Galactic Civilizations Wiki

Colony rush strategy[]

The colony rush strategy refers to a strategy where your main aim is to occupy as many high quality planets before the AI can do it. This will probably hurt your economy in the short term in several ways.

Firstly, citizens sent off on colony ships may take several turns to reach their destination, they don't contribute to the growth at the time. Once they reach the new colony, their growth is much slower compared to if they remained on the homeworld because population growth uses the base pop as one of its variables. Since more citzens means more tax income, this indirectly means in the short run your income will be less.

Secondly, new colonies generally end up in the red, particularly if you build only factories, starports and labs.

Thirdly and more directly such strategies often damage your economy due to rush builds of both factories and colonies, which may cause your economy to overheat particularly if you rush build factories on bonus tiles.

That said in the long run colony rush strategies can be very effective, because if you can keep the AI off your back long enough, eventually, the advantage of having more development space and hence more productive colonies will begin to tell.

General effectiveness of colony rush strategies[]

Despite attempts by stardock to tone down the effectiveness of this strategy, it is still an extremely powerful one and with the right settings and strategy you can easily outcolonise an intelligent AI by a lot, making the game effectively won.

I have played 3-4 'intelligent' opponents on medium maps, where I colonised over 60% of the map, instead of the usual 20-25%! Needless to say the game was over pretty quick.

On the other hand if you try tiny or medium maps with 9 opponents, no matter how good you are at colony rush, you will find you can colonise at most 1-3 more planets than a typical AI empire, which is good but isn't a big deal. Also the luck factor will mean sometimes you are stuck in a bad position so your rush build colony ships become white elephants. Most probably you won't have time to play yourself out of this, before all habitable planets are snapped up.

This is not an autoloss of course, but not very fun.

General advice on colony rush[]

Although all colony rush methods agree on the goal, there are many diverse ways to achieve the objective. Leaving aside playing style, which method is most efficient depends critically on the game settings in particular, number of opponents, abundance of stars, planets and habitable planets and size of map.

That said there are a few rules that generally hold.

Make use of Stellar Cartography![]

I would say without this tech, the effectiveness of a colony rush strategy is minimised. You must make a habit of using the minimap to send your colony ships or scouts directly to those planets. For sure, you don't want to send colony ships or scouts blindly out to empty space with no star systems or to see if there is even a star system there!

If you don't use scouts, it is generally worthwhile to stop the colony ship one step before it actually colonises the planet (if it is possible to do) and look at the remaining unveiled planets in the same star system for better prospects. You should also click on the star, to see the number of habitable planets in the system, if you see that there are say 3 habitable planets in the system but the fog of war hides the third it is generally worth while to spend one more turn moving your colony ship to check the last one out.

Blind exploring off![]

Version 1.1 introduced the option of blind exploring where it hid the sphere of influence of opponents. A good colony rush player never turns it off. Why? It allows you to roughly estimate the direction in which the enemy colonisation is about to come and plan according.

Take note of the general position of your empire and those of your rivals on the minimap. If you are near the top right corner for example with no one behind you, you should concentrate on colonising planets away from the corner, because it will take a while before the enemy reaches there.

Only start colonising those planets in your backyard, when you see enemy scouts .

If you start out very close to the enemy, you can actually try your luck by quickly and immediately (don't bother if it's after a few turns it's too late) sending colony ships to star systems within his sphere of influence, if you are fast enough you might actually colonise some planets that are actually 'his'. But it's a gamble, because a lot of the time you will just find that the area is fully colonised so you just wasted time.

Plan to build new jump pads for colony ships.[]

One common mistake is to rely overly on your homeword as the only source of colony ships. This isn't too bad, if you are playing a map with little room (small map size and/or many opponents), since the colony rush phase ends quickly. But generally, as time goes by, you will want to start using other colonies on the edge of your empire to build colony ships for obvious reasons (faster access to uncolonised areas).

So whenever you colonise a planet on the outskirts of your empire, consider whether it is a good place to build an industry base world with a starport for colony ships. You are generally looking out for worlds that have lots of production tile bonuses (so you can rush build factories there) and/or ones where an ethical decision resulted in some relevant bonus. Location is also a factor of course.

Design your own colony ships.[]

At the very start of the game some races actually start with more advanced technology than hyperdrives, so you can build a much faster colony ship right off the bat. In particular the Drath Legion, Yor Collective, Dominion of Korx,start with Ion drives, so they can build much faster colony ships at the start.

Even if you start off with measly hyperdrives, you can still improve from the core colony ships by dropping the life support in the core ship and adding one more engine. I generally find this trade off favourable, because the longer ranged but much slower colony ship generally moves too slowly for range to be an issue.

With careful planning and strategic colonisation of planets (see later), range shouldn't be a issue.

Of course, if you play larger maps, with scattered star systems and rare star/planets/habitable planet settings, colony ships with life support come into their own.

Colonise High PQ planets, ignore low ones.[]

What to colonise is highly dependent on the game settings as usual, but generally, extremely low PQ 4-5 planets are never worth colonising at first unless they serve some strategic reason (to extend range for example to some hard to access regions).

In particular, low PQ planets that are surrounded by high PQ planets that you own, are often useless even if the enemy gets to them first, because they will be easily culturally influenced to flip to your side anyway.

I doubt most people will pass up a PQ 16+ planet! But I'm generally happy with PQ 11+

What PQ planets you should be willing to accept depends on several factors such as

  1. Whether it is in danger of being colonised by the AI or if it's in such out of the way place that the AI hasn't scouted yet. I find that PQ 9 planets which normally don't look that great becomes very attractive, when I see the AI sending colony ships there, if i can win the race (check speed of colony ship and count the grid squares) I usually do.
  2. Whether it allows access to other regions
  3. The overall degree of competition. On a small map with 9 opponents (even with normal abundance settings), you pretty much colonise every habitable planet (or rather the most habitable one close by seen by your colony ship) you see, there is no time to get picky because they will be all gobbled up in a couple of turns.
  4. The amount of unexplored regions left, if the colony rush phase is running down, you should obviously start to get less picky.

Generally the larger and less contested the map(fewer opponents), the greater risks you can take in passing on some reasonable quality planet and spend time trying to look for higher PQ planets or colonise for strategic reasons to extend your range.

Use of the flagship[]

Your Flagship should generally be used to explore anomalies, and they can help scout on the way. But I prefer to focus on surveying anomalies as a first priority rather than scouting because anomalies can help a lot as they can give you as much as 2500 BC rewards which is great early game, when your economy is overheating.

Specific colony rush strategies and approaches[]

In this section I will list out some common colony rush strategies and methods.


The most common colony rush strategy consists of rush buying a colony ship and/or a factory, and repeating this several times.

Any arguments for the merits of buying factories over ships or viceversa?

The extreme version which I favour consists of doing both as long as possible but favouring buying factories. By turn 4 or so you should have enough factories on your homeworld to produce colony ships every 2 or 3 turns.

Typically one reduces everything to 0% except research for the first few turns (idea is you will buy everything at first) and then restore everything to military with a few points in social once your cash starts to run out. Other distributions are possible of course including keeping everything at default.

Pros : In terms of the rate in which you can produce colony ships, this is one of the quickest. It is highly effective on extremely contested map, where the colony rush phase is short.

Cons : The main source of your colony ships will be your homeworld. This will often cause your homeworld to drop to extremely low population figures. If you are not careful you can even drop it to nearly 0! This is bad because generally at the start most of your taxes will come from your homeworld.

Also, if the colony rush phase lasts for a while, it soon becomes inefficient to launch colony ships from your homeworld because it takes a long time to reach the outskirts of your empire. You can start using other colonies as the launchpads, but after sinking most of your resources into your homeworld, this might take a while. Consider saving aside some cash for rush building on your colony ship launchpad planet.

Technological rush for propulsion techs*[]

This strategy focuses on improving your propulsion tech so you can build faster ships. Generally it involves rush buying labs, with research at 100%. The goal is to get up to typically impluse drive I or II and building Colony ships with speed 6. I recommend starting with a race like the Yor collective which already has Ion drive engines, so you can reach Impluse drive in about 3 turns.

Pros :

Cons: This strategy works best on larger maps of course, and on less contested settings where you can spend the first few turns waiting for your tech to kick in.

To scout or not to scout*[]

Players are split on whether it is worthwhile to build specialised scouts or just send colony ships blindly into the galaxy to scout.

In my opinion, if you are playing settings with abundant stars and planets, scouting is less useful, because most of your colony ships will be pointed at pretty good targets.

On the other hand, if habitable planets are rare, sending colony ships blindly into star systems is more likely to be costly, when no targets are available as is likely.

I also suspect that the value of specialised scouts increases the less contested a map is, because in such games, the colony rush period is longer, and the value of scouts last longer. Also it gives you more time to make strategic decisions like passing by good PQ planets for strategic gains (e.g. to extend range).

Population, Morale *[]

One commonly cited strategy that can be combined with any of the above strategy, involves buying or building a Entertainment Network on the homeworld to boost morale to 100% and/or adjusting low tax rates for a couple of turns to increase approval. But the latter is probably less effective.

The 100% approval is meant to ensure that the population homeworld isn't too adversely affected by the population depletion due to colonisation. Hitting 100% approval is critical because it gives you a special population growth bonus.

In the same vein, some players prefer to *not* automatically send the full 500 on the colony ship but send lesser amounts depending on whether the colony ship is sent to a further place or is used for scouting purposes with no good targets in mind.

To the extreme you can even send colony ships with 1 population unit, those won't grow much (at all?), and will produce very little (no?) tax income but for manufacturing and research purposes they work as well as a 10 billion population colony.


In version 1.1, I recommend playing the Yor with the following picks: +30% population growth (3 points), +30% economics (4 points), and +20% morale (3 points) and pick Federalists that gives you +20% economy. The combination of population growth, morale, and extra economy means you should have plenty of cash.

I prefer to use this money to rush-buy the first factory on each planet I colonize. My starting budget of $5000 is used for rush building. When I get down to around $1000–$2000, I stop rush-building. At this point, I'm going to just be spending money the regular way.

You goal in managing your early-game economy is to have your spending turn in the black again exactly when you reach -500 bc.

Tech Rate[]

I like playing with the "slowest" tech rate.

For a change of pace "accelerated" tech rate is also interesting. (Obviously, play this way if you want a technology victory.)


This strategy applies to large maps or greater.

I stopped playing "huge" and "gigantic" maps because of the performance issues.

Turn 1[]

Set spend rate to 100%. Set taxation rate to 49% (don't mind the low morale; you don't have elections yet and the population on your homeworld is leaving for other worlds). Rush-buy a factory on your homeworld. Set your production queue for all factories, but if there's a +food bonus tile use it. If I have a +influence tile, I leave that tile open for when I get embassies. Use a research bonus tile for a research building, if you have one.

But ideally, your homeworld will have +production bonus tiles. If it has a bunch of +food and +morale tiles, you're probably going to convert your homeworld to an economics planet after you get other manufacturing centers going.

Land your colony ship on your homeworld and re-lauch it with 500 population. Send your colony ship towards the center of the map.

Set your Survey Ship to "auto-survey". DON'T check auto-explore also, or your survey ship won't explore anomalies! Your survey ship is smart enough to find anomalies even if they're hidden in the fog of war, so "auto-survey" is enough.

Research drive engine techs until you get to Impulse I. As the Yor, this is your first tech.

First Few turns[]

Use your initial colony ship on a 10PQ world minimum.

Now, you want most of your first few planets to be dedicated manufacturing or dedicated economy worlds. It doesn't matter which you choose first.

You want 2-3 of your first few worlds to be manufacturing planets, so by mid-game you'll have a decent manufacturing base for building military ships and colony ships to finish colonizing the galaxy.

A PQ 13+ planet is usually going to be an economy world.

A planet with +300 food bonus tile is going to be an economy world. (Building a farm there is like having 2 more tiles to build money-making buildings on.) A planet with 2 or more +100 food or +100 morale tiles is going to be an economy world.

PQ 10-12 planets are best for manufacturing worlds. *BUT* if you get a +700 manufacturing bonus tile or several +300 tiles, it's going to be a manufacturing world no matter what the PQ.

PQ 4-9 planets are going to be research planets.

Economics Worlds[]

Rush-buy a factory, and make it an economics planet. (factory-bank-bank-bank-bank-entertainment-farm-bank-bank-entertainment-all remaining = bank)

Manufacturing Worlds[]

Kind of simple strategy here. Build nothing but factories. I put the starport in after 4 or 5 factories, because by that time you'll have enough production to finish the starport in 1 turn and also you'll have enough production to be finishing ships in a reasonable number of turns.

+Production Tiles on Homeworld[]

If you're playing at a difficulty higher than "Intelligent", it pays to scum (Ctrl-N) for a +100% or +300 production bonus tile on your homeworld. If you rush-buy a factory there on your first turn, it's like playing with a +100% or +300% racial +military and social production ability. (except you'll pay full price for the production, unlike racial abilities which only cost you half the bonus)


I use colony ships for exploring. I send a colony ship to each star system within range, and colonize the best PQ planet there. My survey ship will explore star systems also, so check the "unowned planets" tab to see if any high-PQ planets are available. If so, send a colony ship. Build a colony ship with enhanced range, if necessary, but only if you find a choice PQ planet out of range. Having a single planet in the AI influence area is a bad idea. If you do find a choice planet in an uncolonized system, make sure you snap up all the 10+ PQ worlds in that system so you culturally control it.

Tech Goals[]

I like to get to medium class hulls before serious wars start. At Intelligent, I need to pick up space weapons and Laser I or II first so I can start building some ships to deter the AI from declaring war on me.

I focus solely on Lasers for weapons. They have the best damage/space early in the game.

I've noticed that the AI also seems to focus on lasers. I like to build ships that have shield defense and missile weapons - these almost always beat the AI in battle. I've yet to see the AI adapt to my ship design - maybe at intelligent or genius level?

For Armor, I spread my spending equally. I like to put 1-1-1 defense on my ships, once I get enough miniturazation and advanced enough tech.

I'll research a few of the other techs when the cost is low enough; that I can finish them in 1-2 turns. I'll research better Lasers, better engines, or better social projects even if it'll take 5-10 turns to complete.

DON'T research better factories until the end of the colonization phase, and not if you're in a close war. When you get better factories, you start building them on all your planets, cutting your military production in half for 10-15 turns. PLUS, you *WANT* to be able to rush-buy a factory on new colonies. Having more expensive factories makes this harder to do.

In the mid-game, once my economy is going, I start espionage spending, 1 tick on each AI. This lets me steal techs and fill in holes in my research spending.

I don't research "Planetary Invasion" until I'm in a war and have clear military superiority. Then, I rush to Tir-Quan training and advanced troop mods, sending out 3000 troops on each transport. (3000 troops is enough to capture the planet without any special invasion tactics, and gives a good population base on the captured planet.)

Colony-build strategy: the all-X approach[]

There are many approaches of how to build-up your planets.

The classical approach[]

Uses mixed structures (factories, labs and econ buildings) on most planets. Despite you can build on one planet with research bonus only research buildings, and on the planet with production bonus only factories, this approach really supports only one specialization of the planet: financial. The reason why other specializations don't work effectively is in the way the spending sliders work. They can not be set for each planet separately.

  • The basic idea behind sliders is sound: with just the three of them you direct the financing of your whole empire's production of three "products": ships, buildings and research. It would work perfectly if there was only one type of the building that would make output. But there are two: labs AND factories, and they produce only as much as you finance them. Setting the sliders means allocating money from the treasury to them. So, if you set sliders equally (33/33/33), then factories receive 2/3 of the "money" and labs 1/3. What this means in practice is 1 out of 3 factories does NOT produce anything, and 2 out of 3 of your labs are also NOT doing any research. So the buildings and tiles on which they stand are wasted! That's not so important on game difficulty settings below crippling, because the AIs in the game use mostly the mixed approach. But at maso+ AIs get large bonuses: on suicidal they have BASE output of production, research and money 4 times as big as a human player has! However the AI uses mixed approach - it builds factories AND labs on the same planet. So regardless of bonuses it never operates them at their full capacity.

The All-X Strategy[]

planet-build approach is considered an advanced strategy (not appropriate for player without good knowledge of game mechanics) and makes these buildings work at their full capacity. It consists of building only two types of buildings on every planet: labs and econ buildings (markets, a farm or two, a morale building or two) or factories and econ buildings, and setting spending sliders accordingly: with all-labs 0/0/x (no spending for factories), and with all-factories x/x/0 (no spending for labs). The main problem with this approach is those buildings give only one type of "product", either research, or buildings/ships. But as of GalCiv-2 version 1.1, this can be overcome utilizing planetary focus.

Production focus.JPG
Buttons you click to focus production on the planet to that field

Setting focus converts 25% of produced output of that planet into another type, so labs can produce ships OR buildings (not both), and factories can produce research, while still producing buildings AND ships. Of course the player has to set the focus on most planets he owns in order to get enough research from factories, or enough production from labs. For more info in production and focus check Military production and Research.

The combination of all-X planet build and focus on the other production field significantly diminishes the advantage the suicidal AI gets, or even turns the advantage in player's favor. Now he needs to cover just the financial part, that was never meant to fill such a big hole both approaches make. For more about making money check the Economy page.

The all-econ approach[]

is mostly the late-game strategy. It is based on the fact everything (but research) can be bought. So a player does not build factories to speed up production, but builds (actually buys) mostly econ-enhancing buildings. The main problem with this approach is it requires a large amount of money to work (usually produced on significantly more than 100 planets), and enormous amount of micromanagement to actually buy/upgrade everything on every planet. Experienced players reported they needed about 100,000 BC of profit per turn for this strategy to be feasible.

  • there's the "mini" variant of this approach that can be used in combination with any planet-build approach. If an empire generates a significant surplus (some thousands BCs), a player can speed up the construction of partially finished buildings or ships on just some planets, or purchase new lower-tech (and hence lower cost) buildings on newly gained planets. The latter is usually done with factories or labs, until planet gets enough "own" production to build the rest of the infrastructure in a reasonable time.

More info[]

on the all-X topics check GalCiv-2 forums, specifically: