Abstract: I build a simple but nuanced framework to discuss Le Guin's strategies. I suggest some nice empire builds and their corresponding grand strategy / RP.
I had some free time those last few days and I gathered a lot of information about the incoming Le Guin's update. I have many ideas for interesting build, both minmaxed and RP, that I wanted to share with you. I am also interested into any suggestions of nice builds. But first, I want to share some of my thought about a framework to categorize the set of possible strategies. Of course, this is not a complete framework, but it helps put some order.
A) Administrative cap, super-efficiency threshold, "wide", "tall" and "conquerors": Le Guin's update makes major changes on the restriction on expansion by replacing flat expansion penalties with the Administrative cap. For the details on how it works please see the patch notes. The penalties for going above cap seems to be pretty stiff in the early game because you don't produce much resources. For example, expanding a system which has only 2 energy while augmenting the cap by 2 can mean a short term loss of energy due to higher maintenance cost of leaders, higher edict costs, etc. However, late game you will probably not care about the admin cap if you can grab the juicy Ecumenopolis full of foundries of your neighbor. This motivates the following definition of a super-efficiency threshold: the point in game when districts are so efficient that admin cap can be largely ignored and where you have incentives to change civics that augments admin cap into civics that promotes further efficiency. This is a soft definition in the sense that I cannot compute this threshold; it is a player's choice based on how your play feel. If you accept this definition then we can split strategies according on how to behave before and after reaching this threshold.
Before the threshold:
Wide start: A strategy based on mitigating or ignoring the effects of base admin cap. For instance, by taking civic that augment the admin cap, opening with expansion, etc.
Tall start: A strategy based on efficient use of resources in order to reach the super-efficiency threshold faster. This includes not going too much above admin cap.
After the threshold:
Militaristic expansionist: A strategy based on conquest as a way to gain more districts.
Internal growth: A strategy based on pacific ways to gain more districts (ringworlds, branch offices, etc).
Finally, this motivate an alternative strategy
Conquerors: you conquer and do not give a sh*t about admin cap whatsoever. I have no build for conquerors because they are transparent.
B) The efficiency problem: Basically, there is opposite incentives in different strategies before reaching the threshold. The bigger you are, the more gain you can make by investing in efficiency. Vice-versa, the more efficient you are, the more you have incentive to expand because marginal gain on investment in your economy are lower. However, there is one things which might ultimately be the most important: cramming the biggest amount of maximally productive pops in the smallest amount of housing. This means that slaves, non-sentient robot, arcology district, habitats and hive districts can be very, very strong. All the builds below are based on the idea of cramming more pop into less housing.
C) Exponential growth factors: The economy at the start of the game follow somewhat of an exponential growth curve which slower when the empire's economy reach some maturity. I define as an exponential growth factor an aspect of the strategy on which you rely for fast economic growth.
The ecumenopolis builds
Three builds for megacorporations. Goal: use branch offices to kick start growth and outsource the production of raw resources that you need to sustain ecumenopolis. First ascension perk is Universal transaction in order to get faster branches.
The good megacorp: xenophile materialist, aim for diplomacy, tall start, try to found the galactic market. Growth factors: robot, migration, branches, trade. Use alloys from ecumenopolis to build megastructure asap.
The bad megacorp: authoritarian crime syndicate. Wide start. Use branch offices to destabilize neighbors and then make them subsidiaries. Sell genetically engineered slaves. Use alloys from ecumenopolis to be militaristic expansionist as f**k.
Stellarbuck coffee: xenophile authoritarian which enslaves its own pop and maximize the number of clerks job. Because yes, I think slaves can be clerks. Tall start, try to get the galactic market. Use habitats and ecumenopolis producing alloys to stack tons of trade value from enslaved clerks. Sell xenocompatible genetically engineered slaves. Growth factor: slaves, migration, trade, branches. Post-treshold: internal growth.
The habitats builds
Builds that exploit the very efficient ratio of housing to possible buildings of habitats (habitats have the second-best housing after arcologies).
The Byzantian slavers: Authoritarian empire with Byzantine bureaucracy. Wide start to secure high basic resource income. Use habitats to cram as much pop as possible, including enslaved clerks and servants. Can also use a The chefs strategy. Growth factor: high pop growth! Post-threshold: as wished.
The Rockbreakers: Robot empire with rockbreaker and rapid replicator civics. Wide start to secure high basic resource income. Priorities are Machine World and habitats, the former producing raw resource and the later transforming them into alloys and research. Post-threshold: as wished.
The chefs: Non-devouring swarm hive minds. Wide start to secure high basic resource income. Priorities are Hive worlds and habitats, the former producing raw resource and the later being a prison of genetically engineered livestock to feed the hive. Post-treshold: militaristic expansionist!
Three build for materialist empires using technocracy, where you rely on researchers for unity production to maximize technological gains. Mechanists and Eugeneticists use autocracy to have access to Stratified society, the living standard that minimize the use of consumer goods and boost your technocrats.
The Mechanists: mechanist civic. Do I need to say more?
The cult of Raël: fanatic xenophiles who's primary focus is xenocompatibility and genetic ascension. Wide start to have access to many planets that will be later colonized with migrants. High focus on trade to get more friends and research agreements. Use the trade surplus to get consumers goods to feed the research labs. Mega-engineering is a must. Post-threshold: internal growth.
The eugeneticists: typical slavers with wide start. High focus on genetic ascension in order to get a race of perfect slaves that can be sell on the market. Can eventually change their civics from Technocracy to Byzantian slavers. Thrall worlds is a must. Can also use xenophilia to take xenocompatibility and then switch to more useful ethic. Post-threshold: militaristic expansionist.
The Life-seeded traders: life seeded materialists, fanatic xenophiles with merchant guild civic. Mixed start: primary goal is to secure access to planets for further development WHILE obtaining the galactic market. Can later change to megacorp?
The utopians: fanatic egalitarian materialists who use non-sentient robots to build their utopia. Wide start. Start with Shared burden to minimize consumer good and build a large science infrastructure. Use land clearance to get more district and then convert every planet into either gaia worlds or ecumenopolis. Switch shared burden to byzantine bureaucracy and utopian abundance. Because this is how you transition from Socialism to Communism.
The 2.1.4s: fanatic authoritarian and xenophobe which enslave their own pop and have either mining guild or efficient bureaucracy civics. Because hey, mineral is still probably king in the early game.
The farmers: agrarian idyll of very adaptative pops. Use slaves or robots to generate resources. Wide start. Land clearance and high focus on converting all planets into gaia worlds.
And you? Do you have any nice builds you would like to share?
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