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Planetary Development Concepts and Tools for Macromanagers
by Zodicus


After having started the Regional Zoning Strategies thread, I thought I’d conduct a bit more testing to further flesh out some of the concepts behind regional zoning. As I got further and further into testing, however, I began to run into brick walls. Some results just didn’t appear to make any sense. This spurred on further testing. Many hours of testing later, I think I’ve gained a new perspective on planetary development that I thought I’d share with the community. What I’m going to focus this thread on are some concepts and principles that I think define planetary development. Then, I plan to talk about the macromanagement tools for influencing planetary development and challenge what I perceive to be many misconceptions surrounding these tools. By planetary development, what I am referring to is influencing the development of DEAs and regional/planetary improvements.

My testing has included tinkering with grants, tax rates, migration, regional zoning, technology and dev plans (to name a few). What follows, is a collection of facts, opinions, and theories that all derive form this testing. I hope this thread provides newer players with some level of added understanding and experienced players with a new perspective with respect to the macromanagement tools available to them. I’ve tried to steer clear of throwing out too many numbers and tried to focus on the higher level principles (though I do provide test results where appropriate).

I’m assuming that you’ve read and understand the concepts presented in the Economics 101 thread and the Current Development Plan Theory thread as it pertains to how planetary classifications are assigned. I also assume that you’ve played the game and are familiar with some of the vernacular which surrounds MOO3.

There are still many things that I don’t fully understand but I hope those that suffer through this post (small novel now) will have gained a perspective they can use in future games. I am open to constructive criticism should errors be found in any of the concepts/data discussed below.



Planets Are Unique

By now, we’re used to thinking of planets by their development plan classifications. Planets are either mineral rich, high biodiversity, secondary, primary, core, mineral poor or any one of the other various simplistic classifications to which planets are assigned. Most of our thought and effort goes into devising development plans aimed at making planets all they can be using this fairly limited perspective. However, take a good look at any two planets that bear the same classifications and you will literally see a world of difference (pun intended) •. Planets are defined by a myriad of factors that never make their way into the consciousness of the development plan focused macromanager. A mineral rich planet might also qualify as having high-biodiversity. A world with average mineral richness may be one large mountain range and out-produce a mineral rich world that is essentially one big flat plain. The reality is that no two planets are alike. They differ in terms of atmosphere, temperature, gravity, mineral quality, biodiversity, planetary specials and terrain. Consequently, one cannot assume, for example, that a planet classified as “mineral rich” will necessarily imply that an abundance of regions ideally suited for mineral development exist. Quite often, a closer inspection will reveal that the world in question may have fairly average mineral efficiencies due to poorly suited terrain. Alternatively, that same poorly suited terrain may make for outstanding farmland. These are all factors to keep firmly in mind as we move forward and will help you appreciate how challenging planetary development can be for the macromanagement-oriented player as well as help you appreciate the various tools at your disposal.

Planets have Tree Rings

Each year of a tree’s life is marked with a growth ring which is clearly visible as circular bands in the tree’s cross section. By studying the thickness of the various bands of growth rings, one can get a sense for which years were wet and which were dry. These rings form a permanent record of the stress and challenges that this tree endured throughout its life. A planet’s development in MOO3 is an growth process similar to that of a tree. Some years are good, others are fraught with difficulty. The evidence is there once you understand how viceroys make decisions. One can look at two identical planets subject to the exact same development plans and regional zoning policies and see dramatically different results. One may have more recreation DEAs. The other may have more mines. Still another may even have bioharvest DEAs. All else being equal, the differences are usually the result of stresses and challenges experienced by the planet during its development lifecycle. As such, realize that each planet develops in it’s own fashion and a close look at each planets development pattern, much like tree rings, tells the story of the planet’s past.

Viceroys Don’t Use Blueprints

Viceroys have a tough job. They must try to forge a functional planetary economy, be wary of future challenges and yet always lend an ear to your wishes. Sometimes their decisions seem baffling, infuriating, and counterproductive. However, throughout my testing I’ve noticed a clear pattern of behavior that is logical when considered from the viceroy’s perspective. That is a key point to bear in mind at all times. What this pattern reveals is a viceroy that is constantly weighting decisions each and every turn balancing current needs and trying to ensure that the planet can respond properly to future potential challenges. If there is a slogan that could sum up viceroy behavior it would be “ keep your options open.”

Alternatively, if the viceroy had a mission statement, it would be:

Satisfy current planetary needs/requirements in the most efficient manner possible while maximizing the potential for future development.

This is the mission statement of the viceroy. Learn it, and much of the mystery surround his behavior will be dispelled.

As stated, the viceroy makes development decisions every turn. He does not bother with blueprints. Needs change, demands change and, consequently, plans must change. The viceroy understands this. In addition, the viceroy is not overly concerned with the needs of your empire. The issues surrounding the planet in the viceroy’s care are paramount. Each turn the viceroy goes through a decision making process influenced by the planet’s current situation. From the viceroy’s perspective, all planets need the following:

-resources (food/minerals)
-a compliant population (i.e. no unrest)

The degree to which these needs will be satisfied and the priority for satisfying them will depend upon many factors not the least of which would be the regional zoning policy you have chosen at any given moment.

I could wax on about how I have come to realize this but I think an example would do a much better job.

Jobe III is a prime example of what symbolizes what most think is wrong with the viceroy’s development strategies: too many mines, not enough of a balance of industry and research, and mines placed in regions a human player wouldn’t give a second thought to. I’m not going to justify the logic behind the number of mines (Though you might want to peep at the AIPlanet.txt. There, you’ll see some of the influences such as kExtraMineralsKeepPercent 50). Instead, what I’m focusing on here is the logic behind some of the DEA placement decisions. Here are the salient characteristics of Jobe III

Size 8, mineral poor, bio-diverse, moderate gravity, green-ring 2.

Here’s a region-by-region breakdown of Jobe III.

Region Terrain Bio_eff / Mineral_eff 1 plains-hard-scrabble 3.6/1.2 2 plains-subsistence 2.4/1.2 3 mountain-arable 2.4/3.6 4 plains-arable 4.8/1.4 5 plains-barren 1.2/1.2 6 broken-arable 3.6/2.4 7 plains-hardscrabble 3.6/1.2 8 plains-arable 4.8/1.2

So, in this example it’s turn three and my eager colony ship lands on Jobe III. I’m going to turn Regional Zoning on “Natural” and not interfere with any dev plans. Let’s see what happens.

The first thing the viceroy builds is an industrial DEA (hardly a surprise). Where should he put it? Hmmm. Remember the principle - meet current needs while maximizing the potential for future development. Since industry DEAs will function equally well regardless of where they are placed (an example of what I call a non-efficiency based DEA as opposed to BioHarvest and mine DEAs which are affected by a terrain’s varying level of efficiency in such areas), why not choose the most worthless piece of dirt available? Looks like region 5 to me. Guess what, our viceroy decides to put our first industrial DEA in region 5.

Next, the viceroy realizes that the planet needs resources. We need both food and minerals but, should there be a need for both, minerals will trump food (read the econo101 thread for some reasons why or study the AIPlanet.txt file). Currently, this planet is importing food from the home colony, so, we see that the second DEA queued up is a mine. Where to put it,,…. Hmmm. Well, if it were me, I’d put it in region 3. That’s by far the region with the highest mineral efficiency. What does the viceroy do? Mine number 1 goes to region 3! So far none of this is surprising in the least. The viceroy next builds another industry. It goes to region 1. A second mine is also queued up and it rounds out region 3.

Time for DEA number four. Well, by now we’ve got two industry and two mines. We’re hurting for minerals so the viceroy opts for another mineral to satisfy the needs of industry. The viceroy is working under established guidelines that tell it that it must strive to fulfill its need for resources if at all possible. So, where should the next mine go? We’ve got two choices; we could put the next mine in region 6, the next best mineral location. However, that region would make an even better bio-harvest location. This planet isn’t all that good at minerals anyway and, hopefully the emperor’s scientists will help us out with some cool technologies in the near future that will allow us to get the most out of the mines we’ve got. As such, let’s just satisfy the current need while preserving the relatively fertile spots for farms in case we need them. The viceroy puts mine number 3 in region 2.

The next DEA in line is an industry DEA and this is also placed in region 2. After that industry DEA, we are still in the yellow for minerals. Grrrr. No new technologies yet? Damn. We still need minerals and every region left is better suited to farming. Where’s the next best location for a mine that will do as little damage to this planet’s future potential? Region 1, 2 and 6 are all available and have the exact same bio-harvest efficiency. However, region 6 has better mineral resource efficiencies. Mine # 5 and #6 are placed in region 6.

This process continues as the planet’s growth spurs on more industry and more industry puts additional pressure on dwindling mineral resources. However, you already know enough to predict which regions are the last to be developed by now. Take a guess…..
If you guessed region 4 or 8, you are correct! In this case, it was region 8 but could just as well have been region 4.

Now, suppose we’d started the colony on Jobe III and walked away for awhile. We then come back at a time when a mineral DEA is going into region 2 (bio=2.4, mine=1.2) when region 6, which is broken terran, remains empty. We might be pretty upset. Only if we’d looked carefully at each region and thought the situation through from the viceroy’s perspective would this make sense. The viceroy doesn’t know what technologies you’ve got just around the corner, nor can he appreciate just how remote the possibility of a food shortage is. The viceroy develops planets with the following harsh reality firmly in mind:

Planets must provide for themselves.

The AIPlanet.txt file reveals this clearly. Viceroy’s realize that, even though his planet is part of an federation, at some point he will have to make sure that the planetary economy can function on its own. That grant money may not be there forever. Military and Research grants come and go at the whim of the emperor. If there is unrest, the viceroy won’t call for help, he will try to build a recreation DEA or something similar.

This planet ultimately ended up with 9 mines, 6 industry, and 1 research DEA. What may not always be clear in this process is how, precisely, the viceroy defines what is “needed” vs. what is wanted. A quick look at the AIPlanet.txt file reveals many of the influences/targets that the viceroy is striving to achieve. Included in this list is the need for specific mineral/food surpluses and the need to respond to factory consumption.

If factory consumption is rising, the need for minerals rises and the existing surplus dwindles. The end result is a planet that, in the early stages of the game, has a fairly primitive and inefficient development state. However, we shall see that technological advancements can radically alter this DEA ratio.

Limit the momentum of development

The viceroy is an honorable fellow. Once a decision is made to build either a DEA or a regional improvement, you can count on him to follow through. In fact, he is good at this to a fault. To my knowledge, the viceroy simply does not second-guess decisions. Once a commitment is made to build a DEA/enhancement, it will be done. However, the viceroy, as indicated above, must be capable of responding to planetary crisis, needs, and/or your wishes. This creates a dilemma. If he were to commit to too many DEAs/improvements at any given time, it might take the viceroy a long time to respond to a sudden food shortage. Additionally, he might not be able to respond to a sudden change in your orders as dictated by your shifting development plan priorities. I believe that this reality is the primary reason that both the regional build queue and the DEA queue are so shallow. The viceroy will not commit to more than a few turns worth of development so as to permit the ability to respond to changing priorities and/or unforeseen planetary needs. I call this, limiting the momentum of development. By keeping his commitments to a minimum, the viceroy is able to promptly respond to new requirements. Put another way…

Regional build decisions are made incrementally so the viceroy may respond to new needs and changing priorities.

Interesting Side Note: Ever notice that most aspects of planetary development that can affect regions are made in pairs? The regional build queue (RBQ) almost never contains more than two items. The DEA build queue is composed of two items. Similarly, a planet is defined by two classifications. Coincidence? Perhaps, perhaps not……

I have come to accept these realities of viceroy behavior. They make sense and once you’ve come to understand them, you may actually come to appreciate the viceroy a bit more (or not…).

I think that’s enough about viceroys and planets. Now, how do we bend this behavior to our imperial will?


Tools of the Trade


As a macromanager, there are several tools available to you to influence the development of every planet such that each is a successful contributor to your empire. Given the how many factors can influence a planet’s development, and how varied individual planets can be, this is truly a challenge. As such, you will need to learn to use ALL of the macromanagment tools available to you to their utmost effect.

Tools Used to Influence HOW Planets develop
The tools below influence the development landscape of planets. This includes the mix of DEAs and regional improvements. Each of these will occupy their own section later but for now, well just include an overview.

Regional Zoning
Your foremost tool is the regional zoning policy. You have three policies: Specialized, Natural, and Balanced. The regional zoning setting will wield enormous influence on a planet’s DEA development. Each regional zoning setting is literally a different viceroy personality. No single decision will have more of an influence on the composition of DEAs on a planet. A good macromanager will be on good terms with each of these viceroy characters.

Another major influence on a planet’s development is technology. The availability of DEA efficiency and capacity enhancements will have a substantial impact on the number of DEAs of any given type built on a planet as well as on the pacing of DEA development. Development plan prorities should depend heavily upon which DEA enhancing buildings/technologies you have discovered as we shall see.

Development Plans
Development plans are the macromanager’s macromanagement tool. The influence of a development plan on a planet’s ultimate development can range from minor to overwhelming. On balance, macromanagers will learn to rely on development plans to set global development priorities for regional and planetary improvements and less so on DEA development.

Tools that affect the pace of development
I have tested these tools to see how they influence a planet’s development. I mention them here for two reasons. First, to indicate that I have tested these settings. Secondly, to clearly indicate where I think they stand on the issue of planetary development. Each of the tools below has had an influence on planetary development during my testing, however, the results are often unpredictable and too isolated to concern the macromanagment-oriented player. They will get no further mention in this thread (unless someone has a compelling reason to insist on their inclusion based on reproducible test results).

As mentioned before, migration can influence how a planet develops but it really shines when used to give planet’s that necessary population boost to get going quickly. However, in some circumstances, migration can adversely impact a planet’s development. Take the example of Jobe III above. If I were to subject Jobe III to the exact same circumstances (no dev plans, Natural regional zoning) but make it a migration target, here’s how it would have developed:

11 mines
5 industry

Why so many more mines? In short, the fast rising population filled out the industry DEAs faster and created a demand for mineral resources that could not be met efficiently on Jobe III (it is, after all, mineral poor and has no mountains). As such, minerals got a much higher priority and proliferated. When I compared this planet at the end of its development, it had generated twice the need for minerals than Jobe III without migration had.

Does this mean you should avoid migration? No. Just use care and be somewhat mindful of its potential impact on a planet’s development.

Aside from human-oid resources, grants provide much needed cash flow for driving industry permitting planets to develop much faster than they would otherwise.

Taxes, like grants can be set to either speed up or slow down a planet’s development. Set taxes too high and smaller worlds will develop at the expense of larger worlds (assuming that what money you are collecting is going into grants). Set taxes too low and you won’t have enough grant money to spread around to young growing planets that lack income generating economies of their own.

Regional Zoning Policy

The Regional zoning has perhaps the greatest influence on the pattern of DEAs chosen for any given planetary region. As a macromanagement focused player, this is your number 1 micromanagement tool. Each region of a planet is evaluated individually and, if it meets the proper criteria as set forth in the regional zoning policy, the proper DEA is established. As such, you must choose a zoning policy that best suites your current requirements. You have three choices:


A good macromanager will learn to use all three at some point. Each provides you with a broad set of micromanagment instructions. One concept that is vitally important to keep in mind is that this policy applies to regions only. I know that is stating the obvious but it is vitally important to keep in mind when you make a decision as to which policy to use at any given moment. Your regional policy doesn’t put any weight whatsoever on the classifications a planet bears. Every factor is taken into account. This includes magnate civilizations, resource efficiencies, resource quality (high biodiversity, mineral rich) and planetary specials (though the viceroy record on taking maximum advantage of these can be spotty). However, of all of these factors, the best predictor of what will most influence a zoning decision will often be the mineral and bioharvest efficiencies of a given region. As such, don’t be surprised when you open up that mineral rich world and find that most of it is covered with bioharvest DEAs when you thought that by choosing Specialized you’d get more mines. Take a good look at each region and re-visit the definition of Specialized REGIONAL zoning and you’ll see why.

It’s also important to realize that the viceroy will always be able to respond to truly urgent needs under any zoning policy. If the planet is going to go into revolt and the capability of building a recreation DEA exists, then a recreation DEA will be built under any of these policies.

For convenience, I will break the priorities of each regional zoning policy down into Primary / Secondary / Tertiary to be consistent with current dev-plan lingo. These priorities have been arbitrarily chosen by me but should prove helpful to illustrating the differences between the policies.

The default zoning policy in Natural. As described, the priority of Natural is to first focus on a planet's needs. Focusing on a planet’s strengths is of secondary concern. A viceroy operating under natural zoning policy will tend to focus on the following:

Primary: industry/mine/bioharvest*/recreation*
Secondary: mineral/bioharvest (regional efficiencies >= approx. 7.0)
Tertiary: Research (regional eff <= approx. 7.0), Military(size 5+ worlds), Gov(size 6+ worlds)

* extreme need only

Because the natural zoning policy prioritizes industry and minerals (the first DEA will virtually always be an industry DEA), this zoning policy tends to develop fast but may succumb to the “mineral shortage treadmill” (see Jobe III example above), particularly early in the game. The switch to secondary priorities will occur when primary needs are met or if too many of any given DEA type have been established (usually when a planet is covered with at least 50% of any given type of DEA).

If there are no zones that are particularly efficient with respect to mineral or bioharvest DEAs (a number that seems to have a threshold of about 7.0 when using Natural zoning), then non-efficiency based DEAs such as research will receive priority. Military and Government DEAs will be built (the choice of which is unknown to me) but only on moderately sized or larger worlds.

I like to think of the Natural Zoning policy as the industrial powerhouse zoning policy. It is driven first and foremost by the need to establish industry. Many of my test worlds ended up with 40-50% of their regions populated with industry DEAs with no dev plans even late in the game. A viceroy operating under a Natural zoning policy will, however, take on a “specialized” sort of demeanor once the need for industry and minerals has been satiated and should regions with high efficiencies in such areas exist (> 7.0).

The Natural zoning policy, in general, responds better to the DEA priority present within dev plans than Balanced or Specialized but this additional influence tends to be confined to truly average zones (mine/bio eff of < 7.0). Otherwise, Natural will exhibit zoning biases similar to that of Specialized.

• Best response to development plan DEA influence (regions with <= 7.0 eff)
• Tends to result in a higher proportion of industry DEAs

• Priority on industry and mineral needs may result in high number of industry / mineral DEAs on even mineral poor worlds when technology enhancements are not available.
• Focus on industry may result in mineral shortages during the earlier stages of empire development.
• Hard to achieve a good mix of DEAs on small to moderately sized worlds (3-6). Only larger worlds will include military/gov DEAs. Most planets will be dominated by the four basic DEAs (mine/bio/ind/research)

Well use Jobe III as a running comparative example. As a reminder, here’s how Jobe III turned out on a Natural zoning policy.

Jobe III DEAs: 9 mines, 6 industry, 1 research


The Specialized zoning policy will place pre-eminent value on the establishment of resource-related DEAs in regions with high efficiencies for such areas. A world with more average resource efficiencies will tend to develop in a fashion similar to Natural.

Primary: bioharvest/mine DEAs (regional eff >= approx. 7.0)/recreation*
Secondary: industry(eff < 4.0)/mine(eff >= 4.0)/bio(eff >= 4.0)
Tertiary: Research (regional eff < approx. 4.0), Military(size 5+ worlds), Gov(size 6+ worlds)

* extreme need only

Specialized policies, have a lower requisite threshold for resource efficiency than a Natural zoning policy. If a region has a resource efficiency > (4.0-5.0), it will receive more “favor” with respect to a resource DEA than it would on Natural. Since more regions receive favor for efficiency-based DEAs, the influence of the DEA modifier present in your development plans will have less of an impact when using a Specialized zoning policy due to this “zoning bias”. Regions with resource efficiencies less than approximately 4.0 will be zoned for non-efficiency DEAs such as industry and then research. Specialized zoning policies are great for making sure that resource needs come before industry. The establishment of an industrial DEA has a way of generating an immediate thirst for minerals. It is for this reason, I believe, that a Specialized policy tends to forgo industry in favor of resource DEAs. It will eventually build industry, but only after the good resource locations have been populated.

• Planets will emphasize resource development resulting in a larger number of resource DEAs.
• Will zone research / industry in zones that are truly average (eff < 4.0). Specialized tends to zone a higher number of research DEAs in such cases. In fact, I think of research as a third form of specialization (aside from mines and bio-harvest DEAs).

• DEA influence from dev plans is weak on regions with resource efficiencies > 4.0.
• Hard to develop a mix of DEAs. Most planets will be dominated by the four basic DEAs (mine/bio/ind/research)
• Only the largest worlds will be zoned to have gov or military DEAs (size 6+ worlds).

Jobe III DEA composition: 6 bioharvest, 4 mines, 3 industry, 3 research


A Balanced zoning policy doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The current strategy guide even goes so far as to say “never use this.” Maybe now I know why I didn’t buy the strategy guide. A Balanced zoning policy contains qualities of Natural, Specialized, and a little extra. A Balanced zoning policy will, like Natural, focus first on industry and mineral needs. The degree to which these needs are satisfied is very similar to Natural. However, balanced has built in brakes that are not otherwise present in a Natural zoning policy. At some point, it will build at least one bioharvest DEA and one research DEA. IF the planet is large enough (5+), it will also build an unrest DEA (almost always a rec DEA). The larger a planet is, the greater the likelihood of miltary and government DEAs. Worlds of size 4 or smaller will rarely get more than the standard 4 DEAs (ind/res/mine/bio).

Primary: industry/minerals/food/recreation*
Secondary: research
Tertiary: unrest DEAs (size 5+ worlds).

* extreme need

Should a planet have particularly high resource efficiencies, a Balanced policy will (contrary to common belief) focus on these strengths. In this respect, balanced is like having the best of both Natural and specialized zoning policies.

Like Specialized, a Balanced zoning policy has its own agenda and, as such, will not respond as well to the DEA modifier present in your dev plans. However, in my experience, a Balanced policy comes closer to developing sensible worlds than any other zoning policy without any need of dev plans. This policy is particularly useful later in the game when you have established a solid industrial foundation and wish to focus on quelling unrest and enhancing/maintaining your research efforts.

• Initial focus on industry with some specialization if planet is rich in resource zones
• Provides a good DEA mix making for a planet that is more robust and less subject to food/mineral shortages if blockaded.
• Greater number of unrest DEAs resulting in less money spent dealing with unrest and / or the ability to crank up the oppressometer with less unrest.

• Dea influence from dev plans is weak.
• Not effective in early stages of game as this policy tends to overwhelm the initial population with unrest DEAs that may not be needed nor productive.
• Worlds with many resource rich zones may have some zones that contain non-efficiency based DEAs in the interest of diversity resulting in some loss of efficiency

Jobe III DEA composition: 2 bioharvest, 5 mines, 3 industry, 2 research, 1 recreation, 2 military, 1 government

Side-by-Side Comparison of the Effects of Different Zoning Policies

I though it might be of interest to provide some test results. Then, one could see the different effects of each zoning policy over time. I think you’ll find the results for Balanced, in particular, surprising.

In this example, I’ve let the computer auto-play the game for the first 150 turns. I then arranged to have 7 colony ships position themselves to colonize worlds of varying size, mineral and bioharvest richness. All were of green ring terraform zone. I then switched to one of the three regional zoning policies and clicked the “turn” button until all planets had fully established all zones with DEAs. This happened at about turn 227. While these may not be realistic results from a player’s standpoint, they do serve to illustrate the relative impacts that regional zoning policies , absent any dev plan influence, can have.


Bio Mine Ind PPs TT AU 6.7k/3.1k 11.8k/5.4k 40.1k 29.1k 53.7k 47.2(-70)k

Total Amount in Treasury: -16.7 K

DEA totals for the seven planets:
BioHarvest 19
Mine 15
Industry 30
Research 9
Recreation 0
Military 2
Government 3
SpacePort 22


Bio Mine Ind PPs TT AU 7.5k/3.2k 11.7k/4.9k 37.9k 31.5k 60.1k 112.1 (+12k)

Total Amount in Treasury: 63.2 K

DEA totals for the seven planets:
BioHarvest 19
Mine 14
Industry 23
Research 9
Recreation 6
Military 6
Government 4
SpacePort 29


Bio Mine Ind PPs TT AU 8.3k/3.3k 11.4k/5.4k 37.7k 34.3k 74.1k 85.8 (-10k)

Total Amount in Treasury: 36.4 K

DEA totals for the seven planets:
BioHarvest 28
Mine 15
Industry 19
Research 14
Recreation 0
Military 0
Government 3
SpacePort 26

As you can see, the Natural zoning policy resulted in a much heavier emphasis on industrial DEAs. However, the income being generated at the end of 77 turns was paltry when compared to the other two policies (not to mention that the treasury was going negative). Specialized resulted in the lowest number of industry DEAs but the largest number of research DEAs (the third specialty). It was the second place finisher in the cash flow department. Balanced was in the middle in most respects. However, it was much farther ahead of both other policies in cash flow. In addition, what this data does not show was that, under a Balanced policy, unrest expenses were practically nil by comparison to those under the other two. This was an additional savings of tens of thousands of AUs over the other two policies.

Does this example prove anything. Not necessarily as it involved very little intervention on my part. However, it is a fair comparison since I treated all different zoning policies equally during the test. Food for thought.


Aside from Regional Zoning, no other tool will have a greater influence on the DEA composition of a planet. When Jobe III was first colonized, all the viceroy had to generate additional mineral capacity were the technological equivalent of picks and shovels. As such, mine DEAs proliferated in a desperate effort to keep pace with the rising needs of industry. Technological advancements, particularly those that enhance DEA capacity or efficiency can radically alter this ratio. If I’d possessed Deep Extraction mining, for example, the viceroy would have resorted to enhancing existing mine DEAs before building new ones in regions that were otherwise better suited to bio-harvest DEAs or perhaps additional industry or research. Once you’ve come to appreciate the difference technology can make, you’ll be rushing to obtain these improvements and research will take on new meaning. By providing the viceroy with the necessary tools, he will focus on meeting your resource needs with as few mineral/bioharvest DEAs as necessary (unless the regions are well suited to such development and/or your regional zoning policy makes these DEAs more desirable). Stick the viceroy with shovels, and he’ll dig lots of ditches and generally make a mess of your planet.

When we first told the story of Jobe III’s development the viceroy didn’t have many options when it came to satisfying its craving for minerals. If we’d had even one DEA enhancing technology such as Deep Extraction mining, might the outcome be different? You bet. Here’s a second version of the Jobe III story. This time, however, I’m going full steam ahead with research into the Physical sciences discipline in an effort to obtain Deep Extraction mining. All else (including letting Jobe III begin colonization in spite of my lack of technology) will be the same. As I’m watching the turns go by I’m letting Jobe develop while I’m pouring resources into research in a mad dash to obtain Deep Extraction mining which happens to be at tech level 6. Jobe III has already built 3 industry and is working on a fourth mine when I finally obtain Deep Extraction mining technology. The result – not a single additional mine DEA is built. The viceroy immediately proceeds to enhance all existing mine DEAs with the new technology. Because he is able to resort to Deep Extraction mining as an alternative means to satisfying Jobe III’s mineral needs, this frees up the DEA queue for other things. The final result:

4 bio-harvest
4 mines
4 industry
4 research

The reason we are able to obtain a much more ideal DEA mix is due to the availability of DEA enhancing technologies. This allowed the viceroy to begin zoning additional DEAs in accordance with what this planet was best suited for. Since Jobe III is a fairly average world, the viceroy started building research DEAs right after obtaining Deep Extraction mining.

I believe that the dramatic “normalizing” effect that technology can have on a planet’s development is the primary reason that the first few levels of technology tend to come on pretty fast. If it took too long to obtain some basic DEA enhancing techs, you’d end up with more planets that have skewed development patterns like the original Jobe III.

You should also realize that, later in the game, it will take planets much-much longer to fully develop all regions with DEAs. The reasons have already been described. Once a given DEA has been built, it will be enhanced in preference to zoning more regions with the same DEA.

Run, don’t walk, to obtain these DEA enhancements if you’re serious about developing well-balanced and highly productive worlds. They are particularly important to obtain if many of the worlds available to you have mediocre resource efficiencies.

Development Plans

Development plans are misunderstood creatures. For this reason, I’ll be spending much more time discussing dev plans than would otherwise be required. Development plans deserve none of the credit they receive nor the scorn to which they are often subject. As I proceed to discuss development plans I want you to think of the words of the immortal Yoda – “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Given our previous discussion in the section titled “Planets Are Unique”, one observation should spring to mind when looking at the development plan spreadsheet: Development plans are overwhelmingly simplistic and crude when applied as a tool for establishing DEA priorities for any given planet. Development plans do not respect gravity, terrain, nor varying regional resource efficiencies. On several occasions I’ve seen a mineral rich planet consisting of nothing but plains! From the standpoint of mineral efficiency, this world had only marginal mineral generation capabilities. Many of my “average” worlds could generate more minerals in their mountainous regions. Therefore, I would definitely zone some mine DEAs (since the quality of “rich” confers additional monetary value)on the mineral rich world mentioned above, but I wouldn’t go overboard. That Mineral Rich mine/mauf/mine dev plan would place too much mineral emphasis for such a world.

In addition, development plan classifications do not pretend to acknowledge the difference between a planet which has fully developed all regions with DEAs vs. those that have not. As an example, most planets are born with either the Secondary or Frontier classification. They will cling to this classification long after they have populated all regions with DEAs. As such, one cannot use the Secondary dev plan in a manner which emphasizes DEAs for developing worlds while simultaneously emphasizing DEA enhancements for more developed Secondary worlds. In fact, all planets, regardless of their individual strengths and differences are, by and large, classified similarly (New/Secondary, New/Frontier). By mid-game, a planet may have established anywhere from 20-100% of their DEAs in the 15 turns that they are labeled as new (I’ve seen planets with magnate civs polish up all available regions after only 13 turns using a Specialized zoning policy without having the benefit of any industry!). Sigh , what is a macromanager to do? Dev plans seem hopelessly outmatched when such challenges are considered fully.

With that, let me segue into my thoughts on dev plans.

Prescribing which DEAs a planet should focus on is NOT the primary purpose of development plans! Let me repeat that, DEVELOPMENT PLANS ARE NOT TOOLS DESIGNED FOR PRESCRIBING DEAS!!!!! The current DEA-centric focus of development plans is misguided and will lead to severe frustration.

The primary purpose of development plans to improve/enhance the priorities specified in the plan by any means necessary. There are several means available for satisfying a development plan priority. ONE way, and not necessarily the most effective nor best method, is the establishment of a new DEA corresponding to the priority established in the dev plan. A BETTER way is to enhance existing DEAs through the use of DEA enhancing structures. These structures can dramatically affect the output of existing DEAs. Additionally, there are no lost development opportunities when building such structures. Given their dramatic effect on DEA output, building such improvements is the preferred approach to fulfilling your wishes. To reinforce the point, lets take a look at the DevelopmentPlans.txt file.

In this file, you can see that any given dev plan option (eg mine/research/manuf) has three simultaneous effects:

• +100 to <DEA>Cap
• +100 to <DEA>Eff
• +30 to <DEA>

This modifier is altered based upon the position it holds in your particular development plan. In the Primary slot, the modifier has the full effect as stated. In the secondary slot, it is reduce to 70% and to 30% in the tertiary slot.

You’ll notice immediately that the DEA-specific modifier is less than one-third that of the other two. Does this translate into less than one-third the level of influence? It would be speculative and reckless to say so without knowing the exact algorithm that consumes these numbers. However, I’ve conducted enough testing to suggest that this is, in fact, the case. There is also good reason for this (many of which have already been mentioned).

From the perspective of the viceroy, the establishment of a DEA is a dramatic and potentially career altering event for a planet. It permanently (again, from the standpoint of the viceroy) alters the development potential of the planet. It limits the planet’s options for additional development should the need arise. If, for example, a planet were to be blockaded and classified as Starving, there might be no place to establish a bio-harvest DEA to deal with such a contingency if the viceroy took a DEA-centric approach to planetary development. Additionally, establishing a DEA when there are plenty of improvements to choose from is not the most effective method of dealing with your dev plan request. DEA enhancements to existing DEAs often have at least as great an impact as the alternative approach of establishing new DEAs. Furthermore (and most importantly), a capacity/efficiency improvement built to enhance an existing DEA does not limit the viceroy’s options for future development. Regions can be left undeveloped and available to respond to future development pressures. This fact, in addition to the incredible diversity present within each planet that dev plan classifications cannot hope to capture adequately is the primary reason that development plans do not weigh the DEA option anywhere nearly and heavily as efficiency and capacity enhancements.

QSI provided you with dev plans because no other tool gives you so much precise control over a planet’s development. The modifiers in the DevelopmentPlans.txt have been tuned with their original purpose clearly in mind. Since each planet must be treated as an individual case, setting the DEA priority too high will often result in more inefficient decisions than not and should be considered a last resort.

Dev plans work remarkably well for what they were designed for. The problem is, when you’re looking for evidence of their impact, you’re often looking to the left, when you should be looking to the right.

As such, the primary purpose of dev plans can be summed up as follows:

Dev Plans instruct the viceroy to enhance development plan priorities using the BEST AVAILABLE methods.

The highest priority modifiers, therefore, are given to the preferred methods for dealing with your request: efficiency and capacity enhancements to existing DEAs. These modifiers acknowledge that, at the level from which dev plans work, this is the best sort of instruction that ALL planets can respond to equally.

With modifiers ranging from 30-100, the influence a dev plan has on prioritizing efficiency and capacity developments is profound and overwhelming. The influence on DEA development, however, could best be described as a “nudge” or “tweak.”.

The BEST DEA modifier corresponds to the tertiary influence of a capacity/efficiency modifier. This is the primary reason why so many are frustrated at their development plans. When players construct development plans they are thinking in terms of DEAs when they should be thinking in terms of DEA improvements.

Development plans will result in a significant alteration to the number of DEAs when the following conditions are met:
* The resource efficiency of the zone meets the requirements for consideration of your chosen DEA as indicated in the Regional Zoning section (this will tend to be more frequent under a Natural zoning policy) AND / OR there is a high level of agreement between what you have chosen as a dev plan priority and the needs/requirements of your chosen Regional Zoning priority (e.g. You have zoned a Recreation DEA and the planet is experiencing significant unrest).
* There are no other pressing needs or regional zoning biases (e.g. the need for Balanced to place at least one research DEA) which will usurp your chosen priority.
* You have few, if any, efficiency or capacity improvements available as an alternative.

As such, development plans will have a largely DEA-centric impact only during the initial stages of an empire’s development cycle. During this vulnerable stage, however, the influence of your dev plan priorities can range from modest to catastrophic (esp. when using a Natural zoning policy). This is because there exists no other recourse for the viceroy to satisfy your demand.

You would do much better to rely on development plans once you have achieved some measure of technological advancement. The influence of development plans will then take stride as they will have an overwhelming impact with respect to how such improvements are prioritized and a far more modest and rational impact on the number of DEAs.

On balance, you will be much more satisfied with development plans when you acknowledge their proper role, to prioritize DEA efficiency and capacity development, not DEAs. When it comes to a macromanagment DEA-centric tool, that would be your Regional Zoning policy.

Not only are dev plans not DEA-centric, I believe they were meant to be used to establish MULTIPLE, DISTINCT priorities. They CAN be used to overload (I define overloading as repeating a priority whether within or across plans) priorities when the need arises. However, I do not believe this to be an efficient use of dev plans nor was it the intended use. Dev plan targets HAVE ALREADY BEEN GIVEN THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF EMPHAISIS TO DO THE JOB when used according to the simpler Primary, Secondary, Tertiary paradigm. If they weren’t, QSI would have done just as well to label Primary as 1.0 and Secondary as 0.7 and so on and provide us a modifier total rather than forcing us to do the math ourselves. Development plans are more than capable of having very adequate influence for ALL THREE priority classifications when used to prioritize efficiency/capacity improvements. As such, they permit you lots more flexibility than they are given credit for. A good macromanager, will rely on this flexibility to fully exploit the ability and potential of development plans.

The current approach to dev plans seems to be to come up with some sort of composite multiplier by using as many as three dev plans with redundant entries resulting in massive priority overloading. The end result feels more like playing with a combination lock than setting empire wide priorities.

What is needed from most players is a change in their expectations. Dev plans are a highly effective tool but not for the purpose that has been commonly ascribed to them. Unlearn what you have learned! Subvert the dominate paradigm!

When used to prioritize efficiency and capacity improvements, several things will become clear as you play MOO3:
---- Dev plans will quite often be fewer in number and much more meaningful. I believe this is why there are only 12 slots for dev plans and no scroll bar. You just don’t need that many at any given time Your dev plans should be targeted to achieve very specific aims.
---- You will find that it is rarely necessary to repeat a dev plan priority either within or across plans. My advice is, don’t do it unless you have a truly urgent need for it.
---- You will typically find yourself using All Planets as a “batten down the hatches” plan that will serve you well when you need to marshal the empire’s resources for very specific purposes. It will, when used properly, be the only dev plan on the table when used for such a purpose.
---- Dev plans will be easier to understand and will change frequently.
---- You will find research more fulfilling as you can see a much clearer relationship between what you discover and the power you have through the use of dev plans to marshal it into service.
---- You will not fear unduly influencing your planet’s DEA choices because you understand that you really don’t have that much influence at all through dev plans. In addition, any influence you would have should be desirable. Go ahead, put Mine in the primary slot for mineral poor! If you’ve waited (as you should if you read the technology section) to obtain the requisite technologies before delving deeply into dev plans, you’ll rest easy knowing that the planet is humming away building Deep Extraction Mining or Automated Mines instead of mine DEAs.
---- Most importantly of all, creating dev plans will be more fun, less confusing, just as rich with strategic depth, and much easier to maintain.

If using development plans to prioritize regional and planetary improvements doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider the following:

There are seven different types of DEAs. The cost of a DEA ranges from 50-150 pps.
Most planets will ultimately establish all regions with a DEA in anywhere from 10-100 turns depending upon planet size and the availability of technology. A size 5 world would only need 10 to complete the DEA development cycle.

On the other had, there are at least 19 different efficiency and capacity enhancements that can be acquired to enhance mining and bioharvest output alone! These mods can cost anywhere from 25-300 pp and have their own population requirements.

As such a planet with 2 of each DEA (bioharvest/mine) would have to build at least 28 DEA structures, and 5 planetary improvements to fully enhance just these four DEAs. Throw in research and industrial improvements and divert some resources to building dreadnoughts and you can clearly see that prioritizing such DEA efficiency/capacity builds can have a major impact on your empire’s development through time. Many planets will never fully develop as a result and/or will take a very long time to do so. As such, dev plans are extremely effective at putting you in the driver’s seat when it comes to decided what gets built and when.

Development Plan Myth: The Supernatural Power of the All Planets Dev Plan

It is a commonly asserted that the All Planets development plan has greater potency than other development plans. Some have suggested that it will weigh development plan choices at twice the weight of those present in other plans. Still others have speculated that All Planets priorities will preempt others. All such notions are utterly false. ALL PLANETS WORKS IN EXACLTY THE SAME FASHION AS ANY OTHER DEV PLAN.

I believe this myth started primarily due to the fact that All Planets, unlike any other dev plan, is omnipresent. No other dev plan is assigned throughout a planet’s entire development lifecycle (aside from player defined plans).

Sample Data:

To illustrate just how much of an influence dev plans can have, here’s what happened when I re-ran the 77 turn test mentioned in the Regional Zoning section while using a Balanced zoning policy. I used an All Planets dev plan as follows:

All Planets: Manf/ research / trade

Balanced Without Dev Plan

Bio Mine Ind PPs TT AU 7.5k/3.2k 11.7k/4.9k 37.9k 31.5k 60.1k 112.1 (+12k)

Total Amount in Treasury: 63.2 K

DEA totals for the seven planets:
BioHarvest 19
Mine 14
Industry 23
Research 9
Recreation 6
Military 6
Government 4
SpacePort 29

Balanced with Dev Plan

Bio Mine Ind PPs TT AU 7.1k/3.2k 13.3k/8.8k 47.1k 32.8k 64.5k 169.4 (-16.3k)

Total Amount in Treasury: <forgot to record this, damn>

DEA totals for the seven planets:
BioHarvest 19
Mine 10
Industry 21
Research 12
Recreation 6
Military 6
Government 4
SpacePort 22

A few things jump out at us from this data. Our DEA numbers don’t correspond well with the degree of emphasis placed in our dev plans. In the case of our primary and tertiary targets, we ended up with fewer DEAs. In the case of research, an handful more. Three more research DEAs doesn’t sound like much when it is given an emphasis which the book describes as “the viceroy will act on these quickly.” However, in spite of having almost 10% fewer manufacturing DEAs, we still ended up with 24% additional manufacturing capacity! Notice that this had an effect on our mineral resources. Note that the need for minerals has increased dramatically as well. Our test-tubes has increased but, unfortunately that doesn’t tell us much as I didn’t feel like adding up all of the acutal research capacity (sorry). Also note that our income has risen dramatically when compared to the non-dev plan outcome (ok, I admit that not knowing the amount I had in the treasury when I jotted down these numbers throws a slight monkey wrench in the income figure but I hope you’ll take my word for it that the balance was quite good).


Regrettably, there are exceptions when it comes to influencing DEA enhancements. The only DEA targets that I’ve found that violate the above principles are the following:

A second exception can occur with the Farm priority in mid-to-late stages of the game. Should you have technologies such as Bioorganic Monitoring, you will be altering the base bioharvest efficiency of the region. Since your Farm dev plan will have the greatest influence on regional build improvements, these structures will likely be built before any bioharvest DEAs are established. As such, when the efficiency reaches the proper threshold (usually about 7.0 for a Natural zoning policy), it will trigger the viceroy’s instinct to zone such regions as bioharvest. As such, when using Farm mid-to-late game, be sure not to let it linger too long. Get what you need, then get out lest you end up with too many bioharvest DEAs.

Putting Trade in your dev plans will result in an emphasis on building space port DEAs. This is the one instance where this is both expected and desirable as Spaceport DEAs are non-efficiency based DEAs that do not compete for space with the big 7.

Planetary Defense
Well, this one doesn’t have anything to do with DEAs so, I guess it’s an exception in general.

Lastly, realize that planets have very complex and dynamic economies. You cannot put undue stress on the growth and development of a planet and NOT have some unforeseen impact elsewhere. Take the Jobe III example above wherein mauf was the only development plan priority established. It still ended up with an extra research DEA even though none was specified in the dev plans. As such, expect a few surprises here and there but always realize that there is a reason for them.


You have three macromanagement tools that you can call upon to influence planetary development. Development plans alone are not sufficient to properly shape the destiny of your worlds. You must properly employ regional zoning and technology to influence the establishment of DEAs. Development plans can wield enormous power over the choice of which regional or planetary improvements to build and, when conditions are right, tip the balance in favor of preferred DEAs. Migration should be a consideration early on as well. Use migration with care early on by targeting worlds that can respond well to the sudden and rapid influx of population.

Key Points:

REGIONAL ZONING -> DEA-centric macromanagement tool. This plan will directly influence what sort of DEAs populate your planets.

DEVELOPMENT PLANS -> RBQ/PBQ - centric macromanagement tool. Use this plan to affect the viceroy's priorities when it comes to choosing which DEA efficiency and capacity enhancements to build.

TECHNOLOGY -> Can influence the number of DEAs required for any given planet. Provides fuel to your development plans in the form of capacity and efficiency enhancement technologies. As your technology progresses, development plans become progressively more influential.

Later, I hope to post some concrete strategies, but for now, I’m a bit exhausted. I actually do have a life. I hope those that managed to get through this entire series of articles found them useful. I didn’t expect to write a small book when I started this but it has been fun to write. However, I think I’m going to retire for a bit.



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