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Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Wyvern
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 3:51 am

Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Wyvern » Wed May 22, 2013 3:16 am

In playing through a whole bunch of eras, I've been gradually trying to come up with a strategy for optimizing my Ambassador picks. Initially I based the decision primarily on which aspects seemed the most useful to have, trying out different upgrade paths each game. But now I'm starting to realize that, in a lot of cases, the aspects themselves are largely irrelevant.

Consider the Stone Giant. His base Precious Mineral skill advances to level 2 with one Desert ambassador and one miscellaneous ambassador, and his base Advanced Mineral skill is Swamp/Any. So by taking Desert and Swamp for your first two ambassadors, you get both with only two ambassadors. If you take a Forest ambassador for the Exotic aspect, one of those source upgrades will be delayed. Since the difference between normal and great resources is enormous, this is virtually never justifiable; you practically HAVE to go S/D or D/S for your first two ambassadors every game. The fact that the vast majority of Exotic upgrades can also be earned through Predator or Hunt makes the decision even easier (Gray Foxes are great, but not "gimp every wealth mine on the planet" great). And then D/D/S is the only combination that gives you both rank three sources at three ambassadors, so again Exotic isn't an option. And since mere potent aspects are largely useless once you get that far in the game (and since taking an F for your last ambassador shuts you out of any sublime aspects), there's basically no worthwhile Stone Giant build that can ever learn Exotic Aspect at all.

Look at the Ocean Giant. A Swamp ambassador in your first two levels is an obvious must since you need it for great domestic animals. Monsoon is practically mandatory to support level 2 and 3 giants in landing greater aspects as you replace all your sources with upgraded great ones, so you're almost always looking at D/S or S/D. One rank in Crystal Aspect is almost entirely worthless, since the only things it makes are Salt (which you can also get through Seismic) and Onyx (which is rarely substantially better than the Topaz it upgrades from). So taking a Forest ambassador on an Ocean Giant is almost always a waste compared to upgrading Growth or Herd, since they give an earlier return and actually have a viable path to a sublime aspect.

The Swamp Giant is somewhat similar to the Stone Giant in that you basically have to go either F/D or D/F to upgrade both of your base sources by level 2, leaving Toxic as the odd one out (Toxic is also only good for a couple of niche tech plants, generally replaceable with tech mines created through Reaction anyway). Technically you need a level in Toxic for rank three sources eventually, but taking it before your third or fourth ambassador is a sucker's bet.

The Forest Giant is the only one who gets away scot free. He only needs one Forest ambassador to guarantee that his plant sources get maxed out, so he's legitimately free to pursue whichever upgraded essences fit your strategy the best (unless you wanted to ignore the Fruit Aspect entirely, but that's a bad idea anyway).

Personally I'd really like to see specific ambassador requirements decoupled from base source levels entirely, so your sources become Great or...whatever the third rank is as soon as you get your second and your third/fourth ambassador, regardless of type. That way you could actually choose your upgrade path based on which aspects you want to focus on instead of being railroaded onto a single blatantly optimal path 95% of the time.

coanda
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:46 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by coanda » Wed May 22, 2013 3:52 am

I have one word for you, just one word: Anglerfish.

This would not have been possible without anglerfish. Which would not have been possible without level 2 Exotic aspect.

Image

That wasn't even the highest score that approach could have achieved; I had totally forgotten about danger, so I spent a lot of time letting greed pile up instead of using danger to keep it under control.

More generally, just because you think something is the right path 95% of the time doesn't mean it is the right path 95% of the time. Keep trying different approaches and seeing what works.

Wyvern
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 3:51 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Wyvern » Wed May 22, 2013 4:10 am

Hm. I've tried Anglerfish a couple of times and found them fairly unimpressive. Maybe I was using them wrong.

Even so, is it really necessary that Anglerfish alone require you to gut the output of at least half of the mining tree across the entire planet? Being asked to give up Seismic Aspect for Anglerfish is fair enough, but being asked to give up tech mining almost entirely doesn't seem like a fair trade.

Mahasuchi
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:28 am
Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Mahasuchi » Wed May 22, 2013 4:13 am

I don't usually need them at the beginning, but in the late game I tend to miss them if I don't assign them soon enough. I tend to use them to upgrade patches when my forest or swamp giant are busy elsewhere. Also, I haven't unlocked them yet, but you can't get the panda and the coal sources without exotic and crystal aspects. Coal boosts your copper and iron mines around it and all over the planet, while pandas can give you significant bonuses in danger, natura, wealth and awe. Crystal grants you access to silver and platinum which have bonuses that are easier to exploit than gold or zinc. The exotic aspect also allows you to boost animal wealth production without increasing danger, in case that becomes an issue. I would say they are very justifiable picks.

Wyvern
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Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 3:51 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Wyvern » Wed May 22, 2013 4:48 am

Coal looks pretty nice, but the opportunity cost is enormous. Zero growth upgrades, zero herd upgrades, and your choice of universally worthless domestic animals and no Monsoon. All for a total of two sources (coal and platinum). A non-crystal build gives you maxed domestic animals, maxed monsoon, and your choice of sublime growth, sublime herd, or 2/2 of each. Does coal justify a discrepancy that massive? According to the Wiki, pandas are obtainable through the herd aspect, which doesn't require rendering advanced minerals permanently useless.

coanda
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:46 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by coanda » Wed May 22, 2013 4:59 am

That particular game, all I got was animals. It simplified my considerations significantly - any aspect that was for plants or minerals, or any improvement for plants or minerals, could be ignored. It was an all-ocean map, except for villages.

Anglerfish are like mackerel - weak if you have only one or two island villages; very, very strong if you have a bunch.

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Kieroshark
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 1:34 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Kieroshark » Wed May 22, 2013 5:15 am

coanda wrote:I have one word for you, just one word: Anglerfish.

This would not have been possible without anglerfish. Which would not have been possible without level 2 Exotic aspect.

{IMAGE HERE}

That wasn't even the highest score that approach could have achieved; I had totally forgotten about danger, so I spent a lot of time letting greed pile up instead of using danger to keep it under control.

More generally, just because you think something is the right path 95% of the time doesn't mean it is the right path 95% of the time. Keep trying different approaches and seeing what works.
Holy crud! That is almost twice my best score so far. You have persuaded me to the way of the fish. I will try this in my next game.

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Kieroshark
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Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 1:34 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Kieroshark » Wed May 22, 2013 5:20 am

Wyvern wrote:Personally I'd really like to see specific ambassador requirements decoupled from base source levels entirely, so your sources become Great or...whatever the third rank is as soon as you get your second and your third/fourth ambassador, regardless of type. That way you could actually choose your upgrade path based on which aspects you want to focus on instead of being railroaded onto a single blatantly optimal path 95% of the time.
Hm... I would agree with this suggestion. It sounds like a good improvement overall. You'd still have to specialize, it would be less crippling for some options.

Vulpecula
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Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 10:17 pm

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by Vulpecula » Wed May 22, 2013 5:28 am

Crystal Aspect is not entirely bad. The Ocean Giant can take 'Swamp + Desert + Forest + Forest' ambassadors to unlock lvl3 Domestic Animals, Monsoon, and lvl2 Crystal Aspect all at once, which doesn't sound too terrible to me. This gives two things that can't come from anywhere else: 1) The ability to inject wealth+awe into minerals, 2) Platinum. I've never used Platinum but at a glance it appears very strong but narrowly specialized.

As for Exotic Aspect, yeah, I don't think I would ever take it.

I also agree completely that that the Rock Giant and Swamp Giant's ability unlock requirements seem restrictive.

smithay
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon May 20, 2013 4:06 am

Re: Are Crystal and Exotic aspects ever justifiable picks?

Post by smithay » Wed May 22, 2013 12:39 pm

Salt is key if you take crystal and exotic. You put desert + forest on your stone giant which gives you level 2 advanced minerals, but with the crystal aspect you can switch your advanced mineral into salt and then cross over to the precious line for greater gold/onyx/platinum.

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