Ring Worlds and Sphere Worlds (SEIV)

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What are Ringworlds and Sphereworlds?

Ringworlds and sphereworlds are megastructures- massive artificial worlds that far outstrip the capacity of any normal planet, that can be built and colonised in Space Empires IV games. They represent the pinnacle of Stellar Manipulation technology.


Ringworlds (sometimes affectionately reffered to as Mollies) are vast bands of material, millions of miles in diameter, that encircle an entire star. The idea has been borrowed for Space Empires from the author Larry Niven. Atmosphere is held to the inner surface of the band by centrifugal force, creating a massive habitable area. In SE4, this is represented by a planet type with four times the facility, population and cargo space of a huge world. A ring world in unmodded se4 can hold the following:

  • 100 facilities (undomed)
  • 32billion population (undomed)
  • 64000 kt of cargo space (undomed)
  • 50 facilities (domed)
  • 16billion population (domed)
  • 32000 kt of cargo space (domed)


Spherworlds are inspired by the popular sci-fi concept of dysonspheres. An se4 sphereworld is a vast hollow shell that encloses a star completely. The inner surface of such a structure would yield an almost limitless amount of living space, but in SE4 it provides only as much as facility, cargo and population space as eight huge worlds, or two ringworlds- That's 100 facilities, 32billion population and 64000 kt of cargo space. (undomed)

  • 200 facilities (undomed)
  • 64billion population (undomed)
  • 128000 kt of cargo space (undomed)
  • 100 facilities (domed)
  • 32billion population (domed)
  • 64000 kt of cargo space (domed)

Ringworlds and sphereworlds are massively expensive to build, the time required to research and deploy the necessary technologies is prohibitive, and then further time and resources must be invested to develop them to the point where they can start paying back their costs. With their massive capacity for population and facilities, they can pay back their investment over time, but the length of time involved may well be longer than a typical game of se4 so it rarely makes economic sense to build one.

Why build one then?

As has been previously stated, Ringworlds and Sphereworlds often amount to little more than economic black holes. However there are plenty of situations when a player may want to build one:

  • In for the long haul: Two or more empires have reached a point of virtual stalemate, with no party able to decisively attack another. All planets and asteroids have been settled, borders are well defined and there are no interesting developments left in the tech tree. In this case, it may be worthwhile for the stalemated empires to dig in and further develop their respective territories with ringworlds and sphereworlds, each hoping to gain an advantage over the other with the massive production potential of these artificial worlds.
  • Mods: Some mods that change the pace of play and/or the balance of economics may make ringworlds and sphereworlds into more viable propositions.
  • Defence: The huge cargo capacity of an artificial world means they can be loaded with formidable amounts of defensive weaponry. Redirecting all of a system's warp points to a well-defended ringworld or sphereworld makes for a powerful, low-maintenance defence.
  • To replace the star: Ring- and sphereworlds are (directly) immune to star-destroying weapons and events, which for some players is reason enough to build. Note, however, that while a star-killer can't demolish the star at the centre of a ring or sphereworld, it can indirectly destroy a constructed world by detonating any other stars in a binary or trinary system.
  • Colonising otherwise empty systems: Black hole and nebula systems can be cleared, and stars built in their place. However, these systems will never have planets or asteroids in them, so the only means of colonising them is to convert the star into a ring/sphereworld. This enables a player to populate systems that would otherwise be dead and empty, but which may be strategically important or the only means of expansion available.
  • To win the game: Some multiplayer games informally set the construction of a ringworld or sphereworld as a victory condition.
  • Roleplaying: There may be out-of-game reasons for you empire to build one of these monolithic structures.
  • Trophies: Some players build sphereworlds and ringworlds simply to demonstrate their massive technical and economic superiority over their opponents.
  • Because they're cool: The simple fact is, most players will want to build one at some point. Mollies are sometimes favoured, simply because they are prettier.

How do I build one?

To build a ringworld or sphereworld:

  • Research Stellar Manipulation to level 5 for Ringworlds, or level 8 for Sphereworlds.
  • Research Base Construction to level 3. The required components are so massive that they will only fit on a starbase, and a starbase can only hold one with room left over for the necessary C&C components. Therefore you will need to build one starbase per required component.
  • Select the star you wish to convert, and move a mobile spaceyard to the star's sector.
  • Now you can begin building your starbases. You will need eleven starbases for a ringworld, twenty-one for a sphereworld. Note that you will save a lot of time if you have multiple spaceyards all building simultaneously.
  • For a ringworld you will need the following components present:
    • 5 Hyper-Density Cable components.
    • 5 Planetary Gravity Plating components.
    • 1 Ring World Placement Generator component.
  • For a Sphereworld you will need:
    • 10 Hyper-Density Cable components.
    • 10 Planetary Gravity Plating components.
    • 1 Sphere World Placement Generator component.
  • Once all the starbases are complete, select the one with the placement generator and use the component activation icon. The starbases will disappear, and your new world will appear in their place.
  • Your world is now ready to colonise. It will have the same atmosphere and planet type as your race (for example rock/oxygen), so if you want a different atmosphere you will have to build an Atmospheric Modification Plant.

Binary and Trinary systems

A system with multiple stars can support multiple ring/sphereworlds, but as stated above, the constructed world can be destroyed as a side effect of the demolition of any other world. For this reason, if you are going to build around one star in a system, it usually makes sense to build around the others as well. Since star-creation components only allow the creation of a star in a system that has no pre-existing stars or ring/sphereworlds, only 'natural' binary and trinary systems can exist, and only in these systems can multiple artificial worlds be built.

Hints and tips

  • When designing your starbases, you will find that you have several hundred KT of space left over after the construction component and obligatory bridge, life support etc. Given the massive investment that this base represents, you might be tempted to use this space for weapons, armour, shields, point-defence, anti-boarding measures and the like. However, bear in mind that the base and all its components will cease to exist the moment you click the "activate component" button. Also, if you seriously think it's could come under attack, maybe you should be building it somewhere else.
  • If you're planning a sphereworld, you can start construction before reaching the required tech level 8: The Hyper-Density Cables and Planetary Gravity Plating available at tech level 5 for the ringworld will do just as well for a spherworld. You can be building thise while you complete the research need for the Sphere World Placement Generator.
  • The placement generator is the most expensive component in any ring/sphereworld build and will take longest to build, so if the technology is available you might want to start work on that one first.
  • Use the 'queue on hold' button in the construction menu to ensure that all of your starbases complete at the same time - if you have one built before the rest, it will cost you a fortune in maintenance until the others are finished. Mothballing can mitigate this but is still expensive (and you may find yourself in the sitation where you can't afford to un-mothball it), so queue on hold is better.
  • Many players use "Emergency Build" to speed up construction times. Note that this will inrease the cost of the build still further, and be careful to complete the project before "emergency build" expires and "slow build" comes into force.
  • Have a coloniser ready. Nothing is more embarassing than bankrupting your empire to build the crowning glory of your civilisation, only to have some other player sneak in and colonise it before you could get a ship there.
  • Once your world is conplete, use the ship/base spaceyards (which may now be on "slow build") that built it to build weapon platforms, satellites, troops, and mines to defend it. Never waste ringworld construction time building units - don't waste the world's build queue time on units or ships until you've filled it with facilities.
  • Fill it with people. To get the most out of a ring/sphereworld's massive capacity for production, you want the biggest population modifiers you can get. Empty your homeworld if necessary.
  • Ring and sphereworlds effectively remove the star from a system for purposes of planet building, solar panels and solar collectors. This means that once all of a system's stars have been converted to ring/sphereworlds:
    • Solar collectors, which generate radioactive from solar power, will cease to produce in that system.
    • Solar panels, which generate supplies for ships and units, will cease to produce in that system.
    • It becomes impossible to convert asteroids to planets in that system. Make sure you have converted all asteroids that you planned to convert before building your ring or sphere world.
    • Confusingly, although ring/sphereworlds do not count as a star for planet creation, they 'do' count as a star for 'star' creation - this means you can't place an additional star in a system with ring/sphereworlds.