Sins of Solar Empire - Beginner's Walkthrough

This is a beginner's walkthrough for what can either be a fun or a frustrating game.  By following the recommendations here, it should be fun.

If you are less than expert at these 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) games and dive right in at the default levels, you will get your butt handed to you.  When I first got the game, I played it for eight hours using the default settings without coming close to winning.  So, I changed the defaults.  I learned the strategies, worked my way up to harder scenarios, and had fun.  I'm still not an expert and never will be. But if you're frustrated by the game, then this walkthrough should help you.

First of all, if you've been searching the web for help and all you've seen are things like, "The first time I played this game, I did it on Scary Hard difficulty, with a Chinese font pack installed, used my nose instead of my fingers, generated my own electric power with a hand crank and it was boring," all I can say is – whatever works for you.  

This is how I learned to win at this game, so I'm strongly opinionated.  You may not want to follow my strategies always, but do so until you are winning enough to want to experiment.

Starting Choices

1)      For starters, install the game.  Yay!

2)      Update the game with the latest patches if possible.  I couldn't for a while.  You see, I had a Stardock account for Galactic Civilization II, which is another great game, and my e-mail was in the system.  But, I had lost my password and there was (and maybe still is) a Sins web page bug that won't let me retrieve my password.  So, I started playing the game with what came in the box.

3)      At the opening screen.  Select "Play the Game". (Duh!)

4)      Since At the next screen, select "Single Player".

5)      Then select "New Game".

6)      Change maps to get to "Large Scenarios".  Basically, you want a big sandbox.

7)      Highlight "Twin Empires".  It's set up for up to eight players.  The intent here is get you in a place where there are no immediate threats and you can take your time.  This is a good one for this.

8)      Back at the main single player screen, press "Play".  You'll be taken to the "Twin Empires" configuration screen .

9)      Select "Game Options".

10)  Here are the options to use. If you don't have the latest patch you won't get the "Pirates Active" option.  Don't panic!

a.       The only thing you need to do is click on the "Unlocked Teams" button.  Because we're only going to be playing with one other enemy race, this option has no effect.  Still, it's a good idea to become familiar with it.  This basically disables the diplomacy aspect of the game regardless of the number of races.  For now, to keep it simple, play with the teams locked.

b.      Even if you have the option, do not mess with the "Pirates Active" button.  The pirates are your friends.  Right now, you want the pirates.

c.       After locking the teams, click "Accept".

11)  Back at the "Twin Emipires", left click on the first player "Random" box.  This will change your faction to "TEC".  You want to start as "TEC" because it gets financial bonuses in terms of when structures may be built.

12)  Then, left click on the far left box for all races except one.  This will disable all but one opponent.

13)  For the sole remaining race, right click on the dual chevrons to the right.  If you only left "Team-4" displayed, your screen should look like this. Note the word "Easy".

14)  Now you're ready to play.  Press "Start".

The First Few Minutes

1)  A screen showing two ships, neither of which you have any control over, will be displayed.  Even though this is supposed to represent a planet, you can't seen the planet.  Great!

2)  Time to play! Here are your first steps with some explanations:

a.       As the TEC, your key is cash.  The more people, the more cash. 

b.      So, right click on the green latitude/longitude icon in the lower right of the screen.  This will allow you access to your planet and improve conditions so that you increase your potential population size.

c.       That should bring up the following.  This link shows my mouse hovering over that bell-like thing (actually a human torso).

d.      Click on the torso.  Two things will happen. 

                                                               i.      The lower right will change to this.

                                                             ii.      You will lose cash, metal, and crystal.  Your current cash can be seen by hovering the mouse over the cash box in the upper right corner.
I included the lower right for comparison.

 

3)  Next, build a fleet.  At the beginning, all you need to conquer most of the worlds is a single capital ship.  But, you don't have a foundry.  Try and build that first.

a.       Exit the current choice of options by clicking on the red arrow in the lower left corner of the screen.

b.       The foundry is a "Logistics Structure".  The link shows what you see if you hover the mouse over the purple wheel-like thing.

c.       Click the purple wheel-like thing.  To see this hover the mouse over the second item from the left on the bottom row.  If it is not grey, you can select it.  Well, it is grey so it can't be built.  Why not?  Well, the mouse over shows insufficient crystal.  But the icon itself is telling the story.  Blue diamonds in a grey icon box mean that the technology has not been researched.  Little purple crystals mean that there isn't enough crystal to complete the project.  We need to get crystal!  (Yes, I switched background colors because I had to restart the game and you never know what the color wheel will come up with.)

4)  So, go out and buy the crystal you need.

a.       At the top center of the main screen is the skull option for dealing with the "Criminal Underground".  Either select it or press "F3"

b.      That will bring up the main criminal underground screen.

c.       Buy 100 crystal by pressing the "Buy 100" next to the purple icon.

d.      Close to return to the main screen.

5)  Now build your foundry by left clicking on the now colorful "Capital Ship Factory" icon.

6)  Scroll out with the middle mouse wheel to determine where to place the factory.  I'm going to put mine near the frigate factory because the location of the frigate factory was selected by the computer to be the closest location to all of the space lanes.  Right click on where you'd like it.

7)  Cha-ching!  You've just lost more cash, metal and crystal.

8)  Now let's figure out where we're you going.  Use the mouse wheel and scroll out further.  This is what I see.  There are two potential destinations, but unexplored.  Let's explore at least one of them.

9)  To do that you need to build a Scout Frigate.
(You should still be showing your home planet in the lower left corner of the screen.)

a.       Click on the red arrow.

b.       Select the build frigate box under the green world icon.

c.       Press the scout option, the upper left box, once.

d.       One scout ship will be built.  Note that there is a number now displayed indicating the ship build queue.

10)  If you find a place to settle, you're going to have to have a ship to do that.  You're going to need a colony ship.  But, because you're building a scout ship, your colony ship in the lower left corner is greyed out with a purple dot.  This means that you need crystal!

a.       You're going to need on of these and they take time to charge their antimatter. 

b.      Go to the "Criminal Underground" and buy another 100 crystal. 

11)  Now what?  You've got the crystal, but everything's still greyed out.  Now though you've got a gold dot instead of a purple dot. No problem, you're only low on cash and cash is the one thing you can generate.  So, we wait.
 
Just a note that we could've built a crystal mine earlier, but opted not to because they take too long to produce what we need. It's better at this stage to spend cash on crystal and metal rather than on mines.

12)  That doesn't mean that we're idle. Before long our scout ship is ready.  You'll hear a message to that effect, but don't count on it.  Instead, keep an eye on the ship icon in the lower right.  When the "1" in the scout box goes away, your ship is ready.  Here's a shot showing the recently built scout ship and the capital ship factory being built nearby.  The mouse is over a box in the lower left corner of the screen.  It shows the "Production Reports".

13)  Left click on the new scout ship to show its individual status.  Here it is as seen in the lower right corner of the screen.  The mouse is hovering over first box.  It shows that the ship will not automatically explore its solar system. 

14)  Right click the box to enable the "Autocast" option.  Once enabled the ship will now explore on its own.

15)  Here's something else you can do while you're waiting. 

a.       Click on your home planet.

b.      Notice that an icon has gone from grey to, I'm assuming, gold.

c.       Click this capital ship factory option.

d.      Even though your factory is still being built, you can queue up a ship.  You get your first capital ship free!

e.       Right click on the "Kol Battleship". It's the leftmost ship type.

f.        When your factory is complete, it will build this ship.

16)  By now, you should have collected some credits. Select the frigate factory.

17)  When you've got at least 450 credits, 100 metal, and 50 crystal, the ability to build the colony ship will be available and no longer be shown in grey.

18)  Left click on it to build it.

 

That's it for getting everything set up.

Buddy Up with the Baddies

Pirates come next for me.  These buggers are mean, I don't care what anyone says.  I've seen postings like, "I leave my grandmother and fly swatter behind and she takes care of the pirates."  Rubbish!  They can harass you or your enemy.  If nothing else, either you or your enemy needs to spend time and resources to combat this faction.  So let's check on the pirates.

1)      Select "Criminal Underground".

2)      Select "Pirates".  Here's what I see.

e.       We have eleven coins.

a.       The fact that there is no "bullet hole" in the pirate icon means that these guys are active.

b.      The "LOW" indicates that they are relatively weak in numbers and damage dealing capabilities.

c.       The "WANTED" shows their next target as well as the race you're fighting.

d.      The timeline counts down to zero.  We have fourteen minutes and eighteen seconds until we get a warning that a pirate raid is imminent.

f.        Putting someone on the "hit list" is done in two-hundred-fifty credit increments unless you have less.

3)      Because we have less than two-hundred-fifty credits, we can put a bounty on the "Luopica Colonists" for less.

4)      Let's wait until we have one-hundred credits. (Dum-de-dum. How's the fam? Everyone doing O.K.? Wait, we've got 100.)

5)      Now, let's put a bounty on the colonists.  Left click on the blue "250" arrow next to the colonists.

6)      Because we only had one-hundred-one credits, that's all we had to pay.  See? Now, we're definitely not the target of the fickle pirates.

7)      Click close to return.

Exploration

Your exploration ship should have gotten to a destination by now. 

1)      Listen for the "found a colonizable world" message.

2)      Check it out.

3)      Here's what my ship found.

4)      The information in the lower left came from putting my mouse on the grey right crescent of  the "Oriani" node.

5)      There are only two enemy ships.  They aren't part of the main enemy who are the "Colonists".  They are just riff-raff.  Their grey color indicates they are neutral.

6)      Once the capital ship is complete, this will be its first destination.

Early Encounter Thoughts

Sometimes, the area explored is a planet and has more and different types of ships.  At the beginning, a type of ship that is a "Flak Frigate" will give you fits.  They need to be targeted first.  If there is more than one in a node, delay attempting to conquer the node until you are stronger.  For example, wait until your capital ship is at Level 3.  And always dock any fighters when battling a fleet with flak frigates.  Take them out first, then launch your fighters.  Otherwise, you won't have any fighters to launch.  Don't believe the manual about the relative strengths of the flak frigates; they're murder.

If, in this example, the first destination was a planet with these killer frigates, I would make the first destination of the capital ship whatever was at the end of the unexplored leg of the second space lane away from my planet.  Instead of going to Oriani from Artemis, my Kor Battleship would go to the second destination. 

I would not deliberately head into flak frigates early on. I would have played the odds that only one of the space legs from my home planter would have flak frigates at its end. 

Time to Mine Stuff

We're low on metal and crystal.  It takes two-hundred-fifty credits to build a mine.

1)      Select your home world.

2)      Select "Logistic Structures".  (Press the red arrow first if you're still in the ship building screen.)

3)      Once you start getting some cash, start putting it into mining.

a.       I do crystal first

b.      I do metal second

4)      Once you've got all of the mines set up, don't invest in anything else yet.  Just keep collecting cash.

Clear the riff-raff

Time to colonize!

1)      When you click on your capital ship, a blue star with the number "1" will be shown in the lower corner of the screen. Click on it to spend it on an upgrade.

2)      Spend the point on the "Adaptive Forcefield".

3)      Your capital ship is ready!  Send it to an asteroid or a planet without flak frigates or even an unexplored area.  Don't set it to a world with flak frigates yet. Wait until you either get your capital ship to Level 3 or build some support craft.

4)      right click on your destination. Your capital ship will move to the space lane and travel to the destinatin.

Meanwhile, you're collecting cash.

5)      Back at home, once you've got enough cash, through the "Logistics" screen, build a "Civic Research Station" and not a "Military" facility.  You want to generate more cash!

6)      In the research sub-screen, under "Civics", research "High Density Zoning".  (You can always buy metal and crystal if you have the cash.  Get the cash!)

How's your capital ship doing?

7)      After your capital ship arrives, it will engage the "enemy" without your help. Just watch.

8)      When the last enemy has less than one-hundred hit points, send for the colony ship by selecting it and right clicking on the place you want it to colonize.  If send for it too early, it will get hammered and delay the colonization of the target location.

9)      Once the battle is over, improve your capital ship.

a.       Select your ship.

b.      Look at the blue star in the upper right corner.

c.       Left click on it.

d.      See that little purple arrow in the left corner?  Since it's not greyed out, you can select it.  It will upgrade your ship to the next level for a fee.  In this case its "656" credits.

e.       Left click on the upgrade.  Spend the cash. Since I'm at my cash limit, future upgrades will turn grey. That's O.K.

f.        It will take a while for the upgrade.  Just hang around waiting.

g.       Once the upgrade completes, spend the point on a "Gauss Rail Gun".  You won't be facing any fighters for a while, so wait on that upgrade.

That should get you going.

Provisioning - Building a Fleet

In order to build a fleet, you're going to have to spend cash, metal, and crystal on more than just ships. You're going to have to "buy" build points and, for capital ships, crews. This is done as part of research.

If you just started a game and went immediately to the Fleet Logistics screen, this is what you'd see. I've added some annotations. Sorry, my added text didn't scale well, so you'll have to scroll.

1)       Pressing the "Research" flask got you to the research options. Mousing over it will also display all of your pending research queues and their progress towards completion.

2)       Pressing the "Screen" option for Fleet Logistics got you to this screen.

3)       The "Provisioning Pts." can be viewed as "build points". Every ship requires build points. At the beginning of the game you have 100.
 
What might be consfusing is that in the main system screens, the game calls them "supply". You can revisit the capital ship build screen to see what I mean. Notice that this capital ship requires "50 supply" or "50 provisioning" (a.k.a. build points).
 
What can you do with 100 build/provisioning/supply points? Below is a table for the TEC faction. You can mix and match to your heart's content provided that you have the cash, metal, crystal, AND research facilities, AND...

Frigates   Points   Cruisers   Points   Capital Ships   Points
Arcova Scout Frigate     2 Percheron Light Carrier   8 Kol Battleship  50
Cobalt Light Frigate   5 Hashika Robotics Cruiser     4 Sova Carrier  50
Javelis LRM Frigate   4 Cielo Command Cruiser   6 Akkan Battlecruiser  50
Krosov Seige Frigate  14 Kodiak Heavy Cruiser  10 Dunov Battlecruiser    50
Garda Flak Frigate   4       Marza Dreadnaught  50
Protev Colong Frigate   6

4)       ...command points. Back at the logistics screen you'll see that we have 100 provisioning points and 1 command point. According to the table, we should be able to build two capital ships. (50 + 50 = 100)   But, the command points tell us the number of "crews" available for capital ships is exactly one ("1", uno, jeden, una).
 
1 Crew = 1 Capital ship
 
At the beginning of the game. That's it.

5)       To increase the number of command points, you will have to spend cash (and sometimes metal and crystal). At the beginning of the game, this is too costly, so it prevents one player from sinking everything into capital ship development.
 
When you're ready and can afford a second capital ship, press this chevron button.
 
Right above the row of chevrons, there is a "status" line indicating your current and next command. If you press the single chevron, after the "research/training" completes, you will be able to field two capital ships.
 
The "Next Command" is not always a single ship increase. You can max out at sixteen.

6)       To increase the number of provisioning points, you will have to spend cash (and sometimes metal and crystal). Doing so will not only increase your points, it will decrease your revenue. So be aware of this.
 
The "Next Upkeep" button tells you what the cost to maintain your fleet will increase to. This means how much your income will decrease by. Provisioning points increases are more and more detrimental to your economy. Balance these by researching mining/salvaging/etc. in the "Civilian" research options.
 
Suppose that we clicked the "basketball" and research completed. If your income was 100 credits, it's now 90. This applies to metal and crystal, too. The assumption is that the difference is going to maintaining your fleet infrastructure.

7)       Mousing over either of the "Increase" buttons will show one of these limiters. Not only will you need cash and, at least for now, crystal, to up your crew or provisioning points, you will also need "research structures". This refers to the total number of civilian AND military labs that you've built or are building.
 
Note: Structures that are being built will allow you to select an item. No progress will be made towards researching that item until the dependent structure is complete. For example, let's say that you are building a single civilian lab (no research lab) but it is not complete. At that point, you can select "Basic Officer Training" but it will show zero progress until after the lab is complete.

8)       You can select as many items on the "Fleet Logistics" screen as you have resources to complete. But, each item selected is queued and researched sequentially. For example, if you select all of the "Command" upgrades before selecting the provisioning increases, provisioning research won't begin until afer the queued up command research is completed.
 
Mouse over the "Research" flask to see what's in the queue.

A few thoughts...

1)      Ratchet up the difficulty based on your comfort level.  Next time play against two enemy races, then three.  Then try allying yourself with the computer.
 
Don't forget to "unlock teams" in the initial options screen to introduce all of the diplomacy aspects.  

2)      Wait before spending money on more "Planet Development.  When "Explore Planet" is successful, the finds are big help.  Early on, though there are better things to invest in.

3)      I'd rather have two capital ships than only one and a bunch of frigates.  Research "Basic Officer Training" and "Basic Provisioning" (same screen) when you've got a few thousand credits stashed away.  Doing it too early means that you've completed the research but can't afford to build another capital ship.