Early Economy and Exploration (SEIV)

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Early Economy and Exploration

By Stone Mill


  1. Acquire all possible systems and planets while denying them to your opponent
  2. Expand immediately, continue to push forward, and backfill systems after the enemy's position is estimated
  3. Protect your assets with minimal defenses until you are in a position to overwhelm the enemy with superior forces and technology
  4. Maintain an economic harmony by practicing efficiency during your empire's growth; Keep most of your planets constructing assets while not wasting resources (producing a large mineral excess that is wasted every turn) or slipping into a resource shortage (lacking enough resources to keep most of your planets producing)
  5. Build your designs according to a given planet's production rate

Land Rush

Build as many colonizers as possible in the first 10 turns. This will require the ability to construct one colony ship per turn, using emergency build. Even better; build one colony ship that includes a supply component (for longer range). Also, you may wish to include a design with cargo (for extra population, or units to accompany the new colony). The advantages to "Land Rush" are that you will have many colonies to give your empire a jump start, claiming systems before other players. The disadvantage is that you will have to cope with your homeworld on slow build for 10 turns afterward.

This strategy involves elements in several areas:

  1. Empire construction. You will have to adjust your race's construction rate until it allows you to build the desired ship in one turn, (IMPORTANT) after your homeworld loses population (the rate will drop after the first colonizer departs, unless you have Advanced Storage).
  2. Sizes of homeworlds. Check the game setting for the size of the homeworld you will begin with. Your rate of production will vary in respect to the population bonus to production. You will (generally) need to begin with a "good" starting planet to use this strat.
  3. Cost of ship. Don't be afraid of building a ship with 4 engines in one turn, if a 5-engine ship will take you 2 turns. I've built ships with 2 engines to colonize planets in my home system (usually constructed with a Space Yard Base).

Many players like to start the game building one or more Space Yard Bases. Building these in one turn is also very advantageous. Regardless, if you can't produce it in one turn, there is no point in setting your homeworld on emergency build for nothing. Rather, tweak your empire's construction rate until it offers the desired result.

Home or Away?

Should I colonize in my home system to get things rolling, or send them through the warp points? I personally like to send them out, because of the fact an economic player wants to dominate all available space in the quadrant, while denying it to the enemy. When doing so, I try to colonize a planet in my home system by turn 3-4 so I can get another space yard on-line to compensate for my homeworld when it is in slow mode.

Defending the new Colonies

Your colonizers will not be protected and will be in trouble should they be so unlucky as to run into an armed scout. But if they do, they are far from defenseless:

  1. Colonize and launch mines (or build a weapon platform). This will take 3 turns. If you will be reached within 3 turns, go out the way you came.
  2. Sit at the back end of the warp point and set your ship's strategy to "Kamikaze." You will be greatly surprised at how often this works.
  3. Bait the attacking ship over an existing planet's mines.

Key Point: The True Objective

The primary objective of your first wave of colonizers, is, believe it or not, to meet the enemy. This will reveal their position and allow you to follow up and do your best to box them in. If you go a long way without encountering them, colonize a nice planet when you are eventually low on fuel. Once a front line is estimated, your next waves of colonizers will be able to back-fill all those beauties you passed along the way. For the purposes of preparing for war, you want to colonize all you can near the front line to have ship production capability in a forward system.

The Clinton: Deny, Deny, Deny

The best way to deny territory to your foe is to lay mines or satellites at the warp points. You will need to get out there as early as possible. There is nothing like the crack of mines to deter an opponent from proceeding through a warp point. Many valuable turns are lost while he researches and produces minesweeping capability. In the mean time, you can establish the system, bring up defenses, or reinforce the point (if you have determined it is a logical choke point or "front line.")

Early Defense

I prefer to research mines ASAP, as they are the best early defense. However, this will take a few turns. And you can't build minelayers until then. So my secondary choice is to build satellite launching scouts, especially if I'm concerned that my foe is close.

Secret Revealed! My personal favorite design is a transport with 2 minelayers + cargo (if possible, I add a weapon and point defense). Secondary design is a transport with one satellite launcher + cargo + weapon + PD. Movement is 5 and you can get it out the door very early usually (at turn 3 or so). This design offers the following flexibility:

  1. Can lay units at forward warp points when front line is drawn
  2. Can destroy new enemy colonies
  3. Can destroy enemy colonizers and challenge enemy scouts if necessary

Hook and Ladder

Immediately after you build your unit layer(s), don't let it sit waiting for units from your home planet! Send it out right behind your colonizers. Load units from newly colonized planets along the way. Your new colonies on the front lines can immediately produce units to "hand off" to the layer that is following (a.k.a. Hook and Ladder). If you made a base turn one, build units with your base for it to carry. Otherwise, keep your home planet pumping out colonizers!

The Great Seal

Lay sats at your opponent's exit side of a warp point, so they will get first shot a point blank range. Enemy scouts will usually suffer bad damage or be destroyed. Sats are very unreliable elsewhere.

Lay mines at your leisure; best position is your opponent's entry side of the warp point. This is a gamble, however, as you will need to blindly warp first. If you are unlucky, you may lose your ship to the unknown waiting at the other side. Best bet: lay 'em before and after, if you have enough. It is also sometimes effective to drop mines over planets your opponent will value, if you can't get to the point to seal off the system.

Your ultimate goal is to drop mines at every point in the front line system so your opponent is contained. At this point reload mines and continue to stack.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

If you encounter the enemy and are clearly outclassed, drop your mines and sit. A smart opponent won't bite more than once. But you will find that you can move from point, as long as you have mines, and your opponent will have to gamble in order to attack you.

If the enemy is a good distance away, your layer will be running low on fuel. To keep momentum, build a resupply depot (on emergency build, if necessary) so that layer does not have to break stride. It can load units, stay active, and cause havoc. And the next wave of colonizers can now refuel for extended range.

The opening turns are probably the most crucial. If played correctly (and with a bit of luck) you will be well positioned for vast empire growth.

Production and Construction Junction

Depending on the type of empire you like to run, you will start constructing various facilities while building ships. Regardless, the efficient rule of thumb is to maintain an economic harmony by practicing efficiency during your empire's growth; Keep most of your planets constructing assets while not wasting resources (producing a large mineral excess that is wasted every turn) or slipping into a resource shortage (lacking enough resources to keep most of your planets producing). In summary, spend all of your minerals each turn, while resisting digging into your storage.

You will need stored materials for retrofitting sooner than you think.

Tweak it!

Build your designs according to a given planet's production rate. This means that you will have to pay attention to the cost (usually mineral) of your designs. You want to be able to produce ships and units in the lowest amount of turns possible. For example, if your planet's production rate is 2000, it does not make sense to design a weapons platform that costs 2100. Edit the design with a different or less expensive component, or remove a component so that it may be built in one turn. OR Build it in 2 turns; and edit the design so that it costs 4000. This also comes into play when using emergency build. If your planet is constructing 3000 on emergency build, by all means get the most bang for your buck, and create designs that cost 3000, 6000, and 9000.


This concludes my article on Early Economy and Growth. I hope you enjoyed it, and, if you are new to the game, I hope you have taken something away. Any questions, clarification, or comments are most welcome. Cheers!

Preceded by:
Empire Design
Manual (SEIV)
Section 17.2
Followed by:
Managing Your Economy