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

Playing AI Growth Mod sight unseen

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RidleyN:
Coming back to the game after a few months, I'm going to jump back in with bvanevery's AI Growth mod. I skimmed the mod front page in a cursory manner, but I'm going in mostly in the dark by choice. I know that the tech tree has been rearranged and factions have been rebalanced, but I didn't read too closely. Come on a voyage of discovery with me and whatever poor faction is burdened with my leadership. Settings will be as follows: Random map, Enormous to test the generator, everything average, 30-50% oceans. Full random factions, all victory conditions, Transcend. It's been six months so I'll probably die gloriously, but I'll have fun doing it.

RidleyN:
DetailsBelievers it is thenBelievers it is then
     So it looks like I am to lead the Believers this time around. I'll take a look at the datalinks to see what I'm working with. I would have preferred a coastal start, but I don't usually play with look first on.

DetailsWell that's a changeWell that's a change
     These believers look like they are more the gospel songs and lots of kids types as opposed to "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" types. This is certainly going to mean a very different playstyle than I am used to with this faction, but having the in game portrayal of my religion be more positive is nice. The ECON will be a nice boost. Immunity to mind control is good, but I don't know how effectively the AI will be using probes.


DetailsUhOh…UhOh…
    Worrisome. Aliens make for lively games, but the can be really tough to beat if they land nearby. Let's hope not. Monolith and Minerals from pods for New Jerusalem.


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Looks like a nice fertile band extending west from planetfall; dryer mountain area to the south. From the looks of the black area, we are on a large continent. Lots of fungus near the second base but not much I can do yet.

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First tech is a year behind Morgan, he has a full +2 Econ so that makes sense. No specifically research bonused factions, but the aliens will be able to direct their research. Given that CentEco is now a build tech, I don't even know how to guide my research with the four focuses anymore, since is deliberately didn't familiarize myself with the changes to the tech tree. For now, Explore and Build, I need rec commons next ideally; it seems like it should be under one or the other of those.

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That scout is going to have a hard time, and that will limit my expansion northward.

bvanevery:
That oughtta be interesting!  I haven't tried an Enormous map recently.  Sometime over the past several months I changed focus to Huge maps.  The faction placement is calibrated for Enormous.  That's as large as the map can get without placement problems, and still retain an aesthetically pleasing aspect ratio.  What I would expect to happen, is some faction, maybe a few, are going to give you a stiff economic challenge on such a big map.  Because they already do that on Huge, until I come clobber them.  On Enormous that effect will be more pronounced.

In fairness I should note that in 1.27, coming out Real Soon Now, I'm going back to Politics and Economics choices being easy to acquire.  Making that stiff and difficult was a big change in 1.26, one that in hindsight, I'm not in favor of.

bvanevery:

--- Quote from: RidleyN on January 12, 2019, 09:30:43 PM ---Immunity to mind control is good, but I don't know how effectively the AI will be using probes.
--- End quote ---

The AI will come all the way across the map, by sea, to take over one of your sea bases.  On an Enormous map that's actually a gift.  It makes it much easier to infiltrate and steal a tech.  But since you can't be mind controlled, perhaps they'll just come to steal techs from you.  If you have any.  Since this isn't the stock Miriam, you could be researching just fine for all I know.


--- Quote ---Worrisome. Aliens make for lively games, but the can be really tough to beat if they land nearby. Let's hope not.
--- End quote ---

There is nothing to worry about.  Making the Aliens only as strong as other factions, was one of the most basic, earliest changes I made in this mod.  They don't have armor or recycling tanks.  They don't even get free Trance anymore, they get the darned useless Cloaking Device now.  The AI doesn't even know what to do with that.  The Aliens are still powerful because they can do directed research, but that's really the only trick up their sleeve.  Even the main armament of their Battle Ogre has been nerfed.


--- Quote ---Given that CentEco is now a build tech, I don't even know how to guide my research with the four focuses anymore,
--- End quote ---

Centauri Ecology is cross-listed as Build, Explore, and Conquer, because it does all of these things.  Only a pure Discover faction would have any trouble acquiring it.  There are no pure Discover factions among the AIs, it's either Explore Discover or Discover Conquer.  A human player could choose to do pure Discover as a starting strategy.  If it didn't work so well for them, presumably they would change to something else eventually.

There is nothing wrong with keeping the Believers' default Explore Conquer focus.  Generally this is how I test the game, not making any changes to default research foci, so that I can see how the tech tree behaves as the AI sees it.  All of the default faction foci, work for that faction.  Not saying you can't do otherwise, you most certainly can, but the defaults will work.  You do end up with different tech than you'd expect though.  It can be challenging, improvising when something you're used to having "by now", hasn't been researched yet.

On an Enormous map, I would expect a Conquer focus to usually be a waste of research points.  You typically don't have any enemies to fight for a long time.  However, it is possible to start next to someone, and to want to conquer them, even on an Enormous map.  I think the Spartans are the most disadvantaged on Enormous and larger maps, because they have no basic assets for empire building.  They need a victim!  Every other faction is better rounded than that.

Miriam, with her new +1 ECONOMY advantage from all the tithings, is going to do better on an Enormous map than most.  Actually if the AI were playing her, I might expect her to be a real monster.  One thing about the new non-Fundamentalist Miriam, is once she decides she wants you dead, you don't have any basic way to ingratiate yourself to her!  You can't imitate her Politics, Economics, Values, or Future Society because she has no preferences.  She's totally free will.

RidleyN:
Lots of Fungal blooms this game, just bad luck I guess. this is the third one so far.

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Explore more to the north, scout has survived some mind worms and found an artifact. It will be hard to get home with the fungus and a tower right there though.

Details
Well never mind. Also Bad. Was hoping Aliens were not close, at least it's the caretakers. They might be easier to work with. Probably not, but I can be optimistic.


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Growing out to the west, I don't usually like overlapping my bases that much, but three minerals on one base with fertile ground was too good. More fungal blooms and mindworm pops though, and I'm feeling the lack of the +25% extra 'fanatic' attack bonus. A few scouts dead, more to follow.

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I want to go home. The Caretakers are to the north, I don't know how far; I don't even have Progenitor Psych yet, so I just get this. No new weapons or armor yet. If the aliens get similar techs at start to the base game this could be a short playthrough. Ah well.

I get the tech for rovers, it's conquer now. I need to prototype it so that I can scout faster and hopefully find safe direction to expand.

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No techs for SPs yet, even though some of the ones I have normally grant them; but prototypes are SP levels of expense now, with a whopping +200%. Skunkworks once i can get them are a must.


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Fifth fungal bloom now, and at least 5 mindworm pods as well. I have lost a lot of colony pods and their escorts. Expensive losses, I am not where I want to be at this stage in terms of base numbers. On the bright side, that is a nice big chunk of inhospitable fungus between me and the Caretakers. I can hope for someslowing and maybe some attrition when the assault comes.


Details
Continuing expansion west, more fungal blooms to the southwest make that direction too expensive for now. I need more bases, and quickly. At this point, the lack of the usually support bonus for the beleivers is pretty hard. But at least I'm not technologically backward. Seagoing units are much cheaper too, early seagoing efforts are much easier, as witnessed by Sven's dominance of the power graph. Santiago starts the Command Nexus, which could make her a real pain if I have to fight her anytime soon, but I can't even start that SP so I won't worry about that for now. I need to set up a forward area I can defend against the caretakers, so I can have warning before they get to my heartlands.


Details
Front line down, I couldn't make it coastal and still have access to the monument since the former I was bringing died to mindworms. Really cheap light artillery cost the same as scouts, but I don't know how effective they will be. Switched priorities to conquer, hopefully I get lasers or some armor soon. That said, her border isn't ugently close, she will have a long march to get down here even with an established road network, and I don't know if she has that.



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