Galactic Civilizations III: Fun in 5 turns!

Published on Saturday, May 2, 2015 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizations is a turn-based game. Turn-based games are, well, notoriously boring to watch someone else play. This little guide is how to get the fun going fast!


Make sure you got a pretty good PC

  • We need a pretty decent setup. 8GB of memory to run the larger maps.
  • What most people don’t realize is that GalCiv III is both a strategy game and a galactic simulator.
  • Every turn, we have to simulate the goings on of an entire galaxy and that requires memory and CPU power.

OPTIONAL: Getting your own assets

In your my documents\my games\galciv3 folder there’s a factions folder. You can drop images in there if you’d like to have more logos and leader faces to choose from. We’ll be automating this from the game after release.

  • Leader FG’s should be 1920x1080. Portraits 128x128 and logos 128x128.


So…you’ve decided to conquer the galaxy

If I had 30 minutes to form an impression of Galactic Civilizations III this is what I would do:

First 10 minutes: Designing your own civilization

If you play as the Terran Alliance, you literally start as the leader of Earth in 2242. So you start with Earth with Mars, Jupiter, etc. all there.



Click on  “Create Custom Race”


If you added your own images to the factions folder, you can do what I did here and have a custom image.



You can customize your race description and give your new civilization its own history. (we will be allowing carriage returns in that part real soon now).


The traits of your civilization


Decide what your ships should like (we’re working on a bunch of new features for customizing this further but it won’t be ready until we have the Steamworks integration done).  But even as is, this is the most customizable ship designer ever made.


This screen shows how the AI will use them. The idea being that you can later play against your creation (or upload it for others to use too).  Once we’ve finished the Steamworks mod stuff, there will be an export button here too so you can literally share your creations to the moderated civilization library.



I now have my civilization ready to go.

Next 5 minutes: Your galaxy

I recommend:

  1. Small galaxy, tight clusters.
  2. Star Frequency: Common
  3. Planet Frequency: Abundant
  4. Habitable Planet frequency: Occasional
  5. Extreme Planet Frequency: Uncommon
  6. Everything else “occasional”.
  7. Galaxy Difficulty: Normal (the AI won’t be super bright here but it’ll play a reasonably challenging game)
  8. Pirate bases: Uncommon
  9. Minor Races: NONE (I find the minor races to be a bit distracting personally, YMMV)

Opponents: Pick 6 opponents.


Next 10 minutes: TURNS 1 to 5


So it begins


  1. Middle mouse button will let you control the camera
  2. Roller will let you zoom in and out
  3. Tab Key is like pressing the “turn” button. You should be able to play the game almost entirely with your left hand on the keyboard and the right-hand on the mouse.



You start with your home world and a few ships. The action button in the bottom right will walk you through the other things that need your attention.




Research screen.

There are 4 technology trees per race. The human centric one is about:

  1. Colonization: Make your planets better
  2. Engineering: Make your tech better
  3. Warfare: Kill stuff better
  4. Governance: Get along with others better

MY PICK:  I recommend universal translator. You need that to talk to aliens and since this is a small galaxy with a lot of players, you’ll be getting a lot of talking.



Your planets are primarily about 3 things: Manufacturing, Research and Wealth generation.  There’s a lot of other things involved that lead to more of that (not even talking about influence which is a whole different topic).

MY PICK: If you have a tile that gives you a research bonus, pick that (which is what I do in that screenshot). Otherwise, I build a research lab adjacent to my capital because it gives a bonus to anything adjacent. 

IMPORTANT: BUY IT.  That will build it on a single turn.



Zoom out and notice the dots. These are other stars. Rush to them so you can find out what’s there. Send a different ship to each one. Use the TAB key after you choose a ship’s destination to go to the next ship.



Pick a colony ship to build. Then, once you have started buliding, BUY IT

We start the player off with 5000 credits so that they can jump-start their strategy.

Buying a colony ship is a bit of a gamble but if you don’t find other good planets, you can convert it to a constructor later.


Click the buttons at the top to learn more about the game real fast.



Victory Screen.


  1. CONQUEST.  This is the traditional way people win these games. You kill everyone else.
  2. INFLUENCE. This is GalCiv’s claim to fame. You can win through cultural conquest. That is, you literally spread your culture across the galaxy using starbases while trying to keep other civilizations from killing you for it.
  3. TECHNOLOGY. You can research technology that will allow you to transcend. I.e. the technological singularity.
  4. ASCENSION. The galaxy doesn’t really know what happened to the Precursors. These Ascension crystals give you a hint.
  5. DIPLOMATIC VICTORY.  You can research techs that make you more liked by other civilizations and use those techs to negotiate various treaties that will slowly win them over to you. If you ally with everyone you win.




Your production goes towards wither wealth, manufacturing, and research. 

MY PICK: Early on, put it almost all on research. You have plenty of money at the start. Use it to jump start your economy and then, on turn 5, move it back to something less extreme.


Phew! That’s a lot for a single turn.  Don’t worry, GalCiv is designed so that lots of turns won’t be very busy. It moves at the pace you want it to.


I Rush build a second lab. Look how much research this planet is doing!

  1. I send my new colony ship to a star I haven’t explored.
  2. I also start building (but don’t rush) another colony ship.



Ok. I found a nice planet but it’s cold as Hoth. It’s an extreme planet so I can’t use it without researching Extreme Colonization.  There’s also Thulium which is a very useful resource for building prototype (i.e. one of a kind) space ships.

  1. On my planet I rush build another research lab




I have found a new awesome planet!



I name it Awesomo to show how much class I have as a leader.



Enjoy pretty cut scene. These are in here to try to bring home how big a deal it is to settle other planets.


A planetary incident. These are important too. Sci-Fi always acts like landing on other planets is like visiting Vancouver. In this case, the planet has a fungus that infects the population. What should you do?

What kind of civilization do you want?

There’s an alien fungus that is inflicting colonists that makes the planet not very…attractive for colonists to join us on this world. What do we do?

  1. Be honest and let people know the risks of coming here but let people know there’s an opportunity to study a new disease. [Benevolent] (slower population growth but a slight research bonus)
  2. Quarantine those who get it but not advertise this issue too much (pragmatic, slight population hit)
  3. What? Buy potential colonists drinks. We need new people even if it means there will be some sickies [Malevolent].



The planet has a unique ore on it that will make our ships better. Or we can trade it to other civs for something in return.  It also has a wasteland which I can rush build a factory on.



Hooray. I can talk to the aliens!


MY PICK: Xeno Industrialization. It provides upgrades to all my basic planet improvements

Also notice that I’m now doing 52 research points per turn.

  1. On my home world, I rush build a factory adjacent to my colony. It’s now time to get my manufacturing going.



My ethical choice earlier gave me a pragmatic point which I’m now spending

Many of your planetary improvements and unique civilization abilities come from your ideology tree. 

MY PICK: I chose pragmatic and on the pragmatic tree I choose: Free constructors!


Turn 4: I have 2 planets. I found a third that I can’t colonize. There’s 3 unclaimed resources and I have 3 constructors!

  1. Elerium. Lets you use weapons that require Elerium. Huge early game advantage if you’re running around with that.
  2. Thulium.  Let’s you build a Thulium Data Archive which provides a big boost to planetary research. Especially early because it provides a “flat” amount of research rather than just a %.



I got Xeno Industrialization.  Choosing the next tech is challenging because you are definitely starting to define your strategy.  The GalCiv III requires you to make choices. You won’t even come close to research all the techs.


MY PICK: Interstellar Travel because it makes all my units get +1 moves


With my first constructor, I’m going to maneuver it so that one of the resources are is within its area of effect as well as both of my planets.


Cut scene of the starbase being built.  It was important to us to convey to players that your civilization is doing some pretty big deal new stuff.


The Starbase management view. The Ur-Quan starbases look strange (every race gets their own ship designs)

Because I want to mine that Elerium, I choose the Mining Ring from the right.


We are also contacted by the first alien race, the Altarians.


We have been playing for 25 minutes

At the end of turn 5, you probably have been playing around 25 minutes and you haven’t even murdered an alien yet.

We haven’t even touched on…

  1. SHIP DESIGN (you can design your own ships both functionally and visually)
  2. DIPLOMACY (treaties, tech trade, helping your friends, punishing your foes)
  3. TRADE (building freighters and sending them to alien worlds)
  4. UNITED PLANETS (changing the game rules on the fly by vote)
  5. COMBAT (pew pew)
  6. INVADING PLANETS (building transports to invade defenseless planets)

We’ve barely scratched the surface.

So now what?

  • SUGGESTION #1: Save this game and then load up a game where you’ve played a similar set up for say 200 turns.
  • SUGGESTION #2: Load up a game in an insane galaxy to show how crazy the game can get to show off the wars and such.

My Last 5 minutes

Jumping 140 turns into the future I have built a series of impressive ships and am about to go to war with the Altarians who are certainly aware of what is coming.

TURN 200

I click on the Diplomacy button at the top to see what my relations are with everyone.


The Altarians see what I’m doing. They see my build up.

The Altarians attack my fleet.


The Ur-Quan take the planet Wisp and defend it


Open the Designer. Let’s build a ship. The red dots on the ship are places I can attach things. It’s purely cosmetic (where you attach things doesn’t matter). It’s like LEGOs® except, I guess, space LEGOS.



You can use the middle mouse button and roller to control the camera and rotate the ship


I’m not a big fan of this style of ships. The Terran ships are much prettier I think.

Here I’m sticking a Ion Drive onto the ship which gives this unit +3 moves per turn.



Then I place two Graviton Drivers onto it. This is the technology I was desperately trying to get. Each one does 8 (kinetic) attack.


Then I add some life support to the ship. This determines how far away it can travel from one of my bases.


And then I give it a name. I could spend hours playing around with the ship designer.


And now to build it…

When you want to build things fast, make sure you move your production focus over to manufacturing in the Govern Civilization screen.


Wisp gets invaded the same turn.

When someone goes to war with me or better yet, I want someone eliminated, I use diplomacy.

I click on Diplomacy again and see that I am friends with the Yor. They have the second most powerful military and they’re not engaged in any wars.  They are the ideal partner for the Ur-Quan.


The Yor might help us


So I go to the trade screen and ask them to Declare war on the Thalan


A deal is struck.

From here on out it’s up to you…


A few other notes in screenshots


The way you speak to and are spoke to is determined by your ethical choices



I wonder what human meat will taste like



We encourage players to surrender to avoid the “late game” slog



Online there is the Metaverse where players can submit their high scores and compete in multiplayer.