Spies on planets and rules for use

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Spies on planets and rules for use

Postby Thom » Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:09 pm

As with diplomats spies were added at the same time. But unlike diplomats spies were always part of Takamo. I don't remember much about them during the playtest and first game way back in the early 80's. And I'm not sure they were actually rolled out to the players as I never played again after the first universe destruction a couple years after the game went live. But years later in the late nineties when Randy asked me to help redo some of the code I stumbled upon constant references to spies and code related to spying and such. Having little to go on but looking at the code and what it did I kind of gathered how spies were supposed to work.

First the spies were not always referred to as spies but sometimes as I.A. Agents. Each planet could hold 4 different empires I.A. Agents, the planet owner and three other empires. I.A. Agents had to be trained and you could only do that on a planet you owned, thus the spot for the planet owners I.A. Agents on his own planet. You 'trained' them which was a build code and kind of followed building marines or heavy marines as it too required POP. After you had enough trained I.A. Agents on your own planet you could build a spy ship, not the same build code as the current spy ship, and load the I.A. Agents on the ship. Then you landed the I.A. Agents on another planet similar to a smuggler landing GU's on a planet. Since there was a possibility of having 4 different empires I.A. Agents on a planet they could naturally fight. So if you wanted to attack another empires I.A. Agents on a planet there was an action code for that. Having spies on a planet was somewhat beneficial as they reported what the owner builds on the planet or any ships they built. But other than training I.A. Agents, landing them on other planets, fighting other empires I.A. Agents, and reporting on planetary builds I could find little else they did. Which is why it appears they never made an appearance in the games, or if they did were discontinued as pretty much useless.

But last game when I was looking for new additions to the game and came across the spy routines it got me thinking on how to make them better. Clearly considerable time was spent on development as they appear in many many programs because their presence on a planet had to be accounted for, in things like invasions, etc. But clearly they didn't work. First I thought that having 4 different spies on a planet was probably somewhat redundant as outside of an alliance how many different alliances or players actually know about a planet, one or two maybe, three or more seldom. And players in the same alliance would have little motivation for all having spies on the same planet as the I.A. Agents would not attack allied members anyway. So cutting it down to one spy per planet was probably enough. Plus it allowed me to use the 7 now empty slots for things like military bases, diplomats, etc. Plus spies should do what spies do not fight other spies in some kind of Mad Magazine Spy vs Spy cartoon. And that be spy on a planets owner. Thus was born spies. Since again they are not included in the rulebook yet here they are.


As stated, where you find Diplomats you usually find Spies. Can you have both a Spy and a Diplomat on the same planet? Yes. And they even help you each other sometimes. But first let’s find out how Spies work.

Spy Ship.

Specialty Ship Builds

Ship Build Tonnage Cargo Ship
Type Code Cost Class Capacity Abbrev.

Spy 255 300 0 -- SPYS

The action code for landing a Spy on a planet is 134. It is a move and do.

Action Codes

134 – Land Spy on Planet

Action Code / Location #1 / Fleet #1 / Location #2
Action Code / Coordinate / Fleet Number / Planet Coordinate

In order to land a Spy on a planet the fleet must be in system orbit or a planet orbit within the system. It can even be the planet orbit of the target planet although if the planet is hostile it probably will shoot first and ask later. The first Location is the coordinate where your fleet will move to. The second Location is the planet where you attempt to land your Spy. Landing a Spy is not automatic. For a Spy to attempt to infiltrate they have an easier time if there is a local Population. Also Spies work with the Guerrillas on the planet as well. So if there are Guerrillas then the spy has a better chance of infiltrating the planet.

Can the Spy be caught? Yes. Sometimes they will be caught attempting to infiltrate the planet. This is largely dependent on the number of marines or other defenses on the planet and the lack of POP or Guerrillas. They also have a chance of being apprehended when sending reports back to your empire. However unlike smuggling centers that give off a signal when reporting on a planet a spy remains undetected unless military forces detect them when sending a report or a Search and Destroy action finds them.

What can they do for you?

Like Diplomats, Spies can report to your empire about the planet. Like a smuggling, center passive information can be passed back to your empire when the planet builds installations, ships, or military forces. They will also detect and report on the passing of fleets in orbit. Is all this automatic like smuggling centers? No. But it is nonetheless helpful on the info they manage to report to your empire.

Sending messages to your Spies.

Like Diplomats you can send messages to your spy to report on planetary installations and military forces. You can send only one request per action.

Action Codes

50 – Send Message to your Spy on a Planet Location

Action Code / Location #1 / Spec. #
Action Code / Planet Coordinate / Message Number

To send a message to your Spy, include the action code, Planet where your Spy is located and the message number below in the Special Number box.

1 - Request Spy makes contact with Guerrillas on planet and report how many.
2 - Request Spy reports how many Marines are on the planet.
3 - Request Spy reports how many Heavy Marines are on the planet.
4 - Request Spy reports how many Fighters are on the planet.
5 - Request Spy reports how many Forts are on the planet.
6 - Request Spy reports how many ABMs are on the planet.
7 - Request Spy reports how many Naval Yards are on the planet.
8 - Request Spy reports how many Pop are on the planet.
9 - Request Spy reports how many Mining Centers are on the planet.
10 - Request Spy reports how many Production Centers are on the planet.
11 - Request Spy reports how many Torpedoes are on the planet and what class.
12 - Request Spy reports if there is an Ag Center on the planet.
13 - Request Spy reports if there is a Smuggling Center on the planet.
14 - Request Spy reports if there is a Trade Center on the planet.
15 - Request Spy reports who is owns the Mining Rights on the planet.
16 - Request Spy reports the current Tec Level of the planet.
17 - Request Spy reports the owner of the planet.
18 - Request Spy reports how many Colony Bases are on the planet.
19 - Request Spy reports planet stats.

All requests come with varying degrees of possible detection. Spying on Military carries a risk higher than spying on civilian installations for instance. Making contact with Guerrillas on the planet or planetary stats carries almost no risk of detection. Reporting on the number of Population also does not carry much risk.

Can Spies be landed on any planet?

Yes. Spies can be landed on any planet or at least attempted to be landed on any planet, even unterraformed planets.

Detection and loss of a Spy on a planet.

Unfortunately spying is risky business despite James Bond’s seemingly invincibility. Spies can be caught any number of ways from attempting to land on the planet to being swept up in a Search and Destroy. Lots of POP on a planet as well as lots of Guerrillas on a planet help the Spy remain undetected and report as does a Diplomat of the same empire on the planet. Yes may seem strange but your diplomat has access to and can warn the spy of impending Search and Destroy sweeps for instance.

If your Spy is caught the planetary government will know who he is working for, although not necessarily as he could give false information before being executed. Yes Spies that are caught are probably going to be executed and your empire exposed as the owner of the Spy.

What does this all mean?

Well more fun hopefully. But think of the two different new abilities of your empire as a good guy bad guy kind of thing. Really they both get you information on the planet just in different ways. Diplomats generally work on NPC Empires but not so well on Player Empires as they really don’t have much to do on a Player Empires Planet. Spies on the other hand work on both and quite effectively but they are subject to detection and loss whereas Diplomats carry no such risk.

Is what you see all you get?

By no means. Spies really have not much more to do than report as that is the primary duty of a Spy. So you probably won’t see too many more things for them to do in the future, but there will be some.
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Re: Spies on planets and rules for use

Postby Tregonsee » Tue Mar 03, 2015 6:31 pm

Any chance to put the Diplomat and Spy codes in the action codes link in the input page?
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Re: Spies on planets and rules for use

Postby Cyvelius » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:23 am

Here's an idea for a new spy action: Steal technology. If the planet has a higher TEC level than you, you have a chance at getting a TEC increase from them similar to scanning an AC.
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