Social Engineering Settings
Originally from the The SMAC Academy by Mark
Social Engineering is a massive part of the game, undeniably. Of course, you can't really stick to a cast-iron SESocial Engineering combination - simply for lack of flexibility - but I thought it might be interesting to see which SE settings people use for different factions.
I'll start with the original 7 for now:
Dem/Planned/Wealth, without question. This SE combo is one of the principal reasons the Gaians are such a massively powerful mid-game faction. Crawler in any reasonable amount of food, and your main bases are at 14 before you know it - +2 efficiency, +2 industry, +1 economy etc. makes for a seriously powerful mid-game push. Your main problem will be lack of cash to support the massive amount of facilities you'll be churning out. To combat this, simply assign a couple of specialists per base (you'll only need 3 or 4) and you're away.
And of course, the other advantage is that you're not running FM, which means you are able to support an air force.
Earlier on, I said that you cannot really stick to a cast-iron SE combo. Well, scratch that for the Hive, as for the vast majority of the game you should be in PS/Planned/Wealth.
The advantage to this combination is its sheer power. +3 industry means your early-game output will be far superior to anything your opponents will manage, while the +1 economy of Wealth cancels out your initial cash/research penalty. You'll never have a great tech rate, but cash shouldn't be a problem as long as Stockpile Energy in the queue is permitted....which can be used to further rush units.
The only real drawback to this is the morale hit you're going to take. For me, sheer numbers help to overcome this very minor drawback - and eliminating a couple of formers usually provides you with that much-needed upgrade.
A tricky one, as it depends, in many ways, how you play. If you're going for sheer size, and using specialists to help early-game research, you're going to be in Dem/Planned/Wealth for much of the early game. The extra cash of Free Market may tempt you early on as well - though the drones are a massive problem under this setting. If you can get them under control though, I would argue that this is probably the optimum setting for the UoP - you're not going to be long without energy restrictions, and the extra cash FM brings will certainly cancel out the industrial advantage of Planned. Of course, Knowledge should be taken as soon as it is available - partly to cancel out the morale hit, and partly to help efficiency.
In conclusion, I would personally recommend Dem/FM/Wealth, with periodic switches to Planned, to pop-boom. Later on, you're looking at Knowledge - which is when the research engine should really start singing.
Morgan is probably the most difficult of the original 7 to play well - but if you manage t pull it off, you're going to be singing for much of the early game. When you play Morgan, your number one problem is going to be efficiency. Democracy isn't really an option until much later in the game than it might be, and for that reason, your principal SE choice is going to be Frontier/Green/Wealth.
Of course, depending on your beeline, Green may well not be an option. As it stands, the above setting gives you the coveted +2 economy without the side-effects of FM. In addition to that, you can capture worms besides...growth really isn't going to be an issue until you can get hab complexes up, thanks to your population restrictions.
Where you go from here, though, depends entirely on circumstance. If you have lots of friends, the extra commerce income of FM is going to be hard to resist. If you're playing SMACX, Dem/FM/Wealth and 30% psych will put the majority of your bases into Golden Ages, letting you pop boom without a problem. However, otherwise, your best option involves Dem/Green/Wealth. Just look at the advantages - +2 economy, +4 efficiency (which means you can move the sliders any which way without penalty), +2 planet, +1 industry....the list goes on. A switch out of Wealth, however, isn't really viable, seeing as you lose your +2 economy - and you'll have to live with the morale hit all game.
Well, there are many schools of thought regarding the Spartans. First off you've got the rover-rushers - PS/Green/Survival typically being their choice. The drawback being that if the game isn't over within 60 turns, you're in real trouble.
However, many play Sparta as a builder/hybrid - seeing as many of the usual momentum restrictions do not apply. You've got no problem pop-booming, and no problem getting to +2 economy. The research flies along happily enough - the only real drawback being industry.
So, if you're going for Sparta as a builder, go for Demo/FM/Knowledge early on - Dem/Green/Knowledge later. The -1 industry, though partially crippling, can be partially off-set by the extra cash FM brings - though you will certainly need to pop-boom at some point if you are to be a major player in the mid-game. For cash in green, you need specialists - but your main strength is going to be your army. No Wealth means no morale restrictions - and any unit produced in a base with a Command and Bio Centre is going to be elite out of the box - extra move and all. And having run FM early, your tech isn't going to be too far behind the leaders either.
Despite the absolutely horrific early research penalty, Miriam does not tend to lag behind economically. Again, they have no problems pop-booming, no problems getting to +2 economy - but research is a big bugbear for them.
The fact is, Miriam has to play as a momentum faction, at some point. However, this should not be the early game, IMO - they need cash (to build facilities, probes and more bases).
So, it would seem logical to start out running Dem/FM/Wealth - obviously, they need to pop-boom at some point, but their focus should be on cash rather than research - using trading and probing as their main means for gathering that.
When you plan to attack (usually just after MMI) a switch to Dem/Green/Power is usually a good idea. Forget all about research now - as long as you are somewhere near your opponent's level, you will win the war, thanks to your 25% attack bonus, along with the extra morale. Steal any tech they get that you need - your cash flow at this point should be second-to-none, thanks to specialists and 100% allocation, so you've no problems keeping up.
Early on, you've practically got no choice whatsoever - Dem/FM/Wealth is your combo - the extra talent means you can afford to reach size 2 without a rec commons. Cash is certainly not a problem - until you boom, research may be something of a difficulty when compared to Zak or Morgan, but otherwise, you're all set to come into your own in the latter part of the early-game.
Planetary Governorship should be your goal - a boom is necessary before the first elections are called to ensure this. Once you have boomed, and Air becomes available, a switch to Green is unavoidable - you need the efficiency, as well as air units. A switch to knowledge is also necessary when that becomes available - not only for the extra efficiency, but the elimination of the morale penalty means a Command/Bio Centre troop will become elite on the visit of a monolith (elite out of the box if trained).
After that, you're singing - you're all set to play out the rest of the game as either a momentum or a builder faction - the choice is yours.