Early Construction – An Opinion

(written by ECV)

This article reflects my own opinion about what to build on the first turn.  In a previous post, I asserted that a Large Deep Space Freighter (LDSF) with Transwarp Drives is always a safe choice to build.  I reaffirm that it is acceptable to build the LDSF on the first turn.

In my opinion, however, there is a better choice for everyone.  Every race should build a capital ship (a ship with weapons – also known as a warship) on turn 1.

In the very earliest turns, these should be your priorities – in rough order of importance:

  1. Finding natives
  2. Finding your neighbors
  3. Wide positional expansion and colonization
  4. Obscuring your homeworld
  5. Defense
  6. Having the ability to attack something far away
  7. Building two-engine ships with low ID numbers

On the first turn, every race that can build a cloaker should build a cloaker.  This satisfies every single criterion above.

On the first turn, every race that can build a bioscanner should build a bioscanner to find natives, since this is priority number one.

On the first turn, every race that can build a HYP ship should build a HYP ship.  This satisfies and #2, #3, and #4 above.  (Top secret: if you don’t build a HYP ship on turn 1, certain early-game expert players such as Thin will be more likely to find your homeworld very quickly.)

Now without further ado, here is my opinion of what each race should build on turn 1, with notes about the following turns.

Fed – Brynhild Class Escort.  Use this ship for the bioscanner and light colonization.  Low tech is fine.  On the next turns, you will build LDSF or other ships with large cargo holds to start moving clans.

Lizard – Lizard Class Cruiser.  This is your very best ship, so build it with Transwarp engines and decent weapons.  Look for natives, find your neighbors, and expand.  This is the ship you want on your outer planets at the beginning of the game.  If you don’t find good natives on the following turns, continue to build LCC until you do.

Bird – Resolute Class Battlecruiser.  This is your very best ship,  With transwarp engines and decent weapons, it will be the strongest ship in the entire sector on turn 2 (along with the Crystals’ Emerald which has very similar specifications).  Unlike the Crystals, however, you will be sneaking around and expanding far and wide.  If you don’t find good natives, continue to build Resolutes until you do.

Fascist – D7 Class Cruiser.  Sneak around and establish your position.  When you find good natives, build LDSF to export clans.  Campaign games: The Armored Ore Condenser with Transwarp engines is a great choice for the first turn because you can increase mineral densities on the planets you visit while colonizing.

Privateer – Meteor Class Blockade Runner.  Build with Transwarp Drives, X-Ray Lasers, and no tubes.  Sneak around very far from home.  On the next turns, build LDSF when you find natives.  The Lady Royale with Transwarp Drives is a good choice for basic colonization of contiguous planets, but try to build as many Meteors as possible.

Cyborg – B200 Class Probe.  Build with mid-level engines and weapons.  Far and wide expansion and finding natives far away must be the first priority, but don’t give away the position of your homeworld.  On turns 2 and 3, build LDSF for moving clans and exporting starbases.

Crystal – Emerald Class Battlecruiser.  This is your very best ship and has a great cargo hold, so it can serve nearly as well as the LDSF for exporting clans.  SpaceSquad’s video explores the Crystal opening in depth.  Campaign games: I would seriously consider building the Sapphire Class Space Ship on the first turn.

Empire – PL21 Class Probe.  Build with mid-level engines and weapons.  You get to discover your neighbors before anyone else.  Just don’t jump out into space exactly 350LY from your homeworld right away.  On turns 2 and 3, build LDSF for moving clans and exporting starbases.

Robot – Pawn Class Baseship.  This is an incredible ship and it would be foolish not to build it for its 100% bioscanner.  Low tech is fine.  The reason that people hesitate to build the Pawn is its extreme mineral cost.  High mineral cost is a very silly reason not to build a great ship, since you get 100% of minerals back when you recycle it.  You won’t be keeping this ship for the whole game anyway, so recycle it when you run out of Duranium.  Campaign games: There’s a new and improved Pawn available and it’s much cheaper.

Rebel – Falcon Class Escort.  Mid-tech engines and weapons are fine.  You need to establish position in the cluster, and this is the first step.  Do not jump into deep space 350LY from your homeworld immediately.  On turns 2 and 3, build LDSF for moving clans and exporting starbases.

Colony – Cobol Class Cruiser.  This is your best ship.  Build with Transwarp Drives.  You can travel far and wide with no need for fuel.  Set the mission to Bio Scan and when you find natives, use LDSF to export clans.  Also, the Lady Royale with Transwarp Drives is a good choice for basic colonization of contiguous planets, but try to build as many Cobols as possible.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate the assertion in the Q&A section of Straight Talk About the Tractor Beam that all players should build two-engine ships in the early turns, with the exception of those races that build probes.  This is important because you need a few ships with very low ID numbers that can tow.

I expect to get lambasted by some who say that the Cyborg/Empire/Rebel should not build a probe on the first turn, or even should wait until the second starbase to build probes.  Again, what I have written is an opinion and I will restate that the LDSF is a good choice (just not the best choice) for everyone on turn 1.  The LDSF indeed may be a better choice for those three races if your opponents are all beginners.  With advanced opponents who study the map, you want a probe.

Please, leave comments stating your agreements, disagreements, or questions!

37 thoughts on “Early Construction – An Opinion

  1. Perhaps you could include why Thin Lizzy and others will have an easier time finding you if you do not build a probe. Knowing the trick is the first step to avoid having it used against you.

    A couple notes about Crystals in a Campaign games:
    -I would not build an Emerald, not because it isn’t a great ship, but because (don’t hate!) I don’t activate it as an advantage. I love the Emerald, but it doesn’t fill a unique role in the fleet compared to other options. With 450 advantage you are left with a choice between Imperial Gunboats or the Emerald. Most of what the Emerald does can be accomplished by Rubies, but nothing matches to the Imperial Gunboat for its particular functions, not even the lesser version (which only shoots down 20 fighters rather than 30 per ship build).

    -I usually would avoid building a Sapphire first because you cannot afford to use these for mere planet grabbing. If you lose one to a capture, you’ve probably lost the game with that mistake against competent opponents. Therefore you must be very disciplined in their use. For me, this means they live their entire lives inside web mines other than when they jump out to drop mines then jump back.

    So what would I build in a campaign game? A Ruby with transwarps, Disruptors, and mk4 or mk7 torps (depending on how close to bankruptcy you are willing to float early on). Personally, I go with mk4 in a regular game, mk7 in a melee. I would build the same thing again on turn 2. Only build a LDSF when it has a clear target.

    In fact, I often build LDSF with mid range engines and just tow them around like back packs with the Rubies I built earlier. This configuration provides some protection for the freighter and allows you to drop surgical amounts of cash on planets as you go. One ship uses “bdm” with whatever cash you want to drop, while the other holds the remainder.

    This opinion is provided not to educate the author (who I am sure already knows this stuff), but to offer another line of thinking to others who may not have considered these possibilities.


  2. Good reading. I would even say building a LDSF on the first turn is a BAD idea since you’ll end up wasting fuel when you load it with 1000/200 clans+supplies and send it of ‘exploring’. I usually build these on turn 3 and hope to KNOW where I’m sending that large cargo of clans.
    I might only differ from most in that I like to build my HYP ships with Transwarp engines. I find the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Nice article! tom n


  3. Stone: very interesting. I can’t imagine it would be good to disable the Emerald, as it’s the very best ship in the Crystal fleet, and one of the best ships in the game. An Ruby can’t fight but an Emerald can. The advantage to both the Emerald and the Ruby is their enormous cargo holds, meaning you can export clans at every stage of the game.

    The #1 problem with the gunboats is that they don’t carry clans. Beginners always misunderstand the object of the game – the object is expansion and construction, not death and destruction. The gunboats are neat and serve a good purpose (very frightening and very deadly!) but they don’t help you expand or construct.

    Stone, if you have any completed Crystal games in which you have succeeded (won the game or done pretty well) without the Emerald, please give me the game number because I really want to snoop and see how you did it.

    Spacesquad is really the expert who needs to weigh in on the Crystal matters. I have played Crystals a lot and I do build mark 4 torps, although Space builds exclusively mark 7 starting on turn 1.

    Why build a probe? Just remember that ships are built in order of starbase ID, so if an opponent has a good idea of where your homeworld is, the more homeworlds they find, the easier it is to track yours if they watch the ID numbers of the ships they build and the ships they see. Add to this the fact that, when they find your freighter (if you have built it on turn 2), they know how many turns away it is. Think about it. If somebody wants to attack you, it’s a matter of counting planets and ships, tracking ID numbers, and watching the scoreboard.

    I’ve studied the two championship games extensively, and in the Scorpius war, Thin found and destroyed the Cyborg homeworld on turn 10 with an LCC. If you have neighbors who are that astute, it could happen to you!


  4. again a very good article! maybe to add, why it might be important to build a rather big ship in the first turns: when needed you have something considerable when it comes to the first contact. the resolute or emerald battlecruisers are the strongest ships for at least ten turns and can seriously help when negotiating borders 🙂 i personally would also prefer building an emerald, since it is not endangered by cloakers such as the d7 and lcc like the ruby is. but a ruby will serve a good purpose too i guess.
    i actually would priorize ‘obscuring the homeworld’ over all other points.
    the reason why it is so important to stay hidden or build ships that move far away fast is because with a bit of thinking and calculating one can track the homeworld pretty precisely. key to that technique is to keep in mind that also in the first turns the build queue is running .. there is a risk about hyperjumpers however, if you don’t hop from planet to planet or jump out of your neighbour’s visibility …


  5. I am playing the robots now and have not built a pawn. I would build a medium frieghter with warp 9 engines first turn and a cats paw with warp 9 engines xrays and mark 4 torps. Those two ships can travel to ever planet near you quickly enough to do the job of the pawn. I would rather wait a few turns and build an instramentality with warp 6 engines to set over and protect my homeworld.


  6. Here’s the problem: the MDSF has one engine. You shouldn’t be building one-engine ships in the first turns unless they are probes because you need to take advantage of the availability of low ID numbers.

    The Pawn lights up the map like a Christmas tree. I can’t imagine not building it because of the headstart it gives you. Obviously there is no good time to build it other than the first turn. A race like Robots benefits from a fast start like no other. Your ships are the worst at starbase combat, rendering the Automa and Instrumentality nearly useless after 40 or 50 turns when everybody’s bases are stocked. Robots have got to get ahead really really fast in order to have good chances, particularly against skilled opponents.

    Bear in mind, this is all an opinion and you are free to play however you want 🙂


  7. I have to disagree about the Resolute/Emerald being the strongest ships in the early game. Most races have a ship of similar tech levels that is at least a match for these, if not flat out better.

    Feds: Nebulas embarrass these ships in combat
    Lizards: LCC are an even match unless the Res/Em goes to Heavy Blaster or better. At lower armaments the LCC is favored. Thanks lizard crew bonus!
    Fascists: Ill Wind is a viable early build and beats these handily
    Privs: In campaigns they could have the new Skyfire (tech 5), but likely won’t so I’ll count them out.
    Empire: SSD/SSC, though admittedly harder to stock fighters
    Robots: Instrumentality, cybernaut (if anyone actually built them)

    So if you are playing Birds or Crystals, you have at least six other races that can pose a threat to your Resolute or Emerald. You can also toss in the Rebel/Colony Patriots if your ship has scratched shields and the Patriot fights from the right.

    Don’t get me wrong: both the Resolute and the Emerald are amazing ships, they just aren’t exactly heavy weights, even in the early game. Worth building, but you can’t assume they will wade across a battlefield unopposed either.


  8. Stone, bear in mind that this is about the one ship that you should build on the first turn only. So this is the one ship that is going to be five turns away from your homeworld on turn 6, six turns away from your homeworld on turn 7, seven turns away from your homeworld on turn 8, etc. You want the ship that you have way out there to be carrying clans, right? Carriers can’t have both clans and fighters at that early stage since it takes ten times the cargo room (for Robot/Rebel/Colony of course) to build fighters. SSD is too risky to send out early because it might get stolen. Patriot has only 1 engine and you need to take advantage of the low ID numbers to build 2-engine ships in the first turns.

    If we were just trying to build a ship that can win a fight, then everyone should build Gorbies and Novas all the time, right? But since destruction is not the object of the game, we must build things that help us expand and manage our resources. How many clans your first ship can hold is the key.

    …. all that having been said, I think I totally agree with you about the Ill Wind. It just seems like Fascists should build a cloaker if possible. The D7 is a real problem because it can only carry 100 clans. That’s one reason that, looking at the campaign ship list, I suggested the Armored Ore Condenser, because it actually has big cargo. Or what about the new and improved Thorn? A cloaker with 5 tubes and 130 cargo … that looks very nice! I’m in general very ignorant of the nuances of the campaign-mode fleet.

    Please keep the discussion going, this is great!

    P.S. Please enlighten me as to why a Patriot should fight from the right side?


  9. A Patriot should fight from the right against ships that are 140-319 mass to prevent them from taking advantage of the mass bonus (60% chance of bonus mass when fighting a carrier from the right). It makes the Pat’s fighter swarm far more deadly against these ships.

    Also, unless I’m playing Cyborg I will not use my high cargo ships to spread to the far reaches of my local clusters. I would rather start using them to take trips back and forth from my home world to populate and harness promising worlds. I send out ships with low cargo for simple world marking, and follow up with real cargo capacity ships with clans when I know where they are going to land. Flying into the cluster full of clans sight unseen wastes fuel. If feel that if you are traveling with enough mass to burn a half kt of fuel per light year or more, you better know exactly where you are going. Cobols can ignore this of course.


  10. Aha, I was thinking, the Patriot is too dinky to get a mass bonus, correct? But in that case you want the right side to deny your opponent the opportunity to get the mass bonus. Good stuff that, thanks!!

    Now to your second paragraph, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but (assuming you are playing neither Colonies nor Cyborg), doesn’t “making trips back and forth” waste more fuel than making a one-way trip in? I just don’t see how your technique adds up.

    I’m not sure that I disagree with you as much as I think I do. Perhaps we have different ideologies of playing – I’m more interested in expansion but you are more interested in efficiency. I’d really like to see some of your completed games, when/if you have some, because you clearly put a lot of thought into Planets!

    This could end up being an entirely separate blog post but I’ll try to keep it short. My idea is, here we are in the Echo Cluster and I have all my people on one planet and my people want to be on that planet plus the other 499. I build ships and use my ships to take my people and spread them out to every planet. In general, the reason I build any ship is to carry clans and any ship that can’t carry clans or can’t carry enough clans needs a very good raison d’être for me to build it.

    So Stone, if you give up the Emerald in favor of gunboats, it is quite foreign to my ideology because it looks like you’re trying to destroy the cluster rather than populate it.


  11. I only build gunboats as cheap filler ships when saving up for other ships. They are basically ammunition. When a fighting ship departs to take something out, it tows one along as depletion fodder for planets or torp boats. One gunboat puts a full planet within kill range of a heavy torp ship. Two is like putting that planet on “ntp” since each destroys 30 fighters.

    Also, in my next game I’m going to try giving up the Ruby instead of the Emerald. I’ll give up SB mine sweeping as well, but I doubt I will miss it as much.

    As to destruction v expansion, I think you have to always be ready for both. I don’t go agro on a neighbor early on unless I think the moment is ripe to remove someone that will be a bigger problem later if I let them develop. “An ounce of prevention…” and all that.

    I think the more pointed discussion lies between expansion v development. I feel it is better to develop the promising worlds close to you as fast as possible. From this core you can produce better and more ships that will allow you to expand faster. I feel it is a mistake to prioritize expansion to the point of sacrificing the ability to build ships and bases. By all means send out scouts to claim worlds and look for promising clusters of them, but don’t ignore the great worlds that are on your doorstep that have resources that will allow you to more easily develop outlying worlds.

    It also may be that I am more aggressive with my neighbors. If they have expanded into what I feel is “my” area, I’ll simply destroy their colonies and say “stay 10ft beyond this line if you want to be friends.” Most of their outlying colonies will not be developed anyway, and if they expanded very quickly they will not have adequate supply lines. Meanwhile my outliers will tend to be fairly well supplied and supported by good ship builds, allowing me to enforce the border I prefer or simply invade the neighbor.

    Always a balance. It isn’t an either/or situation, but rather finding the most efficient solution for the hand of planets you are dealt.


  12. For early Colonial build, I agree that starting with a Cobol is the only real choice… but I follow it not with an LDSF but rather a transwarp Gemini. It has enough cargo to begin reasonable colonisation efforts, but also is key for early fighter construction to supply the Patriots and Virgos when they start leaving the slipways. The LDSF is usually my third build.

    Same holds true for Rebels. After the first-build Falcon, I go to the Gemini, then the LDSF (or, depending on circumstances, potentially a second Falcon).


  13. Agreed Jessilarn. I think Colonies are rare in that they have a VERY obvious early build in the Cobol. That thing is simply amazing. What I usually do is build two Cobols then two LDSF, and often put cheap engines on the LDSF.

    The reason for this is that I load the first cobol with Clans/Supplies and send it to some random world as far as possible within 1 jump as possible while bio scanning. It then sets a coarse back to the HW and scans again. Meanwhile, the next Cobol is doing this same thing. When it gets back it finds a newly minted LDSF ready to serve as its personal back pack in colonizing the good planets that have come up on the 3 bio scans of the local area (two from this Cobol, one from the other).

    As I mentioned above, using pairs of ships like this allows you to drop exact amounts of cash without stopping for a full turn. This way you can efficiently seed the good worlds around you.


  14. For Colonies, I’ll again submit that the Lady Royale is an excellent choice for nearby planets for the precise reason Stone mentions: you can drop cash every turn.

    I very much like the idea of a transwarp Gemini on turn 2, however, and once it cycles back home after delivering clans it starts building fighters like there’s no tomorrow.

    Maybe for my next Colonial game I will do it like this:
    Turn 1 – build Cobol
    Turn 2 – build transwarp Gemini
    Turn 3 – build LDSF
    Turn 4 – LDSF delivers clans to good planet, build another LDSF at homeworld
    Turn 5 – second LDSF exports starbase, build transwarp Lady Royale at homeworld
    Turn 6 – Lady colonizes other planets, homeworld builds another transwarp Lady, build second starbase, LDSF rounds up minerals for third starbase
    Turn 7 – First base builds Cobol, second base builds Gemini (bad engines), etc.
    Turn 8 through 10 – build third starbase. Other bases build transwarp Cobols, Gemini with bad engines, and Transwarp Patriots
    Turn 11 through 13 – begin building Virgos and work on fourth starbase

    ….. ideally before the limit you would have at least 15 Cobol, at least 10 Gemini (build Sagittarius instead when short on money or Moly), 2 LDSF, 2 Lady Royale, hopefully at least 5-6 Virgo.

    ….. and customize your fleet to include Patriot, Cygnus, Tranq, as you like or as you need them for early fighting.

    Anyway, that’s far beyond the scope of this little article. I have found the Patriot essential for early strikes and defense, but as Jessi kindly reminded us you need to have fighters ready to go for them. In general, I’ve found Patriots nearly useless in the late game. If you don’t have early fights, keeping the economy strong at home will let you be competitive after the limit. Colonies really are a late-game race provided they never lag behind in construction and provided they stay friendly with the Crystals.


  15. As you can see in my Video and in Scorpius, my Crystal eco is build on Emeralds (MK7) simply because it is the most versatile ship. In case of a pure webmine layer, it doesn´t matter if you use a Ruby or Emerald. But the Emerald can take all early non SB planets, can fight all cruisers and if something bigger is comming it can trap them in webs. If you hit a mine you can repair yourself deep in enemy space, you can carry calns and build torps in space. The Emerald can do all this with an “AND” not with an “OR”.
    I only use MK7 on Emeralds because its the most efficient torpedo for Webs. In turn 80 or later, your eco depends on Merlins, you will be happy to get the most out of that converted supplies. Better use these minerals for ship instead.


  16. Sorry this is still off the original topic, but I’m very curious…

    Spacesquad: What is your ideal set of ships and advantages for Campaign games (450 total advantage limit)?


  17. Hello,

    I am the player that no one likes because I’m partly responsible that the ship limit strikes before T25. I often have by far the most ships then. My first two builds with every race I played were LDSF. I admit this may have been wrong. Still I do not fully agree to “I would even say building a LDSF on the first turn is a BAD idea ” . 🙂

    I don’t want to dig deeper in this subject now but I miss one objective in the list: “Build up the strongest possible fleet before the ship limit.” And it’s subtask “Build the second base ASAP”.

    Also let me put an idea up for discussion that I explore since some games with good results: Objective 3 “Wide positional expansion and colonization” is harmful!
    I won’t explain this immidiatly. At the moment I think this insight is my most important advantage in high level games at planets.nu. I may be wrong again.


  18. Hi Stone,
    I have never played a campaign game, so my theory is not tested. In general I do not see much difference in playing the Crystallines in a Campaign game. I would add the Sapphire and the Ion Storm Shield (just to get the full 450). If you want you could exchange large minefield for SB mine laying. As i see myself as an aggressive player, i would keep the large fields to be able to trap ships in large fields.
    Emeralds are heavy cruisers, they will force your enemy to send out battleship or other heavy cruisers to stop them. Use the Emerald aggressive and you will soon have the chance to trap something big and nice. Minesweeping, colonization, weblaying, capturing Non SB Planets, not a problem with the Emerald. The Ruby can do some of this as well but the Emerald can do better especially early in the game.
    Same for the Sapphire, use it early, use it aggressive. If you have a nice big cluster in range, build it in turn 1 and jump. Think big, to win the game you need to control half the map that’s what the Sapphire was designed for. It´s not worlds end if you loose one. But just imagine Emorks 2 LDSF facing a Web in turn 4! While he has to build a Warship AND upgrade his Beam tech you can kick start your eco.
    The Imperial Gunboats are great for defense, but webs are better for defense and as i said I see myself as an aggressive player, so i have not much use for it.Worst case an Emerald can also prepare a Carrier so that your SB can ATT it. But you have the chance to trap it in webs, try this with your Gunboat.

    Btw: How do you think of an SSD in the first Empire turn. Load it with the 30 fighters you have in turn 2 and planet hop to your neighbor until you dark sense his base then rush and capture. With a little luck you have his base or at least you forced him to build something heavy early.


  19. Hehe, a turn 3 Sapphire ambush also came to my mind when I first read about the Sapphire. Especially for the Robot it would painful. He’s bad in economy and always low on Dur. So he does not like building disruptors or better for sweeping early.

    But as with all such strategies you have to evalute cost and gain. You have to raise to m4 and spend 390 mc for torps in your first turn. Then you jump and lay but can’t be sure if this neighbour isn’t the ally you want to have. You use a lot of resources to potentially harm yourself and your development is slowed down significantly while other races go for eco explosion with two LDSF. (Of course after my post I have to change strategy against readers of the planets MAG 🙂

    But Space, an early lost Sapphire is not the end of the world? But it’s close, or?

    I’m in my game as campaign Crystal but on the paper the gunboats look like a great perfect weapon for the Crystal. Sacrifying 2 PBP to destroy a defenderless 60/200-base by the follow-up Diamond is such a bargain!


  20. Sorry, my post was not clear enough. Of course it´s nonsense to lay a web in turn 3 if you do not know if somebody is out there. You can not attack with a Sapphire, but you should not be afraid to jump to an unknown planet in the beginning. As a Crystal you have to raise your torps anyway ( I go to MK7 at turn 1) Load 5 torps, clans and capture that nice 10planet cluster you would never reach in time without the Sapphire. Worst case drop a web and run, for sure you will win some time until your main fleet is in position. And a web in enemy space is always nice.

    Good point on the SB killing, I always used captured ships, SSD or Diamond Thunder combos so far. Killing SBs late in the game is very hard for Crystallines if they have to use their own ships.
    Do the guboats start with full beams after the first got killed?


  21. I would like to comment about robot´s & starbases issue. I think robots can destroy bases in late game almost just like other races. But, lot of instrumentalities is needed, because you lose instrumentalities against bases.

    Usually, 2 instrumentalities take out well defended base. (130 planet det, 200 bd and 60 fighters). Instru + Golem takes this base 95% a time…. Offcourse, base killing is not easy for a robot, BUT to whom is it easy?

    Feds? Nova lose against stocked base…
    Birdmen? DW loses against stocked base…
    Privateers? Captured ships… yes… if there is suitable ones
    Borgs? I have recently noticed that capturing a stocked base is like 50% losing a BIO
    Colonies? Virgo has slightly better chances against base than golem…. offcourse you can send small ships first… but… you lose something

    For a liz, it is not so easy though if base has lot of clans
    Klingons have advantage on this, but if there is carrier protecting the base, it is not so easy
    EE has SSD, but they can be destroyed
    Rebels have planet immunity, rushes and ground attack. They have really better base killing power!

    After all, i think robots do not have so much worse SB killing power than other races. The biggest problem for robots, in my opinion, is the FUEL..



  22. But, for a first turn. Robot has 3 options. LDSF, Cats Paw or Pawn…;) What I usually build depends on MAP situation (where nearby planet clusters are), and especially it depends on the mood I am…. 🙂


  23. If you’ve ever played a long game where you have to lose one ship for every starbase you conquer, it is a severe problem, mainly because you gain no PBP for the destruction. Think about the math. 500 planets and 500 ships. You give up one ship to get one planet and only have a small chance of building a ship in its place.

    I’m going to maintain that your best choice is the Pawn because you have absolutely no time to waste. If a Golem can only beat a starbase 37% of the time, you have to get across the galaxy as fast as freaking possible, and to do that you need money first, and to get money you have to find the natives. If you wait, you are dead. If you have experienced opponents who will not drop out, you simply can’t afford to be slow when your fleet is so handicapped. You’ve got to go blow them up before they get strong.

    You’re right about the fuel problem. My recommendation is to travel in only one direction. You neither have the time nor the fuel to go back and pick up stuff you miss, or to approach another war front.


  24. Aa… I completely agree with you, that expanding and getting money FAST, is the key to victory for bots. BUT, is the 1 turn Pawn best way to do that, i am not 100% sure.. (i mean there MIGHT be slight advantage in some situations building cat´s paw first, then pawn, then LDSF… or even Paw, LDSF and then pawn)

    The reason why i should expand fast with the bots is not that they are worse than others in attacking – the reason is they are master at defence!

    Which races ( if i do not count races that can do some ground attack) can destroy a base without losses?? Even BIO & Gorbie lose 50% a time against stocked base… birdman may need 3 DW:s to do that…

    AND nova drive 5, Plasma bolt, base killing kamikaze instru before Golem is cheap as shit 🙂 it is 4 victory points, but opponent do not get them if base kills instru. AND offcourse bot has to have numerous SB:s to compete in BQ

    I DO NOT completely disagree with you, but i just think that base taking is hard for other races also… and hardly ever can not be done without losses



  25. I just got back from vacation so I’m just now checking back on this.

    Campaign Crystals: Thanks for your thoughts SS. It gives me a better understanding of the importance of the Emerald. It inspired this template for my next campaign game:
    **CRYSTALS (ALT)**

    Emerald 30
    Diamond 20
    Crystal 30
    Sapphire 40
    Imp. Topaz 25
    Onyx 15
    TOTAL: 160

    Desert Habitation 10
    Webs 150
    Tow Cap. 30
    SB Mine Laying 30
    Lay Mines 70
    TOTAL: 290

    GRAND TOTAL: 450

    I don’t see the Emerald and Gunboats in direct competition at all. They aren’t an either/or and I’m not building one over the other. They are completely different tools. If anything, I was comparing the Emerald with the Ruby and deciding which tool I could do without since they perform similar functions. The question was really whether you could get away without having the Emerald because you could build (more) Rubies instead. The deciding factor for me is that Emerald will eventually cost 4 PBP while the Ruby costs 3, and that extra PBP for the extra performance makes the Emerald worth it.

    My biggest dilemma with the Emerald is whether to start with mk4 or mk7 torps, but I’ve settled on mk4. Building two mk7 Emeralds early on costs an extra 2400mc over the cost of two mk4 Emeralds. I could build two more mk4 emeralds for the money saved (or whatever else I need, like another SB). Granted, later on minerals will be more valuable than the money, but money is extremely valuable early on and the mk4 Emeralds can just scoop mines from mk7 laid fields to conserve minerals.

    Another note about Large Minefields: Crystals can and should drop this. It only restricts how big your REGULAR minefields can be. Crystals can always lay large webmine fields, even without this advantage. Yes, it feels like cheating=)


  26. Now something completely on topic: early game priorities

    Colonists = cash, mines, and factories. The most important of those right out the gate is cash. You need to get as many colonists to nearby natives to act as tax collectors ASAP. No matter which race it is, I try to identify a taxable planet early and move up to two LDSF full of colonists there. Once the natives are taxed to mid-60s happiness, I leave them alone and start moving those colonists to the next farther taxable planet and repeat. So far, this has proved to be the most efficient way to collect money I have found in the early game.

    The problem with it is you do not end up land grabbing a bunch of worlds early on like many suggest. I may end up with 6 planets on turn 8 while someone else has 12-16. IMO, it doesn’t matter because it allows me to build more and better ships and star bases sooner, which will greatly fuel my expansion after these initial turns. It allows you to set up better supply lines and preserves fuel by giving every ship a target. Yes, you end up moving back and forth between your home world, but you depopulate your home world faster than anyone else, and that depopulation means more of everything in the long run.

    I agree with Emork here. My ultimate early goal is to be in the best position possible when the ship limit hits. That really means having more and better ships, not necessarily more planets. The planets will come because you’ll have more and better ships. You’ll be able to push your neighbors’ bargain bin ships around with minimal losses and colonize the new territory faster. With any luck, your neighbor did some explosive early expansion and hasn’t had the opportunity to move the fruits of his outlying planets to star bases. Those resources can be yours for the taking, and you never had to construct a mine or factory to claim them.

    ECV: you seem to imply that making return trips to you home world is bad thing. My question in return is: how do you avoid it? You need to spread colonists out to good worlds. Do all your ships only make one-way trips from home? If so, how has this worked out for you when the ship limit hits?


  27. Welcome home Stone! This is such a great discussion.

    Are you serious that large minefields doesn’t count for webs?!?!?! Omg. Well I guess we can have our cake and eat it too!

    I haven’t started a new Crystal game recently, but Spacesquad’s videos have definitely had an impact on me. My standard first-turn build has usually been Emerald / Xwarp / Plasma Bolts / Mark 4. The reason for such an economical Emerald is exactly what you mentioned, Stone: the tech is so expensive, and even the tubes cost more than I really want to spend.

    I will defer to the judgment of the Emperor that it is better to splurge on the Mark 7, and I probably will in my next game, for all the reasons he has detailed. However, here’s one thing to consider: Mark 4 and Mark 7 torpedoes are known as the most efficient, and that’s why everybody uses those two only (add Mark 8 for heavy fighting, and Gamma Bombs for capture ships). You’ll (almost) never see a good player using Mark 3 or Mark 5 or Proton Torps because they have looked at the charts and have done the math. But the reason Mark 4 and Mark 7 are the best is for two different reasons: Mark 4 are the most efficient in money, and Mark 7 are the most efficient in minerals. Spacesquad’s argument is that, in the end, you will run out of minerals but you will have enough money, and therefore the Mark 7 is the tube you want all through the game. However I do think that different circumstances might lead one to make a different choice. For instance I am in a low natives game (I’m the Borg, not the Crystal), and I would imagine that in that setting I would want to build Mark 4 for webbing for most of the game, because there’s not enough cash even for the tech and the tubes, much less for loading up the webs. As folks experiment with different starting scenarios (and I assume that more options will someday become available) it might be good to be open to different possibilities.

    To respond to the “one-way trip” comment: I didn’t mean freighters – I meant with carriers. I was responding to the question about Robots running out of fuel from Golems. There’s always enough fuel to travel one direction, just not necessarily enough to circle back. I think it’s important to think in the long term about where you want to fight and what direction you want to go. Colonies don’t have the fuel problem, nor do the Borgs, nor do the Privateers. But for Robots, Rebels, Birds, Fascists, Empire …. fuel problems can really cripple your progress. Robots have no time to waste. Find the natives, tax them, build Golems, and then pick a direction and go. To wait, or to turn around, means that your opponents have time to build better ships.

    Clans: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Those people are doing nothing for you on your homeworld (assuming you max out your factories and mines on turn 1, something on which Spacesquad and I disagree). The end goal of the entire game in a standard planet-count scenario is to take those 2 and a half million people, facilitate their reproduction, and cover the entire cluster with them. How does this relate to construction? People produce revenue, revenue builds ships and arms them, and ships conquer new worlds and win games. People also create factories, factories create supplies, supplies create minerals after the mines run dry, minerals create fighters and torpedoes, fighters and torpedoes destroy your opponents and conquer planets and win games.

    This is THE reason that the Emerald is such a great ship, along with the Resolute and the LCC. You always get to carry clans. Everywhere. How many clans? Lots and lots and lots. The Borg is the only exception.

    I totally agree with you and Emork that the goal of the opening is to be in the best position when the limit hits. There are other worthwhile early goals, however, such as trying to prevent your neighbors from constructing early. Thin is the expert on early strikes. Just pray that you never start next to him. 🙂


  28. The uselessness of the Home World presents a conundrum: Early ship builds are important, but expensive-costing resources you could use to build a more useful base on a nearby planet instead.

    The advantage of building a LDSF first turn is you only spend money on engine and hull tech, costing 3900 of your initial 10k. You could then use your extra money to set up a second base on a more worthy world, using your home world to produce freighters. Don’t forget the option to build extra LDSF with crap engines and tow them with other ships (even other LDSF). Doing this may not be sexy, but if you can quickly identify good neighboring worlds, your economy will take off like a rocket.

    As a comparison, it costs 7700 just in tech to be able to build a Disruptor/mk7 Emerald, then another 1454 for the ship itself. Assuming you max factories, you’re spending another 471. Your total first turn expenditures are 9625mc so far, and you haven’t even built extra mines. If you’re taxing like I do, you’ll get 1390mc on the following turn (57%, -37 happiness) and buy 63 (252mc) mines so you stay at +7 happiness mod when you don’t tax next turn, allowing your population to grow. 63 mines is an efficient number both because of the happiness mod, and because going from 162 to 163 increases your mine output by 3 minerals a turn. Grand total for first turn? 9877mc. Ouch.

    This will leave you with 1513mc (plus whatever you are willing to sacrifice in supplies) to survive until you can find natives to tax, or the 7 turns it will take to get your HW population back to 100 happiness to tax them again (you’ll make more money/colonists in the long run if you are disciplined about waiting to tax until 100 happiness). 1513 MC is enough for two good LDSF builds or one more good Emerald, then you are basically broke unless you dip into your supplies or find natives, but even if you find natives it will take a few turns to tax them and return the money for more ships.

    I much prefer the less expensive mk4 option. It allows up to four Emerald builds (if you want that many), after which I would build crap engine LDSFs and tow them with the Emeralds (who all have TW engines). You will be able to get a lot more done in your economy with this setup than with two gold-plated emeralds. You could use some of your savings to set up an early second base on a world with good natives.

    Incidentally, you could save even more money with Rubies and using them to tow LDSF. I would feel much more comfortable with a mk7 Ruby first turn than an Emerald, since the individual ships are quite a bit cheaper to build.

    I know this discussion wanted intended to focus to heavily on one race, but I think the in depth analysis is portable to the process you should go through with any race. I would rather have this specific discussion than speak entirely in generalities. Thanks for keeping it going ECV! The more we work through, the more I think we agree on the general principles, and working out the details forces me to consider my choices more honestly.


  29. UPDATE: You can no longer lay large web mine fields unless you have the “Lay Large Mine Fields” advantage. No more bonus 30adv for Crystals=/


  30. This is a good article for consideration. I usually play the Lizards. Economy is our game so I will build a LDSF right off the bat. However, most of my games I do build a LCC on turn two. I even tech it up to M7’s and Disruptors to capture ships(or HB). Then I send it off into deep space toward a cluster in the center or one I know is closer to my enemy on one side or the other. It never returns. In the early game that LCC can take planets that HYP ships or Borg colonized and destroy all smaller ships or bigger ships with M4’s. With it’s large cargo, it can set up a nice planet in the far away cluster and repair with built supplies. In this method you can secure a cluster early on and then the other players are the attackers if they move in. It also hurts the other players who did not send good ships and it will take them awhile to send in a fleet. Hopefully you have sent a few reinforcements and build a SB by then.
    The down side is building such a good ship right off the bat destroys your home economy for a few turns. If you have a few good planets nearby, then that is short. If you can’t find that gem of a planet, then I build hissers for a few turns (which I need). So, I have tried a few games where I built just M4 ships and sent them forth. This saved my economy for a few turns at the beginning of the game. But then I didn’t overpower any other ship I came across, or I got hurt.
    Oh the decisions. I guess there is no great answer then, huh?
    Keep up the thought process. -DD-


  31. ECV, I’m not going to lambast you, but I am going to have to disagree with building a probe on the first turn. My main reason is that I can’t stand building low tech ships at my homeworld. It irks my sense of efficiency to not be using the tech levels I have there (or will have soon, so the money’s as good as spent). Much like Stone and Emork, I’m of the philosophy that the main purpose of the HW is to crank out LDSF and some mid-level warships (with 2 engines) when you can afford them, everything with transwarps. I guess I’d even go a step further and say that I’d prefer NEVER to build a probe at my homeworld (or terraformers, cynguses, patriots, swifts, opals, and other cheap stuff). I agree that you want probes fairly soon, but would rather advocate the “starbase in a can” method. ie:

    Turn 1 – Build LDSF
    Turn 2 – Load LDSF with minerals to make a starbase + about 1100mc (or more if you can spare it) + about 100 supplies + the remainder with clans. If the planet your MDSF discovered has any reasonable native life send it there. If not pick another one. Drop everything off there and build a base. Go back to HW for more clans.

    This way you have a probe (or terraformer or whatever) factory setup and you’ll start getting a ship from it every turn starting on turn 5 or 6 (depending on whether you followed the MDSF or colonized a new planet).

    I think getting a second starbase setup is near top priority for everyone, but if you’re planning on building a lot of “junk” ships with bad engines (a strategy I support), it’s even more urgent, because you don’t want to use your HW to build them. I would say the following races should all consider the “starbase in a can” strategy: Feds, Lizards, Borg, Empire, Rebels.

    For the other races, getting a second base should still be top priority, but they’ll likely want to wait a little longer for a “good” planet, which I consider generally in this order of desirability:

    1. Ghipsoid or Humanoid – Engine tech benefits everyone, and everyone has higher tech ships they can build without engines and tow when needed. Even if you can’t build a big carrier or battleship or merlin right away, a super transport with sd1s is always nice to have. You can tow it full of clans with an outgoing warship, to colonize the fronts while leaving your LDSFs free to work the home economy.

    2. Siliconoid for some races – The robots and crystals mainly (because they can make good use of their cheap, low-hull tech mine-layers), unless urgent minefields are needed, or sit in place defenders.

    3. Any other planet that can make good money – If it can make 2000+ in taxes for a couple turns (this is why you built all those freighters, to get the clans here and get that money), you can get techs up to mid-levels pretty quickly, and then building the ships is usually pretty cheap. Works for races like the fascists who just need to get hull tech up to 6 to build poppers.

    So I think I’ve strayed a little from the main topic here, but I guess what I’m saying is, build those freighters and get that second base up as fast as you can. Even if you don’t have enough money to get a great build out of it at first, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve built MDSFs with sd1 engines to act as a 200 cargo trailer, or even the much despised sd1 SDSF for recycling later.

    And use your homeworld ONLY to build things that need transwarps.


  32. Beefer: I certainly don’t feel lambasted. My column is only an opinion. And bear in mind I never said it was wrong to build the LDSF. The whole point of this is to get a debate started and we can all learn from it. Having just played 20 turns of a DIE HARD game against you, I’m 100% aware that I have much more to learn from you than you have to learn from me.

    I like the starbase-in-a-can method also, as you say, although I recommend delaying it until the second LDSF in all cases. I really think that first LDSF needs to be loaded with 1200 clans (or 1150 or 1000 or whatever). It’s got to go straight to that good-natives planet and start cranking revenue. The way I see it, the sooner you start the better. The second LDSF (especially for Cyborg or Empire) can be the base-in-a-can as you say – and that second base builds probes only.

    Dedicating starbases to specific things – especially based on the natives – is true sage advice in my opinion. Looking back, I’ve made the mistake of raising the engine tech level too high on secondary starbases in a few of my games. In retrospect, ouch! That old “wisdom” of always building transwarps (or always using heavy blasters or whatever) is quite silly, especially in a community like Nu where your opponents are so good that they know how to fight for every last ship slot.

    Spacesquad and I had a conversation a while back about the second starbase. I recall him saying that he thinks it’s often good to delay it. Maybe he’s still watching this thread, and if so, perhaps we can get more of the Emperor’s wisdom on this topic. I ruined my economy in one game when playing Crystals by building the second starbase early (like turn 4 or 5). That’s perhaps a race-specific problem, however, since Crystals enjoy far less benefit from low-tech bases than other races.

    Thin has a really terrific article about fighting carrier fleets as a cloaking race that is being published here on planetsmagazine.com within the next few days, and it will relate closely to this discussion about early preparation for combat. In particular, as soon as you identify your opponents, you ought to consider starting to customize your own fleet to fight whoever your enemies will be. Watch this space!


  33. Really enjoy this discussion! Personally I vary my opening slightly depending on planet proximity to my homeworld, but generally I delay the “Base Building LDSF” as EC does, at least for a few turns. I want that gas guzzler to know where it’s going, hopefully to a Ghip or Human planet I’ve found during those first 5 or 6 turns.

    Cash is my first concern, and I’m looking to drop 1000 clans to get tax money fast. Beyond that, I’m hoping to find Duranium to beam up and bring home. Seems like I’m looking for Duranium, or mining it, until turn 20 since that first Merlin needs about 650 of it.

    Another great tool for new players is to visit a finished game played by some top players. I learned about the “Base in a Box” tactic from using the “Time Machine” on a finished game.


  34. I think the early “base in a can” strategy is the best option for the races that can build truly dirt cheap, but still useful ships, primarily probes and terraformers. Things that are so cheap, and require so little tech (usually just raising the hull tech a small amount), that the cost to build the base and tech and several ships is really not much more than the cost of one “good” build at the homeworld. For building these kinds of things, I’m suggesting you don’t wait to find the humanoid/ghipsoid/rich planet, because you don’t need it. Building and running a base like this puts such a small dent in your economy (more so in minerals to build the base than cash), that by the time you find that “good” planet, you’ll likely be ready to build another base anyways.

    But this is a race-specific, depending on what kinds of useful super-low-tech ships the race has. Some races don’t get a useful “cheap” ship until about tech 6 or so (think fascist d19s and rebel/colonial geminis) and they will likely wait a little longer to find a better planet or at least generate some more cash before building a base. Torpers like the birds and crystals will likely wait even longer, holding out for that hum/ghip/sil planet, because the buy-in cost to upgrade techs to get a useful ship makes it more expensive.

    ECV, I see good logic in using the 2nd LDSF for the “base in a can”. What I would no propose is to build the LDSF the 1st turn and look at the planet you find with the MDSF. If it seems good, load the base stuff onto the LDSF and send it there. If not, load with clans for colonization as you noted and send it to a different planet. Then build another LDSF, load it with the “base in a can” and it can follow the first LDSF. You’ll actually get the base built just as fast doing this, since the second planet will already be colonized when you get there.


  35. You already said it, in my eyes, the second base is race specific. Crystalline do not have low tech cheap ships they need to pump out early. You need either TW or Mark7 or Hull 8 (Terraformer) . I would prefer to build a base in a can on a humanoid planet, as it will allow me to build Onyx and SD1 Thunders. I rather raise my HW torps to Tech 8 and therefore leave the hulls at Tech 6. The cheapest ship that is usefull is a Ruby MK4 with Warp 6 used as a armed local freighter. If you find a good money planet, better build your second base there as you need more then just a native tech bonus. In general i like to have 3-4 planets supporting a base with minerals, and i only build a base if i can support it so that it can build a ship every turn.


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