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FAQ/Strategy Guide by phaethonfire

Version: 0.80 | Updated: 01/07/10

Utopia: The Creation of a Nation - Strategy Guide

Table of Contents:
A.) Build Order / Starting Strategy
B.) Planet Specific Advice
c.) Other Tips
D.) Game Mechanics

Note: This guide is focused on starting strategies and understanding game 
mechanics, and it assumes a basic understanding of the user interface.  If 
you are looking for basic game info, Dan Simpson wrote a FAQ/Strategy guide 
available on GameFAQs.com that gives a lot of specific info on the user 
interface, starting structures, menu options, and defense strategy.  I'm not 
going to repeat that info, since he did a great job and obviously put a lot 
of time into it.  My motivation in writing this is that I want to give my 
opinion on the best starting strategy and point out caveats that may be 
hindering players from progressing in the game.

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A.) BUILD ORDER / STARTING STRATEGY:

1.) HOSPITAL - As soon as you start a new game, build a hospital.  When the 
hospital completes, set the birth rate to high.  Your population is a major 
limitation at the start of the game, so this is an important first step.  
See BIRTH RATE below for the equations used to decide birth rate.  Note: If 
you manage to place this building by January 3rd (which is tough to do 
unless you are using a mouse), you can change the birth rate on February 
28th, which essentially puts you ahead one month in population.  This really 
isn't necessary, but for those perfectionists out there, it is possible.

2.) SCENARIO URGENT NEED - This depend on the scenario, but if you only 
start with 1 hydroponics, you need to build another hydroponics right away.  
With a starting population of 100, you will need 2 hydroponics.  If you 
start with your population density at 100%, build 1 living quarters  At this 
point, you should not have started building workshops, etc., so don't build 
more than one building to meet your urgent needs.  You need your available 
colonists to get your other buildings started.

3.) POWER - I like to build a Power Station right away.  In one of the 
scenarios there is a solar eclipse after only 3 months, and Power stations 
need 70 days to build.  The downside is that is uses up most of your 
workforce, and the upside is that it can save you from a power shortage.  
You could switch this step with step 4 if you want.

4.) ECONOMY - You make money by selling excess goods each month, so ramping 
up your production quickly is key.  As soon as you have enough available 
colonists, you should build 1 workshop, 1 arms laboratory, and if you can 
find an ore deposit, 1 mine.  Each of these buildings slowly recruits 
workers over several months, so you need to get them started right away.  
Building several of the same building type at once does not make them 
recruit workers or produce goods any faster, so build only 1 of each type to 
start (The other walkthroughs I have read give bad advice on this point!).  
See RECRUITMENT RATE below for more info.  When each building type has only 
5 or so empty slots for workers, build another building.  Check how full 
your buildings are in the Council screen.  Try to always have a few empty 
slots in your workshops, arms laboratories, and mines for the first year or 
so.  You should eventually have 30+ workshops, 25+ weapons labs and 10+ 
mines if possible, so plan your building placement accordingly. I haven't 
mentioned chemical plants yet for 2 reasons: 1) You need a fuel tank before 
you can store fuel and 2) you only need fuel when you have ships.  Once you 
find a chemical deposit, slowly build chemical plants until you have ~3.  
Once you have ships you should have 5+ chemical plants and several fuel 
tanks, but that isn't a high priority at the start.

5.) MORE HYDROPONICS - Now you should build hydroponics until you have 200 - 
400 food per month in excess (or even more).  The reason we delayed doing 
this at first was because you have a limited number of builders, and 
hydroponics fill with workers immediately, so there is no harm in waiting a 
month to build extra.  Note: If you have too many hydroponics, food will 
dominate your storage capacity, and you won't have room for all your other 
goods.  Keep tabs on your food supply to make sure it grows as your 
population grows.

6.) LIVING QUARTERS - You can plan on eventually having a population over 
2000 people (that means ~45+ living quarters).  Anticipate your population 
growth and build these as needed.  Try to keep a population density below 
90.  If your population density surpasses 100, the morale of the people will 
go down.  You should build roughly 1 security building for every 2-3 living 
quarters (so you will need a security building within the first several 
months).  If you skimp on security, you will start having money stolen, 
murders, and terrorism. Security buildings recruit workers slowly like 
workshops, so it's hard to catch up if you fall behind.  Note:  I'm not sure 
what the ideal ratio of security buildings to living quarters is.  When your 
population is only 200, it doesn't seem important.  After I pass the 1000 
population mark, though, I try to keep 10% of my population working in 
security.  When I dip below that, I start seeing theft reports.

7.) TANK YARD - Build 1 tank yard fairly early to start recruiting workers, 
and build additional tank yards when the first has ~7 workers inside.  Tanks 
are really good for defense, so if you find the aliens are killing you 
before the end of year 2, start your tank yard earlier next time.  For 
harder scenarios, you should ramp up your tank industry just like the other 
industries.  I like to place tank yards in various locations around my 
colony to help maintain a perimeter of tanks.  I usually build 4 or 5 tank 
yards, but more or less may be needed for a given scenario.  I should note 
that you need ore (and I think weapons too) to build tanks, so build mines 
and arms labs before the tank yard.  You may do this step after step 8 if it 
works out that way.

8.) FLUX PODS and RADAR- You need flux pods early for two reasons: 1) extra 
power storage in case of an eclipse (each flux pod stores 20 power) and 2) 
to let you build radars away from your base.  You should have extra startup 
funds while all the building mentioned above are slowly recruiting workers.  
Use these funds for 4-6 flux pods.  You should count 12 squares outward from 
your starting flux pod to build the additional flux pods.  One additional 
advantage is that you may stumble upon ore or chemical deposits; they will 
show up on the map screen if any are near your buildings.  Start building 
radars in year 2, depending on the scenario.  The idea is to spot enemy 
attackers, so you want ~6 additional radars around your base right before 
you get the attack warning.

9.) STORAGE - Keep an eye on how much storage space you have by using the ? 
cursor on one of your Stores.  You will need to build 3 or 4 stores over the 
first year to make sure you don't run out of space.  They are cheap, so 
build one as soon as you get your economy going and have available colonists 
to build.  Trade volumes grow proportional to your population, so you will 
need 10+ stores for a colony of 2000 people (that is what I need anyway).  
If you find that you're running out of space all the time, check what your 
monthly food surplus is.  It is easy to end up with too much food.  If food 
production is too high, either wait for your population to grow and diminish 
the excess, or demolish one hydroponics.

10.) DEFENSE - You will probably find yourself waiting for the days to tick 
by during the first year, use that time to adjust your markers to good 
defensive positions.  I always put one on top of either my command center or 
power stations, and the rest spread around my base at choke points.  Once 
you have tanks, start sending them to each of the markers.  Don't forget 
that leaving a couple of tanks by your tank yard will help to defend it from 
attack.  I usually try to place tank yard in the places not covered by my 
markers.  Your other main line of defense are missiles.  I try to have 
atleast 4 before the first attack comes.  Spread them out a little to cover 
different areas.  Finally, turrets are helpful, but they are painfully 
unreliable (especially before they are upgraded to plasma guns) and 
painfully expensive.  I slowly build turrets next to my expensive buildings 
or near hotspots as I have extra cash (which is probably after 2 or 3 
years).  Once you can build plasma guns, you will have the money to use them 
more.  I usually have ~15 - 30 turrets/plasma guns in the late game.  By 
then I don't want to mess with micromanaging tanks, and I have enough money 
to be liberal in my turret placement.  Oh, and build turrets in pairs.  They 
frequently get destroyed by lucky (or unlucky) shots, so building them in 
pairs gives you a backup.

11.) RESEARCH - I'm not sure of the best strategy for building laboratories, 
but you definitely should not neglect them.  I usually build one after about 
6 months.  They require monthly funding, and before that point, I figure I 
don't have the spare cash to fund them.  They recruit scientists slowly, so 
they gradually start using more and more funding each month.  I usually have 
7 or 8 labs by the end of the game, and I have always funded military and 
civilian research equally.  The military research helps with defense and 
attack, but the civilian side has lots of useful discoveries too, like the 
space moss converter, ore and chemical detectors, and a ton of stuff that 
boosts QoL.  If you can only afford to fund one research area, I would 
recommend military research.


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B.)PLANET SPECIFIC ADVICE

Planet 6 - Antares III
The alien race on this planet has units that roll over your buildings, and 
they attacked me around September-December of 2091 (So you have less than 2 
years to prepare).  They cannot move over mountains or the shiny green lakes 
on the map, but since they can pass over everything else, there aren't very 
many chokepoints in the middle of the map.  They also attack from every 
direction.  After trying a few times, I found that turrets work well on this 
map. Since the enemy attacks by crushing you rather than firing, the turrets 
out-range them and don't get destroyed as often.  I also clumped my 
buildings together is one solid block around the starting position (except 
for flux pods, radar, tank yards, and mines/chemical plants).  That way I 
could place my markers close together around my city.  I had about 7-10 
tanks when they started attacking, so I had to check the radar on the map 
screen often and move my tanks to intercept.  I had my tax rate at 19% for 
the first several years.


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C.) OTHER TIPS:

1.) Go to the financial screen on the second month (February).  Put ~$3000 
in your Spying Grant so you don't miss any messages, and go to the Trade 
screen.  Often the prices for everything are only a few credits, and if that 
is the case, buy some extra food (to avoid a shortage) and all the ore, 
gems, weapons, and tech you can get.  The gems you can sell back later at 
price at least 20 fold higher, and starting off with some ore and weapons 
means you can build a tank yard right away.  Don't buy fuel unless you have 
a fuel tank.

2.) Tax rate affects QoL.  In the late game, once you have a reserve of 
cash, drop the tax rate as much as you can (until it is 0%).  At the 
beginning of the game, you might be tempted to raise the tax rate to the 
maximum 20%, but it will negatively impact your QoL.  If your QoL drops to 
10, you run the risk of either your colonists abandoning you or being 
assasinated.  Personally, I sometimes raise taxes to 18% at first to boost 
my cash flow without too much of a QoL penalty, but I think raising taxes 
over 15% should only be temporary, and it is definitely not necessary in the 
first few scenarios.

3.)Spying - the first two intelligence reports you get are bland.  I only 
put between $1000-$3000 credits in the spying grant for those two (if you 
put more, you will end up paying ~$6000 for the same information).  The 
third, fourth, and fifth reports can be a little more interesting and give 
more information if you want pay for them.  All in all, though, I think 
paying for better intelligence reports is just for fun.  The only things you 
need to know are: 1) what direction is the enemy city?  The pathfinding AI 
is terrible in this game, so amassing tanks on the side nearest the enemy 
city will help when you attack.  2) Do they start with tanks or aircraft?  
If they start with tanks, you can neglect defending impassible terrain.  
With aircraft, expect to rely on missiles even more, since they can come 
from any angle. 3.) The attack warning.  If you don't have enough money in 
your spying grant, your spies won't tell you when the first attack is 
coming, which could be bad.  The attack warning is your last chance to build 
up missiles, position your tanks, and whatever else you need to do.  I think 
the minimum amount of money needed in the spying grant is different for 
different scenarios; I haven't investigated this thoroughly.  If you don't 
have enough money in the grant, you don't get any spying reports.  Bottom 
line: if you don't get a spy report in the first 6-8 months, bump up your 
funding a little.

4.) Trading - The "Keep" column in the finance screen is supposed to control 
an "auto-trade" feature within the game.  It does NOT mean that you will 
throw away a certain percentage of goods, as has been errantly reported.  
The auto trade feature seems buggy to me for the SNES version of the game, 
but the idea was that the computer would sell your goods for you up to a 
certain percentage if there is demand. Unfortunately, it doesn't really 
work, so you just have to do it by hand every month.  Be sure to set the 
keep value to 100% on gems, because I have had the computer auto-sell  my 
valuable stock of gems when the price was low.  I usually set everything to 
100% (except maybe food) and manage trading myself.


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D.) GAME MECHANICS:

BIRTH RATE
Births last month = floor(last month's total population / 100)*rate+5
The rate depends on whether the birth rate is low, medium, or high.  Low = 
3, Med= 6, and High = 10.  The floor() function means that it rounds down.  
So if your population is 199 last month, floor(199/100) = 1, and at high 
birth rate 15 colonists will be born.

RECRUITMENT RATE
Each month, the number of people that will start working in an industry is 
the number of available workers / 50 rounded down (at least that is my 
experience.  Let me know if this formula isn't consistent with what you are 
seeing).  This is calculated at the very beginning of each month.  Timing 
your buildings so that they complete before the end of the month can help 
speed up recruitment.

As an example, if you have 500 available colonists and 8 empty workshops, 10 
people will start working in workshops and the council screen will report 
490 colonists as available.  If you have 500 available conolists and 1 empty 
workshop, 1 empty laboratory, 1 empty mine, 1 empty arms lab, and 1 empty 
chemical plant, and 1 empty tank yard, 60 people will begin working (10 in 
each type) and the council screen will report 440 available colonists.  I'm 
just trying to illustrate that you want empty spaces in every type of 
building at the end of the month.  It doesn't help at all to have multiple 
empty buildings of the same building type.

Buildings that follow this recruitment rule are: workshops, laboratories, 
arms laboratories, mines, chemical plants, security buildings, ship yards, 
and tank yards.  Hydroponics always fill immediately and are the one 
exception.


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Questions or comments on this guide?
Email phaethonfire(at)gmail.com and put "Utopia" in the subject line.  I 
can't promise a prompt response, but I'll read your email eventually.

Final thoughts from the author
I come back to this game from time to time.  I feel like it is the only game 
to capture such a good balance between city building management and 
defense.  I've played Outpost (which is way too focused on build order and 
anticipating disasters) and other similar games, but I don't know of a very 
good Utopia sequel, which bugs me (one of you computer science geniuses out 
there needs to make one!).  With a better user interface, better pathfinding 
AI, and maybe some minor tweaks to game balance, Utopia could have been a 
real work of art.  As it is, though, it is a fun game to go back to 
occasionally to try to beat the next planet on the list.

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