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Old January 7, 2001, 03:39   #1
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Cha Dawn: Playing in the fungus
I've been playing Cha Dawn in SP games recently, since he is regarded as being the weakest faction and I fancied a bit of a challenge. Anyway, after a few games, I've come to few tentative conclusions and I was wondering what other people thought.

After reading Velocyrix's strategy guide and few recent posts here, I at first tried a momentum-ish worm rush, backed up with the best rovers I could manage. Trouble was, I could never manage to capture enough worms (a good amount seemed to be 4-6 worms and 4 spore launchers) to make this more than a 50-50 strategy. Everything seemed to depend on who I started near to and on a couple of occassions my 'army' was left smashed on the battlefield. I did have some success (more down to lucky starts, I felt) although if you start on an island to yourself this approach is a tad doomed.

Anyway, never one to give up, I thought I'd try a much more builder-esque approach, which I found far more successful - although I'd still never pick him in any MP game I hoped to do well in. I thought I'd outline what I 'd been doing, to see what people thought.

I started by looing at his faction characteristics and trying to base an approach on them.

First the problems:
-1 Industry: Not a devastating problem, but it was going to be a pain
-1 Economy/Wealth Aversion: This is the killer. With inabilty to use Wealth, that crucial +2 Economy is impossible. Consequently, running Free Market would be a waste of time since +1 Econ gives a very marginal improvement (even compared to starting point of -1).

Now the positives:
+2 Planet: In the very early game mindworm capture allows for fast exploration and pod-popping, so you I haven't had to waste time building units for scouting. With this in mind I resolved to pop as many pods as I could, trade as many techs as possible (given that I would meet more factions) and choose only the best sites for bases by utilising superior knowledge of my surroundings.
After Industrial Automation and the lifting of mineral restrictions, I usually crawl minerals from mines as a priority (trying to snag as many SPs as possible, complete infrastructure and offset against any army support costs.) With other factions, I generally find that two mines with crawlers per base works well and no base has eco-damage above 10. However, with Cha Dawn and his +2 Planet I found I could support 3 mine/crawler combos for the same eco-damage. As the game progressed, it quickly became clear that, for the same eco-damage as I would normally accept, I could afford about 6 extra minerals per base (later on this typically came from boreholes). All in all, this completely offset the -1 Industry - in fact I would say it felt like I was running at closer to +1 Industry.

Mindworms count double for police duty: "What's the point of that?" I thought at first. After all, mindworms are for podpopping and kamikazing into Yang's perimeter defense, right? Actually, I found this an extremely useful ability for the Cha Dawn builder. Typically, with another faction, when I found a base, I rush build a former then build a cheap defensive unit. If the nutrient supply is average or better then building my recycling tanks next is risky because my third citizen (drone) may well arrive before my rec commons is done (since rush building is harder in the early game when money is tight.) Consequently, I often build a rec commons before recycling tanks - even more often if I've had the first efficiency warning. However, as Cha Dawn, not only can I forego my defensive unit (using a mindworm instead) but its double police duty means my first drone is actually the fourth citizen. Consequently, I could always manage to get up tanks and creche before I needed a recreation commons. This offset the -1 Industry even further, with the turn advantage of early tanks and the lack of expenditure on a defensive unit (at least until I could build the unit in one turn).

What's more, the mindworm police effect continues as the game progresses, meaning you need less psych-increasing specialists and can have them working instead (still using other specialists though, of course). When you get the free Brood Pits, it's even better, but by that time the game is normally already won (or lost).

Okay, you say, that's fine on the industry front, but -1 Economy and no Wealth SE choice is still a killer. And this true, you're just not going to have the wealth of the market lovers.
Since we're not going to run Free Market (since it has almost no benefits for Cha Dawn) that leaves Planned or Green. Green's growth penalty and efficiency bonus makes it more suitable for the latter half of the midgame. Normally I would use Planned in the early game, for faster growth, until I can sustain a switch a Free Market, using Planned again whenever I want to pop-boom. With Cha Dawn, I tried instead to stay in Planned through the entire period I would normally run Free Market until switching to Green became economically too tempting.
Without doubt, this meant I was taking a cash/research hit, but not much I could about that. Rather, I tried to take advantage of the choices as best I could. The big advantage is that any base with a creche is in a permanent state of pop-boom (rather than the limited time pop-booms I would normally use) so I've beeen trying to play to that by continuous expansion for as long as there are places for bases. The excellent early game mindworm scouting really pays off again here. Add to that the +1 Industry planned gives you and that -1 Industry seems more and more inconsquential. And the mindworm police effect make drones a bit less of a problem too.
When the time came to switch to Green, I was undoubtedly behind in tech for a typcial builder, but has bigger bases and more of them, with more infrastructure. Which meant, the income/research rate when changing to Green was higher than it would have been had I been running Free Market for most of the mid-game, making catching up that much easier and setting a solid foundation for a research rate superior to normal as the midgame progressed (although not quite of the standards of a Morgan, or Zak, better than, say, Lal or Roze).

As a last note on SE choices: Since Wealth is forbidden, Knowledge is the preferred builder choice. I don't know about other people, but unless I chance upon it by probing, Knowledge is often not available to me until after Doctrine:Air Power, Clean Reactors and MMI are gained.
However, in one game I played, the neighbours weren't giving me any trouble (I was pacted with Dierdre and had an island to myself as the core of my empire) so I decided to delay D:AP and go for Knowledge and the rest of that tech line first (which soon leads to Pre-Sentient Algorithms and Fusion Power). The +1 Efficency of Knowledge helped to offset the avaerage efficincy of Planned/Democracy and Fusion Labs were even more welcome than normal. (Plus I didn't have to upgrade my choppers to fusion power, the first chopper WAS fusion powered.)

"This is all well and good," I hear you cry, "but if you start next to Marr, you start next to Marr and all the double police effect in the world isn't going to save your sorry butt." True, perhaps, but I don't think you're in a worse military position than Morgan or Dierdre and you have a few tricks up your sleeve: Switching to Green for a while gives your mindworms a tremendous attack bonus that even offsets 3-res armour. And if you're running a Planned economy, then Marr might even be nice to you (I wouldn't count on it though).

And now the final, decisive test, would I play Cha Dawn in a MP game? Well, no, I probably, wouldn't, not if I had a free pick of factions. But, if I were forced, I probably try the same strategies I've mentioned. And since he's hardly ever played, no-one will really know quite what to expect!

[This message has been edited by Goit (edited January 07, 2001).]
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Old January 7, 2001, 11:27   #2
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A very well reasoned strategy.

Why not try it out in Zsozso's Ultimate builder Challenge?

go to:

and the challenges page and download it there

You are Cha facing permanent vendetta against the 2 aliens, Sven, etc.

I'gs a great game for honing one's Cha skills

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Old January 7, 2001, 12:36   #3
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A good addition to your ideas would be to get Doctrine Iniative as soon as possible, build empath cruisers/and the Maritime Control Center to go out and grab the floating pods first. In doing this you will generate lots of cash and new techs, as well as build up a huge army and navy of independent native life.

Basically you run "Green", team up an IOD and Empath Cruiser. The IOD pops the pods while the cruiser stands ready to kill/capture any native IOD's that appear. The combination of Green, Empath, with the Morale & Range boost from the Maritime control center are what makes it work so well. Before long you will have more Iods, worms and alien artifacts than you will know what to do with. I tend to save the artifacts for later in the game when techs are more expensive.

Somewhere in the archives is an excellent , detailed strategy on this.
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Old January 7, 2001, 18:53   #4
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A couple more points. I think worms are more important than spore launchers, so I wouldn't recommend capturing too many launchers - just kill them instead. If your worm is in the adjacent square back up to another fungus square and then move in for the kill, as you can't capture with less than one movement point. You have diminishing rates of returns on the native life captures, so capturing spore launchers will likely reduce your worms and IoD haul.

Goit, you are right that you should be using a worm temporarily as a garrison unit to free your new cities up for more useful production. The ability to do this, as well as capture oodles of pods, credits from defeated native life and the diplomatic bonus you get for having a big army early make this one of the best early game factions. I can often conquer the nearest AI faction into submission quickly. As well, this is my strongest faction for countering the Aliens in the early game.

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Old January 8, 2001, 06:22   #5
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I have mad similar experiences with Cha Dawn.

I would say that the worm rush has three disadvantages:
1. You cannot be sure to get worms when You need them.
2. Your industry penalty makes it difficult to build the "backup rovers" for the rush.
3. You will make you enemies by attacking Your neighbours, and this is exactly what makes Cha Dawn such a mess when played by the AI. You cannot build strong troops very fast, and the rate You can capture worms can't be calculated, so you need friends, not enemies!

So I also play Cha Dawn as a builder and use the captured worms as garrison/police, of course mixed with conventional troops. Build, be friendly to Your neighbours, pop pods (on sea not with empath units, but with IoD's), and to overcome the industry penalty, there a three methods: 1. crawlers. 2. crawler. 3. more crawlers.

One last thing I see valid vor Cha Dawn: He is the one who is very dependent on his starting position, because he needs a good patch of fungus form worm-farming. If he don't get's it, then he has a problem.
I remember my last Cha Dawn game, where I started on a nearly fungus-less peninsula with a warmonger neighbour on the isthmus to the main continent. I was crushed like the well-citated bug!
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Old January 10, 2001, 18:17   #6
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Playing against Dawn is pretty easy. He lags in tech but is so arrogant he declares war on me even when he has very low strength and mine is very high. I give the upstart a good spanking. I once saved the game and destroyed 1/4 of his empire with a PB just so I could see the effect. Pretty darn cool! I reloaded quickly because I don't wnt to be at war with everybody...

He once landed something on my coast. I squinted for a few seconds before realizing it was a larval spore launcher! Against my crack units? Hahahahaha!!!
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Old January 11, 2001, 15:35   #7
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Tha larval spore launcher says more about AI ineptitude than it does about the strength of CHA. The CULT does have major deficiencies but the major advantage is the ability to get out there early and pop pods/meet people and explore. These advantages are harder to quantify but are real.

You may laugh at native life but even a worm assisted by the +40% to +50% from a high planet rating and perhaps the Nexus will knock the stuffing out of one of your high priced crack troops. Add that to the fact that a human controlled Cha should have good tech from early trades and that means that Cha can field a pretty good early army.

Cha can easily field have a half dozen worms on site and these are replacable fairly easily. Also Early IOD captures mean that CHA can rule the seas. I think many players underestimate the importance of both earlier exploration and a self- replicating navy.

I agree that the Cult has major long term disadvantages that are quantifiable and enduring. the advantages are shorter lived but all I know is with Cha:

1. you see more of the planet earlier than with any faction but Sven
2. Former protection from worms is much less of an issue-- Active trolling for worms has the added effect of keeping these safer
3. You can more easily stake out territory and build without fear inside a trolling circle of worms
4. You need less early military since captured worms
5. You can kill spore launchers for cash more easily
6. A captured IOD often contains additional worms-- instant task force

I don't see Cha as a super strong faction (its not my favorite) but do believe that too many players discount the possibilities of that weird little being.
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Old January 12, 2001, 06:36   #8
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I have written in this thread some days ago, that Cha Dawn is an underestimated faction, because the AI plays this faction so bad.
Now, I have to write again, because of a simple reason:
I am on the best way to becoma a CHA DOWN FAN!

In my recent game, random gave me the Cult of Planet to play.
I got a good starting position, what is very essential for playing Cha Dawn: Alone on a nice big continent with some big fungus patches.
I caught some mindworms and began pod-popping. Very early, I found the communication code of Domai in a pod, and we made I nice tech trade. Going on the early game tech lead in the way, I managed to get SotHB as first faction with Cha Dawn :-) I build the WP and the HGP. Because of HGP, no problems with drone riots (with Cha Dawns start techs, You even can build recreation commons right away from the start!).
I also managed to build the empath guild and made me elected planetary governor :-).
The first 1-1-skimship that I build caught a IoD and a sealurke on the first three turns, the start of my native navy.
A lot of popped Alien artifacts boosted my science. Tech came so quick, that I build only one laser weapon and not even a single impact weapon unit, because I got missile tech so fast.
Diplomacy, I do of course an other way the Cha Dawn
played by the AI. I have treaties with all human factions except one (was pacted with Domai first, but he cancelled this pact because of me running green. But we have still very good connections).
I have lost to secret projects, VW and Planetary Traffic to Domai, both for only one turn (sigh!) because of his fast industry. Planetary traffic was my own fault, I stupidly traded him this tech :-(
But then Alien Artifacts gave me tech lead again, and I got the Marine SP and the Ascetic virtues. Neural enhancment SP will be next. I built the first airforce, and I am the only one who has silkstell armour.
Although I have a bad economy, energy is no problem, because of worm hunting.
The Marine SP is a very nice thing for Cha Dawn! I have only one conventional navy unit, but my IoD's rule the seven seas! Momently, I was running a IoD-rush on the Aliens sea bases and have just conquered four sea bases.

I was never back in the tech race so early on transcendent level and see a very good chance to win this game. Marr is still leading in power graph (I am second), but only because of his army. No problem for my X-gas-penetrators.

I think the biggest PIA on long terms will be Domai.
Perhaps he will outproduce me with his industry snapping away the secret projects before my nose, and he will cause ecodamage and sea level rising.

Cha Dawn rules!
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Old January 12, 2001, 10:15   #9
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What makes Chaw Dawn looking really weak is that you have the basic advantages with Deirdree too without having trouble with Chaw Dawn's disadvantages .
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