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Galactic Civilizations

Galactic Civilizations is a turn-based strategy computer game developed by Stardock[?].

The game is set in the future. Mankind has made contact with the 5 other major alien races. Space travel is risky and expensive, requiring huge jump gates which only permit travel between two specific points. Because space travel is so difficult, the galaxy remains mostly uncolonized. The humans make a great discovery - hyperdrive. It permits fast travel between any two stars. The humans share their discovery with the other 5 major races. All communication stops. The humans consider that sharing their discovery may have been a mistake. Now that the galaxy is open for exploration, there's going to be a rush to claim all the uncolonized worlds.

The point of the game is to eventually dominate the galaxy. It is possible to win by war or by diplomacy. At the tougher difficulties, war is almost unavoidable.

The most noteworthy feature of Galactic Civilizations is the AI. The computer players are surprisingly realisitic and intelligent. There is no multiplayer. You are always required to play as the humans, but you can choose any racial modifiers you want, so being restricted to humans doesn't really matter. Each computer player has its own artificial intelligence routines, and they each have specific and noticable personalities.

Game Elements

  • Planets. Each star has 0-5 planets. Each planet has a "planet quality" rating, with 15 or more being considered "inhabitable". The game strongly discourages you from colonizing planets rated 14 or lower, but you can colonize them. All of a planet's attributes are summed up into that one number - planet quality. Other games have multiple attributes that describe a planet. Having a single number for planet quality may seem like a sell-out, but it allows for greater complexity in other parts of the game. Also, this makes it easier for the AI. Each planet has two build queues; one for social projects and one for ships.

  • Sectors. The galaxy is divided into 12x12 sectors. The number of sectors can range from 4x4 (tiny map) to 24x24 (gigantic map). One sector may contain more than one star.

  • Money. The unit of currency is the BC (Billion Credits?). You start the game with 1000 BC, and can go into debt up to -500 before spending halts. You gain money by trade, tribute, or taxes. You spend money on tribute, maintenance, production, and research.

  • Starbases. Starbases enhance all of your planets and ships that are in the same sector. Starbases grant bonuses to military, trade, production, and cultural influence. Starbases can be built on resources to provide a civilization-wide bonus. Starbases are built and upgraded by a special ship - the constructor. In version 1.04, each starbase costs 5 BC maintenance per turn, but this may change in later versions.

  • Resources. There are galactic resources scattered on the map. You can build a starbase on a resource to claim it and get a bonus. Resources enhance your economy, influence, military, morale, and research.

  • Anomalies. There are anomalies scattered on the map. They can only be explored by survey ships. An anomaly may give a bonus. There are a few anomalies per sector at the start of the game, and some are added as the game progresses. The anomaly bonus can be
    • a small, but permanent, racial ability boost
    • a free ship
    • a one-time research boost
    • a permanent upgrade to your survey ship's attack, defense, or hitpoints
    • a wormhole, transporting your ship to a random location. If the new location is "out of range", your survey ship must move to an in-range location.

  • Ships. There are no "starlanes" like in other games. Each ship has a certain number of movement points per turn, and it can move that many squares in one turn. Attacking another ship costs a movement point. There are several types of ships.
    • Colony Ships. Colony ships are used to claim a planet. Remember that only planets of class 15 or better or worth colonizing. Only one race may claim a given star. Once you have claimed one planet around a star, only you can colonize any other planets around that star.
    • Regular Ships. A ship's abilities can be described in 5 numbers: attack, defense, speed, sensors, range, and hitpoints. If a ship has greater defense than attack, it gets a bonus of 1/2 defense to attack when defending. (More details in the combat section below.) A regular ship cannot invade or bombard a planet, but it can destroy ships orbiting that star. Range affects how far the ship can move from a planet or starbase controlled by you. Sensors affects how far the ship can see.
    • Transports. A transport can be used to move population from one star to another. Transports can also be used to invade a planet. You cannot invade until all the defending ships have been destroyed. You move the transport onto the undefended planet to invade. The attacker typically gets a nice advantage, modified by the tech level of the attackers and defenders. You can also decide on an attack strategy. A normal attack doesn't damage the planet. More advanced attack types cost money, and will destroy planetary improvements, or even permanently damage the planet quality. An unsuccessful invasion does not damage the defending planet. Whether you succeed or fail, the invading transport is destroyed in the attack. There are also combat transports, which carry more troops and have a better defense rating.
    • Constructors. Constructors are used to build and upgrade starbases.
    • Survey Ships. Only survey ships can explore anomalies. Later in the game, star hawks and rangers become available. They can also explore anomalies, but have better stats than a basic survey ship. On a large map, there are going to be many anomalies, and your survey ship can get quite powerful from anomaly boosts.
    • Missiles. A missile gets to attack once, for one round, and then is destroyed. If a missile is defending, it is automatically destroyed.

  • Social Projects. You can build social projects on each planet. They each cost a different amount of production to build, and have an upkeep cost of 0-5 BC per turn. Each social project provides a bonus to one or more of: production, economy, influence/prestige/culture, research, planet quality, morale, ship quality, population growth, cultural resistance, planetary defense, and ship quality. There are 3 special types of social projects: wonders, trade goods, and galactic achievements.

  • Wonders. There may be only one of each wonder in the galaxy. If someone else builds it, you cannot build one yourself, and any progress you made towards building it is wasted. A wonder provides a planetary and/or civilization-wide bonus.

  • Trade Goods. Like wonders, each trade good may only be built once. However, you can trade them to other races, to share the benefit. Only the person who build a trade good make sell it to other races. Once a trade good is sold, the receiving civilization receives the benefit for the rest of the game.

  • Galactic Achievements. Each galactic achievement can be built once per race. There are some that give planetary bonuses, such as your economic capital, manufacturing capital, or research capital. There are some that give a civilization-wide bonus. You can only build each achievement once. If you capture an enemy capital, you get the benefit of having more than one capital. If your capital gets captured, you don't get to build another one.

  • Spending Sliders. In Galactic Civilization's economic model, production is not free. One BC of spending grants one unit of production. You do not have to use all of your production capacity. Your spending sliders decide how much of your capacity is being used. You also decide how much of your capacity to allocate to military, social, or research. As the game progresses, you tend to increase capacity faster than you can increase income, so you will normally be funding at lower than 100%.

  • Tax Slider. You can choose a tax rate between 0% and 100%. The penalty to morale increases dramatically with tax rate, and there are other penalties for a high tax rate. You normally will tax somewhere around 30% to 50%.

  • Governors. Each planet has a governor. You give each governor a list of social projects to build. When one social project is completed, the next project in the queue is started. If you have completed the entire queue and are producing nothing, your resources are wasted; you are still charged for the production, but receive no benefit. Similarly, when one ship is finished, you automatically begin building another ship of the same type. (Each planet may work on a ship(military) and a social project at the same time.) Since producting nothing wastes resources, you may as well build a constructor if you don't need anything else; constructors have an upkeep cost of 0, so you can always save it for later. There is no way to adjust the tax rate or spending sliders for each individual planet or governor; you need to make a civilization-wide decision; this may change in later versions than 1.04.

  • Morale. You morale reflects how happy your people are. Morale is in the range 0 to 100. At 100% morale, you get double population growth. Above 54%, you get normal population growth. Between 54% and 40%, your population is mostly stable. Below 40%, your population decreases. Morale is affected by your tax rate, your social projects on that planet, your intrisic morale ability, morale resources, trade goods, and wonders.

  • Government. As you advance in technology, you get access to more advanced forms of government. The better governments grant bonuses to taxes and production. However, they make it harder for you to keep up your approval rating (average morale). If your approval drops below 50%, you will lose the next election. You get a "faction bonus" based on the political party you choose at the start of the game. If you lose the election, you lose your faction bonus, and take a penalty, until the next election.

  • Fleets. Several ships on the same square may be joined to form a fleet. They move as a single unit, at the speed of the slowest ship in the fleet. When a fleet attacks, each unit in the fleet attacks separately and individually. There is no bonus given on defense to ships in a fleet. (A bug in old versions caused the attacked ship to sometimes be destroyed; this has been fixed in version 1.05.) When a stack of ship defends, the "best" ship class defends; if there are multiple ships of the "best" type, then the one with the most remaining hitpoints defends. Because a fleet of ships uses up a movement point when attacking, it is sometimes best to unfleet when attacking, and have each ship attack individually.

  • Rally Points. The developers have promised that version 1.1, to be released in late Summer 2003, will have a rally point feature.

  • Combat. Combat is always single-ship vs. single-ship. An attack costs one moement point, and lasts until one ship is destroyed. In a fleet, every ship in the fleet uses up a movement point when a attacking. (?) Each ship has a rating for attack, defense, and hitpoints. The attacker rolls a number from 0 to its attack rating. The defender rolls a number from 0 to its defense rating. The damage done is (attacker roll - defender roll); no damage is done if the defender rolls higher. Then, the defender rolls its attack rating and the attacker rolls its defense rating; now the attacker may take damage. If the defender has a defensive rating that is higher than its attack rating, it gets a bonus of 50% to its attack rating when counter-attacking. So, a ship that is rated attack/defense of 4/6 gets to roll a 7 for its attack when defending. Combat lasts until one ship is destroyed. If the attacking ship has movement points left, it may move or attack again.

Strategy

TODO: Make a detailed strategy section, with game formulae, or move to another page.



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