Crossposted from the SFU blog on BGG.

One of the basic principles of Federation & Empire is the ‘supply grid’. This is a network of bases that provide supply to all friendly units in range. In the General War era of most scenarios, this range is six hexes. Two friendly bases out of range of each other, with no intermediate stops in between will form two ‘partial grids’ (or, more likely, a partial grid, and a ‘main grid’, which will include the capital or off-map area).

When invading, you need to eliminate his bases to restrict supplies and operational range. Also, you will need to extend your supply range, as most powers are larger than the area existing bases can reach.

Convoys and Tugs can work as limited supply points, extending supply range six hexes from their location, as long as they are in supply. However, they are not a part of the supply grid, so you cannot simply chain them together for further reach, nor can you join two partial grids together with them.

New bases are not that hard to set up and integrate into the grid. However, the beginning bases are not that hard for the enemy to kill, unless you have such overwhelming superiority that you can prevent the enemy from even reaching the location of the new base for at least two turns. (The first turn, while the Mobile Base is being set up, the enemy just needs to get past the approach battle, and use direct damage on the Tug. The second turn—if the MB is immediately upgraded—it just requires passing the approach battle, and using direct damage on the MB, which is no tougher than an average cruiser.) And even once upgraded to a BATS, it is still fairly vulnerable.

Planets are another matter entirely. The planets notable enough to be  on the F&E map are worth taking for three reasons: 1) They produce a fair amount of the enemy’s economy. 2) With a little time, they will produce some economy for you. 3) Again, with a slight delay, they can act as a part of your supply grid (or the enemy’s, if they take it back). Since it is impossible to destroy a planet in F&E, planets are harder to deal with. It is possible for the side on the strategic defensive to gain a local superiority and force you to retreat off the planet, losing control of it, but that requires a lot more effort than is needed to just kill a new base. Therefore, strategic reach depends in large part on controlling planets.

The above image is a map showing the supply grid connections available just from planetary sources. The Orion Enclave is left out because it is generally easy to force it neutral when it matters, and cannot be counted on. Likewise the permanent neutral of the LDR is excluded. Shorter connections are lighter, and longer ones are darker.

A few things should be fairly obvious: Most of Romulan space is dependent on bases for a supply grid. There is no easy way to hook Hydran space into an external supply grid. There is no easy way to hook the Klingon and Romulan supply grids together through Federation space.

Examination of this grid can also reveal where critical bases are.

There are two Klingon and three Lyran at-start bases that are in supply range of Hydran planets. One of the Lyran bases is a SB, but it is not nearly as hard to keep the Klingons from having easy access to the Hydran capital. On the other hand, once the Hydran base network is taken down, their range is limited, and some Coalition players do not even worry much about containing them.

The ‘historical’ route the Klingons took in invading the Federation, was the ‘southern’ route, which leads directly from the Klingon capital to the Federation capital. As you can see above, this is a difficult route, as the Klingons are at the end of their supply ability by the time any further supply points are reached, meaning that it relies on the ability to set up and protect new bases within the Federation.

The ‘northern’ route is the one that always catches my eye. The initial planets are in easy reach of pre-war bases, and the density of the potential supply grid is high. To say nothing of taking a larger bite out of the Federation economy. The Klingon border BATS in that corner are often popular for upgrading to a starbase.

At the same time, the only Federation planet south of the Orion Enclave is in range of the Romulan border, and with the Enclave itself to hold the flanks of the Klingons and Romulans, it is a very important location for holding the Coalition together, instead of allowing the Romulans to become isolated.