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Regional Zoning Strategies
by Zodicus

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.



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