To be an expansionist means you want to grow your empire to be as large as possible as quickly as possible. Expansion has both it’s advantages and pitfalls. You will be able to do more faster, but at the same time you open yourself up for attack sooner than you might be able to handle.
Recommened settings for Species Affinities:
To start an expansionist empire, you will need to create your own race in order to maximize your growth potential. The following is an example of how you might create species capable of rapid growth.
Habitable Orbits: 3-3
Some may argue that you need to inhabit several orbits to be a successful expansionist empire when in fact, what is most important is that you are able to initially have as many food types on your home planet as possible. Choosing to colonize only orbit 3 ensures you will have a planet that has the possibility for 7 primary food types and will save you points in other necessary areas. The downside here is that Orbit 3 will never provide you with a large planet (55 is as high as it will go), so later in the game you may wind up abandoning your earliest planets in favor of planets with more available plots, but at that point you should already be large enough that it won’t matter. Use of Terraforming and the Genetics Lab will allow you to eventually colonize other orbits as well. One note. You will need 500 trona to build a Dairy Farm as well. This is nice to have but not as necessary.
You can also decide to instead start on an orbit other than 3. While this will give you less food type options, orbits 2-5 each provide a sufficient variety of basic foods to satisfy your colony. Also orbits other than 3 have a greater chance of giving you a starter colony with more plots. In the later stages of the game buildings such as the Pantheon of Hagness or the Black Hole Generator can be used to get more plots on your habitable planets.
This one won’t matter too much as an expansionist but you also don't want to cripple yourself when you reach the point in the game where production from second level food sources and waste processing buildings becomes important. I wouldn’t recommend going below 2 in this stat.
As an expansionist, you will be forced to deal with those who will want to hinder your growth. You don’t need to maximize deception, but I would not suggest a deception lower than 5 to start with. Use of the Genetics Lab later in the game will be necessary to raise this stat to a 7
Higher levels of research may be helpful later in the game, but early on you may decide the points are better spent elsewhere. Reasearch does reduce the cost of upgrading your buildings.
While some may argue that higher levels of management will help you build faster and thus expand faster, expansion is more about keeping your citizens happy than it is about how quickly you can build. If you are an essentia user, you may consider even lower levels of research. If you are not, you may consider raising it a bit higher.
With 7 food types and the ability to create dairy farms (hopefully your planet has enough trona for these), Farming is an area that you could stand to lose a point. Don’t take this too low however or you will find yourself always needing more food early in the game.
Ore shouldn’t be much of an issue once you are able to use mining platforms. You can definitely afford to lose one point here.
Energy will be in vast supply once you are able to build Singularity Energy plants. Knocking off a point here isn’t going to hurt you as an expansionist.
Waste is going to be something that helps you grow initially and then something that gets difficult to manage later in the game. You definitely do not want to skimp in this category or it could stunt your growth.
This is your bread and butter. In order to expand you need to gain as much happiness from your citizens as possible. Not only will this affinity increase the amount of happiness gained by all of the buildings which produce happiness, but it will decrease the amount of happiness needed to colonize additional planets.
In order to raise the affinities needed to expand quickly, you need to take a hit somewhere. This is an affinity that you can afford to take that hit. While lower levels of trade may hinder your ability to move resources around efficiently. Your cargo ships will be smaller, but it is possible to purchase them for essentia. Also, you can make up for this with higher levels of your trade ministry.
A growth of 7 allows you to start your first and each subsequent planet with a level 7 planetary command center. While it’s true that you can easily build these up later in the game, they will either cost you essentia or time to do so. You will start each planet with more resources per hour as well as storage making the job of getting infrastructure in place that much easier. If you are a heavy essentia user, you may consider lower levels of this but I would not recommend starting below a 5
It is not impossible to have an expansionist empire without the use of essentia, but it is certainly more difficult. Expect to need a minimum of 100 essentia to start with in order to afford a few weeks of boosts, and you will need to keep your happiness boosted throughout if you plan to compete with other expansionists. The Essentia rushing of certain key buildings can also greatly increase your rapid progression such as the University, Planetary Control Center, and the Oversight Ministry.
Your first colony will be the most difficult to get started as you will not be able to properly gain happiness until your university is at level 3 and you can build waste sequestration buildings and recycling center facilities. Start out by following the tutorial until you are asked to build a Space Port. By then you should have a level 3 University. Don’t take your University higher than this just yet. Wait until you have the resources in place to support the next level before upgrading.
As soon as possible, built 2 waste sequestration buildings and 2 recycling centers. These will allow you to store and use the waste you produce to grow faster. As soon as you are able, start recycling your waste and make sure you never again overflow. Try to maintain 0 or negative waste per hour by building or replacing resource buildings with centers that turn waste into resources.
Food: In order to gain happiness, it is vital to get at least 4 different food types. Most orbit 3 planets will allow you to build 6 different food types initially. Build one of each of these as quickly as possible and keep them as close to max as you can. Once you have a level 5 corn plantation, build a dairy farm as well. Once you are building more than 4 food types, each time you spend food to build something, you will gain happiness.
Water: Water is one of the most difficult resources to produce. Build 5-6 water purification plants and keep them as close to max as possible. If your planet produces enough minerals to allow Water Reclamation Plants, replace a few of your water purification plants once you have a level 7 university. If fact once you can build Water Reclamation Plants it would be best to replace all of your Water Purification Plants. The Water Reclamation plants are the most effective at reducing the trash produced by your planet as well as they produce much more water than the Water Purification Plants. This trash management factor will also be very important when your plant starts to hit the level 15 rescource building limit.
Mines: Mines produce a bit more than water and food so you don’t need as many of these. Start with 4-5 mines and replace them with mining platforms later in the game.
Energy: Geo energy plants produce enough for your first planet. Build 3-4 of them and replace them later with either Fusion Reactors, or if you can hold out, Singularity Energy Plants.
Storage: It is important to have enough storage to quickly get to your second planet. Build 2 of each storage facility and keep them maxed.
University: Make sure you can support your next level of university before upgrading. The University sucks away more resources than any other building so rule of thumb is to only upgrade once all of your storage is maxed and your resource buildings are maxed or close to maxed
Development Ministry: You’ll need this building in order to increase your queue. Build one and get it to 6 or 7. Any higher is a waste.
Network 19: Great source of cheap happiness. Build it and keep it maxed.
Entertainment District: Expensive but a great source of happiness. Build and keep it as high as you can afford to keep it without sacrificing too many resources.
Park: Once you are able to store 40-50k food, build a park, start throwing parties every 12 hours, and max out the building. You want to be sure you have at least 500 units of 6 or 7 food types to maximize the amount of happiness you get from your party. Once you have all of the necessary infrastructure in place on your home planet, fill any remaining squares with level 1 parks. You will tear these down once you move your capital to a planet with more plots.
Intelligence Ministry: Build level 1 for the Tutorial. Don’t upgrade unless there is a need.
Security Ministry: Once you’ve colonized your first planet, it’s important to build this building and keep it maxed. As an expansionist you will likely have to deal with enemy spies. The higher your security ministry the better the chance you have to detect spies on your planet.
Space Port: Build Level 1 and complete the tutorial when you hit around 70,000 happiness. You will need this in order to start exploring other systems to find your next planet. Once you have colonized your first planet, take the space port to around 10.
Shipyard: Build to level 3 or 4 initially so you can queue a few ships at a time. Build probes and start exploring around 80,000 happiness.
Observatory: You will need this to build probes. Build to 5 or 6 in order to be able to probe the stars in your general area.
Trade Ministry: Build and level to 4 or 5 so you can start shipping resources to your new planets.
Since you probably already have a level 10-11 University by now, build a waste sequestration building, followed by an entertainment district, followed by 4 food buildings before building anything else. You want to make sure you are positive happiness and are able to store and use waste.
After that, build your infrastructure much in the same way you did on your first colony, pushing resources as often as you can to keep production moving. Once your second colony reaches the point it can sustain itself, begin pushing resources back to your first colony to help increase the amount of happiness it produces. By your 3rd colony you should be thinking about moving your capital to a planet with 60 or more plots to allow maximum growth potential. With this in mind, make sure you don’t go too far past level 15 of any building on your current home planet.
Employing this strategy should get you to your 2nd planet within a week or two with your third planet not far behind. Once you hit your stride you should be able to found a new empire every 4 or 5 weeks with perhaps a small hiccup when you move your capital. When you are a decent size, start looking for a good alliance to help protect you from those who will try to slow you down. You will also want to start exploring uncolonized planets for rare plans and glyphs and participating in server missions as soon as possible.
The Lacuna Expanse is a great game and the expansionist is a lot of fun to play. May your empire grow and be prosperous!
Keywords: Strategy Guides