Your initial choice of sphere is limited to the six spheres most suitable for generating income. A brief overview of each of these spheres appears below.
Mercantile - Selecting this sphere allows you to set up trading facilities. To earn income from trade you must have a minimum of two trading facilities - each on a different planet - and establish a trade route between them.
There are three types of trading facility, which vary in size. The larger the facility the greater the cost to build and maintain it, but the more trade routes it can support. You will initially probably choose to build two small trading posts on nearby planets and operate a single trade route between them. Later on you can expand these and build larger facilities on more planets to facilitate more trade routes as the funds become available.
Your profits are directly related to the difference in prices of the commodity traded between the two planets involved. Base commodity prices are affected by relatively static factors such as planet type, population and economy. In addition, supply and demand plays a very important role. Put simply, the more people who trade a given commodity between the same planets, the lower the profits. Should your trade routes become unprofitable due to competition, you have two choices: either switch to a more profitable commodity or else somehow convince your competitors to do so instead. You may achieve this through honest negotiation, or else threats, insults, sabotage or even all-out war! Trading can be a cut-throat business.
Note that some commodities are outlawed on certain planets but not on others. These might include narcotics, slaves – or even wines & spirits. Be careful where you trade these commodities as if you trade in illicit goods you risk a hefty fine and accompanying loss of status.
Agriculture - Selecting this sphere allows you to build farms and earn income according to the price of foodstuffs on the planet concerned. The profits you will make are strongly influenced by the type of planet which you farm - if your homeworld is of the 'airless' or 'frozen' type, maintenance costs for farms will be very high and you should probably avoid this sphere.
Agriculture is a good sphere to select for a starting House, since the Imperial government subsidizes this sphere for low-status Houses, so that your farms are guaranteed to return some profit. However, once you have become established and raised your status to a higher level, the sphere becomes much less attractive since you will lose the subsidies, and once you reach 50 status, you will have to pay additional taxes to help subsidize low-status Houses yourself! Thus, you should plan to operate this sphere only until you have established your House, and then consider closing it down and opening another sphere more suited to your developing status.
Geological - Choosing this sphere of activity allows you to set up mining stations and tap the mineral resources of the planets in your galaxy - you can mine for Minerals, Radioactives or Precious Metals. These resources are then sold on the local market for a profit. You only need one mining facility to begin operations, and as with trading facilities there are three sizes of mining station you can build with progressively higher build and maintenance costs, but also progressively higher profit potential.
In order to construct mines, you must first carry out geological surveys in order to discover mineral deposits on the planet where you wish to build. You then build mines to tap the deposits you have successfully discovered. All geological deposits have a finite size and eventually your mines will deplete the resources they are mining and require dismantling. Thus within this sphere there is a steady cycle of surveying, building mines to exploit your geological discoveries and eventually dismantling defunct mines.
The profits from mining operations are directly proportional to the sale price of the mined commodity on the local market, which is in turn affected by supply and demand. If there are numerous large mines on a given planet, the market will be inundated and the price of the mined commodity will be low. This can result in your mining operations making a loss unless you take action to out-do the competition.
Each planet in the galaxy also has a mineral wealth rating that will affect sustainability of mining operations. Abundant mineral resources mean greater chance to discover larger and more numerous deposits of commodities when you carry out a geological survey.
If your homeworld and the nearby planets are rich in mineral resources, you might wish to consider choosing Geological as a sphere of activity.
Transportation - This sphere of activity relates to passenger transportation between planets. This is every bit as competitive as trade in any other ‘non-human’ commodity. Transportation operations work in much the same way as Mercantile, however the infrastructure is sufficiently different to make this a completely separate sphere.
As with a trade route, to set up a transportation route you require two spaceports, one on the embarkation planet and the other on the destination planet. Profits are dependent upon competition and the populations of the planets the route is between. High population worlds naturally result in a higher demand for off-world transportation services. You may also choose to make your services cheaper to undercut the opposition, or to specialise in luxury-class services not available elsewhere.
In addition to the profit potential, choosing this sphere gives your House a useful boost in operational range, due to the specialised nature of the technologies involved. This will mean that right from the word go you have access to more planets than other non-transportation Houses. Note that this only applies for so long as Transportation is your primary sphere of activity. If you later opt to open a new primary sphere and relegate transportation to secondary importance, you will lose this bonus.
Technology - Choosing this sphere of activity allows your House to set up two types of facility – research facilities and production facilities.
Research facilities cost money to build and maintain, and provide no income. Instead you receive a boost to your ongoing technology research that will result in your Tech Level improving more rapidly than otherwise (see the section on technology for more details). This will have benefits in numerous areas of operations.
Production facilities provide a regular income stream to counterbalance your research investment, as you produce and market goods based on the latest cutting edge technology. You may produce two types of commodity, either Hi-Tech Goods or Machinery. Your profits are greatly affected by the price of the commodity on the planet in question - look for a price of at least 80 Galactic Solars per unit.
Psionics - In the universe of Imperium Nova, certain very rare individuals are born with mental abilities far in excess of the normal realms of thought and perception. These ‘psionic’ individuals are seemingly able to sense danger and, if concentrating, even gain brief glimpses of future events. There is a thriving industry built around the services offered by these gifted individuals – they are a particularly useful form of defence against espionage and assassination attempts, and can warn you in advance of surprise attacks on your bases.
Choosing this sphere of activity enables your House to set up ‘Psi-centres’ for the identification and cultivation of these individuals. These facilities provide a regular income stream for your House once built – in addition to reducing your own costs when employing psionics (i.e. your security costs). The amount of income you receive is quite variable, and greatly affected by the number of other psi-centres competing with your own.
You will also have access to Psionic agents for your Covert Operations, should you choose this sphere. This will result in a bonus to your covert activities and a penalty to all those attempting such operations against you.
As seen in the Rulebook
At certain Status levels, a House will earn the privilege of being able to operate in an additional Sphere of Activity. Thus as your influence increases and you gain experience in the game, you can expand your operations into other areas and get more out of Imperium Nova if you so desire. To operate in additional spheres after the second, you must also be a site member and pay the small associated fee - if you are playing for free then you'll continue in up to two chosen spheres of activity indefinitely, and you can always close one and open another provided the limit of two is not exceeded.
The Status levels required to operate additional spheres are listed below:
When you become eligible to expand into an additional sphere you will see a link to 'Open New Sphere' on your HQ page. There is a significant cost attached to set up the infrastructure for the new sphere - about $3000, so you will need to factor this into your plans.
When opening a second sphere, the following spheres of activity become available:
At game start, your single sphere will be your 'Primary' Sphere of Activity. All costs associated with maintaining and operating this primary sphere will be reduced by 20% due to the fact that your infrastructure is based around this as your primary activity. As you open more spheres, you will also begin operating in a secondary and possibly several tertiary spheres of activity. The cost savings bestowed on your secondary and tertiary spheres are correspondingly smaller. Your secondary sphere of activity will operate with a 10% efficiency bonus as opposed to the 20% enjoyed within your primary sphere, and any tertiary spheres will receive no bonus at all. However, without opening a particular sphere of activity you may not build the associated facilities or benefit from any of the advantages associated with that sphere.
Whenever you open a new sphere you may choose whether it should become your primary, secondary or tertiary activity. Any existing spheres will be shuffled down in order of importance should you make this new sphere primary. It should be noted that certain benefits of operating a given sphere of activity as your primary sphere are reduced or lost altogether should you move this sphere down in importance. For example, the extra operational range enjoyed by those operating with Transportation as a primary sphere will be reduced if Transportation is demoted to a secondary sphere of activity. For Covert Operations, your newly activated agents will only be Standard as opposed to Rookie experience should you have Covert Ops as your primary - as opposed to any other - sphere. There are many other examples, all covered in the individual sphere descriptions below, which illustrate that if you are operating multiple spheres, your choice of primary, secondary and tertiary spheres has important implications.
Should you decide you want to cease operations in a given Sphere, you may choose to close it down. You can only do this after you have disbanded all your facilities that relate to that Sphere, individually, and shut down any related trade and transport routes and so on. Since opening a new sphere is quite expensive, this should really only be a last resort if you are operating at a loss or you really want to try out a different sphere. You may never close down your primary sphere of activity however.
If you operate multiple spheres and your site membership runs out, all excess spheres apart from your primary sphere will automatically be closed and all related facilities dismantled after a short grace period. Be aware of this and if you wish to continue operating multiple spheres, make sure your membership is up to date!
At game start, your House leader will automatically be placed in charge of your primary sphere of activity. You may change this if you wish using the dropdown that appears at the top of all Sphere of Activity screens. Your choice of which leader heads each of your operational spheres has important implications for the efficiency of activities in that sphere. In general, the better a leader's abilities and administrative skills, the greater the bonus you will get in terms of both cost and time savings for actions carried out within that sphere. For example, if an operation has a basic cost of $500 and will take 10 days, having a good leader with high administrative skills might cut your costs to $450 and shave a day off the time required to complete the action. Conversely, a poor, unmotivated or stupid leader will hinder your operations and your activities will incur a penalty.
It's not just as simple as putting your best leader in charge of all your spheres however, as there are two further considerations to take into account:
Any one individual can optimally govern a single sphere of activity only. Should you also place this leader in charge of other spheres, then an 'overwork' penalty will apply - to both spheres. This penalty will increase the more spheres you place the same leader in charge of. The upshot of this is that there is very little point placing the same leader in charge of multiple spheres that you may be operating. It is far better to allot one individual to head up each operational area.
A second crucial factor in operational efficiency is the time a given leader has been in charge of a sphere of activity. Significant cost penalties apply if a leader has only been in charge for a short time. The longer the same leader heads up a given sphere of activity, the smaller the penalty - until length of time in charge becomes a bonus rather than a penalty. This represents the experience a leader has of administering a particular area of operations. Roughly speaking, a leader will suffer penalties for his or her first three (game) months in charge, before getting to grips with the operation.
As seen in the Rulebook
There are 14 spheres of activity currently available in the game. Certain spheres are much easier to pull profit from than others. Psionics, for instance, is very hard to pull profit from if there are even 2 other houses that operate in your area. Geology, on the other hand, can be profitable with as many as 10 in your area. Other spheres aren't used to make money at all, but rely on income from other spheres, or subsidies from other houses, to operate. general:spheres: High Saturation Threshold:
Low Saturation Threshold:
Low/No Income Sphere:
For details on each sphere, please refer to its particular article.