I usually try and colonize anywhere from 4 to 6 planets right off the bat. I find that gives me enough resources/labs to get a decent fleet started.
Well here it goes: First off, colonizing the planets close to your homeworld is a good idea. You like to colonize up to six planets, and I approve. The only tip I can give you here is that you might want to skip on ice -and volcanic planets in order to quickly colonize asteroids, dwarf planets or terran / desert worlds that form a strategic choke point (where a lot of phase lanes lead to a single gravity well). You can colonize those later after you have set up some simple defenses (often two repair bays and a single Gauss turret will suffice in the early stages of the game) on the most critical choke points near you. Try to make sure the enemy cannot flank you easily; Prioritize. Also, immediately take all the neutral extractors (those in plasma storms and such) as soon as possible. They will give you a lot of extra income which you will need.
I tend to rely heavily on capital ships, and favor military techs over civilization techs initially. I try to get the high level armor and weapon techs early, and then start taking care of the low level civilization techs.
The best way to start (this is what I do in multilayer games, but it also works extremely well against the AI) is with one military and one civillian lab. After colonizing your first asteroid immediately build a civillian lab on it. Always upgrade your planets' civillian infrastructure to the point where you don't have to pay underdevelopment tax rates. Not further than that, though. Save your resources. The first two things you research (I am assuming you play TEC mostly, they are a good faction to train the basics with) are the metal income upgrades and corvettes. At the start of the game, build a colonizer capital ship and a few light frigates (A single colonizer frigate is also useful, it can take a single asteroid or planet on its own without military support. Ignore the militia present in the asteroids' gravity well, colonize it, jump out the frigate and build a single gauss turret right next to the planet to block off the enemy Krosov seige frigate. The Krosov will turn around but stay in range because the Ai is too dumb to move it far enough away from the turret, and it will be torn apart without you having to waste frigates and time on it, same goes for the remaining Cobalt). After that, spam corvettes and upgrade your fleet supply with the first level. NEVER BUILD MORE THAN 1 CAPITAL SHIP AT THE START OF A GAME. Really, those things are cannon fodder without a supporting fleet. Just build your second capital ship (and eventually maybe even a third one) once you got enough resources and aren't fighting off a wave of enemies. Build it only when your first capital ship reached a high enough level so that it is not hindered by the second capital ship, which will snitch experience points when present in the same gravity well as the first one.
I will try to find two choke point planets where I can place most of my defenses and fleet. This usually stops the computer from breaking through, and I can take the time that buys to develop the behind the choke points. During this time I'll also scout out weak points and try to attack strategically to conserve resources and ships (this usually gets me another 2 to 4 planets while I build my strength).
Never upgrade a planets' defensive slots early in the game. Only do this when you have the resources to spare in the middle stages of the game. Raiding enemy asteroids and the like with a strike team of about 20 corvettes is always a good idea. Target constructors and factories first, try to cripple the enemies' economy. Don't waste your time on defensive structures, your main fleet can take those out.
Once that is done I'm usually near the end of both tech trees and own a good portion of the map. I start cranking out ships as fast as I can. I then divide into two fleets and begin chipping away at the enemy planets, then rinse and repeat until I win. I usually play Entrenchment and love using the Starbase as the centerpiece to my defensive strategy.
Playing defensively is good, but don't exaggerate. Only build starbases when absolutely necessary since they soak up a lot of resources. Equip them with Big Red Button or Mass Disorientation if you don't play Vasari. Always keep a good balance between civillian and military labs. Favor military slightly when you are in a frontline position on the map. Always think twice before upgrading your maximum fleet capacity. More fleet -> more taxes -> less income. Do it when you need to overcome a fortified enemy world which you cannot bypass or cripple with your current fleet, for example.
Finally I got you some general tips:
- Know your counters! use light frigates against flak, flak against corvettes and strike craft spam, long range frigates against light frigates and corvettes against light frigates and cruisers. Spam utility cruisers to beef up your fleet and help the lighter ships survive.
- Never build a (Kol) battleship as first capital (a Dreadnaught or Corsev will do fine if you know how to handle them though). They should always be second cap or even third choice.
- Only upgrade planet health when you need to delay the enemy fleet once you cannot possibly take back the planet with your current fleet.
- Keep a few planetary bombardment frigates near your main fleet. use them to bomb a secondary planet that isn't defended to distract the enemy. Bomb while in battle as well. When the enemy loses an upgraded planet it hurts him a lot, even when you didn't manage to win the battle with your fleet.
- Don't spend too many resources on research. Keeping all of your fleet supply in use is top priority. Research only the technologies that are most useful to you, skip those that don't instantly give you an edge.
I sincerely hope these tips will help you out in your future games of Sins Rebellion!
Jesus Christ I cannot believe I just wrote all that...