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Cha Dawn - is there any hope?

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  • Cha Dawn - is there any hope?

    It seems to me that a lot of Cha Dawn's bonus are nothing more than superfluous, and a lot of his penalties crippling. I have played him a couple of times, and got nowhere. So is there a certain way you can play Cha Dawn and be successful on a regular basis?

    I have come to ask myself this question many times over the last month or so, considering the following facts:

    - +2 Planet - this is probably his biggest bonus, as it means he can capture mind worms even more frequently than Dee.
    - Free brood pits at every base upon discovery of the relevant tech - by the time you have the relevant tech you are out of the frame in any case.
    - Mind worms do double police duty - the whole point of mind worms is that they go out and attack! Or am I missing something? Sure, this can be a useful bonus in the very early game if you want to put more workers out into the field, but at the expense of other pursuits.

    When you weigh this lot against the inherent disadvantages:

    - -1 Economy - No real use in running FM - wealth is an aversion, so +2 economy isn't an option....
    - -1 Industry - hurts early game productivity no end.

    My main strategy has been a huge worm-rush, but unless you have a lot of luck you won't be able to unseat a competent human player any day of the week....

    ....I really can't see the appeal of this strange character, except maybe as a challenge. So is there any hope for this seemingly doomed individual?
    [This message has been edited by mark13 (edited November 19, 2000).]
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  • #2
    I've only played as him once so far, and haven't really figured it out, either.

    What's really strange is why he can run Free Market (with its negative Planet rating) but not Wealth. Surely it would make more sense to deny him FM? And c'mon, it's not like anyone's ever going to run FM as Cha Dawn -- you'd lose your Planet bonus and still not have +2 Economy. That seems like a lack of game balancing to me (the Crossfire Expansion seems not to have receieved the rigorous playtesting that the original game did).

    What really hurts Cha Dawn, aside from the industry penalty, is the lack of research capability (due to a Yang-ish -1 Economy). You need tech to run a mindworm-based campaign! Without tech, your worms will be weak; and those locusts are a long way off.

    He seems to be geared toward a momentum playstyle, which isn't really my strong point. Maybe a natural momentum player can give some more insight?


    • #3
      I transcended with Cha Dawn once. But it was on Librarian level. Hehe.


      • #4
        Thanks for bumping the threads, a lot of interesting points raised. However, I have come to think that, even after reading those threads, a lot of his advantages require certain instances to occur, in order for them to work properly - more so than most other factions. I wouldn't really fancy playing him on a huge map with no fungus! Still, I wouldn't really fancy playing Morgan on a tiny world with loads of fungus...

        But I suppose a lot of it is individual playing style. If you are a momentum player, a lot of his advantages regarding psi units would be quite appealing. There is no doubt, however, that he is exceedingly unbalanced as a faction and, although I wouldn't do him justice, can be a very powerful faction if played correctly (in SP). In MP, however, a lot of his advantages can be negated pretty quickly...
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        • #5
          I seem to remember the Cha dawn challenge from waaaay back (was it travathian's challenge, maybe?)

          Anyway, it spawned a lot of discussion on how to play the boy wonder. I'll see if I can find the thread and bump it.

          (and I still have the startgame zip file)



          • #6

            Cha Dawn does have some difficulties. I have used him a couple of times for SMac victories at transcend (SP) and both were versions of a worm rush. 3 or 4 early worms mixed with a couple of attackers can be very potent in the early game. The result was extra cities (captured) and submissive AI factions that gifted all their techs and energy credits time after time. Both times I kept 2 submissives (by being nice and avoiding their SE aversions) until cooperative conquest victory.

            Like you I was hampered by my inability to get to +2 ECON and I am a fan of industry-blessed factions so any industry penalty really hurts. But I find the early worms mean that you have no need to build as much early military so the slightly higher mineral cost is somewhat offset by having a few less things to build. Every wild worm that appears is a bonus. You can expand early without as much fear of native life. If you lose a worm that only means that your chances of capture for the next one has increased.

            Essentially I figure that the following

            1. free units that are relaced free over time
            2. worm explorers can explore far and fast(in fungus)
            3. Cash from killing worms with less damage
            4. Possible submissives
            5. A method to fight with advantage even with a tech disadvantage ( limited given the damage they take but can be very effective with Special Projects and higher planet ratings)
            6. increased survivability aginst IOD or worm attacks
            7.Going naval early can yield multiple free IODs- meet everyone first
            8. Worms are immune to nerve gas giving them some game use as garrisons in threatened cities

            are in aggregate supposed to make up for the penalties.
            I do find that I am more aggressive with Cha Dawn as I see a Planet bonus as something that gets you more units (free) and makes them (slightly) stronger the whole game long. The penalties are toward the builder side. I figure that the only way to outperform the better builder factions is to use this one military advantage to get bigger faster.

            I am not sure how all of this would work in MP (never played it) but I imagine the getting submissives part would not apply.

            I like the faction and have some fun with them but I am
            not yet expert enough to asess how well all this stuff balances. I know that their was an old thread on Cha Dawn and I will try to find it and bump it up. There were opinions from some of the more experienced players there.



            • #7

              I agree that the military value of the worms will diminish over time against a human player. A human seeing the Cult next door could beeline to trance and resonance .

              But imagine that Cha gets just 2 worms in a human player's vicinity in the early game. That human, to get trance and resonance, is not on the quickest beeline to more attractive industrial development techs. That player needs more military early to protect the bases, formers and colony pods thereby limiting exploration. This slows building of improvements and can lead to support issues. Meanwhile Cha can go on about normal development while these worm scouts provide ample warning of any threat from that direction. And if they get killed --so what?? Dead worms seem to be replaced with remarkable ease.

              Think about what the response would be upon spotting just 2 Cha dawn worms (and the player fears there may be more.)

              One of the biggest advantages IMHO is the early exploration. One explorer multiplies into 3 or 4 and these worms get around fast if the world is even just average fungus. This can be very very early when other factions are focusing on a couple of scouts, formers and colony pods. You can "claim" territory by pushing out this line of scouts. As soon as you can, go naval and the 1 or 2 cheap gun foils can net you IODs. So at minimal cost you have 8 or more exploration units (and even this number grows). I had one game with 7 captured IODs. Thats a cargo carrying Navy with 1 to 1 odds (or better)with anything on the sea. Other defenders at sea usually have much worse odds.

              I've never played MP but wouldn't this ability to have many more active explorers at an early stage be a huge advantage. You get a quicker sense of the shape of the world map and where each faction is (I play random maps). This advantage would be much less if you play some set map with known start locations but in the random situation its huge in SP. Wouldn't this be equally important in MP?

              One last advantage that is very situation specific. Cha dawn is one of the best factions if an alien starts next door. A single worm has an excellent chance to beat a 6-3r ogre all by itself and will absolutely cause it major damage. The only strategy that other factions (other than D who might also have worms)seem to have in the very early days is to feed it units until it dies.

              Even though I point out some virtues and believe they are playable, the Cult is not my favorite faction . I really hate tbe inability to use SE choices to get to +2 ECON. And if you do not use the early free military to get some lasting advantages, Cha's negatives can really hurt. But IMO the beauty of this game is that the factions are different and wouldn't it be boring if the same strategies worked equally well for them all ? AS for game settings, I acknowlege that Cha Dawn would be much weaker on a low fungus world. But its equally so that Cha is stronger on a high fungus, abundant native life one.

              All I say is give the Cult a chance. Intelligent use of worms could really hamper opponents abilities to expand and grow. Also, the early exploration leads to lots of pod popping where any result is a good result. The old threads are replete with the same misgivings that you have (and I share to some extent). But the theme of these threads is that this faction is worth a second look.



              • #8

                A couple of points since I am largely in agreement with most of what you said.

                1. Unless I misunderstand trance and res these are both purely defensive so as long as my IoD is not the attacker these advantages don't come into play. Wouldn't you need empath to get an advantage if attacking an IoD?? I thought an IoD would, as a defender, have 1 to 1 odds with all naval craft modified by morale/lifecycle and Planet rating. Assuming equal morale/lifecycle the IoD would have a small Planet % advantage . The relatively expensive trance-res units could be picked off on a hit and run basis by cheaper impact (no or minimal armor) foils using the IoDs as scouts (yes I do mix in some conventional naval units-- just not many and I guard them dearly so that they are available to sink those 3rt units).

                2. My point is that these "free" IoDs can cause opponents to "spend" minerals on more and more expensive military. They can cause military rush builds and tech tree sidetracks. Any disruption is caused with minor effort by the Cult which can be beelining and terraforming in relative safety within its ring of explorers.

                3. I have always felt that you can compensate for an industry minus with "extra" crawlered mines. The key is to somehow work whatever advantage you have such that you obtain turn advantage. If I can crawler/work 10% more minerals than anyone else does that not negate the industry disadvantage? I don't know that there is a satisfactory method around the Econ penalty. Mine was to pump up Labs, crawler energy and use the worms/Iods to troll for cash. The -1 doen't hurt that bad but the inability to go +2 really bites.

                4. Is anything I posted in this or other posts enough to compensate for the long term penalties? Don't know. Many people, perhaps even a majority of players, feel as you do that they are a "weak" faction. I just feel that their ability to control a larger territory, meet people quicker, require a smaller built military, pop more pods etc should lead to some lasting turn advantage. Other factions have to build/buy units (ie their explorers)that are essentially free to the Cult.

                The only true test is MP and a scan of the threads find they do not seem to have a lot of fans. (Perhaps that should tell me something ????)I'm hoping by January I will have the time and setup for multiplayer and after the requisite period of getting destroyed due to inexperience, hopefully I will get to the point where I can at least give a good account with them. In any event, I do enjoy to debate this stuff. (interestingly enough my current favorite are the Drones-- an almost diametrically opposed faction to the Cult)



                • #9

                  1. I am sorry, I meant empath, not trance. My bad. But the fact still remains that these bonuses are easily defended against. It is, however, a well-made point about the use of conventional ships in conjunction with IoDs - a fleet can be potentially devastating. The thing is, however, that this is a viable tactic whatever faction you are playing, as long as you have the prerequisite techs. the planet advantage of Cha Dawn gives him a slight advantage in one of these attacks working - if you are playing any other faction, and running Green, a similar tactic can be deployed. Thus, the advantage is somewhat negated by the fact that it is a viable option for other factions too, IMO.

                  2. Free IoDs - ah, that is certainly an advantage worth something. However, it is the same story, any other faction running green can attempt the same sort of thing.

                  3. Industry penalty - it is true that extra crawlered minerals can help a lot. However, before crawlers become available, this penalty hurts. Even when they do become available, the extra crawlers you are producing loses you turn advantage in itself. Eco-damage admittedly becomes a bit of a non-issue with the Cult, however it is still something to keep an eye on. The economy penalty - it just stamps 'momentum faction' all over the Cult, doesn't it? The fact is, they have to attack to survive....

                  4. Advantages - I would consider a lot of them superfluous. However, they can be very strong in the early game, with hordes of worms coming from every direction before anyone else has even managed to figure out what they are. However, I do not believe that they can be formidable opponents in MP games - a decent human player would have him and his mind worms for lunch.

                  BTW, I look forward to your presence in MP circles - the Cult would certainly be an interesting faction to play against.


                  P.S. If none of this makes sense, ignore it - I'm tired
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                  • #10

                    MP games ...

                    RedFred is a renowned cultist

                    At least he will be playing the Cult as a partner of the Lady Rynn against those dastardly despoilers of planet, Allie Cove as the Hive and Misotu as Zak.

                    Be interesting to see how well a Cultist survives and prospers (with the Lady's assistance, of course).

                    I guess one could say that the Skye's the limit.

                    (couldn't resist)

                    *** and for you those of you that have just dabbled in the Cult, try the Cha Cha Challenge***



                    • #11
                      I agree with you that Cha Dawn's advantage is that his early game rush can be extremely potent - possibly more so than any other faction. However, there are other factions who can do more than cause a slight technological and industrial slowdown. What you have to remember on that front is that there are more than two factions in the game, and any other faction will just storm ahead of Cha Dawn if the situation is anywhere near hospitable.

                      The early game exploration is also a formidable advantage - never to be underestimated. I would agree that in SP, any player who takes to the sea early on and gets a few IoDs can really cause an AI faction problems. However, in MP, there is just a simple solution - trance units. Add resonance to that and the IoD doesn't have a prayer. The fact is, the tools are there for the intelligent human player to counter the (albeit formidable) psi threat.

                      I also agree (and disagree) with you on the alien front - worms are dispensable (most of the time) and can be formidable opponents for any Ogre that might happen to wander into your territory. However, once a human player gets impact weapons, they can take it on with a 4-3 ratio, and generally succeed. This doesn't take long for most momentum/hybrid players, although, admittedly, it could easily cause a builder player a problem if they haven't taken necessary precautions.

                      Finally, your point about the diversity of this game is very well made. I would agree, to a certain extent, that the reason SMAC(X) is so infinitely replayable is the diversity and richness of the characters involved. However, I still believe it to be true that the Cult is one of the weakest of the 14 factions, they rely a lot on game conditions to make them even a formidable force.

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                      • #12
                        Just one final word: that +20% planet rating does not apply on defense. It only applies to attacks.

                        (This is something worth remembering when you're running Free Market with other factions, too. Your negative planet rating doesn't apply on defense; so your trance garrison is just as potent in FM as he is in Green, when he's being attacked by worms.)


                        • #13
                          Yeah, mind worms can be a real pain though when you are running FM. The main reason being that they do, occasionally, do the sensible thing and roam around destroying all your enhancements - and you can't do a thing about it because you haven't bothered to invest in any empath rovers....
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                          • #14
                            Allright guys, I think that everyone will agree that there are many benefits to having a good planet rating.

                            But here is what it boils down to in my opinion: Why play Cha Dawn when Deidre is available?

                            Deidre's +1 planet is just a little bit less than Dawn's +2. And although the manual and people might say that +1 planet will give you a 25% chance to capture native life while a +2 planet gives you a 50% chance I find this is not the case. How many worms you currently have is a very large modifier. Once you get past a certain number it is very hard to get more worms with any faction. It gives Cha Dawn a very slightly bigger advantage on the offense- I was playing a game against the AI today as Deidre where my Demon boil mindworms with +3 planet had even odds against an extremely well defended garrison. Perhaps in this situation Cha Dawn's slightly better worms would have a little better chance. Still it is a really small difference.

                            Both Dawn and Deidre can control a lot of the map effectively with their large native forces- but Dawn can not take advantage of it as easily. Deidre's efficiency bonus works like magic with her planet rating. She can use her native life forces to effectively defend much larger empires in much less hospitable terrain than most other people.

                            Deidre also has that nice food bonus in fungus. Occaisionally this is useful when you need a bit more food when pop booming.

                            Her disadvantages are fairly minor- before children's creches her conventional forces are SLIGHTLY less powerful than Dawn's with a -10% morale penalty- but with the ability to go paradigm economy easily and be a builder eventually Deidre will get some pretty decent conventional forces, whereas Dawn is usually stuck in the stone age.

                            Deidre has much better SE choices than Dawn. Deidre can't go FM- BUT she can get that nifty +2 energy per square with wealth/golden age. Dawn can get the same thing but he has to go FM AND golden age- a lot of trouble. They both need the golden age in order to get the money but Dawn has to go FM which is a pain.

                            Dawn's other advantages are really minor. The brood pits are very late game. The police bonus is irrelevent because native life is better used to pop pods and harass free marketeers.

                            All and all Dawn is a decent faction- in my opinion below average. But against Deidre he just doesn't measure up.


                            • #15
                              Enigma, you've hit the nail on the head - Cha Dawn is very similar to Deirdre, but is exempt from a lot of the bonuses, and has some crippling penaties also. As for the extra planet rating - what is wrong with +1? It might sound stupid, but what, exactly, can you do with +2 planet that you can't with +1? Capture a few more mind worms. Whoop-de-doo. An extra 10% bonus when attacking. No big deal - Deirdre can usually get to green sooner than Cha Dawn, so she can get to +3. +2 efficiency is a great bonus - I know Misotu is a great fan of it, and rightly so - Planned is an early game option without losing half your energy to inefficiency.

                              In the late game....worm rape is a useful option, but then again it is with vitually any other faction also. An extra +20%? What a load of nonsense that is - with any faction, even running FM - you can annihilate most demon boils with an empath unit and the Dream Twister SP no problem.

                              Another of Cha Cha's penalties - -1 industry. Oh dear, I hate -1 industry with a vengeance. I have a hard time coping with it with Santiago, but there aren't the benefits of this with the Cult.

                              -1 economy. This is the nail in the coffin, as far as I am concerned. No real benefit in FM, Wealth isn't an option, and suddenly you are condemned to a life of low energy.

                              All in all, I would regard Cha Dawn as a half-decent worm-rush faction, although probably the weakest in the game. But then, that is just my opinion....

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