2E Feedback

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darbycmcd
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2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

I just wanted to start a specific thread with feedback for the latest iteration of the playtest rules. I understand that it is still in process and probably some of the things are planned for changes, but I just want to kick in with some observations, in case.

(edited) Task force: i am not sure task force is defined

Intensity: it is presented in the first contact section, but I get the impression it is used in all the scenarios, so probably move all the combat/scenario generation rules to one section. Also, I think it is too random to let the dice decide in total the intensity level, after all, the player is the commander, and the commander decides the intensity of effort, no? I am not sure it is great that I can launch a major attack on a planet say, and we both roll 1 for intensity and I can't actually do more than skirmish. I like very much the concept in general, but there perhaps should be some player control, military operations are not really that random!

readiness multiplier: Is this just rolled for once at the beginning of the scenario? If that is the case it may be a bit too much because it cannot change over the engagement. It sort of presumes some surprise scenario which I am not sure is a good assumption. and it really doesn't make sense with the table that is provided, maybe i am just confused but the rules say for instance damage is d6+readiness, which by the table could be -6 to +6... that could be... unfortunately unbalancing. i can understand with a surprise situation, but that should only be the first round of combat. and then you would have to define conditions for surprise, what if the task forces were in the same system from the previous turn? why no sensors to detect approach? i understand that you are going for abstract but it is potentially so important because you have every combat operation modified by this number.

actually, i think a better assuption would be to so away with readiness, just apply a malus in situations of surprise, beyond that you are emulating i think crew quality, which is more for the suppliments. i mean really, why would a ship not be in a state of readiness after it had been in combat for one round? but that is must my opinion!

I have to say i am very excited by this version. it is a nice level of crunch that was missing from 1E but still i think very playable. Keep on rolling!
Last edited by darbycmcd on Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

Ok, a bit more...

(edited because i found the rule)

why do all units have to be in squadrons all the time? is it not possible to just have a force pool per location and organize them for an engagement? this gives all the flexibility of the reorganize segment and the reorganize command action. players could track by squadron on a roster outside a combat scenario, but free formation creation at the outset for all engaged forces....
Last edited by darbycmcd on Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

hahaha, ok, i am on a roll here...

Science stat: I have to say, I find this one a bit difficult to really swallow. I understand you want some modifier to TP production, but really is it reasonable to say that systems themselves are so very different for tech research? It isn't that there are scattered anomolies (which would give a bonus) but systems are each different. would it not make more sense to allow for very occasional anomolies which give a bonus and then let the majority of research centers be effective based on investment? it just seems to stretch credibility that colony A is 2x better at research, just because of the natural conditions, than colony B. especially with the table, you are almost (not quite) as likely to get a 1 as a 5....

would it not be a bit more rational to say everyone gets a xY and some rare systems get a bonus?

Morale: what is the starting morale of a new colony?

biosphere and agriculture: with a min. bio rating of 1, every colony can always be self-sufficient in food production, and that will only be the limit 8% of the time. is that intended? it just makes bio really only important for pop growth, not sufficiency. maybe bio as carrying cap for agriculture, with a tech modifier to production would allow you to really have bread-basket worlds supplying inferile mining worlds....
Last edited by darbycmcd on Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

Ok, last one I promise!

orbital: also, i don't see why this makes sense. why does it make a shipyard more or less efficient, by such a huge multiplier? Some system will be 5 or 6 times more efficient, using the same construction tech etc, than other systems? two systems with the same size shipyard and construction tech, but one turns out a battleship in the same time the other can cobble together a frigate... why not make orbital function like carrying capacity in space for shipyard, putting a cap on its size? this would perhaps put the differentiation you are looking for but in a bit more rational way. construction speed is a function of tech more than system character.... of course that is just my opinion :D

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

commerce: it should probably not be jump lanes that are the multiplier, because jump lanes going nowhere would not generate trade. maybe something like x number of colonies jump adjacent. this might also be good because it will help an 'intensive' rather than 'extensive' colonization strategy, which is a nice option to be viable

what about making a link actually a link, defined by two systems, with a value equal to 10% of the combined income? a bit more accurate and also rewards intensive colonization.....

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by Tyrel Lohr »

darbycmcd wrote:(edited) Task force: i am not sure task force is defined
I was wondering if that was the case or not. It is such an old 1E term that I've been using it out of force of habit, and in the back of my mind I sometimes wondered if I had forgotten to define it. I'll add a note about it at the start of the Encounters Phase.
Intensity: it is presented in the first contact section, but I get the impression it is used in all the scenarios, so probably move all the combat/scenario generation rules to one section.
First Contact is a separate sub-section before Surprise and Intensity, and first contact occurs and has to be resolved during the Encounters Phase. Originally this was located in the diplomacy rules, but I had moved it to Encounters so that players would know that they have to resolve those situations first before they can proceed to resolve any actual encounters.
Also, I think it is too random to let the dice decide in total the intensity level, after all, the player is the commander, and the commander decides the intensity of effort, no? I am not sure it is great that I can launch a major attack on a planet say, and we both roll 1 for intensity and I can't actually do more than skirmish. I like very much the concept in general, but there perhaps should be some player control, military operations are not really that random!
An early version of the rules had an intensity bonus based on the number of squadrons/corps present in the system, but I scrapped that because it was fiddly and easy to game. An alternative I've considered is to add +1 Intensity per X Construction Cost of units in the system. This would probably be set to 50 or 100. This requires the players to total their construction cost of units before an encounter, but is easier to control and is a good gauge for determining how big of a confrontation might take place in a system.

Even then, the rules can create situations where one empire pushes into a system to attack and gets stymied by the intensity system and can't press home their advantage. This is semi-intentional, but not to the degree that no fighting could occur at all (unless neither side sees each other until the last minute and panics, which is what a very low intensity battle more or less means). A +1 per 100 EP intensity bonus would increase the base amount of intensity in these larger fleet and ground actions and give the attacker a better chance of being able to force an engagement.
readiness multiplier: Is this just rolled for once at the beginning of the scenario? If that is the case it may be a bit too much because it cannot change over the engagement. It sort of presumes some surprise scenario which I am not sure is a good assumption.
I have to find the write up for Readiness and put it back into the draft. Readiness works the same as in 1E, where you roll for Readiness at the start of the scenario and then it moves +-1 towards zero at the end of each combat round. So an empire that rolls a +3 Readiness would have +3 on Round 1, +2 on Round 2, +1 on Round 3, and +0 on each subsequent round. It gives a task force an initial bonus or penalty based on their surprise.

Surprise demonstrates how prepared a fighting force was for battle that turn, and the readiness takes that a step further into how prepared the force commander was at the start of the battle. The effects of poor readiness wear off fairly fast, and the new formation level and damage systems make it more likely that a force caught off guard will be able to survive, so long as they don't roll really, really bad for Readiness. Which can happen, but it is very uncommon.
darbycmcd wrote:why do all units have to be in squadrons all the time? is it not possible to just have a force pool per location and organize them for an engagement? this gives all the flexibility of the reorganize segment and the reorganize command action. players could track by squadron on a roster outside a combat scenario, but free formation creation at the outset for all engaged forces....
This is a concession towards speed of play, particularly PBEM play. As a CM, I don't want to have to wait several days for the players to finally decide exactly how they are going to arrange their units into squadrons before a battle, and even in CM-less games it was proving tedious to assemble units by command cost. That was actually the original way that the 2E rules were setup: you didn't have squadrons outside of combat, you just formed them when combat scenarios were generated. It became an extremely tedious process to setup and resolve battles that just slowed the game down.
darbycmcd wrote:hahaha, ok, i am on a roll here...
And it's much appreciated!
Science stat: I have to say, I find this one a bit difficult to really swallow. I understand you want some modifier to TP production, but really is it reasonable to say that systems themselves are so very different for tech research? It isn't that there are scattered anomolies (which would give a bonus) but systems are each different. would it not make more sense to allow for very occasional anomolies which give a bonus and then let the majority of research centers be effective based on investment? it just seems to stretch credibility that colony A is 2x better at research, just because of the natural conditions, than colony B. especially with the table, you are almost (not quite) as likely to get a 1 as a 5....
I plead guilty, it is strictly a game simplification that is used to maintain rules consistency between system and colony statistics and enforce popular space opera tropes of some systems containing interesting things for an empire's scientists to dig around and poke sticks at (either figuratively or literally). Therefore, the Science stat can represent everything from space anomalies to alien ruins.

The alternative is to have tech capacity just be equal to utilized Tech capacity squared, which works but just seems so... mundane? I know where you're coming from, and fully admit that there is no good reason why the scientists in one system should research faster. This could easily be just a flat 5 multiplier, too, but I have liked the way that adding the extra system resources into play influences things. It diminishes the importance of RAW in particular, which is a very good thing.
would it not be a bit more rational to say everyone gets a xY and some rare systems get a bonus?
This was how it worked originally in earlier versions of the rules. Now things like alien ruins just give a Science bonus.
Morale: what is the starting morale of a new colony?
That's in the colonization rules; new colonies start with 0 Census and 2 Morale. Morale used to start at Carrying Capacity / 2, but that ended up giving empires too high of Morale so that they never really needed to worry about Morale.
biosphere and agriculture: with a min. bio rating of 1, every colony can always be self-sufficient in food production, and that will only be the limit 8% of the time. is that intended? it just makes bio really only important for pop growth, not sufficiency. maybe bio as carrying cap for agriculture, with a tech modifier to production would allow you to really have bread-basket worlds supplying inferile mining worlds....
Originally the Biosphere values could go to zero, and while I liked how that worked (made the high Biosphere worlds more important), it led to a situation where an empire couldn't expand if it didn't manage to find any verdant worlds to develop as agricultural centers.This was exacerbated by Census having an agriculture cost of 2 at that time.

With all worlds having a minimum of 1 Biosphere now, they can be self-sufficient, but the cost to get them to that point is extremely inefficient from an economics perspective. That is the case with most of the system stats. Now that systems average 3 in each stat, systems with less than that are even less valuable for development for whatever colony infrastructure is tied to the inferior statistic. This is as true for Biosphere/Agriculture as it is for Science/Tech or Jump Lanes/Intel.

Your idea to handle all of the system statistics as carrying capacities that limit the amount of their related infrastructure is interesting, and might be worth exploring as an optional rule. That is a substantial shift away from how the current incarnation of the rules works, though, and it is too late to head down that particular path. But it does give me something to think on.
darbycmcd wrote:orbital: also, i don't see why this makes sense. why does it make a shipyard more or less efficient, by such a huge multiplier? Some system will be 5 or 6 times more efficient, using the same construction tech etc, than other systems?
I'll try spelling it out better, but the rationalization for this (which exists by handwave like Science, and I'll openly admit it) is that systems with high Orbital stats have easy access to ship building materials, either because they have lots of asteroid belts that can be mined or because the gravity wells around the planets are shallow enough that it is cheaper to lift materials off into orbit for construction or assembly. A system with 1 Orbital might lack raw materials for ship construction or have such deep gravity wells that it is cost prohibitive to launch goods into orbit.
darbycmcd wrote:commerce: it should probably not be jump lanes that are the multiplier, because jump lanes going nowhere would not generate trade. maybe something like x number of colonies jump adjacent. this might also be good because it will help an 'intensive' rather than 'extensive' colonization strategy, which is a nice option to be viable
In theory, the jump lanes will eventually go somewhere. Granted, unexplored jump lanes really shouldn't count in a system's favor for the purposes of trade... and didn't earlier in the rules. This is a simplification that is intended to remove special exceptions and tie Commerce value to something that makes some sense. I didn't want to tie Commerce value to a colony's economic output like we did in 1E as there are just too many other variables in play now that could make a colony a major commercial hub. At one point we had a separate Commerce colony stat, and in another iteration it was an average of stats and some other arcane math to figure things out. The current system shook out as the best option of the ones we had available, kind of like how Biosphere/Agriculture now acts as a population growth engine where before it served solely in a "feed your people or they will die!" role.
what about making a link actually a link, defined by two systems, with a value equal to 10% of the combined income? a bit more accurate and also rewards intensive colonization.....
That is the equivalent of placing trade links in the middle of a jump lane, which while still easy to track (just much more verbose) opens another can of worms of when you decide one is being disrupted and when a player can destroy them. Would they have to control or contest both ends of the jump lane? Or would just driving through the lane destroy it? I can see the possibilities, but I have a knee jerk reaction against multi-location trade fleets after 1E and having the 3-system route mechanic.

Jay may be able to weigh in with a better perspective on the trade link concept and your counter-concept, as he developed that originally for the Federation Admiral Star Fleet Universe book.
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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

intensity: how about 2d6 with each side able to add or subtract equal to their highest CR. the system you have now has an expected value of 7 right? that is not enough to generate a high intensity defense scenario. this option is more like battle intensity from federation and empire, and allows more player choice...

readiness: ah, ok, so it does change.... i still think it is easier and perhaps more elegant to just give a negative for surprise rather than each side rolling... i mean, what is +1 readiness? really really ready? why would they ever not be really really ready if it is possible? and it is easier than rolling so many things and recording, just determine what consitutes surprise. which you have to do, surprise as it is now potentially occurs in every battle as a result of die rolls, that doesn't really make sense, yes? say two sides fight an inconclusive battle one turn, then go at it again the next, still surprise? readiness?

i would say you also should allow for a defender to force an approach battle, if the attacker goes straight to defend scenario, it is perhaps too powerful. it is not easy to sneak up on planets!

squadrons: i get it.

planetary stats:
i would not say you should make things like science rating just to have some some number to multiply with. there is no rule that you have to have plantetary stats to modify all the things that can be built on a planet. you want to have some systems have a bonus, do that. say on roll 10-12 there is a multiplier of 6 or 7 rather than the normal 5. same with construction, why do you feel like you have to have a multiplier? i am all for symatry also, but i don't think it should trump logic. :D

well, if you say it is too late, it is (i don't see why it is too late, it is not a balance issue right?)

i get that VBAM is sort of 'cinemagraphic' in tone, but don't you worry that these kinds of things will make it seem... cartoonish? also, maybe it is because i have played lots of starfire, but i think balance is important and early survey luck is perhaps too important with these multipliers. maybe it depends on the kind of game you see as the baseline. is it competative expansion with smallish number of systems (like 20 per player) then these numbers are problematic. are there many systems, like 100 so that rolls even out, then less problem. is a base game solo exploration, then it doesn't matter. anyway, i will let this subject go now! hahahaha, it is just one of the things that interest me about 4x game design, how to stop front-runner momentum... :)

agriculture: i think the ag points as growth is great! but when you allow every planet to be self-sufficient, i think you miss the opportunity for some interesting dynamics. and is it very likely that every system will have a planet that can produce food?

trade lanes: hmmm, i guess i don't see the problem. if either system is contested, there is no trade. if a player 'destroys' the lane on either side, it is destroyed. this simulates destroying the infrastructure which supports trade. you could add 'crippled' and allow it to be repaired at 1/2 cost (by the way, i think it is reference as costing both 30 and 25, but i will have to check). it is a better model, allows for different colonization strategy (based on player choice not random die rolls) and i just don't see it as that hard.

what else do you want us to look at? are you ready for organization, typos, minute reading of rules, term continuity, that sort of thing? or is it too early still? I want to be helpful, I am very excited by your work!

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

just a bit more on trade. why is it a problem to tie trade value to economic value?? that is sort of like, well, reality. just use 10% of combined production, which is not hard to compute, and gives the correct value for what would be longer trade routes. ie say you had System A and B that were output 20 each but had sad little System C between with just 2 output :( . you create 2 routes, A/C and C/B. A/C gives you (20+2) / 10 = 2.2 and C/B does as well. so great it is 10% trade bonus, but it also internalizes the additional transaction cost that the longer trade route represents, costing 60 to establish. this seems sort of easy and much more 'realistic'.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by Vandervecken »

Very interesting stuff there, Darbycmcd.

I like most of your ideas because they just feel a little bit more real. And I especially like the chance of having a world you just gotta mine because of ALL the resources it has; but it is on a harsh- hostile- poisonous- insidious- or worse world that rains acid and has not an atom of free Oxygen in it's atmosphere. There are probably millions of these world in our galaxy, why not even one in VBAM ??

As a counter, as both of us are very familiar with Starfire and the overbearing colossus of rules that the current generation has become, I hope that any changes the VBAM staff make to their system can be done so that I (and my lighter weight friends when it comes to rules and Nth degree details) will still have a game that is as playable as 1E is. The challenge always will be Playability vs Realism. I hope that some of you interesting points can be wiggled into the rules, even if done so in the 2E Companion and not the 2E primary rules. Realism is very cool in these 4X games, until you need either an accountant or a programmer to help you run your empire. Since everyones taste in how light or heavy to go will always differ, I'm hoping 2E will provide enough realism to get my light weight empire builders to play , while I do some wonderful Solo campaigns adding the 2E Companion and 2E Menagerie rules.

So Darbycmcd, keep pushing for those small shots of realism that can be added to the system, especially if we can find ways to keep the rules from getting too cumbersome for the VBAM staff to be able to sell; or more importantly, too unwieldly for us to want to play.
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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by SLea »

Can I just say that I also am worried that what appears to be an admirable desire to keep the game as streamlined and simple as possible is perhaps in some places being pushed a bit too far, and runs the risk of making some areas of the game simplistic, or maybe turn them into abstract book keeping exercises that don't quite have the right feel as 'simulation'.

I think one good example of what I'm talking about would be the replacement of the 1E system of trade fleets with abstract Trade Links, and the replacement of the system for Raiders in 1E with abstract Piracy values. Reducing the whole exercise down to a calculation to subtract the global total for Piracy from the global Commerce value, and combatting Piracy by just moving enough ships into a system to give a modifier on a table just feels a bit abstract and uninvolving. Similarly, the replacement of the interception of Trade Fleets by enemy commerce raiding vessels (and their protection by friendly forces) by the system for rendering Trade Links 'Inactive' and then destroying them seems unrealistic. Would the presence of any enemy warships, however small, really be able to stop all the commercial shipping in a system? Would the presence of any number of friendly ones likewise be able to protect all of the commercial shipping from attack against any number of enemy ones? If the commercial shipping is being rerouted around the system as stated in the definition of Inactive links, then how is it possible to destroy it as implied by the system for destroying Links? However, I suppose that the links represent more than the acutal movement of ships, and what is being 'destroyed' is the rest of the infrastructure associated with trading activity.

To give just one more example, the tying of population growth to agricultural production seems again feels a bit abstract. I can't help but feel that there should at least be some way of tracking the indigenous growth of a planet's population separately from immigration to the planet from elsewhere.

I'm saying all this fully aware that all we've seen so far is a partial version of what might be termed the 'basic' version of the game, and that most of us will end up buying all of the suplements (why on earth wouldn't you?) and playing our own chosen variation on what might be termed the 'advanced' version. Can I say how heartening it's been, after so long a period without any news of the design, to see the virtual explosion of activity here over the last couple of months or so. I'm sure that whatever concerns we have, what most people now want is to see the game published as soon as possible, and without an endless process of tinkering and rewrites putting anyone involved in the project at risk of an actual nervous breakdown.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by Chyll »

SLea wrote:I think one good example of what I'm talking about would be the replacement of the 1E system of trade fleets with abstract Trade Links, and the replacement of the system for Raiders in 1E with abstract Piracy values. Reducing the whole exercise down to a calculation to subtract the global total for Piracy from the global Commerce value, and combatting Piracy by just moving enough ships into a system to give a modifier on a table just feels a bit abstract and uninvolving. Similarly, the replacement of the interception of Trade Fleets by enemy commerce raiding vessels (and their protection by friendly forces) by the system for rendering Trade Links 'Inactive' and then destroying them seems unrealistic. Would the presence of any enemy warships, however small, really be able to stop all the commercial shipping in a system? Would the presence of any number of friendly ones likewise be able to protect all of the commercial shipping from attack against any number of enemy ones? If the commercial shipping is being rerouted around the system as stated in the definition of Inactive links, then how is it possible to destroy it as implied by the system for destroying Links? However, I suppose that the links represent more than the acutal movement of ships, and what is being 'destroyed' is the rest of the infrastructure associated with trading activity.
I have to say, though that I strongly dislike the 1e rules for piracy. The book keeping exercise for tracking it currently isn't really any less onerous and in a large game... downright distasteful.

Of course, I understand the bent of your commentary. But in general am in favor of simplification for elements of the game that are distractions from the primary play.
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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by mavikfelna »

As someone who actually enjoys the campaign system in Starfire (all of it's different incarnations), I still have to say I think the current 2E method for handing things works well and is simple. I think that's what the CG should be aiming for. Complexity, diversity and reality can all be added in the various supplements. Keep the CG to more of a beer and pretzels format, since a good but quick and easy 4X system is pretty hard to find these days.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

I am also so excited by the activity going on around the game now! I really thought it was a goner. But I think it does show that there is room for a quick and streamlined 4x game. I am sure that is why we are all interested in it. If we wanted it to be Starfire, we would just play that (although I imagine several of us also play it).

And I totally understand that this is not a 'simulation' so we don't need to cleve too dearly to 'reality'. But I do think some tip of the hat to actual relationships is not a bad thing. So when looking at, for instance, planet values, the Science and Orbital stats, as they stand now, I feel just don't capture the relationship between the natural environment and those human activities. I certainly don't advocate for SF-like construction system! But I just have a hard time understanding why a planet with say a science value of '1' has researchers that are 1/3 as intelligent as average. I mean what about a planet itself makes people stupid? I love the idea that a few places are better because they have some anomoly (by definition only a few) but the range on the table doesn't make sense. The same with orbital, I totally can be behind that some planets are better than others for construction, but not construction speed, which is what the Orbital value modifies.

I think the idea was that each colonial attribute (Pop, Ag, Ind, Tech, SY, Trade) would have a planetary characteristic that would influence it. That is the underlying design idea, I believe. But I don't' see that it means that they should all be influenced the same way, from a table that is constructed in the same way. They are not the same kind of activities. At heart, Ag and Ind are extractive, they use natural resources, so it is clear that they are impacted directly from the planet. But Tech, Trade and SY are not (SY use Ind output, not raw materials), their relationship to planet values is more indirect. Why can they not be treated differently? Not more complexly! but differently.

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

The pop growth issue is an interesting one. I personally sort of like the Ag value for growth, but I can see what you mean about indigenous growth. The problem with that is scale. If you take the 'sorta kinda' value table to convert Census to pop, it shows that each Census is about 10x larger than the previous, at the middle values. It would take a population several hundred 1 month turns to grow that much on its own.

I would say perhaps a bio stat which doesn't average 3 would be a bit more interesting. This scale means that every planet produces excess population/population support. It is far more likely that every other non-Homeworld planet would have a ZERO! But an average of 1 would force a player to concentrate investment in population support (by buying one ag for each census) to represent habitat investment. But would also vastly increase the value of those garden worlds! If you ran across a bio 4 world, in a galaxy that averages 1, that planet now has real value!

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Re: 2E Feedback

Post by darbycmcd »

Trade: well, this is probably the Starfire in me, but I like the newer system. I feel as though trade is an activity that happens with the support, but not direction, of the government (player).

Imagine there are two islands (planets). They both want to realize the benefits from trade. so the government invests in infrastructure (buys trade link) which can be ports, ship building/repair, maybe even subsidizes some ship building. But the actual trade is handled by commercial interests, which even in a command economy are not really represented in the game. Now 'piracy' is something that happens, but it isn't just Bluebeardy guys with parrots. It is also the low level (and far far more common) theft that happens when societies are 'flexible with ownership rights'. It can be frigates with black flags, but it is more Fredo stealing for black market. And if enemy ships interject themselves quite rudely inbetween these islands, well most capitans feel that discretion is the better part of valor and they stay home (trade broken). For me, just me, the 2E system is more elegant, I like the abstraction.

For me, the older system of trade fleets better represents wartime convoys, that the government controls. Tracking specific escorts and raiders feels more like wartime activity to me rather than what the piracty rules are trying to show.

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