An expanding solar empire

Defenses may be stronger, but if they’re properly balanced in cost, then there’s no way anyone could afford to fortify every planet of a moderately-sized empire with a star base and minefields. Meanwhile, adequate defenses at key planets will free up ships from patrol duty and put them on the front lines, where players will be able to launch stronger multi-front offensives. Identifying the weak points in an enemy’s lines will increase the need for reconnaissance, both for choosing where to attack and to make sure the enemy fleet isn’t close enough to help defend. And if your opponent does manage to build a totally impenetrable defense, Ironclad says there will be a new, as-yet-undisclosed means of sieging planets - presumably some kind of interplanetary weapon that packs more of a punch than the existing Novalith cannon.

Above: You'll need to defend the star base deployment ship, as it will be extremely vulnerable while it builds the space station

It’s true, of course, that super-competitive players will find ways to use these new defenses to draw out matches to some degree (they always do), but that’s a small price to pay for more options, strategic depth, and epic space battles for the rest of us. Besides, with five patches this year alone, Ironclad has proven its dedication to keeping the battles balanced and lively.

Nov 3, 2008