Originally from the The SMAC Academy, by sentry33.
For quite a while I have tried to find any written help regarding basics of Hive strategy - both here and at Apolyton - without much of success.
I might be not the best player around, but I've tried to write up what I've learned from my own experiments (few months), and hints from other players (thanks a lot to binTravkin and Lazerus!) for the use of others.
Please comment, I'd really like to hear more suggestions.
Due to low income, and inability to popboom, playing Hive is quite different from classic builder strategy. Your focus should be on getting high number of bases, caring about their size is less important - at least during the first stages of the game.
At this stage do not worry about producing anything else than as many Colony Pods as you can (plan production so that you build one just after the base reaches size of 2), formers and occasional scout (for drone control, security vs mindworms and exploration). Over time however, your aim is to have at least 2-3 formers supported by each of bases.
Your goal is to get as many bases as you can in given time. If you put bases close to each other, it means less time lost on moving the Colony Pod, and that you can have more bases on your continent.
Try to put bases on grid, with one space in between as pictured below:
Where: B means base
Build mostly forests, and place roads on diagonals between bases. Whenever you have former-time to spare, build roads to the new base sites to set them up more quickly.
Your first priority is to get Centauri Ecology (Formers), then Planetary Networks (Planned SESocial Engineering setting, Librarians and Probe Teams).
Planned: +2 GROWTH and +1 INDUSTRY helps immensely both with growth of bases and their production (more Colony Pods, more Formers - even faster growth). Additionally, as a Hive you are immune to the single disadvantage of this setting - switch as soon as possible!
Police State: +2 SUPPORT allows you to maintain 4 units within each of the bases for free - that is: 2-3 formers in each of the bases! Again you are immune to the disadvantage - another early must-have.
As research progresses, new options open for you. Most important goals to reach are:
- Building Weather Paradigm (!)
- Acquiring Industrial Automaton
- Infiltrating other factions
- Building Planetary Transit System
- Acquiring Biogenetics
- Acquiring Intellectual Integrity
Building Weather Paradigm
Not only it will make your former time more efficient, but allows you to build Condensers before the Ecological Engineering is invented.
Things that will speed up the process:
- Produce it in the city with highest mineral outputs (mine on rocky terrain with mineral resource is perfect candidate)
- Use the Alien Artifacts you find to rush the production
- If you have crawlers, use them to rush build the process
Acquiring Industrial Automaton
These may be pursued in several ways, two of which I'll describe here:
Select a base with at least one nutrient resource within its radius (preferably two) - it will be librarian specialist base, that will boost your likely to be low research rate.
Terraform farms (and condensers if you have Weather Paradigm SPSecret Project) on the nutrient producing squares, and within the base build Network node. Once its ready send enough colony pods to the base to grow it to size 5-7. Place one worker on the terraformed nutrient special, rest change to the librarians. (Once a while you'll need to change them all to the nutrients production to avoid starving). 1-2 such bases should enable you research Industrial Automaton in reasonable time. After getting it, put crawlers on nutrient tiles to feed all librarians.
- Reliable way of getting Industrial Automaton and Weather Paradigm,
- Helps research afterwards
- Little or no contact with other factions,
- No infiltration
Instead of Research Doc Flexibility first, build few gun foils, then probe ships and send them out to make contacts. Try to establish contact through Gun Foils, Probe Ships use for exploration and infiltration. Try to get technologies through trade, but if it seems impossible, do not hesitate to steal them.
- Contact with another factions - trade,
- Harvesting sea unity pods,
- Provoking hostility,
- Not a reliable way to get technologies
After getting Industrial Automaton you will probably want to switch to Wealth SE setting as soon as possible.
Mass-growing bases to size 3
After getting Weather Paradigm and Industrial Automaton, your goal is to build the Planetary Transit System. Lacking the ability to popboom, its a way of keeping up with population with rest of the factions.
Ideal time of building PTSPlanetary Transit System is when each of bases meets both of the conditions:
- you have enough police force (2 units or 1 Police unit),
- is capable of producing 6 nutrients once at size 3 (for example: 3 forests + recycling tanks, or 2 forests and a square with 2+ nutrient output)
Of course, it is more important to acquire it before others than to build it in the ideal moment.
Once you have high number of bases, each point of population is a drone
Most efficient ways of quelling the drone riots for Hive are:
- Regular units (1 unit / 1 drone)
- Police units (1 unit / 2 drones, Intellectual Integrity needed)
- Planetary Transit System (one less drone in bases of size 3 or less)
- Ascetic Virtues (when paired with Police State SE, additional drone is quelled by each of military units: 2 drones for regular units, 3 drones for police units),
Specialists citizens never riot (For example: you can have size 5 base with 1 police unit and 3 specialists without riots)
Growing bases to size 5, use of specialists
After acquiring PTS, you want to continue with the expansion and Former production (never stop!)
At some point however, horizontal growth is not only option to pursue. Use some of your hopefully already large Former fleet toward enhancing of the inland bases. (Find a balance between setting new bases and enhancing existing ones).
First build farms and condensers, as pictured below:
Where: B means base, F - forest/road tile, c - condenser and farm
Each of the bases should have two crawlers working the condenser square, for 10-12 nutrients production. Your aim is to reach population of 5 and switch all of the citizens to librarians (or leave one working the diagonal forest tile)
Growing city from population of 4 to 5 takes quite some time however (and size 4 base loses productivity to drone riots - PTS helps no longer) - so its often its worth to build a colony pod in small base and send to the city of the size 4 for the final growth step.
Each of such bases produces now 12-15 research points and almost no mineral/energy income. You should not build too many of them for now - just have enough to help you reach restriction lifting and to not lag behind in research too much.
After restrictions lifting
At this point you may wish to slow expansion a bit in favour of building more formers and boreholes:
Where: B - base, c - condenser/farm, b - borehole
Each base should have 2 crawlers working on condenser tiles, one citizen working borehole, rest performing as librarians.
That makes each of bases produce about 14 research points, 7-8 minerals and about 3 energy credits. (Omitted possible rec tanks, rivers, inefficiency and special resource squares for simplicity of approximation).
With 40 such bases or so, you should have no troubles reaching MMI, then Fusion Power and Orbital Spaceflight - at this stage the game is pretty much settled with your number of bases.
Late Game and general hints
- Nutrient satellites and soil enrichers make it possible for bases to grow to size 14,
- Cloning Vats give constant popboom ability,
- Any secret project that gives free facility at each of bases is a HUGE boost for Hive,
- When pursuing the Flexible approach be ready to research Nonlinear Mathematics or Synthetic Fossil Fuels fast, This combined with Command Nexus in one of your bases will make you fearsome force at early stage of the game,
- Atrocities are useful: nerve stapling can speed early game, nerve gas and nuclear weapons are fun and good arguments against these oversized bases of other factions