Part 1: Turn 1THE ROMULANS
Today's update will introduce the game's basic concepts and our original three solar systems.
You can play the game a number of different ways. First, you can set the level of technological development of each of the five empires on a scale from 1 (early) to 5 (advanced). I prefer to always play with everyone on the most advanced setting because you get more ship choices and everything moves faster. Research will play less of a role. We'll be playing in a Large, irregular-shaped galaxy with many Minor Races. The difficulty setting is on "hard"; which is next-highest to "impossible". There are two victory conditions. We'll be using the normal one, which is "domination": You win if you control ~75% of the galaxy's systems. The other one is "vendetta" mode, where you must completely kill two pre-determined empires, but it's not as interesting.
We will play the game as the Romulans. Each empire has its own strengths and weaknesses which you should consider when developing your strategy. The descriptions roughly correspond to what I've posted in the OP.
You get a little intro for your empire to get you into the mood. The tagline for the Romulan empire is, "If knowledge is power, then to be unknown is to be unconquerable." Yes, that's my mouse cursor down there, and yes, it will be absent starting in an upcoming post.
TURN 1. we begin with three systems and three ships. Our home system is Romulus, which will always have 355 population points. This is a very large, well-developed system capable of producing ships at a good rate. Throughout most of the game, we will be relying on Romulus.
This is a view of the entire galaxy, to put things into perspective. The green outline shows how far our short-range ships can travel, yellow for medium-range ships, and the red is how far our scout ships can go. As you can tell, it's not possible for us to see what's going on in very much of the galaxy, let alone travel there. We were randomly placed near the southeastern corner of the galaxy. We have no idea where the other four empires have been placed, but we're likely to see them only to our north and west.
However, we can tell there's a ship in the system directly to the southeast of Romulus. Thanks to an exploit, we can tell that this is a Vulcan ship. Thus, we know of one Minor Race who is our neighbor. The Vulcans should be harmless, based upon what we know of them from watching television.
Our starting ships are a scout, a destroyer, and a colony ship. The colony ship will be used to terraform any uninhabitable planets in our other two systems, and to colonize one new one. Colony ships cloak, but those other two can, which is why their icon is darker. The scout and destroyer will both be used to scout out the nearby systems so we can decide what to colonize first.
It's always good to begin by deciding what our empire's scientists will be researching. Fortunately we can see into the future of our technology to know what we can invent, and then discover what we need to invent it. We need to advance in computer, energy and weapon technologies to invent the Battle Cruiser II, which is the next most advanced ship, and incredibly useful one at that.
100% of our empire's scientists are now required to work on the energy field, but they don't seem to mind. We've chosen energy because unlike computer and weapons, it is the sole prerequisite for a higher level of technology (power plants).
In the Romulus system, we have a number of special structures which must be powered by energy. Rather than putting all of our population to work in the power plants, we'll just leave a lot of our structures unpowered. Of note, the structure with 100 energy that looks like a boat is an academy that happens to give us a 100% bonus to energy research. The one costing 30 energy is a dilithium manufacturing plant (more on that later), and the 25 energy one is a shipyard.
Romulus has an excellent amount of industry, which is why these ships take so few turns to build. Battle Cruisers and Warbirds are powerful offensive ships, as are Strike Cruiser IIs. Scouts and destroyers are small, fast ships, and Troop Transports are unarmed ships that allow you to invade systems or build outposts and starbases.
Now to have a look at our other two starting systems. These will be incredibly important for most of the game, as it will take a very long time for our colonies to catch up to them. Rhymus Major has 230 population points. That's good, but not great. (Your two starting systems besides Romulus will be created at random, so it's possible to keep starting new games until you get really populous ones drawn, but we won't be doing that.) This screen shows you how you can allocate your population to work in various fields: food, construction, energy, intelligence and research. Normally you want as many people as possible working in construction, to build things faster. First we'll build some of the basic special structures which happen to be missing.
Our third starting system is El Adrel. It has only 120 population points, which is rather low. You'll notice on the bottom of the screen that the planets have letters under them. The gas giants have a blue "G", and these are completely worthless. Planets with a red letter can be terraformed, and green letters indicate planets already terraformed. An "M" class planet is like Earth, doesn't need to be terraformed, and has the highest total capacity. "Y" class are volcanic planets (yes, this game uses single-biome planets). "G" class are desert planets and this one needs to be terraformed by our Colony Ship.
TURN 2. We've moved our ships out and discovered more systems, denoted by star icons. We must send ships directly to each system before we can look at it. Our top priority is to find systems with lots of large planets, and colonize them before the other empires can.
TURN 3. Just northeast of our systems we discover the Milika system. Look at all of those planets, and every single one of them can be terraformed! We'll want to claim this system pretty quickly. "P" class are polar planets, "O" are oceanic, and "J" are barren. The little stalk icon above the "O" planet indicates a food bonus and the ember icon above the "G" and "Y" planets indicate energy bonuses. Each type of planet has special structures that can be built there.
We must extend our range and protect the colonies we intend to populate. We can do both of these by creating outposts and starbases, which are built by Troop Transports. Luckily Romulus can build these in no time.
TURN 4. While traveling around and scouting nearby systems, we have made first contact with an alien race by sending a ship to their home system. Here's another Minor Race, the Nausicaans. Remember them from the show? No, I didn't think so.
We also made first contact with the Vulcans. Actually they're the ones who sent a ship to one of our systems, the curious little buggers.
TURN 5. The purple meter below the picture of the Vulcan diplomat indicates how favorably disposed they are toward us. The Vulcans are currently uncooperative. Not good, but it could be worse. Since we're not spending much money anyway, we'll send a small gift to the Vulcans and the Nausicaans. After awhile, gifts should increase our image. The goal is to get them to join our empire so we can tell their people what to build, too. We also don't want them to join enemy empires.
Now we want all three of our systems to begin producing ships. Unfortunately the entire empire can only build one ship per turn based on the number of systems that have dilithium. That little crystal icon next to the Romulus sun indicates dilithium. Neither of our other two systems have dilithium, so we can only build one ship. However, there is a special structure in Romulus that simulates two extra points worth of dilithium. It costs a massive 800 energy to use, but it's worth it. By powering that structure, we can now produce Colony ships in Romulus while Rhymus Major and El Adrel produce Troop Transports.
We continue to explore. We're quite fortunate so far. We've found at least one decent candidate for a new colony, and discovered two Minor Races that don't hate us. Best of all, there are no Klingon, Ferengi, Cardassian or Federation ships in sight. Our objective is simple but a bit risky. We won't build a defense fleet at all. Instead, we'll just colonize and build as many outposts/starbases as possible. We'll expand our borders and grab as much territory as we can before we run into the enemy empires. It's much easier to colonize a system first than try to take it away from someone else.
Once we make first contact with our enemies, we'll try to secure as many systems as we can near the border. At the moment, it's unlikely anyone is going to be to the southeast of us. Once the borders are established with enemy empires to our north and west, we'll be able to colonize all of that southeastern territory at our leisure. The most important thing is not to be penned in and unable to expand while our enemies keep gobbling up new territories. There seems to be little risk of that at this point.