May 18, 2020

Aurora Tutorial Part 4

Welcome back to my look at Aurora. Picking up from where we left off last time, it's time to look more at colonization, including terraforming, as well as to discuss civilian shipping lines and how they can benefit you.

Now that you've got a colony on Luna, and a geosurvey underway, let it run for a month or two so stuff has time to build. When you have 100 infrastructure on Earth, create a colony on Mars and order your cargo ships to take it there. This will take a couple of weeks, but you'll end up with two extraplanetary populations. At some point in this, you should get a notification that a shipping line has commissioned a ship of some sort. Shipping lines are semi-autonomous civilian ships that automatically move things around for you. The first vessel is almost certainly either a freighter or a colony ship, both of which you should be familiar with, at least in concept.1 Colony ships simply pick up colonists from source worlds (in this case Earth) and drop them off anywhere that's a destination with enough space. Anywhere with 10 million people or less is automatically a destination, while populations with more can be set to be a source, a destination, or stable. Freighters will attempt to carry trade goods, which populations automatically produce, from places that have surpluses to places with demand. Particularly when first colonizing, the majority of the demand will be for infrastructure. As your colonies grow, they will produce and demand other trade goods, too, and might set up two-way trade. You get tax revenue from all of this, while the lines get money that lets them buy more ships.

What you do at this point depends on which type the line bought. If it's a freighter, then you just need to make sure that you keep moving colonists out. You can even automate this with standing orders to load and unload colonists, but I'd recommend only doing that with one colony ship, for two reasons. First, standing orders that can't be completed (like a colony ship with a load of passengers and nowhere to drop them off) cause an interrupt, and this will happen a more with bigger colony groups, although it's going to happen anyway. Second, it's possible early on to fall into a trap where a colony's demand for infrastructure is satisfied, but there's not enough space for a larger colony group to drop off new passengers. Make a single-ship group by opening the plus next to the Colony Task Group's name in the Naval Operations window, clicking on one of the ships in there, and hitting Detach from the bottom of the window. You can automate this if you want, or just keep an eye on it and send the ship when there's space. When a civilian colony ship finally shows up, it's probably best to cancel your standing orders and let them handle it. It gives you money instead of using fuel, and it doesn't produce interrupts.

If the civilians bought a colony ship first, it's going to be more annoying, at least until they get a freighter to go with it. You'll have to build your own infrastructure instead of getting the civilians to provide it to you for free. Keep shipping it out to the colonies, and hope a freighter shows up soon to take over. When the lines do have a freighter, there's also the option of paying the shipping line to move your stuff for you. This is under the Civilian Economy tab in economics, which lets you add supply and demand for installations to a particular colony. Obviously, if you set up supply of something on Earth and demand for it on Mars, the civilians will move it for you. This is really handy for small-volume moves (oh, I need an extra mass driver at this colony), although you want to make sure you're not going to, say, bring infrastructure transport to a grinding halt for a couple of months while all of your civilian freighters go running off to the outer system.

By this point, you should either have a terraforming installation done, or about to be completed. Run the game until it is finished,2 and then move it to Mars. Last time, I went over the logic behind colony cost, but it's time to actually do something to change it. The Economics window's Environment tab shows the current composition of the atmosphere, along with the full breakdown of what that means for the colony. Right now, temperature cost is above 2.1, while the atmosphere isn't breathable (cost 2) and dangerous (cost 2), as well as limited water (cost 1). Generally, it's best to deal with the highest first, although if you're strategic, you can get two birds with one stone. Once we get the temperature up some, we'll still have trouble breathing. First, that means getting rid of the CO2, which is classified as dangerous. Then, we'll need to get at least 0.1 atmospheres of O2 into the air, with oxygen making up less than 30% of the atmosphere. (Or that gets classified as dangerous, too.) So we'll need a buffer gas. Fortunately, we'll also need to warm up Mars significantly, so we can use the greenhouse gas for that as our buffer. The choice for this is Aestusium, a trans-newtonian greenhouse gas that is safe to breathe. Since it will need to make up basically all of the buffer gas, set the Maximum Atm to 0.24 and make sure Add Gas to Atmosphere is checked. When that finishes, it will notify us, and we can clean out the CO2, and start adding oxygen.

If you look at the bottom of the right-hand window, you'll see Annual Terraforming Capacity, which is how many atmospheres of gas the planet's terraforming will add or remove each year. It's a very small number compared to the 0.24 atmospheres we need, so this is going to take a while. Fortunately, there are a few ways to speed it up, although it's still going to be a very long process. First, let's make sure we have enough workers. Go back to the summary tab, and look at the Manufacturing Sector Breakdown. This tells you how many industrial workers you have in each role, and how many you have or need total. The terraforming installation takes 0.25 million workers, and if you don't have that many available, then your Manufacturing Efficiency Modifier will be less than 100%. Ship in more infrastructure and/or colonists, as necessary. If the civilian lines are concentrating on Luna, don't be afraid to steal some infrastructure from there instead of building more of your own. They'll replace it pretty quickly. If there are enough workers, you can just ship in more terraforming installations to speed up the process. And there are technologies you can research to speed things up, although those take a while, too.

But there's another immediate way: appointing a planetary governor with a high bonus. Go to the Commanders window (picture of a person in the top bar). This shows you all four types of commander: naval officers, ground officers, researchers, and civilian administrators. We've already met our researchers, and they work rather differently from the other commanders anyway. Each of the other three types can have a number of different types of bonuses, which apply in different roles. Not every commander has every applicable type of bonus, or even any bonus at all, but a commander can easily have many different types, all of which are given to any command they might hold. Right now, we want governors for Earth and Mars.3 Earth has a higher priority, so we should probably do that first. In the lower right, there's a window to search commanders. Set type to Civilian Administrator, and then use the dropdowns to search by what type you want. I'd recommend focusing on production, wealth creation, shipbuilding, and mining in approximately that order (unless you happen to be running short on money or minerals, in which case, prioritize that). You'll need to make sure the chosen officer has an administration rating of at least 5, or they won't be able to take the job. Finding a commander for Mars is easier, as it's a small colony and can have any administrator. You just need the highest terraforming rating you can find, tiebreaking on whatever traits look interesting. This should boost the rate by 20-30%, which is very helpful. While you're in here, it's probably worth checking the Automated Assignments box in the upper right. This doesn't apply to administrators or scientists, but does mean that your ships will get what the game judges to be the best commanders automatically. You'll see assignments in the events window at the next build cycle.

That wraps us up for today. We've made a good start on expansion, but ultimately, our goal isn't just Mars. It's the entire cosmos, and we'll look at how to get there next time.

1 There are two other kinds of civilian ships, fuel harvesters and liners. Fuel harvesters take sorium from gas giants. The civilian ones give you tax revenue, ones you build give you extra fuel. I don't like the civilian ones, mostly because they cost a lot to build and don't pay out enough to be worth it, and tend to turn them off in the game settings screen. In this case, I don't think that you have the tech, so it probably won't matter. Liners are only generated when you have populations in another star system, so they definitely won't show up yet.

2 By my math, this should be around October 2025.

3 Feel free to give Luna a governor, but unless you're planning on mining there, the benefit will be relatively small.


  1. May 18, 2020Chuck said...

    I am deliberately not reading these posts, as I am wary of picking up another space warfare game at the moment. I know the hours that can be sunk into a space strategy game as I spent a few years playing VGA Planets.

    Someone might have answered this before, but what is an average playthrough time? If it's below 20 hours I might risk of peeking at these posts.

  2. May 18, 2020bean said...

    It's a sandbox game, so the concept of "average playthrough time" doesn't make sense in the same way it might for something that actually has a win condition. How long games last before you abandon them depends heavily on playstyle. I've had games (back in college) where setup alone took way more than 20 hours because I was going high-tech and optimizing the heck out of everything. I've had ones where I got quite a ways in in 10-15 hours because they were much smaller and I wasn't taking things as seriously. And I've thrown away a lot of them early on for various reasons. Maybe there was a database update. Maybe I decided I didn't like the concept.

Comments from SlateStarCodex:

Leave a comment

All comments are reviewed before being displayed.

Name (required):

E-mail (required, will not be published):


You can use Markdown in comments!

Enter value: Captcha