This section will be a place for players to share game play strategies.
Unless you find lots of abandoned remnant ships it is unwise to start a war with any race whatsoever.
It is wise to expand as early as possible without sacrificing the construction of new warships. The starting fighter class available at the start of the game will be adequate for a short time, but upgrade to corvettes as soon as realistically possible, and use them to remind the other empires you meet that you have a standing military capable of holding a spatial assault. Also, train trrops at your capital and use them to support your first colonies, even if you research military outposts early. If an enemy scout spots an undefended world, it will give them reason to invade, and the AI is surprisingly quick to construct an invasion force, often striking within minutes of the game beginning if you aren't careful.
Early war is not a game-ending problem, but it can seriously hamper your efforts and prolong the game by forcing you to abandon rapid colonisation, which is key to the mid-game. Even if you do have war declared upon you, ensure that colony ships are being constructed behind your lines and sent to expand, unless you are heavily outmatched militarily and desperately require warships. Often the enemy attacks with just a small force, and some quick management and well-fought defense can hold them at bay. If this is the case, a large portion of their economy was switched to war production which was wasted against you- it makes them ripe for a counter-attack before they have a chance to recover and start their economy back up. Just remember it will take at least four troop units to stand any chance of capturing anything larger than an outlying, recently settled colony.
Direct transports to your colonies as soon as you can squeeze them into your queue. The AI for managing them is quite good, all you need to do is set them to either goods or civilian transport duties and they'll do the rest. A new colony will take an incredible time to grow unsupported, assuming it can at all. But two loads of production materials from any of the starting transport classes will provide enough to rush-build a rover bay on your colony, greatly expediting the growth process. As you expand, continue to ensure ground garrisons and scouts are built and replaced as needed.
After expanding and solidifying your initial position, you can start down the road to whichever victory you wish. However, an Alliance victory is nigh impossible with everyone without some serious diplomatic flair, so be prepared for a harsh war to erupt at some point, almost universally between you and the strongest military power on the map. If they leave you alone, use the time to annihilate as many Remnant ships as possible and take the high-value worlds they were orbiting, as killing enough (the exact amount seems to vary) unlocks a technology branch under the secrets tab of your technology tree, with exceedingly useful ship modules: the Remnant shield, reactor, and fuel cell. These modules are god's gift to ship design in this game and are far superior to anything you can get for a long time, and remain useful right into the late game. Try not to let the AI sweep them away if you can spare the forces to destroy them.
Keep your income around five to ten credits per turn, at most times. More if needed, but it shouldn't be. Ensure you research are enough to maintain pace, though high-level agent technology theft missions are often highly successful, so feel free to take what you can't research yourself if you start falling behind. ensure you build subspace projectors everywhere between your worlds, they're quite cheap (even cheaper after the "Privatisation" technology is researched) and give you a large tactical edge in defense against whomever is being aggressive. Using shipyards, especially in numbers as their effects are cumulative, can make a world with decent production already an industrial juggernaut- but remember those ships need upkeep. Don't over-extend yourself with too many ships, it's easy to do and the lack of any warning until your treasury goes into the red can give someone a nasty shock quite abruptly.
Researching the military technologies of your choosing will now have made meaningful ship design possible. Aim for a tiny amount of surplus power at warp, a small number of fuel cells on energy weapon equipped vessels, and an amount of ordnace storage roughly one-quarter the size of the ordnace-using modules on the ship. Remeber to re-arm ordnance-using ships- having them fly about out of ammunition will get a proud fleet torn to ribbons on the offensive. I strongly recommend using ordnance resupply ships if you want to attack for any length of time, especially for ground-attack ships which deplete their ammunition reserves with annoying regularity.
As the game draws on, the relatively short research tree will often be totally completed, allowing you to take all focus off research and shunt it towards production. At this point, you should be producing fleets in earnest, and using the best technologies you can in your designs. If the game has gotten this far, you should focus on knocking out your enemies one by one and taking their territory over to prevent having to kick your next enemy off it (AI controlled races will retake their lost territories if they can, and their opposition will if you leave it unguarded. It may be tedious to set up new build queues and deal with the new colonies in the late game, but it is more so to revisit a previously-captured colony and wipe it out again). Using governors to deal with the colonies is often a good idea at this point if you dislike the micromanagement, as their choices will be less impacting on your civilisation as a whole.
As you take ground, remeber to land new troops too, or train them on-site if you don't mind moving very slowly. Otherwise, the AI will frustrate you by re-taking their losses. It pays to eliminate homeworlds first, as they are powerful production centres and generate a lot of income; attacking their colonies will not hurt them as much as rushing past and wiping them off their homeworld and then cleaning up what's left. Crippling their income by taking over important planets means less enemy ships, and at this point they're unlikely to be doing much more than delaying your main force anyway, so you want to disrupt their capacity to do that. You don't necessarily need to totally destroy the colony in some cases, bombing for a length of time will kill off much of their populace, which often takes quite a while to regrow, and until it does they won't be doing anywhere near as much for their owners.
Even if you don't use espionage heavily, try to ensure you at least have enough spies at high level to guard you. The enemy will steal your technology and incite rebellions on your worlds if you don't, and this means fighting a stronger enemy fleet and having to reinforce or even recapture a world if you don't protect it properly. By late game, these acts of sabotage will start to become much more regular, as enemy empires will likely have the money and have had enough time to create good agents of their own.
The final stages of the game will often be a slow cleaning up process, where you wipe at each colony one by one. The best way to expedite that process is to build two or three groups, each group consisting of a naval element to wipe out space defenses, and a ground-attack group of your prefered type. Managing multiple fleets is slightly more intensive than doing the job with a single group, but it does take some of the waiting time out of the end of the game.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is play to your strengths- whatever they may be. If your vessels have better firepower to their sides and rear than the enemy, get right into their fleets and let the lateral and aft weapons do their work while enemy forward-facing batteries are painstakingly re-aligned on you. Conversely, if you favour heavy forward firepower, use it to its fullest by maintaining range and firing from a battle line. Remember your strengths and your weaknesses in your designs- there is no such thing as a perfect ship, so there will always be something to exploit. One way to find out what to expect is to use the diplomacy screen to examine which technologies the enemy has and hasn't got. If they don't have shields, polaron weapons will not help you any; if they lack the Flux Capacitor module, consider using EMP against them.
All ships using ordnance can be drawn out of the home territory, and forced to run out of ammunition. Energy weapon using ships are vulnerable to power draining. Heavily shielded targets can be vulnerable to polaron weapons, and researching Armour Phasing can give you an edge against heavily-armoured behemoths. You can even board ships, and most assault ships lack much protection fom this, but it will require both a new design, finesse, and a bit of luck as he game is not very well developed in this area, and sometimes boarding doesn't work properly.
Attacking planets should be as swift as possible, especially late game. Planets gain several buildings in the mid-game period that have excellent firepower against nearby ships, and sometimes will be protected by starbases. Leaving your ships in orbit is inviting a lot of fire from these ground-based installations, and your fleet will suffer steady attrition until they are silenced. Aim to have either an invasion force or a bombing fleet very close to the system at the start of combat against the enemy space defenses, and move it in and protect it as soon as practical. I personally do this before the enemy craft in orbit are totally destroyed, gauging the effective strength of those enemy ships remaining with the risk of possibly losing a ship or two from the assault force. This way, you don't have to take ground fire for more than a few minutes at most.
You will be in some trouble if the enemy empires are allowed to gain military supremacy. When fighting from the wrong side of a mismatch, there are some tactics that allow you to hold your ground and try to regain the upper hand. Ships in transit are often easier targets, as fleets are not very cohesive when in warp and the AI often won't stop their battlefleet to respond to a few marauders shooting down their troop transports and bombing ships. If you can successfully clear an enemy fleet of these units, allow them into orbit of your planets and their defenses, to whittle down their numbers and possibly allow a counterattack. Try to keep your enemy off-guard with small raids into their outer systems, which may force them to abort an attack to go cover their flank. If possible, rush troops onto these systems and take them- then the enemy will have to wait around recapturing their lost territory while you prepare. Attacking their transports and suffocating their outer frontiers of needed resources can also give you some time while they are rebuilt, but it won't buy you very long.
In general, though, just ensure you are well defended- especially on the ground which some players neglect to their detrimant. If you have no troops on a planet, the military buildings won't be able to hold out against even a few spider tank platoons, and what was one of your colonies will rapidly turn into an enemy system. Even if you don't need them in defense, having a surplus of troops can give you a lot more flexibility in your attacks, ass you will be able to draw upon more troops, from closer systems, in your invasions. Starbases cost a lot to build and maintain, but after the Privatisation technology is researched, you will be able to maintain them for much less than you would have to pay for a ship of equal strength- consider building one or two at your homeworld and most vital colonies. This can buy your fleet tme to respond to an attack, and even repel smaller raids unassisted. Don't go overboard, though- defenses will never win the war, just make it easier to hold on to your own territory.
Managing an economy in StarDrive is very easy, especially if you are playing against more passive AI who do not attack before you have focused more resources into building a fleet. Unlike in many Strategy games, there is little need for having a lot of money. The majority of your money, especially in the late game, will come from taxes. Taxes in StarDrive simply cut your production. As a result, after you have built up some savings in case of something bad happening, make sure to put your taxes down to the minimum level at which you will be making a very slight profit. If you have a huge amount of savings, go into the negative in taxes to boost production as much as possible until you are getting close to being in negative savings, at which point you should increase your taxes again.
Increasing Industry and Tax Revenues
In the game, industry in essential for economic dominance since they are directly tied together by taxes simply being a cut on your industry. As a result, maximizing your industrial output is very important, not only for building ships. An important way to improve your industry is to first research Industrial Foundations. This will allow you to increase production on a planet through the Rover Bay (to be specific it increases production by a flat 1) and significantly increase a planets storage by 100 from 30 through a very cheap to build Warehouse. After researching these, an important step to colonizing Barren or Ice planets (and to make the planets not completely useless) is to research Biospheres, which allow you to build on more tiles on the planet and increase the population cap by .5 per Biodome. Bear in mind that Biodome's are fairly expensive to maintain, so avoid building them when they are not completely necessary. The final steps to maximizing industry is to research the two mining buildings - The Xeno Mine, which increases production by .5 per colonist assigned to work on production. Finally, you can research the extremely expensive Deep Core Mine. This is an incredible building for maximizing production, especially so on richer barren planets. It reduces fertility by 2 but increases planets richness by 4. Avoid using them on planets you plan to be self-sustainable, not needing to import food, but for barren planets they are invaluable.
In early game, and especially in games with many opponents, Trade Treaties can be valuable, however the money earned from a trade treaty does not scale up in late game, and are somewhat useless when you are earning so much from taxes due to huge amounts of industry on rich planets, so do not devote much time or resources into persuading AI races into accepting a trade treaty.
There are two buildings that you can use to increase your tax revenues more directly - the Imperial Offices, which allow you to tax based off a planets population (good synergy with the trait Huge Home-world), and the Imperial Bank, which increases tax revenues for the specific planet by 50%.
Freighters are needed for all industry focused planets, as often they will not be getting enough food due to either the planet being barren or close to barren, or all the workforce are working in increasing production. They are also needed to spread colonists around your planets - All planets need a decent population, as a higher population means more production. They are cheap to make and to maintain. To order a freighter, click on it and go to the orders screen in the bottom left-hand corner, and click for it to either transport goods or for the freighter to transport colonists.
There is various technology to increase your economic strength. The majority are found in the Socio-Logistics section of the technology tree and the Colonization section. Found in the Socio-Logistics section is Interstellar Governance, Mercantilism, Privatization and Central Banking. These are related to ways to increase your tax revenue directly. In Colonization, you can find Industrial Foundations, Xeno Mining and Deep-Core Mining, which are focused on increasing production, which then in turn increases tax revenues.
The trait Industrious will essentially increase tax revenues by 35%, as Industry and Taxation are directly linked. The Efficient trait will reduce ship maintenance, meaning to break even, lower taxes are needed. The Meticulous trait will directly increase tax revenues. Finally, the Mercantile trait will give you money for simply moving goods by freighters.
The Astronomers trait will allow you to find rich planets quicker than you would with Scouts. If you chose not to start with Astronomers, tell your scout to explore all nearby star-systems, and colonize all of the more useful planets. Make sure to build freighters to supply the budding new colonies whilst they are still small. Remember that many of the better planets are guarded by the Remnant, who are far too powerful to defeat in early game - Just remember to colonize those planets when you are powerful enough to defeat the Remnant forces.
If invading an enemy planet, choose to invade the more useful planets with troops, rather than bombarding them. This is because bombardment will completely destroy the planet, forcing you to rebuild the building in it, wasting valuable time and resources.
Custom Guides / Walkthrough'sEdit
Gameplay Guide by CyberSaber