This is a hybrid strategy that I've been playing with over the last few weeks. I'm not hugely familiar with BE, so would appreciate comments on my approach. Is there anything I could be doing better? Stealing your way to victory The concept behind this strategy is a derived combination of GAGA Extrem's 5 City Academy spam and MAMoob's exploration/spies strategy. Using the city growth and trade route strategy of one, with the science stealing power of the other is producing easy wins on all map types and all victory conditions. The biggest concern is what to do in the last 30 some turns on some of the victory paths while you enjoy an unassailable dominant position. Opening selections: ARC - This is the obvious choice for the covert operations boost Artists - The opening is dependent on getting the first several virtues quickly, the +2 culture helps with this Tectonic Scanner - While being able to see the coastlines is powerful, I find that being able to see titanium and petroleum is more important for city placement and early production Pioneering - You need this and you don't want to waste time researching it early World selection - Anything you want, this strategy works on terran/lush, arid/arid, frozen/frozen, Pangaea, water, and anything else you care to throw at it Early Game: In the first 85 turns of the game (or so) you are going to focus on exploration and building the 5 cities of your colony. This period lasts until you have agents located in cities and they are starting to steal science. If you are lucky with resource pods, this can come as much as 10 turns sooner, but turn 85 is about average. Captial Build Order: Explorer, Old Earth Relic, Explorer, Explorer, Trade Depot, Trade Convoy, Colonist, Explorer, Explorer, Worker, Vivarium, Colonist, Colonist At around this point you will have Computers and should build the Spy Agency ASAP. When the Spy Agency is done, select the wonder building bonus. This bonus is useful in the end game when you need to build one of the victory wonders, but do not need additional technologies. If you find that you complete these early, then build some units. The other colonies often get annoyed at you due to your rapid growth, and having military units keeps them from going to war with you. And if they do, you can fend them off. When selecting locations for your additional cities prioritize for production and food. Cities next to a source of titanium are particularly powerful. Other City Build Order: Trade Depot, Old Earth Relic, Recycler (if you have Chemistry), Vivarium (if on land), Pharmalab (quest and improve health which will be bad early), Units to use for protection and to raise fear levels (and respect). Don't worry too much about the order other than the TD and OER. But these 5 buildings you should have in every city in the early/mid game. You will also need between 5 and 10 workers and trade convoys. I try to fit them into the build order when I don't have anything obvious to build. Also you generally will be generating a good bit of energy, so I buy both types of units with extra energy. A note on Trade Convoys, keep track of when your cities have open trade slots and make it a priority to get a convoy, even if delaying something else in the build order. Internal trade routes are going to provide vital production and food benefits to keep your colony growing. Attributes: You start with a good inherent attribute that improves your covert operations speed. You won't need to improve this until later in the game. Domestic - Choose Cooperative for the boost to internal trade routes. This should be your first selection, since the others are not needed until you are spying Political - Choose Subtle for the covert agent bonus Military - Choose what makes sense for you. I've used Practical for the military energy reduction, and Profiteering for station trade route bonuses, Suspicious doesn't seem to matter much unless you plan to use higher difficulty espionage like Dirty Bombs. Most recently I've found the selection for military unit production discounts makes the most sense in the end game. When you have extra political capital (and you will generate a lot of it) you should focus on leveling up these attributes over making agreements with others. You want to get to the point of stealing science every 4 turns. Between attributes, level 2 supremacy, and the Soul-Discerner you can get to this point very easily. When making agreements with others, Hutama is the best person to be friendly with for his trade slot benefits. Most of the other agreements available are kind of meh, and I use the capital on my attributes or the black market. Technology: The tech path is very simple in the beginning. Ecology then Computers. After you have Computers, research Chemistry while you are building the Spy Agency and getting agents into the field. Virtues: For virtues the first priority is to get the extra expedition slots for your explorers, then get the free colonist. After this move into the Industry path for the bonuses there. Prosperity - Frugality, Workforce Initiative (free worker), Pathfinders (extra expedition modules), Homesteading, Colony Initiative (free colonist) Industry - Labor Logistics, Commoditization, Standardized Architecture (free), Profiteering, Interdependence Network (bonus to internal trade routes) Exploration: The most important thing to do during the initial exploration phase is to not attack any of the aliens for any reason whatsoever. As long as you never attack them, they will leave your explorers and workers alone. However, they will NOT leave your colonists alone, so you will need to be careful moving them to city sites. As you explore go ahead an conduct expeditions at the various sites you find. Also try to get to resource pods quickly. In the early game you will find earth artifacts from the resource pods, though once the artifact pool is depleted you will stop getting them. The other colonies tend to ignore the alien and progenitor sites, so you will be pulling artifacts from them throughout the game. Alien sites can be especially helpful since you often will get a Ripper or a Drone. Both of these will help you explore faster. If I get a Manticore though, I just delete it. It is too slow. Hang onto artifacts until you have enough to start trying combinations. There are two rewards that you are looking for, Ground Penetrating LIDAR and the Soul-Discerner. The first will reduce your expedition time to 2 turns and the second will give an important 25% bonus to covert operations. Both of these are from the hybrid pool, so you will need to try combinations that include artifacts from at least 2 of the artifact types. Be sure to try all combinations, since each combination has a unique reward. After these two, select whatever rewards seem useful to you. I have had good success with the Tacjet improvement and the Drone Control building (allows colonies to grow faster). Once you have explored the world you can go back and clear out those annoying aliens. Clearing nests will give you additional artifacts, and also enrage the aliens. But by now you are tired of them wandering through your crops anyway, and are itching to get rid of them. Affinities: As you conduct expeditions in progenitor ruins, you will get free levels of affinity. You will also be conducting quests during this period. Prioritize getting to level 2 of Supremacy, which will give an additional exploration module. After this, keep your affinities balanced until you are at 5/5/5. At this point you will get a nice bonus to health. Beyond this, it is your choice depending on your victory path or the units you want to use. Mid Game: Once you are starting to actively steal science, you will have the science rolling in. With Special Agents later in the game, science thefts of 700+ for each successful theft are typical. You can count on completing a new technology every 4 or 8 turns for the rest of the game. The focus now is on getting technologies that give you additional covert agents. Also, doing the spying quest you are given will yield another covert agent. Tech Order: Once you have Computers, I recommend the following tech path: Chemistry - Allows you to build the Laboratory and Recycling Center. The Laboratory will trigger a quest that gives you an additional expedition module on your explorers. Engineering (cheap) - Opens the path to other technologies, gives the Combat Rover Genetics (cheap) - Gene Garden for health and opens the path to the Alien Preserve which is needed by one of the primary quests Communications - Feedsite Hub and Command Center (extra agent for each) Artificial Intelligence - Cel cradle (extra agent) Robotics - Need developed Firaxite to build the Holosuite Cognition - Holosuite (extra agent) Once you complete the key technologies, prioritize building (or buying) the specific building to get the quest timer running. After this, your tech selections depend on your chosen victory path, the affinities you want to develop, resources you need to develop, or the units you want. You can get to any desired technology very quickly. Virtues: There is another covert agent available as a reward for completing Tier II virtues. You can make selections in Industry and Prosperity to get to this bonus. You will be unlikely to ever get to the Tier III bonus, since the game will be over long before you can get there. There are two other Industry virtues that are useful. Social Investment in Tier III is immediately available and gives a strong bonus to the Manufactory. Scalable Infrastructure is also a Tier I bonus that gives 15% boost to wonders. When you start building the various wonders needed, return all your agents to HQ and build them in a city with many Manufactories around it. This will speed up completion of wonders by several turns. End Game: Around turn 130 you will have finished all of the key technologies. At this point, you can win the game using any victory condition you like. Due to your production capabilities, a Supremacy victory is probably the easiest (sending Golems through the gate). A Domination victory using Phasal Transport and high end hybrid units is also very satisfying. But the choice is yours. I'm finding that even without working to optimize all selections, all victory conditions are doable in less than 250 turns. In my most recent game I turned on the Signal at turn 185 and just spent the next 45 turns practicing battle tactics using different unit types.