I thought I'd share my experiences with 2.2 as someone who always tries to min/max my games. If you disagree with my assessments, or have tips to add, please share!
Overall, I think 2.2 is a huge improvement on Stellaris, although the game is much more complicated now (I can't imagine playing Stellaris for the first time on Le Guinn…).
You thought micromanagement was gone? The game has never been more micro heavy. Only now, the decisions are not trivial like before, but you actually have to take care to balance your economy.
Some terminology: * Primary resources are minerals, energy, and food. * Secondary resources are consumer goods, alloys, research, and unity. * Tertiary resources are gases, crystals, and motes.
Race design: * Efficient Bureaucracy is mandatory, always. You will over the empire size cap the entire game, so this essentially translates into 15% unity and 10% research (don't remember the exact numbers). * Growth speed, growth speed, growth speed. Did I mention growth speed? Pops are your most valuable resource now. * Immigration is good! Before sedentary was an easy pick for negative traits, but now I tend to go for deviants. I play Xenophile now so Free Haven is an option (only as a reform later). * Repugnant gives you a whopping +2 points for a neglicible downside, so grab this as your first negative perk (as opposed to last patch, where charismatic was almost mandatory). * Genetic seems like the best ascension now because of the 30% growth speed trait. Additionally, since immigration is so important for the extra growth speed, you can "fix" all incoming xenos to have the growth trait.
Empire expansion: * Swiss cheesing/aggressively expanding is better than ever. Only take systems leading to planets, that are good chokes, have tertiary resources in them, or very high primary/secondary resources. * Keeping your cohesion at 100% is easy, don't bother filling out gaps beyond this. * Planets are everything now. The size cost of planets is small compared to the system cost. You're much better off having more planets in a small area, than few planets in a large area. * Expand immediately and constantly. Grab every planet you can possibly live on to start that sweet, sweet pop growth. * Planet size hardly matters — it will take you the entire game to fill it up, so grab those size 10-14 planets that you wouldn't touch with a barge pole before!
Influence, edicts, traditions: * Influence is not very important now, because you don't need to grab as many systems. Keep your factions happy, but additional influence traits are not worth it. * Always have Healthcare Campaigns active for the growth speed increase! * You need to get expansion as one of your first trees for the increased administrative cap.
Planets: * Unity is very easy to get, so you don't need to prioritize is much. Your main culture building on each planet is enough (heritage sites are fine, higher if you have the crystals). * Always have 1-3 more jobs than pops, so they have something to grow into, but you don't pay extra maintenance and empire size (later in the game you can keep more open jobs, as you can get fast pops from immigration or resettlement). * Pay attention to your primary resources and districts when you build buildings that provide jobs. You can very quickly screw yourself if your last 5 workers are suddenly promoted from farmers to desk jobs, and your empire plunges into starvation (resettlement can help here, though). * Secondary resource buildings (research, consumer goods, alloys) produce 2/5/10 jobs, and have an upkeep of 0/1/2 of their respective tertiary resource. This has two implications: * Only have tier 1 and tier 3 secondary resource building. Tier 1 buildings are best at 0 tertiary upkeep, tier 3 are at 1 upkeep per 4 jobs, and tier 2 give you 1 upkeep per 3 jobs. * It is better to build 1x tier 3 secondary building + 2x tertiary refineries than 3x tier 1 secondary buildings (10 jobs vs. 6 jobs per 3 building slots). * Rearrange your jobs as necessary by reducing/increasing priority on jobs you do/don't want your pops to work in (yes, it's like moving pops between tiles, but worse). * Specialization can make sense for an organization point of view, but don't overdo it. The bonuses are decent, but not worth you refusing to build those mining districts you really need because this is supposed to be an industry world. * When you have a stable economy, choose a suitable planet and spam research buildings there. You can get a planet with 1k+ in every research by 2300, and cruise through the tech tree in a couple of decades. * Clone vats are tier 1 gene clinics give you growth speed, so build them. You don't necessarily want to upgrade your gene clinics, as they share upkeep with research labs, which you probably want to build instead (unless you're overflowing in gases, for some reason). Clone vats are best as they require 0 jobs to function. * Resettling is amazing! If you're trying to build your research megaplanet, or you're simply missing pops for some crucial specialist jobs, you can grow it at insane speeds by feeding it pops from your other planets. But be careful, never settle pops beyond a multiple of 5, as it will DESTROY the highest building slot on the source planet.
Research: * You will techs that boost income from jobs and from stations. In the mid game, focus the ones that give you research from jobs, as this will be an enormous boost ones you get your research megaplanet up and running. * Make sure you get the research to harvest tertiary resources ASAP, and a bit later the refinery techs (you will need these once building slots are no longer an issue).
Trade: * You can change your policy to translate 50% of your trading income into unity or consumer goods. The latter saves you important jobs and building slots, so I tend to always use this setting, but you can change it as your economy develops. * You can build trade hubs everywhere now. It doesn't matter if it's on a planet, so make sure you're always at your starbase cap. * Make sure all your planets are covered by a trading hub — this is no longer a given, since you can build them anywhere.
Galactic market: * Buy and sell in bulk: the price goes up/down with demand, but you're guaranteed the price on first click! * Try to get the galactic market in your system: it reduces the market fee for you, which is amazing. With the AI, one investment seems to be enough. * You can get another market fee reduction in the diplomacy tree. * Sell your volatile motes! With tertiaries, your income is more important than your bank. They sell for a good price — use this to spend your credits on more important things.
War: * For some reason, upgrades now take ridiculously long and are ridiculously expensive. In fact, for most of the game you're better off never upgrading your ships, but just replacing them, because building ships is much faster than upgrading them. * Don't maintain a big fleet, but always try to keep a bank of alloys. Alloys are very expensive on the market, so you're typically not able to buy enough for a full fleet if you're suddenly attacked. * The AI is terrified of stations. Build a bastion in a choke, and they will not attack. Don't build defense platforms, they are too expensive in (precious, precious) alloys.
Still trying to figure out: * Tricks to optimize alloy income? Increasing it costs you minerals, pops, consumer goods and building slots (!!). Seems ridiculously expensive to get, considering how important it is. * Which tradition tree to start with? None seem that great in the early-game (no more anomaly discovery chance). * First megastructure to get? At first I was excited about the art installation, but now that unity is easier to get, Matter Decompressor might be better for the alloys, following by perhaps Sentry Array. Dyson Sphere is even worse than before, because you can get so much energy from trade. * Abuse Xeno-Compatibility to engineer even stronger pops? Should be possible to get Erudite+Fertile+Traditional+Natural Engineers (engineering research is hard to come by now) pops. * When to get arcology? It seems that with current growth speed, you're better off getting galactic wonders as your fifth perk, then your main planets might be close to maxed out when you get your sixth and pick arcology project. * Is there any point in going into offensive wars? Since tall is strong now, there's not much appeal in claiming and conquering, unless there are particularly important systems to grab. * Is it good to grab militarized economy policy and build more consumer goods? Seems like a cheaper way of "producing" alloys.
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