You begin every RSW game with one homeworld, five empty fleets, and enough metal to build 30 ships. The first turn is always pretty much the same--you should build those 30 ships onto your five fleets, distributing them however you see fit, and then send at least one fleet to each of the worlds connected to your homeworld.
Here we should pause a moment to point out a few important rules of the game:
You don't necessarily have to put a ship on each world that you come across, but if you don't, then the first player to visit the world in your absence will automatically capture it from you. Putting at least one I-Ship or P-Ship on every world will make it easier for you to hang on to your empire. Of course, you've only got so many ships to go around, so you do have to plan carefully.
This leads us to the next major strategy point of an RSW Classic game.
It's time to start thinking about transporting metal from your outlying worlds back to your homeworld, so you can build lots of ships. Ideally, you want to bring at least 30 metal to your homeworld every turn, to fully utilize your industry.
Of course, you won't have enough ships yet to carry 30 metal--so do the best you can with the ships you have, until you have a chance to build more. Keep in mind that the first player to get his or her homeworld up to building a sustained 30 ships per turn may have a substantial military advantage over the other players.
And this, of course, brings us to the next, and most important part of the game:
Now it's up to you. You will have to negotiate with these other players to establish your borders, and the nature of your relationship. Will you establish a new international community of trust and friendship? Will you form an alliance with one neighbor to defeat a common enemy? Will you refuse to talk with anyone, and seek to immediately crush any player you encounter?
However you handle negotiations, keep in mind the need to dedicate some of your fleets to the task of carrying metal back to your homeworld. If you get distracted in little border skirmishes with the first neighbor you encounter, it may limit your ability to get your industry up to full production quickly--and a third player, who got there first, may suddenly sweep down and crush both of you.
A complete description of each character type's needs are beyond the scope of this quick guide (they are discussed in detail elsewhere within this manual), but here are a few things to consider:
Emperors have the simplest needs, and may be the easiest to understand. They just want worlds. An Emperor is a particularly easy character type to play well, since it is possible for an Emperor to win the game without interacting with any other players at all--as long as you remain tucked away in your little corner of the galaxy with a sufficient collection of worlds, and other players leave you alone there, you'll accumulate a steady stream of points every turn. Of course, if other players decide to invade your empire, you'll have to be prepared to defend yourself. If this is your first experience with RSW, it may be a good idea to sign up as an Emperor, if it is available.
Raiders and Missionaries are the next step up from Emperors, in strategic complexity. Both of these have some unique special abilities, and they can be a lot of fun to play. In order to play these character types well, you will need to interact with (or conquer) your neighbors and develop a sound military and/or diplomatic strategy. However, these character types can also accumulate some points simply for owning resources and being left alone (though not as quickly as the Emperor does).
The next is the Positronix, the fierce metallic warriors of RSW. The Positronix is a very powerful fighter, but in order to score well as a Positronix, you will need to take a very active role in building and using your military force. We recommend playing as a Positronix only if you are ready to demonstrate your mastery of military tactics.
The Collector is very simple to understand, but playing the Collector well can demand all of your diplomatic finesse. In order to collect enough artifacts to score well, an Collector must be able to gain the trust and assistance of many other players in the game (or, alternatively, to build up the military force necessary to dominate them all). This is often a challenge for beginning RSW players, but don't be afraid to give it a try!
Finally, a Trader is the best kind of character type to encounter early in the game. The Trader earns points by helping other players carry metal back to their homeworlds. A Trader will probably immediately offer to negotiate this kind of arrangement, and you should probably accept--since with a good Trader working for you, you will be in a good position to get your industry to full production before any other players, who don't have the similar help of a Trader--and thus you may reach a position of early military dominance. (But be sure you can trust your new Trader ally!) If you are a new RSW player, you may find playing a Trader to be a challenge for your first game. We recommend choosing one of the other character types instead.