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  • Your favourite faction(s).

    mine are:

    - The University of Planet,
    - Datatech Sinder Roze's,
    - Spartan Militarized Faction,
    - Lady Deirdre Skye's Eco Faction.
    a Spartan Eco-Science specimen.
    ----
    Producing Buddhism.
    Enlightenment is the Base, Way & Goal.

  • #2
    Santiago's Spartans and Aki's Cyborgs, but I rarely play the originals anymore. I do a lot of testing with custom factions.
    I am on a mission to see how much coffee it takes to actually achieve time travel. :frantic:

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    • #3
      Morgan
      University
      Free Drones
      Cyborgs

      As you can see, I'm a science & industry kinda guy. I also don't use/consider either of the alien factions as they were created OP in order to give the expansion a more scenario feel.

      I am always surprised to see so many love Santiago. I consider her the third weakest after the Pirates and the Cult.
      "They’re lazy troublemakers, and they all carry weapons." - SMAC Manual, Page 59 Regarding Drones
      "Without music, life would be a mistake." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
      "If fascism came to America it would be on a program of Americanism." -- Huey Long
      "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in any country." -- Hermann Goering

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      • #4
        I think is better to try all of them even the ones you dislike, to see how you can do with them, and seek other tactics and strategies.

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        • #5
          Overall I like to make sense of factions' ideologies and play according to my beliefs rather than based on their respective advantages to attain victory.

          I like the Free Drones, because they're a socialist civilization that can be based on free market. It's refreshing to be able to pick a faction that does not either give in to uncontrolled barbarian plutocratic
          capitalism or a foolishly planned economy via a dictatorship like Yang's society.

          Gaia's Stepdaughters is a great faction too, although quite opposite to the Free Drones.. but since I consider equally important having a reasonable socialist system and being eco-friendly I like them both. That being said, I never get to play Deirdre because I can't play a female.. roleplay-wise I mean, don't get me wrong.

          About the Spartans, to me it's hard to catch what they're about as I never really understood why a civilization based on combat and power would favor other factions that seek power and strength themselves. If another faction is suited to make war with similar means and willpower, then it is a rival and that places the Spartans in a weaker position than if they had no rivals. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of wanting power above all?

          Following their strength ideology, they would normally prevent any faction from growing as powerful as them and would do so by trying to monopolize military assets primarily. They certainly wouldn't pat power-hungry faction leaders on the back and make treaties with them, unless that's their best course of action because they're in a bad shape at some point in the game but then it becomes a strategic decision, not something based on ideology as the game implies for instance when Santiago congratulates you for being such a powerful and warlike leader or throughout the manual.

          This doesn't work the same way as Morgan for instance, who needs strong partners to trade in larger quantities and make the best of them. This isn't the same as the Peacekeepers either who're motivated by peace even if you're stronger.

          One might argue that they believe peace is brought by everyone having weapons to nuke the planet ten times, e.g the famous atomic bomb argument, but we know for a fact this is not a belief shared by belligerent people only but rather by self-proclaimed pacifist nations first. This might actually be better suited to Lal who is all for peace but still produces military troops and researches war-related technologies and so on.

          In conclusion, they Spartans should have been isolationists forbidden to make any kind of treaties or trade with anyone but with even more important war-related bonuses to compensate for it. People don't always know that historically Sparta was isolated from the rest of the world, disregarded strangers and limited the use of money drastically. Indeed, they were nothing like an open free-market society and yet it's possible to pick free market playing the Spartans in the game.

          This really irritates me.

          It is a shame the game designers didn't respect their true background and this is one of the very few criticisms I have to address about this game.

          The Spartans are silly, flawed, and is the worst faction of SMAC because it doesn't make any sense.

          Following this idea, the Pirates are more coherent than the Spartans.

          They're individualist criminals who only pair when it suits them to do so, plain and simple. Therefore I like them better than the Spartans, although they really should have had a one-point morale bonus to reflect their life of brutality and assaults. This would compensate a bit the efficiency penalty which itself reflects their individualist nature.


          I hate the University Of Planet, because science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul. The same goes with the Cybernetic Consciousness. Most people would think these are good or at least acceptable ways to pursue human civilization, but I do not. Uncontrolled science is nothing more than a sword of Damocles, waiting to strike the common people when it falls into the wrong hands. It's been true in the past and shall remain true in the future.

          The Believers are.. well, believers. I respect religion and believe we're wrong to dis it all the time although I'm no believer. I might add that they look more like fanatics than just some religious people but who knows.. I'm okay with that faction and often happen to make deals or enter treaties with them, but no more. I wouldn't play them.

          The Data Angels are.. I don't know, happy hackers I guess. Though I fail to see how this amounts to an entire civilization. Do they hack themselves too? That must be quite a show. Jokes aside, I fail to see any respective ideological base.

          Truth be told, I don't think there's any. They look more to me like a gimmick faction.

          About the Cult Of The Planet, I heard they need a new kid to shoot The Karate Kid 4, go for it lad! Now again, jokes aside, this faction is about a tale that has been told a thousand times, really. The tale of a deemed exceptional individual who, for some reason, at some point, hears a message from God or whatever superior or mysterious force and feels it's his duty to serve as an intermediary between that force and the foolish unbelievers.

          I'd say it's ok because this hadn't been exploited before but the lack of originality throws a damper on my enthusiasm.

          Finally, the aliens.. Well, they're overpowered so I don't play them but sometimes I challenge them. There isn't much background about them and as a consequence there isn't much to say about them too although what is known is interesting, so they're okay I guess.

          Thinking about SMAX, I must say the factions are generally less interesting and practical than in SMAC. I should also point out the fact that the former factions were balanced power-wise while the latest essentially break that equilibrium.

          Sadly and in conclusion, the background of the factions is probably the least impressing aspect of Alpha Centauri.
          Last edited by Mensonge; December 29, 2014, 19:47.

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          • #6
            I'm a huge fan of the pirates and Gaia myself.

            Roaming the seas of Planet... sinking islands for my benefit. Claiming land by way of my units offloading from a seabase onto the shore with a colony pod. One of the things I was disappointed in Beyond Earth was the lack of seabases. Heck, steal from Call to Power and put in some space stations too since there's an orbital layer after all.
            I'm not conceited, conceit is a fault and I have no faults...

            Civ and WoW are my crack... just one... more... turn...

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            • #7
              If you're such a huge fan of the Pirates, would you mind telling me why you like them so much?

              Gameplay-wise, I've never really wrapped my head around them. This is because the Pirates are obviously a waterborne faction, but - correct me if I'm wrong - the ocean is more expensive to terraform than the land which you'll have to set foot on eventually. That's true for two reasons at least: First, because you have to corner isles to benefit from the shores and that implies building bases on the isles to avoid being attacked from its center, and second because most of your opponents are devoid of sea-related technologies and as a result will meet you on the ground and not on the sea, that is unless you wish to remain isolated from the rest of the world for a very long time until they do sail to challenge you.

              But then again, if you surround islands without building on them you're likely to encounter factions from afar and while you're based on the shore get robbed crucial land tiles to work on.. In the end you'll have to set foot on land to reclaim.

              At this point, you realize you have none of the others factions' advantages on land but, even worse, you find yourself having to cope with big disadvantages like growth and efficiency penalties while still having to go on the land because a sea-all approach seems impractical.. What's the point?!

              And if there's any, how do you exactly offset all this?

              I'm all ears, thanks.

              ( Happy new year, by the way )
              Last edited by Mensonge; January 3, 2015, 12:04.

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              • #8
                I play Gaian most of the time. Random once in a while to keep sharp on other factions.
                I have changed the end of game year and play only to the Death! Librarian Level, Huge Map! Playing since 1999!!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
                  If you're such a huge fan of the Pirates, would you mind telling me why you like them so much?
                  Most of the time I take to the land and sea, you're right.

                  A central base island, if I'm lucky my starting base is in a harbor which makes life even easier. Other times I'm founding smaller crawler islands where if you're to land on them, you're going to have to use an amphibious unit to even get ashore.

                  A single transport, usually found, turns a sea base into a bridge between two larger continents as well.

                  To raise the sea is anywhere from 64-128 energy and if you beeline for the weather paradigm then you're able to terraform the sea sooner. Crawler boats make great warning vessels and also settle on unused sea bonus resources.

                  I do play with one mod to my game: sonar buoy. I activated allowing building the land sensors on the sea because it just makes sense... I think I put it on the same tech that gives cruisers to try and balance.

                  The growth and efficiency really aren't much issue once you have the bonus sea nutrient tiles that you find all over the place. I often take Green just long enough to capture some isles of the deep as well to augment my fleet... if I haven't augmented it enough from the other factions trying to go to sea.

                  I'm generally controlling the land around my sea bases as well though, or else I'm not putting a sea base that close to the land (for the wasted tiles like you pointed out.)

                  Going for sea and air I'm able to defend myself quite nicely.

                  Granted, when I play, I'm usually fairly low difficulty because I'm playing to relax and enjoy watching my sea minions take over the world. I'm assuming a lot of this becomes less feasible the higher you go difficulty setting.
                  I'm not conceited, conceit is a fault and I have no faults...

                  Civ and WoW are my crack... just one... more... turn...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
                    I like the Free Drones, because they're a socialist civilization that can be based on free market. It's refreshing to be able to pick a faction that does not either give in to uncontrolled barbarian plutocratic capitalism or a foolishly planned economy via a dictatorship like Yang's society.
                    There's no particular reason you can't play Drones as a Police State. I don't think it's optimal, because Police State is mechanically terrible, but it's certainly POSSIBLE. And Drones do fantastically with a Planned Economy, getting another +1 industry and lots of lovely growth. And if you ARE running Drones with Free Market/Wealth, then you are, by definition, plutocratic capitalists.

                    About the Spartans, to me it's hard to catch what they're about as I never really understood why a civilization based on combat and power would favor other factions that seek power and strength themselves. If another faction is suited to make war with similar means and willpower, then it is a rival and that places the Spartans in a weaker position than if they had no rivals. Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of wanting power above all?
                    The Spartan logic works like this: 'If you're not strong, you're not deserving of respect'. If your values are, in their view, decadent or corrupt, or weak, then they've marked you as easy prey, and will dismiss your demands as those of a petulant child: irritating, but not carrying the force of consequence. If you want to see this kind of mindset in action in the real world, you need look no further than Putin's reaction to the West in the Ukrainian crisis. He doesn't think we have the guts to provoke a conflict on his borders, and so he's willing to flout our sanctions and support an insurgency which reminds those who are opposed to him the price of disobedience.

                    Originally posted by FlameFlash View Post
                    Granted, when I play, I'm usually fairly low difficulty because I'm playing to relax and enjoy watching my sea minions take over the world. I'm assuming a lot of this becomes less feasible the higher you go difficulty setting.
                    Sven is fully viable all the way to Transcend. It's really easy to underestimate the power of Sven's early mobility. Yes, they suffer from efficiency and growth penalties, but I'd argue these are more to hold them back from casually taking over the planet in every game. I used to think they were gimped, before I came to understand the immense power that being first on the water gives you. You've got access to territory that nobody else even wants to bother with, can easily incorporate flyspec islands that other factions might find it barely worth terraforming and colonizing, and are the best-place to contact far-flung factions and play tech broker to the planet. Also, hidden strength? No SE aversion means you can be very, very flexible. The only price is having to work slightly harder to pop-boom, but for an expert player, this is trivial, and completely unnecessary if you can secure the Cloning Vats.

                    Sven won't grow as fast as other factions, having to sink 2 more rows into their Sea Colony pods than normal, but the payoff is that every seabase is planted with the Recycling Tanks pre-built. That, in turn, means the newly founded base is in a position to build it's OWN colony pods is that much shorter. Spread like a weed, be EVERYWHERE, and use a specialist-driven strategy to circumvent your efficiency problems, and use your sea power to expand beyond the reach of your rivals.
                    Last edited by CEO Aaron; February 18, 2015, 21:19.

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                    • #11
                      There's no particular reason you can't play Drones as a Police State. I don't think it's optimal, because Police State is mechanically terrible, but it's certainly POSSIBLE. And Drones do fantastically with a Planned Economy, getting another +1 industry and lots of lovely growth. And if you ARE running Drones with Free Market/Wealth, then you are, by definition, plutocratic capitalists.

                      => My point was that the Free Drones are flexible. Playing Yang means you'll necessarily choose the SE that match his immunity to inefficiency meaning Police State ( you can't run Democracy anyway ) and Planned Economy.

                      Playing Morgan means you can't run Planned Economy so you're stuck again with a few optimal choices which will be 90% of the time Wealth and Free Market and whenever at war, Green. The other options are insignificant because Morgan is a builder at heart, you will rather be isolated on an island at the beginning of the game and avoid any conflict even if you have to bribe as your power will thrive only later by building to get the edge.

                      Therefore these two factions have predestined paths and ideologies, Morgan is a grubby greedy extremist capitalist because there's not much else he can do. Yang is a totalitarian crazy old geezer because nowhere in his mind exists the possibility that oppression isn't the best solution, just like Morgan will always be obsessed with capitalism.

                      However this mindset is not applicable to the the Free Drones who are more flexible. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against Free Market, Wealth, and Planned Economy per se. However, I do have a problem with those when they become unquestionable paradigms. The USSR model was silly and blinded because it sought to be absolute, but it's no more silly than believing continuous growth is an all-time great solution when natural resources are limited and already lacking.

                      I've always thought the best societies were the ones which adapted themselves to the situation, rather than trying to dictate or impose an ideology on the situation. I also believe extreme ideologies are rarely the best if ever, hence my fashion for social democracy which is a good compromise between Morgan and Yang.

                      To me, societies that are not capable of self-questioning will inevitably fall, which is what happened to most previous empires: the USSR being the last example and the US the most likely next future example.

                      Running Wealth or Free Market doesn't make you plutocratic, running them out of faith no matter the circumstances does.

                      Banging your fists on the table and control your people like Yang in a time of crisis doesn't make you totalitarian as long as it's an exception and not the rule. In the end it's all about your own ability too see the world as not black and white and search for optimal compromises instead.
                      Last edited by Mensonge; February 21, 2015, 05:39.

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                      • #12
                        Ah, so this is more of an aesthetic preference than a gameplay preference. Certainly, I can appreciate your preference for ideological flexibility. However, I think you're making some ideological assumptions about Morgan which might not necessarily hold true. Morgan can quite effectively run Green in lieu of Free Market. In fact, the classic Morganite War footing SE set is Fundamentalism/Green/Wealth, getting -1 Morale (instantly countered by Children's Creches), +1 Economy/Industry (Great for producing units while still funding what should be your above-average technology and wealth infrastructure), and +2 Probe to leverage all that cash in the course of subverting your rivals.

                        In fact, because Morgan comes with +1 Econ out of the box, I often find it's less dependent on Free Market for its energy production than other factions. Certainly, early on it's the way to go, because base-square energy is such an overpowering amount of Morgan's early income, but once there's a far-flung, high population empire with sophisticated terraforming, most your energy is coming from worked squares, not the base squares. That's when Green starts to make more economic sense: The resources you'll save in efficiency will outweigh those lost from base square income and trade.

                        Which kind of makes the Drones LESS flexible, by comparison. Even when it makes immense sense to stop polluting and start being more efficient in your energy consumption, the Drones CAN'T, because they're ideologically barred from taking that measure. And if aversions are the way you'll judge inflexibilty, that would make the Nautilus Pirates or Caretaker Aliens your factions of choice. Which is not to say your Drones choice isn't valid, this is a matter of opinion. However, I'd point out that in mechanical terms, they're just as inflexible as Morgan, or Dierdre or Yang, in their own way.

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                        • #13
                          Yes I must have an aesthetic preference to play a faction, the gameplay comes second.

                          Can you play a faction whose ideology is revolting to you?

                          That being said, you're making an interesting point and objectively your argument is valid.

                          You're correct in saying that Morgan and Yang can run Green and the Drones can't, but you're assuming Green is as significant as Free Market, Wealth and Planned Economy. In my humble opinion, Green should have been incorporated in any SE, not be independent, because it's possible to make business while being eco-friendly, and it sure is possible to have a planned economy while being green-like. Technology can make anything eco-friendly anyway.

                          Granted, any SE is flawed in its own way but to me it's easier to merge Green with FM and PE than to merge FM with PE.

                          Because of this, I'm more focused on the ability to switch from PM to PE and vice versa, and the possibility to switch from a totalitarian state to a democracy. Both Yang and Morgan are incapable of making these changes, the Drones can.

                          Finally, I don't quite understand why the Drones couldn't run Green, except for the idea that industry is necessarily polluting. That is usually true, but that is not necessarily the case because of morality and technology.

                          You also are very perspicacious when you say that the Pirates should be my faction of choice, it's actually my second favorite despite the fact that I don't really know how to play them. I've started playing this game focusing on gameplay, now I take up challenges by playing the factions I value the most. First I'll start with the Free Drones, then I'll move on to the Pirates. However, I don't really like the Caretakers because I'm not hooked up by the alien thing.
                          Last edited by Mensonge; February 23, 2015, 18:27.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
                            Can you play a faction whose ideology is revolting to you?
                            Sure, that's half the fun! If I had to pick the faction whose ideals are most ideologically incompatible with my own, it would be the Lord's Believers, and I've played a number of games as Miriam's nutbag zealots. Trying different factions to see how they play is not just good fun, it's also instructive to teach you the strengths and weaknessess of each faction.

                            You're correct in saying that Morgan and Yang can run Green and the Drones can't, but you're assuming Green is as significant as Free Market, Wealth and Planned Economy. In my humble opinion, Green should have been incorporated in any SE, not be independent, because it's possible to make business while being eco-friendly, and it sure is possible to have a planned economy while being green-like. Technology can make anything eco-friendly anyway.
                            Look, these concepts are more like points in a spectrum, rather than absolutes. In real life, every society operates in the middle parts of their conceptual ideals, rather than at the extreme edges. But games, by their very nature, must simplify complex matters, so as to make them approachable to the lay-person. This simplification occurs in direct proportion to the scope of the game, and the scope of Alpha Centauri is VAST.

                            So the fiddly details of just how ruthless Morgan's Free Market or Yang's Authoritarian autocracy is, is largely left to the imagination of the player.

                            Granted, any SE is flawed in its own way but to me it's easier to merge Green with FM and PE than to merge FM with PE.
                            Really? Explain Mainland China, then. Or any nationalized automaker or airline industry. Really, when you get down to it, even things like tarrifs and subsidies are indirect government props to industry, and there's no modern country on Earth which doesn't avail themselves of those tools in some way.

                            Because of this, I'm more focused on the ability to switch from PM to PE and vice versa, and the possibility to switch from a totalitarian state to a democracy. Both Yang and Morgan are incapable of making these changes, the Drones can.
                            Again, I think these simplifications are just the result of trying to present some humanly digestible mechanics, rather than a well-reasoned analysis of political or economic policy. IMO, America is actually making a pretty good run at becoming BOTH a democracy AND a police state, which is something the Alpha Centauri designers certainly didn't predict.

                            Finally, I don't quite understand why the Drones couldn't run Green, except for the idea that industry is necessarily polluting. That is usually true, but that is not necessarily the case because of morality and technology.
                            Game mechanics often trump logic. I think the SE aversions were put in place to make sure each faction was more distinct from the others. Otherwise, Demo/FM/Wealth is the correct SE setting for everyone not involved in a war. But in any case, even if there were real-life analogues for these made-up factions, their polcies in real life would also likely be less absolutist and simplified than their in-game analogues.

                            You also are very perspicacious when you say that the Pirates should be my faction of choice, it's actually my second favorite despite the fact that I don't really know how to play them. I've started playing this game focusing on gameplay, now I take up challenges by playing the factions I value the most. First I'll start with the Free Drones, then I'll move on to the Pirates. However, I don't really like the Caretakers because I'm not hooked up by the alien thing.
                            By almost all expert accounts, the Alien factions are cheesy and overpowered, mostly by virtue of the immense power of their alternate energy mechanic (meant to replace trade income, in practice far, far better, given the belligerent AI). As for the strengths of the Pirates, I've waxed lyrical about their strengths in other recent threads, so I won't reiterate that rant here. Suffice to say they're awesome, once you grok their playstyle.

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                            • #15
                              I don't have too much experience with the game, but the Cyborgs have to be my favorite faction, both because I enjoy their background and because in these Civilization style games I always play very hard to get tech superiority first and foremost, then figure a victory condition will work itself out once you have twice as much technology as everybody else. Also the Transcendence victory with the cyborgs makes me smile when I imagine them attaching cyber-ware to Planet and using it as a giant living computer.

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