Technology: Nanominiaturization

“Objects once measured in meters have become so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye, with revolutionary applications across the board. Gentlemen, forget what your courtesans have told you: size does matter!”

— CEO Nwabudike Morgan, Morgan Industries Annual Report

Nanominiaturization is a strange technology, in that it seemingly breaks many of the rules the player has come to expect up until now. On the one hand, the technology is labeled as an economic technology. On the other, its only immediate effect is to unlock a new chassis type, which normally comes on exploration-style technologies.

Digging further, Nanominiaturization is unlocked by Monopole Magnets and Organic Superlubricant. Which is, again, an odd combination. This is a technology whose claim to fame is to be able to shrink key physical components of complicated machines. Nano-scale machine parts probably don’t require traditional lubricant, since the individual drops of grease would get in the way of the intricate machining.

After pondering it for a while, I think what’s going on here is that this technology represents the ability to cleverly manipulate matter on a really small scale. The monopoles and the fusion lasers from Organic Superlubricant are useful in this context because they can be used to precisely alter the state of any given atom in a crystal. And once that capability’s in hand, it can be used to produce equivalents to what used to require much larger machines.

The first big application of these techniques is the Hovertank. Hovertanks are pretty awesome. They’re essentially an improvement on speeders, in that they count as land units and get an attack bonus against enemies in open terrain. But they have an extra movement point by default, making them 50% faster than a regular rover, and on top of that they ignore terrain movement penalties like air units. That means that they can still make use of roads and mag tubes to go faster, but they don’t get slowed down by moving into forested or rocky terrain.

Hovertanks would probably be a key beeline target if they could be gotten substantially before air units. The thought of early-game Spartans driving Impact Hovertanks is simply terrifying. But as it is, their role is mostly to make the late-game combat feel more futuristic and exciting without doing a whole lot to tilt the balance of power.

The more fascinating revelations here can be found in the quote. On the surface, we just see CEO Morgan talking a bit about the future tech and then ending with a pretty entertaining joke. Which, again, is confirmation that he’s got a sense of humor.

But there are a couple of points here that are definitely worth a mention. Notice that he’s riffing in the official Annual Report! This is almost certainly the Morganite equivalent of the State of the Union address in the modern USA. This is a formal event. But Morgan is treating it as an event like the Oscars. Or maybe like Steve Jobs releasing a new iPhone. Either way, it’s not full of the pomp and circumstance you might expect for a national speech with political import.

Second, the nature of the joke assumes that the men in the audience make a habit of having ladies on the side. He’s joking about courtesans, not wives. Coupled with the previous slam Miriam laid on Morgan in the quote for Planetary Economics, this is evidence in the implied canon that Morgan is not running a Fundamentalist government.

This is actually worth noting. In the gameplay, Morgan can often do quite well if he goes Fundamentalist and then uses his cash along with the spying bonus to fund a devastating covert war on his opponents. If he also goes with Wealth as his value, the morale bonus from Fundamentalism can help to mitigate the downsides of that choice as well. So the fact that he’s not making nods in that direction is a sign in canon that he’s been able to largely keep to his preferred pacifistic foreign policy stance.

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