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  • Free Drones vs Morganites

    Hello everyone,

    I've played the Morganites a lot, and they're incredible. I've also played the Free Drones, and they seem incredible too.

    That being said, I'd like to ponder with you their respective pros and cons and determine which is the most effective faction or rather which is the best.

    Now I do know calling a faction the best faction is a flawed concept, because in the end it really depends on your own ability to play any faction properly, not to mention the fact that any faction can be weak in certain situations.

    A building faction brought to war in the beginning of the game will get smashed by warlike factions, so small maps favor warlike factions like the Spartans. But in return, a warlike faction which remains isolated on a larger map will get exceeded by a building faction which will develop better infrastructure, better research output et cetera.

    This also comes down to where factions start and also next to whom, yet those criteria are purely determined by luck.

    Consequently, for all purists out there, don't bash me. I KNOW it's not as simple as simply being the best. The Free Drones and the Morganites are my favorite factions of the game, and I'm not interested in knowing if they're the strongest of all factions. I simply want to decide between them.

    For this decision, we should all assume the two factions are playing on a very large map, with few ocean tiles and average cloud cover and native life forms. The research is directed, random events are on, there's no unity pod scattering and TechStag is on as well. Spoils of war are allowed and everyone must do or die. These are my usual settings.

    Now that we've gotten this out of the way, I'd like to sum up what I believe to be their respective advantages and drawbacks:




    The Morganites:

    + :

    - In the end it really comes down to the fact that they get a +1 in economy. This not only allows them to get +2 with Wealth and therefore benefit from the extra energy output this threshold brings, even in times of war and without the hassle that is free market, but it also allows them to get +3 or even more which, added to their trade bonuses and initial extra 100 credit, makes them the ultimate energy faction. I've never had as much energy with Morgan as with any other faction, and this is interesting because:

    1) Thanks to their incredible output of energy they can rush production all the time. Now does that equal the +2 industry bonus of the Free Drones?

    2) Thanks to their incredible output of energy they have faster labs. Comparing with the Free Drones who must bear a -2 penalty in research it seems obvious that the Morganites have the upper hand in this area. In fact, if you start building crawlers everywhere to boost your research even more, taken into account their ability to mass-produce, they become so good even Zakharov can't keep up with them in the end.

    3) Ironically, even though the Morganites are not really suited to war prima facie, the fact that they can keep their +2 in economy without Free Market allows them to mass-produce troops. You might argue that their support penalty will cripple them, but with supply crawlers to compensate for the decreasing minerals and fast labs to bring you quickly to clean reactors this isn't an issue unless the Morganites are attacked in the very beginning of the game.

    Now I'm not saying Morganites are the best warlike faction, heck no, but they can become really dangerous and if played intelligently, they can beat any warlike faction especially with probing enemy troops which is done with... energy.

    So in the end, we have a faction that is absolutely well-balanced, capable of mass-producing, researching like crazy, and be more than decent militarily-wise except for the beginning of the game. Now, let's see the drawbacks.

    - :

    The fact that bases can't reach the fourth size can be a problem, except if you decide to play according to the ICS strategy, which is what Morganites should do anyway.. More bases, even smaller, allow to make the best of Free Market.

    The support penalty can be a hassle in the very beginning of the game, but really, it quickly becomes unnoticeable.




    The Free Drones:

    + :

    Again, with the Free Drones, everything comes down to one thing.. industry.

    Their industry bonus of +2 is huge, it allows them to mass-produce like the Morganites but it doesn't require any cash to do so. And while having less cash than Morgan, you can afford not spending whatever cash you have on rushing everything that you build, or at least you can rush less. In the end, it amounts to tons of saved cash and this may offset the advantage Morganites had in the first place. What do you think?

    - :

    Oh god, the research penalty.. In the beginning of the game this is so crippling you always pray you'll be spawn next to Zakharov to conquer one of his base, spoil Planetary Networks, and start producing probe teams to steal more technologies from him because you have to wait like thirty years to research anything on your own.

    By that time, with Morgan you already have Free Market, formers going on, a strong economy, a strong research rate, and that is without having to rush exploring all the map because you need to steal like an impudent thief what you can't have.



    So here are my thoughts:

    - In the beginning of the game, it seems clear to me that Morganites have the upper hand. They're better in every area except maybe on production and therefore war. But even then, you have to take into account the fact that if Morganites are serious about going to war, they'll research technologies to conquer until Free Drones' troops are obsolete, that is if they can't steal whatever technologies Morganites can research.

    - In the later part of the game, I honestly don't know.. Does the +2 industry really beats what all the Morganites can do with their cash?




    I'm waiting for your thoughts on this.

    Thank you for bearing with me and happy new year.
    Last edited by Mensonge; January 3, 2015, 15:02.

  • #2
    No opinion about the Free Drones and the Morganites?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
      No opinion about the Free Drones and the Morganites?
      The community consensus is that the Drones are one of the top factions, and while Morganites are adept builders, they're not as flexible or powerful as the Drones. Industry is profoundly useful to all factions, and Drones have it in spades, and while Morgan's extra energy can be spent on units and structures to increase production times, you're never going to have enough cash to rush EVERYTHING.

      Now let's come to their drawbacks. The drones have the very hobbling research penalty, which constrains but doesn't completely baffle early growth. However, a research disadvantage is the easiest penalty to overcome in the game, with probe actions and pure aggressive growth and specialization allowing even the most stagnated faction to catch up. On the other hand, the Morganite support penalty, while also not very punishing (compared to, say Sparta's Industry penalty, or Yang's economy penalty or Democracy prohibition) is still omnipresent. Given that you're stipulated Spoils of War, I can't imagine Domai suffering as badly as Morgan from their drawback.

      At the end of the day, however, other factors such as starting position and gameplay choices will play a much, MUCH larger role in the success or failure of your faction than the native bonuses.

      Comment


      • #4
        So the only way to mitigate the Free Drones' research penalty is to be a warmonger from the start? So in case of defeat, you're really stuck with crippling research labs, right? That sounds like the Free Drones have the toughest start of all factions.. Or are there other ways to turn things around? Assume I want to be a pacifist builder, what can I do?

        Comment


        • #5
          Absolutely not! Let's review each of your possible options for obtaining tech, from least costly to most costly:

          1) Trade: This is the ideal method of obtaining techs. If you're assiduous with your exploration, you should be able to make contact with multiple factions and broker some early tech deals, which can make a good divot in that 10 turn tech penalty. Industrial Base is on the critical beeline towards Industrial Automation, which is a lynchpin tech for most builders (Crawlers OP), and it has defense applications, both immediately offering improved unit defense, and being a pre-requisite to Synthetic Fossil Fuels, which is arguably THE defining military technology. All of which puts you in a much better position to make early trades than your sister in ludditism, Miriam.

          2) Infiltration: Probe teams are a fantastic way to get techs from your stingy neighbors who refuse to trade. Yes, it's casus belli, but it won't hurt your overall reputation very badly compared to unprovoked military action, and there's always the possibility you'll get away with it clean. The first tech you steal from a base is an 'always succeed' action, even if you might lose the probe team, but at 3 rows, it's still a bargain. Afterward, you'll have a chance to fail, but again, 3 rows of minerals at +2 or +3 industry is a small price to pay to reach tech parity with your more advanced neighbors.

          4) Growth: The default method of getting techs is by spending the labor of your citizens. It's a lengthy grind, but there are things you can do to speed it up. First, use specialists. Labs from specialist citizens are not subject to efficiency penalties, and neither are nutrients. That means you can spread very, very wide, and leverage your population to make up in quantity what your more research-happy rivals produce in quality. Growing wide also grants many side benefits, in terms of free, per-base resources, such as support, base square revenue, and of course the extra build queue.

          5) Pods: There's a finite number of pods to pop on the map, and having no early technology means you've got nothing better to do for the first fistful of turns than build scouts and colonies. Put those scouts to work, and clear your region of pods, and use them to unlock technologies once you've unlocked Information Networks. Yes, you could save them to devote minerals to Secret Projects, but I'm of the opinion that the sooner your extract value from your pods, the better. The only real drawback to pod farming is that it's high risk, the further you roam from your settlements, and you could lose a fair number of scouts to fungal blooms.

          6) Warfare. Whether this comes in the form of the spoils of war optional rule, or just plain bullying your neighbors to give you tech lest you pulverize their pitiful rabble under the gears of your war machine, waging war to get tech is an entirely valid tactic, but it does come at a steep cost. Military units can have a high loss rate, consume significant support costs, and when they're disbanded, only return half the investment you made in them, and that completely overlooks the opportunity costs of not building more lucrative investments like bases, crawlers, formers, or facilities.

          Comment


          • #6
            I hear you, but I don't usually opt for any of these options for the following reasons:

            1) Trade: Obtaining technology is absolutely vital at the beginning of the game, but at this point I don't have much technology to share except for Industrial Base. The problem is that Industrial Base provides Synthmetal Armor, which is an excellent defensive armor for my enemies until mid-game. Should I intend to fight my partner, I would have to bear up against better troops which can be crippling.

            Granted, it's easier later in the game but I also don't often share technology because I don't like to help other players. I prefer to rely on my own research or steal what I can't make.

            2) As you said, it's often casus belli. But the biggest problem is that I need Planetary Networks to make probe teams. Researching it myself takes for ever, and I prefer to go straight for Free Market. One way or the other, I need to find a way to get this technology before I can use it to get more.

            3) I'm afraid I have never used specialists because I always feel the need to use workers instead. I don't even remember from when in the game I can use specialists.. Are they really better than workers getting energy to speed up research?

            4) I play without pods.

            5) Steep cost, indeed. I also hate to see my reputation decrease. As I said before, I don't see much real options here.

            What do you think of my remarks? Am I missing something?

            In addition, could you please indicate me the proper formula for rushing without losing any energy in the process?

            Thanks a lot for your precious help.
            Last edited by Mensonge; February 12, 2015, 03:54.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
              I hear you, but I don't usually opt for any of these options for the following reasons:

              1) Trade: Obtaining technology is absolutely vital at the beginning of the game, but at this point I don't have much technology to share except for Industrial Base. The problem is that Industrial Base provides Synthmetal Armor, which is an excellent defensive armor for my enemies until mid-game. Should I intend to fight my partner, I would have to bear up against better troops which can be crippling.
              You need to take the long view in tech trading, IMO. Yes, the first guy you trade Industrial Base to will have their position improved by gaining that tech. But the tech you trade for it, you can go find and trade to another faction! Now you're up 2 techs, and each of your partners is only up 1. Net winner: You.

              Granted, it's easier later in the game but I also don't often share technology because I don't like to help other players. I prefer to rely on my own research or steal what I can't make.
              As long as the party you're trading with isn't a direct threat to you, there's really very little harm in trading techs with them. It helps you diplomatically, and most importantly, gives you a leg up on everyone who isn't party to the trade.

              2) As you said, it's often casus belli. But the biggest problem is that I need Planetary Networks to make probe teams. Researching it myself takes for ever, and I prefer to go straight for Free Market. One way or the other, I need to find a way to get this technology before I can use it to get more.
              Planetary networks is 2 techs into the tree, and I would argue that there's only one tech more important than getting it: Centauri Ecology. I also debate the wisdom of going THAT hard into Free Market, that early. In the very early game, your primary overriding concern is expansion, ie: putting down bases as quickly as possible. Do do that you need nutrients, and that makes Planned Economy a no-brainer. Once you've punched down a couple dozen bases, sure, Free Market is grand. But early on, you want planned, when the efficiency penalty is meaningless, and when founding bases 10% faster will pay HUGE dividents in the long game.

              3) I'm afraid I have never used specialists because I always feel the need to use workers instead. I don't even remember from when in the game I can use specialists.. Are they really better than workers getting energy to speed up research?
              OMG yes. In the early game, sure, workers are the better deal. But as the game marches on, your empire sprawls, efficiency plummets (especially for Domai, who can't run Green), and your burgeoning population starts to produce unrest that even the Free Drones can't readily contain. Specialists are immune to inefficiency, immune to unrest, and are very, VERY cheap to sustain. Going for a nutrient-focused, specialist driven strategy is, without a doubt, the most effective use of land in the game, long-term, especially with satellites.

              Don't take my word for it, read this thread.

              4) I play without pods.
              Nothing to be done about that, I suppose.

              5) Steep cost, indeed. I also hate to see my reputation decrease. As I said before, I don't see much real options here.
              That's why you use probe teams to mildly annoy your rivals til they declare war on YOU. But remember, in the end, your reputation only matters when dealing withthe people you haven't conquered YET. You didn't buy a game with planetbusters in it so you couldn't use them, right? Right!?!?!

              What do you think of my remarks? Am I missing something?
              I think you've constructed an intricate intellectual snare which is keeping you from playing Domai to its potential. The Drones are a low-tech faction with HUGE advantages in production. That means that all you need to do to completely dominate your enemies is achieve technological parity, then abuse your 20% (or better) production advantage to swamp your opponents with troops.

              To be sure, the Drones are a flexible faction, and can fully support builder-style play, but trying to play them exclusively as an Ivory Tower builder/tech faction is missing out on a lot of their best strengths. Stay true to Domai's collectivist, socialist principles: Ideas belong to the people, and the privileged elite who hoard them are only using their advantages to exploit those who do the REAL work.

              In addition, could you please indicate me the proper formula for rushing without losing any energy in the process?
              Here.

              But I wouldn't bother with the math, however, because calculating every single rush buy before you hit the button is a pain. Instead, consider this: Don't run a surplus of more than 10 minerals in your bases. Madness, you say? Well, not really, no. It all ties into my nutrient/engery-centric specialist strategy. If you look at base facilities that magnify production of minerals, they're invariably expensive, require tremendous research, and most come with some pretty dire drawbacks. Whereas energy-magnifiying facilities are cheap, abundant, and are usually operating on a much more readily obtained resource.

              Now I do make some exceptions, like when I'm trying to manufacture fungal pops for raising my clean mineral limit or worm-farming, and eventually once I'm solidly in the lead with a mighty core of hugely prodctive and wealthy bases, I generally start ordering off the menu, and go ham on production facilities. But in the early game, you generally are better off keeping to the surplus <= 10 rule. That way, you can rush at sticker-price, and not worry about wasting resources, since the 10 mineral carryover will just be tacked onto the next item in your queue.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CEOAaron View Post
                You need to take the long view in tech trading, IMO. Yes, the first guy you trade Industrial Base to will have their position improved by gaining that tech. But the tech you trade for it, you can go find and trade to another faction! Now you're up 2 techs, and each of your partners is only up 1. Net winner: You.


                I've started a new game - transcend difficulty - and I wanted to trade as you suggested but I only came across Morgan from afar. For some reason I'm all alone on a huge continent and all the other players seem to be scattered on the rest of the map - biggest size in quick options -, weird! Anyway, Morgan already has Industrial Base so I bought him a technology with credits instead. Right now most of my research comes from my own labs with Free Market and Wealth running at full throttle. I beelined to them, the result is acceptable and I'm not falling behind technology-wise in addition to being rich. I ranked first a few years ago after being considered one of the weakest factions since the beginning of the game.

                I managed to get Human Genome P,
                Virtual W, Weather P and the Merchant Exchange, however Yang put his hands on the Command Nexus, damn it! This guy will always be my nightmare!

                If not for Free Market asap, I would have fallen behind technology-wise, failed my secret projects ( I got them barely by rushing most of them, every single credit was important ) due to insufficient credits. I get Centauri Ecology shortly after FM because first I need to increase my lab output drastically asap, and only FM can do that at the beginning of the game. Centauri Ecology is excellent, but it's costly and more importantly is long to set up in each of my bases as opposed to FM which has immediate effects. By the time I get Free Market with my lovely Drones, I already have four to six bases which makes FM more than worthwhile. Therefore, I use Centauri Econology to strengthen my production and research output shortly after I get Free Market.

                If I got CE before FM, I would lose, taking into account the energy and time required to set recycling tanks, five to ten years of research plus credits. I made the tests, with Morgan I think it's clearly better to start with CE, but with the Drones the research penalty makes FM an outstanding first choice imo.

                Do you also contend Morgan should start with CE? In this instance, I would agree with you because he has 100 extra energy from the start - practical to rush recycling tanks - and doesn't suffer from -20% lab output.

                I also have a question about military units. There are two values from what I understand, an attack value and a defense value. Does this mean that if an enemy unit attacks me, only the defense value bill be taken into account for the fight? Like, if I have Synthmetal armor that gives me 2 in defense value, and only 1 in attack value because I still have the most basic weapon, if I'm attacked what will matter? The armor alone, the weapon alone, or both?

                Finally, I'm sorry to say I didn't quite understand why I should not exceed ten minerals per base.. Would you mind explaining it to me in more simple terms? Thank you very much for your patience. I will also take a look at the benefit of having specialists. I checked and I can't have them for now.
                Last edited by Mensonge; February 13, 2015, 05:36.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
                  I managed to get Human Genome P, Virtual W, Weather P and the Merchant Exchange, however Yang put his hands on the Command Nexus, damn it! This guy will always be my nightmare!
                  I think you're overestimating the importance and impact of early-game SPs. They're nice, to be sure, but the only one that's really amazing is Virtual World. I would argue that in most cases you would have been better served by getting CE and rushing colony pods and formers to secure a stronger midgame. Let's break them down:

                  HGP: Very crucial for factions that can't pop-boom normally (ie: Morgan, Yang), but fairly irrelevant to any faction that can run Planned/Democracy.

                  Weather Paradigm: Completely forgettable SP, gives you effectively 33% more formers. At 2 fomers per base, which is the most anyone is likely to build, that's pretty 1 row of minerals saved. As your industry goes up, the size of that row goes down, and thus, the value of cost savings.

                  Merchant Exchange: Early on, it's +1 energy per square worked. Before Hab domes, that's +7 energy per turn, for a project that costs 20 rows. Let's assume you're running FM/Wealth, it'll be 40 turns before it pays for itself. Now take those 20 rows and make 5 colony pods, found the bases, and tell me how much money they'll make in 40 turns. Now eventually you can throw down an energy park and start crawling a solar farm back to your super-science city, but that's a significant investment in formers, land and minerals.

                  I'm not saying these SPs aren't worth building at all, but I AM saying that prioritizing reaching double your bureaucracy limit and terraforming your territory for optimum income should be your overriding early goal. If someone else sacrifices early expansion to grab those early SPs, they'll find themselves in a poor position to defend their treasures.

                  Do you also contend Morgan should start with CE? In this instance, I would agree with you because he has 100 extra energy from the start - practical to rush recycling tanks - and doesn't suffer from -20% lab output.
                  On my Morgan opening, I usually go with Biogenics, because of the strength of the rush-bought Recycling tanks. However, CE is invariably my second tech. But other factions do not have 100 credits burning a hole in their pocket, so should not be looking to get tanks before formers, imo. I also might add, if your starting location has sufficient nutrients available, going immediately for CE can pay off for Morgan, as well. But that's a high risk strategy, as the payoff is a bit later in coming, and ties up your early minerals in support costs you might find difficult to afford should you run afoul of aggressive neighbors.

                  I also have a question about military units. There are two values from what I understand, an attack value and a defense value. Does this mean that if an enemy unit attacks me, only the defense value bill be taken into account for the fight? Like, if I have Synthmetal armor that gives me 2 in defense value, and only 1 in attack value because I still have the most basic weapon, if I'm attacked what will matter? The armor alone, the weapon alone, or both?
                  Four values, to be pedantic: Attack, Defense, Movement and Health. As for which value counts, it depends on circumstance. For MOST encounters, the attackers attack value is compared to the defender's defense value, that ratio is rendered into a hash, and the RNG picks a hash value to determine which party wins that round. The loser of the round loses one health. That process is repeated until one party is reduced to 0 health. However, there are some exceptions. For artillery bombardment, there's only one round, and the defender can only avoid losing, rather than inflict damage on the attacker. For artillery duels, ie: a contest between two artillery units, only the attack values are compared, and otherwise the normal attack rules are obeyed, ie: artillery duels are to the death. Air units who are fighting scrambling interceptors also defend with their attack value. There's a bunch of weird corner cases, but in all of them, you can turn on the 'show odds before attacking' feature to mostly figure out how it works.

                  Finally, I'm sorry to say I didn't quite understand why I should not exceed ten minerals per base.. Would you mind explaining it to me in more simple terms? Thank you very much for your patience. I will also take a look at the benefit of having specialists. I checked and I can't have them for now.
                  If you have a surplus of minerals over the amount necessary to build an item in your queue, the remaining minerals will carry over to the next item in your queue, or, if there are NO items in your queue, they'll be converted into energy, as if you had selected 'stockpile energy' from your build queue. This carry-over behaviour, however, is limited to TEN minerals, no more. Any minerals in excess of 10 are wasted. So, early on, don't emphasize mineral production beyond what is necessary to have 10 minerals per turn going toward your build queue. That way, even if you rush buy enough to fully complete a project, there won't be any waste.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wait a minute here.. Are you saying it's useless to fiddle with partial rushing if my base doesn't produce more than ten minerals?!

                    I wasted a lot of time doing this, and none of my bases produce more than ten minerals..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mensonge View Post
                      Wait a minute here.. Are you saying it's useless to fiddle with partial rushing if my base doesn't produce more than ten minerals?!

                      I wasted a lot of time doing this, and none of my bases produce more than ten minerals..
                      Yep, exactly. If your net mineral production doesn't exceed 10 minerals, and you aren't in immediate danger of running dry of credits (which can cause problems if you have a base which can't pay for its own upkeep), then there's no reason to sweat doing the math. Just buy the project, the excess minerals will go to the next item in your queue.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've tried to make the formula work, based on this: http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php...a=view;down=93

                        It doesn't work, so I guess I misunderstood it. What am I supposed to do exactly?

                        Here's one example: I want to build a former, there are 14 minerals needed and no minerals have been used so far. In other words, I just made the order this last turn.

                        My base has +4 minerals, and it says it would require me to wait for four turns to get the former without spending anything. I've found manually that the correct amount to rush exactly what is needed is 53.

                        How do I get this result with the formula?! I don't get it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yeah, I don't think that formula is spot on either, but their summary is more or less correct:

                          If you need 10 mins (1 standard row), it costs 25 or 2.5 each;
                          if you need 20 mins (2 standard rows), it costs 60 or 3.0 each;
                          if you need 30 mins (3 standard rows), it costs 105 or 3.5 each;
                          if you need 40 mins (4 standard rows), it costs 160 or 4.0 each;
                          in other words, for each extra row, the unit cost goes up by 0.5 ecs.
                          There are two doubling factors: 1) Secret Projects cost double. 2) All costs are doubled if the first 10 minerals aren't completed. Again, I wouldn't sweat the math, just bear in mind the above cost schedule, and act accordingly.

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