still playing while being in debt...
The 'Negative Balance'-strategy is the most efficient way to create an early high military score and/or an uberhigh lategame military score. It is published here for the first time, after being part of a collection of private strategies in the, now defunct, KzintiEmpire forums.
It can serve as a basic militaryshipbuilder/ planetaryoutbuilder in Giga-All-Abundant-Millionpointer games (where it has FAR less rampup-time than any other comparative strategies [like "All-Econ"]); and its application to SD-ZYWs (vs. max enemies) will also double these scores and sometimes even hold the power to prolong these games right into y1 (then they're not ZYW's anymore ) or you can even use it to defeat a Suicidal AI in a warfighting game....
It doesn't work for TotA for several reasons... but in DL & DA you actually can do the following:
- quickbuying planetary improvements
- producing hulls
- upgradeing ships
… and all of it while being deeply broke/ in debt.
Thus, the economic bound - which normally would act as the limiting factor to the things you can do & effecting most increments of score [and which some other strategies try to circumvent by "lease-buying" or do a "mass-shipupgrade"] - falls out of the equation:
As you can deduce from the screenie, the game still allows production which comes via focus from your labs to your shipyard while being hopelessly broke.
Global sliders have to be set to 100% spending allocated to 100% research to take full effect.
Focus will only transfer 1/4th of the base research-production – thus, research-enhancing modifiers are irrelevant for this strategy. But bonus-tiles are actually very helpful as they do multiply the base-output of labs.
After the transfer, it'll then be enhanced by your racial military-production-ability, therefore it's immensely helpful to have as much military-related bonus as possible. The +50% increase for 4 distribution points is a must-have in DA or as DL-Yor.
For a DL-Drath game their own inherent +25% MilProd would get overwritten, so in order to get the biggest bang for the buck you could actually pick the Industrialists political party instead.
Rule of thumb is to get, at aleast, 75% MP total, plus one the two following:
- Go evil and build the ASC (Artificial Slave Center) - which multiplies your MilProd by a flat *1.5. This is also incredibly helpful & should be your #1 choice.
- Or go neutral & build 'Neutrality Learning Centers' bringing +22base research instead of 'Discovery Spheres' +18. However, this is not so effective than the ASC plus you also loose the ability to outbuild starbases while being in debt (or invade planets with special invasive techniques, although that is borderline irrelevant for MV play)
Note that planetary improvements which enhance industry through a percentage (like Power Plants) don't seem to have any effect on production coming from research-focus... [but the other way around it works, if industry gets focused at research this will actually be multiplied by planetary research-boosters ]
The only exception which I'm aware of is the presence of an orbital Moon (+10% production) which account perhaps for 20% of all planets (really grossly estimated now). With some setups, such a Moon actually reduces the necessary labcount by -1.
Naturally there is some stuff you can't do while being in debt - so the NB-strat needs some time to be prepared ingame:
You can only start this once you have all necessary techs!
In a gigantic-all abundant game, where you most likely want to build a MSBA & ultimately outbuild all planets to super-tax makers, you'll basically need to research the complete techtree. Which takes about 48-72 turns.
If you only want to prolong a SD-ZYW and basically follow the researchpath given in there [TBA], you already have all of it
'In debt research':
A tiny bit of research can still be done to get some isolated techs which are somewhat outside a reasonable techpattern; use the
- +25% research anomaly
- „research“ treaty with your last AI or your Allies
- "dead treaty" (AFAIK only works until reloading)
- stealing techs with spies/ invasion
Building new military starbases costs money if you have already a few starbases sitting in space (the actual number & costs for each new SB is floating because it's based the galaxy size but mitigated by your logistics ability)
Note that errecting new resource bases doesn't cost money – but nevertheless these bases do still count as true starbases which will definitely increase your other starbase-costs! And that actually is a huge problem because it means if we mine out these precious resources (which is one of the very first things you should do in MillionPointers ASAP long before you actually are finished researching!) we definitely have to pay a considerable amount cash when building a MSBA... or for a MSBF, a hell lot.
At this time, money ceases to have any meaning for your game. Just toggle military focus on all your planets, enqueue a Tiny Hull, Small Hull or a Cargo Hull on all starports, and buy an improvement on all your planets per turn as well – and also upgrade all your ships to maximum tech design completely irrelevant of cost-considerations.
If you, by that time, haven't colonized all planets already upgrade your hulls to max-engine-Colonysships to get this done ASAP – this is actually more important than to have an early military because it gives you the greatest potential for a high military score lasting over 2-4 game years.
The planetary buildqueue should always start with a starport & followed by as many labs until production is so high that the planet releases one hull per turn. The amount of labs is dependant on your setup, your choice of hull & the availability of research-bonustiles & therefore, can vary alot.
Additionally, every planet should have ultimately 2 Advanced Farms & the rest tiles are all filled up with Stock Markets. If you don't want to have too much hassle with individually manageing +1000 planets just queue it this way & be done (the quickbuying on all these planets could be made by an AUTO HOT KEY script...)
However, to make the most score out of it, you sort the planetary buildqueue according to these logical instructions:
- IF planetpopulation is 1 turn near MaxPop - build a farm (until targetMaxPop=20b or higher)
- IF planetary approval is below 100% - build a Virtual Reality Center
- ELSE build a Stock Market
Actually, if there wouldn't be any bonustiles ingame we could easily determine (in accordance to our popgrowth rate...) the optimal enqueue list.... But bonus-tiles screw it up completely....
If you're an advanced scripter you could write an extensive script which recognises these tiles by their color & then places their respective target-improvement on top of them & even uses logical routines to swap between different optimized buildqueues.
Or you queue all these improvements manually, assigning a key for each of the 5 necessary improvements. Because your popgrowth-rate will stay basically the same (if you don't experience a PopGrow-Boom) the farms have to be queued always at the same spot in your list.
This can easily be determined beforeahead once you're done with outmining all resources & build all wonders etc... just colonize a planet - play a few empty turns & see how development occurs.
Nevertheless, here are two tables detailing DA-Breeder-NB-strat-buildqueues:
(for an ordinairy 250m Colony Ship:)
(for a big 1250m Colony Ship - enhanced by an 'Advanced Troop Mod' - use this design if possible, popgrow is significantly better here:)
Use the Tiny & Small Hulls to colonize the last remaining planets and outbuild your MSBA. In DA a Gigantic-All-Abundant galaxy averagely holds around +1000 habitable planets (in DL much less...). At the time you start NB you've probably already colonized/swindled 300-400 planets, so that leaves you with 600-800 Tinys & 300-400 Small Hulls - which together is fairly enough to place all modules on the MSBA.
If you want to construct a MSBF you'll most likely have to gift the AI allready outgrown SBs (well, you could actually try to set Constructors beside his MSBs, gift him "Starbase Defenses" through "Starbase Conquest Strategy"-techs in hope that he uses them... yeah nonono toooooo unsure.....) so if you need more Tiny/Small Hulls you should actually delay building Labs & instead prioritize Stocks to net an increased EconScore.
Principally the same applies to your planetary approval BUT there're 2 factors playing right into it
- +2% morale anomaly
- approval-penalty for being long-time in debt - displayed by a 'Smiley' in the bottom-left global pop/finance window:
This penalty is responsible that every now & here your approval sinks a bit – and it will not stop. It will appear for the first time after 24 turns being (effectively) in debted, and will swiftly take away some approval; always in -1% steps. These steps will get progressively longer - but you'll have lost approx. 6% approval for the first full year of debt; 8% for the second year, 6% for the third year etc
The difference in popgrowth between 99% & 100% is siginificant so you don't want that to happen. Advancing the VRCs a turn or 2 sooner in your list may therefore save you alot of manual work.
The above holds true for Dread Lords... also read Reply#5 to get some additional infos on how it works in Dark Avatar.
Additional Moral-depreciation & Population Growth info:
Your beneficial racial & planetary moralstats are actually depreciated by your tax-setting & also increasingly depreciated by your population. Sooner or later they will grow less fast when being in the range off 99% - 39%.
Between 39%-20% no more growth happens, so planets usually come at a natural stop at 39% approval. Still, that planet could support a handful of people. Because of this, and also, because we don't want slow popgrowth – you should actually build more VRCs – so approval stays at 100% throughout most of popgrowth-phase. Once you're done most (if not all!) of these VRCs then can be overbuild by a Stock Market.
From 19% - 0% a significant portion of your pop will flee your planet when pressing turn. That is, if you overbuild VRCs with Stocks you want your approval still to stay above 19%. Because of the „debt-moral-loss“ a handfull of planets may even slip to 19% every now & then which then either calls for a tax-reduction or an additional VRC on these planets. The former is more easy & handy but the later will net more score IMO.
How many VRCs as final planet-design?
Actually – none. Even a +50% moral improvement (Torian, TotA) doesn't rival a Stock Market in economic return. Your ability to completely cap population at 20b food with approval still over 20% relies on the number of available moral-resources.
Only build VRCs to boost individual planets – so that you don't have to reduce taxes for ALL planets. But if your ever-increasing moral loss becomes so great that you end up having a VRC on virtually all planets you might instead reduce taxes a bit & overbuild all VRCs with Stocks (which is, again, tiresome repetetive work...)
Actually, there may be one exception – when moral-bonustile(s) are present, and esp. if a +300% foodtile is also present. Because here (when you have a good galactic moral-setup) such a planet might be able to successfully hold more than 20b people – in this case overbuilding the bonustile-VRC with a Stock will surely reduce your population.
In a bad overall-moral-environment (where most planets won't even reach the 20b cap) such a moral-bonustile will also grant you additional pop – even without food-bonustiles.
A general rule-of-thumb is to simply fill the first moral-bonustile with a VRC and let it stay there.
In DL a Small Hull costs exactly the same as a Cargo Hull but has much less capacity so it's out of question. Also, a Cargo Hull can be turned into a Large Hull adding +4 military points/ship derived from hitpoints so that's a very attractive choice.
The general consideration is to trade military score (Cargo Hulls) for economic+popscore (Tiny Hulls, Small Hulls).
Some lowPQ planets may not even have enough tiles to produce a Cargo Hull per turn & still support 20b people.
1. Initial Colony 2. Starport 3-8. Discovery Spheres 9-10. Farms. Especially in DL there are alot of PQ8 worlds.
In this case, getting the planet to produce one hull each turn is your very best choice! This is so because
- of the way military translates into score (always mounting up!)
- while pop/econ stays linearily the same once capped (and it's capped via planets & tiles)
- a 20b highpop planet actually only justifies in terms of score when one also can build a few Stock Markets on it. How many Stocks are actually necessary to justify this, is somewhat floating because it's based on your economics ability (which acts as a base multiplier for your planetary economic number [very crudely spoken now...!] versus your ability to militarize shiphulls (ie your miniaturization-, defense- & weaponsability) plus your skills to be able to put them under as many military starbases as possible.
- Population in itself is the least interesting for score because of the abscence of any meaningful multipliers here (and because 100b pop planets aren't feasable to pull of everywhere but that is a topic for another time...)
So unless one could construct a massive MSBF (which work fairly well even with +1+1 Tiny Fighters...), you best go with Cargo Hulls at a 1-hull-per-turn production rate.
Some tiny general playout advice:
Use the „Colony Rallye Points“-Governor to release these hulls from the planets every turn, but immediately kill it so these hulls stay put where they are.
Upgrade them immediately to your max-military design in order to gain military score.
Repeat this for a handful of turns until you can still a single fleet with the ships sitting below one planet. You can create an AHK-script in order to fleet them all together. Afterwards upgrade them all to a fast design using lots of engines & re-route them towards the MSBA/MSBF. Give them at least, a single weapon- & defensemod so they can receive the SB-support a turn more early.
Once these ships have reached their final parsec re-upgrade them to max-military, again.
Repeat this until your system cannot support more ships, or you're fed up with the lag... then overbuild all Discovery Spheres with Stock Markets.
If you re-route a ship/fleet to a rallye-point where they already are, they will get stuck even with the options already set to "ignore moves left over from auto-pilot". Hitting "G" helps or you work with several different rallye-point places.
Give each upgrade-row a different shipname, that way you can efficiently upgrade multiple rows which don't affect one another, also it gives you the possibility to decommision ships in packs of 5k-10k should the game turn out to lag too severe or isn't able to create an autosave/quicksave/endgamesave!
At this point you only have to only play quasi-empty turns, set auto-save to 2 (so you can easily go back 6 turns reloading the „previousautosave“) or any other setting you feel comfortable with.
Your score will go up for some time, then start to slow down, then stay in stasis for a few turns, then start going down slowly. Retire a game now & then (multiply this score by 14 – this will give you the exact number of an otherwise Military Victory) in order to find out at what stage of score-development you are, and find your best time to submit the highest one.
Downsides of the NB-strat:
You'll encounter more of the above mentioned 'prolonged-debt-penalty' than an All-Econ-strategy; in the range of 5-8%.
Huge Hulls are unreachably.
There is a certain "breakpoint" when, in fact, an All-Econ-strategy would even be close or equal in term of scorestrength to the NB-strat. And that is once you can lease-buy one Huge Hull + one planetary improvement per turn on all your available planets. As said, this actually needs some ramp-up time but it'll occur quite naturally if you (after swindleing & mining out all resources) focus too much on colonizing new planets while taking research only from the Initial Colony building. For a successfull NB-strat you'll have to try to finish research sooner:
- red/weapon-techs first as these do inflate VERY MUCH
- leasebuy labs on researchbonustiles on any planets & also outbuild your TechCapital to maximize research. Try to get the AI TechCaps as well.
- Some branches aren't really needed - engines, range, planetary defense, shields et al. Think about building a substandard MSBA where you ignore the middle/late Beam/Missile-weapons (this saves a TON of research)
But if you're already at the point where an All-Econ-strat successfully launches off you can even combine both & leasebuy some 20k Huge Hulls - and, if your economy allows it - make an early NOT BANKRUPTING mass-shipupgrade on a few thousand ships(ususally around the time when most planets are somewhat finished). Then you go ahead to get some more Huge Hulls until your economy finally succumbs under the weight of ever-increasing leases. Then you make a final bankrupting mass-shipupgrade, and right immediately switch to the NB-strat to get even higher Military Rating.
A gigantic all-abundant map can actually be played out as a quasi-ZYW and ended premature in y0 or y1, and it will net significantly more score as any traditional ZYW or anything else you can pull of with any comparable strategies; from 600k upwards even crossing a million.
For this you'll have to cut research short (basically just follow the ZYW-SD research-path) and immediately swindle all AIs out of existance (ignoreing any attempts to farm Shrinkers or MCCs), and use your planets to produce Laser-ZPA-Cargo Hulls instead of colonizing the galaxy, which just sit at/beside your planets.
You may get around several thousand of those at the end of the year. Your score will rise very steep but also come to a halt very abrupt & decline fastly as well - and its best peek will NOWHERE be as high as if you colonize all planets (which calls for a longer game...).
A good chunk of your final score in such a game will actually rely on the AIs themselves - esp. how effective they are in colonizing the galaxy (for you )