I copy below the relevant part of a thread at the G+ site, to make sure that @JayKyburz sees it and to invite comment from the community. The objective of the proposed vassalage system is to give incentive for weaker players to keep playing, rather than quit or go AFK.

Brian Boru
Jul 7, 2014

How about a proper lord/vassal arrangement, whereby a weaker empire gains privileged access to trading, and maybe guaranteed cash flow, and in exchange the lord gets maybe 50% of the credit for the stars in the vassal’s empire toward the lord’s star count. Perhaps also increase the win condition for the 64 games to 50%. The vassal reserves the right to declare independence any time he chooses. Perhaps it is only under these conditions that two empires can trade without being in scan range.

This way a clever vassal (especially one with some distance between him and his lord) can declare independence right before his lord wins, and maybe declare vassalage with another strong player. Wash, rinse, repeat, and the game goes on forever!

William Bray
Jul 7, 2014

While I agree that some form of asymmetric alliance option would be good, such as your proposed lords and vassals system, I think that it shouldn’t allow a player to essentially “snipe” another’s victory as it would discourage the use of vassals at all. Maybe a system where vassals gain protection and some shared tech in return for economic or ship based tax? The exact terms should be laid out in an in game “contract” written by the Lord and agreed by the Vassals, so the stipulations can vary from situation to situation. This could include:
Tax to be paid, type of tax (credits or ships), length of contract, protection offered, scanning shared, planets surrendered and research shared.
This could allow a player to beat another into surrender such that they give up a lot of their empire and in return have a chance to make a later comeback.

Sorry that turned into a wall of text, really caught my imagination half way through!

Brian Boru
Jul 7, 2014

I guess where I was going is that a challenger on a leaderboard ought to give up something in order to get the starcount, so he would be subsidizing a vassal instead of extracting resources (which would be admittedly be more typical). The incentive structure is designed to keep weaker players in the game, rather than quitting or ceding stars to their buddies. You’d want to give the vassals a chance to place, and the only way to do this is to be able to declare independence and realign at some point.

Clearly a leader, who thinks he can win without the help, wouldn’t use a vassal except to attempt to sew it up quickly.

Colin Bennett
Jul 7, 2014

I think there’s definitely some potential in the lord-vassal mechanic being discussed here. A player who has fallen too behind could become a vassal of a more powerful player. The incentive for the “lord” would be that the vassal’s stars would count towards his/her total star count, while the incentive for the vassal would be that he/she would place higher than every other player (who was not also a vassal for the same lord). That would give incentive for the vassal to keep playing the game and make smart decisions, but it would also give incentive for non-vassal enemies to try and fully eliminate enemy vassals. This relationship could obey the same rules as existing formal alliances. There might be some abuse cases that would need to be addressed, but I think it would add an interesting facet to the meta.


Hey thanks @wfmcgillicuddy, makes it easy to read a summary. (I was reading the thread still. I get an email for every post to the forum). Its a good way to get others into the discussion when a thread takes a turn.

I like the idea of this, but I would like to see more significant or more obvious advantages for the vassal rather than some kind of complicated final scoring system.

So for example, the lord is required to give the vassal a star every day to maintain the relationship until both are equal size.

I think the vassal should be thinking seriously about getting back in the game and even placing first.

Hrmm… from a “story” or “vibe” point of view you want the vassal poor and dependant on the lord for tech, but growing fast so they are scary and strong. (Like a horde of peasants with pitchforks)

How about this idea…

The lord should take all economy and science of a vassal, but as the combined empire grows, the vassal gets all new stars until both empires are the same size.

The lord can dish out the cash and tech as they see fit. Probably most of the cash and science would go to building his own empire.

A vassal grows, and if they are not happy with the cash and tech they get from the lord, they revolt, or choose a new lord.

I think those are some good benefits for boths sides, and could lead to some interesting politics and diplomacy.

Yes, I agree with most of this, but not sure about mandatory delivery of stars to the vassal.

I am thinking that this would of necessity be primarily a late-game option, used by a challenger to catch up to a leader, and by a dying player as a way to stay in the game. If much of the star count growth goes to the vassal why would a lord agree? And a lord could have multiple vassals.

I think instead the equitable distribution of conquered stars would be a matter for a lord and his vassals, just as the distribution of cash and tech. If the vassals aren’t happy they revolt. And perhaps this arrangement might be the only form of formal alliance in non-team games?

I suppose this could be abused by groups joining together to try gain an early advantage in a game, not to mention individuals with multiple accounts. So maybe unavailable for the first 10-15 or so cycles?

I think most of the time the lord just wouldn’t hand over stars and people would know there is no real advantage to becoming a vassal. I think with mandatory rules its clear what each party is getting.

The lord gets a boost in cash and tech but gets no more stars while the arrangement is in place.
The vassal gets more stars and the full force of the lords ships working for him, but no cash or tech unless the lord says so.

I think if its a 0 sum game, its not so open to abuse.

Such a dour view of human nature :wink: You may be right, but in the successful alliances I’ve been in everyone knows that all members need to have the potential to prosper in order for the alliance to thrive. And especially if the lord isn’t getting to add the vassals star count to his own, as I originally proposed, and is trying to play catchup to a leader, he won’t be able to afford for his alliance to break up prematurely.