I keep waiting for someone to toss up a strategy guide after playing the game for awhile, some getting a headstart for that purpose apparently, but that's just not happening. So here is what I learned that I think might be helpful to others. - October 29, 2014
If you got the digital version of the game, you should Google for the manual, and download it. No idea why they don't just give you that on Steam.
Some information is outdated if you are using the Rising Tide expansion pack. See the Rising Tide section to learn how much spying and whatnot has changed.
When you start the game remember, don't choose anything you can easily get in the game. A worker or soldier is pointless, you getting either of those after a few turns if you wanted to build one. Other bonuses make more sense. I play the faction now that has the bonus for Covert Operations, since spying on others is a great way to get technology fast. When setting up things look to the top area and you'll see Advance Settings. You can get rid of all resource pods, set it where the only victory allowed is conquest, etc. I see an option that you have to wipe out all cities and units to win. I would like an option to wipe out all cities, not have to waste time hunting down every unit they might have out there somewhere to win. I just won a game where I captured a city, and surprise, it was the capital, so I won. I had already wiped out most of their military and would've easily taken out their few remaining cities, but still, seems kind of odd. Most will put their first city on the shore, so sending a load of evolved gunboats over to blast away its defenses, and then have a melee unit walk on in and claim it, is rather simple to do.
Crashing and locks up
- Update! The patch in January 2015 fixed the problems various people were having.
If I click anything at all while it is loading, it crashes on me. So I don't do that. In the settings you can stop the opening film from playing each time, that making the game load up much faster.
If I zoom out all the way, and have too many bases and units on the screen, it will sometimes lock up and no matter how long I wait, won't start again, I having to close it.
With Windows 8.1, Task Manager still appears when you hit CTRL ALT DEL, but it doesn't appear over the game unless you right click on it on the taskbar, on the right most part, not the main part, and select "Always on Top". Not done by default for some reason. Need to do this to close it at times.
Saving your game often will avoid some stress, should it crash on you.
My desktop was new in March of 2014, it cheap at about 300 dollars I think it was. So not the fastest gaming computer of course. Others have had problems also though, people not getting new computers as often these days, or paying a lot more for something they don't absolutely need. This is the first new game I've gotten in a decade. If I played games a lot I'd probably have a superior system. Anyway, point being if you got a super cheap computer, or a really old one, you might have a problem, but not something you can't work around, and if you have a nicer one, you probably won't have any problems.
Aliens are a slight problem early on, but once you build some decent military units, all of them are easily dealt with.
Aliens keep spawning from nests. New alien nests appear over time in any xenomass with miasma. If you remove the miasma but not the xenomass, it will appear again over time, and aliens will respawn.
As I wrote on the Miasma article page, The Tier 1 technology Ecology (80) gives you Miasmic Repulsor satellite with its leaf technology of Alien Biology (190) allowing workers to clear Miasma and giving them immunity to damage by it. The satellite only affects tiles claimed by one of your cities, and doesn't really affect them too well even then, and it doesn't stay in orbit long either. Not really worth the cost.
At the beginning. if you don't attack any aliens, then most types usually won't attack even though they'll get right next to you. Nothing is for certain though. Even if you have done nothing wrong, they could ignore you one turn, and then attack you the next, even if you haven't moved your explorer from that spot. Don't get too close to any alien nests or you'll get attacked for sure.
Sea dragons will attack anything in the water.
Siege worms just rampage wherever they want, and can destroy your stuff, breaking roads and destroying trade caravans. If you want to kill one, you need to focus on the technology to give you stronger units. Find one that can attack from a distance so it can't get to them.
If you move any units, you have to do it one space at a time, or they'll end up getting themselves in miasma and taking damage, or walking into an alien nest.
If you kill enough aliens, other factions will call you up and ask you to stop. Why they expect you to stop in the middle of a cleansing battle necessary to eliminate the last aliens on your island, is beyond me. If they aren't strong enough to handle the agitated aliens on their islands, then they aren't strong enough to handle a guy with the firepower to kill those aliens.
As I wrote in the Kraken article, The power of your naval unit or units attacking the kraken in their first volley is important. If you can do enough damage to it with your first attack, that it can only move one space each turn, then you have easily won. Any ship can easily move out of range of it, and then open fire and hit it, in the same turn. It will move next to it the following turn, and then its turn is over, it unable to attack. The ship can keep moving off to leave a space between it and its target, and then firing away, until the creature is dead. I'm not certain, but the kraken might get stronger in time. I could've sworn it was much easier to kill previously when I hunted them. Do aliens surprisingly get stronger as time goes by or after so many have been killed?
Sea dragons however are quite fast, and will get up in your face and attack you. If you get the first shot at them, then when its their turn to attack you, you fight back and your second volley is enough to kill them.
Once your affinity level is high enough to level up your gunboats, you'll be able to easily kill anything in the ocean. Gunboats are also great at firing from water to land, to kill alien land units.
Hunting siege worms can be irritating when they keep moving each turn, so by the time you move your artillery and set it up to fire, they have already moved out of range.
You can build an ultrasonic fence to keep any aliens from getting within two tiles of your city. As soon as you complete it, you'll be given a surprise quest option to increase your range or get protection for all trade vehicles. So that's great to have. You can have a military range unit stand where you are under your base's ultrasonic fence protection, and attack alien units a tile away, and they can not fight back. Hiding within the two tile range of someone else's city doesn't seem to work, but no way to tell if they had an ultrasonic fence built there or not when I tried it. If you fight with a marine to a siege worm, then standing in the protected zone doesn't stop you from getting killed, as I learned from a recent test. So probably only works with range units, even when the range unit is right next to your opponent.
Helpful exploit: When you click on a unit's move command, anywhere you point to will have a number to show you how many moves to get there, unless something is there already blocking you from moving there, in which case you'll just see a red circle around that tile. So this allows you to know where aliens are at, even if they are too far away from any of your units to see.
- Note! This information is now outdated. Autoplants no longer give you an extra trade route, sea trade is the same as land trade, and trade has been greatly reduced since the patch of December 8th 2014.
Trade is insanely important in this game. You can get far more production and food from trade than by working all of your tiles combined. The more Production you have, the fewer turns it takes to make things.
Some technologies you can get way faster than others.
Each settlement you build can have two trade routes
, until you get Autoplant, then you get a third.
When you look in your city screen, and see how much food and production you have, and then see how much you are getting from trade, its shows how important trade routes are. You can have more production that way than by working your city tiles. Trade allows you to turn your outpost into cities a lot faster also.
Once you have the necessary technology, you can build the Autoplant in your cities, and have a third trade route open to them. Once completing your first Autoplant, it'll be a turn or two before you get the quest option for a third trade route, or something else. If you have any knowledge of how this game works, you will choose the trade route of course.
There is a virtue that gives you 25% greater trade between your own cities.
There is no limit to how many trade convoys/vessels you can send to an outpost. I'm not sure if all of them combined have an effect or not. Here is a screenshot of me having 36 different trade routes set to a single outpost.
Pioneering technology is something you should get straight away, you even able to start with it if you choose that option at the beginning. It will allow you to build Colonist. You need to do that as soon as possible, then build trade depots so you can make trade units to trade with them. The production and food generated from trade, will be significant.
- Habitation (0): Worker unit, Explorer unit, Soldier unit, Old Earth Relic building, Clinic building
- Pioneering (76): Colonist unit, Trade Convoy unit, Trade Depot building
- Planetary Survey (76): Work Barge improvement, Embarkation ability
You start with Habitation no matter what. The leaf technology of Planetary Survey will be useful whenever you have coral or fungus in a water tile any of your bases can work, you able to move a worker to that spot and build a work barge. The embarkation ability means any unit can swim. The ocean has sea dragons that will attack you no matter what, but if there are small lakes around, then this is a safe and great way to get around.
- Ecology (80): Miasmic Repulsor satellite, Ultrasonic Fence building, Vivarium building
- Geophysics (190): Geothermal resource, Geothermal Well improvement
- Alien Biology (190): +12 Harmony, Workers can clear Miasma, Worker Miasma Immunity
I have already stated why an ultrasonic fence is so important, protecting your colonies and your trade units. Geophysics you can skip for now. Alien Biology you will need if you have a lot of miasma around the area you are in, and wish to clear it.
- Computing: Missile Rover unit, Gunboat unit, Spy Agency building, Network building
Gunboats are great of course whenever you want to start killing sea dragons. Missile Rovers allow you to fire two spaces away, but require a turn to setup. Sometimes they are useful for hunting siege worms. The big thing though is the Spy Agency, which you'll need to rapidly gain technology by spying on others, and also use to keep others from getting their spies into your cities and causing problems.
- Terraforming: (Gaian Well), Floatstone Quarry improvement, Terrascape improvement
- Biospheres: +25 Purity, ability: Improves energy output of Domes by 1, carries over 10% of city's food after growth
- Climate Control: +25 Supremacy, Weather Controller orbital unit
The Terrascape is a wonder thing you can build anywhere and produce 2 Food, two Production, and two Culture. If you have the surplus energy needed to maintain it each turn, its well worth it. Later on when you have a lot of tiles producing food, and enough citizens to work them all, you might want to learn Climate Control, you able to send up satellites to increase food production on the tiles it covers. Stays in orbit long enough to be very useful. You can put it over another colony's tiles even.
- Robotics: Tacjet unit, (Autoplant), Firaxite Mine improvement, Manufactory improvement
Robotics might seem a bit costly early on, but well worth it.
The Autoplant gives you an extra trade route. You can also start working Firaxite, although you might not need it for awhile. If you plan on doing any combat, being able to make the TacJet will be useful, it having a nice attack range. You can not fight siege worms with it though, since even though you are flying above it, and it stuck in the ground, it can rise up and wave around and somehow hit you enough to destroy your unit/s. Its worth getting this technology just for the Autoplant.
- Note that Autoplant no longer gives you an extra trade route after the patch, so this technology is far less valuable. Back when trade routes gave far more reward than they do now, and you could get an extra one by this, it was well worth it without any doubt at all.
- When you decide to research a technology, you should check to see which ones gives you points in the infinity you have chosen. By clicking the filter option, you can make most of those stand out, there one Supremest one that didn't show up though do to a bug. The higher your affinity level, the more powerful your military units will be. Having vastly superior military units, will make exterminating aliens or rival human factions far easier.
Health is extremely important after the patch. When choosing a technology, you need to see what will allow you to increase your health, so you can build more colonies and get a rather nice bonus for production and other things. This isn't just buildings, but also the all important biowell. At Health 45, you get the maximum bonuses possible.
- Biowells are something you should get as soon as you can. After the patch, health is even more important, negative health hurting you badly, and positive health giving you great benefits. Every biowells you have a citizen working, gives you +1 Health and +2 Food. It has a maintenance cost of 2 Energy. So build more generators around, or work at getting technology to build things inside your colonies to produce more electricity.
A spy network is a great way to gain technology. By clicking on the Diplomacy icon and looking at that menu, you can see who has a spy network. You can easily get it before any of the AIs do. This allows you to safely build up intrigue at their cities without them having any agents to counter you. Every mission you successfully do builds up the intrigue level at the city you do it in, allowing you to do higher level things. Steal energy, steal science points, steal technology, etc.
If you are caught, an AI can publicly denounce you as being untrustworthy, even if you previously caught them spying on you.
If you see your intrigue level going up at any of your cities, you can reassign a spy to lower it down again. They have to do several missions before its high enough for them to steal any technology from you. If it ever got too high, you could build a surveillance web, but that wouldn't lower it down any, it just makes it so they can still get it high enough to steal technology, just not high enough to conquer the base or destroy it.
You start with 3 agents.
You get an extra spy from building your first Cel Cradle, Feedsite Hub, and Command Center buildings in any of your cities.
Completing the Redacted quest to perform a mission level 4(crash satellites) or higher, will reward you with a new agent, and give you the Culper Lodge in your capital, which promotes all recruits to special agents, their highest rank.
Your first Surveillance Web gives you a quest option that has the option "Covert Agents need fewer successful operations to advance in rank".
So you need to build one of each just to get that quest upgrade.
There is a Virtue that gives you one agent.
If you get eight Tier 2 Virtues, you get another agent.
So nine agents total. If you find later in the game that you aren't succeeding in stealing technology most of the time, then you can put some agents in headquarters and have them set to increase your chances of stealing technology, or of not getting killed.
Some turns you'll succeed in stealing technology from multiple AIs at once, and all of them will be ones that boost your affinity in the same thing. Whether the affinity of the tech is considered when the program decides what to steal, I have no idea, but too often to be a coincidence. You may also be able to steal technology that the AI you are stealing from, doesn't even have. Not sure about that, but sometimes I get a very advanced tech, that would've taken far too many turns to get early on in the game, so unlikely they could've had it.
If an agent is caught and killed, you will eventually get a replacement agent.
If you choose the option to Recruit Defectors, you can get some nice units. I recently did it and got three new units, including a CNDR which requires Firaxis to make. The units aren't taken from your enemy, they just magically appear out of nowhere like the energy and science points you steal. It takes far fewer turns to do this covert operation than it would to produce all of the units you get.
When choosing a target, try to pick someone far away from you, since if you ever do tick them off enough for them to go to war, they'll be too far away to do it effectively. Some hostile personalities might be more likely to war against you. If you can see the units someone has, you can see who has the most advanced technology. Give you a chance of stealing something good. Also, check the diplomacy setting, and you can see a score, and spy on those with the highest score, or the most wonders listed.
If you use a secret agent to capture a base, then that faction will call up complaining, and in the diplomacy section consider you a warmongerer, while others don't. I did this, and the guy was "hostile" to me from the start of the game, no idea why, just the AI for the red team doing that, and he didn't declare war on me for that. He was busy fighting someone else at the time, so that might be why. So nothing loss by stealing one of his cities.
No matter how many times I get caught spying on someone, stealing tech or whatever, no one ever goes to war with me. They contact me, and I refuse to stop, so no treaty broken later when they catch me again. Some do condemn me or become "guarded" but that it. I still have a get some of them to steal renew a cooperative agreement with me.
Note that if you caught an AI player spying on you, even if they agree to stop, they won't. You'll just catch them again a short time later.
If you look over the virtues, you'll see in the military section there is the option to get science points from all the aliens you kill. If you look at how many science points you need to advance through technology, and how many points you get from the different types of aliens, and just how many aliens there are to exterminate, its something you need to aim for early on. Also a virtue leading to that to give you a bonus when attacking alien life. I don't know how often new aliens appear if you don't bother their nests, or how fast exactly nest respawn if you destroy one. Need to keep having as many appear as possible. Build ships to work together at taking out any sea dragons, until you are powerful enough to destroy them one on one without any fail, and to go around the coast killing off aliens in mass. Destroy some, others will step up to the coastline for you to target next.
There is a virtue that reduces the negative health by 25%. So if you always have negative health from your rapid expansions, you'll soon have positive instead. Seems like it helps more than 25%, but whatever. You need to aim for this when you can. Other virtues exist to give additional health also.
Got virtues to make wonders cheaper, make buildings cheaper after the capital builds them, and increase what you get from trade routes. Just look around, and make certain to plan ahead and only aim for the good ones.
There is also a technology to make virtues cost less culture points. You might want to look around for it and remember its there.
Update With patches to the game, aliens no longer will attack you at all if you don't attack any of them or destroy any of their nests first. You can avoid fighting them at all. Gain technology far faster by using spies to steal science points. If you are playing with the Rising Tide expansion, you can do this even easier, as the spy woman has additional bonuses in her personality traits, as well as from artifacts found, and treaties with others, which make spying for science points super easy. If any spies actually do get caught and killed, three turns later and they are back again.
If you wish to avoid fighting aliens at all, you can focus on the second column on the virtue menu, and work your way down to the health bonuses. With more health, you can build more cities, and thus have greater production and thus power.
You get virtues when you earn enough culture points, and you can get these by building various things. Check the technologies list for things that give you culture. You can launch multiple holomatrix satellites around a city, covering all of its tiles, and build various things to increase your orbital range as well. You can sign a treaty to get culture for all strategic resources you work. Once a city's culture output is high enough, it'll appear in trade convoy options. Late game you should have enough culture coming in to get a new virtue every other turn.
I'm not certain if distance makes any difference at all. I was thinking maybe I'd just start making cities closer to one another, they not needing as many tiles to flourish, they could just rely on trade to make production and food magically appear out of nowhere. After the December patch, trade has been greatly reduced. You still don't need a lot of land for your cities to expand to, since after you use the tiles nearest you, you'll have time to build various buildings within that give you +food, +production, +energy, etc, as well as specialist slots. Put a worker in a slot for food production, and it might provide more food for you than that worker would've gotten you if it was working a tile on the map.
In the starting menu, you can choose options to keep automated workers from destroying things you already built. I don't use automated workers, but instead tell them where to move, then build the most obvious thing that should be built there, it usually but not always what the game/governor suggest. I refuse to use a mine site for food, knowing those minerals might be valuable one day, and I got plenty of food growing elsewhere already. Automated workers will also waste time removing miasma even if your Harmony rating is high enough that it doesn't harm you at all. If the miasma heals you while hurting you enemies, you want as much of it around as possible of course.
If you have roads built to connect your settlements, make certain you have it go all the way to the cities themselves, don't just stop a few tiles away because you weren't paying attention. That's what happened to me, so, doh!
When another group has an explorer unit in your territory, you can move your own units to block them in, forcing them to move towards where aliens are at, and fight them, and thus be killed.
You start with just one expedition per explorer unit. You use these on crashed satellites and giant alien bones, to get stuff. Using them on the bones, makes another alien come and join you, because it saw how much you liked digging up bones of its former master, and decided to obey you from now on instead.
"Culture" determines how many tiles you can claim. I understand if this was on ancient Earth, that made sense, you influencing those around you and bringing them into your city state, but on an alien world its rather ridiculous. Old junk/relics from Earth give you culture. Uh huh. Claim more land because someone had some old junk from the home world. Anyway, the game isn't suppose to be 100% believable, just well balanced. Just pointless nitpicking there.
You can not work land outside your tiles, other than to drain miasma, create miasma, build roads and magrails, and cut down forest. Roads come with a maintenance cost, so you don't want to build them except to connect cities and get energy reward from that which pays for the cost of building it, or after you get your Supremacy to level 3 and roads and magrails then cost nothing to maintain.
When you get a new tile added to your city, you can't choose what tile it'll take, or even one direction it expands in. You can use energy to buy tiles also, but only certain ones, not every tile touching an area you already own. So the one you want can remain out of reach for 80 turns still.
If people sign a cooperative agreement with you, then you can trade with them. You can trade science they have, for energy and whatnot. Different ones charge different amounts for it. If you refuse to give them an open border, it doesn't matter, there still some that will walk all over your place, and no way to force them to stop other than going to war with them.
If you set your explorer unit to automatically explore, it will do some pretty stupid things.
I started on the map with all the islands, so no other factions getting up in my face and causing problems straight away. I also choose the option that makes somethings cost fewer turns, since no sense mindlessly clicking on NEXT TURN a few dozen times just to have something happen.
It is rather irritating that military units can't share the same hexagon tile. It'd make it so much easier to get things into position and move them about.
There are some supply pods you can not get to without killing aliens that surround it just to make you have to kill them to get to it.
At Supremacy level 3, you don't have to pay any energy each turn for all the roads you have. So no reason then not to have them everywhere to help move your troops and workers around faster.
When a unit levels up, all units of that kind level up to the next unit of that type, and all new units you buy are that one and cost more.
If you order a military unit to move to a spot, but other units are blocking its way, it will sometimes just turn around deciding to go the long way around the map, around a long mountain chain, which would take forever to get there. So you have to watch out for that.
If you are going to do a wonder, it is important to see what cities have the most production. Then set up their trade routes to bring in the most production through trade. Getting a wonder done before your rivals, is important. I have twice failed to do that, someone completing the latest one just one turn ahead of me. There is no way to use energy to speed up production as Alpha Centauri had. You can however use it to buy units and base facilities, just not wonders. Note, after the patch, you can not buy a trade depot.
There is a quest decision which offers you a choice of having your worker units move 10% faster as one of the two options. So if there was anything you could build which required 10 turns, you could do it in 9. Since there is not a single thing that requires that many turns though, it does nothing at all. Perhaps its just the setting I choose, to eliminate uselessly long turns required for certain things. Does the regular game or the stretched out super long waiting settings perhaps have value in this? Of course, if you choose the option to have everything require more turns, then you wouldn't want a quest option to lessen that.
No matter what affinity you play, you can still get your level up in others. If the technology you want gives you an affinity boost in something, you got it that way. Also, technology your spies steal from others, will give you affinity boost. Having level 3 Supremacy for no energy cost for roads and magrails is great and easy to do. Level 6 harmony means miasma does not affect any of your units, you able to actually produce miasma everywhere just to weaken other groups trying to pass through.
When you launch a phase transporter satellite, you choose what area inside your territory, or outside your territory but over a faraxite deposit, to place it over. You can then teleport any unit from any city you have, to that location. Areas on the map not yet explored, still show where you can select an area to teleport to. When you select an area, it isn't just one spot you can teleport to, but several appearing next to that spot also. You can not teleport units to the same spot if you aren't normally allowed to stack them. You can send a ship to a spot in the ocean. Once you no longer need to teleport units to a spot, you can destroy that satellite, and get your petroleum and titanium resources back to use to build additional ones elsewhere.
Rapidly producing new colonies everywhere, gives you a negative health penalty early on. That is not a reason to slow down though. Even with the penalties, you are still much better off for having them. Just remember to build or buy a trade depot straight away. You can produce trade vessels and convoys in other bases that have a much higher production going, and then transfer them to the new bases to use. After sending one to them, you have to wait until the following turn to use them. Once you are able to build geowells, you can place them on terrain in your territory, and that will increase your health fairly easily. Go from negative, to positive. Technology you gain overtime gives you the ability to build things that give you more health also. You get the maximum bonus for getting your health to 20 or above. After that, it doesn't matter.
When building something, its important to remember to check the materials used, and not waste certain resources because you weren't paying attention and got something you didn't absolutely need.
If you plan on leveling up your units or getting science points for killing aliens(provided you have that virtue now), remember that other factions might kill those aliens before you get to them.
The moment I discover the first siege worm, I get a message from most of the other factions congratulating me on my love of native lifeforms, getting along with them, since I hadn't had a chance to kill any yet. One after the other, popping on my screen to say the same thing.
Remember, never give open borders to anyone. Its best to just block them as soon as possible, to keep them from expanding their cities. Buy land between your cities to make a solid line to block them at times, if the situation is right.
I am currently playing a game at the second to last hardest level, not impossible but the one before it, with all opponents and a large map, domination victory only, and you have to eliminate all of your enemy not just capture their capital. I have avoided any conflict at all with anyone. When they catch me spying on them, get mad that I'm buying land next to them, placing cities in their area, or spreading miasma around the border, I don't agree to anything, I just keep on doing it. They have fought with one another constantly, just a long never ending series of battles. Meanwhile I keep on expanding, having 50 cities. The game has lasted over 200 turns, and never once have I had to fight anyone. I stopped making military units long ago, only producing what I needed to kill aliens with. I have a massive stockpile of energy. My production levels are high enough I could easily raise a large army if necessary. I have researched all technology. I have gotten most of the Virtues. Switching Production in some cities to Culture, I am now able to get a new virtue every two turns, so it won't be too long until I have them all. Now that I have all the technologies, I can not steal tech from the others anymore. So can't get my intrigue levels in their bases high enough to do anything else. I just keep stealing energy instead, since you can never be too rich.
If you have a lot of water tiles, then you can produce more food in the farmer specialists slots some buildings give you.
You can focus on getting all the buildings that help you food wise, and then put your production to Agriculture, and watch your population rise faster. Once you have more citizens than you have tiles to work, you just put them in any specialists slots available, allowing you to gain more food, then once those are filled, science, culture, production, energy, or whatever else you need or desire.
I'm playing a game now where I have a large map and the option to have aliens more hostile and to respawn much faster and be more of them. Having a lot of fun just camping my units near nests and killing stuff that appears. I choose to have just one AI opponent, so I can just ignore them, and Domination victory only, so they can't build a gate to Earth or a giant mind controlling flower and win the game. I'd just as soon play with no AI opponents at all if they let me, and just focus on taming this alien infested world for myself.
Phasal Transporter technology allows you to connect to any Firaxis deposit on the map, so you can rapidly toss over colonists you make, and get them about the map faster. You get the resources used back when the satellite wears out and falls from orbit, or you choose to destroy it, you then able to rapidly make new ones to connect to other locations.
The higher you have one of your affinities, the stronger your units will be. The difference is massive, so when deciding what technology to research, try to focus on getting an affinity up.
Some units have an upgraded level that requires more than one affinity. You can choose Ignore and not upgrade it until you get another affinity up, so you can choose a superior upgrade. For instance a Supremacy player might not upgrade their gunboat past a certain point, until they get enough points in Purity to upgrade it to the Dreadnaught with its +1 Range bonus.
Once you have the Phasal Transporter technology, you can toss up satellites in your territory or over any Faraxis deposit on the map. You will then be able to teleport any unit you have from any of your bases, to that location. This includes boats if you have one of the spots over water.
If your affinity level is high enough to make your gunboats into something stronger, you can easily destroy any sea monster in the ocean, and blast the daylights out of enemy units from the coast, as well as cities. There is an affinity upgrade to let you move after you fire even, so you can move in, fire, and move out of range of return fire, every turn.
If you are going to war with someone, its best to have monorails leading from your bases down to where they are at, as much as possible. Roads are great to, but not as good as monorails. Most of your time will be making and moving units to the site of the latest battle, not actual fighting.
When I built an emancipation gate, two AI's declared war on me for killing native lifeforms. While fighting them, I check my Diplomacy setting, and find many others have negative feelings towards me, seeing me as a war mongerer. This despite the fact that they declared war on me. They don't feel the other groups are war mongerers though. One AI contacted me just to tell me he saw what was going on and didn't approve of my warlike manner. Another one said even though she couldn't win, and would surely face total destruction, she felt it best to fight me now than be killed by me later on, and joined with the other two.
Note that one of the first two had three bases total, I placing bases around her, and buying up tiles, to trap her in early on. She had badly outdated units, no possible chance against my vast empire. Odd she declared war. At least she got someone stronger to go along with her.
You can not select what types of victories will be allowed. So if you want to play a game where you build up your military and conquer others, you have to watch the Victory menu to see if anyone is making progress to building a gate or other method to win the game before you have time to finish killing everyone else off.
After wiping out two that had declared war on my first, I still hadn't gotten any military units to the third one, who didn't send any of hers to me. Not taking her seriously at all really. She then contact me asking for peace, offering me a nice city of hers as part of the deal.
Only melee units can capture bases! Units like the Angel are listed as range, even though they can only attack one space before them like melee units can. Rather odd. Angels can attack ships from the shore if they are next to them. Autosleds and Combat Rovers are melee units that once fully upgraded will have four movement points and be able to hover, allowing you to move over water or mountain terrains without problems. Other melee units would be vulnerable when crossing water, and would slow down with various land terrains, and not have as many movement points. Combat rovers can also upgrade to move after attacking. When conquering enemy bases, you want to get to them as rapidly as possible, and keep capturing them as fast as possible. Once war has started, your enemy will begin using all of their cities to produce things to help with their war effort, so the faster you capture them the better.
Military aircraft are great because you can rebase them, move them about the map rapidly, and strike enemies with them. You can have three per base. With such a far range, they are quite useful at killing off enemy units, or just finishing off the wounded ones.
Aircraft carriers are way cheaper than naval warships. I guess because they don't fight, just store a few planes on them, but I found that amusing enough to mention.
Even if you are peaceful, and getting along fine with everyone, they can still suddenly declare you weak and attack you.
When making peace with someone, click on everything you can ask for. Offer them nothing in return but a peace agreement. They will then show you what they are willing to give you.
Note that if you make peace with someone, just to have time to make more military units and get them into position, as soon as you start the war, your diplomacy will show that other factions will now all think of you as a war monger and be hating you for that. They don't feel that way about any AIs that attack you first of course. Also note that open borders lets you move your military units right next to your enemy's cities, however when you start a war, open borders instantly vanishes, and your units are moved back out of the borders of your enemy. So best to just position them along the borders and then move in after you declare war. Remember to have one melee unit to capture their cities with, since range units can not capture them.
When you shoot a sea dragon or kraken from the shore, or from a gunboat you have within the protected coverage of your ultrasound fence, they will move away, then return again to be within range so you can shoot them again.
If you send a trade convoy to another faction, they are less likely to go to war with you in a surprise attack. So if you see them gathering their military forces near your border, try to send some trade their way, and see what happens.
When you get your Supremacy level up high enough, you have your range soldiers, now called Executioners, to fire twice per turn, the first one going an extra 1 in range. You can also have your range vehicles fire without needing to setup first. And your ships can move even after firing, allowing you to get to a kraken, fire, and the take off out of range so it won't be able to come after you. It only has two movement points after all.
Its much faster to just build Phasal Transporter satellites to place near your enemy's cities, than to move your forces back and force across the map. Sometimes you find a good spot that lets you teleport units right next to the city. By selecting the unit and then hovering over the distant city, you can tell if its something you can conquer easy or not, and use this information to determine where to teleport your units to next.
Cities can build things that allow them to shoot down your attack and teleportation satellites.
Some cities fall very easily, while others take a long time to take out, even with the most powerful units all going up against them. There are buildings you can choose to build in each city, to add to your city's strength. I don't know if the population or other factors add to it.
If you play Domination, then the game unfortunately doesn't just give you victory once you take out all enemy cities. Instead you have to find every single worker unit or scout they have floating around somewhere. If you don't play Domination, then the first person who builds up their army and launches a surprise attack on their enemy's capital, which will almost always be along the coast and easy to get to, can capture that city before they move defenses to it, and thus win instantly.
Rising Tide expansion pack
October 9th 2015 the Rising Tide expansion pack became available.
I played first as the guy who starts with a spy, even though he doesn't have a spy agency yet. He also can put his capital on the water, and start with the ability to build gunships.
The aliens aren't any harder really. So far I've been slaughtering them to get science and culture points. I focused on developing the Virtue menu's military section, so I could get science from killing aliens.
A new station appeared and with it I got two quests instantly. One to establish a trade route with it, and the other to destroy it.
Walking on an alien nest does not destroy it anymore. Instead you use the pillage command once there. So if you fight an alien on its nest, and win, you don't have to destroy it by accident, instead of just leaving it there to keep killing aliens as they appear.
The help file does not help much at all. What is the population threshold for trade routes? I see a diplomatic deal to half it, so want to know if its worth it.
Even with the option to start with an Alien Lifeform Detector at the start, a new alien nest just appeared on a firaxis deposit I was sending my colonist to settle next to.
I use the setting to make the aliens more hostile and numerous, but they don't stay hostile for long, going calm again even when I shot some of them in the previous turn, and am still actively killing them.
If you are a turn away from your spies stealing some science points, and you are only one turn away from getting your current technology finished, then you will loose them unless you switch to another tech to have them used on. You can then switch back to your previous tech, and finish its one turn.
There is a new ship which counts as a melee attack, so you can capture bases with it as I have done in a recent battle.
The Harmony affinity gains the ability for explorers to leash aliens early on in the game. The alien you leash becomes your unit. If any other aliens are nearby, they will attack it and your explorer unit immediately, even if you never had any conflict with aliens before, and they formerly ignored you. I think there is a way later on to get the leash ability for other units, but I don't remember. I did try leashing a ripper, and it worked. So I know at least one sea monster is vulnerable to it.
Winning through spying for science
Playing as the ARC woman who has the spy bonus, you have character traits at the start to help you with your spying, and there are two other traits you can open up which have spy bonuses also. I made no treaties at first, just saved up my diplomatic capital, and kept leveling up these things. I don't think the one that has your spies need one less operation to level up makes any difference at all, since you can get them to special agent rank rather easily and there is nothing higher. I'm not sure, but I believe the culprit lodge does that automatically. I went to the science that gives ultrasonic fence, and then to one for computers to get the spy agency, and got that out there as soon as possible. Stealing science points from others helps get way ahead. I am currently able to steal science points in just two turns. I also found the artifacts necessary to get Soul discerner training: +25% Covert Operation Speed.
There are also two treaties that you can make with others to make your covert operations better, provided they have the necessary requirements to offer them to you, and are willing to do so. I had AIs asking me for it, and of course I said no, there no reason I'd help their spies get better.
You can get diplomatic points from covert ops missions, and use that for treaties and traits.
There is a Virtue that gives you 40% intrigue when doing covert operations.
If you don't want to risk your agents getting killed and having to wait for them to be replaced, you can check the advance settings, and click the option of something or another, which allows you a different result each time you load a save game and try again. I've been playing it fair and just going for easy science points instead of taking chances with my agents' lives by stealing technology, other than that time I needed to increase intrigue to crash some satellites and complete the spy quest to do a level 4 mission or higher, or whatever it was.
By focusing mostly on things that give me the most Supremacy Affinity points per turns they cost, I am able to have stronger military units and be closer to victory through building that gate.
Being able to Recruit Defectors, is a great way to rapidly build your army if necessary. Sometimes instead of military units, they give you explorers.
You can have 9 covert agents total, as before, with one extra for that new guy who starts with one I suppose. So remember to build a Feedsite Hub, CEL Cradle, and Command Center to get those quests to get new covert agents. Remember, if the quest doesn't appear, just build the thing again elsewhere until it kicks in.
If a agent dies, they are replaced a few turns later. I had it where a new agent appeared to replace a previously killed one, and at the same turn another agent died. Instead of just getting one new agent I got two. Not sure if that bug will work every time or not. Even if something is risky, don't worry about it, since if you die it won't set you back that far. I kept trying to capture the cities of someone else using my spies, and I ended up capturing their capital, it the last one in the game, so I won.
You can also keep recruiting defectors, getting three new units each time. In my last game, I got three naval units every time, and did it quite often, having all of my spies working on that for awhile, and was able to easily overwhelm the military forces of everyone else. Since most cities will be along the coast, and the Rising Tide expansion added a ship that counts as a melee unit and is thus able to capture cities, you can rapidly conquer all.
If you have your capital as a water city, then whenever your covert agents recruit defectors, the three units you receive will be melee ships, range ships, submarines, or aircraft carriers. No other units will ever appear.
You get Diplomatic points each turn. You can use them to raise your personal stats, or to make agreements with others. There is one agreement which will give you more diplomatic points each turn than it cost, but the rest just cost you. Each faction can only have 5 at a time, that they submit, this not counting how many they agree that others suggested. The agreements usually give you a higher return on whatever you are bargaining for, if you are of a higher rating with them. You can go from neutral to cooperative or allied by spending diplomatic points on that, but only if you have enough Respect or Fear to get the other to agree.
The AI leaders don't say anything or respond in any way when they catch you spying on them. Doesn't seem to affect anything at all. Some will contact you and praise you for your spies, you getting +1 in respect from them for that.
Even with their Respect towards me being at 9 out of 9, one AI broke off a diplomatic agreement with me, and at the same turn so did the other. They seem to keep doing this at random. I have both of them as allies, they in the Alliance state with me, so no conflict between us. I not anywhere near their territory.
Hutama contacted me the turn that my colonist became a city, and complained about my empty city reminding him about all the people left back on Earth. I lost one point of respect from him because of that. What sort of nonsense is this?
The gender unknown INTEGR faction person said something odd to me, and cost me one point of her/it's respect.
There is a bug where people criticize you for going to war and breaking treaties with whoever you are at war with, even though it was automatically done when an ally went to war with someone else. Also, how do you go to war with someone without breaking business deals with them?
The Agreements you can make with others depends on what personal settings they choose. There is one to make worker units free, that's what it says, but it takes just one turn to produce them. There is something, I think it was a technology, which eliminates any maintenance/energy cost for workers also. So you could just spam those out nonstop and build mag rails around the world, or place miasma everywhere to irritate your rivals.
Even if you have an Alliance with someone, and 9/9 respect, they will still refuse to give you some agreements while still allowing you to choose others they have to offer you. For example the North Sea Alliance guy rejected my offer for the science reduction cost agreement and the one to make naval units cheaper, but did accept treaties for faster road and rail movement and something else. We were both in a war against a common enemy at the time also, so why would he not want me to have cheaper war ships? Perhaps because I was also dragged into a war with someone else when my other ally went to war with them. Don't know.
Even when you are war with someone, they will still give you a boost in respect towards you at times. Rather odd they'd call up to praise you for something while you are trying to kill each other.
After taking out an enemies cities, they might still have a single unit hidden somewhere, even a simple worker, which keeps the war from officially ending. Even without any military or cities, the AI will still declare war on additional people at times.
There are three types of artifacts you may randomly get from explorations. By mixing three together in different combinations, you can get different bonuses. There is no option to play the game without them. There are some which are rather overpowering, giving whoever gets them an unfair advantage over the others. The main page for that has been updated, and I added in a nice chart so its easy to see what to mix up to get what reward and what it does for you.