Author Topic: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power  (Read 4394 times)

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Offline lolada

AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« on: April 29, 2020, 09:05:25 PM »
Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power

This game is played with Will to power mod with integrated Thinker AI mod and PRACX graphics mod. AI is much improved and WTP mod introduces many balance changes, that in general make stomping AI quite harder. Secret projects are more expensive, terraforming is different, forests nerfed, fungus buffed, rushing changed, weapons and armors rebalanced as well as social engineering policies.  Combat is a lot different both conventional and PSI variants, mainly the defender is given 50% edge in own territory and base has 50% instead of 25% bonus defense. I've already played two games with the mod, with Deirdre and Miriam vs. original factions so i got a bit of feeling how the mod is working. Its my fifth or sixth game with improved AI mod.

This game I randomed every faction including my own. Difficulty is set to Transcend - so maximum there. Even though AI is quite tough, especially early, it feels like on higher difficulties AI will in general anyway fall behind player by late-game - at which point it is possible to build every secret project and then game quickly becomes a breeze (and boring).
Tech is set to blind research, i like to role-play a bit and it feels quite unique concept for Alpha Centauri.  I'll leave default focus tech of any faction I got – role-play again. Slower tech research set - as its going quick anyway on this difficulty, no pods scattering. Other than that everything is set to middle value – planet size is standard, to avoid too much micro.

So let’s start, hope you enjoy, i am certainly enjoying playing and writing this.

"Mankind has been blind for thousands of years-for all of its history. We have come to a place whose wonders are a hundred-fold more amazing than anything on Earth. Around us is clear evidence of the will of a higher power. I bring the Vision to the blind eyes of men. I bring the Word to the deaf ears of men. I will make them see it. I will make them hear it." -- Prophet Cha Dawn, "Planet Rising"

Cha Dawn came to power when terrible mindworm creatures overran first human colony on Chiron. Seeing his parents die little frail kid with sheer power of his mind somehow stopped and controlled the creature. With colonist unable to approach the mindworm, let alone kill him that day, Cha Dawn quickly rose to godhood status and soon was renounced as prophet and prodigy. His followers grew in number and formed a cult, know known as The Cult of Planet. The Cult raised Cha Dawn to power and thus his Chiron adventure began.

Dawn of Planet was settled on slopes on a river that helped colonists with initial energy needs. Under Cha Dawn's influence this group of colonists was planet-aware and typical human rampant energy production was recognized as dangerous. That is what drawn native life into initial attack, now the Planet comes first. Luckily this didn't affect industry much as people in this enlightened age new importance of clean energy.

First colonist found enough food and material near river slopes. Exploration didn't reveal any more plentiful sources so that was first concern. Plans were made to cultivate farms and build energy collectors north on mineral deposit hills – that should make the area sustain itself. What’s the use of minerals after all if people have nothing to eat? Eastern windy hills seem to have potential for great energy production, but area was covered by native fungus terrain. That energy would have to wait.

Order was placed to produce first Formers in colony at initial cost of 40 minerals – large expensive machines that will be able to terraform alien planet. Its currently the most important invention in the world. It is of vital importance to extract resources from surrounding lands if colonists are to survive. Attempts were made to rush build the Former, and all quickly failed, as rushing units costs 4 energy credits per mineral and that’s way too much for an undeveloped colony with limited workforce.

Cha Dawn's then sent Mindworm and Scout to explore surrounding lands while Former was being built. Scientists took first samples of fungus materials to improvised labs. Anything that could give colonists the edge would be a boon, weapons, armors, even just better understanding of new terrain and life forms.

First steps

Huge barren and wasted lands were spotted to the north, there Scouts found site of U.N.S. Unity crash. Nothing of use survived, destruction was total and fire ravaged the lands afterwards.  Group of cultist settles new base down the river on coast, using prepared Unity colony pod that survived Planetfall. Initial observations are that Dawn of Planet is placed far on northern hemisphere.  If Chiron is anything like Earth, more fertile lands are to be found in that direction, scouts correct their course.

New base, designated as Concordat of Worms in honor of Cha Dawn and his mindworm, in its first months reports seeing two fireballs in skies. Paths were apparently erratic raising doubts someone else has landed to Chiron. And not too long after terrible explosions loomed through atmosphere – We are not alone! Its crushing, but not unexpected news – humans have already found new life forms and even control one and its certainly intelligent to extent. Even scarier it appears to have some kind of telepathic powers.  Besides, even ordinary cultist figured out all Earth humans had to land earlier when Unity broke down. We have yet to find any and whatever was in fireballs could be dead now.

Concordat of Worms found more energy resources on the seas prompting cultist to consider settling more coast in the future. Second Former was ordered in the base and Cha Dawn issued a decree to build new colony pods as soon as Formers are built.
Exploring south inexperienced Cultist trainers try to use mindworm to fight native one and lose the fight. Cha Dawn was quick to punish fools and word of events never gotten to base. This did prompt  young prodigy leader to double the efforts to catch more native life forms, in which he succeeded in the following years.  Scouts quickly learned under his instructions and those who didn't, didn't tend to survive for long.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2020, 11:13:11 AM by lolada »

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2020, 09:31:48 PM »
M.Y. 2119.

Chiron certainly seems to revolve faster around its sun than Earth. Scientists report a breakthrough; they now understand Social psych much better in alien environment. Designs for efficient Recreation commons were made to increase productivity and help people that struggle with harsh life conditions. Not what Cha Dawn had in mind, he's after all comfortable even in fungus.

Reading through Unity Datalinks, he already knew about many old Earth failures, one being destruction of Earth's ecosystem. So called Earth green corrupt protectors were more interested in their comfort and beautiful villas on top of mountains than in planet, all the while pretending they actually cared for nature. Earth is likely on brink of destruction this moment. Angrily, Cha Dawn made sure everyone would know consequences of such transgressions. And that worked as soon after Synthmetal armors were designed from native Chiron minerals, followed by simple Laser weapons.

First manufactories and Industry base was forming in Dawn of Planet.  At a time some advisors presented the option of building infrastructure of The Merchant Exchange – huge undertake that capitalist societies on Earth had perfected. The Merchant Exchange would cost as much as 3 or 4 of already expensive Colony pods.  The idea was gone as quickly as it appeared; many planet-aware cultists already opposed it and decision was easy – more Colony pods were in order. Cha Dawn would never allow such greedy enterprises anyway.
Peaceful expansion and exploration continued, broken only by rare encounters with mindworms. Under pressure that was enough - new secrets of human brain came to light, especially brain interaction with fungus and native life.  By using Hypnotic trance ability it was possible to train Scout (and other) units to resist mindworm attacks, something that would prove important in coming years. This training only slightly prolongs recruitment and 1-1t-1 Trance Scouts cost the same as armored 1-2-1 Synthmetal Sentinels. Trance scouts are much stronger vs. native worms which made them primary defenders.
After some setbacks, scouts managed to capture a mindworm and Spore launcher. The latter seemed to be much smaller and simpler creature, yet capable of attacking from distance. It even managed to capture and control another mindworm eventually.

PSI Combat interlude

Cultist learned that discipline is the most important factor in PSI combat, and that it does NOT matter if they attack or defend.  Advanced weapons and armors proved ineffective as mindworms move through terrain and paralyze victims with telepathic terror. Flamethrowers are weapon of choice, even unarmored Colony pods and Formers are equipped with not-a-flamethrower prototypes that give them a survival chance.  Native life also appears to have varying psi power abilities... even the most disciplined units could be overwhelmed on bad days. There was certain unpredictability in outcome of fights. Defending prepared in base showed as big advantage and Trance units were able to stop a mindworm or two if lucky. Cultist planet expertise also showed as important factor in combat.


Social movements – glimpse of the future

Harsh reality turned some colonists to Fundamentalist views. Such views have many survival advantages, especially in times of war, but one important drawback – drawing ever more resources to defense. As a result primarily research would suffer; Cha Dawn was aware of it. He didn't endorse the movement, nor did he try to quell it, it might yet come useful.

Other branch turned to more restricting measure – advocating for state-organized control. Third branch fought for old Democratic values.

Cha Dawn ignored both at a time. Police-state was attractive for a period, but reducing freedom would hurt both efficiency and planet exploration, while benefits were limited with such low population and production. The attractive part came from exceptional influence of mindworm on public unrest – but controlling them is still a challenge. Democratic was, as Datalinks suggested, bureaucracy hell that somehow worked for large and rich populations of Earth. Young prodigy knew better than to allow ordinary people to decide matters of survival.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2020, 10:35:32 PM by lolada »

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2020, 09:38:26 PM »
Progenitors, fungus fields and Biology Labs

Exploration relentlessly continued though rough fungus terrain, continent is almost mapped. Fungus is found in every corner and it spreads further under the ocean. It was likely planet wide phenomenon. There are patterns in it, scientists are sure, but they have yet to understand the meaning. Hypothetical race that might have lived here is being now called Progenitors and prevalent theory is that they used fungus as resource source.
By now it was possible to extract some nutrient value for fungus, but 1-0-0 fields are impractical for use. That sprung extra efforts to build first real state-of-the-art Biology lab in Dawn of planet capital base. 


Practical applications followed enthusiasm: extraction of building materials from fungus terrain was improved, making it into almost usable 1-1-0 fields.
Most unexpected, Biology Labs turned out to be very easy to build and maintain. Mere 40 minerals for important early science boost, a cost of single Former unit, or total of 80 energy credits to rush buy. Due to complicated machinery Former cost 160 energy credits to rush. And it doesn't really cost anything to maintain them once built – fungus is present everywhere. There might yet one another benefit to them, Cha Dawn hoped, Biology labs could be crucial in efforts to breed elusive mindworms. Preliminary research shows that it should be possible.

Map of the known world – M.Y. 2173.

Bases kept building colony pods after formers and  The Cult is now four bases large, with more on the way. Explorers found out that no other factions have bases on our quite a large landmass. Infrastructure is basic, even in Dawn of Planet – but thats was going to change. It already set Recreation Commons and Biology Lab in build order - funds are prepared for hurrying up the projects.

Offline bvanevery

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2020, 02:25:05 AM »

This is what caused me to stop my own AAR / evaluation of Will To Power mod.  Look at defender!  All factors in its favor "to the gills" yet still gets trashed.  Not just trashed but trashed badly, only 50% damage to attacker.  That IMO means Psi combat is broken.  When odds are that strong the results should be fairly certain.  Otherwise why am I bothering to invest in defensive capabilities?  Game is wasting my time that way.

Interested to see how you end up using your time, and for how long.

Offline dino

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2020, 12:02:33 PM »
I doubt it's PSI combat specific "issue", but all combat issue, if you consider it an issue not a feature that is.
He added a huge level of randomness to individual battle result, so even with great odds you have a small chance of loosing.
If a unit wins a combat round the looser strenght for the next round is divided by a value.

With alternative_combat_mechanics_loss_divider=3.0 the combat is mostly determined by the first round.
While vanilla rules has an issue with even slight strenght difference making win an almost 100% with only how much HP it'll cost being a small factor.

alternative_combat_mechanics_loss_divider=1.0 is vanilla behaviour
alternative_combat_mechanics_loss_divider=1.5, or 2.0 is what I personally use currently, still undecided what feels best for me.

Here is detailed explanation of the feature, with the graph being the most relevant:

As you can see with 3:1 strenght in your favor, you would have practically zero loosing chance in vanilla, while with the modded rules and 3.0 divider it's a 17% loosing chance.

>Otherwise why am I bothering to invest in defensive capabilities?  Game is wasting my time that way. Interested to see how you end up using your time, and for how long.

Actually it's vanilla that makes anything above 50% strenght advantage almost irrelevant and with attack being double of defense, who attacks first is the only thing that matters.
Even attacking comparable tech and morale unit behid perimeter defense doesn't give defender an advantage in vanilla.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2020, 02:15:27 PM by dino »

Offline bvanevery

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2020, 03:03:38 PM »
He added a huge level of randomness to individual battle result, so even with great odds you have a small chance of loosing.

In my playtesting it wasn't empirically small at all.  It was consistent and extremely random, like 50% coin toss no matter how you prepared for combat.  Which is pointless because the only skill becomes attrition, building many more units with the expectation you'll lose half of them.  It makes mindworm defense in the early game exceedingly expensive and frustrating.  Mindworms plow through your units like butter even when you give them every possible defensive advantage.  And you can't just attack them first because Tim nuked that play mechanic.  It's basically an adversary you can't stop or hold, except by building tons and tons of units, which IMO is a complete waste of player's time.

Even attacking comparable tech and morale unit behid perimeter defense doesn't give defender an advantage in vanilla.

Defense actually works in my mod, which uses only the stock game binary.  Beefed up Sensor Arrays, removed infantry base attack bonus, etc.  Don't need some crazy new combat formula to solve a defense problem, I solved it.

Will To Power explores "combat is more dangerous and volatile" but it has gone too far.  IMO it's broken.  Anyways back to the AAR.

Offline dino

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2020, 03:19:40 PM »
> Will To Power explores "combat is more dangerous and volatile" but it has gone too far.  IMO it's broken.

I agree the divisor value 3.0 is too much, but the graph shows what you are getting into and you can adjust it to your liking, disabling the feature included.

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2020, 04:44:56 PM »
I actually don't mind that case - i singled out one where worm killed trance scout. I had 10 other fights where scouts won. Native worms are a threat - managable one, where its hard to be 100% safe from them. I place my bases usually 4 tiles apart - so if defender ever dies i can just move in another one. And occasional rover is very helpful. Its actually extremely useful to have  several empath scout rovers on hold around continent - had that in two of my games. When ecological damage is huge up to 8 worms i think spawn - and i managed to handle that many times. Once or twice when i failed worms destroyed a facility or two.. its nothing for large empire. But for example its real difference to play Miriam and Deirdre.. Miriam struggles while Deirdre goes on just fine. In this current AAR i lost 2 scouts and 2 worms maybe while killing a dozen and capturing 4-5.

I also watched that Sid Meier's GDC talk - and its really funny. Players expect 3:1 to win 90+% of time.. not 75%. And its a disaster if they lose twice in a row  :danc:. The chance for that is 1:16.. 6% so realistic. Then 2:1 is not the same as 20:10.. apparently 20 is big.. and so combat odds are skewed in civ games to make player feel good. Sid says it himself.

PSI combat issue is that its a bit weirdly specific in this mod. It works well most of the time - as intended - worms are dangerous, do not need upgrades,  and can kill even the most advanced defenders behind perimeter defenses. But they do cost 92 minerals i think, cheaper by 25% with late Brood pit, move only 3 tiles and attack only once. All fine - ups and downs.

Issue i had so far, i play around it, is that they are not good at attacking non-combat units. Attacking Former, Probe unit or Colony pod is dice roll - as its impossible to get 90+% odds. 8-1-2 rover gets 8:2 (former on forest in its land) and it will kill Former cca 80% of time.. not exact numbers. Few of these rovers melt formers 2 a turn and need to heal.
Worm can't do it.. +3 planet worm gets 45% bonus and with some morale edge it has for example 1.5:1 and will die 33% of  time. Its even worse because Former in  base gets +50% and territory is +50% - so Worm is actually losing that fight most of the time. Conventional attackers with decent tech win most of the time - attack 6 or 8 which is not late at all in the mod).

So in that way mindworms are weak. The trick, at least for me is to use the mix, Worms attack in favorable terrain and vs top-tier defenders while Rovers and Infantry attackers mop up less armored targets. Worked well so far.
And they are excellent vs -Planet factions - i really ruined Morgain with worms. In one fight he lost 5 interceptors attacking my 50% HP Locus and finally killed him with 6th attack. Its fun when RNG is on my side ^^. He had big negative planet rating and some bad RNG. I also lost with Miriam two full hp units attacking 10%HP mindworm.. that can happen anyone who played Diablo 2 should know  ;lol.

Offline bvanevery

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2020, 01:35:08 AM »
Its actually extremely useful to have  several empath scout rovers on hold around continent

Does WTP give that tech away at the beginning of the game? Because all of my mindworm gross unfairness problems occurred at the very beginning of the game.  It is not natural for me to think in terms of building Empath Song units to solve mindworm problems.  In the normal game, and in my mod, that's a Tier 4 tech that you only get by focusing on Explore.

I also may not have had the productivity for it anyways.  It was the beginning of the freakin' game, I wasn't awash in all kinds of excess minerals.  Tim is very tightfisted about allowing you to have any productivity.  I was barely getting anything together, barely getting those Command Center Trance units out to my bases.  And then the mindworm squashes me anyways, like I didn't even struggle mightily to get prepared.  It's ridiculous.  Total gaslighting.

Don't see why +50% attack would be any better than Hypnotic Trance +50% defend anyways.  Well maybe he changed them to +25% anyways.  Whatever the going rate is.  If they're the same, I don't see why it would help.

Players expect 3:1 to win 90+% of time.. not 75%.

How much real fighting have you studied?  You should die if 3 equally skilled attackers attack you.  You get surrounded and killed.  Have you been watching too many TV shows, with gunfights where the hero has plot armor and all these people shooting at them can't hit?

If you're in a duel, what does it mean to be "3X as good" as your opponent?  What do you think it means in the Ultimate Fighting Championship?  Know what?  It never happens.  Those duels are between closely matched fighters as otherwise the fights would not be interesting.  You don't put the world champion in with some rookie, because the rookie would be taken out in about 1 minute.

The expectations communicated to players are bollocks.  I'm 3X as good as this mindworm, yet it trashes me and it's merely breathing heavy, it wasn't that much of a struggle.  In fact I've seen combats where the mindworm took me out unwounded even with odds grossly in my favor.  That means the odds system communicates nothing about what to expect from the fight.  It's random attrition.  Am I going to have to throw 9 guys at this jerk?  I don't have that kind of early game productivity to spend.  So I quit playing, because clearly the combat system hasn't survived playtesting reality.

And they are excellent vs -Planet factions - i really ruined Morgain with worms. In one fight he lost 5 interceptors attacking my 50% HP Locus and finally killed him with 6th attack. Its fun when RNG is on my side ^^. He had big negative planet rating and some bad RNG.

Unless Morgan had infinitely many cheap interceptors to lose, that's bad AI.  The AI should be aware of its odds penalties.  If the AI can't be made aware of its penalties, that's a really serious problem.  Because fiddling combat systems, would change everything an AI knows how to do.

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2020, 03:07:24 PM »
Well i understand what you say - its the way it is - i played thousands of hours of various games and mods  i like can be counted on fingers of one hand. I presume there were 100s of good mods.. i just didn't find appeal in them. This mod defy your expectations and you likely will never  like it.  :D

Alpha Centauri always inspired my imagination - i know combat rules make little sense and i don't mind. Vanilla combat doesn't make sense 4-1-1 unit stomping other 4-1-1 unit 100% of the time. Yet somehow 1-4-1 armored unit with worst weapons in the game fare much better in that fight. You can find flows in any game system, there are things i don't like as well, but its better than vanilla in my opinion.

That said if worm kills my unit with 1:3 odds it is what it is. I'll likely win following two fights. What's 3:1 its up to anyone's imagination..  How many humans are needed to kill a lion.. 1, 10, 20, 100? I presume alien telepathic mindworm has a chance to kill any humans regardless of any weaponry and armors. Hypnotic trance comes in nicely to boost the odds.
They are not overpowered certainly - PSI combat is 1:1.. its just different and cannot be 100% safely countered. Rest is statistics..

I'll try to post continuation tonight - i played quite a bit more but need time to prepare story and images.

Offline bvanevery

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2020, 04:12:48 PM »
I presume there were 100s of good mods..

Why would you presume that?  Most modders completely lack discipline, don't playtest their work in front of real audiences, and their QA is abysmal.  They don't have a professional attitude towards game development.  I've put 2 years into my modding project, so it's higher quality than the vast majority of mods out there.  That doesn't mean my decisions have to be to your taste, but it does mean I'm not in remotely the same league as all the amateurs.

This mod defy your expectations and you likely will never  like it.  :D

If you mean Will To Power, Tim is a good designer but he hasn't finished his work yet.  In fact he seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, which is a bit concerning.

Vanilla combat doesn't make sense 4-1-1 unit stomping other 4-1-1 unit 100% of the time.

At first I thought you were writing about stomping "all the other units", not an identical unit.  SMAC has an offense vs. defense combat system.  The result makes perfect sense within that system.  4-1-1 is a glass cannon.  Whoever attacks first, wins.  It's like if 2 unarmored people face off with gatling guns.  First shot wins.

I personally would not implement an offense vs. defense system, because I don't like silly things like AAA armor magically shooting planes out of the sky.  I would have simultaneous attacks vs. defensive armors that mitigate damage.  The armor wouldn't be fighting back, you'd just be failing to wound your opponent.  Combats also wouldn't go on for unlimited time, only a fixed time.  Standoffs would be a possible result, and quite likely in some matchups.

but its better than vanilla in my opinion.

I disagree.  It's currently awful, and it's a different kind of awful.  Vanilla is a rather low bar for claiming an improvement, but at least vanilla combat is predictable.

A substantive measure of awful, is what new players on r/4Xgaming think of something.  Not what "old hands" who are bored out of their minds think.  Your basic issue is you're starved for challenge.  So you'll grasp at anything that feels like a challenge for a change.

I don't think Tim's work has been in front of r/4Xgaming long enough to have a verdict on it.  Nor would I expect his current version to be his last release, "done with any tweaking".

Even with my own work, after 2 years, I don't feel I've received all that much feedback from r/4Xgaming.  It takes a long time to get players to lift a finger, let alone talk about what they experienced.

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2020, 07:48:41 PM »
I suppose you are with lots of stuff there. "Better" is ambiguous word - more challenging for me, thats the right description. Thats what i was looking for in a mod. And its fresh experience so its fun and here i am writing AAR. Basically thats it, I won't pretend that i know much about design. I didn't have the chance to try your mod - I'll gladly give it a chance once i get bored with this one. This one had catchier name  :danc:. I usually move on for awhile once i explore something to my liking.

On to Part II:


M.Y. 2160 was historical year - first contact! Scouts from Consecration Pit base, settled on northern side of the continent, were astonished by advancing Sea Transport Foils. Aliens! Big green aliens – there was no doubt! Cha Dawn was immediately notified and scouts remained hidden. News was surprisingly accepted; inner circles apparently had been preparing for the possibility ever since the discovery of Progenitor psych. Delegation consisted of four experts, including leading biologist from Dawn of Planet.

Details were never revealed to public; delegation made contact and soon afterwards large amounts of energy credits were transferred from Dawn of Planet. Celebrations followed. Rejoice! Aliens recognized humans as equals. And life continued, a little bit different, still mostly unchanged.
Stories in inner circles spread over time – delegation somehow arranged a trade for Sea Foil designs. No treaties were signed, no maps exchanged, no contacts promised – aliens were interested only in energy. From descriptions Cha Dawn gathered they were few in numbers, arrogant, even proud, but not strong as they seem to be presenting themselves. Clearly they were in need of resources, yet uninterested for diplomacy. And he felt, as he only could, they were not here to bargain.

Concordat of Worms received new orders – assembling the first Gun Skimship (1)-1t-4 prototype. Urgent priority. Trance trained crew will be well prepared for voyage into uncharted Chiron oceans. Techs assured leadership that mounting weapons on ship won’t be an issue. At this time Cultist had perfected design for Impact Particle weapons (3) – but decision was made to produce Skimship with basic weapons only. It could be upgraded if need arises. There was still no mass weapon production in colonies, except those of flamethrowers.

In Dawn of Planet experiments were ongoing on Superconductors applications – electronic systems were foundation of both Earth and Chiron technology. Combined with knowledge acquired on Earth microbes interaction with Chiron ecosystems and coupled with genetic engineering techniques – scientists insisted – it was possible to create The Living Rafinery. Project would manipulate microbes into production of useful materials that would significantly increase SUPPORT and logistics of cultist’s bases. The only real suitable place for such a project was Dawn of Planet.

Few years into project communications with aliens worsened. Skimship encountered alien Foils; this time talks went quickly downhill. Apparently Cha Dawn was called “manipulative demagogue” by their leader. He calls himself Conqueror Marr – communication was hard but linguists were sure that much. Cha Dawn didn’t look kindly to being conquered, gravity of threat was real; northern bases had only basic defenses from native wildlife and couldn’t withstand serious attack.

He took a deep breath. The Living Rafinery would be a dream come through, reality is, it was not going to happen. Dawn of Planet did not have good industrial capabilities and no obvious ways to improve it significantly. If mine would have been built on northern mineral resources then food would be lacking. More workforce would help, yet it was unrealistic – growth was slow and space limited – productivity would be low and even rebellions possible. If only infrastructure could be improved, yet that was another dream. Cultists were no experts in infrastructure building and research was slow in the field. Hard decision had to be made – defense is priority and project was canceled.

Alien surprise

Freshly built Gun Skimship breezed along the coast of nearby eastern landmass. That is where nearest landmass was located, it was possible after all that aliens settled there. Then there is still a hope of finding other humans. And it happened as expected – armored Synthmetal Rover was driving along the coast; crew surprised when they were hailed.

On contact, aliens cautiously greeted the crew with, what seemed to be, friendly phrases. Something felt very different about them – further communication revealed it – they never met human race before. Their leader, Guardian H’minee engaged in diplomacy. Prophet Cha Dawn and Guardian H’minee assured each other on the mission to protect the planet. The result – first treaty between aliens and humans. No trades were agreed that day. These particular aliens had cautious attitude to pretty much everything.
Cha Dawn meditated long on it. There was little reason to believe these particular aliens were settled on the planet for long. It was plausible that Guardian H’minee overpowered arrogant Conqueror Marr in battle – his faction seemed to be doing well. They probably both landed at the same time in fireballs spotted years ago from Concordat of Worms. The fact that H’minee is unaware of Cultists previous contacts with their race is telling. Furthermore H’minee was interested in Planet well being, while Marr cared more about extracting energy from it. Finally, they had opposite communication approach, even their titles seem to clash. There was no hard proof to any of this, but the reasoning was sound.

New players and floating cities

Sometimes in 2170s, during first encounters with aliens, scouts reported seeing distant floating cities on far southern top of the continent. Idea was ridiculed, at first – prescribed to traumatic aftereffect of psi terrors. Several mindworm creatures were spotted south; they seemed to aggregate there. Then came another report, and visual proof, and finally delegation was sent on long voyage. Whoever it is they must have sophisticated technology. Cultists Foil designs, traded from aliens, showed potential for creation of Sea Colony pods. If scaled well, coupled with some physics knowledge and uniqueness of Chiron seas, possibility of building floating cities was there. Cultist were at a time even worse in advanced physics than in infrastructure designs so at a time nothing came out if it.
In M.Y. 2189. contact was established. Foreman Domai, ex Unity Assistant Jobtech 3rd Class, was leading the faction that called itself Drones. Apparently Foreman organized disgruntled workers into big industrial syndicate and 90 Chiron years later he is here overseering floating cities.

Foreman was big on Industry, his workers muscular and busy, machines hummed all the time. Water was awfully oily and polluted around city’s metal appendages, Planet sure did not appreciate such invasion nor did the delegation. Foreman himself was quite busy and conversion falsely polite, it was not possible to find real common cause. Welfare of Humanity is overvalued, on Chiron everyone was on its own. Fake treaty was signed, both sides knew it, yet they still went with it. On question of trade exchange Foreman was not interested, but he didn’t shy away from 60 energy credits; in return he provided communications to Provost Zakharov.

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2020, 08:00:41 PM »
Provost was refreshingly honest and forthcoming.

He couldn’t suppress his delight with Planet and all of its unending research opportunities. Eager talks about tech development followed. Highlight being Provost expertise in particle physics; University produced viable miniature Fusion reactors on Chiron, something that eluded Earth scientists forever. They could be used to power everything, from combat suits to rovers and formers. And they gladly traded it for knowledge of Secrets of Human Brain – the only technology that cultists had over University. Even Universities best scientists couldn’t tap into connection with Planet in the way Prophet could.

Map of planet was exchanged for second tech – Synthetic fossil fuels. Happy with trade, delegations agreed on formal Treaty of friendship paving the way for future cooperation.

Synthetic Fossil fuels

Biology Lab in Dawn of Planet was working in full capacity. Rediscovery of such powerful energy source turned into wave of enthusiasm.  It would have to be manually produced on Chiron, but none the less it signified a great leap forward. With fossil fuels came new rocket weapon systems (5), stronger than both Particle Weapons (3) and Gatling Lasers (4). Armor technology was lacking comparatively, Synthmetal (2) being the peak advancement so far.

Fossil fuels had destructive effect on fungus – no wonder there – and possible practical applications followed in terraforming. Fungicidal Formers are able to clear fungus field in half the time – but it was to be used only with special approval of Cha Dawn. Only a few of such formers were ever produced.

Dawn of Planet was promptly instructed to build first Missile Speeder 5-1-2*2, perfect greeting for Conqueror Marr, if he dares to land near north bases. It was the right time for prototype development – The Cult spread over large area and security started to become an issue.  This speeder was later supported and stationed in northern bases.

Fusion Reactor

Fusion reactors reduced cost of all units by about 20%.

Speeder production required 60 minerals compared to 80 with old Fission reactor. Formers were down to 30 mineral (from 40) and Colony pods to 50 (down from 60). Advanced variants, like Rover Formers, exceptional road builders, are now cheaper as well. Fusion powered fueled new wave of expansion of the Cult.

M.Y. 2181 Tau Ceti Mantle – HQ of Conqueror Marr

M.Y. 2181 Drones floating cities

Provost Zakharov informed us that Human Genome Project was nearing completion in one of Drones bases – apparently Foreman Domai hosted the project using Universities expertise. Apparently Provost didn’t mind that control of the project was not in his hands as long as science was done.

The project was completed in M.Y. 2182. Domai also earlier completed The Merchant Exchange – his faction was real industrial powerhouse. He was not the only one with sea bases though, Guardian H’minee settled one on the east coast. Colonization of Chiron was in full swing.

Offline bvanevery

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2020, 10:25:54 PM »
This one had catchier name  :danc:.

Tim solicited suggestions.  Mine was Thought Control Mod.  Will To Power isn't that far off, just a different quote.  Personally I thought Thought Control was less obscure.

I notice Living Refinery costs half of what Command Nexus costs.  I don't think +2 SUPPORT is that useless.

Offline lolada

Re: AAR: Cha Dawn and The Cult of Planet - Will to power
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2020, 11:15:31 AM »
I was also surprised with The Command Nexus cost, i left some feedback in mod thread earlier, i think he overvalued it somewhat. I had some thought about this and its complicated issue - i think i might have rough idea how he calculated the cost.

First, there's a grand scheme - design goal was to make conquest hard - in vanilla its kind of easiest way to win. Tim said so in his thread i read that somewhere. So he went to great lengths to make combat deadly for attacker - primarily player i suppose, and he wanted the to have tripple the force to guarantee base conquest. I think he roughly succeeded in that goal. Big factor is 50% territory defense that causes some other weird outcomes though, but main goal works.

Its complicated - even though the attack is harder - defender can't heal fast. Attacker is usually stronger anyway and in SMAC and from what i could observe so far AI can eradicate each other effectively. Now, he also flattened morale a lot - Command Centers cost 80 minerals and 2 maintenance, Children's Creches do not improve morale - SE choices are somewhat morale starved. He removed bonusus to Very Green units - and moved away Bioench. centers for example. All of this increases casualties.

This makes staking morale very valuable and its main source of his reasoning. I played the game with Miriam where i built Command Nexus and in midgame i actually could produce Elite units directly out of bases. You have to pick Fundamentalism, but future SE choices are available earlier in the mod. They seem ok balanced, i don't have much playing xp yet. Picking Fundy is no issue at all - because probes - that are overpowered as  hell in SMAC.  Elite units are so strong that i plowed through AIs no problem - double attack is really op. With Elite status and movement boost infantry attackers are much more useful as well. Extra 25% really matters.

Another thing about game dynamics in the mod is weapon scaling. Mainly its about equal up to point, factions tech at roughly same rate, but that changes mid game. Weapons of strength 10, 13, 16 overpower armor and many defending units are not up to date. Percentage bonuses are stronger on high base... Mobility and bombardment come into place as well and conquest really speeds up.

Anyway back to price. So I thought - projects that give facility in each base are OP. Weaker bases get it when they couldn't and there's no maintenance. For example Virtual world is so strong project partly because Network nodes cost 3 maintenance per base. But The Command Nexus is a waste in all bases - i thoght - i kind of need early midgame for example, 3-4-5 max bases to produce units. These can get Command centers, other bases are busy with sciency and energy.. formers etc.
By late midgame i might want another production center - maybe on end of big continent (tho mag tubes eliminate the need). Or maybe on another continent, thats reasonable. And that turns the number of Command centers to roughly 10.
Tim might have used something like that for cost: he wrote in readme 10 x faciliy cost(80) = 800 command nexus.

I think its overvalued - because it only affects ground units and its not really that useful in all bases. Take this AAR for example, its clear that bulk of fighting will be naval and air based. Then project is available early at enormous cost. Its expected of project of this cost to be available in midgame when bases churn out 20-30 minerals.. and that would take 25-30ish turns.
One good important sideeffect of large cost of this project is that its safe fallback SP. Minerals can be invested in it if AI builds other projects so its rare to waste ton of production due to no available projects. Another good thing with more expensive projects is that usually one AI can't gobble them all up quickly. Nor the player.

All this said, The Command Nexus should probably be not valued more than 500 minerals, even 600 looks taking it over the top. I might mod that out if i continue playing the mod a lot in the future. I don't mind Command centers at 80 mins and 2 maintenance - they are strong.
Regarding The Living Rafinery - its quite good project and its expensive - 400 minerals so he values it a lot. +2 support is not that great per se, but it allows much more options during SE changes - and its awesome just for that. Only cheaper projects are The Merchant Exchange at 200 (rightly so) and science doublers at 300. Those should be likely more expensive.
Many secret projects look to expensive in my opinion, i think he designed them with Crawlers in mind. Single Crawler is 120 minerals and can't get cheaper with reactors.. so a couple of them reduce the cost significantly. I avoid using Crawlers for SP, but in this mod is expected. Later SP cost as much as 2000 minerals and even 50 mineral base takes 40 turns to build that. My expectations is (might be unjustified) 10-30 turns for SP.. anything below too cheap, above too expensive.


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