Commissioner Pravin Lal
At a Glance:
- -1 Efficiency
- Extra Planetary Council votes
- Extra Talents
- Population limits eased (bigger bases)
You might not look so hot on the Social Engineering table compared to the others, but that doesn't mean you're a pushover. Not by any stretch. Your advantages make you a force to be reckoned with in any game. Consider a fairly normal expansion paradigm. Even if you only do an "average" expansion, you're virtually guaranteed the Governorship, giving you a healthy Commerce bonus (extra energy to help offset the -1 Efficiency), and Infiltration of all factions (as good as the Empath Guild, for free). Add to that the fact that your extra talents and larger bases (giving Lal the ability to execute a Pop-Boom with little control infrastructure in place), and what you end up with is a faction that is quite far from being average.
Lal, the Builder
Democratic completely negates your singular negative, and is two thirds of what you need for a population boom. Add Planned and Wealth to that mix, and snag either of the early game drone control projects (Human Genome Project or Virtual World), and you can boom to size 9 with ease. The ability to do this earlier than almost any faction will give you a huge advantage in population, at which time, you can switch to Free Market, and out-tech even drone-plagued Zak. And once you get crawlers and Hab Complexes, you can boom all the way to size 16 with near-impunity, giving you such an edge in population that you'll be hard-pressed to lose the game. Yes, your troops are only average, but your greater population enables you to have more of everything: more research (despite the efficiency hit), more minerals, and more troops, and with the right facilities, your bases can quickly become very tough nuts to crack.
Lal, the Hybrid
One of Lal's main strengths is his sheer "averageness." True, you lack the Industrial Might of Domai or Yang, the Morale and Prototype bonuses of Santiago, the cash of Morgan, and the Research boon of Zak, but you're also not saddled with their liabilities, and your one disadvantage is easily offset by the simplest of base facilities. All of this puts you in the position of great flexibility, enabling you to shift gears much more readily than any of the other problem-plagued factions. Your one "banned" Social Engineering choice, Police State, would be something you would never need to run thanks to your extra talents (which, by the way, is like the Human Genome Project on steroids, as its impact on your bases is relative to the size of your bases — not static, as is the case with the Genome — and you get it for free!). All in all, you couldn't ask for a better Hybrid faction than this! Beware, however: That sheer flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse, and in a Lal-Hybrid game, you need to become adept at reading the ebb and flow of the game, and make the right choices at the right times (knowing when to shift into a war footing and when to pursue relentless research is vital to you: if the other factions make a mistake, they can play to their inherent advantages — cash, morale, or what-have-you — but all of your advantages are contingent on you making the right decisions at the right time, and a misstep can set you back very badly, as you have nothing really to fall back on). Still, with practice at reading the game, Lal can be one of the very best, most well-rounded factions in the game.
Lal, the Conqueror
At first glance, with your efficiency problems and average troops, you might think Lal ill-suited to conducting a conquest war, but again, his sheer flexibility (and, assuming you got the Governorship, his auto-infiltration of all factions) serves him well in this capacity too. Even fairly large, newly captured bases seldom have drone problems, as your "Talent" bonus kicks in as soon as you occupy the base, often completely negating the drones created via conquest. That, combined with a lack of any pronounced weakness which can be exploited by your enemies, makes you a wily and tenacious faction on the battlefield. To that end, however, you will only be as wily and tenacious as your own personal skill in battle allows, again, because your faction has no native combat advantages, meaning that you will have to engineer any and all advantages yourself (through a steady program of militaristic builds, and smart use of your standing army). Learn to do that well, and you will find Lal to be a doggedly determined fighter.