Basic Starbase Types
In general, a starbase can only be used for one of the following purposes:
Cultural: Used to increase a faction's influence in the nearby area, either to extend your Zone of Influence (ZOI) or to prevent another faction from encroaching on your territory.
Economic: Can increase manufacturing, science, wealth production or improve morale with recreation centers or trade revenues with trade stations of any colony that is within range.
Military: Increases the combat capabilities of your starships while within range.
Mining: Allows the starbase to collect resources which are necessary for building various items.
Relics: Starbases can also be used to activate Relics to obtain benefits which apply throughout one's empire.
Outpost: In this mode, a starbase does not necessarily use any of its abilities; it is created primarily to extend the range of a faction's fleet.
Shipyard: A shipyard is not a starbase, but is included in this list because it is an important alternate use of a constructor.
Creating and Deploying Starbases
Starbases are created and upgraded by using a Constructor, a type of ship built at a shipyard. A default Constructor design is provided to the player at the start of a game, however it is important to know that any ship designed with a constructor module can be used for these purposes. In particular, it is possible to place multiple constructor modules into a ship design, along with whatever engines or other modules a player has room to fit. In this way, once the player has sufficient technology to build a large enough ship, a ship with multiple constructors can be created so that multiple upgrades can be performed at once.
To create a new starbase, you need to send a constructor to the area you’d like to build in. Click on the constructor and see a ship menu box appear in the lower left hand part of the screen. On the lower left hand part of this menu box is a button labelled "command". Click this button to get a menu. The top two choices are "construct starbase" and "construct shipyard". The button labelled "construct starbase" will be greyed out if you can’t build at that location. If building is permitted, the button will be white.
Starbases cannot be built within 2 hexes of another starbase or on top of any other object, such an asteroid, a planet, or a nebula. When a starbase is clicked on, a hexagonal ring will be displayed that shows the range over which the starbase will have effect. Colonies, resources, or relics within this large hexagon will be within the starbase's range and modules built in the starbase may interact with those objects.
Rarely, it may be possible for a starbase to built within range of two or more mining resources; mining modules placed into the starbase will then gain all such resources. Similarly, multiple colonies may be in range of a single starbase, and in that case economy modules will affect all colonies. It’s important to know that the placement of a starbase means that new starbases cannot be built within its range (2 hexes).
Something to note is the difference between starbases and shipyards: a shipyard may be "unanchored" and moved to a better location. Starbases, however, cannot be moved once built. If a starbase is somewhere you don’t want it to be, your only option is to decommission it, which will destroy it.
To upgrade a starbase a player must have the required amount of resources required to build the desired modules for it.
A large number of starbase defense modules are available in order to assist in protecting the starbase from an enemy attack. However, the approach to starbase defense depends entirely on your play style. Some players feel that it is more flexible and more economical to build ships to defend a starbase rather than investing in additional modules for the starbase. For starbases created in dangerous areas, such as borders or inside enemy Zones of Influence (ZOI), adding starbase defense to supplement the defense of a key starbase could be more ideal.
Constructors for Shipyards
The same constructors used to create and upgrade starbases can also be used to create shipyards. Because constructors as ships can be upgraded with engines so that they can travel with reasonable speed, it can be quite useful to send a constructor built by an older colony to a new colony to allow the immediate construction of a shipyard there without using a substantial amount of the new colony's production.
Starbase Types in Detail
Cultural: Cultural starbases are created for the purpose of increasing your influence around the starbase. They tend to be of greatest use near the borders between rival factions and are especially helpful for increasing your Zone of Influence (ZOI) out into more territory. As with any starbase module, appropriate technologies must be researched before you have upgrades available that will increase influence. Appropriate technologies will be found in the lowest branch (blue) of the technology tree. For example, "Universal Translator" provides the "Cultural Forum" module for a starbase.
Economic: This is the most common type of starbase. Economic modules provide colony boosts for factories, laboratories, wealth buildings, approval buildings, and trade. All of these modules may be added to the same starbase if they provide a benefit to one or more colonies. Trade modules, such as trade stations, are useful if a colony connecting a trade route is in range of the starbase. Approval buildings like recreation centers will help improve the morale of any colonies in range and will have increasing value as the size of your empire grows (unless one has the racial trait which eliminates the large empire penalty).
Military: Military starbases allow the addition of modules that enhance the combat power of friendly ships in range of the starbase. Because starbases are stationary, this upgrade should be carefully considered before implementing. While having the military starbase near an area of battle can prove useful, if there is no combat surrounding the starbase, it is effectively useless.
Mining: Adding mining modules allows an empire access to resources that are used to build special ship parts or buildings such as Durantium, Prothenium, Elerium, Anti-Matter, and Thulium. Researching the appropriate technology allows additional mining modules to be added that can increase the number of resources obtained. In addition, all mining resources in range of a mining starbase are obtained using a single module. For example, in a fortunate situation a starbase might be in range of three Durantium nodes. The first mining module placed in this starbase would then provide three Durantium for use as desired. Adding a Mining Barracks will give an additional amount of Durantium for each node. Types of mining resources can be mixed; if a mining starbase accesses both Durantium and Elerium, for example, the starbase mining modules will obtain use of both types of resource.
Relic: A starbase can access precursor relics in its range by adding precursor modules such as the Xeno Archeology Lab. These benefits apply to the entire empire and are therefore quite powerful. Additional modules can be added by sending a constructor to the starbase. The presence of precursor modules does not preclude the addition of other types of modules. It may be possible to add economy modules, for example, in addition to precursor modules if a colony is in range.
Outpost: A starbase can be constructed only for the purpose of extending the range of a faction's fleet. A starbase or a string of starbases can be constructed as "stepping stones" to allow a fleet to reach a goal. That goal may be the invasion of another faction's colonies that would otherwise be unreachable. Because of this, the construction of enemy starbases near your territory is a serious matter. Construction of a starbase in another faction's Zone of Influence (ZOI) will provoke a demand from that faction to remove the starbase or face a worsening of that faction's opinion of the player. In some cases, this may even provoke a war.