From careful experimentation (i.e. randomly shooting bugs) I've discovered that the aliens become hostile if you attack them. However, I can't quite tell if this is per-unit (i.e. that unit becomes hostile), per-nest (all units from the nest) or global (all aliens) become hostile. They certainly don't all attack at once the same as if I declared war on another civilization. I've also seen them attack first if I stray too near their nest.

I also noticed an upgrade (can't find it now) that claims to cause their hostility to go back to normal twice as fast, which suggests they have some internal aggression counter that gets increased when I attack and decreases naturally at some rate?

So, does anyone have a good summary of how alien hostility works and what I should watch out for?

  • I've had a siege worm up and destroy one of my workers. It was just minding its own business, making a farm. – Frank Oct 25 '14 at 14:22
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    @Frank That's the reason you always keep your eyes open for worm signs (and your carryall close by). :) From my experience so far, worms act quite independently from other alien lifeforms. They just don't like anything getting close. – Mario Oct 25 '14 at 16:38
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    Siege worms just... move about. If they happen to go through your city, they'll destroy things. But sometimes they'll just waltz on the outskirts of your city and pass you right by. Its seems quite random. – nzifnab Oct 27 '14 at 22:27

Aliens become more hostile if you attack them or if you step within one tile of an alien nest.
Aliens become less hostile over time, particularly with one rank of Harmony,
which causes aliens to return to neutral twice as fast;
they also become less hostile if an alien nest actually exists within the borders of your city, eventually becoming friendly.
(Note that allowing a unit to walk over the nest will still destroy it, causing all friendship gains to disappear.)

Neutral aliens, particularly siege worms, seem to attack infrequently for no discernable reason.
I've read rumors that hostility broadly affects alien relations with EVERY civilization, but I don't know yet how much truth there is to this, much less how this interacts with any particular civ's unique situation.

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    This sounds plausible, but it isn't the whole story - I've had units be surrounded and destroyed by aliens when further than that from a nest, and when I'd never attacked any of them. – Flyto Oct 25 '14 at 16:52
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    There does seem to be an element of "aliens will attack weak or vulnerable units for no other reason than they are weak or vulnerable". – Michael Campbell Oct 26 '14 at 11:47
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    When I was playing as Harmony -- the game started out where aliens would attack me when I was near their nest, but as the game progressed and my Harmony level increased, they seemed to be more likely to ignore my units altogether no matter how close to them I got -- even after attacking them to clear some room for trade routes or outposts. – nzifnab Oct 27 '14 at 22:29

Being right next to (i.e. 1 hex away from) a nest will definitely result in being attacked (because there are imaginary baby aliens in there that need to be protected.) Being 2 hexes from a nest may result in being attacked. Therefore I stay 3 hexes away at all times.

Also if there are 2 aliens adjacent to your unit, the chances of being attacked increases. If there's only 1 next to you you are safe. IMO, this is because the chances of that solitary alien winning a fight are too small, (unless your unit is a defenceless Worker or you're right next to a nest).

Practically therefore it's good to be near mountains, coasts, and other units so that the aliens have less ability to surround you. I had a pod in the middle of a sea of aliens, so I sent multiple units in to get it. It kind of worked because they were harder to surround.

Since chances of winning seems to be a factor, it MAY be that the aliens are less likely to attack if you are on a hill or a forest as these are more defendable (I think).

If there are 3 aliens next to your explorer it's time to go swimming and take your chances that there's no sea dragons around.

Worms need one hex of space or else they'll attack. They only move one hex a turn (so their vulnerable to ranged attacks).

Sea dragons attack anything but they can only move 2 hexes at a time so if you're 3 hexes away you're safe (unless there's another one that you can't see).

On top of all this if you keep on killing them and wiping out their nests then they have a tantrum and turn red. So primitive and childish.

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