Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri & Alien Crossfire > After Action Reports

Continental Consciousness - 256x128 map

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by Brandon Van Every, long term SMAC addictDetailscybernetic consciousnesscybernetic consciousness
Questions and comments about this game are welcome in this thread.

In my last game I played a similarly large map as the Pirates.  I was trying to give the AI lots of room to spread out and be effective.  But, freakish world generation caused all other factions to start on small islands.  I started next to one of 2 giant continents and played an un-Pirate-like game, mostly on land.  This game, I fiddled with the world generation in alphax.txt to ensure "proper" continental land masses.  I changed: Continental base = 48, Continental modifier = 96, Islands = 1.  These settings generate large land masses while still leaving vast oceans.  If a Pirate ends up in the game, he'll be happy.

Hopefully with some squinting you can see the large continental shapes of this world.  Even with these settings, it still took me 3 restarts to get a proper starting position.  On my 1st start, I was given a degenerate 3 square island in open ocean!  I've got a good start now, and I hope everyone else does, or this will be an awfully short writeup.  I've seen plenty of games where factions were stillborn / DOA, the telltale sign being their bar on the faction histogram is completely flat.  One time I was given a 1 square island with no boat!  Can't even give me a boat??  I tried to play anyways but, uh, that didn't work out.

Detailsnear nutrientsnear nutrients
This is a non-terrible start, on some ok land near some good nutrients.  That spot of water might lead to open ocean, although it could also just be a tiny lake.  I don't think I will prioritize settling it now.  I'll just head for the nutrients.

Last game, I found the Pirates were slow to get started, due to the extra overheads of getting a life at sea up and running.  Even heading for land as quickly as I did, it was a slow affair.  It put me behind and many early Secret Projects went right by me.  I'm endeavoring not to have that happen to me this game.  The Cybernetic Consciousness has a +2 Research advantage and should be able to get the techs needed for Secret Projects.  Thus they can start early and dominate all those races.  Her main concern is getting the minerals to build them.  Some games I have bad luck and there are simply no minerals to be had, but nutrients + forests do count as minerals in my book.  I'm seeing no problem here.

Those nutrients are going to help my -1 Growth penalty quite a bit.  That can really bite the Consciousness.  For instance, they cannot afford to go Green Police State early on, as -3 Growth is strategically deadly.  You have to wait until you're already huge or have The Cloning Vats, both of which are late game concerns.

I've played the Consciousness a lot in recent months, so I do not expect to make any faction specific mistakes.  I know them well, and I think they may be the best overall human faction to play with.  It's either her or Chairman Yang.  The latter is a great Builder faction but suffers from a lack of Efficiency.  Not Aki Zeta-5's problem, she's got Efficiency in spades.  She's flexible about what she can do, unlike Yang who is a one trick pony.  Being flexible tends to make would-be allies declare war on you though.

Note that this map has no Supply Pods on it.  They are a crutch.  I guarantee that if they were in the game, I would win easily.  Because I know how to "Pac-Man" the supply pods and the AI doesn't.  So, no Artifacts to goose this along.  I have to find or make minerals.

I have also opted for No Random Events this game.  2 Energy Market Crashes last game cost me thousands of credits and that gets old.  I'm disappointed that I won't ever get sunspots, as amusing things can be done during those, but the game is a lot better without the negative random events.  I've learned, the hard way, that you'd better like how a long game is treating you, or you're gonna lose motivation to play it!

So yes, the Consciousness is gonna treat me nice.  Prepare the slaughter!

Ho-lee @#@!  I'm next to the Monsoon Jungle.  On a Giant planet, there's a pretty good chance I have it all to myself as well.  Talk about a blessed start.  I sure hope the other factions aren't stillborn, as I'd hate to restart this game now.  Any AI that gets the Jungle, dominates the early game.  A human can of course do better.  It also happens to be the antidote for Aki Zeta-5's growth problem.

Detailsweather paradigm raceweather paradigm race
Only Cha Dawn is struggling, and he's not strictly DOA.  I'm not restarting the game for him.  The Caretakers dominate and are the only Alien faction in the game.

I chose Discover, Build focus which already gave me Social Psych.  That is fortunate, because I will surely need it in the Jungle.  With luck maybe I'll get Secrets of the Human Brain first?  Unfortunately I researched Ethical Calculus, not really wanted right now.

To spread, each of my cities built a Former, built a road on flat terrain, planted a forest on it, then built roads all the way to the Jungle.  Forest is a good "second square" to have when making Colonists at the beginning of the game.  It doesn't pump your population unnecessarily, as size 2 is the cheapest food you can make a Colonist with.  It gives you a minerals boost when you reach size 2.

I got this far spreading, then Brother Lal started The Weather Paradigm this turn.  Now I must race viciously to complete multiple Secret Projects, because he starts with Biogenetics as well.  I've researched it myself, so that's at least 2 SPs I need to start now.  My cash will go towards rushing Recycling Tanks and Recreation Commons to get "Builder" cities up and running.  A good trick for Jungle productivity, is to plant Forests on all of the Flat Rainy squares.  That turns them into 2-2-1 squares, like having a Tree Farm without the tech!  That minerals desposit at the center of the Jungle is also going to be helpful.

On this turn I go Planned.  I researched it several turns ago but didn't have the money to make the change.  Roze has entered the Secret Project races, so I need every bit of advantage I can get.  Due to my faction's +2 Efficiency advantage, with Planned I now have +0 Efficiency.  Deirdre beat me to Secrets of the Human Brain, so I stopped focusing on Discover.  Instead I'm doing Build, Conquer, hoping to pick up The Merchant Exchange or The Command Nexus.  Experience has shown it can take a very long time to learn Doctrine:Loyalty though.

Detailspeacekeepers winpeacekeepers win
The Peacekeepers built The Weather Paradigm and The Merchant Exchange on the same turn and there was nothing I could do about it.  I'm glad they built the latter though, as they've left The Human Genome free for me to complete.  I've only got 4 more turns and hopefully I will get it.  Getting The Virtual World may be stiff as I need 17 turns for that.  I hope the other factions aren't as robust at pursuing that as Lal was.

If I wanted to improve the AI's chances, arguably I did a good job.  I've switched to Conquer only focus as The Merchant Exchange is toast and I'd like to get The Command Nexus if I can get it.  Maybe it's not so useful in a game where everyone's too far away to fight, but old habits of mine die hard.  I must not be a very good conqueror though, as my last breakthrough was Progenitor Psych.


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