DMF, this goes into the right direction but let me just add a few hints:
- setup is; Dark Avatar; Gigantic all-rare galaxy, abundant anomalies, tight cluster, suicidal, un-check Blind Exploration, 0 Minor Races, Very Fast tech-speed
- Korath (player) against Thalan (AI)
- pick all bonuses to Research (!!!) as these are most important, with rest you pick economics & moral
- change the alignment of Thalans to "friendly" in the last screen so you can contact him on 1st March (also toggle "Ownership" on minimap to enable this...)
- start game
- Control-N so long until the Thalan homeworld is close to your own homeworld (within reach) and your own homeworld.
- Set taxes superhigh (planetary moral red), 100% production, 100% research
- every turn quickbuy a lab using the longest lease on both planets
- upgrade your own Freighter into a Constructor and send him towards Thala - you want to build a starbase with it in order to generate extra range.
- research better labs, diplomacy, sporemod, and a basic weapon
- on 1st March, contact the AI, take all his money by selling him all your techs (NOT: WEAPONS), get also his starting freighter
- upgrade this Freighter to a SporeShip with a single weapon & ultimate range & some speed. (beforeahead, construct said starbase). If your range is sufficient that should take no more than 3-4 weeks. Otherwise it'll default to +300 turns and then you'll have to reload the save, and let your Constructor move more closely towards Thala before upgrading, or start another game.
- on 8th April, use this vessel to shoot down any planetary defenders at Thala & destroy the planet. You'll then win a military win which is the best victory type if you play for score.
- the amount of score you ultimately get is dependant on your ability to mount score. therefore, you should have, at least, 2 Precursor research bonustiles at your homeworld. also, your researchpath has to be carefully chosen, and there are many options or different routes present which will be beneficial towards your general aim to get more research, more money etc. As you play more & more successfully such games, you'll see from your score what works and what not.
- Also, you'll have to master the art of techtrade - always selling one tech a time, going from end of a branch towards its beginning is the right way.
perhaps, but I can tell you that my greatest fun in playing GC actually were ZYW games; just to find ways and methods to get score ever greater can be a great challenge in itself. In the beginning I wasn't even able to cross 100k, then later 200k became no problem etc