Twilight Imperium Theory: The Clan of Saar
The Clan of Saar. There are three types of Twilight Imperium player who may respond to that. The first is that they are a joke of a race – who would feel threatened by a race who can’t even hold a home planet? The second won’t even know who they are. The Clan of Saar could easily be seen as a beta or even delta race. The third is wary, because the third knows just what The Clan of Saar can do. The Clan of Saar can be really, really dangerous.
You see – although the Clan of Saar don’t really start with a huge amount, and nor are their innate starting abilities incredibly strong, they do have a few things going for them that make them a true powerhouse to behold.
Like all races in Twilight Imperium, there are a thousand and one different ways to play the Clan of Saar; however, in my opinion there are a few which stand out. Please note that I have watched Clan of Saar be played, giving me an outsider’s opinion, however, I haven’t played them myself. I have faced them as an opponent and find them really really interesting. Subsequently, this got me thinking about the Clan of Saar and how powerfully they can be played. I believe we can think about all the races/species/factions in different ways – however, Clan of Saar is one race in particular that can be considered incredibly versatile.
It is because of this that I want to look at a few potential strategies that I have discussed with other players as well as run through theoretically when thinking about the game. I want to play as these dudes next time, so it will be interesting putting a few theories out there to see what people think.
The Clan of Saar Abilities
Before we continue to discuss the potential strategies of the Clan of Saar, we first need to understand what makes them unique compared to other races. This means looking at their starting abilities, their flagship, any other ship abilities they may have, and their unique tech.
Racial Abilities of the Clan of Saar
In regards to their starting abilities, the Clan of Saar have a couple of interesting racial abilities:
Scavenge: After you gain control of a planet, gain 1 trade good.
- The initial thought is that this is nice, but not hugely necessary.
Nomadic: You can score objectives even if you do not control the planets in your home system.
- This is really cool. It means you don’t have to keep a powerhouse at any specific location unlike other races.
Flagship and Floating Factories
The Clan of Saar have two unique types of ship. Firstly, they have the flagship, known as the Son of Ragh. Looking at the stats, it has a fairly good attack of hitting on a 5+, and getting two attacks. It also gets Sustain Damage and Antifighter Barrage.
Secondly, and this is what is really cool for the Clan of Saar, their space docks count as ships. They are called Floating Factories, meaning they can move. At the beginning of the game they have movement 1 and capacity 4. The downside is that if they are blockaded they die.
Clan of Saar Racial Techs
Then for their racial technologies they have:
Chaos Mapping: Other players cannot activate asteroid fields that contain 1 or more of your ships. At the start of your turn during the action phase, you may produce 1 unit in a system that contains at least 1 of your units that has Production.
- The first part of Chaos Mapping is useful for causing a blockage, especially if your opponents have researched the technology allowing them to pass through asteroid fields. The latter half of Chaos Mapping is awesome though as it means producing without having to activate a system, or producing in an already activated system. The best thing is it only requires 1 blue technology.
Floating Factory II: Increases Floating Factory’s movement and capacity by 1 each. This unit is placed in a space area instead of on a planet. This unit can move and retreat as if it were a ship. If this unit is blockaded, it is destroyed.
- This is an awesome upgrade, making the Floating Factory even more maneuverable. The capacity is also useful; however, the movement is really why you would get this upgrade.
Finally, there is a promissory note for the Clan of Saar, like there is for every race, called Ragh’s Call which forces Clan of Saar ground units off a planet they are on in response to the faction which holds the note invading that planet by committing ground units to it.
The Clan of Saar Strategy and Theory
Like with all of the races in Twilight Imperium, there are a few abilities the Clan of Saar have which don’t seem particularly beneficial, and a few where it is obvious they can make you a force on the battlefield.
Over this next section, we’ll look at (what I consider) a few of the Clan of Saar strategies, and how they can become that force. Remember this is in theory, but it may give you something worth thinking about.
Theory #1: The Moving Fortress – Being Aggressive
The Floating Factories are a fantastic asset within Twilight Imperium, and I believe that mastering the floating fortress opens the most options up to the Clan of Saar. What this means is going for Floating Fortress II as well as a few additional ship technologies. Cruisers II make the Cruisers a decent force to reckon with. Dreadnoughts II is another upgrade worth looking at, making them even more damaging as well. Finally, War Suns are so powerful it feels good having them on the Clan of Saar side.
What the Floating Factories can then do is branch out across the galaxy. They can move with a force, especially once upgraded, to sit on enemies doorsteps, carving a path through space. By leaving a space behind them, it is possible to colonise a series of planets that your opponents can’t get onto as it means getting past your fleet. There are a maximum of three spaceports/floating factories the Clan of Saar can have, making them an incredibly strong asset for moving a production facility right onto the doorstep of the enemy.
This is an aggro approach. It is building a force and capturing by conquest, which isn’t always the answer in Twilight Imperium. If you need a set of planets for an objective however, and the planet you need happens to be surrounded by enemies, then this approach, the build and threaten approach, could work well when you can move a whole production facility to their doorstep.
This may sounds like an incredibly basic strategy; however, there are a few ways to make it even better. Firstly, the Clan of Saar already starts with the Antimass Deflectors, allowing for them to move through Asteroid Fields. Upgrading down the blue technology tree also eventually allows Light-Wave Deflectors. This is effectively the cloaking technology from Star Trek, allowing units to move through their enemies (or allies) and not be attacked (or forcing war). This means a whole production facility can be moved through an enemy system and out the other side.
Alternatively, production facilities (floating factories) can produce troops on one side of a wormhole, fly through and set up camp. This allows them to create a split threat on the board. Other factions can do this, but generally speaking they can only send through force, and have to build a production facility on the other side. For the Clan of Saar, they can take the floating factory with them.
One way to really create a dominating force, with an additional barrier in the way (for safety), is to build a fleet in the middle of an asteroid field (like with the above). Most other races have to research Antimass Deflectors, meaning they can’t attack even if they want to. Instead, you can happily build a force within the field, making it an impenetrable threat on the board, especially if you research Chaos Mapping, which will stop them invading entirely.
What this does is help aid acquisition by combat. Ultimately, Twilight Imperium is about gaining points and points can be gained in a manner of ways. Acquisition by combat is one such way, and a way in which the floating factories are incredibly worthwhile and threatening. Creating a fortress of floating factories and fleets is a great way of getting what you want either through conquest or fear of conquest. That being said, it isn’t the only way of playing the game.
Theory #2: The Clan Wave – Steady Expansion
The second obvious strategy with the Clan of Saar is to expand slowly but surely across the board. This is a step by step, fortification approach. As a race, Clan of Saar starts with the two planets Lisis II and Ragh. From there they need to gain more planets, because planets are the basis of most objectives in Twilight Imperium. Yes, there are a few that aren’t, especially in the secret objectives, but the majority need planets in some way – either directly or because of a need for resources etc.
The trick with this one is to build a fleet from the original point, and then move it slowly forward, keeping a terrifying force with each production facility. This means, if you start with a planet on two sides to you, and an open space tile, it is worth moving out into all three with ships. Then, once someone plays a Construction card you can build a dock on one of the planets. Once they have, spread out again. Move equally and evenly and you can get a decent rate of growth. As and when you can siphon ships off, do so to secure more space.
The idea behind this is that, if you keep a strong front across the board, you only really need to defend that front line. You can have minimal troops on the home system (which may be no troops at all). You have minimal units on everything behind the front line, but you keep a strong front line.
What this means is you always have a strong force to branch out with where you most need it (you will need to defend wormholes a little to avoid people coming into to attack where you are most vulnerable), whilst always being able to produce more and more on your front line.
This is a strategy that only safely works with the Clan of Saar, because of the fact they can always bolster and produce more at the front if that is where their floating factories are. They don’t need to produce ships at the back to bring them forward later, but can produce ships at the front for use in the very next round. There is no risk of your front line every being more than one movement away from the majority of your fleet just because you had to produce heavily in the previous round.
Of course, there are difficulties with this. If you are moving and expanding at the pace of your slowest ships then you will only expand four hexagons away in the entire game. This will be moving one, resting one and just producing, moving one, resting one and producing – continuing forward at a steady pace. Then when you upgrade to Floating Factory II you can move at 2 instead. Depending on how early you get that upgrade you can make that push for Metacol Rex earlier and earlier in the game. You can also expand more and more. It will become move 2, rest 1, move 2, rest 1 (or to be more accurate, move 2, produce 1, move 2, produce 1).
The downside is you will be expanding at an incredibly slow pace, but the upside is that when you do expand you will have a really formidable force.
Doing this, like with the moving fortress idea, needs the blue tech tree to really be able to move.
To do this, you do need to get Leadership as a strategy card to ensure you can get the tactic points.
Theory #3: The Space Nomads – Going for Goals
Both of the other two strategies that have been mentioned so far use the same kind of theory behind them. They are about building powerhouses for points; however, that may just be my own restrictive mindset. I always like playing things safe, which was why I enjoyed playing as the Xxcha Kingdom so much the first time we played.
This is why thinking about this final strategy is kind of against my nature; however, this is how the player who played the Clan of Saar last time we played actually played the race. The Clan of Saar can be complete nomads, going after points and objectives whenever they need to and however they need to.
What this comes from is the fact that Lisis II and Ragh aren’t exactly economic or political powerhouses. You don’t get a huge amount from them and, in a way, it is easy to make the assumption that they don’t do much, and this forces the Clan of Saar to become more nomadic.
This is, in my opinion, a risky strategy; however, it is also kind of how the race is meant to be played. They are meant to go out and forge their own way in the universe.
Doing so also means you don’t need to build loads of floating factories (or you can and keep them together), but instead, you just need a large fleet that can slug its way around the board, taking what it wants or needs along the way, acting almost like space pirates. To optimise this you only ever need to have around three hexes worth of ships. This is a primary force to be your main fleet with the Son of Ragh and War Suns (everything should have War Suns) before backing it up with enough Dreadnoughts and Cruisers to many anyone thinking of attacking worry about whether they can win or not.
This supports the previous point about creating a force in asteroid fields to make the other players quake in their boots; however, it is done in with sole points acquisition in mind. If you have the points you need, if you have the objectives you are going to complete that turn, there is no point aggravating other players. If you need something they have however…well…then you have enough of a nomadic force that you have a lot to bargain with.
Meanwhile, other players can’t really threaten you because you gave up your home system ages ago. Unlike them, you don’t need it to score points.
This is similar to the first strategy we discussed, but with points acquisition through various different means and not just through conquest. Although, now I look at them I do see they are almost identical. It is mentality and willingness to lose planets that changes that differentiates them.
Wrapping Up The Clan of Saar Strategies and Theories
I love the Clan of Saar as a sheer concept. Everything about them remains on the move, it remains agile and versatile. It is those concepts that need to be embraced, no matter the strategy, to really make the most out of this unique race.
In this article we’ve looked at a few different ways to play them, as well as what makes them different. It’s been really fun thinking of different ways of using this interesting species and what they offer.
You will notice however, that even though I have mentioned strategy, the core title of this article was about theory. I plan on playing as these guys next time we play, so can hopefully amend or write a full strategy then.
In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts. How should I amend my strategic ideas? What is the method I should use? What is right in here and what is wrong? Let me know in the comments below.
Wow, great read. I’m playing them tonight and we’ll see how it turns out. It’s a 3p game and the map doesn’t have any asteroid fields, so I’m not sure I’ll do the best. I also feel like in the first round all strategy will be out the window xD
I’ll let you know how I did
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Ok so I won. I expanded slow and steady. Because the map is a triangle you can expand easily while protecting your behind. Then with the level 3 blue tech (can’t remember the name, the one where you can fly through systems with other players ships) I was able to sneak behind the enemy and produce in their home territories. Definitely want to give them a go in a higher play count
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Haha awesome! Well done! I really appreciate you letting me know how it went. I’m glad it went well! Nice sneaky tactic!
I’m enjoying your articles on TI4th, my all time favourite game! I did spot a couple of things here though. Your second strategy is likely to just fall apart if the Ghosts are playing. They can move wormholes around the board so you would struggle to stop them just porting in behind you at will… (I love the Ghosts.. lol)
Secondly, it looks like you missed the fact that, since production is the 5th step in the tactical action sequence and movement is the second. You can in fact move an assault force containing a floating factory, attack and take over a planet, and then produce on that planet in the same turn. This is probably the most powerful ability of the Clan. You dont need to do as you suggested: move, next turn rest and produce, move.. etc. It’s move and produce every turn with the clan! Awesome!!