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This is a guide for advanced game mechanics. It will not tell you the best strategies or factions. The intent of this guide is to share knowledge about ingame mechanics that are either confusing, complicated or not quite obvious they’re there. The first two sections are for people who are totally new and feel overwhelmed. Everything else is going to be more condensed for players who’ve played the game for a few hours.
This guide is made WITHOUT Penumbra turned on. I don’t have experience playing with it so if Penumbra changes any of these mechancis then this may not be accurate. Hacking is a feature of Penumbra and won’t be included here.
Starting Your First Game
You will, depending on your faction, have your first System already colonized. A System is a collection of planets. From here it will display your System’s population, currently discovered resources and how many planets are in the System.
This System is Zhaen. Zhaen has four dots under its name. These dots represent planets. The colored dots represent colonized planets. The hollow dots represent planets you can’t colonize yet due to it’s type. You can research technology to allow you to colonize it. The planet on the left has a circle around it. This means it is unique. Unique planets can be one of two things. Either a factions homeworld or a special planet that is generated with the galaxy. They have increased base stats for their FIDSI which depends on which unique planet it is.
FIDSI stands for:
You may have noticed the white icons and the blue crown above the Population count. The white icons symbolize resources in the System. I will talk more in depth on these later. The blue crown means this is that factions Home System. Owning all home systems will give you a Supremacy victory. How to achieve Victory is a question most players ask themselves once they have played long enough to feel like they can. Due to the complicated nature of achieving Victory, there will be a section about Victories at the end.
Endless Space 2 is a turn based game. Things happen when you hit the End Turn button. If you’re here you might know this already and many of the things in this guide. If everything is confusing don’t worry. Just play a few games it will become more obvious.
On turn 1 you have a lot of things to do before the game begins:
- Choose a buiding to produce.
- Choose a research.
- Choose what to do with your hero.
- Choose a law.
- Explore using your Exploration ship(s) and/or colony ship if you have one.
I will briefly go over each of them now so you can make your first turn. I will have a section for each later. By default, numbers 1, 2, and 3 will pop up when you click end turn if you forget to do them. 4 and 5 will never be mentioned. You can change your notifications settings in the options menu.
There is a lot to process on this page. Much of this is easy to learn as you go so I won’t be explaining it in detail. You’ll be on this page for each of your Systems a lot.
There are 3 boxes at the bottom of the screen. The left one is the build list. You can choose System Improvements (buildings) and ships you want to make here. The middle one is the build queue. The last one is the hangar. When you build a ship it starts in the hangar.
Choose a building for turn 1.
At the top left of the screen there will be an icon of a flask. You can click this or hit F4 to open up the research page.
This circle is separated into 4 quadrants. Generally you should choose a research from the first ring on turn 1. I recommend the Economy and Trade quadrant but it really depends. You will figure this out as you go. I can’t tell you the best order to research in, it comes with experience.
If you look up at the top left again there is an icon of a ribbon. Click this or hit F6. This will show you a list of your heroes. You should only have 1 hero on turn 1. They start at level 1 and have no skill points yet so all you get to do is decide where they go. You can assign them to a Fleet or a System. Assigning them turn 1 is important because they get experience for being a Governor of a System or by Discovering Curiosities in an exploration vessel.
Top left again, there is an icon of a columned building with a flag. Click this or hit F2. It will bring up this page:
This page looks like it has a lot on it. And it does. But you won’t be here much at all. I’ll go over the specifics in the Law section later. But for the most part, you’ll come here to choose your laws and that is it. You MIGHT look at the graph on the left that says Insufficient Data on it but that’s about it. So click the big + under Active Laws and then click Pass Laws which will bring you to this page:
You can pick one of these laws. Most laws have an Influence cost. Influence is a resource used for political choices. On the right side you can see the Pass button. To the left of it you will see the upkeep cost in influence. This Total is paid every turn and updates as your citizen count goes up if specified.
You don’t have to pick a law. But some laws can be incredibly useful to enact earlier rather than later.
5. Exploration: This deserves its own section but needs some context.
The Senate (Government)
I am the Senate.
Is what your hero will be saying if your government is a dictatorship or autocracy.
Your choice of government can be fairly influential over the course of the game. There are 5 types to choose from:
Your choice of government affects a few things.
- Senate Seats for political parties
- Bonus law slots
- Other misc bonuses (Which can be rather significant to gameplay)
The bonuses each government type give appear when you choose on the Custom Faction Creation screen and when you attempt to change government mid game.
In order to change government mid game you need to be:
1-Not an Autocracy
2-Technology: Xeno Anthropology unlocked. (ring 3 of Empire Development tree)
Who leads your government? Which Party?
We have a Republic with Pacifists and MIlitarists in the Senate. They also happen to be the leading parties. Leading parties have most representatives in the Senate Breakdown.
There are 6 Political Parties in the game.
Everything you do from building a System Improvement, Researching a Technology, to Population Quantity can influence the growth or stagnation of a political party. With a little practice it’s incredibly easy to control. On the Senate Screen there is a graph on the left hand side. This graph can show you a rough trend of the political parties over time.
Now there is a catch to Leading Political Parties. Your government type changes how many your allowed to have. But the party that comes in first is special. It gives you a special law which is different for each party. In the screenshot above because the Pacifists are in first place, their law: Right Thing Rule is in place. If however, the Militarists gained more representatives than the Pacifists, then that law would be replaced with the law Militarists get.
Both the Pacifists and Militarists have seats on the Senate. This mean you can have a hero be their representative, granting senate bonuses if they have any from skill points, and you can enact laws from those parties.
As you can see here, Trusted Broker is a Pacifist law and Lower Fleet Costs is a Militarist law. More laws will become available as your majority parties become more established. You can see their level of power underneath their banners on the Senate Screen where it says Leading Political Parties.
Every 20 or so turns and when you change governments, an election will be held. This is when the number crunching from change in representative counts, the influence of your choices from Tech, Improvements, and Population ideologies gets done. You can use special election actions if you have unlocked them to influence the results to be more favorable.
System Development is an incredibly strong and often missed feature. All of my friends who have played wonder how I’m doing so well in our games OR they ask how to move population to another System. Its usually because either they don’t know about upgrading a System’s level or how to do it.
System Development happens in 3 stages:
- Choosing a Resource
- Building the System Improvement
The System Development upgrade provides 2 things:
- Spaceport (to move citizens to another System)
- Bonuses depending on the chosen resource
First you need to get 1 technology from the first ring in Economy and Trade.
Second you need to get 2 technologies from the second in Economy and Trade.
It will the unlock this:
It’s pretty easy to miss but look at the white row down the middle. See the icon I’m hovering over next to the ring number? This is a bonus you unlock by gaining access to the tier. I believe the Science law Oracle of Science does NOT let you have these bonuses early despite letting you research technology of the next ring.
The icon I’m hovering over is for the Level 2 System Development upgrade. Once you get it you can choose the upgrade you need for it.
Hit F3 to open the economic screen. The System Development box on the right is where we’re looking.
You can click on Level 2 Modernization to open it and choose a resource.
You can choose ONE luxury resource for Level 2, TWO for Level 3, and THREE for Level 4. In the picture above I have chosen Jadeonyx and Adamantian as my resources. Each resource provides different bonuses, shown at the bottom. the +60 I is from the Jadeonyx and the +3 FI per Pop on System is from the Adamantian.
Normally you can only choose Luxury resources for the development project. However in my example my faction has a trait called Material Expertise. This lets me pick a Strategic resource like Adamantian instead.
Once you have chosen your resources you can confirm it. This is permanent for the game and cannot be changed.
3. System Improvement
There will now by an Improvement in each of your Systems you can build called Level # Modernization (# whichever is next). This Improvement will always take 1 turn. It can’t be rushed using Dust. This Improvement also costs whatever resource(s) you chose for it’s Level #. So if you chose Jadeonyx and Adamantian, the improvement will require you to spend BOTH to make it.
This can make Level 2 Modernization a strong choice on new colonies for their first turn because of the potential food/industry benefits if you chose a resource that gives either.
I don’t have much experience with Trading Companies so I’ll list what I know and add more later after I use them more.
Trading Companies are an economic powerhouse. Or so I’ve read.
In my experience Trading Companies are a waste of effort in single player games where the AI rarely if ever teams up with you. A trading company that only reaches inside your own empire makes very little dust in my experience. I’ve made significant profits when I made a Trade Agreement with someone in an Alliance during a multiplayer game.
To start with a Trading Company you need to research Commercial Frameworks from the Economy and Trade quadrant in the 3rd ring. This unlocks the HQ and Subsidiary buildings. You build the HQ in one system and subsidiaries in other systems. A trade line will be drawn from the HQ to each subsidiary you have. These will generate profits depending on luxuries and strategic resources in the system. The tech that follows is Galactic Security Charter. This increases the number of subsidiaries by 2 on empire.
Once you have an HQ and 1 subsidiary you can hit F3 to look at more details concerning your Trading Company that look like this:
You can have up to 4 Companies. Each Company unlock lets you build a new HQ and subsidiary. They unlock over time as you generate income. I don’t know if it’s tied to income rate or a fixed amount of dust or even just turns. You can click the ship buttons to make freighters to generate more profits.