This has to be my favorite origin I have played thus far especially if I feel like being a military focused Imperial power in the galaxy. Hegemony start is tailor made for conquering and controlling the Galaxy. There are a few things to be concerned with though at the start that I learned through trial and error, some of those things have apparently changed since the Origin was introduced. This is for Vanilla, well I have mods but still allow for Ironman and Achievements.
Start and Early Game
Before start I would recommend ethics that boost starting fleet power, influence, or diplomatic power… but that is not a necessity. I tend to do a mix, of Authoritarian and Militarist, but that is not the only ethics good for this. Keep in mind Hegemony is a very military focused run, this is about exerting your power over your Federation and the galaxy. Once game starts, ignore the Diplomacy traditions and go straight into Supremacy, so you can eventually switch to Supremacist stance which will give you a big diplomatic strength boost. Also by the time you finish the Tradition you should have the second level of the Federation finished which exempts the leader from having their fleets reduced which is big. One other thing just put all your envoys toward the Federation to help with Cohesion.
In the Early game I like to look at my allies, now I had read that you could kick a member from your federation and then go to War with them, but this is no longer the case, you have a truce which stops that strategy, and it seems like the members live on worlds that are very low habitability for your species, at least this was the case for at least three of my runs. Also, they changed the term from Diplomatic Strength at the start to 20 years, which means you have some time to get settled and really around 2210 one can change this to a 30 or 40 year term for more time with a vote that almost always passes. You want to stay in power, do anything you need to get more Diplomatic power, but once you get Supremacy and with Supremacist stance and large fleets this becomes very easy, especially after early conquest.
Do not join any agreements with your subordinates, save that for expanding as quick as possible and hopefully block one if not both off, you need them for ships, but their actual strength is negligible in the long run. Again, deny all agreements until you are done expanding or unlock Supremacist and move on to conquering your neighbors. Early game your focus is on finding worlds to expand into, economy and building fleet power. You can ignore Science for now, focus on a strong economy and alloys; also make sure to build up your fleet strength because the Federation fleets will be weak at first, but it grows fast.
Once Supremacy is done, it’s good to get the Tradition that doubles your Federation fleet strength in Diplomacy by now you should be poised to make war on your first neighbors. Identify the weakest one make claims and go to war, if you are lucky and can get them as a Vassal or Tributary do that otherwise take what you can so they are weakened for the next war. By this point you should start to see your Federation fleet eclipsing your own fleet, when this starts to happen make them the tip of your spear it is free ships that the AI will replenish aggressively.
Now you should have several vassals/tributaries under your umbrella who are forced into the Federation by default. Your Federation fleet should be approaching the 600 ship cap, it’s probably two to three times the strength of your largest fleet easily, usually around 22K+ fleet power. By now hopefully your have unlocked the third rank of the Hegemony so you can directly force any stellar power into your hegemony as long as they are not in a Federation themselves, Join or Die. This allows you to make even Equivalent powers join you if you win the war and one thing I have noticed is that the AI does not calculate your Federation fleets as part of the Fleet Power calculation so Equivalent usually means they are not.
Economy is important at this stage, the stronger it is the easier mid-game becomes; therefore I prefer making tributaries because they are forced to fight as they are members of the Federation and they give you resources. You cannot integrate them but that is a minor concern to me. This is also the point you can start to transition to Science and countering horrendous sprawl, your Federation fleet will dominate any fleet outside of the Fallen Empires at this point, keep expanding your fleets though as the wars get larger you will need multiple to cover multiple fronts.
If you have been properly aggressive you should have a quarter to half the galaxy under your sway depending on size of your galaxy. By this point I recommend having at least one Ecumenopolis via a Relic World, and then start to transition to Mega Structures, you want an unstoppable Economy. The end of the Mid-Game should come with your fleets approaching and often dwarfing the Federation fleet at 50k+ and enough that you can challenge a Fallen Empire for their technology, if not outright destroy if you get say the robot Caretakers, who have just the ring world. This will give your technology a huge upgrade if you have been struggling.
By this point there should be very few stellar powers that are not in your Hegemony, either due to forming a strong Federation or they can’t join. At this point you are just dealing Robot rebelions and waiting on the End Game Crisis, and your tech is probably going to sky-rocket and you should be in repeatables, but really not much tips here other than normal end-game. The tricks to Hegemony is to stay in power in the early game and those tips should keep you in power till you are unassailable.
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