RTFM. Srsly. No, really - it's a good manual with a lot of info. 248 pages! You might also want to check out Vel's SMAX Guide.But I already have a couple of questions:
Yes, SMAC is like an advancement of Civ2. Generally, attackers use their attack strength, and defenders their defense strength. An exception is an artillery duel, where it's attack vs attack. Better reactors give more hit points and lower mineral costs. And game combat doesn't always make sense.1. Unit stats. They look pretty similar to Civ2's, and I gather that weapon makes attack value, armor defense value, chassis is movement and reactor, for some reason, is health. But does it work the same way as Civ2, with the obvious exception of firepower? I.E., only the defense strength matters if the unit is on the receiving end of an attack, while only attack strength matters for the aggressor? The game said something to imply that, but I want to make sure, because it makes no sense that a heavily-armored defender with hand weapons could shrug off an equally-armored attacker with moderately powerful armament.
With the base reactor a sole base defender will likely have attack 1 and best armor. If you are in a situation where you have the energy (SMAC $$) and can't support a lot of units, you might upgrade some infantry to best/best. Better reactors will enable you to have the best armor and better weapons than just the basic with no additional cost - play around with unit design to see. Air units are expensive to armor, so it's quite likely you won't put any on.Maybe I'm getting this all wrong, but to cut the rambling short, should a designated defender/garrison unit have crap weapons to save costs, but fantastic armor and reactor? Along with psi-defense and/or non lethal methods, etc., of course...conversely, should a needlejet I intend to reserve for bombing runs against a foe with no air-attack capacity not bother with armor at all? Not that such a situation is super-likely, I'm just using the question as an example.
Yes, a rolling square has a few rocks in it, flat has none. Moist has some green splotches, rainy more and darker green splotches. Shift+right click on a square and check the status view at lower left: it'll tell you elevation, type of terrain, and what improvements are present, if any.2. Does it eventually get easier to tell what kind of terrain underlies the fugly graphics? I can generally tell where the fungus is, and arid is sort of recognizable, but whenever I want to build a base I have to squint and guess, or else fumble with the novel interface to scan each square to tell whether it's rolling or flat, moist or rainy. I miss the bit in Civ2 where you could just summon the cursor and move it around at will.
I don't think Zak is "grossly overpowered," but having the free tech and free network nodes helps boost research. Drone problems will happen at lower pop at higher difficulties, so you might try moving up when you play Zak again.3. Zak seems grossly overpowered. I tried playing as Lal (balance is good for beginners, I figured) and everyone seemed to shoot ahead of me by every metric. Playing as the nerds, on the other hand, my free NNs AND research boost let me tech up and wipe out my supposed drone problem before it started, plus I got a big boost on terraforming. I suppose it's just a matter of playing style and/or higher difficulty...