The world of Endless Space 2 is as intimidating as the size of the galaxy within it. Even to people who have played any sort of 4X/Grand Strategy game before, the learning curve can be astounding. Once you find your bearings and understand the basics, you’ll still have a lot of questions that won’t be answered immediately. That’s where we come in.
While Endless Space 2 is a 4X game, this guide will focus on one of the Xs: eXpand. Of course, you know you want to expand your empire, because that’s part of the game. But how? What system should I colonize? What should I look for? Which planets should I avoid? We have all the answers you will need.
Check Your Own Systems
Before looking outward, you should rather look inward. That is, you should check to see if you can colonize a planet within your home system (it will be noted with a white flag that says "Colonizable." You might think that this won’t help you expand your borders, but that’s not true. Your borders expand every turn based on how much Influence you gain each turn, and the main way of gaining influence is through control and population of individual planets. So this is actually the cheapest and easiest way to expand.
Before you can colonize a planet, you have to make sure your empire can survive on that type of planet. Planet types range from Ice, Arctic, Ash, Tundra, Ocean, Jungle and so on and so forth. You can see the planet types by hovering your mouse over it, as in the image above. In order to be able colonize a new type of planet, you have to research Technology that allows it. Luckily, the technology screen has a convenient search feature. So, like below, if I want to find out how I can colonize a snow planet, all I have to do is type in “snow,” and it will highlight the technology I need.
You should continue to think this way, also, when you eventually do choose a planet outside your home system. Look for systems with more than one planet, and those will be worth a lot more to you. They don’t all have to be immediately habitable, because you can always get that Technology later. You just want to make sure you have the option to expand.
More than just border range increase and Influence gain, getting more planets per system is paramount to taking full advantage Improvements. I know: why am I talking about Improvements to one system when you only want to get more systems? Patience, my dear reader. It’s really easy to not understand how Improvements work such that you’ll be getting little, if any actual benefit from them. Essentially, understanding the intricacies of Improvements can make the difference between a huge, singular Empire and one that’s composed of tiny circles around systems. And, this also emphasizes the need to colonize within already-owned systems, rather than feeling pressured to constantly expand.
Many improvements will provide a series of bonuses that say “[X resources] per planet,” or [X Resources] per [planet type].” See below for an example.
This particular improvement is a very popular way to expand your Industry production in the early game, but you may not be getting all you can out of it. It gives you 10 Industry per turn per planet. It also gives you another 10 Industry per Temperate Planet and per Fertile Planet. Of course, if you have two or more planets that fit the bill for all of those, this one Improvement is going to give you at least 60 bonus Industry per turn.
On the other hand, if you’ve only colonized one planet in a system, and that planet is neither Fertile nor Temperate, than this improvement is only going to give you 10 Industry per turn, diminishing its value.
The other type of bonus that is very common is an “[X resources] per turn per population” or “per population on [planet type].” Again, it’s really easy to get these Improvements and think they’re helping “I’m getting bonuses to Industry, but my Improvements aren’t building fast enough. What gives?” What gives is that you probably either don’t have enough population or you’re not on the right planet type. Take this improvement for example:
This improvement grants 5 Industry per turn per population on a Hot Planet and the same amount of Industry per turn per population on a Sterile Planet. You can easily make this improvement on a system and have it give you literally 0 Industry per turn, if none of your colonized planets in a system are Hot or Sterile. Even if you do have those types of planets, you might not be seeing the per-turn production you imagined if those planets aren’t especially populous.
Let’s say you build this improvement on a system with one Hot Planet, but no Sterile Planets, and that Hot Planet only has one population on it. With that setup, you’re only going to get a per-turn production of 5 Industry. Was it worth it? Of course it wasn’t.
As a side note, you should also look to colonize planets that have a lot of population slots. Some planets only allow for one population unit, so those per-pop bonuses will be basically nothing.
Home Away From Home
Feel free to look outside your system at the same time as in your system. Quality expansion should make use of multi-tasking. For planets outside systems you already control, the process is a little different.
First of all, as you see in the image above, distance from your home system or other systems you control is not all that important. What is important is that there are no other empires in between systems you control and where you want to colonize. In the image above, I have a colony way to the right of a planet I can colonize on the Graffias system (denoted by the filled-in white circle). While that is a far distance, it’s OK because the constellation is closed off in between. That means that, not only are there no other empires in between, but those empires will also have to work a lot harder to get there.
And again, I looked for a system with multiple planets. I could have researched the Technology to let me colonize the planet at the Cygnus system, but that would only give me one planet with a limited population so I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of those improvement bonuses that give a per-population or per-planet bonus.
Once you’ve decided on a planet to colonize outside of systems you already own, it will take a bit longer than planets inside systems you control. But there are ways to speed that up. As in the image above, you can spend either Dust, Influence or both to reduce the amount of turns it will take to establish a colony. If you can afford the resources, you should do so immediately and as often as you can.
That’s about the gist of it. With these tips, you should be on your way to building up not just a vast empire, but a thriving one as well.