Propsperous Unification is an extremely popular origin as it gives you a strong start AND a planetary modifier that will help you throughout the game.
It is usually superior to, say, Mechanist origin except in some very niche cases (Mechanist can exceed Prosp Unification if you play with max Habitable Worlds, max Primitives, Fanatic Authoritarian, a Nomadic and Adaptable species, AND Slaver Civic- as you can spam colonies, cheaply resettle pops there to get early robot factories, and conquer Primitives so quickly as to build tons of resources for robots long before a PU start would usually unlock robots… And long-term, the reduced robot upkeep eventually exceeds the value of PU modifiers on one world in a very large and populous empire with Synth Ascension…)
However, the Lost Colony and Shoulders of Giants origins are often overlooked:
Lost Colony gives a similar (slightly better: higher bonus to jobs output, at the cost of some Amenities and Happiness) planet modifier to Propsperous Unification, but also gives an Advanced Empire of your own species. This empire has a greater-than-average chance of eventually becoming your ally, as you share the same main species (so, possible to ally them even if they're Xenophobic or Fanatical Purifiers)
For greater control, you can even use/edit the Commonwealth of Man and possibly UNE templates and save an empire setup based on them, so you get their special flags/scripts (COM template as the base for your empire guarantees the Advanced Empire of your species is either the United Nations of Earth, or the Earth Custodianship. Using the UNE or Earth Custodianship templates it may be possible to design an alternate version of either you van force-spawn in instead…)
Even if the UNE replacement doesn't work, Vanilla UNE are Federation Builders and will gladly ally with you if you're not a murdering psychopath (by using COM template, but then choosing Xenophile/Fanatic Egalitarian ethics instead, for instance, representing the COM actually staying "true to UN ideals"…)
Shoulders of Giants is even better: especially on high Habitable Worlds settings. Instead of a planet modifier, you get an EMPIRE modifier, which becomes even more powerful with a second series of events once you reach the mid-game year.
The benefits of an Empire Modifier this good for, say, a 40-planet empire (easily achievable with a bit of conquest on 5x Habitable Worlds, or with some Habitat-spam on lower settings) far outweigh those of a single Planet Modifier on your homeworld. And among the bonuses gained are extra Influence income: BY FAR the most valuable resource in the game…
Also, honorable mention to:
Hegemony Origin. In addition to the many obvious benefits of free early allies (especially if playing tall), you'll get the Federation project for a Hegemony by just 60 years or so, which allows you to build a Federation Monument worth +0.5 Influence/month, as well as increase the attraction of your subordinates to your ethics during the project to build it. Don't forget you can also steal most of the pop growth from your subordinates through Migration Treaties and high Immigration Pull.
Common Ground. You start with a standard Federation (not that good), but don't forget you can always reform it to another, better Fed type (though doing so resets all XP/level counts for the Fed) just by clicking on the icon of the Federation type, and still keep the permanent +100 opinion bonus with your Federation members as a different Fed type. Particularly useful as a Merchant Guilds empire, as you can start with Parliamentary System and Egalitarian for Influence gain, then later reform into a Megacorp and build Branch Offices on Federation members without needing a Commercial Pact, AND easily reform to a trade-type Fed very early on to eventually boost the value of all these Branch Offices (value is based on planet Trade Value…) and ensure you get the "Trade Standards" Fed project instead of the lousy Aurora one…
Necrophage Origin. The guaranteed Primitives to conquer are an incredibly powerful bonus, greatly augmenting your early resource production and population growth (and, long-term, don't forget a species has bonus Habitability on its homeworld: meaning your pops grow faster in addition to the early genetic diversity potentially allowing you to more profitably colonize more planet types early on…)
Shattered Ring Origin. The sheer number of pops you can house/employ (100 just in basic resource jobs!) just on your starting segment greatly exceeds that of any other starting homeworld type: and you can repair 2 more segments, making your home system incredibly powerful (although theoretically, with Doomsday Origin you could eventually build a full Ringworld in your starting system very late-game…)
Void Dwellers Origin. A large early tech lead, plus an early lead in pop-growth (3 growth queues instead of 1) is very powerful. Works especially well for a Lithoid species: as then you can feed your starting pops with astro-mining districts instead of Hydroponics, saving building slots (the Lithoid army bonuses also help with conquering some Primitives early: which is absolutely necessary, as you need to start settling/filling proper planets with non-starting species ASAP… Although you can settle planets even before this for a bit of extra pop growth and extra places to build Robot factories, once you acquire the necessary tech…) and get more workable Habitability for your starting species on planets until you get other species.
Scion Origin. Leaves you essentially immune to conquest for much of the game, allowing you to focus on territorial expansion and economics/technology, as the Fallen Empire will protect you from any empire rated Superior or Overwhelming to you that you are losing a war with… Also gets you periodic gifts from the Fallen Empire.
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