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Expanding Known Space Tutorial


This tutorial is meant to give a feel for how the game works, and how to play. It is not a substitute for the full documentation, nor is it a strategy guide.

The tutorial will seek to get players started with the game, and give them tools to play with. Further information on all topics are to be found in the Documentation.

Hot Keys Used In This Tutorial

Assumptions of the Tutorial

The tutorial will be using a standard set of victory conditions on normal difficulty with the AI set to normal mode. I will use the Solarian Federation as my faction. I am going to use automatic selection of planets, but remember you can manually select planets to get only earth like planets, which makes the game's initial start up much easier.

Ship Placement

In most games of EKS you receive a starting fleet. This fleet consists of one frigate, one destroyer, and three interceptors. You also begin play with three planets, one of which is your capital, in the tutorial's case, this is Earth.

There's no one right way to place your ships, but there's two approaches to placing this initial fleet.

First, we can place all the ships on Earth so our capital is well defended.

Or, second, we can spread our ships out over all three planets in order to start scouting.

I generally place my fleet as a defensive fleet, which I will do in this tutorial, but the other method has the benefit of getting ships into the galaxy quickly to find other places to go, and where the enemy is. The downside to scouting with your initial fleet is, you have to build up your defenses as well as colonize.

First Turn Considerations

As I start the game, the game announces the locations of my planets. This is valuable information, but i'm intent on placing my ships and missed it. Not horrible as I will be able to determine coordinates as I look at the planets. I have Earth at 12,4. Note that the 12 is the x axis, and 4 is the y axis. This means I am 13 squares to the east, and 5 squares down from the 0,0 square at the top left hand corner of the map.

However, before we can explore more about what this means, we must purchase ships. When we have placed our initial fleet on Earth, the game announces purchase phase and gives us options. My initial placement gave me only 22 credits. I know I will want to colonize early, and either build up my defense fleets, or scout. I therefore spend 15 credits on a colony ship. This leaves me with 7 credits. I could buy 2 interceptors, but I opt for a single destroyer. Both options cost 6 credits, but the destroyer's faster movement means that as a scout ship, it can cover more ground quickly.

I could have bought gather intelligence which costs 5 credits. However, with only 22 credits to spend, I decide that I can't afford to do so currently. Later in the game, gather intelligence might be a valuable tool.

The game now announces Movement phase, and lists the planets I can see on scanners from my three colonies. This is a lot to take in, but don't worry, if you missed things, we'll figure out how to see that information now.

To find Earth quickly, I hit the h key to go straight to it. When I do so, the game announces planet Earth and reads off my placement fleet of 3 interceptors, 1 destroyer, 1 frigate, then announces the coordinates as x 12 y 4. Now, I have two options. I can hit the n key, and see what is nearby in a menu format with relative directions. I'll do so now. The menu shows planet Olympia at 14,2 which the game tells me is two north and two east of my current position. It also announces planet Pele at 14,5 2 east and 1 south from my current position.

My other option, is just to use my cursor and go looking. I hit right arrow twice, then up arrow twice. This will put me at the extreme top right of my nearby scan area. I then move left with the arrow keys from 14, my right most x coordinate five spaces. Thus I go to 13,2 then 12,2 11,2 and 10,2. I found Olympia at the extreme right hand corner of this box. I drop down and arrow right from 10,3 to 11,3 and so on. I do this until I read 14,6 and checked down through 10,6. This shows me the 2 square radius from Earth that I can see.

To cycle to my other planets, I hit the k key. My next colony is Hobbs planet at 15,18. This puts me on the extreme bottom edge of the board in the corner. I hit n and I am told no scan results. Hobbs Planet is apparently somewhat isolated.

I then hit k again and hear Tao Seti Asteroid Union, which is at 17,2. This is again, in an extreme corner of the board, but this time at the top right corner. Hitting n here reveals that Planet Darling is at 17,4 only two south of my current position, and planet Vishnu is at 18,0 1 east and 2 north from my current position. This means planet Earth has one earth like planet, planet Olympia, four moves away, and one planet, Pele, which is a volcanic planet, three moves away. Planet Darling is only 2 moves away from Tao Seti Asteroid Union, and Vishnu, and Earthlike planet is only 3 moves away. Darling is an ocean world, so while it's not as valuable as the two earthlikes, it is still a more valuable target for first colonization because it is closer. Those 9 credits a turn extra will help me colonize faster.

I hit space bar and there is no combat phase because I have not seen any enemy ships, let alone moved into the same square as they are in.

When I hit space bar, I here done, now pick a planet for ship placement. The placement menu puts you into a menu list of your three planets. At the bottom are two more options, place with map mode, and place automatically. The menu also tells you what you purchased when you first land in it, and if you miss that, you can hit escape to hear it again. I have determined I want to place at Tao Seti for my colony ship, and I decide I will put my destroyer there as well and set it up to scout the galaxy. I scrol down to Tao Seti Asteroid Union, hit enter, and hear Select ships to place at Tao Seti Asteroid Union, place all here. I could hit enter and place all my ships now. If I chose not to, I could scroll down and then hear destroyer, then colony ship, then return to planet selection. I don't want to do that, so I just hit enter.

Using the map mode is easier for some people, and when you hit map mode, you are placed on the map. Hot keys such as h and k work here, as do autonav and fleet management commands. You simply go to the planet you wish, by using k for instance, then hit enter. This places you in the place units menu as above with place all as your first option. You then place what units you wish, and hit escape. This puts you back in map mode. Once all units are placed, you are returned to map mode again, and can hit escape to exit map mode and move on to purchase phase in the next round.

Second Turn Issues

Hitting enter on place all announces done, then says you have made 22 credits for a total of 23. We're back to purchases. I know I want another colony ship, so I will buy one. This leaves me 8 credits. I could buy gather intelligence and an interceptor, two interceptors, a destroyer, or save the credits. To do this last, I would purchase nothing else and click done. However, I will buy two interceptors.

As I finish, the game places me in movement mode on Tao Seti Asteroid Union as that was the last place I was located.

I have a colony ship and a destroyer on this planet, so now I can send them off. I hit q until I hear colony ship 1. To send the colony ship toward Darling, I have to remember where that is. If I don't remember I could do this a couple of ways, but this is the easiest by far. First I hit shift plus a on the colony ship. I hear colony ship 1 selected for auto nav, 1 items. I then hit n for nearby menu. I hear planet Darling at 17,4 south 2. I hit enter on this entry and the game returns me to map mode, now placed on planet Darling. I hit enter again, and the game announces autonav set to planet Darling for one item.

I want to start my destroyer scouting. I could manually move it each round, but I have other things to do. I'd like it to start exploring toward the south though, as Hobbs Planet at 15,18 is in that direction. This way, strategically, I can hopefully quickly colonize the righthand side or eastern side of the board and start linking up forces. I therefore move my destroyer south toward planet Darling and beyond. First I must select it with the q key. If I just started moving, I'd move my colony ship which is still selected. Oops, not found? what? Oh I'm still on Planet Darling where I have no ships. I hit k. I am put back on Tao Seti Asteroid Union. Now hitting q announces destroyer 2 selected. Good. Now to move the ship, I hit shift downarrow to go south 1 square.

The game announces friendly destroyer 3. This 3 is because I am set to read coordinates as I change rows or columns, not to announce both coordinates at once. I moved from 17,2 to 17,3 therefore the game announces 3. Good. I move again. Shift plus down arrow is pressed and the game announces planet Amundsen detected at 18,6 planet Darling, 4. So, I have detected a new planet already, and I have reached planet Darling. I am now at 17,4. I move once more because destroyers have 3 squares of movement.

An alert noise occurs, ut oh. An announcement tells me destroyer 2 has received a distress call from a merchant and that I have received two credits for the rescue of the merchant ship. Then the game announces friendly destroyer 5. I am now at 17,5. Now, to tell the destroyer to scout. I hit a for autonav and hear autonav for destroyer 2 menu, planet. I scrol down past ship to enable scout mode and hit enter. Scout mode sends the ship to the nearest edge of the board, in this case 19,5 and then begins spiraling around the board looking for planets and enemy ships.

Woo, second turn is done, so I hit space bar. I have a colony ship and two interceptors. I want to split them up so I hit enter on planet Earth. I do not wish to place all on Earth, so I scroll down to interceptors. I am on a scroller that announces 1 of 2. I hit right arrow until 2 are selected, then hit enter. I then scroll to return to planets menu. I then scroll to Tao Seti Asteroid Union, and then select place all here.

The turn is done, and I am back to purchase menu for turn 3. This time I have made 22 credits for a total of 26. Decisions, decisions.

Turn 3 Conundrums

I still need colony ships, so I purchase a colony ship. This leaves me with 11 credits. I decide to purchase a destroyer, then buy gather intelligence to find out what I might about the enemy.

The game announces you have purchased one destroyer, one colony ship and intelligence gathering. The game then begins announcing other stuff: our spies have intercepted the enemy's battle strategy, then our spies report a nutrino storm at 10,4. Ahh, so now I know the location of one hazard, and my ships will have a slight advantage in this combat round, assuming there is combat. I am then placed in movement phase at 17,5 at my destroyer I moved last round. I'm not interested in moving this destroyer again, so I press k. I am taken back to Tao Seti Asteroid Union. I press shift A on it to select the colony ship, the only ship at this square, and then hit n and scroll to Vishnu. I hit enter to return to map mode at Vishnu, then hit enter to select Vishnu as the autonav destination for this colony ship.

I have no more colony ships to navigate this round, so I could launch those other two interceptors I bought from Earth as scout ships. I choose not to do so. Interceptors, having only 1 hit, will be destroyed by the first major hazard they encounter. I prefer destroyers for scouts for this reason. However, having added those two interceptors to planet Earth's defenses has increased Earth's ability to withstand attack. There are now seven ships there, and even though interceptors only successfully hit on a 2 or less, there's 5 of them. That has increased my chances of destroying enemy vessels. I'm happy with this, so I hit space bar to move on to combat phase and let my autonav orders take effect.

I hear an alert and am told that Destroyer 2 has discovered a high energy pulsar. It is now at 1 out of 2 efficiency and I know from having read the documentation that pulsars must be escaped. This implies that my destroyer might not be where I would expect, i.e. at 19,6. I'll have to wait til next round to look. I then receive a message that colony ship 1 has reached its destination at Planet Darling. I am told Darling is an ocean planet, and I am asked whether or not I wish to colonize. I scroll to yes and hit enter. I am told that I have made 3 credits from spoils of victory. This is a bonus you gain when colonizing a planet which consists of a third of the credits that planet will bring in each turn, for ocean planets it is 9, therefore we received 3 credits. Then we are told Darling is now being colonized. Colonization is a two step process: the first turn, the colony ship is destroyed, and the planet begins the colonization process, the second turn, the colonization process is finished and the planet will begin generating income at the beginning of the third turn.

I am then asked where to place my one destroyer and one colony ship. I decide to place the destroyer at Tao Seti Asteroid Union and send it west to scout, then place the colony ship at Earth in order to colonize Olympia, the other earth like planet I found.

Turn Four and Its Dilemmas

I hit enter on my last ship and the game announces economic recession, less credits for this turn. It then reports you have made 19 credits for a total of 22. Oops, that is bad. still, I can buy a colony ship, and another destroyer, which I do.

When I have purchased I am suddenly told that I can now see the locations of planets Vesta and Zion, and the space station Chiron. How did that happen? I go to detection and review menu by hitting d. Here I find that my colony ship reached Darling last round, I see the new planet detections, and at the bottom of the menu I see where my destroyer hit the pulsar last round. Clicking this last I am taken to the pulsar. My destroyer isn't there, but searching around the pulsar, I find it 1 west and 1 south at 17,8. The destroyer must have moved once it hit the pulsar, as the pulsar is at 18,7. Wandering ships cannot move on diagonals, so it must have bounced to 17,7, then moved to 17,8 to avoid the pulsar. This places it right between planet Zion to the west at 16,8, and Chiron Station to the east at 18,8. I can also, from this position or my previous one, see Planet Vesta at 14,10. This hazard damaged my destroyer, but it's revealed three planets, so not entirely a bad thing.

That is great, but I have things to do with my other ships. I hit k to go back to my last colony position. This returns me to Tao Seti Asteroid Union and a destroyer. I remembered I wanted to send this destroyer west to scout. I move it three to the west with shift left arrow.

I move it the 3 squares, each time hearing friendly destroyer and the coordinate I changed. Then on the third move I hear Planet Olympia. I am now near Earth, as olympia was the planet two east and two north from Earth. I set this destroyer to scout using the autonav menu and hitting a.

I now have a colony ship at Earth. I hit h to go directly to Earth.

I hit q to select my colony ship. I hear interceptor 1. Interceptor? I don't want that. The colony ship was the last ship I bought, perhaps it was selected, and I moved off of it. I hit shift plus q and hear colony ship 3. Ahh, good. I hit shift a, then n then select Olympia with enter, then hit enter to set the autonav destination.

From this point, I will continue to try and colonize planets, choosing better planets first. The order of planets is earthlike giving 15 credits a turn, ocean planets giving 9 credits per turn, volcanic planets, giving 6 credits per turn, ice planets giving 3 credits per turn, space stations giving 2 credits per turn, and asteroid belts giving 1 credit per turn. Even though ice planets and space stations don't give much in the way of credits, I'll still colonize those as they may provide stepping stones to other planets. For instance, I can use Darling as a stepping stone to Amundsen, Zion, and Chiron Space station and later to Vesta from one of the others. Once we reach more credits, we will want to send escort ships with colony ships. A great beginning colony fleet consists of a colony ship, a frigate, one or two destroyers, and three to five interceptors. The bare minimum of 1 colony ships, 1 frigate, one destroyer, and 4 interceptors can be purchased for 45 credits.

Until you make contact with the enemy, the main goal is to colonize as much as possible, and to guard what you have taken. As soon as you can, you will wish to purchase one or more battleships and cruisers for Earth, and later other planets.

Turn 12, the Plot Thickens

No, you are not dreaming, I skipped forward 8 turns. At this point in the game, I am making 76 credits a turn, and have 20% of the galactic economy of 372 credits a turn and 22% of the total planets, i.e. out of forty. I currently have colonized the following: Earth, Hobbs Planet, Planet Vishnu, Planet Darling, Planet Amundsen, Planet Olympia, Planet Pele, Tao Seti Asteroid Union, and Planet Molloch. I have had a few problems with hyperspace distortions and other hazards, but overall, I have done well. However, I have sighted my first enemy fleet. I heard the announcement new detections at the beginning of the movement phase, and hit D. I was told enemy fleet 3 is at 2,6 2 north and 2 east of planet Molloch. Hmm this is a bit of a poser.

I go to 2,6 and hit shift plus c to see the enemy ships that make up this fleet. I am told enemy fleet 3 consists of 21 interceptors and a colony ship. Hmm, seems like the AI is serious about wanting Molloch. Or, they could be after Magellan which is two north of Molloch. I had placed a colonization fleet at Molloch last round to take advantage of it's nearness to Magellan, and I hthink I'll still go there. I will reach it at the same time as the enemy, and who knows, I might get lucky.

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. I moved one north with my fleet consisting of 1 interceptor, 1 destroyer, 1 frigate, 1 cruiser, 1 battleship, and a colony ship. They hit a solar flare, my battleship was damaged, but the fleet was moved, and stayed organized, thanks to my battleship. They also were wandered straight onto Magellan. I will be able to colonize it this round. Not bad. I hit space bar to see how things shape up.

I am told that friendly colony ship 9, which was headed to planet Vesta has switched sides and is no longer loyal to my alliance. Bad, but could be worse. However, another colony ship has reached its destination at Eldorado, and my colonies on Gehenna, Einstein Station, and Zion are all finished with the colonization process. I can now colonize Eldorado and Magellan and proceed to do so, collecting 7 credits for spoils of victory from the two planets. I now have two destroyers, 1 frigate, 1 cruiser, 1 battleship, and a colony ship to place. I'd like to put them at Magellan to defend it better, but I can't do that this round as it is not fully colonized, so I place them at Molloch.

Turn 13 and the Defense of Magellan

I decide after seeing my income, that I have some decisions to make. I receive only 66 credits due to an economic downturn, but this brings me to a total of 75. I could buy a total of 25 interceptors, 12 destroyers and an interceptor, 6 frigates and an interceptor, 4 cruisers and an interceptor, or three battleships and an interceptor, or 5 colony ships. I choose to buy 3 battleships and an interceptor. I intend to defend Magellan as it is an Earthlike planet and worth a lot of credits.

I do so, but the enemy battle fleet comes to Magellan and defeats my valiant defenders. However, I destroy a number of their interceptors. I fully colonize Magellan, only to have the enemy start colonizing the same round I finish colonizing. Meanwhile, in other places, my fleets reach Terra Nova, Chiron Station, and begin colonizing. I receive 105 credits on turn 14.

Turn 14 Still Battling for Magellan

I decide to spend the 105 credits this way. Last turn, since I couldn't place on Magellan, I decided to place on Molloch, so Molloch now has 3 battleships, and an interceptor. I couldn't place on Magellan because it was occupied by enemy ships. I choose to buy the following with my 105 credits: yet another battleship, 2 cruisers, a frigate, and 6 destroyers.

Hitting space there's no combats to resolve, so I finish colonizing Terra nova and Chiron station, and place my fleet on Molloch preparatory to attacking Magellan.

Turn 15: Did You Spot What I Forgot?

The more astute players are going, you forgot a colony ship. I actually did not: I intentionally decided to build a second fleet to colonize Magellan. I want my initial fleet to conquer it, then I intend to move forward with that fleet and try to locate where the enemy originated from. For this same reason, 2 turns ago, I sent my fleet on Molloch out to explore northward along the 2 column to try and find the enemy.

However, I have 123 credits. I buy a colony ship, a battleship, 2 cruisers, a frigate, and 6 destroyers.

I group my ships together on Molloch using the e key to open fleet management. I hit add vessels then add all vessels then hit return then return to map. I now have a fleet consisting of four battleships, two cruisers, a frigate, six destroyers, and a lone interceptor. I send this fleet north to Magellan with autonav.

I hit space bar, discover a fleet on the other side of the board has found a nebula, and place my ships on Molloch.

Turn 16, the Battle of Magellan Round Two

I have 108 credits which I use to fortify my position. I buy all interceptors,.

This gives me 36 interceptors, and as I hit enter I'm told new detections. OK time to see what the enemy is up to. I hit d to bring up the detections menu. I see that Magellan now has two enemy fleets on it, ugh. I also see that one fleet is detected on Bolivar at 4,6. Bolivar is the Interstellar Union's capital. If I conquer Bolivar, I can end the game quickly.

first, let's see about Magellan.

I hit space and am told that a battle has broken out at Magellan. The enemy loses 18 interceptors, one destroyer, and two battleships. I take damage on one destroyer, one frigate, two cruisers, and four battleships. Because I have a frigate surviving the battle, I collect 1 credit for each capital ship, in this case the 1 destroyer and 2 battleships I destroyed. I gain 3 credits from this battle for salvage. So I won, but I'll be repairing those ships for a long time.

I now have to place. Placing 36 interceptors on all my planets seems like a pain in the butt, so I scroll up to place automatically and hit enter. Because I have 15 colonies, the game places 2 interceptors each on all my planets, then dumps the remaining 6 onto Earth.

Ending the Game

I have several options for continuing this game. Now that I know where Bolivar is, I can try to colonize the planets closest to it, and launch heavy attacks against Bolivar until I colonize it and capture it. Once I hold it for four turns, I win the game.

Alternatively, I have 15 planets colonized, and I could just try to find 9 more easy to take over planets and colonize those. This would give me 60% of the colonies on the board, and I would win through colonization victory.

Economic victory could be achieved if most of the planets I colonize are earthlike and I increased my total income from its current level 152 credits/turn to 223/turn or more.

I might make a military victory, however, it's far more likely that one of the other three conditions would come to pass in this game before military victory could be realized.


The things I wish to emphasize in this tutorial are the following:

  1. There are multiple ways of accomplishing many tasks within the game, and some automate a lot of the work for you.
  2. While the board is large, and the task of discovering it seems overwhelming, it's possible to focus on small segments of the board at a time.
  3. Choosing small goals, and accomplishing those, can lead to larger goals.
  4. The game has a lot of information to retain. This does not come all at once, but with some effort, and consultation with the documentation until you are comfortable with game play, you will memorize the parts of the game you need to know.

I hope this tutorial has helped, and gives new players a basis of comparison and a way to overcome the game's learning curve. It is an enjoyable game, and has a lot of replay value. Once you have mastered normal mode, trying missions or longer forms of the standard game can be most rewarding.