I'm pretty new to this game, tried it over the free weekend sometime back and it's been a pretty steep learning curve economically coming from Sins (of a Solar Empire). I've seen some guides on how to play tall with by essentially becoming a technological powerhouse on just three planets and going Synth, but I don't quite understand how this strategy works with repeatable techs (which I gather is quite important to tall builds).
For the record, I quite enjoy playing wide and locking down chokes like in Sins. I've played games (in Stellaris) where I've hit Tier/Round? 6 or 7 of repeatable techs with the research costs increasing…and I'm not sure how that is supposed to be countered or how that works out. Like if the solution is just making more research planets, doesn't that mean expanding? Is the incremental 5% cumulative to the point where it is something worth organizing one's entire economy around, or is it only a playstyle suitable for some Gov types? (I like to run Spiritualist-Militarist-Authoritarian like the Advent from Sins so I generally go Pisonic since it fits the theme – is this a bad/sub-optimal build for playing tall?)
I guess I'm asking because I feel like I'm not doing enough to 'get the most' out of repeatable techs when playing wide (is this supposed to be the case?). Like I just keep the research institute the home planet starts with, get all science ships to boost research at the nearest planet to where they are but I don't make any planets research heavens or see the science nexus as useful even though many seem to swear by it or talk about how useful it is. (I've only got the basic five DLCs which came in the Steam bundle I bought: Leviathan, Utopia, Synthetic Dawn, Horizon Signal and Apocalypse – no Megacorps for the Matter Decompressor, sadly.) Even when I do build Orbital Habitats which are a lifesaver for offloading my refinery and industrial stuff/buildings to, I struggle to see why it might be better to build a bunch of research labs instead and dedicate the Habitat purely to research for the research boost.
I should add that I'm only playing on normal difficulty (Ensign) with a friend for fun – I don't have a desire to master/beat the game/AI on higher difficulties. I can generally hold my own economically speaking with this research-lite playstyle by aggressively expanding and locking down chokes (like I tend to do in Sins), but it's the transition from early to mid game that I wonder whether I could do better research-wise or if it makes more sense to just keep going research-lite and spend that limited space building up production for rare resources instead so that alloy can start flowing.
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