Defensive strategy guide
From Starfleet Commander
This guide assumes that you intend to play for the foreseeable future, but do not want to put significant time into the game at the moment. It will take you from the very beginning of gameplay to more advanced techniques.
The very beginning
In the very beginning of the game, a purple haired lady will guide you through some exercises intended to teach you how to spend resources. "Resources Spent" is one of the main rankings for this game, so pay some attention. Also, doing what she says will let you score a second Artemis, Ares, and Hermes, long before you'll ever unlock them.
When you are done with the quest tutorial, you will have two Atlas, two Ares, and two Hermes probes. This small arsenal isn't much use for battles except in rare circumstances, but it will allow you to run missions. Running missions is especially important to beginning players in universes where you can complete tasks for free if it would take less than five minutes. You can use missions to get more resources, and keep upgrading until it will take everything more than five minutes to complete.
If you can keep completing things in less than five minutes, then build up the crystal and ore mines until they take just over five minutes. Then start working on the hydrogen mine, preferably just before bedtime. Upgrade the solar field to keep up with demand as best as you can. With any luck, you can upgrade the capitol a bit, and upgrade all the mines a few times more in less than five minutes. By the time things always cost more than five minutes, you'll want to focus your energy. Crystal will be important for a lot of the game, especially in the very beginning, because we want to unlock the Gaia class colony ship as soon as possible.
Keep it on the Down-Low
It bears mentioning as early as possible that when you begin play, you are in a safe zone of "newbie protection." You can only attack inactives and NPCs, and no active player can attack you. Inactives and NPCs never attack, so you won't ever get hit while in newbie protection. However, newbie protection will not last forever. When you reach 1,000 RSP points, newbie protection ends, and you become the new kid to pick on. What is an RSP Point? it represents 1,000 resources spent. What resources? Ore, Crystal, and Hydro. Any 1,000 of either that you spend on a building, ship, defense, droid, or research will become an RSP point. of course... if you destroy, tear down, or abandon something, some RSP will be lost.
Therefore, while most of every Starfleet Commander game is focused on spending resources, and destroying enemy resources to create RSP, and DSP, at the outset of the game, your goal is not so much to spend resources as it is to most wisely allocate your first 1,000 RSP points so that when you leave Newbie Protection mode, your well-equipped to attack, or deal with attackers. If this were an offensive strategy guide, I might mention the benefits of having a sizeable fleet prior to going out. However, as a defensive strategy, I must warn you: Unless you're online, and ready to use a sizeable fleet when you go out, opponents will most likely smash and grab your fleet before you ever get a chance to use it. Instead, I will advocate that you focus on creating infrastructure.
Planets, for example... colonizing a planet gives you no RSP. You actually lose the 40 RSP that goes into building a Gaia when you colonize. if you get your keeper planets before going out of newbie protection mode, your opponents will have to strike all 9 of your planets to decimate you. Should you expect to get hit when you first come out of newbie protection? Yes, it's likely to happen. We;ll discuss how this danger can be minimized later.
Resources can be spent on more bouldings, on ships or defenses in the shipyard, on droids in the factory and on research in the Research Lab. We will want to unlock these buildings so that we can do all these things. However, we will want to do them in a certain order. Research never dies. Ships can get shot down, and droids must be moved from planet to planet before you abandon the world. For this reason, we will focus on the research lab first, then the shipyard, and finally the factory. ideally, you will also keep upgrading the mines, and running missions, so that you have a continuous stream of income to keep building, researching, making ships, and making droids simultaneously... sort of.
With only one planet, you can only upgrade one building at a time. You can only make one ship at a time. You can only make one droid at a time. You only have one ore mine, one crystal mine, and one hydrogen mine to upgrade. Also, each upgrade of a mine costs more, and takes longer to finish. Teasing you on the top of your screen are eight empty colony slots. With each of these, you can upgrade buildings, make ships, build droids... simultaneously... nine at a time. to do this, you will need a Gaia Class colony ship. Why can't you build it yet?? Check on the Tech tab. I prefer viewing the Full Index, but whatever works for you.
to build a Gaia class colony ship, your shipyard must be upgraded to level 4, and your Pulse Drive must be researched to level 3. To research Pulse Drive, your Research lab must be upgraded to Level 3, and you must research Energy Tech level 1. I suggest upgrading the research lab to level 3 before researching, as it will speed the research along. Also, you'll then end up with plenty of leftover ore for upgrading the shipyard.
Once you can build Gaia class colony ships, you can colonize some planets. At this early point, you will probably just want to colonize the other planets in your solar system, so that you can transport stuff between planets faster. Getting a keeper planet is a rare treat, and every ship is super slow early on. Once you've researched your jet drive, pulse drive, and warp drive a bit, this will hardly matter, but for now, you might as well keep things close together.
A lot of your early worlds will be pitifully small. Essentially, anything less than 250 fields is not a keeper. You'll need more fields than you have, and if you hold on to them until you find this out the hard way, you will have wasted a lot of resources. On these early disposable worlds, you never upgrade your capitol beyond level 2. You never upgrade your Shipyard beyond level 4, and you never build anything aside from these, mines, and a factory. You never upgrade the factory beyond level 2, if you even build it here.
Since you've got a Gaia class colony ship, now is a good time to discuss planet picking strategy. So, let's click on the "Galaxy" tab, and view your Galaxy. You will notice that in reality, there is no way to view a whole galaxy in starfleet command. You are looking instead at your system. Every system has 15 planet slots. An empty system will basically look like a spreadsheet that hasn't been filled out. A busy system, on the other hand, will have debris next to a lot of the planet slots, other players, and between planet slots, there may be Moons, and NPCs. None of that really matters much just yet.
The important point is this: in most universes, there are 15 planet slots in a system, 499 systems in a galaxy, and 1o galaxies in a universe. The coordinates are listed in the familiar format [1:009:13] Where 1 is the first galaxy in the universe, 009 is the ninth system in the galaxy 1, and 13 is the thirteenth planet slot in galaxy 9. Clicking on that link may take you to those coordinates in your universe. Each player has only 9 planet slots though... and they get to chose where they want to colonize, out of 74,850 possible planet slotss in a typical universe.
Early on, many players simply colonize the available slots right next to themselves, for ease of transporting resources. Later on, they usually develop different strategies. Some prefer to spread so far out that no two of their planets are even in the same galaxy. others feel it is best to have a bit more companionship, and keep 2-8 planets in the same galaxy, often spread out about 40-180 systems apart. Most feel it is best not to keep all your planets in one galaxy over the long run though.
Each system stats at 1, and ends at 15. 1 is closest to the systems invisible sun. It is the hottest, and solar satellites produce the most energy there. However, we are defensive players, and will hardly use those at all. 15 is farthest from the moon. 15 allows the hydrogen synthesizer and nuclear power plant to work at optimum efficiency. Everybody wants hydrogen and energy, so this side of the "galaxy" page is more desirable for anyone who isn't hoping to get a quick pile of ore or crystal from a straight mining world.
The bottom of the system list is also more desirable for another reason: Hunters. Player characters who scan the galaxy pages looking for an easy target like yourself. You'll probably notice that if you could read the words in the planet slot, you also had to scroll down to see the bottom of the list. Some hunters won't be motivated enough to bother doing that if the top few planet slots in the system are empty. Some will also just find a good target up there, and not bother you.
Lastly, we must discuss the effects of that roving terror known as the Hephaestus Class Attack Platform If they can land in your system, they can attack your planet. Many players join alliances, and build "blockades," in which slot in a system is filled by a planet. With no empty planet slots, the hephaestus cannot park nearby, and any attack will take quite a while longer. Other players just hope and pray.
Galaxies are numbered, just like planet slots. In the coordinate systems, they are the three digit middle number. Since you can never see a whole galaxy, and each galaxy is created complete from the get-go, there isn't much difference between either end of the galaxy. However, galaxies are linear. To get from system 001 t0 system 499, you must fly all the way across the galaxy. Also, Oracles, and IPBMs work only in the same galaxy where they are stationed. There is, therefore a more active "core" of a galaxy, and less active "fringes" on either side.
Typical advice is to steer clear of systems 0-99, and 400-499, because eventually, the range on your oracle, IPBM, or fleet will bump against the far end of the system, and will be wasted. Some players suspect that the fringes are actually safer for less active planets, but I doubt this: Near the core, there are more planet slots taken up, and therefore less space for a Heph to land. Assuming you're well defended, and act as a good neighbor, your nearby planets are not much of a threat. The real concern is the Hephaestus... and since a Heph has neither IPBM nor oracle, and can jump directly from galaxy to galaxy, it has no reason to avoid the fringe of the galaxy. Indeed, it may find that there are fewer players equipped with effective oracles out there.
Many players suggest putting a few of your planets in the same galaxy: ships may be able to reach you faster, and you may be able to overlap your IPBM coverage to protect yourself against certain unpleasant players, or to better crack well-defended planets. Note though that there is no benefit from overlapping oracle scan areas... except perhaps for the sake of redundancy in case someone blows up your moon.
The travel distances involved mean that any planet within 182 systems of you is closer than any planet from the next galaxy. However, if your planets are more than 182 systems apart, your closest help would come from an adjacent galaxy.
IPBMs unlock with Pulse level 1, with a range of 4 systems. It takes Pulse 3, giving IPBM a range of 19 systems, to unlock the Gaia you need for colonizing keeper planets. Ares unlocks at Pulse 6, giving IPBM a range of 29 systems, which is the last thing Pulse drive unlocks. Further upgrades to pulse drive will speed your ships, and improve the range of the IPBM. Researching pulse drive beyond lvl 14 costs more than a Hephaestus. My lvl 14 pulse drive happens to give me a range of 69 systems, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Each universe has a somewhat variable number of galaxies. They begin with only one galaxy, and additional galaxies are added based on demand. SFCO ended up with an incredible number of galaxies, running into double, and perhaps even triple digits. However, it was discovered that removing galaxies after the fact is much more difficult and upsetting than adding them, so techniques have been developed to cap the number of galaxies, at about 10, depending on popularity... or do they?
Regardless of exactly how it goes, what tends to happen is that the early adopters of the game, often enthusiastic veterans of other SFC universes, tend to have their original territories in galaxy 1, and other nearby single digit galaxies. This is the hot "top of the list" area for action. To encourage painless contraction of universes, at some point, new commanders are prevented from having their homeworld spawn too far away from galaxy 1 either, creating a "middle of the list" where new players form, and often soon go inactive for one reason or another. Finally, at an indeterminate distance from galaxy 1, there is the distant galaxy at the end of the universe, where, no more new players are allowed to form. Experienced players sometimes seek out these very distant lands, in order to create an undisturbed stronghold. So... on either end, there are likely to be some of the meaner players, transporting stuff to each other via warp gate no doubt.
Remember, Keep it on the Down-Low
Some words of wisdom in this process: Since you rarely, if ever get a new keeper planet on the first shot, it can be wise to establish a few disposable planets in the system where you hope to have your new keeper planets: One disposable planet with a shipyard, and the others just to send resources to the one with the shipyard.
Until you have a keeper planet, don't even bother upgrading any factory beyond lvl 2, or any shipyard beyond level 4. This should ensure that your score hovers around 300-500 RSP, which is not enough to lose newbie protection mode. To keep RSP extra low, you can actually build Factory Lvl 2 on a disposable world, create your three crew droids, and abandon it. You will have unlocked the quests you want. You can also tear down your capitol once you've gotten shipyard Lvl 4. This all sounds remarkably counterintuitive for a game based on spending resources, but the goal is to have resources spent that suit you well for future success. It's better to go slow now, and stay safe until you're ready.
Go Out with a Bang
Eventually, you will have gotten all the keeper planets you want. Now, you can prepare to go out. What should you build? I suggest that your keeper planets, of all places should already have level 2 capitol, level 4 shipyard, level 1-4 resource den, and some decent mines, powered by solar array and nuclear power plant.
I would strongly suggest you upgrade that research lab to lvl 6, and research shield tech. You might also want to research Particle tech level 4, build a level 2-4 missile silo, and upgrade shipyard to level 6-8. Ideally, you want to unlock as many defenses as possible before going out... but don't build them yet. At least one of your planets should have shipyard level 8-12, and if at all possible, a foundry.
Go ahead, and just let your RSP hover around 900, while you do missions, and let the mines work. Stockpiled resources are not resources spent, and you'll want a good pile of them to spend just before going out. The shipyard and Defenses have a build que, which you will be using at the time when you go out.
Now that you've got big resources, it's time to set up your final building upgrades on all your planets before going out. Make them something that will take a while: another level of shipyard, or Missile Silo is ideal, if you can. Then spend the rest, as quickly as you can, on defenses. Put a defense that will take a long time at the head of the build list. Add in ABMs if you have the missile silo next. Set the rest up to build as per ratios, if possible. Spend all your resources, turn your mines off, and send your ships out on a very long FRS deployment.
What happens next? You pop out of newbie protection mode with 7-9 planets, all equipped with solid levels of shipyard, hardly any resources to plunder, possibly all protected by the resource den anyway, and an increasing halo of defenses to protect what your planets do slowly produce. Not exactly a tasty treat for your opponents to nibble on. If you check your planets fairly regularly, you can probably start to increase the resource production rates back up, and just make sure to spend it down on more protective stuff for a while. You'll get lit up by probes like crazy for a while. When that dies down, your neighbors have decided you aren't worth the trouble to raid, and you can get on with playing in a more reasonable fashion.