As you already have probably noticed, OGame is about collecting as mush resources as you can, so you can invest them in buildings and structures – which gives you points. Besides the mine production, which is an easy source of resources, you can also get resources by raids, which means, attacking other players, which will be explained in the next chapter Raids. But not every attacker is worth attacking, and not anybody can just be attacked. The espionage mission/espionage probe provides an opportunity to check how many resources, ships and defensive structures are on your targets’ planets.
What are the requirements ?
To use this feature, you need the espionage technology. First of all, a research, which can be unlocked very early (requirements: research lab level 3). The first benefit you get from researching espionage technology is that you can get more information about incoming fleets – With espionage level 1 you will only see that a fleet is on its way to your planet. You see the total number of the ships with levels 2-3, what kind of ships are on their way with levels 4-7 and with level 8+ you see exactly many of each type of ship is on its way. This information is extremely important to defend your resources the best and to provide your best options for an interception (if possible).
But the research is also important for the espionage, as the name suggests. You need level two to build espionage probes, and the current level has an effect on the information which you get by spying an enemy and whether your probes survive the flight or not.
How to spy?
If you have espionage probes, you will have the opportunity to spy on an enemy. The fastest method is to click on the espionage symbol next to the according planet in galaxy view. With that, probes head to the selected planet automatically ( the default number of probes can be changed under Options > General, see Account settings) and gather information. Alternatively you also can send some probes via an espionage mission to the desired coordinates by using the fleet button on on the left, so you also can change the number of espionage probes you want to send manually.
Which information can I gather?
If you spy on an enemy, you will get all available information with an espionage report, which is grouped into a total of 5 sections. First of all there are the resources - the amount of the present resources on the planet, 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 more 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 three levels higher than the technology of the enemy, one probe will suffice to gather all information. After you see all designated information in your espionage report, you can balance, if it is a profitable target and if so, dispatch your fleet.
What is counter-espionage ?
If you get an espionage report, then at the end there will always be the chance of counter-espionage, which is between 0 % and 100 %. This value specifies the chance of detecting and destroying your probes by the enemy you spy on. The higher the chance, the more likely it is that your probes will be detected and engage in battle with the defender's ships and defenses present at the planet. The counter-espionage does not affect the espionage report, which will be delivered even if the probes are detected and 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, it is still a random number), 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 difference between your own and the enemies’ espionage technology, as well as the number of ships on the planet. If there is no fleet on the spied colony, the probes will return in every case; the more ships, the chance your probes are shot down increases. If your espionage technology is a lot higher than your enemy's, than there is a higher chance you're probes won't get countered. On the other hand, if it is much lower, only a few cargoes and satellites can detect your probes. It is also very risky to send a huge number of espionage probes, because they can be detected easily which means you will lose more probes, more easily. Because of that you should only fly with no more than 2 or 4 probes unless the target is worth losing probes. If your probes are detected, there will automatically be a fight against the units on the planet. The probes usually will not survive the first round, because they are lightly armored and unarmed, which is why there is usually no combat report sent.
What do I have to consider ?
The opposing player gets a message that you spied him – most of the players are not amused that you are interested in their planet. So you should only spy on a player who you can handle. Do not send probes too often, because chances are the enemy will take interest in you, endangering you instead.