Twilight Imperium: The Naalu Collective

From the strategy guide written by Stefan Sasse

Racial Ability:

  • Your initiative number is always 0
  • Your Fighters receive +1 in Space Battle
  • Naalu fleets may retreat before Space Battle begins

Starting Techs:

  • Antimass Deflectors
  • Enviro Compensator

Leaders:   Agent, Diplomat, Admiral

Representative 1: S’sruuk G’ella (C)  +4. Gain +2 votes if you are voting “For”.

Representative 2: S’sruuk H’eyra (C) +2. If you vote same as current player you must give him one Promissory Note.

Representative 3: S’srool D’amil (B)  +0. If Spy tries to assassinate this Representative, kill Spy.

Racial Tech 1: Telepathic Mind Weapon (5)    When your opponent activates a system you control, he loses 1CC in FS.

Racial Tech 2: Hybrid Crystal Drives (3)  Your Carriers and unsupported Advanced Fighters each only count 1⁄2 ship for the Fleet Supply (rounded up).

Starting Units:

  • 4GF
  • 1PDS
  • 1 Carrier
  • 1 Destroyer
  • 4 Fighters

Trade Agreements:  2,1

Homesystem:  Maaluuk (0/2), Druaa (3/1)

Flagship: Matriarch (10 / 8×2 / 2 / 6)  Your Fleet Supply Limit in this system is increased by three.

The Naalu Collective is a race of telepaths. These female snakelike humanoids are hard to get a grip on, and oftentimes it’s easier to grab a greased and especially wild cat than to try to nail down the Naalu. They have one of the mightiest racial technologies and rely heavily on Fighters and their speed, but as is so often the case with things when you don’t have the luxury of choosing whether you want to use it, they can backfire.

Let’s have a look at their racial ability to have the initiative number 0 regardless of the chosen SC. It simply means that they always act first, no matter what card the others have chosen. This obviously comes in very handy when you want to attack a yet-undefended spot or to escape from a larger force before getting crushed to pieces. Also, you have a significant advantage in cases of VP ties since you are the first who scores regardless of the chosen SC. But as stated before, it can backfire. Always being first means you have a much harder time stalling than your enemies. You will in most cases not be able to prolong the use of your SC before others have used theirs, so you have to spend more CC in order to stall and need to take Leadership more often than others. You are also very predictable in that matter.

Should you ever need to escape with a fleet before you can actually move it, the second Naalu racial ability kicks in: you are allowed to retreat before the space battle begins, whereas all others have to stay and fight at least for the first, often-decisive round. This ability got a real boost in the expansion over the vanilla game by introducing the ability for a Tactical Retreat in which you don’t need to have already activated a system in order to retreat to it, effectively reserving the first action you have (remember, you’re always first) for something else.

The third racial ability determines the buildup for your forces a great deal: all your Fighters receive +1 in combat. If you don’t exploit this ability, you are nuts. It will force all your enemies to purchase Destroyers and Automated Defense Turrets if they don’t want to simply get steamrolled by your Fighter fleets, and you can boost these Fighter fleets to an incredible hit number of 6 by purchasing Cybernetics and Advanced Fighters, which makes them as effective as Cruisers with Hylar V Assault Laser at a quarter of the cost!

Your HS also suits your needs a great deal. Maluuk with ist 0/2 is a free CC everytime someone plays Leadership, and this is a SC that’s played in nearly any given round. Plus, you need CC, as mentioned above. The second planet, Druaa, has a decent three resources and doesn’t waste influence (it only has one), so you can build some of these cheap Fighters as well. Since it’s not enough to also purchase a Carrier for them, you should see that you get enough resources and, most important, a system with a high build capacity since with this strategy, your HS is not really that good. It works, however, should you fail to get something decent. Just remember to pump out those Fighters constantly, always remembering how cheap they are. And if you can nab that AC that can veto an agenda so you don’t fall victim to the law doubling the price of Fighters, all the better.

You start with two techs, Enviro Compensator and Antimass Deflectors. That’s basically ok, since you need both anyways. Enviro Compensator gives you the build limit boost you’re longing for, and it’s a short way to Sarween Tools that grants free resources with every build, which means two to four Fighters for free every time. That’s an opportunity you shouldn’t forego. Antimass Deflectors is the basic blue tech for the path down to the Advanced Fighters. Since XRD is on the way and you require fast transports for your Fighters, it’s only natural to make these two techs top priority. After that you can quickly go down to the green techs, pick up Cybernetics and then go for the Advanced Fighters. I can’t see a reason for Naalu to go after the red techs; they don’t need them at all. Same goes for other capital (non-Fighter) ships.

If there was ever developed a racial tech that deserves the name “mighty”, the Naalu tech should be it. Every time your opponent activates a system you control, he loses one CC out of his FS, period. Nothing he can do about it. This not only reduces the strength of the enemy fleet that can stay in your system at best, but serves a much greater purpose in deterring the enemy from attacking you. Picking up the racial tech is like donning a heavy armor, except it doesn’t weigh you down. Go for it ASAP. The second racial tech, “Hybrid Crystal Drives”, makes the Advances Fighters really worthwhile. They and the Carriers henceforth only need 1⁄2 the cost in FS, so you can stackpile even larger fleets. This, together with the flagship, makes the Naalu prone to packing all eggs in one basket, much like the Saar. You will have a mighty fleet, but if you lose it, you have lost everything.

You don’t have, on the other hand, real assets to bribe neighbours. A 2TA is ok, but depending on the other races playing it won’t really be able to save your ass and worse still, most times you won’t really get a good deal out of it, resulting in the Naalu not getting good benefits from Trade and barring this access to additional resources at least partially.

Your starting units are ok; much plastic on the board, which is decent enough, but you obviously lack versatility since you have only one Carrier and are thus not able to move all that stuff before your first build.

The leader combination of the Naalu is good. An Agent, a Diplomat and an Admiral make for a strong combination. The Agent is invaluable in opposing some AC that can really hurt the Naalu, especially Friendly Fire, so don’t waste him. With the Diplomat, you prolong the invasion of a vital system. Keep in mind the Naalu Achilles heel described further down, however, and don’t create this exploitable situation with rash use of the Diplomat. The Admiral, at last, you can put on the only Dreadnought you’ll ever build, or on any other capital ship. You don’t really need him except for pinning down enemy fleets you want to swarm.

Your representatives give you an additional pack of votes for the agendas and one rather strong deterrent which allows you to use said votes more often than you would be able without the deterrent. Still, the Councilors of the Naalu are always threatened.

The “Matriarch” as their flagship has the main function to raise FS in its current system by three. That way, not only can you have a bigger fleet than anyone else, but you also get another Carrier with it, whose sustain damage ability allows it to pack more punch. However, it comes at high cost and sucks in combat. So long as you don’t swim in recourses to really use the additional FS and capacity, your money is better spent on normal ships than on this monster.

The Achilles heel of the Naalu racial tech is the condition of “controlling” a system entirely to kick in. This means you have to control the planet and the space. So if the enemy manages to get you involved in battles in areas you don’t control – say a planet you protect with your Diplomat but the space of which is controlled by the enemy, or empty space tiles – you are at a disadvantage there since your racial tech won’t work. Try to force battles on your own ground.

So, what do you want to do in your first rounds? Getting Technology is a number one priority for the Naalu to quickly get tech. In the beginning, they are rather weak since their Fighters are very vulnerable and you don’t have the resources to buy them in large quantities. Try to secure yourself by bribing and threatening neighbours. Another option is to go a more “peaceful” way and getting Trade to exert a little control over who trades with whom and maybe getting a halfway decent bargain out of it. Leadership shouldn’t be needed in the first rounds but will become more important later. Production is also a nice pick on round 1 to boost the mediocre fleet with which you start, containing of only 1 Carrier but 4GF and 4 Fighters you can’t transport.

A last important thing to consider is the battles. Don’t fight if you’re not sure you can win with your force mainly intact. Your fleet will consist of a lot of ships and will necessarily take several production steps to reach this size, so you normally won’t get the chance to rebuild it once you’ve lost it. Fighters are cheap, but their production is locked by the build limit. Try to get some Sabotage to prevent hurting AC, especially Friendly Fire, and to have some good AC by you to turn the tide. Don’t let yourself get locked in battles you don’t want to fight. Retreat if need be.

4 thoughts on “Twilight Imperium: The Naalu Collective

  1. One addition for the racial tech telepathic mind weapon. It can be worth keeping it quiet for a while. It is a great deterrent, but after a round or two everyone else can adjust to it if they need to. I was able to go a few rounds with most people not fully realizing that I had it and I was able to remind them right when it was obvious several were planning on moving on me. That bought me a round to move on Mectol Rex.

  2. S’Sruuk H’eyra
    (S)HE must give YOU a P-Note

  3. The Naalu are especially well positioned to do hit-and-run raids at the end of a round. If one of your opponents has left something vulnerable, you can crash in and be virtually assured that you can get away at the beginning of the next round. Everyone should look for that gap between when your opponent moves her fleet and when she builds a new one, but the always-first Naalu are even better able to take advantage than others.

  4. Don’t they start with a Cruiser too?

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