In most 4x games, almost every space nation fights for star systems, planets, black holes, etc. The benefits are obvious: planets to colonize or mine from, solar energy, strategic positions and so on.
Now lets turn that concept on its head: why would these space nations be interested in completely empty space, far from any planet or star? Why would they value it as much, if not even more than star systems? What could they find there?
I can think of a couple strategic reasons myself:
- Matter / gravity disrupts Hyperspace lanes and exits, meaning that using them is only possible far away from any star systems.
- Jumpgates allow for instantaneous travel between them, but also become a massive weak point in a war. If one blows up, the explosion could destroy a whole system - so placing them far outside of star systems would be safest.
- Sensitive sensor arrays meant to secure borders work much better without too much space dust or asteroids flying around.
- Some science research that requires less gravitational interference.
- No intergalactic rules apply here, allowing for the deployment of minefields.
- Some sort of vacuum-based energy generation?
(I just assume that empty space far away from celestial bodies has less gravitational interference - but I may be wrong!)
While the above reasons may push a space nation to want some empty space, it wouldn't really motivate anyone to go far beyond their own borders. Especially considering that there's more vacuum than stuff out there, so there's more than enough for everyone.
Another issue is, that I want them to be more interested in empty space between star systems - not "above" or "below" them. Almost as if space would be treated as semi-2d plane - but I can't come up with a good reason why that void would be better than any other void.
What other things could possibly motivate nations to engage in wars for essentially empty space between systems?