Population Growth Strategies in 3.0

An awful lot is being said about the merits of the new pop growth system, perhaps a bit prematurely. One of the fun parts of a new patch is trying to work out the new meta. Here are a list of strategies/considerations I've seen suggested or tried myself. I'd be really interested to hear others' thoughts.

There are two major parts to the population growth system: planet capacity and empire capacity.

Planet capacity control

Planet capacity can be increased by the player. Planet capacity = housing + unblocked districts. The idea is that each normal, built resource district gives +2 housing, so +2 capacity, and each unbuilt, unblocked district gives <2 capacity. The amount of capacity that unbuilt, unblocked districts gives depends on the planet class – it's almost 2 for Gaia planets, and much lower for Tomb Worlds. But generally, the idea is that as you build districts, capacity increases.

Growth sweet spot: You get the maximum modifier to base growth (x2) only when you have >64 capacity, and >32 population. So you should aim to get some 'mediumly developed' planets into this sweet spot as quickly as possible. At that point, you can develop them further, or leave them at that size, exporting pops to other worlds.

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Core worlds: It's now more important than ever to try to get maximum efficiency out of the pops you have. So it could well be worth dedicating some high habitability, high efficiency core worlds to specific specialisations, and focus on growing these, while leaving your other worlds at 32 pop.

Rim worlds: It might be worth leaving a few low (<10) population worlds undeveloped while you grow your other worlds, if you don't think it's worth getting them into the sweet spot, since you don't get penalties for growth at very low population levels. I think this would generally only be relevant if you find yourself with a very large number of colonisation opportunities early on (such that you don't have enough minerals to develop all planets).

Empire capacity loopholes

Empire capacity can't be increased by the player. It slows your population growth as your empire population increases – for example, when you have 200 pops, it slows your pop growth to half of what it would otherwise be.

As empire capacity is out of your control, you can't manage it – you can only try to find loopholes.

Invest more in space stations: While it's harder to grow your planets, non-pop incomes are more important than ever.

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Steal pops: Whether from civic or ascension perk (Nihilistic Acquisition), stealing pops is now more important.

Buy pops: The slave market is far more important than it used to be.

Immigration: Standard immigration (migration treaties) don't actually escape empire capacity, as immigration effects are mediated by empire capacity. However, welcoming refugees may be very useful in 3.X.

Vassals: Vassals have their own separate empire capacities.

Conquest: The age old tactic, more relevant than ever.


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