The Meklar War Machine
I write this from the Meklar perspective (since that’s what I always play), but feel free to tweek it to whatever suits you. Note that this system works best after reading the “Super Fleet Cheat” and “Siege Warfare” posts that I also added to this site.
The first step for setting up your Meklar Empire is in the race customization screen. Buy down all your ground combat modifiers to the lowest levels, as you won’t be doing any of that (hopefully). You’re the “Pure Ones,” remember? Just glass planets and recolonize them afterwards – it will be much easier than managing conquered planets, and you’ll see why soon. Next, buy down your diplomacy, too, because you’re not going to be making any friends. Drop your homeworld’s biodiversity to “poor” – Meklars don’t need to be great farmers. Now take all those extra points and make your government Collectivist so that your government can become a Unification once the game starts and take the Natural Engineers bonus. The next thing to do is increase your Citizenship to “Loyalty” – this is very important! The bonus to unrest reduction will allow you to jack the taxes up to Empire 5%, System 0%, and Planetary 35% without causing any unrest! If you have anything left over, put it!
into Mining (primary) & Manufacturing (secondary), as this will be critical not just for production, but feeding your population as well.
If you really want to push you advantage, keep restarting the game as many times as needed to place your homeworld in one of the spiral arms. This is what I call the “hermit crab” method. Hopefully, there will be no one else in the arm spinward (allowing uncompleted growth in that direction) and only one or two routes leading coreward (thus only one direction to defend from). By turn 200, you’ll probably have the entire spiral arm colonized and all to yourself.
Now as soon as the game starts, begin building five ship squads of light missile ships (see Siege Ships for details – 250 system speed, 4 racks of PD nukes and some light lasers for defense. Even corvettes & frigates will do). Two squads should do the trick for now. Send them behind your scout ships, stopping only at systems with multiple jump points or when you finally encounter another empire. Stop one jump behind them and park them there. The idea is not to be a serious threat, but rather to be able to have just enough firepower as far ahead as possible to prevent any of their scouts or – more importantly – colony ships from getting past you. This will allow you an edge in colonization, as anything between your homeworld and that “forward border guard” is effectively claimed as yours, even before you get your colony ships out there. Reinforce as necessary, as the AI will get annoyed and start sending more ships to break you up. This method will also allow you scra!
p those useless system defense ships you start with early on.
Also, I found that tweeking the technology priorities to 20% in Mathematics, Energy, and Physical Sciences is usually a good call (done at the expense of Biology Science – you’re Meklars, right?) All you ship upgrades come from these fields, especially missiles, armor & engines.
In the meantime, expand! Be sure to colonize every planet in your home system, no matter how useless it may seem, and then move outward to the limit of your border guard fleets.
Now for colony development, all colonies fall into three basic categories: Mining, Industry, and Research. If a planet is Rich or Very Rich, it’s mining. If it’s a nice sized gas giant with 10 – 12 regions, it’s Industry. Anything is Research.
Now here’s the formula for doing this: In the first planet of every system, the first DEAs will be 1 Government and 1 Military. Once your tech gets better, this will have an Outreach that significantly lowers unrest (and allows a small production bonus) throughout your system. Everything else can be mining (if applicable) or research. No need for any industry – your Natural Engineers bonus will allow the planet to grow (albeit slowly) entirely on its own.
On Research worlds, the first two DEA slots are Recreation. Why Recreation? Because they give a bonus to your Space Port tax, which in turn gives you more AUs to spend on research, will which will be what you put in every other DEA on the planet. Again, no need for industry. While it will take a little for such a planet to take off, you’ll be happy with the headaches you save in not having to back and change anything (more on this soon).
On Industry worlds, there is some consideration. As Meklars, your preferred gravity is Low, and most gas giants are either High or Extreme. This means that your industry worlds will be suffering production penalties until you develop Mass Synthesizers (early in the game) and Gravitational Focus Arrays (later). However, even with both of these in place, Extreme gravity worlds will still penalize you one level, so I usually just pass those over to being research. So an ideal industry world is a gas giant with moderate to high gravity, and minerals average to very poor (if they were rich or very rich, they’d be mining worlds). Now what to put on them? Fill the entire thing with industry DEAs. A gas giant will hold 20 to 24 of them. Don’t worry about unrest – that’s what the government planet next door is for. Now it takes time for all those DEAs to get up and running, and a bit before they really start cranking out the production points. That’s okay, though, because you’ve got your one open door coreward covered by those missile frigates.
You’ll not need more than eight such planets to win the game, in fact, because once they are running at full capacity, you’ll be able to crank out ten-packs of SuperDreadnaughts every five turns per planet.
Also, it is a good idea to turn of the Economic AI on such worlds. Why? Because it builds useless things. An industry world like this does not need any bioharvesting or mining structures – only shipyards & pollution control. As stated before, you should be able to jack the tax rate up to 35% at first and later to 40% once your government planet is built up without causing any unrest.
Also, some handy management tips for making the interface easier & faster to use. First, on you Turn Report main screen, turn off “Construction” & “Green Items.” The only construction you’ll want to look at is ship production, and green items are pretty meaningless anyway. Now you’re only looking at the important stuff. Next, go to your Planets screen and set it to Primary: Shipyard Capacity, Secondary: Industry and Details: Build Que. This will put your ship producing industry worlds at the top of the list, so you can keep track of what’s being built easier. Third, and this is very in character for Meklars, is to not be creative with ship names in the shipyard. I have a simple coded system for it all, using abbreviations for (in order) hull size, ship type, armor, shields, and speed. So a early missile cruiser with titanium armor, a class one shield and a nuclear engine would be “CR-IF/T-1-105” (cruiser, indirect fire/titanium armor, class one shield, speed of 105).
A colony ship built on a battleship hull with neutronium armor, class three shield, and sub-light drives would be “BB-CY/N-3-133” and so on.
In that same frame of mind, anything other than a colony detachment gets the same kind of coded name. A fleet of ten battleships with fusion drives would dimple be “10*BB-168” This let’s you see at a mere glance exactly what is in your task force and the critically important aspect of how fast it goes.
And remember to just blast enemies instead of landing troops. You have to -15 unrest bonus - they don't! As soon as you start adding them to your empire, you'll start getting flooded with planetary unrest because they can't handle the tax rates that are normal to you.
Finally, one last note on ship design: The AI never arms or armors its colony ships. Don’t make the same mistake! Yes, it costs more, but dropping the engines down on a standard colony ship design to a speed of 250 will give you room to add some shields and some point defense weapons. You’ll be glad you did it the first time you get ambushed and managed to escape even after taking a missile strike, or find you & an opponent trying to colonize the same world at the same time and are actually able to go into combat with him (using just colony ships on both sides) and winning.
PS - If you feel like being an enlightened ruler, you'll find that 1 or 2 industry worlds that are building no ships will generate so much many "Gift to Empire" AUs per turn that you can set your Empire tax rate to ZERO and still make a profit.