For the sake of this guide, it is presumed that you've already read our guide to the First Turn. If you haven't, take a look just to make sure you're familiar with the basic mechanics.
Once the first turn of a game has been submitted by every player, the orders get submitted to the Host program, which executes them and creates the new turn. After every turn is submitted, or at the end of a set time period (often two or three days), the Host will run again.
As with the first turn, a link to the game will be listed on your My Games page. Click the Play button to the right to get started. As before, you'll be taken to the game's Dashboard.
It's probably a good idea to follow along using the documentation on the dashboard interface, since that's where we'll be starting. Using the above link will open it in a separate browser tab. When we jump around, follow the links in the documentation or in this guide.
Since the last turn, several things may have happened. To see what they are, check your Reports and Visual Combat Recordings (if any). It's a good idea to start with these every turn. Once you're done, go back to the Dashboard.
Later in a game, it's smart to take a look around the Starmap at this point, just to see if there's anything obvious that'll jump out at you. This early in the game, however, everything you own should be very close to home, and the most important things that have happened have to do with your Starships. Click the "Starships" button and select your Medium Deep Space Freighter.
On the first turn, if all went well, two things will have happened: you will have constructed a new starship, and you will have sent your original freighter out to explore a new planet. If that didn't happen, be certain to make it happen next turn. Since the results of this exploration will dictate our next actions, we're looking there first.
Once you have selected your Medium Deep Space Freighter, you'll see that it's orbiting the new planet. Clicking on the planet in the view pane (top left) will open an information window. Once you figure out what type of planet you've got, drop some colonists, supplies, and (perhaps) some money. Colonists and supplies can be moved to an unowned planet using the Transfer button, but if you want to beam down money, you'll have to set the appropriate Friendly Code, which in this case would be bdm.
A bad planet will have a climate that's intolerable for your race plus Amorphous natives. Only about one planet in fifty shares these traits. If you find a bad one, move on to the next; it can, with care, be developed later in the game, but it would require too much work to harness at the moment.
The best planet will have non-Amorphous natives with a high level of government, a lovely climate (usually 50 or thereabouts, but that depends on the race you're playing), and copious minerals in high densities. These are extremely rare and call for immediate development. If you've got one of these, drop everything and go back for more.
Most planets are pretty average. If they have a good climate but no (or poor) natives, they'll make decent places to stash colonists on the drive outward, and they make excellent factory worlds. If they have good natives but a lousy climate, they can still be developed with care, but beware of overpopulation. In either case, drop about a third of your colonists and supplies and move forward.
Note: a Cyborg player will wish to drop fewer colonists on planets with natives, except Amorphous.
Once you've given orders for this vessel, use the "Next" button (top bar, center) to move to the next. If all went well, you built a Large Freighter last turn; it should be sitting here empty.
What you do from here depends: if your Medium Deep Space Freighter was fortunate enough to stumble across a paradise planet with glorious natives, you'll want to fill this with colonists and go there immediately. Otherwise, you'll do better to head in the opposite direction. Pick a different planet that you can reach in one turn, one with other worlds nearby, and load up about 900 colonists and 300 supplies. Don't forget to bring extra fuel, and make certain to set your speed to Warp 9.
Once you're done, it's time to build your next ship.
The choice of starship to build on the second turn can be a difficult one. If you're surrounded by densely packed planets, you'll probably want a second Large Deep Space Freighter. On the other hand, races which can build Bio Scanner starships might want to do so now, and those that can construct starships with hyperjump engines or gravitonic accelerators will certainly want one or more in the early game. For more thoughts on this, you might check out this basic guide on Early Shipbuilding.
What you build is up to you. Just be sure to build something useful.
Your homeworld is your most important asset in the early game. It contains all of your colonists, a vast store of minerals, your only starbase, and enough money to develop it.
Click the "Build" button. This will open a pane to the right which lets you construct more structures. You'll have built some last turn; you'll notice that you can't tear them down.
There are some number boxes labeled "Target" for each type of structure. If you want to save time on future turns, you can have your planet automatically build more structures as soon it's able, usually when it's got enough of a Colonist population to support them. For example, if you type "450" into your homeworld's Factories target box, you'll probably never need to manually take the time to build another one here, no matter how large the population grows.
You'll notice that typing in a number didn't automatically construct factories. It does it for you at the end of the Host program -- not soon enough to make a difference this turn, so you'll still have to build some manually right now.
The total number of factories and mineral mines on a planet will reduce colonist happiness. That always means that you can't get away with charging quite so much for taxes. On your homeworld, it's even more important because a high number will slow down the growth of your colonist population, and this is where they all start. For that reason, it's usually wise to build fewer than the maximum number of mineral mines.
Later in the game, you may need a large number of defense posts here on your homeworld. It's valuable to you, which means it's a valuable target for your enemies. It's very unlikely that you'll see an enemy ship here your second turn, but it's quite possible you'll see one sooner or later. When you have a lot of extra cash, build some defense posts — but not just yet.
The colonist population and happiness, tax rates, and the details on any native population (unlikely on your homeworld) are all shown in the Colony section. We're interested in all of it, but we're going to start with the button marked "Tax Rates".
There are several basic strategies people use for taxation, but in this situation they boil down to three main options. You've got a choice: You can either maintain a flat tax rate, raise the taxes massively for a single turn (aim at a 70% happiness, and, if you do this, make absolutely certain that you're around to fix it next turn!), or cut taxes to zero and leave them there for a while.
Early in the game, the colonist population on your homeworld is very limited, and if things go well for you, you'll need a vast number. For this reason, many players like to end taxation on their homeworld as soon as they find a prime native planet, preferring to tax the natives instead of their own people. Others, especially Cyborg players (who have the assimilation advantage), prefer to squeeze as much money as possible out of their populations.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.
To learn more about planetary taxes, click here.
Once you've made this last decision, you're finished. Hit the End Turn button.
I'm going to leave you with some words of advice, starting with some general rules-of-thumb to help your play in the beginning of the game:
There are many different ways to play this game, and there's not room to describe even one of them in this guide. If you've got time, check out our guides section to get some links to external articles. I personally recommend the Master Class lessons out at the Planets Magazine website; begin at Lesson 1.
Above all, remember: this is a game. Have fun with it.