Choir Economy and Espionage Theory
Because of the nature of the UC, I believe both topics are intertwined with each other. You mustn’t approach hacking the same way other factions do. Hacking isn’t just some cool tricks for UC. It’s their economy! So, let’s delve in.
Initial challenges for the UC economy are Science, Production, and Food. Having one system means one building type and that means less upkeep to worry about. Also, you won’t need any ships to protect yourself which we established already.
What you constantly need is increasing your food. Food is the top priority in every stages of the game and the way you gather is limited too. Always use your hacking for expanding or connecting with a special node via Transmigration Beacon. Adding that +50 IDSI is a quite big deal in the early stages.
Now the important part about the UC economy is that the buildings which give bonus FIDSI for each population are not working for the population outside of your system. So, what you should always be seeking to build buildings which give a bonus to planets or planet types. That’s why you should always focus your hacking on expansion.
From early to mid game, when picking your tech, you are going to juggle with industry, science, food and the colonization. There are 3 major factors are going to interfere with that decision. Starting location, special nodes around you and colonization.
Don’t worry about colonizing to small planet sized systems. If you think you colonized to a bad place just don’t send your population there but use it as a backdoor for other expansions. It’s wise to send your populations to your good sanctuaries where your opponent has potential to colonize. Because ultimately you gonna need to transform your populations into your super population: Umbral Shadow.
If you think you are getting unlucky about not being able to match your sanctuaries with your neighbor’s colonization. What you can also try, hacking your neighbor and attempt to change their politics to ecology. With luck, now you can manipulate the AI having free colonization, meaning you will get better results of sanctuary places.
You won’t need to expand your home system at first but as you abduct your sleepers, you need space in your home base for transforming your regular pops to super pops. Ultimately your economical goal is to max out your spots with super pops. After you think you have enough population in your home system you can now focus on getting more population-based buildings.
About the special nodes; of course, the better ones are the one gives you direct +50 ISDI and you should only spend bandwidth for those but that doesn’t mean others are also important as you progress through the game.
Resource gathering and Behemoths
Behemoths are an essential part of the UC economy. Since you have more access to more special nodes and having auto cloaked Behemoths, It will be foolish not to play around with them.
At first, you should get the scientific behemoths first. Lowering science cost should be more useful for you to increase your hacking capabilities even further. Your 2nd or 3rd option should an economic Behemoth.
Your resource gathering capabilities are slightly limited for the UC but that doesn’t mean your options are too. At early stages establishing fast colonies could be the start of something but the soon as your opponents start kicking you out or stopping your hacking with defensive programs you are going to feel pressure. That pressure increases as you realized the only way to increase your luxury resource gathering is by laws. Therefore it’s possible to push for a mining Behemoth but that would be a waste for luxury resources until you have entered late-game luxry resources.
You see, the reason to get more resources are not important for the UC; your system upgrades cost a lot and you only get to do one! So, you can skip the whole luxury resource mini-game for half of the game and focus on strategic resources.
Due to the high cost for system development building, it’s possible to wait patiently for the higher tier luxury resources (e.g. Endless Foundries) which gives more % based bonus and gather it and spent it on your first system development level; The last stage of system development cost 250*3 resources! Since exploration is a natural fit for the UC you wouldn’t be missing much by rushing this.
Best way to gather resources for UC is via behemoths. In early turns where special nodes giving population-based bonuses (e.g. neutron star) were bad but now they have a use in your empire. Mid-Late game strategic resources are best to collect from special nodes.
Hacking and Umbral Shadow
Once an early game annoyance pirates become your friend in the late game. After you finished expanding lots of special nodes and infiltrated your desired locations. Now you can gain an extreme amount of resources by hacking pirate droids. They give random resources but if you have unlocked much higher tier curiosities this operation becomes much more important.
Trying to maintain good relations with the minor nations and doubling their income via hacking is a possibility but it’s not that lucrative enough to waste so many turns on hacking maybe in time if this option gets buffed I’ll let you know; right now if anyone can assimilate them and all your work could go to waste.
Of course, your ultimate goal is to pursuit for umbral shadow populations and there are 2 ways of getting it. One is hacking and abducting with the cost of 2 sleepers the other is conquering a system and abduct them with the cost of 1.
Also, their food consumption is higher so rushing for super pop isn’t a good strategy in the long game; you will slow your process. To boom your economy you have to have a substantial amount of food production in order to maintain umbral shadow and keep growing steadily at the same time. Since you have only one population boosting them with the luxury resource is the most important matter to help them.
Sleeper leaching is a newly introduced thing which UC has the capacity of being the best at it but focusing that early on is a high-risk low reward situation where you can hurt your growing. Your opponents will fight you but if you wait for enough to sustain multiple sleepers per turn then you should start leaching.
I would also advise only starting leaching during late-game or war times. You can only hurt their economy really bad when they are trying to upkeep multiple fleets and late game is where people start making real money.