This thread is a tutorial and guide for Anacreon Betas I & II for the period called "Era 2", which ran from April 2014 to March 2017. An FAQ is a few posts down. Attributions are at the bottom.
This guide does not reflect the Era 3 rebalancing of units and addition of jump beacons! Tables relating to units and strategy suggestions are out of date!
If you are a new player, read the official Quick Start Guide and then read my Beta II starting guide.
This guide is intended to be a comprehensive reference. You can read straight through it to use it as a tool to learn how to play the game, but it's a little wordy. I recommend using it by doing keyword searches on this page when you have questions about how game systems work.
Some of the charts in this thread give masses in "tons". These should actually say "kilotons", the default mass unit.
The terms "labor", "industry", "work units" and "WUs" are interchangeable. They refer to the unnamed resource produced by planet populations and used by structures to make resources and units. "Work units" is the name used in-game but the older names may be seen on some of the charts.
This guide reflects my personal biases and is not definitive. I urge everyone to explore and find new strategies and approaches to playing the game. Hussell's thread “Gameplay Tips” inspired me to make this. Many strategies were initially suggested by other players. Some information is derived from the Anacreon Core Library. The license for redistribution of information derived from the Anacreon Core Library may be read here. Special thanks to MaxCPP for corrections; to CaleyM, Wayward Device, and many others for testing and reporting findings; and to Stargazer and lazygun for finding workarounds for the graviton launcher bug. Some of the comments in the thread refer to earlier versions of the guide, since this post is regularly updated.
Most recent update: Mar 5, 2017.
- If you only see the Alpha game link when you log in to Multiverse, reload anacreon.kronosaur.com in your browser window and the Beta I and Beta II game link will be visible. Beta II is the most active.
- Don't build tech programs on your capital until you have a chronimium processor planet that it can import from, or you won't be able to build jumpships.
- Don't switch to a different doctrine until you have at least one standalone jumpship yard and one jumpship autofac, or you'll run out of jumptransports.
- If you have 100+ planets and >2 sector capitals (4 or more capitals total), you must switch to the Law & Order doctrine or sector capitals will randomly secede.
- The "graviton launcher" and "double capital"/"ghost empire" bugs have recently been fixed. You may see reference to these in other posts and threads, but you don't have to worry about them anymore.
- Avoid civil wars: don't raise planets up to high TLs right away; be sure that your planets are supplied with trillum; be sure your consumer goods autofacs aren't being asked to export more than they can produce.
- If a planet goes into civil war, use transports to drop infantry on it. You want ~4x as many ground forces as there are rebel forces, shown under the planet's "News" tab.
- Civil wars won't end if people keep dying from starvation or survival resource shortages.[/color]
The FAQ is here.
Errata: autocannons do not fire at ships below them. "Needs/unit" should be read as T = trillum, H = hexacarbide, C = chronimium
- The Reliant is TL 6-8, and the Vanguard is TL 6-7. TL 5 yards only build Stingers.
- The Hammerhead costs 525 WUs.
- The Typhon ramjet starcruiser has a D:600 R:10 missile, 3800 armor, power 8143. Unlike its starship equivalent the Megathere, it doesn't have missile defense. All starcruisers are terrible, don't build them.
The first and third columns give the cost of building the ship itself. The second column and fourth columns give the cost of building the ship PLUS the cost of the ship's components. "Supply-chain-inclusive" means that the resource cost of producing other resources is also considered. For example, it takes 1 unit of trillum to produce 1 unit of hexacarbide. This extra unit of trillum is not considered in the base cost of the ship, but it IS included in the supply-chain-inclusive cost.
Errata: Hammerhead uses 8 hexacarbide, 10 aetherium.
Component Resource Costs:
Total Supply-chain-inclusive Labor Costs (includes mineral extraction labor costs):
(Mass units are in kilotons.)
Ships and defense masses
Structure build times
You start with one planet - this planet is the capital of your empire.
When you click on your capital you'll see 5 tabs at the bottom of the screen. These give info about the planet. The action buttons on the right will change depending on the tab that you're currently in.
Overview gives general information about the planet.
Sovereign: This is your empire. If you click on another player empire's planet (on the map, these are either red dots or planet images with the name given in red text, depending on how far zoomed in you are) you'll see that empire's name. Worlds belonging to no player are "independent" and can be conquered and added to your empire without any repercussions.
Designation: What the planet is assigned to do. When you add a planet to your empire, you assign it a single production task, like building jumpships or mining trillum for use on other planets. What you can order a planet to do varies depending on its location, resources and tech level; see the planetary tech tables at the end of this guide.
Tech level or 'TL' determines what tasks a planet can perform and what resources it can make use of, and what kinds of consumer goods the population will consume. Higher TL = more WUs / person, lower max population, and more consumer goods demand. (Labor and consumer goods will be explained a little bit later in this section).
Space forces and ground forces are estimates of the strength of all units currently stationed on the planet. Ships and planetary defenses are "space forces" while infantry are "ground forces". Some force comparisons are deceptive: a seemingly weaker basic jumpship fleet will almost always win against "stronger" jumpcruiser fleets since jumpcruisers use missiles and basic jumpships have an ability that protects them from missiles.
Social order is the population's satisfaction with your rule. It doesn't affect anything unless it gets really low and people start "rebelling". See the "Social Order" section below for more information.
Population is the number of people living on the planet. More people = more WUs, but also more need for consumer goods. If there are two numbers here, the number in brackets with the arrow next to it is the planet's maximum population and indicates that the population is increasing or decreasing towards this. All planets have a finite max population they can support. The max population depends on TL, world type, and structures; these are discussed in "Planets". Population slowly increases to a planet's current max as long as the planet can get enough consumer goods. As in other space 4X games, population can increase much faster than in real life (e.g. doubling in one day.)
Efficiency affects work unit production. It's not a a flat multiplier; a world at 90% efficiency does not not produce 9x as much labor as the same world at 10% efficiency. Efficiency decreases every time a planet is conquered, suffers resource shortages, or gets redesignated (changing doctrine counts as redesignation for capitals). Otherwise it slowly increases to 100%.
To the right is a listing of all units on the planet, the world type, and the mineral resource deposits on the planet. These are discussed a little later.
Button actions available in the Overview tab are:
Deploy lets you move space units up from the planet to form a new fleet.
Import from lets you establish a trade route from another planet you own.
On any planet other than your capital, you'd see another button, Designate, which changes the planet's designation. You can't directly redesignate your imperial capital.
If another player has a fleet is orbiting your capital (a little red shape to the left of the planet), you'll also see:
Attack, which orders all your units on a planet and in fleets orbiting it to attack another player's fleet or fleets at that planet. Space combat takes place in orbit around planets. Combat involves both ships and planetary defenses (giant laser cannons, nuclear missiles, etc). Attacks by fleets against other fleets when orbiting worlds that are independent or owned by a third party only involve ships; defenses won't get involved. Fleets that are losing automatically try to escape combat; you may need to order multiple attacks to completely annihilate an enemy. Defenses can't escape combat, so they fight to the death.
Very rarely, you may have another option available from this tab, Missiles. This button lets you fire jumpmissiles against fleets of ships moving through space (this is the one exception to the all-combat-in-orbit rule) or orbiting other planets. Only citadel planets can build jumpmissiles, but planets that got redesignated can fire any missiles that they have left over. Each jumpmissile generates 16 warheads that do 100 damage each, and require four times as much interception power (two starfrigates or four jumpships) to intercept. Fleets moving through space can't intercept missiles and will take full damage.
The Structures tab lists all the ways work units are used on the planet.
Most structures are are built and demolished automatically on planets based on demand for resources, so you don't have to worry about them too much. Some structures are manually built by the player.
In each box there will be a % and a smaller number to the right of the %. The big number is the % of the planet's total Work Unit pool being allocated to the structure (allocation is automatic for most structures), and the small number is the number of WUs being used by the structure. Work Units are generated by population and increase with population, efficiency, and tech level.
Most structures convert WUs into resources or units, sometimes consuming other resources to do so.
A planet's labor pool isn't a fixed value; fewer WUs are available overall when the labor pool has to be divided between many structures. Planets generate the most labor when all WUs are going to one structure. This is not the same as "efficiency", which is a specific planet-wide modifier on labor production that is affected by how recently a planet was conquered (and a few other things). To get the most WUs out of your planets, use trade routes to import needed resources from other planets instead of producing everything on the same planet.
The planet's designated task is performed by the structure in the upper left of this tab. Your capital's primary structure is Fleet HQ. Clicking on it moves you to another tab which shows how the WUs assigned to HQ get used to make units, and allows you you can change how this labor gets allocated. A planet designated as a trillum extractor would have the trillum extractor structure in this position. Your capital probably currently has a trillum extractor structure located somewhere else on the Structure tab, automatically producing enough trillum to supply your consumer goods autofac, hexacarbide foundry and Fleet HQ. All these structures produce resources or units that require trillum.
Most structures other than the primary structure work automatically and you can't directly change when they appear or how many WUs are assigned to them. You can directly control how many WUs (as a % of total labor pool) get assigned to defense structures from the Structures tab.
The only Button actions available in the Structures tab is Build
A few structures are manually built. Building structures only takes time, not resources or WUs. Planetary defense structures, habitats and technology programs are manually built. They are discussed in-depth in the "Structures" section further down.
The Production tab lists resources and units being produced and/or consumed on the planet.
Planets use WUs to produce the mineral resources and consumer goods needed to run their primary and defense structures. Ship components, which are also resources, usually can't be produced on the same planet that uses them. Your planets will be more productive if they use trade routes to import resources from other planets. Trade routes can only export the products of the primary structure on the exporting planet. Trade hubs will export any resource that they can import.
The quantities given in the boxes are resources' production, import, export, and use on the planet during the previous watch. Any quantity followed by a numbers in [brackets] indicates a shortage- the planet wanted to consume the bracketed amount but only had the first amount available. Consumer and survival goods shortages create an alert message at the planet where they occur, since they cause social unrest and lead to deaths and civil war. Alerts are buggy in the beta- they aren't marked with the time at which the shortage occurred, and they stack for every watch that a shortage recurs. If there's a shortage when you're not playing, you'll likely have to click though multiple alerts stacked over the same planet.
Resources which could be produced or imported by the planet (through a preexisting trade route) but are not currently needed appear as empty boxes. Resources and units present on the planet but not actively suppliable- that is, resources which can't be produced or imported by the planet- are not listed and can only be seen from the "deploy" option on the overview tab. For example, if you used transports to drop jumpdrives onto a planet that doesn't have a jumpship autofac or jumpship yard, you wouldn't see them on this tab. A planet can't use a resource not listed on the production screen, so (for example) a world without hexacarbide deposits can't build ships unless imports hexacarbide through a trade route from a foundry planet, even if there is a stockpile of hexacarbide on the planet. However, once a trade route is established, any stockpile will always be pulled from before more of the resource starts to get imported or produced.
The Production tab has no options
This is the tab for your planet's primary structure, so its name varies between planets.
For your capital right now, the primary structure is the Fleet HQ.
This tab can also be reached by clicking on the structure in the "Structures" tab. The Fleet HQ produces units- spaceships to attack planets and infantry to capture them. Specifically, it can produce four different kinds of jumpships plus basic infantry. Later on, you can have your capital build different units; this is discussed in the "Doctrines" section.
This tab has no button options
The Empire tab gives info about your empire.
This tab is only on imperial capitals. You can see it for other players by clicking on their capitals (once your explorer fleets have found them). It gives the age of the empire, doctrine, number of planets, total population, and average tech level. It also gives:
Imperial might, a (bad) estimate of an empire's strength given as a % of your own. You always have an IM of 100, so you can only compare your might to other players' by looking at their empire tab. IM is based on population, so an empire with lower IM than you may be much stronger, or a bigger empire much weaker.
If a player tries to invade a planet of another player whose IM is less than about 50% of his/her own, the invader's own planets suffer social unrest and even go into civil war. Attacking other players' fleets can also trigger social unrest (it'll warn you of this when you go to order the attack). You can attack the planets and fleets of empires that are close to your own IM with no penalty, and vice versa. You can attack fleets orbiting worlds you control for no penalty, regardless of IM. You can also fire jumpmissiles at any fleet with no repercussions
Risk of secession is the danger that one of your sector capitals might secede and become the capital of a new AI empire. This won't be an issue until you have sector capitals and a lot of planets.
To the right of these is a list of all the unit types in your empire and how many you have. You can only see this for other players if their capital is within the vision range of one of your planets or fleets for more than one watch.
Button actions available in the Overview tab:
Doctrine changes the units your capital and sector capitals build. Doctrines get their own section later on.
Abdicate dissolves your empire. All your planets go independent and you are ejected from the game.
If you are looking at another players capital, a different button will be visible from this tab:
Message lets you send a message to another player. Messages sent to you appear as alerts on your capital. Once you close a message, you can't retrieve it. You can't send messages to other players until you find their capital, but you can try to talk to them by renaming planets and fleets near them and hoping that they notice.
That's it for the planet tabs. The next sections describe game concepts.
The game clock is at the top of the screen under your empire name. A minute in real-time is a "watch", an hour is a "period", and a day is a "cycle"; that's about an earth year in the game universe. The first number is the number of cycles that the game has been running. New games start at cycle 4021; the original Anacreon game (from 1987) was "Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021".
The next two numbers are a 24-hour clock. The game refreshes every minute, with a few seconds during refresh when interface elements like buttons are unresponsive. During refresh, commands won't go through immediately for things like trade route designation and fleet movement. The length of the refresh period may depend on your empire's size, your computer's processing power, how many other players are active, and the stability and speed of your internet connection.
The size of a world's icon on the map indicates current population, not physical size. Worlds grow and shrink! The maximum population a world can support is highest at Tech Level 5; TL1 and 10 worlds support low populations. Most types of worlds can build habitat improvements at higher TLs to increase the maximum supportable population. Habitable worlds support 11 billion people at TL 8 with all hab structures; hazardous worlds max out at around 8.5 billion people at TL 7. Desert and Empyreal worlds max out around 9 billion at TL 5.
"Habitat" is where in space this planet type will occur. Black square is open space; "N"s are bright and dark nebulas.
Mineral abundances given here are averages for planet type; individual planets vary but will always include the same mineral types as others in their class.
Trillum is usually abundant on desert and fiery worlds; barren, desert, chthonic and underground worlds are the most likely to have abundant hexacarbide. Planets with abundant chronimium are rare. Aetherium is abundant mostly in light nebulas and chtholon mostly in dark nebulas, but both resources appear in both nebula types.
Fully habitable worlds- ocean, underground and earthlike - support the highest max populations. Ocean, earthlike and desert worlds get a 100% bonus to food production (they produce more food for the same amount of WUs). Desert and empyreal worlds are partially habitable- they don't need survival goods but can't build any habitat structures.
All other world types are hazardous: they support lower max populations and must dedicate 5-10% of their labor to building "survival goods" at habitat structures. These worlds support low populations until better habitat structures can be built (the largest, arcologies, are available at TL 7). Survival goods are things like radiation meds and air filters; they can't be exchanged through trade routes. All things being equal, at TLs 5 & 6 a hazardous world will produce less usable labor than a desert or empyreal world, but at TLs 7-10 with all hab structures built it will produce more.
If a worlds goes independent and drops below the TL that was needed to build a hab structure present on it, the hab structure can become "ruins" after a while. Ruins can be rebuilt without having to build the preceding structures.
For extractor planets, try to pick worlds with "abundant" or at least "major" deposits of the resource to be extracted. If you want to reduce reliance on dedicated extractors and trade routes, the same rules apply for building self-supplied autofacs and yards; e.g. for a high-TL jumpship autofac you'd want to pick a world that has at least minor deposits of trillum, hexacarbide and chronimium so that it can get all the resources it needs without spending so much production to do so that there isn't much left over to actually build components.
Worlds pretty much support the same max pop. and produce the same amount of industry as any other worlds of the same type at the same TL. Within each world type, there aren't really "better" and "worse" worlds (aside from resource deposit distribution). Worlds with a high fated TL- the TL they naturally go to when not part of an empire- don't need to be supplied with tech from a foundation or build technology programs.
Labor and Structures
A planet's labor pool is affected by population, TL, and efficiency. If your planet is putting Work Units into multiple structures, the sum total of the WUs assigned to all structures will be less than the maximum amount WUs that the planet could produce if all WUs went to one structure. Two planets building 50% trillum and 50% consumer goods produce less of either resource than if 1 planet was building trillum and the other building CG with the two supplying one another through trade routes. This promotes specialization, rather than leaving every planet self-reliant.
All planets have a primary structure appropriate to their designation. This is the first structure on the left side under the "Structures" tab. All labor left over on a planet after labor has been assigned to defenses and supplying the planet's needs goes to this primary structure.
Extractors, foundries, and processors are all be called extractors in this guide since they do the same thing- convert WUs into mineral resources. The amount of WUs required to generate one unit of a mineral varies depending on the planet's deposit size. Deposits are permanent and never run out.
Labor needed to produce 1 unit of each mineral:
Each unit of hexacarbide also uses 1 unit of trillum. Chronimium uses 2 units of trillum. Chtholon uses 2 units of aetherium.
Extractors appear and disappear automatically depending on need, except on extractor worlds where they're always present as the primary structure. If a planet has 100,000 unitof trillum sitting on it, it won't build a trillum extractor and allocate WUs to it until the supply starts to run low. If you use transports to dump 100,000 units of trillum on your capital, the extractor stops and the WUs are reassigned to the Fleet HQ and other structures, allowing you to spend more WUs per watch building ships. The extractor also stops if you imported 100% of the planet's needed trillum using a trade route to a dedicated trillum extractor planet.
Extractors are only built on planets that have deposits of the appropriate mineral type. You can't do tasks that require hexacarbide, like building ships, on a planet that doesn't have hexacarbide deposits unless you actively import it using a trade route.
Autofacs consume WUs and minerals and produce other resources. All autofacs can perform multiple kinds of production tasks simultaneously by dividing WUs between different tasks. Most autofac types are restricted to planets which are dedicated autofacs; e.g. the infantry autofac structure, which makes components for armored infantry and exotroops, only exists on dedicated infantry autofac planets.
There are two notable exception: the consumer goods autofac can appear on any planet, and Jumpship or starship autofacs may also appear on your capital and sector capitals if you are in an appropriate doctrine (doctrines are discussed later). These autofacs are not built manually but appear or disappear depending on need.
Try clicking on the consumer goods autofac structure on your capital. The consumer goods autofac will always produce 10 units of durable goods for every WU dedicated to this task, and consumes 0.25 units of trillum to do so. It can simultaneously produce organic food and will produce 25 units for every WU dedicated to that, but doesn't consume any resources doing so (food is the only autofac product that doesn't need resources to build, and the only autofac task modified by planet type- earthlike planets like your capital get a 100% bonus to food production and produce 50 units for every WU, as do ocean and desert worlds). You don't directly control the proportion of labor that the autofac assigns to tasks; it allocates WUs based on demand. If there is no demand for anything a dedicated autofac planet can produce, WUs will be divided evenly between everything the autofac can produce.
What an autofac structure can build depends on the planet's tech level. For example, a jumpship autofac can't build the advanced jumpdrive resource unless it is TL 9 or higher. Resources that can't be produced by an autofac because a planet's TL is too low are shown greyed out. High-TL autofacs can make anything a lower-TL autofac makes. This is a major difference between autofacs and yards; yards stop being able to build low-TL units when high-TL units become available.
Yards and academies convert Work Units, minerals, and other resources into units. The "citadel complex" structure on designated citadels also does this. Only one unit type, basic infantry, does not use resources to build (just WUs); all other units require at least one resource.
Yards and academies are always the primary structure on worlds so designated. The primary structures on sector capitals under the "Fire and Movement" and "Strength and Honor" doctrines can build infantry and space units.
As usual, there's an exception. "Autonomous" worlds (which have not been given a designation) have no primary structure but can build basic infantry at a "militia base" structure. This works like a defense structure and labor is manually assigned to it.
Defense structures build stationary units that fire at attacking ships. Most defense units are actually located on the planet's surface rather than in space; some are orbital satellites. Defense units only participate in space battles, not in infantry battles. The kind of defenses that a planet can build depend on the planet's TL and available resources (native and imported); they are listed in a table at the end of this guide. Like other units, defense units undergo attrition and defense structures constantly build new ones. Defense structures are manually built by the player and the % of labor assigned to them can be directly controlled.
Habitat structures increase a planet's max population. On hazardous planets, a basic hab structure will always be present and will use 3-10% of a planet's WU pool (depending on the planet's efficiency and population) to manufacture appropriate survival goods. Hab structures on habitable planets only increase maximum population and don't consume any labor. Hab structures are explained in the "Planets" section.
Tech programs consume WUs to raise planetary TL. They are explained in the "Tech Level" section.
A Starport doubles a planet's maximum trade route range. It does not use WUs or resources. Starports are available at TL 5 and you should build one on every planet.
Planet designations are manually assigned by players and can be changed at any time. Changing designation lowers a planet's efficiency, reducing the labor produced by the planet. Efficiency slowly increases over time, up to 100%. You can only change designations for planets within 250 ly of a capital or sector capital (inside the big white ring).[/color]
There are a lot of planet designations but they fall into four categories (not official, just my interpretation). Designation defines the primary structure on a planet, so designation names overlap with structure names.
- Extractors consume WUs and produce mineral resources, usually consuming other minerals while doing so.
- Autofacs consume WUs and minerals to produce specific kinds of components that are needed to build certain units.
- Consumer goods autofacs are a special case, since consumer goods are needed by planets' populations and one type of consumer goods (food) does not require minerals to build, just WUs.
- Yards and Academiesconsume minerals and WUs and build units. Yards build space units and infantry academies build ground units. Depending on the units being built, components from autofacs may also be required.
- Enhancer planets help your empire to function. Specifically,
- Foundations increase the Tech Level of other worlds, making their citizens more productive (but also making them require more consumer goods) and/or allowing them to build higher-level units. The more WUs a foundation structure is consuming, the more TLs it can uplift. Foundations export TLs using trade routes.
- Sector capitals allow you to expand into other areas of space. They may also build units depending on your empire's doctrine, consuming WUs, minerals and components to do so. Under some doctrines they can make their own ship components.
- Any world of TL 5 or higher can be designated a Sector Capital. Sector capitals retain their fated TL unless this is improved with a foundation or program.
- Sector capitals produce the same unit types as your main capital. If your empire's doctrine is Trade and Enterprise, they act as trade hubs instead.
- You can capture planets outside the 250 light year control radius of your capital, but you can't give them orders, assign trade routes or redesignate them until they are inside the control radius of an active sector capital. About 36 hours after a sector capital is designated, planets within a 250 light year radius of the new sector capital become controllable. You can see the progress towards activation from the newly designated sector capital's overview tab.
- If one of your sector capitals is captured by another player, some of the worlds near it will defect to the other player, along with all the units stationed on them!
- If your capital is captured by another player, one of your sector capitals becomes the new capital.
- If you don't have any sector capitals when your capital is captured, your empire will be totally destroyed. All of your remaining worlds will become independent and you will be kicked out of the game. You can only rejoin as a new empire.
- Trade hubs make it easier to exchange resources between planets, making them more productive. The trade hub structure doesn't consume WUs, so it's possible to assign very high labor %s to defense structures on hubs.
- Citadels use WUs, minerals and light jumpdrive components to build jumpmissiles that can attack fleets moving through your territory; they also use WUs to build basic infantry.
Some designations require a certain TL and their primary structure stops working if their TL drops below this level. There is a full list of designations in the Tables section.
Check the FAQ.
Higher tech level, or TL, means each citizen generates more WUs and consumes more consumer goods. Some designations are only available at higher TLs and autofacs/yards/academies produce different resources or ships depending on their TL.
Planets have a "fated" TL that they will increase or decrease to on their own if they're independent. You capital's fated TL is 7, biotech. If you invade an independent planet with a TL below 5 it will increase to TL 5 in under an hour once you've given it a designation. Planets with fated TLs above 5 will remain at their tech level unless they suffer consumer or survival goods shortages; TL drops caused by shortages reverse automatically when the shortages end.
If (for example) you want to designate a planet as a hexacarbide extractor (requires TL 4) but it's only TL 2, you can designate it as a consumer goods autofac (available at any TL) else and wait for TL to rise high enough to redesignate it. Most designations are available at TL5, but you will want higher TL planets as your empire gets bigger for increased production.
You can manually raise planets' TL above TL 5. The simplest way is to build a technology program that raises a planet above its fated TL. Programs consume a flat 5% of a planet's WUs per TL raised, but can result in a net increase in WU production (there are a lot of factors but it's too boring to go into.) Your capital can be raised up to 3 levels with program, up to TL 10, post-industrial. All other planets can only use programs to go up to TL 7. Worlds with fated TLs of 7 or above can't build programs. If you capture planets from another empire, the planets will retain any programs built on them. The tech level of a planet raised above fated TL with programs or just through being in an empire (which brings planets up to TL 5) is the "native TL".
You can also raise tech level by importing TLs from a world with the "Foundation" designation. Foundations automatically go up in TL to match your capital's current TL (if their fated TL is higher, they will remain at this TL, but they will not raise planets above the capital's TL.) A planet's TL is raised by establishing a trade route that imports TLs from the foundation. Foundation TLs raise planets above their native TL. You can change the TL that the world is being uplifted to by clicking on the trade route. TLs added by uplifts don't consume WUs on the planet being uplifted, so can be a better option than programs for maximizing production. One foundation can supply up to ~200 TLs! If your foundation gets captured, the planets it supplied will begin to regress to their native TLs. If the supply of consumer goods to a foundation gets cut off, it won't be able to produce as many TLs since it will have to dedicate WUs to provide for its own people.
You only need to really start worrying about social order when a planet's social order is "rebelling". Rebelling planets have an (undetermined) chance to go into civil war. Civil war trashes efficiency, resulting in reduced WU production. A portion of your infantry on the planet become rebel forces and the world will likely declare independence after about 24 hours if you don't drop a bunch of infantry on it to restore order. If the civilian population continues to die during the war (from resource shortages, etc) the world may declare independence even sooner. Planets that go independent retain all infantry, ships and defenses; don't let your shipyards and academies lose civil wars!
A planet's social order gradually increases by default.
A planet's social order periodically decreases by a small amount:
- when the planet's TL is much higher or much lower than the capital.
- when the space forces level of the planet is below a certain (unknown) number.
- right after you conquer it from another player. Being conquered also damages planets' efficiency.
- any time there's a shortage of consumer goods. This happens most often when TL goes up from TL3 to TL4 or from TL6 to TL7, as citizens start to demand durable goods at TL 4 and luxury goods at TL7. The planet will start making these (or begin to import them) once the TL changes but there will not be enough to meet demand for a few periods unless you put them there with transports beforehand. Disorder from TL changes usually isn't enough to lead to civil war unless the planet was also recently conquered.
- when the planet doesn't have enough organic food or survival goods (see the "I conquered a planet, why did it go into civil war so quickly?" section of the FAQ for more.) Mass deaths also hurt efficiency. Don't feel bad, though: even in the best-run empires billions occasionally die from starvation, asphyxiation or radiation poisoning. Hey, space is a tough place where wimps eat flaming plasma death.
- when you capture a planet from a player with higher imperial might than you and who has attacked you before.
- when you attack a planet belonging to a much weaker player. The other player's imperial might (displayed in the "Empire" tab when you click on their capital and in the box that appears when you order an attack) must be around 50 or lower to trigger this. Imperial might of other players is always given as a percentage of your own. There can also be a penalty for attacking fleets that aren't orbiting your planets. The penalty is assessed per attack, so taking one planet from a weaker player causes less disorder than taking all their planets. Social disorder from attacking weaker players may scale depending on the might difference between the two empires; I'm not sure. Disorder won't be caused by attacking the worlds of a player that previously attacked you, even if they're much weaker.
Units are ships, infantry or planetary defenses. All units continually undergo attrition (so do most resources). This means that any fleet, collection of infantry or set of defense structures will gradually shrink over time. Starfrigates and starcruiser have lower attrition than other units. The only solution to attrition is to make sure that your yards and infantry academies are constantly building more units. Fortunately, they do so automatically as long as they're supplied with resources. Planetary defenses work the same way- they are subject to attrition, but more always get built as long as you have labor assigned to the relevant structure and resources flowing in.
It's easy to tell which worlds belonging to other players are generating combat units by zooming out on the maps screen: yards, academies, capitals, citadels and trade hubs are light red or grey, while extractors and autofacs are dark red or grey. When zoomed out to the level where only some planet names are visible, unit-producing worlds (and hubs) are shown with names while other world types do not have names.
The #1 rule in combat is that fleets with much stronger space forces ratings than the opposing force usually win with far fewer casualties than they would take if the odds were close. The same is true for fleets with a really gigantic numerical advantage of units, if space forces are close. (The #2 rule is that ships and defense with longer range tend to be disproportionately better than ships with shorter range.)
There are three propulsion types: Jumpship, Starship and Ramjet. Ships are built on yards planets. Jumpships and Starships can also be built at capitals and sector capitals under certain doctrines. Players start with the Fire and Movement doctrine; in F&M, capitals build jumpships. There are multiple ship roles. Each ship role (e.g. jumpcruiser) has a low-tech and a high-tech class version (e.g. for jumpcruisers, the low-tech Adamant-class and the high-tech Undine-class). High-tech classes require more resources to build and are only built on high-tech worlds. For specific details about individual ship classes, refer to the tables at the start of this guide.
Jumpships are fast and individually very weak. The basic combat jumpship role name is also "jumpship". To reduce confusion, I call those "basic jumpships"to distinguish them from the other jumpship roles. High-tech jumpships are 50% faster than low-tech jumpships, and explorers are faster than all other jumpships.
- Explorers are cheap ships for reconnaissance and exploration; they are individually weak. They have better sensors than other ship classes, allowing you to map territory, reveal planetary defenses and see enemy fleets moving around. Use them in fleets of more than 100 to maximize scanning radius. Explorers have the highest delta-v in the game: they move between orbits faster than other ships. Advanced combat strategies use a mixture of explorers and stronger ships to defeat starfrigates.
- (Basic) jumpships are individually weak, fast general combat ships that are protected against missiles (both ships with missiles and missile defenses). They have weak armor and have armed with short- to medium-range cannons. They are most vulnerable to other ships with cannons and to cannon-type planetary defenses. The TL 9 Eldritch jumpship is the most popular ship in the game because it has decent range, speed, cost and attack strength. Missile protection is very effective and fleets of basic jumpships are nearly immune to missiles as long they outnumber their enemy by at least 2:1 or so (more for hypersonic missiles). Basic jumpships are great early on for conquering planets that only have missile-type defenses.
- Jumptransports are fast ships that carry troops and resources. Jumptransports are the only transports in the game; there are no starship or ramjet equivalents. Jumptransports are vulnerable to other ships and planetary defenses, so you will want to bring combat ships with your transports when you invade unless the other planet is undefended. Transports don't participate in planetary defense (although they count as space forces) and get captured when a planet is taken. Transports stay in high orbit when invading until planetary defenses are destroyed, but they can still be attacked by defending ships, hypersonic missiles, and satellites. Send loaded transports to planets only after an attack fleet has destroyed all defenses, unless the planet is only protected by cannons and/or GDMs.
- Jumpcruisers are fast attack ships with medium-range missiles. They are useful against cannon-type defenses and starships, but most of the time you're better off building Eldritches. They aren't much better armored than jumpships, but their strong attack makes them better against gunships and cannon-type planetary defenses. Jumpcruisers' missiles do a lot more damage than jumpship cannons (when they hit), and can defeat missile-protected starfrigates if they outnumber them by at least 10:1 or so (they have to be able to launch enough missiles to saturate the starfrigates' missile protection.) Jumpcruisers are very vulnerable to big fleets of basic jumpships, which are cheaper and nearly immune to their missiles.
- Gunships are medium-speed combat ships that don't need any components. They have short- to medium-range cannons and better armor than jumpships or jumpcruisers. They're a little cheaper to build on a 1:1 basis than jumpcruisers. They're much faster than capital ships, but way slower than jumpships. Gunships are vulnerable to planetary defenses since their weapons are short-ranged and they don't have missile protection, but they have higher delta-v than jumpships or jumpcruisers and get into firing range sooner.
- Starfrigates are powerful and very slow. Building 1 Starfrigate uses about the same WUs and resources as 12 gunships of the same tech tier (but gunships have higher attrition). They're very strong against planetary defenses; Starfrigate cannons outrange all cannon-based defenses and they intercept missiles. They're also great against jumpships; field reports indicate that TL9 Gorgos fleets win with 5-10% losses against Eldritches when outnumbered 33:1, and that it takes at least 45:1 ratio for Eldritches to beat Gorgos with acceptable losses. Starfrigate fleets take hours to move between planets, so if you use them offensively other players are likely see them coming and have time to reinforce or fire jumpmissiles.
- Starcruisers seem to be designed to counter gunships, but suck. They have the most powerful attack and armor in the game, but they are very costly to build, use interceptable missiles, and share starfrigates' glacial speed. The TL 10 Megathere has missile protection but it can't easily be assembled into fleets big enough to achieve full protection.
For a roughly equal investment of resources and WUs:
- Basic jumpships will beat jumpcruisers, gunships beat basic jumpships and jumpcruisers, starfrigates beat everything. Explorers can decrease the casualties that other ship classes in a fleet take by acting as cannon fodder without costing very much. Starcruisers suck.
- Jumpcruisers are pretty strong against cannon-type planetary defenses. Basic jumpships are very strong against missile-type planetary defenses. Gunships are vulnerable to planetary defenses, and starfrigates are very strong against all defenses. Starcruisers suck.
- Jumpships need more supporting autofac planets per yard to build than starships. Explorers and gunships don't need supporting autofacs to build.
- Ramjet fleets perform worse than equivalent starships in most kinds of combat, but don't need chronimium or much trillum to build. The TL9 Cyclops starfrigate is the best ramjet since it has Range:20. Ramjets can be purchased at Mesophon worlds, which lets players materialize fleets out of thin air (thin vacuum?).
- High-tech ships' total cost to produce in WUs (including minerals and components) is more affected by mineral abundance than low-tech ships because minerals form a greater proportion of their total WU costs.
- Planetary defenses are better than ships for defending a small empire but aren't a great investment for really large empires because they can't protect planets effectively against attacks by other really large empires. They can serve as a force multiplier for defending ships, especially hypersonic missiles (which have a long attack range).
- In wars between empires of similar strength, the empire that attacks first can usually win by destroying the enemy's ability to retaliate. Jumpships are way too good at blitzkrieging.
Ground combat is simple. Infantry capture planets, defend against invasions, and fight civil wars. Ships can't attack infantry and vice versa. Imperial guards, built under the "Law and Order" doctrine, never defect to rebels during civil wars and might deter sector capitals from seceding. Basic infantry and imperial guards only need WUs to build; armored infantry and exotroops need special resources built at infantry autofac planets. Infantry combat is simpler than space combat and generally speaking in an invasion the stronger infantry force usually wins but the defender gets a slight advantage. The original Anacreon had defense bonuses for different planet types but I don't think that's still true.
Basic infantry seem unable to harm exotroops directly in combat, although they may be able to force exotroops to surrender faster if they are combined with other infantry types. More testing is needed. Imperial Guards and Armored infantry fight exotroops OK.
Warphant transports are tougher and have higher delta-v (movement speed between orbitals) than Reliants. Never use a mix of Reliants and Warphants in an attack; your troops won't all land at the same time and your attack is less likely to succeed. Keep all your invading transports in one fleet.
Battles only last a few watches after transports land. Once the defenders start losing and are sufficiently outnumbered, the planet is captured. The surviving defender infantry surrender and can be used by the invader. If the attackers are way stronger, surrender comes faster- an attacker can end a battle with more soldiers than they started with! If the attacker's transports landed while enemy planetary defenses and/or ships were still alive, remaining defenses and ships will get captured. This includes fleets that entered the system while the transports were landing or during ground combat- even really strong ones.
If invaders lose the battle, all their soldiers on the ground die. The invader's transports don't get captured.
Your empire's doctrine determines what units are produced at your capital and sector capitals, plus a few other things. Change doctrines by clicking your capital and selecting the "Empire" tab.
Fire and Movement is the default doctrine. The capital and sector capitals build jumpships and jumpship components, serving as a combined jumpyard and jumpship autofac. Capitals can build more jumpships if they import jumpship components from a separate autofac world. They also build basic infantry. Early expansion by conquering independent worlds is easiest with jumpfleets since they move fast, so Fire and Movement is worth remaining in for a long time until your empire is well established.
Strength and Honor is unpopular. The capital and sector capitals produce starships, starship components, and basic infantry. Starships are stronger than jumpships for the resource cost (with some caveats) but move much slower. Capital starships (starfrigates and starcruisers) have lower attrition than jumpships. Don't build starcruisers. The advantage of S&H might that even if you only play Anacreon occasionally, your capital and sector capitals will maintain strong fleets defending them. Starfrigates are the strongest planetary defense. S&H players don't have to worry about losing starship yards and their powerful fleets to defection when sector capitals are captured because their starship yards are their sector capitals. You can't select S&H if your capital is in a nebula- nebular planets can't build starships. If you switch to S&H before you have a dedicated jumpship yard and jumpship autofac planet, attrition will cause you will run out of transports after a while and you won't be able to conquer new planets unless you buy transports from Mesophon.
Law and Order is for big empires. In L&O, the capital and all sector capitals produce nothing but imperial guard infantry units. The presence of imperial guards deters sector capitals from seceding. Empires in other doctrines >100 worlds and >2 sector capitals will sometimes have a sector capital secede, taking some nearby planets with it. Seceded sector capitals turn into an AI "empires" that look like human players but won't deploy fleets, conquer worlds or establish new trade routes. AI empires have names like "Old Order of <Your Empire's Name>" or "<Sector Capital Name> Society". Guards never defect to rebels if a civil war starts, so they win civil wars automatically so long as no other infantry were on the planet when the civil war starts. Guards are stronger than basic infantry and weaker than armored infantry. Once your "secession risk" (shown under the Empire tab) is "Elevated" or higher, you basically have to switch to L&O or your empire will fall apart.
Trade and Enterprise is pretty bad. Your capital and sector capitals act as trade hubs and don't build any units (they can still build defenses, though.) This means you don't have to maintain as many (or even any) separate trade hubs, which reduces the number of critical planets that you need to keep heavily defended. T&E empires can trade resources- but not to other players. There is an AI empire called "Mesophon Traders" with planets all over the galaxy. T&E empires can make a trade route between a capital or sector capital and a Mesophon world and sell resources to Mesophon in exchange for a currency called "aes". A trade route to a Mesophon world is like a normal trade route but you can specify exactly how much of each resource you want to send to Mesophon each watch. You can't import from Mesophon worlds.
Players in doctrines other than T&E can still sell resources to Mesophon by manually moving cargo in transport fleets to Mesophon worlds. Mesophon also buys ships. Aes can be used to buy ships at any Mesophon world orbited by one of your fleets, allowing you to summon fleets out of thin air when they are needed.
Trade with Mesophon is not great:
- Mesophon only sells transports and capital ramjets (probably a bug).
- Ships can only be bought in fleets of 1000. It's frustrating to assemble a useful-sized fleet of ships by buying them.
- Mesophon planets are poorly defended. If your empire relies on trading with Mesophon, another player can swoop in and conquer the Mesophon world and you're S.O.L. There's no way to order your own fleets to protect an AI world aside from selling them to Mesophon, and Mesophon won't pay very well (or at all) for them.
- Mesophon only pays aes for minerals, consumer goods, jumpdrives, infantry components, ramjet components, and the same types of ships they sell.