Colonizing Strategies

From SotS


Colonization is a critical element of SotS game play. Generally speaking, the entire first parts of any game revolve around colonizing as many planets as possible before your enemies get to them first. There are a lot of important things every player should know when starting out.

First of all, BoB Economy and SotS Economy both cover many of the finer, more technical details of colonizers, hazard ratings, population growth and other aspects of economy, and are a recommended read once you have the basics down.

Early Development

Every player starts with their home world. It will likely remain the best world in your empire but in order to succeed in SotS you must expand your empire and its borders. To do this, you colonize other systems in the galaxy you are playing in. The more fully colonized planets under your control, the more money and power you have. There are several important aspects to colonizing but generally speaking you have three major considerations early on:

  • How many stars per player the map has. The less stars per player, the less time you are likely spend during the early parts of the game grabbing land and colonizing. More stars means more time before you run into other empires, and more time to colonize.
  • The technologies you acquire early on. On larger maps you are likely to have the luxury of researching more BioTechs which improve colonization speed / efficiency. On smaller maps, you may have to consider military techs much sooner to fight enemy empires.
  • Your race! Each race colonizes a little differently and with varying degrees of efficiency.

General Strategies

As your early game scouting fleets start exploring other systems, it is important to consider which ones to colonize. To better understand which systems are 'good' and which ones are 'bad' you have to understand how Climate Hazard(CH), Resources and Planet Size affect your colonies.

  • The most important factor here is Climate Hazard — the higher the CH rating, the longer it will take to fully colonize that planet and the more it will cost your empire in colony upkeep before the colony becomes profitable. Generally speaking you want to avoid colonizing planets above 300 CH early on and preferably start with colonies 200 or less CH. Sometimes this is not always an option, however.
  • Resources are the second most important. The higher the resource count, the faster the planet will colonize in the long run. Resources also affect how quickly the planet will produce ships once it is fully developed.
  • Planet size has little effect on your colony while it is developing, but once the planet is fully colonized it will greatly effect that planets overall 'worth'. The higher the population, the more money that colony generates, the faster it can build ships and the easier it is to defend.

Knowing this, the best colonies will be the ones with the lowest CH, the largest size and the most resources. Early on, colonizing planets will take out a large chunk of your budget to develop those colonies (depending on CH), so choosing the best colonies is important. A well–quoted figure is to allow 1/3 to 1/2 of your budget be allocated to planetary development in the early stages of the game. Depending on how lucky you get with climate hazard values, you may be able to colonize as few as one or two, or as many as three or four colonies before reaching this 'threshold'. Another important consideration is the location of the colony and how far away it is from potential aid. Colonies that are close to your starting territory can be easily defended and are not likely to come under attack, while ones further away are the opposite. On the other hand, it is very beneficial to have 'frontier' colonies that are close to your enemies borders as it allows you to construct ships, repair / refuel fleets and keep a stronger presence in that area of space.

The act of colonizing itself is very easy. To colonize a planet, you construct colony ships at any world you control and send those colony ships to the planet you desire and colonize them. It is rarely a good idea to send only a single colony ship however. Each colony ship you bring adds more starting population, infrastructure and potentially terraforming to the colony. The more colony ships you bring, the quicker the colony will develop in the long term (again, SotS Economy has a lot of useful info about this topic). Early in the game, it is unlikely you can afford to send more than a handful of ships though, and the longer you wait building a fleet of colony ships, the slower your initial expansion. If a planet has a CH rating of 50 or below, just a few colony ships can suffice. 100–250 CH and you may want to consider bringing 3–4 colony ships. 300+ and you are better off waiting to colonize the planet (if other options are available), or sending 5 or more colony ships. As the game progresses and more funds become available, it's a good idea to add more colony ships at a time. Once biome colony ships are available, they can bring great benefits to the colonizing of more hazardous worlds.

Once you have acquired as many colonies as possible and territory begins to run thin as enemy borders fill up more and more space, you may want to look inward to your own territories and begin colonizing the less desirable worlds. With the exception of extremely high CH worlds, you should almost always be colonizing all available worlds until you run out of planets to colonize. Every colony is like a long–term investment. If you find yourself in a bitter and difficult war with an enemy empire, you may have to put aside colonizing for a while and use those funds to build warships instead.


Many of the technologies in the BioTech tree greatly enhance colonizing efficiency. The earlier you acquire these techs, the more long–term benefit you get from them. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may or may not have time to research many of these technologies. If you find yourself fighting enemies early on and often, you may need to allocate research to military techs, but it isn't entirely wise to ignore biotechs entirely. Biotechs save you time when developing colonies, which in turn saves you a lot of money (Which gives you more money for warships).

  • Gene Modification is the first tech in the tree and should be one of the first techs you acquire. It adds a flat 10% population growth increase to new colonies.
  • Suspended Animation(SA) is another tech that greatly enhances your colonization efficiency. Once you outfit colony ships with SA, it multiplies the starting population that ship adds to the colony by 5x. More initial colonists greatly improves the efficiency of colonizing. This tech should also be a priority.
  • Atmospheric Adaptation is a very solid tech, and does not take long to research. It increases the max CH threshold of your race by +75(potentially allowing you to colonize previously uncolonizable worlds), a 6% pop growth increase, and 25% terraforming speed. This is a good tech to get relatively early on.
  • Terraforming Bacteria gives a flat 35% increase to terraforming efficiency, which can be greatly beneficial when terraforming higher CH worlds. If you find yourself in a comfortable position early on, you might grab this one, but it's not vital.
  • Environmental Tailoring gives a massive boost of 20% increases pop growth, which greatly speeds up colony development. It also adds an additional 35% terraforming efficiency. This tech gives good benefits, but the research cost can be a bit high early on. If you are feeling safe with your current level of war tech, and still have some nasty worlds left to colonize, this tech will greatly help.
  • Gravitational Adaptation can either be a solid gold tech, or merely 'good' depending on the circumstances. It is not a tech you are likely to acquire early on because of its research cost. Once researched, it gives +10% pop growth rate, 25% more terraforming efficiency, and best of all +150 CH rating tolerance. Worlds which you could not colonize before may open up with this tech, allowing you to drop down on planets in the 800+ CH range. Depending on how many additional planets this tech allows you to exploit can often effect the worth of this tech. If you can colonize another half dozen or more planets with this tech, you should certainly grab it once you have the chance. If only a few planets will become available, you may want to wait for it.
  • Elemental Nanites increases terraforming efficiency by an impressive 50%. This tech has a high research cost however and is best researched once you feel secure and are thinking of expanding your empire to some of the higher CH worlds in your reach.
  • Biological Transfer becomes available once you can build cruisers, and have researched suspended animation. Biomes give more starting infrastructure, more starting population and even decrease the CH rating of the planet they are used on. Biome Colonizers are a great tech to get once available provided you are not in immediate need of better war techs. They greatly speed up the development of worlds with high CH ratings, and it's often a good idea to wait until you have these before actually trying to colonize such planets. You may not necessarily replace destroyer class colony ships with these, as worlds with low CH ratings can still be efficiently colonized with destroyer class colony ships. Otherwise, stick with biomes.
  • Arcology Construction increases the max population of every planet you own by +100 million, as well as increasing pop growth rate by +15%. The added max population has little effect on colony development, but the 15% growth rate does help. This is a fairly solid tech, but is not one you are likely to get early on. Do not pass it up if it becomes available though.
  • Atmospheric Processors is kind of an odd tech in that you do not often see it. It has two pre–requisite techs: Plasma Focusing and one of Cruiser Construction or Mega-Strip Mining. Because of the requisites and the fact that plasma focusing is a mid–game tech, you won't see this one for a while, but it does add 40% terraforming efficiency and considering what it does has a relatively low research cost. If you are entering a time in your game where you are increasing infrastructure and you feel comfortable with your war tech, this can be a good tech to get to colonize hazardous worlds.

When combined, the biotechs will greatly improve colonizing efficiency. The toughest consideration is knowing when to spend the time to get these techs. They offer their greatest benefit when researched as early as possible, but you may not always be able to put off military techs long enough to get them all. It is a situational consideration for each game you play.

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