Galactic Civilizations is space-based strategy game
developed by Stardock Entertainment and published by Strategy First. Its home
page is: http://www.galciv1.com.
The game puts the player in the role of leader of United
Earth near the dawn of the 23rd century. As leader of United Earth,
you must explore and colonize as many suitable planets as you can, research new
technology, negotiate treaties with other civilizations, invest in social
programs, build star bases, and of course maintain a military fleet to defend
The game focuses on providing unprecedented replayability
combined with a multi-threaded artificial intelligence engine (i.e. the alien
players are designed to behave more like human players than any previous
strategy game) to ensure that each game is its own epic experience.
Players can take multiple paths to victory including:
the galaxy militarily (take over all enemy planets)
the galaxy culturally (spreading human ideas and culture so thoroughly
through the galaxy that the citizens of other civilizations defect to join
up with you)
victory (researching to the point where humans move beyond mortality)
victory (uniting the surviving civilizations together).
Much of the development effort has been put into making sure
each path is enjoyable for players.Players also face ethical dilemmas along the way. The choices they take
help determine whether their civilization take the path towards “goodness” or
towards “evil”. As one moves down these paths, the game interface visually
changes, how the game reacts to you changes and how other civilizations deal
with you changes.
Another innovation in the game is rather than relying on a
conventional “campaign” mode, the game engine attempts to generate a completely
new experience each game. The content that would be created for a linear
campaign is instead dynamically retrieved in pieces each game to assemble an
epic experience for each game.
The user interface of the game has been designed to vastly
reduce micro management. Often strategy games become difficult to play in their
later stages due to excessive micro management. Galactic Civilizations solves
this through user interface enhancements (Stardock is best known for its
computer interface software such as Object Desktop & WindowBlinds) rather
than relying on some sort of AI (Stardock feels most users want to maintain
direct control over their empire, they just don’t want to have to perform
When these features are combined, the result is a unique
strategy game with a high level of replayability. In addition, Stardock has
budgeted an additional year of development time after release to add new
features based on player feedback that will be provided for free to players.
Rather than gamers being faced with buying an expansion pack, a GalCiv player
will in effect be getting the expansion pack as part of their original
Our Story So Far…
Our story really begins 50 years prior to the year 2178. For
this is when humans came into contact with one of the civilizations, the
Arceans. For thousands of years, several interstellar civilizations have been
sending probes throughout the galaxy. Transportation between different outposts
was done through star-gates. These star-gates were immense structures that were
obscenely expensive to use and maintain. As a result, the civilizations
actually have had very limited contact with one another (and none with humans
Once human scientists understood the concept of star gates
and how they worked, they set on a course to try to improve on them.About a decade before the start of the game,
these scientists introduce to the galaxy a new technology called “Hyper-drive”.
Humans by the 23rd century had concluded that any
civilization capable of interstellar travel must certainly have long since grown
out of their violent militaristic stage and one of the leading scientists
involved with the project shared the design of hyper-drive with all five of the
major alien civilizations. Almost instantly, communication with the other
civilizations came to a halt.
After months of silence, government of United Earth came to
the conclusion that hyper-drive would allow the colonization of the galaxy and
what was likely to occur was a race to claim star systems that contained
inhabitable planets. It was decided that Earth must not fall behind and the
design for a colony ship developed.
This brings us to 2178, the beginning of the era known as
“Galactic Civilizations”. The first colony ship has been created along with a
survey ship to explore the numerous anomalies throughout the galaxy.
Now the race is on to find and colonize unclaimed star
systems with good planets (class 15 or better), find and claim galactic
resources (by building constructors that can then build star bases on them),
and ensure humanity can survive in a potentially hostile galaxy.
You know the drill, you get the game and it makes claims on
how there are all these different paths to victory. You then play the game and
realistically, there is only one path to victory – conquest or at best some
sort of “vote” that lets the most liked player win. Other paths tend to be
tedious and unenjoyable.
Galactic Civilizations was no different during the beta.
That’s right, we had multiple paths to victory and we were sure they were all
valid. And they were except that other than the standard “conquest” one the
others were obnoxiously tedious.What
did we do? Well, we got lucky. Galactic Civilizations had an open, no-NDA beta
program. Any user could join and publicly state on an open forum how they felt
about the game. And they let us know their true feelings on the non-conquest
At that point we took at hard look at the other paths and
came to realize that what we needed was to make sure that each path to victory
was a form of conquest. That is, each path had a certain power to it that
required the player to be actively and strategically building towards that
path. Based on player feedback, we think GalCiv has delivered a strategy game
that truly has multiple paths to victory that are equally enjoyable and
interesting in which the design was heavily based on what beta testers
This is the most traditional path to victory in a strategy
game. You build up your units and research technologies that improve the
strength of your units and provide access to new ones that are even more
powerful. You then use this military power to conquer or intimidate into
submission your neighbors.
In this strategy, the player doesn’t build much in military
forces. Instead the player builds a trading empire. The Ferengi strategy so to
speak. At first glance, trade in GalCiv seems trivially simple.But looking deeper things become more
complex. Players build freighters. Players then send freighters to a foreign
star system and when they reach that star system a trade route is created. At
that point a small trade ship travels back and forth between the trade route.
However, there are a lot of variables to consider:
a)The amount received per turn from that trade route increases
the further along the route that trade ship is. To get the full value of that
trade route, the trade ship has to travel to the destination and back.
b)The distance of the trade route affects the value of the trade
route. The further it goes, the more money you get.
c)The amount of money the route makes is based also on the
wealth and population of the source and destination planets.
d)Trade routes are only valuable if you are not at war with the
player you have that trade route with.
e)Trade routes lose value if the destination planet is conquered
by someone else, even a friendly player.
f)Trade route values can be affected by star bases in the
sectors they travel through (star base upgrades can more than double the value
of a trade route if one builds them along the path of the trade ship).
This presents a lot of interesting choices for players. Do
they trade with a minor race that they know they’ll be friendly with? And if
so, do they go to war to protect that minor race if one of the major powers decides
to try to annex them? Do you send your freighter on a really long journey even
if you don’t have space superiority in some of the lawless sectors far from
home where pirates regularly prey on trade ships? Do you build a string of star
bases along the line of the trade route? Can you afford to do so and if so, how
far away can you realistically do that? Since both sides get money, do you send
that route to a player that you want to help out? Or do you send it to the bad
guy in order to gain favor with them?
While there is no specific trade victory condition, the
trading empire allows you to pick and choose amongst various end game paths.
With enough money, you can, essentially, buy victory. But getting there
requires a lot of thought, strategy, and civilization building (particularly in
building star bases and protecting trade routes).
Can Nike shoes and Coca Cola conquer the Drengin Empire?
Perhaps. One GalCiv feature that must be stressed is that most of the time, it
is not realistic to research the entire technology tree. Players must instead
choose a particular path to go based on their strategy. And if cultural
domination is your goal, there are many branches to choose from.
Star bases, for instance, can locally magnify your cultural
influence. If another civilization becomes sufficiently influenced by yours, it
will likely defect to you. Of course this works both ways.
Cultural power is built up slowly over time. Victories in
the United Planets can bolster your local power, keep you safe from enemy
attack under the guise of multilateralism, and bide time while you build the
necessary cultural star bases throughout the galaxy to advertise the worthiness
Based on player feedback, many players find this path to
victory even more enjoyable to using ships because it is such a delicate and
subtle strategy that keeps players constantly looking for opportunistic ways to
increase their relative influence on the galaxy.
Each civilization is like a role playing character in some
respects. A civilization has 30 or so abilities that affect the course of the
game. One of those abilities is diplomacy. The better a player is at diplomacy,
the better they will be at getting their way in diplomatic negotiations with other
civilizations. There are several branches on the technology tree that can aid
players in building up this diplomatic power.
Diplomatic power requires a lot of careful strategy in the
form of aiding different camps at the right time. For instance, the diplomat is
looking to maintain a careful balance of power in the galaxy. Even the best
diplomat cannot contain a galactic super power. Diplomatic powers can send
money, arms, and other aid to civilizations at war with a would-be super power
to try to keep things in check. Such moves can help position the player for a
later diplomatic alliance that if successful in uniting the galaxy results in
one of the victory conditions being met.
One of the galactic resources in the game provides a boost
to the player’s technology ability. Control a couple of these and combined with
a focus on obtaining technologies that provide increase research abilities and
the player can pursue the strategy of the technologist.
The technologist isn’t a military power. Instead, he buys
the friendships of others by donating technologies to them while pulling ever
further ahead themselves. The technologist has to maintain control over
strategic galactic resources and capitalize on the loss of those resources by
others – a tricky dance at times.
The technologist victory comes by researching “The Final
Frontier” in which the human race moves to the next stage of its evolution and
wins the game. But it is a perilous journey to get there and very likely the
most difficult of the victory paths to successfully achieve.
Stars, Colonies, Sectors
Your civilization is made up of colonies. These colonies
exist within star systems that are exclusively owned by a single civilization.
These star systems exist within sectors which can have star systems that are
owned by others but the star system itself is exclusively owned by a single
Starships, Starbases, and more.
Each star ship can be named (click on the star ship name in
the ship details panel on the bottom). Each star ship has its own experience
points recorded that can aid its ability to fight.
Star bases are created by constructor units. They can be
built anywhere. However, star bases built on top of galactic resources gain the
added ability to mine that resource which feeds into that civilization’s
Early on, star bases can be formidable defenders of your
civilization. Later on, however, they are no match for the high end capital
ships that will roam the galaxy. Only he that has space superiority will be
able to realistically have those star bases in the event of war (which is why
players – human and computer, are likely to take that into account when going
Starbases can be modified to enhance the environment of the
sector it is in. A constructor intersecting with a star base can add, for
instance, fighter escorts to ships in the sector which give a +3 to their
Ships can be merged together to form fleets. When they
attack, they do it as a fleet (there are no specific bonuses but it is very
convenient). The only downside is that when one moves, they all move.However, players can click on individual
ships in the fleet on the right side of the screen and have them move/attack
How do I keep my people happy? Realistically, having an
approval rating above 60% throughout the game is just not doable. If there were
a magic bullet that made leaders have massively high approval ratings we’d know
it. Don’t sweat it if your approval rating is only 55%. It only needs to be
high enough to keep control of the senate.
Morale on a planet is based on the number of people on that
planet per planet class rating. You can help this a lot by building
improvements that improve the morale of the people. But realistically, trying
to get 100% of the people to like you is an expensive and unnecessary goal. If
you can get your approval over 60% then you’re doing a good job.
The United Planets
There is a galactic organization called the United
Planets.You start out part of it by
default. The United Planets votes on various issues and the number of votes
cast is based on their influence which is determined by their influence ability
X their population.Players can leave
the United Planets any time they choose. However, doing so results in being
unable to trade with other players which has severe economic issues.
The United Planets, is in effect, a game rule changing
mechanism. It changes the rules in the game to keep things fresh and
interesting. There are a lot of surprises in the United Planets and more
UPIssues will be added to GalCiv.com after release.
A few game basics for new players
The user manual goes into much more detail but this section
will briefly go over the main parts of the game and answer frequently asked
There are a few special types of ships in the game:
Colony Ships. These
ships colonize planets. You take a colony ship and send it to a star system
with a good planet in orbit of it. A good planet is class 15 or better (the number
is to the left of the planet when you left click on a planet).
Survey Ships. Only
survey ships can explore anomalies.
ships build star bases. You can build a star base anywhere. If you build a star
base on a galactic resource you can gain additional abilities. Click on the
little colored cube button on the star ship panel to build the star base. You
can send additional constructors to existing star bases to build them up in
different areas. As you research more technologies, more modules become
available which can be added to star bases.
are required to invade a star system. A star system must be undefended (all
ships in orbit with defense values destroyed) first before you can invade. The
final version of the game will have limits to the # of troops that can be
loaded onto a transport. Requires: Impulse Drive technology.
freighter can be built and then sent to a destination star system to begin a
trade route. Once this is done, private industry takes over and a small trade
ship travels the route. The amount of income received from the trade route is
determined by how many moves the trade ship moves (so the further it has to
travel, the more the route is worth). You can economically blockade enemies by
destroying their trade ships since the value of the route is very low at the
start of its journey on the route. Requires: Trade technology.
Because Galactic Civilizations isn’t a tactical war game
(war is only one aspect of the game), its designers have intentionally made
sure that battles are kept relatively straight forward.Tactics don’t win modern wars, logistics and
over-all strategy do.
To attack an enemy ship you move your ship into the enemy
ship. This causes the two to battle. Each ship has its own attack, defense, and
hit points. The surviving ship gains experience and can move up levels which
improves its ratings. As ships take damage, they show this damage on the
On buying ships…
When possible, you should try to purchase a ship right away
rather than waiting for it to be built. This is particularly important early in
the game when you’re trying to colonize fast. Otherwise the alien players will
colonize all the good planets. Note: The AI doesn’t purchase ships on lower
On Tax policy
While some people really do think that the government can
generate vast amounts of revenue by cranking up the tax rate, in Galactic
Civilizations, the higher you put your taxes, the more unhappy people become
and you will find your population declining (they don’t they simply no longer
report themselves to the government). A good tax rate is generally between 25%
and 40% with diminishing effects beyond that.
The spend rate, by contrast, represents what percentage of your
overall industrial capacity you are using. Some governments can be rich
economically through trade but unable to translate that revenue into
manufacturing might. This holds true in the real world where nation states with
massive natural resources are financially wealthy but technologically and
industrially poor. In other words, if you put your spend rate to 100% remember
it has nothing to do with your tax rate.
When you load up the game for the first time, you’ll want to
start a new game. The first screen will ask you what political party you want.
There’s no wrong answer on this part. In terms of spreading out your 10 freebie
abilities, sensor range can be pretty helpful for new players since it allows
your ships to explore much faster. You can’t really go wrong with the others.
The AI in Galactic Civilizations is no slouch. So don’t pick
“Smart” for the intelligence of a computer player unless you’re quite
experienced. If you’re new, choosing “idiot” for intelligence is probably
In terms of whether they are good or evil, that depends on
how you want to play. Good civilizations tend to stick together, evil ones
don’t but are more likely to prey on the weak than a good one. An easy (though
potentially boring) game would be to play as a good civilization with other
We suggest you play a small galaxy for starters. The game
supports galaxy sizes up to gigantic but those games take months to finish
versus a small galaxy which can be finished in an afternoon.
You’ll begin the game with a summary of what’s been
happening prior to the game starting. Then you’ll be asked to choose a
technology. We suggest you pick COMMUNICATION
THEORY since that will lead you to a Universal Translator which allows you
to communicate with alien civilizations.
When you begin you’ll have a colony ship and a survey ship.
LEFT CLICKING on
things will select things. RIGHT
CLICKING on things will send your selected ship to that destination. You
can also hold down the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON
to grab the screen and drag it around as well as moving the mouse to the edge
of the screen.
You can also use the cursor keys to move a selected ship
Look for YELLOW
stars. These are the ones most likely to have good planets in orbit of them.
Look for planets that look nice. Class 15 is good. Class 20 is better. Anything
higher is miraculous.
Your survey ship can be sent to pick up space debris. Space
debris can provide your civilization with bonuses of various sorts. They’re
basically there to make exploring the galaxy more interesting.
You can DOUBLE-CLICK
on any stars you control and it will take you to the first colonized planet in
that star system (single clicking will bring up the solar system and allow you
to click on the planet you want).
The Planet Screen
On the planet screen you’ll probably want to build more
colony ships. We suggest you purchase a colony ship right away. Don’t wait for
it to be built on its own. Choose an improvement to build as well.
The early part of the game is largely about getting as many
of the good planets as you can. The next phase of the game is usually concerned
with trying to get those galactic resources. But this is a lot trickier of a
strategy because while you’re building constructors, you’re not building
freighters or defensive/offensive ships.Keep an eye on the military might graph on the right. The aliens will
look for civilizations that are easy prey.
You can maintain better relations with civilizations by sending
freighters to trade with them. The money from a trade route goes both ways. If
their economy becomes dependent on trade with you, you basically own them. J
So pick carefully who you want to trade with.
As you build star bases, focus on what strategy you want to
work on. If you are going to try to be the economic czar (which makes it easier
to win via the political victory) then build star bases along your trade ship’s
routes and upgrade them with modules that boost trade revenue.
If you’re going for the cultural domination path, upgrade
your star bases with modules that magnify your influence in those sectors. You
can actually get star systems to defect to you if you have enough influence in
a sector they have a planet in. Be wary though, the aliens won’t just lie down
and let you walk over them. If they feel culturally threatened they may either
try to counter what you’re doing with their own star bases or take them out
through more violent means.
Winning/Losing the game
Eventually the game will conclude. One way or the other.
Using diplomacy is a great way to even the odds since you can trade things for
money and other goods. Prop up your friends by giving them star ships in their
time of need (they’ll do the same for you).
When the game is over, it will ask you to submit your score
to the METAVERSE. The Metaverse is an on-line multiplayer network in which
players compete for control of a virtual galaxy. It does this by using the
points you submit as currency in this galaxy so make sure you submit your
scores, even if you lose.
Galactic Civilizations is a single player game. It has no
plans to add in game multiplayer features. The focus of development is to
provide a truly immersive experience for individual players.
That said, the game does allow players to compete with each
other and cooperate together in the Galactic Metaverse.The way it works is that when a player
completes a game they can submit their score to the Metaverse. Along with their
score, the game includes linklets of their strategy – what technologies they
researched and in what order, what ships they chose, what improvements they
built and in what order, their general focus on trade or diplomacy and so
forth. This data can then be used by the computer AI to become not just more
formidable but to play more like other humans. The goal is for the game’s
computer players to play as much like real humans would play the game (minus
the disconnects, profanity, and cheese tactics found on-line).
These scores are then placed as part of that player’s
account and they are ranked. The top 1,000 players are listed on http://www.galciv1.com/metaverse.asp.
But beyond this, players can band together to form empires. These empires have
the various player scores put together and a galactic map is displayed showing
the relative strength of each empire.
Stardock will be updating Galactic Civilizations with new
and meaningful features well after release. These updates are not merely
patches to correct reported defects but features that are designed to expand
the game play of Galactic Civilizations.You can find these updates and resources as http://www.galciv1.com.
Additionally, the library on galciv.com contains ships,
events, technologies, improvements, star base modules, and much more that you
can download and add to your game.