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Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review


Planets, Technology, and Governance:

Because of the genre and experience GalCiv 3 offers, I am using a different structure to this review, dropping the Story section and breaking apart the Gameplay into two sections. This first one is to focus on Planets, Technology, and Governance.

Developing a planet is not immediately the most straightforward feature, but there are AI governors that can handle it for you, and it is not too hard to pick up. When you manage a planet, you are given a view of its surface, and wherever there is land, there will be a hex where you potentially can build a structure. Sometimes a hex on the grid will already have something filled, as some bonus the game has placed there. Also some hexes will have an icon on them, indicating a boost to whatever you choose to build on that spot.

That choice of what to build is where the challenge to developing a planet comes in. There are only so many hexes on a given planet and you do want to be smart about where you place structures, because some grant bonuses to their neighbors. This makes hexes that touch multiple spots around them more valuable than others, but you need to put the right structure there to take full advantage of it. If you are intending to develop a planet for a specific purpose, such as manufacturing, then this is not so difficult, but if you want it to be more balanced, then you need to be creative and use the buildings that grant multiple kinds of neighbor bonuses. Basically you will need to read through the list of structures carefully and plan ahead. Structures can be destroyed with a single click, so you can change later, taking only as much time as it does to build the new structures.

No matter what you choose to build for, you will probably always want to build some structures to boost population. You need people to run all of these structures after all, and you will need them for colonizing or capturing new planets.



Managing the technology is somewhat similar to managing planets, as you will need to read a lot to make the best decision, but with four tech trees to handle, and technologies that force you to pick a specialization, there is a lot to consider. Colonization, engineering, warfare, and influence are the four trees, though different civilizations will have their own names, and you can only research one technology from any of them at a time. (There is a part of me that would like to see a game try allowing the player to research multiple projects at the same time, such as one from each of these trees, but then that is another level of management not all players are going to be comfortable with, potentially including myself.)

Colonization is where you will find most of the technologies that will improve your colonies, whether that is by improving structures or unlocking new ones to be built. As your colonies are the backbone of your civilization, this is a very important tree.

Engineering also has a lot of improvement for your colonies but is also where you will find ship development. Better engines, life support, and bigger hulls are in here, and all are important especially in mid and late game. Engines will let your ships go farther each turn while life support increases their overall range. Larger hulls are invaluable during war, because from what I have seen, the larger ship tends to win in fights. This is not always true, but is something to keep in mind.

The Warfare tree is naturally where you find weapons, defenses, and logistics. You will want to pick up the logistic technologies as this will let you have more ships in your fleets, and when you start having to take planets defended by ships, you will want to throw as many ships as you can at them. Weapons and defenses fall into three categories: beam, kinetic, and missiles. Shields counter beam attacks, armor absorbs kinetics, and point defenses shoot down missiles, so develop and build ships accordingly.

The Influence tree is actually only called that for one civilization, but it is a fitting title none the less. This is where you will find the various technologies necessary for influencing other civilizations, through negotiations, establishing trade routes, and more. I do tend to leave this tree alone for a long time, possibly to my detriment, but inevitably I do return to it because it does have some very valuable technologies. For one thing it is where you go to increase your administrators, a system added in v2.0, and increasing your civilization's influence, which I will cover more in the next section.


Administrators are very, very important because you need one to build a starbase, and these structures are necessary to advance your civilization. Not all resources come from planets, as some need to be mined or harvested from space, and it is only starbases that are able to do this. They can also be used to study special boost-giving artifacts, spreading your influence, boosting your economy, or improving your military strength. A starbase cannot do all of these things at once, so you will need to pick and choose each time you build one. Perfectly placing starbases is something I actually do spend perhaps too much time on, since I do not want to waste the administrators but also because they can expand your influence and be a source of irritation for other civilizations.

Governance, under the Govern menu, is what you probably expect it to be, if you have played many other 4X games. This is where you can control how resources are distributed between manufacturing, generating money, and advancing research projects. You can also control how much of your civilization's manufacturing might goes to social projects, meaning planet-based structures, and how much goes to military projects, meaning ship construction. That is fairly standard, but it is the Commands tab that I have found to be very useful as my civilization comes to span the map. From here you can issue orders to shipyards, ships, fleets, and the planets sponsoring your shipyards all at once, instead of having to go through each object and menu individually. Want to have every shipyard not doing anything start building the same ship? You can do that from here. Want to set the rally point for all of these shipyards to a specific place all at once? That is just a few clicks away. Want to change the rally point for those same shipyards? Here again. Want to send all of the ships of a specific type to one location, or divert ships already going to one location to another? That is all possible from this one tab and is definitely valuable when you need to manage your resources during a war. One thing it does lack is the ability to set sponsors for starbases, which is setting which shipyards can build the modules for the starbases, and as these orders will come ahead of repeat orders, it would be nice to have one location to control all of these.

One criticism I have about the shipyards, which the Command tab reminds me of is that when you give an order to build ships, including a repeating order, it will not change as you develop new technology. You have to manually order the upgrade, which will reset the construction progress and cancel the repeating order. While I can understand not upgrading an almost finished ship, I do wish it would automatically upgrade the repeating order, or at least not cancel the repeating command when you do tell it to upgrade. It can be rather expensive to upgrade your already built ships, so to find older ships are being built because you forgot to hit one button is rather annoying. It is also annoying that you apparently cannot reduce the cost of upgrading ships by docking them or just opting for them to take longer, but that is a separate criticism.


  1. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Introduction
  2. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Graphics and Performance
  3. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Planets, Technology, and Governance
  4. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Influencee, Diplomacy, and War
  5. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Additional Screenshots
  6. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Conclusion
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