skip this section if you want to go straight to the guide.
I'm a returning player before the massive changes to pop management, and I was very overwhelmed at first. I didn't know what to do, I didn't know what anything was, and once I did figure it out I didn't know what was the most optimal way to do it. So I was overwhelmed.
So i experimented a hell of a lot and optimized every aspect of the game and i finally achieved maximum efficiency… only to find out that the AI was a joke. Scaling Difficulty Grand Admiral is a joke the entire game, and the Crisis was a joke too. They're like less than 1/20th of my strength. So, like everyone, I was contemplating jacking up the crisis strength and moving the crisis dates forward by 50 years, but that still won't change the fact that the AI is gonna be worthless the entire game. Then I had an idea. Why don't I do the opposite? Instead of stressfully power gaming every aspect of the game, why not take it easy and play the game stress-free? So I dumbed down my game a lot, played the game in an extremely relaxed pace, and I still won by a landslide. And then I thought, playing the way I played would be a great way for new players to get used to the system. So I wrote this guide.
Determined Exterminator is chosen mainly because I love Determined Exterminators. But also because it cuts all the unnecessary stuff out of the game. As a machine empire it cuts food, happiness, habitability, and other stuff out. As a Xenophobic race, it cuts diplomacy out. So all you're left with is just the core mechanics of the game. The stuff that matters. So what better way to learn the core system of the game than playing Determined Exterminators? And we go tall because its much easier than scouting, rushing, etc.
Civics: Determined Exterminators, Rapid Replicators,
(Later) Maintence Protocals, Rock Breakers
Pop growth speed is the bottleneck of your entire economy so you grab that first.
Maintence Protocals triples your unity and unity is very, very valuable so you grab that next after you unlock an extra civic slot via research.
After you get Mega Assembly Complex, you have too much pop growth so you grab Rock Breakers since Minerals become the bottleneck of your economy from that point on.
Traits: Efficient Processors, Emotion Emulators, Mass-Produced, Luxurious, High-Bandwidth
Empire Sprawl genuinely doesn't matter so you grab High-Bandwidth.
Luxurious doesn't really hurt you yet gives you 2 trait points.
Efficient Processors give a bonus to everything so you don't have to micro or bother with robo-modding. You don't have to try so hard.
Mass-Produced because Pop growth speed is the bottleneck of your entire economy.
Emotion Emulators, just take it. You'll see why later.
Origin: Prosperous Union
Default Origin, yet one of the best. Better than Resource Consolidation because you start out with a +10% to all resources, and you have enough districts to go full mineral or energy, so there is literally no benefit to going Resource Consoldiation. Shattered Ring World is avoided because many consider it cheating or cheesing.
Expansion – Discovery is useless so we skip it.
Prosperity – Gives a lot of economic boost
Domination – Gives some economic Boost
Supremacy – So you can start fighting
Synchronicity – meh, why not
Versatility – Just get it for the ascension perk
Discovery – Just get it for the ascension perk
Technological Ascendency – You get it for the increased chance of rare technology. Also known as Mega Assembly Complex.
Voidborne – Habitats are better than planets
Synthetic Age – Mod your pops so they get +20% to energy and minerals.
Master Builders – So you can build 3 mega structures simultaneously.
Galactic Wonders – Most powerful mega structures are here
Colossus Project – So you don't have to worry about armies or bombardment
Machine World – Nothing else to get
Defenders of the Galaxy – AI is a joke, Crisis might not be.
Onto the Build Order.
I don't bother with planets. I just build up my capital planet until I get habitats and then I spam habitats. I hate planets. Planets are unreliable, and take a really long while before they get usable, and habitats are better than planets so there's really no point in building up any planet other than your capital.
The most important tech in Physics are the research labs and the Volatile Mote Refinery. So get those a.s.a.p. If they're not around then just grab the +20% physics research speed or whatever you see fit. Grab FTL Inhibitor a.s.a.p. as well otherwise the AI will ignore your starbase and get past your chokepoint. Energy Grid is also very important early in the game to boost your energy income.
There's a hell of a lot of important techs here.
*Exotic Gas Refineries takes the cake. No.1 important tech here. Grab it no matter what. You need it for research lab upgrades to start showing up
*Starbase upgrades are the next most important techs because upgraded starbases is what prevents the AI from declaring war from you.
*Machine Modding is next, not because you're gonna mod your pops (you're not), but because all of them need to be researched before Mega Assembly Complex research shows up. And that research is a game changer.
*Strikecraft is next because that's what your starbases are gonna be loaded out with. They get inflated fleet power for some reason.
PHASE 1 – The Start
1. Immediately build a 2nd science vessel.
2. Have the both science vessels just explore (NOT survey) your immediate vicinity. Your looking for the nearest colonizable planet. Once you find it, survey it.
3. Have the other Science Vessel look for nearby chokepoints. Don't try to grab as much land as possible. You only need like 15-20 systems. So just scout around about 3 jumps away from your capital and grab 2 or 3 nearby chokepoints that completely seals your land off from the rest of the map. Don't worry about planets, resources, or anything. The only thing that matters is that those 2-3 chokepoints completely seal off about 15-20 systems for yourself. Beeline survey those chokepoints with the science ships.
4. Start building a Colony ship.
5. On your capital build 1 additional Alloy Foundry (you have 2 total) and then fill the rest of the building slots with research labs. Also clear all tile blockers and build as many Energy Districts as you can. NOT mineral. You want 5 Nexus districts total so keep a few district slots open so you can build Nexus Districts later.
6. With your construction vessel build a starbase at the nearest habitable planet.
7. Grab the Expansion Tradition, and the +pop and +pop speed first.
8. Colonize the planet. And then immediately start building a a 2nd Colony Ship. Once the colony is fully developed, resettle 100% of the pops on that planet (therefore abandoning the colony) back to the capital. Pop speed is the bottleneck of your economy. Colonizing planets and resettling pops are 50% faster than growing the pops on planet with a machine assembly plant. Machine Assembly plants cost alloys to operate so in the end, this is the best strategy to grow your economy early game. Just colonize and resettle 1 planet. If you try to do with 2 then your gonna end up with a lot of unemployed pops waiting for your buildings to finish. Remember to fill your capital with research labs. Always have a colony ship pre-built so it can colonize immediately after the old colony is abandoned.
9. With your leftover alloys have your Construction Vessel build starbases toward all the chokepoints. When waiting for your alloy to stock up build mining and research stations. Repeat until everything under your area is starbased and mining stationed up.
10. Upgrade starbases at all your chokepoints and outfit them with hangar bays. You need to get the starbase upgrades researched and built in time to prevent the AI from attacking you. If done right they wont declare war on you until 150 years into the game. No defense platforms needed. Only upgraded starbases fully outfitted with hangar bays.
11. Have one science vessel now assist your capital, and one science vessel research all the anomolies and projects in the area.
And that's it. This should take you until year 45-ish at which point your capital should be maxed out and habitat research is now on its way.
This is my capital
5 Nexus District
3 Mining Districts
As many Energy Districts as possible
1 Admin Building
1 Machine Assembly Complex
1 Planetary Supercomputer
1 Tier 2 Uplink
4 Tier 3 Research buildings
3 Exotic Gas Refineries
1 Synthetic Crystal Refinery
1 Volatile Mote Refinery
2 Tier 2 Alloy Foundries (total 10 jobs)
1 Energy Grid
The AI loves to overload maintence drones (amenities) for some reason so you're gonna have to disable a few maintenance drone jobs to get the pops working in the energy jobs. Each maintenence drone gives 5 amenities, and you only need to be above 0, so if your capital has like 13 amenities, disable maintenance drone jobs until it drops down to less than 5, and re-enable them if your amenities hit 1 or 0.
Now it needs to be said that colonizing every planet you can and grabbing as much territory as you can is much better than what I'm doing, but… you don't need to try so hard. Seriously. You don't need to try so hard. So take it easy, grab only a few nearby chokepoints, build only 1 planet up instead of 5 or 10, and chill. You don't need to try so hard.
PHASE 2 – Habitat Spam
I build 18 habitats.
4 pure mining habitats
12 pure energy habitats
2 alloy foundry habitats.
- So with your stockpiled Alloys, you should be able to build 4 habitats simultaneously. Do it. Build more construction vessels to do so. 2 MUST be built over a planet that gives minerals. You can only build habitats on the main planet on each orbital ring. make sure the main planet is the one with the minerals and not its moons. Very important. You need 2 mining habitats.
- Once the habitats are fully built and colonized, keep building more habitats. You want 7. 3 minerals, 3 energy, 1 alloy foundry. Build the alloy foundry last.
- Once the habitats are up. Build these districts.
Energy: 1 Nexus, 3 Generator Districts.
Minerals: Before Voidborne, 1 Nexus, 3 Astro-Mining Districts.
After voidborne, 4 Astro-mining districts.
- While the districts are being built… this is very important. Disable all of your tier 3 research and exotic gas refineries. You should now have 35 unemployed pops. Resettle all of them into these 4 habitats so they can turn your pitiful 30-ish mineral income into +100-200 and also turn your negative energy income into a positive income. I can't stress how important this is. With your mineral income high and your energy income positive, you'll be able to quickly build all the districts and buildings on all the habitats.
- Your 7th Habitat should be online now. Build only Nexus Districts and fill it with Volatile Mote Refineries and fully upgraded Tier 3 Alloy Foundries.
- Research the habitat upgrades but DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR HABITATS. Build all 18 habitats first before you upgrade any of them. The reason is pop speed. The more habitats you have, the more pops your building at once.
- Your "finished" habitats should be producing unemployed pops by now. Resettle them back to the capital and bring your Tier 3 research labs back online one by one.
Just a note, energy is a bitch here. Gotta pay attention and make sure your pops are working energy jobs so you stay positive.
- After 7 habitats I like to upgrade my 3 chokepoint starbases to the next level so the AI doesn't declare war on me.
- Get your 4 mineral habitats online a.s.a.p. without going into negative energy. If your struggling with energy build an energy habitat. If your not build a mineral habitat. You only need 4 mineral habitats.
- You can also start replacing your energy districts on your capital with mineral districts.
- Once all 18 habitats are built, start upgrading your habitats to tier 2. And once all of them are tier 2 upgrade to tier 3.
- Research the Mega Assembly Complex a.s.a.p., but DO NOT BUILD IT. It will **** you over. So wait until I tell you to build it.
Here are my final tier 3 habitat builds
2 Habitation District
6 Reactor District
1 Mega Assembly Complex
1 Energy Grid
2 Synthetic Crystal
1 Exotic Gas
1 Volatile Mote
3 Tier 1 Drone Storage
205 Energy, 3.4 Synthetic Crystals, 1.5 Exotic Gas, 2.6 Volatile Mote
-30 minerals, -4.9 Alloys
8 Astro-Mining Bay
Mega Assembly Complex
Synthetic Crystal x2
Drone Storage t2 x5
-85 energy, -4.9 alloys, -0.9 Volatile Motes, -1.08 Synthetic Crystals
8 Habitation District
Mega Assembly Complex
6 Alloy Foundry
4 /Volatile Motes
2 Drone Storage t1
292 Alloys, 0.88 crystals
-402 minerals, -168 energy, -0.07 volatile motes
As you can see, my mineral habitats have no Nexus district, and the Power Habitats chip in for the strategic resource upkeep for the Drone Storages.
VERY IMPORTANT. Each refinery consumes 10 minerals which can kill your mineral income. So make them only when you absolutely have to and not before. Here's a tip: If you're swimming in energy, buy the strategic resources so you can upgrade your buildings and then build the refineries to deal with the upkeep.
Once you have all 18 habitats built, and your economically stable with a massive mineral income, this is when you build the Mega Assembly Complex on all of your habitats and capital, and not a second before. It costs 800 minerals and it actually produces pops too quickly. So wait until everything is stable and you got the more important priorities (enough alloys to build habitats) covered before attempting to build Mega Assembly Complexes, as it WILL kill your alloy income if done early. So don't make one early. After you build Mega Assembly Complexes, switch out Rapid Replicators for Rock Breakers.
And that's it for this section. The goal is to have 2 full Fabricator Habitats up so you can build your battleship army and mega structures. Why so much energy you ask? Because of Battleship upkeep. Your battleships need 5x more energy than alloys in upkeep, so naturally you want 5x more energy income than alloys.
PHASE 3 – Mega Structures and Battleships
I like to go full penetration setup on my Battleships because full penetration is the best v.s. Crisis, and after 20-ish repeatable technologies, they're the best. Period.
So Focused Arc Emitters, hangar and broadside parts fully outfitted with disruptors. NOT cloud lightning because cloud lightning requires a lot of luck and a lot of effort to get but it's just not worth it. In fact I'd say if it weren't for that stupid strikecraft slot, Disruptors would outperform cloud lightning. The strikecraft isn't the worst thing in the world though because it does act as PD. Also, full penetration requires the least amount of micro from you. No need to scout out enemy fleet compositions. Just penetration against everything and call it a day. I give my battleships 3 shields and 3 armor and their A slots are shield capacitors.
- Even if you research mega-engineering early (highest priority tech, take it no matter what), I don't recommend building any mega structures until after my 18 habitats are maxed out. So don't.
- After researching Mega-Engineering, go ahead and species mod your entire population. Remove Mass-Produced and Luxurious, and add in Super Conductive and Power Drills to increase your energy and minerals by 20%.
- Once all habitats are maxed out, your alloy income should be crazy, so start building a science nexus or sentry array, or both. Remember you need to research these two in the Physics research before you can build it. You can't build them immediately after mega-engineering.
- Once your mega structures are on their way, start building 20 battleships to deter enemy AI from attacking you. I don't upgrade my starbases to Citadel except the one in my capital, and that's only to build the Juggernaut and Colossus. Starbases become worthless in a fight around this time and Citadels cost a fortune so get Battleships isntead.
- Important. If you don't have a black hole in your system… build 40 battleships and fight your way to a black hole. One of the best megastructures can only be built in a blackhole.
- You'd probably noticed the insane amount of unemployed pop messages spamming your face. I understand but DON'T shut down pop production. Just deal with the annoying messages.
- Once Ring World and Matter Decompressors are researched, build both simultaneously. DON'T build Dyson sphere yet. Ring World is better. You are going to be building 2 Ring Worlds.
- At this point I grab the unity edict that gives +50% mega structure construction time and +1 mega structure building slot. After popping this edict I then build the Dyson Sphere.
- Once the Ring World sections start finishing, immediately resettle all of your unemployed pops (you should have like 20-30 per habitat) to your Ring World sections.
Here are my Ring World builds.
Ring World Energy + Alloy
1 Nexus Segment
4 Generator Segment
Mega Assembly Complex
9 Alloy Foundries
4 Sentinel Posts
1115 Energy, 432 Alloys
-547 Minerals, -16.2 Volatile Motes, -0.9 Gas, 9 Synthetic Crystals
Ring World Research + Refineries
1 Nexus Segment
4 Research Segment
Mega Assembly Complex
3 Sentinel Posts
-362 Energy, -95 Minerals, -0.7 Alloys
Ring World Energy + Refineries
1 Nexus Segment
4 Generator Segment
Mega Assembly Complex
3 Sentinel Posts
-95 Minerals, -0.7 Alloys
It takes FOUR Ring World Energy + Alloys to finally, finally turn all that 2000 minerals from the matter decompressor into alloys. I build
4 Ring World Energy + Alloys
1 Ring World Energy + Refineries
3 Ring World Research + Refineries.
Build the sentinel posts FIRST. Otherwise you're gonna have to deal with Deviancy.
- After all of them are filled up, I finally shut down pop production on everything. Pop management is a bitch and you don't need to try so hard. 2 full ring worlds is good enough.
- Remember to assist all the reseach segments with science vessels.
And that's it. Build a ton of battleships. Go over your fleet cap. I think I was 2600 / 1000 by the time I finally KO'd my energy and alloy income. Go wait out the crisis and kill the crisis with your mega fleet with 15-20 repeatable techs.
And that's it! You should now be fully used to the core mechanics of the game.
Managing Energy, Minerals, Alloys, and Research
Resettling like crazy. You never stop resettling until the very, very end.
Habitat spamming to explode your economy.
Dealing with unemployed pops
Transitioning to Mega Structures
Making a **** huge army of battleships
Win the crisis and Grand Admiral AI.
Scaling Difficulty just makes it so you don't have to bum rush the AI. That's all. Without it you have to bum rush them and I don't find bum rushing fun.
In addition to helping new players get used to the game, I'm also posting so I don't lose this build order of mine and can look it up anytime later in the far future, and to also see if anyone out there that can improve my build without requiring me to try so hard. I don't want to try so hard.
And lastly, to show anyone who cries "DE CAN'T DO TALL" that they're wrong.
Thanks for reading!
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