For new players it is highly recommended to play through the in-game tutorials and to read about the Game Mechanics. Below will be brief descriptions of how the game works and some general recommendations that should help new players get started in the campaign.
Flux can be thought of as heat (although it isn't). Each ship has a flux capacity and once that capacity is reached the ship will become overloaded. When overloaded the ship cannot raise shields or fire weapons. When a ship has flux built up the player can press "v" which will cause them to be unable to raise shields or fire weapons, but will vent their flux much faster than normal (doing this will keep your ship from overloading).
When most weapons fire they will generate soft flux. Soft flux will dissipate over time.
Hard flux is generated when damage is done to the ship's shields and is shown on the flux bar as everything to the left of the vertical line. Hard flux will not dissipate while shields are up and will only dissipate after all soft flux.
Shields are a protective energy field that can be raised by some ships and act as a first line of defense. Omni shields can be rotated around the ship while front shields are fixed to the front of the ship. When shields take damage they generate hard flux. Once the ship's flux capacity is full the ship will overload and the ship will be unable to use shields or weapons for a short period of time.
Armor appears on all ships in varying amounts and is the second layer of defense. Any damage that is dealt directly to the ship will damage the armor first before damaging the hull. Once the armor is destroyed a section of the ship any damage done to that section will then deal damage directly to the ship's hull.
Hull can be thought of as the ship's structural integrity. When a ship's hull takes damage, certain weapons may be temporarily disabled, and there is a chance that some of the ship's crew will be killed. Once the hull reaches zero the ship will then be disabled or destroyed.
Ballistic weapons shoot projectiles at the target, and tend to be heavily specialized according to their damage types. Ballistic weapons generally have good flux efficiency and will often be used on low or midline tech ships.
Missile weapons are generally used in a supportive role or as a finisher since they have a relatively small amount of ammo to be used as a primary weapon. Missiles can be targeted and shot down by enemy Point Defense weapons.
Energy weapons have good accuracy but generally lack flux efficiency and range. Almost all Energy weapons deal Energy damage. A subset of Energy weapons are Beam weapons which have perfect accuracy, longer range, and are more flux efficient than regular Energy weapons. However, Beam weapons generally have lower damage per second and only cause soft flux when damaging shields.
High explosive does double damage to armor but half damage to shields. High explosive will primarily be found on missile weapons and certain ballistic weapons.
Kinetic does double damage to shields but half damage to armor. Kinetic is used primarily by ballistic weapons.
Energy damage is equally good against shields, armor, and hull. Energy is found primarily on energy weapons.
Fragmentation does one quarter damage against shields and armor, but generally weapons that deal fragmentation deal high damage per second, which makes them good against unprotected targets. Fragmentation is generally found on point defense weapons.
Combat Readiness (CR) is basically how prepared a ship is for battle. Ships will get stat bonuses when at high CR and will get stat penalties when at low CR. To deploy a ship in combat its CR must be above a certain threshold. Any time a ship is deployed its Combat Readiness rating is reduced. CR is regenerated out of combat as long as the fleet has access to sufficient supplies. The maximum CR of a given ship depends on the level of experience of its crew.
When moving in the campaign map the fleet will travel only as fast as it's slowest ship's "Maximum Burn" stat. When in combat ships will move according to their "Top Speed" stat.
Certain "light" ships have a burn speed one higher than typical for their class.
The first thing to know is that ordinary trade is unprofitable by design, due to the high tariffs. The player should use the black market or take advantage of events to generate a profit. The trade page contains full details.
It is highly recommended for beginners to add lowtech or midline Frigates to their fleet because they are relatively easy to find, cheap to replace and generally have a high Maximum Burn which makes it easier for the player to catch up to or flee from enemy fleets. Remember, there's safety in numbers!