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Terraforming for dummies

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  • Terraforming for dummies

    Reading bunch of old threads on this forum lately and having definitely too much free time on my hands right now, I've realised I never really put much thinking into terraforming aside certain basics. So I've started digging the forum and net in general and turns out there is no comprehensive, advanced/very advanced "publication" on terraforming. Just bunch of basic ideas on different pages and a handful of advanced material.

    So the idea is to either get a thread moving with "highly advanced" stuff or at least die trying.

    My biggest issue as a SMAC player is inability to properly decide how to use field optimally and how to build in general.
    I know there are at least two main approaches to building (lots of minerals vs lots of energy), each of them has their pros and cons, each of them is almost mutually exclussive.
    I know late game food is the king, but I don't really graps it or see the point of pumping bases over 40 pops.
    I know supply crawlers are super-useful, but I myself rarely use them at all or even consider using them.
    I know fields with bonus are great, but I'm never sure how to get maximum profit out of them
    I know mines can be useful, but unless they are in very specific circumstances (outside any base range, with mineral bonus, crawled), I can't utilise them at all.
    I know base-crawling is a thing and it is supposedly super efficient, but I can't get it moving or working.
    I know eventually fungus is the best all-around improvement, but it shows up so late I can't bother to even try using them
    And so on and forth.

    Things that I figured out by myself (and they weren't really that hard):
    1) Long-term it is better to cover every single square below 2000m with forest
    My logic is simple: it provides 3/2/2 with Tree Farm and Hybrid Forest and you want to buid both of those anyway. Below 2000m you just can't get more energy out of square, while by building farm/solar combo, you only get 1 minerals AND to get more food you need to build soil-enricher or have rainy/jungle/both. Even if the square comes with river, you get the same final result. Further, if the field happens to be arid, it's a no-brainer.

    2) Anything above 2000m should have solars
    Which usually means farms and enrichers, too. The logic, again, is simple - at this altitude, you get more energy from solars than you could get from forest. That 1 energy more is enough to outweight the lower mineral production. And if you plan things well, those are going to be rainy fields, meaning more food, meaning faster growth. Combined with echelons, it only snowballs from there.

    3) There is no real point to have more than 80 minerals per turn produced by a base aka why boreholes are useless
    While you can easily have more than that, there is barely anything costing this much that you can't at this point just rush with energy. Theoretically all you need is 11 minerals/turn per base and rush everything else with energy, but go figure. Either way this means boreholes are inefficient if you plan to use satellites. A single borehole provides 0/6/6. It takes one pop to use it, eating up 2 nutrient while producing none. Assuming you use satellites, to get 0/6/6 you simply need three pops and three satellites of both types. Since satellites snowball over all your bases, it's not just one-off investment, as they pay back very fast. Three pops eat 6 nutrient, BUT you get 3 from satellites and you just need one of them dedicated now to a square with a tree farm to pay for them all. Two of them can be even turned into any special pop and you will still make more.
    Comparison:
    Borehole
    1 pop
    0/6/6
    -2 nutrient
    Nothing else provided
    Final productivity is -2/6/6
    No borehole with satellites
    3 pops
    3/3/3
    -3 nutrient
    One pop tied to food production on forest square (3/2/2), two free pops to do anything else
    Final productivity is 0/5/5 just to sustain it AND then there are 2 pops doing anything else, either using other 2 fields or being any specialist you want

    4) Rising/lowering elevation is too risky to bother
    You can easily destroy rainfall over entire continent by using this (highly questionable in the first place option). Instead, you are MUCH safer by warming/cooling the climate of the entire planet. The rainfall patterns won't change (unless you will perform the global action few times in a row in the same direction), while you will be able to benefit from the changed elevation. Granted, so will the other factions, but the risk related with changing rainfall patterns in some place that doesn't bother you now, but would make you a perfect spot for 3 or 5 new colonies in 70 turns is too high. Save-scumming is not always allowed, so this is another consideration here
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