Best Foot Forward

Your First Move

A gender-neutral computer voice with hints of a high-class accent speaks through the intercom, "Commander, a medium freighter has been commissioned. Its captain is awaiting orders."

A creolized accent comes from the radio, "Hoy, come in. Dis be Capt'n Johnson o' ECS Twenty-Three Hundredths. The hold be empty. We gutegow. Waiting on you, Bossmang. The 200-Kiloton lady be hungry."
2021 release of the new MDSF image

On Turn 1, your empire controls a single Medium Deep Space Freighter and its first mission has rippling implications throughout the entire game. A well calculated move is required to set a strong pace so you’d better “put your best foot forward.” It equates to setting your feet in the blocks at the starting line of a hundred metre sprint. The one in the front is called your power foot and it generates a hundred percent of your forward momentum; your starting freighter is your Planets power foot and it determines the speed and direction of your economic develop.

For a general analysis of the Medium Deep Space Freighter see our series Insights In Sight:

Dossier A4-111X

First-Turn Loadouts

What follows is a selection of plans for your Turn-1 freighter. The purpose of each depends on game style, which race you control, where your Homeworld is located, and how the surrounding planets are arranged.

Blind Man

CARGO: 40 supplies + 160 clans + 120 MegaCredits

On occasion, the Host arranges your cluster in such a way that it becomes extremely difficult to make a decision; therefore, you are forced to randomly pick a planet and launch. If you are unsure of what to expect, this load is a dependable and inexpensive choice.

Regardless of what you discover, the Blind Man is tasked with dropping all clans on your first planet and building 40 factories. If you’re lucky, there will be at least 1 to 3 million natives and your extra clans earn some early money.

If you anticipate the need to save more cash, divide this load between 4 planets with each one receiving 40 clans and the materials to build 10 factories.

Dogfight Quick Grab

CARGO: 105 supplies + 95 clans + 690 MegaCredits

The best dogfighters creatively apply their race’s assets and many actions greatly differ from those in a regular game. Your freighter’s first move requires the same out-of-the-box thinking. The Quick Grab rapidly produces three defensible and invisible mineral sources.

On three separate planets, construct 15 defense outposts and 20 mining facilities. The latter cheaply establishes mineral production while the former hides your position. As an added bonus, these small colonies act as ambush traps for enemy freighters and scouts.

Settler of Catan

CARGO: 110 supplies + 90 clans + 600 MegaCredits

Most Homeworlds have at least one cluster of planets within 2 turns. One-lane supply routes are also unfortunately common. Use the Settler of Catan when you see that your freighters are going to be forced through a single planet to reach a populated grouping. This load establishes a lone colony which is at once balanced and productive.

Drop the entire load on one planet and build 80 factories, 11 mines, and 19 defense structures. On the following turn, you choose to build as many as 42 extra mines or save the supplies and MCs for colonizing other planets. This new settlement promptly produces supplies destined for other colonies, digs up fuel to keep your cargo moving, and defends against aggressive econ raiders.

Seven Dwarves

CARGO: 120 supplies + 80 clans + 600 MegaCredits

If you are playing a carrier race or you anticipate a need for large quantities of minerals, you want this load to go out on Turn 1. The Seven Dwarves’ function is to stimulate early mineral extraction.

On the colony’s first day, erect 40 supply buildings and drill 80 dwarf tunnels. If the planet happens to have a huge quantity of minerals, send a second freighter with the clans and resources to increase the mines. Even if you don’t build more, 80 mines ensures the planet has surface minerals on Turns 3 to 5.

Industrial Revolution

CARGO: 100 supplies + 100 clans + 700 MCs

This load is a commonly used alternative to the Blind Man. The Industrial Revolution is a balanced move which creates plenty of minerals and bundles of supplies.

Whatever you find on Turn 2, drop the entire contents of your IR shipment. On Turn 3, raise 100 factories and follow that up with 100 Turn-4 mines. This MDSF package establishes an economically powerful settlement, but be wary of its vulnerability to Sensor Sweeps and raids.


CARGO: 120 supplies + 80 clans + 440 MegaCredits

In general, empires with low mass hulls require less Duranium, Tritanium, and Molybdenum than those building heavy carriers. In addition, these races are obligated to launch early strikes on neighbours. If you have small ships and plan to attack before Turn 10, the Nearsighted load is what you need. It is designed to save money and produce small amounts of minerals on multiple planets.

Remember the numbers 20/40 as a guide for what to build. On two separate planets, you drop enough equipment to construct 20 factories and 40 mines. By Turn 4, you have at least two planets funneling resources into ships and ammunition.

Roman Roads

CARGO: 160 supplies + 40 clans + 640 MegaCredits

This tactic serves best if your Homeworld is positioned at the end of a long string of planets. The purpose of Roman Roads is to establish essential pockets of fuel to maintain supply routes.

When the MDSF arrives, drop everything. On the following turn, construct 20 mines if the mining rate is 50% or below and 40 mines if the rate is above 50%. On the same turn and after you build the mines, stuff your cargo hold with all but 1 clan, pack the remaining space with supplies and MCs, and fly to the next dot on the starmap. These mines will gradually erode, but they still accomplish their primary purpose: To pave a byway for all future mineral hubs and spacedocks.

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Make It So

Clearly, you have many options for your Turn-1 Transwarp Drive 200-Kiloton lady. Don’t just follow instructions; be flexible! Evaluate your starting position, study the local planet formations, consider what your race needs, and plan out how you want to develop over the next 5 to 10 turns. Choose the wrong cargo for that freighter and the Fat Lady might stop singing earlier than you want. Put your best foot forward, Bossmang!

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the journey! — TS

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