"More Advanced Play for HP Races" by Jason Cawley 1997 v2.6/7

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More Advanced Game Play

by: Jason Cawley

The previous post dealt with play-style things, and gave a sample hyper-grower JOAT race, the Feds, to show what race design is about. The idea was that noticing the problems playing the Humanoids gives one a good idea what one wants to try for in a better design.

But that is probably pretty old hat for the better players, so something for them too :-) A next step in race design, after one understands "the Feds" is to try out the alternative econ strategy idea - hyperproducing races. So, a bit about the ideas behind HPs, and an example race.

As Brian Price pointed out when he introduced the idea, the thesis of HPs is that "resources = win". Growers like the Feds (HG or hyper-growth races) are geared for speed of ramp-up (and are also rather forgiving to play). But by sacrificing some ramp-up speed, it is possible to get more in the way of long-run economic capacity. Paying something earlier to get more later is after all what *investment* is all about - so such a trade might make sense. Provided one isn't too weak when the HGs get off their attacks, this can work very well and allow one to dominate the later portions of a game.

The basic trade that makes this work (when it does ;-) is poor pop efficiency for better factories. Knocking the pop efficiency all the way down to 1/2500, the lowest possible, gives you 599 advantage points, which can let you afford the best possible factories, a fair number of them operated per 10000 pop, and cheap ones too.

The drawback is of course that the new colonies, since they start out with only the poor pop, take a bit longer to get going. So many HP races will wind up being slower starters, and can get into trouble around the midgame.

But there are ways of reducing this vunerability, and they can work. Really cheap factories (cost 7 e.g.) can help make up the ground. Also, wider hab than many HG races take can help somewhat by allowing you to discriminate against G-poor worlds (since factory compounding is almost all of an HPs economic growth, they are more sensitive to G concentrations than HG races). But also, it helps to have the same sort of high pop growth and other things in play or design to get the "sheer numbers of people", because the people are still important for how many factories one can operate, and of course they are still the only source of income on a new world (more of them, on one planet or on several). Also, the whole point would be lost if the HPs worlds, when fully developed, aren't appreciably bigger (in resource output per year) than most races (including improved HGs) - bigger capacity is the point. But bigger capacity can also help even with the ramp-up speed issue, because it can make your planet sizes comparable to HG races at an earlier point in your planets life-cycle, compared to theirs (e.g. you at 1/3rd of cap compared to them at 1/2 of cap).

K. A bit abstract maybe. How about an example?

Sample Hyper-Producing (HP) race design

The Union
0.24g/4.16g, -100C/140C, 24mR/84mR
wide 1/3 overall, well centered (BTW, gives about 90% eventually habitable with full standard terraforming).
19% pop growth rate
1/2500 pop efficiency
15/7/20/3G factories (big, and fast compounding)
10/3/15 mines (enough, with the +32% planet size, and ability to eventually use almost all worlds with full terraforming).
Weapons tech cheap, rest expensive and start at 4.

36 points left over, spent on *mineral concentrations*.

This gives a max planet size of 4488 resources - about 50% more than good HG designs usually take, and over twice the defaults. The hab is quite wide; coupled with the big planets that means that, given enough time, the economic capacity per bit of space controlled is enourmous. The planets aren't terribly high value at first, but the initial greens will get to 75-100% hab after full standard terraforming - enough to provide the "breeder worlds" to eventually use the yellows. And the economic growth from the rapidly compounding factories can be quite good even on a planet with modest pop growth because of modest hab - with G available, 1.5 eff and cost 7 can give 21.4% compounding; even with mine costs included returns around 14-15% are possible - double the Humanoids.

Starts well too - because it has the 40 LY penscan and starting fuel-mizer privateers, same as "the Feds". Also, those 36 points spent on mineral concentrations (which you might think would be better spent e.g. on more mines operated) really can make a difference. 36 points spent on that gives the following -

lowest concentration you'd have - +27 each of the others - + 9

That means you will almost always start out with a G concentration of 57 or better. That is important, because you are relying on the HW and the cheap factories to get you going. A low G con can really hurt a race like this, if you have the misfortune to "draw" one. Sure, others get the same, but HGs for example are less sensitive to G cons (because they get more from pop). Also, sometimes the iron con will be the one raised - when starting out with privateers, that can help too (those are better than the alternatives, especially in G cost, but after all you have to have the iron to be able to use them).

Ok, but you are saying "sounds good, but in practice will I be able to ramp up fast enough to survive the HGs early attacks? After all, 1/2500 pop efficiency has to slow things down, no?"

Well, here are the results of a test of the Union.

The test game was alone in small packed, Acc BBS start (most HPs do worse in Acc BBS, relatively speaking, because that start gives more pop, which is better for other races - so the Acc BBS is the tougher test for an HP). Race was played for 30 years, then just move the research fields around. Minimal effort in terms of MM, pop balancing, etc. Only 2-3 G runs were made, for example, with no loops left running. Only 1/2 the green worlds were used (there were about *80* of them), with little effort to pick out the higher hab and higher G con ones. No yellows were used - though by the time all the terraforming had been researched, there were only 17 reds in the whole galaxy. BTW, the Gcon on the HW for this test was 57 - would have been 30 but for those extra points spent on the mineral concentrations. So not a "lucky draw" or anything...

By year 33, the Union had 10k resources. Year 40 22k 50 51k Armeggedon BB tech in year 58. 60 88k with tech 15-24-12-13-11-7 70 118k with tech 18-26-16-16-19-7 Peaked out around 150k (50+ years after last colony sent). Of course, in a real game with twice as many greens available in that space and the same number of yellows as greens on top of that, this sort of leveling off would not be necessary. So not only double the usual year 50 resources benchmark, but got that using only half the greens, and at only around 1/3rd of capacity on the worlds actually used. And got the Arm BBs before year 60. So, HP designs that keep the high pop growth are quite able to run with the HGs to midgame (of course, some HGs will do even better than this - but 51k in 2450 and Arms by year 58, with 1/2500 pop efficiency is - well, respectable). And the ultimate economic capacity from ~4500 max planet size and live on ~90% of all planets eventually is rather good. The ability to use most planets also helps out in mineral terms for later on. I hope this is of interest not just to those mastering the Feds for the first time (though those might try "the Union" after a few games with the Feds if you like), but also to the old hands :-)


Jason Cawley