How about this: a true nova bomb. To dampen the negative effects
somewhat for those on the receiving end, how about the nova bomb
actually creates a super-nova?
Ie a star destablizes and explodes, but only after a set time period. So you deliver the bomb (as
fast as warp gate, with little chace of interception) and then your
opponent has X turns (a big clock displayed near the star) until the
star that is hit goes supernova and destroys itself (and irradiates
nearby stars - destroying only their economies!).
For those opposed to the total destruction of the star, I suppose it could
re-accrete into a smaller, ‘virgin’ star after X turns.
This would have the desired effect of clearing a big path for invasion
fleets, breaking ties but also cause forced fleet movements that would
also add dynamism as the victim is forced to flee. Ie if my homestar is
about to go nova and temporarily wreck (radiation of blast radius stars
could diminish over time) I’d have to ship out all my forces.
This could have knock-on effects of forced migrations causing collisions
with allies/other enemies and just generally breaking up the log jams
you see at the end of games.
Obviously this would be an incredibly expensive super-weapon and I like the ideas that others have
- there’s a game wide notification that ‘someone has gained the
ultimate weapon!’ and
- the bomb’s range would be variable
depending on $ spent on it, but only up to a maximum yield.
Furthermore, perhaps it’d become more expensive the more you build, reflecting some artificial scarcity of ‘element X’.
Finally, ‘element X’ could be the exclusive non-cash/non-tech trade possible
later in the game once 1 player discovers it (say after achieving the expensive ‘nova reasearch’ lvl 1).
I had a couple other ideas as well last night. Rather than nova bomb, I’d prefer to think of it as a ‘graviton bomb’ - a bomb made of gravity
to build a bomb takes several days and you need to convert half a star’s mass to do it. Ie if you’re building on a 60 star, as the bomb is built, it drops to 30 permanently. This process is irreversible and you cannot stop the build process once it begins. Oh and this is how the bombs power is set initially: higher mass origin star = higher mass bomb = more power. Perhaps stars below a certain natural threshold cannot even make them and remain viable centers of economy etc.
such a star could be captured at any moment so there’s a real danger of your WMD program being hijacked - provided the attacker has sufficient tech to build a bomb themselves, or perhaps not!
once a bomb is created, a notification of a ‘gravitatonal distortion anomoly’ is sent to all players - afterall, in default games, players can see all the stars. A shadowy impression of the bomb’s location could be indicated
the gravitational disturbance the bomb creates gives hints to its location, and once moving, its direction, this is key because of the next few points:
hints given to direction of movement of the bomb (enhances its threat and sense of dread) but there’s no certainty until it appears directly within your scanning range - ie you may have a general idea of where its going - ie blips appear, then disappear on the map - but you’ll need to analyse or wait to know for sure
once launched, the bomb moves at warp gate speed, without requiring warp gates. It cannot be recalled or its path diverted. It has a minimum range so it is mainly an offensive weapon and not as useful as a doomsday/suicide device
the bomb is indescructible, or perhaps can only be intercepted by a huge number of ships and even then, perhaps only with a 20% chance of stopping it
here’s the best part: since its a graviton bomb its power is enhanced, ie its mass is increased the further it travels. Each star it visits it collects some matter (this in contrast to its creation would not actually alter the stars it visits). Think ramjet. So if it travels all the way across the galaxy it’ll be far more powerful than if it just goes across say an 1/8th. Combined with the points above, about fuzzy notifications about direction and origin and inexorable near indestructibility I think this would make it a very potent threat and truly terrifying if you think one is coming toward you from far away. The bomb’s trajectory should not allow any doubling back - ie the interface would allow you to pick its ultimate destination and daisy chain the best path, you would NOT set waypoints
this also rewards patience on the part of the attacker - ie if you’ve planned to take out someone far away, or an enemy’s far flung home system, you need to have patience for the bomb to be built and delivered. Plus it means minor players who do that can effectively threaten much more powerful players who are a galaxy away, something that is impossible now.
once the bomb hits its destination star, a countdown begins and its power is fuzzily revealed - ie its blast radius is indicated withing 30% and the damage it’ll do to neighbouring stars similarly estimated
pariah status? - if you’re the first to use such a weapon, it becomes generally known and your empire enters into a brief period, 1 or 2 turns?, where you cannot conduct ANY trade. This doesn’t apply for any subsequent uses of graviton bombs as the galaxy has entered an existentially jaded and dangerous period
destroyed stars is an unnavigable cloud of debris for several turns and doesn’t count toward a total for victory and blocks navigation until it reforms
I think the above points, which sound complex, could actually be quite simply explained in the rules and implemented in the UI. Obviously a lot of care would need to be taken in balancing the cost/damage of the bomb so it doesn’t proliferate out of control in end games and so there’s a very real sacrifice if you choose to make it.