Alpha Centauri

From 1d4chan
Pacman boardgame 75x75.jpg This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.

Centauri α is the brightest star in the constellation of Centaurus. It is a binary star system, the third brightest star in the night sky, and the extrasolar star closest to our own besides Proxima Centauri (which may or may not be gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri). In 2012 an Earth sized planet was discovered in the system.

It's a popular destination in near-future space RPGs.

But you're here because of the vidya gaem "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" (SMAC), which is not only a strategy game accepted and welcome on /tg/, but the faction leaders in the game are also a meme used in mild role-playing shitposting

The Video Game[edit]

It's the spiritual successor to Civilization 2, and direct predecessor to Civilization 3 since it shares much of of the same dev team. One of the possible ending conditions of the Civilization games is to launch the first colony ship into space -- destination Alpha Centauri. Once they find a habitable planet, the team leaders suffer a political breakdown, culminating in the assassination of the colony ship's captain. Each team leader takes a part of the colony ship and some of the colonists in hibernation, and make planetfall. The game starts with your faction arriving, reviving the colonists for labour, and exploring the new world.

The game was very-well received because the economy and diplomacy of the game were staggering even today. There were no "mountain hexes or squares" to speak of, what mattered was the terrain soil consistency, and its perfectly sculpted 3-D elevation: what was a 1-square mountain in Civilization series (even today), was a very large set of rocky squares forming upwards into a mountain with varying shapes that could be drilled into or raised, or lowered with explosives/engineering. Army units were modular, defining every stat with an individual component (gun(offense), armor (defense), power source(cost/HP), and movement module -foot/wheel/track/jet engine- for speed)which miraculously was well handled by the AI. Last but not least, the diplomacy system was near perfect, its properties began being used in Civilization 6 even now. Oh, and individual resource satellites(like moon miners, orbital solar pods and orbital farming greenhouses) could be built to boost EVERY city. Can't get that one resource square? Fuck new cities, build a supply crawler which will farm it and send to nearest city. See that mountain? I don't want to, nuke it. Oh wait, the explosion triggered a river and new rain patterns, time to harvest. ORBITAL DROP a colony pod to avoid 39 turns of slow crawl? Sure why not, establish a city to advance to a new continent in days, reinforcing with new citizens dropped from nearest city with SPACE SHUTTLES!

Politics are equally diverse, no longer does the player use "democracy" or "monarchy" but defines the governance(police state, democracy, fundamentalist), economy(Free Market, Planned, Green), societal values(Power, Wealth or Knowledge) and "futuristic societies"(the last one being end-game bonuses), each combination with its own gamestyle.

The expansion pack brought some nuance to the game's Fluff, but fucked the Crunch in the ass: The Progenitors who cultivated the planet's unique neural fungi are revealed to be two factions in a civil war. When our ship came in, two colony ships of each alien faction turn up as well, fight and disable each other before crashing. What we had were two BULLSHIT-grade overpowered alien races who start with a free expensive improvement in every new city, level 3 armor tech, self sustaining energy income in lieu of trade, rising with every extra building and have a 25% offense/defense bonus. If they dropped next to human players, restart or resort to every gamey tactic to steal their tech. If not, research nerve gas, helicopters and apply it liberally the moment you see their cities like an exterminator with helicopter-deployed bug spray. To top the CHEESE-cake, the worms are heavily improved as well; they now land in massive, well organized raiding parties from aquatic worm islands, deploy spore launcher artillery to annihilate your improvements and snipe noncombatants a-la-commando, falling back to fungal tower buildings to heal up. Don't even think of playing single player with the old factions in the expansion, they will slowly be whittled away by the well-organized worm army.

Needless to say, neckbeards still cream over the game even today.

The Roleplaying Game[edit]

Steve Jackson Games made a GURPS sourcebook for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. The cover has a white border, which is unusual for GURPS splatbooks. You can usually find a scan of this book in 4chan's rapidshares catalog.

Some parts are pretty awesome, some are a little... meh. (The Spartans are generally crazier than they are even in the games.) It actually offers several suggestions for running a game set on Alpha Centauri, including ways to tweak the setting so that multi-faction parties are possible, though its attempts to integrate the "tech-levels" of the game into an overall narrative are pretty over the top.

Spiritual Successors and Spinoffs[edit]

There will never be a sequel to Alpha Centauri because the intellectual property rights are a clusterfuck. But if you really want a spacey 4x game, there's still Galactic Civilizations 2, although unlike SMAC, GC2 is way, way, way the hell soft scifi and doesn't take itself seriously even for a moment (3 specific types of armor which only work for one weapon attack each, and space systems being completely intertwined in terms of distance-Failing Physics and Distance Forever). On this subject, SMAC is noted for adhering to science, or at least throwing around sciencey sounding terms quite well. Everything in the setting is just fudging with (then) current understanding of physics to do nifty things. Yes, even the psychic death worms who lay eggs in your brain. Because you can drill to Aquifer and make elaborate giant rivers to boost trade after raising a fuckhuge mountain, or make a series of hills and use the winds and the rotation of the planet to make natural rainforests. Or fuck it, build mega-sized rain condensers and echelon mirrors to channel rain and sunlight over the whole fucking continent to boost solar energy.

Alternatively, there's Civilization: Beyond Earth, which is, if not a sequel, than at least a game built with the same creative DNA with some of the same concepts, minus the government civics, plus D.I.Y civ properties (from start to endgame, choose your own bonuses to adapt on the go). It's set in the future, when a deliberately-vague calamity (heavily implied to be climate change and a number of resulting wars and humanitarian crises that sprung out of it) has forced the human race to look to the stars for a new home. On top of the different national Sponsors (as follows: Suzanne Fielding of the American Reclaimation Company, genderbent Morgan, backstabbing corporate bitch; Samatar Jama Barre of the African Union, bro-tier leader, ironically built around food and population growth; Kavitha Thakur, Indian religious leader, mix of Miriam and Yang; Daoming Suchua, genderbent half-Chinese half-Cambodian version of Zakharov, crazy science output and INSTANT Wonder production(what the fuck gamebreaker, actually); Rejinaldo of Brasilia, male version of Santiago but also mixed with the badass Colonel Quaritch from Avatar; Élodie of Franco-Iberia, typical Eurotrash "nobility" snob but not to be underestimated if she starts stacking Culture to rapidly climb up the Virtue tree; Hutama of Polystralia, populist Australian politican with a faction built around the almighty dollar, beer and trade routes; and Vadim Kozlov of Slavic Federation, gopnik Russian representative, hybrid of Zahkarov and Yuri Gagarin (firm fan favourite). Expansion brought a space recycling expert, Hijabi Arabic Muslim woman of color, pot-bellied, Scottish blue-collar marine engineer and a creepy little Korean savant faggot in a suit with a punchable face that will boil your blood the moment you see him. There is also Affinities to wrangle with.

Affinities represent different ideological approaches for human colonists on an alien world to get past the whole biochemical barriers thing. There's three: Purity is all about changing the planet to fit humans, which means rejecting xeno and transhumanist filth and blowing them to fuck with well organized armies toting big guns, battlesuits and floating tanks. Harmony is the opposite, changing humans to fit the planet, which means lame Avatar love-thy-xeno-neighbour shit - you domesticate the chittering bug monsters and gene-splice them into your colonists' DNA. Its armies consist of lone wolves, units stronger when alone: weird bio-technology tanks along with bioengineered monsters and half-alien supersoldiers that shoot/breathe poison gas and heal with it; its super-elite unit being a LAB-GROWN KAIJU-SIZED ALIEN(actually admittedly that is kinda badass-plus its the strongest unit in the game). Finally there is Supremacy, which is about becoming cyborgs tied to each other via supercomputer nodes so you can be independent of the planet's biosphere entirely. Opposite of Harmony, its armies are individually weaker, but get stronger the more are next to each other and look sexy as hell which helps sell them.

Unfortunately, it's just a watered-down version of Civ V with all traces of character or complexity utterly stripped away, made even worse with the sequel where ALL DIPLOMACY IS SCRAPPED and turned to simple, predictable variables. It is a topic of heated discussion whether the new Noblebright setting is as fun as the Grimdark setting of Alpha Centauri.

There's also Pandora: First Contact, which was quite good and let you shoot black holes at people, but which never really attracted much of a fan base, because while the gameplay was sort of there, the charm and character weren't and it's just kinda bland.

The Factions[edit]

The elegan/tg/entlefolk, fa/tg/uys and ca/tg/irls will sometimes post to a thread with one of the faction leader portraits and respond in-character for that faction leader. This should help you understand what the fuck they're on about.

SMAC Deirdre.jpg
Gaia's Stepdaughters
Leader: Lady Deirdre Skye (Scottish)
Pacifist, Explorers, Green agenda, hates Free Market
Hippy-dippy freak who invented radiation resistant wheat and apples back on Earth, so she is less of a hippy and more of a freak, badass scientist. Wants to integrate with the existing biology, including the mind-raping local fauna. Still hot though. Will mostly leave you alone, so long as you've got a Green economy and don't mind her running her mind-worm boils over your lawn. Probably the canonical winner, since her name's on the game-winning tech. Not surprising, as her faction is overpowered as fuck. +2 efficiency and +1 Planet with fungus bonus from the start can make her blob if not kept in check. Stick with her as Pravin Lal to get extra worm reinforcements up the wazoo to defend your home.
SMAC Yang.jpg
Human Hive
Leader: Chairman Sheng-ji Yang (Chinese)
Aggressive, Conquerers/Builders, Police State agenda, hates Democracy
Insane totalitarian fuck, to the EXTREME. Think Mao meets Stalin meets Nietzsche meets Confucius surviving THREE revolutions in China (and lived through all to join the UN), and you've got a pretty good idea what he's all about. All about everyone being equal and subservient to the whole, even if it requires brain stapling for the greater good. Everyone lives underground, meaning that digging out his blood-tick cities is a pain in the butt. He's a warmongering asshole who will not coexist with anyone who does not share his extremely narrow set of social policies, and that really sucks because anyone else attempting them is basically committing economic suicide. (Only his faction bonuses allow him to ignore the penalties, and the Hive is still usually pretty broke and spamming swarms of cheap ooga booga conscripts and popgun-mounted vehicles at everyone forever.)
SMAC Miriam.jpg
Lord's Believers
Leader: Sister Miriam Godwinson (American)
Aggressive, Explorers/Conquerors, Fundamentalist agenda, hates Knowledge-seekers
Totally psycho uber Baptist redhead MILF bitch who spams demands every turn then declares war the moment you decline. Usually the first faction you fight if you're playing as Zakharov. Fairly strong militarily, but get this, they can't research at all for the first ten turns and take a massive penalty from then on, so Believers are proper fucked if the early game doesn't go Just As Planned. Miriam, in her wisdom, won't accept anything less than complete submission to her every social policy, and is burdened with an AI that will be hyper-aggressive with her rocks-and-sticks little army. This means, she'll either control a gigantic empire that controls half the planet by the time you encounter her (more likely when you let technologies be taken with city conquests), or more hopefully she'll get hilariously squished out of existence by overwhelming superiority very early on. Just putting her in a game will likely involve Anal circumference going one way or another. Notably the only American representative (except for the gun-crazy Santiago, who is Puerto-Rican), a crazy Baptist bitch that wants to bomb everything for the Christian God because the only religious violence is from the Bible Belt. Makes you think. Still, the second least horrible faction to be a citizen of after Lal's, since every other civ will experiment on or enslave you. If you aren't drafted to bumrush Zakharov's particle beams with hand-to-hand weapons, that is.
SMAC Morgan.jpg
Morgan Industries
Leader: CEO Nwabudike Morgan Freeman (Namibian)
Pacifist, Builders, Free Market agenda, hates Planned Economies
An African conflict mineral mogul who furnished the UN all their resorts to kiss ass, Morgan is all about the Benjamins, and making sure his peeps are living the high life. Problem is he's the kind of greedy asshole who'll happily rape the planet beyond saving to do just that, so the Gaians and the Cult tend to pick fights with him often. Doesn't matter if he succeeds though because THE FREE MARKET WILL FIX IT! He won't openly try to slap your shit as long as you're not a dirty commie. One of the few factions that can actually reliably try for the otherwise-wonky "economic" victory, naturally, though even for him it's much easier to go for any of the other win conditions by throwing throwing money at any problems that present themselves until they go away and leave behind supremacy. Ironically, the "Green" policy can still turn him into a powerhouse, (and works in times of war, particularly combined with Wealth value for +1 energy on each square), but he declares war on all "Green" policy bearing factions to "liberate the markets".
SMAC Pravin.jpg
Peacekeeping Forces
Leader: Commissioner Pravin Lal (Indian)
Erratic, no specialists, Democracy agenda, hates Police State
When role-playing in a thread, Pravin will usually say something about "why don't we come to some sort of agreement" and everyone else will agree that Pravin should shut the fuck up. He's a limp-dicked peacenik and thus usually the first to get wiped out, but he's tied with Deidere in being the overall fairest to his people, and he's one of the few leaders whose opinion can't be bought - go ahead, offer him everything you have, press an impact rifle's muzzle up against his forehead, this motherfucker "muh UN Charter" is still his top priority. When the worst that can be said of you is that you want to try to clone your dead wife so that the whole "death" thing won't permanently destroy your marriage, you're still the most ethical leader on Planet. Has few real strengths or weaknesses, so his faction is good for beginners to learn the ropes with, though victory with him will ultimately rely on the skill and talent of the player rather than the powers and bonuses of the faction to carry the day, such as allying with Deirdre and Zakharov, who are natural allies when Lal goes Green Economy, Knowledge Valued and Democratic. That, and a large population base to win U.N elections as well as rapid regaining of comm lines to other leaders. If you can settle a fertile valley and boom your people into high numbers, your vote at the reconvened U.N will be a Damocles' sword.
SMAC Santiago.jpg
Spartan Federation
Leader: Colonel Corazón Santiago (Puerto Rican)
Erratic, Discoverers/Conquerers, Power agenda, hates Wealth
Has plus-four strength. All about military power and how soldiers are superior to soft lazy civvies like you. Most often accused of assassinating the colony ship's captain, despite a complete lack of proof and claiming, for once, she didn't kill anybody. She's a psychopathic douchenozzle and often gets herself killed when she picks a fight with too many people at once, and is completely suspicious of anyone who picks a "value" other than "power", because she assumes these values are just power dressed up in ideological bullshit. (And, to be fair, it's not like you aren't probably eyeing that cosmic-string supergun and licking your chops.) That said if you beat her up and she surrenders, she actually means it, and will loyally serve you for the rest of the game. Has a brutal early-game, since her troops have super-morale and level up quickly, but needs to get some extra tech to avoid turning into a has-been ex-superpower being picked off by inches before the game's out. More-or-less obliged to try to win by beating the shit out of everyone else too, which gives her some predictability problems, though at least she's not in quite as bad of shape as Miriam on that score.
SMAC Zakharov.jpg
University of Planet
Leader: Academician Prokhor Zakharov (Russian)
Erratic, Researchers, Knowledge-seeking agenda, hates Fundamentalists
Techno-fetish nerd with all the toys (all of them), thus beloved of the denizens of /tg/ and /v/. He and Miriam fight like cats and dogs -- if only they'd finally get a room and fuck, but she's an ugly bitch and he's a unwashed dweeb, so it'll never work out. Prone to ranting about misconceptions of SCIENCE! and the evils of brain-rotting superstition while indulging in the occasional horrifyingly-unethical live vivisection. Particularly vulnerable to backdoor probing until he gets his secret security project Hunter Seeker Algorithm, and then those pesky probe teams will cry need retrofitting with an expensive part to continue spying.

The expansion pack Alien Crossfire upped the ante by adding new factions so criminally unbalanced they made the others obsolete. Even so, the supercharged Mind Worm attacks in the expansion can eat these up just as well.

Ulrik Svensgaard.jpg
Nautilus Pirates
Leader: Ulrik Svensgaard (American)
Agressive, Explorers, Power agenda
Annoying drunken anarchist douche desperately trying to be Captain Nemo while cosplaying as a classical pirate. Piratical raiders who start in the ocean unchallenged. If played by the AI they will reach epidemic levels of city expansion before you can field a navy, making conquering their strung out train wreck of an empire almost as bad as ignoring it - unless you've done your research, have a decent army, or declare him a non-person to gang up on.
Cha Dawn.jpg
Cult of Planet
Leader: Cha Dawn (Unknown)
Erratic, Discoverers/Conquerers, Green agenda, hates Wealth
Batshit loopy super hippies led by a psychic child of the corn who makes Deirdre look like Morgan. Basically what would happen if PETA managed to take control of a country. Takes over for Lal as the first person to get hilariously rolled out in the expansion unless he finds some mind worms double quick. If foolishly allowed to live unmolested they will turn the game into a tentacle rape simulator for any player foolish enough to have an economy. Of course mind worms become easy-peasy late game, so laugh as he funnels free experience points into your troops.
Sinder Roze.jpg
Data Angels
Leader: Datajack Sinder Roze (Trinidadian)
Erratic, Democracy agenda, hates Power
Basically 4chan in charge of a civilization. Tend to oppose the Believers on principle, because the information wants to be free, baby. Hence the other favourite faction besides Zakharov. Make good allies if you can put up with their practical jokes (read: "anything the probe team can get away with"). Otherwise not all that annoying and they're easily ground into the dirt by a half competent military if they get uppity.
Aki Zeta-5.jpg
Cybernetic Consciousness
Leader: Prime Function Aki Zeta 5 (Norwegian)
Erratic, Discoverers, Cybernetic agenda, hates Fundamentalism
Asexual cyborg whose half-robot populace has trouble getting themselves to make babies, but will be teching on towards victory while you're still trying to bang rocks together. Will cheerfully befriend you early on and trade tech to you at very reasonable prices for most of the game, until you turn down the perfectly reasonable late game option of subsuming your entire civilization into a cybernetic collective. Tends to skimp on her military, deal with her by drowning her in corpses, the manly way. If playing as her, her tech-looting powers ironically make military expansion one of your more-viable strategies.
Foreman Domai.jpg
Free Drones
Leader: Foreman Domai (Australian)
Erratic, Builder, Eudaimonic agenda
A badass Australian ex-Drone who lead a slave-revolt out from under Yang to build a less crazy, more bullshit overpowered version of the Hive. Can crap out an entire continent's worth of infrastructure before you build your third city. Oh, and after you meet him you BETTER treat your people right because you start getting full-scale communist revolutions instead of drone riots. Fun. He'll probably still be swinging around lasers while you're blasting things with cosmic strings though, assuming you don't give him the time to build enough Labs to make that penalty meaningless. He and Aki Zeta-5 hate each other late game almost as much as they want to bone each other for the rest of the game, and from their murderous hatefuck of an alliance you will know pain, as their problems are basically mirror-images of one another. The probable canon winner of the expansion story, given his name's (paradoxically) on the all-powerful cosmic-string-resonance supergun, and the highest Bro-Tier ruler considering only he supports the left-libertarian Eudaimonia civic, the society corresponding to "The Culture" series.
Lular Hminee.jpg
Manifold Caretakers
Leader: Guardian Lular H'minee
Aggressive, prevent transcendence agenda, hates Manifold Usurpers
Planet's absentee landlords, who have come back after a teensy weensy problem with the other manifold reaching sentience and killing everything within three systems. She'll drop everything to try to murder the everliving shit out of anybody who tries to go for the Transcendence victory, because she has firsthand experience in exactly what that kinda shit will lead up to. Ridiculously overpowered in most regards, they are balanced by the fact that they aren't UN members and are automatically hostile to the Manifold Usurpers. Pray they crash next to each other so you can clean up the survivors and move on.
Judaa Marr.jpg
Manifold Usurpers
Leader: Usurper Judaa Marr
Aggressive, transcendence agenda, hates Manifold Caretakers
The second alien race. Wants to hijack Planet's evolution and use it to turn his faction (and yours too, Earthman, if you jump on this alliance for the low-low price of your total submission!) into a a single hive-minded psionic god. Even though the last attempt ended up with the gestalt intellect going absolutely insane and nearly collapsing their civilisation. Hence his position as the game's resident That Guy (Seriously, he is by word of devs the only truly evil leader in the game). Plays as more of a rip and tear marauding-barbarian type to H'minee's turtling builder, sharing their "weaknesses." Once he allies with Domai and starts feeding him tech, it's fucking over. Enjoy your web-mouthed alien overlords or break out the nerve gas since they aren't UN members. Yes, a lot of players don't realize that fighting the both Alien the proper way and exterminating them with WMD's actually works pretty well: sadly, same goes for them. Alien tech coupled with their OWN version of nerve gas means kill or be killed.


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You know how you said that there wouldn't be a second? Think aga- its Noblebright and meh: