Producing a strict tier list for the best sponsors in Beyond Earth is fruitless. The strongest sponsors are those who are flexible enough to approach the game from multiple angles whereas others who specialize in Culture or Orbital gameplay for example, have their benefits shackled to systems that are lacking proper balance. Ergo, the best sponsors in Beyond Earth tend to be pretty damn obvious.
Beyond Earth isn’t a great game. There are many areas of its empire-building premise that feel weak and underdeveloped with a typical session being too short and too easy for many of the more advanced strategies to be viable in competitive play (even when playing at maximum difficulty). That being said, the Rising Tide expansion introduced some welcome changes that make sponsors more interesting and diverse than they used to be.
The list that follows is not a traditional tier list or strategy guide then, but rather a ranking of personal favourites (from bottom to top) that takes into account everything from a sponsor’s design and backstory to their unique abilities and overall game balance. A few tips have been thrown in for good measure and these pointers assume that any readers have a decent familiarity of Beyond Earth and its various systems.
#12 – Brasilia
Guerrilla Mastery: War Score points increased by 30%/40%/50% and +1/2/3 Diplomatic Capital from each unit killed in combat.
Firaxis just can’t seem to give Rejinaldo a break. Brasilia has taken home many a worst sponsor award since the vanilla release (where their ability was arguably even worse!) with benefits that never seem to make any sort of meaningful impact on your game. When Rising Tide introduced the new War Score system, this sponsor found the potential to do something different as the idea of trained soldiers turning the tide of battle through nothing but pure statistics is a cool one.
Sadly these bonus war score points don’t have a big enough impact to be worth investing in. Even with INTEGR’s War of Ideas agreement factored in, the net result allows you to plunder a bunch of extra technologies or resources that you didn’t prioritize because they weren’t important anyway.
Brasilia is a badly designed sponsor that doesn’t get the important tools required for actually waging a war. They get no energy support, no army limit bonus, or additional combat expertise; just a hidden counter in the background that ensures any lucrative reparations payout is even more lucrative.
All Guerrilla Mastery really does is give you a boost whilst you’re already ahead and that outcome is neither helpful nor particularly interesting. I’m not even going to mention the ‘Diplomatic Capital for kills’ portion of the ability because I find it insulting that Firaxis would even consider that a benefit.
Rejinaldo himself is a fairly boring military type and his Castle Doctrine and Outpost Militia agreements aren’t worth anything either as you should be building units to protect your cities and outposts and not signing expensive agreements.
If you’re determined to get a halfway decent game out of Brasilia then try using them on a water map whilst also checking the option to allow sponsors to make planetfall at sea. Water cities are much weaker than those settled on land and with the added manoeuvrability and production bonus for Gunboats you’ll be able to take many enemy cities and boost your war score very quickly.
Always refuse an AI’s peace deal the turn they offer it. Always offer them your own deal as this will allow you to cash out every last digit of the War Score you’ve accumulated. Alternatively, you can choose to destroy an enemy sponsor completely (taking every one of their cities) in order to automatically bring up the Spoils of War screen and select plunder at your leisure.
#11 – Pan-Asian Cooperative (PAC)
Thousand Hands: The first Wonder in every city is free. +1/2/3 Diplomatic Capital from Wonders.
And just when you thought Wonders in Beyond Earth couldn’t be devalued further.
Once my favourite sponsor, PAC has been ruined for no good reason in Rising Tide. I can remember when every member of the CivFanatics forum was calling this ability change a typo, with the designers stating it would be “changed” in time for release. Well, here we still are and yes it still sucks.
This ability is so remarkably unthematic and immersion-breaking that it makes me angry. How do you explain a sponsor who has the ability to finish massive feats of human engineering in a single turn? Do their workers all have magic hands or something? Even more hilarious is the fact that this ability is actually pretty weak because of how ineffective Wonders are in Beyond Earth.
Making matters worse is the fact that most Wonders are unlocked on wayward technologies that you’ll want to avoid thus making the ability more of a liability than a boon. This is a poorly considered design choice and if you want further proof of that then just look at how it badly it suits the new upgrade system; offering the worst upgrade bonuses of any sponsor, Brasilia included!
The only thing keeping Daoming out of last place is the fact that she can play a unique culture orientated strategy by dodging the normally restrictive cost of acquiring mid-game Wonders. To try this yourself you’ll need to start by using PAC on a water map whilst also checking the option to allow sponsors to make planetfall at sea.
Develop your early empire as normal whilst making your way through the Knowledge Virtue tree in search of the Monomyth and Techno Artisans Virtues. Acquiring cheap Wonder technologies such as Power Systems (for the Faraday Gyre) and Defense Grid (for the Panoptican) will allow you to keep instantly building Wonders in your cities to get the +7 Culture bonus from Monomyth.
Techno Artisans will turn a healthy portion of your colony’s culture into all-important Science and since water cities boost culture by 50%, it will quickly start to add up. The added Culture and Diplomatic Capital here will allow you to collect plenty of Virtues and Traits as the game goes on without impacting your Science too severely.
Its an interesting strategy then, but being able to finish crappy Wonders in a single turn comes at the cost of Wonders actually representing something unique and special and for any Civilization game – spin off or not – that’s just really disappointing.
#10 – Franco-Iberia (FI)
Shining Path: Gain 1 free Virtue for every (10/9/8) Virtues earned with Culture.
Franco-Iberia is another sponsor who has fallen from grace; going from game-breakingly good to puzzlingly awful in the space of a single patch.
The Rising Tide upgrade system has done nothing to help Élodie stand out either, as a couple of free virtues per game is not going to amount to anything worthwhile by the end of your standard 200-turn conquest. Less skilled players (who let their games run above 230 turns or so) will get more mileage out of Shining Path, but acquiring more Virtues only goes so far in actually helping you win the game.
With the exception of PAC’s unique approach (detailed above), focusing on culture is a really bad idea in Beyond Earth and its limited role has gotten even more limited with the introduction of water cities whose cultural borders don’t expand in the traditional way. Since Virtues were never given a proper balance pass, Élodie will never rise above that of a poor/boring choice, but I still rank them one space higher than PAC on the principal that their abilities don’t damage the theme of the game.
If you’re going to play as Élodie then there’s not much you really have to bear in mind. It’s best to ignore her ability completely though and just let the first free Virtue (the only one that tends to make a difference) get you closer to the bottom of your chosen tree as it’s pretty flexible in this sense.
#9 – Slavic Federation (SF)
Cosmonaut Legacy: Orbital units require 1/1/2 fewer Strategic resource(s) and start with 4/6/6 free Titanium, Geothermal, and Petroleum resources.
Similar to Franco-Iberia, the Slavic Federation is a faction that was stupidly good in vanilla Beyond Earth only to be brutally torn down in subsequent patches.
Whilst this latest incarnation is not quite as bad as the previous one, their surplus of useless strategic resources is hardly worth getting excited over; especially now that the trading system has been ditched in favour of a fiddly and lacklustre Black Market feature.
I find the idea of an Orbital focused game to be tantalizing, but only one or two resource-based satellites in the game are worth launching in the first place with the new Abyssal Mirror wonder (that further enhances Orbitals) being far too expensive and out of the way to matter either. You’re always forced to play a certain way with Kozlov, i.e. spam Weather Controllers or Orbital Fabricators, and most of the time you won’t even notice his bonus resources doing anything – especially if you play with strategic balance turned on.
What saves this otherwise terrible sponsor from the depths of infamy are the two cheap agreements which AI players seem to love. This boon will help you maintain friendly relations whilst benefiting from the extra Diplomatic Capital they send your way.
For a cooler game, try using Kozlov in a multiplayer session as his Civilian Observatories agreement will allow your teammates to reap a ton of bonus Science by launching cheap satellites (like the Xeno Siren) into orbit every turn. This little tactic is so potent it can keep you flush on Science all the way through the game!
#8 – Kavithan Protectorate (KP)
Doctrine of Oneness: Cities require 30%/40%/50% less Culture or Energy to expand tiles.
Here was another good sponsor that Firaxis couldn’t help but spoil. I can see why they added an energy discount to tile purchases; what with the new water cities ignoring culture costs, but why did they remove the bonus to outpost creation!? This was the big selling point of playing Kavitha and now that it’s missing, it really hurts her overall game.
Without her fast outposts, Kavitha is a fairly boring sponsor with a ‘quality of life’ ability that is nice to have, but is rarely decisive on its own. Kavitha is fairly pleasant when controlled by the AI though; she tends to be friendly in most games and her Health agreements are something that any player will find useful too.
As a self-confessed tile-purchasing addict, I’m probably ranking Kavitha a bit higher than she really deserves, but it is fun to combine her ability with the Colonial trait that grants further discounts on tile purchases. If you save up your energy for when you max out the discounts you can quickly buy every tile that your cities have resulting in territorial borders that modern day Russia would be envious of!
Just make sure you don’t fall behind in Science whilst you’re busy playing Manifest Destiny…
#7 – Chungsu
Jeog-ui Naeb: Begin with 1/1/2 Covert Agent(s) and gain 10/15/30 Science per Agent rank when successfully performing an operation. May make Planetfall at sea.
Chungsu is a solid sponsor whose intriguing leader always gets a water start and an innate Science solution from spying. This is a solid faction overall, but my biggest gripe is that they feel way too similar to ARC. We already had a espionage focused sponsor on hand so I don’t really see why we needed another – especially one that (arguably) doesn’t do as good a job at it.
Spying is a tough game to get into without selecting Subtle as your first Trait so expect your games to always play out that way should you pick Chungsu. The best strategy with this sponsor is to team up with ARC in order to gain access to their espionage enhancing agreements. Signing agreements with ARC is hard to do on higher difficulties though because of their warmongering tendencies, so maybe it’s a strategy better saved for multiplayer games.
Han Jae Moon would rank much lower on this list if Firaxis hadn’t fixed their icon and colour scheme so let’s be thankful for small mercies.
#6 – North Sea Alliance (NSA)
Indefatigable: Aquatic cities have 50%/60%/70% more Strength and cost 50%/60%/70% less Production to move. May make Planetfall at sea.
The debate will rage on as to whether the NSA’s bonuses are actually useful or not, but the water-bound start combined with the assurance that no opposing water city will have strong defences is what makes Duncan Hughes so dangerous in the hands of an experienced player.
When combined with the fast naval unit production of aquatic cities and the Precise trait and Scavenging Virtue especially, you can amass a dangerous fleet of ships and begin dominating water world maps in very short order.
Simply build as many Gunboats as you can at the start of the game and then kill aliens and alien coral for a LOT of bonus Science. If you stick to the Might Virtues and research affinity-rich technologies like Ballistics and Alien Genetics, you’ll quickly reach critical mass and be in possession of a fleet of Hybrid Affinity ships that your backwards opponents haven’t got a prayer of stopping.
Solid but unspectacular, NSA gets bonus points for Duncan himself, who I think is a likeable guy to have in your game.
#5 – Polystralia
Common Bond: (2/3/4) free Trade Route slots in the Capital, and (1/1/2) free Trade Route slots in all other cities.
With an unnecessary buff to their ability, not to mention the buff to internal trade routes in general, Polystralia is back with a vengeance in Rising Tide. Polystralia is extremely flexible and managing all of those convoys has been made a little easier with the new automated system too.
A superb array of agreements only adds to the broken-feeling package, but the fact that Beyond Earth’s trade route system has always annoyed me is the only reason that Polystralia isn’t higher on this list. Make no mistake; the incredible bonuses you can reap as Hutama easily make him one of the best sponsors in Beyond Earth right now, if not THE best sponsor outright.
Because external trade routes are so awful, there really isn’t much subtlety to playing as Hutama. Simply spam internal trade routes to each and every one of your own cities and take all of the Diplomatic Traits and Virtues that boost internal trade yields as you do so. It’s undoubtedly boring in practice, but your cities will benefit from tons of vital food and production and if you happen upon Warp Spires when combining artifacts then it’s pretty much GG from there.
#4 – People’s African Union (PAU)
Umoja: (+10%/+15%/+25%) Food Growth in Cities when Healthy. All Specialist Citizens produce (1/1/2) extra yield.
This sponsor is clearly nostalgic for Civilization V as they make focusing on food growth a winning strategy once again. Several horrible buildings like the Mass Digester and Institute get a new lease on life when crammed with Barre’s boosted Science Specialists and it makes for a pretty fun game at that.
Indeed, the “tall” 4-5 city approach finds a comfortable niche here and it gets even more ridiculous when combined with the Student Aid agreement that dodges the food penalty for Specialists. And despite being quite Trait heavy, Barre has some excellent agreements that AI players will be begging to sign, thus granting you more Diplomatic Capital to play with as the game develops.
The only thing I don’t like about this sponsor is that I feel like I’m playing the exact same way every time I choose them. It’s vital to stay healthy (which always means choosing the Prosperity Virtues) and on Apollo difficulty you always need to rush Institutes in order to keep up in the Science race.
#3 – INTEGR
Kategorischer Imperativ: Agreements cost (50%/60%/75%) less Diplomatic Capital. Purchasing Units and buildings cost (25%/50%/75%) less Diplomatic Capital.
With so many diplomatic traits and agreements on hand, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find enjoyable strategies to use when playing as Lena. You probably won’t make use of the city purchases until the later game, but the discount on big agreements expands the variety of potent options you can pursue from game to game.
Party Politics is a superb agreement that you simply MUST try in multiplayer sessions (it essentially gives your allies free Diplomatic Capital every turn) and overall INTEGR really makes the most of Rising Tide’s new diplomacy system.
Not the best colour scheme perhaps, but a well designed sponsor nonetheless and I’ll always enjoy playing as her.
#2 – American Reclamation Corporation (ARC)
Corporate Espionage: Covert operations are 30%/40%/50% faster and require 1 less intrigue levels to begin.
ARC were my second favourite sponsor to PAC in the vanilla build of Beyond Earth and they’re still clinging to the number 2 spot after receiving a rather superb buff to their espionage capabilities in Rising Tide. Firaxis ditched the intrigue bonus and went with faster stealing (always nice) and an inspired reduction on operation cost which allows ARC to steal crucial Science as soon as their agents are in position.
The Subtle Diplomatic Trait helps make the dream of 4-turn thefts a reality and it gives Suzanne a niche that no other sponsor (except maybe Chungsu) has as she can rely on Espionage to supply all the necessary Science and Energy whilst focusing her full attention on the colony itself.
Suzanne doesn’t come into her own until the mid game, but when she does she can be a real powerhouse and is well suited to the Supremacy Affinity due to the number of free spies you can get from Supremacy buildings like the CEL Cradle and Feedsite Hub.
ARC is arguably a bit broken in their current state as they are able to outpace rival sponsors without the need for additional cities to provide Science and Production. Take the One-City Challenge rule as an example; a variant that has rarely been attempted in Beyond Earth because of its difference in design to past Civilization games, and yet Suzanne can easily break records when operating under this restriction.
My fastest win time in Rising Tide to date (a 187 turn Emancipation Victory) was a One-City Challenge that was only winnable because of Suzanne’s immense aptitude for Corporate skulduggery. Now that’s potent!
#1 – Al Falah
Asabiyyah: Yield from City Developments increased by (150%/175%/200%).
The female sponsors are very well represented in Beyond Earth it seems with my top pick going to Rising Tide’s space-born prodigy, Arshia Kishk. Kishk is an enchanting figure and the backstory of her people and their arrival on this new planet via a generational ‘world ship’, is one of the more inspired stories to be found in Beyond Earth.
A firm mid-game bloomer, Al Falah’s potent ability to turn 80%+ of a city’s production into another yield gives you absolute control over the direction of your colony. Focusing on production and growth in the early game yields incredible results when you can later convert all of that hard work into the yield of your choice.
You want a few turns of massive Culture gains? Food? Energy? Science? Well, you got it and it all comes on a flexible schedule that you can scale based on your current needs. Granted the ability is rather poorly explained, but when combined with the Industrious trait especially, the huge Science gains will carry you to whatever victory you want.