Author Topic: Pop-booming, why? by Sikander  (Read 1980 times)

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Pop-booming, why? by Sikander
« on: August 25, 2012, 03:47:49 PM »
There are basically two forms of growth in SMAC, vertical and horizontal. Vertical growth is increasing the population within a base, while Horizontal growth is the result of founding new bases. Both are important, but both face some limitations, and most players rely on both forms of growth to maximize their potential.

Very early on, the easiest way to grow is horizontally by founding new bases. This is because very early in the game vertical growth is a diminishing prospect, that is to say that each time your base grows it takes longer to grow the next population point. There aren't many things to build very early in the game, and your best investment is usually a colony pod. Instead of having two population points in one base growing at a rate of X, you can make two bases growing at a rate of (X-1). This paradigm is limited by several factors, the most important being efficiency (both energy loss as you spread out from your headquarters, and the occurance of efficiency drones), space to plant new colonies, and time to walk your pods to a new base location.

As these diminishing returns accellerate, most players will find that it is time to switch gears from horizontal to vertical growth (exception: Borg or ICS strategy). Vertical growth has some advantages which really come into their own as the limiting factors begin to diminish horizontal growth. Among these advantages are:

1) The ability to multiply various production factors through the use of facilities. Two bases producing 2 econ each do not benefit from energy banks for instance, as there is a cost to build the Banks, and the net econ gained is zero at the end of the procedure. However, one base producing 4 econ which builds an energy bank will net itself 1 econ per turn. This rule applies to the zillions of facilities which multiply various factors of production.

2) Population nearer to your HQ loses less of the energy it produces to inefficiency, and has fewer problems with efficiency drones, which means it can spend it's energy doing something other than quelling drones.

3) Specialists can be utilized at bases larger than 4, which can really ramp up your labs/econ/psych, especially when you can use crawlers to bring in the food to support them. This can be HUGE.

4) The ability to Pop Boom (definition: Getting an effective level of 6 growth through SE settings, facilities and/or Golden Ages, which allows a base in this state to grow 1 pop per turn if it is producing 2+ extra nutrients) means that suddenly the vertical growth paradigm has overtaken the horizontal growth paradigm in spades.

Once a player hits the pop boom phase, he will very quickly run into a host of limiting factors, which may include the following:

1) Hab facility limitations
2) Drones
3) Ecodamage
4) Nutrient shortfalls

At this point the player may choose several options to continue his growth.

1) Increase the efficiency rather than the number of his citizens by building facilities.

2) Switch back to horizontal growth through peaceful means or conquest.

3) Concentrate on technology to remove various limitations in order to make possible another round of pop booming.

Usually, most players will do at least two of the above once they have hit their pop limits.
By the mid-game the only squares in my bases being worked by workers are boreholes and shelf squares which have been kelp farmed and tidal harnessed. What do I do with my people? They are all specialists (usually librarians or engineers). This solves several problems for me:
1) Drones, since only workers become drones, and my average base only has 5 workers, I only need a small drone reduction effort.
2) Inefficiency, the three problems with inefficiency are that it can cause beauracracy drones, loss of energy, and you cannot allocate your energy as you wish. Specialists don't lose production to inefficiency, they don't become drones, and they can be allocated as you wish between psych, labs and cash.
3) Free market economics, most players really want to run FM in order to make tons of money and have a high research rate. With all of my core bases averaging 11 engineers (before hab domes) I get huge amounts of cash and labs without having to deal with the limitations of FM economics. Thus my troops can be far from home exploring or sticking it to the AI, and no one complains.

Note: I play this way with the University, as their research is excellent and allows crawlers in the very early part of the game, and their extra drone for every 4th population means that I would rather have that guy specializing rather than rioting. Certain factions will have a good deal harder time using this strategy, especially early due to tech limitations. If you plan to use forests, fungus or sea squares for a large amount of your production don't bother crawlering them, since a crawler can only move one type of production at a time. So use crawlers on Rocky-Road-Mine squares and Condensor-Farm-Soil Enriched squares where they will be able to take full or almost full advantage of the productivity that your terraforming has created.

Source: Apolyton
Anyone else feels like it's time to fix the faction graphics bug?

 

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