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Just some random and personal notes on how I approach strategy and tactics for this game. In no particular order.


Strategy

At the beginning focus on rapid expansion - scouting and colonising - until you contact enemies. Rapid scouting also confers early bonuses from special discoveries that can give you an advantage throughout the game. Then you need to slow down and build warships and defences, continuing to grow and consolidate, but more slowly and cautiously.

While it may seem like Production is the most important, arguably it is Population and population growth that is decisive over the long term. So look for worlds with high population growth %. Worlds with high Food production are surprisingly valuable strategically. Otherwise you can find your expansion is halted just by inability to produce enough food. Researching and building Cloning centres early can give you a big population growth rate boost compared to the enemy, that lasts the whole game and pays "compound interest". It doesn't matter too much where these are sited - population is easy to move around. Building Colony ships is effectively 10M population for 425 Production. This is another way to build up population fast provided you have planets you can colonise. Any planet will do - land the 10M and then move 9M somewhere more productive.

Always remember "specialisation of labour". If you are doing research, make sure your highest Research planets are maxed out on Research. Don't just spread the research effort across all worlds that have all kinds of Research scores. Similarly with Production, have your highest Production score worlds maxed out on producing ships, shipyards, anything that has a shareable benefit across your empire. Sometimes there are things that need to be produced locally on a planet with weak Production score, but try to keep that to a minimum. And this same principle is very much true with Food. (This is because food is very mobile, more so even than Population or Ships - only Research is more mobile. Food only takes money to move, not time. Research takes neither time nor money to be globally useful to your empire.) Make sure your high Food production planets produce the food for your empire, so that other planets can specialise in what they do best. Like in real economics, this is most efficient. But, also like in real economics, it is interdependent and vulnerable. Be sure to guard key planets, as conquest or even blockade can break this interdependent economic web and cause immediate crises. Have a backup plan for your empire's economy that works while you are being actively attacked.

Early on, the enemy is often less developed than you - though this is not always true on higher difficulty levels. This means an early attack can take an enemy out of the game, and more importantly give you extra home worlds, which tend to be very high quality planets. This can make a decisive difference to victory. Having two sets of homeworlds can usually be exploited into a game winning advantage. But on the other hand, if an early war does not end quickly, in your favour, it can bog you down, and you will fall behind and soon be easy prey for others.

The game is hardest with multiple enemies. The reason being that there is more competition for planets, war starts earlier, when you are less developed, and you can be hit from any angle. My approach is to make peace with as many nations as possible. Eventually one nation will attack you. Decisively defeat them and you will have a major advantage in high quality planets. Make a coalition with the strongest enemy and you should be able to win a coalition victory at least. And possibly a total victory if things go well. But in the games with many nations there is a lot of luck involved, with placement of planets etc. Some starting positions can be almost impossible to win from on harder difficulty levels. 

Tactics

The starting ship designs all have mixed weapons. I find it's more effective to redesign the warships around a single weapon type, but more of them. This has an immediate benefit in firepower and battle tactics. You focus your battle tactics around the strengths and limitations of one weapon. Your Research can also be more focused and efficient as you are only spending on advancing one class of weapon. Standardising your ships is also efficient for expanding and defending your empire - similar to real military economics.

There is more "bang for the buck" (firepower per Production point) in building Destroyer types. But longer term, there is more firepower per Command point from the larger warship types, eg Cruisers and Battleships. It's the difference between one-off build cost (Production) and long term maintenance (Command Points). So at the beginning of the game, or in response to an emergency in mid game, build Destroyers. Then in mid to late game build larger ships for the permanent core of your fleet.

Some on-line sources state incorrectly that non-combat ships do not use up Command Points but this is not true. Even non combat ships use 1 Command Point. Warships (anything capable of attacking another ship) use at least 2.

System defences like Torpedo Turrets and Star Base seem a bit useless since they are not mobile and (unlike warships) cost money each turn. However if you run short of Command Points they become more useful, since they don't require Command Points. Command Points, if you are short of them, requires building Ship Yards, which are expensive to run, or Space Docks, which are nearly twice as expensive to run (per Command Point they provide).

Selling some of your starting Buildings at the beginning of the game can give you an advantage at the start of the game. If you are sure you won't need some Buildings for a while, be decisive, and sell them right at the beginning. The earlier you sell them  the greater the benefit. Knowing what you can safely sell depends on type of game scenario and your own personal strategy. In general it's safer to sell starting Buildings if you have one enemy far away, than five enemies close at hand. It's usually safe to sell your Nuclear Reactor as it will be a long time before you need more than 5 Power on your home world - unless you particularly like building the power-using buildings early on.

Similarly a Space Dock is created whenever you colonise a planet that was previously an Outpost. This is a way of building a Space Dock for basically 40% of the normal cost. But as Space Docks are expensive to run (Ship Yards are always better, unless you need both) you may want to sell Space Docks unless you are now, or soon to be, under pressure for Command Points.

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