Goddess help me, I've decided to change tacks at the last minute. I was going to do Empire Earth, but what the hell, let's go Star Wars.
We're doing Star Wars: Empire At War. Specifically, we're doing the Absolute Enhancement Mod version 5.1, which has substantial gameplay differences to the base game. I'll try to point them out as we pass them.
Why are we doing Empire At War? Because I think it's a really good game that illustrates the Star Wars setting works for a strategy game in multiple ways. It oozes Star Wars, and explicitly understands Star Wars while being a generally good video game.
I got this game back when it first came out, because seriously why wouldn't I? My middle sister introduced me to Star Wars when I was a little girl, and I haven't stopped loving it since. I played this game to death, and when Forces of Corruption came out, I played it to death too even though I thought the base game was better.
I know this game like the back of my hand, even after all this time. So let's begin.
So here's our main menu. The original main menu is stylized so it looks like you're observing the battle through a TIE fighter cockpit, but that gets in the way of the entertaining action. I prefer the way the mod opens this up.
There's a lot of detail in the battle we're observing, but nothing in it matters to us. Hopefully by the end of this LP, you can look back on this image and figure out what's going on. Or don't, whichever. Hell, if you're as much of a Star Wars slut as I am, you probably already know most of what's happening here.
We're going for the campaign, first off. In general, campaigns for strategy games also serve to slowly introduce and make relevant various mechanics for the player, and I don't feel like needing a wall of text after every screenshot for every minor thing in a game.
I like this pop-up. The game knows I haven't played the tutorial, or anything else in the Steam version right now, and is attempting to make sure I don't rage quit. However, not only do I not need the tutorial, I highly doubt the tutorial has been updated for the mod. I suspect some tutorials aren't even possible to complete at the moment. Maybe we'll take a look at later, for hilarity's sake.
The campaign screen. The game, again, knows I haven't played it before, and is trying to keep me from getting in over my head. But it also isn't arbitrarily disabling difficulty settings just to make things annoying.
As a note, difficulty has no impact on the statistics of units. Difficulty has to do with how smart the AI is, and how much the AI is allowed to cheat with resources and build times. Unfortunately, the AI is not smart enough to be challenging to an experienced human player without cheating. Even on Hard, though, the AI's cheating is not that noticeable.
Bring it the hell on, bucketheads!
We're playing the Rebel Alliance first. I think this is the order the game expects us to campaign (The button is on the left, after all), and the Alliance narrative is more compelling anyway.
Our traditional Star Wars opening crawl. One advantage of the Steam Version: I can capture multiple screenshots in rapid succession of cutscenes.
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
EMPIRE AT WAR
Rebellion! From scattered pockets of resistance across the galaxy, a group of freedom fighters known as the REBEL ALLIANCE forms to challenge the awesome power of the Galactic Empire.
Relying on cunning and strategy to strike at Imperial targets, the Rebels have located prototypes of the devastating new X-WING fighter, and plan a bold raid to acquire them.
A ragtag fleet of Rebel starships, led by Captain Raymus Antilles in his specially designed flagship, the SUNDERED HEART, moves into formation for the assault..."
Punctuation and capitalization as found in the game. I like this twist of the Star Wars lore. Isn't it odd how the X-Wing is strictly superior to the TIE fighter, yet the powerful Galactic Empire uses TIE fighters? Other Expanded Universe material talk about a difference in tactical doctrine, but I like the interpretation that the Empire was supposed to get the X-Wing, but the rebels took action to stop that.
Our traditional Star Wars opening shot. All Star Wars movies open on a starship, and most of the good Star Wars games do too.
One of the in-engine cutscenes. They're fine when the people talking are on starships, because these models are actually pretty good and we don't get to see them closely in normal battles.
Rebel Pilot: There's no way we're getting past that Star Destroyer. You'd think the Fresians would have warned us.
Antilles: It's not their fault. The nationalization wasn't announced. The Emperor likes his surprises.
Rebel Pilot: So what now?
Antilles: If the Tyranny is here, then it's not at its normal station...and the Tyranny is normally stationed at...
Rebel Pilot: Kuat! The Imperial shipyards?
Antilles: Yes. I think we can get their attention...
One of the things I like about this game is that people are logical and draw logical conclusions. So, what are we going to go do, folks?
I took this one because it looked good. And shows our fleet for this first mission. The Sundered Heart in the center, and four Corellian Corvettes.
Antilles: Okay, we have to cause as much destruction as we can. And be quick about it. Threepio?
C-3PO: Yes, sir?
Not pictured: Me missing the screenshot of C-3PO's two-second response.
Antilles: Have Artoo monitor Imperial comm channels and scan for any chatter about our mission.
Antilles: The alarm will sound almost immediately, and reinforcements won't be far behind. We have to cause enough damage to get the Tyranny back here!
We get our first look at the Imperial shipyards, and at Kuat. Kuat has this interesting ring thing surrounding it which I think is probably a permanent equatorial space station. That way, they can stage their resources and workforce in space itself, instead of constantly needing to ferry things back and forth through the planetary atmosphere.
And now I have tactical control. We have five ships, total, and we need to take out six shipyards.
But we don't have just any ships. We have Corellian Corvettes, and a powerful hero.
These resource containers are highly explosive. Even though you'd need nuclear explosives to cause much blast damage in space, and I don't see what nuclear weapons add to starship construction in a universe where ships fight with lasers.
I missed the big explosion this time, but it killed the patrol ship, and all three satellites.
Imperial Officer: This is the Kuat shipyard. We have come under Rebel attack. Requesting assistance.
Imperial Captain: This is the Tyranny. Your satellite defenses should be adequate for any Rebel fleet, activate them!
We have our first wave of Imperial defenders. Those three fighter squadrons in the upper left are TIE scouts. They're tougher than standard fighters, but have small squadrons and weak weapons. They're also the only hyper-capable starfighters the Empire has in the base game. They've got plenty in AEM, though.
Two squadrons of regular TIE fighters come along to help the scouts. Incidentally, this is an advertisement of the TIE Scout's toughness. Corellian Corvettes have eight laser cannons each, and we've done barely any damage to the scouts.
The fighters join together. One of our corvettes has taken a lot of damage and their shields - the blue bar - are basically gone. Shields regenerate over time, though, so consider shields as designed to be weakened. We activate the Sundered Heart's special ability, which reduces enemy damage in a small area. This ability allows the otherwise small and irrelevant corvette known as the Sundered Heart to influence battles much bigger than itself.
Incidentally, all the red laser bolts are ours. The Empire only uses green lasers. That should give an indication of just how much fire these corvettes can spit out.
Regular TIE fighters are vaporized in fractions of a second by Corellian corvettes. Sadly, this is vanilla behavior. In the base game, Corellian corvettes are strictly superior to Imperial Tartan Corvettes because they have much tougher shields and double the firepower, and face easier targets in Imperial starfighters. But we'll get into the Tartan's uselessness in the Imperial Campaign.
What we need to know for AEM is Corellian Corvettes are competitive to the end-game when it comes to shooting fighters.
We finally defeat the TIE Scouts. Since this isn't an ordinary battle, there's no reason we shouldn't just hang around here and wait for the wounded ship's shields to regenerate.
See? Much better.
Also, we already have a planetary bonus on the side of our screen. One of our planets is causing our starfighters to be stronger. This is a very powerful, possibly even amazing, bonus...if we had any starfighters.
Shields as good as new (Also, the Sundered Heart is almost ready to use its ability again). So let's actually show the Corellian Corvette unit description.
The CC's special ability is a temporary speed boost. But there's so much red on the map here that there's no point in using it at all. A difference in AEM is that the CC only costs one population point (The yellow number in the upper left of the unit description). In Vanilla, starfighter squadrons cost one, all corvettes cost two, frigates cost three, and capital ships cost four. AEM reduces all those by one, then adds heavy capital ships that cost four, and battlecruisers that cost five. And a super-capital ship that costs 33.
Since most ships carry starfighter squadrons as part of the package in AEM, there's little need to bring fighters. But if you do, those cost one.
One fun little thing this game does is assign names from a random list to ships. In Vanilla, it's just frigates and capital ships. But in AEM, it's most ships period. The lists are easily accessible text files, too, so you can add whatever name(s) you want.
Look! It's the good ship "BFG 9000"!
And this is the Sundered Heart. She's about twice as tough as an ordinary Corellian Corvette, plus she can drain enemy weapon power. We're keeping her.
Unmanned, deactivated, and awaiting repairs? That seems kind of an excessive way to say "This ship won't fight back if you shoot it".
Normally, laser defense satellites have unit descriptions. This one doesn't, so we already know it isn't going to shoot back at us.
I missed the shipyard-shattering kaboom. Sithspit. That satellite was the only survivor.
Next shipyard. I think the game doesn't want us wasting time looking at scenery we're gonna blow up anyway.
The ships docked at this one are imperial shuttles. They're the space combat form of Imperial field commanders. Yes, it's possible to pull ground units into space combat in this game. And their transports can fight back, though they shouldn't.
This time, I managed to catch the kaboom from the unjustifiably large tanks of explosive crap right next to a bunch of inactive starships. SPACE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THIS...BUT I ACTUALLY DON'T CARE THIS IS REALLY COOL.
Two squadrons of scouts and a Tartan drop out of hyperspace.
Weapon firing arcs are a thing in this game. Nearly all ships have most of all of their guns pointing forwards. Starfighters may be the most extreme example of this, but note the pithy amount of red lasers in this screenshot.
The Tartan Patrol Cruiser's unit description. In vanilla, that description is a lie. It is NOT good against X-wings. Nothing in the Imperial arsenal is actually GOOD against X-wings in vanilla. It's just much less bad against X-wings than most of the Empire's other options.
This screenshot was taken less than five seconds from the last one, and the Tartan has already lost most of its shields. Combat is fast and brutal when you're down at Corvette level. The Tartan's special ability is to temporarily boost its firepower enough to be relevant in the battlespace. It's actually super dangerous in this mode, but we're gonna kill it first.
In this game, most starships have a death animation where they break apart before blowing up. Many of the mod-added ships don't have this and just explode.
We're supposed to wait for the Sundered Heart's shields, but those TIE fighters aren't going to let us.
Fortunately, we vaporized something like ten TIEs instantly. And TIE squadrons only contain seven fighters.
This shipyard has a Star Destroyer under construction. The Empire has basically limitless TIEs and Tartans and troop transports, but Star Destroyers? Those are a real pain to replace.
We set off the huge chain reaction. Meanwhile, the officer in command wets his pants instead of concentrating his fighters and cruisers with the garrison forces from his space station, and wiping us insignificant little pissants off the face of the universe. I know it looks like we're doing well, but that's a level 2 Space Station in the upper left corner of the mini-map. This plot mission is heavily scripted, and right now that's the only thing protecting us from annihilation.
Imperial Officer: This is the Kuat Shipyard. We have come under Rebel attack. Requesting Assistance.
We finish off the survivors of the explosions.
Imperial Captain: The Tyranny is on Imperial Security assignment. Maintain Channel silence for ceremony communications.
Another two TIE fighter squadrons show up. This time, we vaporize almost all of them in their first attack run.
Say what you will about TIE pilots, these are either very brave or incredibly brainwashed. Or this game doesn't model force morale. One of those.
Shipyard number four. Already damaged, somehow.
We're going for this one. We'll be taking a few shots, but blowing up the shipyards is the only reason we're here.
We are interrupted. Two squadrons of TIEs fly in from the general direction of the space station. We're not ready, so they manage to reach firing range. Fortunately, we can weaken their weapons.
Because I'm not smart, we push on to attack the shipyard. The two squadrons defending the shipyard intercept us, and we can't weaken these weapons. Two of our ships take hull damage.
In the vanilla game, TIE fighters, regardless of their numbers, were not a realistic threat to corvette class ships. AEM substantially increases starfighter damage across the board, a buff all starfighters needed. Yes, even X-wings.
We defeat the TIEs and avoid losing a ship. But she's badly damaged and cannae take much more.
We stick around to regenerate shields, and watch our handiwork. Two to go.
A Tartan drops out of hyperspace and attacks us from behind. As long as she doesn't attack the severely damaged ship, we'll be fine.
Two TIE fighter squadrons show up out of nowhere as the Tartan's dust scatters into space. Resistance is ramping up.
Another Tartan attacks us en route to the next shipyard. Screw our shields, the local commander is starting to take us seriously.
I get the distinct impression we were supposed to destroy the shipyards in some other order.
Whatever. The defending TIEs are no match for us.
More fighters from the space station. I've learned my lesson - this time, we stand to engage them instead of pressing on to attack the shipyard while being flanked.
Oh crap. They saw the damaged corvette first. Concentrate fire and take them down!
Just as we finish the previous two squadrons, a Tartan and two more TIE squadrons drop out of hyperspace right on top of us!
The Tartan dies instantly. You can call in reinforcements from hyperspace nearly anywhere (If you have them available, we don't), and they'll fire as they appear, but they take MUCH (I don't know exactly how much, but it's at least twice) more damage until a few seconds after they've arrived. Normally, you want to pull in reinforcements outside the battle and then let them join under sublight propulsion.
Normally, TIE fighters can't hyperspace at all. But this mission is scripted heavily.
They're already done. Now can we PLEASE move on to the last shipyard without interruptions?!?
We're going for that resource container. Those TIEs don't matter, we blow up the shipyard and we win the mission.
All it takes is a single domino...
To cause a massive, awesome disaster. I have no idea how the fighters survived.
Our first glimpse of an Imperial Space Station.
Imperial Officer: Kuat Shipyard to all Imperial units! We are under siege by significant Rebel forces! All ships in the area, respond! Emergency code zero!
Finally! Get your lazy ass off your station, you useless hunk of Imperial scrap metal!
Imperial Captain: This is the Tyranny. Responding to code zero. Be aware that you are altering plans set by Lord Vader himself, and you will answer to him if this code has been invoked lightly.
Oh. That officer is so dead...
Anyway. We rally and attack the Star Destroyer. It fires its turbolasers at us, and some ion cannons. One Star Destroyer against five corvettes, even the Sundered Heart? Easy money...normally.
Sure. Fire the laser cannons. I'm sure if you annoy her, she'll surrender just to stop you from generating minor shield warnings.
Except that this time, we have the power of PLOT MAGIC on our side! Suck it, bucketheads!
This is the post-battle screen. It tells us several useful things!
Did we win or lose? Where did we fight? How long did we spend fighting? And what assets did each side lose?
Note here that NONE of the fighters we killed are listed on enemy losses. This is because they were garrison forces, and counted as sub-units of something else. But they did lose the space station. This is really important.
We get our first look at the Galactic Map! There's a lot of detail here, so I'm going to break it up over multiple screenshots. In the lower left corner, we have a minimap. This map shows us the entire galaxy, and highlights planets based on who controls them, as well as showing us what part of the galaxy we're currently looking at. Oh, and there's a conversation happening.
Mon Mothma: The Tyranny and its fleet will most likely remain at their post while it is repaired. The devastation of Kuat Shipyard should prove to be a lengthy distraction.
One of the things I enjoy about Empire At War is the cutscenes. Using holograms is quite frankly ingenious, and saves a lot of time that would be otherwise wasted animating individual person models. It fits the setting like a glove.
If you look directly beneath the hologram, you'll see our overall status bar. The first section talks about the planet we've selected, for now that's blank. The second section has to do with time - it tells us what galactic day it is(The first one in this game), how far into that day we are(The green bar), and how many credits we earn per day(260 - really bad). The third bar is statistics. It tells us how our technology is doing (1, so lowest), what our population capacity is and how much we're using (20 used/63 total, so we don't have many units at all), and how many credits we have to spend (20,000 - decent).
Antilles: Then we've got some X-wings on Fresia to attend to.
Ugh. Antilles...why did you have to jinx us?
Rebel Pilot: Captain, Scanners show the Tyranny deployed numerous sentry drones just before it left for Kuat - the Fresian system is locked down!
Antilles: Blast! We'd have the entire Imperial fleet in our laps before we could blink!
Meanwhile, I remember how to move the map. We start with three worlds. As long as we have a single one, we can always try most missions again...though fewer worlds means exponentially harder.
C-3PO: Excuse me sir, but I believe Artoo could get the codes from the Imperial station uplink on Wayland to register your ships. The the Fresian sentries would clear you to the surface.
We can see both of the enemy worlds in this shot. Kuat in red, controlled by the Empire, who will fortify and eventually launch attacks against us. And Korriban in yellow, controlled by pirates or a local warlord or whoever that doesn't care about our conflict, won't attack us, and won't fortify their world.
Antilles: Not a bad plan, Threepio. But you droids will never get there on your own. You'll need a sizeable escort of ground troops to have any chance at all.
Gee. I wonder which planet we should conquer first?
C-3PO: But, Sir, I think my presence there won't be necessary...
Oh yeah, Threepio? No one else understands Artoo.
See? Even Artoo agrees that he's too important to be without a translator. At least, that's what I think he said. Starting to see my point?
Antilles: You can't come up with a plan and let someone else take ALL the credit, Threepio. We can't attack Fresia if you and Artoo don't get to the Imperial network on Wayland. We're counting on you.
Woot! We have an official mission objective. Which we'll get to someday. For now, we have other priorities. Also, I want it noted that these people talked for an entire galactic day.
Let's just quickly pause the game (Pause button underneath Artoo) so I can take stock of what we actually have without tearing my hair out.
The column of five buttons next to the minimap do these things in this order from top to bottom: Display planet credit income, display planet space station levels and building count, and display planet special bonuses and weather effects. Oh, and open the game menu.
So, planet detail screens. This is Alderaan. The uppermost bar beneath the holoprojector now has information in it. First is who controls the planet, then the planet name, and then the planet's credit income. Green means the base value is being modified positively.
We also have the unit description for a level 1 space station up. The green number in the upper left is how much population capacity a station of that level provides. Most population capacity comes from upgrading space stations, so we're gonna be doing that.
Garrison units are produced by buildings at the start of combat, and in vanilla were replaced infinitely. In AEM, they're not replaced. But they're still a substantial force multiplier for the defender, even if they take a little time to organize. A level one station is giving 12 starfighter squadrons and four corvettes, which should tell you how much of a threat garrisons are.
You'll notice we have three fleet slots above Alderaan. Each slot can hold an infinite number of units. This is how we organize and separate forces into strike fleets of one sort or another. If an enemy attacked us now, all fleets would defend as one. We also have Artoo & Threepio up there. The little symbol in the corner of their marker means they're a stealth unit the enemy can't see.
This is the production bar, at the bottom of the screen. It's split into space and land, and planets can produce things in both areas at the same time if your purse is good for it.
The space station level two description tells us we're getting a bunch of benefits from upgrading it - better fighters and some frigates, plus more population. What it isn't telling you is that space station level also controls the ships you can recruit.
At level one, we can only recruit Z-95 fighter squadrons. In the vanilla game, these can only be recruited in the Rebel campaign - the Rebels start with X-wings in all other game modes, and the Z-95 is really unimpressive compared to the X-wing. However, I like having the option. One thing to note in starfighter squadron descriptions is that it usually tells you how many fighters you're getting.
On land, we start with one building on Alderaan: A barracks. Barracks train infantry, and provide garrison infantry to ground battles.
So, in a direct sense, your major recruiting worlds are also your best defended worlds. Also note that in the middle of the screen, we have a cool little table that shows us Alderaan's basic terrain type and also has ten slots for ground units. Any ground units we place here will be immediately available if Alderaan is attacked on land.
Right below that table, we have our barracks. The empty slots next to it can have buildings placed in them. If we wanted to sell our barracks, we'd right click on it and do that.
Our Barracks allows us to recruit Infantry Platoons. Ground units function differently than space units. When you bring in a space unit, you bring in one ship, or one squadron of fighters. When you bring in a ground unit, you bring in a number of tanks, or a number of squads of infantry.
Infantry in AEM are cheap, spammable and deal tons of damage for their cost, but die almost instantly with few exceptions. Fights between Stormtroopers and Infantry Platoons are like playing tag with rockets. Much like fights between corvettes, now that I think about it.
Plex Soldiers are a Rebel unique unit type. Infantry with rocket launchers, what a concept! For most of the early part of the game, Plex Soldiers are going to be our most important ground unit. They weren't very impressive in vanilla, but they're extremely handy in AEM.
We can also build mining facilities. They increase our income.
The tooltip to the right of the table tells us a little bit about Alderaan - who owns it, how much population having the planet provides, the typical weather conditions, the planet special ability, and how many space station levels and buildings are present.
In this case, Alderaan makes a lot of credits. So we shouldn't have military recruitment buildings here at all. We should build a bunch of mining facilities, and replace that barracks. But not yet. We're paused anyway.
The planet info tab gives us a closer look. It talks a bit about the history of the planet, gives us a snapshot of the ground tactical map (This one looks like it will favor heavy ground units), and reiterates the planetary information.
For Alderaan specifically, the "Imperial Base Size restricted" thing has never come up for me. The Empire usually never owns Alderaan - it's either destroyed at the start of the game, or usually destroyed by the Empire.
Rain is a weather condition common to many planets. It reduces laser accuracy. This is actually a huge problem, because nearly all combat ground units use lasers. The Empire is hurt by this much more than us, however. So for all practical purposes, we have a cheesy but concrete tactical advantage on rainy worlds.
Yavin IV's bonus. In the vanilla game, it only provides a bonus to X-Wings. This is far more fair, though usually only the Rebels own Yavin IV. This helps to lay the groundwork for the Rebel focus on starfighters and starbombers. These very powerful assets can, if wisely used, help us punch far above our weight class.
Yavin IV has a building we can't replicate at the moment. Our Light Factory.
Right now, this is our only way to make ground combat vehicles of any kind, though we start with a unit of tanks here and on Alderaan.
Our tanks. The Empire has a similar unit called the 2-M Repulsor Tank. It's about as powerful, but better against vehicles than infantry.
The T2-B is really intended for anti-infantry work, though it has the defenses and firepower to be essential in some situations. With how vulnerable infantry are in AEM, our T2-Bs are worth far more than any of our starships right now.
We have access to a unique building on Yavin IV which only exists in AEM. A Financial Center. Whenever you have the choice, build a Financial Center. You can only have one on a world, and it's worth three mining facilities. Even worlds with small incomes, like Yavin IV, generate a lot via a financial center. We're obviously building that here, but not yet.
The tactical map on Yavin IV is a big confused jungle. Fortunately, we will never have to deal with it because the Empire is never going to be in a position to launch a ground attack against Yavin IV unless I screw up by the numbers.
You'll notice that in the historical reference, there's a bunch of unique unit types listed at the end. This is new to AEM - there's so many units in it that they don't all fit on the production bar. So some can only be built on some worlds.
As Rebels, we get these units from Yavin IV, eventually: Quasar Fire carriers, Dauntless cruisers, and Carrack light cruisers. We also get SpecForce infantry, and B3 battle droids.
Most of them have pretty stringent tech/station requirements, and the ground units need a special building. But they're usually worth it.
On to Dantooine. It makes the least amount of money, allows the smallest base, and has the worst planet bonus.
The thing about "Ground bases are undetectable" just means the planet shows up as grey on the enemy galactic map if it doesn't have a space station. Sure, you might be able to sucker some small fleets or armies with it, but you can't build ships here and you don't have the combat advantages of a space station. Additionally, space stations can't be SOLD, so the only way to trigger the bonus at all is to just not build a station here. And we start with one.
You may have noticed that our costs for things on Dantooine are green. This is because of Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebel Alliance.
She has Fleet Commander bonuses (Which we can't train yet), so there's a temptation to send her with our strike fleet. But if she dies, we lose the game, so...no. She can also participate in ground battles, but only defensively.
Additionally, she reduces the cost of EVERYTHING by 25% wherever she is.
Dantooine's planet info.
Sucky bonus, small base, low income, and no special units in AEM. The only reason I can think of to even have a base here is if we have no other options, which...well...we have no other options.
You may have noticed the giant green lines connecting Alderaan, Dantooine, and Yavin IV. These are trade routes. Owning multiple planets along the same trade route boosts a planet's income, and ships move faster along these routes. We're lucky enough to have three connected worlds, and a lady who can reduce costs on whatever planet she's orbiting. This is why I didn't order any construction earlier.
We also take a look at Korriban. It has no adverse weather conditions and allows a large base, though the bonus only benefits the Empire and the planet income really fucking sucks. All that said, it's on our list for conquering. We'll make sure the Empire can never get it, AND find a good place to stick all our Medium Vehicle Factories, when we unlock them.
And a quick look at Kuat. Right now, it has no space station, and only two buildings. It's also the only Imperial world on the map right now.
It also globally reduces the cost of Imperial Star Destroyers by a significant amount, and is one of only four worlds in the vanilla game that can even build capital ships. And it has weather that favors us over the Empire. And it's weak now. And the Empire will fortify it and build it up to attack us with. And it has AEM special ships unique to the Empire.
On our side, it will allow us to build capital ships of our own when our technology gets there, and it has the maximum possible base size AND a large income. Even if we just stack mining facilities, it'll pay for itself many times over.
Before we go anywhere near Wayland, we're dealing with Kuat. Period. Mon Mothma may determine our overall strategic objective, but I determine the military means by which we accomplish that objective.
This is an enemy planet detail screen. We don't know if they have any ground forces or space forces, but we do know how many buildings and space station levels they have. Kuat is weak.
Next update, we'll upgrade our space stations, rejigger our worlds somewhat, scout Kuat, and see just how hard it would be to take it right now before they have a chance to fortify. We might also get to Korriban. In this game, you're supposed to take every world you can in the campaign before completing the next objective.