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Contact Victory: the Hardest / Easiest

vorlon_mi

Emperor
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Oct 21, 2004
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After finishing my quest to win each affinity victory with each leader, I decided to look at Contact victories. Along the way I had won a few while trying for an affinity victory. "How about," I thought to myself, "trying a Contact victory with the others?"

I will document the details of this game in my other thread, but here are some thoughts / strategies that I want to test out.

Fixed Timing: Once one has ignited the Beacon, the waiting period can't be shortened: 45 turns can feel like a LOOONNGG time.
The Harmony/Transcendance victory can be sped up through buildings that must be completed before the Mind Flower is finished.
The Purity/Promised Land victory can bring in 1 settler each turn -- a minimum of 20 turns. Depending on how long the settlers must travel to get clear of my cities, some might require two turns to reach their destination. The Supremacy/Emancipation victory requires sending 1 unit per turn through the gate. If one sends units with strength > 50 each turn, the victory could be achieved in 20 turns or so.

Influence of Luck: Yes, one needs to build the Decode Signal project (fixed amount of production) and build the Beacon wonder itself (fixed amount of production). But getting the two parts of the Signal is *not* fixed. Researching Transcendental Math and buiildng the Transcendental Equation project gets you one part. That tech is available relatively early, so that I often research it while building up my empire before turn 150. Even if you produce 4-5 Explorers and hit all of the Progenitor sites, you're not guaranteed to get one of the parts of the Signal. In many of my games, I do find part of the Signal in the ruins. When that doesn't happen, one needs to change the research path to include Orbital Automation (a leaf tech) and Astrodynamics (branch tech). Neither of those are associated with an affinty, so they are not helping promote my military units.

Competition: I play on Soyuz level and pursuing affinity victories means that the game often lasts until/past turn 300. If the AI leader has a decent fertile starting location, at least one AI will be chasing their own affinity victory. This means that you may need to fight an additional late game war to prevent them from winning as well as fighting with the factions that objected when you started the Beacon.

Research Path? This area will be my focus in my next attempt. How to quickly get to Transcendental Math then Orbital Automation, so that I can get both parts of the Signal. If I get lucky with a Progenitor Ruin, I might have an off-ramp. Following the suggestions of others here, focusing on Computing early to enable spies may be very profitable. Stealing Science can accelerate the path to Orbital Automation.
I suspect that my early game research may follow a similar path to my affinity victories:
  • Unlock the Ultrasonic Fence, to protect trade convoys
  • Unlock the techs to improve the resources
  • Unlock the Spy Agency to start stealing/siphoning
Researching Genetics enables Cytonurseries and Pharmalabs, which are useful for improving health. After that, my research path has followed my affinity choice for victory... which doesn't apply here.

Affinity Preference? Which affinity (or hybrid affinity) is helpful? I really like having range 3 ships and subs for my late game wars. Getting tier 3 aircraft requires level 16 in one of the affinities, which I also like.
What's the right balance? Having at least one hybrid improves health. Do I delay increasing my affinity -- following @Tiberiu recommendation in this thread https://forums.civfanatics.com/thre...y-got-a-118-domination-v-in-first-try.676552/ so that I can build cheap units (which will be buffed later)?
 
Hello, and thanks for the thread.

I want to comment that finding a part of the signal in a ruin can be more easily done on some map settings than others. What map type will you go for ?
What virtues are you going for? I think Prosperity suits the needs of this victory quite well because if you get a free colonist, you get to found an early city for extra Supply in order to spam a lot of Explorers. Which is good in most cases anyway.
After that, depending on how things go in the game and how many Dig sites are available and doable, I'd consider Knowledge 2 for Explorer science from excavations. While it's a small amount, it can add up to unlock an important Tech earlier than normal.

Looking forward to see how you play.
 
First game, to fill in where I haven't won a Contact Victory with this sponsor. PAC on a Fungal Terran map, Soyuz difficulty.
Diplomacy was very interesting in this game; the AI continue to surprise me.

Early Game: I watched the sequence where each AI lands, writing down the terrain type and estimating how far they are from me. Mostly, I want to know if anyone is spawning nearby, for potential early war. I started fairly far north, with a mountain range and canyons to my south. Good for repelling any invaders who will try to interfere with my Beacon. On Turn 1, someone landed on a one tile island (Tundra!) to my south. Ouch! But on turn 5, someone landed only 8-10 tiles west of my capital. This could be trouble...

By turn 100-110, I had met everyone. My near neighbor was Brasil; to the south on my landmass was Franco-Iberia, with KP on that one tile island to her west. On the other landmass, ARC was on its west coast (to my east), with Polystralia further east on the north coast. Kozlov was on the southeast coast of that land mass, and Al Falah solidly controlled the southern portion of the other landmass.

Diplomacy: ARC was hostile towards me in the early game, even though we were separated by dozens of tiles and on separate land masses. She DOW'ed me on turn 95... and turn 136... and turn 177. Each time, I sank some of her ships and negotiated peace. Brasil decided -- for reasons only he knows -- to play a one-city-challenge (OCC). Literally. He never settled another city, though he built some ships, explored, and fought some naval skirmishes with SF. I was able to get to Cooperating with AF, FI, Polystralia, KP, *and* Brasil by turn 210. I was really interested to see if/when Brasil would expand.

Search for the Signal: I played the first 150 turns emphasizing explorers, trying to hit Progenitor ruins where I could find them. Didn't seem to work, this game. By turn 179, I had one piece of the Signal, but I had also finished the Transcendental Equation by then. I diverted my research path to build the Deep Space Telescope, launched on turn 271, which yielded the second piece on turn 282. Finished decoding the signal on turn 295, while setting up the trade route network to my capital to boost production of projects.

Affinity Choice: This game, I emphasized Harmony. It seemed to fit with my playstyle, getting the extra health bonuses to deal with my expansion and conquest. I ended up also doing well in Supremacy, so the level 3 buffs for my units were hybrid. I got range 3 on my cruisers (Wrath), but not on the subs.

Late Game Diplomacy: Polystralia had several wars with ARC, along the northern coast of the other land mass. By turn 257, they were dead. ARC eliminated them, while declaring on me again on turn 218. She agreed to peace on turn 233, but I had enough of her nonsense. Moving my navy into place, I declared on ARC on turn 271, conquering her last city (one of Hutama's IIRC) on turn 282. Al Falah expanded well, with ~10 cities and started building the Emancipation Gate on turn 288. Brasil, yes, maintained his status as a single city empire; not even any aquatic cities. The smaller powers kept declaring on each other -- not on me, after I wiped out ARC.

Objectors: I started my Beacon on turn 300, which felt late compared to my other affinity victory games.
AF: 4/7/16 #2 in score. WAR. I declared on her on turn 298, since she finished the gate on turn 298
ARC: 13/6/6 Dead
PAC (me): 18/7/9 #1 in score, having conquered ARC and the former Polystralia
FI: 4/5/8 Cooperative
SF: 4/12/5 #3 in score
KP 4/4/3 Cooperative
Brasil: 9/5/5 Cooperative, still running a OCC
Objectors were: FI and Brasil, both Cooperating at the time.
I rolled over Brasil, while performing a full scale invasion of AF. She had built her gate *in the water*
20240602202843_1.jpg
but she seemed to understand that, sending ships through. I destroyed the gate on turn 305, after she had sent almost 300 points through.
Note: I found it helps to save the game, exit, and restart to reset the victory stats. After doing that, AF was listed as starting to build the gate again.
Brasil was dead on turn 320. AF actually made peace with me on turn 313. She declared again on turn 330 as a OCC, plus an outpost on my land mass. I found that a coastal outpost may be attacked from the sea, but not conquered with a boat until it matures into a city.

LOONNGGG End Game: I ignited the Beacon on turn 316, with 45 turns to connect. One of the objectors was dead (Brasil) and FI was much, much weaker. I waited for Elodie to make her move. She sent some troops north, toward me.... but they were going on a bug hunt. It was comical, to watch them wander around, taking miasma damage, and not attacking. Finally, on turn 361, my Beacon connected. FI never declared on me. All three surviving AI factions kept skirmishing among themselves.
One of my better scores -- I set nearly every city to produce culture, with citizen emphasis on food. I moved a couple of aquatic cities to get more tiles to work, while building traders when a city grew enough.

Trivia: One quest, "Radio Silence," asks you to build another city for the affected people. I plopped one in the water, which turned out to be a mistake. The next step asked me to build a Vivarium, which may only be built in land cities. Oh well.
 
Good game!

My apologies but did you mention your seeding settings? What bonuses did you take for your colony? Also what Virtues? Artifact bonuses?

Makes me want to try out a game with the same settings.

Weird stuff about Brasil not expanding. A reasonable assumption must be that he attacked the aliens and then their colonists were killed off...
Also too bad about that quest bug, not your fault. The quest maker should have prevented this stuff by making only land cities evolve the quest to the next stept and making it clear that you need a land city.

edit: I actually started a game with your map settings to see how it goes. I usually play with No staggered starts but I left it default because from your story it looks like guessing where everybody lands can be fun.
Spoiler :

I played until turn 40, need to think about how to proceed in the capital after Trade Depot finishes and about how to use my artifacts...
My seeding options were Artists for culture, Tectonic Scanner so that I can see where Titanium is, and Weapons Arsenal for an extra military unit at start.
I went with Ecology as my first technology, then Computing (turn 27 finished) , Pioneering (turn 28 finished), and now Communications for the extra spy buildings.
Spy agency finished turn 40 and also now finishing Trade depot.
For Virtues I have Knowledge 2 for extra science from digging and Prosperity 5 for fast colonist and extra Explorer modules.
Found 13 artifacts so far, used only 2.
For Traits I opened with Subtle for extra spy speed and safety.
Aliens are blocking my tiles in the capital and my capital doesn't have titanium. My worker is building a farm, I'm reluctant to send it to improve Titanium in my second city because of alien units in the area.

t40_PAC.jpg

 
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Thanks for the questions! Here are some comments about seedings/settings.
  • Colonists: For a while, I would take Aristocrats, since I sometimes hit a period where I hadn't built enough Thoruim Reactors and went into negative energy production. For this game, I took Engineers for the production. I knew that I would be going as wide as I could, without tanking my health.
  • Spacecraft: I nearly always choose Tectonic Scanner, to help guide settling cities near Geothermal or other resources. For an Atlantean world, I might consider Continental Surveyor, Occasionally, I choose Retrograde Thrusters for better placement. This game was Tectonic Scanner.
  • Cargo: I nearly always choose Laboratory, so that I can build the first Colonist sooner; I chose that for this game. Once or twice I've tried Machinery, to get the free worker and start the improvements. Most of the time, I build a worker as my 2nd or 3rd build, so I don't really mind the delay.
My first tech is always Ecology, to enable the Ultrasonic Fence. Unless the "pet" station spawns especially nearby, I usually wait to build the Trade Depot until the fence quest to protect convoys kicks in. By that time, I usually have enough energy to cash-buy the first trade convoy.
For Virtues, I have started going down the left side of Prosperity first, to get the extra Explorer modules. I believe that I did that in this game, delaying the free colonist for a while. My second priority in virtues is to get to Scavenging in Might, so that I get science for killing aliens. Getting to Scavenging used to be my first priority, when going after affinity victories. Whether I go for it first or second, I generally avoid killing aliens until I get it. In this game, that gave me some grace to scoot my Explorers around without too much danger.
 
Contact Victory, as Franco-Iberia -- Arid Terran Planet, Standard size, Standard speed, Soyuz difficulty

Research and Virtue Choices (Early Game): For this attempt, I wanted to maximize my chances of finding a part of the signal in early Explorer missions. For Virtues, I beelined down the Prosperity branch first, heading for Pathfinders to get the extra modules. I achieved that on turn 20. Next, I switched to the Might branch, heading for Scavenging to get extra science for hunting aliens; I achieved that on turn 67. I left the aliens alone for the first 65 turns or so, which made it much easier to move Explorers around without being threatened.

As I often do, I choose Pioneering in the game setup, to start with the ability to build colonists. My first tech to research is Ecology, for the Ultrasonic Fence and protection for trade convoys. For this game, I tried emphasizing the Supremacy affinity; my second tech was Engineering to get started on combat rovers and mine titanium. Next is almost always Planetary Survey. It's cheap and I will want to move my aquatic cities eventually. Genetics gets me buildings for health. Instead of going for techs to unlock strategic resources, e.g. Alien Sciences or Robotics, I next researched Computing to get the Espionage going.

Happy Quest: I finished building the Ultrasonic Fence on turn 33 and was elated to see the "polarity" quest to protect my trade convoys on turn 34. Fastest ever!

PITA Quest: One of the first quests when spies are unlocked asks you to perform "X" mission in "Y" city for the AI. "X" can be one of: Establish Network, Siphon Energy, or Steal Science, in increasing difficulty. On a good day, the RNG gives me Establish Network so I can finish early. This game, I got "Steal Science", which required successful missions to increase intrigue in the target city first. Just to increase the aggravation, two of my first three Siphon Energy missions failed, meaning my progress was very, very slow. Even with the Subtle personality trait, the intrigue did not build quickly in the target city. Roughly 125 turns after finishing my Spy Agency, I could start the Steal Science mission.

Expansion and AI: On a Terran planet, we have two large landmasses. I started near a river, inland, near the eastern shore. PAC is along the northern shore, with INTEGR not too far south. Chungsu started in the water, off the southern coast. On the other landmass, KP started near the north, SF and ARC in the southwest and southeast, and Polystralia in the northeast. I had LOTS of nice land to expand into, with a row of mountains and canyons between my capital and Lena's.... nice cover for my Beacon. I will know if someone's coming and where.

All of the AI on the other continent built at least 3 cities, with Hutama and Kozlov building 5 & 4. On my landmass, INTEGR expanded peacefully, until she took out Chungsu. I was surprised to see Daoming only build 3 cities, one of which she lost in a war. Due to fertile land, I grew to be #1 in score by turn 100 and maintained that through turn ~220. I had 6 cities by turn 85. INTEGR was #2.

Search for Signal: This game, the explorer gambit paid off. I had one part of the Signal by turn 100, before completing the Transcendental Equation. This good luck raised all sorts of questions. By focusing on REX (Rapid EXpansion), my affinities were 1/2/5 by turn 110 and my military consisted of 5-8 units, not counting city garrisons. I wasn't prepared to fight off objectors. So I delayed building the TE until turn 176, then starting to Decode the Signal on turn 207. Built good diplomatic relations with many sponsors, even getting Lena to Cooperating around turns 180-190.

Starting the Beacon and Objectors - turn 226
ARC 2/6/5 Cooperating, only 3 cities
PAC 3/4/6 Cooperating, only 2 cities
FI (me) 6/8/12 #2 in score
SF 2/6/5 Cooperating, 4 cities
Poly 7/6/3 5 cities
KP 9/5/3 3 larger cities, #3 in score
INTEGR 1/13/5 #1 in scoer, her cities growing larger than mine
Chungsu DEAD
Objectors: both on my landmass -- PAC (smallest in game) and INTEGR (largest opponent)

Battles and End Game: After PAC objected, I lowered our relationship to Neutral, to avoid any sneak attacks. Sure enough, Lena began sending ground units north, through the mountain passes, toward my border. I moved some planes to my northern frontier, plus a tank or two, in case Daoming was feeling aggressive. On turn 230, I declared war on INTEGR to take down her forward moving troops. She had level 3 tanks, which were a bit closer to the Beacon than I liked. Unlike either Gate (Purity or Supremacy), one cannot put a unit on top of the Beacon to protect it. On the next turn (231), PAC declared on me, sending 3 level 2 units to threaten my closest city.

Fighting a two-front war wasn’t my ideal plan. Using air power, I took INTEGR’s northernmost city and stationed my ground troops around it in a defensive ring. I went on offense against PAC, moving my western ocean navy around to assault her cities. PAC was dead by turn 245, so my navy could sail down to assault INTEGR coastal cities on both east and west. Lena had good production, so she built a lot of reinforcements to replace the units I was killing. INTEGR was dead by turn 257.

Even though my Beacon finished on turn 246, I had delayed igniting it. Once the Beacon is running, it consumes all of the energy surplus of your empire. I wanted the flexibility to purchase troops while the wars were going on. I ignited on turn 255, as the war was nearly over, to win on turn 300.

Objectors, Part 2: As the war ended, I checked on my spies in Polystralia. I had seen the announcement that he had both parts of the signal and checked the victory screen that he was building the Decode project. Around turn 259, I noticed two things: 1) Hutama had started building his Beacon and 2) no one had declared war on him! Where were his objectors? Could it be that only those two factions (in this game) would object to Beacons – and both were already dead? Hutama finished his Beacon on turn 273 and ignited it on turn 277. Since I had a 22 turn head start, I was assured of winning. I waited to see if any of the other three sponsors would attack, but they did not.
 
Random thought, while working thru an ARC contact victory... 45 turns is a LONG time. Consider that one settles 6-8 cities, gets two affinities to level 5 for the health bonus, builds up a decent military and Decodes the Signal. It's possible to do all of that by turn 180 or turn 200.

Once ignited, the Beacon always takes 45 turns to contact the Progenitors; it consumes your energy surplus during that time. Doesn't matter if you have only +1 energy per turn, or +100 energy per turn, 45 turns are required. That's 25% of the game if you ignite on turn 180, or 20% of the game if you ignite on turn 225. I often can defeat -- or seriously diminish -- the objectors in 10-15 turns, leaving 30-35 turns to just hit "Next Turn".
 
Finished my ARC Contact victory this week. Lush Protean world, standard size, standard speed. This time, I emphasized the Purity affinity.

Location, Location, Location: I started on a medium sized island, surrounded by water. At first, I was disappointed, since a Protean world is supposed to have a large single landmass and I was not on it. As I explored the coastlines around me, I grew to appreciate it. The sea was roughly oval in shape, but ice-locked at the northwest and northeast corners. None of the computer players could reach me with their navy, save one. KP had landed about 20 tiles due west, on the coast of my sea. She built one aquatic city, but that's it. All of the other sponsors -- NSA, Franco-Iberia, SF, INTEGR, Brasil, and PAU -- were either landlocked or near the coastline of the larger ocean. With a preemptive strike on Kavitha, I would have a "moat" around my Beacon. The objectors would need to swim to get to me, leaving them vulnerable.

Spamming Explorers, Searching for the Signal: In this game, the RNG gods smiled on me. I found one part of the Signal by turn 51 in one of the expeditions. I focused on expansion, founding cities on smaller islands nearby. I had 4 cities and an outpost by turn 85, then worked to get the spy agency up. Building the Trans Equation got me both parts of the Signal on turn 175. I declared on KP on turn 205, taking her aquatic city and original capital, getting peace on turn 220. I started decoding the Signal on turn 216, finishing on turn 228.

Espionage Economy: I took the Subtle personality trait, as I nearly always do, to increase the speed and success of spy missions. However, I hadn't played ARC in a while so I had forgotten the impact of her inherent trait that buffs espionage. With the combined effects of both traits, I harvested a bumper crop of Siphon Energy missions. Siphoned energy funded the cash purchase of Cytonurseries, Pharmalabs, even Gene Gardens to get back to healthy while settling cities. To speed up research for more Purity techs, I ran two Steal Science missions and one Siphon Energy mission, cascading over one another from turn 110 to 200. By the time I wanted to ignite the Beacon, I had 6000 energy in reserve.

Building the Beacon: After setting up trade routes to my capital, getting the Industry virtue to boost Wonders, and even building the Crawler, I started the Beacon on turn 233. I finished it on turn 247.
ARC (me) 7/16/8 #1 in score
NSA 2/3/6 Cooperating, only 3 cities
FI 9/3/2 Cooperating, about 4 cities, but Elodie was in someone's gunsights
SF 2/4/4 Only 3 cities, along the tundra and ice to my northeast
KP 6/10/4 Had 4 bigger cities, before I took half of them
INTEGR 3/5/9 Cooperating, #3 in score
Brasil 10/6/4 At least 6 cities before the end game wars, #2 in score
PAU 3/4/8 Cooperating

Objectors were INTEGR and Brasil, my two strongest competitors and neighbors to the east and south, respectively.

Endgame Wars, with Late Game Surprises: On turn 239, INTEGR declared war on Brasil. Yes, the two factions destined to attack me start fighting each other. Sweet! I kept building up, especially planes, plus one carrier so that I could focus my air power where I needed it. Brasil declared on me on turn 249, so I destroyed their land forces that were deployed against Lena.
Unfortunately (for her, anyway), Elodie decided to declare on Brasil on turn 251. Maybe she figured his troops were busy? His navy was not, though. Brasil swept through the southern ocean -- that I could not reach, except with subs that had sailed under the ice -- and demolished Franco-Iberia in just 7 turns. Now that meant I would need either a) a massive force of level 3 tanks or b) a sea passage to conquer one of the objectors.

Fortunately for me, one portion of the large landmass, south-southwest, was only 1 hex wide. Somewhere around turn 265-270, as I was finishing off INTEGR, I planted a settler on the isthmus with my carrier on my side looking out for the baby city. Fun fact: naval ships cannot pass through an outpost, but they can pass through a city. This gateway let me send my navy into the larger ocean to mop up Brasil's aquatic cities and conquer the former FI. INTEGR was dead on turn 267, and I finished off Brasil on turn 280. I had often asked the other players for peace before finishing them off, but they never accepted. This time, with only two cities remaining on turn 279, Reijnaldo asked *me* for peace. What??? Then I did the math. I've not seen AI ever accept a peace offer if the war has been fought for less than 20 turns. In nearly every other game, I am able to finish off the objectors in 15 turns or fewer... before enough time has elapsed. This game, enough time/turns had elapsed. I said no, finishing him off the next turn.

Now, click next turn and wait for the Progenitors. I had ignited the Beacon on turn 248, so it would make finish on 293. Kavitha was still angry with me, so she had declared on turn 260 trying to get her capital back. I took her largest city and a smaller one, leaving her a OCC (One City Challenge) on turn 276. Kozlov wakes up, having settled 3 more tundra cities, and declares on me on turn 288... five turns to go! My planes flew back, but his invasion force never showed up. Then... on turn 291... Kavitha declares war on me. I squish her last city in one turn, then win on the next turn.

Affinity Preference: I don't think that any of the 3 affinities were particularly useful in helping win by Contact. I like having the range 3 promotion for my subs and cruisers, but one can get that with at least two of the affinities. Getting all the affinities to at least 5 helps one get healthy. I actually had a late game health issue this time; I was capturing cities and setting them to puppet quickly, so that the combined unhealthiness was up to -25. The pause while I built my gateway city allowed the puppet cities to build their health buildings. That, coupled with building some Progenitor Gardens (which I haven't often needed), eventually dug me out of the hole.
 
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