Artifacts are technology that cannot be researched but are found on planets via exploration. There are a total of nine:
|Data Archive||-25% Research Cost|
|Jump Drive Relic||+50% phase jump speed between stars|
|Jump Field Generator||-30% phase jump antimatter cost|
|Kinetic Intensifier||+12% damage for all weapons|
|Manifest Dominion||+25% culture spread, +10% culture resist|
|Phase Accelerator||+50% in-system phase jump speed (leave grav well faster)|
|Power Core Relic||+10% antimatter regeneration|
|Relativistic Factories||+25% ship build rate|
|Resilient Metalloids||+15% repair for all hulls/structures/strikecraft|
The likelihood of finding an artifact is defined for a given map in its .galaxy file as a single ArtifactDensity number. It's 15% for most stock maps, or a 7.5% chance each time you Explore. Thus, 1 in 6.67 planets (1/.15) will have an artifact, and you should find one every 13.33 times you Explore. This has been tested across 6 games and found to be accurate (37 found on 245 candidate planets equals a 15.1% rate).
Stated another way, you will find all 9 artifacts if you have fully explored 60 worlds (9/.15), on average. However, this "60" doesn't necessarily correlate with the Planet count shown when starting a new game, because that count includes uncolonizable gravity wells and start worlds that don't have artifacts. Maps will always have less artifact-candidate planets than the New Game screen shows, if for no other reason than that starting homeworlds never have artifacts (for players or for AIs).
Two stock maps never have artifacts (ArtifactDensity=0): the small Derelict and Gaian Crescent maps. All others have a 15% chance, including random maps. Also note that mod maps could have any value for ArtifactDensity.
There is no bias in finding an artifact on your first Explore Planet or your second; they have equal chances. Some games it may seem like it favors the first or second Explore, but if you play enough, you'll see it's random (a coin flipped 9 times is not likely to land with 4 heads and 5 tails every time). Be that as it may, your first Explore is cheaper, so it's a better bargain.
Artifacts can be found on any colonizable world with the lone exception that they are never found on actual starting homeworlds. "Actual" means as opposed to start positions which were not used because there were less than the max players for the map. Unused start positions can have artifacts, but start positions that were actually used cannot. Note that only non-random maps ever have unused start positions. Random maps only generate start positions for the actual number of players, regardless of the maximum number of possible players.
Artifacts work differently from planetary bonuses in two ways: 1) specific planets (such as the Pirate Base) can be defined so as not to have any bonuses (except the specific one of Pirate Bounty in this example) - but you can't put planet-specific constraints on artifacts, and 2) start positions, including unused ones, are defined as not having bonuses - but unused starts can have artifacts. In short, while planets can be defined in specific ways relative to bonuses, they can't be defined this way for artifacts. The only constraint on artifacts is that actual start worlds never have them.
You will always find the same artifact at the same planet, on the same Explore (1 or 2), for a given game. It's defined when the map is made, so reloading won't get you anything different.
You can find the same artifact more than once, on very large maps. It's presumed that this won't happen unless you have found all nine. (Please make a note here if you've found differently, but only if it was with version 1.03.)
Explore Planet Costs[edit source]
Here are the costs to Explore Planet. Regular costs are in the upper left:
|Advent Divination 1, -25%||+40%|
|Advent Divination 2, -50%||+80%|
The upper right shows time decreases with TEC Rapid Development, a 3-lab 2-level research topic that increases planet development build rate by 25% and 50%. Note that the effective reduction at "50%" is 67%; the Rapid Development modifier must be of the form: Time / 1.5 = Time / (3/2) = Time * 2/3.
The lower panels show costs at the two levels of Advent Divination. This 3-lab, 2-level topic says it "decreases cost by 25 to 50% and increases build rate by 40 to 80%". We see that costs decrease to half, as expected, but time decreases to 56%. Apparently the change in build rate uses the form: Time / 1.8 = Time / (9/5) = Time * 5/9. Basically, full Divination halves both the resource cost and the time needed to Explore Planet.
As you can see, Explore 1 is about 45% of the cost of both explores (EP1/(EP1+EP2)). If you use the 3x equivalency method, Explore Planet 1 is 44% of the cost of fully exploring (1125/(1125+1450)). You could also say that Explore 1 is a fifth less than Explore 2 (1125/1450 = 78.6%). All these relative statements are also true with full Divination, although Advent's absolute costs are half as much.
None of the optional Game Rates affect the cost or time of exploration.
Artifact Appraisal[edit source]
The cost to Explore can be combined with the probability of finding an artifact, in order to derive how expensive it is to find each artifact, on the average. As stated above, with the game's 15% ArtifactDensity, you find an artifact every 13.33 times that you Explore (1/.075). Therefore, the average cost of artifacts is 13.33 times the average cost of Explore, or:
6,667 credits, 2,167 metal, and 1,333 crystal (17,167 3x equivs)
Explore 1 is about a fifth less than Explore 2. Values are half as much for Advent with full Divination.
Then, this value can be compared against the estimated worth of artifacts. An extensive appraisal has been done here, with the average worth being conservatively estimated at:
6,868 credits, 1,177 metal, and 1,873 crystal (16,017 3x equivs)
This is a conservative estimate. One could argue that half of them are worth up to maybe twice this, all depending on how you appraise them (see Methodology).
For the record, the Data Archive is far and away the most valuable artifact. Kinetic Intensifier is the second-most valuable, but it's a distant second - it's only approximately worth the average value. The Data Archive is so lucrative that it makes up for the remaining 7 artifacts being worth considerably less than the average.
Artifacts are a lot like a gambling proposition: You pretty much break even (or arguably better), over the long run. You might hit the the jackpot (Data Archive), but sometimes you only get a consolation prize for all your Exploring (Power Core Relic). If you're unsure about Exploring, go halfway: just invest in Explore 1, since it's a little cheaper. Or explore based on the likelihood of finding a good trade bonus, or other type of bonus.
Advent: Your Divination research is a godsend! Halving your explore costs makes it a winning proposition, not break-even, as for other races.