Getting Started

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So you've started a new game of GalCiv3. Now what? This page will walk you through the various setup options available in the game. If you’re new to these types of games, it is probably best to start by playing the Tutorial. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “Sandbox mode” refers to being able to freely play the game without a pre-set story or campaign to drive it. This mode is recommended only after having a chance to experience the basics of the game.

Civilization Selection

The “Choose Civilization” screen begins your choice-making process. Each race has its own unique traits and abilities and can affect how you build your civilizations and interact with other races. To create your own custom race, select the button and head to the Customize Civilization screen.

To customize your own race, you will have to create a Leader. You can choose from a gallery of available images for your race or upload graphics of your own. The Race Overview section allows you to enter your race’s name, ship call signs, Homeworld name, beginning star system, a racial description, and logo.

In the “traits and abilities” section, you can choose how to continue to specialize your race. You begin with five available points to spend on traits. If you spend points on lessening traits, you will be able to reserve additional points to add to other traits available to you. For racial abilities, you will have your choice of any two from a large list. These abilities don’t really have a built-in “downside” and can be very powerful.

The “Appearance” section offers an assortment of options to customize the “look” of your race; things like ship styles, colors and textures, and race colors and themes for the interface can all be changed in this section.

Lastly, the “Personality” section allows you to select your tech tree and modify how your race will behave when controlled by the game’s AI. This includes ideology, character traits, goals, and priorities.

Galaxy Type

When you start a new game, you will have several options for customizing your galaxy. There are options for size, victory conditions, and allies/enemies. Depending on how long you want your game to last, you may want to start with some of the smaller galaxy sizes before moving onto the bigger ones.

The Galaxy Options section allows you to fully customize the contents of your galaxy. Star Systems determine how frequently stars and planets will be generated on the map. When determining your Star Systems, you have several different options to consider.

  • Star Frequency: This determines how often you will find stars, which may or may not lead to more habitable planets.
  • Planet Frequency: “Planet” refers to all worlds in the galaxy, both habitable and uninhabitable. This control will allow you to choose the overall frequency of planets in your galaxy.
  • Habitable Planet Frequency: These are planets you can colonize and can be valuable resources. Careful though, if you set them to be very frequent, you may spend all of your time and resources trying to colonize and not have time for anything else!
  • Extreme Planet Frequency: These are planets that can be colonized but require special techs to do so.

Resources include the various types of bonuses and advancements that can be discovered. Each of these include their own drop-down menus that will set how often they appear.

  • Asteroid Frequency: Asteroids often contain strategic resources like Durantium that you can mine. They also impede movement.
  • Nebulae: Interstellar terrain that have global effects on ships as they travel through space, and also contain Elerium, a rare strategic resource.
  • Black Hole Frequency: Black holes are scary, but for those undaunted by them you can mine the resulting Antimatter as a strategic resource.
  • Resource Frequency: Each Resource allows you to build special, powerful components on prototype ships. Resources are:
    • Durantium
    • Elerium
    • Antimatter
    • Promethion
    • Thulium
  • Precursor Relic Frequency: These are ancient artifacts that when studied provide civilization-wide bonuses.
  • Ascension Crystal Frequency: These are a special type of precursor artifact that, when studied, can unlock the secrets of ascending to a higher plane.
  • Anomaly Frequency: Anomalies are artifacts and other unknown items that when surveyed unlock special rewards, such as ships, money, bonuses and techs.

There are some interactions between these settings to be aware of. Reducing black hole frequency will reduce the number of available antimatter resources, reducing nebula frequency will reduce elerium availability, reducing asteroid frequency will reduce durantium, and reducing planet frequency will reduce promethion and thulium.

Game Settings

In this section, you have several options to select so that you can create the kind of map that you’d most enjoy. The menu options here are:

  • Galaxy Difficulty: The overall difficulty of the map, which includes pirates and all the races. However, you can override this individually per race by making other adjustments in your game options or in the way you set up your game.
  • Game Pacing: Makes the game play faster or slower by modifying things like production.
  • Research Rate: Makes researching cheaper or more expensive.
  • Pirates: Adjust this to determine how many (if any) pirate bases will exist on your map.
  • United Planets Frequency: This setting lets you determine how often the United Planets (the galactic government) meets.
  • Galactic Events: Galactic Events are game-changing incidents that can alter the way your empire grows.
  • Minor Races: Determines how many minor races will be in the galaxy. Minor races are civilizations that cannot expand into the galaxy, but can be valuable trade partners or allies.
  • Disable Tech Trading: Enable this option to remove the feature for trading technologies with other races.


You can choose a pre-set race or a custom saved race to play against. You may also choose as many opponents as you want and set the difficulty levels for each enemy individually. Please note that if you are playing on a smaller map, you may not want to fill it to the brim with a bunch of hostile opponents! They’ll be all up in your neighborhood before you know it.

Playing a Game

Now that your galaxy is set up the way you like it, you can begin your game. At first glance, if you’re unfamiliar with these types of games, it seems very intimidating and overwhelming. The next section will cover some of the other basic things you need to know as you start your adventure across the Galaxy.

Game Menu Bar


A handy repository of information, this button contains several tabs on different aspects of your empire.

  • Economy: Allocate your production spending and balance your space budget.
  • Colonies: Provides an at-a-glance reference for all colonized worlds.
  • Commands: Give orders to your shipyards.
  • Trade: View and manage your trade routes with other civilizations.
  • Stats & Graphs: Chart your development through the course of your game, and compare your progress with your rivals.


This button is dedicated to all things Research; your available technology projects, descriptions of what benefits and unlocks they provide, what you're currently researching, and the complete tech tree for your perusal.


Through the course of the game, random events will present you with choices to shape the ideology of your civilization. Based on your choices, you will be awarded points in one of three categories: Benevolent, Pragmatic, or Malevolent. These points can be spent on Ideological Traits in this tab.


Keep track of alliances, relationships and wars between races. Establish treaties with your allies or participate in galactic politics through the governing body of the United Planets.

There is a lot to learning this game and others like it, but I find the best method is just to explore! Below are some tips and some frequently asked questions from beginners (including myself!) to help get you started.

Starting Tips

How do I know what to research first?
It depends on what you are wanting to do in the end game. Consider your various types of victories (Ideaologic, Warfare, Diplomatic, etc.) and try to spec toward that. In order to communicate with other species you encounter, we suggest researching Universal Translator first.

What do I build first?
Some planets have special hexes or attributes that give bonuses to certain types of buildings. Keep an eye out for those as you start to settle on your planet. Building structures of the same type adjacent to one another will also yield a lot of bonuses.

What kind of ships do I start with?
You start with a colony ship, a survey ship (this ship has weapons and should probably hang around near your colony ship as you explore!), a scout ship, and a shipyard (where you can build more ships!). Each race has different names for their ships, but their types are all the same.

What is Ideology?
There are certain types of ruling styles that can give you bonuses and new options as you play through a game. You can be a Benevolent, Pragmatic, or Malevolent ruler. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages. As you make choices based on these leadership styles, new bonuses will become available to you on your Ideology tree.

How do I mine?
In order to mine resources (Durantium, Thulium, Promethean, Iridium, etc.), you must build a starbase using a Constructor type ship that is capable of building starbases. Once a Starbase is built, there are several options for specialization “rings” -- choose “Mining Ring” in order to mine resources within a certain radius of your starbase.

What else can a Starbase do?
Starbases have several other uses. They can expand your range, bolster your defenses, or improve your offenses. Your tech tree can unlock more Starbase options.

What is an anomaly and why do I care?
Anomalies can have lots of great secrets locked away. Sometimes it comes in the form of extra money (and who doesn’t need more money?) or certain new options for Ideology or Research. Point is, take your survey ships and check them out when you find them!

What does a planet’s class mean?
Planets range from Class 1 all the way through Class 20. Class 20 planets are the best, while Class 1 planets are not as good for colonizing. You can increase a planet's class by researching terraforming technologies and building terraforming improvements, each of which adds a buildable tile to the planet. A planet's class is also a limit to the population that can live there. For example, a class 16 planet has a maximum population of 16.

What is raw production?
Raw production is the base for your planet's production. Each unit of raw production yields +1 social production, +1 ship production, +1 research, and +1 gross income. You can see these listed on the planet window in the tooltips for each production area as "Base Value" for social and ship production, "Base Research" for research, and "Income" for income. The largest contributor to raw production is normally population, because each unit of population adds one to raw production. Other sources of raw production are asteroid mines (which yield +1 if close by, less if further away), improvements such as the Central Mine, colony capitals, certain technologies (like Enhanced Production), and precursor anomalies. In addition, technologies like Interstellar Governance (and its follow on techs) and high approval add percentage multipliers to raw production. The Wealthy ability also adds +1 to raw production.

Things to Watch Out For

Where are my resources going?
Despite having established a number of mining star bases and having a steady income of durantium, promethion, etc, you might suddenly find yourself running out of those resources for no apparent reason. Indeed, some players have reported on the Stardock forums that they have gone from positive to negative totals in a single turn. The most common cause of this is having "Auto-Upgrade Improvements" (in the planet Govern window) turned on for all of your planets. Higher level upgrades of factories, for example, require durantium to build. Thus researching a tech that enables such an upgrade can cause all factories on all your planets to queue an upgrade, draining durantium for each one. If you don't mind the extra micro-management, it's a good idea to turn off Auto-Upgrade Improvements on every planet you colonize or conquer. If you don't want to do that, at least be aware of the problem.

Why is my defeated opponent still there?
Normally when you successfully invade an opponent's last planet, you get a pop-up window telling you that the civilization has "been destroyed". Sometimes that doesn't happen though. What that means is that you either overlooked some other planet that your enemy had colonized or invaded, or that they still have one or more colony ships or transports flying around somewhere in the galaxy. In the latter cases it is still theoretically possible for the enemy to re-establish themselves on a new colony or invaded planet, so to completely defeat them you have to hunt down those ships and destroy them.

Why are my Steam factions not showing up?
Some people have reported that when they subscribe to factions or ship sets in Steam, they don't show up in the game. If this happens to you, make sure to turn on the Steam overlay for GC3 and restart the game. That should cause your subscriptions to resync.

Is production wasted?
Planetary and ship yard production points not used in completing the current project are not wasted, they are carried over to the next turn and applied to the next improvement/project or ship/mission. This can cause your improvement or ship to be completed more quickly, but it is not possible to complete more than one improvement or ship in one turn.

The situation with research is not the same. Research points not used researching the current technology are carried over to the next tech, but if you know how (and you are generating enough research points) you can research multiple technologies per turn. First, if you have enough research points to completely research a technology, the game will immediately complete it and prompt you for a new one. Second, if you don't have enough points, but you are generating so many that you will have enough for your current and next technology on the same turn, you can go into the technology tree window and select a tech further down the tree. If you have enough research you can complete a whole line in the tech tree this way. Be aware, though, that if any of the techs in that line are specialization techs, the game will research the top choice unless you manually select it.