FAQ/Strategy Guide by Most Wicked

Version: 0.7 | Updated: 08/28/03 | Printable Version

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sid Meier's ALPHA CENTAURI (by Firaxis Games, Inc.)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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-This is a short strategy guide by D. Melamoud (Version 0.7, 8/2003)

-I am known by the nick 'Wicked' at some places, and as 'Juggernaut' at others.

-My e-mail is [d_trap@hotmail.com]

-This FAQ is written exclusively by me, and belongs to me. Distribute it as much
 as you like, you may even alter parts of it, but ALWAYS give the writer (me) 
 his deserved credit for this work, and ALWAYS notify the reader if any changes
 of the original (this) content were made.

-I agree to transfer all rights to this FAQ to "gamefaqs.com", as long as I am
 still credited for this work.

-The game Alpha Centauri belongs, apparently, to Sid Meier and to Firaxis,
 not to me (duh...). I am not associated in any way with any of the
 aforementioned legal owners of this software.

-Use either WordPad, NotePad or Microsoft Internet Explorer to view this document
 properly. Microsoft Word will NOT view it right, because of the difference in
 character length.

*** {Intro}                                                                 ***
***    {What is Alpha Centauri all about anyway?}                           ***
***    {Why is Alpha Centauri better than any of the 'Civilization' games?} ***
*** {Step-by-Step Guidance for Beginners}                                   ***
***    {Getting Started}                                                    ***
***    {Time to Conquer!}                                                   ***
*** {General Strategy}                                                      ***
***    {Drone Riots FAQ)                                                    ***
***    {Late-Game Tips}                                                     ***
***       {Expansion and Economy}                                           ***
***       {Defense}                                                         ***
***          {Intelligence}                                                 ***
***          {Air Force}                                                    ***
***          {Formers}                                                      ***
*** {Upcoming}                                                              ***


This strategy guide is intended to help beginners in grasping this complex
game, and teach them how to survive it. I do not guarantee that you'll become
masters  of Alpha Centauri or anything - after all, even I have trouble in
keeping myself from being torn to pieces on the highest difficulty level, so
I'm obviously NOT one of the best players around. But I'm sure I can help you
to survive long enough into the game, so you can start to develop your own
strategies and to generally enjoy the game more.

Also, I never played multiplayer games of Alpha Centauri, so I cannot help you
with that. Sorry.

Well, without further ado, let's see what all the fuss is about!


-What is Alpha Centauri all about anyway?-

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (further referred to as "SMAC") is a GREAT game, in 
line with the famous and popular "Civilization" series, but, at least in my 
opinion, is a lot better than it.

Why is it better? This question is covered in the next section of this FAQ.

Anyway, the story is about the spaceship Unity, which is built by the United
Nations to travel to and colonize the distant star Alpha Centauri. While Earth
is torn apart by wars, political corruption and social decay, the Unity makes
its way to a new, hopefully brighter future for humanity. Just before reaching
its target, the Unity suffers a major malfunction of its nuclear reactor. The
crew abandons the ship and makes planetfall. But... the captain of the ship was
assassinated by an unknown assailant, and each of the seven major officers of
the ship has its own agenda for the virgin planet ahead of them. Who will
prevail, achieve victory, and rule Planet?

As you already figured out, there are 7 factions in the game (quite alot, don't
you think? ^_^), each with its own abilities and weaknessess that make them
very unique.

It is your job to assume the position of one of the faction leaders, and try to
outsmart the others in a technological, political, economic and military race
like humanity has never seen before. All this while exploring a new mysterious
planet with its potentially hostile life forms and mysteries.

Yep, this game is quite a challenge. There are many ways to fail it, but more
than one way to win as well. Wether it will be through diplomatic victory,
economic prevalence, brutal conquest or the highest possible victory - the
Ascent to Transcendence, you will have to win the fight over Planet while 
keeping the others from doing the same themselves.

This game has infinite flexibility and potential - you can interfere and
micromanage your empire at almost any level you like, or keep it up to your 
Governors and 'automate unit' option to make the decisions for you.

Provided that you have enough patience for this sort of game, I guarantee many
hours of enjoyment! ^_^


-Why is Alpha Centauri better than any of the 'Civilization' games?-
(This section reflects, of course, my personal opinion only)

For starters, SMAC allows you to actually design your own units, based on
technologies you acquired. While this ability is not unique to SMAC, it affects
gameplay in a lot more consequental way than most other games.

For example: if you researched 'Doctrine: Flexibility' you now got the 'Troop
Transport' equipment module and the 'Foil' chassis. Through this combination 
you recieve the default unit - Transport Foil - to transfer your loyal troops
and rovers over the ocean. This ability has many uses - perhaps to attack a 
pesky little island faction that threatened you over the years, or to colonize
a savage continent. But if you are not satisfied by this unit, you can open up
the Workshop screen, assign a Transport module to a Needlejet craft (provided
you researched 'Doctrine: Air Power' first), and viola! You have an aerial
troop carrier, something that can't be found in the default units list, (only
proves that you shouldn't rely entirely on the designs that your engineers
come-up with every time a new technological breakthrough appears).

Another example: for a little extra-protection you could outfit your Formers
with some armor, any kind of armor actually.

It's that kind of versatility and flexibility that make Alpha Centauri so

Want another reason? How about freedom of choise? In a lot of the Civilization
games I discovered that the government models are all linear - Worst-to-best
(i.e.: Despotism, Monarchy, Theology, Democracy - each type of government is
better in terms of research, production, growth, warfare and others, than its
predeccessor). I found this VERY boring, not to mention restricting and
unrealistic. In a Civilization game, if you want to measure up to your enemies,
you simply HAVE to change your government model to the best availible.

SMAC doesn't repeat the same mistake - you have complete control of the
Politics, Economy and Values models, and you can combine these three factors in
any way that fits for you and your chosen faction (And that's without even
considering  the Future Society possibilities!). Again, this guarantees great
time of  playing, designing your society in any  way you like (just like your
individual units).

So I'm sorry Sid, as far as I'm concerned Alpha Centauri is the peak of your
creation, and I don't care about any "Civilization III" or whatever other
bull there is on the market.


~Step-by-Step Guidance for Beginners~

This guide to SMAC is based on my personal favorite strategy. It may simply not
work for you the way it works for me, so you can use the general guidelines 
about production and expansion instead, and devise strategies of your own.


-Getting Started-


You have landed on Planet, right? Don't know what to do first, right?

Well, first things first - turn on your base's Governor, and set him to

He should start cranking out mostly Colony Pods, but also cheap fast units,
such as the Scout Rover (when you have this researched) and Scout Patrols. Set
any and all scout units you have to 'Automatic Explore' by pressing the (/)
shortkey. This should allow you to focus your attention on more important
matters than personally leading the exploration units, though you should check
how they're doing once for awhile, and correct their path to collect any Survey
Pods you see. Leave at least a single Scout Patrol at your base and set it to
"Hold", to defend your little base from the occasional Mindworm attack. If your
bold explorers ever encounter hostile Mindworms, attack them immidiately!
Pursue them if you must! Not only hunting Mindworms will guarantee that your
bases would not be attacked, but it also easily helps raising the experience
level of your units, making them tougher to deal with (if you're playing with
the Gaians, you have the bonus of being able to capture Mindworms and using
them as you wish even this early in the game). When you have your first Colony
Pod ready, look for a good spot to  build it on. Generally, you should look
for spots with adjacent Mineral and Nutrient tiles, which seem to be more
common near water sources. The game is very helpful at this, as it points out a
good base location each time you build a Colony Pod. When you send out your
Colony Pod to build the base, keep in mind that it is very slow, moving a
single tile per turn, and is therefore easy pray for Mindworm attacks,
especially if the target spot is far away from your first base. A good 
solution will be escorting the Pod with some combat-capable units. When you
build your second base, turn on the Governor and set him to Explore too. 
Repeat with any new bases you build. You generally don't want to stop until you
have something like 5 or 6 bases standing.

Set your research priorities to Explore and any others you want, prefferably
Discover (provided you are playing with default rules). If you are playing with
'Blind Research' deactivated (what means you can choose precisely what
technology you'd like to research... ah... the versatility of Alpha Centauri 
never ceases to amaze me ^_^) I recommend either 'Social Psych' or
'Biogenetics', since both lead quickly to 'Secrets of the Human Brain' (SOTHB).
The Believers and Peacekeepers respectively, have these technologies from the
beginning, so if you're playing either of them it'll be a walk in the park, and
then you could start researching some more useful technologies. But if you're
playing some other faction, it is absolutely up to you to reach SOTHB first,
since then you recieve an additional free technology, and any technological
advantage you can muster will always keep you superior to opposing factions.
My second research priority would be Centauri Ecology (Default technology of
the Gaians), since it allows you to build Formers, which will become completely
essential as your base population grows.

If you contact any other faction leaders during this early stage, you 
absolutely CANNOT afford yourself a Vendetta at this time. Don't worry, you'll
see much action soon enough, but for now do whatever you can to assure peace at
your borders, including bribing the threatening faction with credits and
technology. 0l.9If you absolutely have to fight a certain very agressive
faction, at least make sure it is either small and insignificant comparing to
you (look at the Faction Dominance Chart on the lower panel of the screen for
information regarding this matter) or too far away on the map to threaten your
bases seriously. Your scattered exploration units do not pack the needed
firepower to defend you against threats larger than pre-boil Mindworms. This
situation will change soon enough, once you have the 5 or 6 bases I mentioned
earlier. By the time you have about... I dunno... 4 bases or something, you
should already start cranking out Formers (adjust the building queues to do
that without turning off the much-helpful Governor) and make them build either
Mines, Farms and on rarer occasions Solar Collectors near your bases. Of course
you build improvements according to base needs, so that if the growth of base X
is stagnant, you should surround it with Farms, then Soil Enrich them when you
have discovered the proper technology (what comes much later I guess). 
It's a waste of time and tiles to build farms around a base with adequate 
Nutrient output but with mere +2 Mineral production - to surround it with Mines
will be a better suggestion.

After your Former finishes building his assigned structures, click SHIFT+A to
automate it. This will generally lead to nets of roads connecting your bases,
and many green forests around, all that without any micromanagment on your

Although I recommend you to concentrate mostly on Mineral and Nutrient
production, Energy should NOT be neglected. Keep in mind the following

*Minerals* = Fast unit production = lightning fast expansion, potent army, more
helpful terraforming that translates into more Minerals, Nutrients and Energy,

*Nutrient* = Fast base population growth = more workers to extract Minerals,
Nutrients and Energy, as well as other benefits such as Talents to help your
research and economic efforts (not to mention the Drone Riot problems later in
the game).

*Energy* = Fast scientific research and breakthroughs + more money = stronger
military units, new forms of destruction, new facilities to help you economy
and other aspects, new terraforming techniques that will lead to better
Nutrient, Mineral and Energy production, more helpful base facilities that
emprove your economy and life quality further, and a bunch of other useful
stuff (superior technology is the key to succeed in the game, that's why it is
generally easier to play with the University, and harder to play with the
Believers, for example. Money is also important, particularly to bribe other
faction leaders ^_^)

As you see, energy is very important too, perhaps even more than either
Minerals or Nutrients, so you should divert your resources into creating means
of accumulating it further, the moment you have a steady supply of Minerals and
Nutrients. At this early stage energy is less useful as source of money though,
because if you followed my instructions and captured each and every Unity
Survey Pod (the grey disc-shaped containers that are scattered all across the
map) in sight, you should already be one of the richest factions, since many of
those include energy credits. That's why you always have to take that container
lying near the border first, before the enemy could get it. If it causes some
negative reaction such as Mindworm infestation, Xenofungus bloom or an
earthquake, it's not such a big deal - it was worth it. Perhaps the next Pod
will be more successful.

By the way, the "catch-them-as-soon-as-you-see-them" rule applies to Monoliths
too, though I guess you can't do a lot to keep an enemy from using those as


-Time to Conquer!-

If you followed my instructions so far, your small empire should be in the
following conditions:

_EXTENT_: 5-6 medium-sized bases, or more, with steady Mineral and Nutrient
supplies and an interconnecting road network.

_DIPLOMACY_: You have good relations with surrounding factions. Even if you are
involved in a single Vendetta, it is either with a very weak faction or with a
very distant one.

_ECONOMY_: You should be one of the richest factions around, sustaining your
economy on Unity Survey Pods you found. That means you don't have a large
steady income though, and the extent of your wealth depends on nothing more
than luck with Pod findings, but it is more reliable than you might think.
It is possible that your economy is a bit strained after paying bribes to
threatening factions.

_RESEARCH_: You should be ahead of most rival factions, provided you collected
Survey Pods containing research data, and reached Secrets of the Human Brain
first. Even if you are slightly lagging in technology, it is probably not bad
enough to be irreparable.

_DEFENSE_: Your bases are very lightly defended, just enough to protect them
from Mindworm assaults. Your forces are weak and scattered. Your only defense
against invasion by hostile factions is diplomacy.

Let's call it "Condition 1" for convenience.

Now, I'm sure you don't like many of those analysis, especially the "Defense"
bit. Indeed, if you were participating in a Multiplayer game, enemy faction
players would've probably mopped the floor with you. But like I said in the
Intro (you've read it, right?), I never played Multiplayer. Single Player games
is my field of expertise. Well, now I will show you a synopsis of what we are
going to do now that we reached this stage.

^EXTENT^: You are going to enlarge your empire a great deal, probably doubling
its size. But instead of building Colony Pods, you are going to do it by
conquering enemy bases.

^DIPLOMACY^: You are going to intentionally spoil your relations with weaker
neighbouring factions, starting a Vendetta in which you are going to be
victorious. You will open up friendly negotiations with the stronger factions
as much as you can, trading technologies and map information. I doubt you can
sign a Pact of Brother/Sisterhood at this time, because only the weaker
factions will like to do so, and you want them eliminated, but you could try
to achieve this goal nontheless (just don't give away too much valuable gifts
in the proccess)

^ECONOMY^: You are going to build up your energy production by canceling the
automation of your Formers and micromanaging the relevant terraforming
commands. In other words, surround your bases with Solar Collectors. If your
research has taken you far enough to use alternative methods of generating
energy, or decreasing inneficiency (such as Democratic government model) use

^RESEARCH^: You are going to benefit from great research breakthroughs, as a
result of data exchange with other factions and the increase of your energy
production. If you are not satisfied with your research output and think your
energy income is high enough as it is, try tweaking the different values at
Society Engineering screen, such as increasing the allocation of energy to
research, at the expense of lowering your credit income.

^DEFENSE^: Well, to conquer an enemy you'll need a big army, right? Now you
understand what were all those Mines for? With a big Mineral income you should
have little problem with re-orienting your entire infra-structure to produce
military units. They should also be of superior technology than that of your
opponent - and always update your unit's equipment with every new
technological breakthrough!

What do you think now? Like that better than "Condition 1"? Well, hold on - we
haven't accomplished anything yet. Talking and actually doing something are
entirely different things, won't you agree? Let's begin...

First of all, when you see you reached "Condition 1", be ready to make some 
major changes.

First thing you do is stop all current production, and revert all or most base
Governors to Conquer mode. If you choose to leave a few bases in "non-Conquer
mode", set them at Discover. You would hardly need that "Explore" button near
your governor for the rest of the game.

Next thing you do, tweak the production of your bases to produce the best
defensive units first. Maybe you ask "then why should I turn on the governor at
all if I change his decisions anyway?" (turn on the governor... doesn't sound
that good does it? if you know what I mean... ^_^) That's, of course, a silly
question, because the Governor is there to assist you and make your life
easiler, but definetly not play the game for you. You will often have to
override the Governor's decisions, or turn him off altogether. OK, once you
have enough defensive units built (about 2-3 for each base, though if you're
impatient even 1-2 will suffice), you press "hold", shortkey (H), while the
unit is in the base, and you have yourself a nice defended base. Building a
Perimeter Defense could also be an option, though you wouldn't want to waste
too much time on its production at this point. Once your bases are
defended - assault time! Start producing some heavy firepower, preferably on
Rover chasis for its speed advantage. I recommend not to bother with artillery
units - they usually not powerful enough to seriously damage base defense
units, and are incapable of killing them at all without assistance. Also, I
would like you to produce at least a single Probe Team (you will probably
have the needed tech by now). These little fellows are valuable beyond
measure - your first priority with them should be infiltrating the enemy 
Datalinks, then stealing research and money. Through the infiltration network 
you can check out how powerful your enemy are, so you could estimate how 
difficult would it be to bring him down.

Once your Rovers (or Infantry in case you decided to let the Governor more
independance on these matters) are ready, move them towards the border of the
weakest faction in your vicinity - I often find this to be the Morganites,
perhaps because they require some time before they are powerful enough to
seriously resist anyone. Stay really close to the border, but do not cross
it - it's better not to alert the enemy. By the way, if you don't know how much
units is enough, I usually find that 10 strong units are enough to conquer a 
weak faction at the early stage, with the exception of military-oriented 
factions, such as the Spartans. Anyway, you should contact that faction's 
leader, and seriously threaten him - demand him to pay up money and
technologies, or else you will "squash him like a bug". Try as much as you can
to suck every advantage out of him, then attack anyway. Move your army into his
territory, attacking any enemy units you encounter on the way, and moving to
his closest base to the border.

Now, this is very important - do NOT stop producing military units while you
attack. While your forces dig deeper into enemy territory, your bases at the 
home front should be producing military units like mad, to reinforce your 
invading army. Each time you have a ready unit you send it to the border, in a
non-stopping stream of death.

Your initial invasion force should head for a border base, like I already said
before. You blast away his mostly scattered resistance on the way, and if he 
has any harrasing units you have more than enough firepower at your disposal to
pursue and dispose of 'em quickly. Once you reached your target - that border
base we mentioned - you swarm him and he's done for. If that base (which is 
more likely than not small in size) proves surprisingly difficult, wait for
reinforcements from your bases, then it's swarmin' time. I can't think of
anything that might keep you from bringing that base down. You have destroyed
his base, or conquered it. He will probably call you right away, pleading for
truce. Ignore his messages. While it is tempting to blackmail him again to give
you stuff, then attack him again, it is not worthwile because you loose
integrity by doing so, and integrity is important in the world of diplomacy.

Perhaps now it is as good time as any to start building up your energy reserves
like we discussed earlier. Use your Formers to build more Solar Collectors and
other energy or efficiency-improving stuff that you might've researched. If
you're using Society Engineering to decrease efficiency, keep an eye for
disadvantages that come with it. If you have Drone Riot problems this early in
the game (soon you'll have your hands full, trying to quiet the Drones at the
bases you conquered from the enemy anyway) it'll be a bad idea to use
Democratic politics, since it brings -2 support with it, and that means
you'll have trouble to contain the revolt. To know what -2 support means look
it up at the Datalinks. It is all explained there pretty well.

Well, let's return to the fight at our hands.

I surely hope that you have used a Probe Team to infiltrate your enemie's
Datalinks like I said, because not you can see what kind of defenses he has. By
clicking on his bases, you can check out what kind of defenses he has just like
you check up your own! From your conquered base (if it was accidently
destrioyed in the fighting conquer another one like it) move in further into
his territory, not without leaving behind some units to defend the captured
base from Mindworms (who are by now a lot tougher) and enemy counter-attacks.
This base will now become your vantage point, from which you can channel your
assault, repair injured units, build new units such as Probes directly near his
bases, etc. As you move deeper, you'll see that his inner bases are definetly
tougher, bigger and more well-defended, just like your own central bases
(I hope... for you...). With the kind of swarms you should be possesing by
now, it's easy as pie. Even if you have some difficulties, all this base-loss
should seriously affect your opponent's ability to defend himself, research,
and to build new units. That means you'll have an increasingly easy fight on
your hands. If he had superior technology at start, you should be easily
outresearching him now, because all of the energy he lost while you took his
bases. If you can blow such an easy task from this point on, than maybe you 
shouldn't play SMAC at all...

Now, the obvious vulnerability of this battle tactic is that it requires a
faction generally weaker than you and within your hand's reach. That's why this
tactic is pretty useless at Transcendence level.

All right! Is there anything that hasn't been done yet? Your empire is a lot
larger, you have a heck of an army and a well defended base, you have an
adequate supply of all three resources... Your tech level should be high from
the high energy flow, blackmailing and profitable trades with many faction
leaders, perhaps even from successful Probe infiltrations. I think you are in
an excellent shape, Mr. Conqueror! Only there's that tiny-miny problem now.
It's called - DRONE RIOTS.


~General Strategy~

Thus far, I have given a step-by-step introduction to the world of SMAC. From
this point onward, it's tips and guidelines, but in a more general manner.

These tips are generally for beginners, as this whole guide is actually.

-Drone Riots FAQ-

Unlike the other sections of this strategy guide, I have decided to design this
section as a true FAQ from the start, meaning that there are "questions" and
Q: What are Drones?

A: Drones are citizens of your base or bases, that do not feel very happy about 
their condition and life quality. Drones appear as red faces in the citizens
panel on your base menu. You cannot use Drones to collect resources around the
base, the way you use your Workers and Talents.
Q: What are Drone Riots?

A: A Drone Riot is a revolt of Drones which become numerous and powerful enough
to threaten you. These riots are very damaging to your economy.
Q: What kind of damage do Drone Riots cause?

A: As long as there is an active Drone Riot at one of your bases, you cannot
produce any units at that base, no matter your mineral output. Also, the base
does not generate energy for you to use in research or energy reserves. A base
experiencing a Drone Riot cannot grow beyond its current population level.
If a Drone Riot is not taken care of for a very long time, the Drones might 
give your base away to another faction, meaning that you ceise controlling that
base, and another, random faction leader will have it!

Q: When do Drone Riots occur?

A: Drone Riots occur when the amount of Drones at a base is equal to or exceeds
the amount of the normal population.
Q: What causes Drones to appear?

A: In any society of any kind, there would always be people who are not happy
about their government and their place in life. That's why every citizen in a
city, after a certain number of normal citizens, becomes automatically a Drone.
The amount of normal citizens that are born before Drones start to appear is
smaller at harder difficulty levels. All that combined means that as population
level grow, Drones will become more of an issue, and that it'll happen earlier
at higher difficulty levels. Also there are other things that cause even more
Drones to appear as well.
Q: What else causes Drones to appear?

A: Well, let's see... If you conquered a certain base, it means that its
population might not be happy with their new government, and that they'll try
to overthrow your rule. That means - even more Drones than usual, what brings a
Drone riot very quickly. That's why you should be prepared for that situation
each time you conquer an enemy base. Negative efficiency rating at a base
could also cause an increase in Drone activity. Probes can be used to
intentionaly incite Drone Riots at enemy bases (personally I think such a
tactic is a waste, since you would generally like to conquer that same base
anyway). There are also certain base facilities, such as the Genejack Factory,
that increase the number of Drones. The University faction accumulates more
Drones than others, due to its unethical nature.
Q: What can I do to cease a Drone Riot?

A: You will need to increase the Psych rating at your base or empire. 
Q: What is Psych?

A: Psych is a way of measuring how much you are concerned about your citizens.
Your people want you to pay them attention - after all, it's people that 
comprise your empire, not buildings.
Q: What does Psych have to do with Drones?

A: Since high Psych means you pay attention to your people's needs, and Drones
are generally people whose needs are not fulfilled, it is not difficult to see
the connection between the two concepts.
Q: How can I increase my Psych ratings?

A: There are three ways I know of to increase Psych. Read on to find out all 
about them.
Q: What is the first way of increasing Psych?

A: The first one is building Psych-related facilities. As your scientific
research progresses, you will discover facilities that will increase the Psych
at your base, such as the Recreation Commons and  Hologram Theatre. The
ultimate Drone-combating base facility in the game is the Punishment Sphere,
that completely prevents from Drones appearing at the base. Although they come
with an in-built disadvantage - all research at the base is halved - this pales
comparing to the benefits, so I recommend to install the Punishment Sphere at
as many bases as you can manage.

Q: What is the second way of increasing Psych?

A: You can access the Social Engineering panel, and allocate some of your
energy production to increase Psych. I will recommend caution while trying this
out though - increase in Psych might come at a great expense of your research 
and economical capabilities.
Q: What is the third way of increasing Psych?

A: The third way is turning your Talents at the Rioting base into Empaths,
Doctors, or any other availible Psych-increasing citizen type. Note that these
types of citizens cannot be put to work on retrieving resources around the 
base, so turning every single talent to a Doctor is not such a good idea.
Q: Isn't there an easier way to deal with Drone Riots without all this
exhausting micromanagmrnt?

A: Just turn on the governor at the troubled base (you don't have to set him to
any mode) and he'll automatically start to dealing with the problem by turning
Talents into Psych-increasing citizens, while maintaining a steady mineral flow
from the base at the same time (or at least trying to do so). All this without
any intervention needed on your part.
Q: Can I deal with Drone Riots without increasing Psych, in case that the
circumstances won't allow me to do so?

A: Yes you can, by Nerve Stapling the Drones at your base. I would not make
such a rash move if I were you, unless it is very late in the game and I am
very well established.

Q: What is Nerve Stapling and what is wrong with it?

A: Nerve Stapling will completely stop a Drone Riot in a base, but only for
awhile, so by Nerve Stapling you are only delaying the problem without actually
solving it. Nerve Stapling is considered a Minor Atrocity.
Q: What is a Minor Atrocity?

A: Well, that deviates from the "Drone Riot" topic a bit, but I would explain 
it nontheless. There are two kinds of atrocities that can be commited by a
faction leader in SMAC: A Minor atrocity and a Major atrocity. A Minor 
atrocity, such as Nerve Stapling the Drones at your base, is punished by Trade
Sanctions. That means no trade with other factions going on for 10 full turns,
quite damaging your economy. That is why you should Nerve Staple only in case
your economy is rock solid, to avoid losses in vital resources.
Q: Can you give me any other tips about dealing with Drone Riots?

A: Definetly. You should increase your Psych as much as possible without
damaging the other aspects of your empire, even BEFORE the Drone Riot occurs.
If the Psych level is high enough from start, Drone Riots would not be such a
great trouble as it'll be for an unprepared empire. Do not hesistate to waste
resources on improving the life quality of your citizens, even if it means a
slight credit expense on your part, or slowing down research (though never
TOO much)

Well, I think that concludes the Drone Riot part nicely. We now move on to
some Late-Game tips.


-Late-Game Tips-

As the name implies, this section deals with tips regarding the later stages
of gameplay. This section is slightly different from the others so far.

Since it deals with general tips, not step-by-step strategies, I have decided
to break  this section into several sub-sections, and break some of those
sub-sections into  further, smaller categories. Enjoy.

===|Expansion and Economy|===

Expansion. You are well familiar with this concept by now, right? Remember the
"Getting Started" section? Well, I told you that you'll mostly won't get to use
the "Explore" command of the Governor after the very beginning of the game.
That's because most of your expansion by now will be conducted via conquering
enemy bases, just like in the "Time to Conquer!" section.

SOME of the expansion, perticularly into areas that were uninhabitable so far,
would still require the use of Colony Pods. Of course, it won't be on such a
great scale that it'll require the conversion of an entire base onto Explore
mode. By the way, I propose designing well-armoured Colony Pods, so that they
would have sufficient defense from the now-monstrous Mindworms and the
completely lethal Locusts of Chiron. You can even use the workshop to design a
Colony Airplane or Copter to quickly built new bases close to your existing
ones, to reinforce your defences (more about that later).

You would definetly want to build sea bases, and plenty of those. Although
they will always be secondary to land bases, they can be still used as
excellent vantage points onto enemy territory across the seas, and as a 
refueling base for aircraft and such.

Keep in mind that the map will become quite crowded in bases, most of them not
yours. That's why your late-game expansion will be population-oriented instead
of territory-oriented, unless your military prevalence is so obvious that you
can start to reap the other factions like ripe grain (what will probably
happen at the lower difficulty levels). That's why you should research and
build facilities that enable you to raise your base population limit (which
starts at 4) to a very very high level. Trust me, there are enough of such
facilities availible... Also, when you reach the very-high population limit of
your bases, Growth will become useless. That way you would be able to
worry more about resources other than Nutrients, and switch your society models

The technology of the late game will also allow you to expand (in terms of
territory) to places you couldn't afford to colonize before, because of severe
lack of resources there. Deserts are a good example for such places.

I recommend the excellent Borehole terraform that instantly gives you 6
minerals and 6 energy, although it will somewhat negatively affect your
nutrient production since you can't build Farms and other nutrient-generating
terraforms in tiles adjacent to Boreholes (what turns Boreholes into a perfect
resource for minerals and energy once your empire is close to its maximum
population point, though don't forget that nutrients are still neccessary to
sustain your existing citizens. Lack of nutrients could mean mass hunger,
death, and as a result - more Drone rioting).

By the way, Boreholes also generate pollution. I wouldn't worry about that
though - your technological breakthroughs will allow you to build facilities
that will help you out with your environmental problems, and because the main
effects of pollution are increased native activity, and by now you'll have
the resources to counter any possible Mindworm or Locust invasion, I wouldn't
worry about that at all (unless it is very important for you to stay in 
friendly terms with Lady Deidre and the Gaian faction, in which case you should
consider minimizing your Borehole construction to the absolutely neccessary)

I also recommend the excellent orbital facilities that you can built in bases
with Aerospace Complexes once you research Advanced Spaceflight. They are
excellent for providing your entire empire with a steady supply of resources,
even if most of the tiles around a base are already taken. And as abonus, the
moment you launch a satellite, the entire map is instantly revealed to you ^_^.


Ah, defence.

Although the general idea is that you should always be on the offensive, you
have to have a flexible and reliable defense network that will allow you to
counter any threats on your land (mostly Mindworms, if you are good enough).

You should have many troops patrolling your own territory, and others standing
by at alert (the * shortkey) to be ready to defend your homeland.

Your Support and Morale levels should be high, to assure internal security and
combat readiness on part of your troops. Again, your troops should stand-up to
the higher technology standards of Planet, or at least of your own empire. You
should have adequate control of land, air, water and space.

You can also use soldiers equipped with Drop Pods to excellent effect. Such
units make outstanding marines and coastal assault troops. Their ability to
jump as much as 8 squares away (and that's without researching Orbital
Spaceflight) gives them a distinct advantage, as they can not only engage and
disengage the enemy on their terms, making a move before the enemy units have
the time to cause any harm to friendly assets, but also makes transportation
between bases a lot easier.

Speaking of transportation between bases, researching Matter Transmittion and
building a Psi Gate will make you a LOT more flexible, versatile, and lower
your reaction times to hostile threats in or near your borders. The gates are
cheaper and quicker to build than Magtubes (discussed in detail later on), and
have a distinct advantage - you can use them, but unlike the Magtubes, the
enemy cannot use Psi Gates to move around unchecked in your territory. Psi
Gates, however, are a lot more advanced than Magtubes. By the time you get the
needed technologies, they'll be probably quite obsolete because you'd have a
ready Magtube network, and dispite the disatvantages - it's already there, so
you're not going to destroy it, right?


Yes, intelligence. And by that I mean, of course, Probe Teams.

Probe Teams. Is there a single more useful unit than that in the game at all?
A Probe Team can do all kinda stuff - infiltrate datalinks, procure enemy
research data, steal energy reserves and many more.

You should do all that, and more, to enemy AND friendly bases (try to avoid
doing that to Pact Brothers/Sisters though - a Pact could be very profitable
and valuable to your victory of the game, and you don't want to risk losing
it). The more you spy on your enemy, the better you are equipped for defending
against potential assaults on his part.

Espionage is good. How about sabotage?

Personally, I find sabotage using Probe Teams nearly useless. You can't use it
on bases you are currently attacking - because you want to conquer them, and by
damaging them you actually damage your future base.

How about bases you AREN'T attacking at the moment? Chances are that you'll 
turn your attention toward these bases soon enough any way, so it's again like
damaging your own base.

And how 'bout sabotaging enemy bases that are far from the front? Enemy bases 
at the enemy's rear? Yeah right, like the team could survive travelling through 
enemy territory all the way to there anyway.

Perhaps attacking far away, lonely, isolated bases? But why should I do that?
Isn't it a waste of Probe Teams?

Of course, you could always use Sabotage if you're too weak to actualy CONQUER
the enemy, having to harass him with your Probe Teams instead. Well, that's the
only use for sabotage, but is it really going to hurt your enemy as much as he
is going to hurt you by that oncoming huge assault battalion?

Then again, you could try to Sabotage something and frame another faction
leader, inciting a Vendetta between the two, but that rarely works anyway.

Shortly, Espionage rocks, Sabotage sucks.

Another nice use of Probe Teams (perhaps it can even be considered as a form of
Sabotage... hmmmmm...) is the Mind Control option, though it costs money,
usually lots of it. If you're a rich man, you can use Probe Teams to capture
enemy bases and units, then use them against him. Although it takes away your
energy credits directly instead of minerals, it literally creates an instant
army and is a useful ability.

You should also keep in mind counter-intelligence. The enemy will surely have
Probe teams too, ready to infiltrate your bases and cause major trouble. You
will need to defend yourself.

First of all, there are many facilities and social models that lower your
vulnerability to mind control and to infiltration by Probe Teams.

Second, you can defend your key bases by building Probe Teams (which are quick
to build and inexpensive) and stationing them in these bases. If any Probe
Teams will attempt to infiltrate that base, your own Team will immediately
pick this up and fight the enemy Probe, hopefully eliminating it.

And last, but DEFINITELY not least, the secret project called "The Hunter
Seeker Algorithm". It will COMPLETELY defend ALL of your bases and units from
any kind of Probe influence. No Probe could ever touch you again with that toy.
It's one of the best secret projects in the game, in my opinion.
If you haven't reached the HSA first, you should check who has it and in what
base it was built. One of your highest priorities should be  to attempt to
conquer that base - because if you do, the HSA becomes yours.

Also, a final word about intelligence: Better exploration leads to better
intelligence (not to mention better expansion, the topic of the previous
sub-section of this guide). You should reveal as much of the map as you can,
and there are more than one way of doing that (consider buying map data from
other factions, stealing map data through Probe Teams ^_^ and more).

!!!Air Force!!!

'Doctrine: Air Power' is a very valuable discovery once you make it. It allows
you access to the Needlejet chassis, giving you control over the skies of 

As you will discover, air units, especially Copters, have limited range of
operation and require refueling to operate at longer ranges. But I will not
discuss this right now.

Aerial power at SMAC is very important. Needlejets have the speed and firepower
to intercept enemy land units approaching your base, and cannot be attacked 
itself, without special equipment the attacker has to have. With Needlejets
you will launch assaults on enemy bases, that will generally have more chances 
of succeeding than an equal amount of ground-based forces. Because air units 
cannot capture bases, you should escort Needlejets on base assaults with some
combat-capable land-based units.

Now, you want MANY planes in your territory. All large bases has to have 
several of them, to maximize your interception range. You should design a plane
capable of intercepting other planes the moment you have the chance, in order
to win air superiority over Planet. Your air units should be leading base
assaults, whether on land or at sea, and should be your first line of defense.
Use Formers to build Airbases all over your territory, so your Air Force will
have sufficient range and flexibility.

Again STOCKPILE the damn things. Experiment with different plane designs, and
upgrade your planes with new technological discoveries.

Now, onto copters.

Copters, while lacking the range of the Needlejet, are one hell of a unit.
They are best for point defense, definetly not assault (exactly because
of those range limitations). I think their strength lies not in their ability
to land emergency landings when out of fuel (thus extending their range with
horrible loss of power), but in their ability to attack more than once per
turn, unlike the Needlejet, which can practically attack only once in TWO
turns, because its need to refuel. That shows, yet again, that Needlejets are
built for assault, while Copters are built for defense. This ability of
Copters is great against factions with huge industrial capabilities, but low
technological level (can anybody say: "Believers"?). As the big but
under-equipped army approaches  your base, your Copters comes to play. The
first comes and wastes three of them  before returning to base. The second
wastes four of them. The Needlejets now mop up the remains, and viola! They
never even had the chance of reaching your base!

Don't stockpile Copters the way you do with Needlejets, but use them in your
critical and less critical bases, and in conjunction with other aerial units.


By this point, Formers are no longer those cute yellow boxy trucks they once
were. No, Formers by now are based on a Rover chassis, and are outfitted with
special equipment that assists them in their work, such as the Super Former
ability, which doubles the rate of all terraforming that unit does.

Formers are, obviously, absolutely essential to your economy, but by now their
help in the defense department cannot also be neglected.

The most obvious uses of Formers in defense is building military facilities, 
such as Airbases (refuel planes), Bunkers (help defending an area) and Sensors
(help to see the enemy movement in your territory), but it has other potential

Consider the following:

*Magtubes* = unlimited movement around your base = infinite versatility and
flexibility, instant reaction times for threats, lightning-quick supply lines =
huge military advantage over enemies who are still using Roads for this task.

With a Magtube network, your military forces become a lot more powerful. Notice
the vulnerability of such a network to invasion though - enemy units which made
it to a Magtube can travel all around your empire, basically unhampered. That's
another reason why you should keep a huge, active airforce, as discussed above.

Anyway, all the mentioned advantages mark enemy Formers as very likely attack
targets - actually, I treat enemy Formers as I treat any armed hostile unit,
engaging and pursuing with heavily armed units until they are destroyed. This
will damage the enemie's economy, what I obviously want to do.

While travelling on enemy ground, watch for enemy improvements. Destroy them if
you must, but remember that if you're successful, this territory will become
yours, so you might be ruining potentially helpful enhancements.

Sea Formers are almost as important as land-based ones (especially from an
economical POV). Hear this - a trick I tried on the Spartans on a game
once. They were based on a long, thin island, which of course guaranteed many
coastal bases. I reached the coast with a couple of Sea Formers (well-escorted
of course) and TERRAFORMED DOWN. This little command costed me something like
300 energy credits for each of the two Formers, but I could easily afford that
at that time. After much waiting (that takes VERY long) the terraform was
completed. The coast was lowered into the water, and the Spartan base drowned
in the sea. Then I went on to TERRAFORMING DOWN the coast near another, larger
base. I checked out its base screen (I had, of course, infiltrated the
Spartan network a long time before that) and saw it is building a Pressure
Dome. It will allow the base to survive the submersion! I waited, and of course
lost the race. I still continued the terraform (I wasn't going to throw away
all that money) and lowered the coast. Although it was still standing, now I
could use the Former's escort to conquer it! The defenses, comprised mostly of
ordinary ground troops, didn't had much of a chance against the Destroyers. Two
enemy bases down, without even deploying troops to the island!

You can also experiment with Former construction at the Workshop - create
Formers with better armor, Formers based on better chassis and other useful

And the lesson is - Formers are VALUABLE, and in more than one or two apparent
ways. Guard them well. Destroy enemy ones with vigour.


What's within the next version of this guide?

**Secret Projects

  A detailed list of Secret Projects valuable for defense will be provided in 
  the next version of this guide, which will become availible very soon.

**The Brutal Path to Victory

  Learn the benefits and drawbacks of winning the game through conquering your


 Learn the art of negotiation.


  How to manipulate the actions of the other factions to suit your personal


  Why, when and how to perform certain atrocities and how to be able to get 
  away with this.

**The Quick Path to Victory

  The easiest victory - win through democratic elections.

*The Rewarding Path to Victory - Ascent to Transcendence

 What is the legendary Ascent to Transcendence, and why it will always be the 
 best way of winning the game.

Yep, wait for the next version, be uploaded soon enough!