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Planet: A Survivalist's Guide

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  • Planet: A Survivalist's Guide

    A month ago we talked about creating a thread where we assembled all kinds of strategies or explanations of aspects of the game. So here it is!

    How about we limit this book (Planet: A Survivalist's Guide) to monographs containing general or Sparta-specific strategy?

    I'll start with posting Vel's bit about Sparta, and after that a summary I made of about all factors influencing morale.

    If anyone wants to comment, here is a special thread.
    Last edited by Maniac; July 24, 2004, 15:54.
    Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
    Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)

  • #2
    Vel on Sparta (extracts from his SMAX Guide)

    The Spartan Federation

    At a Glance: +2 Morale, +1 Police, Free Prototyping, -1 Industry

    Santiago's game

    You've got the all around best, most balanced fighting force in the game. True, Miriam has an edge when attacking, but your bonus helps both attack and defense, and the free rover at game start really helps you if pod scattering is on, enabling you to pick up a larger than normal share of Unity Pods, and more intangibly, enabling you to build your bases with a better understanding of the map you're playing on (meaning simply that your bases will tend to be better arranged on the map, thanks to a more complete understanding of the continent as a whole....most people have to build their first few new bases somewhat blindly if they want to expand quickly, but this is not the case for you). Also, the Police bonus mitigates the effect of running Market, and enables you to forestall (or, depending on SE choices) do away almost entirely with drone control facilities, saving you time on infrastructure. The free prototyping is not a huge advantage until later on in the game, as all early protos can be completed with a single cashed in supply crawler anyway, but it's still a marginal advantage, and should be exploited whenever the opportunity presents itself. The industry hit hurts, but no more so than Morgan's support drain, and you can get back to "normal" Industrial capacity by simply switching to Planned. True, you take an efficiency hit, but that in turn can be undone by building Children's Creche's, rendering your negatives easily dealt with and gotten around. The Command Nexus is a very attractive project for you, and you're pretty well suited to getting it, as it is only one tech away from you, and grabbing it will give you hands down, the best troops in the game until the advent of bio-enhancement centers, which will bring the rest up reasonably close to your troopers. The Spartan's main strength though, lies in the fact that they need not necessarily make use of their army to instill fear. Just the simple knowledge that the Spartans are out there is oftentimes enough to give others pause.

    Santiago, the Builder

    It takes you slightly longer to get your infrastructure in place than the rest, but the police rating helps in that, again, you can delay the building of drone control facilities, and once you DO get the infrastructure built, it serves you just as well. In the meantime, you have seasoned troops to defend your holdings with, a thing that cannot often be said of other Builder factions. Because of this, and because it's common knowledge that the Spartans can more than hold their own in a fight, you are uniquely positioned to build in relative safety. Think of it as classic isolationism, and most Momentum folk are looking for soft targets, something the Spartans have never been accused of. Add to that the fact that most of your opponents will not be expecting you to play the Builder's game, and that alone can often buy you the time you need to get the bulk of your infrastructure in place. Once it is, it's a simple enough proposition to take a look around the map and reassess your current situation, and again, if somebody decides to play rough and tumble with you, then they're just asking to get pasted.

    Santiago, the Hybrid

    Your starting tech makes you a natural at this. You're only a single tech away from Doctrine: Flexibility, and only two away from running Planned and getting Probe Teams. Taken together, that alone puts you in a strong Hybrid stance (and if you get the Virtual World project, you will almost never have a drone problem). Others need to build command centers just to get to where your troops start, and because of that, most factions will think twice about attacking you, and with even a single Monolith someplace in your territory, and building a Command Center of your own, it's easy for you to put together a core force of elite whatevers to attack or defend with. You have normal cash and research rates, which means, thanks to a slightly lagging industry, that you might be a bit behind the curve, tech wise, but a bit of luck with pods (which, as mentioned, you have an advantage in getting) will easily balance that out, and oftentimes, those pods render your industrial lag moot, as they "autofinish" whatever you were building at the closest base to the pod you just popped. All in all then, a Hybrid approach is very easy to play with Santiago.

    Santiago, the Conqueror

    This is probably the easiest way to run the Spartans, and it is a no-brainer, which also means, unfortunately, that this strategy can be predictable. You've already got rovers. It's a short hop to Impact weapons, and a short hop from there to global conquest. All of the speed work Velociryx has ever done on early transcendent victories has been with the Spartans, and with good reason. Quite simply, nobody can put together a crack attack force of high-morale Impact Rovers faster than Santiago. Zak might be able to get them about as quickly, but they still won't be as well trained, and in battle, that will be the telling difference, and in the early game, four rovers is about all you need to utterly lay waste to an enemy empire (Yang not withstanding, thanks to his Perimeter Defense network, but even then, a Probe action against the base in question can render his key defensive advantage useless). If you want a fast and furious game, build four Impact Rovers and send them hunting while you build up your empire. When they find someone, you'll be amazed at how much damage and terror they can spread, and at nominal cost to you.

    An important footnote here is that with Santiago, you can do reasonably well at fighting without Punishment Spheres under Market conditions, thanks to your Police rating.
    Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
    Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


    • #3
      Treatise on Morale

      "Superior training and superior weaponry have, when taken together, a geometric effect on overall military strength. Well-trained, well-equipped troops can stand up to many more times their lesser brethren than linear arithmetic would seem to indicate."

      -- Col. Corazon Santiago, "Spartan Battle Manual"

      Seeing the importance of morale for the Spartan faction, and seeing the confusion there sometimes exists about it, I thought a summary of what affects morale would be useful.
      Keep in mind this is pretty much a work in progress. Morale is a rather complex phenomenon, so probably there are many little things and oddities I left out, or phenomena I explained the wrong way. If you notice something missing or wrong, please don't hesitate and tell us all!

      To begin with, here is an oversight of the different morale levels:

      Very Green (+)

      Disciplined is the standard morale level where there are no battle modifiers. Each extra morale level above Disciplined gives a 12.5% battle bonus. This means +12.5% for Hardened to +50% for Elite. Each extra morale level under Disciplined gives a -12.5% battle penalty.

      When a unit is built without any morale modifiers affecting it, it starts with green morale.

      Two peculiarities should be noted here.

      a) Note the (+) I put after 'Very Green". I've noticed that, even when you're for example running -4 Morale SE , it's impossible to have 'Very Green' morale tout court. It's always at the very least Very Green (+).

      b) For most units, when they have elite morale, they gain an extra movement point.

      A word about (+)'s.

      For some units you will see there are one or more (+)'s behind their morale level. What is the meaning of those? Unfortunately there is no consistent rule for their effect. For instance, the (+) after Very Green morale level means a permanent +12.5% defence bonus in battle, both in and outside bases. On the other side the (+)'s received as a consequence of a positive SE Morale have a more limited effect. They only provide a +12.5% bonus when a unit is defending from attack inside a base. In the open the (+)'s have no effect whatsoever. Also 'Elite (+)' gives no extra bonus beyond 'Elite''s +50%.
      And when we start talking about (+)'s received as a consequence of Children's Creches, there is little logic at all anymore to be detected behind the (+)'s. But Children's Creches are an issue we will discuss later.

      Now what factors all influence the morale level of units?

      1) Morale Social Engineering Factor
      2) Morale Enhancing Base Facilities
      3) Monolith Upgrading
      4) Prototyping
      5) High Morale Special Ability
      6) Drone Riots
      7) Battle Upgrades
      8) Headquarters
      9) Children's Creches

      1) Morale Social Engineering Factor

      From alphax.txt:

      -4, -3 Morale; + modifiers halved
      -3, -2 Morale; + modifiers halved
      -2, -1 Morale; + modifiers halved
      -1, -1 Morale
      0, Normal Morale
      1, +1 Morale
      2, +1 Morale (+2 on defense)
      3, +2 Morale! (+3 on defense)
      4, +3 Morale!!

      Something that is often overlooked is that a positive or negative Social Engineering Morale does not equal an equivalent increase or decrease in morale levels. For example +2 SE Morale gives disciplined (+) troops, and not hardened troops.

      The "+ modifiers halved" for -2 SE Morale and below halves the morale level bonus one gets for units built in bases with morale enhancing facilities.
      The extra defence bonus for +2 and +3 SE Morale only has effect when defending in bases. Also the bonus caps off at +50%: Commando (++) or Elite (+) units don't get a 67% defence bonus.

      2) Morale Enhancing Base Facilities

      The morale enhancing base facilities are as following:

      Command Center: +2 Morale levels for land units built in a base with this facility
      Naval Yard: +2 Morale levels for naval units
      Aerospace Complex: +2 Morale levels for air units
      Bioenhancement Center: +2 Morale levels for all units

      Keep in mind that the bonus effects of these facilities are halved for units built while running -2 SE Morale or lower.

      3) Monolith Upgrading

      When a land or naval combat unit for the first time moves on a square with a monolith in it, it has the option to upgrade and get a bonus of one morale level.
      I haven't tested this, but I've read that every time a unit upgrades on a monolith, the monolith has one chance on thirty-two (1/32) of disappearing.

      4) Prototyping

      A unit prototype gets a bonus of one morale level.

      5) High Morale Special Ability

      A unit with the 'high morale' special ability gets a bonus of one morale level. There are two things to keep in mind:
      a) When a unit built with the high morale special ability is upgraded to another design without that ability, the morale bonus still stays.
      b) When a unit built without the high morale special ability is upgraded to another design with high morale, it does not get a morale bonus.
      So it's the moment of building that counts.

      6) Drone Riots

      A unit homed to a base under drone riots gets a (-) morale modifier. What the exact effects of this (-) are, I have not systematically researched yet. It doesn't seem to be a simple -12.5% battle penalty though. I've had instances where units got a -12.5% battle penalty, no effect at all, or even a +12.5% battle bonus. Though those strange observations may also be a consequence of factors I wasn't aware of yet at that time, eg the weird Children's Chreches, which I will discuss in point 8.

      7) Battle Upgrades

      When a unit wins a battle, there is a certain chance this unit will receive a morale upgrade of one level. The probability of such a battle upgrade seems to differ depending on the current morale of the unit. Very green and green units will always get a morale boost after winning a battle. After that, the odds seem to decrease the higher the unit morale becomes.

      One possible tip, knowing this, is, instead of first moving a unit on a monolith and then sending it off to whatever destination you want, is first letting it fight several battles until it becomes 'commando', and then use a monolith to obtain that last difficult morale boost. This is of course risky, as you can never be sure a unit will be able cross the path of a monolith when you want it to.

      8) Headquarters

      The manual says a unit defending in a Headquarters get one bonus morale level. I have not been able to replicate any such effect.

      9) Children's Creches

      A Children’s Creche (CC) has a double effect on morale.
      On the one side it gives a morale bonus to units, built in a base with a CC, of a faction running a negative SE Morale. This bonus counts on every location.
      On the other side a Children’s Creche gives a battle bonus to units on the base square of a base with a CC. This is (supposed to be) represented in the form of (+)’s. Unfortunately the (+)’s are in some cases a bad indication of the actual battle modifiers given.

      A summary of the effects of the CC are as follows:

      For any unit built in a base with Children’s Creche, no matter their location:

      0 SE Morale or higher: no difference.
      -3 to -1 SE Morale: +1 morale level
      -4 SE Morale: +2 morale levels

      For units on a base square, the base having a Children’s Creche :

      When the unit is defending:

      0 SE Morale or higher: +12.5% (+) battle bonus
      -1 & -2 SE Morale or higher: +25% (++) battle bonus
      -3 SE Morale: +37.5% (+++) battle bonus
      -4 SE Morale: +50% (++++) battle bonus

      The total defence bonus (the sum of the morale level bonus and the (+) boni) is capped off at +50%.

      When the unit is attacking:

      +4 SE Morale: -37% battle penalty
      +3 SE Morale: -25% battle penalty
      +2 SE Morale: -12.5% battle penalty
      +1 SE Morale: no difference
      0 SE Morale: +12.5% battle bonus
      -1 SE Morale: +25% battle bonus
      -2 SE Morale: +25% battle bonus
      -3 SE Morale: +37.5% battle bonus
      -4 SE Morale: +50% battle bonus

      If one would want to find some system in this, the following could work:

      For positive SE Morale: base morale level + 12.5% (the intended CC effect according to the datalinks) – a certain # of +12.5% boni equal to the #of SE Morale (Not intended AFAIK)

      For negative SE Morale -1 and -2 both give the same bonus. So a formula could be like this:
      Battle modifier: base morale level + 12.5% + a # of +12.5% boni equal to the morale levels you lose because of negative SE Morale.

      For attacks there is no limit at all for the battle bonus.
      Don’t take the (+)’s behind your unit morale as an indication of the battle modifier it will receive. It is a good indication for when your unit is defending, but, when you have positive SE Morale, the actual battle effect is totally different.


      As you can see, Firaxis seriously ****ed up this base facility. Because of it, as long as you have Creches it is often better to have a negative SE Morale than a positive or neutral SE Morale. This seriously reduces the value of for example our Spartan +2 SE Morale (or even makes it a liability at times), and makes running Wealth for other factions not a problem at all. Indeed, even recommendable when you’re fighting a defensive war.

      This can lead to weird situations. To give an example, you could build a unit while running +4 SE Morale in a base with a Crèche, Command Center and Bioenhancement Center. This unit is elite. When defending in a base, it has a +50% battle bonus (capped off). But when it attacks from the base square, it only has a +12.5% battle bonus, because of the -37.5% battle penalty Firaxis (I presume) as a mistake or lack of playtesting added to the CC effects.

      Now imagine you switch to -4 SE Morale. The unit is still veteran. After all, the -3 morale levels of -4 SE Morale is largely compensated by the +2 morale levels from the Children’s Creche. Added to that comes four (+)’s when being in a CC base square. So when fighting it will have a defence bonus of +50% (same as eight morale levels higher) and an attack bonus of +75%, which is 67.5% higher than the unit fighting under +4 SE Morale.

      As a conclusion, if we Spartans want to learn a lesson out of this when fighting our opponents, these are obvious tips:

      1) Avoid attacking from inside bases. It would actually be in our advantage to move one tile out of a base, attack, and then move back into the base if possible.

      2) Never let units end their turn next to an enemy base with Children's Creche.

      3) Perhaps if we can spare the resources, sending some probes along to destroy Creches in bases we plan to attack could be a good solution.
      Last edited by Maniac; August 2, 2004, 19:30.
      Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
      Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


      • #4
        With thanks to Googlie

        extracted from SMAC Manual


        When a unit takes damage, the colored bar graph located just above and to the left shows how badly it’s been hurt. As the bar descends, it also changes color from green to yellow to red. When the bar is completely exhausted, the unit is destroyed.

        As surface units take damage, their movement rates decline. This reduces the maximum move of vehicles with a move of more than one, and also makes it more difficult for vehicles to enter fungus squares.

        Units repair damage by remaining undisturbed for a turn. To skip a unit’s turn, press z. If they move or come under fire, they do not repair that turn.

        No unit may repair itself to better than 20% damage (80% normal strength) using field repairs, unless your faction possesses the Nano Factory Secret Project. The Sentry command can streamline the field repair process, requiring much less of your attention (L; see Action Menu, p. 90). In a base, several facilities can repair an undisturbed unit in one turn:

        • A Command Center repairs land units in one turn
        • A Naval Yard repairs naval units in one turn
        • An Aerospace Complex repairs air units in one turn
        • A Biology Lab repairs native units in one turn

        Units repair at least 10% of their damage each turn, modified as follows:

        • +10% in friendly territory
        • +10% if air unit at airbase
        • +10% if land unit in bunker
        • +10% if in a base
        • x2 rate if a land unit is on board a Transport with a Repair Bay
        • +100% if the controlling faction owns the Nano Factory Secret Project
        Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
        Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


        • #5
          How to fix wrong faction colours?

          An often asked question by officer students at Olympus Academy is: "How do I get every faction's colours right in my strategy simulator?" As this issue has caused many students a headache, the Junta has decided to include a solution to this problem in our official Survivalist's Guide, to ensure everyone survives our Academy safely and without permanent trauma.

          The answer is as follows.
          Go to the "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" directory in your PNN (personal network node) and find the file "Alpha Centauri.Ini". Open it. Scroll down to the bottom. You should see a list of seven faction names. These determine the graphics of the factions in the simulation you're running. Problem is when you open a scenario or multiperson simulation, this list doesn't update. Instead IIRC it keeps the faction graphics of the last normal single person sim you ran.

          To circumvent this problem, there are two methods:

          Before opening eg a multiperson simulation, first start up a new single person sim with the same factions in the same order as in the multiperson sim. Immediately quit the SP sim. Now the correct graphics are saved in the ini-file and you can savely open the MP sim.

          The second method is manually changing the list in the Alpha Centauri.Ini file. For the official tactical real-world simulations, you have to copy this list over the incorrect one in your ini file:

          Faction 1=GAIANS
          Faction 2=HIVE
          Faction 3=UNIV
          Faction 4=ANGELS
          Faction 5=MORGAN
          Faction 6=SPARTANS
          Faction 7=PEACE

          Now everything should be fine and you won't any longer mistakenly shoot Gaians while thinking they're Hiveans.

          We at the Academy Board hope this little tutorial has been of use to you. For any further questions please contact our Secretariat of Officer Training.
          Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
          Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


          • #6
            Treatise on Hurrying

            "Energy is the currency of the future."

            -- CEO Nwabudike Morgan, "The Centauri Monopoly"


            Hurrying is an important part of the game for anyone who wants to rise above beginner level, as it is one of the methods available to gain turn advantage when wisely used. Therefore of course a treatise about the subject cannot be absent from the ultimate Survivalist's Guide.

            Hurrying involves the use of energy credits to gain minerals and speed up the production of a certain item being constructed in your base. The amount of credits you need to spend per mineral depends on what kind of item you are building: a unit, base facility or secret project. The exact formula are all very well explained in this document, but to make it easier for the reader I will also provide a short summary here.

            For secret projects the energy costs for hurrying are as follows:
            • Four credits per remaining mineral if at least four rows of minerals have been accumulated.
            • Eight credits per remaining mineral if less than four rows of minerals, but ten or greater minerals have been accumulated.
            • Sixteen credits per remaining mineral if less than ten minerals have been accumulated.

            For base facilities the equation is even simpler:
            • Two credits per remaining mineral if at least ten minerals have already been accumulated.
            • Four energy per remaining mineral if less than ten minerals have been accumulated.

            For units the matter is a bit more complex, as the hurry cost is not linear. Instead the energy cost per mineral depends on how many minerals are still missing for unit completion. You could of course have a look at the reference chart I provided a link to, every time you want to partially hurry a unit, but personally I find it easier to just have a calculator nearby and do the following: take the full hurry cost, divide it by the number of minerals still missing, multiply it by the number of minerals you want to hurry, and then round up to the next integer number. Voilà, you've got your hurry cost!

            The main purpose for this treatise is certainly not giving yet another summary of hurry costs though. I rather wanted to discuss tricks and methods that make the hurry costs lower than those you see described above. While these methods - some might say exploits - were probably not intented by the game desigers, the good news is that they have become commonplace and accepted in the SMAC multiplayer world, so you can use them freely as much as you want! Those "tricks" I talk about all involve either using crawlers, using unit upgrading, or both of them combined: upgraded crawlers!

            Calculating unit upgrade cost

            So before I begin to explain some cheaper hurry methods, let's first explain what affects the upgrade cost of units, on which the cheaper hurry methods are largely based on.

            The formula is pretty simple: to upgrade a unit you must pay in energy credits the following amount:
            • Ten credits per mineral row the unit design to which you upgrade, is worth.
            • Ten credits per weapon and/or armour level the upgraded unit design has more than the old unupgraded unit design.

            Two things that should be noted:
            • Your SE Industry rating doesn't play any role for the upgrade cost. This makes upgrading a relatively more lucrative method for Industry-poor factions (like Sparta) than for Industry-rich factions (eg the Drones).
            • The mineral cost of the old unit design doesn't matter at all. Neither do special abilities in the old design have any effect. So only the weapon and armour of the old unit have an influence for the upgrade cost.

            To give an example, upgrading a 0-1-1 supply crawler to a 0-2t-1 trance synthmetal crawler (8 min rows) would cost 90 credits.
            • 80 credits because the new unit costs 8 mineral rows.
            • 10 credits because the armour level rises by one: from one to two.
            • The "weapon" - the crawler module - stays the same, so no extra cost fort that.

            Now we are aware of this, we can move forward to actually discussing the cheaper hurry methods.

            Hurrying Secret Projects – the use of upgraded crawlers

            Let's begin with the simpliest and most commonly known: hurring secret projects!

            While it is possible to hurry secret projects directly with credits, it is very expensive: four credits per mineral, and only if you have already accumulated four mineral rows.
            For that reason cashing in crawlers is a more preferred method for hurrying SPs: while units normally only provide half their mineral cost when disbanded, for crawlers their full mineral cost is added when cashing in for a secret project or unit prototype production. As one mineral -> one mineral is considered a better exchange rate than four credits -> one mineral, the choice how to hurry secret projects is quickly made.

            But there is a way to hurry secret projects faster than by having to build and cash in a whole bunch of 3-row crawlers. Namely by upgrading your crawlers before cashing them in!

            This method makes use of the very favourable credit->mineral exchange rate you usually get by upgrading units. Consider the example I gave above: a 0-2t-1 crawler. To upgrade the unit from a 3-row to a 8-row model, you have to pay 90 credits. That's 90 credits for an extra 5 mineral rows. Or in other words: 1.8 credits per mineral assuming you're running 0 SE Industry. That's a whole lot less than the 4 credits per min you usually have to pay, and even less than the 2 credits per min you have to pay when hurrying base facilities. This favourable exchange rate even improves as you can (due to special abilities, higher armour etc) design more and more expensive crawler models. As a result, after getting IndAut (crawlers), IndBase (synthmetal armour) and SotHB (hypnotic trance - usually the first ability you can put on crawlers), building secret projects usually merely becomes a function of having enough credits in reserve and getting the required tech first.

            Hurrying unit production – the use of Skunkworks

            Besides secret projects, there are also methods to get units faster and cheaper than you would get by normal credit hurrying. For example if you need a strong (and thus expensive) military unit very fast, instead of building and hurrying it the normal way, you could build a cheap 1-1-x "unit shell" and then upgrade it to the desired configuration. Many people even make it a standard tactic to just build a whole bunch of high morale and clean 1-1-x unit shells; and when someone declares war on them, they can just upgrade the shells as desired for an instant elite army.

            Besides the straightforward method of upgrading unit shells, there is also a way to hurry unit production using crawlers, just like you would use them to hurry secret projects: adding their full mineral cost. This method envolves the Skunkworks base facility. That facility has an undocumented advantage besides cancelling the +50% prototype cost: in the base the skunkworks is built, it allows you to switch production between items of the same kind (unit, facility, project) without the usual mineral penalty.

            This feature can be used as follows. Initiate production of a unit prototype. Next cash in a few supply crawlers (upgraded for an even bigger benefit): just like for SPs crawlers add their full cost to prototype hurrying. Thirdly switch production (without any penalty) to the unit you really wanted to build.
            Now your desired unit is under production, with already lots of the required minerals accumulated. Should be very handy if one wants to build expensive units.

            The only catch is that you have to be able to build a unit prototype to use this method. This means denying yourself your best weapon, armour or a chassis type. After researching Orbital Spaceflight (and missiles) this problem is somewhat alleviated though. You could for example always keep the planet buster weapon unprototyped. While an effective weapon against annoying enemies, it has lots of downsides and isn't really crucial to win the game. So after acquiring those you could always use your best convential weapons and armour.

            The ‘Maniac Manoeuvre’ – hurrying ALL production

            The Spartans suffer from a problem though. Probably because they don't have to pay prototype costs, they can't build the Skunkworks facility either. This wouldn't be a problem, if it weren't for the fact that Firaxis (accidentally??) added an undocumented feature to this facility. Because of this the Spartans can't use the method described above and would have an unfair disadvantage towards all the other factions.

            There is a way around this though, called the ‘Maniac Manoeuvre’ or simply crawler-hurrying in Spartan ACDG circles. If you are building a unit in a base, but then go into the unit workshop and retire that design, the base production is switched to "stockpile energy". If you then set production to something else in that base, the minerals you had accumulated before the design retirement still fully stay.

            This can be used in combination with the method described above. Set production to an unprototyped unit design, cash in a few (upgraded) crawlers, go into the unit workshop to delete the design. and then switch the base production to whatever you originally intended to build. For this method you don't need Skunkworks. And what's more, while with Skunkworks you can only switch to a different unit, with this "retire unit design" method you can switch to anything, including facilities. Taken together, this implies - under the condition that you have a unit you can prototype - you could use crawlers to hurry ALL production, and no longer only secret projects. It also negates the 50% production penalty normally connected to switching production. So in theory you could set production in all bases to a unit prototype - allowing you to switch production whenever you want - and only change to your real intended production item the turn before it would be normally finished.
            Last edited by Maniac; December 23, 2005, 18:51.
            Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
            Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


            • #7
              With thanks to Kody

              Mindworm farming, a refined solution

              I was developing a strategy for boot strapping Spartans on a podless map. And this was what was going to be my cash cow. However, since I'm not playing anymore I guess it doesn't matter.

              Basically for river squares with fungus outside base radius the chance of a mindworm appearing is about 1/9 (you need to check as I no longer know for sure since it's been too long since I've done the research). Movement along the river is 1/3. So with a elite rover you can generate 1 mindworm a turn (not counting the killing).

              Anyway the thing is there's no limit to how many times you can walk back and forth along the same two or three fungus river squares. And instead of moving an expensive to build mindworm you can move a regular unit and when its movement runs out you park it further back along the river. Then switch to another unit. This means a large army that is twiddling it's thumbs can generate you a large amount of enegry credits, thus paying for itself. This can be the two most productive squares in the entire game for you.

              I found that the best value for money was popping pods. However, for a non-pod map where you're not too interested on entensive exploring, setting up a mindworm farm would be useful. After talking into account the problems of healing the units (reduces the number of mindworms you can trawl significantly), 1 mineral upkeep and the killing of the mindworms. It turned out that building another rover to trawl the fungus in this way was more cost effective than a crawler on a single mineral, but less cost effective than a crawler on a forest. Remember to take into account the fact units are generally cheaper than crawlers, so it's sometimes easier to get more income per mineral out of units than crawlers.

              I think if you found a monolith next to a patch of river fungus and you were spartans (eg can get elite 3 move units). Building the trawling units were more cost effective (assuming you're already getting enough minerals to allow you to rush buy cheap). This was because units were cheaper than crawlers and the killing mindworms paid back the upkeep. This rough calculation doesn't take into account free morale upgrades from killing the mindworms. Of course you use the low movement unelite units to kill the mindworms, while you use the greater than two movement units to trawl the fungus. Also not using the trawling unit for killing prevents you from blocking a mindworm popping because ended that unit's turn on the fungus you were trawling.

              However, I believe this strategy would be an excellent late game strategy for everyone, no matter what faction. When the turn goes to 2150 suddenly mindworms are worth 20ECs rather than just 10ECs. If in the early game you left 2 fungus river squares outside base radius (in the center of your empire) you can then start harvesting mindworms after 2150 with a standing army that would normally be a drain on your economy. Instead you're getting 20ECs per mindworm kill and getting morale upgrades for all your units. If you have a good way to heal your units, (either a command center nearby or a monolith) then I think the income works out around the same as crawlers on 2 mineral forests. However, crawlers are limited by the number of squares available whereas this strategy only requires 2 squares for unlimited usage.

              Note that in some cases this strategy is not cost effective, and sometimes you won't have a handy two adjacent squares of fungus and river. Terraforming fungus in the early game is definitely not worth it. Obviously this is another case of micromanagement that also requires a little brain power to see if you'll be gaining advantage with your current situation.

              Some implementation details.
              * You need a little finesse in implementing it as you need to maximise the number of times your units move through the fungus every turn. If you get one mindworm and end up blocking half the fungus after the attack you've lost advantage.
              * Generally avoid trawling the fungus when you've only got 1 unit left with 2/3 movement left as you'll be forced to do a hasty attack.
              * When I tested this with Spartans I never lost a unit unless I tried attacking with a unit that didn't have full health. However, when I got greedy and attacked with less than full health unit I sometimes lost a unit. Note also that morale makes a big difference to whether you will lose units. Spartans have good morale, disciplined units.
              * Have a good plan for healing your units, otherwise most of your time will be spent waiting for units to heal or losing units in battle. Thus not making it cost effective. Command center or nearby monolith
              * Remember it takes 1 move to move off the fungus, to make way for another unit to travel the 2 squares of river fungus you have. So a 3 movement unit has 4 times more trawls than a 1 movement unit.
              - 3 moves = 8 trawls
              - 2 moves = 5 trawls
              - 1 move = 2 trawls
              * Don't build all rovers. I found that it was better to do a mix of cheaper 1 movement units that are used mainly for killing and fast units for trawling. After you've used up the movement of the faster units you can get 2 trawls through fungus with the 1 move units. Rovers cost far more than 1 move units and take a while to limp back to base for repairs. This limits their usage as an mindworm killer as they're often limping back at 1 movement.
              * You can use probes too to rustle up mindworms for those mineral challenged (Morgan). Spartans are better off using rovers rather than probes as they can get elite rovers
              * Forests can grow over your fungus patch. So when you are choosing where to set it up. If you can't find a monolith next to a good patch. Next look for rocky river fungus.
              * mindworms are easy to kill before 2120, if you have low morale after 2120 it may be better to delay further trawling as losing units is not cost effective.
              * EC rates for mindworms double at turn 2150, what may not be cost effective early may be so now. You may want to consider where you are going to set up a mindworm farm much earlier, base radius disables mindworms and it's better to have the farm in the middle of your empire. That way units on garrison duty can do some trawling whenever convient.
              * Certain SPs or techs can disable the random generation of mindworms.

              Oh yeah the probabilties as far as I recall.
              fungus unentered ever before = 1/3 per move
              fungus unit has traveled through it before = 1/9 per move
              fungus river = 1/9 per move
              fungus road = 1/27 per move
              fungus mono-rail = 0 chance
              fungus within sensor radius = 0 chance
              fungus within base radius = 0.00001 chance (had it happen once out of many many trials I did, and no I never pressed end turn to possible have let a mindworm move there)
              Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
              Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)


              • #8
                Economy throughout the ages

                Economy throughout the ages

                Once a man has changed the relationship between himself and his
                environment, he cannot return to the blissful ignorance he left.
                Motion, of necessity, involves a change in perspective.

                -- Commissioner Pravin Lal,
                "A Social History of Planet"

                A lot of people swear either by a total forest strategy, or by a advanced terraforming strategy, where only condensers and boreholes are used. I’d say it’s not possible to claim that one strategy is always better than the other. It depends on a whole range of factors. A lot depends obviously on what faction you play. The gameplay of the Hive or Morganites is different due to their difficulty to popboom. And the faction who gets certain secret projects such as the Planetary Transit System should also play a different game. But for most factions the main determinant seems to me to be your level of technology. Basically I think the game can be divided into four periods economically speaking, wherein the use of forests and condensers sometimes rises, sometimes lowers.

                1) The colonizing age

                You have little options yet. The best way of economic expansion is ICSing with colony pods, and placing crawlers all over the place if you have Industrial Automation.

                2) The popbooming age

                After having Ethical Calculus (creches + demo) and Ecological Engineering (condensers) or Environmental Economics (tree farms) the only limit to population growth and the biggest bottleneck for growth becomes how you can produce the most nutrients the cheapest way. As mentioned above, condensers and tree farms are the best nutrient producers at this phase. You can't clearly say which one is better. It depends.

                Condensers are neat, but they require lots of terraformer capacity. So the question if it's good for you to build them partly depends on how many formers you have available when you acquire the necessary popbooming technology, and thus how quickly you can get some condensers running.

                Tree farms are very useful when you have lots of forest around (which is usually the case as it's a useful terraformation in the early game as well). The biggest problem though is their high cost. You'll only win back the investment if the bases with tree farms are popboomed as much as possible. So generally speaking I'd say tree farms are good when you can boom the base to size 14 or higher (with Ascetic Virtues), but one or two condensers per base are better if you only want to boom them to the hab complex limit. Note that even with a tree farm approach some condensers sprinkled around the countryside are recommended. As you boom to size 14, some doctors will be necessary to keep the drones happy, so you'll need to work some tiles that are producing more than two nutrients to feed the doctors.

                3) The specialist age

                It all changes upon the research of three technologies: Orbital Spaceflight, Fusion Power and Advanced Ecological Engineering. Sky hydroponics labs, soil enrichers and super formers make it very easy to produce nutrients. So that bottleneck is removed and you can get bases to size 14 in no time. The question then becomes how you can make a size 14 base the cheapest way, using the least resources and still have it produce the most.

                The answer is most definitely soil enriched condenser farms coupled with sky hydroponics labs. You can support a size 14 base with only two crawlers on two of those superfarms. All the citizens in the base can be engineer specialists or borehole workers.

                Compare that to bases depending on a forest economy. Not only do they require a heavy investment in facilities, but they use much more tiles, as the base is worker-oriented instead of specialist-oriented. You can of course increase the # of engineers and reduce the # of tiles a forest base needs to work to feed itself by building a tree farm and a hybrid forest. But the less tiles you work, the less useful the investment in those forest facilities becomes…

                4) The sky is the limit

                The next breakthrough comes with habitation domes. After those are built, a base can popboom indefinitely (or at least to size 128 or so…) While building lots of bases supported by enriched condensers farms stays a good strategy, forests become good again. A base can in theory work all 20 squares in its base radius, making a tree farm and hybrid forest a good investment once again. This is of course assuming you have plenty of land. Twenty extra forests means twenty less tiles for condenser farms.


                I hope this shows that to have maximal success in your game, you cannot stick to one economic paradigma. As Lal suggests, as technology increases, you constantly need to switch your perspective.
                Contraria sunt Complementa. -- Niels Bohr
                Mods: SMAniaC (SMAC) & Planetfall (Civ4)