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214
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The Almighty Stellar

The Almighty Stellar

Create a political and get a one-time bonus of 100,000 stellars - a large number, but is it a large amount? I remember Dennis Pennis saying to Joan Collins she looked like a million lira (depending on which country, this was somewhere between Ł1.75 and Ł12.50) so some idea of the in-game value of the stellar is required.


Stellars are the lifeblood of the game. Personnel (ship's crew, troops and employees) all have to be paid every week in stellars. They will not accept anything else. Their wages effectively leave the game (transferred via the EEM - see Tal's Arrival in Issue 1). There are other activities that also cost stellars. These are generally associated with politicals, starbases and outposts. Examples include initiating research, requesting tech manuals and attempting orders that fail.



There are only two means by which stellars enter the game, via starbase merchandising including sales to civilian populations and political positions (which includes accessing income from system claims). This means that stellars flow from starbases and politicals through all other positions in the game. If you do not run either of these positions, then you need to find means of supporting your ships. You can generate all the unique trade goods you want, but you need to convert them into stellars in order to pay your personnel else they will eventually defect.



Playing for Free

As pointed out, the only way to pay your crew is to generate stellars. There are two obvious methods for this. The first is to travel between player controlled markets buying from one and selling at others in order to make a net profit. This is often very difficult for the following reasons:


  • There are a lot of ships in the game and transactions are on a first come, first served basis
  • Markets may be public but are in restricted regions of space
  • Often a market only buys what is not being sold and sells what is not being bought
  • Many markets are not public - you have no idea what's on them without talking to the owner
  • It is common to find markets buying at around and even below average market sell prices

I will leave the last one up to players to explain the logic.

Do not lose hope though for there is a second option. This is to get your hands on stuff that people want. This can be done through trading with local populations (code release due 213.4 - see Diary of a Merchant Captain in the next issue). You can land your ship on certain worlds (Corewards/Halo) that have civilian populations and determine if they have any imports or exports. If they do, you can then purchase goods from them for stellars. Most importantly these include unique trade goods that are worth considerably more when sold at the other end of space. As the purchase of these items is limited, you can be sure that what you have is desired by other players. You can then sell them for stellars in order to pay your crew. With some savvy trading you can finance your positions and even expand your control without ever paying to play the game. There are however drawbacks - you are in competition with other traders and there are pirates, mercenaries and privateers out there (oh, and rivals from other affiliations).



So, how much can you expect to get from a trade run between civilian worlds?

Typically, buying from civilians will net around 1,500mu of unique consumer goods. The price will be around twice as much as they are worth when sold directly back to the planet. You will pay around 600 stellars for them (base price 0.1 stellars/mu x2 local economy x2 mark-up). The value of this cargo however can be worth as much as 16x its base value at the other end of space. So while you may have paid 600 stellars for it, it is worth 2,400 stellars, maybe closer to 5,000 stellars depending on the local economy. Clearly nobody is going to pay this much for it but getting 1,500 stellars is not unreasonable especially if you are not responsible for transporting the merchandise very far.



Privateering

Of course there are other means of getting cargo - you could try your hand at privateering and even outright piracy. If you don't want the ship you have captured through boarding you can always render it down for patches or sell it on (though may be an idea to both re-register it and change its name).



What is a Stellar Worth?

A stellar is the equivalent to the weekly wage of standard personnel. A starting ship has a weekly outgoing of around 70 stellars. With other issues such as maintenance this is probably closer to 100 stellars. A typical small player will probably have a couple of dozen ships - so a wage bill of around 3,000 stellars/week is about right. With a weekly income of 10,000 stellars from a political, this is more than taken care of but leaves little room for expansion in the short-term.



Financing your first outpost

A small mining facility will require around 20 complexes, 200 employees, 200 troops and wages paid at 1.5 stellars/personnel for outposts. Your net outgoings have increased by around 600 stellars. On top of this you need to buy the modules to build the complexes. Modules are usually around 100 stellars each and complexes require 25 each = 50,000 stellars for your first outpost. Suddenly that bonus 100,000 stellars for creating a political is very handy.



Self-financing Outposts

Certain ores such as collidium are always in high demand. A typical yield is 10 while they can be sold for 30 stellars. A single mine therefore equates to a gross income of 300 stellars or a net of around 250 stellars per mine (after accounting for personnel and ancillary facilities). You can capitalise on this by searching for new sources. The problem however is that keeping what you find is not always straightforward. If you are going it alone and have nobody to back you up, be prepared to lose your outpost. You could invest in caves to try to hide the mining operation, but do not count on being hidden forever. If somebody else starts mining the same vein they may notice that the stockpile is being eroded faster than they are mining it and then start looking around.


Taking it Further
War is very expensive for the following reasons:
  • All transfers of personnel between positions cost 1 stellar per person
  • Virtually all naval engagements degrade ship integrity
  • Physical damage to ships need to be repaired


Transfer of Personnel

The first one may not be obvious but consider raising an army of 100,000 troops at your capital worlds and getting them to the conflict point on a frontier, then out again afterwards. The distance is invariably too long to move them all in a single action. As such you will most likely need to create a staging point. Even if a successful conflict you will generally want to pull most of the the survirors back. This requires the following logistics:


  • Recruit mercenaries at your starbases (100,000 stellars)
  • Over twenty weeks, therefore paying wages (500,000 stellars)
  • Train each one at a cost of 10 stellars each (1 million stellars)
  • Move them to the staging point (200,000 stellars)
  • And again to the attacking ground force (200,000 stellars)
  • Assuming 25% loss and 25% holding, getting rest back to staging point (100,000 stellars)
  • And again back home (100,000 stellars)

Total cost of the campaign for the movement of troops alone = 2,200,000 stellars. For this reason, campaigns of this nature are not overly common. From your point of view as an owner of a starbase this is good - it means that if your starbase has around 15,000 troops, the chances of somebody assaulting it on the ground as a whim are negligible unless your base is so nice that it is a steal even at a cost of over 2,000,000 stellars! This is very important from a game balance point of view. It means that slashing and burning of major bases in the game is very rare. If there is an assault, more often than not there a very serious political agenda and planning has taken months.

Integrity Losses
If a naval battle lasts a day, each ship involved will take a standard week's worth of integrity loss. For standard capital ships this can equate to around 3 patches. In terms of production costs, minerals and paying for the maintenance complex personnel, this is the equivalent to 150 stellars. Doesn't sound a lot, but if you have twenty ships and they are involved in a few days of combat over a few weeks, this equates to a bill of 10,000 stellars and that is before even accounting for repairs to hulls, armour and items.

Physical Damage

A typical capital ship has a base value in excess of 130,000 stellars. Losing a few of those in a conflict will certainly hit the coffers. Even suffering 30% damage to hulls will equate to around 15 patches and a further 25 patches if a quarter of the armour is blown off. This equates to 2,000 stellars to get the ship combat ready again. If your entire fleet was damaged it is really going to cost you. If forced to repair and maintain in somebody else's bases you can expect to pay more than twice this!



Balancing the Books

As can be seen, for an affiliation that is geared solely towards conflict, balancing the books is problematic and serious conflict requires a lot of planning and the combined resources of quite a few players. This is why the militaristic affiliations in Phoenix are generally allied to at least one mercantile affiliation while the less militaristic ones have a significant amount of their resources geared towards trade. As a player you can use this to your advantage - if you are looking to play for free or remain a small player and enjoy the trading side of the game, you can make good deals with the militaristic factions. They need stellars and have access to big civilian markets, you have access to unique goods that they can sell. Even if you don't want to join them, you may well be able to wrangle a place to set up your operation within their region of space - they may even protect you if your sales are worth it.


 
News
Is open for business...
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic