Our second showcase of LucasArts' impending strategy game, Galactic Battlegrounds, continues. This week, we take a look at the Royal Naboo and the Trade Federation. The Naboo and the Federation are the principle political players in Episode I: The Phantom Menace and are also two of the six factions in Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds. These two civilizations are similar to last installment's featured factions--Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance--but have their own subtle differences.
As mentioned before, Galactic Battlegrounds, while based on Age of Kings, has its own brand of gameplay that emphasizes ranged attacks and offensive rather than defensive tactics. Moreover, it throws in air units, Jedi, and more diversity into the gaming mix. The game definitely takes advantage of its sci-fi origins to enhance the gameplay. And the campaigns likewise are much improved due to the source material. You get to play through famous events in the Star Wars movies and in essence assume the reigns of command as your favorite Star Wars characters. In the case of the Royal Naboo, you play as Queen Amidala. As the Trade Federation, you don't play as a Neimodian, but you do assume the role of a battle droid commander named OOM-9.
The Royal Naboo are a fine illustration of the more diverse gameplay in Battlegrounds. They excel at what is different, namely Jedi and air units. In the movie, it is the Trade Federation that blockades Naboo and forces them into war. In their time of need, Queen Amidala calls on the Jedi Knights. They also muster their own air force to counter the Federation battle ships orbiting their planet. These lasting impressions from The Phantom Menace form the basis for giving the Royal Naboo their strengths in the game.
Meanwhile, the Trade Federation is in many ways the antithesis of the Royal Naboo. They aren't even like their modern-day counterpart, the Galactic Empire. As seen in the movie, the Trade Federation relies exclusively on battle droids. Moreover, they can field vast numbers of units and heavy hovertanks. However, they have poor starfighter capabilities, having been taken out in the stars by a lone boy--even if that boy was Anakin Skywalker. Worse than their air force, though, is their lack of aptitude in the Force. Yet, what they lack in the air and with Sith, they more than make up for with their own unique traits.
While these two civilizations might not capture the imaginations of gamers in quite the same way that the Empire and Rebels can, they are nevertheless worthy factions in their own right, with plenty of good qualities to recommend them. Let's start our in-depth look with an overview of the Royal Naboo.
Royal Naboo and their Units
The Royal Naboo isn't the kind of civilization for the beginner. That's because their best units are late-game units, available in the later tech levels.
The Royal Naboo are good with air units and Jedi. They are better in both categories than even the Rebels and Empire, respectively. The Naboo get all air units, which consist of air transports, bombers, and fighters. All air units, as well as the air base, become available in the third tech level. Bombers and fighters can be upgraded in the fourth tech level to enhanced versions. You can also upgrade these enhanced air units to their ultimate versions, in similar fashion to the upgrading of heavy cavalry to paladins in Age of Kings.
The Royal Naboo, in addition to getting all air units, also get all air unit upgrades. Air units do not get upgrades for attack strength and range. However, technologies researchable at the air base can enhance many of the Naboo's aircraft in other measures. Naboo aircraft are more powerful than other factions' aircraft because they get all accuracy upgrades, armored-plate work for +4 armor, as well as shields, which effectively double their hit points. In addition, the Naboo get a unique technology that increases the speed of their aircraft by more than 10 percent.
The Naboo Jedi get nearly all the Jedi technologies. What they lack is the Jedi/Sith purge, the ability to automatically kill any unit they convert, as well as force strong, which would give them a +3 bonus to turning range. However, they get the Jedi padawan, knight, and master. They also get all other Jedi technologies, including Jedi mind trick, which they share with the Rebel Jedi, allowing them to turn their masters invisible. In addition, they, along with the Empire, are the only civilizations that can convert other Jedi with the upgrade called force influence.
The Royal Naboo unique unit is the royal crusader, a mounted trooper produced at the fortress. Of the Naboo's four unique technologies, two deal with this unique unit. The royal crusader is similar to the regular mounted trooper, except it has vastly greater hit points, with 175 hit points to the heavy mounted troopers' 135. The elite royal crusader gets even more hit points, and the battle armor unique technology adds another 25 percent to its hit points. As if that weren't enough, the unique tech shielding also gives them shields. They can thus take more punishment than an assault mech and are in fact very effective against most units.
Naboo Strengths and Weaknesses
The Royal Naboo appear on paper to be a civilization that becomes more powerful as you climb up the tech tree. Their strengths lie in technologically advanced units. While factions like the Wookiees might be stronger in the early stages because of their trooper strength, the Naboo really come into their own when you advance through the tech levels to more sophisticated weaponry.
As stated in the section on their units, the Royal Naboo are strong with air units and Jedi. In addition to getting full upgrades and all units of both types, what makes the Naboo better than any other faction with both units is an economic bonus. Naboo mine nova crystals 10 percent faster than any other civ, which means they can build Jedi and air units faster than anyone else because the cost for both units is half nova and half food or ore. The faster nova-harvesting also means they can buy high-end upgrades faster, which helps with other military units and economic upgrades as well. Again, this civilization bonus doesn't help in the first two tech levels, when virtually nothing costs nova, but in the later two tech levels, when most technologies and powerful units require at least half their cost in nova, it comes in very handy.
Interestingly, they are also very strong with ships, getting all ship units, possibly because Naboo is a water-heavy planet. Aside from ships, though, the Royal Naboo are otherwise very weak militarily, failing to get most high-end units and high-end technologies.
The Naboo are very deficient in mechs and artillery and not as strong as other civilizations in troopers. Naboo do not get the superheavy assault mech, nor do they get any of the tech level four upgrades for mechs, which leaves them weaker in mechs than nearly all other civilizations. That holds true for artillery, where Royal Naboo do not get the final technologies or units. In the trooper category, they don't get any tech level four upgrades or heavy mounted and repeater troopers. To compound matters, Naboo do not get the final armor upgrades for troopers or mechanized units. However, their unique unit, the royal crusader, makes up somewhat for the deficiency in ground units.
While the Royal Naboo are not the greatest military civilization, they are extremely gifted economically and scientifically. They get nearly all nonmilitary technologies from all the tech levels, as well as all the resource-gathering technologies. And to counter their lack of high-end military units, the Royal Naboo do get a unique technology called taxation, which discounts all their military units by 10 percent.
In contrast with the intellectual and technologically advanced Royal Naboo is the brutal and money-hungry Trade Federation.
The Trade Federation is a brutish civilization that relies on troopers and mechs to steamroll through enemy factions. Their units are not sophisticated, but they are effective.
Federation players can field an impressive ground army. They are very good with troopers, mechs, and artillery units. The Trade Federation gets all mounted troopers, grenade troopers, and the antiair trooper. They do not get repeater troopers, although they do get all other foot troopers. Interestingly, although the troopers are all droids, the mounted troopers ride giant beetles. In appearance, the droids look mostly like the battle droids from Episode I. The Federation also gets all mech units, including heavy assault mechs. Their strike mechs, which are good anti-infantry units but poor against other mechs, are battle droids mounted on STAP hoverbikes. Their assault mechs, which are excellent against most other units, are large hovertanks. The Trade Federation gets all nonunique mech technology as well, boosting the effectiveness of their mechanized units. Artillery units, such as the pummel (the game's version of the siege ram), antiair guns, and heavy guns, are powerful siege engines for destroying enemy camps from afar. The Trade Federation gets all such units and all upgrades. Antiaircraft artillery are especially useful for the Trade Federation, as they do not have a strong air force to counter the aircraft of other factions. In combination, these three unit types give the Trade Federation a potent punch on the ground.
The unique unit of the Trade Federation could almost be considered overkill, for it is a powerful mech that bolsters this faction's destructive capabilities. It is the destroyer droid: the shielded droid that unrolls from ball form to unleash dual laser fire on Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace. The destroyer droid, built at the fortress, is a more powerful version of the strike mech. It is ideal for dispatching infantry and other mechs. It has hit points, armor, and range equivalent to a strike mech's. However, its attack is much stronger, especially when upgraded in the fourth tech level. Moreover, it has shields, which effectively doubles its staying power, making it both more resilient and more deadly than any trooper or strike mech that the Trade Federation has. However, despite its ferocious power, it is nowhere near as hardy or strong as an assault mech and is also vulnerable to air units.
They are in contrast decidedly weak in the air and with Jedi. While they do get all air units, they get hardly any of the upgrades, leaving their air units at the mercy of Naboo and Rebel aircraft. They also get only Jedi padawans and Jedi knights. They cannot build masters and cannot use any of the high-end Jedi abilities, such as stealth, turning other Jedi, and turning buildings and heavy weapons. Nor do they get faith in the Force, which gives your units a 50 percent resistance to turning. In essence, the Trade Federation is weak-minded and not only unschooled in the Force, but also vulnerable to its power.
Federation Strengths and Weaknesses
The Trade Federation is a very balanced civilization. At first glance, they appear to have a huge population advantage, but their penalties more than compensate for the advantage. Moreover, they are true to their namesake and have several economic advantages.
The Trade Federation, as seen in the movie, relies heavily on robotic troops. In fact, their entire army is composed of droids. This translates into a significant benefit in the game. Namely, the Trade Federation does not need to build houses, called prefab shelters. They must still obey the same ultimate food cap as other civilizations, but they start out with the ability to build to the maximum, without any need for houses. This is a huge advantage, as it saves on resources and lets the Trade Federation player build quickly. However, the trade-off comes in having a heavy penalty in carbon mining, which is required for many, if not all, units, including troopers, strike mechs, mech destroyers, ships, and artillery. In many cases, carbon is half or three-quarters the cost. The poor Trade Federation player gathers carbon 20 percent slower than any other civilization and also begins the game with 25 less carbon. This appears to be a major disadvantage that more than makes up for the benefit of not needing houses. The Trade Federation basically is slow in building up its infrastructure.
The Trade Federation, as befits its name, has a great deal of economic benefits. All four of their unique technologies improve their resource gathering or building. They get fusion extractor, which boosts their ore mining by 50 percent. This helps in the construction of defenses, as walls and stationary guns all require vast amounts of ore. It isn't used much in units, though, so this advantage is clearly meant to give the Trade Federation player good base-defense capabilities. They also get Neimoidian endorsement, which makes all buildings cost 5 percent less; insider trading, which reduces all research costs by 10 percent; and market control, which eliminates all resource trading fees.
The Federation definitely has its strengths in reduced costs and defensive structures, as well as strength in traditional ground units. It is, however, very weak in air and Jedi. A Federation player who neglects antiair defenses and bounty hunters courts defeat.
For beginner players, the Trade Federation seems like a good entry point into Galactic Battlegrounds. This civilization doesn't make much use of the more sophisticated aspects of the game and relies instead on the traditional Age of King tactics of defense and superior ground forces. And the complete divorce from houses will be a welcome bonus to players who like to churn out units without being stopped by the incessant urging to build more houses. It is a very different civilization from the Royal Naboo, and in many ways, the two are natural enemies.
Join us in two weeks when we unveil the final two civilizations in Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, the Wookiees and the Gungans. These two ground-bound cultures might not boast the far-reaching political power of the other four factions, but they have enough power to hold their own against the mighty Empire and the resilient Rebel Alliance.