‘The Universe’ revolves around economy and trade, on doing what is necessary to keep your economy healthy. To get your economy started, you need to build production facilities that produce goods you can sell to other players.
The player begins in the early middle ages with a 'random' selection of food resources around. The village is nearly self-sufficient and can sustain itself, for a while, but you need to find more resources to grow, or find ways of replenishing the resources you are currently using. Research and scouts helps expand your access and knowledge about resources.
Some players will be stronger than others. Injustice may reign, but always remember that power can be lost as easily as it is gained.
Will democracy, benevolence and peace govern your world, while despondency, greed and war ravages the rest of 'The Universe'?
- You help shape the world(s) around you.
- You build relationships and trade agreements with other players.
- You make the choices, which future players can build upon.
As you discover the land around you, surprises may be unearthed. Ruins may hold information about civilizations past and any surviving information may provide a small boost in your research, or might even give your scientists the breakthrough they have been looking for.
Players who move elsewhere or leave the game, will leave behind broken cities and damaged lands for new players to discover. Damage and cities fade with time and eventually disappear.
The game is based on the 4X genre: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate.
eXplore your surroundings
Send scouts, traders, surveyors and prospectors out into the world to gain knowledge of your surroundings. Learning what resources are available around you is crucial to begin eXploiting them.
Some resources are fleeting, such as animals, which tend to move around. Some animals stay local, while others tend to shy away from areas where they are hunted.
All resources are limited; some replenish themselves, but need time to do so. If you don't give it time, it becomes extinct or simply vanishes. A resource can also run deeper into the ground than you can mine. Attempts to mine deeper than your skill permits, can result in riches, but also the collaps of your mine (lost source of income) and death of your workers (expensive to get new workers).
- Scouts (and basically any unit moving around) dissolves the Fog Of War around your village, allowing you to view the area as it was when the unit passed through the area, but you cannot view the area live, unless a unit is nearby. You could have an army marching on your city and not know it, if you don't have scouts deployed around your city. Scouts cannot (automatically) warn you faster that your technological level permits, but you can zoom to the individual scouts to view their area live, if you are paranoid. If the scout has a horse, he can ride back to your city and warn you, hopefully, in time. If the scout has a pidgeon, he can send it to warn you even faster, giving you extra time to mobilize a defence.
- Traders must be sent to other players in order to create a trade route between your cities. Trade routes are not only used to transport goods, but also information and messages. Delivery time for messages are determined by frequency of transports and/or traders. If no traders/transports are assigned to a trade route, no messages between cities are transferred.
- Surveyors are specially trained to find resources in the landscape. Some resources are hidden beneath the ground and require special skills to find. You can lease your surveyors to your neighbors, and thus also gain the knowledge of the resources close to your neighbors. If the resources turn out to be very valuable, you could sneak a mine of your own into his territory, or what he considers his territory. The next challenge is getting the resources back to your village somehow, without him noticing.
- Prospectors can extract resources from an area or from beneath the ground. They build the mines and drag the resources back to your village. Having more than one prospector assigned to a mine or harvestable area, improves efficiency, as well as keeps away leeching prospectors. A mine is unattended while a prospector is moving resources to the city. This allows another player's prospector to steal resources from the mine using your equipment (assuming he has training to use it), without you finding out. A second prospector can stay with the mine to keep it safe, and also keeps working, untill the mine's storage is full.
eXpand your village
- Build structures to expand your village, and to attract/breed more workers.
- Each structure and unit has an upkeep (basically a need for repair or food), which varies depending on building material and age. Some upkeeps grow with age.
- Perform research to learn new skills and new technologies.
- Hire teachers from your neighbors to teach your workers new skills.
- Workers use skills to perform specific types of work better.
- Some types of work benefit greatly from the levels of multiple skills.
- Some skills increase with use.
- Purchase technologies from your neighbors.
- Any technology can be bought and sold. But you cannot sell technology at the same level you have, only at lower levels.
- To use a device from a technology you don't have, you must be taught how to use it. This is technology at level 1. You don't necessarily understand what a phase changing laser rifle is or how to repair it, but now you at least know how to pull the trigger.
- An alternative to paying for a tutor, is to learn by trial/error, which can result in severe damage or death of scientists/workers, assuming the technology is dangerous. The device itself may also be damaged or destroyed by 'improper handling', leaving you with nothing.
Research enables you to process resources more efficiently into sellable goods, as well as discover new resources around you. A simple gritty rock on the ground can turn out to be a diamond-in-the-rough, and suddenly you start diggin up those precious rocks. More research allows you to refine the diamonds, and later polish them to nearly flawless diamonds for sale.
To get the diamonds out of the ground, you need to learn how to dig properly, and eventually how to build mines; later to build better support structures for mineshafts. Your workers will be proficient at mining and instead of learning the skill themselves, other players can just hire your workers to dig their mines.
The skill used to build stable mineshafts can later enable tunneling under rivers, allowing you to interconnect two landmasses for faster transport of goods. Set up a toll booth and earn money from anyone who wants to pass by. Give discounts for transport companies, who use the tunnel often.
eXploit your neighbors
Connect with your neighbors and use them any way you can.
- Steal their resources.
- Conquer their land.
- Subdue and subjugate them to your rule.
- Use them to fight your enemies.
- Band together and create a strong alliance.
- Hire them to build on your city.
Multiple players can work together to run a single city by dividing the tasks between them. Abandon your current city and move your belongings to the same area to build one large city and work together to take care of the needs of the city.
- One player builds needed buildings and expands the city where needed.
- One player travels the lands and makes trade agreements with outside players to sell goods.
- One player harvests resources, maintains production and fulfills trade agreements.
- One player keeps the military forces on the defence, and handles warfare.
- One player handles research and upgrades worker skills for better production.
- One player plans the economy for the entire city, allotting funds to each of the other players and makes the overall plans for the city.
Someone needs to be in charge and do the planning. This player marks areas outside the city for expansion and another player clears the area and builds needed structures on the land.
Just make sure you can trust the other players you build the city with. They may work on a hidden agenda while working with you, undermining everything you are working to achieve.
The size of the city determines how many players may be needed to handle it's needs.
Expanding your city or empire requires sacrifices, but will the sacrifices be yours or theirs? Some players are war-enthusiasts, keeps stealing your resources, generally being uncoorporative, or simply preventing you from getting the resources which most definitely are on your land. Borders are not written in stone, right?
Consider your options well, as each action has consequences. Remember that your neighbors are most likely also your customers. You may depend more on them, than they on you. Therein lies the balance of power.
If you are afraid of losing customers, but they are behaving badly, try hiring an outsider to knock them down a few pegs. Not too many pegs though, as they still need to be able to buy their goods from you.