Planetary Development Concepts
and Tools for Macromanagers
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
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
Alternatively, if the viceroy had a mission statement, it
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:
-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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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 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:
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
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
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
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
Secondary: mineral/bioharvest (regional
efficiencies >= approx. 7.0)
Tertiary: Research (regional eff
<= approx. 7.0), Military(size 5+ worlds), Gov(size 6+
* 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
• 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
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
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,
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).
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
• 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
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:
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:
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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”
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
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
* 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
---- 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
---- 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
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
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).
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
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:
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:
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.
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.
REGIONAL ZONING -> DEA-centric macromanagement tool.
This plan will directly influence what sort of DEAs populate
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
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.