Starting your empire successfully
This guide should help you to start your empire successfully and give you an edge in the game that you just started. Depending on which race you chose and your current situation, the guide may have to be bent a bit to fit in with your own personal strategy.
First thing that you should do is explore the nearby systems around your own. If they contain any specials, take note of that when you're going to colonize. If you find a Splinter Colony, lucky you! You will have another prefabricated colony for your use.
If you are in the Orion Senate, the next thing you should do is to strike up deals with the other races. Preferably ones that your race gets along with, although for the Geodic people it might be a bit harder. Cybernetics generally dislike Humanoids, Saurians don't like Icthytosians and Harvesters and Geodic races just don't like anyone. Trade and Research agreements are very useful to have, and later Alliances will be very helpful to you because they will enhance your economy and protect you from other threats. Hopefully, though, there won't be any.
However, if youre not in the Senate, you should try and build up self-sufficiency on your homeworld and other colonies. Try to get a little of everything on your worlds; specializtion comes later in the game. Large worlds are especially useful. Ethereans are lucky because almost all of their preferred worlds are huge, but this is counterbalanced by the fact that there arent too many of those planets around and their Green 1 ring runs off the environment chart!!!
After doing Stage One of your exploration, the nearby systems, use your colony task force to take one of the planets for yourself. Of especially good use are Magnate Civilization planets; these are extremely useful because they allow you to almost double your population. If you can't get these planets straight away, Set Migration to the planet and once your race's total population reaches 1000 you should get all the inhabitants under your control.
If there aren't any nearby Green ring planets, look a little further instead of settling for second best. If you find one, colonize it, and then colonize systems in between the two. Then set your homeworlds production to Colony Ships. One at a time, colonize every habitable planet in sight. Its about quantity, not quality at this time. Take every planet you can and once you have, build System Colony ships on those worlds to take full advantage of the systems you have taken.
One other thing if you're in the Orion Senate: produce lots of spies, as many as you can, for the total time of the game. Try and suck up to other races to get them to like you and then you will have favour -and power- in the senate. To get more power, increase your population. This will give you more votes, and in turn, more power and will in the senate. Also of note in the senate: The New Orions are ALL POWERFUL. Do not displease them this early in the game! They have extremely powerful ships and their technology level is ten levels above everyone else at the start. Even though they have diplomatic penalties with all races, do not take advantage of that. Chances are if you're in the senate, you will be near to the galactic core and will be near the New Orions. Always remember that they can hunt you down so do not anger them.
Once you have taken many worlds, about twelve or so, increase your Empire taxes in the Finance Screen and put all the money to grants. Those planets with less money will receive a tenth of the grant total and will use that money to improve their economy. By now you should have some money to spend, so spend it on the planets. Improving your planets will drastically improve your population amount, which will allow you to Set Migration and have greater results. Build some colony task forces and colonize Yellow or even Red ring planets and set migration to get them to Colony status. Dont bother building outpost ships, theyre useless.
Your economy should be going well and your people should be multiplying. This will end quickly though, unless you have the needed raw materials. Food is essential to all people, although of lesser importance to Cybernetics (they eat half food, half minerals) and is nothing to the Geodics because they eat only minerals. If youre one of those races, you should focus more or less completely on mineral production. For everyone else, split it still unfairly. You need more minerals if your Industry DEAs are to run at full capacity.
To overcome this foul mineral problem, there are many answers. Mine enhancements drastically improve output of a mine, more mining planets altogether solves the problem. However, if you have a system full of productive planets and you are still running low on resources, your answer is the System University. In fact, all universities are useful and once you have invented them, build them at once. The effects are instantaneous: for the System University, a 30% increase in production all round. This means Test Tubes, Bioharvesting output, Mineral output and Industry points are all enhanced significantly. This in turn increases the capacity of that system, which in turn enhances your ability to build more colony ships. For Insecta and Harvesters, this is where your specialty lies and you should make full use of it.
Still, build more colony ships and be friendly to the AI. It doesnt matter what your technology level is at the moment, keep it going. Override the Economy AI's tendency to build crappy little Scouts and Troop Ships by making more colony ships and keep taking. However, at some point this happy unbridled expansion is likely to come to a sudden, violent halt. When there are no more planets available, stop your scheme of expansion and focus inwards. Improve your planets totally without giving a damn what happens outside your systems. At this point, it is better to specialize.
When your planets are decidedly developed enough, transfer most of your funds from Grants and put it toward Additional Research spending (finance screen). On the planetary level, transfer money to Research Development and put in more Research DEAs. This is where the Psilon really kick ass. When you are competent that you are spending enough money on research, let your empire take the course you set it on and wait some turns until some good technology is available. Preferably Plasma Cannons and Zortrium, but that's later in the game so you'll have to make do with Quark Cannons and Duranium.
After your research fever, set your Military-Political Economy from Peace and Prosperity (finance tab again) to Limited War. Set your current government type to one that allows for maximum Industrial output. For Representativist governments it will be either Parliamentary or Republic. Corporate is too divided, don't pick it since it has too many bad sides to equal the good ones. For Absolutist it will be either Monarchy or Despotism but Despotism cuts back Mining and Bioharvesting efficiency and Monarchy cuts back Research and Bioharvesting. For Collectivists, both governments have more manufacturing efficiency so it is hard to pick. This is where the Cybernetics will really rule the roost.
Governments are intermingled and hard to understand. See my Government Guide for more information.
Anyway, after getting good tech and setting your empire to industrial production, design some ships. Long Range Attack, Short Range, Point defense, Carrier, the list goes on. It is good to make them in multiple sizes although this can be a setback as the ECON AI will again make the crappier ones. Stick with just two sizes: this allows for fluidity but still keeps the ECON AI in line. Planet Destroyer class won't be available until you get Stellar Converter, and Outpost ships should be abandoned. There are heaps of guides available at the MOO3 Guardian on this subject.
As the whole game was leading up to this industrial boost, you might have guessed that the point here was to build lots of ships. Either to defend yourself or set out on a great voyage of conquest.... The choice is yours.
SOME MILITARY HINTS:
Build ships and then put them in armadas. They are possibly the most useful task force. Remember that you can have up to ten armadas in a combat. At maximum this equals to up to 180 ships each side! Still not a lot, later in the game though, so bigger ships are more useful.
The ultimate military dream is to have ten armadas worth of Leviathan class vessels. Might be impossible. Why don't you see if it is?
Bombardment is more effective with more ships with better weapons. Or it can be just plain annoying. Get around this by making troops and invading the damn planet.