Advice on what to do when you start playing Imperium Nova
Name Groups: African, Arabic, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Biblical, Germanic, Hispanic, Latin, Japanese, Russian, Gallic, Italian.
Patriarchal Titles: Baron, Brother, Chairman, Chief, Comte, Count, Czar, Doge, Don, Duke, Earl, Emir, Father, Founder, Graf, Kaiser, Lord, Maharajah, Marquis, Master, Minister, Mullah, Overlord, Premier, Sheik, Shogun, Sultan, Viscount.
Matriarchal Titles: Baroness, Chief, Countess, Czarina, Duchess, Founder, Kaiserin, Lady, Maharani, Marchioness, Mistress, Mother, Premier, Sister, Sultana, Viscountess
Although you already selected a user name when registering for the game, you do not yet have an in-game House name. This will be the family name of your dynasty and should be suitably grand-sounding. Whenever other players view your in-game details they will see this House name together with your coat-of-arms (see below), and this combination is what gives you your in-game identity.
Apart from deciding the House name you also need to choose whether succession in your dynasty is through the male or the female line. After your House leader dies, the successor will be determined by your choice here. Choose ‘patrilineal’ to give priority to male heirs, and ‘matrilineal’ for female. This also determines the sex of your initial House leader – choosing ‘patrilineal’ gives you a male leader.
Also on this screen, you choose the title for your House leader. This is for aesthetic purposes only – the various ranks have no order of precedence. In historical reality a Duke was more powerful than a Baron – this does not apply in Imperium Nova, all titles are equal. Simply choose one you like the sound of.
Finally, you should choose the kinds of name you want each of your dynasty members to have, by selecting one or more of the ‘name origin’ checkboxes provided. If you want European names then you would check only the appropriate boxes, and similarly if you want to run a Shogun-inspired dynasty you would check only the ‘Japanese’ checkbox. For pure randomness, select all the boxes!
Once you have done this and submitted the details you are ready to move on to the next stage and examine your Dynasty.
You are given a premade dynasty and three chances to reroll it. The general guideline is that “unless the first dynasty you get inflicts physical pain, do not reroll your dynasty”. This is because dynasties can be very terrible. They can also be very good, but you should split the difference and hope for a decent one.
A decent dynasty has one above average admin (an admin stat of at least average and character stats that work out to above average), and one or more children between the ages of 8 and 20. Having several middle-aged adults is also useful. Education is extremely important, so you want to have an adolescent, no matter how woeful their potential is, that can be trained to be a sphere leader in the future.
If you have these two things, a decent sphere leader and a kid or two to put through school, do not reroll your dynasty. There are numerous stories of people using all their rerolls chasing a good dynasty only to wind up with a pitiful one. The greatest starting dynasties on record have nearly always been the very first generated dynasty, before any rerolls had been used. It's even possible the rerolled dynasties are made to be worse.
All Houses are identifiable by a unique coat of arms, originating in the distant past of the dynasty and carried forward to this day. At the start of play, you must design the coat of arms for your particular house. There are 15 different basic shield designs, most of which are two-colour designs. You can choose the two colours from a list of seven.
You can also finish off your coat of arms with a heraldic charge of some kind – such as a lion rampant, crossed swords and so on. A list of these is also provided on the coat of arms page for selection. This charge is optional and you may prefer just a coloured shield.
Whilst deciding on your design, use the ‘preview’ button to have a look at how your shield will appear in the game.
Your coat of arms must be unique within your galaxy. You may change it at any time up until you confirm your House details and begin playing. After this your coat of arms may not be altered.
You may also choose a motto, which will be displayed on your House headquarters page for all to see. This must be 50 characters or fewer. Please do not choose an offensive motto, as it will be permanently deleted and you risk expulsion from the game.
You can change your crest, charge and motto later in the game - but it will cost a small fee (in game currency) so deciding these details at start-up is preferable.
As seen in the Rulebook
None of the starting spheres in Imperium Nova are inherently “better” than any of the others, but there many factors to consider when choosing. The best and surest way is to see which sphere has the least competition in the vicinity of your starting planet. Certain spheres saturate much more quickly than others. Contacting the largest houses in your area will usually yield the best results, as these houses are often the most aware of economics in their area. Take information with a grain of salt, however, as you are a new competitor, and established houses may discourage you from joining a lucrative market because it would lower their own bottom line.
You can communicate with other players about what sphere may be the best by going on your Local Galaxy Forum.
The final stage before confirming your House details is to choose your initial sphere of activity. This choice will determine what actions you can carry out in the game. For example, if you choose ‘Mercantile’ you will be able to open up trade routes and generate income for your House through trading. In game terms, each area of activity requires that certain infrastructure and legal requirements (such as a trading permit) be met in order to operate. As a starting House you are limited in influence and infrastructure and so can only operate within a single sphere. As you gain status in the galaxy, you have the option to branch out into additional spheres of activity - although this is not essential and will require site membership (see section 2.3 below). Your initial choice of sphere is limited to the six spheres most suitable for generating income; Mercantile, Agriculture, Geological, Transportation, Technology and Psionics.
As seen in the Rulebook
A summary of the starting spheres can be found on the Spheres of Activity page, along with links to more detailed descriptions of all spheres.
When you first start operations, there are a few things that should be done immediately:
While Agriculture is, as the rules say, an easy sphere to start with, and offers the only sure profits for a small house, it has almost never worked for IN houses in the long term. If you start out in Agriculture, the best thing to do is to open a second profit sphere at the soonest possible opportunity and never look back. If you continue building in agriculture up to status 50, it will bring nothing but trouble and pain as you are slowly forced to dismantle all agriculture facilities while staying under 50 status.
Farms produce income per day roughly equal to the Foodstuffs price on a planet, but their maintenance, in addition to the regular price increases based on planet Wealth and distance from your headquarters, is also affected by the price of Water on that planet, and also by terrain type. Temperate and Arid planets have a x1 modifier to maintenance costs for farms. Marine worlds have a x1.1 modifier to maintenance costs. Frozen worlds have an approximately x1.5 modifier to maintenance, and Airless worlds a x2 modifier to maintenance.
In practice, this means that the best planets to build farms on are Temperate planets with low planetary wealth, with high food prices and low water prices. Marine and Arid will both have slightly higher maintenance, but Marine planets tend to have very low water prices. Arid planets tend to have both high water and foodstuffs prices. Frozen planets will have slightly higher maintenance than arid and marine planets, but are also likely to have underdeveloped economies. Airless planets have double the regular maintenance of other planets for farms, and should almost always be avoided completely.
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Agriculture section.
You'll want to start out looking for the best prices you can on planets with resource amounts ranging from bountiful to average. Low and meager resource planets can earn superb profits for established geological houses, but survey success is too sporadic for beginning houses. Radioactives and especially precious metal deposits can be difficult to acquire, so you may want to start with the safest route; do “anything” surveys on planets with good mineral prices, but where a RA or PM node would be an added bonus. If you have a lot of spare solars from generous gifts, however, radioactives or precious metals would be the more profitable route to start off with. Good luck. Geo is one of the slowest spheres to get started in, but it is also one of the two best spheres in the game, so it's a good choice.
One last thing–make sure you look at whether a geo commodity is monopolized on a planet before you send surveys there. You can do this by going to the planetary screen → government → monopolies. The game will not warn you about the monopoly when you send out surveys, and it can be a painful waste of solars if you get good surveys you can't use.
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Geological section.
With mercantile, you should try to export off low priced worlds, and import to high priced worlds. Planets with low population and low wealth tend to have lower prices, while planets with high population and high wealth tend to have higher prices. For when you're starting out, you may want to consider building a hub on one world (like your homeworld, or a near-by very high or very low priced world), and outposts to whatever planets have the best prices to send the goods from that one hub to or from. You can slowly upgrade your outposts to the larger facilities as you figure out more routes from those planets to elsewhere.
Generally speaking, the most profitable goods to trade are things like Precious metals, arms, narcotics, and objects d'art, but they also have very expensive routes to set up, so don't make them unless there's a sufficient difference in price! Another important thing to note is that the player produced goods, like precious metals, radioactives, minerals, high tech, and machinery, are more prone to frequent fluctuations and manipulations by other players. (Water and foodstuffs as well, but farms change less often.) If you see great precious metal prices somewhere, make certain it’s not just someone rebuilding all their mines, sending your new route into the negatives in just a couple days! And don’t forget to keep your route security at least as high, or one notch higher, than the level of imperial policing on any “illegal” goods you chose to trade in. ;)
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Mercantile section.
With psionics, larger planetary population size will increase the amount of profitable psi facilities that can be built on a planet, as well as higher planetary wealth, to a slightly lesser extent. This can be a difficult sphere to start in, as it is hard to tell what planets are best without actually having a facility built there, and the established houses are often fairly entrenched. However, if you care about covert ops and spying, the bonuses in that field will make this sphere worth it.
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Psionics section.
With tech, look for prices with the highest High Tech Goods and Machinery prices you can. Usually any planet with prices of at least 50 will be profitable, although you can find profitable facilities at 40 or lower if you have enough maintenance reducing factors going for you - such as low planetary wealth, short distance from your HQ, or a very effective administrator. You should limit your building to only 3rd tier facilities since these are the most cost effective. Also, you may want to ask some of the larger houses if it would be possible to get a monopoly, or build over one of theirs a little bit. Tech is the best sphere in the game, and one of the most straightforward. Good first choice!
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Technology section.
Transportation is one of the most complicated spheres in the game, and not for the faint of heart. For transportation, you'll want to look for high population planets, and unique routes to put up, ideally with as little competition in Trans in general from other houses on the planets involved. The highest income routes (barring competition) are Luxury routes set up between Rich and Prosperous planets, but they are also the most expensive to set up.
At the start, try and find Poverty-Stricken, Poor, and even Undeveloped planets, with as high a population as you can find, to set up Economy routes between. Economy routes are more often ignored by established Transportation house in favor of Luxury routes, and they are also much cheaper to set up. Once you have some decent income, you can start building and experimenting to find the best routes.
See an expanded view of this sphere in the Transportation section.