In order to give you the edge over either less experienced players or the AI, there are a variety of "tricks" and "tips" that you should remember and apply in order to squeeze every ounce of productivity that's possible to get out of your bases. Remember to regularly scroll through all of your bases using the left/right keys on the base menu, or usingto bring up a quick rough report of all your bases.
Maximizing base grid output
You should regularly check your bases to make sure that they are working from the squares that will reap the most benefit. For example, initially your base works off normal grids w/o terraform enhancements which at most reaps 1F/1M. If a scout discovers a monolith within vicinity, you should switch production to that monolith as this is not automatically done if your governor is off. However, if you turn your governor on and instruct it to manage worker and specialists (this is on by default) it will relocate your workers to best squares automatically at the beginning of each turn.
Sometimes, the obvious way towards maximum output might not seem so obvious- should you work a farm grid which gives you a lot of food and therefore growth, or should you work the forest grid with average production?
Here are some rules of thumb:
- Never assign people to work rocky tiles with mines. These typically give 4 minerals and nothing else. If you have Industrial Automaton, you have Supply Crawlers, and you should use crawlers to work mine squares instead. If not, then get Industrial Automation! Crawlers are ideal for extracting squares that are particularly good for a particular resource but no good at others.
- If in doubt, plant forests. Forests will always give you a good overall production, and should you need more food for growth, you can always find a moist square to build farms.
- Planting forests in advance is especially good in preparation for Tree Farms and Hybrid Forests. Forest squares also have a subtle effect of negating ecological damage and grant defensive bonuses.
- If you've run out of productive squares, start turning citizens into specialists. Specialists include the doctor/librarian/technician at first, and the options increase with the discovery of more technologies. In general, a square is not productive if there isn't a mix of high mineral and energy output from that particular square. Food is largely irrelevant by the mid-game/late-game as you start getting Tree Farms.
- After the early game, try having at least one borehole near each base, and more if your planet rating allows it (or you are able to build Centauri Preserves or Temples of Planet). Boreholes give absolutely immense benefits if you have the techs that lift mineral/energy restrictions. They should be kept in base squares and worked by citizens (rather than Supply Crawlers) since they are productive for both mineral and energy.
- Use the Drill Aquifer command with your Formers to make rivers. This is a little-known but incredibly useful terraforming option: it acts as both a road and gives a +1 energy bonus. Do this on farm, or more usually, forest squares. Overcome the limitation of no adjacent rivers by getting formers to simultaneously drill on adjacent squares.
Now that you are getting as much production from your base squares and crawlers as you can manage, you should try to channel this production effectively.
Some basics you should know:
- When hurrying production, make sure the first ten minerals in the construction box are filled. Otherwise you are charged at double the cost for rushing construction from scratch.
- The hurrying costs for the 3 types of constructions are:
- 2 per mineral for base facilities, after the first ten
- (2 + 0.05 times number of minerals remaining) per mineral for units, after the first ten
- 4 per mineral for Secret projects, after the first ten
- If you are hurrying construction with credits, make sure that you pay only just enough so that none of your mineral production is wasted.
For micromanagers: whenever a base finishes a construction, some of the minerals produced that turn is carried over to the next item in the queue. However, the maximum amount that can be carried over is 10 minerals (assuming industry rating is 0), which means that had your base been producing 30 minerals a turn and you paid the full cost of hurrying a construction, you would have wasted 20 minerals that didn't get carried over. This is why you should do some arithmetic in your head before hurrying construction so you pay just the right amount such that none of your minerals are wasted.
Pop Boom is a part of the game mechanics that causes a 1 population per a turn increase for as long as the city has at least 1 extra nutrient available when the growth social engineering stat reaches 6 in that city. This can have an outstanding effect on the growth of an empire but must be balanced with proper drone control. Only a faction inherent social penalties/ bonuses, social engineering choices, the children's creche facility, and golden ages can effect your growth stat; though, the cloning vat secret project does in effect trigger a pop boom in ALL of your bases without any other growth modifiers being in effect. All factions are capable of triggering a pop boom.
- +2 growth Democratic social engineering choice
- +2 growth Children's Creche
- +2 growth Planned social engineering choice
- +2 growth Golden Age
- -1 growth The Cybernetic Consciousness (inherent)
- -1 growth the Nautilus Pirates (inherent)
- +1 growth the Usurpers (inherent)
- +1 growth the Human Hive (inherent)
Achieving Population Boom
- Those that can pop boom without golden ages by running democratic and planned social choices on cities with children's creches
The University of Planet, the Spartan Federation, Gaia's Stepdaughters, the Lord's Believers, the Peacekeeping Forces, The Free Drones, the Data Angels, the cult of the planet, and the Manifold Caretakers fall into this category.
By far, these factions have it the easiest when needing to produce a pop boom as they are not forced to crank up the econ values to cause golden ages. These groups can sometimes end up with improperly planned pop booms due to the fact that they are so easy to trigger. It should be noted that these groups could also trigger a pop boom by not having either a creche, a planned economy, or a democratic system by substituting a golden age for the missing growth points.
- Those that can only pop boom by using golden ages
The Human Hive (can't use democracy), the Morgan Industries (can't use planned), the Usurpers (can't use democracy), the Cybernetic Consciousness(inherent -1 growth), and the Nautilus Pirates(inherent -1 growth) fall into this category.
Less flexible than the previous groups, these factions must use all of the growth adding social models (planned and democracy) that they can barring faction restrictions noted above, creches, and golden ages.
Pop booming using Golden Ages cannot be done in classic SMAC; it can only be done in SMAX.