More 0.41.2 game-play experiences.
4. Gameplay: Micromanaging really, really, really, really sucks
~25 hours(!!), Turn 124. Each turn takes 20-35 minutes now. (The save file actually says "34.5 hours", but some of that was me AFK without hibernating the laptop.)
OTOH, my economy has already surpassed 2 Godlike AI (Drengin, Iridium), and I'm within 2% of the 3rd (Altarian). And that's without any major combats. Maybe 12 ships have died in the whole galaxy so far. They don't have the range to get to me, and all I build is slow weenies (but with range). So whatever they're doing ... be no match for my micromanagement skillz.
5. Gameplay: Lower build costs, higher upkeep costs
From Alpha 0.31, the economy was tweaked to make things easier to build, but costlier to maintain. That's a step in the right direction. It makes wealth slightly more relevant (from afterthought to annoyance). But I expect all numbers to get further rebalanced (i.e. changed), so I won't nitpick, except in broad terms.
- It's still too easy. Set aside 1 world in 10 as a moneyball, and it'll pay for everything. Also, research Xeno Tourism and your tourism income alone will overcome almost any amount of maintainance.
- It's still not enough. Wealth is unique in that it accumulates across turns. But it (currently) doesn't buy you any game-breaking (e.g. game-winning) advantages, in the way research does. Obviously, diplomacy et al. will change this.
- If there is some "storefront" of benefits that you can only purchase with bc, and cannot obtain in any other way, then wealth generation for store buys suddenly becomes analogous to research in a tech tree. (Galactic auctions for small Precursor relics, maybe?)
6. Gameplay: Approval moneyworld asymmetry
Approval makes us tweak. But it seems weird that the way you tweak your Approval higher is by stockpiling a benefit that you want to do anyways. After some experience, I confirmed my initial impression that this is ... overloaded: it conflates two benefits, which causes synergy.
- Specialist worlds become asymmetric. Forgeworlds and techworlds may need to tweak wealth-ward, but bankworlds don't, because they already maximize in that direction. Hence, a bankworld's default state is to have maximal Approval, for zero opportunity cost: they do exactly what they would have done regardless. That introduces an asymmetry in the way we handle worlds. (For a micromanager, it means banks are oases: You never need to tweak a bankworld. They're maximally happy, and there is no queue.)
- The real-world parallel might be: an entity (government or corporation) gives a tax cut / kickback / bonus / other bribe to make its citizens happier. But the 0.41.2 implementation is that you save it all, i.e. the underlying premise is that saving makes us happy. That's true for me, but not for most of my peers! The more common societal effect is that spending a bonus makes us happy.
- To make it truly symmetric, add a rule such as: "bc spent for Approval are not saved"; they're simply lost. Then all 3 axes would be symmetric ... if that's even a design goal. But this would probably be ugly in proliferation of game elements, e.g. distinguishing between "bc of savings" and "bc of approval".
7. Technological Capital Gambit addendum: 17 techs in 30 turns
From my scrap paper, here are the turn numbers in which I completed these techs.
- T076 Terran has completed the Techological Capital.
- T078 12.G3 Wealthy Population
- T080 13.G4 Xeno Entertainment
- T084 14.G4 Xeno Economics
- T087 15.C5 CO/Optimized Manufacturing (but I wuz robbed -- can't upgrade to Interstellar Collectors until C6)
- T089 16.C4 Environmental Engineering
- a pause here while most of my planets build a Soil Enhancement
- T094 17.C5 Research Coordination (robbed again, same bait-and-switch until C8)
- I fear having wondrous manuf, and no combat ships worth building ... so the Small Ship Stack:
- T095 18.W2 Weapon Systems
- T096 19.W2 Defense Systems
- T098 20.E2 Orbital Manufacturing
- T100 21.E2 Interstellar Travel
- This takes me into Age of War, by a few rps. N.B. Ages are strictly based on total rps spent: 3000 per Age.
- T101 22.E3 IS/Hyperdrive Specialization
- T102 23.E3 IS/Sensor Amplification
- T103 24.E3 IS/Advanced Recirculation
- T106 25.G5 Xeno Tourism
- T109 26.G5 Interstellar Banking
- T111 27.C5 Practical Fusion
- T115 28.C6 Precision Manufacturing (now I can also build the C5 Interstellar Collectors)
- T118 29.C5 Environmental Research (bug: has no effect? None of my research improvements show the +1 level.)
- T121 30.C6 Terraforming
- Iridium dang near invades me with one naked speed-7 transport!! I design, build, and shoot it down. Whew!
- T122 31.M2 Militarization
- T123 32.M3 MS/Enhanced Training
- T124 33.M4 Planetary Invasion
And I actually have too many manuf worlds and not enough techworlds. In fact, of my first 12 colonies, and not counting the Technological Capital world itself, I had only 1 other techworld + 1/2 of Earth. 2.5 techworlds is not enough; I should have made 4-6. So I think this is actually slow progress from an imperfect start, and could be sped up.
8. Gameplay: Small ship stack and miner swarm
My small ships are just that: Small (50 capacity), with the +1 speed, +1 sensor, and +2 range. Since I'm way more aggressive than all 3 AIs combined, I have to go to them. I replace all redundant weapons and defenses with Life Support for moderately long range. I prefer Cannon for now (as you can see from above, I've never researched a weapon tech, like ever), and a Chaff vs. the AI's fixation on missiles. So my ships are minimal 0-0-3/0-7-0 with sensors, or 0-0-3/0-14-0 with a 2nd Chaff, and range 30 (= 34 for Terran). That's still not enough to penetrate into enemy backfields.
- Workaround 1: Research the Medium Ship Stack, with capacity 75 and tier 3 components. Nag nag, I'm getting to it.
- Workaround 2: Miner swarm. Find a resource (e.g. Durantium) between me and AI. Send fast constructor (+ fleet of weenies) to it, and preferably 5 hexes beyond it. Create a starbase. Follow up with double-constructors. Specialize to Mining Ring, and take the defensive modules.
- The 1st constructor must have sufficient range. Thereafter, follow with a stream of (at least 2) double-constructors with no range (default range 11).
- All of your ships can exist and move beyond your range, with no penalty. You just can't issue a movement order to them in any out-of-range hex. You can freely order them to move from one friendly ZOC to another ZOC, no matter how far the gap between them. The only risk is that you lose some control over them while they're "in between" ZOCs: you can't creep them 1 hex at a time (so they can just walk right up to an enemy snub fighter), and your evasion is limited to full-move straight-line paths back to any ZOC you can click in.
I need to mine resources anyways. So this tactic lets me use a single starbase for the mining role and the range-extension role. One good mining starbase lets my Small Ship fleets swarm over enemy space.
- I really hope the AI will know how to do this to us! It requires a bit of a paradigm shift to think halfway to the goal.
- Godlike AI does not (yet) counter this human tactic ...
9. Gameplay: Large galaxy just barely not large enough
I need 13 colonies to get to Ideology tier 3 and take my point-generating tile improvement. Well ... I hit 11 colonies, and then Iridium outraced me to 2 of them in my backfield. Now I'm hemmed in by all 3 AIs. If this galaxy is a bridge hand, then I'm West.
There may not exist another 2 empty colonizable planets!! Grumble. But there's hope, I found unsurveyed artifacts along Altarian's border. You know what that means!
- Technology, shift to C8 Integrated Research
- move Survey Ship
- engineer's head explodes
- Technology, shift back to E4 Life Support
No way I'm wasting an Artifact on something I can finish in one turn myself ...