Priority Build Points

(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.

  1. 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.)
  2. Recycling a ship at a starbase yields 1 PBP.
  3. Detonating a glory device yields 1 PBP.
  4. 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.

22 thoughts on “Priority Build Points

  1. Thanks for the compliments, guys. These questions come up so often in the Nu feed and in my in-game messages, so I figured somebody needed to write a crystal-clear explanation, much like I endeavored to do with my article on towing (“Straight Talk About the Tractor Beam”).

    Please let me know here or in a PM on Nu if you can think of other basic game mechanics or basic strategy concepts that need an article like this. I have a list of potential articles already (and it’s a long list), but would appreciate any ideas.

    Yea, K.P. probably stands for “kill points” .. although why it would say K.P. instead of PBP is a mystery. I was hoping that the conclusion of the article would make some folks laugh πŸ™‚


  2. IMHO it say “Knowledge Points”? Doesn’t it affect player’s overall score, too? Think I read it somewhere sometime.

    Thanks for detailed Information.


  3. Earning PBP does not have any effect on classic score or military score (the second and third columns from the right on the scoreboard).

    The best way to earn K.P.=”Knowledge Points” is by reading Planets Mag πŸ™‚


  4. Achievement points, however, ARE won by earning KP (or Kitchen Patrol) points in the game. And that’s a decent method to fight your way to the top of the Leaderboard so you can get a chance at the next Championship… although, as Sun Tzu pointed out, the greatest commander wins the war before he goes out to fight.

    [If you can’t understand Sun Tzu’s position there, reread ECV’s article.]


  5. Once again I have learned something critical for playing planets (even in “Nu” and normal games). I can not call myself a veteran, I figure…. I’m a scholar.

    While I was reading this article I said to myself “Great, here I have a brand new fresh strategy to combat “evc” in game 61049!” But then.. LOL I read the signature of the article.
    ECV you are the bible, thank you again for sharing your knowledge to help us improve and play more competitive and funny games.


  6. this may seem like the kind of question a noob would consider too nooby, but often i’ve seen it mentioned ‘keep track of the queue’. how does one do that exactly if they don’t know who owns what starbase number and don’t know where the new ship(s) was/were built?


  7. It is a bit of a noob question, Jelly, but that’s OK. The answer is, you spend a lot of time at it.

    To give you just a bit more detail: You don’t own all the starbases that are out there, but since you’re taking the trouble to learn a bit about the Queue, by the time the Ship Limit has been reached, I have no doubt but that you’ll own at least one eleventh of the starbases, likely on planets whose numbers are in a moderate range of all available numbers (usually 001 to 500).

    The next time one of your starbases builds, unless you’ve used PBPs and a PBx friendly code to force the build, that base will have generated a ship from the queue. The next starbase to do so will be on the next higher planet in numeric order. If all of your starbases always have a build scheduled, you can just keep track of the last one that produced.

    If you’re willing to do a bit more work, watch the Scoreboard for ship losses. These are aggregate numbers and therefore will underestimate reality, but they can give one an excellent idea of how the queue is moving.

    (It’s OK to keep notes from round to round if you like. Any true Planets addict will understand how tough it can be to keep all these things straight.)


  8. Also β€” get your allies to tell you what starbases they build at β€” and try to convince your non-allies to share this information with you as well πŸ™‚


  9. I have a special situation that might occur pretty often:

    – The regular build queue is before planet/starbase ID# 250 which i happen to own, and where i have a ship in the spacedock.
    – My ally destroys a big ship and gets the lead in the priority queue
    – Since he forgot to set a pbX code on his starbases, he builds on his next planet in the regular queue which happens to be planet/starbase ID# 300

    Will the regular build row now skip my planets or will it jump back to where it was before?

    Will therefore my ally be able to build at ID#300 in the near future using the regular build queue?


  10. It goes back to where it was before. It is possible to build on the same starbase two turns in a row, one with priority points and the next on the regular queue. It is also possible to miss a regular starbase’s building by building on the same turn as the regular queue moves after priority builds. That’s why it is important for pbX codes to be behind the queue if you are intending to build your large ships on the regular queue in numerical order.


  11. This article helps, but I’m still fuzzy on the concept. See if I’m thinking right in this example: I think at least two of my starbases will build next turn. The first one has an sdsf and the next a Rush. If I have over 21 PBPs and want to conserve them, then do I understand that the PBPs cost to me in this scenario will be for the sdsf?

    What if the situation is reversed and Rush is next in my list of starbases. If I put the sdsf’s starbase as PB1 will the Rush sb still build, but after the sdsf’s?

    Do PBPs only get spent on the first ship that builds in a player’s turn?


  12. Hi Martem! Thanks for the awesome question!

    If you have more than 20 PBP, you cannot build a single ship without spending your PBP. If you have no pbX codes set, you build whatever’s next in the queue. SDSF costs 1 PBP, a Rush costs 13.

    In the scenario you mention, you didn’t say how many PBP you have, so let’s pretend you are starting a turn with 30 PBP. If you have no pbX codes set, the pointer goes to the starbase next in the queue and it builds an SDSF, and your PBP balance is 29. Then it goes to the following, builds a Rush, and you have 16 PBP remaining, and are no longer eligible for priority builds.

    If the situation is reversed, again let’s say you have 30 PBP. If you have no pbX codes set, the pointer goes to the starbase next in the queue and builds a Rush, leaving you with 17 PBP. You are no longer eligible for priority builds.

    So if you built the SDSF followed by the Rush, you got two ships for your PBP, but if you built the Rush first, you only got one before dropping below 21.

    The way to rectify this situation is to set pbX codes on starbases that are not near the queue. My recommendation is to build support ships with your PBP rather than combat ships. If you are playing Rebels the best support ships you can buy are the Sagittarius (costs 2) for building fighters, the Guardian (costs 2) for quick torpedo assault, Patriot (costs 2) for a small carrier, and the Iron Lady (costs 3) for minesweeping and laying mines.

    So let’s say that you had 30 PBP, and at starbases not near the queue you had some pbX codes set to build some support ships: with pb1 you built an SDSF (29 PBP remaining), with pb2 you built a Sagittarius (27 remaining), with pb3 you built a Patriot (25 remaining), with pb4 you built a Guardian (23 remaining), and with pb5 you built an Iron Lady, bringing your balance to 20 PBP, and you are no longer eligible for priority builds.

    And then, in the same turn, the queue moves and you get to build two more ships on the two starbases you mentioned above. Because you were careful about how to spend the PBP, you end up with all those extra new ships.

    This is why I put in red letters “pb1 does not indicate the ship you most want to build.” If you’re a Rebel, the ship you most want to build is always a Rush, and a Rush will always cost you 13. In *rare* circumstances you may want to spend 13 PBP on a Rush, but in my opinion you want that to be a choice you make rather than a default or an accident. Using pbX codes for support ships and not for your main carriers is the key.

    To your final question, the answer is no. You keep spending PBP until your balance is under 21, making you ineligible for priority builds.

    It sounds like what you are trying to do is get as many ships as you can out of the PBP you have earned. That’s exactly what I like to do as well!!

    If you’re still confused, keep asking questions and we will do our best to help you.


  13. That helps a lot. Thank you. How do you manage building support ships with the PBP’s(which also deny your enemies building ships) with building the ship(s) you really want/need? Like say in the scenario above, I get all my support ships built and my PBP’s go below 21, but the 500 ship limit is hit before my Rush gets built in the normal queue. Then next turn let’s say I’m back to over 21 PBPs. I have to “PB” some support ships then hope my big boy gets built in the regular queue. I guess eventually I’ll get my Rush built without spending 13 PBPs. I generally have just put an sdsf in the queue at any starbase that couldn’t build something good – if for no other reason than to deny other players from buidling. But I definitely need to refine my strategy. Thanks again.


  14. Hey again Martem! You’ve got me talking about my single favorite thing in this entire game – managing construction!

    You’ve definitely got the idea so far. This article (and PBPs in general) of course only really matter for the mid-game (after the ship limit).

    So it’s off topic, but here’s some tips for pre-limit construction. First and foremost, build a ship at every starbase every turn. The second most important thing is that you want your fleet at the limit to be as useful as possible for the situation you are in. I agree that Rebels need to have at least one or two Rushes when the limit hits.

    Before the limit, your main drawback is economy. So if you are planning to have two Rushes before the limit, you’ve got to either raise your homeworld to hull tech 10 or find a Humanoid planet. Engines are too expensive to buy six Transwarps for one ship that you can tow. Build your rush with low-tech engines and plan to tow it around with a Tranquility or something. For the beams, use Plasma Bolts or Disruptors. This minimizes the cost that you spend on components and raising tech levels.

    The first Emperor of Nu, Dungeonmaster, has taught me many of the best advanced strategies I know, so I consider myself his pupil. His advice: “After the ship limit is the time you get to design a high-tech fleet.” Those words have helped me immensely. Your six-engine ships don’t need transwarps before the limit.

    So to recap: before the limit, be sure you don’t spend all your money on things you don’t need. The hugest expenses are tech levels and ship components. Be very careful about raising tech levels when building a ship that doesn’t need good engines, beams, and/or tubes. This will help you to get a good useful fleet. Later you get to build awesome ships, but you do have to wait for the queue to roll around before they pop out.

    Oh, BTW, consider raising the hull tech to 2 on your less productive bases and just building a falcon with bad engines and bad beams. You can never have too many falcons!! I should definitely included the falcon in my list of support ships for rebels, since it only costs 1 PBP. If you have more than 20 PBP you can make a falcon appear anywhere … that’s really an incredible ability if you think about it!

    Feel free to come back and keep the conversation going at any time if you need more help or have other ideas!


  15. I finally figured out why it says KP instead of PBP in your combat reports.

    KP are a mark of achievements; PBP are strictly in-game currency. You’d think they’d be the same, but as it happens they’re not. For certain races, captures also count toward achievements but not for PBP.


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