Strategy Guide by Jeff Thomas


2013 MAY 10
G+ Jeff Thomas

@wfmcgillicuddy - I’d love to at some point, but I need to wrap up a few of my ongoing games first - this has been taking too much of my life as it is.


2013 MAY 10
G+ Michael Lang

Jeff, I’ve been using the river of ships idea as well, and I too decided warp gates were useless. Latency is not important. Throughput is. Honestly I thought that what you call “river of ships” was just “the way people move ships to their front line”. It seemed natural. How do other people build? Concentrate on only a few stars, then build gates to deliver from those stars faster?


2013 MAY 11
G+ Rob C

It certainly is a ridiculous advantage, but it is also up to the other players to realise this and gang up to counter that threat. If they don’t or cannot, it’ll be a quick losing game for them.


2013 MAY 11
G+ Jeff Thomas

+stephen mcarthur - I agree that AFK players are one of the game’s weaknesses at this point, but I wrote this with an eye to the game as it is, not the game as I wish it was.


2013 MAY 14
G+ Jeff Thomas

First post updated to reflect the outcomes of all my completed real-time games.


2013 MAY 14
G+ Jeff Thomas

+stephen mcarthur - When you compress the timeframe (say 1 turn = 12 hours) it becomes much harder to do pull off the precision sort of actions (raiding, surprise attacks, river of ships redirection in response to events, taking many worlds in the same tick) that give this approach a lot of its power. In a 1 turn / 1 hour game it would probably work pretty well, though obviously the potential for taking advantage of the element of surprise would be lessened.

Regarding terraforming: I have always held (though perhaps not with sufficient clarity) that terraforming is generally the 3rd most valuable tech (after weapons and manufacturing). Under the right circumstances (in particular, with limited expansion room, or in a long term industrial production race), it may be as valuable or more valuable than either of them, particularly in the early game when cash is at a premium, but all things being equal, I would still recommend researching manufacturing/weapons as a priority, and keeping your terraforming up to date via trade as much as possible. When the late games comes around, I would much rather trail my opponents by one or two ranks in terraforming (assuming that I have at least terraforming 3-4) than in either weapons or manufacturing.

Regarding warp-gates: I’m still pretty marginal about warp gates during peacetime or in a closely matched conflict, both because of the expense (especially if you need that money to offset lower terraforming) and because they can become a real defensive liability in a variety of ways - consider the potential of seizing a warp gate deep within enemy territory with a raider fleet, or seizing a gate at the front in order to gain defensive advantage over all incoming reinforcements - I’ve done both to good effect. That said, warp gates are definitely very handy for accelerating the conclusion of conflicts once the outcome is no longer in serious doubt, and for redirecting your ships to a new front afterwards.


2013 MAY 14
G+ Jeff Thomas

As a follow up to the above, my ending weapons/manufacturing/terraforming tech levels in my last four victorious games (all that I can check on), and my number of WGAs built (note - built, not taken and used).

From left to right: Weapons/Manufacturing/Terraforming/WGA

Game 1: 11/8/5/0
Game 2: 9/7/4/0
Game 3: 9/7/3/0
Game 4: 10/8/3/1

If anyone is wondering why my weapons tech consistently ends up a few levels higher than my manufacturing, conisder that the value of tech is substantially impacted by the timeframe in which it pays off in terms of advantage, and weapons tech has the shortest timeframe of all.

Thus, I generally go on a weapon research binge once I spot a decisive moment coming up. Not only does this boost my strength immediately (it’s almost like teleporting a bunch of extra ships into place!), it tends to force my opponents onto the same track, limiting their options, and it helps to ensure that once I’ve won the critical moment, my opponent(s) will have less chance to come back. Pushing a tech like that is less optimal in the long term than manufacturing/terraforming - but if I already won the game in the short term, who cares?


2013 MAY 14
G+ Jeff Thomas

Updated the guide (the first post) to increase emphasis on terraforming as an early game option, and to incorporate some of the above thoughts on warp gates and the shifting value of tech depending on time remaining in the game.


2013 MAY 14
G+ Jeff Thomas

EDIT - 5/14/13 - Warp gates have just been made cheaper (again). This may well make them more viable than this guide suggests. I will update after I’ve played a complete game with the new pricing.


2013 MAY 21
G+ Daniel D’Cotta

Terraforming also make warp gates cheaper. Cheap warp gates makes defense very easy (in the late game). They allow you to respond to most attacks by building a pair of warp gates to reinforce any planet under attack before the enemy gets there. INSANE!

I often keep enough money to buy 2 pairs of warp gates in reserve (which if not needed get used to upgrade Economy).

Even without warp gates, terraforming is just so good cause it makes even your crappy worlds as good as your opponents’ homeworlds.

I start with Terraforming and Weapons, then add Manufacturing once I have more industry. These 3 are my focus.


2013 MAY 21
G+ Jeff Thomas

@SilentNSly - Sounds like a pretty solid strategy now that warp-gates are much cheaper. I’m taking a break from the game right now, so I’m glad someone has provided some info on the impact of that. :slight_smile:


2013 JUN 2
G+ Werner Hahn

I agree with your entire post … but the tech/upgrade part (surprise surprise :slight_smile: ) I’ve found success in the investment strategy.

I always build banking first. The only thing more advantageous in the beginning of the game than weapons is $$$. You then take the defensive bonus in the beginning of the game and defend as minimally as possible to keep all your stars. Upgrade in the inner stars just in case (makes the target smaller). I only buy science up to about 3 or 4 in the first few days. Trade for everything else. Trade with anyone.

Thing is, if I can successfully defend myself and have an economic advantage over all others, I will eventually also have an advantage in everything else by proxy.

I will also argue that your focus on weapons in the Long-run is pointless. You end with 11 weapons, but if I have 9 weapons and an economic advantage I win (assuming similar fleet size and manufacturing). I will at this point make constantly more fleets than you and use my defensive advantage until the numbers are insurmountable. An 11 to 9 advantage is practically nothing. Its not even as bad as a 4 to 3 advantage in the mid-game.

Terraforming takes over banking after Banking level 3 or 4 in normal games.

For the same reasons, experimentation is exceptionally useful up to level 3 as well. Its an investment strategy. Try not to trade for things that you are close to getting already and watch research for easy pickups thanks to experimentation.

I will say, you are right about manufacturing. If you can’t trade for it, build it so you are never too far behind.

But in a defensive game, if you invest wisely and keep what you have, the investment strategy will almost always work … until you are too big and everyone gangs up on you.


2013 JUN 2
G+ Jeff Thomas

+Werner Hahn - Thank you very much for sharing your approach in such detail - it sounds like it could be very successful in the right hands. :slight_smile:

However, I think you are mistaken in calling my tendency towards a late-game weapons focus “pointless”. The criteria for me embarking on such a sprint is a game being at a decisive moment, and once such a moment has been won, there typically won’t BE a long run.

Consider the following scenario:

Stage 1:

You and I, through judicious use of our respective strategies, have become last two active players in a game. We have about same number of ships, planets, and planetary improvements (let’s say 100 manufacturing and 5000 ships each) and 9 ranks in weapons and manufacturing techs. In other words, we’re basically evenly matched.

For simplicity, I’m going to ignore that we are probably slightly divergent in other tech areas and that we are both both going to keep building improvements, because that makes the math much harder and changes little in the short run, which is what I’m looking at.

At this point, we are both producing 1400 ships per day and reinforcing our fleets on our respective borders to the best of our abilities, and you have begun research on manufacturing 10 and I on weapons 10.

Stage 2:

You gain manufacturing 10. Under our starting conditions, you would now produce 1500 ships per day, while I would produce 1400.

However, I gain weapons 10, and can now inflict almost even casualties on you on the offensive (you still get an extra round), and 22% (11 vs. 9) more (plus the extra round) on the defensive.

I immediately launch an offensive against two of your weakest border worlds, and manage to capture two of your industry, at the cost of 200 of your ships, and 220 of mine (thanks to your extra rounds). I am now producing 1428 ships per day, while you are producing 1470.

At the end of the day, you have gone from 5000 ships to about 6270, I have gone from 5000 to 6208 (62 less than you). (Ignoring the question of when in the day industry traded hands for the sake of simplicity).

Stage 3:

You gain manufacturing 11, I gain weapons 11. You now produce 1568 ships per day. I now inflict 10% more casualties on offense (less the extra round) and 33% more casualties on defense (plus the extra round).

Naturally, I launch an immediate offensive, with large fleets striking at your three best worlds within reach, of which I secure the less valuable two, gaining a further four industry between them. During this time, you recapture one of my previously taken worlds, recovering one industry. Projecting casualties at this point becomes tricky (because I don’t know how big the defensive fleets on each world were), but given that we’ve been massing our forces, let’s say 2000 ships engaged on each side - 1500 on your defending worlds, and 500 to your attacking fleet, 1800 to my attacking fleets (let’s say 1000 ships to the most valuable planet and 400 each to the other two), and 200 to my defending world. Let’s further assume that you were on the ball enough to pull the bulk of your forces back to the world you held, and left only 1 ship each to defend the worlds you lost.

If I’m doing my math correctly, your attacking fleet suffers 276 casualties to my 200. My attacking fleets on the worlds I took suffered a combined total of 20 casualties while inflicting 2, and my failed attacking fleet suffered 1000 casualties, while inflicting 1089 casualties.

I am now producing 1470 ships/day, you are producing 1520. You have 6699 ships, I have 6638 (61 less than you).

Stage 4

At this point, I imagine we would both start researching the tech that the other has an advantage in, because the development time is so much less, so you gain weapons 10, I gain manufacturing 10. (You are welcome to game out what happens if you go for manufacturing 12 instead, but I assure you, it’s much worse.)

I am now producing 1575 ships to your 1520, and drop back to inflicting almost even casualties on you on the offensive (you still get an extra round), and 22% (11 vs. 9) more (plus the extra round) on the defensive.

I launch a major attack on the world I failed to take last time, and lesser attacks on two of your other worlds. You hold the line, and I only take one of the lesser worlds, gaining 2 industry thereby.

Assuming similar force patterns to last time (1000 attacking ships to the valuable world, 400 to each of the others, but tthat you defended the one I took to the best of your ability (say, 350 ships), that leaves us at:

1000 casualties vs 990 at the big world you held, 400 vs 385 at the lesser world you held, and 363 vs. 350 on the world I took.

I am now producing 1605 ships per day and have 6465 ships. You are producing 1488 ships per day, and have 6462 (3 less than me).

Stage 5

I gain manufacturing 11. If you gain weapons 11, we’re back on even footing, except that I am now producing 1712 ships per day to your 1488. If you go for manufacturing 12 (which will take you much longer) instead, you will produce 1581 ships, and still have inferior weapons.

At this point, the war is probably over - the snowball has started rolling down the hill, and you have no real way of stopping its momentum absent a mistake on my part.

Obviously the above is a gross simplification - I assumed that the effects of capturing science and economic improvements, and of building additional improvements of all types, would be a wash. I also assumed that you would not be foolish enough to launch a major counter-offensive while I had a big defensive advantage (many players would), that I would only manage to capture relatively low-value planets, and that I would attack only a small number of your worlds at a much slower pace than is normal for me. Any reasonable set of deviations from the above assumptions would almost certainly work out in my favor.

The point is clear - by sprinting on weapons tech at a critical moment, you can gain a short-term edge more than potent enough to offset the long-term gains made by researching any other tech during the same span, and thus decide the outcome of the game in your favor.

I will also mention that in a less-balanced scenario, a similar strategy can allow one to size enough stars quickly enough to win before otherwise superior opponent(s) can respond. Since a player who falls meaningfully behind against a long-term investor type enemy is never going to catch up, that makes a weapons sprint one of the only possible routes to victory (assuming that sufficient allies to take the long term investor down through other means are not available, of course).


2013 AUG 9
G+ mtnbiker78

I just started playing this game today so I’m a complete noob. This article was a great read. I also enjoyed the commentary and hearing different strategies and tactics. thanks for the great tips and ideas everyone!


2013 AUG 9
G+ mtnbiker78

Hey Jeff, can you give more specifics when you go raiding?

How many ships to you typically use? Do you have a minimum?

What parameters do you look for before you launch the offensive?

Any other tips you can share would be greatly appreciated.


2013 AUG 9
G+ Jeff Thomas

I haven’t played in a bit, and I’m not sure if any important changes have happened in my absence, so take the below with a grain of salt, but:

My goal in any war is to control the tempo of events and keep things focused on my opponents territory. Outside of either a stalemate of stockpiling ships on border worlds or a situation where I’m on the wrong side of a serious power disparity, I would say that the time to be raiding in war is pretty much always.

I generally try to raid with enough force that they have to deploy “real” fleets to stop me - eg. they can’t simply defeat my raiders with the passive ship production of the worlds I’m attacking. What exactly that means depends on where you are in the game and what your relative tech levels are.

My main tip for raiding is that your ships should always be moving - your main advantage is being a tick ahead of the fleets trying to stop you (because they can’t see where you’re going when you leave a world until you’re an hour out), and if they pin you down, you’ll get wiped out. Don’t try to hold territory with a raider - take a planet, move on. If you’re going to raid successfully, you have to be able to check in often enough that your raiding fleets never sit idle. If the player you’re raiding is more active than you, you’ve got a problem.

The one place you might stand and (at least pretend to) fight as a raider is if you take a world with serious science or industry - in such cases, my advice is to hold the line until their fleets are only a few hours out, then run for the hills (leaving behind a ship or two to exploit the defenders’ advantage, of course). With a bit of luck, while they’re bringing their forces to bear, your other raiders (you have more than one raider fleet going, right?) can take advantage elsewhere, and you’ll get maximum benefit from the world in the meantime.

Also, regarding science worlds - the optimum time to take those is just before science “ticks”. In a 24 hour game, there is only one time of day when the ownership of a science lab matters - if you take a science world at hour 23 and lose it at hour 2 of the next day, it’s like you held it for 24 hours.

Finally, while it is an important aspect of the game, be very careful not to commit so much of your force into raiding that your main fleets can’t stop a general offensive, should your opponent choose to start one. Taking their worlds temporarily is only useful if they’re not taking your worlds permanently at the same time.


2013 AUG 9
G+ mtnbiker78

Thanks a whole bunch Jeff. Really great tips and info!
It’s reassuring that the ideas and strategies I’ve come up with before even seeing this doc or talking to you have merit. Now it’s time to go ransack my opponents stars! :wink:


2014 JAN 10
G+ Dave Grainger Moderator

I played in a game recently where the start was a single star. The starting star was by far my most powerful throughout the game, a bit like a power station.
I realised that a large number of my carriers bore the name of my starting star and used this knowledge to identify my opponents home stars, which I then targeted.
Be aware of this any make use of the ability to rename your carriers or home star if you see this happening.


Wow, thanks @xjhdexter


I’m honored that you found this valuable enough to be worth the effort migrating, discussion thread and all. Thanks, @xjhdexter!