I finally got round to getting the entrenchment micro expansion for Sins of a Solar Empire. If you thought the game was good before you will love this. No longer do you have to spread your fleet out between your planets so thinly, with the introduction of star-bases and minefields you can hold off all but the largest of attacks until your fleet has time to arrive. This has the benefit of freeing a lot of ships (and more importantly crew points) from the guard duty they used to have to be assigned to.
Star-bases can be built in any gravity well including ones like Stars and Wormholes which before could not have any structures built in. As Stars and Wormholes are important strategically as they are choke points on most maps (as they are used for travel), being able to place a powerful defence in one before the other player gives you a distinct advantage. Think of star-bases as something between a capital ship and a planet, they are upgraded like planets and can’t move, they also take a lot of killing like planets, where they differ is that the upgrades give them abilities like hangar bays and powerful weapons that would normally be found on capital ships. You can’t upgrade everything on the Star-base however and as you are limited to one per system you will need to make the decision as to which modules to install carefully.
The other immediately noticeable feature that has been added is the ability to place mines. Each race does this slightly differently but the result is the same, a gravity well that has to be carefully navigated or a large enough fleet that you don’t care if those at the front of the formation get blown up (mines do not concern me admiral), These do have to be placed around a coloniseable planet as they are produced by the hangar bays (and not from the ones on star-bases).
There are a lot of more subtle features as well, the tech tree has been divided into three, (aggression, defence and economics, though the names change depending on the race being played) and more has been added, mainly to the new defence section (though a lot of the defence tech was previously in the general military category of the standard game).
All of this together adds a lot to the game, with the AI improvements (I actually had an enemy surrender!) as well if feels like a much more complete game, the diplomacy options are still very limited but it looks like that will soon be taken care of in the aptly named Diplomacy expansion. If you are thinking of getting Sins of a Solar Empire I would definitely recommend you buy the bundle that includes entrenchment and bypass the vanilla game altogether and if you already have the vanilla game and enjoy it then I am sure you will find Entrenchment a worthwhile update.
Now, if you will excuse me I have to go and pre-order the diplomacy expansion…