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help! i'm a terraforming ******!

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  • help! i'm a terraforming ******!

    first of all, let me just say that i'm amazed and overjoyed at finding this site. i knew there were a bunch of people out there who play AC, but i didn't know where they hung out!!!! hopefully i'll be on here frequently, asking really dumb questions and offering my misinformed opinion on things.

    my first question, is this: ok, i'm starting the game. i have a couple scouts cruising around and 1 or 2 bases. i discover the ecology or whatever tech that lets me make formers. so i make a former. hooray. what should he do????

    in other words, what's the best thing to do first? i've been trying the forests-everywhere-except-special-squares technique, and it generally works. but i want to know the best, most efficient way to make my base rock quickly. last night i was playing as the borg (aki) on thinker level and failing miserably. crappy mineral production, and drone riots before i even had 5 bases up due to my terraforming retardation.

    can i just get some kind of really basic run-through on how to terraform well in the very, very beginning stages? i really suck at it and never know what to do.

    thanks so much! i look forward to "talking" to you!
    drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang

  • #2
    Bella Hella:

    The best thing to do is to go on-line and buy the SMAX strategy guide by Velociryx :

    (Although it says smax, it started as a smac guide, so everything you need to know to be successful in the game you'll find here)



    • #3
      well i have the original....

      the non-book version. printed it out, made it into a book. in the vresion i have, there's really no super-basic walkthrough of how to get your new bases up and happy...

      but i will definitely get the new guide as soon as i can!
      drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


      • #4
        I think most people would recomend getting a square that produces 2 nutrients first at each base to facilitate the growth to size 2 and 3. After that I would think roads, forests, and sensor arrays in no particular order. Mines can usually wait a bit.


        • #5
          I think it depends entirely on what you're looking for the base to do. Your very limited options in the early stages are:

          1) Build forests everywhere. This means your bases are quite productive, but typically take 18 turns or so to grow to size 2 - impractical for churning out colony pods.

          2) Build a farm first on a 1-1-0 square. This will leave your base lacking productively, but will mean you can churn out pods that much quicker.

          3) Build a recycling tanks at the base straight off, and work a forest. This is often my favourite method, but you need cash - and is only really practical if you have cash to burn. What it does do, though, is make your base rather nice both productively and growth-wise - 2 surplus nuts and 4 mins.

          Again, circumstances are key here. If you've been lucky, and started off in a lush, green terrain, simply have your base work a 2-1-0 square, forget all about formers, and you'll be able to churn out pods like there's no tomorrow. If you haven't quite been so lucky, then forests are your only answer, really - and tanks become a number one priority.
          We're back!


          • #6
            The simple rule of thumb is:

            1) Very early game: Food
            2) Early-to-mid game: Minerals
            3) Mid-to-late game: Energy

            In the early game, if you found your first few colonies near rainy squares (or a nutrient resource square), you'll have enough food to get to two or three population very quickly. This is essential for building more colony pods and expanding, not to mention making best use of squares before supply crawlers.

            However, if by circumstance your base isn't near any rainy square or nut resource (e.g. you plant a base on an eastward-facing slope), get your formers to build a farm or two.

            You can never go wrong with forests. You can plant them quickly, and they grow on their own. Later on when you get supply crawlers, you can crawl unworked forest squares, and that should help until the lifting of mineral restrictions. After that, you'll want mines on rocky squares as well as boreholes, but that's later on down the road.

            Once the mid game gets underway, you should start focusing on energy production. This is where the terraforming game gets advanced, so I'll stop here for now. Just concentrate on gaining the "Turn Advantage" in the early game, and the rest will come later!

            (Oh yeah, and don't forget to look for a copy of Vel's Strategy Guide, which describes terraforming, "Turn Advantage," and many other things that are too good for any SMAC player to give up!)


            • #7
              Like WhiteElephants said, you need to worry about that 2-nutrient square first. Most of what I do in the opening turns is so second-nature by now that it's hard to even think about all the details. Here's what I do, and I'm sure it's very similar to what everybody else does:

              (note that I'm talking about a Transcend game, where you start with an extra colony pod... if you're not playing on Transcend, you'll obviously just have one base during the opening turns)

              1) Always get Centauri Ecology first. If you have picked blind research, select either Growth as a priority, or set Wealth AND Growth as a priority. Wealth + Growth will give you about a 50/50 chance of getting Centauri Eco or Social Psych. Setting just Growth gives you about a 50/50 chance of getting Centauri Eco or Doc: Mobility. If you're ambitious and another faction is VERY close, you can go for Applied Physics and make Laser Infantry first.

              2) Found your second base just two or three spaces away from your first one. Moving diagonally is best because it gives you less shared squares. Don't worry about a few shared squares, though. Most people wouldn't worry about half the squares in their base radius being shared. It is actually preferable to share a mineral bonus between two bases so you can trade it back and forth. I almost always make my 2nd base two squares away, then all other bases three squares away. If you're not sure which direction to move your colony pod, move it west. The west side of a continent always has more rainy squares than the east side, so you're more likely to find a 2-nutrient square moving west. Bases get no bonuses from the square they're built on, except for resource specials and sensors, so don't worry about the output of the square you build your base on, just worry about what squares are going to be inside the base radius.

              3) Until you can build formers, build nothing but scouts. It is very important to have as many scouts as possible in the early turns. Generally, you'll have the one independant scout you start the game with, then you'll have two scouts built at your first base (and one or two scouts built at your second base) before you discover Centauri Eco. Keep track of the F2 screen, and when you have 1 turn left till you discover Centauri Eco, you'll probably want to rush-build the second scout at your second base. This gives you five scouts. Each base can support two free, and the scout you start with is independant, so you have five "clean" scouts--two to defend and three to explore.

              note: If you are playing the University or the Gaians, then things are different because you start off with Centauri Eco. immediately... but you still need scouts. If the first thing you build is a former, make sure the second thing you build is a scout (or two). You still need a defender for each base and at least two scouts roaming around.

              4) With your scouts, you need to be popping pods and looking for places for new bases. While your first two bases are size 1, if there isn't fungus next to either one, you can even leave the bases undefended for a couple turns while you roam around with your first few scouts. You should be able to find base sites near resource bonuses, and the ideal spot has access to two resources bonuses. Especially useful are nutrient bonuses on rainy squares, mineral bonuses on rocky squares, and energy bonuses on rivers or coastal squares.

              5) Make sure each of your bases has a scout defending it when it grows to size 2. This is very important on Transcend, or else your base will go into drone riots, then you'll have to turn a worker into a doctor, and then your base might as well be size 1. It may be tempting to just nerve staple your bases in the early turns and leave your scouts roaming around, but trust me, nerve stapling has far-reaching political and environmental effects that you don't want to deal with.

              6) Once you get Centauri Eco, switch production to formers. When the first row of minerals is completed, rush-build the former. Hopefully you will have found a pod with some credits in it or killed a few mindworms with your scouts for money by now, and will have no problem rushing your first two formers after the first row of minerals is done.

              7) Now that you've got formers, make sure both your bases have a square with 2 nutrients. Hopefully, they already have access to a rainy square with 2 nutrients, but if not, the first thing you need to do is terraform a farm. Rainy squares have 2 nutrients, moist have 1 nutrient, arid has 0 nutrients. Rolling squares have 1 mineral, flat have 0 minerals. If you don't have a rainy square, obviously the best place for a farm would be a rolling, rainy, river tile. If you've got a rainy square (or a nutrient bonus), don't worry about a farm yet.

              8) Next you worry about getting some extra minerals for your bases, so you need to terraform a forest square. Don't worry about roads yet, just build that forest immediately. Forests only get bonuses from resource specials and rivers, so don't worry about the nutrient / mineral production of the square you choose to build a forest on.

              9) By now you will have found some good base sites. The best base sites are three squares away diagonally frome another base, and have access to a resource bonus. That way you can get to the base in one turn once you build roads. Your next priority is to have each base build a colony pod. You may be producing colony pods well before your bases reach size 3, but if one of your bases is about to grow to size 3 (one turn to grow in the nutrient panel), you need to rush-build a colony pod, because on Transcend your base is just going to riot anyway at size 3 without a rec commons.

              10) While your colony pods are being built, you need to be terraforming sensors on the new base sites. Except for your first two bases, every base should have a sensor built on the square before the base is founded. If your first colony pod rolls out before you've got a sensor built on the new base site, don't worry too much about it. It is only worth waiting one or two turns (if that), but you need to plan ahead and have sensors ready when your colony pods are built. The permanant defensive bonus (and sight bonus) is very important, especially for bases near the edges of your empire. It takes four turns to build a sensor. If you have enough time, you should also build a road to the new base site, then rush the colony pod the turn before you finish the sensor. The sensor must be done before you found the base, though. Say you've got a former that is 1 turn from completing a sensor and you found a base on the square, the sensor will not get finished next turn.

              At this point, the game can be going several different directions. Maybe you have a mineral bonus at one of your first two bases, and you are able to build some extra formers. Maybe you've got a nutrient bonus, and you can build a farm on it and use that base to produce most of your colony pods. You want to switch your economics to Planned as soon as possible. When you've only got a few bases, the -2 efficiency is meaningless, but the +2 growth and +1 industry is something you really want early. Maybe you'll go for impact weapons and roll over some neighboring factions. If not, you'll want a base working on the Weather Paradigm early so you can build condensor farms then switch to democracy and do an early pop boom. You want to create your first set of bases (about eight bases--you should stop before you get the first bureaucracy warning) before you switch to democracy (because you get extra minerals at new bases before you switch to democracy), then make the switch and do a pop boom. Anyway, it's really getting past the early stages you were talking about at this point.
              To secure peace is to prepare for war.


              • #8
                Like Mark was saying, recycling tanks can be important, too ... It can be a waste of money to build them early at all of your bases when you could be rushing formers and some of your colony pods, but generally you will have a couple bases with developed bonuses (a nutrient bonus with a farm or a mineral bonus with a mine and a road) that are producing most of your colony pods and a few extra formers. It is important to build recycling tanks early at these main production centers.
                To secure peace is to prepare for war.


                • #9
                  These guys have covered a lot! I would just add that forests are great, and a forest is almost always the first thing I'll put down, even if I don't have a 2 nutrient square, since they expand on their own. If you're putting a forest down somewhere where you'll want a road later, it's usually better to put the road down first, 'cause it'll take the former longer to build a road in the forest.
                  Another thing: I know a lot of people on these boards say only farm a rolling and rainy square, and I mostly agree. (The higher elevation it has the better.) But I often farm rolling and moist squares if 1)they are on a river, or 2) they are over 1000m elevation. Put a solar collector on there as well and you have a good energy and growth-friendly resource, which can be useful even after you get tree-farms, in the second instance. I know Vel goes into some detail re:terraforming in his guide. I don't remember if he mentions that or not. One final note: Consider future possibilities for forming as much as possible. If you're going to crawl a condenser, use a flat square instead of a rolling one, because you won't be getting the extra mineral with your crawler. A low, flat square is an excellent place for a borehole too. Naturally, rocky squares are best for mines, since mines don't work well anywhere else. Many people "lower terrain" on rocky squares, but I rarely do, cause they're hard to replace if you want a mine! And a nutrient bonus anywhere will eventually get a crawled condenser/farm!!! Hope I've been some help...

                  vitamin j


                  • #10
                    If you want to know everything about how terraforming affects a square's production, here's the info from a post I made about a year ago, with some corrections. Basically, though, you can just remember what everybody always says--crawl farms/condensors for food, crawl rocky/mine/road squares for minerals, work boreholes, and build forests.

                    Arid land produces no nutrients.
                    Moist land produces 1 nutrient.
                    Rainy land produces 2 nutrients.
                    Jungles add +1 nutrient.
                    Specials add +2 nutrients (and lift restrictions)
                    Farms add +1 nutrient.
                    Soil enrichers add +1 nutrient.
                    Soil enrichers add another +1 if on a special.
                    Soil enrichers add another +1 in the jungle.
                    Condensors increase moisture and multiply nutrients by 1.5 (round down)

                    So a rainy/jungle/special/farm/enriched/condensed square produces 13 nutrients.

                    Flat land produces no minerals.
                    Rolling or Rocky land produces 1 mineral.
                    Specials add +2 minerals (and lift restrictions).
                    Mines add +1 mineral.
                    Mines add another +1 mineral on rocky terrain.
                    Mines add another +1 mineral with a road.
                    Special/Rocky/Mine/Road gets a bonus +1 for 7 total.

                    For some reason, mines not on specials have the outline around the mineral production (showing they're not meeting their potential, I guess) if they're not on rocky terrain or don't have a road.

                    Flat/Rolling/Rocky land produces 0 energy.
                    Rivers add +1 energy.
                    Specials add +2 energy (and lift restrictions)
                    An economy rating of 2 adds +1 energy.
                    Solar panels give +1 energy at 0-1000m elevation.
                    Solar panels give +2 energy at 1000-2000m elevation.
                    Solar panels give +3 energy at 2000-3000m elevation.
                    Solar panels give +4 energy at 3000+ meters.
                    Echelon mirrors are cool ... look them up in the datalinks.

                    The building an energy park, you get the most energy by constructing solar panels and echelon mirrors as follows.

                    3 M 5 M 5 M 3
                    4 M 7 M 7 M 4
                    4 M 7 M 7 M 4
                    4 M 7 M 7 M 4
                    4 M 7 M 7 M 4
                    4 M 7 M 7 M 4
                    3 M 5 M 5 M 3

                    ...where the numbers indicate the energy produced by the solar panel on a square, and the M's indicate mirrors, which always produce just a base of one energy. So, those 7's at the heart of an energy farm will produce 11 energy each if you raise them to over 3000m and terraform a river (drill to aquifier). You can't start a river next to another river, but if you have enough terraformers, you can start terraforming rivers in every square simultaneously. Mirrors take 12 turns to terraform, which makes other designes seem like a good idea since saving turns terraforming means you can make a bigger park, but when considering the long-term game and the extra crawlers you would need to take advantage of a larger park (with a less efficient layout), the above design is the best. You can, of course, have just about any size energy park. If you are making a rectangular energy park, expanding the above design horizontally is slightly more efficient than expanding it vertically.

                    Forests produce 1 nutrient regardless (before you get a Tree Farm). Forests replace any farm/condensor/enricher/mine/solar/mirror/sensor/borehole.
                    Base Forest = 1 nutrient 2 minerals 1 energy
                    Tree Farm gives +1 nutrient
                    Hybrid Forest gives +1 nutrient +1 energy
                    All special bonuses, and energy bonuses from rivers still apply to forests.

                    So, with a Tree Farm, Hybrid Forest, and an economy rating of 2, all forest squares produce 3 nutrients, 2 minerals, 3 energy (4 energy on river spaces which you can make yourself with "drill to aquifier").

                    Boreholes make 6 minerals and 6 energy. Mineral/energy bonuses also apply. They never produce nutrients, even on nutrient specials.

                    Boreholes and Forests replace other resource improvements (and each other), but exist fine with roads/mag tubes/sensors. You can build a farm on a borehole, but it still doesn't make nutrients.

                    Bases get no bonuses from the square they're built on, except for resource specials and sensors. Facilities (like recycling tanks) built in the base will add to what is displayed on the base's square.

                    OTHER STUFF
                    Farms/Enrichers/Roads/Bunkers (or Airbases) can all exist together. Bunkers/Airbases cannot exist together. Mines/Solar/Condensors/Sensors/Mirrors are all mutually exclusive and will replace each other, although any one of them can exist with Farm/Enrichers/Roads (or mag tubes). Fungus and Farms replace each other, and Fungus will also remove any Soil Enricher present.

                    Monoliths produce 2 nutrients, 2 minerals, 2 energy. The Manifold Harmonics can raise monolith/fungus resources depending on your planet rating. Fungus produces no nutrients by default, but can be even better than forests given a high planet rating and the right facilities.

                    As far as ocean squares, most of it's pretty simple. All squares make 1 nutrient. Kelp farms give you +2 nutrients, another +1 with an Aquafarm at the base... And freshwater seas give you +1 nutrients. So, a kelp farm in a freshwater sea feeding a base with an aquafarm will produce 5 nutrients, but only requires 4 turns of terraforming (not to mention kelp expands naturally), making it by far the most efficient source of nutrients in terms of time spent terraforming.
                    Last edited by Dimension; October 5, 2001, 10:34.
                    To secure peace is to prepare for war.


                    • #11
                      WOW! everything i ever wanted to know about terraforming...

                      (but was afraid to ask).


                      thanks for all the advice.

                      just to clarify where i'm coming from - i've been playing the game on my own for a while (a couple years), and i have some previous version of vel's strategy guide (which is fantastic and i'll definitely be getting the new one). but i was never really able to talk about the game with anyone. so it's great to have input on what i'm doing, and see different ideas people have!!! i'm definitely not a beginner, but surely not a master. i usually play on librarian level, but lately i've been starting all my games on thinker, slowly working up to trancend. i usually play a builder/hybrid game with various factions. my recent santiago-as-a-builder game is pretty fascinating. i also try to use unpopular factions such as the drones (i adore the drones for some reason).

                      this game is just so detailed and it's hard for me to get the hang of certain aspects of it, particulary resource management!!!

                      as for terraforming, i totally love forests, too, and use them all the time. i always stick them in those arid flat squares. rainy squares are for farms, of course, etc. i have a bit of trouble figuring out energy production. hm. i would love to try out the solar "farm" idea, but it sounds incredibly complicated! i'll have to re-read about it and see if i can figure it out.

                      what i did last night with aki was to make sensors on base sites (duh) and immediately build farms on the rolling/moist squares so they get nutrients and a mineral. the thing i finally had to realize was that they need a lot of food to start out with. and since they can only use a couple of squares, it makes the most sense to use the ones that are already producing both nutrients and minerals, with a focus on nutients (duh again). i had a couple rocky/moist squares where i put mines, then planted forests in the useless arid squares. sounds good, right? worked for me.

                      forest question: does it make any difference what type of terrain is under the forest? would it be a total waste to use a moist or rainy square for a forest? if you have a moist/rolling square, would you still get 1 nut, 2 mins and 1 eng, or would you get 2 nuts, 3 mins and 1 eng???

                      another question: what the @#$% do you do when you have nothing but arid land around? how can you facilitate growth starting out when you can't produce nutrients and don't yet have the advanced forming options? i guess you could wait for sea formers, make coastal bases and plant kelp or something, huh?

                      and finally yet another question, somewhat unrelated. what would you guys do if you started out on a little crappy island while everyone else has nice continents? the way i see it there are a couple options:
                      - sea bases
                      - other small, crappy islands
                      - getting the WP immediately and raising land
                      - go kill somebody who's on the nice large continent (hoping it's someone gimpy) and take it for yourself

                      any way you do it you seem to be at a disadvantage. raising land is slow and expensive, killing the person on the continent is a pain and it's hard to get the resources to effectively do so, plus you might get killed yourself... (surprise attack?), and the small islands/sea bases (svensgaard) technique spreads you out all over the place, which i don't like. this has been happening to me a LOT lately and it's really annoying. i get to the point where i get frustrated and "cheat" by restarting using the same settings and hoping i end up on a bigger land mass. BTW, i like to use standard or the one bigger (large?) for planet size.

                      thanks for the great responses! see ya

                      drones to the left of me, spartans to the right - here i am, stuck in the middle with yang


                      • #12

                        I dont know if I am right, but I think you are more likely to get a monolith from a popped pod if it is within the base radius. I dont think I have ever seen a worm come out of a pod that is within a base radius. It is always something good.

                        So what I like to do is leave the pods nearby to my starting point alone until I can establish a base next to it, and then pop the pod. You will often get a monolith or a special resource square within your base radius that way. Poof!! Instant terraforming, no former required. ( And having more monoliths will drastically improve your militarys morale. )

                        Forests are not affected by underlying terrain-except that you cant plant them on rocky squares , rivers will give extra energy, and bonus resources are added to the forests production so that a mineral bonus will make the forest you plant on it produce more minerals, etc.

                        If your terrain is arid, you can build condensers. If you dont have the tech for that yet, then build the Weather Paradigm which will allow you to build condensers before you learn the tech for it.

                        Alternately just plant forests, and build Tree Farms/ Hybrid Forests to take max advantage of them. Depends on where you are in the tech tree.
                        Last edited by Drago Sinio; October 3, 2001, 15:06.
                        "Nine out of ten voices in my head CAN'T be wrong, can they?"


                        • #13
                          To some extent, your initial activities are suggested by some of the aspects of your faction. Particularly, there is Yang, whose -1 energy per base makes rivers more important; Lal's extra talent allows an extra worker before you need facilities or police; Morgan's early size limit suggests budding off new bases quickly; they are all a little bit different. Between the faction and the general lay of the land, a lot of your development strategy is partially bounded, leaving the rest to be determined by your personality and goals, although some players are able to fit a standard plan to almost any circumstances.

                          I find that resource specials are important for getting a base going quickly. In the arid terrain you mentioned, putting a base on top of a nut special will let you quickly develop quite a bit of the land in forest; later, you can crawl in a few extra nuts, build a TF, an HF, condensors, etc. to support larger sizes. Putting a base on top of a special does waste some of the potential of that tile compared to fully developing it, but if it is a one dimensional tile like a flat arid nut special, you don't have to take the bad with the good and you get a +2 whatevers right at the beginning. Foresting specials where possible is also a good early move for the same reasons.


                          • #14
                            One thing that I haven't seen mentioned, is that a condensor on a farm gives three nuts even before restrictions are lifted. This obviously makes the Weather Paradigm even more important. Two squares next to eachothers with farm+condensor, means that you can use the rest of that base's population on forests.
                            The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
                            -H. L. Mencken


                            • #15
                              The way I terraform is as follows :-

                              1) Move former to any square with nutrient bonus and plant a forest unless it is rolling and rainy in which case you should farm/solar collector it instead.

                              2) Clear fungus from any squares with resource bonuses (starting with nutrients), then plant a forest unless it is rolling and rainy

                              2) Move to any rolling and rainy squares, and create a farm/solar collector.

                              3) Start clearing fungus on rolling and rainy squares and continue until all the rolling/rainy squares are fully terraformed.

                              4) Lower rocky/rainy terrain to rolling/rainy then farm/solar collector it.

                              5) Clear fungus away.

                              6) Start drilling to aquifer.

                              Remember to check that the expanding forests haven't covered over any rolling/rainy squares. Don't be too concerned about rapid 'normal' growth as democracy/planned/childrens chreches will get you to size 7 bases in no time due to pop booms. There's no point having lots of lovely farmland going unused so if you find yourself growing slowly then improve the squares which are being utilised first instead. If you are really desperate for nutrients then flat/rainy will do for farm/solar collectors.

                              I don't believe terraforming is all that important, and a simplish outlook works in a similar way to the hardcore terraforming that can be done. The 10 turns or so of bad efficiency and support when pop booming is just repayment on the extra minerals you've had from your forests up till then. I'm not saying this is perfect or statistically superior to a full terraforming project - it's just easy to utilise while you get on with the rest of the game.
                              Three words :- Increase your medication.