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Expanding Your Empire: Ship Design and New Colonies
This is the last of four introductory threads on SuperNova. If you've managed your first three turns, you're ready to expand your empire. To do that, you need ships (this post) and colonies (next post).

Designing New Ships
A spreadsheet can help calculate the tonnage (you need at 25K+) and components - see the third post of How to Organize It All - but it isn't essential.

Here are basic ship designs you may find useful in the early game.

Local Colonizer
  1   Mk I Nuclear Engine
  100 Colonial Berthing
  50,000 Cargo Bay
100 Berthings takes more steel than you may have in the first turns, so some players make a initial ship half this size. Some have larger Cargo Bays and some have even smaller ones if they also make a separate 'delivery' ship (with big bays and no berthings) to shuttle materials.

Galaxy Colonizer
  1   Mk I Nuclear Engine
  100 Colonial Berthing
  100,000 Cargo Bay
  1 Fuel Shuttle
  10,000 Fuel Tankage
  1  Mk I Nuclear Jump Drive
  1  Mk I Jump Survey Sensor
  1  Mk I Computer System
  1  Mk I Short Range Sensor
The last component isn't strictly necessary, and again, you can vary the Berthing and Cargo Bay size, but this is a good starting point.

  1   Mk I Nuclear Engine
  25,000 Cargo Bay
  1 Drone Rack
  1 Fighter Bay
  1 Fuel Shuttle
  10,000 Fuel Tankage
  1  Mk I Nuclear Jump Drive
  1  Mk I Jump Survey Sensor
  1  Mk I Computer System
  10  Mk I Medium Range Sensor (which you can research)
  5  Survey Lander
  3 Type B Science Lab (Type A is fine until you research this)
Give this ship an XEXPL order ('Explore,' and 'X' for repeat every turn') and move it every other turn to a new planet to discover new items and technology. The Fighter Bay and Drone Rack are there to hold any such ships you discover, just as the Cargo Bays hold other tech (and provide the missing feature that makes Pathfinders unsuitable for EXPL, since they have no holding area). Do additional sensors, landers, and labs help with discovery? Who knows?

A variation of this, with no Bays or Racks and more sensors, can be used to 'unlock' Warp Points. Note that you have a bonus when surveying the Warp Points going directly back to your home system, so even your starting Pathfinders can survey a 'D' WP adjacent to home.

And a variation of that without landers makes a good patrol ship, using an XSENS order to scan for incoming ships at a given WP. Whether or not you want to arm it is up to you. See Preparing for Combat, below.

All of these use a single Mk I Nuclear Engine, which is all you'll need until your production is so developed that you can stack hundreds of engines onto a ship for 2 or more Action Points.

Refueling Station
  50,000 Fuel Tankage
A Planetary installation, unlike the other Spaceships listed above. Give it the orders
    XLC     Load Cargo (every turn)    Fuel 50000
    SUPP   Resupply Duty
and it will refill itself then top off the tanks of any of your ships at your homeworld, including new ones just coming off the production line - thus saving you an order every time you make a new jump-capable ship.

To build a ship, use the SHIP order, or XSHIP if you want it built each turn. Consider adding one or two Shipyard Slips: you start with one, and each turn, you may build only as many boats as you have Slips. Also, if you build big ships, you may want to add Shipyards, which govern how much total ship-building you can do per turn.

To add any ship to your production queue, you must already have the components built the turn before. If you order more ships than you have Slips, they get added to to the Shipyard Queue and will get made in turn.

You can remove unwanted ships from your queue (like additional Pathfinders that you may not want for awhile) with the SCRP Scrap Ship order.
Establishing New Colonies
   XCTRN  300  your homeworld pop group #
will prepare 300 colonists per turn for colonization.

To get them there, use a colony ship like the ones in the post above. LC Load Cargo and OC Offload Cargo don't use Action Points, so a typical set of orders for a colony ship looks like this

   LC  Load Cargo, homeworld pop #, fleet #, Colonists 100, Construction Materials 42000, Processed Radioactives (or coal) 5000
   NM Naval Movement  fleet #, new planet
   OC Offload Cargo, new planet pop #, ALL NO FUEL
   LC  Load Cargo, new planet pop #, Iron 25000, Crystals 25000

then move back home, offload resources, and repeat.

But before you can offload, you need that new planet population group #, and to get it, you first have to drop a colony beacon. Add it to your Load Cargo list, above, and at the new planet issue a COLB order to plant your flag. The next turn, you have the population group number and can offload colonists and supplies.

Many players like to send a supply ship first to drop a Colony Beacon and then Construction Materials. Up to you.

Either way, you need Power at your new world, so plan ahead. Bring Coal and Construction Materials for Coal Fired Power Plants and then later upgrade, or else arrive with enough for a Fission Plant (500,000 CM plus Processed Radioactives each turn) or a Hydroelectric Plant (250,000).

Once you have established your new planet, you may want to write Convoy Orders, a wonderful feature described in the post below.
Convoy Orders
make future turns easier.

They take a few extra orders to set up (I used another 80-order turn to establish convoy routes), but then they run on their own without further input. To get started, issue the CNVR order, giving it a name, then record your actions, then issue CNVR again to stop recording. Here's a sample for a colony ship going to Galactica 2 from your homeworld of Galactica 3.

CNVR Colony Galactica 2
   NM 999 Galactica, 2                       (moves dummy fleet 999 to Galactica 2, Priority 10)
   OC 999, Galactica 2 pop group #, ALL NO FUEL                                        (Priority 20)
   LC Galactica 2 pop group #, 999, Iron, 25000, Crystals 25000                    (Priority 30)
   NM 999, Galactica, 3                                                                              (Priority 40)
   OC 999, Galactica 3 pop group #, ALL NO FUEL                                        (Priority 50)
   LC: Galactica 3 pop group #, 999, Colonists 100, Construction Materials 40000, Processed Radioactives 5000 (Priority 60)
CNVR Colony Galactica 2

You don't enter Priorities, but it helps to note them in your Turn Planner, as you'll see in a moment.

The '999' is just a placeholder. There isn't any fleet doing this until I assign one, which I can do with, say Fleet 102:
     CONV 102, Colony Galactica 2, 50
I did so at Priority 50 because an assigned ship enters at the next priority, and if it is starting at my homeworld, the first thing I want it to do is load colonists and supplies (Priority 60).

It's similar for an interstellar convoy:
CNVR Colony Relien 1a
   MOVE 999, Galactica, 50505            (moves fleet 999 - a dummy placeholder later to be assigned a real fleet - to Galactica WP 50505, Priority 10)
   WARP 999                                   (Priority 20)
   NM 999 Relien, 1a                        (moves dummy fleet 999 to Relien 1a, Priority 30)
   OC 999, Relien 1a pop group #, ALL NO FUEL       (Priority 40, etc)
   LC Relien 1a pop group #, 999, Iron, 25000, Crystals 25000
   MOVE 999, Relien,  20202
   WARP 999
   NM 999, Galactica, 3
   OC 999, Galactica 3 pop group #, ALL NO FUEL
   LC: Galactica 3 pop group #, 999, Colonists 100, Construction Materials 40000, Processed Radioactives 5000
CNVR Colony Relien 1a

Then I can assign a fleet to this convoy at Priority 90 so it begins with Priority 100, loading at my homeworld.

Convoy ships will keep running their routes until altered... or destroyed. See Preparing for Combat, next.
Preparing for Combat
This is not a comprehensive overview of all combat and doesn't even touch on ground combat. Instead, it's a summary of what to expect from combat in your first dozen turns. You're likely to encounter one of two types:
  • None
  • Death Machines
None is quite possible. The galaxy is a big place, and GM Pete mercifully places newcomers where they have time to develop before encountering others. While that's not a guarantee, and you could end up butting heads with an enemy early,  chances are you'll have relatively peaceful development until you meet...

Death Machines
These are enemy NPCs/ AI appearing around the galaxy. They can be triggered by certain events, like entering a new system, in which case they've been known to broadcast belligerent warnings. They also seem to creep ahead to certain Warp Points and guard them.

DMX forces come in three types (so far): minelayers, light cruisers, and heavy cruisers.

Any of them will outclass your early ships. Pathfinders have no weapons at all, and weaker armor than the DMX forces. So when Death Machines destroy your first ships, you have two choices.
  1. 1) You can ignore them for awhile.
That's not a bad option. Destroying one may lead to arrival of upgraded units, so you don't necessarily gain anything by engaging early. So far, Death Machines seem to protect their declared territory, but they don't yet invade planets. Steer clear of them, and you may have no further trouble for awhile.

  1. 2) You can build a super-ship (or -ships) to fight them.
You may have one set of advanced weapons in your Imperial Stockpiles, remnants of an advanced civilization. Put all of them on a ship with the best armor you have and it can probably beat a DMX Minelayer.

The two strategies aren't mutually exclusive, since you can keep researching better tech while preparing an attack. But you could do 1) without opting for 2) (at least for awhile).

In the meantime, keep researching one line of defensive space armor and one line of space weapon. At 3rd or 4th Generation, you're ready to build battle-worthy ships for this sort of enemy.
Just a few more additions - Smile

planet EXPL orders;  It takes about 100-120 orders to use up a planet.  To check your planet use an ORB order  Build these type of ships, park them at a planet and forget about them except to unload them.  Are they useful, sometimes.  I have "found" several Transwarp Drives over the years.  Then there is the odd higher level JSS that is always a bonus.  Unfortunately there seems to be an abundance of primitive artwork that also gets picked up and MDD's that can't be used.

Scrapping ships - You can only scrap them once they have been built and assigned to a fleet.  Initial pathfinders have to finish being built to be scrapped.
NUD - You can design and build in the same turn, no need to wait

Encountering others - Most HW's are from 6 - 9 hops apart.  Moving quickly it will still take time to get into range to be able to find somebody else and then only if they too are out looking.

You are most likely run into death machines.  So far the designs are all the same and the go something like this as if pealing an onion;

System beacon 
Mine Layers 
a few CL's 
More CL's with a CA
BB with CA's and some CL's
Orbital mining platform 1.2B tons, lots of BB's and Monitors as well

DMX forces move, but slowly.

Good Luck1

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