Greetings friends and welcome to Galactic Civilization 4 by Stardock Entertainment! The game is the fourth in a 4x space series that hosts a large range of civilizations, neutral entities placed on the map, and a variety of win conditions all forming a galaxy for your civilization to rule. This guide is designed to help you, the player, have a greater insight and understanding to the many elements and choices ahead of you! As a new player of the series, I felt the urge to understand all I could about it for personal use, and now share with you my findings. Keep in mind, as an online game, things will inevitably change over the course of time, but as of May 2022, these are accurate. Let's Explore friends, as it is one of the biggest elements of any 4x game!
After purchasing Galactic Civilization 4 upon release, I loaded it up in exhilaration and clicked new game! In front of me were a large number of species to choose from) ranging from Terrans (humans) to a deceptively cute little fuzzy guy (Mimot). As I glossed over the different pictures, I noticed a lot of intricate detail that I was quite lost on, as the little pictures are deceptively packed full of things to know. I will use Terran, the fist species shown, as the example and explain what these different elements are since most of the categories are the same amongst all the species (even the ones you might craft for yourself).
Abilities: On the left side you see a list of two abilities and two ship types. There are 34 abilities in total and not all of the base races used them, but most are which offers a wide diversity of colorful characters and playstyles. Each race has two, and there is no way to have more than this. These abilities provide special bonuses or add assistance in accomplishing the victory conditions of any match. If you mouse over these, they will provide you a detailed explanation of what they do for you. However, not all of the bonuses these abilities provide are explained to you, so please refer to the Galactic Civilization Wiki for more details (Primarily the policy section). As for the ships you are handed all races start with a survey ship and a colony ship (this gives 1 colony ship and 1 probe). If your custom build your own civilization more options are presented for you, but you will be able to select two bundles from the list. One uses their survey vessel to go forth and research the different kinds of anomalies that you will see on the game map when game starts. These reveal themselves in several types ranging from space junk piles, to capsules and even ship graveyards! Your rewards from surveying vary based on which type you are exploring offering a wide variety of yields. Of special note, ship graveyards provide extra ships for your fleet! However, these are usually protected by things to battle. Often, as you survey, random situations will pop up and provide you unexpected rewards! Colony ships transfer people from the worlds creating the vessel, so you can colonize other planets and probes are unmanned explorers to dispel the fog of war in the path it travels, providing you the knowledge needed to determine where to send your ships next. Don’t worry if they encounter aggressive entities along their journey and are destroyed, they are expendable and it is neigh inevitable. Thankfully these are unmanned and rather cheap to build so no big loss, besides the first one’s free!
Ideology: The next thing I noticed on the Terrans was they have Innovative ideology. Think of Ideology as the overall mindset of the species of how they like to operate, mechanically they are talent trees allowing you to invest points to receive bonuses as you play. There are 14 different ideologies in total and each has about 6 investments to choose from. As you can imagine, this provides wonderful customization as you play and helps define who your people are as a civilization. You achieve points to invest as you progress in game but there is a limited number so choose wisely. Events will arrive offering you different solutions to pick from, and as you pick you unlock different tiers in the chosen ideology that will enable to invest further down the trees. You will be able to read what each ideology offers you both in game, by clicking the ideology button on the bottom bar, or by going to Wiki and reading about them and what they offer you. While the civilization you play as may have a preferred ideology, some events will not have that particular availability so don’t be afraid to select options of different types.
Biology: Under ideology it tells me Terrans are carbon lifeforms (we know this already). Galactic Civilization 4 offers the players 4 different biological lifeform options to play as. These are: Carbon Based, Aquatic, Silicon, and Synthetic. Each of these offers special considerations for you. Carbon based life forms require the need to eat food in order to grow and be happy. When you are in game and examine your planet, you will see all the agriculture information you need to be aware of (and so many other things we will discuss later). Another lifeform type is Aquatic. Aquatics not only have the ability to colonize ocean worlds. found throughout the galaxy, but are verry displeased if the player colonizes non oceanic worlds, as they need the water to survive (reflected by a drop in approval). They do receive a policy that allows their planets to be able to have more people living on them to make up for being so specific. Never fear though, this penalty really only applies if you turn a non-Oceanic world into a core world, the supportive planets can be of any type. Aquatics also need to eat and manage food. Third on the list are the Silicone species. This type of being doesn’t use food at all, but their population growth depends on having huge amounts of a special resource called Promethium. The more you hold onto, as one of this race type, the faster your population can grow. It does take a rather substantial amount of held Promethium to really alter the growth rate much, so keep this in mind. Synthetics are the last species type and are basically robots. Their populations don’t grow (unlike the others) but you have to manufacture them from your core world screen. It costs a Durantium to manufacture 1 population, so be sure to mine a few of those when you find them! Robots receive a policy to greatly increase their manufacturing ability and another to increase their ships movement speed.
Citizens: The last thing shown, of significance, when I look at the Terrans is that their citizens are humans. Every premade race has their own species, except for the special case of the Krynn Syndicate whose population consists of a random mixture of all the races, even a few that are not shown of this list of Civilizations due to their special nature. The Krynn is a multispecies religious order that any race can join. Of special note is the mechanic expectations, and the different attributes the races have. Some of the races have a thing called High Maintenance. They think rather highly of themselves and lowly of others. This is reflected in a drop in approval and can be countered by building approval buildings or tiles on your core worlds. There are 4 attributes the people in this game have, though different races provide bonuses to one or another. These attributes are Intelligence, Social, Diligence, and Resolve. Your citizens determine what the race of your leaders are, and these attributes determine what those leaders' strengths are.
Leaders: Since I mentioned leaders and the attributes of your citizens, I will take a moment to explain these to you. Leaders are those special citizens that stand apart from the rest and can perform various tasks for your empire at large! The types of duties a leader can perform are:
Ministers: Think of Ministers as those people who head your empires departments that range from things as light hearted as tourism or as warfare as defense. These different positions, 10 in total you start with 3 but researching will unlock the rest as you go, utilize different combinations of 2 of those 4 attributes and no two are alike. Due to this, it quickly becomes a who's right for the job instead of just shoving someone in that role. Mousing over each position will explain in further detail what is required.
Governors: So far, I have used the terms supportive world and core world. As you send your colony ships to, well, colonize you will end up, by the end, possessing a great number of planets. To make it easier on the player, the game doesn’t force you to manage every planet you take (though you can if you like) so all planets beyond your home world start as supportive planets and feed their bonuses directly to the nearest core world therefore strengthen it. It is important to know that the further the core world is from the supportive worlds, the less value it will actually receive. This is known as decay. It’s important, therefore, that you make sure that you do have several core worlds through the map. When you find a rather nice planet (I recommend only planets quality 20 or above) you can place a leader to become a governor of that planet (On the governors' tab on the leaders' page). This will make it so you can place buildings and build things on that planet and it becomes what is known as a core world. Keep in mind supportive worlds, send their stats to the nearest core world so usually the planet they send to will change accordingly. All leaders will show their starting loyalty on them (bottom right corner of their picture) and assigning a leader to be a governor will drop the loyalty number. Be certain it doesn’t drop their loyalty to red! If they become this unhappy with you, they may take your planets away from you and form their own civilization. Also, make certain the core worlds value doesn’t grow beyond your home world value or it may do the same thinking its’ better than you. The attributes that affect governors are intellect, social, and diligence. Intellect will help the planet in its research endeavors and diligence in its manufacturing ones. Social will help keep the people happy
Diplomats: When you meet a new civilization you will be prompted to research Universal Language. Once you finish this research the ability for trade and the availability to assign a diplomat becomes available to you. The key attribute for diplomats, naturally, is social. On a side note, leaders come with random bonuses (shown on the top left side of their portrait) and some of these can be devilish for diplomats. Make certain you read them before deciding who to assign on the diplomat tab of the leader's page. Shenanigans will ensue!
Commanders: Beyond the ships you started with (survey and colony ships for the premade civilizations) everyone gets a fleet ship set. These ships are very strong and many ships in them have bonuses not seen or achievable anywhere else! They are very powerful! Muah ha ha! Oh..you ask about the downside? If one of your command ships dies, it cannot be rebuilt and there is no way to get it back. Be mighty careful with these and slot the right leaders to command them! The strength of your commanders relies on their diligence and resolve. Diligence provides their ship more health and resolve strengthen the ships attack value. Like the governor, make sure your commanders maintain their loyalty to you, or they will steal their ships and join the pirates.
Faction Members: Every civilization has access to 4 factions for their people to join. Each faction provides different bonuses and reply on unique combinations of 2 stats (there are exceptions +looks at navigators in particular+). Anyone you end up with a red loyal number you can safely place in a faction as they won't affect you.
Well now that we have examined what the different information you’re looking at when you see the different species, (who knew all that was in a tiny box huh?) lets pick them and click next. This next page will allow you to customize your race, tweak it a bit. You can change their abilities (not their ships), ideology selection, and modify skill points (note Veteran does not currently function so drop it to –2 to have more points to spend wherever you like). In addition, you can change your citizen population and type of planet you start with. Let’s talk planet types! There are a wide variety of possible planets to choose to start on. Each planet type offers different modifiers and different types of tile bonuses to build on. Most importantly, do not choose the Ocean planet type if you are not Aquatic. Should make sense, but you never know! After you do all these things lets click next again!
This last page lets you style the upcoming universe however you see fit. Each section has detailed information if you mouse over them so you can decide if you want to change that element or not. I have heard people say that some areas moving the bar does very little or nothing at all. Just put it as you like it and enjoy. Of special note here is the bottom part that says minor civilizations.
Minor Civilizations: So, you know you're playing against the other species in a struggle to dominate all of everything and therefore, in doing so, become a true God or Goddess in hope to ascend to the next plane and chill with the Precursors (or kick their butts right Iconia?) Oh, you didn't? Well, that’s basically what you're doing, we’ll get into all that! Ahem. These minor civilizations aren't here for that. These beings aren’t on par with the rest of us and are just trying to live their lives. You could invade their planet and take it for yourself, or you could send a freighter to it and open a trade lane, but did you know you could also interact with them? Once you learn Universal Languages (You have to meet a player civilization first to do so) you can click on their planet (once you find it) and on the top right corner is a green symbol. If you click that, you get a quest to do (varies by which minor civ.) ranging from research to build a special building or even bring battle to the precursor guardians! Complete their quest and the minor civ will bestow a choice of three per turn rewards for you (and you can change which reward later)! I usually slide that bar to the right to maximize fun things, but again, it’s a personal preference. When you are all set here, click next and choose your opponents. The size you set your sector size to will determine how many civilizations the game will place to face you, but you have the ability to completely modify it here. Once you’ve picked who you want to play against, click start and let the game begin! Hype! Ok wait for it to stop setting up the universe to your specifications and the first thing you will see is your chosen species and a bit of their stake in this. Close that out and...so much stuff!
The planet you are staring at is your peoples home world. It is the capitol of your civilization and throne of your empire! If the enemy take this planet from you, like a king on a chess board, it’s over! Nah, you get to designate a different core world to become your new capitol but let’s not let that happen anyway. Do you see all those piles of stuff everywhere? Upon careful examination you’ll discover a chunk of them are things for your survey vessel to survey, and give you rewards! If you left click on your survey ship and then right click one of those brown piles it will move there and begin its exploration of it. This usually takes a few turns to complete. One option, if you don’t wish to micromanage your ships is to click on the ship and select auto survey. I don’t recommend this option however, and you might lose track of it and at some point, it will sail blindly into dangerous territory and probably get destroyed. Don’t race through the game. Take your time, do it right, and you will end up that much happier!
On the bottom of your screen is a taskbar with different buttons. The button on the far left of that bar is your policy page. You start with a few policies determined by your species type, civilization abilities, and some starting options. Normally you’ll have one space open to drag and place the policy of your choice into and this will modify your empire by what it says. Many of the possible spots are locked at this point but by researching certain things you will unlock them. Ideology has the potential to unlock one for you, depending on your talent points so be sure to read those carefully. This page is also where you can see what trade routes you have established (both incoming and outgoing) and set your tax rate. The higher you place your taxes the more money you make per turn (or month as it's called) but the more upset your people become. Like most things in life, you need to seek the perfect balance.
The next button on the bottom bar is your leader page (described above). You buy your leaders and place them where you like on the different pages on top. Make sure you look everything over, as some leaders have special skills in being your governor or diplomat or even commander! You never know what you mind find there!
Next to those leaders is your executive orders tab. Executive orders are what I refer to as cheats. Want a colony ship to beat the enemy to that choice planet over there? Click a button and get it. Need cash really quick? There’s a button for that! Ack your loyalty is dropping fast and people are complaining?! There's a button. It seems there’s a button for every contingency...but it’s not free and is very limited. On the top of your screen, you can see all your resources. Money, mined resources, all the good things. One spot there is called control. You receive a control every turn, and special events or rewards can give you some as well. Executive orders cost control points to use, and after using an ability, it takes a rather long cool down. Infinite Cosmic Power....itty bitty bar.
The next button to the right is your data bank. This will graphically show you everything you might like to know about your empire's strength compared with the civilizations you meet. That’s all I know about this as I literally never used it.
The next button to the right is basically your quest bar. There's a wide variety of objectives you can click on and begin to earn special rewards. These quests range from something as simple as building a special building on your planets to as deadly as go to war with everyone for 80 turns and if you survive you win. Read them carefully but be sure to do them, rather fun and rewarding
The last three buttons will be grey at the start until you unlock them. The first is diplomacy, it will unlock when you meet another player and this screen is where you will talk with them (once you learn universal languages), earn their favor, and perform trade deals. The second of the three is your artifact tab, or as I refer to it, magic button. Throughout the game there are artifacts you might find, your civ traits might give you charges of specific abilities, doing the quests or survey might net you some too. There are quite a few possibilities and to use one you have you’ll hit that button to bring the list of things you can do, and click the one you want in the same fashion as executive orders. The last one, when you learned the proper research and/or built a specific building, is where you can buy special resources if you want them, or sell some you have extras of.
On the top bar, and to the left, you’ll find your research bar. Click it to open it and you’ll be brought to your research page. In front of you are a selection of researches you can begin to study. You may note there is a locked space, at first, in addition to the ones you can select from. Once you appoint a minister of technology this will be unlocked and another research space will be available to choose from. If you don’t like the options shown, you can click the wheel on the top right side and choose which specialty you’re hoping to find one of and click the according button. Each time you use this you’ll suffer a penalty in time to learn the research you pick, and there is a limit to how many times you can use this per research.
You will see two buttons on the bottom left of this page, and these buttons will help you see the various researches in the game, and track down the abilities you're trying to learn. Most researches have prerequisites so this is a good way to see what you need to get there.
On the opposite side of your research page is a bar of all types of information. You might find there’s useful things there most of which you can find in your data bank button but I use this to track down where my ships are located, and what planets are available. Your advisors will also make suggestions as what to do next here as well.
There we are my friends, part one of my information series. Can you believe how much there is to know, and we haven’t even begun playing yet! Hopefully this information will help get you comfortable, thinking, and excited to see what’s ahead! I will do a second segment to continue this exploration covering planets, resources, and ships soon! Have fun my friends and explore! You never know what you might find next!