Playstyles are how a player plans to tackle playing or even winning the game. There are a few common Playstyle types and each type will face similar issues regardless of how the galaxy was created. Often multiple playstyles apply and synergize.
Ethics, Civics, Traditions and other choices strongly support or hinder certain Playstyles. Playstyles may need to adapt as the game situations evolve.
Long talked about, it only became remotely feasible with 1.5. A tall playstyle happens when one is boxed in and unwilling/unable to expand via conquest or if one intentionally limits the Empires expansion beyond a certain point (to keep Colony Nr. based penalties and sector usage down). This playstyle is the most likely to use Megastructures if available.
This usually comes from picking a Pacifist or Diplomatic Playstyle.
The name comes from one having limited space in the width and thus having to build "tall" (few high-quality planets with high technology) similar to how certain cities have lots of Skyscrapers due to space constraints.
Note that a tall build is explicitly not intended to be able to beat a wide one 1v1. Alliances and the like are needed to do that.
The Ascension Perks Voidborne, The Circle of Life and Galactic Wonders were largely added for this Playstyle. Galactic Force Projection can also help to get a decently sized Fleet despite the few Planets. Wich Traditions to pick depends largely on the early game playstyle.
In this playstyle someone tries to expand his border quickly over a large area to claim as many space resources as possible. The quality of the planets is generally less important than the number of Planets.
Wide Playstyles are usually Conqueror Playstyles, but Xenophobe playstyles, in general, tend to have parts of it.
The Expansion Tradition is a good first pick. As for Ascension Perks and further Traditions, one has to decide between the Terraforming or Adaptable+Mastery of Nature Routes of Colonisation. One Vision, Imperial Prerogative and Galactic Contenders are all good picks. Consumer goods will become quite an issue, that is compounded more and more by the addition of planets. Harmony tends to be a rather good pick, as it helps with consumer goods and defensive warfare.
While Synthetic Ascension might be the best option due to Consumer goods Reduction and general population productivity, it is also the most expensive one for wide empires. Psionic Ascension tends to be the cheapest option, with Biological in the Middle.
The Federation Playstyles sees the forming of a Federation as a midterm goal. Federations are generally poor for a conqueror playstyle, but with Liberation and Vassalisation one might be able to pull it off anyway. That also implies a certain degree of Tall gameplay. Due to the Ethics rework of 1.5, Internal Ethical Stability can be strongly affected by who one has diplomacy with.
This is the continuation of wide, with Conquest via the Cede Planet Wargoal and the Opposite of Federations. The two main issues with this approach are:
- Threat Generation and shared Rivalries, which will force others into defensive Diplomatic pacts
- one will have to deal with a new population that probably has a very divergent Ethics, a 10-year penalty and will form unwanted Factions (unless fully enslaved).
Moderation of the Expansion speed can deal with both issues, as can do the Overlord subtype. Also, certain types of AI (like Isolationists and Xenophobes) should be of a lower targetting priority than others (Xenophiles, Federation Builders) as they are more likely to react to threats by forming counter-alliances.
The Supremacy Tradition is particularly designed for it. Distinguished Admiralty and some other Civics help. Galactic Contender is one of the few Ascneion Perks particularly worth it. Otherwise, this plays like most wide game styles. Harmony might again be one of the best sub-playstyles.
The overlord is a subtype of the conqueror. Rather than directly conquering planets, the goal is to either Vassalize empires via warfare or through Liberation and proposal of Vassalisation. The Vassals might then be integrated for a wide playstyle. This variant is a lot slower, but also produces a lot less threat than the direct conqueror playstyle. If Liberation is used, the population will also tend to be partially converted ahead of time.
The main issue is that keeping a lot of large Vassals in line or even adding more without Vassalsiation Warfare is difficult to pull off.
The Domination Tradition is designed for this.
This subtype of Conqueror does not deal with alien Populations and their Ethics simply by killing them all and replacing them with his own pops (if they can colonize the planets).
While it dodges the Ethics part of the Conqueror style it suffers from a much harder Diplomatic game. Everyone will Rival you, which will lead to Defensive Pacts and federations forming against you left and right. Controlling the spread of Communication is crucial: People who do not know of an Empire do not get Threat or Purging penalties and can not Rival you.
Being a conqueror Style, it suffers from all the normal wide style weaknesses.
As far as wide playstyles are concerned, there is a slight shift away from Genetic Engineering, towards terraforming due to the bias against Subspecies. Diplomacy should obviously be the last pick to unlock the 8th Ascension Perk Slot.