Orbital Bases, Androids Factories, Antimatter Plants and Multi-Level Platforms all require substantial research to construct. The Advanced Base Guide offers build goals for free players. That is, it shows what a player limited to five terraforms can accomplish by building on the right astro. Those goals provide a free player with all the structures necessary to have a thriving empire.
I was asked to touch on what I call “Very Advanced Structures.” As earlier, I will discuss these structures for the benefit of free players. I term them “Very Advanced” to sub-categorize these from the Advanced Structures that Astro Empires has. Advanced Structures are those structures that Astro Empires limits a free player from building. Those structures discussed in the Advanced Base Guide are essential for a free player to have any real longevity in Astro Empires.
Very Advanced Structures are important as a player grows beyond Level 30. I separated them because you really cannot use these structures until you have the sound foundation offered through the Advanced Base Guide.
Advice on Structure Use
This section discusses the Very Advanced Structures and how they can be best used for a Free Player.
Multi-Level Platforms and Orbital Bases
When available, these two structures should be built to their limit. Orbital Bases provides berths for 50 spaces. One might consider this a way to reduce the space used by Urban Structures. However, Multi-Level Platforms (MLP) provide 50 spaces. Therefore, rather than using Orbital Bases to free up space on an astro, these structures work with Multi-Level Platforms to provide the base with 50 available spaces.
Antimatter Plants Do Not Free Up Fusion Plants
One might expect that the Antimatter Plants would help free up space on the astro by reducing the need for Fusion Plants. After all, at Energy-20, an Antimatter Plant provides 20 units of energy. Five Plants would free up 12 Fusion Plants, which only provides the base with seven extra slots. There is a better use for these Plants than freeing up seven slots discussed in the following sub-section.
Three Pringles is Enough
Pringles is the vernacular for a pair of Planetary Rings and Shields. At Level-30, players are well advised to have at least one set of Pringles on each base. Two is considered minimal. I would recommend three. Three sets of Pringles requires 108 energy, which consumes all the available Antimatter Plants a free player has at his disposal, and requires a Fusion Plant. Assuming the free player builds the MLP and Orbital Bases as described above, three sets of Pringles require 9 spaces on the Astro: none for the Rings, three for the Shields, five for the Antimatter Plants, and one for the Fusion Plant. It would also consume 12 of the 50 berths provided by the Orbital Bases.
A fourth set would require additional 5 Fusion Plants, consuming 6 spaces on the astro and 7 berths. Therefore, from a space and resource perspective, a fourth set consumes fifty percent more resources than the first three; energy excluded.
Android Factories are also very useful. All five factories provide 30 construction and production. They require three Fusion Plants, and consume eight berths on the Orbital Bases and eight spaces on the astro.
Are Orbital Shipyards essential? I include them in this discussion because they require advanced research. Astro Empires does not limit the free player in building these structures. Why? Because these structures allow a player to build the Capital ships, and you need seven to build a Death Star.
I champion the Small Fleet Doctrine. That Doctrine holds that Capital ships are unnecessary. The only possible exception is the production of Dreadnaughts, which work well with Planetary Rings in making a base an inefficient target. However, a few Battleships accomplish the same task while complying with the Doctrine. Therefore, if you comply dogmatically to this Doctrine, you may not need an Orbital Shipyard.
A reader asserted the paragraph above was a bit short-sighted. After all, an Orbital Shipyard takes up no space. It draws 12 energy and a single berth. If you are using Fusion Plants to power it, then three total berths are consumed, with four energy remaining; or two of them consume 5 total berths. An Orbital Shipyard provides an additional 9 production (remember it requires Cybernetics-2, which boosts baseline production), which would require five spaces, and a Fusion Plant; consuming 6 berths. Two Orbital Shipyards, consuming five berths, provide as much production as 9 Shipyards, which requires 11 slots and berths.
This taken into account, there is value in building Orbital Shipyards for the sole purpose of boosting Production. You should let your total plan for a base guide you.
Biosphere Modification: Too Little, Too Late
Biosphere Modification is similar to Orbital Shipyards as Astro Empires does not limit its construction by Free Players. This only affects Urban Structures, however, as Orbital Bases are not affected by an astro's fertility. Is this a big deal? I contend they are not.
For a Slot-2 Arid fully Terraformed, one level of Biosphere Modification frees two or three Urban Structures at most. Arid2 astros have a Fertility of 6. A Minimal base has Urban Structures-12, with the Research bases having Urban Structures-17; providing berths for 60 and 102 spaces, respectively. Raising the Fertility to 7 means those Structures provide 72 and 119 berths.
As discussed above, Orbital Bases work with Multi-Level Platforms. Therefore, extending the Fertility does not impact the additional space offered by MLPs. Therefore, the Modification lets the base owner retire extra Urban Structures. Now, the Research base only needs Urban Structures-15, which frees up two Structures. At Biosphere Modification-2, the astro now needs Urban Structures-13. Bioshpere Modification-3 means that base now needs Urban Structures-12! Three modifications on a Fertility-6 astro allows you to free up five slots.
The first level costs 20,000 credits. As I don't have the cost of higher levels, each next level should cost 50 percent more than the last. So, Level-2 costs 30,000, and the Level-3 costs 45,000. For a total expenditure of 95,000 credits, a free player can retire five Urban Structures—a cost of 19,000 per Structure retired.
Let us assume you've followed the suggestion of this guide. You, the free player, have built three sets of Pringles and maxed out the Androids Factories. This consumes 17 spaces on the Astro—two MLPs. This consumes the power generated by all five of your Antimatter Plants and four Fusion Plants. This table below summarizes the impact of these building decisions, but reflects that you have a 42 spaces remaining, 39 berths and four energy.
Space Berth Energy
Multi-Level Platforms +50 - -
Orbital Bases - +50 -
Antimatter Plants 5 5 +100
Fusion Plants 4 4 +32
Pringles (3) 3 6 108
Android Factories 5 5 20
Remaining 33 30 4
Let me let you in on a bit of a secret. How many Urban Structures are needed to berth an astro? The answer is number of slots available divided by one more than the fertility:
US = Available / (Fertility + 1)
This is because the Urban Structures themselves consume a space. Try it!
What do we do with the remaining spaces? You can (for the space):
* (25) Make a Production base a full Production/Research base. Building Labs-22 consumes 25 spaces and berths after including the energy.
* (2) Add Jumpgates, which requires one Fusion Plant and consumes 2 berths and spaces per level. By adding one Urban Structure, you can add JG-3 to any base.
* (11) Increase to Command Center-20, costing 11 berths and requiring one Fusion Plant.
* (6-12) Increase to Spaceport-20, costing 5-10 berths and 1 or two Fusion Plants
* (12) Increase your Metal Refinery and Robotics Factories to 22 and 18 respectively, which “balances” these structures with the Androids Factories-5 and consumes 12 more energy and berths (one more Fusion Plant after the Remaining above), and increases your base economy by 12 (to 60 based on your trade routes).
I offer a suggestion for free players. It costs 3 USD per month to upgrade an account. If you really want to get more from this game, then maximize your construction of all the limited strucutres; build your Pringles and fully develop the bases within the limits of your free account. Save as many credits as you can. Then, upgrade for one month and spend every spare moment of that month building the structures beyond the limits. Build Terraform-10, Nanite-11, etc.
Better yet, build more bases. By growing from 9 to 10 bases, you increase your empire's potential by 11 percent. For each additional base, the returns diminish; the percentage return is 20 minus the number of bases. So, from 9 to 10 bases, you have an 11 percent return; 10 to 11 has ten percent; 11 to 12 has 9 percent, etc. Spending a month to build from 9 to 12 bases, however, increases your empire by 30 percent. Is that worth 3 USD? Having the money saved and Outpost Ships ready at the beginning of the paid-for month is the best way to maximize your “Free” empire's potential.