The Victory conditions changed in 2.2. Now, when the year hits 2500 the player with the highest score wins the game. Score is broken down into a few factors, and it really seems that Machine Empires fail to compete for most of them. Let's look at the factors 1 by 1.
Economic power is calculated as the amount of resources produced by the empire each month, multiplied by the base value of said resources. Energy, food, and minerals have a base value of 1, consumer goods and alloys have a base value of 2 and 4 respectively, and strategic resources have a base value of 10.
Machine Empires need lots of energy, minerals, and no food. They forego all farmer jobs in favor of technician jobs. The problem is, technicians produce 8 energy, while farmers produce 12 food. So scale this up to many hundreds of jobs, and machine empires begin to fall well behind on economic power from basic resources.
Machine empires cannot produce consumer goods, so that "free" boost to economic power you get converting minerals to consumer goods and then to advanced resources is lost.
You might think that MEs can simply make more alloys since they're not wasting their minerals on consumer goods; however, MEs calculator jobs are less mineral efficient at producing research than regular researchers (Calculators: 4 minerals = 6 research, Reserchers: 2 minerals = 2 consumer goods = 4 research). Add on to this all replicator jobs cost a whopping 10 minerals a month for 1 pop growth speed. That's 30 minerals a month just to get robot growth up to the same speed as an organic pop (since robots start with a base growth of 0).
So MEs won't win on the economic front. Let's look at what else impact score.
This used to be simply a direct count of number of techs researched. I've seen a few threads suggesting it is weighted based on technology tier now, but I could not find anything concrete. But anyway, MEs don't really get a bonus to research the same way regular materialist empires do. Their slow pop growth speed means you will be late to the game with growing your tech-worlds to any reasonable size. The 20% engineering research civic is nice, but you shouldn't have to chose a specific civic to even stand a chance at winning on score.
Number of Systems:
For each system in your empire, you gain 10 score. MEs don't really have any advantages that makes them better at claiming systems than normal empires. In fact since they cannot create factions, MEs have less influence production overall to spend claiming neutral systems, or laying claims on enemy systems, over the course of the game.
Number of Colonies:
For each colony in your empire, you gain 50 score. This is the one area that MEs finally gain an advantage in. Since all robot pops gain 200% habitability MEs may settle any and all planets they come across. Unfortunately, this advantage doesn't really hold up by year 2500. All other regular empires will have unlocked Climate Restoration, and Glandular Adaptation by that point, making all of their planets habitable just like the MEs.
Number of Pops:
For every pop in your empire, you gain 2 score. This is another area MEs fall desperately short in. Their abysmal growth rate is even more amplified by year 2500. Yes they could gain pops from conquering neighboring empires, but so can everyone else.
I don't know how this affects score. I need to play more (or Paradox could add tool tips to the victory screen). MEs don't really gain any advantages, and if any gain a slight disadvantage when it comes to loyalty if they subjugate spiritualist empires.
I don't know how the score from federations is calculated. Any non-genocidal ME may form a federation, but MEs don't really gain any benifits that others don't. If anything they are at a slight disadvantage because of the opinion mallus they get from many AI empires.
Crisis Ships Killed:
I don't know the exact numbers on this, but again MEs don't really gain any intrinsic benefits. Technically you could bank on the Contingency showing up, and tilt your research path and fleet composition towards them showing up, but it's not guaranteed at all.
In summary, MEs in 2.2 are at a major disadvantage when it comes to actually winning a game of Stellaris at year 2500.
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