This is my first foray into GalCiv, but not 4X; I've beaten Master of Orion 1-2, Civ 1-5, Alpha Centauri and Civ: BE on normal or harder difficulties.
I beat the tutorial and have been playing on normal or easy with the Terrans ever since, with default settings - except for making the 3 other races in the galaxy random, because I like not knowing what's going to be out there.
What's going to be out there is death.
My last game was on easy and by turn 5 the Snathi (who were right next to me.. again) already had 2 class 19 Progenitor planets. This sort of thing happens virtually every time with the map generation for me, and with nothing around me except for a class 12 (and Mars, of course) I knew where this was going.
I've read some posts on these forums and watched YouTube videos and read the manual. I've tried many tactics; colony ship spam, economy star base spam (to mitigate the enormous spending I'm doing for improvements, ships, etc.), I specialize my planets (research planet, manufacturing planet, economy planet..), I use the ship designer and cut parts/costs when it seems to make sense to, I've tried spamming ships early on and upgrading as technology improves, I've tried holding back until I can build decent ships in the first place, I've tried diplomacy to stop races from killing me, I've tried tech trading to stay ahead.. you get the idea.
I always lose. I'm either outgunned, out moneyed, out teched (or sometimes all 3). Now, I don't mind losing occasionally and I like learning new systems (and this game seems fun; like a spiritual successor to Master of Orion), but 60 hours and no wins on normal or easy..? What am I missing here?
So, if someone kind on here would please explain to me like I'm a 5 year-old what to do. Because I clearly don't get it.
First off I'm sorry that you are being defeated. Here are a few suggestions and this may depend on galaxy settings when starting a new game.
Good Luck That's my suggestion.
First off I like to say go stardock for making a challenging game. 60 hours isn't saying much, how many months have you been regularly playing the game. I find building none thing but factories on your home world helps. I start playing the game with only putting colony modules on my colony ships help until they start taking planets you want. Try playing bigger maps with abundant settings. I build my shipyards with constructures ships instead of on planets. I like having at least two shipyards one for colony ships, and one for constructors.
Stick with the YouTube videos...
For starters, I'd recommend turning off the DLC (ESPECIALLY megaevents, but I'd also suggest no precursor worlds) until you've won a few games and are looking for something extra to spice the game up. Precursor worlds are extremely powerful, but until you're confident that you can grab your fair share of them that just means you're making the AI a couple of difficulties higher.
First thing to do once you're actually in-game is go to the ship designer, and re-design the basic colony ship. The basic variant is loaded down with dozens of life support units which are, honestly, bloody useless. Strip the colonizer down to 1 life support and a colony module. Add a couple of sensors (these are our scouts as well as our colony ships), and then add as many engines as you like. With all engines added, it will move twice as fast as the default ship, and see an extra space in each direction, but will cost 20% more. It's usually worth the trade off.
Set your global wheel to 100% research, and then rush-buy factories until you run low on money. Leave space for a couple of farms (build these last) and a couple of entertainment buildings (near last; this planet will be depleting it's population fairly soon). Rush-buy a couple of colony ships in orbit at the same time. Feel free to spend yourself down to about 500 gold.
Ignore Mars with your first colony ship. Mars sucks, and can always be grabbed later - on or better yet culture-flipped from a careless enemy. Send the first colony ship out toward the nearest star. Send the second out to a different nearby star. Colonize 2 decent-sized (10+)planets. Cover one in research centers (+2 spots for farms, +2 spots for entertainment). Cover the other in markets (+2 farms, + 2 entertainment centres). Set them to manufacturing until they're built, then put them focused on the right resource and ignore them forever after.
Do not enter enemy influence. Your long-range sensors on the colony ships should allow you to meet other civs without entering their space til about turn 30 or so. This avoids penalties, which can spiral rapidly into game-long grudges.
Once the homeworld is covered in factories, stop rush-buying stuff. Reset the global wheel to 25% science, 75% industry. Set your homeworld's focus to manufacturing, and it should now be producing manufacturing at around 90% efficiency.
You are now going to fall behind in research until your research worlds can take up the slack. That's fine. No-one's getting invasion for a while anyway. The homeworld should begin pushing out a colony ship every 5-6 turns or so. You can colonize Mars now, if you like, to reduce the damage done to Earth's population levels by the Great Migration. And always send out the colony ships as empty as you can until around turn 100 or so. When a colony ship lands, set up the world as either manufacturing, research or econ, using roughly 1 econ world for every manufacturing world and 1 manufacturing world for every 2 research worlds. Every manufacturing world should build a shipyard last.
After 4-5 colony ships have gone out, you can throw in a constructor if you like, and build a starbase for your homeworld. You can toss in some scouts, too, but they're largely useless.
Unless you've encountered pirates, don't bother building military ships until your second shipyard is online. Do not panic if the AI starts to massively outgun you at this point. Other races will usually begin arming at around turn 20. The ships they make will be useless in combat and a horrible drain on their resources, but will not stand a chance against the ones we'll be building by the time they have planetary invasion. You can build your first warship when you have small hulls and some weapons tech; this will probably be around turn 50 or later. Set the second shipyard to just spam small warships. Garrison every planet with one, then a second, and repeat.
Your third shipyard will be dedicated to building constructors in peace time (and will be switched to making warships in war). Cover everything you can in starbases. Upgrade them as much as possible. This is tedious, but maximizes your advantage.
Once you have enough of a fleet to feel defended (ignore the military scores, your ships will be pound-for-pound far superior than the AI's), switch the global wheel over to 75% science and then just turtle until you've overtaken the AI's research in every relevant field. I'd advise going for the planet development techs first, once you have the basic ones from the other fields.
Then kill them, one at a time, starting with the weakest neighbouring civ. In wartime, or when preparing an invasion, your global wheel should be at 75% industry, 25% research to rapidly produce ships. In peacetime, it should be 75% research, 25% industry to rapidly develop tech. The only time when you should have any economy spending on the global wheel is when you have negative cash.
The above advice is overkill and missing your obvious problem. You don't need to do hardly any of it to beat the AI at easy, or even challenging.
Your big problem is tech trading, the system is utterly broken and has been throughout the series as well as much of the genre as a whole.
There are two settings in the options, disable tech trading, and disable tech brokering. If you aren't interested in making sure you trade everything with everyone to stay up with the research rate of the entire galaxy, you have to disable at least tech brokering.
Unlike other goods and services, where you're actually exchanging things, technology trading is just boosting the entire galaxy by combining the research capabilities of every faction in the game, minus overlap. If you don't keep up with it, you have to be the top researcher by a very long ways to stay competitive. With brokering on, it's literally impossible to actually gain an edge in research unless you spam the hell out of that trade function, making sure you're the one that spreads many of the technologies around to everyone else. If you're not, the only technologies you will ever be able to trade with will rapidly become the technologies that you are the only one that researched, there wont be many of those. All of your opponents, no matter how far behind you in production values, will share their combined research efforts and build up a massive technology advantage.
With tech brokering allowed, it's essentially a free win button when abused, and certain death when ignored. Once you solve or negate this issue, I expect you don't need any further advice at all to beat normal, let alone easy. You probably don't even need to rush colony ships to do it.
It looks like you are trying to be a specialized race. Try to be more general. A bit of many things.
Thank you for the advice guys - especially naselus (I appreciate the step-by-step details) and psychoak (wow, I didn't even think of that being an issue). I'll be trying out these suggestions in my next game.
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