Design or Choose your Race for the type of Game you are playing in! There is no one perfect design.
All other stock races have too many flaws; Psilons and Gnolams grow too slow, Mrrshan are pathetic, Bulrathi are too slow in the research and production department, Darloks are easily thwarted by building defending spies and researching anti-spying achievements, Klackons are uncreative (the worst pick there is).
Pick your race by the type of game you are playing.
As an example, Silicoids work really well in a large or huge young universe. In a young universe, there are lots of ultra-rich, barren worlds. Silicoids love these. High-production races work better than Creative races with a slow growth rate. This is most apparent in a smaller game.
Creative is not required to win. Heavy production and other bonuses applied to your race might be a better bet. However, if you manage your race extremely well and are able to get a good base of colonies going, there is no substitute for it. Creative always gives you the best options for ship design, the best buildings for your colonies, and the best achievements. It also gets rid of one of the game's biggest challenges: researching the right stuff!
When designing a race, remember that they have to do three things: Grow Food, Build Things, and Research. Any picks that do not directly affect these three things are probably no good. Some of the specialized picks may be taken if a particular strategy is being used, but be careful. Ground and space combat bonuses can be had through research. Improved armor and weapons add to ground combat, and so do leaders. Ship combat bonuses come from improved computers, engines, inertial stabilizers and nullifiers, and weapons.
Low-gee gives 5 picks extra but imposes research, farming, and production penalties on all but low-gee worlds. If you use this pick, ensure that you have other picks to improve these qualities. [Gravity Generator removes penalty, but takes a long time to research]
-10 Ground Combat: 2 free picks, and with a few armor and weapons upgrades you won't even notice it.
-10 Spying: 3 picks but this is another one to really watch out for. In average or above games it will put you at a real disadvantage if the AI and other human players are using spies. Definitely not recommended unless playing at tutor or easy! Also, if not creative, you will have to research anti-spying devices instead of other more useful things. Human or AI players with good spies may steal research and blow up lots of your stuff.
Negative picks for production, farming, and research should never be taken! Negative picks for ship offense or defense can also be a poor choice, but can be compensated for, especially if you are creative.
Unification: 6 picks, my favourite; no morale, the food and production bonuses are awesome, and you get a free anti-spying bonus to boot.
Democracy: 7 picks, bonuses to research and money input. I like unification better.
Feudal: -4 picks; this one sucks and is the reason the Mrrshan are so pathetic!
Special Picks favourites are Artifacts World, Large Homeworld, and Rich Homeworld. Tolerant in specially designed races can be unbeatable.
There is no substitute for knowledge about your opponent. If your opponent goes for the –10 spying bonus all of the time, steal all of his tech and blow things up with sabotage. Hey, maybe a +10 Spying bonus would be well-spent. If a research heavy race is used, design yours to expand and produce. Attack early before the advancements boost his race out. Well-balanced races work best against the AI. Make sure they produce, farm, and research well.
The Great Old Ones (Trilarian Picture for tentacle effect!) Leader is Cthulhu, Homeworld is Xoth!
Designed from H.P. Lovecraft's stories, they are ugly to look at and mean as hell. An exceptionally well-balanced race for combat against another human player. Artifacts world gives them ancientness, creative gives them absolute Galactic Power.
The Great Old ones work best if they have some time to grow and expand prior to contact with other races. This seems to be true for all Creative races. If playing on hard, get Xeno Psychology prior to contact. With a Dictatorship government, they are much harder to play.
Repulsive: -6 -10 Ground Combat: -2 -20 Ship Defense: -2 Unification: +6 Creative: +8 Artifacts World: +3 +1 Production: +1The Great Old Ones have a tough time on Hard and Impossible Settings against the AI, because of the inherent hatred the AI races have for repulsive. They are best played in a huge galaxy with human opponents, although careful play may result in victory.
The Thranx Klackon picture, leader is King Roach or Zorak, Homeworld is Hivehom etc.
The Thranx are from Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth books and are a creative, low-gee insect race with charisma to keep them out of trouble. However, they are slow early game, and must rely on diplomacy to survive. Xeno Psychology and hired Diplomats really help these guys out. In fact, if you can get them, they will help out all races.
Low-gee: -5 -10 Ground Combat: -2 Creative: +8 Charismatic: +3 Artifacts World: +3 Large Homeworld: +1 Rich Homeworld: +2Thranx work well, but do not grow fast enough early game. Since they have no government or production bonuses, they really get hit by the low-gee penalty, slowing their growth considerably. Play a strong diplomatic game, and try to get elected emperor.
The Builders Klackon or Meklar picture, Leader is whatever, Homeworld is whatever.
These guys are personally designed and generic, so name them after your favourite Aliens. This is my only switchable race and it comes in 2 flavours, Repulsive and Low-gee. By switchable, I ,mean that bonuses can be moved around in order to optimize them for various difficulties and types of games. Adjust the Builders for the type of game you are playing in. A great all-around race, and the only one to win an impossible game! (Charismatic required)
Low-gee: -5 -10 Ground Combat: -2 Unification: +6 +1 Production: +3 Alternate picks (switchable) are +2 production, Charismatic: +3 +1 production and +1 research; +1 production and Artifacts World: +3 omniscient (for multiplayer games) Rich Homeworld: +2Charismatic is usually required for Hard and Impossible games. Incredible production compensates for Low-gee penalties completely on normal-gee worlds. Only colonize heavy-gee worlds if they are rich or ultra rich, until you have Gravity Generator.
Everyone loves them, they build colony ships like crazy, and you will always be elected if you don't screw up. Never break treaties, always declare war before attacking, and collect diplomatic leaders [Diplomatic leaders points are cumulative]. Choose you tech very carefully...
Repulsive Builders (for all-human Player Games)
Repulsive: -6 -10 Ground Combat: -2 Unification: +6 +2 Production: +6 Alternate is +1 production and +1 research; or +1 Artifacts World: +3 production and omniscience. Also, +2 production Large Homeworld: +1 and omniscient for better production offworld. Rich Homeworld: +2Great producers; no Low-gee penalty and can whip out colony ships like there is no tomorrow. Can build anything quickly…
Species 8472 (use Trilarian + Green for Organic Look)
-10 Gnd Combat: -2
Artifacts World: +3
Large Homeworld: +1
No Diplomacy, grow as quickly as possible, and kill or invade everything!!!
The final race is my secret weapon. Use it in multiplayer games where you set up the universe. Max size of universe=medium, age to mineral rich. (You will have more colonies and lots more ships than anyone else!)
The Silikillers (Silicoid picture for extreme lack of diplomacy)!
The hands-down, most incredible producers I have ever designed. Imagine 6 or 7 colonies in 10 galactic years, and a sizeable fleet to go along with them…
Repulsive: -6 -10 Ground Combat: -2 -20 Ship Defense: -2 Tolerant: +10 Unification: +6 Artifacts World: +3 Large Homeworld: +1Unification equals great food, industry, and no morale; tolerant equals no pollution and higher populations, artifacts world gives a very necessary boost to early game research. Artifacts World is absolutely required. Don't build destroyers, build cruisers first. Be careful about getting behind on research.
A fantastic small and medium galaxy race; their growth and higher population limits on all worlds make them incredibly aggressive colonizers. For Genetic Mutation, take Warlord as it will compensate for the lacking ship defense.
No pollution, fast research, unification production bonus; 5-7 colonies possible in first 10 galactic years! You do not have to waste research on pollution control, when you attack, sterilize their colonies and drop your own. You will not be able to afford troop advancements, so do not bother trying to conquer. Also repulsive and unification mean that it takes forever to assimilate a race.