You as a player interact with the game universe by giving orders. You can give as many orders per day as you like. The orders given are not acted on until the next day (week). If elements given orders are not present, then the orders don’t get carried out unless you have couriers to take the orders to them. The Referee only sends one email per day per player.
Here are examples of the types of orders you can give:
Standing Orders: This applies to all situations or situations you specify.
Example: Repair all damaged ships as soon as they arrive or attack any ships from (specified world). They start applying the week after you issue them, but only fleets that are aware of the orders will follow them. You had best disseminate the orders via courier to fleets that need to know about them.
Build: This is a special order telling your shipyard to build a ship or ships. It takes a great deal of time to carry it out. The shipyard starts building the following week assuming you have the money and shipyard capacity to carry it out. For simplicity’s sake the entire price for the ship is paid with the build order.
Repair: This comes into play when damaged ships arrive after battles. Repairs take up shipyard capacity like new constructions do. You can set up a Standing Order to repair all damaged ships when they arrive but this won’t happen if the shipyard is full. (You’ll get a message to that effect.) Repairs also cost money and if there is insufficient money in your budget for the repair it will not be completed.
Finance: This adjusts the budget in some way, to buy ships, sell ships, finance a project or transfer funds or goods to another power.
Fleet: These can be as general or specific as you like. The more specific, the better though. There are several things that should be made clear in each Fleet order: First, where to go (origin system to destination system). Second, what to do when you get there. Third, what to do if you encounter enemy forces (and you can qualify this in any way you like… small forces, large forces, troop carriers, etc.) Fourth, anything else.
Sample Fleet Order:
To: 322nd Battle Fleet
From: High Command, Washington
Order: Proceed from your location at Washington to Adams with all ships. Report when at destination. Once there interdict all trade and traffic until enemy warships arrive. Engage enemy warships, but if losses are heavy retreat to Jeferson and await further orders. If any enemy troop carriers are encountered, destroy them at all costs. If any enemy warships are encountered at Jeferson retreat to Washington if possible. If all enemy warships are destroyed at destination, return to Washington.
Good luck, and Fedspeed.
In the above example, the fleet would make as many jumps as it needed to to get to Adams. Then it would send a courier to Washington to tell you that they arrived safely and were currently interdicting the world. If an enemy fleet jumped in-system seven weeks later and did battle, another courier would be dispatched telling you of the outcome if there are any survivors. If they retreated, once the fleet arrived at Jeferson they would send you another courier stating just that, and their current status.
In short, if something noteworthy happens, you’ll be notified by courier, but if you don’t hear anything the fleet is carrying out its last order, or was destroyed before they could get a courier off. What you have to watch out for is putting out-of-date information in your orders and/or not updating them. For example, if you give an order like "If enemy units are encountered report this to Task Force 1 at Adams”. And then you tell Task Force 1 to go somewhere else, some courier captain will have to decide what to do. Unless you have a standing order to the contrary he will return to his fleet where last he thought they were headed.
Command Movement: You personally cannot move from your home-world because of political requirements. You can dispatch a
named commander to establish a forward base and give him general orders. He’ll follow them to the best of his ability
Communication: Remember, communications are limited to the speed of travel. This can easily get very confusing so it’s important for you to keep track of where your fleets are.
Mon: Player gives an order for TaskForce1 to depart for WorldA and send a message back when they arrive there saying
what they found.
Tue: Email from Referee says TaskForce1 has departed for WorldA. Player1 gives an order for TaskForce1 to go to WorldB
Wed: Email from Referee says TaskForce1 is already gone, so they didn’t get your message. You dispatched a Courier(1)
to World A to give them the message. Task Force1 arrives at WorldA. They scan the system and dispatch a Courier(2) back to Player’s home-world.
You can see how confusion could occur here. So it’s critical that you keep track of where your fleets are, or at least where you ordered them to be. It’s also important that your major fleet elements have competent commanders because you want them to make the right decisions when you can’t be reached.
Your planet will have a standard public position vis a vis all other worlds. This defaults to “Peace” which means you will not fight when you encounter each other unless they attack. If you declare war or war is declared upon you that position will change to “War” which means your fleets and ships will attack if it’s at all reasonable to do so.
Of course just because you declare war on a power doesn’t mean your fleets everywhere find out instantly. Likewise a power may be firing on your ships in a distant system while you still think you are at peace. You can’t “secretly” declare war on someone but you can tell your commanders to attack any ships they detect from a particular power or from any power (careful with that). Of course when it becomes public that they did this other worlds may consider this an act of war.
If two powers are at war with each other your default position becomes one of neutrality. A neutral power usually does not let
belligerent powers refuel warships in its systems. Belligerents who show up in a neutral port are told to leave or their ships and crews are impounded until the war is over. You may choose to alter this policy regarding a specific belligerent which could drag you into the war.
Even if you are at peace with other powers it’s too much to presume you can refuel fleets of warships in their systems. What constitutes a fleet is a gray area but you can assume most powers would make a call on anything that is a threat or that makes it appear you’re on the way to attack their neighbours (assuming they like their neighbours).