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Min-Maxing the SE4 Empire
The Art of Free Points

Written by Imperator Fyron

So, you want to know how to maximize the strength of your empire in Space Empires 4? Well, the best way to do that is to start off on the right foot.

First, let us look at Cultures:

Never take the default Neutral culture unless you want a handicap. There are several cultures that just provide bonuses, without any penalties at all. They are infinitely better.

Truly, the best culture is Berzerkers. It gives a 10% bonus to combat offense and defense. Combined with Aggressiveness and Defensiveness characteristics, this nets a 30-35% bonus to all ships! Sure, the culture gives penalties to resource production, research, intel, etc. But, the superior combat performance makes those immaterial. The only other culture worth considering is Merchants for the 5% maintenance bonus. Combine that with a 115 Maintenance Aptitude, and you can get 5% maintenance rates for your ships for 1500 points, as opposed to 2500 points for a different culture getting 120 Maintenance Aptitude. Note that the lowest maintenance rate you can get is 5%.

Now, let us take a look at each racial characteristic and trait to see how they measure up:

Physical Strength: This trait affects the strength of your troops in ground combat. It is a useless trait. I suggest dropping it to 50 without giving it a second thought. This gives 800 points, and all you have to do is use 2x as many troops, which is not hard at all to make up for in-game. Raising this trait above 100 is most assuredly a waste of points.

Intelligence: This trait affects how many Research points your empire generates. It is a good one to raise. 110 or 120 is a good level, depending on how many points are available to design your empire. It is a good place to put extra points you may end up with after designing your empire, as is Mining Aptitude.

Cunning: This trait affects how many Intelligence points your empire generates. If you do not care about sabotaging your enemy, dropping it to 50 is not a bad idea. Counter Intelligence is very overpowered. CI 3 causes points in it to be worth 360% of what they normally would be. With a 50 Cunning, this essentially drops to 180% (as you make half as much intelligence). But, that is still quite sufficient to effectively block all projects against you unless you are in the most overwhelming of situations. If you still want to do offensive intel, you can drop Cunning to 80 and get 500 points back. This still leaves you with plenty of intel points.

Environmental Resistance: Every 5 percent in this trait raises or lowers planetary Reproduction Rates by 1%. This is a min-maxers wet dream, as you can get tons of free points with no averse effects at all. Each full 5% lowered drops RR by 1%. Lowering ER by 4% has no effect at all. 100 free points. If you drop ER to 81 and then raise Reproduction to 103, you get default Reproduction Rates, and 400 free points! If you drop it to 51 and raise Reproduction to 109, you get default Reproduction Rates and 565 free points! There are minor effects on happiness, but they can be offset with the Berzerker culture.

Reproduction: This adds/subtracts directly to planetary Reproduction Rates. See Environmental Resistance for a method to get 565 free points.

Happiness: This trait modifies the rate at which anger levels are decreased each turn. I suggest not raising or lowering it if you take the Berzerker trait. If you lowered Environmental Resistance, you will want some bonus to happiness. Berzerkers gives a 5% bonus here. If you pick a different culture, you might want to consider spending 100-125 points in Happiness to get 104 or 105, to return anger levels to a normal level. Of course, it is easy to keep planets jubilant with troops. 100-120 Police Troops (small troop with only a cockpit, add Electric Discharges if an Organic race) will keep them jubilant under all but the most dire of circumstances (such as losing 200 ships and 50+ planets within a year or so).

Aggressiveness: This gives an offensive combat bonus to all of your ships to hit enemy targets. Setting it to 120 or 125 is a very good idea for optimal combat performance. 120 is good in 0, 2000 or 3000 point games. 125 is good in 5000 point games.

Defensiveness: This gives a defensive combat bonus to all of your ships to be hit by enemy targets. Setting it to 120 or 125 is a very good idea for optimal combat performance. 120 is good in 0, 2000 or 3000 point games. 125 is good in 5000 point games.

Political Savvy: This trait affects the resources and such you get from other empires through trade. Generally, it is better to rely on the resources your own empire can make instead of trade, as you never know when the politics of a game will shift and your long-time trading partners are now enemies. In games with small maps, it is best to set it to 50 and get 800 points out of it becuase there will not be much production from trade anyways. In medium or larger maps, I usually set it to 80 and get 500 points from it, then set those into my Mining Aptitude trait.

Mining Aptitude: This affects how many minerals your empire produces. You want it to be at least 120, as minerals are the single most important resource in the game. It does cost 100 points after 120, but is still worth it. It is a good place to put extra points you may end up with after designing your empire, as is Intelligence.

Farming Aptitude: This affects how many organics your empire produces. Organics are essentially worthless to all non-Organic races. Setting this to 50 is not a bad idea, and it nets 800 points. If you are an Organic race and plan on using lots of organic armor and weapons, setting it to 80 may be a better idea, as you will need more organics. That still nets 500 points.

Refining Aptitude: This affects how many radioactives your empire produces. Radioactives are more useful than organics, but still not used nearly as much as minerals. Setting this to 50 is not a bad idea, and it nets 800 points.

Construction Aptitude: This affects the rate of all Space Yards in your empire, on ships, bases and planets. You will want it at least at 120, as fast construction is necessary for optimal empire performance. I usually set it to 122 because Berzerkers gives a -2 penalty to construction, and this nets a 20% bonus, making the math easier. Also, with a 20% bonus, you can get colony ships built in 4 turns instead of 5 with Ion Engines II at Base Space Yards.

Repair Aptitude: This affects the rate of repair of your ships and bases. All of the repair abilities of the planets, ships and bases in a sector are added up, and then multiplied by this amount in decimal form (0.50 to 1.50), and then rounded down. I set this to 52 because Berzerkers gives a -2 repair penalty. Repair bays are cheap to research and really cheap to build. All that having a 50% penalty means is that you need 2x as many of them. So, you need 10 instead of 5. For 780 points, that is certainly worth the extra 2000 minerals or so you have to pay for the extra repair bays.

Maintenance Aptitude: This affects the base maintenance rate of your ships. The default is 25%. Each point in Maint. Apt. lowers that by 1%. So, 110 Maint. Apt. costs 500 points and makes the base maintenance rate of your ships 15%. That is a 40% reduction in maintenance paid, for very few points. Each point in Maint. Apt. costs 200 points after 110. It is still useful to raise it, but not nearly as good as getting it to 110, and points could be better spent elsewhere (such as 8 points in Minerals Aptitude).

Now, let us look at the Advanced Racial Traits:

Advanced Power Conservation: This is a worthless trait. 1000 points, and your ships use 25% fewer supplies. Certainly, a poor investment.

Mechanoids: This trait is not worth 1000 points. All it does is make you immune to plagues. But, Medical Technolgy is not that hard to research, and who makes heavy use of plagues anyways? At worst, let the colony die and recolonize the planet.

Lucky: This is another worthless trait. Do not take it if you wish to be competitive.

Natural Merchants: This is a nice trait, but not really worth 1000 points in my opinion. A spaceport takes up a small fraction of the total facility slots in a system, and you only save 3 turns by taking this trait for getting resources from a new system.

Propulsion Experts: Now this one is a good trait. Speed is very important in combat. This is not as valuable as Advanced Storage Techniques or Hardy Industrialists, but is a good 3rd choice.

Ancient Race: This trait can be very useful, as it allows you to see where all ruins are and get to them first. It allows you to see where all your enemies are by looking for homeworld type planets. I would not take it over Advanced Storage Techniques, Hardy Industrialists or Propulsion Experts myself, but it is still a good trait.

Advanced Storage Techniques: This is a must-have trait. At only 1000 points, it gives you 20% more facility spaces. That translates to a 20% bonus to all resource production, research, intel, etc. It also gives you 20% more cargo space and 20% more population space, but that does not matter much in the long run.

Hardy Industrialists: This is another must-have trait. It gives you a 25% bonus to all planetary Space Yards. It stacks with Construction Aptitude. So, with Hardy Industrialists and 120 Construction Aptitude, you can get a 45% bonus to all planetary Space Yards! As mentioned early, fast construction is the key to victory. Without it, you will very easily fall behind. It is of course possible to win without this trait, but it is much harder, especially if everyone else has it.

Emotionless: This trait is certainly not worth 3000 points. If you take it, make sure to set your Happiness characteristic to 50 so you can lower the cost of Emotionless to 2200. Taking this trait means you give up the 10% bonus from Jubilant happiness on your planets. This is a big bonus overall, and it is really easy to keep planets happy with Police Troops (small troop with only a cockpit, add Electric Discharges if an Organic race). 100-120 such troops will work fine in most situations.

Racial Tech Traits: These are fun to play with, and can give you some nice bonuses. But, taking them does not really help the min-maxing approach.

I shall provide you with a sample min-maxed empire file designed for a 2000 point game. It is located here.

Written by Imperator Fyron

Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2003-08-04 (22329 reads)

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