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Ancient Races, commonly known as Spoiler Races refer to the three unique NPR's: Precursors, Invaders and Star Swarm. Each can be individually toggled on/off during game setup, if toggled instance of them can be created each time a new system is generated.
Beware, these races aren't too keen on diplomacy. Before you start exploring outside of Sol, make sure you build up a decent sized military fleet, or you might encounter a lot of fun.
The robotic Precursor ships standing silent vigil over the remains of their creator's long-dead civilization, defeated by the Invaders. All that remains are few isolated groups of robotic ships that guard the ruins of defeated foes waiting for new instructions that never arrive. Their mission is simply to eliminate all non-Precursor life.
The Precursors, were an advanced but relatively peaceful race, were attacked on sight during the Invaders invasion. Fortunately for the Precursors, this initial incursion was relatively small and the Precursors managed to fight them off with heavy losses. This caused a radical change in the outlook of the Precursors and they become extremely militant, focusing all their efforts on ensuring they were never threatened again. To this end, the Precursors built fleets of robot ships with a mission to wipe out all civilizations that showed any sign of being a threat. However, all their preparation came to nought when the second Invader incursion arrived via a Stable Wormhole in the Precursor home system. The widely dispersed Precursor robot fleets could not intervene in time and the Invaders wiped out the Precursors. The fleets of Precursor ships were left without central control and either remained in orbit over the ruins of their last victims or were trapped in systems without access to jump-capable ships. The Precursors didn't go down without a fight and inflicted massive losses on the Invaders, who called off their invasion.
The precursors did have a Jump Gate network and some of those jump gates remain. Precursors robotic ships guard some of the alien ruins and occasionally random encounters with small Precursor ships maybe created in non-ruin system. They have no real populations, although they may have small listening posts and weapon caches in the system. Although few in number and they don't have any survey ships for exploration, they are likely to be higher tech than your own Empire at game start and any starting NPRs. You will need to overwhelm, outsmart or simply avoid them until you are ready. Leave this selected as Precursors provide valuable combat experience. Rather than a complete Empire similar to your own (which is what NPRs will be).
The menacing extra-galactic Invaders, which threaten to bring their extremely advanced technology to bear in a massive galactic purge. They arrive in our galaxy via Stable Wormholes that they generate from their home galaxy.
This is their third incursion into our galaxy. During the first, they encountered the Precursors and attacked them on sight. This initial incursion was relatively small and the Precursors managed to fight them off with heavy losses. The second Invader incursion arrived via a Stable Wormhole in the Precursor home system. The widely dispersed Precursor robot fleets could not intervene in time and the Invaders wiped out the Precursors. However, the Precursors didn't go down without a fight and inflicted massive losses on the Invaders, who called off their invasion. Now the Invaders have built up their forces again and are about to launch their third and largest incursion.
- Tip: Invaders are always hostile, very high tech and extremely dangerous. For a starting game, its best to disable them so leave that box unchecked. Also beware Invaders tend to explore a lot, causing the game to become slower.
The biological Star Swarm species of living ships that reproduce in space. Individually they are weak, but can be very dangerous in numbers infest any system in their way. They are not identified in any distinctive fashion, but the telltale groups of 750-ton FACs using meson weaponry are usually unique to the Swarm in any given playthrough.
There are 3 types of Swarm. Queen, Soldiers and Workers. The Soldiers are the only real warships of the swarm. The workers mine asteroids/comets for minerals that are used by the Queen to create eggs that hatch to create new members of the swarm. The eggs appear on the map as wrecks of what they going to hatch into; this is the only time you will see a Swarm wreck. Destroyed Swarm ships do not leave wrecks. Once a Swarm is discovered it will continue to mine the resources of system and and the Queen will continue to create more soldiers and workers.
The Swarm will also consume wrecks for raw materials, so messages indicating that wrecks have disappeared from sensors is a good indicator that the Swarm is operating in a given system.
- Tip: Star Swarm can be very challenging, its recommended to turn them off until you feel you've got a handle on military operations.