't have the AP's necessary to take the whole thing in one
update, so you have time to marshal reinforcements if you're in a
Here's a brief summary of the various planet types. The relative sizes
of each of these planets, as well as the benefits (and % of races
which choose each type of planet, etc.)
! will vary from game to game !
When using racegen, you'll typically pay (or get a bonus) for the type
of planet you choose to start with, and the deity will try his best to
see that your points are fairly spent.
Class M - - These planets are usually about 60% water, 20% land, and
an even mix of everything else. Once in a while, you'll find a class M
with an abnormal atmosphere (like heavy in methane content).
Jovian - - These planets are 100% gaseous, and they are usually twice
as large as the typical class M planet. They tend to be very high in
fertility, too, so you can easily build up a large population for
taxation and tech purposes. Also, ships in orbit around Jovians add
fuel to their holds every update (tankers are twice as efficient at
this), so even if you're not a Jovian-type race, having one of these
nearby can be a tremendous asset.
Water - - These are largely water planets, and I've found that they
are generally resource poor. They can be quite large, ranging up in
size to class M quality, but they are usually about 40% smaller. On
some versions there is also mountain sectors. That will raise the
resource depository a lot.
Desert - - These planets are usually 80% desert and 15% mtn/land. They
are _very_ nice as far as resource content is concerned, and their
size range is much like Class M planets.
Forest - - These planets are almost entirely covered in forest, which
is the rarest sector type. Resource content is fairly good. Size range
is between Water planets and Class M's. Fertility is higher than on a
normal class M.
Iceball - - These planets are generally small (1/5 the size of class
M's or less), and they consist of around 75% ice and 25% mountain.
Relative to their size, they are resource rich, but the small number
of sectors means that resources will come more slowly.
Airless - - These planets are mostly land (75%) with some mountain and
ice sectors. The atmosphere is almost always hostile, of course, but
these planets are probably the most resource rich relative to their
size (ie. 1/3 the res of a typical class M but 1/5 the size).
Asteroid - - These are just floating rocks in space, not good for a
heck of a lot. They don't count as planets in victory conditions, and
they usually have very few resources, and the small number of sectors
make it very difficult for most asteroids to ever contribute to your
cause, though having colonies on them have other advantages, such as
morale bonus. Sector types are random but range among land, desert,
ice, and mountain.
Subject: 22. What sector preferences should I take?
The most common sector type besides gas is water, but this is
misleading since there are so many water sectors on Class M's (in
addition to those on waterball planets). Running a close second is
land terrain, which is found on just about every planet type. Forest
is probably the least common, making it an unusual and often strategic
addition to your list of preferences (remember, you pay for both the %
compatibility and an overhead cost for each of your sector prefs).
Mountain is convenient to have since it is usually high in resource
content and found in small amounts on many planets, and ice is also a
I've also noticed that taking a combination of desert and a choice of
mountain, land and/or ice in your sector prefs somehow entices the
server into making your race a "methane breather" some of the time (or
maybe it's just bad luck). The problem with this is that most planets
will be extremely incompatible with your race, meaning your pop will
grow very slowly and often leave you vulnerable to invasion. You'll
find yourself at a rather large disadvantage until such time as you or
an ally can build atmospheric processors (at a pretty high tech level,
so it takes a while). Some games (with my strong approval) are phasing
out the possibility of methane breathing races except by request.
This is not to say that you should always choose water, land, and
mountain as your sector prefs. In many cases, alliances are made based
on sector incompatibility. In other words, a morph who loves water and
forest would rather ally with a desert/mountain/land loving normal
than another water loving normal, so don't be afraid to choose an
unusual sector type. It may enable you to exploit planets which other
races wouldn't mind giving away.
Subject: 23. What happens if I get a rotten home planet?
As it says in the help docs, a good home planet or system can really
make or break your race. In some games, the deity actually goes around
before the game and manually sets up everyone so that they can more or
less start off on an equal footing. If this isn't happening, though,
and you start with a crummy home planet, be ready to fight your way
out of it. This makes it all the more important that you establish
yourself throughout both your system and the surrounding ones. Look on
it as a challenge. :)
Subject: 24. How can I get a postscript map?
"psmap" is a program written in C which, given the output of your
race's "stars" command, will produce a nice looking PostScript map
which looks really peachy keen on laser printers. :-)
The most recent version of gbII (2.6.0) comes with psmap built in. To
use it simply type 'psmap'. The output of gbII's psmap is a bit keener
than the original stand-alone psmap. Users of the gbII client will find
this a snappy feature.
HOW TO OBTAIN THE PROGRAM:
You can download the file containing actual PSMAP code from GB-page at
address <http://www.hut.fi/~rauta/gbhtml/others/psmap.c> (you may need
to grab it from a web archive). How the actual downloading happens depends
on your favorite netbrowser. Please do notice the file you will be
downloading is a source code written in C.
HOW TO COMPILE:
(The following instructions should work at least in Unix-environments!)
To turn psmap.c-sourcefile to executable program you need to compile
it. The following syntax (or one which closely resembles it) in
unix-shell should do the trick:
cc -o psmap psmap.c
It will produce you an executable file named psmap. Please do remember
you could use you favorite C-compiler (like gcc) instead of cc.
HOW TO MAKE POSTSCRIPT MAP:
This one has two phases: 1) to get star-listing from the server and 2)
to turn that listing to the postscript format by using the program you
You need to get the output of "stars"-command from the server. The
easiest way to do it is to log it into file (You are using the client,
aren't you?) by typing after client prompt: stars > star.list This
will produce a file named star-list to your unix-directory. This
star.list should look something like this:
GB II Log File: Wed Feb 19 09:30:44 1997
( 0) Bambi ( 0, 0) 108676
( 1) Fomori ( -27761, 9231) 88864
( 2) Indus ( -29082, -10185) 107207
( 3) Callisto ( 5868, 31080) 87259
( 4) Tammuz ( -27412, -14362) 111664
( 5) Ascella ( -29025, 8470) 89218
( 6) Hofstader ( -41276, 35805) 59642
[the rest is deleted]
You should give starlist as input to your psmap-program which you
could by typing in the unix shell the command:
psmap 1 <star.list> psmap1.ps
psmap 2 <star.list> psmap2.ps
The command does process the listing of stars in file star.list and it
will generate a postscript file named psmap1.ps or psmap2.ps. The
difference between these two cases is: with argument 1 you get a neat
map with circles around your homesystem at 50000 unit intervals (good
for judging distances from your home system). With argument 2 you get
a plain map with just a names of the stars. psmap1.ps or psmap2.ps
file should look something like this:
0.5 72 mul 10.5 72 mul translate
newpath 0 360 arc stroke
/starname exch def
/ypos exch def
/xpos exch def
xpos ypos 2 drawcircle
4 xpos add ypos moveto
[the rest is deleted again]
HOW TO PRINT IT:
Just print it with your postscript-printer. If you don't know how to
print it try to become acquainted with lpr-command or its equivalent
(man lpr :). If you still have problems just contact you system
HOW TO USE YOUR NEWLY PURCHASED PS-MAP:
It will help you to outline the form of the galaxy and help you to
contact other races...Just kill 'em all! :)
Subject: 25. What is a move seg?
A move seg (or movement segment) is a procedure during which the
server updates the positions of all ships in the game based on their
current orders. For example, if you have a ship ordered to move toward
a particular star, planet, or ship, this process moves your ship
closer based upon the ship's speed. You'll receive messages from the
server when you arrive at your destination, at which time your ship
Repairs also occur at move segs. This means that every time there is a
move seg, any of your ships which are currently trying to repair them-
selves, regardless of how they incurred damage, will have their damage
percent reduced by some amount. For more information on how to repair
ships and so forth, see the help docs.
Subject: 26. What is an update?
An update is a "glorified move seg." Basically, everything that
happens in a move seg happens here PLUS the following:
- Production occurs at your colonies
- Ships attempting hyperspace jumps either jump or charge in
increments toward a level where they can jump.
What this translates to is this: The pace of the game depends almost
entirely on how often these updates occur. There will always be a
given number of move segs (usually anywhere from 2 to 6) between
updates, but updates are the real pulse of the game. Also, you should
note that the period right after updates is usually when the most
frantic action in the game takes place.
This is important when choosing what game you wish to play in. For
example, if you live over in Europe and the update schedule is such
that updates always occur at 4 am for you, you might want to pass on
the game. If you aren't on at updates, enemies often get the chance of
jump into your system and start attacking while you aren't on to
defend yourself. This can have disastrous effects.
Subject: 27. What strategy should I use?
This sounds like a pretty hairy question, but I will try to answer
this in a limited fashion for beginners. What you're basically looking
for is some simple-minded strategy that will get you through the first
20-30 updates while you're still learning the ropes of the game. Try
to follow these two basic principles: Produce and colonize. Your first
and foremost need is to produce resources on your home planet so that
you can start building ships. The fastest way to start producing is to
spread out and cover your home planet as quickly as possible. This
will be the sum total of your turns for the first several updates.
Once you have resources, you get to start building ships. If you're a
metamorphic race, that means you get to build pods. This is something
you should do as soon as you get resources. This is one of the major
advantages to playing a morph...pod-building ability. The nice thing
about pods is that you don't need factories to build them, which means
they can be built on the ground and launched immediately. Since pods
are slow relative to most ships, however, it is imperative that you
launch them quickly so that you have a fighting chance to win the race
to all of the unoccupied systems.
If you're a normal race, you should build a factory as soon as
possible and then modify it so that it can start producing cheap
shuttles. After you've played a game, you'll realize why it is so
important to win the race toward unoccupied planets: it is far, far
easier to take an unoccupied planet than to kick a hostile race off of
The best advice I've heard yet is that you should be sure to
understand the commands in the game so you can use them to your full
advantage! It takes time and experience to learn the game, and it will
be a rewarding and fun experience if you approach it in the right way.
Subject: 28. How do I change scope?
That's the cs command. Scope works just like directory trees in Unix.
If you want to go to the top (Universe) level, you type "cs /". To go
to a given planet, you'd type "cs /starname/planetname". To change
scope to one level higher, you use "cs ..".
Subject: 29. How do I talk to others?
There are three basic ways:
br - This broadcasts a message that will appear on all active player
screens except those players with a "gag" in place (you can see that
in the who list). On HAP, if you broadcast, only those players who
know something about your race will be able to "translate" your
broadcast or your messages (see send).
ann - This is the same as broadcast, except that it limits your
audience to those players in the same stellar scope as you. This is a
good way to carry on a more sensitive conversation, but there's no way
to be sure whether you're being overheard.
send - This sends a telegram to the named player at a cost of 1 AP.
There is no cost for communicating this way with the game deity.
There is also a "cr " command available with the gbII client, but it
is discussed in the client Help just fine.
Subject: 30. What should I do first?
Once you get into the game and have connected using your password (and
your governor password, if applicable), type "help". Read through all
of the concepts listed first and then branch out from there. You'll
find some topics in the main list have no help files listed. The docs
always tend to suffer from game advances which outpace anyone's
ability to update them, but they are definitely useful for the basics.
Subject: 31. How do I interpret the maps?
Well, the stellar system maps and the galaxy map should be pretty
simple to figure out. Objects on the map which are darkened completely
are those in which you have people, either on ships or planets.
Objects which are partially darkened are those which you have data for
but no people present.
The planetary map is a grid. When you refer to a given sector, be sure
to use (column,row) and not vice-versa. If your toggle switches (see
"help toggle") are set in the default way, the highlighted sectors are
those with your people on them. Any sectors with numbers on them
represent sectors occupied by other players. Sectors with letters or
symbols on them imply the presence of a ship with that symbol.
Also as a part of the map, it lists how many sectors on the planet you
own, whether any aliens are present on the planet, what your
population is, the planetary compatibility (which depends upon
atmosphere and temperature), and a few other things that you can look
up in the help docs...it changes from game to game.
Subject: 32. How do factories work?
Well, first you build one, then you cs to it by typing "cs ". Next,
you use the modify command to get everything just the way you want it,
from ship type, to crew capacity, etc. Once it is the "perfect" design
for you, type "order on". It will take a few updates for the F's
damage level to go from 75 down to 0, and you can only build ships
(with the build command) at F's which are undamaged. Once you've
turned a factory on, you can't change the basic design of the ship, so
plan carefully! You can modify the ship later at double the cost
differential (which is new cost - original cost) provided you can fit
the necessary resources into the cargo bay of your ship. This means
that ships with 0 cargo capacity cannot be modified.
Subject: 33. What tax rate should I set?
After you've covered the planet and are on the verge of building
ships, start it off with a few percent. This may vary depending on
your race, but I think it is a good rule of thumb. This small amount
will pay for your ships and keep you from losing morale. Later on,
when you're not so worried about increasing your sector efficiencies,
you can up the tax rate (but watch out for insurgencies!). Note that
the higher the tax rate, the less chance you have to increase in
efficiency, and the average
Subject: 34. What's the difference between military and civilians?
Civilians have a fighting strength equal to your race's fight.
Military have fighting strength 10 times stronger than your civilians.
Contrary to what you might think, military _cannot_ pilot ships _or_
fire guns...only civilians can do that. Thus, if you have 5 guns on
your explorer and 2 mil and 3 crew, you will only be able to fire 3
guns at a time. Also, if you have only mil on board a given ship (ie.
your only civ on board gets killed by a lucky shot from an enemy), you
cannot order the ship to any destination.
Subject: 35. What should I set my mobilization level at?
I've found that it's a good idea to mobilize only a few very large
planets that you may own. The reasoning for this is long and involved,
but you'll learn through experience that mobilizing small planets (as
opposed to building weapons plants there) only makes them more
vulnerable to a metamorph invasion force. Mobilizing big planets still
leaves you vulnerable to a ground assault (your high mob allows enemy
troops to arm just as easily as you can if they bring their own
destruct and absorb a few hundred civilians, for example), but big
planets require a lot of AP's to take and require a lower mobilization
in order for planetary guns to come into effect.
Another popular method is set mobilization level to 100 everywhere.
This will increase your destruction production so high, that you don't
need any weapons plants and save a lot of resources. You can also
easily arm defending military round your empire.
Subject: 36. How do planetary guns work?
You don't have to load them. These guns will take destruct directly
from your stockpiles (provided you have some dest there). You can
actively use them against ships in orbit around your planet by using
the "defend" command (in the help files). These guns will also
_automatically_ fire on any non-allied ship that tries to land on your
planet...even a couple of medium caliber planetary guns is better than
nothing. Also, the ship may not be destroyed, but if it is damaged,
there is a chance that it will crash land, thwarting the attack. You
get a certain number of planetary guns proportional to how many
sectors you own on the planet and how high your mob level is.
Subject: 37. How do atmosphere processors work?
To put it simply, it doesn't matter who builds a processor... only who
currently owns it. A processor will slowly change the atmosphere of a
planet (rate inversely proportional to planet size) to the ideal
preferences of the owner of the processor at a cost of 3 fuel per
update, which must be loaded into the processor. The last time I
checked, processors will continue to eat up 3 fuel per turn if they
have fuel to burn even after a given planet is perfectly
atmospherically compatible with the owner, so it's a good idea to
scrap processors once you reach this goal.
Subject: 38. What's the quickest way to jump to other systems?
Since you receive jump technology level, your best bet is to have a
ship ready to modify once you get there. If you're going to build a
large fleet of jump ships, you'll save a lot of res by just building a
factory and starting it up AFTER you've been able to design the ship
with jump included. Some players, though, prefer using a few heavily
armed explorers which they modify for jumping as soon as they can,
saving a few updates by not having to wait for a factory to come on
Subject: 39. How do I get hyperdrive on board ships?
In order to get hyperdrive aboard ships such as e's and d's, you must
first have a given number of resources in the cargo bay. The amount
depends upon the new cost of the ship with hyperdrive minus the old
cost (double that to get the cost of the upgrade). That means you must
be able to fit that many resources _on_board_ your ship to make the
upgrade. For e's, big cargo holds aren't very common, so you might
find that you have to "bootstrap" your way up by upgrading the size of
your cargo hold. See the "upgrade" command in the help files for more
info. In case the help files aren't very enlightening, here's an
example of how to build a jump capable destroyer:
> land d 2,2 (let's say this gives you d #1456 in sector 2,2)
> load #1456 r
> cs #1456
> upgrade hyper (now you've got hyperdrive capability)
> load #1456 r (assume you want to add a crystal mount)
> upgrade mount (now when you jump, you'll do it in one update, and you'll
use a _lot_ less fuel, if you've got a crystal in the mount, of course)
> load #1456 x 1 (assuming you have a crystal on the planet)
> mount #1456 (now you can take advantage of your xtal mount)
Say I wanted to increase the hanger capacity of my d, here's how I
would do it:
> cs #1456
> load #1456 r
> upgrade hanger 6
Subject: 40. How do I build ships in space?
Well, the way to do this is get a ship into orbit with the resources
you need. You can use just about any ship, but a shuttle works just
fine. You can load it with an infinite number of resources, but you
just can't land an overloaded shuttle...so you _don't_ need ships with
huge cargo bays to build some of the larger structures like H's, O's,
You can get resources onto the shuttle by ferrying them up from the
surface with another ship. Once you have done that, change scope to
your shuttle, and type "build ". This will create a new ship docked to
your shuttle. You can then launch it or do whatever you want with it
(but be careful about trying to land damaged ships! Some ships are
built with a certain damage level that must then be repaired...others
can't land at all).
Subject: 41. How come I don't have any resources yet?
Often, races with low metabolisms and/or small homeworlds or worse, a
combination of the two, will take painfully long to start generating
any resources. You can help alleviate this problem by buying a
reasonably high metabolism. I usually find that 1.0 gets me off fairly
quickly, but if I have the points to spend, I'll go higher. High metab
isn't so crucial for Jovian races since they start with huge
homeworlds, so this minimum could go down to around 0.85 or so, in my
Subject: 42. My pods didn't explode when they reached their destination.
Speaking from personal experience only, pods can explode at an update
or a move seg. The chance of this happening for each pod at each
update/segment is around 25%. Thus, if your pods arrive at a system,
go ahead and set them on course for nearby planets. Some might
actually get there before exploding, giving you a new colony in the
early parts of the game.
Subject: 43. How do I get a list of where my crystals are?
Once you are at crystaltech, you'll be able to see the location of all
crystal sectors on planets you have explored. At times, these sectors
will be covered by structures built by you or someone else (such as
F's, a's, Y's, etc), but you can get around that problem by using
"toggle geography" and than viewing the map.
Subject: 44. How do I get crystals?
If you occupy any crystal sectors, you have a chance, depending upon
that sector's efficiency, to mine a crystal at every update. Once
you've mined from around 1-6 crystals from a given sector over time,
it will revert to a "normal" sector.
Subject: 45. How do I get a list of ship types I can build?
Try "build ?" which is described under "help build." This will give
you a summary of ship types. If you want detailed info on a specific
ship, type "build ? x" where x is the letter that represents that ship
Subject: 46. What are the worst mistakes I may do?
NEWBIES DEADLY SINS IN GB
What are the worst and most lethal mistakes a newbie player might do
while trying to survive among more experienced players?
* Remember destruction.
You need des if you want to shoot a gun. Destroyer with 15 guns is
totally useless if it doesn't have any destruction to shoot. When you
build mine of missile in factory it's still empty and you have to LOAD
DESTRUCTION in. Empty missiles/mines will not do any damage.
* Don't overestimate the value of victory/powerlist.
Even if you are above someone else in victory list it doesn't mean
that you are more powerful for sure. There is lot of things that
affects your standings in that list. Jovian players will usually take
early leads because they have lot of population and a large
homeplanet. Deserters tends to take the last seats, since they are
very poor in population. Still deserter might be more powerful (with
the highest resource depository and good production rate) than that list
leading jovian. Vic list begins to show some true information
somewhere after update 30. But it will NOT EVER reach the status of
* Don't sit on your resources.
Key words are explore and expand. It is lot easier to take over empty
planet than 10 updates later try to kick another player out from
* Inhabit all compatible sectors, even if population can't survive on them.
When you find a empty planet, all sector efficiencies are 0. That means
low fertility sectors (like desert, mountain) can't feed your people
(^pop = 0). But if you inhabit that sector anyway, it's efficiency and
perhaps even fertility will rise. Second generation most likely will
survive now. If you just sit and wait, you can be sure that someone
else comes and takes it. (NOTE: compatible sectors only).
* Remember cargo room.
Most ships have some damage when they come out from factory. And they
need loaded resources to repair. If you modify all cargo space out,
your ships won't ever repair themselves. And believe me.. 50% damaged
destroyer or light carrier IS USELESS. (NOTE: In GB 5.0 HUT this is
not important since ship repair can use planetary stockpile, but it's
in GB 5.0 HUT only).
* The FIRST step of the game is to spend all your
APs to colonize the compatible sectors on your home planet. (You will
probably own your whole home planet before you get the 50r for a
* It is (almost) never a good idea to build default ships.
Modify some parts smaller and some parts larger depending on what you
intend to do with the ship. Knowing exactly what to modify takes
experience. Important: the default shuttle has 2 hangar space. Get rid
of it. You shouldn't use a shuttle with hangar space for exploration.
* Sending shuttles to every system within 50K is probably a good idea.
They will typically arrive before you reach hyperdrive (with a techie
race). If you are playing a morph, the suggested distance may be a bit
larger. There may still be empty planets available by the time your
shuttles arrive. Empty planets are much easier to colonize than full
* Do not underestimate the power of domes.
On anything but a jovian planet (or possibly an airless or ice
homeworld), you can even consider to put one dome on every sector.
* Note that you can start repairing factories before you
have the technology for them (with the exception of "discoveries" like
hyperdrive, crystals, lasers, and CEWs). This means most ships can be
designed for higher tech than you currently have. (If not playing a
collective IQ race, this is *at least* 3*IQ+current tech if factories
are built with 75% damage); (with a collective IQ race, just look at
your tech gain last update and multiply by 3. Your tech in 3 updates
will be higher than this unless your race is rapidly being destroyed.)
* Don't build quarries.
If resource depository is not infinite quarry will be just a waste of
resources. And it is bad investment even if depository is infinite.
* Take 100% sector preferences. Less than 40% preferences are almost
useless. They will not produce resources quickly enough to have any use
for you. And resos are what you need to build ships and enlarge your
empire. So it's much MUCH better to have 2-3 100% sectortypes than 5-6
less than 40% sectortypes.
Subject: 47. Final Warnings and Advice
If you see a bug, tell the deity in charge. Period. Many games are
thrown out of balance by players who find bugs and exploit them. If
you're really in this to have fun and play the game well, you
shouldn't need to cheat to win. You can use the 'bug' command to
report bugs you find.
Remember that some types of ships are built with damage that takes a
few updates to repair. This means that you'll have to plan ahead, and,
more importantly, don't try to land these or any other damaged ships
unless you want to risk losing them! You have a percentage chance
equal to the ship's damage of crash landing and possibly destroying
Use the "tactical" command often to check for the presence of enemy
ships which may not show up on your map. Remember, to check an entire
system for enemies, it might be better to do a "tact g" rather than
just a "tact." This gives tactical reports for your planets only
(which is still full coverage most of the time) and avoids repetitive
tact reports from every single one of your ships in system. Also, be
careful what orders you give in Universal Scope (the top
level)...sometimes, asking for tact reports from all of your ships (or
even just stock reports) can tie up the game and waste a lot of
Remember that some types of ships can't be built in factories, most
importantly ships such as Stations and Habitats. To build something
like this, you can overload a shuttle in orbit! Also, be sure you know
what the rules are for Habitats in your game (ie. do they produce
extra resources every turn? If so, how many?).
If you've got "smart guns," learn how to use them and take advantage
of them! Don't get caught off-line at an update only to have
everything you hold dear destroyed simply because you didn't set up a
The beginning of the game is a critical time when you need to get your
race started off and several updates occur very close together in
order to get things moving. When you sign up for a game, be sure you
can make this first update "blitz" or you may find yourself hopelessly
********************* I M P O R T A N T ***************************
Finally, remember that the deity of the game is there to help you.
If it weren't for him/her, you wouldn't be playing GB at all.
So don't whine. Be polite. Make constructive comments.
It'll be easier for everyone that way.
********************* I M P O R T A N T ***************************
*** RELAX. IT IS ONLY A GAME. ***