Playing Alpha Centauri 2

Social Engineering

This is a big step towards the policy options we got in Civ 5 and Civ 6, and the government choices in Civ 4. You reach this from the HQ screen, and it lets you make some choices about the kind of society you want to have, and see how that will affect your faction. First of all, your choices affect your Diplomacy, since each of the other factions will tend to like you more or less depending on how your choices match up with theirs. For instance, Morgan Industries is the Capitalist, Free Market faction par excellence, and if you choose Free Market for your economy Morgan will like you more. Lady Dierdre and the Gaians are the Ecology faction, so they will like you more if you pick options like a Green economy. This only establishes a bias towards like or dislike, but if it goes far enough you can either find yourself allied, or in a vendetta vis-a-vis another faction.

There are 4 main categories for Social Engineering: Politics, Economics, Values, and Future Society. And each of these categories has 4 choices. The choices you make will affect your faction in various ways, and this can be different for each faction. As we discussed on the previous page, the different factions are really different in meaningful ways. This is expressed as either bonuses or penalties to the following Society Effects:

  • Economy: This is a measure of your Energy flow, and energy is money in this game.
  • Efficiency: This is measure of waste and mismanagement.
  • Support: The support costs of military units in terms of minerals.
  • Morale: The training and determination of your military units. This is also the only thing that protects your troops from Mindworms. High morale units are much more likely to prevail in combat with Mindworms.
  • Police: Your society’s tolerance for police control. This affects unrest when military units are away from base, and whether you can use military units in the base to suppress unrest.
  • Growth: your population growth rate.
  • Planet: A measure of how in-tune you are with planet’s ecology. A low score can mean more fungus blooms, and a high score can mean you will more easily capture Mindworms.
  • Probe: Spying. This measure how effective your spies are, and how resistant you are to other spies.
  • Industry: Manufacturing strength, measured as how many minerals you need to build things.
  • Research: The rate at which you make discoveries.

Politics

  • Frontier: This is the base case everyone starts out in. It has no particular advantages or disadvantages, and thus does not fit any particular strategy.
  • Police State: +2 Support, +2 Police, -2 Efficiency (except The Hive). In the early game this can be useful since it lets you support 2 added units per base, and the added Police effect helps to keep newly conquered bases from rioting. The Hive loves this, and they don’t pay the Efficiency penalty other factions have to pay.
  • Democratic: +2 Efficiency, +2 Growth, -2 Support. This is the choice for someone who is not interested in going to war right away (note that you can support fewer units), but wants to grow and expand. The Peacekeepers are fond of this choice, and The Hive hates it.
  • Fundamentalist: +2 Probe, +1 Morale, -2 Research. This is fairly similar to the Fundamentalist government type in Civ 2. It can be great for fighting wars, but hardly worth bothering to do research because of that penalty. You instead go for stealing techs using your Probes (spies), which are boosted. The Lord’s Believers are a natural fit here, and the University hates it.

Economics

  • Simple: Again, the default base case with no particular advantages or disadvantages.
  • Free Market: +2 Economy, -3 Planet, -5 Police. This is the one if your strategy is oriented to bringing in a lot of wealth. The Police penalty means you can forget about using military to control your cities, but if you have a lot of money you can always afford lots of facilities to keep the population sated, like the Holographic Theaters, which cost 3 energy per turn in maintenance, a pretty stiff charge. Use your money to buy friends, or spend your money on Probe teams to steal techs or subvert enemy bases. Note that the Spartans have neat advantage here in that their Police State capabilities offset the Police penalty to some degree. Morgan Industries is the natural fit here, and the Gaians hate it.
  • Planned: +2 Growth, +1 Industry, -2 Efficiency (except The Hive). The Hive does not pay the Efficiency penalty, so this is a natural fit for them, whereas Morgan Industries hates it. But there are some interesting combination plays, such as a Democracy with a Planned Economy, because the Efficiency bonus from Democracy cancels out the Efficiency penalty from Planned Economy, while the Growth bonuses add up together to give you a nice boom.
  • Green: +2 Efficiency, +2 Planet, -2 Growth. If you want an advantage in dealing with Mindworms, the Planet bonus is very helpful. And the faction that does this best is of course the Gaians. Combine the Green economy with Democracy and your Growth stat cancels out, and your Efficiency goes up. So of course Gaians love this economy, but Morgan Industries doesn’t

Values

  • Survival: Again, this is the base case with no particular advantages or disadvantages.
  • Power: +2 Support, +2 Morale, -2 Industry. This is the militarist option, since you can have more units without paying a mineral support cost, and those units have higher morale. Morale is a measure of how experienced your units are. They start at Very Green, then Green, Disciplined, Hardened, Veteran, Commando, and finally Elite. A unit may receive an upgrade if it wins a battle, but with this Values choice your new units will start at Disciplined instead of Very Green. As you might expect, the Spartans love this choice, as do the Nautilus Pirates in Alien Crossfire.
  • Knowledge: +2 Research, +1 Efficiency, -2 Probe. This is what you might pick to concentrate on Science. It can boost your Research significantly, but watch out that other players don’t steal your techs with their Probe teams. You might want defensive probe teams on guard, at least until you have researched the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm, which won’t help your offensive probe teams, but will make you immune to other players’ probe teams. The University of Planet loves this choice and The Lord’s Believers hates it.
  • Wealth: +1 Economy, +1 Industry, -2 Morale. Great for amassing money, but bad for your military strength with the -2 Morale hit. This can work if you don’t have a lot of aggressive neighbors, but imagine what happens if you were Morgan Industries and combined Wealth with Free Market. You can’t use Police at all, and your military is weak. This means other players can wear you down easily. For example, the Lord’s Believers can churn out a ton of units with high morale, and can swamp Morgan fairly easily in many cases.

Future Society

Future Society is the stuff you start considering towards the end of the game when you are moving towards a victory. It isn’t available until you have researched all of the needed technologies.

  • None: Again, a base case with no particular advantages or disadvantages.
  • Cybernetic: +2 Efficiency, +2 Planet, +2 Research, -3 Police. This is a pretty good choice in a lot of cases. The Police penalty should not be a big deal by the end because you should have solved all of your happiness problems by then anyway. This is the preferred choice of Cybernetic Consciousness from the Alien Crossfire expansion, which seems kind of obvious from the name.
  • Eudaimonic: +2 Economy, +2 Growth, +2 Industry, -2 Morale. You want Infrastructure? Look at those bonuses! This is great for a population boom near the end, since population is part of your score and you want to max it out.
  • Thought Control: +2 Morale, +2 Probe, +2 Police, -3 Support. This is Military all the way. Your units are better, your spying is improved, policing is better. And by now you probably have enough other stuff to offset the Support penalty.

Other Factors Affecting Social Engineering Choices

  • As you research you uncover options you didn’t have before for your Social Engineering choices. Everyone starts with the default choices, and as others open up you can start to select them. So you should keep track of your options. Check this screen regularly to see if you could be doing something better.
  • Keeping track of all the bonuses and penalties might seem like a pain, but the game actually helps you here. At the right side of the screen is a summary by category of the net effect of your choices. So you can see if your Economy and Politics choices are adding together or cancelling each other out and how you will be affected.
  • There is a cost to making a change, but if you keep a good Energy Bank (i.e. Treasury) you should not find it very expensive.
  • Note that these modifiers can be offset or enhanced by the other things you build. For example, a -2 Industry modifier can be offset by building Cloning Vats, which eliminates that penalty.
  • Nothing is written in stone. You should make changes depending on your circumstances. If you have good relations with your neighbors, choosing options that help your economy or growth might make the most sense, but if relations get bad you might want to switch to a more militaristic options temporarily until you have sufficiently crushed your enemies. But as in all 4X games (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate), the key to deterring aggression is to maintain sufficient forces, at least enough to hold off an attack long enough for your own production to catch up. Everything is based on maintaining a balance among the goals of Military, Research, Infrastructure, and Happiness.

Revenue Allocation

The last aspect of Social Engineering to discuss is how you allocate your revenue (energy). You have three places to invest this for your faction. You can Put it into Economy, Psych, and Labs. Economy means that you are keeping it for uses like paying maintenance on buildings, for use in Diplomacy with other players (they are always looking for loans, and you can turn a profit with this if you are careful). Psych means basically keeping our people happy. Unhappy people become Drones, and they show up as Red faces on the Base screen. If you don’t take care of it, you can wind up with Drone riots, which shuts down all production at the Base. So managing your Psych is important, and one way you can do it is by diverting some of your revenue. Labs means research into more technologies. As in all 4X games you have to find an appropriate balance among all three, and that balance can change over time depending on your circumstances. You can change your allocations on the bottom of the Social Engineering screen.

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