The following is a step-by-step guide for users' first 10 turns in a normal game that was originally written by our creative director, FrogBoy.
Play as The Terrans
Your first game shouldn’t be fancy. Play as the Terran Alliance. These are the humans of Earth. There’s no need to get into too much detail about them but they’re a bipedal race of hairless apes on Sol III. They’re the “easy” civ.
For opponents it doesn’t really matter too much for our purpose here. However, your choice in opponents will affect the game a lot. You have a bunch of tree hugging space alien hippies and have a pretty boring game. Or you can have a bunch of blood thirsty monsters and it’ll be constant war. A hero (that would be you) is only as good as their villains.
This is your flagship. These are often called Survey Ships or Science Vessels (first introduced into GalCiv I back in 2003). They go out and explore strange new things. In GalCiv IV you can’t just build as many of these as you want because the anomalies are now much more powerful. But through tech and other means you will soon have more than you’d ever thought you’d want.
These are your Executive Orders. Each turn you generate control which helps you make use of these. These let you instantly do something in the world.
So far so good. You’re doing great!
This is where things seem complicated. If we were smarter, which we’re not, we would have a bunch of tabs to make this screen easier to digest. However, once you get used to it, you’ll see why we avoided adding tabs. Having everything here is just so convenient.
The shape of the continental landmasses is vaguely represented as hex regions. Except for Australia. They didn’t send enough bribes to get on here.
Planets have various inputs. Those inputs then are used by the citizens of the planets who are empowered by the planetary improvements you construct to turn them into outputs that your civilization can use.
So if you drag a Research improvement on to a tile with a +3 research modifier you will see the 3 appear just before you drop it onto that tile. Going up 3 levels in this example results in nearly 9% more research occurring on your planet as a result. You can also see that this structure will give adjacent tiles a +3 to their research level if you place an improvement (or build a district) that is of the same kind.
You will also want to place your capital city. The capital city and later colonial capitals don’t cost anything to build and show up instantly so you don’t have to wait – unless you play as a Ravenous species they don’t get this benefit.
Planetary Defense is how long it will take for an enemy to conquer this planet if they lay siege. Enemy fleets have a conquest rating. That rating determines how much of your planetary defense they’ll destroy each turn. When it reaches 0, the planet is conquered.
Control is what allows you to use those Executive Orders.
Citizens are what make a planet thrive. They are the ones who take the inputs (minerals, tech) and turn it into stuff your civilization can use. Your citizens have 4 stats that affect how well they do at these things. Different species have various strengths and weaknesses. Well, not humans. They’re pretty bland and are OK at everything.
Sometimes citizens will have a trait that can affect their performance. Warforged means they belong to a faction (factions are political parties but we at Stardock were too cowardly to call them political parties so we called them factions).
Planets: Getting Them Going
Then spend money to rush build the building.
Double clicking on a shipyard will take you to fancy shipyard screen. You will want to build a Colony Ship right away.
Your First Colony
When you colonize a world, you will occasionally be given a choice on what you want to do. These choices can have consequences later.
Expanding to Other Star Systems
When it’s time to go to another planet, you will be asked to choose who is being given the honor to go to an alien world. There are a lot of different ways to choose. I typically choose the least happy person who isn’t specialized. Other people have other strategies on this. In this example, I chose a character with high stats because I’m sending them to a planet that will become a core world.
Once I have a high quality planet (the higher its class the better) I can turn it into a core world by assigning a governor to it. Now you can manage this world directly and it will gather resources from nearby colonies.
Leaders are citizens with a special trait (leader) that lets them be used anywhere. Their stats can be used to give your civilization buffs overall if you assignt hem. The stats are color-coded so you can see which stat matters for which job.