I have noticed several times that if a player start to lag well behind, he will be targeted for easy VP picks. And - he must do non-produclive defense moves, ram, and block own planets to make it worse. His final score may end up as low as 5-10 VP
Been there myself. A player fluked his flick and the ship rolled across the board and stopped in my adjacent planet. Even it was early in the game, all the other red planet was occupied. To get a mandatory red planet (for a 1 defense research station development) - I had to flick diagonally across the map to find a red planet.
I lost the race for VP developments. - and the fight for in game VP`s. I started to produce colonies and cities (maybe too late).
I managed to get a city in each sector. But the easiest target for the player with a battleship was my planet in his sector. He gained 3 VP (2 items and a planet)and I lost 5 VP (Sector, a city and a planet) in this conquest.
Any suggestions for the weakest player to defend and still get VP`s?
Just tactics and strategy - no house rules please
Not sure if these'll work, but it's what I'd try.
First, play the metagame. In a four-player game, don't bother defending yourself. Just go about acquiring points to catch up. If the number two and three players allow the leader to attack you with impunity, then they are going to lose: they have a good incentive to either defend you or counterattack and take the pressure off you.
Leave technology trees that you are done with open to attack. You have limited resources, so concentrate on the planets that will continue to be useful in the future.
If you lose a double-research planet, you're done with that technology tree: try to build a quick double-research somewhere else to grab a cheap technology. That's an efficient way to develop technologies, as long as you can get the tech developed just before the hammer falls.
Launch ships right next to the planets you need to defend, behind the planet as viewed from the leaders fleet. This will keep the planet from getting bombarded for a few turns, which will hopefully allow other players to send reinforcements.