The Ultimate Goal
Upon completion of all the other missions your homeworld has to offer you, and upon reaching a sufficiently high empire rank, you will be given the mission to make contact with the Grox, and eventually to investigate the Galactic Core which the Grox seem to be protecting.
Making contact with the Grox isn't particularly easy in itself — they are at the centre of the galaxy which will most likely be a long trek from any colony you've established, and even further from your homeworld. Having significant amounts of Energy Mega Packs, Extreme Energy Storage, and Interstellar Drive 5 will help tremendously, although they become necessities for any method you use to reach the Galactic Core.
Reaching the Grox
Before you leave, it may be worthwhile to destroy any nearby nation you are at war with or at the very least make peace with them; an enemy attack during your quest to find the Grox is very annoying and in the event that they attack your homeworld, potentially problematic. By making peace with/destroying nearby enemies, your only problems will be pirate raids, emergencies that befall your allies, and eco-disasters. Both pirate raids (either attacks on your colonies or spice stealing) and allied emergencies can be ignored, and eco-disasters can be made less likely by employing the use of Bio Protectors or Stabilisers.
Your travels will be made a lot easier by purchasing the Wormhole Key ability (ideally from an allied colony as you can knock off up to 50% from the price your own empire sells it to you, for a much more reasonable 1.5m Sporebucks as opposed to 3m. This way you can hop into the nearest wormhole and see if it takes you closer to the centre — not only does this speed up your travel to the centre but also your journey back in case you need to.
Anyway, about half the distance from the edge of centre-part of the galaxy to the core you will encounter the Grox. It's impossible to miss them if you venture far enough — your SETI will show signs of life on pretty much any star system you hover over and practically every star close to the Galactic Core is owned by the Grox. Upon entering a system they own, you will be hailed by them, and as a result you will complete your mission to make contact with them.
The Grox Empire
As hinted at before, they are by far the most expansive of any civilisation you are likely to come across during the game excluding your own, as the centre of the galaxy is densely-populated with stars, almost all of which are under exclusively Grox control. You won't find any other empires nested amongst Grox worlds, or in fact almost any life at all — all Grox planets have a TerraScore of 0 and as a result only support one Grox colony. If you choose to conquer the Grox at any point this is handy to know as although Grox ships will tear you apart very quickly (having powerful weapons and a large amount of health compared to any other civilisation you'll encounter) their colonies are very easy to destroy.
The Grox start off immediately in the lowest disposition category to you — the angry red face. Although this is the case merely contacting them will not cause the Grox to start shooting you down; however if you venture too far into their space, and get too close to the Galactic Core, they will start shooting at you anyway. The Grox are very easy to upset — any negative modifier to their disposition at all from stealing their resources to using a terraforming tool on any of their planets will immediately result in them declaring outright war on you and their disposition dropping as far off the bottom end of the scale as it can go. It is possible to ally with the Grox, but it is difficult, and is one of the hardest, most time-consuming and most negatively-impacting methods of reaching the Galactic Core and achieving galactic unity.
If you have to though, here are some tips. Try and be the friendly trait in tribal stage and use embassies. Never bring allies, and keep your auto-turret off. Whenever you take a mission, restart your game if it's an artifact one, because then you'll have to take the artifact from their system, which will start a war. Let your trade route, if you have one (and if not get one), go for a while and then buy their system. The reason for this is when you ally with them, every civilisation you know will turn on you and you'll definitely be attacked, but if you're near the Grox, they won't even try.
To The Core
Upon returning to your homeworld to report back on your contact with the Grox, your empire will decide that the Galactic Core is hiding the answers to this whole mystery and sends you on a final mission to find out what's there. The Grox, however, are in your way and have absolutely no intention of letting you through.
It may also be a good time to mention at this point that your maximum travel distance from your current star/galactic feature decreases more and more the closer you get to the Galactic Core, until it reaches a maximum of 3 parsecs (compared with the 20 or so achievable under normal circumstances) with Interstellar Drive 5; it may be even lower for earlier versions of Interstellar Drive. As a result not only do you have to deal with relentless pounding from Grox ships but it becomes harder and harder to find a route to the Core, and the journey can become less of a mad dash and more of a maze which slowly destroys your ship. However, it is worthwhile remembering that the galaxy is three-dimensional, and stars which may appear to be outside your travel ring may actually be close enough to journey to as they are (relatively-speaking) above or below your current location. This also can open up new pathways that you couldn't find before, as with any maze you will most likely encounter dead ends.
You ultimately have three options for reaching the Core:
- Make a mad dash for the Core.
- Clear a path through the Grox.
- Ally with the Grox so they let you through.
All of these methods require the same basic tools:
- Interstellar Drive 5 and Wormhole Key.
- Extreme Energy Storage and Extreme Health.
- Access to Energy Mega Pack, and ideally lots of them.
Each individual method also requires further tools and preparations, outlined in their sections below.
The Mad Dash Method
This is the easiest and quickest method for reaching the Core. You will need to fulfil the following criteria before undertaking this method:
- Have enough badges to access AOE Repair, Repair Mega Pack and Mega Auto Blaster. Mega Auto Blaster should be active, and you should have 15 AOE Repairs, 10 Repair Mega Packs for emergencies, and a lot of Energy Mega Packs (15 should do).
- Have 5 allies, all of whom willing to lend you a ship.
- A Colony Incredi-Pak.
- About 400,000 Sporebucks.
The aim here is to establish a Colony nearer to the Galactic Core than the rest of your colonies but not too close as to be infringing on Grox territory. The Sporebucks are there for you to pay for more equipment and repairs in case your trip goes sour (which it shouldn't) and you have to pull out. Then, you make your way as quickly as possible through the cluster of stars around the Core and make the jump into it once you get close enough.
Your allies are integral to this, as they form a shield of sorts — as long as you have an allied ship around you, whilst in interstellar space (which should be the only space you're in until you reach the Core — never descend into a Grox system) the Grox won't attack you and all of their ships will attack your allies instead. Your AOE Repairs are there to replenish your ally "shield" as and when their health becomes too low. Having Omnipotent status and as such a full complement of 5 allied ships isn't entirely necessary, but it helps. Both you and them can return fire on the Grox ships whilst in space, granting you a few precious seconds of peace whilst another Grox ship is dispatched from the first system you happen to stop at or go near.
With a sufficient number of AOE Repairs you will be able to find your way into the Galactic Core possibly without ever sustaining a single point of damage to your own ship, but remember to use an Energy Mega Pack to restore your energy when it goes into the red (you will be moving between a lot of star systems, so energy will drain quickly). Do not panic if you run into a dead end; your allies will protect you whilst you find another route, and remember to look for stars that are above/below your current one in case you cannot find a path. Eventually, you'll reach the Galactic Core and…well, you'll see.
The 'Clearing a Path' Method
This method involves you systematically conquering your way to the Galactic Core. You will need to fulfil the following criteria to use this method:
- Have access to, and purchased, Mega Laser, Mega Auto Blaster, Mega Pulse, Mega Bomb, and Shield. In addition to this, you should have up to 5 Anti-Matter Missiles and 5 Anti-Matter Bombs for emergencies.
- 25 Energy Mega Packs and 25 Mega Repair Packs.
- Lots of Colony Incredi-Paks and terraforming tools, with lots of samples of plants and creatures to raise and maintain a decent T-Score.
- About 1,500,000 Sporebucks.
- Optionally, 25 AOE Repairs and a full complement of 5 allied ships.
This is just a case of forging straight into Grox territory and wiping out every colony on every planet in every star system they own on a path to the centre. This might sound like a long and tedious process but you can essentially ignore all Grox ships; all colonies are on T0 planets which limit the amount of buildings they can have greatly - some might not even have any. As a result, you can swoop down onto a planet, get within range, fire off 3-4 shots from Mega Pulse or Mega Bomb to conquer/destroy the colony and then swoop back up into interstellar space before the Grox get close enough to use any of their far more deadly planet-only weapons on you or your allies.
After doing this, you have the option to use a Colony Incredi-Pak and your terraforming tools/species to make a decent colony on the planet you've liberated and give yourself a forward base from which to attack the Grox. This is useful as you can get cheap repairs and recharges as well as stock up on Energy Mega Packs or the like. In addition the Grox will be more likely to attack that planet than they are to mysteriously show up at your homeworld in full force and leave you without enough time to go back and save it.
It is important to note, however, that both these methods add negatives to the Grox's disposition meter which immediately makes them declare war on you and makes the third method impossible to achieve as the positives to the meter will be nowhere even close to cancelling out the negatives.
Allying with the Grox Method
This method involves improving the Grox's disposition to you sufficiently so that they will eventually accept an offer to ally. At this point, you then have all the time you need to find a path through the cluster of stars to the Core. Unfortunately, this is one of the most expensive methods and has a rather large drawback at the end.
You will need to fulfil the following criteria before starting this method:
- You have unlocked and own Super Happy Ray, 1 Embassy and 8 Planet Busters.
- You have Shield.
- You do not own any variant of Auto Blaster, or it is turned off if you do.
- You do not have any allied ships with you.
- About 1,000,000 Sporebucks.
Super Happy Ray and Embassy are natural choices for this, and when used together, will achieve a maximum disposition boost of +40 or +50, almost enough to push you into the neutral yellow face. Next, the Planet Busters are there because the Grox will like you a little more each time you obliterate a non-Grox planet - 8 of these are necessary to achieve the maximum +50 disposition boost. Once you are in the yellow face region, you can start accepting missions from the Grox. This is where you will want to be careful. As mentioned before, any slight hint of doing something negative towards them will make them immediately declare war and rendering this method impossible to complete.
You can wind up in a dead-end if the Grox ask you to bring them an artifact from one of their own worlds - if you go ahead, you'll make them hate you for stealing their resources, and if you give up on the mission, you'll make them hate you for precisely that reason. Save before asking for a mission from them, in case it ends up being one of these. Alternatively, you can choose not to accept it then and there, as that does not seem to anger the Grox. Also note that if you delete the mission it goes away completely and will not cause relationship damage, to this click the red garbage can when the grand Mission Info Screen comes up. Missions will provide a +40/+50 boost to disposition, and +5 for accepting a mission in the first place.
Finally, establishing trade routes with the Grox when they are in the happy blue face region will confer another bonus to disposition. All of these should be enough to make the Grox happy enough with you to accept an alliance offer. Now you can explore the centre of the galaxy to your heart's content!
Unfortunately, the huge drawback here is that every single other nation in the galaxy regardless of whether or not you've even met them yet or allied with them will have an instant -200 modifier to their disposition and will declare war on you. As a result, you can expect most of your colonies to be ravaged endlessly. But, you do get a badge for doing this, and the knowledge that you're teamed up with the ultimate evil in the galaxy.
So You Reached The Core…What Next?
After reaching the Core, and receiving the appropriate benefits, you still have the whole rest of the galaxy to explore! Although there's nothing else of quite the same magnitude to do despite achieve galactic unity (either by alliance or destruction...) and find Earth if you haven't already, there's a lot of planets and civilisations out there for you to do with what you will. Have fun!