From Starfleet Commander
Ninja is a term used in the game when someone sets up an ambush in their attempts to acquire easy resources. It is mostly used for defensive purposes.
How do you perform a Ninja?
There's a few different ways. First of all you have to setup your trap. This can be done in a few ways.
What you will need
A "target" planet with light defenses (ABM's aren't necessary, but 1 or 2 may help to deter your attacker from using them, especially if there aren't very many defenses to begin with), a nearby colony, a fleet that overpowers your attacker, harvesters, some large cargo's/hercs, lots of small cargo's/atlases, probes, 2 gaia ships, and plenty of open fleet slots. Level 5 Pulse drive or higher helps, but it's not required. Optional (depending on your method to lure attackers): lots of resources, lots of solar satellites, or a small fleet at your "target" planet.
Before you do anything, finding a target is a must. Either have someone in the alliance probe targets for you, or send your own probes from a distant location. Be sure to use the battle simulator at www.battlecalc.com to make sure you can win first. Be sure to probe all of their planets nearby to make sure that there isn't anything hiding or missing from their fleet.
Once you've found a nice target, it's time to send in your gaias. To make things work in your favor, do not deploy your gaias in the same system as your target. Deploy your first gaia a few systems away. Deploy your second gaia in the same system as your first.
Now it's time to set your trap. A quick note of reference. Your first colony should have a few upgraded mine levels to make it "appear" as if it's an ordinary mining colony. Your second colony should have some extra hydro to move your fleets between planets (it doesn't cost much anyway if they're in the same system), but no defenses.
Option 1: Leave a stockpile of resources on a lightly defended planet with a few small cargo's/atlas's. This will make your attacker assume that you don't have enough ships nearby to move the resources out for a fleetsave attempt, but this is where the nearby colony comes in. Your nearby colony should have extra atlases (enough to transport all your resources out in time), harvesters, and your main fleet for the ninja attempt. Why atlases? Although atlases carry 5 times less than 1 herc, they are significantly faster especially after they upgrade to Pulse Drives at level 5. This leaves you less room for error in case something does go wrong with the timing. Also, hercs are slow. Hercs are slower than even your ordinary athena, poseidon or hades. If you have promethus in your main attack fleet, then use hercs instead of atlases.
Option 2: Build a lot of solar satellites with little or no resources on the planet. How many? 50-100 (30k crystal Debris Field to 60k crystal Debris Field) or more is a safe range. Be sure to leave a few defenses on the planet. Again, ABM's are optional, but 1 or 2 may help to refrain your target from using IPM's on a mere few defenses that could be taken out easily. Your nearby colony in this situation is a bit different. For this option, you don't need cargo's. You do need harvesters and your main fleet stationed at your nearby colony though.
Option 3: Similar to option 2, except instead of satellites, leave a small fleet lying around out in the open for attack with light planetary defenses and 1 or 2 ABM's. Again, your nearby colony should also contain harvesters and your main fleet.
You're almost ready for the ambush, but there's still some things that need to be done. You need to determine what your flight times are for each ship. Go to your fleets overview screen or galaxy screen and record the times for the following: atlases, hercs, harvesters, main ambush fleet. Also calculate how long it would take for you to reach their planet so you have an approximate predefined set of times to work off of.
Here's where things start to get a little tricky because timing is crucial. Especially for option 1. Option 1, because it's so time sensitive, should probably only be for those with fast internet connections, reflexes, and timing capability. Everything mentioned below applies to options 1, 2, and 3 unless otherwise stated.
As with any ambush, you have to first lure your target in. Make sure that they are online first, then send out a probe from your "fake" mining colony in your attempts to provoke them to probe you back. If they do probe you back and it is successful, hope that they see the value of resources you have lying around and send a fleet to attack. However, be prepared. Your lured attacker may or may not probe your second planet. Keep a close eye on the fleets overview screen. If you see an incoming probe to your second colony, immediately move everything to your first planet. Once the probe hits, recall the fleet so they return to your second colony unnoticed.
So now your target thinks that you don't have any backup, and you're just ripe for the picking. Now, because you purposely stationed your planets a few systems away, this gives you some time to prepare for the ambush. This part is time sensitive. It may help to have two windows open because you need to be able to see the fleets overview screen. If your attacker has sent a fleet, take a look at the timer to see how long it takes for them to reach your planet. Because your harvesters are slow, send your harvesters on a harvest mission to your planet set to arrive seconds to minutes after your opponent's fleet arrives.
If you went with option 1, send out your main ambush fleet with your atlases/hercs to arrive within 30 seconds to your opponent's attack. If you're really feeling daring, set them to arrive within 10 or even 20 seconds. Following the 30 seconds, if your attacker's timer reads again, 1:35:50, you should send out your main ambush fleet with your small cargo's/atlas's at 1:35:20.
The 30 Second Rule
Why 30 seconds? A lot of "smart" players out there will often probe their targets anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute before the attack to ensure their victory. It's a small time window for you to do anything, but anything is possible.
Once your atlases/hercs arrive at your first planet, just hope that you got your timing right and your attacker hasn't withdrawn their fleet. You should now have about 10 to 30 seconds to move your resources off of your first planet and off to your second depending on how much time you left for yourself. Get your fingers moving quickly! If you did everything right, congratulations, you now have a large debris field to harvest off of. Pat yourself on the back and claim your long waited award.
As for options 2 and 3, you're pretty much doing the same thing except you don't have to worry about the atlases/hercs. You can go closer with the timing, but make sure you don't make any mistakes, because mistakes can cost you. If you're feeling really daring, set your ambush fleet to arrive with 5 to 20 seconds of your opponent's attack. Not only can you now rejoice in your success and space walk in your metal and crystal confetti, but you've also outsmarted your opponent. Congratulations.
How to Avoid a Ninja
Now that you know how a ninja action is performed, you need to know how to avoid one.
The Simple Way
The easiest, and simplest way to avoid it is to send a probe within 30 seconds of your attack. If you see a fleet sitting there, recall your fleet because you will probably lose. Also, probe all of your target's planets in the vicinity. If you see anything mentioned above in the setup section, it's probably a trap. Don't fall for it. Also, another tactic that may not be used for quite some time, if you see someone with a zeus, protecting a salvo of solar satellites, it's probably also a trap. The Zeus alone when destroyed does create a large Debris Field (1.5 million ore and 1.2 million crystal) with the added debris from the satellites, but someone is bound to have a fleet nearby. The most important thing is to do your research, scout around the areas around your target and make sure that there isn't an ambush waiting for you. Good luck!
While probing at 30 seconds will catch more casual ninjas, many experienced ninjas will time their arrival at 5-10 seconds. This is too short a time to simply probe the planet, as it takes a few seconds to receive the intelligence report. You will need to do the following procedure to buy time to probe:
- Send your attack.
- Go to the Fleets screen, and click "Formation" to the right of your attacking fleet. Invite yourself to group attack.
- When it comes to about 12 minutes before the attack, have a Hermes Class Probe ready to join the attack at 10% speed. Don't send it yet though.
- Once the attack time shown for your probe is about one minute longer than the attack time for your fleet, send the group attack out.
- Recall the probe well before the attack so it doesn't get trashed or waste a fleet slot.
- Send your espionage mission so it lands about 30 seconds before your attack. Note that this is actually a bit after the original attack time.
- Recall the attack if there's a fleet there that wasn't there before. If they bothered to ninja you, they sent enough to crush you.