As you already have noticed for sure, OGame is about collecting as mush resources as you can, to invest them in buildings and structures – therefore in points. Besides the mine production, which is easy to reach, you can get resources also by raids, which means, attacks on other players, which will be explained in the next chapter Raids. But not any player is a worthwhile target, and not anybody can just be attacked. The espionage provides an opportunity to check how much resources, ships and defensive structures are on your neighbours’ planets.
What are the requirements ?
To use this feature, you need the espionage technology. First of all, a research, which is available 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 – 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 much ships of which kind are approaching you. This information is enormously important to react to an attack in the right way and to defend your resources ideally.
But the research is also important for the espionage, as the name suggests. You need level two to build espionage probes, and the rate of the 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. Upon that action, probes head to that planet automatically ( the quantity can be changed under Options > General, see Account settings) and gather information. Alternatively you also can send some probes with the mission espionage to the according coordinates by using the fleet menu, so you also can change the number of espionage probes 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 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 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 then determine 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 value of counter-espionage, which is between 0 % and 100 %. This value specifies the chance of detecting and destroying your probes by an enemy, who 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 defences 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, 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 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 higher the chance that they can be shot down.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 and that means of course more loss. Because of that you should only fly with no more than 2 or 4 probes only if the target is of great value. If your probes are detected, there will automatically be a fight against the them on the planet. The probes usually will not survive the first round, because they are lightly armoured and unarmed, and that is why you will not get a combat report.
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, for who you are a match. Let sleeping dogs lie, because it is no use to provoke a campaign of vengeance. Also, if you're under the noob protection system (up to 50k points in old unis/up to 500k points in new unis) and you spy an enemy labeled in red as stronger, you will lose your protection for 7 days. That means you'll be labeled in violet as Outlaw and attack-able for all the players in your universe.