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Frequently Asked Questions about Galac-Tac

NOTE This page is under construction. Its appearance and especially content will be changing quite a bit in the near future. Please feel free to make suggestions or contributions about either.

General Game Information

The Game System

How Does the Game Date Work?

Each turn of the game has a game-associated calendar date associated with its report. This begins with a calendar date of 3500-01, the date when the Masters first disappeared from the galaxy. Each game year is broken into 16 fortnights, numbered 01 to 16. All your reports will show the appropriate date on which it was generated. Old reports may be reviewed from the website by specifying the desired date of the report. This date is what is used to play the game with.

In addition, each turn is associated with meta-data (outside the game system) called a Turn Number. This number is sequential and can be used for management outside the game system if desired, and it can be converted into a game date if necessary, but the two numbers are not obviously related. The initial game report of each galaxy, showing the starting position before any orders are issued, is arbitrarily numbered Turn #0, even though the game date shown on that same report is 3500-01. Do not use turn numbers to play the game itself.

Turn Submission & Processing

What time is the turn processing schedule set for on the due date?

It is 11:59:59 PM in the player's local time zone on the due date. That means that turns are actually processed after all time zones have had their midnight, early the next morning in the GM's time zone.

Are reminders sent out to players as a turn deadline approaches?

Galac-Tac automatically sends out email reminders the day before a turn's due date, for those that haven't entered their turn yet, to everyone who has given their approval for emailing. Everyone should sign up for those reminders on their account page if they haven't done so already.

Are emails sent out when the results of turn are available to view?

Yes, if you have signed up to receive game-generated emails. This feature can be independently turned off from the galaxy detail page if it becomes annoying.

The Galaxy

How does the galactic coordinate system work?

All locations in the galaxy are specified with an XX-YY coordinate, where XX and YY each may range from 00 to 99. However, the way these coordinates are arranged on the map may not be quite what you expect. There are many different ways to read such coordinates, depending upon the system in use at the time. Galac-Tac uses one of those possibilities. The first number (XX) is read down the left-hand side of the map (from top to bottom). The second number (YY) is then read second across the the map (from left to right). Remember to read down first and then across, not across first and then down. For example: coordinate 00-99 is found in the upper-right corner of a full galaxy map.

The galaxy is square in size, but all edges of the map wrap to the opposite side, so the galaxy really has no edges at all. The shortest path from one point to another might be across one or more of these apparent boundaries.

Do we need to do math to measure diagonal distances from star to star?

All distance calculations in Galac-Tac are "square" as mentioned on p17 of the rulebook, which probably ought to be reinforced in other places. A diagonal takes the same movement as horizontal or vertical. That makes distance calculations easy to figure out just by counting, as befits an originally play-by-paper-mail environment.

So if you count 7 rows up and 4 columns over to get to your target star, the distance is considered 7 (the larger of the two numbers).

When might I expect to encounter other empires (aka players)?

You may well encounter other players immediately, as soon as everyone makes their first moves (that's turn #1 or on the 3500-02 report). Everyone normally begins well within a common meeting range and the starting ships may easily encounter one another if they are being sent out immediately to any significant distance. In some galaxies, Home Worlds might even be within range of the opponents' long-range ships with their first movement, so there is a small a chance of immediate detection. But everyone starts equally so how you react to this contact - ignore it, watch and wait, or quickly build some fighting ships - is totally up to you.

How soon you bump into others is primarily dependent on a couple of factors:

  1. How far out you and your opponent both send your early ships, and
  2. How far apart your homeworlds are (which varies based on number of players in the game). Homeworlds try to be relatively equidistant from one another, so with fewer players they'll be a bit further apart but with more players they'll be closer together (and so will the other systems that can be colonized).

Ship Orders

If I wanted to merge two 5-ship fleets can I just issue the Join order for the two Flagships, merging the entire second fleet into the first? Or do I need to join all the second fleet's ships to the new flagship?

Both ways work fine - it depends on how you want to see them on your report and how you want to manage them later. If you join one fleet's flagship into another fleet, that hierarchical structure will remain intact. I will often create sub-fleets of various kinds (often by speed) and then join their flagships to a single leader. That way if I want to move them all together I can just give one command to the main flagship, but if I want to split off a group I can just command that group's flagship and away they go.

What are the chances of a patrolling ship finding an enemy ship entering the system with SCOUT orders?

It depends on your craft. Each patrolling ship gets a 1% chance per inertia engine of catching a scout, so a typical fighter-type will have a 16% chance of catching one. But if you know any probability math, those numbers can't be simply added together when you are patrolling with multiple ships - there's an overlap factor to be considered.

Diplomacy and Sending Messages To Other Players

How do I know if someone sent me an in-game message?

Note for those of you in a multi-player game who wish to send messages to your neighbors that you have encountered early in the game... It is not necessary to explicitly check for incoming messages/responses. Most of the pages that you'll be using on the website have a place at the top to show you all incoming messages automatically, should you receive one. You'll only need to visit the messages page if you wish to send a message or to re-read previously sent or deleted messages.

Using the GTac Assistant Program

General Information

What is the GTac Assistant?

The GTac Assistant program is an independent add-on program that can be used to help you play Galac-Tac. It is not required, but it can make playing the game more fun and interesting. Anyone can write their own version of such a program.

Note, using the GTac Assistant does not completely replace playing the game through the website. Many functionalities, like messaging other players, work through the website as does seeing when message responses are available.

What is mapping in the GTac Assistant?

The program can provide on-screen color maps of the Galac-Tac galaxy in your game. They make the game position much easier to visualize. A few basic maps are provided for common purposes, but the player may create his own map styles at any time. Colors, symbols, and data shown can all be adjusted for the player's preferences. Custom maps may be saved from turn to turn in the game, and they automatically update themselves with any changed information.

Standard Maps and Their Uses

Visualizing Shuttle commands being entered

If you're doing a lot of shuttling changes in a turn, take a peek at the standard «Shuttles» map. If you see dotted-line patterns (showing what you've entered for this turn) that look like cobwebs instead of nice, neat radial lines, triangles and quads, then you've probably got your commands out of synchronization.

Custom Mapping

Is there a way to draw circles on the map, to indicate a set radius from a particular star?

Certainly! But a radius from a given place is a square in Galac-Tac rather than a circle. Let's say you want a radius of 16 around your Home World. From the GTac main menu, select:

Map → Show new information → Territories and boundaries

From there, fill in a formula like:

(Coordinate $ MyHome) <= 16

Set the Pen color and line type to your favorite choices, but leave the Brush blank, so you just get the edge.

Examples of drawing boxes on maps

Note that to make concentric squares, use multiple mapping commands. This is needed whether using radius of different values or using different center points on which to set the radius range.

To specify fixed locations, instead of using a name such as MyPC, use a coordinate number (4 digits without a dash), such as 7041. This corresponds to the XX-YY coordinates of the location, such as 70-41.

Is there way to delete a Saved map?

On the main menu use the following menu sequence:

Tools → Data Editing → Map Management Tool menu cascade to select saved map to delete Save map delete pop-up

Is there a way to copy a map definition from one galaxy to another?

You can export all the map configuration information you have created within one galaxy and then import it into a different galaxy. Note this is all the information for all the maps and includes both the standard information plus your modified formulas.

Load the galaxy that contains the map you wish to export and use the following sequence to do the export:

Tools → Configuration → Export

Then load the galaxy into which you wish to load the exported configuration information, using the following sequence:

Tools → Configuration → Import

Empire Report

What is there to know about how to efficiently use SHUTTLE routes?

Assume you are trying to create a run through 3 colonies and back to a Production Center (PC). You would normally have four ships on the same run, going to the same stars in the same order, with one ship at each of the stops each turn. Using the Shuttle section of your Empire report, if you see an '~' between listed coordinates instead of a blank, then this means you haven't done something exactly right and there's a ship missing that should be going between those two locations.

Ship Designer Form

In Galac-Tac Assist's Ship Designer, can I specify a future tech level for my build considerations?

Yes. With the Ship Designer tool selected:

Designer → Tech

will present a list of all available tech levels, so you choose which level you wish to use for the design builds.

Design menu cascade to select specific technology level

Building the same configuration at each tech level will show you the changing cost. It will also allow you to find out what configuration options become available at the different tech levels.