Star Lords Manual - Resource Management
Star Lords Table of Content
Managing your race's resources effectively is perhaps the most difficult aspect of Star Lords. It is also one of the keys to victory. The race with better resource management can put more ships into service, colonize more planets, and has more to offer its allies in trade. Managing the resources of half a dozen worlds (not to mention more) is a delicate balance between demand and supply, along with a talent for logistics - getting what is needed to where it is needed when it is needed.
Population is perhaps the most important resource, as it determines how much you can do with all the others. Like any other resource, it can be moved between worlds to where it is needed, and can be used up if you're not careful. Population determines how quickly ships and facilities can be produced, how much tax income is available to an empire, and the ultimate size of the military that your race can support.
Each colonized world lists how much population is present and how much of that population is available to work (your workforce). The workforce is used both to build new structures and to maintain the existing ones. When everyone is busy building facilities or maintaining the current structures, no more work can be done. Watch your workforce numbers carefully and move in more colonists when it gets too low. It is not difficult to find yourself using all of the available workforce of a new colony world immediately after it is established. Every planet also has a top limit on the amount of population it can support. Once this level is reached (which will probably be some time for most worlds), no more population can be moved in, although it can still be moved out.
Population must be fed or it will begin to drop as starvation sets in. For two of the races, it must also be entertained. Setting tax races too high, or drafting too large a portion of the population into the military will cause unhappiness in Humans and Predatorians, and a reduction in production. Building entertainment facilities, on the other hand, will incite them to work harder.
While the form this resource takes among the various races may very greatly, it is all treated essentially the same. Food (along with the local environment) is a major factor in determining how much population a world can support. Various types of worlds are more or less suited to the production of crops, and some worlds also provide food in the form of local wildlife. Food production is also directly influenced by how many farms are present on a planet. Building more farms will increase food production, though the amount of food each farm produces will vary with local conditions and the technological level your race has reached in food production.
Surplus food can be shipped to other worlds in need of it. Having more food than is needed to support the population will cause a boost in population growth on a planet, so there is some profit in allowing a world to produce more food than it can use at once. Food supplies are rather fragile, however. Only half of any surplus food may be added to a planet's stores in any one turn, and the stockpiled food will slowly decay into uselessness over time.
Where food is necessary to building a good population, Alloys are necessary to building everything else. Every structure and starship has a cost in Alloys to produce. They are the raw structural materials of everything a race builds. The resource called Alloys in the game represents several different naturally occurring and manufactured metals.
Different planets have different quantities of Alloys on their surface and buried within the crust. Factories are used to extract and process these Alloys. As time goes by, factories will produce less and less Alloys as they are forced to go deeper into the planet's surface to find them. Eventually the flow of Alloys from any world will be reduced to a small trickle, as all the main veins of Alloys will have played out and only small amounts of Alloys can be extracted by the same amount of effort. Fortunately, processed Alloys will never decay - they retain their usefulness until used.
Alloys are easily shipped and are probably the most common cargo. Maintaining a surplus of Alloys on a planet will have no positive effect on production, so unless large stores will be needed for some future project (such as the construction of a Starbase), surplus Alloys are usually shipped to where they can be used immediately.
Although it goes by different names and comes in different shapes among the races (and the Insectians do completely without it), all of the currency systems of the races are referred to as Money by the game. Money is an important resource, as all structures have a cost and all starships must be maintained once they are built. Money also controls how much research a race can accomplish. Adjusting a race's research budget upwards can have an immediate positive effect on the race's technological level.
Money derives directly from a race's population and how willing a leader is to tax his or her people. It will never run out as long as you have any Population, but it is sometimes very easy to spend more than tax revenues are bringing in. Over-taxing your population will tend to make them very unhappy very quickly.
Stored Money does not decay, but it does not grow larger while stored either. If an empire goes bankrupt, no further construction will be allowed and the maintenance costs of existing ships will start to lower the empire's money supply into negative numbers, with interest charged each turn until the debt is paid off.
Energy Crystals are the last important resource. They are naturally-formed crystals that when processed provide the power necessary to propel starships to other worlds. Energy Crystals have also replaced all other sources of energy formerly used on worlds because of their tremendous output. Power plants thus have an Energy Crystal cost as well. Energy Crystals are quite rare, but fortunately a small amount of Crystals can produce a tremendous amount of energy - ships will not need refueling often. Because of their rarity, any world with large deposits of crystals will usually be well-defended. They are extracted from a world via factories, and do not decay while in storage (but surplus crystals provide no benefit to a world).
Mining and processing the raw materials is only one half of resource management. Usually you need to also move the resources from where they are gathered to where they can best be used. There are two methods to do this.
The first method is the simplest, and the method that will most often be used between developed colonies. The technology to propel starships is not restricted by any race to the military alone - civilian shipping also occurs - moving goods from where they were created to where they can be sold for a profit. In Star Lords, each empire has the option of using this Civilian shipping to transport some of its resources.
Each colonized world has three Civilian freighters available for hire. These freighters can transport any resource except Money (which isn't required - all of the worlds of an empire recognize that empire's credit without the necessity of transporting physical cash). Civilian freighters will only transport resources that a world considers surplus. The surplus level for each resource can be set manually for each world by the empire's player. Civilian freighters will also only transport up to a player-set limit of resources. This means the amount transported on each trip will be whatever surplus is on the planet up to the limit set by the player for this trip.
The player can choose to have the freighters make a single trip between worlds, or to establish an ongoing trade route. Freighters set to such a trip will continue to run between worlds without any further attention from the player, as long as there are surplus resources to transfer on a world. Each trip the freighter will charge a small amount of money for each ton of resources transported.
Civilian freighters can be intercepted by your enemies, and can be easily destroyed, as they are unarmed. It is usually wise to station warships near areas of heavy shipping with patrol orders to allow them to intercept enemy craft that try to interfere with shipping. Civilian freighters also have the disadvantage that they can only operate between already colonized worlds.
The second method to move resources is to build your own cargo vessels and transport the goods yourself. This system has the advantage that you can design your own (probably armed) transports that will not be so vulnerable to enemy attack, and that it can be sent to uncolonized worlds ahead of or accompanying a colony ship (colony ships are essentially special purpose cargo ships). Armed transports can also accompany a fleet to provide raw materials to refuel or repair the vessels after combat.
The disadvantages of the system are that it costs more to build and operate the cargo ships than to use civilian freighters, and constructing a cargo ship takes up production capacity at a starbase that could be used to build warships (or colony ships) instead. It also has the disadvantage that it is automatic trade routes cannot be set up - orders will have to be given by the player at each stage - loading cargo, selecting destination worlds, and unloading.