Base Facility: Command Center

“Superior training and superior weaponry have, when taken together, a geometric effect on overall military strength. Well-trained, well-equipped troops can stand up to many more times their lesser brethren than linear arithmetic would seem to indicate.”

— Spartan Battle Manual

Upon building a Command Center, the player hears a reprise of Col. Santiago’s introductory quote.  A Command Center is a fairly expensive early game building that requires Doctrine: Mobility to build.  When produced, it grants two free experience levels to every land unit produced in the base.  It also allows units to heal back to full if they rest a single turn in that base, no matter how badly it was damaged.  Basically, as the quote would imply in this context, it lets the other factions experience something of what it is like to be Spartan.

In what is something of a common theme, even though this is tied to an early game technology, it isn’t likely that a player will want to build a lot of these facilities early.  They’re fairly expensive in terms of maintenance and build cost and they don’t really help start an economic snowball.  Even a player dedicated to an early rush would probably rather spend these resources on more troops.

But it follows that building Command Centers enable the Spartans themselves to double down on their faction advantages, enabling the construction of very highly promoted early game units.  Since units also gain experience as they fight and win battles, it means that a large early advantage can start to really snowball.  In SMAC, this quote from the Spartan Battle Manual is the truth.  So an early attack that isn’t a pure rush can definitely benefit from these.

Later on, the benefits of morale hit a cap at “elite”.  A unit can’t get any stronger than that, but when a unit does hit elite status, it gets an extra movement point in addition to a large combat bonus.  This is a huge advantage.  It means that now cheap infantry move as fast as rovers.  And the rovers themselves get an extra move, enabling them to speed through rough terrain or get the jump on enemies who believe themselves to be safely out of range.

In context, the game has a harsh anti-stacking penalty modified from the even harsher one employed by its predecessor.  All the units stacked on the same square take collateral damage if the top defender loses the battle.  This makes getting wrong-footed quite painful outside of a base.  And it also means that there are plenty of cases where it’s better to concentrate your unit quality.  Because of this mechanic, two units can’t always be made to serve in place of one excellent one.

Because this elite bonus is such a big deal, it means that factions that intend on doing a lot of land fighting past the middle game will do their best to achieve the ability to produce units with as much morale as possible, so that they can build up an elite core of extra-fast, extra-strong units.  The sooner a player can get there, the better off his faction is.  And basically every such strategy centers around selecting +Morale social engineering choices and then using facilities like the Command Center to grant additional levels.

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2 thoughts on “Base Facility: Command Center

  1. Mox

    It definitely is more effective to join up units! If you combine a high-defense unit with a high-offense unit, then the defense unit will take the hits, and the offensive unit will strike back… much more effectively than if you would make a single high-defense, high-offense unit. And it’s cheaper too, since unit cost increases geometrically, not linearly, the better the weapons and armor you put on it.

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  2. Nick Stipanovich Post author

    A lot of the time, you’re right. That cost term is a big deal. But there are a few factors that i think you might be underrating.

    First, artillery can be relevant. Every unit in a stack that gets bombarded without counterbattery cover resists with armor. So unarmored attackers hiding behind strong defenders will take disproportionate damage even against outdated artillery, reducing the punch on the counterattack.

    Second, there are diminishing returns in stack size. You can only lose so many fights out in the open before the whole stack is crippled or wiped out. This doesn’t change the calculus on splitting into dedicated attackers and defenders much, but it does lean toward making all the units fast, regardless of their role, which comes at higher expense.

    Third, you can only build one unit per base per turn, even with infinite minerals and energy. If you’re rich enough compared to the number of bases you have building military (because of only wanting to build a few installations like the Command Center, only having a few port cities for ships, or just having a huge empire with long supply lines and only a few convenient bases), then it can be better to concentrate the abundant resources into fewer, more capable units.

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