\    |       |              ___|            |                   _)
   _ \   | __ \  __ \   _` |   |      _ \ __ \  __|  _` | |   |  __| |
  ___ \  | |   | | | | (   |   |      __/ |   | |   (   | |   | |    |
_/    _\_| .__/ _| |_|\__,_|  \____|\___|_|  _|\__|\__,_|\__,_|_|   _|
          _|

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
Hints, Tips, and other General Suggestions
ver 1.0 (3-24-99)

as found written in the mysterious Crop Circles in England
     helped into print by Dan Simpson (manymoose@hotmail.com)


This is not intended as a full-fledged FAQ, but rather as a small tips file to
help out in various small ways.  Mostly it will help out me, as I will have to
actually think about ways to play the game better, and it helps to write these
things down.

1. Before you start...
   You may want to consider downloading the "enhancement pack", as it adds some
   nice new features to the game.  A copy of the pack (version 3.0 as of March
   23, 1999) can be found at:
                         ftp://ftp.owo.com/pub/alpha/SMACP3US.EXE  (1.84 MB)
   
   This upgrade adds several new elements to the game, as well as the usual
   batch of bug fixes, etc.

2. Getting a Game Started
   To make a game easier (or harder) you will probably want to Customize the
   Planet.  Map Size can be whatever you want it to be as long as it is under
   256 x 256, because at that size the game starts getting rummy; the game 
   itself recommends maps no larger than 64 x 128.  If you are a Pacifist in 
   nature (don't like fighting the AI, or other players) you will probably want 
   a large planet, say 120 x 110 or larger.  A warlord player would benefit a 
   lot more from a small planet.  If you want to maximize your score at the end 
   of the game do not choose "Rare" on the native life.

   In the Rules section, the best option to choose is "First Look" which allows
   you to build your first colony, rather than starting with one prebuilt.  And
   don't ever do "accelerated start", since it gives every player a free Project
   and that means you lose out on 6 great projects!  Also if you are a Pacifist
   make sure that there are no spoils of war so that the other more agressive
   factions don't steal your hard earned tech.  Conversely if you are one of
   those agressive factions you probably want that on.

   Here are the precise benefits and costs of each faction:
   Gaians - benefits:                       costs:
            Centauri Ecology (tech)         Cannot do Free Market (social Eng.)
            +2 Efficiency (social Eng.)     -1 Morale
            +1 Planet Ecology               -1 Police
            +1 Fungal Nutrients
            The Gaian lack of Morale and Police means that you will have to
            build improvements aimed at preventing drone riots, like Holo
            Theatres, etc.  Overall they make a decent Faction.
   Hive -   benefits:                       costs:
            Doctrine: Loyalty (tech)        Cannot do Democracy
            Perimeter Defense in all bases  -2 Economy
            +1 Growth
            +1 Industry
            The Hive has a lot going for it, except Economy.  Which means that
            mid to late in the game, the Hive will have chronic money problems
            if not run correctly.
   Belivers - benefits:                     costs:
            Social Psych (tech)             Cannot do Knowledge
                        +25% attack strength            NO Research until 2110 (!!)
            +1 Probe                        -2 Research
            +2 Support                      -1 Planet
            The Believers have too many research drawbacks to make them a
            contender without serious tech swiping by probe teams.  Also they
            don't even start research for 10 turns, another serious drawback
            making it easy to get behind and get beaten by smarter societies.
   Morgan - benefits:                       costs:
            Industrial Base (tech)          Hab complexes needed at pop. 4
            100 energy                      Cannot do Planned Economics
            +1 Economy                      -1 Support
            Extra Commerce (from pacts,etc)
            Morgan, in my opinion, is a case where the costs far exceed the
            benefits, especially the Hab complexes at pop. 4, that slows growth.
            And those 100 energies won't last for all that long.  The Extra
            Commerce Benefit is the best one here, and it only is active if you
            have Peace Treaties and Pacts with other Factions.
   Spartan - benefits:                      costs:
            Doctrine: Mobility (tech)       Cannot do Wealth
            No extra cost for Prototypes    -1 Industry
            +2 Morale
            +1 Police
            A fairly well balanced faction is geared for military expansion,
            but would do better with extra support.  The cost on industry hurts
            your expansion as well since it takes extra time to build all of
            your crack troops.
   Peacekeepers - benefits:                 costs:
            Biogenetics (tech)              Cannot do Police State
            +1 talent for every 4 people    -1 Efficiency
            Exceed Pop. limits by 2
            Double votes for Gov., etc.
            A good choice for the Pacifist out there (hence the name), has only
            one serious drawback, the -1 Efficiency, but that can be altered
            in Social Engineering.
   University - benefits:                   costs:
            Information Networks (tech)     Cannot do Fundamentalist
            1 free tech (random)            +1 Drone for every 4 people
            Network Node in all bases       -2 Probe
            +2 Research
            Starts out with major flaws (+1 Drone, and -2 Probe) but if you can
            get a few projects (Hunter Seeker Algorithim and the Virtual World)
            then those flaws evaporate leaving (IMHO) the best Faction.

3. Building Bases
   Where you want to build a good base changes as the game goes on.  In the
   beginning you want an area with little ocean, lots of rain, and rolling, with
   little to no xenofungus or forest.  As you gain more technologies you will
   be able to harness the resources of the fungus better, and there are very
   good improvements for forests and oceans which make almost the entire planet
   livable.  A "rolling" area is one where there are a few rocks, but not very
   many.  This gives that square some mineral resources while not compromising
   its nutrient resources.

   Rocky areas and Rolling areas are placed on the surface using the old Civ2
   algorithim: (de-isometric)
      r   r
      r   r    And it is random as to which square will merely be rolling and
    r   r   r  which is full-blown rocky.  You want to build your base on one of
    r   r   r  the rolling squares, as this will maximize the mineral production
      r   r    in the base (at a max of 12 squares, compared to 9 if you build
      r   r    on a blank square).
      _____
    _|r   r|_  So you would build your base on the B there.  Of course this is
   |  r   r  | a simple model, but the idea here holds true for almost anywhere
   |r   B   r| on the map, all you have to do is account for ocean and various
   |r   r   r| bonuses on the map.
     |r   r|
     -------

   If you see a small amount of black around a resource on the base map (either
   a mineral, nutrient, or energy) that means that you lack something to get
   the full potential of that square, either a road or a technology.

4. What to build and when to build it
   First, get at least 2 military units in each base.  This is more important
   than it was in Civ2, because of Psi attacks even your best units can be
   destroyed.
   Second, build a Former to work exclusively on this base.  You can set the
   former to auto, but remember that the AI strategy is not always your best
   strategy.
   Third, build Recycling Tanks (this is moot for Sea Bases, since they start
   with a version of these) to increase the resources on the base square.
   Fourth, build a Children's Creche (ok this comes later in the game, but it
   is very useful once you get it!).
   Fifth, build a new colony pod (if you are at least 2 populatrion) to expand
   your empire!
   After that build based on what you need.  If you are fighting a war, build
   units, if your production is low, build a factory, need new technologies then
   build labs, etc.

   Hurrying it up:  The approximate cost to hurry anything is about 2 energy for
   each square left to be built on the improvement.  The exception to this is
   when you are just starting production on something where it will cost quite
   a bit more.  A way around that is to do a small hurry one turn (25 energy)
   and then the next turn buy the whole thing.

5. Secret Projects
   I will now rank the Secret Projects based on their usefullness (this is an
   arbritrary rating, feel free to disagree with it).

   EXTRAORDINARILY USEFUL PROJECTS:
     The Hunter Seeker Algorithim - other factions can no longer use probe teams
        against your bases, which means that they can't sabotage you or steal
        your technologies, while you are free to do it to them.
     Citizens Defense Force - creates a perimeter defense in every base, which
        doubles your base defense.
     Cloning Vats - puts all of your bases into a permanent state of population
        boom (where each base will grow every turn) as long as you have enough
        nutrients and hab facilities (and habitation domes).  Even better is its
        other side effects, the Power and Thought Control social engineering
        choices lose their negative effects!
     Network Backbone - +1 research for every point of commerce this base gets
        and another +1 for every network node on the planet.  That alone 
                wouldn't be enough to recommend it but, it also has the effect of
        removing the negative effects from Cybernetic!
     Planetary Transit Network - triples the size of new bases built (3), and
        1 less drone for bases 3 and smaller.  Allows your empire to grow a lot
        quicker, but can cause those new cities to starve because they start
        out with more people than the area can support.
     The Self Aware Colony - halves the maintenance cost of facilities, and if
        you can have police, adds 1 police to every city.  Will give you ever
        so much money to cut costs by 50%!
     Supercollider - research at this base is doubled.
     Telepathic Matrix - Drones never riot.  Plus probe teams receive a +2
        morale bonus.  No drone riots is a very nice thing to have, since you
        don't have to do preventative measures to stop drone riots.
     Theory of Everything - labs output doubled.
     Universal Translator - 2 free techs, plus you can send any number of alien
        artifacts here.

   MILDLY USEFUL PROJECTS:
     Clinical Immortality - adds 1 talent to every base, which although nice
        you can get more through use of Psych, also doubles your vote for
        Governor and Supreme Leader, which is nice but not all that needed.
     Command Nexus - puts a Command Center in every base, which gives you 2
        morale upgrades, as well as fixes units quicker.
     Cyborg Factory - puts in a Bioenhancement Center in each base, which gives
        you 2 morale upgrades for every unit built there and 1 lifespan bonus
        on all creatures (that makes them larger).
     The Living Refinery - +2 Support in Social Engineering.  This is nice
        because it effectively removes the negative effects of Democracy, or if
        you want you can get the extra support.
     The Longevity Vaccine - this one's effects vary depending on your Social
        Engineering.  If your economics are Planned then you get 2 less drones
        per base, if they are Simple or Green you get 1 less drone.  For a free
        market you get +50% economy.  The less drone things make this one a
        winner, especially as you go through the transition of growing into
        larger cities (without Psych bonuses).
     Maritime Control Center - +2 sea movement, and counts as a naval yard in
        all bases.  A must have for anyone who wants to build a navy, this will
        give you almost instant naval superiority.
     Merchant Exchange - +1 energy in every square.  If this worked on every
        base instead of just the one it is built in it would be Extraordinary.
     The Pholus Mutagen - reduces Eco Damage, and gives you a +1 lifespan bonus
        to Aliens that you breed, and also gives you the alien benefits of
        Xenofungus.
     Space Elevator - Doubles Economy in this base, and doubles minerals in
        bases building Satellites (effectively halving the time it takes to
        build those), also units with Drop Pods can land anywhere on the planet
        and Aerospace Restrictions on Satellites is dropped.  The best thing
        here is the Drop Pods thing, but that is only useful if you are at war
        with someone.
     The Virtual World - Network Nodes also count as Hologram Theatres, so you
        won't have to build those.  (and if you are University then you get that
        instantly since all of your bases start with Network Nodes)
     Weather Paradigm - increases terraform speed by 50% and allows construction
        of condensors, boreholes, and echelon mirrors even without the tech to
        do so.  Very nice for an early Project, this should be the first one
        that you build.
   AVERAGE PROJECTS:
     Bulk Matter Transmitter - adds 2 minerals to every base, nice but when your
        bases get large the 2 is almost inconsequential.
     Dream Twister - adds 50% to Psi attacks.  Whee.
     Neural Amplifier - adds 50% to Psi defense.  Whee.
     Empath Guild - adds 50% to governor and supreme leader votes, as well as
        giving you an infiltrator in all factions and contact to all factions.
        Nice but not necessary in the end of the game.
     Nano Factory - fixes units completely outside of a base (before they can
        only heal up to 20% damaged), and reduces upgrade costs.
     The Planetary Datalinks - gives you any tech discovered by 3 other factions
        If you need this you are too far behind in tech!
     The Singularity Inductor - counts as a Quantum Converter in every base,
        and reduces Eco Damage.  Not as useful as you might think, but still
        a nice thing to have.
     Xenoempathy Dome - treats Fungus as road, and removing and planting fungus
        is now quicker.  The best part of this is the Fungus as a road part,
        which can dramatically speed up war parties, and exploration.
   ALMOST WORTHLESS PROJECTS:
     Human Genome Project - 1 extra talent in each base.  Again this isn't
        necessary because Psych does more.

   Transcendant Projects:
     Voice of the Planet leads to Ascent to Transcendance, which ends the game
     with the "Best" ending.

6. Editing your game
   Hopefully I'll fill this section in more as I learn more about the game.
   All the stats and info in the game is readily editable in the main directory
   of the game.
   The Main Rules of the game is contained in the file Alpha.txt.
   Faction profiles are kept in these files:
     Believe.txt, Gaians.txt, Hive.txt, Morgan.txt, Peace.txt, Spartans.txt,
     Univ.txt
   You can look at the rest of the text files at your own leisure.

   In game Scenario editing is activated by use of CTRL-k and by using the menus
   and the toolbars.  To edit the land, click on a toolbar button, and then
   CTRL click on the area you want to put that item on.


ASCII Art created using SigZag by James Dill:   (freeware!)
  "http://www.geocities.com/southbeach/marina/4942/sigzag.htm"

As I said in the Introduction this was not meant as a comprehensive FAQ, but as
a Tips file.  I hope I have provided you with something useful, if not, feel
free to email me and tell it like it is: manymoose@hotmail.com

I have also written FAQs for Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Ultima 7: Serpent Isle,
Ultima 4, and the Legend of Zelda (NES)

Original Version (3-24-99, 16k)

This Document Copyright 1999 by Dan Simpson