Sid Meier"s Alien Crossfire FAQ [Walkthrough]

Sid Meier"s Alien Crossfire FAQ


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  ===========================================================================
                    Sid Meier"s Alien Crossfire (SMAX)
                    System: Windows (PC)
                    Authors: Jim Chamberlin and
		             Chris Hartpence (aka Velociryx)
                    Contact: Jim Chamberlin -
		             red_phoenix_1@hotmail.com
                             Chris (Vel) - quazimojo1@aol.com
                    Version: Final (12/30/04)
  Note:  Chris Hartpence has recently had an updated and more detailed version
         of a Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire Guide actually published in both
         paperback and e-book form.  If you"re interested in purchasing this
         book, check it out at:
	 http://www.gubookstore.com/shopgu/author.php3?accountID=GRTU00118
  ===========================================================================
  << Disclaimer >>
  This Document is Copyright 2001 Jim Chamberlin.  All Rights Reserved.
	 This guide can be FREELY distributed as long as you agree to a few
         things:
          - You do not alter this guide, leaving it in the original .txt
            file format
          - You do not charge for viewing this guide.  This includes, but
            is not limited to websites, cds, dvds, magazines, etc.
          - You give me credit.
          - Visit GameFAQs (http://www.gamefaqs.com) on a regular basis and
            download any updates to the guide.  Authors hate responding to
            questions that were answered in newer versions of the guide.
  ===========================================================================

  ===========================================================================
  Vers. -  1.0 - Released.
           1.1 - Added some strategies.  Actually, I added a whole new section.
           1.2 - Added Cheat City to the list of sites.
           1.3 - Minor changes.
  ===========================================================================
                                Table of Contents
  ===========================================================================
  Introduction
  Changes in Alien Crossfire
  Key Terms
  The Factions
  Early Game
- Expansion and Growth
- Terraforming
- Supply Crawlers
- Defining your Style
- Defining your Focus
- Early Game Secret Projects
- Comparative Turn Advantage
- Getting Ready for the Bad Guys
- Single Player Diplomacy
- Multi- player Diplomacy
- A Primer on Combat
- Basic Combat (Single Player and Multi- Player notes included)
  Middle Game
- Expansion in the Middle Game
- Terraforming in the Middle Game
- Supply Crawlers
- Developing your Style
- Developing your Focus
- Creating Economy of Scale
- More on Combat
- Studying the Meta- Game
- More Single Player and Multi- Player Notes
  Late Game
- Locking Things Down
  General Tips
  Message Board Posts
  Final Notes and Odd Musings
  Credits


================================================================================
                                  Introduction
================================================================================
  ALIEN PLANETFALL
 The early human exploration of Planet found many mysterious signs pointing to
 a long- vanished alien race.  The questions raised by these discoveries were
 soon answered when two alien factions arrived on Planet a few years after the
 crash-landing of the "Unity."  Their true motives were vague, but it appeared
 they had returned to Planet to settle the fate of Manifold Six (their name for
 Planet) and the grand experiment in which they were involved.  The Usurper
 faction has been pushing for the Progenitor race to exploit the powers of the
 Manifold, and essentially set themselves up as gods.  The Caretakers see Planet
 as a sentient being, whose death would result from Usurper policies.  Two scout
 ships arrived in the space above Manifold Six to settle the issue.
 Unfortunately for both sides (but perhaps fortunately for the humans on 
 Planet), the two ships were evenly matched, and nearly destroyed each other.  
 Survivors of the two factions managed to jettison in escape pods down to 
 Planet"s surface, where they prepare for battle, and for the day on which they 
 can contact their respective factions and send in reinforcements.  If that day 
 ever comes, human existence on Planet will be in grave jeopardy.
 The human factions must choose whether to band together to fight the
 off-worlders, or side with the aliens as a means to ultimate victory.  The
 picture is further complicated by the rise of new human factions preaching
 radical philosophies, from the Drones who seek liberation of the working 
 masses, to the strange Cybernetic faction unleashed by amoral University 
 researchers.
 [Taken from Alien Crossfire Game Manual]
 [A full story about Alien Crossfire may be found in my Alien Crossfire Story
 FAQ.]

================================================================================
                              Changes in Alien Crossfire
================================================================================
  So, what"s changed since Alpha Centauri?  A lot!  We"ve got new everything, or
  so it seems.
 New kinds of worms:
Yep....three of them, to be specific. First, Sealurks. Watch out for these
guys....they"re rather similar to IoD"s, except they don"t act as transports and
tend to be "lone wolf" units. I"ve not had much luck in catching them (none,
actually), so I can"t say either way whether they"re any good as an addition to
your naval forces.
Next, Fungal Towers: I"ve never captured these guys either, and frankly, I doubt
it"s possible. They get morale upgrades depending on how much fungus they"re
surrounded by, and tend to spawn worms fairly regularly.
Finally, spore launchers: Artillery for worms, and they are annoying!
Oftentimes, when and IoD comes to pay you a visit, the Spore Launcher will not
land on the shore, but remain on the Isle, and snipe at your terrain
enhancements, forcing you to build an empath foil to deal with the IoD in order
to get rid of the sniper. UGH! (Alternate plan: Build an artillery unit of your
own and duel with the sniper).
Seven new factions:
Five human, two alien. You"ll find details on the new bunch a bit later in this
guide!
New techs, weapons, facilities, and secret projects:
"bout half a dozen new techs, spawning a variety of new weapons and abilities.
I"ll not go into specifics here, as all of this is covered elsewhere in the
guide, but suffice it to say for the time being that there are a LOT of new
capabilities you can give your troopers, opening up whole new vistas as far as
exotic and special purpose troopers go! The new facilities are great as well,
giving you base-specific probe modifiers, missile defense systems, additional
defensive bonuses and ways of getting better still production out of sea
squares!
Project-wise, it"s a mixed bag, with far and away the most useful (overpowered!)
project being the Cloudbase academy. One thing further, the Hunter-Seeker
Algorithm has been weakened so that it"s not quite the final word protection
against probes that it once was. Nonetheless, it"s still a crucial project to
snag, but again, more on that later.
Bug Fixes....LOTS of Bug Fixes: Most significantly, artillery now actually does
something in the game, and on Transcend level, the maintenance cost bug has been
fixed, meaning that Transcend level bases are only one third as profitable as
they used to be, but that is as it should be.
================================================================================
                                   Key Terms
================================================================================
Before we get down into the guts of the guide, let me outline a few terms you"ll
see cropping up repeatedly, and before I do that, let me say this: There are
probably as many different approaches to the game as there are players who love
the game, but these (often wildly varying) approaches can, in at least a general
sense, be grouped into three basic categories or "styles" of play. Understanding
what is meant by each play-style is essential to understanding the viewpoint
from which the rest of the guide is written.
Builder-Style: Builders don"t care much for fighting, preferring to cloister
themselves off on some small to mid-sized continent, terraform, build
infrastructure, and research new technologies. The hallmarks of Builder style
play are: 1) Long delays in prototyping new weapons and defensive systems, in
favor of constructing infrastructure, 2) The preservation of as close to 100%
of industrial capacity as possible in order to speed the completion of the
abovementioned infrastructure (in short, this means minimizing support costs),
3) very aesthetically pleasing empires in general (let"s face it,
Builder-Empires just look cool!), and 4) Strict adherence to industrial caps,
with regards to ecological damages (i.e. - Builders spend a LOT of time
terraforming, and they don"t like to see their efforts undone by sudden fungal
blooms, so you will seldom find any, and certainly no significant eco-damage in
a Builder Empire). For the reason of preservation of Industrial Capacity alone,
"Biogenetics" is probably a Builder-Players most treasured tech, and many a
Builder player will micro-manage his/her bases down to the unit level,
upgrading ANY unit which is tying up support costs.
Hybrid-Style: The Hybrid"s main watch-word is Flexibility. He"s the guy who
wants to be ready for anything that might come up, and while he greatly admires
the Builder"s stunning efficiency and sterling industry, he also knows that
somewhere out there on the map, and maybe closer than he thinks, are people who
would like nothing better than to take it all away from him. To that end, the
Hybrid player makes some "strategic sacrifices," developing a stout standing
army as early as techs permit it, and upgrading and honing them constantly.
Often, the Hybrid Player has half (or more) of his army on the prowl, looking
for pods, and looking for potential enemies of the state. Yes, he"s interested
in developing an economy to rival his Builder counterparts, but not at the risk
of being blind-sided by some fast-moving attacker.
Momentum-Style: Fast and loose! The Momentum player"s main goal is to expand
with lightening speed, get a horde of small bases (production centers) up and
running, and then use them to build a war machine that is second to none, and
while he"s getting his production centers geared up, his scouts are on the
prowl, a sharp eye open for signs of anybody else. The moment he finds someone
else, the real show begins, and the Momentum player is banking on the fact that,
because he"s so active, even if you have a technology edge, he"ll be able to
probe his way to technological parity and smash you with his relatively large
standing force. Bases are seen as little more than barracks, and not much
attention is given to infrastructural builds, beyond that which absolutely
essential (i.e. - network nodes, to cash in artifacts found or stolen).
Early Game: Generally describes the game up until the time all those annoying
restrictions are lifted, and before you get the chance to start playing with the
more interesting unit types. Specifically then, the techs that provide the
boundary to the early game are: Resource-Wise: Gene Splicing, Ecological
Engineering, and Environmental Economics. Weapon wise: Lasers (Applied Physics)
and Impact (Non-linear Mathematics) will be most prevalent (with Missiles
falling at the outer edge of the early game, much as Enviro. Ec,
developmentally). Defensively, you"ve got Synthmetal (Industrial Base), and
Plasma (High Energy Chemistry) with some interesting variance provided by 3-res
and 3-pulse armor, and of course, all units will be powered with the old-style
Fission generators (weakest, and most expensive).
Implications of the early game:
1) Stuff is expensive to build. The old generators are not cheap, to put it
mildly, and that"s bad news for you, because you"re mineral production is
wretched, and while there are ways to improve that, none of them will happen
quickly, or without a fair amount of planning on your part.
2) Terrain squares are not very productive. Pre-restriction lifting, you"re
faced with a limit of 2r (r being whatever resource you"re harvesting) in each
category, for an absolute maximum of six resources per square (i.e. - Monolith,
2r for each of the three resource-types).
Taken together, that"s a pretty punishing two-edged sword. Not only are you
having to pay more for your early game units in terms of time to build, but
you"re also faced with terrain squares that have limited value.
There is some good news though, in the form of special resource squares. These
squares are not limited by the early game restrictions, and as such, they should
receive your immediate attention. If you find one that"s located in an
unattractive base-building spot, that"s no problem....the moment you get
industrial automation, send a supply crawler out that direction and start
taking advantage of the resource! (and more about this in particular on the
section on Terraforming!)
The Middle Game: The Middle Game is bounded on one side by the lifting of energy
restrictions, the acquisition of Missile techs (with Air Power coming soon
thereafter), and the discovery of Fusion Power and runs all the way to the
acquisition of Hab-Domes and is where the bulk of your game will be played out.
Terrain squares get more productive as more terraforming options become
available, your formers get a ton of new things to do, and your units (both
offensively and defensively) become vastly more dangerous.
The Late Game: From Hab-Domes on. Generally, single player games don"t last very
long once you get here, and few multi-player games ever make it this far, so
don"t expect to see much of the late game, unless you really enjoy playing
single player mode, and really like to take your time.
Notes on stylistic approaches:
So, you"ve thought it over a while and settled on a style that"s "you." Good,
because you"ll need a well-organized, well-considered plan to proceed from, and
that"s the first step. Whatever your style, your next step will be to select
specific technologies from the Tech-Tree that "play into" whatever style you"re
going for.
For Builders, this means a straight shot to Industrial Automation for the
acquisition of Supply Crawlers, and from there, moving right on into the liftin
of those previously mentioned restrictions. Builders then, live and die by the
following five techs: Centauri Ecology, Industrial Automation, Gene Splicing,
Ecological Engineering, and Environmental Economics. The goal of the Builder
Game is to reach Environmental Economics as quickly as possible and create such
a vast economy in terms of total outputs, relative to the opposition, that when
the combat techs arrive (and wise Builders will begin pursuing them the moment
they get Environmental Economics), their superior economic sub-structure will
enable them to out-produce and out-tech everyone else in the game.
For Hybrids, again, with flexibility being the watch-word, the key technologies
in the early game are: Centauri Ecology, Industrial Automation, Doctrine
Flexibility, Gene Splicing, and Ecological Engineering. This gives you several
of the key advantages of the Builder Player, but also gives you more options in
terms of exploration and response to incoming threats.
Momentum players will want the biggest bang for their buck, and they"ll want
that as quickly as possible, so for them, the key technologies are: Centauri
Ecology, Industrial Automation, Doctrine Flexibility, Non-linear Math, and
Ecological Engineering.. They"re willing to work around the mineral restrictions
to get a decent army in the field, and many of the factions this group favors
come with support bonuses, giving them a relatively large number of "free"
troops anyway. A perfect example of this would be Miriam Goodwinson"s
"Believing" faction. With their +2 Support rating, each of their bases gets four
free units. Figure one former and one garrison, that still leaves her two
attackers per base that can go out hunting. Multiplied out over ten or twelve
bases, and it"s no wonder she"s so feared by the Builder crowd!
As you can see, while there are key differences between the various styles of
play, there are also some similarities between the three styles, and two techs
in particular popped up all three times. These are quite possible the most
critical techs in the entire game. Centauri Ecology, and Industrial Automation.
If you have them, and your opponent does not, you are in a VASTLY superior
position.
One final stylistic note to point out is this: Do not make the mistake of
believing that Builders never fight and Momentum players never build
infrastructure! All players of note will shift and change their strategies based
on prevailing game conditions, and because of that, these "styles" mentioned are
more archetypes than anything. They point to the tendencies and pre-dispositions
of players toward one end of the spectrum or the other. The implication is not
that Builders can only build, and Momentum players can only crank out an endless
supply of troops. I don"t know of anyone who plays that way, and even against an
average player, such a strategy would come apart rather quickly. Essentially
then, the stylistic approaches speak more to the timing than anything else.
For Builders, the key to the game is the rapid development of infrastructure.
They figure that the faster they can develop vast efficiencies, the better off
they will be, and those greater efficiencies will enable them to quickly catch
up militarily in the midgame.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Momentum gamers recognize how much damage
a few early game attackers can do, and seek to maximize that damage against
their opponents, forcing their rivals to divert resources to deal with threats
to hearth and home, while the Momentum player is free to build infrastructure
without such threats.
In the center are the Hybrids, who will strike opportunistically (and divert
some portion of their early game resources to be ready to do that), but are
unwilling to go full bore in that direction, lest they fall behind in
infrastructural development.
================================================================================
                                 The Factions
================================================================================
It is possible to play any of the 14 factions in any of the three broad styles
outlined (Builder, Hybrid, Momentum), but some are clearly more ideally suited
to one style than another. Below, you will find an outline of each of the
factions (strengths and weaknesses in game terms), along with play notes and
tested, workable strategy tips for playing each faction in any of the styles
mentioned above:
The Original Seven:
Morganites:
At a Glance: Extra Commerce income, +1 Economy, -1 Support, smaller bases, more
cash at start
General Notes: Probably the most underrated faction of the original seven,
Morgan is terrific if played correctly, but a novice will probably have to work
a bit to get the faction humming. This is mainly due to the fact that Morgan"s
playstyle is somewhat different from the others. If you"re playing Morgan, then
you"ve got to make the most of your one big advantage, and that"s money. Morgan
is the only faction in the early game that can go to war and still rake in the
big bucks. Just run wealth, live with the Morale hit, and you make +1 energy per
square, and get an industry bonus to boot! Many people regard Morgan is
incredibly weak because of the smaller base size thing, but nothing could be
further from the truth. Wealth is an integral part of almost any Morganite
strategy, and Wealth comes with Industrial Automation, which also gives you
Supply Crawlers, a terrific Morganite Secret Project, and Hab-complexes, which
allows Morgan"s bases to grow to size 11 without stopping. More pervasive a
problem for the faction is the support hit, which tends to reduce the total size
of the army you can raise (at least until clean reactors), but again, this is
largely offset by the acquisition of supply crawlers via Industrial Automation.
Need more troops? Just build a new base and some more crawlers! Viola! Support
issue rendered moot. Now I grant you, most Morganite players will tend to keep
expanding a bit longer than the other factions to keep pace with overall
population numbers, but in truth, another 1-2 bases will generally put you at
parity, population wise. It"s just not that big a deal, and remember, if you get
the Ascetic Virtues, you"re small base problem all but disappears anyway, and
the Living Refinery undoes your support problem once and for all (though at the
point you get it, you"ve usually had clean reactors for quite some time).
Morgan, the Builder: This approach to the Morgan game takes his mercantile
nature to heart. You don"t profit by killing off your customers, and Morganite-
Builders can make utterly obscene amounts of cash. The commerce bonus gives you
the kind of windfall normally reserved for the Planetary Governor (magnified
further still if you ARE the Planetary Governor), and by running Free-Market,
Wealth, and "doping" your citizens into a golden age, you not only achieve pop-
boom status (if you"re running Dem too), but also get +5 Econ, which does
amazing things to the energy you get from your base squares! A Builder game,
Morgan style revolves around defending all your bases with trance scouts until
you get clean reactors, and catching up on all your prototyping/building a
defense force at that point. In the meantime, all the money you"re making each
turn, combined with the industry bonus from wealth, enables you to rush-build
your infrastructure with a speed that will make the other factions green with
envy. It"s all too easy to beat out even Domai"s vaunted industrial capacity
with Morgan"s cash. As much as possible, the Morganite Builder will want to run
Dem/Market/and either Wealth (while building and enjoying the benefits of many
pacts or treaties) or Knowledge if an extra bit of research boost and efficienc
is needed. If you need to go on the offensive, your SE settings of choice will
be Wealth/Green, with or without Democracy (mostly depending on if you have
clean reactors or not yet), and if you want to push your labs up to 100%, run
Dem, Green, Wealth (+4 efficiency), make your +1 energy per square, and dump it
all into your labs. In this manner, you can out-tech even Zak, despite his
research bonus!
Even if you"ve got your heart set on playing the Builder game, you need to be
prepared for war, but the good news is that you start with Synthmetal armor, and
will find yourself only a few steps from Silksteel once all the early game
resource restrictions are lifted (though in most case, getting to Biogenetics
first, for clean reactors, will serve you better). Still, Morganite defenses
revolve first and foremost around covert ops. If an opponent builds a base too
close to you for comfort, either buy it and burn it down, or stack so many clean
defenders in it that, regardless of your almost guaranteed lower morale, your
enemies will have a hard time taking it back, and when fighting a defensive
campaign, the presence of Children"s Creche"s everywhere will offset Wealth"s
only minus, putting you in reasonably good shape.
Morgan, the Hybrid: Industrial Automation is all the more crucial for this style
of play, as some portion of your industrial capacity will be tied up in the
maintenance of a standing force, and if you have to make use of that force to
launch an attack, simply drop out of Market in preference for Green, keep wealth
unless you just really need the extra morale percentages, and use Wealth"s
industry bonus and your inherent cash to replace lost troops at a faster clip
than your opponents can kill them. Morgan excels at the art of attrition
warfare. It does not matter if your first unit makes a kill, because one of the
four of five coming right behind surely will, and you"ll wind up with a core
force of elites (survivors of the many battles) in the end! Remember, it applies
to all the factions to a degree, but even moreso with Morgan: You should never
actually build the kind of unit you want! Build laser scouts or rovers, and
selectively upgrade your way to the kind of force you need, and don"t worry
about ignoring the weapons techs in the early game. If you"re behind,
militarily, just make it a point to capture an enemy unit with whatever weapon
you"re looking for, and you can start building them as well, even if you don"t
yet have the tech for it!
All the basic fighting strategies for the Morgan-Momentum game work just as well
for the Hybrid game, and unlike most other factions playing a Hybrid scheme,
you"re cash position will be so good, that you can almost always make offensive
use of your probes. Do so!
Morgan, the Conqueror: Again, put your eyes, mind and heart firmly on the goal
of acquiring Industrial Automation. Crawlers, coupled with the building of new
bases, will quickly put you in a position where you will be able to crank out as
many, if not more troops than your opponents!
Two basic ways you can go about this are: Beeline for the Command Nexus to
offset Wealth"s Morale hit, and rake in the cash while beating your opponents
with average to slightly above average troops, or, forget the money, run Green
(still beelining for the Doctrine: Loyalty) and beat on them with better than
average troops. Either way works, but running Wealth opens up more options for
you with Morgan, enabling you to offset your average troops with regular and
very active offensive probe teams, subverting a base or two to establish a
foothold, and then pouring your troops into it (and, if you really want to get
mean, run Fundy Wealth, to make it harder for your opponents to run probe
actions against you). The Support problem is offset by an early emphasis on
crawler production at all bases to spike up mineral outputs, and troops can be
easily reinforced by rushing selective defensive structures in captured bases
and by upgrading scouts produced to best/best configurations. Remember, as
Morgan, you have a far easier time at paying for a war effort as you go, because
you can get that magical +1 energy per square and still fight before Punishment
Spheres. Everybody else has to either wait till higher up on the tech tree, or
save for the invasion in advance. Use that to your advantage and attack earlier,
rather than later. Also, make active use of your probe teams to subvert enemy
troops, adding them to your available force pool. Best of all, you can compare
morale levels, and make suicide attacks with the worst of the lot, keeping the
best for "sure kills" and consistently raise the morale of an elite core of you
army, which will soon have you fighting on "Morale Parity" with whatever enemy
you are attacking, even if they began with an advantage in that department.
About the only person you"ll be hampered against in the early game is Miriam
running Fundy, as that will shut down your probe actions, but even then, with
your better research rates, you should be at a higher tech level when you begin
your attacks, and a series of swift, hard, unexpected blows (and who the heck
expects Morgan to come out fighting?!) will give you all the edge you need.
University of Planet:
At a Glance: More Drones, +2 Research, -2 Probe, Extra Starting Tech
General Notes: Zak is plagued by drone problems, making the acquisition of
either the HGP or the Virtual World of Paramount importance. Fortunately, since
you start with the pre-requisite to Planetary Networks, it is often quite easy
to grab the Virtual World. Probe actions are expensive for you, and it"s
relatively cheap for your enemies to launch probe actions your way, so guard
against that, and make the Hunter-Seeker project a high priority, but in the
meantime, bulk up on defensive probes. You"ll need them. Your main advantage is
your labs, and whichever way you decide to run your game, your inherent research
advantages will put you ahead of the pack quickly. Persistence and good planning
will keep you there. Remember, you"re getting the benefits of a no-maintenance-
cost Network Node from the first turn you found a base. Everybody else has to
build their Net-Nodes, and pay maintenance costs for them, so build bases like
crazy! Not only does this keep your bases smaller (to a point, offsetting the
drone issue), but it also makes your colony pods VERY good investments for the
minerals spent!
Zak, the Builder: This approach plays to your native facility. You"re already a
step ahead of the game, and if you get the Virtual World, then you"re two big
steps ahead of the game, as it totally negates your factional drone problems for
bases size 4-7 and gives you two free facilities at each base you build. That"s
two less items on your infrastructural list, which makes building the rest that
much easier for you. If you"re playing the builder game, your main goal after
restriction lifting should be to secure the Planetary Energy Grid to get yet
another free, and maintenance free facility. Then, each time you build a base,
about all you need to do is toss up a Tree Farm and a Creche, and you"re ready
to boom! (Building the Research Hospital as the base grows each turn). Nobody
can build peacetime infrastructure faster than Zak, because the others don"t
start with a free peacetime facility. Morgan comes close, but even his vaunted
money can"t touch that. If you speed-build selected bases, you can turn those
over to the production of battle-capable prototypes far more quickly than other
builder factions, and be in a more classically "Hybrid" stance than most running
this type of game. The two things you need to be ever-watchful for though, are
covert attacks made to attempt to catch up to you, technologically, and, if you
do plan an invasion, you will need to save cash for it in advance, because when
you drop out of Market, most of your money dries up too (if you want to keep a
decent research rate while warring).
Zak, the Hybrid: This approach plays to your ability to rip through the early
game tech tree much more quickly than anybody else. You can be running
Planned/Wealth by the early twenties if you set your mind to it, and specialize
your bases out, with the fringe ones doing early war-tech prototyping, and your
inner core working on infrastructure. Best of all, you can get to Industrial
Automation that quickly, and still go back and pick up Mobility and Flexibility,
generally ahead of those who beeline straight for them (exception: The Spartans,
who are only one tech from Flex at game start). This means that you can get
probe foils in the water plenty early enough to send them out exploring, and
infiltrate most of your opponents" datalinks before they can even mount a good
probe defense, which a crucial play. Combat wise, again, thanks to your free
facility, you can pay comparatively less attention to your infrastructure and
focus more on the warring techs, again thanks to your free facility. You can
also let current game circumstances dictate exactly how your research edge is
used, magnifying your advantage depending on the prevailing climate of the game.
If you"re isolated, fine. Drop to peace-time expansion till something develops,
but if you"ve got neighbors close at hand, you can carry the fight to them
rather quickly.
Zak, the Conqueror: Simply put, while everybody else is spending time and energy
to get where you start from (i.e. - the building of Network Nodes), you can be
building fast attackers to take their bases! About the only group that can do
this as or more quickly than you are the Spartans, and that"s only because of
where they begin on the tech tree. Theirs is a short term advantage in the sense
that, research-wise, there"s no way they can keep up with you. Even a heavy
builder focus won"t do it. This is a huge advantage, and if you put your mind
to researching nothing but combat techs, you can have enough impact rovers for
a good early game rush by the early to mid 30"s! Except for the previously
mentioned exception, nobody can top that, and that kind of raw speed plays well
for a momentum game. If you find somebody on the continent with you, this is the
kind of speed that will win you the game, and, once you make a couple of early
kills to put you in a position of dominance, your faction is better suited than
most to rapidly shifting gears.
Spartan Federation:
At a Glance: +2 Morale, +1 Police, Free Prototyping, -1 Industry
General Notes: You"ve got the all around best, most balanced fighting force in
the game. True, Miriam has an edge when attacking, but your bonus helps both
attack and defense, and the free rover at game start really helps you if pod
scattering is on, enabling you to pick up a larger than normal share of Unity
Pods, and more intangibly, enabling you to build your bases with a better
understanding of the map you"re playing on (meaning simply that your bases will
tend to be better arranged on the map, thanks to a more complete understanding
of the continent as a whole....most people have to build their first few new
bases somewhat blindly if they want to expand quickly, but this is not the case
for you). Also, the Police bonus mitigates the effect of running Market, and
enables you to forestall (or, depending on SE choices) do away almost entirely
with drone control facilities, saving you time on infrastructure. The free
prototyping is not a huge advantage until later on in the game, as all early
protos can be completed with a single cashed in supply crawler anyway, but it"s
still a marginal advantage, and should be exploited whenever the opportunity
presents itself. The industry hit hurts, but no more so than Morgan"s support
drain, and you can get back to "normal" Industrial capacity by simply switching
to Planned. True, you take an efficiency hit, but that in turn can be undone by
building Children"s Creche"s, rendering your negatives easily dealt with and
gotten around. The Command Nexus is a very attractive project for you, and
you"re pretty well suited to getting it, as it is only one tech away from you,
and grabbing it will give you hands down, the best troops in the game until the
advent of bio-enhancement centers, which will bring the rest up reasonably close
to your troopers. The Spartan"s main strength though, lies in the fact that they
need not necessarily make use of their army to instill fear. Just the simple
knowledge that the Spartans are out there is oftentimes enough to give others
pause.
Santiago, the Builder: It takes you slightly longer to get your infrastructure
in place than the rest, but the police rating helps in that, again, you can
delay the building of drone control facilities, and once you DO get the
infrastructure built, it serves you just as well. In the meantime, you have
seasoned troops to defend your holdings with, a thing that cannot often be said
of other Builder factions. Because of this, and because it"s common knowledge
that the Spartans can more than hold their own in a fight, you are uniquely
positioned to build in relative safety. Think of it as classic isolationism,
and most Momentum folk are looking for soft targets, something the Spartans have
never been accused of. Add to that the fact that most of your opponents will not
be expecting you to play the Builder"s game, and that alone can often buy you
the time you need to get the bulk of your infrastructure in place. Once it is,
it"s a simple enough proposition to take a look around the map and reassess your
current situation, and again, if somebody decides to play rough and tumble with
you, then they"re just asking to get pasted.
Santiago, the Hybrid: Your starting tech makes you a natural at this. You"re
only a single tech away from Doctrine: Flex, and only two away from running
Planned and getting probes. Taken together, that alone puts you in a strong
Hybrid stance (and if you get the Virtual World project, you will almost never
have a drone problem). Others need to build command centers just to get to where
your troops start, and because of that, most factions will think twice about
attacking you, and with even a single Monolith someplace in your territory, and
building a Command Center of your own, it"s easy for you to put together a core
force of elite whatevers to attack or defend with. You have normal cash and
research rates, which means, thanks to a slightly lagging industry, that you
might be a bit behind the curve, tech wise, but a bit of luck with pods (which,
as mentioned, you have an advantage in getting) will easily balance that out,
and oftentimes, those pods render your industrial lag moot, as they "autofinish"
whatever you were building at the closest base to the pod you just popped. All
in all then, a Hybrid approach is very easy to play with Santiago.
Santiago, the Conqueror: This is probably the easiest way to run the Spartans,
and it is a no-brainer. You"ve already got rovers. It"s a short hop to Impact
weapons, and a short hop from there to global conquest. All of the speed work I
have ever done on early transcendent victories has been with the Spartans, and
with good reason. Quite simply, nobody can put together a crack attack force of
high-morale impact rovers faster than Santiago. Zak might be able to get them
about as quickly, but they still won"t be as well trained, and in battle, that
will be the telling difference, and in the early game, four rovers is about all
you need to utterly lay waste to an enemy empire (Yang not withstanding....
thanks to his perimeter defense network, but even then, a probe action against
the base in question can render his key defensive advantage useless). If you
want a fast and furious game, build four Impact rovers and send them hunting
while you build up your Empire. When they find someone, you"ll be amazed at how
much damage and terror they can spread, and at nominal cost to you.
An important footnote here is that with Santiago, you can do reasonably well at
fighting sans Punishment Spheres under Market conditions, thanks to your police
rating.
Gaians:
At a Glance: +1 Planet, +2 Efficiency, -1 Police, -1 Morale, auto-capture first
worm, +1 Nutrient (fungus)
General Notes: The efficiency boon is terrific, and if you had a good way to
rake in the energy (Free Market), your faction would be almost unbeatable. As it
stands, about the only way you can do it is via Golden Ages, which, while
workable, is far from being as good, since the money invested in Psych detracts
from the total cash earned. Still, you"ve other important advantages that make
up for your lack of raw energy. Specifically, you are good at "channeling" what
energy you do get. Run either Dem or Green and you have a paradigm economy,
allowing you to run either 100% cash or labs and rake in a respectable amount.
Again, the drawback is that you can either have good income or good labs, but
only average both if you keep your allocation at 50/50. The trick then, is
knowing when to do which, and the approaches will vary (see below). Regardless
of your playstyle though, you have two other important advantages which will
serve you well. The first is the ability to draw resources from fungus squares.
This helps your early game immensely, and means you have to spend comparatively
less time terraforming (and you get Centauri Ecology at game start), to get your
bases productive. The second is the ability to catch mind worms, with the added
bonus that your first worm capture attempt is always successful. Goal number one
then, is to send your scout patrol out trolling for worms! When you find one and
catch it, you have the perfect pod-popping unit (assuming pod scattering is on),
because even if the pod in question unleashes more worms, they will ignore your
native life form, leaving it to you to either try to catch them and add them to
your force, or move on to the next pod. Repeat this process when you get
Doctrine: Flex and gun skimships, and you"re pretty much set for the whole game,
as IoD"s (Isles of the Deep) make tremendously good pod-poppers, scouts, and
transports....very versatile units!
Deirdre, the Builder: Forget the money. Beeline for Dem, and make the switch as
soon as you can, netting you a paradigm economy, and +4 growth (when you build
creches). At this point, you can slam your labs to 100% and keep pace with the
best researchers in the game. True, your income suffers, but you can ease back
from 100% periodically to save up more cash, and once you arrive at restriction
lifting techs, you can reverse that for a time, effectively turning labs off to
help you rush through infrastructure builds. Also, when you"re ready to boom,
you merely add Planned to what you"ve already got and giant bases are yours!
Again, your research efforts are helped, if pod-scattering is on, by the
presence of your mindworms, and, since you cannot run Market, you will be
spending the whole game actively exploring, so if you find others who are
running Builder or Hybrid styles (and making regular use of Market), a few
probes into their territory with your mindworm force just might be sufficient to
scare them away for Market (to avoid fighting a losing battle with your worms).
Of course, this is an early game advantage, rendered much less effective once
Secrets of the Human Brain are discovered, but the implications are that, if you
spend a bit of time focused on catching 3-4 worms, you can keep your builder
stance and put together enough of a force to effectively worm rush someone. Your
troops aren"t great, but Children"s Creches are an excellent build for you, as
it helps with both troop morale and further enhances your Empire"s efficiency.
Deirdre, the Hybrid: As with the Builder Game, capturing worms is important, and
even moreso for the Hybrid game. You will definitely want to make early use of
the worm rush if at all possible. Essentially, this is a denial strategy, added
to the usual Hybrid mix. The goal is not so much to succeed in taking out an
empire (though by all means, do so if you can), but to force them away from a
Market Stance and slow them down, enabling your 100% lab focus to blow past
them, tech wise (Note: The reason it is important to force your opponents away
from Market is simply that, Dem/Market at 70%, despite the inefficiency, can
out-tech Dem/Green at 100%). You"ll probably be stuck using your probes
defensively, unless you pull back from your lab focus in advance to horde cash,
and again, with the Gaians, it is almost always more productive to run either
100% labs or 100% economy. To keep a 50/50 stance with this faction undoes one
of your chief advantages. The real trick to playing this faction is in knowing
when to run which setting, and that is determined by prevailing game conditions.
Hybrids will probably want to run both Dem and Green unless game conditions turn
nasty, in which case, the Hybrid player will likely drop Dem to go on more of a
war footing, again, relying heavily on Native life forms to offset your
otherwise less-than-remarkable troops.
Deirdre, the Conqueror: Go Native! Forget Dem. Beeline for Flex and Planetary
networks (Probes and boats), then to Green, catch as many worms as you can, run
Econ. at 100% and build lots of probes. The probes will make up for your lack of
research, infiltrate enemy datalinks, and augment your native attack force with
captured enemy troops caught alone and in the open. Plus, the worms don"t care
what techs your opponents have and you"re the best Psi-fighter in the game,
especially if you zero in on Market-loving Builders (who probably also have a
lot of nice techs you want). Again, the worm rush is vital to your success, so
do not delay in building up your native attack force and constantly be scouting
for opponents! And, once your attack force is on its way, focus on spreading
your empire, growing lots of small bases to offset Green"s growth penalty (you
hardly feel it from size 1-2 bases)
The Lord"s Believers:
At a Glance: +2 Support, +1 Probe, -2 Research, -1 Planet; 25% Attack Bonus
General Notes: A superb faction, helped greatly by the Support bonus. The
Believers get off to a slow start, but this need not be a crippling
disadvantage. One good thing about it is that your bases will be laid out bette
on your continent, as you will generally have more time to explore before you
can start expanding. The planet negative puts you at a slight disadvantage when
fighting the natives, unless you attack first, which more than negates your -10%
penalty, and the Support boon lets you field more units per base in any event.
Also, your attack bonus allows you to work your way to "Trans-elite" troopers,
giving you an extra point of movement, and a 25% attack bonus above and beyond
what everybody else gets too. Also, the ability to switch to Fundy and render
your bases and units immune to subversion is a HUGE advantage! Oh, and remember,
Miriam is the only faction in the game that can run Dem and still build a new
base with free minerals! (The key advantage here being that you can have
comparatively more bases before you start getting drone warnings due to size). A
word of warning with this faction: If you are attacked by a psi-force, get as
far away from Market as you can. In fact, it would be far and away in your best
interest to run green when faced with such an attack, cos if you ARE caught by
the worms while running Market, even with trance or empath-assisted troopers,
there"s almost no way you can win, especially if those worms are being
controlled by Cha"Dawn or Deirdre.
Miriam, the Builder: This might seem like a contradiction in terms, considering
the slow start with research and the twenty percent higher tech costs, but in
truth, you can offset both of these things with relative ease. Once you get
Centauri Ecology, the boost in support enables you to crank out an obscene
number of formers, very quickly moving to terraform the entire continent, and
making all your bases that much more productive. Not to mention the fact that,
as with the Spartans, most people will be content to leave you be if you play a
Builder game, and odds are, they"re just breathing a sigh of relief that you"re
not attacking them! If you ARE attacked however, your best chance at defending
is with an active stance, using pre-emptive strikes to take advantage of your
native 25% attack bonus and running Fundy to prevent subversion. Research wise,
even when you"re running Fundy, Network Nodes everywhere gives you a net gain
of +10% to your research rates. Not nearly the boost it gives others, but then,
you"ll only be running Fundy if there"s trouble brewing, otherwise, you"re
better served by some other SE choice (Dem springs immediately to mind here).
You"re cash is good (ability to run Market), your troops are good, and you can
offset the research hit by a program of steady builds and active probe teams to
keep up until your infrastructure is in place. The Miriam Builder game is by far
the most active of the lot, as she must make early and regular use of probes to
keep pace until the infrastructure is in place, but it"s quite easily pulled
off.
Also note here, that when you play the Builder"s game with Miriam, you will want
to be very careful and specific about when you run Fundy. True, it gives you
almost total immunity to enemy probe actions, but it utterly kills your
research, regardless of your infrastructure, so use it only when pressed, or
when pressing an attack against someone else.
Miriam, the Hybrid: Miriam"s Builder game is so active that there really aren"t
many differences between it and the Hybrid game, except that, where the Builder
will focus mostly on early game formers, the Hybrid Player will take a few of
those "free unit" slots and use them for the building of Prototypes, sending
them out hunting in much the same way that the Deirdre Hybrid player uses her
native life forms.
Miriam, the Conqueror: Again, like the Spartans, this one"s a no-brainer. Race
for Flex and Planetary Networks, switch to Fundy, save your money, find an
opponent, infiltrate, probe them to death to get their tech, steal a base and
upgrade all the garrisons to best/best, using pre-emptive strikes to defeat the
forces sent against you (and continue to subvert them all the while). Build
cheap scouts or recon rovers every turn, upgrading them to whatever is needed
(remembering that the newly captured base will get a larger than normal share
of "free" units), and keep punching your opponent. In the field, with even tech,
your forces are VERY hard to beat, especially if you"re running fundy, as they
cannot use probe trickery against you, and you get a morale boost too!
The Human Hive:
At a Glance: Immune to inefficiency, +1 Growth, +1 Industry, -2 Economy, Perim.
Defenses everywhere
General Notes: If not for the lack of energy, this faction would be all but
unstoppable, and as it is, they are far and away the most powerful AI faction,
coming out on top of the AI heap in almost every simulation I have ever run.
Their Growth and Industry bonuses make for rapid expansion, and their
inefficiency immunity makes a massive empire with few to no drawbacks a real
possibility. This, combined with their inherent "Citizen"s Defense Force" makes
them a tough faction to match, and if they happen to also get the Command Nexus
(not difficult to imagine, since they start with its requisite tech) and
Planetary Transit System (also not too much of a stretch, with active probe
teams), then the rest of the world stands a good chance of being doomed.
An important note about Yang: The immunity to inefficiency ability allows you to
run SE settings which would utterly ruin any other faction in the game. Quite
simply, you may freely ignore negative modifiers to efficiency!
Yang, the Builder: First, absolutely no one will be expecting you to play Yang
as a Builder, so this will work very much to your advantage, but consider: You
can switch over to Police State with impunity, enabling you to control your
drones without the need to build any drone control facilities at all, and the
addition of a Children"s Creche at each base goes a long way in capturing what
energy you do generate. Add to that the ability to run Planned (again, without
penalty), and you get a faction with a huge industry bonus and no drone problems
whatsoever. If you work heavily with forests, your income won"t be bad, although
you will never even begin to approach the energy levels of the real "Research
Factions" in the game, forcing you to look for other alternatives. Fortunately,
there are some very good ones, and you get them at the same time you get the
ability to run Planned, namely: Librarians. While you"re waiting for Industrial
Automation, you can be whipping out Network Nodes and expanding like mad, and
once you have the ability to create crawlers, it"s easy (again, with your
prodigious Industry bonus) to crank out enough crawlers to give each base some
minerals to work with, and feed the entire population, and once you do that,
every citizen you have can be converted to a Librarian, giving you perfectly
efficient research capabilities, magnified by your already built network nodes.
Now consider that if you take the time to build the Command Nexus, you
essentially wipe out the penalties for also running Wealth (adding a bit more to
your energy reserves, and giving you yet another boost in Industry). The only
person in the game who can out-build you is Domai, and he has to contend with
less-well defended bases, efficiency problems, AND a research penalty, which
more than offsets his additional +1 bonus to Industry. In short, although it
might not appear so at first glance, the good Chairman makes an astonishing
builder, and that capability, coupled with an active stance with probes will
quickly see you on par with every other Builder in the game, should you choose
to run the game this way.
Yang, the Hybrid: Again, this approach utilizes Yang"s Industrial Might, and is
not terribly different from Yang, the Builder, actually, except that a certain
set of bases will be geared up specifically for the purpose of providing an
offensive punch to the empire, whereas the pure Builder approach will not do so
until and unless threats begin appearing on the horizon. The Yang-Hybrid model
enables you to maintain an active attack/trolling force while keeping a fairly
brisk research rate, and the ability to drop into full "Builder Mode" if you
determine that your potential enemies are very far away. On the other hand, it"s
easy (gotta love that Industry) to kick into high gear and get ready to fight,
and very quickly, you can find yourself with an army numbering so many units
that you can simply sweep the opposition off the map.
Yang, the Conqueror: Once more, your Industry and Police are the key factors to
the Conquest game. The goal here is to simply skip over any real Infrastructural
builds and focus on rapid colonization, followed by a buildup of troops that no
one else in the game can match prior to the arrival of clean reactors. Even
Miriam, with her support bonus simply cannot keep up with a fully geared-for-war
Yang. So what if she"s got better troops, you can replace your losses almost
half again as quickly as she can replace hers, and her Probe Immunity is nearly
meaningless to you. You likely won"t have the cash to do much subversion anyway,
and you can simply keep building units until you overwhelm her. Same with the
only other truly good fighters in the game, the Spartans, except in their case,
it"s even easier to overwhelm them, because they have Industrial problems of
their own, and the moment you achieve your first conquest on an enemy"s soil,
that is the kiss of death, as that faction must now deal with your enhanced
Industrial output right there on their turf. Simply put, if they do not or
cannot re-capture the base immediately, they"re doomed.
Peacekeepers:
At a Glance: -1 Efficiency, Extra Votes, Extra Talents, Hab limit restrictions
eased (bigger bases)
General Notes: You might not look so hot on the SE table compared to the others,
but that doesn"t mean you"re a pushover. Not by any stretch. Your advantages
make you a force to be reckoned with in any game. Consider a fairly normal
expansion paradigm. Even if you only do an "average" expansion, you"re virtually
guaranteed the Govornorship, giving you a healthy Commerce bonus (extra energy
to help offset the -1 Efficiency), and Infiltration of all factions (as good as
the Empath Guild, for free). Add to that the fact that your extra talents and
larger bases (giving Lal the ability to execute a Pop-Boom with little control
infrastructure in place), and what you end up with is a faction that is quite
far from being average.
Lal, the Builder: Democracy completely negates your singular negative, and is
two thirds of what you need for a population boom. Add Planned and Wealth to
that mix, and snag either of the early game drone control projects (Genome or
Virtual World), and you can boom to size 9 with ease. The ability to do this
earlier than almost any faction will give you a huge advantage in population, at
which time, you can switch to Market, and out-tech even drone-plagued Zak. And
once you get crawlers and Hab-complexes, you can boom all the way to size 16
with near-impunity, giving you such an edge in population that you"ll be hard-
pressed to lose the game. Yes, your troops are only average, but your greater
population enables you to have more of everything: More research (despite the
efficiency hit), more minerals, and more troops, and with the right facilities,
your bases can quickly become very tough nuts to crack.
Lal, the Hybrid: One of Lal"s main strengths is his sheer "averageness." True,
you lack the Industrial Might of Domai or Yang, the Morale and Prototype bonuses
of Santiago, the cash of Morgan, and the Research boon of Zak, but you"re also
not saddled with their liabilities, and your one disadvantage is easily offset
by the simplest of base facilities. All of this puts you in the position of
great flexibility, enabling you to shift gears much more readily than any of the
other problem-plagued factions. Your one "banned" SE choice (Police State) would
be something you would never need to run in any event, thanks to your extra
talents (which, by the way, is like the Genome Project on steroids, as its
impact on your bases is relative to the size of your bases....not static, as is
the case with the Genome, and you get it for free!). All in all, you couldn"t
ask for a better Hybrid faction than this! Beware, however: That sheer
flexibility can be both a blessing and a curse, and in a Lal-Hybrid game, you
need to become adept at reading the ebb and flow of the game, and make the right
choices at the right times (knowing WHEN to shift into a war footing and when to
pursue relentless research is vital to you.....if the other factions make a
mistake, they can play to their inherent advantages....cash, morale, or
whathaveyou, but all of your advantages are contingent on you making the right
decisions at the right time, and a misstep can set you back very badly, as you
have nothing really to fall back on). --Still, with practice at reading the
game, Lal can be one of the very best, most well-rounded factions in the game.
Lal, the Conqueror: At first glance, with your efficiency problems and average
troops, you might think Lal ill-suited to conducting a conquest war, but again,
his sheer flexibility (and, assuming you got the Governorship, his
auto-infiltration of all factions) serves him will in this capacity too. Even
fairly large, newly captured bases seldom have drone problems, as your "Talent"
bonus kicks in as soon as you occupy the base, often completely negating the
drones created via conquest. That, combined with a lack of any pronounced
weakness which can be exploited by your enemies, makes you a wily and tenacious
faction on the battlefield. To that end, however, you will only be as wily and
tenacious as your own personal skill in battle allows, again, because your
faction has no native combat advantages, meaning that you will have to engineer
any and all advantages yourself (through a steady program of militaristic
builds, and smart use of your standing army). Learn to do that well, and you
will find Lal to be a doggedly determined fighter.
New Kids on the Block: The SMAX Seven:
Cybernetic Consciousness:
At a Glance: +2 Efficiency, +2 Research, -1 Growth, Spoils of War, no penalties
for Cybernetic SE choice.
Game Notes: -1 Growth is a pretty huge penalty for a landward faction, but it
does not even compare with the benefits this faction has. The efficiency (and
ability to run Market), combined with the research bonus makes this group a
powerhouse by any definition, but when you add in the tech-steal ability, what
you get is a faction that can stand up to any of the original seven, and then
some! Their aversion is one you"d not run anyway (Fundy), so essentially what
you get is Deirdre"s efficiency, Zak"s research, and none of their crippling
disabilities (Dee"s lack of cash via market, and Zak"s drones). That puts the
faction in a position to do amazing things. So what if you have to build your
own network nodes….with techsteal, active probes, and your inherent research
bonus, getting and keeping the tech lead will not be difficult for this faction,
growth penalty or no. The "no penalties for Cybernetic" thing is of little
consequence, as by the time you are able to make that switch, the game is pretty
well won or lost. Still, it"s an interesting footnote that you don"t need the
Network Backbone to get around Cybernetic"s negatives when playing this faction.
Aki-Zeta, the Builder: Played this way, you take advantage of your Techsteal
ability by NOT taking advantage of it. Nobody will WANT to attack you for fear
of your being able to rip down a base and steal their proprietary research, so
if you"re content to play nice, they"ll probably be content to let you, and you
can make good on your threat anytime you like….just go for Non-linear math
pretty early on (that being about the only deviation from the more
builder-oriented techs), and you can make good on the implied threat….since you
start with Applied Physics, you"re only one step away, which is great for you….
As the consciousness, of course, you want to get those lab-enhancing facilities
built as quickly as possible to further enhance your native +2 research bonus,
but that will mean building at least some energy banks and the like to help pay
maintenance, so if you pursue the Builder path, then do it with a vengeance.
One thing that will help your Builder game is the growth penalty. Bases won"t be
springing up to size in an uncontrolled fashion, and in general, you will have
plenty of time to get your Rec. Commons" in place before it becomes an issue.
Aki-Zeta, the Hybrid: Impact weapons, Mobility, and Flex, and you"re armed and
doubly dangerous, as each one of your troopers is as good as a probe team too,
if he"s the one who moves into an enemy base. That, combined with your ability
to do something other than fight (+2 Research) and do it efficiently, makes you
a terrific choice for Hybrid style. Since you"ll probably keep a standing army
at the ready as soon as you get the techs to put something decent together (and
you"ll get those techs at a pretty good clip, thanks to your inherent
strengths), you"ll be in a much better position than your Builder cousins to
make good on the threat of ripping down their defenses and stealing their techs
(an ability which, by the way, lets you selectively ignore certain tech paths,
knowing full-well that when you get in a war, you"ll be netting those techs
anyway). Simply put, you will be hard pressed to find a better Hybrid faction
in the game.
Aki-

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