Endless Space max difficulty strategy

If you’ve played Master of Orion 2 on max difficulty setting, you know how frustratingly difficult a 4X game could be. With all the bonuses the AI gets, it becomes a superb challenge to come up with tactics as well as builds that can give you a chance for a victory.

Endless Space is a new 4X game, that takes a LOT from MOO2 and other space 4X games. So you’d imagine their max difficulty settings (impossible and endless) to be just as punishing. Starting a game on endless warns you “You shall not pass”. Yet I had 150 turns of peaceful expansion. Hmm, how do we crack the difficulty even more??

For starters, let’s cover the basics:

  • Galaxy: I go for a small Spiral-4. I don’t like settling a lot of systems, so from the advanced settings I choose: few constellations and sometimes low density. If you want less friction with your neighbors choose remote for constellation distance.
  • Production systems: you need to find a good production system and it might not be your homeworld. The ideal production system will have plenty of happiness boosting luxury resources as well as 5-6 planets, preferably one with decent food and the rest lava. Huge planets and plenty of moons are a nice extra.
  • Science systems: since production system have a pretty good science output as well, they will probably have your best science as well. However, after a bit of production and growth focus, I turn all second-rate systems into science ones. Occasionally  you’ll have a super-science system – one with helium gas giants. It is worth investing in it but keep in mind it will not come online until midgame.
  • Heroes: you absolutely need at least one Administrator hero and preferably two. Corporate heroes can substitute if you only have one Administrator but they are lousy at system development. The administrator boosts production (early on), then food (important for growth), and happiness (to keep your lava system happy).

I spent a bit of time fine-tuning my systems to determine the best setup. I tried maxing my best production and science systems with the best terraforming had to offer and frankly, terraforming beyond lava/arctic is hardly worth it. So you might as well start the extermination at turn 120 (like I did).

Production systems verdict: Lava is perfect!


Lava System (endgame): Excellent production, however you need more happiness luxuries (or improvements)


Jungle System (endgame): The same production as the lava system but since you got more food, when you transfer that food into production, it will appear to produce slightly more.


As you can see, with food conversion turned off (Adaptive Industrial Systems improvement), both systems are virtually identical (the heroes are identical too). Considering you can get lucky with a natural lava system and lava is the first terraform option you research (it’s also very cheap to execute), lava is best.

Science system verdict: Artctic is cool, Helium is marginally better

This is a second-class system that had 2 planets converted to arctic (was almost naturally suited for science anyway). That’s around turn 130. Science: 1200


Let’s look at my home system, where I got extremely lucky with 3 helium gas giants. Science: 1400


Here’s my home system late game, churning 2600 science with my hero boosting science with wit of 19.


I never bothered terraforming the other planets to ocean and changing the exploitation, but as a test, I did that. With food converted to production and production converted with science (25% anyway), my home system peaked at 3200 science.

So the conclusion is simple: finding easily-colonizable systems with plenty of planets is the key to victory. Planet composition is not very important, especially once you get to lava and arctic transformation.

Next: Ships and Fleets at max difficulty

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  1. November 19th, 2012
  2. November 22nd, 2012

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