When you start up the game for the very first time, you'll be presented with the welcome screen. Clicking Start will take you to a screen where you'll have to provide a Google Account. We use the Google Account to authenticate you with the server (but don't worry, your email address is never shared with anyone else).
Once logged in, you will be able to choose which realm to join. For beginner, we recommend you start with Beta. Go ahead and select Beta for now.
After you clicked 'Start', you will need to set up your empire. At this stage, all we need to know about you is what name you want to give yourself:
Once you've named your empire, you'll see the "main" Welcome Screen. This is the screen that you'll get when you exit the game and come back again (i.e. all of the above is just a one-time setup).
The Welcome Screen include a "message of the day", which will be updated whenever there are new announcements or updates to the game. You can now click Start Game to enter the game proper!
The Starfield screen is an important screen, as it's where a lot of the "action" happens, so to speak. The top half is dedicated to the starfield itself. You can drag the view around to see more of the universe. In the centre of the starfield view, you'll see your initial star.
You can see a couple of icons around your initial star. The shield icon represents your colony. More than one empire can have a colony around a star, and if there's any more, they'll show up around to the right.
The three ships represent the fleets you have in orbit. "Scary Tangerine (212)" is your empire name (in this case, we called ourselves "Scary Tangerine") and 212 is the total number of ships in orbit around this star.
The concentric dotted circle is the selection cursor, indicating we currently have this star selected. The currently-selected star will show additional details in the bottom pane of the starfield screen.
On the left of the bottom pane, you can see a list of the planets around this star. Each star can have between 2 and 7 planets. Planets can be of different types, which describe things like the planet's congeniality towards habitation and so forth.
Down the center of the bottom pane you can see the list of ships that are orbit this star. Initially, you'll have 10 scouts, 50 fighters and 2 colony ships.
And on the right of the bottom pane, are some buttons, View, Intel, Sit. Rep., and Empire. We'll go into more detail about what these mean later on, but for now you can click View (or one of the planets in the left-hand list) to bring up the Solar System screen.
Another important screen, the Solar System screen. Again, this screen is divided into two sections. The top section show the solar system itself, with the star in the top-left and the planets orbiting it. You can tap the planets to select them, which will show you some additional details about the planet in the bottom pane.
Colonized planets are indicated with a little "flag" icon. In this case, Vanhel III is a colonized planet. Each planet has statistics known as "congeniality" which is shown next to the planet when you have it selected (see left). There are three aspects to congeniality, population congeniality, farming congeniality and mining congeniality.
Population congeniality controls the planet's initial maximum population (you can build certain buildings and technologies to increase a planet's maximum population, but it's population congeniality represents the "baseline"). Farming and mining congeniality describe how well the planet is able to support farming and mining respectively.
On the bottom pane you'll see some details about the colony you have, including it's focus and various statistics about the output of the colony.
In the screenshot to the right, you can see the population is slightly down from 647. You can change the focus to maximize the population growth to hit 647. Note: your default planet's population congeniality will be different from Vanhel. As a matter of fact, each planet has its own population congeniality.
Go ahead and click on the Focus button. You can see that you can adjust the planet's focus by dragging the slider. By default, everything is at 25.
Also, we start off the game with two extra Colony Ship, which we can use to colonize another planet in this solar system. So let's do that now. We look for another planet that has a reasonable population congeniality as well as a high farming or mining congeniality - something to complement our existing colony. Select the planet and click "Colonize". This will destroy the Colony Ship and create a colony with 100 population on the second planet.
Unlike the default colony, you can see that Vanhel I only has 100 population. In order to achieve the maximum population, you will have to adjust the focus. This early in the game, we don't need to focus on construction, becuase we're not building anything yet, so we can adjust the focus and set construction to 0. Click the "Focus" button, and drag the slider so it looks like this: Additionally, you can see that our Colony Ship went from 2 to 1 ship count.
One final point about the Solar System screen. If you look at the top-right of the screen, you will see the stores: one for minerals and one for food.
Stores of minerals and food are shared between all of your colonies. That means you can have one colony that produces all of your food and one that produces all of your minerals, for example.
Additionally, you can store a maximum (by default) of 500 units of food and 500 units of minerals. You can increase the storage by building Silos (which we'll see later on). Generally, there is no benefit to having large stores of food (except to ward against your food-producing colony being destroyed), but construction can be very expensive in terms of minerals and it's a good idea to have as many colonies as possible producing as much minerals as possible.
Now that we've got our colonies set up reasonably well, it's time to look for other stars to conquer. We head back to the Starfield view, and scroll around. You can tap on the stars to populate the planet list at the bottom. If the star has lots of inferno or radiate planets then it's probably not that useful to us at this stage. If it's got lots of Terran, Swamp and Water planets then that's more useful. Tap on "View" to view the planets in more detail. Choose a star that has a few planets with high population congeniality as these will be the easiest to build up.
Once you've chosen a star, you will want to sent a Scout to make sure there are not native ships in orbit (since those will destroy to colony ships before you get a chance to do anything!). For this, we tap on the "Empire" button from the Starfield view, which brings up the "Empire" screen.
The Empires screen is broken up into five tabs, the Overview and Colonies tab you can see above. We'll come back to these two later. The Fleets tab is the one we're after here, and it lists all of the fleets on all of the stars in your empire.
As you can see above, we only need one fleet of Scouts at the moment. There's 10 of them, and there's really no point sending 10 scouts to a single star. So the first thing we do is tap on "Split" to split the fleet up. We'll only need a single scout, so we split it and select the single Scout then tap Move, which brings up the Move dialog:
To move a fleet, you select the star you want it move to, and tap "Move". You'll notice when you select a destination star, some information about the move is shown at the bottom. The main interesting things are the time it will take to move, and the cost. Moving fleets take time to reach their destination and they also take fuel. Fuel is paid for with cash, and you start the game with $2000 - more than enough to move a few scouts around. We'll see has cash works in more detail later on.
You can see above that I've got a scout moving to a star that look like a good candidate for colonization. You can have more than one scout moving at a time. Feel free to send couple scouts to different stars. They'll take a while to get there, so now is a good time to sign off for a while. We can come back once we get a notification that the fleets have arrived at their destination.
Next up: Buildings and construction
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