The Mistake You’re Making
One of the main mistakes that I see new players making is dropping hardly any resources for new planets to develop. I’ve even read guides that suggest that around 100 clans, 25 supplies, and 100 credits is an adequate amount to drop on a new planet (or even 150/50/150, which builds you 50 factories on the planet the first turn, as in this recent beginner guide). This thinking usually results from the idea in most 4X games that you have to develop EVERY planet you come across, which makes very little sense in Planets, where you are very limited on early cargo space and and resources for development.
Following the 100/25/100 suggestion above, your development of the planet will take 13 turns, and look like this:
You’ll notice you actually get NOTHING out of this planet until the mines start extracting on turn 8, and you can’t get any extra supplies, or turn those supplies into credits, until turn 12-13. With a start of 50 factories, you save yourself 5 turns, but you still don’t have a very productive planet for 8 more turns.
What You Really Need
For a new planet to become productive, it needs, in general, at least 100 mines. On abundant planets with less than 75% extraction rates, you’ll probably want 200 mines. You will also want at least 50-100 factories, so you can slowly increase the Defense Posts on the planet over time, and convert any surplus into additional credits. A “good” native planet will produce at least 200-500 megacredits per turn, meaning you’ll need 200-500 clans on that planet, as well. It is worth noting that the more mines and factories on a planet, the less happy your natives are. Thus, build less of these structures on your best native income planets, and you’ll gain a great benefit over the length of the game.
Exploring Before Development – Warships First
Players are of mixed opinions about whether to build warships or freighters first. I am of the opinion that building two warships first is better because:
- smaller warships use a lot less fuel than a fully-laden LDSF.
- as your first ships get further out from your home world (HW), you want to meet your enemy with a warship, not a freighter
- your best, first cluster might be in the opposite direction from your first LSDF
- you may need a second LDSF full of clans to make optimum use of a good native planet
- you usually won’t have enough Duranium to sustain LDSF production for very long; you need to use your first ones as effectively as possible
You will send the warships in opposite directions, thus scouting towards both your adjacent opponents on the standard map. If you start with the standard MDSF, it can start the scouting and develop the first decent planet it finds, before returning to the HW for another load.
A Better Approach to Colonizing
Your first LDSF, to stop at and develop 2 decent worlds, will need:
- 800 clans (at least 200 on the mineral world, and hopefully 500+ on the native world)
- 400 supplies and 1400 credits, for 100 factories and 100 mines per planet, built on the first turn of occupation.
After making these two drops, your LDSF should head back home for the next load. Its destination should, by this time, be clear to you because of the continued scouting by your two warships and/or MDSF. Chances are you’ll build a second LDSF, and it will perform a similar drop before heading back.
Yes, investing in only TWO new worlds is about the same cost as a decent ship! However, doing this will give you approximately 50 fuel, 150 minerals, and 100 supplies/credits per turn thereafter, which is enough to sustain ship production for as long as the planet’s mineral reserves hold out. The abundant mineral deposits will last at least until turn 25 or so, by which time you should have a Merlin Alchemy Ship at your HW for mineral production.
… or would you prefer to wait 12-13 turns before getting very much out of your new planet?
The Fast Development approach intends to improve your logistics so that you can start using your NEW worlds as your initial loading points, rather than having to keep returning to your HW for clans and resources.
Your bottleneck in the early game is ship production – the more ships you have, the faster you can expand and grab territory and resources, meaning that your goal should be to build a second starbase that can build utility ships, scouts and maybe even LDSFs, as early as possible, which means before Turn 10, unless you’re trying to take out an opponent quickly or have a really terrible start location. You will not be able to afford, or feed, a second starbase without some decent, productive planets to supply it.