8 Rules to Live By
Number 1 Learn to Fleet Save! I can't stress this enough. If you do not protect your fleet, you will lose it, period. It's just a matter of time. You will be attacked by someone bigger. We get emails every day from a player who got their entire fleet destroyed by someone higher up the chain than them. Oddly many of those emails come from someone who destroyed someone else the day before. You would think they would know better, but they don't.
If you're not the biggest or maybe second biggest fleet in the universe, your fleet is in danger of being destroyed. Thanks to Dionysus Recyclers it can be profitable to carry out an attack even if you lose dozens of small ships (fodder) so a fleet might not have to be much bigger than yours to hit you profitably, especially on a world with decent resources.
If you lost your fleet, it's because you left it parked somewhere, usually for at least the 1-2 hours it took the bigger fish to find it and then attack it, often for 8 or more hours at a time. This is easy to prevent and if you don't, losing it is as certain as death and taxes. If you're leading an alliance, make sure your newer members know how to do this.
In the earliest part of the game you've got newbie protection, so you don't need to worry about fleet saving until after 100 points. But as soon as you cross that marker, there will be people looking for you. You've still got Newbie Protection from people over 5 times your points, so you might not start getting attacks for awhile but you should be prepared. It won't be too long.
When ships are in transit they cannot be attacked. So to save your fleet, all you have to do is send them on a mission. In the earliest days this may mean you send them on an empty transport mission to a planet nearby at reduced speed. For instance if your home world is at the coordinates 1:1:1, you might send them to transport 0 resources to 1:2:1 at 30% speed before you go to bed. Remember transports are a round trip, so if the fleet time says 4 hours, that means 4 hours each way (8 hours total). So if you go to bed at midnight and send your fleet on a 4 hour transport nobody will know where it is until at least 8 a.m. Your fleet is safe while you sleep.
Once you unlock the Dionysus Recycler, you've got an even better method of fleet saving: the harvest mission. This is better because you can load your fleet up with cargo which will then be deposited back on the world at the end of the mission, plus any debris you managed to pick up. That way you can save not only your fleet but your resources.
Number 2 Build Mines. Mines have a very quick ROI (return on investment) at early levels. Eventually they may take days to pay for themselves, but up to level 15 or so for ore (slightly less for crystal and hydrogen) they pay for themselves in under 1 day. Early levels pay for themselves in a matter of minutes or hours. Inviting Crew and then assigning them to your mines gets you extra resources and can really accelerate production as well.
Number 3 Tech up. AI Tech is extremely valuable because it lets you run missions. Poseidon Cruiser is extremely valuable because it lets you run better missions, and can help in raiding players who have lots of Artemis Fighter or Missile Battery. The Dionysus Recycler mission is great for when you're not going to be on-line for a bit, and the ship itself is great for fleet saving. So get those things unlocked as early as possible.
Number 4 Build colonies quickly. 10 out of the top 10 players have the full 8. In fact if you look at the order of the top 10, it's almost as the same as the order in which they got to all 8 colonies. Build mines on them as per # 2.
You want to build up the colonies quickly too, starting with the one with the lowest mine levels (since lower mines have higher ROI). Overnight while fleet saving, allocate your resources to the planets with the lowest level mines, or deploy your ships there to run missions the following day. If you deploy all of your ships and resources to the least developed colony every night, you'll be able to build it up faster, and you won't have to worry much about attacks since all of your stuff will be in transit and then used immediately.
An alternate high end method is to leave 1 colony slot open. Why? Well you have an enemy, you pop a colony near to his planet and then fleet save to that colony. Then attack from there several times for the same amount of time it would take for one attack from your main colony.
Number 5 Raid Inactive Players. A lot of times you can get far more resources per hour by sending your empty cargo ships at players who are inactive (have an "i" by their name in the Galaxy view) or are just not on-line and didn't properly fleet/resource save than running a mission. Do a little espionage, find people with stockpiles, and hit them.
Number 6 Run missions as much as possible. This is obvious, but I put it at # 6 because it's not nearly as important as most people think. Of the top 10, the # 1 player has only run the 6th most missions, and the # 2 player has run the 7th most. They are at the top because they built mines and colonies, and teched up to Poseidon and high AI levels early. Still, an idle fleet isn't earning you anything, so send it out.
Number 7 Scale your defenses along with your planet. In the early days, a lot of people put way too many resources into defense. This is because they perhaps think building defense is a substitution for fleet saving, but unless you're in the top few players it is not, so there isn't much point in building lots of easily destroyed missile turrets. As long as you're fleet saving when you're not on-line and building when you are, you'll never have anything for people to attack, so people generally won't attack you. Put your resources into research, mines, ships, and colonizing instead.
This depends entirely on your style. Fleeter or miner. A Fleeter needs little in the way of defense as they primarily build ships and attack others. However, Miners just build big mines and lots of defense. Often enough to put off even big fleets.
Number 8 Be civil, even if you're really, really mad that someone attacked you. After all, that's the point of the game! If you are rude or start sending obscenities to your attacker, you just made yourself a target again. You don't know when, and you don't know where, but pissing someone off means they might even attack you when it is not profitable. They might even send in 4 or 5 consecutive waves of unprofitable attacks to take down your defenses, for no other reason than you were rude.
Credits Tutorial created by Matt, codename_B and The ZPM