I feel blocked, I don't have enough Influence to build an Outpost, nor does the border expand (or it expands very slowly). I've build a colony ship but have no border planet to colonize (or to replace an Outpost). If that's not enough - the race is pacifist :-)

(Not that I'm complaining - the challenges are part of the fun in this GREAT game). Beside war, there is no way I can think of to expand (Did I mentioned Pacifist? ).

Was I dealt with a bad nearby star systems or is it typical case I need to take into consideration?

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    Explore fast, explore early - all the while rushing your colony tech and building the infrastructure needed to afford a colony ship in a timely manner. If you luck out and find more than one colonizable planet before your ship is ready, start with the furthest one, as running into other borders is soon going to be a problem, and you can probably grab the closer one later. And if you're feeling too boxed in, try playing on a larger galaxy with the same number of players, just reduce the number of players, or number of AI that start "advanced", or any combination there-of. May 14, 2016 at 13:54
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    This is a good strategy, why not post as an answer?
    – ShloEmi
    May 14, 2016 at 14:01
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    I didn't realize until halfway through my first game that I could colonize systems that were outside my borders. It sounds like you might be running into that as well? Once I figured that out, expansion happened fairly quickly.
    – Holly
    May 31, 2016 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


Well, random is random, so yes - despite your best efforts, sometimes you get stuck with a sub-par hand. But there are a few ways to help turn lemons into lemonade.

First, if you find yourself getting boxed in by other empires early, there are a few 'new game' settings you can tweak to make things a little smoother. Experiment with any combination of the three until you find settings you are happy with:

  • Galaxy Size
    • A bigger galaxy with the same number of player means that everyone tends to be more spread out. A possible downside is it may make for longer games (or an upside, depending on your point of view).
  • AI Empires
    • Lowering the number of players also means everyone is generally more spread out. And the requirements to win (% of planets owned) haven't gone up.
  • Advanced AI Starts
    • Lowering this means fewer AI player get a head-start, which means fewer enemy borders get inflated unnaturally fast.

Second are some general tips that may help you keep pace:

Explore fast and explore early. The single science ship the game starts you with is nice, but unless you're on a particularly tiny galaxy map, you need to cover a lot of ground; I typically start by building a second science ship and recruiting a leader for it IMMEDIATELY (If you luck out and can recruit a leader with survey speed+, go for that one). Use the map (M) and hold Shift while right clicking on a series of systems to queue up a bunch of surveys so that they can do it largely on auto. Start close to your homeworld and work your way out.

While all this is happening, you want to research colony ships, and build up your infrastructure so that you can build one ASAP. But hold off on actually building it until your science ships have encountered at least one colonizable world, because the upkeep on colony ships is insane. Once the ship is built, if you have multiple suitable worlds surveyed; go for the furthest one. You can probably pick up the closer one later, where as the further one stands a greater chance of being swallowed by another empire's border by the time you get a second colony ship.

Be stingy with frontier outposts, those things cost a lot of influence, and each one you have active increases the time it takes to recoup that loss (and when all your leaders start dying of old age, you NEED that influence). I, personally, try to avoid using them unless there's a particularly juicy grouping of energy/mineral rich systems (multiple instances of 6+ of one or both), or a habitable planet that's a little too close to another empire's border to risk waiting. In the late game, yes - you'll want to be using them a little more strategically to push back other borders to access a colonizable world, or to keep a border from expanding over a key system that gives resources you can't afford to lose.

But in the end, there are only so many star systems, and eventually they are ALL going to fall under someones' borders. Once this is true, you have a few options; try to ally your way to victory, or take them by force. To expand (a bit) at this point without fighting, you need to have researched colonization of other planet types, and possibly terraforming. This will allow you to colonize planets within your borders you otherwise couldn't. As those populations grow - if they were near your borders they may help push your borders outwards, exposing more systems... up to a point.

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    +1 for "go for the furthest one." Worlds that are within your borders are yours, worlds that are in unclaimed space are at risk. May 20, 2016 at 19:05

Trent Hawkins wrote a good answer that I fully support, but here's some more stuff that's too big for a comment:

Your FTL type is a huge factor in how easy it is to colonize, and move around in general.

I've tried all three types, and going forward will not choose anything other wormholes unless I want to intentionally handicap myself.


Hyper drive is the most restrictive. You can move down the lanes pretty fast, but only on the lanes. Sometimes there will be a star system that would be oh, so close if you could go straight there, but instead you'd have to go a third of the way around the galaxy and through the space of three empires to get there.

This makes early colinization difficult once you encounter another empire, or if you're in a spiral galaxy, and requires diplomatic permission to move around the galaxy later in the game.


Warp is more flexible than hyper drive. You can go in any direction, but still have to actually move through the space. This means you have to worry about enemy borders and treaties.

This is mostly fine for early game exploration, but starts becoming problematic as soon as you have to worry about others' borders.

If you have permission to move around the galaxy, from treaties or war, then this is the most flexible technology, as there is no need to build stations.


Wormholes are great. The only real downsides are that the generators can get blown up if you're in a war, and you have to build stations before you can enter an area. We're talking about colonization here, though, not war.

With a wormhole, you can travel anywhere within a huge range instantly, and without crossing the space in between. You can literally skip over an empire and build stuff on the other side without ever violating their borders. You stop worrying about the actual distance between systems, and instead just the number of jumps. It takes the same time for one of my ships to cross the my whole starting empire in two jumps as it takes to move to the next system over in two jumps.

This makes it very easy to set up colonies very far apart on all the most choice worlds. Since you can move across large distances in moments, once you have the wormhole generators built, it's okay to have a huge gap of space between worlds. You can use this to great effect when implementing the strategy of getting the furthest apart, most easily colonizable worlds and then filling in the worlds in between at a later date once you've established your borders.

Actual In-Game Worm Hole Advantage

As an example of the kind of advantage a wormhole can provide, consider this situation I've actually encountered: you're playing on a ring galaxy. An empire stretches from the outer edge to the inner edge, blocking your progress. You can see colonizable planets on the other side, but can't reach them. If you're using warp or hyper drive, you have to get permission to move through the territory. If you're using worm holes, you just build a station, jump over, colonize the planet, and then your influence pushes them back and connects with the original side. You can then continue down that edge, surrounding the other empire. If they aren't using worm holes then they're trapped. No need to go to war, just stifle them until you're superior and they'll surrender.

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    I find hyperdrive works quite well if everyone is restricted to hyperdrive (another setting you can set for a new game), and can make for some interesting tactical decisions (choke points!). But it is quite limiting when everyone else is free to jump around as they please. May 17, 2016 at 0:43
  • @TrentHawkins That seems reasonable. Like the early game in Endless Space.
    – DCShannon
    May 17, 2016 at 14:58
  • I found Hyperdrive better than Warp in spiral galaxies, since the lanes would fairly frequently cross over the empty space between the arms. With warp, you fairly quickly run into your neighbors up and down the arm and then that's that. May 20, 2016 at 19:08
  • @MatthewGraves The times I've tried, and every other comment I've read on the topic, indicates the opposite. The lanes don't cross to the other arm, but you can easily warp across the distance.
    – DCShannon
    May 20, 2016 at 19:20
  • @DCShannon: The wiki is suggesting that high-end warp drives can make the jump, which seems reasonable (the warp spiral games I played I didn't get far enough to research those). I'll have to check the maps again on my spiral galaxy games to see if my memory is deceiving me about the hyperlanes. May 20, 2016 at 19:49

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