Yeah, it is hard to resist working with a player you know that happens to be in trading range in the early game. That probably encourages newer players to bail, which exacerbates the major problem with that game format: high AFK/quit rate.
I have before advocated a vassalage system, see this link: Vassalage
In my most recent 64 game I teamed with another strong player, and we basically rolled up the board. Very boring. To spice things up I offered vassalage to several players. They gave me a percentage of their income, and I teched them up and promised to bypass their kingdoms. I then attempted to attack my partner, but waited too long and he got to 25% before my fleets arrived. 24 hours earlier and we would have had a decent end game.
In my mind vassalage is a relationship between 2 players of unequal strength. Perhaps a format that gets at what you are trying to achieve. Specifically, a formal vassalage arrangement might allow trading outside of scan range.
Thanks for the reminder about the vassal discussion.
I still think there is room for some system to keep the smaller players in the late game, but I still feel asking smaller players to “bend the knee” and become a vassal doesn’t “feel right”. I would rather it was more of an egalitarian system where all players are considered equal in a new federation or united empire.
Free trade between federation partners, and perhaps even jointly researching a single topic. Then I think players could simply share a federated victory.
It we are smart about it we could dynamically make the free for all game morph into a team game on the fly.
But in the post above I was thinking about the first week of the game where we are starting to see experienced players gang up on players they don’t know or recognise, or at least favor players with a few victories listed, and targeting players without any. It would be nice if the new players were somebody you want to interact with, not smash as fast as you can.
Then I think players could simply share a federated victory.
I’d really like the idea of a team game, but I think the required number of stars for a team victory should be higher than the required number for an individual victory - especially if it’s possible to form teams/federations mid-game. Currently if someone is on top it’s visible on the leaderboard, but you could get forms of collusion within the game that upset victories, and where people are secretly working together ‘under the radar’ until they have enough stars collectively to reveal their team and officially join together to take the win.
If you have one player controlling 40% of the stars, and three other people each controlling 20% of the remaining stars, then it would potentially be possible for them to form a team which then hold 60% of the stars and instantly win the game from nowhere. If federations can win together than there has to be some other aspect which stops people abusing it by sniping games with sudden alliances that change the result.
I enjoy team games, but I’d be careful about mixing formats. Team games work best when each team plays to win, and everyone is in a team. There’d be nothing to stop a group of experienced players from forming a federation as well, and divvying up the placements ahead of time.
Maybe a large game format could randomly assign players to teams. That might take some of the stress out of the diplomacy aspect for newer players.
I like the idea of zero trading costs within an alliance, as well as pooling science
In defense of vassalage, I think it is a mid-game concept. After things begin to sort themselves out. “Bending the knee” is preferable to being steamrolled, and if a lord accumulates multiple vassals then, if all goes well, the vassals at some point can overthrow the lord. Vassalage is appropriate only in games where one player is playing for a solo win.
There is an earlier post that discussed multiple levels of alliance. Perhaps there could be a diplomacy tech, where each new level introduced new capabilities: trading, sharing scanning, donating ships, pooling science, etc.
And maybe for inexperienced players it would cost less for them to research diplomacy. Or maybe the cost is inversely proportional to your starcount.
I’ve never looked at stats to “target” a lesser player. I look at stats primarily to see if someone is more likely to drop. A 0-0-0 I feel is much more likely to drop than a 5-50-100 for example.
In the past, I’ve offered assistance to anyone who asks. Sometimes it’s just a simple message and I’ll take them under my wing, much like the vassal idea, but allowing them to play their own game.
I don’t like the vassal idea, at all. To me, the bigger problem still exists and that’s the “snowballing” of the largest players. After the early game of culling the herd, alliances seem to be set in stone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get smaller players to rise up and beat a behemoth only to get a “well he’s been a good ally so I can’t turn on him now”.
That’s all fine and dandy but when you’re on the other side and the game is now a foregone conclusion it’s not fun.
To be honest I think it’s a general thing for all 4X games that once a player edges far enough in front they are unassailable without a coordinated group attack. Assuming an even distribution of stars/resources, as your empire gets bigger your income scales with area while your borders scale with length - so a galaxy twice the size has twice the borders to defend but four times the income. Once a player is ahead on EIS then no single players can take them down unless they can massively out-manoeuvre them in combat, and their advantage just helps them get further ahead as time goes on.
Unless some late-game aspects get rebalanced (like carriers getting more expensive for each one, to punish larger galaxies by making them more immobile or expensive to run) then it’s always going to take a coordinated attack of smaller players to take down a large player. And that comes down to human interaction, personalities and all the game theory side of it. If people are going to be nice and don’t care about winning enough to backstab and be ruthless when they have to be, then other than a silver tongue to persuade them otherwise there’s not much that can be done.
Point well taken. If everyone plays to win, and the second and third place players consistently challenged first for the win, then the weaker players would benefit, and everyone would be incented to hang in there until the end game. The big problem with experienced players teaming up to steamroll newbies et al is when they form an unbreakable alliance and are unwilling to challenge each other for the win. Basically playing a team game in a non-team format.
What about if a team simply could not win. The game just ignores the star count of the players in the federation. The players must end the federation for the game to conclude? I’m not against some crazy idea like that.
Or if we do want to let the federation win, perhaps you can only form a federation if your total star count is less than 20% or something like that.
Or perhaps a federation simply has no effect on victory. An individual still needs 25%
Yes, this is also a big problem, but I must admit, is some of the larger games, if I have been allies with somebody for 4 weeks I just don’t have the energy to turn abound and launch a full attack on them. I like to think of the game as a race at that point.
I know this is contrary to what I always say here, that everybody should always be playing to win, and do whatever it takes to make it happen, but its a lot harder to live by this rule when the games are 2 months long instead of 2 weeks long.
Yes, first a player should seek mutual enemies of the lord and form an alliance against him, if that isn’t going to work, accepting vassalage and fighting on with the hope that one day you can take down the lord is preferable than just getting steamrolled.
Do you think it could be as simple as -
Lord gets 50-25% of Vassal Income.
Vassals and Lords automatically and instantly share tech? (No choice on either side)
Only Vassals can end the agreement - they are safe from the Lord for the rest of the game.
Perhaps Federation rules could be similar for symmetry.
All economy is distributed evenly among federation partners.
Federation Partners share tech instantly and automatically.
Interesting, I have thought that, properly balanced, you could make a 64 game last forever. I guess not many people would find that as attractive as me
So for the weaker player, a federation is more attractive than a vassalage, which is more attractive than dying. As it should be.
However, for the stronger player, you have to make vassalage more attractive than burning ships to take plunder, ind, sci, and star count. The first place player close to the win might not want that, but a challenger looking to attack the leader might want to husband ships and avoid side battles. However, the challenger would want to be able to direct the vassal’s strategy, and use the implied threat of force if the vassal doesn’t comply. After all, a feudal system would collapse if a lord didn’t make an example of a vassal from time to time
So, 40% of income and auto tech sharing would be great. But a lord needs to be able to threaten the vassal with termination of the arrangement.
Right now I’m in a game where I’ve taken a 0-0-0 player under my wing who said it’s only his second game. I’ve been giving him general tips and I plan on being his ally this game. A little kindness goes a long way!
Ditto what Matt said. I’ve had several games where I’ve allied with a new player and helped 'em along, even though sometimes it is to my detriment. Long term, NP needs a stable of folks who want to play … plus it’s a lot more fun/challenging when others are skilled.
If I want an easy (boring) game, I can create one against the AFK’ers!