Strongest and Weakest Races

Polaris Sector is a sci-fi 4X game that offers exciting exploration, detailed resource management, unique research mechanics and intense tactical combat.
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Corporal - 5 cm Pak 38
Corporal - 5 cm Pak 38
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Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:21 pm

Strongest and Weakest Races

Post by Darvin3 » Thu Aug 23, 2018 11:47 pm

I'm curious what people's thoughts are on the relative strength and weakness of the ten races. I've had the chance to play each race multiple times, and I feel I have a good sense for them now. Let me know if you've had similar experiences, or very different ones. Here's my list from 1 to 10 and why I feel that way:

1) Magellans
The Magellans have an excellent tech tree and superb unit designs across the board. The Magellans lack any exploitable weaknesses, but perhaps most importantly they are fast. Almost all of their ship designs have extremely generous space for thrusters, making their fleets more mobile than the competition. They are literally capable of running circles around enemies, picking off enemy ships that fall out of formation then withdrawing before the remaining enemy ships can respond. This allows Magellans to win fights even when at a severe numerical and technological disadvantage. The closest thing to a weakness that the Magellans have is that their tech tree is missing the variable thrust compressive drive, which is probably the most important mid-game tech for fighters. However, the Magellan fighter's design is so excellent that it still outclasses most of the other races even with this missing tech! The Magellans are very well-rounded and suitable for any kind of strategy and fleet composition, and are consistently strong in all ways from early-game to late-game. For these reasons, I regard Magellans as the strongest race in the game.

2) Logans
Where the Magellans have speed, the Logans have raw firepower. All their unit designs have an incredible amount of space for weaponry, allowing them to easily outgun the competition. The Logans can be a bit one-dimensional in the early-game, however. Their corvette and frigate designs are awkward to use, and this makes them a bit over-reliant on their fighter. This isn't too big of a problem, however, as the Logan fighter is an obscenely powerful unit and the best fighter-type unit in the game. The Logans begin to diversify once they have access to the baryon gun, which is an ideal weapon to fill out the 6x6 turrets that their capital ships have so many of. This is only made more dangerous by the arrival of their obscenely strong destroyer and cruiser, which are the two most power capital ship designs in the game. All of this comes together to create a race that overpowers the competition. If you're looking to simply dominate with an outrageously strong fleet in the late-game, the Logans are far and away the best pick.

3) Lumens
The Lumens begin the game with three orbital shipyards on their homeworld instead of one. Although their people "eat" some of the production, this still allows them to produce colony ships twice as fast as other races can. Lumen colonies develop more slowly than other races (micromanagement greatly alleviates this issue, but doesn't eliminate it) so they can run into upkeep troubles. Not having to worry about food means all earthlikes and oceanics can be devoted to innovation and mineral+, giving a much more robust economy once they are developed. This huge economic advantage is what pushes the Lumens into third place on this list. Their ship designs have a good assortment of guns and very narrow profile that can actually make them hard to hit when approaching. However, Lumen ships have very awkward spacing for thrusters and can have speed problems unless they can negotiate or steal the thermonuclear rocket engine tech (whose 4x7 size better fits their ship designs than the 4x8 null drive they get by default). However, the biggest thing that holds them back when compared to the Magellans and Logans is their tech tree, which is quite possibly the worst tech tree in the game. The Lumens have a large number of relevant techs that are very delayed or missing entirely, leaving them with fragmentary options for thrusters, shields, and weapons. Using diplomacy or espionage to supplement their tech tree makes playing as the Lumens much smoother, but is no replacement for having a good tech tree of your own. However, their raw economic advantage allows them to compensate for any tech deficiency with sheer numbers. And ultimately that's what get the Lumens to the #3 spot on the list: numbers.

4) Urgans
The "jack of all trades, master of none" race, the Urgans are distinctly average in almost every way. There's nothing that they particularly excel at, but there's also nothing that they're particularly bad at. They're also consistently solid from early-game to late-game, and are well-suited to any balance of fleet compositions. There's not much more to say about them, and in many ways they're the standard by which I measure every other race.

5) Sharatar
The Sharatar have above-average capital ship designs, but are held back by their lackluster fighters. The Sharatar fighter designs themselves are merely below average, but they're also missing the variable thrust compressive drive technology. This is the same tech the Magellans are missing, but the Sharatar don't have amazingly strong fighter designs to compensate so missing this tech is a significantly bigger problem for them. The mid-game is when fighters and carriers are at their most dominant, and this puts the Sharatar at a significant disadvantage at this point. The Sharatar have a solid early-game and late-game, however, so they're still a good race overall in spite of this major weakness.

6) Gavakens
The Gavakens are a double-edged race, with some very strong and some very weak unit designs. Moreover, their strengths and weaknesses change over the course of the game. In the early-game and mid-game they have strong capital ships and weak fighters, while their late-game fare is the opposite, with a strong heavy fighter but weak capital ships. This means the Gavakens always have at least some strong options to work with, but also are forced to deal with holes in their fleet composition. This combination of strengths and weaknesses places them below average, but they have enough strong points to stay off the bottom of the list.

7) Vagalar
The Vagalar are really centered around that free cruiser tech. They have an average corvette and fighter, but all their other unit designs are decidedly below average. While none of them are abjectly terrible, the Vagalar are left without any real area of strength to speak of. Their tech tree is solid, but not enough to stand out as a major strength of the race. So it really all comes down to that cruiser. Cruisers are far too expensive to use early-game, but once you have the economy to back them the Vagalar have a uniquely powerful force at their disposal. However, the Vagalar must press their advantage aggressively, since if the game goes on long enough for other races to get cruisers they'll have completely lost any advantage. Without the advantage of their cruiser, the Vagalar are just a weak race with sub-par ships.

8) Humans
There's basically one reason the humans are this far down on the list: their corvette. I don't feel like beating that dead horse, since everyone who has played this race knows how bad that corvette is. Once you're past the corvette, however, humans are fine. Their fighter is strong, their frigate is superb, and they even have the a very good economic tech true due to how early they get atmospheric domes. But any race can be effective if given the time and space to expand at their leisure. What sets the strong races apart is the ability to fight and actively carve out more territory for themselves. The human early-game weakness makes it exceedingly hard just to defend your territory (much less expand upon it) for the first few centuries, and that critical weakness holds them near the bottom of the pack.

9) Drills
The Drill have numerous weaknesses, but the biggest one is that they're slow. With the sole excpetion of their freighter, all their units have limited room for thrusters and are quite sluggish as a result. This might be fine if Drill ships compensated in other ways, but they do not. Most Drill ships are decidedly below average in terms of how many guns and shields they can fit. In particular they have the worst frigate in the game. This slow speed makes the Drill extremely dependent on staying competitive with weapon range; falling behind tech-wise is a huge problem for them, since there's nothing more humiliating than being shot at by an enemy ship that's faster than you and has more range. The Drill are simply a bad race, weak in far too many ways and without any noteworthy strengths to compensate.

10) Erians
The Erians are so bad that they almost qualify as a joke race. Like the Vagalar they seem to have been designed around getting their cruiser as a free tech. Unlike the Vagalar, their cruiser is utter garbage and they lack decent fighters that are otherwise necessary to support a cruiser. The Erians have the worst selection of fighters in the game, ranging from the abysmally bad to merely terrible. Their cruiser suffers from problems with range. All of its turrets are mounted towards the rear of the ship, and the Erian tech tree is missing any options for longer-ranged weapons until rather late, which the leaves the cruiser in the awkward position of struggling to actually get its guns into firing range. The Erians do have a decent corvette and frigate, but that on its own isn't enough to redeem this race. The Erians are in my opinion the worst race in the game.

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