(written by Bondservant)
Improved Desert Habitation – Make It Your First Nu Campaign Advantage Purchase
Improved Desert Habitation: “Crystalline colonists grow even faster on hot worlds (2.5X faster on 100 degree planets), but slower on cool worlds.”
So you have decided to take command of the Crystal Confederation in a Nu Planets Campaign game. And you can enter the galaxy using a total of 500 points. Should you purchase and allocate 30 Nu Advantage Points to activate the unique Crystal advantage of “Improved Desert Habitation” instead of other advantages or ship alternatives?
Absolutely! If you are able, I would recommend purchasing and activating this even before one of the other great advantages available to the Crystals: Starbase Mine Laying. While it is very advantageous for starbases to be able lay web minefields, Improved Desert Habitation is even more precious to the Crystalline building a galactic empire.
Why? Economics and Military Strength! This advantage ensures that the Crystal player will be able to build more high-tech ships and build many more torpedoes to lay web minefields. And it results in being able to build more defense posts. Over time, it helps turn the Crystal Confederation into an economic and defensive juggernaut. If managed correctly, then by endgame the Crystalline economic power is only exceeded by the Borg. And in some instances, it can become even greater than the Borg since Crystal planets will continue to grow in size, while due to hot/cold climates, many of the Borg planets with assimilated colonists continue to shrink.
I have never agreed with those players that believe Crystals have no economic advantage versus other Races. With the ability to terraform every planet into economic viability, then over time the Crystals have a big economic advantage over most Races. But now, with this new Nu advantage activated, the economic superiority of the Crystals vs. other Races are particularly pronounced. They can now more easily cultivate the source of minerals and MCs required to build multitudinous torpedoes to exploit my favorite Race advantage in Nu Planets: web minefields.
I have built successful Crystalline empires with and without this advantage. And the difference that this advantage gives me is simply amazing. With this advantage, the colonists at my homeworld (HW) grow by an astonishing 12.5% per turn instead of 5%. At 3 million colonists (30K clans), this means growth is +1500 clans without the advantage but +3750 clans with the advantage. And the gap of +clan growth simply increases as my HW grows.
Let’s first start looking at the economic impact of this Crystalline advantage by examining the impact on my HW and my initial planets next to my HW. By turn 50, my desert HW and the four worlds next to my HW can all be near the maximum 10 million colonists, when all nearby planets are terraformed to become desert planets as well. Without purchasing/activating this advantage, then by turn 50 my HW normally will only have 2.5 million (not 10 million) colonists, the same # as when it started the game; and the four planets near my HW will have an average of only 500,000 colonists (not 8-10 million). Hard to believe that your home cluster can be filled with several planets at/near the maximum of 10 million colonists? Yes it may be hard to believe, but it is true. I have done it.
This difference by turn 50 gives me 1400 more supplies and 3K more MCs per turn at my HW and four surrounding planets. And it translates into about 3000+ more supplies per turn in my empire. These extra supplies with a Merlin can translate into +400 to +1000 more minerals per turn. And all of these desert planets with 10 million colonists can have over 350 defense posts.
Regarding taxation on your homeworld, it is best to overtax on turn 1 to the point where happiness is lowered by 30%. And then tax 0% for the next five turns to let the planet grow by +6% happiness and at the +12.5% maximum population growth. Once happiness is 100% again, then overtax again to lower the happiness to 70%. This allows for getting much-required MCs every six turns, while allowing the population to increase as fast as possible over time.
You don’t have to wait until mid/late game to benefit from this advantage. For example, by turn 30 the Crystal HW can grow to 7 million colonists and surrounding planets to 2 million (vs. 2.5 million and 300K). And by turn 40 the Crystal HW should be about 9 million colonists and surrounding planets with 5 million colonists (vs. 2.5 million and 400K).
Beyond turn 50, the Crystal Confederation focus can be on emulating this same economic strategy in planet clusters outside the HW, solidifying the power and strength of the planets throughout the confederation. You can initially focus on just 1-3 planets in your nearby cluster(s) — heating them up to 100 degrees and growing their population at/near the maximum +12/5% a turn. It is usually quickest to first heat up planets that are already desert planets or at least far above 50 degrees. And those planets with nice natives and a high government should only be heat up to 50 degrees, until their native population grows to maximum.
If this advantage is activated, then the Crystal player should build plenty of Onyx Class Frigate terraform ships. These ships will raise the temperature by +1 per turn, so a group of five Onyx will raise a planet from 50 to 100 degrees in 10 turns. It is critical to have desert planets to achieve maximum population growth and reach the maximum population limit of 10 million colonists. With luck, you will be able to find a Humanoid planet near your homeworld; this will make it easier to build a starbase early on to churn out several Onyx ships prior to hitting the ship limit. Optimally, you can build a minimum of 10 Onyx ships for this purpose. As a bonus, you can also use the Onyx ships to lay small web minefields to help protect your planets.
It is helpful to also build a few Super Transport freighters to eventually move 2600 clans (260,000 colonists) at a time to nearby clusters; this will help enable the Crystal to emulate this growth economic strategy elsewhere in other planet clusters too. And if you are fortunate enough to own some Sapphire Class Space Ships, then these desert planet clusters are excellent locations to HYP out to lay web minefields and return safely to reload and repeat.
Population growth in your galaxy can result in a total of over 30 million Crystalline colonists by turn 40, over 50 million colonists by turn 50, and over 75 million Crystalline colonists enjoying their hot and balmy planets throughout your galaxy by turn 60 — which is over 30 times the number of colonists from turn 1. All this can only be true if you are part of the Crystal Confederation and if you have Improved Desert Habitation.
It is true that this “advantage” also results in clans growing even slower on cool worlds. But they already grow at a slow rate, so an even slower rate does not have much of a true impact. So there is minimal negative impact to this advantage, but great reasons to purchase and activate.
Finally, besides the rational reasons to activate this advantage, it simply just feels good to have it. The emotional reason for any Crystal to activate it is to maximize the difference between you and all other Nu Planets Races. Crystals like it Hot. Super HOT! This advantage kicks in when a Crystalline planet becomes hot. With it, Crystal Commanders have more incentive to build Onyx terraform ships to create an empire filled with desert worlds. By the time the game ends, it feels special for a Crystal to have a galaxy filled with desert planets occupied by millions upon millions of Crystalline colonists — desert planets that the Crystal loves and everyone else abhors.
I will always have this advantage activated when I am playing as the Crystal. I highly recommend you do too. For fun and for profit.
May the webs be with you!