4.0 (Unity) has created a strong bias to have some starships as part of your ship mix. To support this new emphasis you start the game with many star ships unlocked. This page needs additional updating to reflect those changes.
What Technologies Should I Unlock If I'm New?
Q: The tutorial mainly just covers mark upgrades, and there's so much more research to get. Early on, should I focus on mark upgrades? Should I get a starship early or wait? Basically I'm a bit at a loss of what research I should focus on first.
A: The game is basically build-your-own-civilization, and so there is no one best answer. Ultimately, you'll unlock technologies that match your preferred play style, or (especially on harder difficulties) the situation at hand. Upgrading the mark levels is pretty key in most cases, because it gets you more ship cap, and therefore more ships to use. However, some people play the opposite and unlock the Starships instead. That lets you really have smaller fleets, but with powerful starships at the center of them. Or you can find something of a balance there.
It's a good idea to avoid unlocking too many turrets or defensive techs until you really need them. Although, some people find that mobile repair stations and/or transports are something of a must-have for their play styles. It depends on what you really want to emphasize. If you go the starships route, a popular line is the flagships-to-Zenith-to-Spire route, because those are the most powerful starships you can get, and they really pack a punch. But the AI is good at defending against just them, so it's very smart to pair them with a reasonable fleet as well.
Here are some example unlock paths for the early game, though, until you find what you prefer:
Balanced Approach, Fleet And Starship Mix
The kjara Early Unlock Path
- At least two or three Mark II upgrades (depending on opponent/special unit).
- The big boost here is energy efficiency, since Mark I and Mark II units require the same energy per unit, and Mark II's are close to 2x as strong in many cases.
- One starship type (either Raid if I have a faster unit mix or F lagship if I'm using cruisers offensively)
- As of the Unity version, most starships are already unlocked, so this is more of a build option.
- A couple of turret upgrades (usually Laser I and Missile I).
- As of the Unity version, most turrets are already unlocked, so this is more of a build option.
- That covers around the first 16k of knowledge or so.
Heavy Economic Investment For Larger Fleets, Quicker
The x4000 Early Unlock Path
- I'm traditionally a boomer/economic fiend in other RTS games, so my unlock path mirrors that.
- Command Station II (under ECON).
- At Least two or three Mark II upgrades.
- At least one or two Mark III upgrades.
- The big boost here is Mark III's are close to 9x to 11x as strong as Mark Is.
- Spider Turrets, or perhaps Basic Turret IIs, or both.
- Possibly Engineers II.
- Possibly higher-level scouts.
- I value bombers over fighters because of the damage they deal to force fields, especially with their increased range.
- But you can never go wrong with Mark II or Mark III of either.
Aggressive Pursuit Of Specialized High-Level Ships
The Haagenti Early Unlock Path
- My style is different from X: I go for Mark IIIs quickly as:
- they are very energy-efficient
- they are also very resource-efficient (more bang for your buck)
- once you start encountering Ion Cannons (units that rapidly one-shot I and sometimes II ships) they are necessary
- Ion Cannons come all the way up to Mark V now, so this isn't always the case! Watch out for any Ion Cannon that out-marks your ships.
- Mark III Basic Turrets (for defense, but this is not a real immediate necessity at AI 5)
- Mark III Frigates (so you can field as many frigates as possible)
- Mark III Fighters (so you can field as many fighters as possible)
- If I have a good special ship, Mark III specials as well
- I usually don't bother with bombers as these are expensive and die easily.
- I prefer to unsupply enemy forcefields at start, and otherwise use large amounts of frigates and later on Raid starships.
The Post 4.0 Specialized Path Draco18s' unlocks, now with the knowledge-free starships and turrets
- My style is similar to Haagenti's
- I grab Mark III of my special unit (which I take care in choosing in the lobby)
- Depending on resource availability and usage I'll grab Mark II harvesters for the resource I have more of.
- At an 8:5 harvester ratio, the increased collection from the 8 churned through manufactures results in roughly a 5-6% increase over getting Mark II of the harvester I lack.
- Mark II bombers or Mark II fighters, depending on special unit
- Riot Control Starships Mark II.
- Which I outfit with a Riot Tazer, 2 small Riot Shields, and all the lasers she can bear.
- I don't build Mark Is, but if you do, the same idea: 2 Riot shields, and as many lasers as you can cram on. They have high range, which is more important than a lower engine damage floor.
- This usually leaves me with some knowledge left over (5000 or so), which I save until I find an Advanced Research Station or encounter a need to tech something up.
- I also build a Leech Starship I and use it on defense so I can reclaim some enemy units, which can sometimes augment my fleet.
- Viral Shredders are an amazing reclamation, as are Engineer Mark IIIs, Munitions Boosters, Armor Boosters, Force Field Bearers, as well as any Mark IV or V ship.
Defensive And Economic Setup With Starships For Quick Neighbor-Raiding
The Velox Early Unlock Path
- I usually stick with Mark Is for quite a while, and instead research:
- Mark II Engineers
- Mark II Command Stations
- Various defensives (turrets etc.)
- I build up a few Mark Is and use them for defense, then build Raid Starships, smash the surrounding systems, and then move on to neutering adjoining planets while I build up the now-empty neighboring planets.
The RCIX Early Unlock Path
- Unlock Missile turrets, and one other type depending on my opponent
- MLRS MkII is pretty good, and Lightnings are a must against swarm ships.
- Riot Starships
- I may not build these right away but they help a lot when I'm crusading. They slow/string out enemy fleets and make them more manageable.
- Mobile Repair Stations (MRSs)
- These are a must have after I capture a planet and have some energy, as they vastly boost the longevity of my fleets in all but the worst situations.
- MkII ships
- I usually go for MkII Fighters and bombers first, then frigates. I'll unlock my special ship first if it's really good (like laser gatlings or something)
- That should cover all of your starting knowledge and what you raid at first, plus a little.