Phase 1: Initial Code - Rounds Saturn 1 - 3
After an initial phase of testing Round 1 began on 7th May 2001. AKA Colony Wars as there was in fact no actual combat so all people could do was colonise planets.
Rounds 2 and 3 were more exciting with the introduction of combat and heralded the start of some of the major game alliances along with a number of mass inviting alliances which had 100's of players join as there was no member limit restriction.
In this phase players would start in a system with 3 planets, the home planet plus one slightly better and one slightly worse than the home planet. Other players would start in the same sector and it was a race to build up the other planets around you. If you had enough extra resources you could also take them to trade posts to exchange.
Issues at the time included larger players being able to jump to new systems and take the better planets before new players could get going and also the potential to have your home planet taken and so removing you from the game completely.
At this time it was also possible to rename systems with this being used to spell out messages to other players..