Buildings are the core of your empire. They determine the speed of which you acquire tech and fleet. Because of that, infrastructure (or the effects of it rather - Production/Research capacities) become a good indicator of a person's skill level and dedication in the game. Good capacities mean that you make fleet/advance tech faster than others whereas bad capacities mean that you fall behind even if you keep full queues. Good infrastructure is therefore essential for a meteoric rise in rankings and thus, a successful Astro Empire - provided you use what your buildings give you well.
Resource Giving Structures
Energy is needed in most buildings. You can get energy in one of four ways - Gas, Solar, Fusion, and Antimatter Plants. Energy also benefits from your energy tech, which will increase the efficiency of your power plants by increasing the output of each building by 5% per level. As a general rule, do not ever build power plants with base energy below +4 as it quickly becomes a waste of space.
Energy is generally quite cheap to come by on a base with 4 of either solar/gas, and quite expensive if you have neither.
Solar / Gas Plants:
Initial Cost: 1 credit, 1 pop, 1 area
Gives: +X Energy (x = solar or gas depending on which type of plant)
Comments: Once again, I must reiterate not to use plants with energy output of 3 or lower.
However, on slot 1 bases solar plants are useful as a second alternative to fusion plants - thus dramatically lowering energy prices (Alternate between Fusion and Solar/Antimatter depending on which is cheaper). Generally with 4 solar, one would expect to cut energy costs by about 66% or more.
Gas plants comparatively see much less use because all the astros with gas 3 or more have 2 metal, therefore its impossible to find an astro with 4+ gas and 3 metal.
Initial Cost: 20 credits; 1 pop, 1 area
Gives: +4 Energy
Requires: Some amount of energy tech that you'll have by the end of day 1.
Comments: You will build these on every astro on a need to need and efficiency basis. They are the smaller (and cheaper) alternative to antimatters and gives a moderate amount of energy. Quickly becomes expensive though unless you're on a 4 solar astro; especially if you don't have antimatters yet. This is why I suggest newer players to not go for too many bases without 4 solar until they get access to antimatters.
Initial Cost: 2000 credits, 1 pop, 1 area
Gives: +10 Energy
Requires: 20 Energy
Comments: You will build these on every astro on a need to need and effiency basis. They are the bigger plants that players often use to fuel prings, pshields, and other energy eating buildings such as Orbitals. They become expensive almost at the first sight but at the same time they are the best plant due to their space/pop saving nature. Even when it might appear to be ineffienct, build these when the cost of 1.5 area/1.5 pop (you need 2.5 fusions to equal an antimatter in energy output, thus an antimatter is by default cheaper by 1.5 area/1.5 pop) is more expensive than how much you appear to be losing out on the surface.
Population is needed in all buildings. You can get pop in one of three ways - Urban Structures, Orbital Bases, and Biosphere Mods (indirectly). All buildings require one unit of population. Therefore you'll need population wherever you go.
On bases with low fertility (4) population quickly becomes slightly expensive (approx the same as an astro without 4 solar).
Initial Cost: 1 credit (although you always have level 1 urban when you build a base, so technically it should be 2 credits); 1 area
Gives: +X Population (x = fertility)
Comments: Build on a need to need and efficiency basis. They become expensive quite quickly as well, although a higher fertility helps on that issue. Urban Structure is to Orbital Bases like how Fusion Plants is to Antimatters. Also like Energy, I suggest for newer players to not build too many astros with 4 fertility until they get access to Biosphere Mods and (more importantly) Orbital Bases.
Initial Cost: 2000 credits
Gives: +10 population
Requires: 20 Computer
Comments: Antimatter for population. Build on a need to need and efficiency basis. They are awesome because they don't require anything except credits and give a huge bulk of population. You'll grow to love these a lot more than urbans as soon as you get them - for good reason. Keep in mind the area saving aspect of Orbital bases when deciding whether to build an Orbital or an Urban.
Initial Cost: 20000 credits (Planet), 15000 credits (Moon), 10000 Credits (Asteroid); 1 area; 1 pop; 24 energy
Gives: +1 Fertility
Requires: 24 Energy, 24 Computer
Comments: Arguably the most advanced structure in the game. By the time it is accessible, it will probably be effecient as well. It gives 1 population for each level of urban structures you have -1. This is the only resource (energy/area/pop) giving building in the game that actually requires a unit of the resource it is giving (Population). Biosphere Mods are the weakest for planets with high fertility and stronger for asteroids and moons with low fertility.
These are practically made for 4 solar 4 Fert Asteroids - as they give the cheapest and the most effective Biosphere mods. In any case though, you'll probably have less than 4 levels of these things simply due to how much energy and credits they consume that could be better spent on say, a layer of pringles.
The most expensive resource in the game after you exhaust your initial area allocated to any astro. There's only two ways to get area - Terraforms and Multi-Level Platforms. Most buildings require 1 area and as such energy costs quickly stack up as the most pain in the ass resource in the game in terms of credits. In fact, area becomes such an issue that some people withhold entirely from building on asteroids simply due to the terraform/MLPing costs.
Initial Cost: 80 credits
Gives: +5 Area
Requires: An insignificant amount of computer or armor (forgot)
Comments: Not much to say really, the smaller of the two area giving structures. Build on a need to need and effiency basis as usual for most prominent resource infrastructures. This is also why you need to get an upgraded account - as you get about 10 levels or more of terraforms and this will allow you to expand every aspect of your infrastructure greatly.
Multi Level Platforms:
Initial Cost: 10000 credits
Gives: +10 Energy
Requires: 22 Armor
Comments: The bigger of the two area structures. Build on a need to need and effiency basis.
Production is the most important 'resource' in the game because it dictates how fast you can churn out fleet. As such, a large percentage of your bank should be dedicated to increasing and maintaining production. Remember that production not used is production wasted: Running a 4k Prod 100% of the time is better than running 7k prod 50% of the time. Production is also the reason why metal 2 astros suck. Metal refineries - a core component for increasing production, is affected by the base metal value of your astro and as such by default 2 metal astros have less production than 3 metal ones.
Many structures that give production also gives construction as well, so construction comes with having a high prod.
Production (and construction) benefits from cybernetics - the prime reason why it is arguably the best tech in the game.
For upgraded accounts build:
X/X-5/X-10/X-15 levels of Metal/Robotic/Nanite/Androids
X-5/X-20 levels of Shipyards/Orbital Shipyard or however many you need for the biggest ships you intend to build on that astro, whichever is greater.
(X should be at least 20 2 months in; aim for 25-30 by the time you get bored of AE)
Initial Cost: 1 credits; 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +x Construction and Production (x = base metal value) and 1 economy
Comments: This should be your highest level structure on all your bases. It gives a moderate amount of production and construction on the cheap. Build alot of these (accounting for effeciency) for a high production and construction value. I can't stress enough how important production is and this is why this structure is also very important.
Don't build these on metal 1 astros - although a better idea would be to disband such an astro.
Initial Cost: 5 credits; 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +2 construction/production and 1 economy
Requires: A very insignificant amount of computer
Comments: This should be about 5 levels lower than your metal refineries level. It gives a small amount of prod/construction on the cheap. Like metal refineries, build if its the most effienct prod structure you can build.
You can sometimes skip on these on free accounts simply because you can't afford to spend the area on this instead of bigger for the area structures like nanites and metal refineries. (Another reason to upgrade...)
Initial Cost: 80 credits; 1 pop/area, 2 energy
Gives: +4 construction/production and 2 economy
Requires: An insignificant amount of tech that I forgot.
Comments: This should be about 10 levels lower than your metal refineries. Its one of the more area efficent production structures and also gives a fair amount of economy for what they cost. Build if its the most efficiency prod structure you can build.
Build to the max level on free accounts always. (Another reason to upgrade... do you really need any more?)
Initial Cost: 1000 credits, 1 pop/area, 4 energy
Gives: +6 construction/production and 2 economy
Requires: 4 Artificial Intelligence
Comments: If cybernetics and increased research wasn't enough for you to research AI, this should do the cake. Its the second most area efficient prod structure in the game and the most area efficient prod structure that also gives construction. Build to the max on free accounts always. This should be about 15 levels lower than your metal refineries. Build if its the most efficient prod structure you can build.
Initial Cost: 5 creits, 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +2 production, 1 economy
Comments: Build upto 24 (or however you need for -insert big ship-) or on an efficient basis. It is needed to build bigger ships but it also gives a small amount of production - enough to build at least to 5 levels below the level of your metal refineries.
Build only upto the biggest ships you want to build on an astro for free accounts due to its horrible area efficiency.
Initial Cost: 10000 credits, 1 pop, 12 energy
Gives: +8 production, 2 economy
Requires: 2 Cybernetics
Comments: Needed for big ships (although they are usually quite efficent also beyond their use as a prerequisite) Arguably the best prod structure in the game due to the fact that it takes up 0 area and the most powerful (
. However, due to its cost build only 20 levels below your metal refineries or however you need for the ship you wish to build. Its only down points are that it doesn't give construction and that it is quite energy intensive (so you might want to hold off a bit building these on astros without 4 solar).
Economy is also quite important. (Especially for a simmer!) It IS your hourly income and such helps you fill your queues. Economy is a key reason why many people choose to get asteroids and crystals, however, economy in my opinion is not as important as production for an active player and when in doubt - go for production because you'll usually get both when you go for production. Therefore economy structures play a more minor role to your production structures, however, sometimes they are cheap enough to instigate some investment.
Inital Cost: 80 credits, 1 pop/area, 2 energy
Gives: +3 Economy
Requires: An insignificant amount of tech that I forgot.
Comments: This, like crystal mines, are the less important family of economy structures as they don't give trade routes. With that said, the first few levels are still worth it as the economy you get quickly pays off. Build up to maybe 7-15 levels depending on your taste. They are (in truth) worth more to simmers than to active players as active players get their income from pillaging/derbs more than their hourly income.
Initial Cost: 2 credits, 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +2 Economy
Requires: An astro with at least 1 crystal
Comments: Do not build these on craters/metallic astros, complete waste of space. Even on asteroids don't be fooled by their apparent cheapness as many players are - they are really space inefficient as they only give 2 econ and no prod. Many players build a lot of these and bitch when they get slapped with 50k terraforms. However, I would still build maybe 10-15 levels (some players like I said, opt for more and decide to pay for it later in terraforming costs) on an asteroid and more on crystals (as they have more crystals, and more area)
Initial Cost: 5 credits, 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +2 Energy, +1 Trade Routes for each 5 levels of spaceports + the first one
Comments: The best economy structure in the game. Period. Get level 20 for the short haul, but aim for level 25 eventually. Each trade route is worth about 30-50 credits and such they are actually about 5x as powerful as economy centers. Don't forget to get long distance and (more importantly) unique trades to optimize your income from trades.
Initial Cost: 15000 credits, 1 pop/area, 12 energy
Gives: +10 economy on the base with the capitals, +1 economy on all your other bases.
Comments: Contrary to popular belief, capitals can be leveled up. I recommend building it on another fortress if you plan to get these so as to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Capitals are the most area efficient econ structure in the game. They are worth about 50 econ per level and as such after you get spaceports level 20 on all your bases its worth it to pop a level or two on a heavily fortified base. I recommend building Capitals on either slot 1 Rocky Moons or Asteroids so as to minimize cost. After maybe level 4 or so I can see diminishing returns kick in as your capital has too much econ to trade with most people and thus you lose effective econ gained by the capital and subsequent structures. However the structure has not been 'tested' yet as it was only released recently in September 2008, so give it a spin once you get a good foundation going. (Note: If your capital ever gets occupied, you lose 15% of your economy temporarily until your capital is released. To counter this either release your capital or disband the structure)
The Other Structures
Believe it or not, the two remaining structures I've yet to cover - Command Centers and Research Labs - are also quite essentail. However, what they have in common is that they are only needed (albeit in great quantity) on a few astros. Either way though, you cannot do without them. In fact, the only optional structures I'd say are economy centers and crystal mines. (robotics as well for free accounts)
Initial Cost: 2 credits, 1 pop/area/energy
Gives: +6 Research
Comments: Get 22-26 on 3-6 of your bases and stick a good leveled research commander on those astros for optimal researching. Also good to plop 1 or 2 down on some of your other bases for credit banking (canceling research gives 100% back) when needed.
Initial Cost: 20 credits, 1 pop/area
Gives: +5% attack for your fleet on that astro, +1 occ capacity
Requires: Some insignificant amount of tech
Comments: Get 20+ on your main JG (where you sleep your fleet at) and however many more on a need to need basis for your occs.Also good to plop down a few levels on your occupied astros for easier killing of occ fleets.
Initial Cost: 5000 credits, 8 energy, 1 pop
Gives: +100% speed per level to all guild fleet traveling from the astro with the Jump gate.
Requires: Energy 20, Warp 12
Comments: Put a high level JG on your main base. Other more minor purposes include putting a low level JG on each base that isn't in your main galaxy and placing a level 1 JG to allow for more swift gatherings of your mobile fleet, also serving a general increase in mobility for your guild at the same time as well.
Dizz - How many levels of XXXX should aim I build???!!!
Fusion / Antimatter Plants
As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings (Antimatter about 8 levels lower than Fusion)
Terraforms / MLPs
As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings (MLPs about 10-11 levels lower than terraform)
Urbans / Orbitals
As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings (Orbitals about 16 levels lower than urbans)
1-2 on most astros (maybe 3 on a slot 1 roid)
Solar Plants (on 4 solar astros)
As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings As needed for other buildings (8 levels or so higher than fusions)
20 or 25
8-12 (taste dependant)
Crystal Mines (2 crystal)/Crystal Mines (3 crystal)
12-18 / 15-22
25 or so
20 or so
15 or so
10 or so
5 or so
20 (no levi) or 24 (levi)
20-25 on JGs, as needed on other bases for additional occs
5 on your main base
12 on your main base
Anywhere from level 9-11 on your main base with a good log commander on standby is fine
18 (+ a lvl 22 on atleast 1 base)
22-26 on 4-8 bases with high lvl research commanders assigned