Advancing in OGame can be accomplished through getting points by spending resources. One important way to gain resources besides own mine production is by stealing them from other players. You can get those resources by attacking other planets; see the next chapter Raids. One important thing you must check before sending the attack is to see what has your opponent in matter of resources, defense and ships. You will consider going on with the attack only if resources are worth the effort and if the defense and ships can be defeated by your attacking fleet. The only way to see what is there is by spying the target.
To use this feature, you need the Espionage Technology. This research is available after you get Research Lab level 3. The first benefit you get from researching Espionage Technology is that you can get more information about incoming fleets – in the first instance you will only see that a fleet moves towards your planet. You see the total number of the ships with level 2, the present types of ships with level 4 and with level 8 you see exactly how many ships of which kind are approaching you. This information is enormously important to react to incoming attack in the right way.
After you have researched Espionage technology to level 2 you will also be able to build your own espionage drones. Their ability to give detailed reports depends of your technology level. The higher the Espionage technology level compared to your opponent, the more information you can get in report: an espionage report is complete only when you are able to see technology levels.
How to spy?
The fastest method is to spy from galaxy view: move your mouse over the planet you want to spy and a tool-tip with action options will pop up, select espionage and the drones are instantly launched. You can set the desired number of spy drones from Options > General, see Account settings. Another way to spy from galaxy view is to click the spy symbol from the right side of your screen (under “Action”). Alternatively you can also send Probes with the mission Espionage to the desired coordinates by using the fleet menu; this is a way to manually change number of probes in case you want to have the detailed espionage report without modifying your preferred settings from options. Some of premium features can help you spy by adding more slots, direct link or even 2 levels on your Espionage research (check Premium features).
Which information can I gather?
If you spy on an enemy, you will get an espionage report, in which information is grouped into a total of 5 blocks. First of all there are the resources - the amount of the present resources, as well as the energy production, which will be reported in every case; then information about the fleet, defensive structures and as well as buildings and researches. To gather complete information than just about the resources, you have to heighten your espionage, either by researching a higher espionage technology than the enemy, or by sending more probes at the same time. You can calculate easily how many probes you have to send to gather the designated information:
|Resources||= 1 probe|
|Fleet||= (difference of the espionage technology level) ^ 2 + 2|
|Defense||= (difference of the espionage technology level) ^ 2 + 3|
|Buildings||= (difference of the espionage technology level) ^ 2 + 5|
|Research||= (difference of the espionage technology level) ^ 2 + 7|
If your own Espionage Technology is 3 levels higher than the technology of the enemy, 1 probe will suffice to gather all information. After you see all designated information in your espionage report you can then determine if it is a profitable target and if so, dispatch your fleet.
What is counter-espionage ?
At the end of your espionage report, there will always be the value of counter-espionage, which is between 0% and 100%. This value specifies the chance of your probes being detected and destroyed by the enemy. The higher the chance the more likely it is that your probes will be detected and engage in battle with the defender's ships present at the planet. The counter-espionage does not affect the espionage report, which will be delivered even if the Probes are destroyed.
The exact formula, on how to calculate that value is still unknown so far, because it is obvious that the coincidence plays a major role (with the same combination, there are often very different values), so it is not very important. As a matter of fact, three different elements have an effect on the counter-espionage: The number of Espionage Probes, the Espionage Technology difference between you and your opponent and the number of ships on the planet. If there is no fleet on the spied planet, the Probes will return in every case. The more ships, the higher the chance that they can be shot down. On the other hand, if your espionage technology is much lower, just a few cargoes and solar satellites can kill your Probes. If your probes are detected, there will automatically be a fight on the planet. The probes usually will not survive the first round, because they are lightly armored and unarmed, and that is why you will not get a combat report.
What do I have to consider ?
Always spy before attacking, make sure you have all the necessary information about ships and defense on the planet. The opposing player gets a message that you spied him – some of the players are not amused that you are interested in their planet. It is a risk you will have to take, if you are willing to raid. Probing is a key aspect of raiding, and raiding, as you will see in next chapter is even more important to advance in game. So keep in mind that sometimes it will not be wise to probe players that are much higher ranked than you in military score, as you won't probably be able to crash them, but you'll also make then notice you having some fleet they will like to crash. Look carefully who you probe, most of the times you will only get profit from players ranked lower than you (in military score). Keep in mind that probing sloppy players might alarm them and they will probably cease to be so sloppy, so it is a good habit, that when you are not willing to study a certain target, you just probe players without signs of Activity.
Also, if you're under the noob protection system (up to 50k points in old universe or up to 500k points in new universe), spying much stronger players (marked with red in galaxy view) will result in losing noob protection for a week by becoming an Outlaw. All players can attack you in this interval. Honor point system and tactical retreat will continue to work see Game details.