Survival Guide - Dust Settles: Communications Relay
Because a communications facility will only cover so much of your overall land,
you will have to build communications relays to extend the amount of communications
coverage that your camp has. Relays are not required for joining an alliance
or sending aid, only for extending your comm
coverage as your camp's land total expands so that you don't suffer any loss
of people or effectiveness on exploration and recruiting missions.
Your communications relays will cover at least 5,000 land units. As you increase in land size you will be given warnings on your top bar display regarding your current need for comm relays to boost your communications coverage. These notices range from "None Needed" which means that you have not only enough, but more than enough coverage for now, to "# Needed Immediately". If you see the "Needed Immediately" notice, you will lose population if you send out recruiters or explorers without first building at least the number of comm relays shown. See below for more information about these displays.
As with any other building, you will build comm relays through the Construct page. Before you can build any relays, you will have to build a comm facility. After that you can begin building relays as needed. This is one of the few buildings that has a true limitation on construction. Though this structure requires no staffing, it does require 1 kWH of power and thus you can change the number of buildings that you have active. Remember, though, since you can only build 2 more relays that you need to cover your communications needs, deactivating too many relays can leave you with a costly comm deficit. This limit can be adjusted with Time Management research.
One thing you should keep in mind with comm relays is exploring for land. Once you have a large enough available population that you can send exploring you may come back after that turn with enough new land that you will have to build one or more relays before you can safely send out another exploration or recruiting party. This is especially dangerous when you send out explorers for multiple days. You may be fine the first day your people are out, but if you end up with too little coverage before the group gets back, you will lose some of those people and run the risk of drastically reducing your effectiveness, if you are ending 1 turn at a time. The best thing to do is either send out explorers (and recruiters if you are sending both) for one day at a time or for multiple days with plans to end all of those turns in one shot. See the End-Turn information for details on ending multiple turns and the related cautions. Daily Standing Orders can be very useful to help keep your camp covered communications wise.
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The distance covered by your comm facility
and relays can be increased by researching Communications through the Learn
page. As your research level increases for this topic, your communications range
will increase, allowing fewer buildings to cover the same land area.
Frankly it would make no sense to build 100 comm relays as soon as you open
them when you have maybe 3,000 total land units. While by sheer numerical calculations
this would cover you for 500,000 land units, in reality this would only create
a large concentration of radio signal in a small area, covering for a slightly
larger than currently allowed distance, but in the end, most of that would be
wasted. So in order to keep things realistic, at least mildly, you can build
the number of comm relays you need plus 2. This means if your relays
required display shows that you need 5 buildings, you can build 7. This can
be increased through Time Management research.
There are multiple displays showing your current communications status. The
main one that you will see on every page of the game is displayed on the top
bar, beneath your shelter counter. This display will show you one of three
basic messages. "None Needed" means you not only have enough communications
coverage for your current land total, but you also have at least two extra relays
and could not build anymore if you tried. "1 Needed Soon" means that
you can send out explorers and recruiters
safely and with full effectiveness, but you will need another comm relay within
the next 5,000 or so land that you add to your total. This also means that you
can build at least one more comm relay if not more. "# Needed Immediately"
means that you must build at least that number of comm relays (and the comm
facility if you have not built one yet) before sending out your next set
of explorers, etc. if you don't want to risk losing
anyone or decreasing their returns. When you get this notice you should
use that next turn to build the comm relays and anything else you might want/need
and save your exploring/recruiting for the next turn. Later in the game, you
will reach a point where you are able to send out population for multiple
turns and return with more land in a few or even one turn than your current
communications infrastructure can cover. When you have reached this point a
good cycle to get into is to set up your explorers and recruiters to search
for the appropriate resource for however many days you feel safe ending at once
(eventually 5), and then end that same number of turns at once, making
sure that you have adequate coverage beforehand. The next turn should then be
used to build as many comm relays as possible. Then repeat as desired.
Finally you have the Construct screen
where you can once again see your comm facility
and the number of relays that you have. You can deactivate your relays if you
are that desperate for power, but removing too many from service will decrease
your comm coverage to a dangerous level.
The main thing that you should keep in mind when you decide to demolish
comm relays is the overall necessity for comm coverage. Improper coverage will
lead to some losses during exploration
and recruiting missions (often greater
than recruiting returns) and especially lowered returns since most of your people
will just stop their search at the edge of your comm range. Since you can only
build a few more relays than you need, demolishing any, much less
enough to actually make a differance in land
or power usage will leave you with a deficit. The best idea is to choose another
building that you can sacrifice for a
few turns until you can fix whatever deficit you were having.