In Galactic Era turn order is variable and can be influenced by players. Every round you can move one position either forwards or backwards in turn order (using the counters shown above), but only if you are not researching. So research includes an interesting hidden cost, namely the loss of an opportunity to change turn order.
Beginning players of Galactic Era often jockey with each other to get into the first position. This isn’t necessary though, since there are also advantages in being last in turn order. The advantage is only different then.
The rule of thumb is:
- First in turn order: advantage while at peace
- Last in turn order: advantage while at war
First in Turn Order
While you are first in turn order (or at least ahead of the opponent you are competing against), you will be able to take the stars you want where both you and your opponents are present. This is important especially for the stars in the center sector, because they give additional benefits (the ancient relics) when taken.
This advantage is greatest when you both and your opponent are on the light (STO) side, because then you cannot declare war on the other. If either of the two is on the dark (STS) side, then that player could instead declare war to prevent the other player from getting the star.
Military Special Effect
Being first (or at least ahead) in turn order becomes especially useful once one of the players has reached level 6 in Military technology. At this level you get the special effect that whenever you research Military again, instead of getting a level (there is no level 7), you can cancel of your opponent’s growth actions (whom you are at war with). This only works if your opponent has not done their turn yet. So to use this ability it is best to be first in turn order. Likewise if your opponent has this ability it is also best to be first in turn order, because then you can play your actions without losing them beforehand.
Lastly, being first in order is the second tiebreaker for determining the winner. There have been a handful of games that ended with a tie in score (among the 100 or so playtested games), but they were all resolved on the first tiebreaker (number of stars) already. So it seems to be a very rare case in which the second tiebreak would be needed.
Last in Turn Order
While you are last in order (or least behind the opponent you are fighting), you will have a significant advantage while at war. This is because you can react to any moves your opponent does and put yourself into the best position for the following growth phase. This is explained more in detail in the Fleet Operations Guide.
Usually when players attack, they will do so in such a way that they will very likely win. So the defender will usually want to retreat from these battles. So one common tactic when moving last is to retreat from any attacks against you and then on your turn subsequently recombine your ships to attack the opponent to battle him in a more advantageous way. This only works obviously if you can actually retreat, so you need to either have the better technology (Propulsion or Robotics) or use your “E” fleet. One tactic I use therefore in this kind of situation is to place my “E” fleet to defend any critical positions.
If you want to be in a certain turn order position in the future which you currently do not have, then you must think ahead. This is because for one, you can only change by one position per round, and because once you have reached the first or last position, you cannot prevent other players from taking that position if they want it. This means, if you need to be in first or last position on a certain round, the only sure way to do this, is to be second or second-to-last position accordingly one round beforehand.
You also need to consider that you will not be able to research on the rounds that you change position. So the best thing to do is to always change your position in the preferred direction when you are not researching anyway.