Sins of a Solar Empire: The Black Market
Sins of a Solar Empire black market strategy is applied economic manipulation, pure and simple. You know, that thing Wall Street hedge fund managers, bored economists, and Warren Buffet do for laughs. But while the Sins universe isn’t quite as complex as our own, the background calculations that go into determing black market pricing is no joke - this game is no Command and Conquer clone.
Opaque? Yes, unknowable? Not at all. The basic thing to remember about the black market in Sins of a Solar Empire is that it is just that: a market. The more of a good is available in a market, the less each individual unit is worth. The less of a good is available, the more each individual unit is worth. Same principle as the old Bond movie, Goldfinger: if you nuke Fort Knox and irradiate the gold stored there, the value of gold everywhere else skyrockets due to increased scarcity of usable gold.
Sins of a Solar Empire black market strategy works exactly the same way. While there isn’t a finite quantity of metal or crystal in the system, the more of it you buy off the black market or sell onto it the greater the magnitude of the black market price swing.
Sins of a Solar Empire Black Market Strategy to Crash the Market
In some Sins of a Solar Empire matches, it can be extremely advantageous to cause epic crashes in one or both resource categories on the black market. Although your opponent is likely to have at least some of each resource available, the nature of the three factions means that one resource is usually more plentiful in their most desired systems than the other.
What this means is that they’ll have to get hold of more of the other resource than they can effectively mine out of their own extractors. Like Total Annihilation, Sins of a Solar Empire resource extractors offer a constant rate of extraction that is summed globally across owned territory. If you are mining more metal than you can use, but lack sufficient crystal, one Sins of a Solar Empire black market strategy is to sell excess metal for gold to buy crystal.
If your opponent is engaging in these sorts of transactions, you can seriously cripple one side of their strategy by amassing large quantities of the resource they are selling, and as soon as you see the black market price increase - flood the market with your excess resources. What this will do is drive the black market price down for that resource, which reduces the amount of money your opponents can earn by selling off their own stocks of that resource. Starved for cash, their crystal purchases will be stunted as well.
Sins of a Solar Empire Black Market Strategy to Break the Market
The inverse of the attempt to crash the market can also be highly effective. Say you have excess quantities of both metal and crystal. You know your opponent is weak in crystal and must purchase what can’t be mined. So you’ve an opening to pursue a potentially devastating maneuver in Sins of a Solar Empire. Black market strategy in this case dictates constantly purchasing as much crystal as possible. This will drive the price ever higher, making it more difficult for your opponent to keep the production and research lines running.
Now of course this only works if you have sufficient cash on hand to keep buying crystal at ever higher prices. But here’s the trick: pursue a Sins of a Solar Empire black market strategy like this or causing a crash in conjunction with another aspect of economic or physical warfare. If you’ve just won an engagement, say, in a vital planetary system, and want to make it difficult for your opponent to rebuild. If you know this opponent is weak in metal, then immediately purchasing as much metal as possible and driving the price high can dramatically slow your enemy’s material recovery. This can keep the initiative in your favor, and delay counterattacks until you’ve shored up your defenses or adjusted your fleet dispositions.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Economy Strategy For the Long War
Some Sins of a Solar Empire Maps are simply too large to dominate in an hour, or even four hours. Not since Total Annihilation maps grew so large that it took several minutes to move units from end to end have real time strategy maps been so incredibly expansive. Economics can often win a Sins game as well as the application of sheer military force.
Sins of a Solar Empire economy strategy options are multi-faceted. One completely viable means of winning on a Sins map is to just build up your economy - trading centers in every system, population upgrades, resource related research - and then use the resources and cash thereby generated to build massive quantities of defensive structures. Defensive structures are quite potent in Sins of a Solar Empire. Economy strategy can rely heavily on slow, deliberate buildups, the quick conquest of a new star system, and then again the slow, deliberate buildup in that system.
The Sins of a Solar Empire Economy: Strategy for Guerrilla War
Players forced onto the defensive or who just prefer to keep the initiative rather than build layers and layers of defensive structures can also pursue viable economic focused strategy in Sins of a Solar Empire.
The foundation of the Sins economy resides in the resource generating structures on asteroids in most every planetary gravity well. The weak point in any empire is these few dozens of scattered extractors. A bold player may opt for a Sins of a Solar Empire economy strategy focused completely on depriving opponents of these vital structures.
The means are simple. A quick scout of an economically vital planetary system can reveal how well defended the area is, and especially how close defensive structures are to the resource generators. Ships are too expensive in Sins to have them stationed everywhere, and defensive structures are often lacking behind the front line worlds. Speedy jumps through defended systems or sneaking through uninhabited star systems can allow for the element of surprise, letting a focused task force break into these economic production regions long enough to smash the extractors around a planet, and then jump to the next target system.
If nothing else, dedicating a single task force to this mission can cause opponents to build defenses everywhere and scatter ships across the map - making it easier to divide and conquer. Once again, Sins is no Command and Conquer - there is true depth and intense planning required to effectively play Sins of a Solar Empire. Economy strategy planning is just one aspect of successful gameplay.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Economy Strategy by Faction
A moment should be spared to assess the relative econo-strategic potential of each faction, and what tactics may be most fruitful.
In the TEC faction’s Sins of a Solar Empire economy, strategy is of utmost importance. True to their heritage as traders the TEC forces have the best resource gathering aids in their refinery structures and the ability to build major trading posts in their starbases. More than any, the TEC faction can afford to grow slowly and methodically, taking down their opponent one planet a time and then reinforcing, reinforcing, reinforcing. Plus, their Carrier capital ship can unleash an economic embargo on a planetary system, making it an effective conduit for economic warfare.
The Vasari are less economically oriented, and their Sins of a Solar Empire economy strategy choices are generally focused on securing what they have until their superior technological potential can be brought into play. However their ability to raid their enemies is not unsubstantial, and with their proclivity for settling on volcanic worlds the Vasari can often manipulate metal markets with sheer reckless abandon.
Finally, the Advent. While seemingly concerned with cultural domination, the Advent forces make some of the best raiders in the game. Their Anima fighters can simply swarm defensive structures, and often bypass them entirely. A group of Drone Host Cruisers backed by a Carrier capital ship or two can jump into a system, maintain dozens of potent bomber squadrons as they assault resource gathering structures almost unhindered, and jump away before coming under fire by grace of their ability to hang around outside of the gravity well while their fighters do the dirty work.
This post is part of the series: Sins of a Solar Empire Strategy Guides
Take a look at this article series for a review of the best strategies for domination in Sins of a Solar Empire.