There's someone in my town who is REALLY in love with the search tower. This is my second town with him and he always wants to build it ASAP and then upgrade it every chance he gets. I understand that getting resources is important, but is it really effective early on to pump up the search tower at the expense of other things (like the watchtower)? Do other experienced players go for the search tower right away like this?
The higher desert zone regeneration is, the more items you can find closer in the desert. You can travel in smaller groups, make more trips and have more items.
This is especially important when you consider that the single best defensive project in the game is Defensive Focus, which greatly increments the defensive value of each defensive objects -- sparing AP for more ambitious projects. The more objects, the merrier!
Today, day 14 in Itching plantation of shadows, we're getting Defensive Focus 4, for 106 additional defense -- essentially for free. We wouldn't have gotten so many defensive items without a search tower, however.
Indeed, our search tower is level 5. At first I didn't agree with this, but now I can see the benefits.
As with most buildings in die2nite, they all have a purpose and can all be very useful depending on your strategy. Badp has given a reason the search tower can be useful, and it makes perfect sense.
However, I would suggest that a search tower is not an early requirement; not util most nearby zones are depleted or until you are running lower on somewhat rarer items that are hampering your progress.
In the meantime, I find it incredible that he would contemplate building a search tower before a watchtower. How do you know what to build until you have a clear idea of the daily threat?
In my book, workshop is first on the list and the watchtower and/or Great Pit come the same or next day... The search tower I would typically start to consider from day 3 at the earliest.
However, perhaps your neighbour has a masterplan... So challenge him to explain his reasoning for an early search tower, and counter with suggestions of your own. Let the rest of the town decide. Hopefully we've given you some ammo to make your argument.