Sunday, October 26, 2014

Civ BE: Quick tips from playing so far

My wife called me a robot this weekend.  Does not compute.

Alright, so here's the low-down.  Let me first say that I'm no Civ expert.  I have never played the Civ series before Civ 5 and I only played that for a couple of hours in preperation for BE.  Truth be told, I'm not really a fan of hex-strategy games where the first 150 turns has almost zero combat.  I come from RTS, and I'm a very aggressive, micro-intensive player so this is as about as different as it gets.

Here's how much I played this weekend:
  • It started on Thursday with the 9pm PST release, I already had it pre-loaded and I ended up playing till 5 in the morning.
  • Woke up last as hell on Friday, called out of work because I was dead tired, but still ended up playing until 1am.
  • Decided to run some errands on Saturday, watched my brother play with Harmony for a bit before jumping on myself and played until 5 in the morning.
  • Woke up early, jumped on and played until right now.  All in all, I played way too much Civ and my wife thinks I might some problems.  I don't deny it.

I spent most of Thursday experimenting with some of the game mechanics, and I spent most of Friday min-maxing what I have learned.  From my playfest, I would like to share with you some of the stuff that I learned, having played and completed all 5 victory conditions on the default difficulty.  My brother's Harmony game was on the next highest difficulty, but I didn't really see that much of a difference.

Here's what I learned about Beyond Earth so far:
  • I've only played with ARC, Pan-Asian Cooperative, Polystralia and Fraco-Iberia so far.  Out of those, I feel that Polystralia and ARC are the strongest.  Fraco can be good, but the technology bonus needs to be timed really well to get the big pay off.  Pan-Asian's worker speed is nice, but not as good as ARC and Polystralia's bonuses.
  • Why?  Because ARC allows you to spy faster and get more intrigue, which allows you to do nastier stuff.  I don't really care about this in particular, what I really care about is the faster operations.  Faster operations means you can steal science faster, which means you get faster research.  This is huge, and very consistent since steal technology gives you random crap.
  • Polystralia sings well to one of the game's assets right now and that's trade.  Trade is absolutely huge in this game and you gotta set that stuff up quick.  Once you get your trade routes established, the money starts to flow and everything is smooth sailing from there.  Energy and research gives you everything you need to jumpstart your game and stay ahead of the other races.
  • If you have a coastal city, sometimes its best to start with the small trading convoys and then upgrade to trading vessels later on.  Water cargo gives you a lot bigger payoffs and allows you to reach out to other continents.  If you're doing well on exploring and you're getting a good amount of energy, feel free to go for vessels immediately on coastal cities.
  • How I like to start off a faction is to pick the faction, go for Artists because of the +2 culture and +1 health in every city, Fusion Reactor for the faster 2nd Explorer, Laboratory so you can immediately start trading and save yourself some research time, and land on a Terran world because you get land, water, and multiple trading areas and playstyles.
  • Once I get in game, I look at the Prosperity tree in Virtue for a large amount of my time.  The +10% growth is great in early game and helps me get more citizens while I go straight for the free Worker and Colonist.  Basically, anything that's free or near-free is extremely good at getting going early game.  It's very much a snowball because if you get a good location with healthy trade routes, expansion opportunities and your shit doesn't get fucked up by the local aliens, then you're good to go.
  • Double Explorer is vital because it allows you to go around the world, scout things out and get research pods.  Pods gives you all kinds of different bonuses, but the culture ones are exceptional because of the free virtues they give you.  If you get a free affinity level, put it into Purity because it makes it so aliens don't attack your explorers.  This is super useful in early game when you're cracking all the expeditions open.  Combine this with Pathfinders from the Prosperity tree and you're rolling in free expeditions.
  • Another reason I go Prosperity is because of the health bonuses.  Sure, grabbing the buildings that give you health is great, but having a virtue that gives you Mind Over Matter for +7 the heath is fucking ridiculous.  When you expand and your cities grow, your health starts to go down and everything slows down if you fall into the red.  The same thing happens with you annex other cities after you kick their ass or turn them into puppet states.  Good health in this game makes you stay on top of the other factions.  Every single game, all of my cities are floating around 20+ and staying in a Utopian society for max +bonuses.  It's just essential if you want to have a good economy and kick ass with your military.
  • Speaking of which, don't build your military up too quickly, and hold off on the Might virtues until you're ready to roll out.  The +50% experience is great, but often times that's enough from that tree.  Once you get into later game and you have a lot of science, the Foresight from the Knowledge tree is also fantastic.  After you're ready to build your late game wincons like Emancipation Gate, go into the Industry tree for faster buildings and wonders.
  • I can't stress the importance of having healthy cities and a good economy before military units.  If the local aliens are giving you a hard time, look into getting the fence from Ecology that keeps them away from your capital buildings.  If they start attacking your convoys, getting the fence will give you the quest option to make your convoys immune to alien attacks.  Always get this if your convoys are getting attacked or else you're just bleeding money and falling behind.
  • When looking around for good expansion spots on the map, you must know what kind of resources plays well with your affinity.  For Supremacy, you want Firaxite nodes, Xenomass if you're going Harmony and Floatstone if you're going Purity.  The only way you're going to find this out is by having a lot of scouting and uncovering as much of the continent that you're on ASAP.  At the end of the day, the map will determine which affinity you will be best for, which kind of sucks if you really enjoy the Supremacy playstyle or whatever.  If the map doesn't have any Firaxite, you're pretty much screwed unless you trade for all these luxury resources.  This can be a huge waste of money in the long run, so its best to let the map determine which affinity you roll with.  This is another reason I like having Pioneering pre-researched, since it allows my guys to go on water via the Planetary Survey research in the same tree.
  • The Spy Agency is pretty important in this game and so is intrigue.  I always try to get as much stolen research as possible to shorten the time I need to research sometime.  It's consistent and gives you a keeps you ahead on the research tree.
  • I'm the kind of player that likes to build 3-4 cities and then keep them as healthy as possible.  I don't think you really need more than that, because if you need more, just build an army, kill other players and get yourself some puppet states.  Don't bother annexing them because it's a serious hit on your overall health.  Hopefully by this stage in the game, the cities you destroy have some kind of trade established and you can just build the vessels/convoys at your cities and send it over to them if you don't have any.  Otherwise, just raze them into the ground.  I believe this particular playstyle of having fewer but more powerful cities is called "tall" for all those civ fans out there.
  • Research small upgrades that gives you boosts to your economy early on.  While rushing to that Spy Agency via Computing might seem like the best thing ever, if I can grab 2-3 research options that will improve my economy first in the early game, I will most likely do that.  It's also smart to go for the luxury materials foundries because you can always work those tiles early.
  • Don't get caught up in building Wonders in early game, but let your cities build what's really important: anything that contributes to your economy.  When I say economy, I mean trade routes, science, health, production, food, energy, because anything that boost the performance of your cities will keep you ahead for the rest of the game.  Wonders will come when you're at 3+ cities and you can dedicate your city with the highest production to building them, which is probably going to be your capital (since it should be the most developed by then).
  • Laying siege to towns is really quick in this game compared to the other Civ games from what I'm told.  My brother has played nearly every civ pretty competitively so he's been one hell of a coach.  What you want to do is get yourself no more than 3 artillery pieces because believe me, that's pretty much all you need to bring a city to its knees.  Your cruisers are also really effective at laying waste of coastal cities, so I always bring some naval units when I'm waging war on the seas.  While you can build a Gunboat to patrol, I wouldn't go near any of the aliens in the water until you get yourself some cruisers to take them down.
  • Speaking of combat, all the races play pretty differently when it comes to warfare.  Purity is a pretty defensive faction with a lot of buffs that target their defensive traits, and most of their stuff can float above the ground thanks to Floatstone technology.  Supremacy is very much about the attack, having good range, damage bonuses to standing next to adjacent units, and can shoot twice on their shootier stuff in later game.  Then comes Harmony, which is about speed, healing and using miasma to improve their units in combat.  You typically want to start your assault with the field covered with miasma because it deals damage to your enemies and give you bonuses.  It's basically scorched earth tactics at that point.

Emancipate them with Angels!

Here's a quick blurp on how to win in this game.  You can find more info here.

Victory Conditions

There is  "flavor text" about each of the victory conditions in their corresponding quest entries, but I will not sport with your intelligence by reposting them here. Below are the gameplay-relevant summaries of each:
  • Domination: conquer the capital cities of all other factions.
  • Contact (Science): discover clues left by the intelligent Precursor aliens who once inhabited this planet, decode "The Signal" and contact them. To start, complete two of these three tasks:
    • Find a fragment of The Signal via an Explorer Expedition on Progenitor Ruins. The chance is slim, but possible.
    • Launch a Deep Space Telescope orbital unit to search for a fragment of The Signal.
    • Research the Transcendental Math technology and solve the Transcendental Equation to derive a Signal fragment.
    • Build the Decode Signal project.
    • Build the (Contact Beacon) Planetary Wonder to attract the attention the aliens.
    • Achieve oneness with Carl Sagan.
  • The Promised Land (Purity): tame the planet in the name of Humanity and make it a home for our Earthbound brethren.
    • Research Orbital Networks and build a Lasercom Satellite to reestablish communication with Earth.
    • Achieve Purity level 13 and build the Exodus Gate planetary wonder.
    • Receive 20 colonists from Earth through the gate and settle them.
    • Profit.
  • Transcendence (Harmony): awaken the planet's sentient superorganism and mind-meld with it.
    • Research Nanorobotics, Transgenics, and Swarm Intelligence to develop the Cognitive Link.
    • Achieve Harmony level 13 and build the Mind Flower planetary wonder.
    • Defend the Mind Flower from the unclean and support it with resources and Mind Stem buildings.
    • Achieve eco-nirvana and become one with the planet's consciousness.
  • Emancipation (Supremacy): annihilate humanity on Earth. Er, I mean, "free" them from their biological bodies.
    • Research Orbital Networks and build a Lasercom Satellite to reestablish communication with Earth.
    • Achieve Supremacy level 13 and build the Emancipation Gate planetary wonder.
    • Send military units through the gate to effect the mass genocide of humanity on Earth. Er, I mean, "liberate" them from their trifling, unenlightened existence.
    • Go directly to Hell. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Just some quick words from me on the above:
  • Emancipation's victory condition is sending 1000 strength worth of units through the gate and you can only send one per turn.  That means you want to send in your biggest dudes like the Angel so you can essentially complete the victory in 10 or so turns.  Don't worry, you get your Firaxite back once the Angel goes through, so you can keep buying more of them to send in.  Ideally, you want to be producing one and buying one so you never slow down a turn.
  • For the Promised Land victory, you might end up wanting to kill yourself because its a huge pain in the ass .  The colonists that come from earth are slow as fuck and have limited movement, and you need to settle 20 of them on the clusterfuck world you're already in.  To make matters worse, the settlers abide by all the standard 3-tiles away bullshit so you need to spread them the fuck out too.  This one took me forever, so fuck earth and these dumbass colonists.  You can tell I'm salty.
  • The Transcendence victory is by far the easiest one to complete IMO.  Just build Mind Stems and wait for the stupid thing to blossom.  Poof, instant hippie victory.
  • For the Contact victory, prepare for some massive RNG because you need to explore a lot and uncover ruins that decodes the signal.  I just lucked out hard with my victory.  Proof below!  Oh, and once you turn on the beacon (30 turn wait), it will use 1000 of your energy immediately and all energy income will stop.  I guess that's what you get when you turn on a giant flashlight and point it into space.
  • Lastly, the Domination victory is when you just go around kicking everyone's ass.  I did it with the Purity affinity and waged war across multiple continents like a badass.  Feelsgoodman.jpg.

Prepare to roll that D6, or D20, or 3xD20, who knows.

Alright, that's all I have for now.  My favorite affinity to play is probably Supremacy with Harmony in second.  I just really like the look of the Supremacy units and I like their aggressive playstyle nad no bullshit logic.  Purity reminds me too much of Terran back in Starcraft and I've been there, done that too many times.


OreoGolem said...

I felt that Purity was plenty aggressive. I was actually just not a fan of the seemingly low mobility of Supremacy. In events where terrain was getting finicky (which feels like all the time since comps don't seem to like cutting down trees) I could only attack with one unit or just not have bonuses. The Sabr is both super nice and rather frustrating, if you get it to a fight good, but if that fight moves you'll get to the next place too late.

What I've found to be a pretty dominant military strategy is timing pushes. Get several of a unit about to level up by affinity, then up your affinity and attack. The strongest timing push I've found is to get your battlesuit/CNDR/Xeno Swarm tech then just build 3 of those and attack. Since you have 34/36/40 Strength and Armor has like 24 Strength they'll have a hard time fighting you without the same. And if haven't already built City Defense buildings they won't be much of a problem.

Interior trade is disgustingly powerful. I feel that with interior trade being so bonkers about 2 cities per 60 turns (normal speed; and probably get your third one earlier) is the best way to go.

OreoGolem said...

Oh also I feel I should mention, I don't know if this was intended by designers but the off-affinity upgrades for affitinty-specific units seem to be the best. (No set-up SABR, +1 move LEV tank, +on attack Battle Suit)

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