Warning : This is out of date.
a harmless guide to empire
under construction, send suggestions to email@example.com. Beginners
and browsers are especially encouraged to reply with questions so I
know where to make improvements. Examples and a section on syntax
have been added.
Empire is a contemporary real-time wargame. The pieces
include a variety of land sectors, planes, ships, infantry, armoured
divisions, civilians, ... a fairly long list. Your opponents are
other players. You can ally with whomever you choose, or go it alone.
A game typically lasts for months, and ends when a single player or a
group declares victory and no one can or will offer significant
resistance. Most players play to win, though you can play to survive,
or to attain the highest tech, or to be entertaining, or anything
else. The rules and tactics are enormously complex, and will take
years to master. The rules are also changing as you read this. This
document covers the commands and rules I thought were most important
This guide contains links to hypertext versions of the Empire info
pages (online documentation). You'll need to compare the date of this
document to the date of the empire page in cases of discrepancy. This
document is targeted for Empire 3.0.x.
To play empire you need two things, a game and a client. The game
itself (called a server) is run on a unix
workstation by someone called a deity. There are usually several
games running worldwide. Read rec.games.empire for new game
announcements and players looking for corulers or substitutes. The Planet's Empire Archive
also lists current games. Blitz games typically do not require
pre-registration, you just take a country from a list (usually numbers
between 1 and 10, password=country number) and change your name and password once you
Getting a working client is more difficult. A Java
Client has just been released, if you have a Java-capable browser.
All other clients are distributed from the ftp.empire.net
Retrieve the client appropriate for the machine you will be playing
from. If you have an account on a unix machine, get a unix client
(emp_client, eif, pei). If you want a graphical interface, try xemp
or myxec. If you want to play from within emacs, GEET and GENIE are
emacs modes. VMS, VM/CMS, MS-Windows, and Macintosh clients exist,
but are not as well developed or maintained as the unix clients, so "install an operating system on your poor lonely computer
the way God and Dennis intended". Browse through the ftp archive
for a client you think you can use.
If all else fails, you can use telnet as a client. You will
suffer until you obtain a real client! telnet does not hide
the empire protocol from you. It will be ugly. You also lose the
ability to save or pipe command output. It will probably be confusing
(ignore the first character of each line). MUD clients may also be
used, but are ugly like telnet.
telnet empire.ivory.edu 1617
You can also kill a hung connection by typing kill instead of play
with the telnet method above.
In empire there are nations, sectors, commodities, and units. There
is one nation per player. That player has control of a set of sectors
and units, each of which can contain commodities.
Sectors come in two different types, land and sea. Sea sectors cannot
be owned or hold commodities (see info
bridges for an exception). Land sectors may be designated at any time to produce
certain commodities, build units, or to
have other special properties. A sector may have only one designation
at a time. The actual designation change takes work, which only occurs
at the update (typically once a day).
Your country must have a capitol and a
positive treasury in order to issue most commands. Protect your
capitol (it's where "you" are) and don't go broke. You can change the
location of your capitol to another capital at any time with the cap command.
Locations are specified using x and y coordinates, but the map itself is a
hex grid. To reconcile this, only certain coordinates are permitted (the
even sums of x+y). Directions are specified using the six characters
surrounding the h key. You'll get used to it.
-2 . = = = . -2 y u
-1 = f = = -1 \ /
0 . = ) m = 0 g - h - j
1 . = m m 1 / \
2 . = * k = 2 b n
- Print a help page, or help on a specific command.
- Print data on this particular game
- Break sanctuary and begin play. You must issue this command
before you can change anything in the country.
- Draw a map of your sectors and surrounding sectors.
. is ocean, - is wilderness, and ? is foreign. An example is
shown above. Many Sector-types
- Occupy wilderness.
explore c 0,0 1 ggh
Move one civilian (c) from 0,0 two sectors to the left (gg) and stop.
Note that in some blitzes, all the adjacent land is already
occupied for you. You only need to explore to '-' sectors.
- Other commands used at the beginning of the game. Just type
the command, and answer the prompts.
- Shows all countries in the world in order of relative strengths
- Print recent worldwide events.
- Make or read announcements to everyone
- Send or receive private messages.
- Display data on your nation
- Print estimated treasury after next update.
- Change your name and password. In non-blitz games, changing
your name is discouraged by charging money and btus.
- Change and examine your status with respect to other nations.
- Show a map of the world as you know it.
- Examine your sectors.
- Look at adjacent sectors and units from ships and land units.
- Look for ships off your coastline
- Print a map around a radar station, ship, or land unit
- Move commodities from one sector to another.
- Set up and examine automatic distribution paths
- Set up deliver paths.
Deliver is being phased out. Dist is better.
- Move a ship.
- Move a land unit through your sectors
- Fly a plane. Recon and sweep perform additional activities en route.
- Load and unload things from ships and land units.
All production occurs at the update, which is usually scheduled once a
day. People in a sector work, producing avail. This avail
can be used to build units or bridges,
or to produce commodities, depending on the sector designation. 100 people produce one
avail per empire time unit (etu). Military are less efficient workers
than civilians and only produce 40% the usual avail. Civilians with
less than 100% work efficiency produce less work as well.
In Chainsaw and later versions of Empire, people reproduce before
avail is counted, so you can produce a bit more avail in
low-population conditions. Most games have 60 empire time units per
update, and population increases 30% each update, up to a maximum of
999 people per sector. See info
reasearch for more on population maximums.
Commodities can be either derived from natural resources or are
produced from simpler commodities. Iron and food are produced by m
and a sectors with high mineral and fertility resources. These never deplete the
natural resources. Oil, dust, and rads are produced in oil wells,
gold mines, and uranium mines. These three commodities reduce the
natural resources of the production sector. The amount of commodity
produced in all cases is proportional to the resource content and
amount of avail produced by the workers in a sector.
People (civilians, military, and uncompensated workers) consume food.
The amount eaten is proportional to the number of etus and the number
of people. See version for the
proportionality constant. Some games (blitzes usually) do not need
Lcm and hcm (light and heavy construction materials) are produced from
iron in j and k sectors. Lcm and hcm are in turn used to produce
education, happiness, technology, research, guns, shells, ships,
planes, land units, and nukes. Gold bars are made from gold dust in a
bank, and produce money to supply your war machine. Some commodities
and all units have a minimum technology level at which they may be
produced. See info quick-ref and show for specifics.
Education, happiness, technology, and research are nation-wide
variables, not commodities. They are also produced on a logarithmic
scale, so doubling tech production does not lead to twice the
technology level. Technology and research require a minimum education
level of 5, and preferably around 20. Happiness keeps your populace
from rebelling (see nation for recommended
- Estimate results of next update.
Attacking and Exploring
- Attack adjacent land sector with military and units.
- Use civilians or military to claim unowned sectors.
- Attack coastal sectors with military and units on ships.
- Attack sector with military in planes.
- Capture ships with boarding parties.
- Use ranged weapons to damage units or sectors.
Beware of return fire
Missions define the "rules of engagement" for your forces. They occur
in response to another player's actions, and occur automatically
whether you are logged in or not. Since you probably need to sleep,
you should learn how missions work. Some empire players don't sleep,
or have allies who call them at 5am.
Land units that do not have a mission set will "react" to any sector
within their reaction radius, if that sector is attacked by a superior
- assign and query a variety of missions for all unit types
- Change the range at which planes and land units will react.
Missions can assign ranges up to a max of this value.
- Set up conditions and directions for ships and units to
retreat. Not typically used, as it's a lot of work and difficult to
predict the best retreat path.
- Ships sail towards a destination each update. Used for destinations
further than one update's mobility away. Empire 3 allows
fishing boats to automatically unload and sail back out using order.
Ships without missions will return fire against any artillery or naval
fire, or against any boarding attempts within their range. Forts always
Planes without missions will fly interceptions if
they are interceptors (fighters). Interceptions are flown against
hostile planes when they overfly your territory. The "air patrol"
mission is similar, but flies only against "at war" nations, and can
overfly territory you don't own .
Other commands See the info pages for complete (and possibly
outdated) documentation on the many commands I've missed here. Type
list in a game to see which commands are
- Reserves cost 1/10 the maintenance that active military do.
These two commands convert mil into reserves and back.
Reserves can be re-enlisted immediately in any sector.
- Lists sectors where people will starve.
See version for details on
the amount of food required.
Don't try to cut corners on food. You will be sorry.
You will make headlines. Everyone will attack you.
When a command requires a unit(s) or sector (s), you can type in
a specific unit number or sector coordinate, or you can
specify several units or sectors at once, depending on location and
various stats for the item.
The required first part of a multi-item specification is as follows:
The second, optional part of a multi-item specification is the
selector. This begins with a ?, followed by a series of comparisons
of various stats. See info Selector
and info Syntax for more details. Examples:
- Items (units or sector) at x,y.
- Items between x1 and x2, and y1 and y2.
- Realm n, shorthand for x1:x2,y1:y2. See realm to change the default realms.
# is an abbreviation for #0.
- All items within r sectors of x,y.
dist @4,2:3 4,2
- Every location or unit.
- A character representing a set of units. See
army, wing, or fleet
to set this identifying character. Multiple units may be
assigned to the same letter. ~ is the default character if unset.
- Multiple unit numbers. A single / means no units. A single
number is just that unit.
recon 23/47 / 12,8 nnnnnnnyyyyyyyh
census * ?oldown=own sectors I'm the oldowner of
ship * ?food=0 ships without food
news 1 ?actor=5 news performed by country 5
cen * ?des=h&lcm<100 harbors with less than 100 lcm
level * ?distpath=0 sectors with no distribution set
thresh i * ?newdes=j 1000 set iron threshold in lcm plants to 1000
land * ?mob=127&mission=0 land units with unused mobility and no mission
sect # ?mil>5 highlight sectors with more than 5 mil
des * ?gold>0 g designate gold mines
The parser will allow you to swap the selector and region parts of the
specification.(sect ?mil>5 #). Some people prefer this
syntax. Many people create exec
scripts to set thresholds for all sectors quickly using selectors.
This document is explicitly placed in the public domain in the hope
that it will be updated.
- A multi-user, multi-processing operating system written by
programmers at AT&T. The lowercase in this document refers to
other Unix-like operating systems.
Last modified: Mon Jun 24 13:32:43 1996 by dld