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SMACX strategy update 2024


Doomsday Machine
Jun 6, 2004
Zagreb, Croatia
HI there. I started playing SMACX again heavily (with Thinker mod). I haven't played SMAC basically since uni, so 20 years or so. Learned to be more patient and detailed, so I'll keep this thread open for my observations regarding better strategies that I discover over time.

Topic 1: Population is *not* king. Yields are.

In most guides I read online, there are two dominant strategies: 1. crawlers and 2. carpeting everything with forests. These two are not exclusive, mind you.

From my recent observations, Thermal Boreholes + Condensers are the way to go, with population never really needing to exceed 7. This saves you a ton of minerals you'd otherwise need to dump into psyche buildings and hab complexes. Condenser + farm grants you 4 food on base terrain, and with 3 from base tile that's 7. Get one more and you have 8 food (that can support up to 4 pop).
For example, four population, one working the food tile, plus 3 thermal boreholes is 18 minerals & 18 energy per turn. If we disregard food, which has no benefit but population maintenance/growth, that's an equivalent of 9 hybrid forests in mineral production and 6 hybrid forests in energy production. This is with very expensive Tree farm and Hybrid forest buildings, mind you. Basically, you get the same effect for half the population. Without these buildings, math is even more in favor of boreholes: 3 thermal boreholes are equal to 9 forests in mineral production and 18 forests in energy production.

Since a single supply crawler (36 minerals) is actually more expensive than a new colony pod (27 minerals), it actually pays more (and is way less micro intensive) to simply make more cities, closely packed together (gap of 2-3 squares between cities). You will still want forests as a filler tile improvement and for the ecology bonus.
Topic #2: Number of cities

The well established strategy is ICS (infinite city sprawl) where you plant as many cities as closely packed as possible. I'd like to contest this concept: you don't really have time to build more than 12-15 cities, no matter what spacing you use. By the time you get your 15th out (considering spending "a normal" amount of minerals on other builds), it will be year 2200 (turn 100). And after T100, it's really best to conquer, if you really want to expand further. My games are usualy done around T150-160. Since builds become prohibitively expensive, these new cities really don't add much to your colony except angry faces, since you have to build everything from scratch.
Topic #3: The Police State Borehole strategy

This is my newest strategy, aquired by playing ~30 games in the last few months. It works with every faction.
Requirements: Weather Paradigm (unlock & faster Condensers, Boreholes), Doctrine: Loyalty (for Police State), Centauri Ecology (for Weather Paradigm and formers)

Step 1: Expand, grab as much territory as possible. Have at least bonus nutrient in radius of every colony. Research or trade for Centaury Ecology and Doctrine: Loyalty
Step 2: In your 2 best production colonies build a terraformer in each, while expanding from other colonies.
Step 3: With your 2 best production cities build Weather Paradigm & (failsafe) Human Genome Project. If you get both, great, if not WP is priority.
Step 4: Switch to Police state and build 3 terraformers per colony. Stack the formers up. Farm/Condenser on nutrients, tile up Thermal Boreholes wherever possible.
Step 5: Focus researching Ecological Engineering (minerals cap lifted) and Environmental Economics (energy cap lifted). You'll catch up in other techs real quick.
Step 6: Focus researching super formers & clean reactors and then switch from Police state to Democratic.
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