So I done did it. I built Trantor, basically. My capital stands, and will stand, for a million years, etc. etc. etc. That being said, the process of building babby's first ecumenopolis taught me a few things that I think might be helpful for other people looking to engage in
phallic self aggrandizement glorious monumental architecture.
1) If you're aiming for an ecumenopolis, start the prepwork early. Make sure that by the time you unlock the ecumenopolis ascension perk, you're ready to pull the trigger on the planetary decision. This means making sure that your feeder planets are ready for it, and making sure that your target planet is already maxed out on city districts. I made the mistake of waiting until I unlocked the perk to convert my capital entirely to city districts, which meant I had to wait close to a decade before I could even enact the perk. The reason you want to get this prepwork out of the way is because the decision itself, in addition to the mineral and influence requirements, takes a whole decade, and afaik the time can't be reduced. It's a real bummer to excitedly take the perk before realizing you messed up your build and have to wait to use it; prepare, prepare, prepare.
2) Post-transition, getting pops is the biggest bottleneck. The Slave Market, and forcible resettlement, are your friends. Even if you're doing a pacifist xenophile run, immigration maxes out at a flat +5 growth boost. That sounds like a lot, and when you factor in other growth rate boosts, I was looking at something like +11 growth/month. I'm sure there are ways to minmax this to get it higher, but the truth of the matter is that 1 or 2 pops per year is only large when you don't have 80 job slots open. My current ecumenopolis has another 6 district slots available – anywhere from 30 to 60 jobs – and it already has 60 jobs open right now. To fill it all up, at the current growth rate, with all of the various bonuses (policies, decisions, immigration) I've stacked, it would take the better part of a century.
The solution is supplementing growth through instant pops. Your feeder planets probably don't need ridiculous numbers of people; you don't need secondary and tertiary goods manufacturing on your agriworlds, taking up rare resources for maintenance, when your ecumenopolis can sidestep rare resources almost entirely. Resettle those suckers. At 100-200 energy per pop, you can increase your ecumenopolis's growth exponentially, essentially tripling or quadrupling pop growth on the ecumenopolis through theft. Speaking of theft, the slave market. Ethically dubious? Yes. Useful? Definitely. The AI doesn't seem to use it very much, so you're only likely to get a few pops at a time, but it's still pretty useful. Similarly, the barbaric despoilers/nihilistic acquisition raiding is actually pretty useful now! Having trouble filling up the 80 clerk spots on your ecumenopolis? Steal your neighbors' children!
Now some lesser, but still useful tips.
3) You'll want to instantly build all the things. Don't. Yes, more alloys are always useful, but because clerks are worker class, metallurgists/artisans/culture workers/entertainers will instantly take big tasty bites out of clerk employment. If you depend on trade value for energy income, swapping 10 clerks for 10 metallurgists can be a problem. Also worth noting that each of the manufacturing districts effectively consume 60 monthly minerals across their jobs, so it's important to budget that income hit so you don't lose the ability to build more districts and buildings.
4) The best gifts the ecumenopolis gives are building slots. I don't mean that you're going to break out of the 16 building slot limit; I do mean that a foundry district is not only equivalent to a fully-maxed out alloy forge in terms of metallurgist jobs, it doesn't require 2 volatile motes per month. The same thing applies to industrial districts and civilian factories with their rare crystal upkeep. You can gradually replace these buildings and free up rare crystals/volatile motes for use in buildings that don't have a district equivalent, as well as free up building slots for other specialists that the districts don't provide – i.e. researchers, priests, merchants.
These are the first things that I sort of wish I had thought through before I took the plunge. Loving my ecumenopolis planet, though, and I'm glad I invested in that perk. I can almost support a real fleet now with my alloy output. I hope that some of these tips help other people.
edit: I forgot, 5) Mastery of Nature synergizes well with ecumenopolis. 2 extra districts doesn't sound like much, but with the expansion finisher being another district, that means every planet can get 3 extra districts. This, again, may not mean much for some piddly city districts, but turning a size 25 ecumenopolis into a size 28 ecumenopolis can mean 30 more metallurgist jobs, 30 more artisan jobs, 30 more culture worker/entertainer jobs, or 15 more clerk jobs, and anywhere from 15 to 45 more housing.
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