First Turns: The Evil Empire

Most wars are won or lost long before the fighting starts. This series concentrates only on those critical few turns leading up to the Ship Limit as a key to achieving long-term goals necessary for victory.


The Evil Empire fields one of the strongest warships in the Echo Cluster. The Gorbie Class Battlestation is the most massive and powerful battlecarrier available to anyone. The PL21 is a passable hyperspace probe that, when coupled with the Empire’s ability to Dark Sense, gives them the ability to project force intelligently across any cluster. Finally, the Super Star Destroyer is capable of capturing an enemy starbase intact without a battle.

Gorbies can win most one-on-one fights, and have enough cargo capacity to sustain full fighter strength through three full carrier or starbase battles. Standard Empire ships can resupply fighters to their Gorbies freely, which permits their advances to be relentless, forcing enemy fleets to fall back rapidly or engage en masse.

One of the disadvantages of the Imperial fleet is their lack of variety in light or midsized warships. The Super Star Carrier and Cruiser are each solid combat vessels in their own right, if overly heavy for their combat ability, but their only torpedo boat is a low-cargo minelayer, the Star Frigate.

For Evil Empire commanders to be effective late in the war, they must create inexorable economic machines during the opening turns. Before the Ship Limit hits, they should have constructed or queued multiple alchemy ships, several freighters, enough Probes to scan the entire cluster, and as many Gorbies as practicable. It is unlikely for even a highly competent Imperial to have a fighting chance if the Ship Limit is reached before Turn 35.

Rules Of Expansion:

The Empire’s only major economic advantage, Free Fighter construction at every starbase, is double-edged, even crippling in some cases during the early parts of a war, as pre-Limit fighter production burns up minerals that could otherwise be used for ships and starbases. Therefore, unlike with most races, the tactic of spamming starbases early is far less useful and may well even prove highly counterproductive.

Because of the Empire’s customary tax shortage, it is essential for them to take advantage of the tech boosts normally offered by Humanoids, Ghipsoldals, Siliconoids, and (to a far lesser extent) Amphibians. Since their Dark Sense can only locate minerals, direct and rapid exploration is absolutely vital.

It is possible to send light ships with Transwarp engines to be recycled at Humanoid and Siliconoid bases in order to save on technology research; similarly, the Ru25 can be used to transport top-level beam weapons four at a time from Amphibian worlds.

(Remember that in Classic, one can bank a maximum of 20 PBP before the Limit.)

One final note: It can be tempting to send out an early force of Gorbies well before the Ship Limit, particularly as an ill-prepared enemy might well find it difficult to resist such an attacking force. However, it must be remembered that even “free” fighters are extremely expensive, and cost materials perhaps better employed in ship construction. Even so, early conquest can be an excellent method of building momentum as well as delaying the Ship Limit.


  1. Economic: Your best bet for early success is rapid but concealed expansion. Therefore, using your initial freighter as a scout, your next one or two builds should be Large Deep Space Freighters. If your first scout wasn’t your guaranteed ‘good’ natives, the first LDSF should be sent out to one of the others; otherwise, it can drop a large number of colonists where they can do the most good: Exploiting natives and earning you taxes.

    LDSFs should be sent out with at least 100 Supplies and 300 MC, enough to instantly construct 100 Factories on the target planet. 200/600 is often more to the point (when not playing Classic); the freighter can circle back by way of the first world colonized by the Medium and drop 100 instant factories there before heading home. Then, the first to return can go back out with an instant Starbase-In-A-Box kit so as to start generating hyperspace probes and PBP at the earliest possible convenience.
  2. Instant Starbase: The obvious, direct method of exploration is to fly a freighter or large warship across empty space to the next cluster, using its resources and cargo capacity to develop the new area. However, when exploring through Hyperspace, or wanting to keep your presence concealed until you have developed significant strength, this might not be the best option. Instead, we can use the probes themselves.

    Of course, the Pl21 is somewhat restricted, in that its cargohold can only carry 20 each way, and a starbase requires 862 minerals. Some of that cargo will need to be Supplies, and even 19 Colonists is hardly enough to mine out a planet. However, each Pl21 can be Land And Disassembled for 75% of the minerals used in its construction — including engines and beam weapons. Duranium, Molybdenum, and a small amount of Tritanium can be secretly (if not cheaply) transported in this manner.

    Note that this tactic is most useful well before the Ship Limit, when replacement hulls can be freely constructed at any base and the ship slots aren’t being sacrificed unnecessarily.
  3. Gunboat Diplomacy: It is quite difficult to expand rapidly without appearing to be a major threat. Fortunately, this can be used to your advantage.

    Using your Dark Sense in conjunction with your Pl21s, it is a fairly simple matter to acquaint yourself early on with the identity of your neighbors, and launching a task force of Gorbies against an enemy who cannot defend themselves from it can be a solid beginning. More to the point, it also be used as a way to strongly encourage your neighbor to work alongside you rather than against.


Remember the initial goals: multiple alchemy ships, and as many Gorbies as practicable. The first Merlin is almost a simple matter if one makes a point of gathering in Duranium and hauling it back on empty freighters, and hoarding Supplies on nearby worlds makes future construction straightforward enough.

Balancing construction with the ship queue is of vital importance. In Classic, one can spam SDSFs at those secondary starbases with sufficient minerals, but either there or in Standard, setting up a Humanoid base to produce Gorbies and alchemy ships is absolutely essential. Two or more Gorbies per turn is your objective; comparatively, Super Star Destroyers are of secondary importance at best in most early situations — and some Empire players refuse to construct them at all save for special circumstances.

Most early Gorbies will have only low-grade engines and weapons when built at secondary bases, so it’s quite useful to also construct top-end support ships to help tow and sweep when required.


The Evil Empire is one of the most difficult races to shepherd through the opening turns, but the Gorbie Class Battlestation can make them a truly potent foe. In the long term, they can be deadly dangerous against any opponent.

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