While fleet and defenses are important things to consider when building an empire, you will never be able to get the money to build unless you focus on building your economy. You economy is generally defined as the total number of credits you can take in an hour. There are many ways to grow your economy, such as building structures that raise economy, building trade routes, and building bases that specialize in high economy. You can also temporarily raise your economy through occupations and debris collection.
Structures are the main way that economy is increased. Many of these structures have another purpose in addition to building up economy. For example, Metal Refineries and the various factories serve to raise Construction and Production as well as adding to economy, and are the basis of any successful base. Shipyards are used for fleet production, with orbital shipyards being built on specific fleet building bases. Economic centers, crystal mines, capitals, and spaceports specifically focus on raising economy. Indepth descriptions of each structures benefits and requirements are listed below.
* Metal Refineries:
These structures are the backbone of a starting economy. Metal refineries are especially valuable if you are on a 3 metal planet because it gives you 1+ economy per level along with 3 construction and production. It is generally recommended to get an astro with 2-3 metal, otherwise your construction will grow slowly and impede the development of your base. That means that you will be able to build much faster. it's generally recommended to build between 20-25 of these structures. Metal Refineries are present in the beginning of the game, and are usually the first structures built.
* Robotic Factories:
These structures are a little bit less efficient than metal refineries (depending on the type of astro) because they cost more when you are starting and they only give +1 economy and 2 production/construction. However they are considered to be a great asset to the base, because free players can build unlimited numbers of these. Around 20 Robotic factories are recommended. Robotic factories are unlocked after researching level 2 of computers.
* Nanite Factories:
These structures are the next step up from robotic factories. They increase production and construction by 4, and will also give you 2 more economy. The number of nanite factories you can build depends on your account type. Free players are limited to 5 of these structures, while upgraded players can build as many as they please. Free players should build 5, while upgraded players can aim for 10-15. Researching Computer 10 and Laser 8 will open up Nanite factories.
* Androids Factories:
These structures are a good choice for any planet if you have the resources and tech available for the construction of these they give 2 economy and 6 production/construction. Like Nanites, Android Factories are Advanced structures. Thus free players should build the 5 they are allowed. Upgraded Players can build 5-10 depending on preference. Android factories are available after researching Artificial Intelligence 4.
* Economic Centers:
As their name suggests, these structures are specifically focused on raising economy, raising it by 3 for every structure built. Because they are Advanced structures though, free players can only build 5. Higher level upgraded players like to have around 10 to help bump up a bases economy. Economic Centers are available after researching Computer 10.
Capitals can only be built on one base, and will give a 10 econ bonus per level to that base along with an additional 1 econ per level for every other base. However, it also comes with the drawback that if your capital is occupied, you will lose 15% of your total income. Thus you will want to make certain you are well defended before building this structure. The Capital is available after researching Tachyon Communications 1.
* Crystal Mines:
Crystal mines are only available on those planets with crystals: craters, which have 1 crystal; asteroids, which have 2 crystal; and the rare crystallines, which have 3 crystal. Crystal mines raise your economy by the astro's level of crystal, meaning that it is better to build these on asteroids and crystallines to get the best benefit. They are an excellent way for the beginning player to raise economy quickly and easily.
Each shipyard level increases a bases production by 2, and economy by 1. Shipyards are one of the starting structures available in the beginning of the game, and so are a nice source of income for the new player.
* Orbital Shipyards:
Orbital Shipyards increase base production by 8, and raise economy by 2. Though they take up a considerable amount of energy, they don't take up space on the base. This structure is best placed on a production base. You will get Orbital Shipyards after researching Cybernetics 2.
Spaceports are another great source of income for the beginning player. They provide +2 economy for each level and are the key to opening trade routes. Building 1 spaceport will open up 1 trade route, and you will gain 1 more trade route for every 5 levels of spaceports you have. The number you build depends largely on your preferences, but in general, have enough built so that you have at least 3 trade routes on each base. On economically-focused bases, it can be worthwhile to have 5 or more trade routes.
A second way to raise your economy is to form trade routes with other players. A trade route is a link between two planets. When forming a trade route, you will receive credits, added to your hourly income, based on the economy of the two planets, the distance between them, and the number of unique trades you have (that is, how many different people who trade with). The number of trade routes you have is determined by the levels of spaceports that you have. You will open 1 trade route with your first level, a 2nd with 5 levels, and then 1 extra trade route for every 5 levels of spaceports.
When creating a trade route it is best to choose a planet that is close in economy to yours, but is a long distance away. This will give you the maximum benefit. One good way to find trade routes is to post them on your guild's trade board. When choosing trades you can use the trade formula, Income = Sqrt(Lowest Base Economy) * (1 + Sqrt(Distance)/75 + Sqrt(Players)/10), to calculate the income from potential trades. Using this formula, advanced players will often include specific distances and income ranges for potential trades, that will give them the best benefit. Trades do come at a cost, so it is recommended that you have some credits built up. You will have to pay an amount equal to half of the distance of the route to activate it. New players will often fill their trade routes with self trades, or trades between astros they own. While this can have some early benefit, these self trades should be replaced as soon as the person begins to build up a decent economy.
Filling trade routes can seem like a daunting task at first. But it can be very easy if you know how. First, you can post open trade routes on your guild's trade board. When posting your trade routes include the base location, economy, and number of open routes for each base. Also, include any specifications on the trade route you want; for example, if you want a unique trade, a long distance one, and how close to your economy you prefer. One thing to keep in mind, is that during war times, internal trades, which are trades that are with members of your guild, are often targets of piracy by the opposing guild. Thus, it is worthwhile to have trades with people of other guilds. Simply send a form with your trades and requirements to the trade ministers of other guilds and ask them to post the routes on their trade boards. Another option is to send a message to guilded players that appear on the attack ticker asking them to post your trade routes onto their guild's board.
Finally, you need to make certain that your trade routes are properly defended. This is done by making certain that you have proper defenses for your level, as well as fleet to prevent plundering, when an enemy attacks your trade. This is because if the trade route is attacked, the route will be canceled automatically, and the attacker gains the cost of the route as plunder. Many recommend either placing a dreadnought or two Battleships on your base, to help prevent plundering, as these ships are difficult to take down alongside good defenses.
Economic bases take structures and trade routes and combine them onto a base that is specifically designed to have high economy. Economic bases are a good way for beginning players to give their economy a jumpstart. Certain types of astros are better for this purpose than others. Generally, astros chosen for economic bases will have multiple methods of raising economy possible, and will be easy to build defenses on to prevent occupation. These types of bases will have higher amounts of possible trade routes to take advantage of the higher economy. The best bases for economic bases are described below.
Astros to consider for economic bases
* Crystalline: Crystalline astros are among the most sought after economic bases, due to their status as the only astro with 3 crystal. However, they are one of the rarest astros. But, if you are lucky enough to find one, building crystal mines on these bases makes for a cheap and effective way of raising economy, because your economy will be raised +3 for every level of mines making them a less expensive equivalent of economic structures.
* Craters, Metallics, and Rockies: These astros are mostly used as production bases, since the high metal makes them easy to develop. Since these bases have large amounts of factories and shipyards on them to aid in production, they also gain excellent economy. As a note, while craters do have the ability to have crystal mines, this option is generally ignored due to the small +1 increase not being worth the waste of space and energy.
* Asteroid: When it comes to asteroids, you get the best of both worlds. You have a high 3 metal, which makes it easy to make use of factories, and you also have 2 crystal, meaning that crystal mines will give you plus 2 economy. However, asteroids only have 65 area, so much time and money is often spent building terraforms and multi-level platforms. Since free players are limited in how many of these they can build, asteroids are used more by upgraded players. However you also receive a large discount on p-rings and p-shields, costing only 25% of the normal price, making them easy to defend. Whether you focus on factories or crystal mines mainly depends on your own preference. If you have no access to crystallines, they can make a decent replacement.
Some other tips
There are a few other ways to raise economy temporarily: occupations and debris.
Also known as derbs, they can be a very helpful short-term economic source if you need cash fast. Debris comes from destroyed fleets after an attack. The only way to recover debris is by using recyclers, which collect debris at the rate of 10 credits per hour per recycler. Thus a high number of recyclers are recommended for any player. Note that unlike the other economic bases, which give credits at the top of the hour, recycler credits come in at the :30 mark. Most players time their attacks close to the :30 mark in order to be most efficient with collection. Also, make certain that you have some strong fleet protecting your recyclers while they are collecting, especially in war time. However, if you use debris as a source of income, do not steal it a planet that you do not occupy, unless you are at war with the guild of the person. Debris stealing in peacetime is highly frowned upon, and may result in you being attacked and farmed.
Occupation means that you have destroyed another players base defenses, and now have fleet on the base. As a reward for defeating the base, you will gain 30% of the bases economy added to your own every hour along side your regular income for as long as you occupy the base. When you occupy a base, you can gain money by pillaging the person's base. The amount of credits you gain from the pillage is largest after you first take the base. You can re-pillage every 24 hours, but the amount of credits you gain becomes progressively smaller. To be most profitable when attempting to occupy a base, make certain that you will gain more in credits than you will lose in attacking the base. Generally, bases with a higher amounts of fleet and weaker turrets are more profitable.
Reversewise, you will want to have good defenses in place on your base, so that your bases do not suffer from being occupied. You should aim to have p-rings and p-shields on your bases before hitting level 30, and try to increase the number of p-rings to at least 3 levels before hitting level 40. Also, make certain your have high tech levels to power up your turrets and base defense. This will increase their ability to defend your base. Also, never leave your main attack fleet on your base while offline. Large fleets will attract attackers who may seek to profit off an easy and profitable hit. The exception to this rule is that your should always have fighters and dreadnoughts on your base for base defense.