Manpower Explanation & Mechanics
This guide is a reposting of a thread I made almost a year ago. To date, few have covered in as much detail the mechanics and workings of manpower which seemingly goes mostly unexplained.
Manpower was, more than anything, one of the most confusing things about the game I needed to figure out for myself, because the tutorial didn’t explain much. How did invasions work? How do I replenish manpower on fleets? How do I do it on planets, even? Manpower “regen” amount is way too low, I’m barely scraping enough together, how do I increase that?
This guide is here just to explain the basics of manpower, in case anyone doesn’t fully get it yet.
What is Manpower
Manpower is a resource of your empire that represents the number of military people you have. You can view it by clicking on the fleets button. That screen also allows you to change the composition of your armies (footsoldiers, armor and air) by clicking on the button on the right, once you unlock armor and air forces. You can also use that same screen to upgrade your armies by paying with strategic resources and reserve manpower.
Where does it go?
Manpower is used to staff your ships, your planets, and when those two things are full, it goes into your reserve (viewed by the fleets button). Manpower automatically is assigned to ships first, then planets. There is no way to load or offload manpower onto or off of ships, and there is no way to move manpower from one place to the other in your empire.
What is it used for?
You use manpower, on occasion, to pay for certain things, but that is the exception to the rule. Manpower on ships is used to invade a system. Manpower on planets is used to defend against invasions. There are plenty of upgrades that allow you to increase maximum manpower in reserve, the strength of invading forces, the strength of defending forces, and other things. Manpower is replenished on fleets by having ships in orbit in one of your controlled systems. It takes the manpower from your reserves, it doesn’t matter what system you orbit as long as you control it. If your reserves are empty and you’re only generating 20 manpower per turn, your ship will only increase its manpower by 20 per turn, which can take forever on a full fleet.
But what about invasions?
Invasions are performed by entering an enemy system with ships that have manpower aboard. It is strongly advised that, before you invade, you keep your fleet in orbit to wear down the defending manpower of the system. [This section requires updated information on siege mechanics I haven’t obtained yet, will update when I figure it out or someone tells me; I do not know at the moment what determines the defense manpower loss on a system as a result of sieging with a fleet.] You may lose some soldiers but the ones you don’t board back onto your ships after the invasions is over.
What happens if you invade and then your ships leave the system or are otherwise gone?
What are reinforcements?
When you invade a system, the entire manpower force of your fleet(s) in that system are deployed to the planet(s). If your ships leave the system, your forces will remain on those planets until the invasion completes either successfully or you are defeated. You can move ships into the system at any time (ones that have low or no manpower, so they have space) and retreat your troops after the invasion round for that turn is over, if you wish. If you win the invasion and you have no ships in the system, your troops will be moved into empire reserve, which can potentially waste a lot of liquid manpower if your empire reserves are at or near capacity, as well as wasting time since filling ships with manpower takes several turns (unless they’re returning from an invasion). In effect, if you know you’re going to win an invasion in a landslide and wish to divert your ships elsewhere for combat purposes, you can drop off your troops to invade a planet and then attack fleets in another system. Keep in mind that if your ships do not return by the end of the invasion those ships will have little or no manpower.
One more thing to mention is that, as mentioned below, only so much manpower can attack at once in an invasion. Any manpower beyond that are considered “reinforcements.” Your fleets will drop ALL of their manpower on a system when you invade, even if such numbers go far beyond the per-round maximum amount of attacking manpower allowed. All of your troops that cannot attack during an invasion round will still remain in the system as reinforcements and will replace any troops lost this round when you attack next turn. Thus, if you expect to take heavy casualties from an entrenched force but still wish to move your fleet out after dropping off your troops (for whatever pressing reasons, rather than sieging the system), you can drop massive amounts of manpower onto the system and they will attack at full force every turn if you have reinforcements. As mentioned toward the end of the guide, this is potentially where custom design troop transport ships come into play.
If one of your planets is being invaded, you can bring in a fleet filled to the brim with manpower and use said manpower to reinforce your troops on the ground. You are not restricted to the manpower defense solely located in that system. This can, of course, be risky to your ships if enemy fleets are in system as well, but if you know what you’re doing it can be the difference between saving or losing a system.
A quick note on “blitz” as an invasion option
When invading a planet you are given several choices of how to attack/use your troops. One of these options is called “blitz.” This allows you to use more manpower at one time during an invading attack. The number of troops with which you can invade a planet is capped (by default this cap is 500; there are techs in the military quadrant of research that increase this cap to 600 and later 750); Blitz allows you to attack with 1.3x that value, a 30% increase. If you bring 800 manpower to a system, the defending force is 700 manpower, and your invasion cap is at 600, using blitz would be a good option.
How do I obtain more?
This is the important part. Manpower is generated, by default, as 10% of your empire’s food production. I mistakenly believed at one point that since population growth maximum cap was at 300 food on every system, having a system with more than 300 food generation per turn was a waste of upkeep and time. It isn’t. If you have a system that is extremely syngergistic with all the food generation system developments, I strongly suggest you build them all, and you won’t run out of manpower. It’s almost mandatory to do this if you’re playing as aggressive militarists.
As Cravers, I have a system in my current game generating 950 food per turn alone, which is +95 manpower each turn, currently about 8% of my manpower cap. There are system upgrades that add onto the consumption rate of manpower (left side of the tech tree, attached to the medium ship hulls), so you can increase the manpower generation from 10 to 20 to 30 percent. If I upgraded that system, I’d be generating 25% of my manpower capacity every turn. I would never run out of able bodies.
That should be everything you need to know. Those last two paragraphs are really the most important, since it’s relatively easy to figure everything else out on your own, but now you know anyway. If the mechanics of the above have changed in some way and I haven’t noticed, let me know and I’ll update the guide.
I am going to put the bits and pieces here that people have offered to me over the past year in regards to manpower that I neglected to mention or didn’t know about.
A fully staffed ship at its manpower cap has a 20% damage bonus. I have no idea where this is listed ingame, if at all, but it’s certainly something that makes a difference.
Replenishing fleet manpower outside of your systems
It appears that some types of heroes have skills that allow you to refill the manpower of your fleets outside of your controlled territory. Normally your fleets need to be orbiting a system for this to occur (unless they’ve changed this mechanic unbeknownst to me); some heroes have skills like [+40% manpower increase per turn on fleet]. My understanding of this was that it would simply increase the amount of manpower refilled on that fleet per turn, but it appears that as long as your fleet is in *any* system this increase per turn applies.
This is going off anecdotal evidence I believe I observed in my last game and it is not definitive or confirmed, and I am not certain that this replenishing of manpower outside my borders was due to heroes or something else. All I know is that my fleet manpower refilled while some fleets were outside my territory and I felt I should make a note of that here.
You can use chain gangs to sacrifice population and create manpower if you desperately need it; a single population will fill 3 basic Tech I level ships (300 manpower usually).
There are support modules you can install on ships that allow them to carry more manpower; by doing this you can effectively create troop transports and move massive numbers of invading forces into a system to crush anyone there. One seldom-used tactic is this: if your planet defenses are not teched up to a level you think is high enough to properly defend your systems, you can create support ships that have manpower modules and movement boosters to create fast moving troop transports. You can then use these transports as standby planetary defenses; if an enemy tries to invade a system you can move these transports into said system and reinforce your ground troops to ensure their invasion fails.