Warning : This is out of date.
26 Mar 1996
This FAQ answers these questions:
- What is Empire?
It is a strategy wargame played by a number of people (usually between
4 and 100) on the internet connected to an Empire Server. If you've
ever seen the game "Civilization", Empire is a lot like it, except it
is more detailed, and of course multi-player. As the leader of a
nation which consists of certain sectors on a large hexagonal grid,
you decide (based on resources) what each sector's "designation"
should be. This way, you obtain food, iron, gold, oil, uranium. You
distribute these raw materials to factories to convert them into more
useful things. You manage a civilian and slave populace for producing
goods, and a military populace for defense and conquest. You also
have the tricky job of balancing a budget. As the technology level of
your country increases, you are able to build more and more advanced
units: for example, at tech 0 you can build fishing boats and cavalry,
at tech 100 you can build planes, submarines, and artillery, and by
tech 300 you can build missiles, satellites, jet planes, and armored
NOTE: rec.games.empire has nothing at all to do with a commercial PC
game called "Empire Deluxe" (1993) or the PC version of an old VAX
classic called "Empire: Wargame of the Century" which came out in the
80's and may be found at
concern themselves with games like these. However, people who enjoy
those single-user versions of Empire would certainly enjoy the
multi-user kind of empire we play here even more!
- Do I need direct internet access ("telnet") to be able to play?
Yes. It is a "real-time" game. You can not play by mail.
- What kinds of machines can I play from?
You can play from a Unix, VMS, VM/CMS, Macintosh, or PC (MS Windows or
OS/2) machine that is directly connected to the internet (via LAN,
SLIP, or PPP).
- Are there "turns" in this game?
Most aspects of the game are "real-time" (i.e. it isn't like risk
or diplomacy where there are turns), for example you sail ships, march
armies, and fly planes in real-time--so if you type fast, then
you will have an advantage. The aspect of the game that has turns is
economic: goods are produced, population grows, and arms are
constructed only at a specific time (called "updates").
- How long does a typical game last?
This depends on how often updates occur. There are two types of
games: A "blitz" has updates every ten minutes. They last about 24
hours. A "long term" game usually has one update every day or every
few days. They last 2-6 months. To learn the basics of empire, it is
highly recommended that you first try "blitzing" a few times.
- Sounds neat! How do I play?
Well, you can play right now if you want! All you need to do is
get a client program onto your computer, and then connect to a game.
- Where do I get a client for my machine?
The standard Empire clients are located on the World Wide Web in the
Planet's Empire Archives (PEA), in the directory
player/clients. If you have trouble connecting to the PEA, then you should
PEA Mirror which is updated once per day.
The standard Empire client has been ported to:
I'd recommend using a web browser to get your client. But if for some
reason you can't do that, then here's how you get a client using ftp:
tar -xf empclient-2.5b.tar
- All those clients are in tar.gz format. How do I
get something out of tar.gz format?
In unix, you simply follow the steps above. For other systems
(e.g. home computers), you
would need to get a copy of gzip and tar for your computer. Here is a
For MS Windows, the program av.zip
will unpack files in many formats including tar and gzip.
For the Macintosh, look on any Sumex archive, such as The Hyperarchive:
For DOS, look on any Simtel archive, such as oak.oakland.edu:
For other platforms, go to The Virtual
Software Library and do a 'power' search for "tar" and "gzip".
- OK, I compiled my client. The docs said something about a "host", "port", "country" and "password". I need to specify these to connect to a game--what should I put for these four things?
What you are really asking is "How do I get in a game?". To get in a
long term game, you need to keep watching the newsgroup
rec.games.empire for new game announcements. You can also check the
New Games Starting Up
section of the EMPIRE
NEWS. A new long term game is announced about twice a month.
However, there is a blitz up and running even as you read this post.
The blitz resets every evening at 19:02pm EDT (so if you want to play
competitively, you should connect at that time), but you can connect
to it and play any time. The host is "empire.net"
(18.104.22.168), and the port is 7778. For country, use a number from
1 to 10, and use the same number for the password. For example, to
use the standard client to connect to country number 9 of the
setenv EMPIREHOST empire.net
setenv EMPIREPORT 7778
setenv COUNTRY 9
setenv PLAYER 9
Note that if country number 9 is already in use when you try to
connect, then you should just try a different number from 1 to 10.
A complete list of blitzes currently running may be found on the
PEA Pages. Immediately after
successfully connecting to a blitz, you should
your country name and representative (password). This prevents others
from using the same country and adds texture to the game. Nobody likes
to be attacked by a number! If you quit a blitz and don't intend to
return, be sure to change the country number and representative back
to the original state.
- Just out of curiosity, what long term games are going on right now, and is there a way I could peek in on them?
Most long term games have "visitor" countries (country "visitor" or
"Visitor" with the same name for a password) that you can use to
log into the game. For a list of the current long term games, check
the PEA Page
Currently Running Games.
Once you connect to one of these games, you can have a look at what's
going on by typing
- The basic unix client is, well, basic. Are there more sophisticated clients available?
Yes. Ken Stevens has written an Empire client called "pei" with lots of nice
features and many built-in tools. The latest version of pei is on the PEA in
If you're looking for a UNIX client that's something in-between the
standard client and pei, then try out
There are also two X-windows clients available on the PEA at
- Are there any tools available for playing empire?
Yes. You can find a small arsenal of player tools on the PEA in
However, some of the tools in this directory are out of date, and most
of the useful tools in this directory have been integrated into "pei".
- I'm keen, I can connect to a blitz, but I haven't a clue what to do! How do I learn how to play?
Ask and read. Most Empire players are happy to answer newbie
questions--heck the more players we have the better! There is lots of
material on Empire that you can read. You have to be careful with
the documentation, though, because the game is always changing, and much
of the literature is out of date. The surest way to get the most
up-to-date info is using the "info" command in empire. The first info
pages you should read are "info Sector-types" and "info Products".
If you have World Wide Web access, then I highly recommend browsing
harmless guide to Empire.
The entire Empire "info" docs are on the PEA in
I would also recommend having a look at
You may also want to have a look at the Empire Users Guide, although
this document is a few years out of date and is currently being revised.
- There seem to be a million commands! What are the basic commands I should read about first?
Use the "info" command to read about these commands:
- What is a Representative?
- What's a BTU and how do I get more?
A BTU is a "Bureucratic Time Unit". Most Empire commands require
BTU's. In a blitz, you don't need to worry about BTU's. In a long
term game, BTU's are generated by civilians in efficient "c" sectors
(capitols) in the following way: every time you log on, the server
gives you a number of BTU's corresponding to the length of time since
the last time you logged on and the number of civs in capitols which
are at least 60% efficient.
- How do I build a ship?
- How do I load stuff on a ship?
- How do I get civilians to another island?
nav a ship with mil up to the island and
look with the ship to
get the coordinates of a land sector. Then
assault the sector with
about 20 mil.
designate the sector to be a "h". Then next update,
the harbor should be 2% efficient and you will be able to nav a ship
carrying civs into the harbor and
- Where do you make land units?
In a "!" sector.
- Why aren't my ships/planes/units gaining efficiency?
Ships need to be in an "h" sector, planes in a "*" sector and units
need to be in a "!" sector. The sector must be at least 60%
efficient. Units and planes need mil in the sector. Also there needs
to be sufficient "avail" in the sector (note the figures for "avail"
in "show * build" are misleading--the actual avail you need is actually
4x what "show" says). You need to have enough lcm's and
hcm's in the sector. Land units can also need guns and shells. In
the client "pei" you can use the "sneweff", "pneweff", and "lneweff"
tools to find out what efficiency your ship/planes/units will have
after the next update, and if they won't get maximum efficient, what
the sector needs.
- I have a ship with "oiler" capacity, now how do I find out how much oil a sea sector has?
While you're navigating the ship, type "v" and you will get output like:
[oil:82] oil derrick 1 (#297) @ 11,-1 0% sea
which means that that sea sector has an oil content of 82.
- Who can help me get started playing Empire?
Before asking anyone, please try to find your answer in:
If you are new to playing Empire and need help getting started, and
you can't find your answer in one of the above sources, then send
email to one of the Empire Newbie Helpers.
Mark Ballinger (email@example.com)