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Empire's First "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ)

As far as we are aware, the first ever Empire FAQ was put together by Dick C. Reichenbach in June of 1991. What follows is a text copy of that FAQ as archived on


Hello net. I wrote the following article for beginners. It is the very basics of the game. I have been thinking about posting this bi-weekly as a FAQ, but I am concerned about the accuracy. I've only played in a half-dozen games and am in no way and expert, but this file is how I see the game.


Empire Explained

By Dick C. Reichenbach

From the manual pages that accompanies the client.

BSD Empire is a global economic/political/military simulation game wherein players, representing national governments, make "real-time" decisions concerning resource allocation, national goals, international diplomatic efforts, etc. Extensive records are kept for all players.

WARNING -- This game is not only addictive but often peels back the thin veneer of civilization that hides the maniac within.

This description is a pretty brief summary of what happens in an empire game. Including the maniac stages that eventually show up in all people that play the game.

This document will only discuss BSD Empire. There is another document posted to this newsgroup (Versions of Empire - Monthly posting) that describes the other versions. BSD Empire is the version of empire that was created to discuss.

Basicly, in Empire, you are the dictator of a small country. All of your decisions are made to furthur the goals of your country. The goals of your country can be widely varied. Maybe your goal is to conquer the world, or to have the best technology, or to have the biggest country, or to be on the winning team, or just to stay alive.
Almost always, in order to accomplish these goals, you have to attack and conquer somebody else in the game. This is what I really like about Empire, the ability to test your wargaming skills against people from all over the world, not just the 2 or 3 people that play Advanced Squad Leader or PanzerBlitz, or the 2 or 3 people that play some obscure play-by-mail game, or you against some really stupid computer
player, but this is Empire, combining wargaming with economics of your own design and luck, and then pitting your skills and luck against 10 to 60 people from all over the world.

A game of empire usually lasts from 1 day of continuless playing (blitz game) to 5 months of light, but continuless playing (Oakland University game). Time is a big consideration in playing empire. As somebody's signature says;

Surgeon General's Warning: Playing empire can lower your GPA by 2.00 points.

More on the types of games later.

Next. Empire is InterNET based. In order to play empire, you must have access to a computer that is directly connected to the InterNET. Many educational institutions have this feature (note the .edu in my address). Some businesses are big or rich or crafty enough to have a direct connection, and you can play empire from these organizations, too.

Empire comes in 2 parts. The first part is the empire client. Clients come in many shapes and sizes. First, there is the standard client. It works on pretty much any UNIX computer that exists (as far as I know). It is compatible with pretty much any terminal, including dumb terminals. The standard client simply prints the information on the screen one line at a time. Used in conjunction with redirection to files and piping to standard UNIX utilities like more and grep, the standard client can serve you well for a long time. The other 3 types of clients that I know of are eif (Empire InterFace), the X terminal version, and the VMS version. Eif is a more modern standard client. Because it is brand new, it has it's share of bugs to be worked out. On the Sun that I use, eif is only 25% larger in size than the standard client (108Kb vs 75Kb). I have gotten the X terminal version to work correctly on a Sun SPARCstation SLC running X11R3. I do not use it because of disk quotas. The X version is over 800Kb of executable binary plus data files versus about 75Kb of executable for the standard version. I have never used VMS empire client, so all inquiries should go to the creator of this client.

The second part of empire is the empire server. Most people will never have access to an empire server. Empire servers are set up and run by people we call dieties (diety is another name for a god, by definition; it is probably appropriate that the people that set servers up are called that). The server is basicly a large database
and software to drive it. The client uses the internet to access the computer on the other end that is running the server. The computer that the server is running from can be across the room or across the world. The server then verifies who you are by using a password, mistakenly called a "representative name" by the documentation. The empire client is then allowed to alter your section of the database according to your wishes. Moving people aroud is a common enough
action to do. The server monitors this and can update the database itself. Example. Moving people takes mobility, a price to pay for telling a person to get up and get his/her feet/horse/cart/wagon/automobile moving and go to another location. The server recognises this action and immediatly lowers your mobility left in that sector.

Your country is a series of sectors laid out in a hexagonal fashion inside of a computer/deity generated "world". Most worlds are from 32 by 32 sectors to large 256 by 256 sector "worlds". You can build on land sectors and sail ships on sea sectors. Planes can fly anywhere as long as they can land somewhere (airports and carriers). Missles are the highest tech way of moving things. The only problem is that missles only move satelittes or bombs (either nuclear or conventional warheads). Back to building on land sectors. There is only 1 type of sector that you must have, and that is a capital. A capital is where you are (in theory) when you run the country. If you do not have a capital, you must pick one. Other types of sectors include iron mines, gold mines, roads, gun and ammunition plants, schools and universities, hospitals, radar facilities, harbors, and other sector-types that can be found in the on-line documentation. The documentation also explains what each of these do.

This is nice, but the most important thing a server does is called the update. The freqency that a server does the update is complely up to the diety and the type of game that the diety wishes to run. Every once in a while, the update occurs and things actually get done in your country. Babies are born, food is grown or fished, iron is turned into steel, steel is made into guns or ammunition, steel, oil, and gold can be combined to make technology, and a host of other things are done at the update. The server uses information from the database to control the update. If you havn't changed the database since the last update, the game just uses the old information and goes on without you. ETU's (Empire time units) are the amount of work that goes on between updates. The more etu's, the more babies are born,
the more iron is mined, etc. Blitz games have high etu's (60+) and can update every 10 minutes. Average games have medium etu's (32) and update every 3-4 hours. The Oakland University game has high etu's and updates 1 time per day (giving it about the same speed as an average game). Never enter a game that offers average etu's and updates 1 or 2 times daily. The game will probably run for the next 2 years.

SERVER. So look for empire games that are starting. Most will be posted on I also belive that sending a mailing to will get you on a mailing list of blitz games that are starting soon. Someone will have to verify that, because I am in no way sure of that piece of information. The article will give you more information about that particular game and its specifics. If the game posted is for you, send in your desired country name and password to the diety. If you get in the game, then get your client from an anonymous ftp site. has all 4 clients. The directory is /pub/games/empire/bsd. For the standard client, extract the source files using "zcat empclient-1.1.tar.Z | tar -xf -". Don't type the quotes. Then change into the client directory and follow the directions in the file called README to compile it. Please look at other FAQ lists for more detailed informations on downloading files from anonymous ftp sites.