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GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #65 - Who to Play First?

Published on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 By BATTLEMODE In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova has had a large influx of new players in recent months and the game can be a little overwhelming to first time players. We’re going to take a look at a good game setup for a first time player. Before we do though, let’s look at some of the key ingredients that go into shaping a playthrough.

There are 23 prebuilt playable factions in the game, that we call the Core Civilizations, and while the AlienGPT custom civilization builder ensures these aren’t your only options, each of these Core factions play quite differently.


Not only do they have their own specific strengths and weaknesses when compared to one another, but they’ve been carefully designed to generate interesting gameplay situations when they’re added to a game with other complementary civilization choices.

So, how is it that the various civilizations differ from one another and what causes these interesting situations to occur?

Part of this is down to the game AI that each civilization uses when the computer plays them, which is partly determined by their Personality settings: Opportunistic civs will strike when they see a weakness, while Cultural civs tend to favour playstyles that increase their Influence across the galaxy.


But this combination of game AI traits also reacts to the current game state at any given time, and so they’ll be making decisions based on the actions taken by human and AI players around them too.

That Opportunistic civ will see a weakened neighbour as a chance to strike and it may invade, conquering more territory and making itself stronger in the process. In the same situation, a Peaceful civ is less likely to take an aggressive stance and this can allow the weaker nation to recover their strength.

Added to this, each Civilization has a set of gameplay characteristics called Civilization Traits, and Civilization Abilities.

These characteristics help inform the player (and the game AI) on how they might best be played: the Corporate Sector are very powerful when they’re played as intended: building a very powerful economy, with strong trade networks. This means they’re better off keeping out of early wars unless they’re absolutely necessary, and using their abilities and traits to powerhouse their economic output. This will eventually lead them into a commanding game position, as all else being equal, they can afford to buy their way out of pretty much any situation they’ll face.

The strengths and weaknesses of each civilization in any given situation and their positions relative to one another, added to the way both the player and the AI is playing the game, creates an ever evolving set of game conditions, and this is the real meat of GalCiv’s dynamic gameplay.


Picking many of the more peaceful, pacifistic civilizations who prefer to build their empires up and trade with others will create a game that is dramatically different to a game with mostly Aggressive, Cruel and Xenophobic behavioural traits.

For new players we generally recommend a mix of civilization types, as it brings the most dynamic games: the various AI players will react and counter-react to one another in innumerable interesting ways as the campaign develops.

But you don’t have to: it’s possible you want to play a very relaxed and peaceful game where you chase victory through non-military means. Or, you’re all in on the warfare and so you want to get into battle as quickly as possible.

But that leads us to the next question: who do you play as in your first few games?

I’m going to suggest a good setup for a first playthrough of Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova.

This is what I’d consider to be a fairly well balanced game, where you’ll face a mix of threats and situations, and get to use most of the tools at your disposal in facing those threats.


For this kind of game, let’s pick the Terran Alliance: they’re a great all round civ and it’s no surprise that they’re the most played Core Civilization.

The Voyagers Civilization Ability means they’ll capture territory very quickly in the early game, and having a head start on exploration and colony acquisition can be very helpful when you’re starting out with GalCiv4, as the AI is very good at expanding its empire early on and you need to keep up.


Inspired roughly means you’ll have a lot more Leaders in your game, and because of the Faction system, the more Leaders you have, the better tuned your Empire will become in the long run.


Here we’ll keep the settings fairly standard, the key point here is you want enough space for about 10 civs in play and not to have any really extreme settings. You should adjust the difficulty to suit your experience with 4X games. If you’ve not played one before, I’d drop it down to one of the easier settings as you learn. The GalCiv AI is very strong when compared to most other space 4X games.


Here I’ve picked what I think is a fairly balanced mix of AI opponents, who will all have the capacity to play in various ways and none of them are completely one-dimensional in the way they approach the game, that’s not GalCiv’s style.

That said, we’ve thrown in some potentially dangerous and antagonistic rivals here: the Drengin Empire, the Festron Hunt and the Cosmic Contaminant will all likely give you trouble at some point. Their actions will likely create some very interesting opportunities for dialogue and diplomacy with the other, less aggressive civilizations once wars start kicking off across the various map sectors.

The Altarian Republic and Mimot Brotherhood are unlikely to be directly aggressive, unless you seriously provoke them, but they’re dangerous in their own way, pushing out Influence or just swallowing up all the habitable planets respectively. They’re going to be potential long term trade partners if you’re lucky enough to to border them too closely.

The Baratak Grove, Torian Regime, Altarian Republic and the Corporate Sector all play quite differently to one another but here I’d broadly categorize them as being “neutral” to your interests, meaning that their behavior’s could go any way. If you’ve got something they want, they could well declare war to take it as they can be opportunistic and expansionist in their nature, but they’re also more likely to help out in a bind that the Drengin or Cosmic Contaminant.

With this mix of Civs to play as, you’ll get a feel for most of the game mechanics that GalCiv has to offer, and you’re really free to take the game in whatever direction you want to. The Terran Alliance don’t have to be played peacefully, hell, the lore shows that they’re certainly one of the most dangerous factions in the known galaxy when they put their minds to it!

These settings will give you a drastically different game each time, depending on the relative placement of the AI factions.


Here, we got unlucky (or lucky, if you love early tension and threat!) as our immediate neighbours in this smaller sector are the dreaded Drengin Empire and the Cosmic Contaminant, by far one of the most aggressive and unpleasant factions in the game.


This isn’t too bad though, we’ve got the Torians and Corporate Sector in an adjacent sector of the map to trade with, and the Mimot and Altarians a bit further on too. If we can hold the Drengin and CC off for a while, this could be a very exciting position to play!


With the same settings, I try a new map, and this time, things are very different.

We’ve got the Arceans very close by, and things could go either way with those guys as they’re very strong in wartime. However, they can be friendly if you keep on their good side, and we’ve also got the Altarians in the perfect position to have Altarian neighbours: quite far away! This means you’ve got two potential trade partners.


This won’t be an easy first game though: despite my initial assessment, the Altarians are growing quite large already, and though they tend towards peaceful play, their Influence output is very dangerous and they’ll have to be dealt with, one way or another. The Arceans have also taken a lot of those valuable strategic resources you’ll need later too…

These settings should provide hours of fun and can be played many times over due to the differences in map generation and AI placement.