When you're playing a race with a strong economical basis like the Federation (2x tax) or the Lizards (2x mining rate, HISSS) you don't have to worry about cash or minerals. But what about when you're playing for example the Birdmen and you have to buy the fighters for your starbases and you have a urge to refine more and more fuel for your fuel consuming Dark Wings? You really have to optimise the economy on all your planets. Even the desert and arctic ones....(1)
Winning through economy..
One of the secrets of winning a war is to have a better economy and more resources than your enemy. The same applies to a game of VGA Planets. When you've got more minerals and megacredits you're able to build more and better ships and starbases. With those better ships and starbases you're in a better position than your enemy and you can start thinking of winning the game.
A player gets his minerals by placing mines on planets. Those mines will extract the minerals from the core of that planet. He will get his megacredits from taxing the native population and sometimes the colonists on the planet. Another income is the selling of supplies. Supplies are produced by factories on the planet or by Bovinoids, a special type of native population. All this is your economy: mines, factories, supplies, megacredits, tax, minerals and the (native) population. These seven factors are all founded on one single thing: your planets. Your whole economy is based on your planets!
So one of the principal means to defeat your enemies is to have a better economy, or: more and better planets! Now I'm telling you this it must be quite obvious to you, but I'll tell you not everyone realises this. Planets are very often left unattended by many players. A question: How often do you peek at all your planets?
I have to be honest here: I won't take a look at all my planets every turn. I don't go to the 'planet' window to build factories and to adjust the taxlevel. I tend to have 80 to 100 planets whatever race I'm playing: it would take me 30 to 40 minutes for every turn! And why should I? A player could use third party utils like RandMax, Informer etc. to take care of that. Winplan even has an 'Autobuild' function for which you set the maximum number of mines, factories and defence units for a particular planet once and for all. Or is there a need?
Generally speaking: No. There is no (economical) reason why you should examine all your planets every turn.(2) Now you're thinking: So what's all the fuzz about?
The missing advantage
If you don't know the answer I'll tell you: you've missed something. You need BETTER planets. Let me explain: on 69% (3) of all your planets your colonist population will grow. Using third party utils you can adjust the tax and the maximise the number of planetary structures in one single step every turn. Using the Autobuild function of Winplan a player only needs to adjust the tax on planets which have a fast-growing native population. Those utils when properly used will build you the strong economy you need. But your enemy will use those tools too! Uh uh! This doesn't give you much of an advantage, right? Your economy is still the same as your opponent.
Of course there is a factor of chance in finding better planets than your opponent. Having more planets increase the chance of having better planets. Planets with a better temperature, more minerals and more native clans of a higher government type. It solely depends on luck, and I don't like that: I want to know for sure! But wait: there is that 31% of planets with a desert or arctic climate.... If one just could use those better than your enemy... If one could just optimise their planetary economy: I'll tell you it will improve your economy by at least 38% (4) Let's do it!
I'll illustrate the use of desert/arctic planets by means of an example, taken from one of my games. I am playing the Birdmen once again. I need a lot of cash for my fighters and tech levels, and I do need a lot of fuel for my cloaking ships. The planet I am talking about - let's call it Orion - has an arctic climate: it has been blessed with a temperature of 2. There are 7,775,100 Bovinoid natives living on the planet in a total Anarchy. And it has 11811 kT of Neutronium! Unlucky for me the concentration is rather scarce so I need a lot of mines to extract it from the core in decent quantities.
The Tim Continuum as implemented in Host.exe (5) tells you by a message that a temp 2 planet could only support 7 clans. :-( This means 7 mines, 7 factories, 7 defence units, 7 supply units every turn, about 1 kT fuel every turn and some MC.... Not pretty much for otherwise such a nice planet! And guess what? I don't have climate ships!
Orion (temp 2)
defence units: 7
Step 1: Host Settings
At this point you will have to do some investigation: You will have to dive into the host settings to get some information. You will have to know: (6)
Eat supplies YES/NO
Climate Death Rate X %
Climate limits Pop YES/NO (7)
In my case I was lucky: the Climate Death Rate % (or CDR%) was 10% and the overpopulation could eat supplies to survive.
Step 2: Using the Climate Death Rate %
Important to know: Host.exe tells you the number of clans a planet can support for a CDR% of 100% !!! When the CDR% is lower the planet is able to support more clans! Using the formula listed below (8) I calculated the maximum number of colonist clans: 69 clans! Ten times as much as stated by Tim.....
Orion (temp 2)
defence units: 54
With this bit of knowledge I was able to improve the planetary economy by a factor 10! Ten times more minerals, ten times more cash!
When the host setting 'Overpopulation eat supplies' is NO the growth of your economy stops right here.
Step 3: Using supplies
In my case the overpopulation could eat supplies to survive. The planet even had a Bovinoid population! It's important to know that when you could use supplies this way that there is no maximum number of clans you could put on a planet: the colonist population is only limited by the number of supplies you can put on that planet. Using another formula (9) I calculated the number of supplies I needed to support a mere 160 extra clans. Or the other way around: using the number of supplies currently lying on the planet how many extra clans could the planet support? The answer was (at least) 621 supplies for 160 extra clans. The 69 factories on the planet (and the Bovinoids!) could reach this number in only a few turns!
Orion (temp 2)
defence units: 63
I don't have to calculate the improvement for you, do I? You'll notice the difference between the 7 clans on Tim's planet and the 229 clans on mine...... Then I decided to use the number of Bovinoids on the planet to the MAX. A population of 7.78 million natives meant I had to put 778 clans on the planet to get the full 778 supplies every turn. No sweat!
Orion currently looks like this:
Orion (temp 2)
defence units: 79
Every turn I get 31 MC, 906 supplies (10) and 45 kT fuel. Not bad for a temp 2 planet, eh? And just what I needed :-)
Famous last words
I hope you understand the power of this knowledge, and how to use the formula's. I know there are other ways to solve the climate problem of arctic/desert planets, climate changing vessels being the major one. But if you don't have them, you'll have to use a different approach. Like the one described above.
There are many reasons why you could use these formula's:
The planet has 10,000 kT of the mineral you need desperately: the next planet with this mineral is 400 LY away near enemy territory. You want the MAX number of mines!
You want to build a starbase and you need *lots* of cash for the tech levels, defence units and fighters. You want to Maximise your tax and factories!
The planet is a key point to the defence of your empire against your hostile neighbour. You sure don't want your enemy to conquer the planet by dropping 10 clans... Maximise the number of clans and defence units!
Just a few examples. You'll find others.
One important note left: when you're using supplies to support your clans, selling all of your supplies will result in your extra clans starting to die again. Think twice, and remember the number of supplies you needed! I have calculated these formula's myself using a damn good Power Macintosh. When you don't agree with me and you think that the formula's are not correct (no chance!) or when you want to know more about this subject that isn't covered by this article or by the other information on my homepage, then you could drop me a line. I really do appreciate feedback, as all WWW site owners do.
(1) Most of the stuff listed here doesn't work for Crystals in their default settings of 'Crystals like desert YES'. It also doesn't work for PHOST as PHOST uses different formulas than HOST.
(2) Of course there could be other logistic or strategic reasons, but that's not what this article is about.
(3) On the temperature range 15 - 84 your population will grow. These are 70 temperatures of a total of 101. 70/101 * 100 % = 69%. (Assuming every temperature has the same change to occur.)
(4) Assume default CDR% (==10%). The formula's below will increase the planetary economy of the 31% arctic/desert planets by a factor 10. And even more when the overpopulation can eat supplies to survive!
Assume the mean economy (E) of barren planets is about 1/10th of other planets.
31 of 101 planets are arctic/desert, 70 planets of 101 are not.
Your 'old' economy would then be: 70/101 E + 31/101 x 1/10 E = 0,72 E.
Your 'improved' economy will be: 70/101 E + 31/101 E = E.
Going from 0.72 E to E means a growth of E/(0.72 E) x 100% = 138%.
(5) Tested HOST.EXE versions: 3.14 b NITRO to 3.22.009. No differences noticed.
(6) Read your docs for the meaning of these settings if you don't know them. Defaults are: YES, 10 %, YES.
(7) If the climate doesn't limit your population, stop reading! You're spoiled by your host!
(8) Formula's for the maximum number of clans without using supplies
arctic: #clans_max_no_sup = (20100 - CDR% - 200 * (99 - Temp))/CDR%
desert: #clans_max_no_sup = (20100 - CDR% - 200 * Temp)/CDR%
(arctic = temp 0, 1, 2, ...13, 14; desert = temp 85, 86,....99, 100)
Tip: Make a table, or get the one from my homepage.
(9) Formula for the maximum number of clans using supplies
(INT == rounded up)
Or use this table:
Supplies needed for Extra clans Supplies needed for Extra clans
21 - 60 supplies + 10 clans 421 - 460 supplies + 110 clans
61 - 100 + 20 461 - 500 + 120
101 - 140 + 30 501 - 540 + 130
141 - 180 + 40 541 - 580 + 140
181 - 220 + 50 581 - 620 + 150
221 - 260 + 60 621 - 660 + 160
261 - 300 + 70 661 - 700 + 170
301 - 340 + 80 701 - 740 + 180
341 - 380 + 90 741 - 780 + 190
381 - 420 + 100 781 - ... + ...
(10) An overpopulation will always eat one supply unit.
The supplies that are produced are 778 + 129 - 1 = 906