virtutis.umbra wrote:This is fascinating to me because it shows what a stark difference a very small tweak to the game engine can make in the feel of the system... it feels like "Slow Growth (3 food / Census)" vs "Fast Growth (2 food / Census" vs "Fast Everything (2 food / Census; 1/2 Tech Cost; 1/2 Build Time)" engine tweaks might be sufficiently important to dialing in the play experience that they ought to be called out as variants somewhere in the core rulebook.
My biggest concern in relation to food is that right now it is extremely difficult to expand because a system with average BIO (3) is only going to produce enough food to breakeven. That severely limits how large an empire can get before it either has to A) find a system with 4+ BIO; or B) start a war to take over a 4+ BIO system from another power.
In my own game my player empire has had a horrible time finding high BIO systems and it has severely limited my expansion and forced me to put almost all of my available funds into Agriculture infrastructure instead of other pursuits. The Filosi Consortium, the first NPE I encountered, has lucked out and found several high value farming worlds, though, but even they are experiencing something of a food production bottleneck.
The solution to the problem may be to use an idea that I think Mike Riddle came up with last year wherein the population points in the population pool also require food to maintain. It isn't as clean as I had hoped to keep things, but if you had to pay food maintenance on those population points it would keep you from getting too many population points built up in your population pool before you just have to spend them. I'm not sure what a good food maintenance for PP would be right offhand without crunching some numbers. My gut says 1 Food per 25 PP, rounding up. Combine that with a return to 2 Food per Census and you end up generating more food, but with diminishing returns as your population pool fills up.
Looking at countercheck's Census and food production as near as I can figure it, I see 19 Census and 76 food. At 2 food per Census that would put them eating 38 food with 38 food leftover. That's enough to support another 19 Census or 950 population points (ouch). The food maintenance for PP could be reduced to 1/10, but I think that gets a bit too restrictive.
My Nova Solar Federation has 17 Census, 57 food per turn, and 48 population points. With the above changes, I'd be eating 36 food per turn, leaving +21 PP per turn. That's... excessive. If it was 1 food per 10 PP, the food eaten increases to 39, leaving +16 PP per turn. That seems better, and helps to ease the growth curve as the population pool builds up.
I actually think the reason that the extra food seems excessive to me is because I've spent so much of my resources colonizing higher BIO systems and building up Agriculture infrastructure there. That's pretty much all I've done in my game. Only one colony (Pacifica) has a point of Industry, and I've only built 1 Research at each of my colonies. If I didn't need the food I would have been using that money to build more colonies, which would have spent my population points faster and helped reach an equilibrium where I controlled a larger number of smaller colonies.
True - under either paradigm, planting some orbital farm facilities on your existing colonies (esp. the ones with high BIO), since they grant +2 Utilized Agriculture, would let you trade some of your economic surplus fairly efficiently for additional population growth.
I'm still going back and forth on the facilities and how they should interact with the rules. I would love uniformity, but there are some of the facilities that are just much, much better than the others. The Mining Base for example is a no brainer, as it just increases your income with no downside. I think it needs to be changed to Asteroid Mining Base for asteroid systems only. Orbital Factories and Farms work with a +2 Utilized bonus as now, but I'm also looking at just having them provide a bonus based on the amount of utilized infrastructure already in the system. I'm testing it both ways to see if it feels 'better' one way or another.
The facilities rule update in the newest draft is still fragmented because I can't decide which of the available solutions I want to use. I hope to get that cleared up this weekend.