2. Colonize roid and ice, upgrade civ-inf to cap
3. Research the 2 steps of the first metal harvesting tech
4. Colonize roid and volcanic, max inf on planets, upgrade 2 steps of crystal harvesting
Hi Varis, In reading thru this post, it looks like you've already refined your build order, and put alot of thought into it. But I'd like to make some specific suggestions. You mentioned:
Modular architecture is some lowly tech, but apparently undervalued. 20% price cut means you save 50 credits on each resource extractor already, and you'll eventually build more structures such as frigate factories. It's cheap so get it early!?
Yes. So get it before #2. And, I say get both levels, so you save 40%, or 100 credits on each extractor (thus, need a prior civic lab: Sell Mtl>Q Cap Factory>Q Cry>Q Civ lab>2 scouts>Q Mtls>Buy 2 Cry>Research "it">Up Pop...). After about 10 extractors it will have paid for itself (~$1000 cost for the tech). With even bigger $ savings potential on future factories.
You also mention somewhere, that the metal & crystal harvesting upgrades are probably better purchased later (maybe after trade ports). The more extractors you have, the quicker the research will pay for itself. I figure that if you own 3 grav wells, the first metal harvesting upgrades will take about 20 minutes to pay for itself. If you own 6 grav wells, it will pay-off in about half that time. Since Crystal upgrades are tier 2, it takes about double the time to pay off (40 vs 20 min.). And then your money may rather be better off invested in fleet/ships. [Don't forget that neutral extractors are free! And they produce more! So pursue these agressively.] Finally, if you can, colonize the volcano last, (and maybe the ice next to last). And sometimes just skip them completely (especially Volcanos)!
5. Build tradeports, 1 per planet - gets you a string of 4-5
6. Colonize desert, get market discounts, more metal harvesting, research terran&desert population
Yes, get as long of a string as possible, and build as many as possible for true "econ boom". But remember that you can get your ally's chain bonuses too, if your trade route connects to their chain. (In our game yesterday morn, you might have noted that you were earning around 3! cred/sec from each trade port, even tho you only had a chain of 4 or so. See my karma for some good info on trade). TEC Developement Mandate might sound like a great deal, giving 4 logistic slots to every planet - so that you can build tradeports on dead asteroids, but it is a tier 6 research (6 labs). And it is expensive. The same is somewhat true of the market discounts (Favored Client Discounts - Tier 4). Often hard to justify.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to research.
Regards, Jedi Obi 1
(PS. If you quit, rather than surrender, from an online game... you don't get a "loss", and a hard AI will take over in your stead. If someone surrenders, like Floyd did, then the new AI just sits there, waiting to be killed!)
(PPS. I got disconnected. What happened next? We were beating those 5 hard AI's. I was #1 in several categories, including fleet, the all important one).