/August-Edit: Turns out I over-estimated its potential a bit. It works and is a lot of fun, but I don't think it can keep up with a well-played artist-based strategy. Artists are 2014. And that free settler from Prosperity? You don't need it anymore. If your response to that is something like: "What the hell...?", then you probably haven't found the power of PIONEERS yet. Because Pioneers are what the cool Kids use these days. Don't even know what I'm talking about? They're a new Colonist-Type that has been introduced in 1.2 that gives +100% Production for Scouts + Settlers. You unlock them by doing ... eh ... <something> (how would I know?) in Starships (Or by editing your game files). AND JESUS CHRIST ARE THEY OVERPOWERED. I assume the new ideal setup is: Sponsor: African Union (Who would have thought?) Colonists: Pioneers Spacecraft: Tectonic Scanner Cargo: Machinery Why? Well, Pioneers allow you to get an INSANE amount of Scouts and Settlers out in no time. Scouts literally only need ~4 turns to be produced each. Settlers will be produced in ~4-5 turns with a strong trade route and if Titanium is available, so you can use them to blast out a ton of cities asap. So Tectonic Scanner and Machinery support their production. First Tech to research is Pioneering, followed by Chemistry (for the Recycler). With your worker you want to improve something that gives you production. Ideally Titanium. If you have Forests, chop them afterwards, if not, improve resources. food first. Then you need production. Ideally Titanium. Try to have 2 good production tiles ready once Pioneering has finished researching. Once your first outpost is settled you NEED(!) to send that worker to that outpost and once again improve something that gives you production - reasons why come later. After you've got that done, start improving all Titanium/Oil that you have. And because we skip the free settler the culture we give up by not picking artists doesn't really hurt at all. We still get all the "good" virtues in time. Build Order in your capital: (Micromanage your production so that you ideally reach a new pop shortly before you want to start producing settlers - if necessary use Agricultural Development for a few turns. If you just reached a new pop and there's not enough time left for a new Scout, use Social Development. Your goal should be to reach Pop 4 - or even better 5, but that's not possible with all starts. - Scouts until Pioneering is done Then rushbuy your first settler once you have the energy! If you don't have enough energy and don't manage to get it soon (will only happen if you're unlucky with resource pods), skip the depot and the Convoy and go straight to producing settlers - I think it's best NOT to spend Energy on more than 1 settler, you want the energy for Recyclers in your new cities. The one settler is primarily to get the first trade route running asap so all other settlers can be produced even faster. - Trade Depot - Trade Convoy - Settlers until there's no space left* - Next comes the depot and your first trade unit (- If your first outpost doesn't have too much production, if you fell like you won't manage to get enough military before you get attacked, OR if you got an affinity upgrade from ruins (nice in the long run, but your expansion won't manage to build enough these units), then this is the point to squeeze out some more units in your capital) - Then get all the Infrastructure. Start with the cheap buildings as your other cities will get +25% production towards them once your capital has finished them (from industry) *...or until you reach the desired amount of cities. I actually think that 10 cities (including the capital) are about the maximum that one can realistically handle without dropping too low in health, but that requires a lot of micro-management and doesn't allow for too many mistakes. I find that 7-8 cities are a good number for "easier" gameplay - and will still lead to good victory times. Scouting: Use your scouts to search for Resource Pods and ignore Artifacts at first - you can get them with the second or third Scout that you have produced, your main goal is to scout the area and get as many Pods as possible (for the Solar Collector and Free Culture). Don't move all your scouts away, you need some to escort your settlers so they don't get eaten by roaming aliens. Make sure to see as much as your surroundings as possible. Don't be picky about where to expand, but try to get as much Oil/Titanium as possible. Even some mostly-desert Cities are perfectly fine - they'll make for good Trade Route targets later (as they won't grow too much, small cities produce HUGE yields for big cities). Just make sure you take up space and forward-settle your neighbors with your first cities so you can secure as much space as possible. On turn 50 you should have around 7-8 outposts/cities/settlers + your capital... that seems to be a good time to stop expanding and start improving what you have. (Although you can certainly go even wider if you want to - your health will drop into TERRIBLY RED numbers, but these problems get fixed once the bottom virtue of industry is reached. Other Cities: Now, expanding like this will make your neighbors really angry - and that's fine. On Apollo, this WILL lead to a war, so you'll need military to defend yourself - that's what the first expansion will be doing; and that's why you absolutely needed to get your worker to build some production-improvements here asap. Withoug as much production as possible you won't be able to defend against a rush (at least not on Apollo). So rush-buy the Recycler as soon as that tech is done and start building soldiers. Total number probably depends on your experience in defending against the AI. It can be tempting to rushbuy a few soldiers if you have the energy, but I strongly suggest not to do that as long as you don't feel like you absolutely have to. Your main goal should be to Rushbuy the Recycler in every city. All the other Cities should start building the Trade Depot first. It is important to push most of your city towards 6 population. It's counter-intuitive, but growing our cities early is what keeps our health somewhat stable - we get +1 health for every pop (because we can produce a total of 6 health from buildings+their quests per city). and only get -0.75 health. A city that has reached pop 6 should focus on production to get all the infrastructure that is available and help producing workers to get your road-network running and start building academies once you've researched them (or biowells if you prefer them). Virtues: As mentioned, we skip Prosperity completely now. The free settler is just not worth it anymore - 3 virtues when we can produce Settlers in 5 turns each? Nope. Instead, we go straight into Industry. Beeline for Interdependence Network and then go for Magnasanti. Without Artists we will not be able to get that many additional Virtues from that point on, so going deep into Knowledge like we did with Artists seems to be a waste. I suggest going for the 20% more Affinity from techs in the might tree instead. After that, the 15% production towards wonders and the free affinity level (once you reach high affinity levels) pretty much complete the set of virtues we really need. If for some reason you manage to get way more virtues than that, consider Knowledge instead. Trade Routes: We use mostly internal Trade Routes. A few Exceptions can be made: If a Science Station lands nearby. Or if you want to keep your neighbor from attacking you right away - trade routes can "befriend" them for quite some time. Either way, use one of your newer cities to send external trade routes even if it goes towards a station, as your big cities will have a lot of internal targets that produce good yields. If you use auto-renew, make sure to check the trade route screen every now and then, as the yields will change quite drastically while your cities grow. One word on selling Strategic Resources: The early Recycler is a HUGE boost for any city you build, it will kickstart your city development like almost nothing else can. That said, it is vital to get the Energy to rushbuy them in as many cities as you can. To do that, you should absolutely sell your early resources 1 by 1, for 2 energy per turn each. Yes, it's a bit of annoying micro-management, but it is worth it. If you really don't want to do that though at least make sure to sell all your resources as soon as you have them improved. ...and that's pretty much it for the start. The rest of the game doesn't play much different than before. Make sure to get all your trade routes up, spam a lot of academies as soon as they're available, get the techs/affinities needed for your victory, build the wonder, win. /edit: Actually, the game does play quite a bit different than before. You will be rather Culture-Starved, so finding a balance between culture and growth focus and when to ignore those in favor of science focus in cities that don't need to build anything else is very important. You will absolutely NEED the Might-Virtues before you start getting all the Affinity-Leaftechs for good victory times. And a random thing that I've learned: The best way to prevent the "AIs make a deal to declare war on you and will not accept peace throughout the game"-bug is actually to declare war on one of them before they declare war on you. 8) The second neighbor may still declare war later, but both of them will be willing to make peace after a while - and from that point on probably not be a problem anymore, since they'll be far behind in development after rushing out units so early and (hopefully ) not achieving anything with them.