Top 20 Newbie Questions (SEIV)

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Below is a collection of the Top 20 Newbie Most Frequently Asked Questions.


Why does my colony have ZERO population? (Or Why isn't my colony producing anything?)

There could be several reasons here. This situation is most frequently caused by not loading population onto a Colonizer before sending it out. The (C)olonize order will automatically load population if it is given to a Colonizer that is in a sector with a populated planet. In this case, with the (C)olonize order, the Colonizer will automatically load population, move to the target planet and colonize the planet. Any cargo in the Colonizer (population is cargo) is deposited on the newly colonized planet. If the Colonizer was not in a sector with one of your populated planets when you gave it the (C)olonize order, it will still colonize the target planet, but it will have zero population and you can't build anything there until you move some population in. (See also FAQ 4.2 (SEIV)) Another reason is that your planet had all of its population removed by the Transport Minister. This will lead to the same problem. Later patches claim to have improved the Transport Minister's performance. Another reason for not producing anything is if your planet is rioting. See the question on rioting in FAQ 12.1 (SEIV). The Colony ship will autoload population if a colonize order is given when the colony ship is on a populated planet. If a GOTO order is given, the ship will not autoload. When using GOTO, manually load the ship first. Using GOTO is handy when the target planet is out of range for the ship and you want it to hit a Resupply Depot on the way. Sometimes it is handy to not populate a colony if you are transporting a race that is native to that atmosphere type.

Why is the game different when I play Multiplayer?

Multiplayer games are played using Simultaneous Movement - no tactical combat allowed. This means that your battles are fought using your ships and strategies with the AI in command to execute the strategies. Many of the commands and orders such as ship movement are executed at the time of turn processing instead of immediately. It is recommended that you play a couple of games using simultaneous movement before playing your first multiplayer game just so you get the hang of it.

What is a Ring World or Sphere World and how do I build them?

These galactic constructions are included in SE4 as homages to various sci-fi sources. For game purposes, they are big planets that you create around a star late in the game.

First, you must research Stellar Manipulation, at least to level 5 for ringworlds, or all the way to level 8 for sphereworlds. You also have to research Base Construction to Level 3 to get starbases. And since this is all big and expensive, you might as well take spaceyard tech to level 3 as well, but this isn't required.

Next you must create, in the same sector as a star, the activator component, and the correct amount of plating and high-tension cables components. Only one of each will fit on each starbase, which will also need Command and Control components. You'll probably need a mobile spaceyard ship to start the building process, but it can build base spaceyards can build other shipyards, until you have enough to build all the starbases.

Once everything is built, you can activate the activator component, and the new construction will appear. It will be a breathable planet type for your species, and you will have to colonize it to use it.

A ringworld is the size of 5 large planets. It requires the ringworld activator component, 5 high- tension cables components, and 5 planetary plating components. It appears as a planetary band around a small yellow star.

A sphereworld is the size of 10 large planets. It requires the sphereworld activator component, 10 high- tension cables components, and 10 planetary plating components. It appears as a dull shaded metal sphere replacing the star.

See FAQ 4.9 (SEIV)

What is the best weapon in the game?

The short answer is that there is no best weapon or tactic in the game. SE4 is a game that is pretty well balanced; some players have made mods that address balance issues. Each weapon has advantages and disadvantages. Cost, range, research cost, reload time, damage, and several other factors differentiate all the weapons. For every weapon & tactic, there are defenses and vice-versa. One of the great things about SE4 is the fact that there is no one "uber" weapon or strategy so players must react to the situation. Players that rigidly stick to one kind of weapon or tactic won't do well against human opponents. See also FAQ 17.6 (SEIV) for more on how to counter different strategies.

While there is no uber weapon, I have found that the Anti-Proton Beam XII, with massive mount, produces the most range one damage every turn for the KT it uses. It also produces very good range 8 damage as well, making it a very versatile weapon. Some weapons produce more damage but they have one or two round cool down (reload) time, making their average damage per round less than the APB. That would be good in situations where the best initial punch wins the battle but it leaves you offensless for a round or two in large, pitched battles. I found that a combination of Tractor Beam, Shield Depleter and many APBs is a powerful, anti-everything ship.

I was doing great in my single player game then all of a sudden all the other empires declared war on me. Why? What did I do wrong?

You haven't done anything wrong. In fact, you are significantly ahead of all the other empires. You have been declared "The Mega Evil Empire" (MEE). See also FAQ 13.1 (SEIV) for more details on MEE. This is the method used by SEIV to make the game a little more challenging when a player is significantly more powerful than all the others.

How does the Intelligence system work? Why do my Counter Intelligence projects keep saying that they failed?

It doesn't usually mean that your Intelligence crew failed to stop a threat. Most of the time, it means that there was no threat to stop. The reporter doesn't differentiate between them. I'm not sure but I believe there are percentage chances of failure for any Intelligence op. See Intel (SEIV) for more information.

I'm confused about cloaking and sensors. What kind do I need? How do I detect mines? How do Long Range Sensors fit into things? I don't see how to use them.

Cloaking Devices have to be turned on to work. If your ship has a Cloaking Device or Stealth Armor, you will see the option on the toolbar to turn cloaking on (little ship vs. cloaked little ship with circle around it). Clicking the circle will cloak the ship. You will see the ship on the sector map with a circle around it. This means it is cloaked. Clicking the ship and circle will uncloak the ship. If all ships of one side or the other are cloaked and the uncloaked side can not see the cloaked ships, they will not fight.

Stealth Armor cloaks at level One, the various cloaking devices cloak at their level, and Mines cloak at level 4. Sensors detect cloaked ships if they are equal to or better than the cloaking devices used. Note there is no level 4 sensor, so mines can not be detected this way. You basically need to sweep or run into a minefield to know where mines are. (or were)

It is common practice when you get sensors to put at least one up in all your systems. In the stock game, you only need one sensor of any type to see through all cloaks of that level or below. It is possible in Mods to split up the different types of cloaks and make different types of sensors needed, but this is not standard.

Scanners have nothing to do with sensors or cloaking. Long Range Scanners allow the scanning ship to look at an enemy ship for components and cargo on the sector map. The Scanner Jammer or Scattering Armor blocks Scanners. If you have a ship with a scanner in range of another ship, select the ship and see it appear in your ship screen. Click to view components or cargo as you would one of your own ships. You can also see what space based shipyard are building. All enemy ships and planets can be scanned for components and cargo on the combat map, regardless, but damaged components will not show here.

I'm confused about Weapon Platforms. Are they a facility? What components do I need to put on them? Will they work if my planet is rioting? Do they help in ground combat? Why do they seem ineffective against fleets?

Main article: Weapon Platforms (SEIV)

Weapon Platforms (WP) are units that are placed in a planet's cargo area. These WP's are used by a planet during combat. WP's are not facilities. You can put most weapons, shields, armor and miscellaneous components on WP's. WP's have access to impressive mounts that extend weapon range. They will still work if the planet is rioting. They do not participate in ground combat. See also section 8.0 for more information on Units and FAQ 8.6 (SEIV) for more details on Weapon Platforms. See also FAQ 4.8 (SEIV) regarding planet defense.

Since WP are cargo, they can be picked up and moved to new colonies or wherever thay may be needed.

Why are my satellites all clumped together? Can I spread them out? Also, why are my defense bases positioned so poorly?

Sadly, there is not much that can be done about this. All satellites in a sector will always be lumped into a single stack. Satellite and base placement during combat is somewhat random and it depends on what else is in the sector (planet, warp point, etc.) Placement is also affected by the number of empires present during the battle. There is a pretty good chance that satellites and bases will be positioned poorly in combat and since they can't move, they are not, in general, a favorite method of defense.

Gladly, a LOT of satellites can still make a good addition to planetary defenses. Too bad we can't put a single engine on them to ouch them around to a good spot during combat.

I have researched a weapon all the way (I think) but I just got pulverized by an enemy ship using the same weapon, but it had much higher damage ratings. How did he do that?

Your enemy is using Mounts on his weapons. See FAQ 2.2 (SEIV)

How do I retrofit my ships? Why did my retrofit fail?

Main article: Repairs and Retrofitting (SEIV)

150% rule, comes out before income.

Retrofits only work for the same hull type. Take a ship to a planet or ship/base with a space yard. Click on the green recycle icon. Select your ship. Click on Retrofit. Select the variant you designed and OK. The components to be replaced will be stripped out and reconstruction will begin. Major retrofits are not really worth the trouble. Just scrap the old ship after building the new model.

How do I deal with all this micromanagement?

You have to love it. Can you be more specific? There are Ministers for most tasks.

My empire is overcome with riots. What am I doing wrong? How can I make my people happy again?

You have to design an empire that suits your playing style. If you love combat pick aggressive berserker. If you like treaties and trade, pick neutral trader/worker/etc. Your population gets anger/joy points depending and what the situations are. If you are going to work against the nature of your empire, you will need to put things in your systems and on your planets that quell the populace. For planets, use troops and fighters. For systems, use an Urban Pacification Center (or, if you have temporal technology, a Temporal Vacation Service and ships. Note, its the quantity that matters, not the quality. Note, in single player games, whether or not you chose to take combat to the other empires, they will eventually bring it to yours. In multi-player games, its guaranteed to happen sooner rather than later.

How do I remove the "dome" on my domed planets?

The dome indicates that the atmosphere is unbreathable by the current population. To remove the 'domed' status, place members of a difference race on the planet or build an atmospheric modification plant.

The Atmosphere Converter I takes 30 turns to convert an atmosphere, II takes 25, III takes 20. One of the reasons to capture planets with other races to is to get population for your planets with other atmospheres. Once you have replaced all of the population on a planet with a domed colony with a race breathes that atmosphere, the dome will go away.

How do I get that racial tech?

Design your empire for it by spending points on the tech tree you want. You can't get anything you wouldn't normally get by getting another race to surrender to you or through trade. Shards are pretty cool.

Why do my ships/fleets perform so poorly in strategic combat?

The game's combat AI stinks. It will do crazy things trying to maintain a specific fleet formation. That's why enemy ships split up and go to different corners, because the combat AI will keep your ships in a knot and go from ship to ship. It will have 10 ships unload missiles on a single ship. Only use Strategic Combat on battles where you can't possibly loose. When you have to use Strategic Combat, select a Fleet strategy you are comfortable with and a formation. The default formation of Flying V is probably one of the worst. The formations would be more useful if you could manually place the ships in it instead of the AI's random equal placement.

This game is too easy. I can take my small ship with Capital Ship Missiles and defeat larger ships and planets by staying out of range in tactical combat. What can I do to make the game more challenging?

First, see FAQ 1.4 (SEIV). to make the stock game more challenging. Next, search for mods that improve the AI; the TDM Modpack is a great example of this since it only makes the AI more challenging but does not change any other aspect of the stock game. The final thing to do is start playing against humans. Humans are infinitely more challenging than the AI.

Max out the computer player settings at the beginning of the game.

What bonuses stack?

For example, OB (ship offensive bonus) or DB (ship defensive bonus) stacks racial bonus with technology and training/experience. e.g. 50 + 65 + 20 = +135% to hit.

Ore mining stacks racial bonus with technology and ore quality to determine how much ore each facility can produce each turn.

Ship construction stacks racial bonus with technology and population to determine how many units of ore, rads and organics can be utilized each turn for ship and unit production.

Click on the Abilities tab of a ship or planet to see the different bonuses that apply to it. the listed bonuses are the one in use. If it is not listed, it does not stack and another ability superceded it.

What are the best early-game strategies? What are the best early-game things to research?

Build colonizers as fast as you can and expand as fast as you can. Some people like to build bare-bones colonizers that can be built in 1 turn and upgrade after that for faster production; although this is very expensive. Other people like to put their homeworld on "Emergency Build" in the beginning to get an early construction advantage. Still others will build 2 or 3 spaceyard bases over their homeworld to increase the number of spaceyards they have. Whatever method you choose, early fast expansion is very important to establishing your empire. Colonize larger planets and leave the smaller ones for later.

Build lots of Research Centers in the early game. Once you meet an another empire, start setting up border defenses. You may or may not have an initial friendly treaty with the other empire, so that will affect your defenses. Just remember, eventually there will most probably be conflict because everyone wants to win. As far as research goes, there are several paths to follow and the player must be flexible and adapt to the particular situation at hand. See also FAQ 3.0 (SEIV).

The Depleted Uranium Cannon is a favorite for a weapon for the early game. It is cheap to research and will hold its own until others spend a lot more research to outgun it; in the middle and late game it is underpowered when compared to other weapons that your opponents will be using so keep researching weapons.

Researching "Construction" leads to Mines and other units. Mines are a great early defense. They will easily stop lone enemy ships in the early game. As the game progresses, they will be end up being nearly useless in the middle and late game when minesweepers in fleets can sweep large numbers of mines. Also necessary are items which improve your ship's performance. Combat Sensors, ECM, Multiplex Tracking, Shields, Armor are all important.

Don't forget about ship's training facilities (need 2 levels of Military Science). A ship can be trained to 20% and it can be put in a fleet which is also trained to 20%. These bonuses stack to give your ships a 40% more likely chance to hit with beam weapons and a 40% less likely chance to be hit by your enemies.

In the middle game, the Phased Polaron Beam is also a favorite due to its ability to skip normal shields, but by no means is it unbeatable. See also FAQ 17.2 (SEIV).

In the early game, worry about Storage of minerals and rads. You will hit a plateau where your production of minerals or rads will not keep up with your demand. Without having stored your excess production early on, you will not have the buffer needed to pay for ship's maintenance and new construction. It's very easy to do in a quickly expanding empire. In the middle game, your production should be high enough to not have to worry about it.

See also:

Strategy Guide (SEIV)

How does shields or Emissive, Stealth, Scattering, Organic, Crystalline armor work?

Read the article in FAQ 21.0 (SEIV) on how damage is applied. See also FAQ 2.4 (SEIV) on Shields and FAQ 2.5 (SEIV) on Armor.

Shields take the first damage done by a hit. After shields are down, basic armor takes the next damage. Certain advanced armors will stick around, taking on portions of each attack. Different types of armor have different functions. Certain weapons can skip certain shields or all shields. Certain weapons can skip armor.

How do I run SEIV on Linux?

You must run the game using Wine or Cedega. If you cannot get the game to start, you might need to disable CD music:

  1. Find the folder where you installed the game.
  2. Open the "Settings.txt" file found in the /data/ subdirectory.
  3. Change "Allow CD Music" to "FALSE".

Preceded by:
Where can I purchase Space Empires IV?
Manual (SEIV)
Section 0.2
Followed by:
Top 10 Newbie Mistakes