Thursday, May 2, 2019

Nova Empire Beginners Tips

I've fallen down the rabbit hole of a p2w but still fun if you're free-to-play game called Nova Empire. Despite numerous flaws the game is entertaining and good for when you're pinned under a baby.

However, it has a bunch of traps for beginners. I'd like to share some tips. Currently as a bit of a random assortment. I'll update this occasionally.

Beware, the game is kind of addictive. I play it when I'm pinned under my cranky toddler who wants to use me as a pillow. But it's designed to get its hooks into you and get you playing more, so keep an eye on it. If you're tempted to spend money on it... well, with my software developer hat on I say "go ahead, really, do it." But with my responsible adult hat on I say "the prices are ridiculous for what you get, just be patient, it's a game". If you do want to drop some cash to support them, do it early on in the game to get to level 5 station faster and speed up overall growth.



Basics


  • Your station is where you build ships, collect resources, etc. You can jump it to different stars in the galaxy but you won't do that much early on. The jump takes a day or two to recharge at low levels. Instead you usually pick a home system with lots of planets and resources, then send your fleets to nearby systems when needed.
  • Your station is one of many galaxies. You can't move galaxy (except very early on and there's no point doing so for first time players). Each galaxy is an independent game instance but they link together sometimes for special events.
  • Tanking. When your fleets attack something, only the first fleet to attack takes damage from the enemy (unless it's entirely destroyed). So you should have one fleet of cheap ships that are good at taking damage - a "tank" fleet. And another of ships that are great at dealing damage, but are usually slower and more expensive to build and repair. The tank fleet is almost always full of frigates because they're cheap and they don't need precious crystal resources to build. The other fleets are where your cruisers etc go.
  • Debris: When you or someone else kills pirates, kills ships or loses ships, debris drops. You can collect it with workships. But don't jump in and steal debris someone else created without asking, they might get angry and attack you or kick you out of an alliance. Debris right beside someone's station is usually from a revenger attack, it's theirs and you shouldn't touch it.
  • Your workships can collect two distinct kinds of things - debris and resource nodes. Debris is much faster to collect and the more you can be bothered vacuuming up the faster you'll get resources. The amount of resources in a debris node doesn't have much (any?) effect on the time it takes to collect so big debris drops are a very rapid resource source. But it's a pain because you can't queue it up or anything, so park your workships on resource nodes when you're going away.

Resources


Resource types

  • Minerals: common, basic, needed in truly vast quantities for ship building, station upgrading, research, and more. Obtained by collecting it from resource nodes with workships, from planet scans, alliance legion crates, pirate debris, "battle report" pirate drops, occasionally from alliance workshop items, station "daily tasks", and produced slowly but steadily in your station's trading posts.
  • Crystal: needed to build stronger ships (destroyers and above), especially the special "kraken" ships. Also for station buildings and higher level research. You'll always be short of this and you can't usually find it in mineable forms. Obtained from pirate debris, occasional resource nodes spawned by special scans (see "scans"), legion crates, scans, "battle report" pirate drops, station "daily tasks". Produced slowly by higher level station trading posts. Station production rate increased by "hydrothermals" research in "void" research, which is unlocked by very rare fragments dropped in some crates, ships and events. Elite pirates drop lots.
  • Alloy: needed to build strongest ships (battle cruisers and above), and for "kraken" ships. Collected from debris dropped by elite pirates, some stronger standard pirates, and revenger pirates, from alliance legion crates, planet scans, "battle report" pirate drops. Produced by very high level station trading posts.
  • Alliance credits: Obtained from alliance legion missions. Used to buy ships and items from alliance workshop. Note that your creds transfer from one alliance to another if you switch alliances.
  • Ether energy: ultra rare resource used to activate "core modules". You get 1 daily if you complete the station "daily tasks" and you can get more from various special events, usually rare. Don't spend it. Beware it's easy to spend by accident from the "Core" menu tab, avoid opening that. You only need this in big inter-galactic events later in the game.
  • Matter: Obtained by scrapping weapon/component/ship/void fragments once you've completed a design. Used in black market. You don't care about this until later and it's not that great right now.
  • Stellarium: New resource obtained by scrapping rarer module types for use in black market. You don't care about this until later.
  • Mass cubes?: Type 3 ships coming soon will probably require a new "mass cube" resource

Sources of resources:

  • Crates (from alliance legions, alliance members spending $ on virtual items, etc). Drop random resources and items. Hyper crates can produce 1 million minerals or energy.
  • Collecting resource nodes. Normal resource nodes are minerals. Special resource nodes may appear as a result of certain events. Ones with one dot on them are crystal. Ones with two dots are alloy.
  • Collecting debris from battles. Battle produces debris from destroyed ships. Pirate fleets produce a fixed debris quantity based on pirate fleet size, then a proportion of any ships you lost in the fight are added to the debris dropped. Weak standard pirates only produce minerals. Stronger (two and three star) standard pirates drop crystal and even a little bit of alloy. Elite pirates that roam around systems drop much more crystal and alloy but are extremely tough.
  • Station daily tasks. In your station view there's a list of things to try each day. Resets after 24h. They produce small amounts of resources and milestones when you accumulate points in the tasks drop more. Not a big source of resources, but helpful in early game, and later you'll want the "recruitment tokens" that let you get stronger admirals.
  • Scans. Planet scans produce random drops of resources and items. The occasional 1 million minerals drops are great in early game.
  • $$$. It's a pay to win game. You can spend money for resources.
  • Attacking other player stations. You can attack another player's station, damaging it and stealing any resources they have accumulated above a certain % threshold of their max capacity. 50% of resources are lost when stolen so if they lose 500k you get 250k. Because of the resource protection limit you often can't steal anything. It's very rude to attack people without provocation. Their alliance may come and attack you, destroy your fleets, etc, in retaliation, or your own alliance may kick you out and raid you. Or if they're too strong you'll lose, then they'll just come and crush you. Great source of resources in later game activity like galaxy wars though.

Pirates

  • Your fleets can kill pirates 20% or so of their own strength with few losses and light damage. If you try to attack anything much stronger you'll lose a lot more ships. Don't pick on something your own size unless you really, really have to.
  • Revengers: Every time you kill pirates you increase an "anger" meter. If it goes above a certain threshold it will trigger "revenger" pirates. Revengers will teleport to your station after a short delay and attack it. If they win, revengers will steal your minerals, crystal and alloy if they win the fight vs your station. Your station has no weapons to kill the revengers unless you build defense modules. Don't do that, keep ships in the dock to defend it instead. Make sure you leave enough fleet strength in your dock to defend the station from expected revengers. The station takes the damage first ("tanks") so your fleets and dock ships can kill the revengers more easily. The revenger strength depends on the anger level of the pirates, which goes up when you kill pirates. It decays partly once a day. You can see the strength of the revengers that will come and the next day's decay amount by choosing a pirate and clicking "view". Revengers only come once a day so once they've come you are safe for the day. You usually get a warning when you go to attack a pirate that will trigger revengers to come. But there are exceptions: if you launch two attacks at once you might not get warned if the second attack will trigger revengers. A scan finishing might cause a pirate attack which can trigger revengers. And finally if your fleet is part of a group attack where someone else tanks you won't get a warning it'll trigger revengers. So it's a good idea to watch the anger meter and deliberately trigger revengers early in the day when you are ready and your fleets are close to home.
  • If multiple players attack a pirate only one will get the item drops from the "battle report". Which player gets them seems to be random and unrelated to who had the stronger fleet or did more damage. It's unclear if it's randomly assigned to a player or to a fleet. Similarly admiral XP seems to be shared equally. But who does the most damage does matter in pirate killing legion missions where the alliance workshop points get shared proportionally to damage dealt.
  • By convention the player that tanks a pirate (takes the damage) usually gets to collect the debris from it. Ask on your alliance chat if you're not sure or send a direct message to the player.
  • Pirate types:
    • Standard pirates: These are the ones that sit around. They don't move, and they only go away if someone kills them. When one is killed another will spawn in the system after a delay that depends on many factors including number of players in the system and galaxy, active events, and more. You can kill lots of weak ones to fill the system up with stronger ones for legions. Strength 770 to 66k.
    • Elite pirates: Elites are the ones that move around. Don't worry, they won't attack you or your station, they're passive unless attacked. They drop much more crystal and often alloy as well as special fragments. But they're significantly tougher than their fleet strength would suggest, so gang up on them. I solo 140k elites with tolerable frigate losses using a 120k tank fleet of mixed eagle II and falcon and a level 40 admiral, supported by 500k of battle fleets for firepower. Strength 7k to ... lots, I've seen 900k already. Different strengths drop different fragments:
      • 7k: Thunder gunship
      • 18k, 24k, 30k: Falcon gunship (you want this early)
      • 39k, 51k, 65k: Lion destroyer
      • 83k, 109k, 140k: Warrior light cruiser
      • 179k, 230k, 293k: Raynor battlecruiser
      • 381k, 490k, 528k: Royal Oak dreadnought
      • greater: unknown?
      All of them can drop various void, component and weapon fragments, extra crystal and minerals, etc too so they're well worth farming when you have the strength.
    • Node occupier pirates: Pirates that occupy a node can drop ship and other special fragments. Watch out though, the 16k ones have dreadnoughts and are a lot tougher than usual 16k pirates. Strength 42 to 16k.
    • Exiled pirates: Various exiles are spawned by scans and legions. Some people call them revengers but they aren't. They are tougher than regular pirates. The 16k ones from cosmic cops drop falcon fragments (see below). The 100k ones from "exiled pirate" legions don't have useful drops of resources or in the battle report and are mainly good for XP and leveling the alliance. The 293k ones from scans can drop Warrior and Raynor fragments but are very very tough.

Pitfalls

  • Do not spend 100 Ether Energy on fleet cloaking when the tutorial tries to trick you into it. You'll need it later.
  • Do not build destroyers except when required by missions or tutorial. They're not worth it, use frigates and light cruisers. A possible exception here for Kraken Tormentors, but only until you can build Kraken Rupturer Light Cruisers.
  • Boosts only apply if active before you queue something. You can't start the Level 5 station build (which takes 24 days!) and then add a speed boost. You have to activate the speed boost first.
  • The Kraken ships look good and are powerful but they're really expensive and slow to build and repair. Go easy on them, if you lose a fleet of them you'll cry as they'll be hard to replace.
  • You can have a station level upgrade going at the same time as building upgrades. But otherwise there's only one building upgrade, one research, and one module upgrade at a time. Plan so that you can do lots of short ones when you have some time to kill, then queue a long one for when you're away.
  • Never use "Group Attack". Always "Group Move" to near your target then "Attack" with your tank fleet. "Group attack" is stupid. It'd be useful if you could designate a tank fleet to attack with, and if the whole group moved at the same speed ... but it doesn't. Ignore it.
  • Pirates are a resource not a threat. They will never attack you (except revengers, who won't come unless you've killed lots of pirates first). You kill their fleets to get resources, ship components and ship designs, etc.
  • Station defense modules are total garbage. They're very weak and that station building spot could be used for a trading post or shipyard instead. Don't build them. If you built some, demolish them from the "info" menu and build a trading post instead.
  • Destroyers and gunships suck, don't build them.
  • You don't need much energy. The basic reactor will be enough for ages and you might want to build another reactor at level 4. That's probably all. Even if your energy income is quite negative you'll usually get plenty from crates, pirate drops, etc to keep you going. You will need to accumulate a fair bit to start your level 5 and 6 station upgrades later but you can often use crates or resource items for that.
  • Each station level has stronger buildings. But trading posts and energy reactors get much bigger boosts with size than shipyards do. Put most of your shipyards on low station levels and your trading posts on higher levels. I demolished my low level trading posts to put shipyards there.
  • The in-game chat is pretty bad. Most alliances start a discord, and it's common for your "galaxy" to have a discord too.

Alliances

  • You should do your 3 alliance legions daily if you can. They're a great source of alliance workshop points, which you can use to buy alliance ships and items from the workshop. See "Legions".
  • Only an alliance general or leader can start a new building or defense or start upgrading one. But anyone else can send a workship to help them complete it faster, so gang up and build things fast.
  • You don't need alliance rank unless you're going to be starting new buildings and defenses, accepting/kicking players, etc.
  • Alliance generals can destroy alliance buildings instantly from the menu so be very careful who you trust and promote.
  • Most alliances have rules about what you can take from the alliance workshop items and when. Respect them, the alliance will probably kick you out and might even attack you if you don't.
  • Higher level alliances produce more and better items for the workshop, can have stronger buildings, and produce stronger alliance ship types. They also get access to a wider variety of harder legions with better rewards.

Legions

  • You get the alliance workshop points in the legion. The alliance gets the minerals, there's no way for you to get them. The alliance minerals are used to build alliance ships and workshop items and by the alliance leader/generals to upgrade the alliance buildings and defenses.
  • Anyone can start a legion, but don't just start a legion someone else created. Ask first, they might want to wait for more people etc.
  • Only do "S" (Elite) legions - alliance missions. The others are a waste, you get worse rewards and they're often not much easier. The only exception is that "A" (Hard) habitable planets and gas planets solo legions are worth doing if you're stuck without someone to do a legion with and running out of time.
  • If you don't like the legion missions on offer, join one then disband it. A new one of the same type will spawn, often with a different difficulty, player count required, etc.
  • "Exiled Pirates" legions are only good for admiral XP and leveling up your alliance. They're very hard even for strong groups, as the fleets are always at least 100k strength and you have to kill lots in a short time. The pirate fleets drop bad debris and nothing useful in battle report. Don't bother unless you're with a big strong crowd who can work together.

Blueprints

  • Elites give different ship blueprints depending on strength. You can kill as many 11k elites as you like and you'll never get Warrior Light Cruiser blueprints.
  • The pirates that occupy nodes can drop ship blueprints. They also have better resource drops. But watch out, the 16k strength ones are way tougher than you'd expect a 16k to be because they tend to have battlecruisers and dreadnoughts along. Bring extra strength.
  • You can get blueprint fragments for Falcon Frigates from the Cosmic Cops mission 16k pirates with the special icon, see "Scans" below.

Scans

  • The type of planet you scan doesn't seem to matter except when required by a legion mission.
  • Some scans produce a continuation that takes a long time but gives better drops. Some of these continuations spawn multi-scan "story lines" where you can make choices to control the rewards. These always seem to be the same. There's a guide here.
  • You can create mineable crystal resource nodes with the "Avatar" scan storyline, by choosing to bombard the planet at the last story step.
  • Alloy nodes are spawned in a similar way with the "Staunch Warrior" story by choosing "Search"
  • The "Cosmic Cops" storyline can spawn special 2-star 16k pirate fleets that have a high rate of dropping Falcon Frigate fragments. These are a fantastic way to get the Falcon design if you can gang up on them with some friends.
  • There's another mission that drops 293k 3-star pirate with the same icon. They're very bad news to fight but can drop Warrior and Raynor ship fragments.

Research

  • You'll save overall time by improving Quantum Computing (research speed) and Construction (station build speed).
  • Higher level research needs more energy, minerals, crystal, and time. Try not to neglect the low level cheap stuff, the bonuses really add up.
  • Don't neglect the "ships" research category, those boosts are huge and cheap.
  • Items in the "void" research category is unlocked by special research fragments. See "Fragments".
  • You can speed up long research jobs by starting them with a research speed boost active. You can get that from the boosts tab with GEC, or for free after your station is destroyed by revengers or a fellow player, as you will get a research speed boost.

Fragments

  • You can obtain "fragments" of ship weapons, ship components, ship designs, and "void" research options from various activities.
  • Ship weapon and component fragments can be used to build stronger type 1 and type 2 ships with minimal cost increase. They're great.
  • Ship design fragments unlock type 2 ship designs. They only come from elites, scans, node occupier pirates, etc, not standard pirates.
  • Void research fragments unlock research in the "void" tab that gives various benefits. Lower maintenance for stronger ship classes, faster mineral and alloy production, faster resource collection, even faster ship movement for stronger ships. Except for the maintenance and missile accuracy ones they're very very rare and best obtained from special events.

Modules

  • Modules apply small global upgrades, much like research. Unlike most research you have to find the good ones from materials crates, etc. You can only activate a limited set at a time so you'll want to swap some in and out for different tasks eventually.
  • Modules come from materials crates, war crates, battle crates, etc. You get them from station daily goals, scans (especially some story scan outcomes), special events, and $$.

Cores

  • Cores are what you install modules into. You get one at level 2, one at level 3, one at level 4, and one ... I don't know, some other way.
  • The only useful core in the early and mid game is the "Materials Nexus" core you get at station level 3. It is always active and speeds up repairs a lot, which is excellent. Ignore the other two, and do not ever waste precious ether energy activating them.
  • A core's level is controlled by the level of the modules installed in it. Level up weak and otherwise useless modules a bit to boost core level. In particular, level up your station HP and even your station defense strength modules so you can install them in your "Materials Nexus" core, which speeds up repairs a lot.

Events

  • Each galaxy has various periodic (and maybe also random) events.
  • Every week a "kraken" event and a "pirate invasion" event alternate. Kraken has alliances competing for chances to build special stronger but very expensive ships. Pirate invasion has alliances competing to capture special pirate outposts that spawn around the galaxy; winners get 2 day boosts to various things like research speed, station build speed, etc.
  • The pirate invasion outposts that speed up station builds are amazing when starting a level 5 or especially level 6 station upgrade. The upgrade only has to be active when you start the build.
  • "Eliminate pirates" events boost drops from pirates, increase the rate pirates respawn, etc. Some may add special crates pirate ships drop for various bonus items, fragments, etc.
  • "Anaping artifacts" events add another set of activities like station daily tasks. The points you accumulate from these can be used for a kind of event scan that drops ... well, crap mostly. You can get a big pile of Ether Energy if you really minmax it but it's mostly there to encourage you to spend GEC, and in turn spend $ to get GEC.
  • Later in the game there are "intergalactic Kraken" and "galaxy war" events that pit different galaxies against each other. Intergalactic kraken gives the temporary ability to build super-strong kraken ships. Galaxy war, well, the name says it.

Repairs and scrapping

  • Shields: Ships have both shields and hull. Shields are recharged whenever the fleet returns to the dock, hull requires repair that costs resources.
  • Only one repair can be in progress at once. None of the repaired ships are available until the whole repair finishes.
  • When you repair a fleet, the whole fleet is stuck in repairs until finished, not just the damaged ships. You can move damaged ships to the dock instead. Then repair them there, without tying up the fleet.
  • In the dock you can choose to repair only one ship class at a time, so you can repair in smaller batches.
  • Damaged ships can continue to fight while they're in a fleet.
  • Once damaged ships are moved to the dock you cannot put ships back in a fleet until they are repaired.
  • You cannot scrap ships. If you have obsolete or unwanted ships put them in your tank fleet and leave them there until they die. Don't repair them. When they die a percentage of the resources used to build them will be dropped as battle debris along with the usual debris from the fight.

Ship types

  • Standard ships (Tracer gunship, Eagle frigate, Tiger destroyer, Knight light cruiser, Enterprise battlecruiser, Crown dreadnought). Cheap, low maintenance ships, these will be the bulk of your fleets except for Eagles which should be replaced with Falcon as soon as possible. Each level needs a higher ship design center level to build, takes longer to build and costs more. Destroyer and above take crystal to build and repair. Battlecruiser and above take alloy to build and repair. Can be cheaply upgraded with level 2 weapons and components to deal more damage and be tougher once you have unlocked the required fragments.
  • Alliance workship standard ships (Eagle II, Tiger II, Knight II, Enterprise II, Crown II). Very weak damage output, but very strong shields and armour. Higher ships available at higher alliance levels - Tiger at level 2, Knight at 4, etc. Do not cost crystal to repair unlike player destroyer and above, but also take twice as long to repair. Eagle II makes great throwaway tank fleet padding. Higher levels are good heavy tanks if you can tolerate the repair times or have the speedups. Do not put these in non-tank fleets, their damage output is terrible for their leadership. You get these from the alliance workshop with alliance points. You can also get Knight II, Enterprise II and Crown II from alliance crates in the workshop if someone spends $ on a package that creates alliance crates. You can restore their huge shields by recalling the fleet to the dock so so they fight well even when they're damaged. It's often worth leaving them damaged in your fleets until they die or you have idle repair time to use.
  • Type 2 ships (Thunder gunship, Falcon frigate, Lion destroyer, Warrior light cruiser, Raynor battlecruiser, Royal Oak dreadnought). Unlocked by collecting ship fragments you can get from elites, scans, node occupier pirates, etc. These take longer to build, longer to repair and cost more in maintenance. The difference is greater for higher ship classes. They deal the same damage as standard ships but are much tougher. Use Falcons for tank fleet as soon as you can get them. The rest you only really need for PvP, they aren't better for killing pirates, only when your main battle fleets might get attacked.
  • Kraken ships (Tormentor destroyer, Rupturer light cruiser, Ruiner battlecruiser, Warden dreadnought). Extremely tough, deal more damage than regular ships even with level 2 weapons, very slow to build, quite expensive, require alloy and lots of crystal to build and repair. Cannot be customised, they come with weapons and components that are better than the usual level 2 ones. Very expensive and slow to repair, you need to use a tank fleet and take great care if you bring them in PvP fights. Excellent for pirate killing as you can concentrate a lot of damage for a given amount of leadership.
  • Intergalactic Kraken ships (Hyperion destroyer, Poseidon light cruiser, Anemoi battlecruiser). Kraken++ basically.
  • Level 3 ships - coming soon, don't know much about them. Use "mass cubes".

Ship and fleet design

  • Gunships suck, don't build them, just build frigates. Gunships aren't even good for scans and scouting because they're so slow to jump between systems.
  • Destroyers suck, don't build them, wait for light cruisers. They're kind of the worst of frigates and light cruisers. Tormentors are OK until you can build Rupturer, but really it's better to wait and save your resources.
  • Don't put alliance ships in non-tank fleets. Their damage output per leadership point sucks. But they're good tanks, especially if you can pop back to your station to restore their massive shields between attacks. Alliance destroyer/cruiser/etc are the only non-frigate ships you'll want in a tank fleet until late game.
  • Small ships are fast in normal space, but slow in jump speed. Big ships are fast in jump and slow in normal space. Avoid mixing very different sizes in one fleet, the fleet will move at the slowest speed of both. In early/mid game tank fleets should be just frigates, battle fleet should be just light cruisers. Possible exception for PvP where occasionally you might want to deliberately make your fleets slower in order to make them move together at the same speed to be a tougher target.
  • Standard and type 2 ships have the same damage output. So standard ships cost less for a given damage output and are better for fleets you only use with a tank and don't bring for PvP.
  • All ships of a given size move at the same speed, whether it's a standard ship or an intergalatic kraken ship.
  • Standard and type 2 ships can be upgraded by installing improved weapons and components, which you can get from killing standard or elite pirates, some crates, etc.
  • Don't put level 2 reactor components in your Eagle or later Falcon frigates. They cost crystal to build and repair. Use level 1 reactors and level 2 weapons and shields in your tank frigates.

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