Neptune's Pride Tips
Unofficial Tutorial for New Neptune's Pride Players
Neptune's Pride is a browser-based 4x strategy game where players battle to become the dominant force on the galactic map. While the game takes place in real time, it progresses slowly, so a single game can last up to a few weeks. NP is very easy to get into and doesn't require much time to play. However, despite the seemingly simple game mechanics, there are some more advanced tricks that can give you an edge over the other players. I am by no means an expert, but I've been playing Neptune's Pride for a while, and I'll share some strategy tips I've found to be the most useful.
These Neptune's Pride tips are for players who have already read the official Introduction and Tutorial, and understand the basics of the game.
#1. Communicate with Other Players
It's a good idea to form alliances and trade agreements
Diplomacy is the most important tool in your Neptune's Pride arsenal. If you happen to start in an unfortunate position in the middle of the map, make sure to contact nearby players and ask them for a non-aggression pact. A quick message might be the thing that saves your civilization from early destruction!
Technology trading is another important aspect of Neptune's Pride. If you are working on, say, Weapons tech and your friend is researching Speed, you can share your technological advancement with each other. This effectively doubles your research rate, giving you a huge advantage over other players. It might be a good idea to do technology trading with the player located opposite you in the galaxy map, so you can avoid fighting them until the very end.
#2. Have at Least One Ship at Every Star
...And make the enemy pay dearly for every star they capture
If you've read the official Neptune's Pride tutorial, you know that the damage your ships deal in combat depends on the level of your Weapons technology, and not the number of ships in a fleet or a star. The number of ships in a fleet can, for all intents and purposes, be considered as "health" of each fleet.
That means if an opponent with a Weapons technology of 10 captures one of your stars, a garrison of 1 ship will do the same damage to them as a garrison of 9. As such, if you can't defend your star you should at least save your ships for future battles and leave only 1 fighter garrisoned. You will lose a single ship, while your enemy will lose a number of ships equal to your Weapons level + 1!
Following the same logic, you can choose to leave bigger garrisons in your stars that are about to get captured. Simply follow the rule of "Enemy's Weapon level + 1" to make the opponent waste their forces. That means if the aggressor has 10 Weapons you garrison 1, 11, or 21 ships (and so on). Don't forget to move your fleets away from doomed stars, as each carrier costs $25 to build!
Do not leave your stars undefended, as your opponents will be able to take them without a fight. Even if a star has no upgrades, it is wise to leave 1 ship there from a passing fleet. Such stars can provide scanning range and serve as a launching point into enemy territory.
Note: systems deep within your empire that you consider safe from enemy attacks can be left ungarrisoned. This way you can send more ships to the front lines. In case your enemies do reach those systems, by the time they arrive your Industry points will have produced some fighters, so you won't give up your stars without a fight.
#3. Upgrade Economy Right Before the Payment
...And buy Industry and Science as soon as you can
While Industry and Science start generating ships and research points right after you build the upgrade, Economy only generates income in pay periods (every 24 hours for standard free games). That means there's no difference in income whether you improve your Economy 20 hours, or 1 hour before the next pay.
If you are at war, you should hold off upgrading your Economy until right before the payment hits. This way you won't be giving any juicy targets to your opponent, and you'll also have a nice pool of money available for emergency fleet buying or tech trades. Of course, if you can't log in to Neptune's Pride before the payment period, you'll have no choice but to upgrade your stars in advance. Letting your money sit idle through a pay period is usually a waste.
#4. Early Investments Pay Off
Try focusing on your Economy the first few pay periods
Your first pay period will be paltry compared to the initial sum of money given in a standard game. It might be a good idea to focus on Economy early on, since those upgrades will pay for themselves many times over during the game, allowing you to "snowball" in the later stages. Of course, that does not mean you should neglect your Industry and Science. However, early Economy investments can give you a nice boost, especially if you have lots of resource-rich stars.
Neptune's Pride has an excellent tool to find the cheapest Economy, Industry, and Science upgrades in your empire. Make sure to use it, but don't forget to consider the position of the star (e.g. how close it is to the enemy) as well, so you don't create an undefended economical and scientific center right at your border!
Another good approach is saving some money for when the first few fleets are going to reach and capture the nearest neutral systems. That usually takes less than 24 hours, so you can upgrade them in time for the first pay period.
#5. Prioritize Your Technology Research
Weapons, Speed, Range, and Scanning are all useful - but some are more important than others
All Technologies in Neptune's Pride are useful, but some shouldn't be upgraded beyond certain values. The two crucial ones are Weapons and Speed: they should be the focus of your research efforts, since one affects the damage your ships are capable of dealing, while the other determines the speed of your fleets. Speed is a also great starting tech, since you'll want to start capturing nearby uninhabited star systems as soon as possible.
Range - the length of a single jump that your fleets can perform - is pretty important, but in a standard game you probably won't need more than 1 light-year (and that's just two upgrades from the 0.5 light years you start with). Boosting it to 0.75 early on might help you to snag some far-away planets before anyone else.
Scanning is also important since it allows you to see what the other players are doing. However, just like with Range, you shouldn't need more than 1 light-year in a free standard game - and even that's at the very end of it. Scanning tech doesn't cost much to research, so you can work on it occasionally between your Weapons or Speed research.