I tried to get the meson gun from Center 1 and it really works. You attack the planet, hunters shoot, a few bombs in the shield so that it starts to just turn red, then 2-2 bombs hit the guns and retreat.
Immediately re-attack and see miracles do not work on the cannons and shield either. If you play hard, there will even be a space base, shoot it, and then ground combat can come. There is no base on normal gear and you immediately enter the tank battle. There is no barracks, but you have to fight with common sense because they have several heavy tanks and rocket launchers. There are still 2 minesweepers that are ingenious weapons. You can win with a loss of about 10-12 tanks. New buildings: meson gun, particle gun, radar v2, food plant, planetary shield v2. Be prepared that the Ychoms are not happy about losing Center 1, so they will soon be attacking with greater forces against either Center 1 or another planet. Be prepared for this, because they will not leave you alone. Have a good amount of money when you attack the planet so you can build meson guns. Although it still takes a good while for each planet to have 5 meson guns. It’s pretty funny when a Garthog robbery fleet attacks and on a 5 meson planet they don’t even know what happened to them when they are destroyed. What I haven’t seen written about here yet: getting the barracks on the 3rd level. You can’t get it from the Garthog planets because you have to shoot them all. However, you can get it from Center 2, or Exterior 1, because there the barracks capitulate during combat. Then you just have to stop firing quickly, and if you win, you have a plan for the barracks as well. Attack Exterior 1 only if you can defend against the Morgaths on earth, because they will resent the loss of their planet.
On a normal level, the following planets can be occupied before Garthog 4 invades: Center 1, Center 2, Exterior1, Exterior 14. The others are not colonized, and you can’t yet. On a difficult level, all planets are colonized by Morgaths or Ychoms, so you can also get the following: Center 10, 11,12, 16. If your space base is protected by v2, you win the space battle at a significant loss. On a difficult level, you can have 18 planets before attacking Garthog 4 and moving up. At the admiral level, it doesn’t matter how many planets you start with. Oh, and you have a barracks, a gun, so you’re king. Morgaths are hard nuts, remember!