I've drafted a Strategy Guide and would appreciate feedback from anyone interested before publishing as a Steam Guide.
The purpose of this strategy guide is to show how using all the mechanics available in-game leads to easy and very early Alliance Victories on Godlike.
Fast Alliance victories are possible without using a number of elements of this strategy, as a secondary goal is to help with a good start beyond Alliances. I’ve won fast Alliance Victories with the Terran Resurgence (which has -2 to all traits courtesy of Macsen), without doing any colonisation at all, without sensor boats and without embassies etc. I’ve set out the guide by turn but obviously the order will vary, sometimes substantially, between games. Also note that it is based on the 1.6 patch (in particular coercion penalty changes have an impact).
The strategy is highly effective on Huge maps which is my preferred map size as well as anything smaller. Personally I prefer a busy abundant map, and while that will help, it is not required for the strategy to work, refer to notes on rare maps at the bottom of the guide.
As map size increases (particularly Insane), the time to meet all other races increases, and this strategy does become less effective. It's still very possible but takes a lot more time, refer to notes on very large maps at the bottom of the guide.
Note if you have the mercenaries expansion, there are opportunities to accelerate this strategy further in various ways, but as there are various permutations it is not included e.g. there are sometimes long range fast scouts/survey ships available.
Beyond the guide, happy to help with anyone trying to do this, ideally send me a save game.
Create a custom race with +2 diplomatic modifiers (likeable), Coercive and Intuitive traits, or use the “Icemen” custom race I’ve made available on Steam workshop.
Turn 1 Actions
1. For the free starting technologies resulting from the Intuitive trait, select Interstellar Travel, Universal Translators and Diplomatic Reasoning (the last one won’t quite finish but varies depending on settings). You’ll continue all the way through to Interstellar Alliances before doing any other research.
2. Go to the ship designer and create a new design with cargo hull type, place 12 interstellar sensors on the hull and save as “Sensorium Mk 1”, the sensor range should be 27.
3. Go to the ship designer and create a new colony ship design with 2 hyperdrive-plus modules and 1 environmental support module for range “Colony Ship D2 R1”. Some variations with different numbers of components can be very useful. No sensors are needed which helps reduce cost. Create a second version with 3 hyperdrive-plus modules and 2 environmental support modules “Colony Ship D3 R2” and also “Colony Ship D4 R3”.
4. Send Survey ship exploring, prioritise artifacts as a priority, as they often provide a free technology.
5. With the starting scout, sent it to your homeworld where it will wait for a few turns.
6. Send Colony ship to your homeworld, upgrade to Sensorium Mk 1 (population will be unloaded automatically), cost is around 1300 credits.
7. At your shipyard, rush buy Colony Ship R2 D1 for about 1000 credits.
8. Go to the Global Production Wheel and set 50% manufacturing/50% research, 100% social manufacturing (this will then be the default for new colonies).
9. Go to your homeworld and ensure 50% manufacturing/50% research, 100% social manufacturing and ensure “do not upgrade until planet is full” is selected.
10. On your homeworld, build 4 factories in a group and then build 2 research laboratories in another location (if they can’t be grouped no problem). You should have 1 or 2 free spaces, leave them free for later, ideally adjacent to your factories. If set-up right it should take 3 turns per building.
Turn 2 Actions
1. Go to the ship designer and create a new construction ship design with 2 hyperdrive-plus modules and 1 environmental support module for range “Construction Ship D2 R1”. Some variations with different numbers of components can be very useful. No sensors are needed which helps reduce cost.
2. Most of the time, but not always, a diplomatic interaction or two will be available. If it’s a minor race, give them open borders and all of your technology, for as much cash as you can get. If it’s a major race, given them open borders only.
3. If you get lucky with an anomaly from your survey ship and get a tech boost, move onto Diplomacy Research.
4. Eject the sensor boat from your homeworld. Select a corner of its available range and move towards it. You’ll want to keep moving the sensor ship around at the limits of it’s available range until all races are discovered.
5. Send the new colony ship (0.5M population) to the highest class planet there is relatively nearby.
6. At your shipyard, rush buy Colony Ship R2 D1 for about 1000 credits.
Turn 3 Actions
1. If you’ve colonised your first world, build 2 factories in a group and nothing else at this stage. Select pragmatic, in the builder line the option for 3 construction ships.
2. Most of the time, but not always, a source of Thulium or two should have been revealed by the sensor boat. If so, send a construction ship to the Thulium source and build a starbase. This may take a couple of turns depending on where the source is.
3. With remaining construction ships, upgrade them to “Colony Ship D3 R2” for a bit over 100 credits each.
4. At your shipyard, rush buy Colony Ship R2 D1 for about 1000 credits.
5. Send the new colony ship (0.5M population) to a nearby planet, preferably not a low class planet.
6. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ship.
Turn 4 Actions
1. For the various new colony ships, send them to your homeworld, fill with only 0.5M population, and send towards the highest class nearby planets. Try to extend go in multiple directions if possible.
2. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ship.
3. At your shipyard, rush buy Colony Ship R2 D1 for about 1000 credits.
Turn 5-6 Actions
1. You’ll probably have a source of Thulium available now. Go the Ship Designer, create a new tiny hull, and get it a Prototype Survey Module, a Hyperdrive Plus and 2 environment support modules, c all it “Survey Mk 0”. Then upgrade the tiny scout ship you sent to your homeworld on Turn 1 to “Survey Mk 0” for 65 credits. If you are really lucky, build another one at your shipyard, ideally you want a couple of them. If you get really lucky you’ll have Promethion, have a second design for a Prototype Hyperdrive (rare but can be handy in future turns).
2. With the various new colonies, for ideology choose Malevolent and focus on the motivation line. You should soon be able to select Initimidating, which give you access to the Intimidation Centre. For all existing colonies, add an Intimidation Centre to the build order. For new colonies, build 2 factories and an Intimidation Centre. Ideally select tiles that have an approval bonus.
3. At your shipyard, you may not be able to rush any colony ships this turn, I don’t build unless I will still have more than 1,000 credits after the rush. If new diplomatic interactions are available, do as described in Turn 2 as you might be able to rush build more. Otherwise be patient, but every turn check if any diplomatic interactions are available for the rest of the game.
4. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships. Be careful with the tiny survey ships they have no weapons or defence, keep them out of range of pirates (they have the sensor range to do that), move 1 space at a time.
Turn 7-8 Actions
1. With the various new colonies, for ideology continue to choose Malevolent, you should have about 7 colonies by this stage.
2. Keep moving the sensor boat and you should have 2 or 3 survey ships now on the map, prioritise artifacts but explore whatever is available. If there are artifacts around, I’ll often hold on more diplomatic interactions at this point until you get diplomacy research. Again, with minor races trade all technology, but never trade diplomatic research with the AI. Select “Economic Treaty” as your next technology as this provides Free Trade Agreements. Sign Non-Aggression Pacts wherever possible but don’t give the AI your cash.
3. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships.
4. Don’t ever look at the power charts, you’ll probably be last, don’t worry about it!
Turn 9-10 Actions
1. Keep checking those diplomatic interactions. You should be able to pick some cash and technology. Supportive Population is really useful for the morale boost. Hence at your shipyard, rush buy another Colony Ship D2 R1 or a variant. Again, if you have the cash, rush build a colony ship as a priority, unless colonies are saturated.
2. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships.
Turn 11-14 Actions
1. Keep checking those diplomatic interactions. You might be able to pick up Advanced Construction from an AI, in which case, build a Manufacturing Capital on your homeworld next to your factories and move it to the top of the build list.
2. Keep rush building colony ships if you have the cash and colonising.
3. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships.
4. Your empire income will be getting more and more negative. Don’t worry about it!
Turn 15-18 Actions
1. You may finish Economic Treaties at this point. They are huge diplomatically as you get the equivalent of 3,000 credits from the AI in every interaction. Take advantage of it.
2. You should also get access to Exploration Treaties. Sign them, one way, don’t pay for theirs yet
3. You probably won’t be in the Age of War yet, so I’ll tend to pick Weapon Systems or similar to research, getting access to Prototype Weapons is important early game. But you want to change back to Interstellar Alliances as soon as you get to the Age of War.
4. You should finish a Manufacturing Capital on your homeworld. Set social manufacturing to be 45 or so and put the rest in military. You should be able to spam Colony and Construction ships in a turn and keep building improvements.
5. You should also get another Malevolent ideology pick, this time ruthless, which doubles military production. You can now afford more expensive ships such as Colony Ship D4 R3 and so on and produce them in a turn.
6. You should be able to build small ships from AI trades. Go the Ship Designer, create a new design with a Prototype Survey Module, Interstellar Sensors, 3 range modules and as many hyperdrive-plus and hyperdrive you can fit. You might need another source of Thulium or retire a tiny Survey ship as these designs are faster and have more range.
7. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships.
8. You’ll really see the AI spamming ships at an immersion breaking rate, don’t worry about it!
Turn 19-22 Actions
1. You should also get another Malevolent ideology pick, this time the implacable pick, which gives Death Furnaces. Build this on your homeworld as a priority amongst your factories. A well placed terraforming spot via Planetary Soil Upgrade can be handy for this. You'll now be close to being able to build a medium size ship every turn even with 50% manufacturing and 50% research on your homeworld.
2. Did I mention keep checking those diplomatic interactions? Some of the AI will start to run out of cash and technology to give you, so take their resources and be able to start to get exploration treaties for them, which will open up new diplomatic interactions.
3. Since your homeworld shipyard is producing ships in a turn, you’ll likely start to have extra cash. Use it to rush build embassies on as many worlds as possible (except your homeworld).
4. Your homeworld might be able to use a Colonial Hospital to increase growth then later on replace with a Xeno farm.
5. Keep moving the sensor boat and survey ships.
6. Keep colonising. Once all available local colonies are exhausted, switch to constructors. When this happens varies a lot from game to game.
7. At this point there will still be plenty of races you haven’t met, don’t worry about it! Your diplomatic modifiers (mainly from research and those embassies going up) will be massively positive and a very small scale.
8. You might be able to fit even more engines on your colony/construction ships depending on what research you trade with the AI.
At this point basically it’s game over. It’s just a matter of continuing to explore to meet any remaining races and continuing to use diplomacy. Once you have medium hulls it’s worth getting some starbases around Durantium and Elerium so you can build prototype weapons ships that are cheap to produce and have high attack, delaying the time until the AI considers you weak. It's probably easier on Godlike than Normal with this approach given how much you can farm form the AI from diplomacy.
On rare maps, the number of colony and construction ships you need to rush build/build will obviously be less. In this case, there is the opportunity to build one or two more custom tiny/small survey ships (which need a source of Thulium if you don’t have that then build another scout or two to enhance exploration) or possibly even a second sensor boat i.e. have them move in different directions. You may also need a starbase or two to extend range. Beyond that, any excess cash from diplomacy should be used to accelerate colony development in particular Intimidation Centres which will help with Malevolent ideology points. It might take a fair bit longer to get to Death Furnaces, but the production bonuses of the Motivation line remain highly significant.
Very Large Maps
On very large maps, you’ll likely want designs that have more range modules, and I tend to build a couple of sensor boats with longer movement range by Turn 40. The tiny survey ship in the strategy will probably be limited in effectiveness, but the small survey with some extra range can be useful. I’ll also often have custom survey ship design at larger sizes as well due to the size of the map to explore, just keep increasing the speed, range and sensing range as the opportunity presents from technology acquisitions. Building starbases to extend range is often essential.
As more time will be required, you'll likely be perceived as weak and ripe for conquest before long. You’ll need to use most diplomatic modification opportunities (e.g. more embassies) to offset these effects.