I am working on the documentation for Imperia, and I have written a quick-start guide on the wiki. I wanted to also post it here so that people who were playing Imperia and were kind of lost about what to do have a better idea where to start.
Welcome, Your Excellence. Most people on their 18th birthday get cake, maybe some presents, and perhaps a new sweater or two. You got all that, minus the sweater, and a whole empire too! What fun! Your eager hand sits in the Astrography Chamber, where your bidding will be plotted out and the fate of millions are in your hands!
Well, that’s to be expected. I am Wilfred, your loyal regent, and while I know you paid attention in your ‘I’m going to be the Emperor one day’ classes, fear is natural. Let’s look at what you should be doing.
I would first look at your trade network. Unfortunately, your predecessors didn’t help you all that much with keeping robust trade lines throughout the Empire. Many of our sector capitals and most of our system capitals have either no starbase, or it is so decrepit that it is no longer being used. In any case, the issue is the same: without a starbase, a planet can’t receive replenishment materials and food from the Empire, and without that, well… let’s just say that uneasy is the head which wears the circlet. So you’re going to need to look at which planets are self sufficient, which are producing a healthy surplus of food and/or materials, and which ones are going to go hungry or run out of materials soon. The Intel screen will be invaluable with this, on page 2 (don’t forget, Your Excellence, to hit Page Down and Page Up to move between pages!) You will most likely find several planets with no starbase that will need one built very soon.
As you have probably noticed, however, starbases aren’t cheap. And they tend to take a while to build. And right now, your governors and viceroys aren’t exceptionally friendly with your presence on the scene – they’re used to having things ‘their way’, and you represent a threat. And being so new, you haven’t built up the influence you’re going to need down the road to push through really important things, so don’t spend it all right away. And though it will drastically cut down Edict times, and it will be very tempting to use, do NOT spend Tyrannical influence liberally unless you’re prepared to accept the consequences to your relationships – and have the power to deal with them!
I would recommend starting your reign slowly. Try building relationships with your viceroys and governors. And by relationships, I mean give them cash. You have a personal Imperial allowance that is untraceable and its use is yours by Imperial fiat. Beware, however, some in this decadent Empire may yet be honest enough to refuse your kind gifts, and if word spreads, more and more people will demand that you supplement their income as well!! Speeches, Imperial honors, and supporting industrial sectors that they approve of may work as well, but honors cost money and every action costs Admin – your precious time that you can not ever get back!
As you are perusing your Empire on the intel screen during your first turn, you will notice that many of them have cash flow that is yellow (losing money, enough in their treasury to supplement it), or red (losing money, requiring a subsidy from the Empire to stay afloat!) Your mighty Empire may well be losing money already by supporting such ne’er do well planets! What can you do?
Perhaps you can stimulate their planetary economy? Most viceroys will appreciate this effort! Try creating an planetary economic Edict or two to get some planets in the green. Check the cash flow on planets. What’s costing money? Too much government? Ask the viceroy to cut the subsidy. Manufacturing being built on a planet with a 15 strategic mineral rating? Encourage another sector! Consider adding a Secondary Designation that helps to balance out the planet’s potential. Or you might even consider changing the Primary Designation of a planet, but that takes a lot of time, money, and disgruntled populace as you displace them from their jobs.
And never forget, Your Excellence, that it is survival of the fittest. It may be better to abandon a planet that has no hope of a turnaround and allow those people to find better lives elsewhere than to continue allowing Imperial resources to propagate a money black hole. Yes, your Popular Support will take a hit, but eventually the people will understand…
You will probably notice that as planets build up their economic sectors and grow, they will use materials. And unfortunately, your glorious predecessors didn’t exactly have a lot of planets dedicated to mining and creating materials. You will probably have to create outposts on planets that are, shall we say, less than ideal. The good news is that people will flock to them because their wages are so high. The bad news is that unless you pick an excellent location, between wages and infrastructure costs to shield your workers from such a harsh climate, the outpost will be a serious drain on Empire resources. Choose locations where people can migrate to as well! Check your migration mode (‘C’ key) on the quadrant display to see how far people can travel to relocate.
Don’t forget about luxury minerals! These are what power your retail sector, and a planet with a high Luxury Mineral rating, along with some manufacturing capacity to create high-quality goods, can quickly become a shopping mecca and an economic powerhouse! And to some extent, these goods benefit any planet in your sector (with a starbase, of course!) as the goods are traded across the sector!
Eventually, the people will demand to expand our borders, and that’s where exploration comes in. You will need to look at your space mission infrastructure. Hit ‘M’ to check out which systems can support missions and what range. You need at least level II starbases in order to support the massive science ships, population transports, and terraformers required to perform space Edicts. You must balance cost of setting this infrastructure up with all else, including trade hubs, other starbases, etc.
So about Edicts. Yes, I know you’re excited about creating laws that move entire planets and systems into motion. Who wouldn’t be? But remember that every Edict you enact has consequences. When you commit ADM from a system or sector capital, you are preventing it from being used elsewhere. And spending Empire ADM directly for a single planet is very inefficient. I do not recommend doing so unless there is no alternative. Materials are also very inefficient when used from higher levels of government, so I recommend stockpiling materials on a planet you plan to base Edict support from by building a trade hub and a Starbase, if one doesn’t exist.
When planning your Edicts, think about who will be involved. I will give you an estimate of how long I believe the Edict will take based on what I know about the personalities involved, but it is just that: an estimate. Influence will help, but it may be better to delay your Edict a few turns while you attempt to, ahem, convince those leaders that will be involved that their loyalty will be beneficial in the long run. And if you do have to use Influence, and your Popular Support is high, take your message to the people by using Nationalist Influence! It’s very effective if the planet’s population loves you, but remember that if the viceroy doesn’t like you, he or she may resent your using their mob to coerce them into supporting your goals.
One more thing about your leaders. There is a darker way to bring them into line, but it, like all things, has tradeoffs. You can instruct your Intel Prime to, shall we say, distribute some of your personal coin to the people of a planet to keep their ears to the ground about a certain viceroy or governor. Should something turn up that would be, ah, embarrassing, you can always resort to a little old-fashioned blackmail, but naturally that person will be very unhappy with you. And should the day come where they can break that spell… well, but I’m just a regent. What do I know! And if you’re truly unhappy with a leader, you can have them removed, but they may not agree if you are too weak – and regardless, your other leaders will know what you tried to do and the ramifications will be felt throughout your Empire.
And of course, if your Intel network is large and organized enough… you can attempt a.. rather final solution to your leader problem. History has certainly seen its share of tyrants who work that way.
This is but a brief primer, Your Excellence. Oh, and one last bit of advice. You do not have to use all your Admin every turn. Sometimes, the best action, especially with an Empire that is losing money, is inaction.
Good luck, Your Excellence.