Terra Invicta beginner's guide: Five things to know before getting started

terra invicta tips
(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Terra Invicta is an astronomically deep and ambitious strategy game that will have you staging coups and mining asteroids to fend off an alien invasion of Earth. The number of different options and mechanics to keep track of is downright daunting, especially if this is your first trip around the solar system. 

Since this is a beginner's guide, I've tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible. Not to fear, though: with these helpful tips, you'll be able to hit the ground running and secure humanity's independence. Or sell them out if you play as one of the pro-alien factions, I guess. It's your save file, and I'm not your mom.

Terra Invicta: tips for getting started

Assemble an effective council

You don't get to pick your first two councilors, so unless you want to keep restarting to get better ones, your first order of business should be taking a look at their strengths and weaknesses and hiring people to fill the gaps. Your starting stats are going to be pretty terrible across the board, but that's par for the course. 

As you complete missions, gain experience and take control of organizations, you can turn even the most inept pencil-pusher into a terrifying whirlwind of death or the world's greatest spy. It's usually much easier to raise stats than it is to acquire new missions, so prioritize hiring people who have the missions you want more than ones with impressive starting stats.

So what makes a well-rounded council? You will need at least two with good Persuasion who have the Public Campaign mission, and at least one of them needs Control Nation. This is how you will bring countries to your side and secure support. Preferably two councilors with good Command and who have the Assault Alien Asset mission. These are your XCOM officers, basically. If you can't keep up with fighting the alien threat on the ground, things can quickly become overwhelming.

Having another one with the Investigate Alien Activity mission, and another with the Surveillance mission. You won't get very far at all without these since they're required to complete certain story objectives, but it seems like one of your starting councilors always has at least one, and they're not tied to any stat. 

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Other important missions and stats to look out for in the early game are:

  • Investigate Alien Activity
  • Surveillance
  • Crackdown
  • Espionage
  • Purge
  • Investigate
  • Defend interests
  • Detain Councillor
  • Assassinate
  • Investigate Councilor
  • Inspire
  • Stabilize

Having councilors with Crackdown and Purge will help you steal countries from other factions, and Defend Interests will help you protect your control points. It would also be useful to have the Espionage stat her, too. Having high Investigate and Detain Councilor means you can afford to play dirty in the mid to late game, and they go hand-in-hand with Espionage and Assassinate. Assassinate works best with a councilor who has the Criminal trait, so if you see someone who has it, hire them quickly, but it's not a must. It'll be more difficult to get Assassinate without it, though.

Other major ones to look for are Investigate Councilor, which can tell you if your teammates are truly loyal or not, and Inspire, which can make them more loyal. You'll also probably need at least one who can perform Stabilize to keep your countries from getting overthrown by a revolution. 

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Finally, you'll want at least one with the Protect Target mission. Assassinate and Detain missions have a hidden risk: If you roll a critical failure your councilor dies. That is, unless, they have a buddy using Protect Target on them at the same time. Never attempt either of these missions without using the buddy system, unless you want to risk all of your hard-earned XP. This means at least one protector needs to not be your bounty hunter or your assassin—or both of them need to have it, so they can trade off watching each other's backs.

Remember to check the org marketplace if you're missing some key missions since a lot of orgs give you more missions in addition to better stats. 

Pick the best opening nation

You can start gathering support for your cause anywhere, but some areas will get you more return for your investment and keep dangerous toys out of the hands of your enemies. There are four openings that are generally seen by the community as the strongest overall: the USA, Russia, China, and the European Union.

The United States is probably the most difficult to wrest control of. Nations with larger GDPs give a penalty to Control Nation rolls, so you'll need to run a lot of Public Campaigns to get the people on your side first. You also get a bonus for controlling bordering nations, so it would be good to get a foothold in Canada and Mexico first. Once you're in control of the US, you'll have the most powerful military in the world at your disposal, with plenty of nukes, great science output, and a pretty strong economy that can be made even better by solving its issues with income inequality and a rapidly eroding democracy. 

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

China is also very difficult to get a grasp on, and isn't as strong in 2022 overall as the US, but has the potential to become much stronger with the right investments. If played correctly, they can easily become the most powerful country in the world in a relatively short period of time.

Russia has the most nukes of anyone to start with, but they also begin embroiled in a costly war with Ukraine and lack much of the economic and scientific strength of the other big dogs. One of their main advantages is actually Kazakhstan, who they start in a federation with, owning one of the most productive space launch facilities on the planet in 2022. Most strategies that don't involve taking Russia do involve stealing Kazakhstan out from under their sphere of influence.

France isn't especially impressive compared to the US or China, but they gain the ability very early on to form the European Union state, which can gradually absorb the rest of the continent peacefully, country by country. A fully united EU has an incredible GDP and more science output than anyone else in the world, including the US, in the 2020s.

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Later on, you may even be able to control two or three of the above. But what's more important is, whichever ones you don't pick, you want to keep your enemies from getting dug in there. If you're playing as an anti-alien faction like the Resistance or Humanity First, you do not want the Servants or the Protectorate gaining control of China, Russia, or the US Even if you don't have the control points to take them over yourself, it's worth purging enemy control points and then abandoning the country, over and over again, just to stop them from getting a foothold.

If you can get a sympathetic faction like the Academy, or even the neutral Project Exodus, to take over the superpowers you can't hold yourself, you'll be in great shape. Don't waste your time kicking non-hostile factions out of major nations. They're doing you a huge favor by blocking your real enemies from taking them.

Administration is the God stat

As your councilors gain XP, you may be tempted to put it into the stats that boost their most important missions. Makes sense, right? Wrong. Completely wrong. Everyone should level up their Administration to at least 20 first.

Doing this has two effects: It increases your overall control cap and lets you take over more of the globe, and it allows them to control more organizations. Organizations can give them the other stats they need very efficiently and quite often, one point of Administration will give them access to multiple points in other stats if you hire the right orgs. Always be pumping Administration, and keep a sharp eye out for the Holy Grail of Terra Invicta: orgs that give you more Administration, which pay for themselves and give you even more org capacity on top of that.

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Don't skimp on Espionage and Security

In the early game, your councilors are not going to be targeted by hostile actions very often. But when you get to the midgame and end up in an open war with other human factions and the aliens, it becomes a regular occurrence. To keep them from getting captured or assassinated, you should try to get everyone to at least 20 in Espionage, which makes them harder to locate, and Security, which makes them harder to kill if they do get targeted. Keep in mind that councilors who have already been spotted by enemy factions will need to use the Go To Ground mission to benefit from their Espionage skill again. 

Expand into space intelligently, not recklessly

It might be tempting to try to colonize everything in sight once you have enough Boost, but this is a trap for two reasons. First, there is a hidden cap of 12 on the number of extraterrestrial bodies you can colonize before you will start to be charged a stacking Mission Control penalty. Early on, you should target the Moon, Mars, and Mercury, plus eight or nine juicy asteroids that have a lot of whichever resources you're low on—this will usually be Noble Metals. The cap is per solar body, not per colony. So you can have as many habitats on Mars as you want and it still only counts as one.

Because of this, I generally try to send a probe to Mars very early and then reserve as many spots as I can with cheap, basic outposts before I do anything else. It's expensive since you're delaying getting your mines up and running, but worth it in the long run. Eventually, you'll research ways to steal outposts from other factions and dominate the Red Planet completely, but it doesn't hurt to have a head start.

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

This also means that bigger bodies with multiple colony sites, like moons, will almost always be more efficient than those with only one, like asteroids. So when you're finally able to settle the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, it might be worth abandoning some of your asteroid bases to stay under that cap.

There's also a second reason to pace yourself in space that's a bit of a spoiler. Let's put it this way: in 2022, the aliens don't really consider humanity to be a threat. But if you start building huge space stations and pumping out warships like there's no tomorrow, they might get a bit nervous. Fly under the radar as long as you can, and thank me later.

It's not over till it's over

This guide covers the absolute basics for getting a potentially successful run off the ground. There's a lot more to learn in Terra Invicta, and a lot of it can only be learned by trying and failing. But let me give you one last tip before I set you loose on the extraterrestrial menace: It's never over until it's over. You may reach a point in your campaign when everything is falling apart and all hope has nearly faded. But that's when you just have to look the ETs in the face, wipe the blood off your lip, and say, "I didn't hear no bell…"

(Image credit: Pavonis Interactive)

Terra Invicta actually has an achievement for winning as the Resistance after the Servants have already declared victory, and that should tell you something about the way it was designed. There are a number of comeback mechanics built in, and all is not lost as long as a few brave souls are still willing to fight for our planet. Patience and tenacity won't automatically win you the war, but you can effectively wage a guerrilla campaign on a devastated Earth in the style of Falling Skies, and even gain the upper hand if you're persistent and clever. It's a lot of fun, too, if you have the right mindset! Never give up. Never surrender. 

I mean, unless you want to. Sometimes it's just nice to start fresh with a big list of all the things you would have done differently. You can't win 'em all. Keep your eyes on the skies, friends.