Exploration is one of the first priorities of any spacefaring empire. At the start of the game, no empire knows anything about the universe beyond their home system. To learn more about other systems, an empire will need to send their science ships out to survey them. Early game exploring is key for an empire to start growing rapidly, however caution is warranted for the various events and anomalies associated with exploring can bring either great boons or banes with them. Part of the Discovery tradition tree is focused on exploration.
Exploration mechanics[edit | edit source]
Besides an empire's home system, all systems start unexplored and unsurveyed. Systems become explored when they are in sensor range of a fleet, starbase, or colony; have been visited by a science ship, or are owned by another empire for which the empire has at least low intel on. Unexplored systems can only be entered by a science ship which has an assigned scientist leader. Explored systems must further be surveyed with a science ship led by a scientist in order to build a starbase and claim the system. Systems which are gained from other empires (by war, trade, or integration) are automatically surveyed.
Science Ships[edit | edit source]
Empires can build science ships from the start of the game, and most empires start with a science ship which is ready to be sent out to survey the stars. Every science ship must be assigned a Scientist leader for the ship to perform tasks such as surveying, assisting research of a planet, exploring uncharted hyperlanes, or researching a special project.
By default, science ships are set to Evasive stance, which means they will flee any system where hostile ships or spaceborne life forms are present. They can be set to Passive stance instead, which lets the ship continue its current orders even if the system contains hostile aliens.
Science ships cost 100 Alloys. They are built at starbase shipyards, like all other ships. They do not have weapons but are automatically equipped with the latest sensors, engines, reactors, armor, and shields based on the empire's current technology. Science ship components are automatically upgraded as technology advances without the need to refit them at shipyards.
Science ships can do the following actions, all of which require a scientist to be assigned to the science ship:
- Survey gives detailed information about a celestial body, namely deposits, habitability, and anomalies.
- Research Anomaly investigates an anomaly, with the investigation time dependent on the relative levels of the scientist and of the anomaly.
- Assist Research allows science ships to boost the research output of the planet by +10%-20% depending on the skill level of the scientist.
- Automatic Surveying surveys the galaxy automatically.
- Experimental Subspace Navigation requires the Speculative Hyperlane Breaching technology and the passive stance and allows traveling directly to any explored destination as MIA rather than through the hyperlane network.
- Assist Cloaking Detection requires the Advanced Detection Algorithms technology and is only available while the ship is not cloaked and grants +1-5 Detection Strength to the selected starbase depending on the skill level of the scientist.
- Active Reconnaissance is only available while the ship is cloaked and grants +20-100 Intel Cap and +10-50% Intel Gain towards the owner of the targeted world depending on its capital tier.
Science ships will be able to cloak with the latest cloaking components researched, if any. This allows them to investigate inside the borders of empires that do not allow it.
Surveying[edit | edit source]
Surveying is the process of revealing details about celestial bodies. The first time a celestial body is surveyed by anyone, there is a 5% chance of revealing an anomaly, which is increased by 0.5% for every surveyed body with no anomaly. After any empire has surveyed a celestial body, no other empire can reveal an anomaly. Additionally, every survey has a 1.25% chance of revealing an archaeological site, and this chance is not blocked by a previous survey. Surveying may also reveal exploitable resources such as energy credits, minerals, strategic resources, or research points, any terraforming candidacy modifier, or a primitive civilization or pre-sapient species. The base time to survey a celestial body is 20 days.
In order to survey a celestial body, select a science ship, right-click on the celestial body, and select the "Survey" option. The player may also select the "Survey System" option to order the science ship to survey every celestial body in the system. From the galaxy map, the player may queue survey missions by holding down the "Shift" key and right-clicking on a system and selecting the "Survey System" option one by one. The science ships can only survey systems that they have a path to. Science ships can also be ordered to explore the galaxy automatically.
Celestial bodies in systems owned by a regular empire cannot surveyed by other empires that have communications with that empire. However, celestial bodies in systems owned by a Fallen Empire may be surveyed if accessible. The same applies to Marauder systems in Apocalypse. Any systems that become unowned (whether because of a crisis or the empire is entirely destroyed) will have to be surveyed if not previously surveyed.
Situation log[edit | edit source]
The situation log helps to keep track of special projects, anomalies, and some event chains, which are discovered when venturing out into the galaxy and exploring, and allows individual projects and anomalies to be tracked on the map. For democratic governments, it will also display election mandates. If there is an update to the situation log, it will glow in orange .
Most projects are centered around a celestial body and require the presence a scientist assigned to a science ship before the projects can be researched. However, some project may require something other than a science ship, such as a military warship, a troop transport, or construction ship. Some special projects are timed and will disappear if not researched, while others will remain available until resolved.
First contact[edit | edit source]
Eventually, alien ships or starbases will be encountered for the first time, creating a multi-stage first contact, which can be accessed from either the galaxy map or the situation log. In order to complete a stage, an envoy must be assigned to the first contact. Every 80 days, the envoy has a chance to make a breakthrough and advance to the next stage. This chance is increased by previous successful first contacts as well as codebreaking. If no breakthrough is made, there is a chance to gain 1 or 2 insights instead, increasing the breakthrough chance for the rest of the stage. At the end of each first contact, the empire completing the first contact will receive a small amount of influence. Various events can take place during a first contact. These events can increase or reduce the insights for the current stage.
Each first contact has 2 or 3 stages:
- Completing the first stage will compile the information known about the aliens based on whether first contact was made with a ship or a starbase. If first contact protocol is set to aggressive and the target is an empire, completing the stage will bring the option to seize a ship (if no starbase was encountered) or abduct specimens (if a starbase was encountered).
- Completing the second stage will reveal the primary species of the target empire as well as their first contact protocol. If the target is spaceborne aliens or an empire created by the Lost Colony origin, first contact will be completed. Hive Mind and Machine Intelligence empires also complete first contact at this stage if the other empire is the same type. If specimens were abducted, the empire will gain the option to vivisect them; a Devouring Swarm can eat the specimens for a 50 Food, Minerals or Alloys depending on the targeted species. The abduction or seizure will be canceled with no other effects if the aliens turn out to be part of the same species.
- Completing the third stage (if applicable) will complete first contact. Abducting or seizing a ship will bring a temporary −250 opinion and a permanent −25 opinion. Vivisection and eating will unlock a random Biology technology if the targeted species is biological or a random Computing technology if the targeted species is robotic, at the cost of a further temporary −500 opinion. In addition, if Nemesis is enabled, vivisecting a biological species will also grant an Internal Organs asset.
Completing a first contact provides influence depending on first contact protocol, contact type, and actions taken during first contact. Only the empire which completess the first contact first receives the reward.
|First contact protocol||Peaceful contact with regular or fallen empire||Other contact|
|Proactive||15x influence output (60 ~ 150)||9x influence output (30 ~ 120)|
|10x influence output (40 ~ 100)||6x influence output (20 ~ 80)|
Completing first contact with another empire will enable diplomacy and bring the first contact dialogue for both empires. Depending on government and ethics, the exact replies will vary but will otherwise have the same effects. The proactive option is not available to empires that have Inward Perfection or genocidal civics, hacked the other empire, abducted specimens, or seized a ship.
- The proactive option gives a temporary +50 opinion with the other empire.
- The cautious option gives the other empire −33% Spy Network Growth against the empire for 15 years.
- The aggressive option gives +33% Spy Network Growth on the other empire for 15 years as well as a temporary −50 opinion with them.
If the first contact protocol is set to aggressive, fleets can be ordered to attack an unidentified empire. Any hostile action adds a permanent −25 opinion towards that empire, while destroying 10 or more ships or capturing any of their worlds will mark it as a first contact war and adds a permanent −75 opinion instead.
The first time a first contact is completed with an empire of different authority, an additional bonus may be gained.
|Source empire authority||Target empire authority||Reward|
|24x engineering output (500 ~ 1000000)|
|24x society output (500 ~ 1000000)|
|24x society output (500 ~ 1000000)|
|18x unity output (250 ~ 1000000)|
Galaxy Map[edit | edit source]
The layout of star systems is determined by the galaxy shape. All systems are connected by hyperlanes in clusters connected by choke points. The latter will never be a home system nor will they house anything that will stop an empire's expansion. The systems at the very edge of the galaxy will always be isolated, with a single hyperlane connection.
The number of choke points is indirectly set at galaxy generation by hyperlane density.
Nebulae[edit | edit source]
Nebulae are visible from both the galaxy map and the systems located inside and tend to have fewer habitable planets within them, but the chance of finding Strategic Resources is increased by 50% and allow Starbases to construct the Nebula Refinery building. Nebulae block all sensor coverage originating from other systems, meaning that it is impossible for an empire to see what is within and beyond a nebula's hyperlanes without having a ship or station inside. It also grants +3 Cloaking Strength to any ship with a cloaking device. Nebulae are named and visible on the galaxy map from the start of the game.
Systems within a nebula have a small chance of being ionized, visible by occasional lightning strikes within the system. Such systems disable shields and apply −50% sublight speed but grant +30% evasion.
Space Storms[edit | edit source]
After the mid-game year passes, there is a 1% chance each year for a Space Storm to appear. Space Storms affect half of the systems in the galaxy, blocking sensors similar to nebulae, disabling all shields and causing −50% Sublight Speed.
Space Storms last 5-10 years. Afterwards another Space Storm cannot occur for the next 20 years.
Space Storms can be used to defeat superior fleets or Guardians that focus heavily on shields.
|Available only with the Ancient Relics DLC enabled.|
Empires that unlocked the secrets of the Zroni precursors are able to create a Space Storm in a system by constructing a Zroni Storm Caster starbase building. Removing the building will remove the Space Storm.
Precursors[edit | edit source]
The precursors are the oldest known galactic empires, though long dead. Their ruins are scattered across the galaxy to be discovered via anomalies or archaeology sites. Precursor anomalies reveal a special project which once investigated grants a small amount of Engineering, Physics, or Society research as well as a precursor artifact. 6 artifacts are required to reveal the location of a precursor's home system. If the Ancient Relics DLC is installed precursor anomalies will also grant a small number of Minor Artifacts.
After 50 years have passed, a random event can add another precursor special project on an uninhabitable planet in the empire. AI empires can also sell a discovered artifact to non-Gestalt empires for 1000 energy. Corporate Dominion empires can counter with 500 energy. If the empire has the Warrior Culture civic, it can threaten the AI empire to surrender it for free, the success rate depending on both empires' relative fleet power. Empires that have a Protective, Friendly, or Loyal attitude will offer the artifact for free instead of asking for payment. Each AI Empire can offer an artifact only once.
The first empire that surveys a precursor homeworld will gain a large reward. If the Ancient Relics DLC is installed empires that survey a precursor homeworld, even if they weren't the first ones to do it, will unlock a minor artifact action to delve into the secrets of the precursors. The action costs 50 Minor Artifacts and will unlock a special project that will provide a permanent reward when completed.
|Precursor civilization||Homeworld||Homeworld reward||Home system contains||Clues source||Secrets of the Precursor special project|
|Cybrex||Ruined Ring World||Ruined Ringworld||Anomalies|| 12000 Engineering research cost
|First League||Fen Habbanis III||Anomalies|| 6000 Engineering research cost
|Irassian Concordat||Irassia||Anomalies|| 3000 Society research cost
|Vultaum Star Assembly||Vultaumar Prime||Anomalies|| 3000 Physics research cost
Fanatic Materialists receive option for an additional special project.
|Yuht Empire||Yuthaan Majoris||Anomalies|| 3000 Society research cost
|Baol||Grunur||The Last Baol Relic||Size 20 Tomb World||Archaeology sites|| 3000 Society research cost
|Zroni||Zron Prime||Psionic Archive Relic||5 Zro||Archaeology sites|| 6000 Society research cost
References[edit | edit source]
|Exploration||Exploration • FTL • Anomaly • Archaeological site • Relics • Pre-FTL species • Fallen empire • Events • Spaceborne aliens • Guardians • Marauders • Caravaneers|
|Celestial bodies||Celestial body • Colonization • Terraforming • Planetary features • Planet modifiers|
|Species||Species • Traits • Population • Pop modification • Species rights • Ethics|
|Governance||Empire • Government • Civics • Policies • Edicts • Leader • Factions • Technology • Traditions • Situations|
|Economy||Economy • Planetary management • Districts • Buildings • Holdings • Jobs • Designation • Trade • Megastructures|
|Diplomacy||Diplomacy • Relations • Galactic community • Federations • Subject empires • Intelligence • AI personalities|
|Warfare||Warfare • Space warfare • Land warfare • Starbase • Ship • Ship designer • Crisis|
|Others||The Shroud • L-Cluster • Unique systems • Preset empires • AI players • Easter eggs|