Welcome to The Lacuna Expanse!
In this universe you play the role of an all-seeing emperor who controls colonies of planet-inhabiting citizens within star systems. The citizens belong to a certain species which you can customize before founding your empire. Your basic task is to manage the needs of your colonies and their citizens what is held in check by diplomatic, informational, military, and economic resources. In the beginning, constructing buildings and upgrading them is your main activity. Later, trading and logistics become one of the requirements for a flourishing empire. You have control over buildings, vehicles and agents for purposes of growing your empire by construction and technological advancement to explore, expand, exploit and exterminate what involves trading with other players and possibly fighting each other.
Due to its nonlinear nature and open world space, it allows you to follow any play style you like what makes it an excellent sandbox game. TLE features a real-time strategy gameplay that runs purely online on a dedicated server to host large numbers of players simultaneously in a persistent environment. Everybody can interact with anybody, hundreds of players at once! The only limitation is space which keeps people apart and makes travelling an important part of the game.
As initially hinted, you rule an empire which can consist of multiple colonies on single planets across the Expanse. You want to care about your citizens by developing an infrastructure to feed them and to make them happy. The four basic needs to be covered are food, ore, water and energy. The way you deal with them affects happiness of your colonies which is one of the factors to decide how successful your operations are in critical moments. A byproduct of construction and other actions is waste which affects happiness negatively and hence needs to be kept an eye on. Unhappy colonies are prone to insurrections which change their ownership. Caring about the flow of resources will be a constant concern what is taken care of by constructing buildings and upgrading them; later aided by specialized vehicles.
To compensate for lacks or excess of goods, you are free to trade with other empires what generates income of precious Essentia (premium currency) depending on the demanded price. Among other uses Essentia can be spent to speed up time-consuming processes.
As you start off with one colony after founding a new empire, it is your choice if you want colonize more celestial bodies which requires a lot of careful preparation. Otherwise you can keep your initial colony and stay isolationist for protection from attacks.
YOUR MEANS OF REIGN
As emperor of your colonies, you can produce entities and assign tasks. This applies to the three entity types
- Buildings are static objects that affect the colony they stand on or your entire empire depending on their type. Buildings can fulfil constructive, defensive, explorative, or supportive but never offensive roles. Constructing buildings is done by consumption of resources unless you use a plan (see types of goods). Upgrading buildings to max level 30 (for some types 31) improves their function and unlocks other entities through the tech tree.
- Ships are movable objects that can be sent to certain types of bodies (see following chapter). They are constructed by consumption of resources in Ship Yards and get stored in Space Ports where they wait until they get triggered to defend or you send them to a target for offensive, supportive, or explorative purposes.
- Agents are movable entities that are trained in Intelligence Ministries where they sit idle until you assign a task. Depending on their location, agents can fulfil defensive, supportive, or offensive tasks. Spies are powerful entities since they are able to disturb hostile colonies.
Each entity type and individual entity possesses certain abilities to affect your own colony along with its stored resources or colonies of other empires:
- Buildings can increase total storage to hold a certain type of good, or affect production rate per hour (for positive or negative balance). Some building types also increase your population which determines your empire size if multiplied by the number of your colonies.
- Ships can transport certain types of goods, agents, fulfil other special roles (e.g. Colony Ship to found a new city on another celestial body), or to be used for attacks as a means of war.
- Agents have four skills (Intel, Mayhem, Politics, Theft) with individual values which determine their success chance when assigned to a mission, be it (for example) to defend your colony from hostile spies or to incite rebellions on remote colonies.
The Lacuna Expanse consists of 119,800 fixed stars that can be orbited by a max of eight bodies of the following types:
- habitable planets (cannot be mined on, can be excavated on, movable)
- asteroids (not habitable, can be mined on, can be excavated on, movable)
- gas giants (habitable, cannot be mined on, cannot be excavated on, unmovable)
- space stations (artificial habitable planets but do not count as colonies, movable)
Properly colonizing and keeping celestial bodies or making use of them for other purposes requires thoughtful usage of the three entity types unless you decide to keep isolationist status which is granted to every new empire to protect them from attacks.
If you decide to construct certain building types which will cause the loss of your iso status, you are vulnerable to ship attacks and infiltration by hostile agents. Even if you are at peace with every player, some of the non-player empires which are controlled by individual AIs may attack you with ships or spawn spies on your unhappy colony. The AI empires inhabit dozens of bodies across the entire Expanse and are able to attack with fleets within a few days. On the other hand you are free to attack AI empires to capture their colonies which may have useful buildings or goods.
There are three types of goods that can be produced, consumed, and traded:
- resources (food with 20 different kinds, ore with 20 different types, water, energy, waste)
- glyphs (artifacts which can be used to craft plans)
- plans (dispensable items that allow for a construction or upgrade of buildings for free and less time)
Happiness is a special resource that is not available for trade. The total amount of stored happiness affects build times on a colony (the lower your happiness, the longer it takes to construct buildings and ships) and gets deducted when sending colony ships. The more colonies you already possess, the higher your Next Colony Cost.
If you follow the path of an expansionist you will colonize dozens of bodies and may want to protect them with Space Stations which are basically artificial planets that exert cultural influence onto stars in your proximity. High influence allows you to seize stars in order to issue laws to prevent intrusion by hostile empires. Defending these stations is a major concern since they have little defence on their own. Therefore they should be kept within the same solar system as your own or allied colonies to make use of their defensive buildings that shoot down hostile fleets.
At some point your Next Colony Cost may be higher than your available happiness what induces you to steal other colonies since this does not consume your happiness. Accordingly warfare is a common practice among veterans which intend to gather more colonies. Empires may go together into formal groups of alliances to fight for a common interest and to share their space stations.
The ability to get colonies stolen from is determined by your empire size. In conclusion it may be a good plan to keep a small empire in order to have protection from insurrections by enemies with larger empires.
As you may have noticed, there are many ways to shape your empire while there is not just one correct way to play The Lacuna Expanse. Some novices have pointed out the lack of direction after completing the built-in tutorial which is the reason why joining an alliance is recommended. More experienced players will provide useful goods and helpful advice to support young emperors growing their colonies.
If you just discovered this game, be invited to join us on our main server US 1!