Why use a colony module when a troop module holds a billion? Will it work on new planet that isn't owned by anyone?
Doesn't work. Your ship needs, at least, a single colonymodule. After that, you could fit troop modules onto a Colony Ship in order to better increase the starting population. Or, you could use that ship for invasions, as well, the people from the colony pod are used for battle as well.
I gave it try. Here's what I found.
The troop transport wasn't allowed to colonize the uncolonized planet. I designed another ship, this one with the same frame but with colony modules. Then I upgraded the troop transport into a colony ship while it was way out in space. It took three weeks to upgrade but when it was done I had a fully loaded colony ship that could colonize the planet. I didn't lose any of the people on board and I didn't have to go all the way back to the planet of origin to pick anyone up so that was a great relief. It also didn't cost much compared to the cost of the ship. It was only about 268bc. Not bad. And I saved myself a round trip journey of about 30 turns.
Unfortunately, the ship was absorbed by the new colony so that was a total loss.
The other day I designed a huge ship with 8 transport modules and a lot of engines. I could move an entire planet worth of people (8,000,000,000) about 30 moves per turn. Mind boggling to think of a ship with 8 billion people on it. It must have some impressive bathroom facilities!
Fascinating. You just encountered a bug, ie. the standard colony mod should not be able to support more than 250b ppl.
About the upgrade costs: The sum you did pay is a kinda stardard fee you pay for downgrading a ship.
Usually when you upgrade a ship, let's say original design costs 100 MP, and your new design is 200 MP, then you simply pay the missing 100 MP in credits, which would be around ~800. But when the new costs is less than the original design the game charges generally only around 40 MP.
If you know this you could artificially raise the costs of your design to be just 5 MP more than the old design. The upgrade costs then are most minimal.
I also always use population ferries to help new planets being able to establish better population growth. At around 1.250b ppl this growth rate becomes reasonable & stable. Ferries are somewhat fast troopships that hop from planet to planet. I don't colonize with these, I find it better to use only the most cheapest design as colonizers = tiny hull + colony mod. You loose less MP and can crank out more of them in the same time.
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