"Stars! Rules of Thumb" by Thomas Tong 1997 v2.6/7

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Stars Rules of Thumb

by: Thomas Tong

I’ve played in several beginner and intermediate games lately and have been distressed at wide the different range of skills were displayed. Either the players were really good, or really sucked and barely knew the basic stars strategy. It makes for a some dreadfully bad games.

This is just a draft of some ideas I had that I thought would get any newbie up to speed on a competitive game of stars. That way we can shrink the gap between intermediate players and newbies.

While a advanced player would disregard most of this information, I believe a newbie who reads this can grasp the basic stars strategy, and will be able to play a competitive stars game rather than sitting on their two planets with 2000 resources by turn 50. Many of the people who host newbie games should give this to their players so everyone will have the basic stars! strategy to work with.

Any feed back is appreicated as this is just a draft.

Stars Rules of Thumb


All the Primary Racial Traits are equal, but the race you produce is not. The trick is to be able to balance all the different factors so that you get a race that grows smoothly and quickly. Always test out your race before you enter it in to a multi-player game especially if you’re playing in one for the first time.

12/16 is a nice number to shoot for if you don’t know what to put your factories and mines to. 12 production, every 10,000 colonists can handle 16 of them. It sets things up so that you’ll have a reasonable number of resources while getting a adequate supply of minerals without having to remote mine. It’s also quite cheap points wise.

Of the different research items, propulsion, construction, and weapons are the most important. Biotech is the least important that you’ll use. The other two depends on your strategy.

There are a few LRTs that are pretty useless. One is cheap engines, I’ve never every met anyone who liked it, avoid it like the plague.

Total Terraforming is questionable at times as well.

Often in multiplayer games, I find NOT taking generalized research a better option. I’ve just realized this these last few weeks because I realized I never used any bio, elect, or energy much, if you don’t use it, don’t invest in it. I’d rather my enemies waste their resources on it and I research weapons so I can blow up their ships and get that information for free!


When I look at the public player scores the determining factors for which races are more powerful are resources and technology. Since technology is depends on resources, that makes resources the key element in your growth strategy, the end goal of growth is to maximize your resources so you have ammunition to destroy the other races.

The maximum growth rate is at 25%, the maximum pop happens at 33% so always try to keep your planets near the 33%- 45% capacity

Steps to take a new planet

When you colonize a new planet, get it up to 33% capacity as fast as possible so it will operate at maximum efficiency. Also bring lots of geranium along when you colonize a planet so you can build factories.

You take a new planet and the following should happen. Send 1 colony ship to take planet. Immediately send transports to drop more colonists and lots of geranium, repeat until the population is 33% and they have lots of geranium to build factories. Start building lots and lots of factories until you run out of your initial geranium stock. By the time you’ve built 200-300 factories you should have run out of your initial geranium, and now you just build 300 mines as you’ve got lots of resources to work with. Your new planet is now ready to go.

Geranium are the vitamins of a growing race. Factories depend on geranium so early on the game you’ll always be low in it so it’s in your best interest to use it efficiently.

You tend to use lots of medium freighters early in the game. It’s is WELL worth your while to research that one extra tech level in construction and build privateers instead. They are not that muchmore expensive than freighters but the important costs are the following

medium freighters require 20 Iron 19 Ger

privateers require 50 Iron 2 Ger

Yes, 19 Ger vs 2 Ger. Save that geranium, and this goes a long way to making helping your empire grow as most races require 50 or so transports when they’re in the height of their expansion and that precious geranium can go in to factories instead of ships.


In the beginning game, before Jihad missiles become available Beam ships will rule the battle board, so if you’re working with the cruiser or destroyer hulls, make sure you use beam ships and not missiles they’re pretty useless at this time.

Missiles become viable when you can build battleship with Jihad missiles. These missiles do double damage when placed on capital ships. If you’re the first one to get them, you’ll easily crush the older ship designs.

If you see an opponent take a planet you were about to colonize, it’s often a blessing. Rather than to build a colony ship, now all you have to drop is take a few transports and drop a few hundred thousand of you colonists on the planet. You also get minerals and some factories thrown in the deal.

It also pays to attack early in to the game. Don’t wait until later in to the game when all the different race’s will become fairly equal, seize the opportunity when you’ve got it. This is a space war strategy game, destroy your opponent early, destroy quickly before he expects any attacks.


READ the various other strategy manuals out on the NET for more views.

Sun Tzu's Art of War is a requirement.

Vist my Web Page: http://bowron.mc2.sfu.ca (Stars! TurnXChange) The automated web turn exchange system.

Sometimes it even works. =P

Thomas Tong