Analysis Game on Hard

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zolobolo
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Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2016 3:49 pm

Analysis Game on Hard

Postby zolobolo » Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:21 am

Played a full game on Hard (always played Normal otherwise) and found some interesting things

Setup:
Player race: Yoral
Difficulty: Hard
Galaxy Size: 110 stars
Galaxy shape: Oval
All other species are playing - each included only once
Raiding activity set to Extreme (this did not seem to have any effect - no harpy attacks and did not see increased Marauder activity)
All other options default
Can upload the save game if needed
Length till player diplomacy victory: 210 turns

Length is between average and short: I would have liked it to continue for another 100 turn given the status of the Galaxy

Story:
Early Game
1. Player starts on the edge of the Galaxy: I don't prefer this, I wish there was an option to not allow any civs but especially for the player to start at the edge) - proceeded nonetheless to see how its going to work out
2. Was able to manipulate my two neighbors (Haduir and Terros) to keep away from my territory claims without loosing friendly status while also keeping a good relationship with Phidi while some had stronger military (Diplomacy worked well it didn't feel cheese was difficult to pull off and needed mercs from Marauders nearby to keep up the military strength for the negations)
3. First war breaks out between Colonials and Tinkers - player joins in allies with Phidi to form a unified front against the superior enemy
4. Orthin joins war on side of Tinkers - a heavy peace is reached with player alliance loosing more then Tinkers and Orthin.
5. Haduir became stronger then player alliance during this and now the alliance is facing two empires (Haduir and Tinker) that it will likely loose against
6. Haduir dont like Phidi - player turns against own allies and attack Phidi and Colonials to get strong enough and at the same time strike an alliance with Haduir
7. Tinkers absorb the Orthin and become the dominant power in the Galaxy (ship templates integrate and the AI is now producing both types excellent)

Mid Game
8. Player and Haduir gear up for the inevitable war against Tinkers for the next few dozen turns
9. Rest of the map is revealed in the meantime: there rest of the factions are still alive and kicking: Both Humans and Gremak have a solid foothold, economy and fleet power are just busy warning with each other. The equilibrium seems to rely on both of them producing heavy cruisers en-mass. This is not too fun as player can easily play their weakness if needed and does not look immersive but gets the job done against other AIs. Wish they had more diverse fleets
10. Tinker empire suddenly drops in stas as it losses several of its planets with large number of Orthins and minor races. They were likely harmonizing the Orthin and some minor factions and that has lead to numerous rebellions. Several planets have turned neutral over a few turns. This is EXCELLENT. IT shows that the AI is operating under the same conditions as the player and provided a tempting opportunity for the player to strike preemptively before Tinkers consolidate their hold again :)
11. Player declares war on Tinkers and moves into planned expansion areas with the newly constructed fleets (though they are not fully stacked up yet) hoping that the speed of the attack, and the rebellions will split the numerically and technologically superior forces of the Tinkers.
12. Plan doesn't work: AI quickly consolidates its forces and reacts very well to the player incursions managing to push back the player and move into my territory taking valuable planets
13. Haduir Ally joins the fight and helps defeat a segment of the Tinker fleet with the player (Tinkers split up fleet after conquering valuable systems). Both ally and Tinkers decisions are solid and casue interesting situations for the player to engage with
14. Player consolidates forces to doom stack and is now steamrolling the Tinker empire
15. Tinkers take a long time to propose peace (likely as they have done so already when they were still wining and there was a timer)
16. Humans finally defeat the Gremak and become a considerable power but are indifferent to Haduir and Player
17. Player wins election thanks to population and Haduir: wish there was another conflict with Humans and possibly Haduir as I have denied their expansion into my territory multiple times to ensure they vote on me


Overall, hard difficulty felt OK. In detail:
Good for tech progression - did not feel that the AI had skipped over tiers at all
OK for Coin production - there were clearly too many AI Heavy Cruisers in play after 120 Turns
Good in some cases for fleet balance (Tinker fleet was excellently balanced) and NOK at all in others (Haduir were producing more Fleet carriers then other ships altogether and both Humans and Gremak were mass-producing Heavy Cruisers albeit with some escorts but quite unbalanced)

What I was really missing is a final race between the 3 mayor empires: player, Haduir and Humans
This was missing due to the Haduir being too easily kept in the Alliance with the player and thus we never got to engage in a Galaxy-wide all-out war (maybe even one with 3 sides :)) - most of the tech also got left on the floor as none have passed into the final tech tear of course

I think that the final confrontations can be achieved though with relative ease:
1. Make rejection of colonization attempt of allies also yield negative relationship albeit less then if the parties were not allied (else it is easy to deprive the AI allies from gaining more territory and going against the player on a vote as they feel they are stronger)
2. Make shared boarder penalty not disappear completely when allied: When I attacked two of my allies cause they were too weak that was a good indication that their proximity to my production words was not entirely without risk to them and there is no penalty on the player overall if breaking alliance and turning against the former ally that would really keep up from doing this. It would also make large empires more wary of each other even when allied (which is correct).
2/B It would also be ok to offer an the option to smooth things over via spending influence (and thus no penalty) as I did find my influence count to almost be short and spending a lot of influence to maintain a good relationship with allies who want to expand but the player does not let them seems reasonable
3. Relationship penalty with Current and future allies when breaking alliance. Small amount per default and large amount if war is declared on the former ally within 5-10 Turns
4. Have hired Gremak mercs turn against their owner or just be dismissed as soon as any Gremak hubs are attacked as these are valuable targets that can be rolled over much more easily with hired mercs from their own kind (I think the description also already alludes to them turning against their owner in such a case anyhow)
5. Steamrolling is an issue like in all other similar games and it is likely unavoidable in mid-game awhen the player defeats another strong empire and starts devouring it. With some mitigation it might be lessen though enough to prevent player economy to fully take over the map:
- Have AI propose peace and offer up systems near the player sooner (if possible, in the above this might have not been done due to a previous offer by the AI just before the tides have turned). Note: Tinkers did correctly strike a peace with the Haduir very early on after having lost their big fleet which confirms the theory that they only did not offer up anything to the player due to a timer of sorts
- Relationship penalty towards the player if they do not accept an offer of peace with systems from other factions
- Loyalty penalty and maybe even no trade routes to colonies not connected to the main empire (question is what is considered main as there is no capital in this game). Would also be great to ensure player connects remove regions via outposts but difficult to track so this is idealistic.

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