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Economic strategies

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Describe your economic strategies here. Feel free to add topics, or remove them if nobody is discussing them.

The economy - Viewed as an 'ends' or as a 'means' Edit

Managing the economy is an important part of the game, but there are two different ways of dealing with it.

The straight forward way is to aim at keeping the tax spend rate at 100% without going into the red and/or raising taxes until approval falls too low. This view sees the economy as a means to achieving your goal, you don't worry about economy as long as there is sufficient income to fund all your activities. Generally, as long as this goal is met, you don't worry about it.

Another approach aims specifically at maximising your income. Generally, such an approach involves, maximising population growth and growing the tax base by keeping approval at 100%. Done correctly, you can actually start rolling in dough.

One tip, there is a sweet spot for population cap, beyond which a larger population causes approval to fall drastically, this depends a lot on what techs you have ,racial bonuses and/or mines, but generally I find that It's not worth it for most planets to grow beyond 20 billion.

Also you generally want all colonies to be at around the same population level, so you can tax them at the same rate with the same 100% approval.

Note regarding the above comment: It can be worth it to have a higher population on one planet more than others if there is plenty of room to build multiple buildings that boost approval/happiness. Especially if that planet has multiple squares with happiness bonuses.

Tax Rate/Spend Rate Edit

What's your default tax rate and spend rate?

I default to a tax rate of 49% percent the first turn. I find that the bump up to 50% drops your approval by several points. In the early game I keep my approval over 50%. After moving to a form of government that involves voting I attempt to never let it dip below 60%. If I play neutral it's typically possible to have a tax rate of 60% and approval of > 80%. --Dinny 16:00, 10 March 2006 (UTC)

On my first turn, I move the tax spend rate to 100%, anything less is a waste. I keep my tax rate at the default, and continue so until my funds turn negative. At this point, I try to raise tax rates, to ensure a positive net profit, to move funds back to positive. This is subject to the provision that the approval rating remains at least 55%. If this can't be met, then I lower Tax spending rate and start to work on improving my economy. This can be done by either building economy improvements in big high PQ colonies , mining economic resources or changing to more advanced governments. In general once I become a Star democracy , I find the increased bonus to economy allows me to keep my tax spending rate at 100% without too much trouble. --Erikalbert 20:07, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

"A better way of making sure you don't go below -500BC is by cancelling military and social production on certain planets. It's *FAR* better to have 100% spending on 10 worlds and 0% on others than it is to fund all at 80%"

Uh, why?
Because of the benefit of clumping industry and social points. Consider military alone. Suppose you have 50 points of military on five planets and 10 points of military on five planets and a colony ship costs 150, for a total of 50*5+10*5=300 mp. At 100% funding, you get a colony ship every 3 turns on the 50-prod planet and a colony ship every 15 turns on the 10-prod planets. If you only have enough cash to fund 83.3% of your production (i.e., 250mp), you're better off funding your five 50 military planets and turning the others to "nothing", yielding 5 colony ships every 3 turns. If you just set your spending rate to 83%, you'll be producing 41 on your 50-prod planets. Now, it's going to take you 4 turns to build 5 colony ships, and the colony ships are still going to take a *LONG* time to finish on the 10-prod planets. You can make an analogous argument for social projects. You're better off focusing building up your "top" planets first.


This seems counterintuitive, especially for social spending when you need to build economic (and entertainment so you can raise tax rates) structures on those money-draining worlds to help improve the situation. Even building them at 20% or more reduced rate is better than never getting them built at all.
It's a case of short-term versus long-term advantages. In the long run, it's better to maximize the good planets then pick up the slack on the weaker planets. It should take you about the same time to max the good planets as a weaker one (since the good planets build faster but build more things). Thus maxing the good planet nets you better results at completion than the poor planet. Picking that up sooner will net you a larger final advantage at the expense of having several weaker planets be worthless for a while.

Economic Improvements vs Starbases vs Population Edit

Do you focus on maximizing your gain from your current tax base, or increasing the size of your tax base... or both?

  • Specialization Strategy requires that you have colonies to balance your empire's budget. Manufacturing/Research planets will spend more than they can make, and you want them cranking out as many hammers/beakers as possible. The solution is that other worlds are set up to make more credits than they spend. Happy and high population worlds with stock exchanges filling in the extra spaces on planetary tiles. You'll also want to place your economic capital on the most profitable to really increase your funds. I also use all my trade routes and build a few starbases around my capitals to crank the output of hammers/beakers but increasing your trade revenue by adding trade modules will help keep your cash positive, since you spend 1 credit for each hammer/beaker anyway. --Supreme Shogun 01:04, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

Trade Routes Edit

How much do you focus on getting the technology to setup trade, and once you have it how quickly do you max out your trade limit?

Personally, I've found that if I pursue a "specialized economic planets" strategy, trade routes are worth 30-50bc/turn and my top planets are producing 300+bc/turn. I'm starting to think that trade routes aren't really worth it.

True, not worth it for cash generating purposes alone , but another value in trading lies in the fact that doing so gives them a reason for not attacking you, which can be handy. --Erikalbert 08:11, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Trade can definitely be worth it. Long term it starts to fade (some), but especially as the Korx, and if you add bonuses to either trade routes or trade with your starting 10 points it can be HUGE. One game as the Korx I leaned toward neutral ethically alignment for neutral trading, and with bonuses was generating well over 1000 BC a turn in trade routes, and that was on a large map, with occasional econ starbases, but nothing fancy. What is difficult is managing the routes because when you go to war with someone all those routes are cancelled. I would find that I could make more freighters, move them to another race, then declare war, and start new routes.

Trade is good - as the Korx, I was able to make more in trade than taxes and tourism combined, even when I had half the galaxy under my control and a tax rate of 79%. The biggest issue with trade is war - if you focus on trade, you need to be careful:

  • Get started as early as possible. The longer a trade route exists, the more it's worth, so getting established early makes a huge difference, especially in larger galaxies.
  • Don't trade with races that are clearly warmongers - eventually their desire to conquer will beat out their desire to keep getting your trade.
  • Don't trade with people you plan to attack! This seems obvious, but when sending out freighters early in the game, it seems safe to just send 'em out to everybody to minimize the effects of war. But if your nearest neighbor is liable to be your first victim, don't trade with him! (unless your plan is to placate him until you're ready to fight)
  • Get the Galactic Privateer achievement, period. This baby will save your ass if/when you get into a war. The AI loves loves loves to attack your freighters!
  • Use a single planet of origin, or a couple that are in the same start system to maximize starbase usefulness.
  • Build economy starbases near your freighter-launching planets. Not only do they provide a nice boost to trade, but they'll help your planets' production and research.
  • Consider a non-violent path to victory. Less violence means more trade potential.


I like to play on immense maps, and my first impulse is to build as many colony ships as I can get away with. This way I get a huge economic base (200-300 planets, 10 billion population each) fairly quickly. I simply don't have the time or money at this stage of the game to be building any trade ships (as I'm building colony ships at a lightning pace). I never have much money, but I always make it. Mid-game my economy stabilizes, and I can have my spending at 100% and a decent (Green) approval. At this point my need for a paltry 600-1000 BC quickly diminishes. Late-game I can easily get 10 or 20 Trillion credits a week with my approval, and spending at 100% (Spending at 125% if I am doing espionage, but then it goes down to about 5 trillion) (My tax rate here is normally in the 50-60% range, but at times I've gotten it into the 70s). The point I'm trying to make is this, while I can see how trading would be INVALUABLE in a smaller map, where 600 BC can be the difference between life and death, on the bigger ones it is MUCH wiser to invest in colonies long term.

Military / Social / Research spending Edit

Unused social spending (hammers) is wasted in v1.0 (in the manual it states it is not wasted but the design was changed before release and the manual not updated). Unused military spending (shields) is NOT wasted, it is returned to your treasury! In v1.1 unsed social spending will go to military spending; if not building a ship, it is returned to your treasury! --Mascrinthus(talk) 17:35 EST, 22 March 2006

Also, research spending in addition to what you need to complete the current tech is credited towards the next tech in the tree. However, if it's a terminal tech in the tree, extra spending is wasted. For this reason, the best strategy is to micromanage your sliders to devote just the right amount of research to complete the tech. Players have been complaining about this for years.

Does anyone know what happens if you overflow military or social projects? Is the money saved or is the extra work carried forward to the next project or??

In v1.1 at least, it's not wasted. You can see this easily when researching older techs in the tech tree which took only 1 week to complete and when it's done, you might get several techs from the tech tree at once.

Strategies from v1.0 (now-obselete) Edit

If you are still playing v1.0, UPGRADE. If you insist on not upgrading (or for historic completeness), the best way to manage your economy in v1.0 was to set your social spend rate to 0% and then set "focus-social" on all planets that still needed social projects.

Economic Warfare Links Edit

One of my favorite ways to play is by building a self-sufficient strong economy in the early half while neglecting military production with the exception of one or two manufacturing planets. I focus all my research into the trade and diplomacy lines. Usually as soon as the AI starts militarizing, he'll start throwing threats your way if you don't have any ships. In a couple of turns, the AI will declare full blown war.

I find that it's not uncommon for the strong military AIs to have weaker economies. Combined with the fact that the AI favors trading ships and you've got yourself an open target. Building a couple small fleets of fast but weak small or tiny ships for offense, and a smaller fleet of more heavily armed ships to defend your borders. Your military might should only rank around 40, but it'll be enough to get the job done. Now use your small fast fleets to patrol his trade routes and eliminate his freighters. If you come across any mining or economic starbases, destroy those too.

After you destroy around 3-5 freighters, the AI will usually call you and tell you that they want peace because the war is too costly. At this point, take advantage of them with your artificially high diplomacy factor. Usually this means you can pick up almost all of his military research in a single move as well as stripping his bank of cash. The diplomacy window allows you to pinpoint exactly how many credits the AI will hand over to complete a trade, and you can force this every time.

At this point, your economy and research should be vastly superior. Your productive capabilities might not be the highest, but it won't matter anyway. When you build ships, let it build normally for two or three turns, then simply buy out the rest of the production for a reduced cost.

You can use this tactic again on another (or even the same) AI or simply prepare to dominate them with military might.

FAQ Edit

Whatever I do, regardless of anything, my economy runs to waste. If I put the taxation to 100% and Industrial to 1% - I STILL tragically keep losing money. And this eventually causes me to lose - every single game I play. What am I doing wrong??? --89.110.201.86 22:38, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

- If your approval is low (from high taxes), your population won't grow. You need population to get taxes from. DO NOT send a colony ship out right away, if your population drops very low on a planet it will take forever to grow back! Set taxes only as high as you can while keeping approval in the green, set your spending to 100%, and place some econ buildings on your homeworld. Your homeworld has double the normal max population, making it a great place for a bunch of econ buildings alongside your starting factories. Anomalies and tech trading can help with cash if you need more time. Keep population and econ buildings in mind as you expand.

- You are building too much on your planets. Maintaining social projects is costly and on low population planets the cost just isn't worth it.

- Some races have buildings with extremely high maintenance costs in TA. If you are playing as the Thalan in TA, spam buildings lots of their level 1 industrial and research buildings is a sure path to economic bankruptcy. Early in the game, each of these buildings take up 15 bcs to maintain! Chain-building them is only worth it once you have received the level 3 versions of these buildings, where the maintenance cost is only a measly 5 bcs. Similarly, high maintenance buildings like the Iconian refinery (which costs 16 bcs per turn) frequently will guarantee your economic collapse in TA. To prevent this from happening, try to build 1 economy improving structure for every 2 or 3 industrial buildings to offset the maintenance.

- Without building anything, these tiles will simply add to your treasury (not in some earlier versions). Having too many simultaneous projects on all your worlds will reduce your treasury dramatically. 

- Do not build too many research buildings if your economy is unable to handle it. Note that research buildings are passive, in the sense that research tiles automatically take up part of your economy as long as your research spending is above 0%. They do not require initiation of projects to take up research production tiles.

- Having an extremely low level of influence and no trade can further aggravate your economic woes. Trade is mediocre for most cases, but the addition 300-600 bcs that it provides each turn can mean the difference between having a budget surplus or deficit. In addition, increasing influence improves your earnings from tourism, which makes up a very sizable portion of your economy. The combined effect of these two can bring up to 3000 or more bcs per turn. 

- Do not underestimate the deflationary effects of having a large military. Large ships can take up to 30 bcs per turn to maintain, which is twice as much as some large industrial structures! You are better off improving your ships' stats through bonuses (like seeking military resources) to gain military leverage than to build too many crafts, as the maintenance cost still remains the same. 

- Lastly, forced random events like an economic depression can be extremely deleterious to your economy. Losing the federal elections (if you have the appropriate governmental structure) can cause a severe economic malus (-20% economy etc.). 

- Recruitment Centers - early on this building is a life changer... I research right away the tech line to get it... you will also get a boost to your military production... build it first on every new colony: will give you a 20% boost to population and 10% economic boost...

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