Playing Alpha Centauri 4

Base Operations Status

This screen, accessed from the HQ Menu, allows you to see all of your bases in one place and get some useful information. In the center window all of your bases are listed, and you can look at what each is producing (on the Production tab), how happy your citizens are in each base (on the Citizens tab), and how many military units each base has (on the Garrison tab). But you can also see the status of the other factions 1) If you are in a pact with them; or 2) if you have built the secret project Empath Guild. That gives you an infiltrator with each of the other factions and lets you see what they are doing. Under the central screen is a window with the icons for each faction, and clicking on an icon shows you the information for that faction.

Under this window is one with icons for Labs, Energy Budget (remember, Energy is the money in this game), Base Operations (this was on by default when you first go here), Secret Project Reports, Satellite Survey, Security Nexus, and Alpha Centauri Score. When you click on one these the top screen changes to reflect your selection, but so too does the one to the left which provides added information. So you can select the faction and the type of report, and see more information when you do so. Let’s go through the reports and see what you can learn.

  • Labs – This is your research component. When you select Labs you will see in the Top screen the technology tree, with the techs you have already discovered shown in a brighter text than the ones you have not yet discovered. You will also see how frequently you can expect to make new discoveries based on your investment in Labs. You can add investment by building appropriate buildings, and by redirecting some of your Energy budget to Research. And of course if you have a pact you can see how your pact partner is doing, and if you have the Empath Guild you can cycle through the factions and see how your research matches up with the other factions. Ideally you would like to be researching faster than they are. Then on the screen on the left you can see a list of the techs you have discovered in the Technology tab, and how much research each base is doing on the Bases tab. The thing to keep in mind in looking at what you have researched is that it is not a strictly linear process. You can’t research a tech until you have researched a predecessor, but you don’t research all categories equally. Some of this is by your choice when you pick which areas to focus on. If you have aggressive neighbors, you may want to go further in researching the Conquer area, but it is a good idea to be reasonably balanced, since you need to improve productivity (the Build area) if you want to churn out units. You will probably refocus your research several times in a game as circumstances warrant.
  • Energy Budget – In the top window you have a summary of your overall budget in the left side of the screen which will give you your total income and total expenditures. Energy Reserves is your total “cash on hand”, Income is how much you bring in a each turn, Maintenance is how much you spend to maintain your buildings (remember, units are maintained with Minerals, not Energy), Loans is how much you are bringing in each turn from loans to the other factions, and finally your Net Income, which you would like to be a positive number. On the right of the top screen is the Maintenance budget for a base, so you can see how much you are spending for each building in that base. Some buildings have low maintenance, but others can be 3-4 energy per turn. It is a good idea to know this before you start building things so you don’t bankrupt yourself. You can pick the city to be displayed here in the lower left window. And in the lower right window you can see a summary of Maintenance by building type across your whole faction. So if you start running into “insufficient energy” problems, this is where you can go to start figuring out the answer.
  • Base Operations – We already discussed the basic views here for Production, Citizens, and Garrison. But there is more to look at. In the lower left the Best Bases tab let’s you see the top base in each of 8 categories. The two I use the most are Minerals and Garrison. Minerals are what you use for production, so knowing your top base for production can help if you want to get a Secret Project out ahead of the competition, or if you need to crank out some units. You can also re-home units to this base if the base that built them is running low on minerals. You wouldn’t want to have units that are going into battle suddenly be disbanded because you ran short of minerals back home. And the Garrison option is handy if you have put a bunch of units into a sentry position, and suddenly need to find them and wake them up. Then in the Governors tab you can set all of your Governors to Conquer more if you are at war, or set them all to build once the war is over. But even nicer is the Advanced Settings selection, which lets you fine-tune what your governors can or cannot do. For instance, you could allow them to pursue two aims simultaneously, such as Discover and Build. And you can give the governors other powers, or take some away. Governors in this game are pretty helpful in removing the micro-management, but you may want to specify more closely their powers.
  • Secret Project Reports – Secret Projects are an important part of this game, and you want to stay on top of how you are doing, and how your opponents are doing (if you have a pact or the Empath Guild). For example, the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm renders the faction that builds it basically immune to probe attacks, which is very powerful. You would want to be sure you get it, and not another faction. If you start falling behind on a key Secret Project, all is not lost! You can build supply crawlers in other bases, send them to the base, and they will add the cost of their construction to the investment in the Secret Project. Also, if you can find an Alien Artifact by investigating a Unity Supply Pod it can be cashed in at the base building the Project for an added 50 minerals for the project. In the top screen you can see which projects have already been built, and which ones are in progress, and where they are built. Selecting one will let you get a description in the the lower left window. Note that if you lose out to another faction on a Secret Project, you can always recover by conquering the base that built it and adding that to your faction.
  • Satellite Survey – Later in the game, when you have researched the right technologies, you can build and launch satellites that can provide Nutrients, Minerals, and Energy, which are then provided to your bases. You need Aerospace Complexes to build these and to get the full benefit, but the benefits from a satellite go to all of your bases, so that can be very powerful. If you find yourself starting to run low on energy, a bunch of Energy satellites can be very helpful. And there is a provision for combat in orbit. Orbital Defense Pods can be deployed and have a chance of killing another faction’s satellite. This is where you would control all of that.
  • Security Nexus – This gives you a summary of all of the units you have produced, and the current status. In the top screen you can see how many of each are currently active, how many are in production, and how many have been lost, either to combat or to mind worm attacks. In the lower left you can see a summary by unit type (Land, Naval, Air, Non-combat). And in the lower right window you can do things like automate a unit type. Most often this is done with Formers as a way to reduce the micromanagement aspects.
  • Alpha Centauri Score – You can see your score here, as well as the scores for the other factions (if you have a pact or the Empath Guild). During the game this can be somewhat helpful in letting you know how well you are doing against the other factions, and at the end will determine your ranking. For more on scoring and victory conditions consult the Alphacentauri Fandom site.

So this concludes our look at the HQ Menu and some of the major screens you can access. Mastering these screens will go a long way to giving you proficiency in the game, and can ultimately make you an expert player, so do take the time to study how they work. We’re just going to cover a few more topics for Alpha Centauri before we wrap this up.

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