Regional Zoning Strategies
It is my opinion that Regional Zoning can be
a dynamic choice in every bit the same way as dev plans. When
I read the descriptions for Natural, Specialized, and Balanced,
it would seem at first blush that either Natural or Specialized
make the most sense. However, as I’ve been reading these
threads, it seems that we’re learning more and more
about the lesser DEAs like Recreation and Government and the
powerful influences they can wield late game on an empire’s
economy and production. As such, here is an approach I’ve
been taking recently to the simple yet undeniably powerful
regional zoning setting:
Early-Mid Game: Natural Zoning
Natural zoning seems to be a good fit for the nascent empire.
It focuses first on needs then proceeds to specialize a bit
(at least as described). This would appear to be exactly the
sort of policy I might want in the early game when I’ve
only got a few planets and surpluses are harder to come by
as the technologies for enhancing production don’t exist.
As such, every planet needs to service its own food and mining
needs to a greater degree so I usually start with this policy
(maybe that’s also why it is the default). I will also
use this policy mid-game after I've got proper mineral/food
surpluses having used a Specialized policy.
Early-Mid Game: Specialized Zoning
After I’ve got a few planets established that can feed
themselves and have some basic industry, I switch quickly
to a Specialized policy. At this stage, I don’t yet
have powerful trade technologies so I’ll used specialized
zoning as a way of generating a good tax base from surplus
mineral and food production that will fund empire-wide taxes
later when I want to use this cash to fund grants. Specialized
is also an excellent approach to feeding new planets with
the food/mineral surpluses generated from more established
worlds. Again, the driving force behind a specialized plan
is the need for extra resources when the technology for either
enhancing their production or reducing the need is absent.
Mid-Late Game: Balanced
At this point, I’ve got a fair number of planets at
the core of my empire, and am starting to really branch out.
I’ve probably researched spaceports and have some government
enhancing techs that can help with tax collection and industrial
production. In addition, I've got a set of core worlds and
most of my new planets are on the periphery and have more
complex needs. The core planets are producing the requisite
mineral/food resources so newer planets need less focus in
these areas. In order to stay alive, they'll need to quell
unrest and fight off invaders. As such, their development
may require at least one or more of the following deas: recreation,
military, or government. Each serves a purpose and just about
every planet can benefit enormously from having at least one.
As such, I’ll switch to a balanced zoning policy. Balanced,
at first blush, doesn’t appear to produce efficient
planets. However, with good dev plans in place to nudge a
vic in the right direction, using a balanced policy, you can
still obtain some limited degree of specialization while resting
confident that every planet will get a good sprinkling of
the odd-ball DEAs without your having to explicitly mention
them in your dev plans. The end result is usually planets
that develop more robustly than those that developed in the
earlier stages of the game (unless you manually interven to
remove deas in older worlds).
Occassionally, if I notice that I’m running a slim
to zero surplus of minerals/food, I’ll switch to a Specialized
zoning policy for a few turns. This is usually enough to generate
a needed surplus w/o my having to change a single dev plan.
Those are just my thoughts but I’d be curious to see
how others use regional zoning. During some of my testing
long ago, I noticed significant differences between the three
settings given the exact same dev plans. I also noticed that,
when I ran 50 turn tests under identical conditions (i.e.
only one active dev plan purely for testing purposes, I think
it was a just an All Planet: mine/-/-), more often than not,
a Balanced zoning policy actual came out ahead with Natural
being the worst performer! I can’t draw any conclusions
from that simple and unrealistic scenario other than to say
that a Balanced Policy may have a role to play. As such, I
think this is an area that needs some targeted discussion.