Powerplay is a battle for galactic territory, in which Powers attempt to expand from their existing territories into new systems; extracting resources from them in order to pay for continued expansion and protect systems already held or exploited.
As a Commander, you can pledge support to a power and carry out tasks for them in return for rewards and prestige; earning valuable perks, reputation bonuses and credits for your allegiance.
Your choices and actions as a Commander will have a direct and visible impact on the balance of galactic power.
What are Powers and how do they differ from Factions?
Powers are powerful individuals and organizations which you can ally with to help guide their strategy, and take on special objectives to advance shared goals.
The Core Systems (aka 'the Bubble') are a sphere of about 150 light years around Sol with over 19,000 inhabited systems where powers compete for influence, resources, territory and control.
Powers are different from the major and minor factions encountered in-game.
- Major factions are super powers that control vast areas of inhabited space. There are three of these factions: The Alliance, Empire, and Federation. Many minor factions align themselves with major factions, adopting their laws and customs.
- Minor factions generally control individual areas of space within a system. Whichever minor faction holds the main station of a system rules the system. Their holdings within a system are determined by their influence and any conflicts that arise.
- While many Powers are aligned directly with major factions, others are not and will act independently. Ultimately though, each Power stands alone.
How long is a powerplay cycle?
Powerplay runs in cycles, each one lasting a continuous week in real-time.
Elite Dangerous Powerplay cycle starts and ends (resets) every Thursday at 7:00 am GMT.
A cycle represents the amount of time it takes for powers to take significant actions. At the end of each cycle all actions started within it are resolved and the power’s Command Capital reserve for the next cycle is computed.
What is Command Capital?
Each Power uses a resource called Command Capital (CC) to pay for its endeavors. CC represents a combination of financial, political and social weight that can be channeled into use by each individual Power.
CC is received from systems under the control of a Power. The bigger the population of a system, the greater the amount of CC can be exploited from it. Without CC, a Power cannot expand or protect its territory.
Control Systems and Exploitation
Powers do not take direct control of all systems they wish to expand into. They instead focus on single systems, dominating them, turning them into control systems.
Every cycle a Power must pay CC upkeep to maintain control systems. The amount of upkeep is directly related to the distance a control system is from the power’s home system. The further away a control system, the greater the upkeep required to maintain it. A control system automatically collects CC income from all nearby systems within a 15 light year radius. These systems then become exploited systems.
Importantly, control and exploited systems cannot be expanded into by other powers.
Turmoil And Revolt
If a Power begins a cycle with a deficit of CC, it will not have the power to maintain control over all of the systems it controls.
The control system with the highest CC upkeep falls into turmoil and its upkeep cost is removed from the power’s CC reserve. Additional control systems fall into turmoil until the Power has a positive CC reserve.
When the next cycle begins, control systems already in turmoil will no longer exploit nearby systems for CC income, though their upkeep cost will still be due at the end of the cycle.
Any control systems that started the cycle in turmoil, will revolt at the end of the cycle if the Power is still running a CC deficit. Systems that revolt are no longer controlled by the power.
When a Power controls or exploits a system, it doesn’t just take CC from them. It also applies one or more control effects to the systems.
Control effects are varied and dependent on the power. This could include shutting down all black markets, increasing penalties for criminals or legalizing/criminalizing specific commodities.
The Process of Powerplay.
In the first instance, a target system must be prepared for expansion. This preparation may involve different tasks for supporters to complete, depending on the Power involved.
Once a system has been successfully prepared, an expansion attempt may be purchased for the next cycle. Different powers require their supporters to carry out different tasks to successfully carry out expansion.
Supporters of other powers may directly oppose expansion making success even more difficult to achieve. Once a system has been expanded into, supporters may fortify it to reduce its drain on the power’s CC reserves.
Supporters of other powers may undermine control systems making them more expensive to maintain and more likely to revolt.
Any system may be prepared for expansion with the following caveats:
- The system must be inhabited
- The system must not be a control system for a power
- The system must not be an exploited system for a different power
In addition, each target system has an expansion cost. This expansion cost will be deducted from the power’s CC reserve at the end of the cycle if the system is chosen for an expansion attempt. A system cannot be prepared if its expansion cost is greater than the power’s current CC reserve.
Top Ten Systems
Although any amount of systems may be prepared, a Power is limited each cycle to purchasing no more than 10 expansion attempts. Importantly, its choices are based on the amount of preparation carried out at a system, not the system’s expansion cost.
The Top 10 Systems listing shows several things:
- The total PREP so far this cycle for that top 10 system.
- The range from your ship to that system in lightyears (LY)
- The COST column shows in White color those systems that your Power will purchase expansion attempts in order from 1 to 10 until your Powers Command Capital (CC) for the cycle has run out. The first system highlighted in Red color shows the point on the listing at which the CC to spend that cycle will run out and no further systems in the listing can be afforded for expansion
All systems have a preparation threshold. Until supporters have completed enough preparation tasks to breach this threshold the system cannot be a top ten entry.
Once supporters become influential within a Power they may vote for a preparation top ten entry from the preparation tab to directly increase preparation for it, increasing the likelihood of an expansion attempt being purchased for it.
More than one Power can prepare a system at the same time. In such cases, at the end of the cycle the Power which completed the most preparation gets to purchase an expansion attempt whilst all other preparation fails.
Preparation can occur for multiple powers in systems that would be within each other’s potential 15 light year exploitation radius.
In such cases, at the end of the cycle the Power which completed the most preparation gets to purchase an expansion attempt whilst all other preparation fails.
Preparation and the Galaxy Map
Commanders can use the in-game galaxy map to help them view potential candidates for preparation, by selecting the “Powerplay” view, choosing your Power from the drop down selection then activating the “Expansion” filter.
The Expansion view shows all systems outside your control with the following identification markers:-
Color is used to denote value of a system if it was controlled:
- Green are the most profitable, red are the least profitable, orange are average.
- Grey systems would actually cost CC upkeep to maintain, even after all the income had been harvested from exploited systems.
Hollow systems cannot be prepared, for one of the following reasons:
- The upkeep cost is greater than the powers entire CC reserve that cycle
- Another power is controlling the system
- Another power is exploiting the system
- Another power is attempting an expansion that would cause the system to be exploited if it is successful
Systems that are uninhabited are not displayed at all.
Top ten preparation entries are displayed in the powerplay galaxy map when the “expansion” filter is active. Each such system has a number entry above it, denoting its top ten preparation status.
Rolling over or selecting a system gives more details as well as highlighting all systems that would be exploited if this were a control system.
|10% off the Imperial Eagle, Imperial Courier, Imperial Clipper and Imperial Cutter.
|20% off all Cargo Racks and Hull Reinforcement Packages
|15% off all in-stock ships and modules
|Exploited and Controlled systems
|20% off all in-stock weapon modules
Rewards and Merits
Players who participate in Powerplay can earn various rewards by earning enough Merits to increase their Rating with their Power. Merits decay over time, so keeping access to the best rewards (other than already-owned Power-specific modules) requires continued support of the Power. Different Powers offer different rewards.
Access to the Power-specific modules only lasts while the player is actively pledged to them. Leaving a Power will result in being unable to purchase that module again until the player has re-pledged and re-earned reputation. The player retains any Power-specific modules they purchased while they were pledged.
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