Weapons Appendix, for Mabus' Guide: (X is whatever number you choose to give it)
X Weapon Lines
Whether or not you plan to live by the sword, you should be aware of some slight differences in the three available weapon lines (Beams, Mass Drivers, and Missiles).
First, weapon technology does not develop in what you might call a "smooth" fashion. Most of the time you'll see some incremental improvement, but on occasion there are rather sizable leaps in power, size, or cost.
Second, there is no one-size-fits-all "best" weapon technology. Each weapon line will have its share of the spotlight at different stages of research. It's a balanced unbalanced approach and serves to make the game a little more interesting.
Third, each weapon line has a few distinct traits throughout all tech eras:
* beam weapons start small and get bigger over time, culminating in the massive Doom Ray. They have moderate power for their size and cost about average to research.
* mass driver weapons start mid-sized and get smaller over time. They have lower power for their size, but they're also the cheapest weapon line to research. Armor (the best defense against mass drivers) is also a little tougher to research than other defenses.
* missile weapons start large and miniaturize a little over time. They have the highest power for their size, but they're also the most expensive weapon line to research. Chaff (the best defense against missiles) is also a little easier to research than other defenses.
X.1 Civilization specific weaponry
Some civilizations go off the beaten path and develop their own unique weapons technologies. These are usually -- but not always -- better than what other civilizations will get for a similar research cost.
X.2 Ethos specific weaponry and defenses
Civilizations which follow an Evil path can research weapons of unspeakable horror... and effectiveness. Similarly, civilizations choosing to align themselves with the forces of Good will find unique and powerful defensive technologies available to them.
I think that's about all that needs to be said. I didn't want to bog it down with too much detail, but I think I've covered all the bases reasonably well.