Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
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Published on March 4, 2006 By Draginol In GalCiv Journals

The Galactic Civilizations Experience: Quick Start Guide...

This guide is designed to give brand new players a quick introduction into how they can get going in the game without being crushed.

Journal Entry: Starting up the game…

Alright, I’ve got the box home. Now, if I can just get the top off, why do they make these things so that it’s nearly impossible to get the top cover of the box off without wrecking the box itself?  You know, the little plastic thingy at the top. I don't have a knife, so I'm using my fingernail here to get the thing off.  That's it, flame forum post on the way!

Okay, let’s fast forward a little…

First, let's start a new game.

I'd recommend going with a small galaxy at first.  Use all the defaults whatever they are because they've been set up for new players. 

For your first game, play as the humans, since, hopefully you're somewhat familiar with that species.

Now, for the abilities, I'd recommend putting your points into economics, morale, and research.  This way, it's easier to get money, your people are happier, and you get stuff faster.

Now for picking your opponents, pick just a few and put their intelligence very low for your first games.  That way they won't really do much other than drool and make snarky remarks.

With the humans, they’re good at diplomacy naturally. This is good because it’ll help keep me out of war a little easier. My first few games I don’t want to just get crushed. I think I’ll also play on a small galaxy so not to get overwhelmed right away.

So now I’ve started the game.

The first screen I get is one asking me to pick a technology to research. There’s 6 to choose from. Since I’ve kind of decided to be diplomatic, I’ll choose Universal Translator. It says it’ll take 7 weeks (turns) to research that. Okay, fine.

If you hold down the left mouse button on the main map and drag your mouse around, you can move the screen around. Very handy for getting around.

Your planets...

Now I’m brought up to Earth. Gosh, there’s only 5 billion people on Earth in this universe. Okay, I’m looking at this map of Earth with a big grid on it.:

I click on the yellow tile and it says I need soil enhancement to use it. Fine. So yellow must mean that the tile is useful but only in the future. That implies the green tiles are ready to go. So I click on one of them.

Now I see 5 different things I could build here. Factories, farms, a lab, an entertainment network, and a market center. Those correspond with the things at top. Factories give me more shields and hammers. The lab will give me more beakers. The entertainment network will improve my approval (which is at 90% already so no need for that right now). The farm will increase my foot by 5 mt/wk which means my population will be able to grow. But I don’t need a farm right now, Earth is doing fine with 15 mt/wk and I only have 5 billion population so I can go to 15 billion based on what I have.

So I click on Basic Factory and then press the Build button and it adds it to the build queue. I then click on Basic lab and do the same thing. Then I try double-clicking on a basic factory and I see that it adds it to the queue (ooh, faster, good!).

Now I click on some of the tiles that have something on them. The first thing I click on is a star port. It says it lets me build ships. Great. The other one is my civilization capital. It says it produces 24 manufacturing points. So I’m off to a good start.

Here's how things work on planets:

  • Your population will not go higher than the food production. If your food production is 10 mt/wk then 10 billion people is where your population will cap off at.  Your tax income comes from people. The more you have, the more you get.  Population increases based on your population growth ability and your planetary approval. TIP: Don't just build farms for the sake of building farms.  Only build farms when you need to increase your population cap.
  • Your influence (ip) determines how far from the planet your sphere of influence will go.  The higher it goes, the further it goes. And conversely, when it meets someone else's sphere of influence, they push against each other. You can increase your influence by building things like embassies which you get from Universal Translator.
  • Your Approval is what % of the population thinks you're doing a good job. It is not as important as you might think.  At the start of the game, you're a dictator, so what do you care what the masses think?  Other forms of government are available that give you more money, and then you can worry about it.  Approval is affected by population (more people, the more demanding they are) and your tax rate.  You can increase your approval rate by building entertainment centers. 

I typically start by building a couple of factories.  A basic factory can product 8 manufacturing points if it's fully funded.  That is, if your spend-rate is 100% and all of that spending is put toward either military or social production (or a combination).  Each of those 8 points costs 1bc to produce.  You can get bonus production through your abilities which you are not charged for.  You can also build starbase factories which enhance your production rate but you are charged for that additional production.

Players typically start out with 5000 bc.  My suggestion is to use that money to quick build things.  For instance, select a factory, press the buy button and you will be given a number of purchase options.  I tend to pick only the first two unless I'm desperate since I don't like paying interest.  This way, you can really get your civilization going early on.

I notice in the top right the starport says its idle. So I click on the Build Ship button.

This is what I see:

Pretty empty. I’m not doing anything. Well, since the goal of the game is to expand my goodness out into the universe, I need to build a colony ship. So I do. The little number in () means how many weeks it’s going to take. It says 17 which isn’t good. Good thing I’m building those factories. Scout only takes 8 weeks in this example.

I click end up selecting the colony ship and hitting "back to planet".

I see up at the top little button thingies right by the number that shows how much production is going on in each category. I click on the one by military and the military box lights up and now instead of only having 6 shields it has 10. But social and research both lost some of their symbols. This is how I can focus production on a planet. But I only gained a few shields but lost six production points total from the other two categories so this isn’t the best way to do it at this point. I will see what I can do with my economy.

Looking at planets..

Now I’m on the main screen and I see earth’s solar system.

Looking at earth here I see a “10” by it. That’s what class it is. So I know that a class 10 planet must be pretty decent. Higher numbers are better and lower numbers are worse. The 10 means how many tiles I can use on the planet by default.

Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury are class 0. That means they simply can’t be used by us. Mars is class 4. Not exactly a vacation destination but it’s useable.

I also have two ships. One is a colony ship ready to go. The other is called the Terran Alliance flagship. It says it’s of class “Survey Ship”. That means it can explore anomalies. That’s a fancy way of saying space junk collector.

When I click on my ships, I see that the mini map in the corner has various levels of lit up space. That represents how far from Earth that ship can go. If I want to be able to travel further, I need to either improve my life support systems through research, build a starbase somewhere which extends my range or colonize a planet that will add range around that planet.

On the mini-map to the right are some little buttons. One of them looks like 3 intersecting circles. If I click on that the map lights up:

That represents the influence borders of different civilizations. It also gives away their position. In Galactic Civilizations II, I know where the aliens live. So if I want to expand, I should probably go where they don’t live. So looking around, I see some stars that are outside that influence area. I send my colony ships there.

At this point there’s nothing more I can do on the map. So let’s take a look at that bottom bar. Remember how my planet is going to take a bunch of weeks to build that colony ship? That’s a lot of turns. So let’s go to the domestic policy screen.

Domestic Policy

Here I have my Tax Rate and my Industrial Capacity sliders. My taxes are at 33%. If I make that higher, I get more money but my people get unhappy which slows down their rate of growth which hurts me in the long run and would hurt me if I weren’t a dictatorship (i.e. later on I’ll research other forms of government).

The industrial capacity slider, by contrast, is only at 50%. That means my factories and labs are only working at half-speed. Since I’m currently making 11bc per week, I decide to increase my industrial capacity rate to use all of it (100%).

So now my factories are working a full power. Those beakers and shields and hammers cost 1BC each to turn from their raw component into something that’s useable so my net income drops. But now when I look at Earth, it’s only going to take 8 weeks to build that ship. Good, but not good enough.

So let’s move the military rate to the right and change my relative priority more to military. Now it’s only going to take 4 weeks to build the colony ship. Better.

Money vs. Production

Your tax rate and your industrial capacity slider have nothing in common. They are unrelated.  Your spending % determines what % of your industrial/research capacity you are going to use.  Every shield, hammer, and beaker you product on your planet costs 1BC to produce.  So you do need to have taxes to fund that. However, it doesn't matter whether you are spending more than you make because they aren't related to one another.

It takes 1bc to create 1 point of research or 1 point of industrial production. That's it.  We only have the two sliders on this screen out of convenience.

Time passes...

So I've been building colony ships, building things on Earth, and colonizing the galaxy.  I've started meeting some of the aliens.

I've also started running into these:

Basically, these are moral dilemmas.  They were inspired years ago when I was in high school and I kept hearing about how horrible the United States had been to the native population.  I remember, as I sat in a class room that was almost certainly once inhabited by the natives who had settled here some 3,000 or so years ago the hypocrisy of the whole thing. Were they suggesting giving it back? No.  It's easy to condemn after the fact.  So in the game, you run into those situations too.  You land on a planet and it's already inhabited. Whatcha going to do?  Do the kind thing and take huge penalties to production? Or make them slaves? Or something in-between?  Your choice will affect your ethical alignment.

  • Good civilizations tend to team up together.

  • Neutral civilizations tend to have nobody that really likes them but no one really hating them either

  • Evil civilizations get advantages on a planet by planet basis but are at risk of getting ganged up on.



The research tree is big.  Very big.  If you use the left-mouse button (hold it down) on the tree and drag it, you can move the tech tree around.

Moving on up...

At this point, I’ve colonized most of the planets I’m going to colonize so I’m going to switch over to researching faster. So I pull up the domestic policy manager and move the military production slider down and increase the research slider.

But let's look at a few important technologies:

  • Trade. You need trade to build freighters. When you build a freighter, you can send it to an alien world and it will create a trade route which gives you money. The number of trade routes you have is dependent on your trade route ability.  Typically, trade will give you roughly 3 trade routes.  You can research Advanced trade and beyond to get more trade routes.

  • Planetary Invasion. You need this technology in order to invade planets.

  • Weapons. You don't get to just blow things up right away. You have to research weapons technologies first to do that.

  • Alliances. You need to research alliances. The other player  must have the technology as well. Then, if you have "close" relations or better, you can ally.



You can pretty much build a starbase anywhere. However, in 1.0X and earlier, you have to have them be at least 3 tiles apart on the map (this is going to eventually be changed to X number per sector -- probably 4 which is what the AI is stuck with).

There are 4 types of starbases:

  • Military Starbases. These can pump up the attack and defense of your ships within their zone of control.

  • Economic starbases. These can pump up your trade route money for freighters that pass through their zone of control as well as pump up the production on planets in their zone of control.

  • Influence starbases. These pump up your background influence in their zone of control.

  • Resource starbases. These can only be built on a galactic resource. With additional constructors, you can keep increasing the benefit you get from them.

As you build up starbases by sending more constructors to them, the graphics change and they get increasingly powerful.  Don't forget to equip them with weapons and defenses so that they can defend themselves from attack.

Rally Points

If you're playing on a large galaxy, rally points are very important because otherwise, it can be a pain in the butt to manage your civilization.

To create a rally point, just press the rally point button and then place the rally point anywhere on the map.

Then you can name it however you want.  If you click your ship and press the T button it will allow you to send it to one of your rally points (or if you click on the command button on the ship and choose "Go To" on that screen).

You can also tell your planets to automatically send ships to a rally point:


If you click the little button that looks like it has 2 line graphs on it you are taken to the Civilization Manager.  One of the most useful ways to automate things is with governors.  The governors allow you to give orders globally and have them carried out.  So for instance, you could have all your ships that are going to rally point X to change to rally point Y (or stop going to one at all). You can tell all your planets that are building ship A to build ship B.  It's a great way to keep from getting bogged down.

Trading things

On the foreign policy dialog you can initiate discussions with other players. Just select the one you want and press the Speak to button.

The column on the LEFT is what you have.  The Column on the right is what they have.  You can trade anything for anything if you name the right price.  Because of this flexibility, there is no "What will you give me for X?" type functionality that other strategy games usually have since there's an infinite number of possibilities.  Instead, we color-code the offer text. If it's red, they won't take it.  If it's green, they will.  The dialog updates as you add items.

General Tips

There are a lot of different strategies that you can take from here...

  • You can take the standard "conquer them all" approach and just build up your military and try to conquer them.  See your user manual on how combat works.

  • You can become the ultimate behind the current power broker and become incredibly rich and win by paying different civilizations to war each other into oblivion and buy up their planets and ships as you need them until you win through overwhelming dominance.

  • You could become the ultimate influencer. Built up your influence on your planets, make sure you get the influence resources, and then build influencer starbases which expand the borders of your influence until everyone defects to your side.

  • You could go for the master politician route in which you get everyone to like you through a variety of means and then ally with them.

  • You could take the roll of conqueror in which there are many different strategies for that. For example, you could focus on building fleets of small ships or just a few capital ships. You could go with relatively cheap ships supported by powerful starbases. You could poor money into research to make sure you have incredibly powerful ships. Or you could poor money into manufacturing and make sure you have lots of mediocre ships. There are many different paths to military conquest available.

  • You could also become a technological titan and research “Technology Victory”. It’s expensive but if you can fortify your corner of the galaxy you might just be able to hold them off long enough.

The general idea is to make sure you can play the game over and over and over again without running out of ways to play.

Also make sure you visit Galactic Civilizations II’s website ( to obtain downloads. The game’s computer AI is designed to be heavily enhanced over time based on player strategies. The computer players should feel like real human beings in most respects (except minus the disconnects and abuse).

Most of all – have fun!

Comments (Page 6)
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on Jul 24, 2006
After a few turns the game locks up. I even re installed windows Xp on my machine(a big pain in the @$$) I tried a different PC but it does the same thing. As I don't have a internet connection at home I can't update the software. I tried downloading the 1.2 update at a friends house and burnt it to CD, but when I installed it it just keeps going to the register dialog box and when I type in my SN it sais I have an invalid mail acccount. I e-mailed my SN in but so far no response. Any Ideas? My budget is limited and I hate to have to mail the game back(the time and money I have already wasted) As I don't think best buy will take software back.
on Aug 10, 2006
Can we get a non-condescending non-smartalecky beginner's guide that explains things in a more pleasant manner?

The snarky attempts at comedy are so off-putting that I frankly can't finish reading this. The writer assumes everything in the UI is intuitively obvious from observation, which it most definitely is not. Yes, I've looked at the movies, but they skim the surface even lighter than this guide.
on Sep 23, 2006
I'm pretty new at the game - I won a alliance victory and a dominance victory - but the other times I've just gotten my butt kicked. I've noticed that even on normal when the AI is at 75% economy it can still outclass me in every category. Anyhow, I've noticed that in the race chooser area that all the races seem to have the same government, except for the custom race I made. Does the AI pick it's own government type or is everybody other than "me" a Federalist?
on Sep 23, 2006
The AI picks its own government, and uses the default abilities regardless of any customizations you've made to their race in-game (those customizations only apply to when *you* play that race).
on Oct 14, 2006

I'd like to add my thanks Draginol to the many others who have expressed their appreciation of your work on this strategy guide. I much prefer to play a bit before doing a lot of reading. When one does get to the reading, it makes more sense with a bit of play time!

Also, I hope you will please keep your sense of humor (geez, it's a game) and ignore whiners like badken!
on Oct 19, 2006
suicidal is really suicidal i got my game around march and i'm only at normal still and you know what i should start trying now shoulden't i =^o^= meow
on Oct 22, 2006
Very good guide for me to play the game
on Jan 27, 2007
Hi all,
Just bought GC2, Got to this site and decided what was needed for us newbeeies was a downloadable copy of this beginners guide. It is in Microsoft word wps. file formate with the pictures. I would like to be able to up load it for other newbies like myself. How do I do that?
on Mar 25, 2007
In the bottom lefthand corner of the UI there is a picture of earth with a 10 for planet quality and a button to view the planet. What is the orange symbol in the upper righthand corner? What does it do or mean? There is a red cirle drawn around it in one screenshot in the walkthru. I can't find any info on this in the manual.
on Mar 25, 2007
That button that is circled is a method to assign a rally point to a planet. The planet itself will not move, but any ship built on that planet will be assigned to that rally point.

If you have the game, you should find a "tutorial" button on the same screen that has the "new game", and "campain" buttons. You should find one talking about rally points. Double click on it, and watch.

I'm surprised that people still post here.
on Mar 25, 2007
Can we get a non-condescending non-smartalecky beginner's guide that explains things in a more pleasant manner

Sure, I will write you one in a totally ass-kissing manner for a nominal fee. Since this one is free, quit bitching.
on Mar 25, 2007
I am still quite new and only got a victory on the normal today on the small (4X4)map today by military conquest. My first beginner tiny victorys were for researching the tecnological winner and winning that way. I have found if every once in a while you send the other civ's a 1 on teh slider in the talk screan it most times will keep them happy. I found that if you start the game with engins, and ecnomics I do better. I figured out that creating my own custom colny ships with my starting hyper drive gets me to the planets quicker then the AI. I take a constructor along with one colony ship to go far away and I click on the map to just before it won't let me go that far and then I drop off one constructor ther and make an economy base because I will later be going through there with a trade ship. I know it felt goood today after only getting about 6 hours sleep about every 30 hours or so to finally wind a military battle. I start off with hyper drive then get my chartraphary (to see how many world are around each star) then xenoechonomics then stright to weapons. then after getting a decient weapon then I get bigger ship bodys and then back to weapons. The first time I attacked a planet I could not understand why my transport wouldn't attack then When I wend down into where I could actually see the world (I view the smallest map for tactial where I can see an entire 4x4 on my laptop 17" screen. Any way I am looking foward to getting some sleep tonight; because I was up again all night last night and right now working on 36 hours like I have for each of my victorys and then about 6-8 hourse sleep out of each 36-48; but hay, I am enjoying it:o) N E way to stay on topic, I found that making a fast colony off the bat and then by buying it and about 3-4 more or as many as I can with the mony I start out with. I keep my budget just out of the red at about 46% that like me when it turns red under that I push the slider down on the taxes and I usually get my spending up to 100 real quick. I try and not buy anything that takes me down into negative. Well I got to get some sleep; but I also bought the DA game reciently but I don't like the way the spys work; because the AI used them to whip my but real quick , lol. I am up to normal and small. I have also tried a few of teh larger maps; but I didn't wimp out and not post my losing games like what I think some do that only post winning games; because I have posted *every* game I have played win or loose; because I think it stacks the stats if people only post to the metaverse when they win.
on Mar 25, 2007
Oh and I have played over ten games for a total of 151 years since startng on the afternoon of the 20'th of march this year. in that amount of time which is almost six full days seeing as how I started on the 20th around 5 in the evening and have plaid pretty much stright through only taking time to sleep a total of around 3 times for about 6 hours each time up until now. If you look at my empire you will see the times and dates of my games. My kids say that they don't want me hollering at them any more for their staying up all night playing WOW seeing as how they are both in their early 20's and still living at my home, I told them the differance is that I don't have to work and they do, lol; because I am as my son puts it "An old man"; because I will be 54 this year; but I am a gamer from way back from the beginning; but I havn't been playing for about the past 5 years or so; because I was getting to adicted; but now I guess I am back into it; but after spending all this time and running my body and mind down, I think I will limit it to about every 3 or 4 days instead of playing stright through for almost 40 hours then sleeping 6 and then doing it all over again. I will most likely still play at least 30 hours at a streach; but not back to back to back any more instead only about one or 2 times a week for 24-26. N E, Way I am still a beginner; but I do like this game. I was wondering though. I have DL and DA; but not the orignal GAl Civ2, am I missing anything by just playing the expansion packs and not the full GalCiv2?
on May 22, 2007
if you adjust the settings on the menu during a game to watch full battles and you have good logistics they can last a while. very good entertainment
on May 23, 2007
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