(written by ECV)
Planets is a game of managing finite resources. The game has an absolute limit of 500 ships in the sector at any time. Early in the game, players build their fleet. Later, sometime between turn 20 and turn 40, the number of ships in the sector reaches 500, and no more ships can be built.
After the limit hits, you can only build a new ship when a ship disappears somewhere on the map due to destruction or recycling. Starbases begin to build in order by ID number, from lowest to highest, whenever a ship is removed from the game. The order continues each turn where it left off on the previous turn. This is called the queue.
In the old days, we went to war blowing up each other’s ships and hoping that we could build some more in their stead. Unfortunately it became clear that waging war was not all that profitable, since destroying someone else’s property benefitted every other player in the sector, not just the one doing the destroying. The person who owned the next starbase in the queue was always the one who would get to build the next ship, and this didn’t seem fair. For this reason, Priority Build Points (PBP) were invented.
What are PBP?
Priority Build Points are fundamentally a reward for combat. Players who are actively waging war earn PBP every time they destroy another’s ship in ship-to-ship combat.
How do I earn PBP?
There are four ways to earn PBP.
- Destroying a ship in ship-to-ship combat yields 1 PBP per every 100kt of hull mass, rounded up. (For example, destroying 110kt of hull mass grants 2 PBP.)
- Recycling a ship at a starbase yields 1 PBP.
- Detonating a glory device yields 1 PBP.
- If other ships are destroyed as a result of a glory device explosion, each ship destroyed gives the player who detonated the glory device 1 PBP per every 100kt of hull mass, as in #1 above.
What are some ways that I might think I should earn PBP but don’t?
- You do not earn PBP for victories in ship-to-planet combat.
- You do not earn PBP for capturing a ship in combat.
- You do not earn PBP for destroying an enemy ship in a minefield.
- You do not earn PBP for using the Land & Disassemble (formerly known as Colonize) mission.
How can I find out how many PBP I have?
The far right column on the scoreboard indicates how many PBP you have on the current turn. The scoreboard also shows how many PBP the other players have.
When can PBP be used, and when can they not be used?
You cannot use PBP in the beginning stages of the game. Early in the game, if you engage in heavy warfare it is possible to accumulate a very large number of PBP. You cannot use any PBP until total the number of ships in the sector reaches 450.
When there are 450 or more ships in the sector, you can use PBP if you have 21 or more. At this stage in the game, every player who has 21 or more PBP has the privilege of building before the others. The player with the most PBP gets to build first. Any player with 21 or more PBP always spends PBP on any ships they build.
If you have fewer than 21, you cannot spend your PBP. Even if you have the most of anyone in the sector, with 20 or less you do not receive priority.
How do I spend PBP?
If you have 21 or more PBP and there are more than 450 ships in the sector, you may spend them. In fact, with 21 or more PBP, you cannot even build a single ship without spending PBP.
If you have 21 or more PBP, you have a choice. You can either spend your PBP on the ship you are constructing at your starbase that is next in line, or you can choose which starbase and which ship to build by using a pbX friendly code.
To use the pbX friendly code, the X stands for a number between 1 and 9. Starbases with the code pb1 will build before those with the code pb2, and so on. If there is more than one starbase with the same pbX code, the one with the lower ID number will build first.
To reiterate: if you have more than 21, you will spend them on any ship you build.
How can I tell how many PBP a ship costs?
A ship costs one PBP for every 50kt of mass, rounded up. Examples:
- Neutronic Fuel Carrier (10kt) = 1 PBP
- Medium Deep Space Freighter (60kt) = 2 PBP
- Emerald Class Battlecruiser (180kt) = 4 PBP
- Golem Class Baseship (850kt) = 17 PBP
What are some basic strategy hints for using PBP?
In general, most players try to build smaller ships with PBP, and wait for normal starbase building for large ships. This helps to keep your PBP level at or around 20 at all times, which is helpful because you are more likely to be able to build ships when and where you need them.
Most players will agree that you should set some pbX codes as soon as you think your PBP count might exceed 20. If you don’t, you may end up spending PBP on ships that you could have built in the normal order. There is also a chance that you could miss a starbase’s opportunity to build if you fail to set pbX codes.
A minority of players employ an alternate strategy in which after the ship limit they build only using PBP and not following the queue. In this alternative strategy, players construct ships only at the starbases they want new ships at and leave their other starbases empty. This alternative method has a few notable advantages: it allows players to build fewer starbases and leaves more resources to arm ships with. Since the player has fewer starbases (or fewer productive starbases), this player can aggressively attack while spending fewer resources on defense. This strategy also allows the player to keep PBP banked without spending them until they are needed. This strategy is most likely to succeed with a combat-heavy race that depends less on small support ships, such as the Robots.
If you gain nothing else from this article, remember this: The code pb1 does not indicate the ship you most want to build at the moment. It indicates what you want to spend your PBP on should you accumulate more than 20. Remember that a Gorbie costs 20, a Biocide costs 18, a Golem costs 17, a Nova costs 13. If you always spend your PBP on heavy warships, be aware that your opponents may be outproducing you in quantity of ships, which may preclude your ability to build the number of ships you need.
There is no one correct way to play. All seasoned players have different ways of managing their ships and starbases. However you choose to play, just remember that PBP are very important to keep yourself ahead of your opponents in ship construction. PBP are difficult to earn and easy to spend.
Why does it say K.P. instead of PBP in my combat reports? What does K.P. stand for?
The hell if I know.