So I’m somewhat new to this game, however I have played in a couple of worlds and I’m simply thinking about what to do toward the beginning of the game. Would it be a good idea for me to zero in on economy,industry or science? I generally research Experimentation, is seriously mind-blowing? Are there any systems to us so I will get an early advantage yet won’t be a significant objective for every other person.
It does somewhat depend on situation, but there are a few good choices and a few that rarely make sense.
First on your spending patterns… it is rarely worth investing much in industry early on, the extra ships you get will rarely if ever make a difference. Some people like to go full econ on the first prod to give them an income boost and that’s a valid strategy. An alternative is to prioritise science to try and guarantee a tech before 2nd production: to do so you’d need to start with at least 3 science and go up to at least 5 (timing matters) before end of first prod. Generally going very high science only makes sense if you have some close by and very nice stars to build the extra science on, and you should calculate it because this is only a good strategy if it lets you hit exp at an earlier prod. Something in between the two is also possible (e.g. starting with 2 science going up to 3/4) and can be good, especially as it will allow you to capitalise on your first experimentation roll if it’s useful. I usually go the balanced route in 64p.
Tech wise the top two picks are experimentation or weapons - weapons is more important in dense games where you are likely to be at a border in only a few days (64p). If you go weapons, a mixed science/economy start is more useful as the usefulness of the tech isn’t so tied to production and you can use it for some early aggression. But if you aren’t going to be fighting right away, the tech gains from experimentation make it worth it as an early tech (it’s usefulness drops rapidly). You should calculate how much science you need to get it by 2nd or 3rd prod and use that to work out your investment.
Range MAY be useful if it unlocks a lot of stars, and banking is the 3rd most generally useful if for some reason you manage to get weapons/exp by a different route (or maybe roll it in first production).
Finally, consider skipping bad stars that are hard for others to reach. Early on, stars with <5 resources are basically useless. Better to press ahead and grab good stars then come back for them later. Obviously, if you need them to get to other stars then it’s still worth getting them… but there’s not much point having the star until you have t2-3.
Oh of course you also want to consider your carriers and expansion. In almost all circumstances you WILL want to buy additional carriers (unless you have a REALLY crap start), at least enough to quickly secure any decent stars in range. Usually you’ll be looking to send them out with 5 or 10 ships - 5 is enough to defend a star against any initial exploration ships they happen to come across (this number may change if you’re in a game with a higher starting level or ship count). Again, skip close-by crappy stars unless you need to route through them to secure the good ones quickly.
When the game actually starts, you’ll want to map out the routes to any border stars that an opponent may be closer to them. Ideally you want to do this before the first tick happens so you can make decisions. If the opponent is closer to the star, DO NOT send ships there - you will likely just lose them as early battles favour the defender heavily.
Also when the game starts that’s when to start looking out at your neighbours for allies and targets. How many and where to look for them depends a lot of game settings. Again in 64p, I tend to classify everyone within 3 players of me into (potential) “food” (this person will likely AFK and be a walkover), friend (good candidate for alliance) or foe (don’t want to ally, buy will likely be a harder fight).
If you can secure a couple allies early on to collaborate with techs on you’ll get a strong early boost. Be careful when choosing allies though as you want to make sure you have a group that can share techs easily (particularly if trade scan is on) and give secure shared but still allowing you all plenty of opportunity to expand. And of course: you want to choose decent allies and it can be very hard to work this out early on unless you got lucky and started near someone you know from past games. Often when making early alliances it can be good to consider if as well as collaborating on techs, is there a nice food target you can share early on - a shared meal is a good basis for friendship. If you don’t have easy targets nearby, you’ll REALLY want to consider if there is an ally you can make to gang up on another target. Early wars are the most “balanced” in terms of ship count and can be bloody, so I would rarely want to fight a strong player on an even basis (e.g. 1vs1 or 2vs2): either get strong on easy targets first, or gang up on a hard one.
Honestly, getting the early diplomacy right and having a good read on the situation is far MORE important than optimising your spending patterns, particularly in the larger games.