This was posted as a comment… I cleaned it up a bit and reposted it here for everyones benefit.
It all depends on what is your overall goal in this game, so letís say you can either go for the defensive kind of play or the offensive where you concentrate on either building battleships and all the other ships you need to raid, but still that will take some time because there is so much stuff you need to built up before you can build ships at all, or you can build and concentrate on defense.
Now defensive kind of game is a totally different thing you still need to build a lot of stuff before you can build a solid defense but then you need the offence as well, itís all about thinking like your enemy, like if you have 40 unprotected battleships just laying around chances that somebody is going to attack you are extremely big, cause when I played on Balkan server I was a big time raider where I spent daily about 4 hours just scanning the galaxy 130 systems at the time and then calculating which ones pay off to attack.
Then I would send all 12 slots to attack and go to sleep, but at the same time do a fleet save just so those that have moons donít intercept my attacks and destroy some of my fleet, but the main point is that if someone had decent defense and about 40 battleships on the planet most of the time it didnít pay of sending all of the fleet at the guy cause of the deuterium cost.
The essential thing that you need, or will need in the long run is that you need your colonies to be spread apart for about 10 solar systems each, I agree in the beginning have them close so you can build the essentials on your main planet but later on the key to this game is how has the best production of resources over 24 hour period of time. This comes down to your mines; metal, crystal, solar, and deuterium.
Solar mines should be your first concern because I was put in the situation where I had 3000 solar satellites on couple of my colonies and then people would raid them because they earn on the crystal of my solar satellites, and if you have all of the solar mines build up so they cover all the energy needs then thereís nothing they can do, even if you loose all of your ships and defense you still have production going at the same rate and believe me once you get to that level of play thereís nothing in your way but timeÖ.