Now with less Pre-FTL and AIs that want FTL!
Start Stellaris in the early days of space travel, when FTL is merely theoretical & a practical drive system has yet to be concieved. All empires except fallen start with no FTL, only 1 of 3 theories. Practical drives must be researched & retrofitted before ships can leave their starting systems. 1st drive techs are rare. Exploiting your home system is much more important than in vanilla.
In the meantime, conventional thrusters allow generational colony ships & science probes to set out on multi-year voyages (similar to warp drive but only ~10% as fast) prior to discovery of FTL. Advanced start AIs already did so many years ago & their colonies are established.
- No FTL at start, you must research at least 5 techs & an extremely rare tech to get your first drive.
- STL drive for colony & science ships.
- Colony ship maintenance reduced to 1 energy per month.
- FTL Mapmode: Based on Birdy’s work, shows the highest FTL technology researched in each empire. Psi > Jump > Wormhole > Hyper > Warp > none.
- Most travel time is spent in windup/winddown rather than moving, due to a Stellaris bug where ships will not leave the galaxy view on arrival at their destination if they’re moving too slowly.
- Set STL ships off of evasive fleet stance, or they’ll abandon a year’s worth of windup to switch destinations when a hostile arrives.
- STL ships show as idle the entire duration of the warp winddown. Send them into an orbit so you know to come back when they’re ACTUALLY idle.
- A scientist can & should support multiple STL science ships due to down time traveling (unless you’re RPing).
- Designing a military or construction ship totally from scratch & not changing the drive that it auto populates with will give you an STL ship you shouldn’t have that the AI can’t get.
- STL ships in a wormhole empire will show the range ring as if they were a wormhole station. Graphical bug only.
Gameplay impacts / advice
Setup: Probably want more AIs than you usually prefer, since several of them will likely still be pre FTL by the time you get FTL. AI production bonuses will help them less (less turn advantage), so you might want to increase difficulty as well.
Builds: Science & physics builds will get a head start on average, but science builds aren’t great at rushing and everyone gets plenty of time to build an in-system fleet, so that’s probably OK. The +1 research alternative government (and tech) is very powerful here. 4 alternatives average getting FTL in 11 techs, 5, in 9, for almost a decade advantage.
FTL research: All drives are a tech tier higher than vanilla, meaning you must research 5 techs from the tier below before they unlock. The starting techs are extremely rare as well. Your first practical tech should be your 14th physics tech on average. The boost physics edict is important.
AI: Vanilla AI is not great about upgrading all its ships, which hurts it more than usual here when starting ships have no FTL.
Event Ships (Pirates/Cultists/Shipyards/etc): Spawn with the FTL you have. Except pirate reinforcements, who get warp if you have STL.
Crises: Their calendar trigger dates are unchanged, so you and the AIs will be less ready for them. Unbidden will still be triggered by jump drives, so they’ll come later than vanilla.
For 1.2.x: Pre-FTL_players.zip (450 downloads)