SMAC: Terraforming Guide From: Gus Smedstad <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 19:10:07 -0800 Here's my thoughts on terraforming. Reprint as you wish, so long as you give me credit :). Early in the game, your options for terraforming a square are farm / mine, farm / solar collector, or forest. If the square is rocky, you have the additional choice of mine / road, or you can level it to "rolling" to get the other choices. Solar collectors are highly variable. Early in the game, they often produce as little as 1 energy each. However, later it's quite easy for them to produce 3, if the elevation is 1000+ meters and you have a mirror adjacent. Even lowland collectors can produce 3 if you have two mirrors adjacent. For purposes of discussion, I'll assume they produce 1-2 each. Like Civilization, the key concept in land use in Alpha Centauri is food. Most squares produce just enough food to support one worker, and many squares produce less. Every borehole, mine, or forest you work costs you some of your surplus food. Before you discover Gene Splicing, the food shortage is even more severe, since the city square is the only source of surplus food when other squares have a cap of 2 nutrients. Generally, then, you must work squares which produce 2 food each, enough to break even. For much of the game, the normal square you work will be a moist, rolling square with a farm and a solar collector. That produces 2 food, 1 mineral, and 1-2 energy. Rainy, rolling squares are even better, but not common. By "spending" some of your surplus food, you can work squares which produce more than 1 mineral and 1 to 2 energy each. For a cost of two food and 2 workers, you can work: 1 borehole and 1 moist, rolling square with solar collectors, 7 minerals and 7-8 energy 2 forests, 4 minerals and 2 energy 1 rocky mine with road and 1 moist, rolling square with solar collectors, 4 minerals and 1-2 energy 2 moist or arid rolling squares with mines, 4 minerals Boreholes are the clear winner, but they aren't available until you get Ecological Engineering. They also have placement restrictions, so you can only build a limited number of them. Forests are the next obvious choice. They're also very easy to create, just 4 turns compared to 10 for a farm / solar combination, or 12 for a farm / mine combination. They're superior to rocky mines, unless you have to give up a moist, rolling square which produces 3+ energy. That's highly unlikely, so clearly you can ignore mines if forest squares are available. Once you have Gene Splicing, you can get 3 food from rainy squares and sea squares with kelp. Without spending food, two workers can use: 1 sea with tidal generator and 1 forest, 2 minerals and 4 energy 1 rainy, rolling square with solar collectors and 1 forest, 3 minerals and 2-3 energy 1 rainy, flat square with solar collectors and 1 forest, 2 minerals and 2-4 energy 2 moist, rolling squares with solar collectors, 2 minerals and 2-4 energy 2 rainy, rolling squares with mines, 4 minerals 2 seas with mines, 2 minerals Working a sea square plus a forest gives you a slight edge in energy over working normal squares. This is probably your first choice, once you can build and afford sea formers. Working a rainy, rolling square and a forest gives you a slight edge in minerals over normal squares. Working a rainy, flat square is generally a break-even proposition, unless you use the extra food to work a borehole. It requires less time to create, however. Two normal squares take 20 turns for a former to create, and this combination takes 14 turns. Working rainy rolling squares with mines gives you a moderate edge in minerals, but sacrifices 2-3 energy for the extra mineral. Not recommended. Mining sea squares is also a poor choice, but may be the only source of minerals for a sea base, or for a land base which has run out of land squares. Once you have Advanced Ecological Engineering, this becomes 4 minerals, but is still a relatively poor choice. In addition to the basic terraforming options, there are mirrors, condensers, and aquifers. Mirrors are fairly easy to figure out. Whenever you intend to build a solar collector, and there is already a collector adjacent, build a mirror. It takes more time, but you'll get an extra energy point. Condensers prevent you from gaining any extra minerals or energy from a square, beyond the basic 1 point for rocky or rolling terrain. For this reason, you should place them in a square you don't intend to use for a long time, generally a flat, arid square that isn't suitable for a borehole. A square that isn't in any city's radius is even better. If your city has enough moist, rolling squares, the benefits of a condenser are somewhat small. You'll build it so you can use more forests, and get more minerals, without halting growth. You should put off building one until you've built improvements on all the squares the city is using. Do build one once you have a former free if your squares aren't already rainy. If your city stops growing because its nearby squares are all arid, a condenser becomes a high priority. However, if sea squares are available, kelp is a better solution to food shortages than a condenser. Aquifers basically add energy to your squares. You can be guaranteed +1 energy in the square you start, but the other squares are somewhat random. Deciding on when to drill an aquifier depends on how likely you think it is the new river will flow through squares you're using. Now you know what to build. So what should you build first? In decreasing order of time efficiency, your former can build: Minerals Energy Improvements Time per turn per turn Forest 4 turns 0.25 0.25 Borehole 24 turns 0.20 0.25 Kelp + tidal harness 8 turns 0.37 Farm + mirror, 3 adjacent collectors 16 turns 0.25 Farm + mirror, 2 adjacent collectors 16 turns 0.22 Farm + solar collector (1km) 10 turns 0.20 Aquifer, adds to 3 squares 18 turns 0.16 Farm + mirror, 1 adjacent collector 16 turns 0.12 Condenser + 3 newly usable forests 24 turns 0.12 Level + farm + collector, rocky (1km) 18 turns 0.11 Aquifer, adds to 2 squares 18 turns 0.11 Condenser + 2 newly usable forests 20 turns 0.10 Farm + solar collector (sea level) 10 turns 0.10 Kelp + mining platform 12 turns 0.08 Level + farm + collector, rocky (0km) 18 turns 0.05 Condenser + 1 newly usable forest 18 turns 0.05 Aquifer, adds to 1 square 18 turns 0.05 (apologies if the chart doesn't format correctly for you). Using the time chart as a guide, then, your first priority should be planting enough forests so that all of your workers are earning 2 minerals and 1 energy. Plant arid and moist flat squares. Plant arid, rolling squares if you don't think you'll build a condenser soon. Next, build boreholes, if your city can afford to spend the food to work them. Next, build farms and solar collectors on the moist and rainy rolling squares. Building them adjacent (so you can build mirrors) is more important than building at high altitudes. Build mirrors as you go. Level rocky squares last, if you have to, in order to build farms and collectors. Next, build condensers so you can use more forests, or to allow your city to grow if food is tight. Finally, add new rivers via "drill to aquifer" to add more energy output. Season to taste. :) Eventually, your city will probably build a tree farm. Once you have one of these, it's probably worth replacing collectors that are producing 1-2 energy with forests. If the city builds a Hybrid Forest, you should probably replace all of your collectors with forests. - Gus AI programmer and general handyman on Heroes III New World Computing Time wasted on SMAC analysis is my own, not New World's.