Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri & Alien Crossfire > The Theory of Everything

Mindworm farming - a refined solution by Kody


I was developing a strategy for boot strapping Spartans on a podless map. And this was what was going to be my cash cow. However, since I'm not playing anymore I guess it doesn't matter.

Basically for river squares with fungus outside base radius the chance of a mindworm appearing is about 1/9 (you need to check as I no longer know for sure since it's been too long since I've done the research). Movement along the river is 1/3. So with a elite rover you can generate 1 mindworm a turn (not counting the killing).

Anyway the thing is there's no limit to how many times you can walk back and forth along the same two or three fungus river squares. And instead of moving an expensive to build mindworm you can move a regular unit and when its movement runs out you park it further back along the river. Then switch to another unit. This means a large army that is twiddling it's thumbs can generate you a large amount of enegry credits, thus paying for itself. This can be the two most productive squares in the entire game for you.

I found that the best value for money was popping pods. However, for a non-pod map where you're not too interested on entensive exploring, setting up a mindworm farm would be useful. After talking into account the problems of healing the units (reduces the number of mindworms you can trawl significantly), 1 mineral upkeep and the killing of the mindworms. It turned out that building another rover to trawl the fungus in this way was more cost effective than a crawler on a single mineral, but less cost effective than a crawler on a forest. Remember to take into account the fact units are generally cheaper than crawlers, so it's sometimes easier to get more income per mineral out of units than crawlers.

I think if you found a monolith next to a patch of river fungus and you were spartans (eg can get elite 3 move units). Building the trawling units were more cost effective (assuming you're already getting enough minerals to allow you to rush buy cheap). This was because units were cheaper than crawlers and the killing mindworms paid back the upkeep. This rough calculation doesn't take into account free morale upgrades from killing the mindworms. Of course you use the low movement unelite units to kill the mindworms, while you use the greater than two movement units to trawl the fungus. Also not using the trawling unit for killing prevents you from blocking a mindworm popping because ended that unit's turn on the fungus you were trawling.

However, I believe this strategy would be an excellent late game strategy for everyone, no matter what faction. When the turn goes to 2150 suddenly mindworms are worth 20ECs rather than just 10ECs. If in the early game you left 2 fungus river squares outside base radius (in the center of your empire) you can then start harvesting mindworms after 2150 with a standing army that would normally be a drain on your economy. Instead you're getting 20ECs per mindworm kill and getting morale upgrades for all your units. If you have a good way to heal your units, (either a command center nearby or a monolith) then I think the income works out around the same as crawlers on 2 mineral forests. However, crawlers are limited by the number of squares available whereas this strategy only requires 2 squares for unlimited usage.

Note that in some cases this strategy is not cost effective, and sometimes you won't have a handy two adjacent squares of fungus and river. Terraforming fungus in the early game is definitely not worth it. Obviously this is another case of micromanagement that also requires a little brain power to see if you'll be gaining advantage with your current situation.

Some implementation details.
* You need a little finesse in implementing it as you need to maximise the number of times your units move through the fungus every turn. If you get one mindworm and end up blocking half the fungus after the attack you've lost advantage.
* Generally avoid trawling the fungus when you've only got 1 unit left with 2/3 movement left as you'll be forced to do a hasty attack.
* When I tested this with Spartans I never lost a unit unless I tried attacking with a unit that didn't have full health. However, when I got greedy and attacked with less than full health unit I sometimes lost a unit. Note also that morale makes a big difference to whether you will lose units. Spartans have good morale, disciplined units.
* Have a good plan for healing your units, otherwise most of your time will be spent waiting for units to heal or losing units in battle. Thus not making it cost effective. Command center or nearby monolith
* Remember it takes 1 move to move off the fungus, to make way for another unit to travel the 2 squares of river fungus you have. So a 3 movement unit has 4 times more trawls than a 1 movement unit.
 - 3 moves = 8 trawls
 - 2 moves = 5 trawls
 - 1 move = 2 trawls
* Don't build all rovers. I found that it was better to do a mix of cheaper 1 movement units that are used mainly for killing and fast units for trawling. After you've used up the movement of the faster units you can get 2 trawls through fungus with the 1 move units. Rovers cost far more than 1 move units and take a while to limp back to base for repairs. This limits their usage as an mindworm killer as they're often limping back at 1 movement.
* You can use probes too to rustle up mindworms for those mineral challenged (Morgan). Spartans are better off using rovers rather than probes as they can get elite rovers
* Forests can grow over your fungus patch. So when you are choosing where to set it up. If you can't find a monolith next to a good patch. Next look for rocky river fungus.
* mindworms are easy to kill before 2120, if you have low morale after 2120 it may be better to delay further trawling as losing units is not cost effective.
* EC rates for mindworms double at turn 2150, what may not be cost effective early may be so now. You may want to consider where you are going to set up a mindworm farm much earlier, base radius disables mindworms and it's better to have the farm in the middle of your empire. That way units on garrison duty can do some trawling whenever convient.
* Certain SPs or techs can disable the random generation of mindworms.

Oh yeah the probabilties as far as I recall.
fungus unentered ever before = 1/3 per move
fungus unit has traveled through it before = 1/9 per move
fungus river = 1/9 per move
fungus road = 1/27 per move
fungus mono-rail = 0 chance
fungus within sensor radius = 0 chance
fungus within base radius = 0.00001 chance (had it happen once out of many many trials I did, and no I never pressed end turn to possible have let a mindworm move there)

Source: Apolyton


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