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general:covert_ops

Covert Ops

Game Rules

Given that outright war is expensive and requires a good reason if you are not to become a renegade, covert operations remain one of the best ways to get and stay ahead of your rivals for power in the galaxy. From this screen you can set your covert operations budget, recruit and assign agents and fund space piracy if you so desire.

Your covert ops budget determines how many agents you can support at a given time.

  • None: No cost - but you may not use any agents
  • Minimal: ($500/month) Maximum 2 agents active
  • Small: ($2000/month) Maximum 5 agents active
  • Medium: ($5000/month) Maximum 10 agents active
  • Large: ($10000/month) Maximum 20 agents active
  • Huge: ($20000/month) Maximum 40 agents active

Anyone can set a budget of 'Small' or lower, however to set the budget above this requires Covert Operations as a sphere of activity. To set it to 'Huge', covert ops must be your primary sphere of activity.

Agents

You can activate a new agent by clicking the link in the 'Agents' section. There is a small cost attached. Your newly activated agent will be inexperienced - a rookie - unless you have covert operations as your primary sphere of activity in which case the agent will begin with standard experience. Agents gain further experience over time and for carrying out missions, until they reach 'Master' status.

Your covert operatives can have one of two roles. When first activated, an agent will be assigned to 'Counterespionage' at your HQ. The agent will attempt to prevent any infiltration of your House by rival factions. The more agents you have assigned to counterespionage, the less chance an enemy has of successfully carrying out covert operations against you. If you operate in the Psionics sphere of activity, your counterespionage agents are even more effective. Agent experience is also very important.

Alternatively, you can assign your agents to infiltrate another House rather than concentrate on counterespionage. Only Houses with headquarters on planets within your operational range may be infiltrated. Your agent may be placed in a specialist area in order to increase the chances of certain missions, or else in no particular area, giving no advantage for any one mission or disadvantage for any other. The potential areas an agent may infiltrate are:

  • General: The agent will not infiltrate a specialist area and receives no bonuses or penalties for specific missions
  • Commercial: The agent will infiltrate the commercial operations of the target. Intelligence from commercial activities will be easier to obtain
  • Covert Operations: The agent will attempt infiltrate the target's covert operations network. More risky than any other operation but the only way to examine another player's spies
  • Military: An agent in the military can provide intelligence on troop placements more easily
  • Political: Infiltrating the political infrastructure of a rival makes it easier to spread propaganda
  • Security: Knowledge of the security arrangements of a target improves the chances of successful assassinations
  • Treasury: An agent in the treasury expedites Fraud as well as improving the chances of obtaining intelligence on the target's finances

If successful, your agent will be placed in the target House at the lowest level of infiltration. There are four levels of infiltration:

  • Alpha: The agent has an unimportant position and is not trusted with sensitive information
  • Beta: The agent has acquired a position of minor responsibility
  • Gamma: The agent has penetrated to a position of some power
  • Delta: The agent is in deep and close to the top of the House hierarchy

Once placed, you may attempt to increase the agent's infiltration level. Since any position requires trust before the agent can infiltrate deeper, there are huge disadvantages if you attempt to increase your infiltration too soon after the agent has reached his current level. As a rule, you should leave at least three months (game time) before attempting to increase infiltration - the longer the better. If an agent is discovered he will be terminated, and worse still your House may be implicated giving the player you were spying on Feud Score against you!

Once you have an agent within another House, you may assign that agent to missions. The higher the infiltration level and experience of the agent, the greater the chance of success. The types of mission available are as follows:

  • Intelligence Report: Your agent attempts to report back details of the target's operations. An intelligence report can be ordered for each of the areas within which an agent may be placed (e.g. commercial, treasury, military etc).
  • Fraud: Your agent attempts to defraud the target out of a sum of money. The difficulty of such a mission increases dramatically with the size of the amount involved.
  • Sabotage: Your agent will attempt to damage and ideally destroy one of the target's facilities. Military facilities are much harder to sabotage than commercial facilities.
  • Steal Explorations: An agent may try to access the private explorations data of the target House. If successful you may gain knowledge of new sectors known to that House but not your own.
  • Steal Technology: An agent may try to access sensitive research information from the target House in order to boost your own tech level. Only worthwhile if the target is significantly ahead of you in tech level.
  • Propaganda: Your agent will spread propaganda against the target House. If successful, the target will lose influence on the selected planet, and your own House may gain influence.
  • Provoke Diplomatic Incident: This mission allows you to gain Feud Score against an innocent House. Your agent will arrange things so that your own House can claim a justifiable cause for feud with the target House, increasing your Feud Score against them by one or more points.
  • Misinformation: Create 'fake' intelligence to throw enemy agents off the scent. Must be targeted at a particular House. If that House attempts to file an intelligence report concerning your operations, your misinformation may be picked up instead.
  • Assassination: The most expensive mission. Success chance depends on the security level of the target as well as the usual factors of agent experience and infiltration level, and target counterespionage level.

All missions have a cost associated, the exact amount being dictated by the difficulty and complexity of the mission. You may choose to meticulously plan a mission, paying extra to do so, in order to increase the chance of success. Conversely you can rush a mission through if you need results quickly, although your success chances will then be significantly reduced. The target player's counterespionage arrangements will also be crucial in determining whether or not your agent succeeds. A rough estimate of the chances of the mission succeeding will be displayed on the task confirmation screen before you confirm whether the mission should go ahead.

As with increasing infiltration, if your agent fails he may be caught, with potentially serious consequences. For this reason you should think carefully before ordering a mission which your agent is likely to fail.

All agents placed in other Houses have a small ongoing chance of exposure. The longer an agent remains at a given infiltration level within a House, the lower this chance.

Space Piracy

Aside from your agents, the other aspect of Covert Operations concerns the funding of space piracy. This is rarely a profitable activity, unless there is a huge amount of trade involving the planet concerned. Most often you will make a net loss on funding piracy if you choose to do so. However, piracy can be a real thorn in the side of Houses trading on a particular planet and can be used as a tool to disadvantage your opponents.

To fund piracy on a particular planet, just add it to the list using the 'plus' sign on the piracy screen. You can only fund piracy on planets within your operational range. There are three levels of funding - the more funding you provide the more the profits of anyone trading there will be hit. If several players are heavily funding piracy on a planet the effect can be devastating.

Piracy can be combated by two means - firstly, each trade route has a 'security' level (see the description of the Mercantile sphere). If this level is set above 'none' then the route will be less prone to piracy, although trade route security has its own costs attached. Secondly, the Imperial Police presence in that planetary system will play a major part in reducing piracy. Additionally, a high police presence increases the chance that those players supporting Piracy will receive an Imperial Warning for their activities. Should such a warning be issued the offending House will receive an immediate -2 Status hit. If a House receives three warnings within a three-month period, the Emperor will receive Feud Score against that House and is bound by the senate to take action - either through negotiating some kind of settlement between the affected parties or else through more direct means of punishment.

As seen in the Rulebook

Tips from Other Players

Agent skill rankings goes: Rookie, Standard, Proficient, Expert, Master. Agents start out as Rookie, unless you have Covert Ops as a Primary sphere, in which case your agents will start out as Standard.

It has been found that a rookie agent on counter-espionage duties will take around seven months to reach standard, although catching an infiltrated agent appears to give them a large experience boost.
The GM says that catching a spy gives no experience to your spies at all.

Success chances for CO missions goes: near nil, very low, low, risky, reasonable, good, very good, excellent.
There is also an almost zero chance, which is presumably below near nil.

The GM has stated that influence changes from the Propaganda mission are permanent rather than temporary. (Due to this, many galaxies have OOC agreements about not using Propaganda missions and severely punishing those who do.)

If CO is moved to a lower sphere slot, funding will be automatically cut if necessary and any extra agents will disappear, starting from the lowest numbers/top of the list (even if they're within another House). You have been warned.

See Also

general/covert_ops.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/22 03:47 by netforce10