The Tax Trick
Since growth rate isn’t related to happiness, but only to tax rate and climate, the “tax trick”, which works mainly on planets with a temperature of 40-60 degrees (optimal growth range), is to maximize the tax rate for one round by setting an absurd tax rate of 35-40%+, dropping the happiness of the colonists or natives to no lower than 70. The next turn, you set the tax rate back to zero, and leave it there until happiness nears 100 again. As long as happiness is 70 or above, the colonists or natives will grow at maximum rate if the tax rate is zero. Thus, you’re getting all your taxes “up front” (which can be useful for development), but you’re also maximizing your total growth.
Other articles on taxation are available on the Circus Maximus site and the Planets Magazine site.
See also taxes & growth.
Fully Develop Close Planets First
If you find a good planet, which is one that has sufficient natives for 500 MC+ / turn taxation, and at least one plentiful mineral with >50% extraction rate (75%+ is better), then instead of scouting out many more nearby planets, you should build a Large Deep Space Freighter (LDSF), filled with 1000 colonists and 200 supplies, and immediately drop that on the planet. Raise the native taxes enough to drop happiness by -1 to -2 per turn, and use the native taxes + dropped supplies to build 50-100 factories (1 supply and 3 credits each) and 100+ mines (1 supply and 4 credits each), and voila, a second high-production planet is yours, and producing well in the first few turns. See Fast Planet Development for a more detailed explanation.
If you have an especially good native planet, you might even need a second load of 1200 clans to enable you to tax to the “yellow” threshold (where the natives don’t gain or lose happiness). While it may seem like a waste of freighter time, the extra credits will help you get ahead faster. Think of it this way: every turn that you wait, you are losing that many credits! 500 MC / turn is equal to 1 small ship, 5 fighters, or about 38 Mark 4 Torpedoes!
Why do this?
First, it allows you to continue building good ships at your homeworld (HW) starbase (SB), and without this quick influx of new resources, you will find yourself having to cut corners on ship production as early as Turn 5, usually because of a Duranium shortage. Why duranium? Freighters cost lots of duranium to build, and your homeworld extraction rate for duranium is usually around 15%, which is frankly terrible.
Second, a greater tax income can allow you to increase your tech quickly, which could allow you to build an early Battleship, Carrier or Merlin. For more on this, look up Build Order guides for your race.
Isn’t grabbing territory better?
The problem with “grabbing territory” is that players won’t be able to defend that territory anyway – if a warship comes calling, you’d need at least 50 defense posts on the planet to even have a hope of destroying even a small, beam-only ship. You don’t really want to spend your resources on defense posts early, because you should be building factories, mines, and ships instead. If you ARE going to try and “grab territory”, then make your first ship a decent warship, so it can argue with whomever contests your choice of borders.
Plan your Ship Building
While it may seem like work to figure out how many minerals your need for 5 turns of building, the good players do it. Why? Because they like Microsoft Excel: The Game? Maybe – but probably because they like to avoid frustration – it’s very annoying to find out, three turns later, that if you’d only put X-Rays instead of Disruptors on that one warship, you could have built that LDSF you wanted, but now you have to build something else, maybe even just the placeholder SDSF while waiting for a freighter to return. While you might want to make that trade-off, it’s better to do so with the foreknowledge of what you will have to sacrifice for the upgraded ship.
Mineral Dependence By Race
Feds = you lack minerals in general, but you will need increasing amounts of Moly as you attempt to refit ships with better parts.
Lizards = You will tend to be drowning in all minerals except Moly, which you need for high-tech parts.
Birds = Tritanium excess. Use this to convert into fuel at refineries.
Fascists = most of your ships are cheap, but due to the relative shortage of Moly compared to other minerals, you’ll probably run out of that first.
Privateers = because your ships are so cheap, you will generally lack Duranium in the early game due to freighter building, and Moly will be needed in increasing amounts mid-late game as you attempt to build high-tech beams (for minesweeping).
Cyborg = similar to the Empire, you will lack Duranium early game and it will be plentiful late game.
Crystals = you will need moly like you won’t even believe. Even if it seems plentiful, have your Merlins make nothing but Moly – it runs out super-fast.
Empire = Moly is probably your most scarce resource, as you need it for both starships and fighters. You may tend to have a shortage of Duranium early in the game, and an excess late game.
Robots = none. You need Duranium for ships, and Tri and Moly for fighters.
Rebels = you’ll be rolling in Duranium, as a great deal of your minerals will go to Tri and Moly for fighters, and more Moly for high-tech weapons.
Colonies = you’ll be rolling in Duranium, as a great deal of your minerals will go to Tri and Moly for fighters, and more Moly for high-tech weapons.