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A player can take ownership of a planet not owned by another player by colonizing it. Colonization ships must be produced and equipped with special colonization modules to transport colonists and deploy essential infrastructure. Adapted from In-Game Description

Colonization is the process of using a Colonizer ship, equipped with a special Colonization Module, to transport some of the player's Population to an unclaimed world and take ownership of it. A planet already owned by another player cannot be colonized, but could still be taken by force, unless the defences have been stood down.

Selecting a Planet

The suitability of a planet for colonization depends on many factors:

  • Size: larger planets are able to support higher maximum Populations, allowing more structures to be built. Conversely, planets with small caps can be limited in terms of how developed they can get.
  • Environment: the planet's temperature and land mass fraction will determine if a colony will thrive or perish; if the overall climate is hostile to the colonists, they will die over time. In particular, planets with lots of land can support larger maximum populations, but growth rates may be lower.
  • Resource Deposits: whether the planet has a valuable resource deposit worth mining (mines can only be constructed on planets owned by a player).
  • Native Population: will contribute to a colony's workforce and can be taxed, but their happiness will have an effect on the colony.
  • Location: the planet could be strategically beneficial. Planets close to another player could forge an alliance or spark a feud.

Environment Tolerance

Civilization Optimal Temp. Tolerance Optimal Land Mass
Mankind +22°C -1°C to +45°C 50%
Ripchee +38°C +15°C to +61°C 30%
Snithereal +30°C +8°C to +52°C 40%
Syntis 0°C -99°C to +99°C (with all techs) 90%
The People's Realm +22°C -1°C to +45°C 50%

Each civilization has their own optimal temperature, tolerance of other temperatures and optimal land mass fraction. The optimal temperature is the temperature at which population growth will be the highest. The temperature tolerance determines how growth rate will behave the further a planet's temperature is from the civilization's optimal temperature, which obeys an exponential relation. A civilization with a low tolerance needs a planet temperature close to their optimal, while a high tolerance civilization such as the Syntis will be compatible with a wider range of planet temperatures.

Similarly, the optimal land mass is the land mass fraction at which population growth will be the highest. The population growth rate will be lower fractions away from this optimal value, which obeys a linear relation; a hostile temperature will have a significantly greater effect on the growth rate than an environment with too much or too little water.

A planet's environment info is listed under the Environment panel in the Planet Management screen. Mousing over the planet's name will bring up the tool-tip shown in the panel below.

Scouted GoodHabitability.jpg

Based on the planet's environment and the player's chosen Faction, the environment tool-tip will recommend whether the planet is suitable for colonization or not. The images below show the environmental info for two planets in the same system.


Planets that are either too hot or too cold can be terraformed to become hospitable for a civilization. Terraforming is achieved by constructing Climate Stations and Hydro Adjustment Stations, to adjust a planet's temperature and land fraction respectively. To be able to build these structures, the technology Planet Modification must first be researched. Depending on the difference between a planet's climate and the civilization's optimal living conditions, multiple stations may be needed.

Planet Ownership

To determine whether a planet is owned by another player (and can therefore only be taken by force) or is home to a native population (can be colonized), a player must have a fleet in orbit of the planet. This information is displayed under the planet's name, at the top of the Planet Management screen. If no fleet is present, the planet's status is unknown, as shown in the first panel above.

The second and third panels show an uncolonized planet and a planet that the player has colonized respectively. The fourth and fifth panels show planets that are owned by another player, identified by the player's name and civilization emblem. If the player has concluded a Treaty with this other player, these are displayed in green to mark their allied status; otherwise these are both in red.

Native Populations

Some planets not owned by another player may have a native population. The native population will not prevent the planet from being colonized and will integrate with that colony to some degree. In the image below, the planet info in the first panel shows no population, while the planet in the second panel shows a Skregon population.

Planet NoPop.jpg Planet SkregonPop.jpg

A native population on a planet can be a valuable asset and will not prevent or hinder colonization. They can be taxed and will contribute to a colony's workforce, providing a major boost to a new colony. If the native population is of the same Major Faction as the player's own, it will merge with the colonizing population. If it is of a different race, it will grow alongside the player's own Faction as a second population, and will be affected by structures the player builds such as Entertainment Centers. However, they will not be supported by Farms.

Some key points on having populations beside your own:

  • If the native population is from a civilization affected by Happiness, their level of happiness will affect the colony. Syntis players will need to make sure to build Medicinal Happiness Centers to counter this.
  • The second population will still have their own temperature preferences, labor shortage limits and so forth, and will be affected by them accordingly.
  • The accelerated growth of dual populations can lead to rampant unemployment if left unchecked. This is a particular problem for Evolvanian colonies, which can grow particularly rapidly.
  • If the second population is an organic species, it can be supported by building Bio-Farms, in order to create worlds with two full populations.

Colony Types

Colonies should always be established with a purpose in mind. Rather than building a mix of structures, is is better to specialise planets to serve a particular purpose, in order to best take advantage of resource deposits and available space for population. Some colony types that players typically establish are:

  • Mining - colonies dedicated to mining one or more of the five Natural Resources. Depending on the size and purity of the deposit(s) available, players might choose to hold these planets long-term, or mine all the resources they have to offer and then move on.
  • Deep Mining - if the purity of a resource deposit is sufficiently high, players might choose to develop a mining colony further to support Deep mines, which can extract resources even after the surface deposit is depleted. These will typically be dedicated to one resource that is present at a high purity on a given planet. This ensures a steady flow of resources without having to colonize new worlds, which will likely become difficult due to hostile neighbours or the effects of Corruption. However, deep mines are time-consuming and expensive to construct, so players should choose such sites carefully.
  • Science - these colonies are dedicated to hosting as many Laboratories as possible, in order to increase the player's Science Power. Large planets are needed for this, as Labs require lots of population and associated infrastructure to support, but science worlds don't need resource deposits to be present; instead, building materials can be shipped in from mining planets. Players should make sure to defend their science worlds, as they will become extremely valuable as they develop.
  • Metropolis - metropolis colonies focus on Entertainment and City Centers, in order to maximise Credit income and population growth. Excess population generated on such worlds can then be transported to help grow other colonies in the player's empire. Such planets should have an ideal temperature and land/water balance for growth, as City Centers provide a multiplier to the existing growth rate.
  • Fortress - these are planets dedicated to the defence of a player's territory, by being as difficult to capture as possible. They will feature lots of Military Bases, orbital defences and perhaps a Scanner for reconnaissance. A forward Shipyard might also be considered to repair and reinforce combat fleets. Troops generated here can then be transported for attack or defence.
  • Shipyard Worlds - Shipyards, particularly the Tier 3 and 4 versions, require so much supporting infrastructure that planets may have to be dedicated to them in their own right. Planets inhabited by Mountain Giants are prime candidates for such worlds, owing to the 60% construction boost they provide.

Colonizer Ships


Colonization Research.jpg

A player will not initially have access to colonization technology; in order to design and build new colonizers, the Space Colonization technology must be researched, as shown in the image above (with a number four next to it). To unlock this tech, the Life Support Modules technology must first be unlocked as a prerequisite. Once these two researches have been completed, colonization hulls and the basic Colonization Module will be accessible in the ship designer.

Colonizer Hulls

Each civilization has its own Colonizer hull, which is the only hull compatible with the aforementioned colonization module.

Colonizer Design

A colonization ship blueprint must first be designed before a ship itself can be built. Selecting the appropriate colonization hull, the following minimum parts need to be added to the hull in the Ship Design view, in order to create a functional colonizer:

For full details of this process, see the Ship Design page.

Additional modules

Colonization ships are always consumed as part of the colonization process - one ship can only colonize one planet - so it is not worth adding anything to a colonization vessel that isn't needed. Any Cargo or colonists a colonization ship is carrying will be transferred to the colony during colonization (but any excess fuel in Fuel Tanks will be lost), so it can be useful to equip a colonization vessel with cargo or Personnel Transport modules to provide the future colony with resources and/or population they will be able to make immediate use of.

While the player will undoubtedly design and redesign all of their ships as their available technology advances, there are two basic types of colony ships to consider:

  1. The local system coloniser - a ship created as cheaply as possible to colonise worlds within an already established system. Regardless of the player's chosen Major Faction, there is very little reason to add more than the minimum to the ship's design in this case, as it will be far more cost effective to shuttle extra resources from whatever world(s) are already established to the new one than incorporating them in this ship.
  2. The long range coloniser - the reverse of the above case. When establishing colonies in brand-new systems, extra cargo and personnel capacity is useful, hull space permitting. Bringing extra resources will allow the player to set up self-sustaining colonies more quickly, reducing the pressure on other logistics ships to assist the coloniser.

With the notable exception of the T0, coloniser hulls are unarmed, and so should always sail with an armed escort detail to protect against any possible attack.

Colonizer Construction

Once the design for the colonization ship has been researched, its construction can be ordered. Once constructed, it will appear in orbit of the shipyard's planet.

The colonization module is automatically filled with citizens from the colony's population. If there are not enough citizens to populate the colonization module, a related notification is received, and it will not be possible to colonize a planet until the colonization module has been filled. In such cases, additional citizens will need to be manually transferred when possible. If the ship contained additional Cargo storage, Fuel Tanks, or Personnel Transports, these can be filled to be added to the colony once formed (Fuel Tanks will automatically fill upon construction).

Colonize order

Fleet Select Colony.jpg ColonyCinematic.jpg

To order a fleet containing a colonizer ship to colonize a planet, first select the fleet, and then using the selection pointer click on the planet. A menu will appear, with the options Explore and Colonize, as shown in the first panel above. If it is known that the planet is owned by another player with ground defences set on alert, or if the colonization module has not been filled with Population, the colonization order will not be available.

After clicking the Colonize option, the ship will begin moving to the planet's orbit (the explore option will move the ship to the planet's orbit only, where it will remain). Once the ship reaches the planet, a brief cinematic will play, colonization will occur and the ship will disappear, being consumed in the process. Clicking the planet will now show it as owned by the player, and any resources or extra personnel that were on the colonizer are part of the new colony.

If it's discovered once the colonization ship enters the planet's orbit that the planet is owned by another player, the ship will not continue and colonization will not take place.

DangerColonisation.jpg WaterColonisation.jpg

If the target planet has a climate which is hostile to the player's chosen Major Faction (by being too hot or cold), the warning in the first panel above will be displayed before any colonisation attempt is made. The player will have the option to cancel the colonisation attempt, or to proceed anyway. Similarly, if the target planet has 0% land mass (and thus no space for colonists) the warning in the second panel above will be displayed.

Next Steps

Once a colony has been formed, the planet is ready for development: taxing the population(s), ordering the construction of structures, etc. If the colonised planet has a hostile climate, the player will have to terraform their new planet if the colony is to survive.