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

SMACx eco-damage formula revised!


posted by Ned on June 30, 2001 on  The Column, an ex-feature of Apolyton CS.

"In the years since our arrival, we have foolishly disrupted so many of Planet's ecosystems that entire species may vanish without our ever having understood, or even known them. We must halt this plunder, and halt it immediately, for our own survival as a species depends on our ability to strike a balance on this world" -- Commissioner Pravin Lal, "Mind Worm, Mind Worm"

Have you ever wondered why the number of minerals a base could produce seemed to rise as the game went on or was greater the more bases you had? There is a good reason for this, but it is not explained in either the Datalinks or the manuals. Ned, Blake and Fitz have discovered that each time you 'build' (not acquire) a Tree Farm, a Hybrid Forest, a Centauri Preserve or a Temple of the Planet, the number of minerals you can produce before eco-damage begins at all increases by one. The effect is not limited to the base in which you build the facility. It applies for every base in your faction!

The effect is permanent. You can sell these facilities, give them away, have them captured or destroyed, but the number of 'clean minerals' each of your bases can produce never goes down. You can even rebuild the facilities you just sold and the number of 'cleans minerals' still increases.

The effect only begins after your faction (not others) experiences its first fungal bloom, aka, 'pop.' From a strategy point of view, they suggest, it is therefore very important that you force a pop before you begin construction any of these 'clean mineral'-enhancing facilities. Many of us have tried to avoid pops as long as possible. However, this strategy can severely backfire if you end up building a significant number of the 'clean mineral'-enhancing facilities before experiencing that first pop. So force the pop.
In fact, you may want to force several pops before you acquire the technology for Tree Farms or Centauri Preserves. Each pop also increases the number 'clean minerals.'
Ned, Blake and Fitz have also determined that neither the number of techs, the planet rating nor the construction of Nanoreplicators, the Pholus Mutagen or the Singularity Inductor have any effect on the number of 'clean minerals.' Instead, these have an affect the degree of eco-damage when present. However, eco-damage is not present at all until the combination of terraforming damage and mineral production in a base exceeds the 'clean mineral' limit of a faction. Eco-damage increases from this point for each mineral produced over the limit. It is then multiplied by a number related to the level of difficulty and native life setting from custom start that is adjusted, up or down, by each of these factors.

The entire revised eco-damage formula is set out below.

Strategy suggestions:

As soon as practically possible force a fungal bloom in one of your bases. This means that once you start building Tree Farms and/or Centauri Preserve?s they will increase your clean mineral threshold.

The number of 'clean minerals' begins at 16. However, eco-damage unusually begins when a base is producing 12-14 minerals. The reason for this is that until you build Tree Farms and Hybrid Forests in a base, terraforming damage caused by roads, farms, mines, etc., subtracts from the number of 'clean minerals' available for that base.

So, when begin to see eco-damage, rather than moving workers to less mineral intensive tiles to avoid it, just let the base stay 'in the red.' Sooner or later, you will experience a pop.
Your 'clean mineral' limit has now increased to 17. A base that once was creating eco-damage at 12 minerals may now be 'clean.' Its limit has moved to 13.

But what do you do now? Do you act to reduce eco-damage at your bases or do you leave them alone to continue polluting? After all, each pop itself adds one to the 'clean mineral' limit.
The answer is that you should keep your bases polluting until you experience your second pop. That one, as with the first one, is worm free. It increases your 'clean mineral' limit by another 1, to 18.

From this point on, pops will have worms. In addition, too many pops in successive years may bring on Global Warming. Caution and control are both required.

A controlled method to continue to increase your 'clean mineral' threshold via pops is to create a "polluter base." This base should be geared towards killing the mindworms that appear. Both empath artillery and empath rovers would be desirable. An eco-damage of ~ 40 should create a pop almost every other turn. This frequency should allow some healing time for the worm killers and also not cause global warming. Not only would this strategy increase your 'clean mineral' threshold, it would increase your cash from the harvested planetpearls.

Centauri Preserves have three useful functions: 1) their constructions adds to 'clean minerals,' 2) they reduce eco-damage if present, and 3) the add 1 to the lifecycle of native life produced by a base. The also cost 2 energy credits to maintain.

If you keep your 'clean mineral' limit above your maximum mineral production, a Centauri Preserve?s second function will never be used. If have no need to produce native life at this base, neither will its third function. It is best then to simply scrap the Centauri Preserve as soon as you build it. You can then pocket 50 energy credits.

You might then consider the following strategy, which is especially recommended in small empires that will produce only a limited number of Tree Farms and Hybrid Forests. Set aside a number of bases that primarily do nothing more than build, sell and rebuild Centauri Preserves. This will continuously increase your 'clean mineral' limit and generate a source of revenue.

Another way to increase your 'clean mineral' threshold without requiring more bases is building Tree Farms (and maybe Centauri Preserves and Hybrid Forests) in captured bases before giving them to submissives. You get the clean mineral benefit, your submissives benefit from the improved infrastructure in the base, and finally, you benefit from the increased commerce the base produces with Tree Farms or Hybrid Forests.

Before using Planet Busters or Techtonic Missiles (both effectively reduced the 'clean mineral' limit by 5) prepare your faction by building 5 more Centauri Preserves for every Planet Buster or Techtonic Missile you intend to launch. If you have 20 bases and build+scrap a Centauri Preserve in each of them, you can launch 4 Planet Busters or Techtonic Missiles without requiring you to lower your bases mineral production. You may still have to deal with 'other' consequences of course.

Free Market becomes a viable SE choice even when combined with very high mineral production. Even though Free Market lowers the Planet Rating, a lower Planet Rating only operates to increase any eco-damage that is present. If none is present because you keep the 'clean mineral' limit above the number of minerals your bases produce, Free Market causes no damage at all.

Once you have the technology to build both Tree Farms and Centauri Preserves and know to keep building them as your mineral production mounts, you may build as many boreholes as space allows without fear of eco-damage. Rocky areas that cannot be bored can be mined, roaded and crawled. Other base squares could be converted to condensers/farms/enrichers and crawled. In time, all your workers could be working boreholes, sea squares or be assigned specialist duties. Such a base, combined with either FM, Wealth plus Golden Age, or in the case of Morgan, Wealth alone or Knowledge + Golden Age to produce a +2 economy, will produce 'extreme' amounts of eco-damage-free minerals, raw energy, commerce, and specialist-produced energy credits and labs.
The 'Clean Mineral' strategy!

Ned, Blake and Fitz present a revised eco-formula below.

Eco-Damage = (DamageFactor * Perihelion * Techs * Life * Difficulty * Planet) / 300
Planet = PLANET Social Engineering -3, to a minimum of 1.
Difficulty = 3 on Librarian and lower, 5 on Thinker and Transcend
Life = 1, 2 or 3 for Rare, Normal or Abundant native life
Techs = # of techs discovered by your faction
Perihelion = 1 or 2 depending on whether Alpha Centauri is in perihelion

DamageFactor = Int{ [Terraforming - Cleanmins1] + [(Minerals - Cleanmins2 + 5*Atrocities) / (1+Goodfacs)] }
Terraforming = [(2*# worked (not crawled) improvements other than kelp farms)+(# of unworked improvements) + 8*Boreholes + 6*Echelon Mirrors + 4*Condensors +1 if a Seabase -#of Forests]/8.
Divide by 2 for presence of a Tree Farm and reduce to 0 for presence of a Hybrid Forest.

Improvements include Roads, Mag Tubes, Farms, Mines, Solar Collectors, Soil Enrichers, Boreholes, Echelon Mirrors, Kelp Farms, Tidal Harnesses, Offshore Platforms and Condensors.
Cleanmins = 16 + # Fungal Blooms + # Tree Farms, Hybrid Forests, Centauri Preserves and Temples of Planet constructed by your faction since the first Fungal Bloom.
Cleanmins1 = Cleanmins or Terraforming, whichever is less. If Terraforming is negative, Cleanmins1 = 0.
Cleanmins2 = Cleanmins - Cleanmins1.

Minerals = Total minerals produced by this base after multiplying by facilities - total minerals received by this base from orbit.

Goodfacs = 1 each for the presence of Centauri Preserve, Temples of Planet and Nanoreplicator in this base, + 1 each for possessing the Pholus Mutagen and Singularity Inductor.

Atrocities = Number of Major Atrocities committed by your faction. These include the use of planetbusters or techtonic missiles, but do not include the use of fungal missiles.


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