In Parts One and Two of this series we discussed game setup and the all-important things to do in Turn One. In this part we’ll be talking about some goals to set for yourself as the game progresses from turn Two and beyond.
For a full understanding of how we got to this point, it is strongly suggested you read the first parts of this article before proceeding.
General Steps to Take Every Turn
For the most part, Turn Two will be the beginning of a pattern you will follow throughout the game. Everyone will have their own ideas about how to proceed, but I wanted to share with you some basic steps I take each and every turn:
Move ships – I like to move the ships with the biggest Sensor Range first. The more I can see of the map, the better decisions I can make.
Planetary improvements – If there are any improvements to be made, it’s a good time to do so
Research – This is going to scare some of you, but keeping a few notes is a good idea. When it comes time to do some trading with the aliens, it helps to know what you should be trading for, don’t ya think? Usually, I’ll go to the Tech Tree and jot down some technologies that I know I’m going to want sooner or later. I also put the “paths” to those techs in the list. I simply use some Sticky Notes on a second monitor for this; without that option, you may be forced to use the dreaded “P” Words– Pencil and Paper. Oh my!
Diplomacy – Armed with a list of technologies, you are now ready to barter with the Aliens.
Minors – When trading with Minor Races, give them everything you have for as much Gold as you can get. Combined with all the Anomalies you’ll be scouting, this income will ensure you never have to worry about gold again for the duration of the game. Trust me on this.
Majors – The Major Races are a different story. You want to get Technology from them. The higher difficulty level you have set the game to, the more Tech they will have. Make the best trades with them that you can but never, and I mean never, trade Diplomacy Techs to them. It defeats your trading advantage if you do.
Note: Stardock has, in recent versions, made it much harder to abuse the Diplomacy system. It used to be way too easy to walk all over the Aliens, but not so anymore. No more will you be able to win an Alliance victory in 50 turns. That being said, using Diplomacy to your advantage should still be a major focus. Ignore it, and you will be left in the Aliens’ tachyon trails…
Turn Two – Example Only
If you bought a Sensor Boat in Turn One, you can immediately see the advantages of owning one. It will bust through that Fog of War (FoW) like nobody’s business.
In the above example you can see that it already showed us the location of a Minor (race) that may have taken many turns to otherwise discover. If you don’t have the Mercenaries Expansion, it is strongly indicated that you build one of these beauties first thing.
Colonizing – Another Example
The basic idea when it comes to colonizing planets is to grab the best planets at the farthest reaches of your territory. During this early stage, however, you will want to snag the best and closest planets first. Hopefully, your map will have been blessed with two quality planets near your Home World.
You’ll want these planets for two important reasons:
- For the production points they will afford your Shipyard
- You want Pragmatic Ideology Points to get three free Constructor Ships as soon as possible
Survey Ships, Thulium, Gold, and Anomalies
You’ve heard me say many times that Gold is not an issue in this game. One of the reasons it is so easy to come by is Anomalies. In order to scout Anomalies you need to have Survey Ships. In order to support Survey Ships you need Thulium.
Finding Thulium near your Home World is another blessing bestowed upon players who get a good roll of the dice. The above map shows a close Thulium resource which will be grabbed as soon as I can get those free Constructors.
Note: If you have the Mercenaries Expansion, you might want to hold off on a Survey Ship and the Sensor Boat. Many times there will be much better ships of these types available in the Bazaar than you could ever hope to build on your own at this stage of the game, and for a lot lower cost, too.
Turns Two and Three
It is unusual this early in the game, but I found a free Gunboat at a Graveyard Anomaly.
That being said, it does have a Kinetic Attack strength of 8. I am never absolutely certain of the mechanics, but last I heard, that Attack Strength is what determines how much military respect you’ll get from the other Civs. You may correct me if I’m wrong.
If they respect your Diplomatic acumen, that’s great; if they fear you, all the better.
- Bust FoW – Strive to see as much of the local space as possible. You want to find all the other Civilizations ASAP
- Trade with a Minor – If you get lucky by finding a Minor early on, trade every tech you have for as much Gold as you can get
- Rush a Colony Ship – Keep buying Colony Ships every turn for as long as you can afford it. Keep around 1000 gold in the bank for emergencies
Turns Four Through Six
The maps you get in GC3 will vary wildly from game to game.
This map shows some tight clusters where your foes are likely hiding. These areas should be your immediate goal. You want to find them as soon as possible. By knowing where they are, you can plan your overall strategy better. And the sooner you find them, the sooner you can start trading all those delicious Techs with them.
We don’t have enough range to travel the whole map, so in the beginning, we’ll have to settle for the two areas indicated in the image. They seem likely prospects and should be explored as quickly as possible.
We found the Bazaar! Remember that Sensor Boat? Well, I’m glad I didn’t buy one because, once again, the Mercenary’s Bazaar has come through for us.
As soon as I can pick up that Thulium resource, I’ll be able to buy an awesome Scout Ship (read: Sensor Boat) from them. I’ll show you that little gem a bit later…
Three Free Constructors
After colonizing that first planet, we were able to make an Ideology choice. I always choose Pragmatic and opt for the Builder Branch which gives three free Constructors. You get them immediately and don’t have to wait a turn to use them.
We need that Thulium deposit ASAP so we’re going to send a Constructor over there to build a Mining Star-base. We also need Colony Ships, so you should send the other two to the Home World and upgrade them to the best Colony Ships you can afford/design. That will take one turn to complete.
Upon colonizing your next planets you may choose any Ideology you wish, however, I strongly recommend you choose the Malevolent path, and stick with it.
The Motivation Branch within this Ideology is all-powerful when it comes to boosting your Manufacturing capabilities. If you want to be able to pump out massive military fleets in short order, then this is the way to do it. You will need them later in the game, anyway, if only to keep the Aliens at bay.
Having all that production power lets you build Colony Ships and Constructors in a turn or two, no problem. Early game, you want to be able to build Colony Ships every turn or so. The more planets you own, the better off you will be, and you want to do it as fast as possible. It’s a race of the Races.
Your first buildings on a new planet should be a couple of Factories. You don’t have to immediately decide how to specialize each planet. Once again, try to use the Bonus Tiles and adjacency advantages, but don’t let them exclusively dictate how you will utilize that particular planet. If you need a Manufacturing World, don’t let the tiles sway you into building a Research World instead. Build what you need, where you need it.
Having said that, if you should find a high quality planet with a 50% Research boost, then a Research World it should probably be. You’ll just have to use your good judgment.
A Second Survey Ship
By this stage of the game I usually have two Survey Ships roaming around gathering up Gold, Techs, and Free Ships. In this game so far there is only one and that needs to be rectified.
There are a couple ways to achieve this given the current situation:
- You could buy one at the Bazaar (if one exists), or,
- You could upgrade your Scout to a tiny Survey Ship
In either case, you’ll need another source of Thulium. For that, you’ll need another Constructor. (Sometimes you can get a Survey Ship at the Bazaar without Thulium, but that’s uncommon.)
Having a few Survey Ships running around is a great way to explore more territory and gather goodies along the way.
One of your goals in the early game is to meet all the Aliens as quickly as you can. When you are able to trade with them the first time, sell them Open Borders Treaty. You won’t get much Gold, but you will gain some Diplomacy. Ten turns later, when you can speak with them again, they’ll give you much better deals than they would have otherwise.
Note: GC3 let’s you travel anywhere on the map regardless of whether it is in another’s territory. They can travel within yours, as well. Without the Open Borders Treaty in place, traveling within their borders tends to irritate them and you will lose Diplomatic standing with them which, in turn, will cost you extra when you try to Trade with them. Keep them happy if you can.
- As with every turn, keep moving that Sensor Boat, always aiming to unveil the locations of other Civs
- Use your Survey Ship(s) to gain Gold, Techs, and free Ships from Anomalies. Strive to get at least two of them in the early game
- Trade with Minors for more Gold whenever they’ll talk to you (every 10 turns). You can trade anything with them. Gold is the Goal
- Trade with Majors for Techs – Do NOT trade your Diplomacy Techs with them! Anything else is fair game, although, giving them Military Techs is probably not a great idea, either
Note: From time to time during the game you’ll get a pop-up request from another race asking for a tribute of some kind. If it is a Minor, then I nearly always deny it. If it is a Major, then, if it is reasonable, I’ll give it to them. The only reason to do this is if you care about how much they like you. If you don’t care whether you’re in their good graces, then to heck with them. You will lose a point of diplomacy with them and may be that much closer to war when turn 60, or so, rolls ’round.
Turns Seven Through Ten
This is the “Sensor Boat” I got from the Bazaar. Lot’s of movement points (14), a great Sensor Range (12 tiles in every direction), Immunity to Nebulae, and the Pirate thingamabob. And to top it all off, it only set me back 600 Gold! That’s a sweet deal. To build my own much lesser ship would have cost nearly four times that amount!
I pooh-pooh the Pirate bit because with a Sensor Range of 12 tiles, I can see Pirates long before they know I’m afoot; it becomes a moot point. The Nebula Effects Immunity is an effective bonus, however. They will no longer slow the ship to a crawl while traveling through them nor will they negatively impact its Sensor Range.
I could never have come close to building something like this on my own, and certainly not for a piddling 600 gold. If I sound happy about this Scout, it’s because I am.
First Minor Trade – The Snathi
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Gold is not an issue in this game.” When you combine Survey Ships scarfing up Anomalies, with Minor races willing to give you sums of Gold for Tech and Resources, you will have no problem keeping your treasury brimming.
This cute little fella was willing to give me 2073 Gold in exchange for a few Techs I owned. That will buy me two Colony Ships to grab some more planets with. In two turns! What a sweet little fur-ball he turned out to be.
The Slider, Once Again
This is Turn 10 and there is enough Manufacturing going on that I can bump that Slider over to the right. Early on, I’ll keep checking back here to make sure there’s enough Military production to get those Colony Ships out as fast as possible, while still keeping the Planetary improvements rolling along at a decent pace.
This is a juggling act, pure and simple. As long as I can keep Social points at around 30, I’ll keep giving more to Military until I can build Colony Ships in less than three turns.
You just have to keep niggling that Slider around. Once you can build your ships in a couple of turns, you can start sliding it back to the left to give your planetary production a bigger boost so as to get those more expensive buildings put up more quickly.
It will eventually fall into place and, as the game progresses, you won’t have to micro-manage this so much.
Here is a list of things that you need to think about every turn:
- As always, keep moving your Sensor Boat around your territory’s perimeter scouting out those other Civs. You can use it to search the inner blank spots later on
- Keep hunting for Artifacts and Capsules with your Survey Ships. Use them to their fullest potential
- If you have the Gold, keep buying Colony Ships as long as there are planets to colonize. This colonization phase can sometimes last nearly the whole game. If you do end up saturating the Colonization phase, start building Constructors. At some point, you’ll be building both Colony Ships and Constructors at the same time. As always, build what you need, when you need it
- Use the opposite approach with Constructors– work your way outwards from the center of your territory. If there happens to be a particularly sweet spot, where you can gain a bunch of Resources with a single ship, then, of course, go for it
- If you need a Constructor for something important, like another Survey Ship as in our case, sneak one in the list of things to do
- Trade for Gold with the Minors at every opportunity. Do this first, then head over to the Majors with your new-found wealth
- Trade for Techs with the Majors at every opportunity. It is preferable to give them Gold for Techs, otherwise, strive to trade Techs that won’t help them too much. Never give them Diplomacy Techs!
It amazes me– when I started this article I foolishly expected it to be just that, an article. I never anticipated a Part II. When I started Part II, I figured that would wrap it up. Well, here I am teasing you with a Part IV. Glory be! I guess I didn’t realize when I began how convoluted a path there was to be followed in order to convey the intricacies of this wonderful game. I don’t regret it, mind you, it merely comes as a shock.
I fully expect the next segment to be the last in this series (famous last words).
In Galactic Civilizations – How To Win – Part IV we’ll be finishing up with Turns 11 – 20. Much of that article will be a repetition of what has already been discussed regarding per-turn goals and a few screen-shots of the game as it progresses. The only additional things I can think of at the moment might be some critical Research paths to follow in the early game, along with some planet-building suggestions, and, oh, we mustn’t forget a couple specialized planets I told you about way back when.
You should now be well-equipped with the knowledge to show GC3 who’s boss.
Until next time,