Secret Project Instabuilding

From Alpha Centauri Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Originally from the The SMAC Academy, by Canuk.


Instabuilding is a term that smacers have coined for “starting and finishing the build of a secret project all in 1 turn.” Post Industrial Automation, it is virtually the only way a secret project should be built. I have noticed many many players who do not use secret project instabuilding. For a minimal amount of micromanagement, they are missing out on a great many benefits. Let’s look at the mechanics:

Take the example of a base, after IA with say 12 mins. Let’s build the CA (Cloudbase Academy). The CA costs 30 rows, at +2 industry, that’s 240 mins.

The “traditional” way:

Finish a build of something else and switch to the CA. If 10 mins are carried forward, our ETA is 19 turns, with the last 2 mins hurried for 8 ec.

The instabuild way:

Usually before we research the CA, but it could be after, start building crawlers in say 3 bases. Let’s say these bases have 12 mins per base with 10 mins carried forward. The 1st crawler is produced in 2 turns. It starts working a forest. That boosts production to 14 mins. The next crawler is produced in 1 turn. (10 carry forward plus 14 = 24). It starts working a forest for a total of 16 mins. The next crawler is produced in 2 turns with 8 mins carried forward. We now have 9 crawlers, and have used only 5 turns at 3 bases to build them, a total of only 15 “queue-turns” as opposed to 19, in the traditional way. 9 crawlers plus the 8 mins carried forward plus the 12 base mins builds the SPSecret Project with a 16 ec hurry. Note that micromanaging the crawlers from these 3 bases plus some others often results in no extra ecs being required at the SP hurry rate of 4 ec per min.

Let’s examine the benefits:

  1. As shown in the above example, since crawlers can be cashed in for 100% of their accumulated minerals, it is always more efficient to build crawlers, and then cash them, even if those crawlers harvest only a few or even 1 resource while waiting to be cashed.
  2. Crawlers can be accumulated before the tech for a SP is discovered. This allows building of the SP on the turn the tech is discovered. You can bet your opponents know that you will research that tech on that particular turn. It is virtually impossible to ensure that a tech will not be stolen (unless you have the HSAHunter-Seeker Algorithm, prior to Algorithmic Enhancement). Even then, your opponent might get the tech from an AA. Instabuilding the turn you research the SP tech, ensures that even if she steals the tech you will build the SP first.
  3. Instabuilding hides your intent to build a SP. In some games, lots of SPs are “hanging around” waiting to be started (smaller maps with higher tech rates, and often more conflict and therefore other priorities). I often look at other factions ability to instabuild SPs. If they don’t have enough crawlers in range of one base to do the job, then I am safe (or maybe if they do, they will decimate the productive capacity of a base, and I am willing to let them have a SP, in exchange for that hit). A strategy to hide ones intent is to upgrade and instabuild: one can build a crawler at the base that you intend to build the SP. Then the turn the crawler is built, you can upgrade it. Then change the base’s production to the SP. Even though upgrading the crawler used up its movement, you can still hit “O” and cash the upgraded crawler to the SP. Then cash a few unupgraded crawlers nearby to finish the job. Instant SP, that nobody knew you could build (until now). If you need 2 upgraded crawlers, then move one into the base the turn before. Don’t upgrade it yet though. Wait till the following turn and upgrade that one and the newly produced one at the same time. When I see those upgraded SP producing crawlers suddenly pop up in someone’s command nexus screen, I know that he intends to build a SP soon. Instabuilding disguises your intent to build a SP. Very valuable in some games.
  4. If stockpile in the queue is allowed, we have the additional benefit of 3 stockpile affects times 3 bases for a total of 63 extra ecs (in this example).

The only time one should tie up a build queue to produce a SP is prior to IA and crawlers. Even then, an argument can be made for instabuilding using AAs and units at ½ their mineral value.

Another technique to be used in conjunction with SP instabuilding is SESocial Engineering switching to better industry. Make sure the turn before you intend to build the SP, you are in green or FM (probably for better tech rate to get to that SP tech faster than your opponent). The turn you will build the SP, 1st cash the crawlers for their poor industry value, then switch to planned, and finish the SP with only say 8/9s of the minerals. Often this is worth it if you build more than 1 SP at the same time, and/or use the switch to planned to do a little pop booming. Careful though. Some games limit how often you can use SE switching. Almost all make it a cheat to do it in the same turn (thus getting a refund of the ec cost of the switch!).