There are five resources in GC (Ore, Water, Gas, Bio, and Crystal) that are used to upgrade your colonies. Each planet will have varied resource strengths and weaknesses. My hope is this will drive significant trade in the early game as you work your specialization and trade to get the rest. I’ve got two possible systems in mind that bring some additional strengths to the table. In both cases a citizen can still only extract one resource per turn for a $ cost.
1 – Finite Resources
In this model, planets have a limited number of resources available. Extraction costs for available resources would be a single number, while there would be a high priced option to extract an unavailable resource (4-5 times cost, I want focus to be on trade). For example, Colony A could begin with 20 Ore and 8 Water. Extracting those resources would cost $25 each, and take a citizen one turn to extract. Crystal could be purchased with a citizen by extracting for $125, but it would be much smarter to trade if possible.
As your colony grows, you can upgrade Education which would grant additional available resources per level. This would represent the technology and skilled workers involved in gaining even more access to resources. So, once gaining Education 1, Colony A would gain an additional 25 Ore, 10 Water, and 3 Crystal. Planets would still retain a focus, and maybe some random chance of additional resources.
The benefit of Education here would be allowing you to build out an existing colony. Your other option would be to move your citizens offworld and extract resources on newly found planets. Forgoing Education and spending on Military might allow you to more comfortably control a larger region of space for your migratory workers.
2 – Diminishing Returns
My original thought was having diminishing returns on additional same-turn resource extraction at a single planet. Each resource would have a per planet extraction cost and again planets would be good at 1-2 resources and not great at others. Additional extractions of the same resource would then increase in cost as it becomes more difficult to do. So, if Crystal cost 25 in Colony B, the second extraction in the same turn would cost 30, then 36, then 43…etc. Next turn it’d reset to 25. Differences between planets would be the differing costs per resource.
In this model, Education would grant additional “cheap” extractions per education level. So a Level 2 Education colony would allow three extractions at 25 before starting down the curve. It would encourage more consistent extractions rather than waiting and then extracting everything you needed the same turn.
The downside for this one I think is that in the early game it hurts trade. If you’re extracting 3-4 resources in turn 1 it’s likely you’re going to start paying so much that instead of trading your specialty you just buy it outright.
Where I’m leaning
Both of them solve a problem we saw in the GC run we did that several players commented about – once you found 5 colonies that were good in each of the same resources, you had little incentive to expand out further. It opened you up to attack and spread yourself thin with little benefit. Picking up a second Ore colony or even a third wasn’t something that happened too often. I tried to offset this by making the ring map have cheaper planets in the center that were higher risk, but even I didn’t feel there was a strong enough expand vs. build up decision.
I’m leaning toward the first one, but am open to ideas. I like the first one because it adds a time decision to your planet colonization strategy. Not just if this is a good one or not, but how is it going to look in 5 turns, 10 turns, and should I plant my flag to be ready for this. I also don’t think it makes Education an auto-pick at any point. I think aiming for enough resources for ~4-5 upgrades and 3-4 turns gives you a chance to explore nearby systems before making the decision to upgrade Education. If you choose to expand into nearby systems quickly, you don’t need to go that route right away.
The second one I really worry about it zapping trade. I also think once you get 2-3 education in you don’t really get posed with a decision again unless you get a population boom. You can keep extracting away and not worry about that static colony. I like the idea of it going dry and even in late game trying to decide to spend the money for Education 4 or 5 or spending the time to move your citizens off.
Eager to hear your thoughts.