Solar Realms Elite or SRE is a multi-player bulletin board system strategy game similar in design to its successor, Barren Realms Elite (BRE). In Solar Realms Elite, players rule a solar empire. The goal is to become and remain the most powerful empire. Players gain strength by buying forces, and gain size by colonizing planets. Players start with several planets and a little bit of money. They must provide food and spend money to maintain the population, army, and planets, or suffer riots and civil unrest. New players are given a short period of protection, during which they cannot attack or be attacked. Players can forge alliances, interact with AI pirates, and wage war with competitors using conventional, guerrilla, nuclear, chemical, and covert attacks.
SRE was written by Amit Patel in 1990 . It started as a clone of Space Empire Elite (SEE), an Atari ST BBS game written by Jon Radoff, and soon branched in new directions. A similar PC game also inspired by SEE called Space Dynasty by Hollie Satterfield was in circulation around the same time. The last version of SRE (0.994b) was released in 1994.
After SRE was released, the author's brother, Mehul Patel, wrote a similar game called Alpha Colony IV. Mehul then wrote BRE, Falcon's Eye, and The Arcadian Legends, the so-called "SRGAMES." This collection of games was sold to John Dailey Software on May 10, 1998, but SRE was not included in the deal because Amit lost the game's source code in 1996.
Space Empire Elite included three types of planets. SRE has ten types of planets:
- Food: produce food to feed the army and population
- Supply: produce military hardware at low cost
- Government: house covert agents and generals for the army
- Ore: produce a steady income
- Tourism: produce a higher but less reliable income than Ore; negatively impacted by pollution
- Petroleum: produce income that is based on supply and demand among all planets in all empires; the more petroleum planets there are, the lower the profits per planet
- Urban: house a large population
- Education: attract civilians from other empires
- Anti-pollution: "green" planets that clean up interstellar pollution
- Research: improve the productivity of the other planet types
The planet types were designed to allow many different successful strategies without leading to any single dominant strategy. The optimal strategy depends on the dynamics of the competitors; there is no one strategy that always works.
A common strategy is to use Tourism planets to produce a large income, then buy food and military. If competitors are using this strategy, it is likely oil prices are high, so a good strategy is to use Petroleum planets instead of Tourism. If using both, you need to use Anti-pollution to prevent your Tourism planets from becoming polluted. A downside of both of those strategies is that after an attack from another empire, your source of income is gone.
A strategy more resistant to that problem is to use Urban, Education, and Food planets to build a large population, then collect tax revenues. If your planets are conquered, some of the population will move to your remaining planets, and continue paying taxes. Tax rates can be raised in case of emergencies. A counter-strategy for high population empires is to poison the food supply and buy all the food in the open market, driving prices up.
Multiple empires working together can use even more involved strategies involving trading, mutual defense treaties, and covert operations.
A popular trading strategy involves large empires teaming with small empires to exploit inflation. As empires grow larger, their cost for military equipment rises. Similarly, the price they can receive for selling military equipment rises as well. A large empire sends money to a smaller empire, which buys military equipment (usually carriers) at a cheap price. The carriers are then traded back to the large empire, which sells them at an inflated price. This strategy can produce large amounts of money quickly. However, due to a problem in the game's code, a player may have no more than about 2 billion credits on hand at a time. Extra credits can be stored in bonds through the Solar Bank, but if these bonds mature while a player has two billion credits on hand, the surplus money will be lost.
- SRE v0.994b
- Amit J. Patel's homepage
- SRE documentation in HTML format
- Amit J. Patel's notes on SRE's game design
- FAQ about getting SRE from John Dailey Software.
- Solar Imperium — A faithful web port of Solar Realms Elite
- MyImperium — Dutch version of Solar Imperium
- New Kingdoms — A web game based on Solar Realms Elite
- Category at ODP
- Series of short stories based on Solar Realms Elite
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