Strategies & Tips
SC is one of those subjects where there is no one way of doing just about everything, so the most important lesson to learn is that, despite what others might tell you, there is no such thing as a single winning strategy. To be successful you must first and foremost recognize your style of play play and adopt a strategy that you feel comfortable with. It doesn't matter how successful another player is with a given style, if it doesn't fit your character you won't excel with it.
Therefore, the most important bit of advice I can give is deceptively simple — become a well-rounded player. There are too many game permutations to be able to play the same way all the time and still win. Sometimes you have to be an equal partner with your allies and work cooperatively, other times you should work independently from your allies; sometimes you have to be the leader and give directions to the others, while other times you should shut up and do what your ally tells you to do. Don't let either inexperience or ego get in the way of taking on the proper role — I have seen too many newbies lose only because they fail to be assertive, and "Top 5" players lose because they refuse to listen to their ally. You must adapt your style of play to the situation at hand. The true master must be able to take on all of the different roles and know when each is appropriate.
Another basic factor to take into consideration is the type and version of the game you will be playing. There are important differences in playing large daily games vs. smaller blitz games, ally games vs. blood games, low tech games vs. technos, 2.8 vs. 3.0, etc. Because each game is different, the ability to think, react, and plan ahead far supercedes the ability to follow a set formula of what to build and when to build it.
There is already a host of other guides that offer advice on how to play. Some of them are pretty good, while others are complete drivel. The range of available strategy is too great to cover each one in depth, but the topics on the left will offer at least a bacic introduction to the most important ones. For a more detailed examination of several different strategies, Stormer's Stellar Crisis Site and Gooseberry's Stellar Crisis School both do an excellent job.
Note that much vital information on how each ship fits into different strategies can also be found under the individual descriptions of the different ship types. Also, strategies that are specific to a single type of ship (such as the rolling stargate attack or the 'neer trick) are described there rather than here.
Other Strategy Resources: