Galactic Civilizations II
- At the start of the game, at least, it is more efficient to build happiness buildings to increase morale to make more tax money rather than building economic buildings to do the same.
- Factors that go towards morale: population count(Higher forces a greater penalty, and it gets real high, real fast. 16 billion is about the best amount), morale buildings on the planet, your tax rate(Higher adds a worse penalty), planet quality(Higher is better).
- Mouse-over the Morale score on the colony screen sometime-it'll tell you EVERYTHING.
- Most important is: DON'T OVER-EXTEND YOUR BUILDING. Remember that you need to pay for your production as well as building maintenance, ship maintenance, etc-those hammers and shields aren't free. Building too much too soon will break you.
- My strategy is to build morale enhancing buildings and drop my tax rate to the minimum at the start, while colonizing. I often get into the red, but the low taxes and morale buildings make the population grow as fast as possible and it always ends up paying for itself. Be sure not to stay in debt for too long, though, as that will also piss off the population.
The Early Game And Its Economy
The game is really complex and there are hundreds of tips one could give about it but I will concentrate in the early game and its economy (which I think is the most important factor in determining your mid-game strength). Obviously, pick a "regular" computer difficulty at the start or you will lose... badly.
First of all, go into the screen that shows how much you spend in military/construction/research stuff and change the total output slider (I forgot its name) from 70% (or whatever it is) to 100%. What this does is that it will make your factories/research institutes work as hard as they can. You will spend more money but it is really important to work at 100% at the start.
During the first turns it is incredibly important to grab plenty of planets, rush-buy (its really expensive) two colony ships and try to get nice planets (with a quality of 8 or more) that are close to your home systems. If your race can colonize certain hostile planets and the computer can't and you see one of those planets, don't grab it at the start, you can wait a bit.
Use your explorer ship to explore anomalies and try to get as many as possible (if you happen to get plenty of money this way you could rush-buy another explorer, it is generally worth it if there are plenty of anomalies).
Do not use your first colonizers to grab the local, low-level planet in your home system that most races start with, you can grab it later. You can even let the computer grab it since it is under the huge cultural influence of your homeplanet and it will switch to your side sooner or later. Hey! free planet with some population and factories already built.
Also at the start, concentrate in keeping the moral in your new colony planets at 100% (by reducing taxes), it will make everybody start breeding like crazy but will make you Hemorrhage money. The exponential growth of the population and thus future tax revenue is worth it. Try to keep it going 100% as long as your money will allow. After that you can drop moral to 70% (green) or even less (yellow).
BTW, do not, I repeat, do not, keep more than 9-12 billion people in a planet (that is don't build too many farms). After 12 billion their morale goes to shit, and it is really difficult/expensive to keep them happy.
I don't know if they patched yet, but if you are in a democratic government you are not supposed to tax the hell out of your citizens or they wont vote for you. Well, they are idiots, if you keep them happy during the week before the elections they will vote for you no matter what. So, reduce taxes before elections, it works in videogames too!
So, basically, at the start try to grab plenty of quality planets (the perk that gives you extra movement is a great but costly way to improve your chances), keep them happy and try not to lose too much money (as you will when populations are low and you have many planets).
That is basically it for the early game. The next phase of the game starts when the computer starts to build their attack fleets, as soon as you see them doing so (check the graphs) you have to start you own fleet or they will bully you. Hopefully, your superior economy should allow you to keep up.
BTW, a good tip to *appear* more powerful is to make ships with cargo hulls (huge capacity, crap hitpoints) filled with weapons. The computer will see all your weapons and think that your paper-armor fleet is stronger than what it really is (cheap crappy North Korea style show-offs).
The humans are (as usual) a good race to start. They have balanced stats and their super-diplomat ability means that you can keep most hostile races at least semi-friendly for longer or trade for technologies/stuff at advantageous terms.