I’ve got a neat idea for a replacement disasters system, but I fear the development time may be too lengthy to make it in to this next one. I’m considering holding off on the disaster bit for this version, but I did want to take an early game system I had an idea for and pitch it. Exploration.
I had a few goals in mind when I started thinking of a new system to add. First, I wanted to add some texture to the map. There will be more planets due to the increased player count and also because I wanted people to get larger empires. Removing penalties for expansion and increasing citizen growth I think will encourage filling out the map, but I did want to make it more than a wall of planets connected to each other. This game I anticipate ~4 or so jumps to the nearest player that will slow some of the player interaction down to give people a chance to play some turns without a huge risk of annihilation.
Second, I wanted some system that might provide emerging decisions for players in the early game beyond building your empire as expected for several turns while in safety. Something to do with your ships, and also another random aspect to look forward to that may alter your plans.
Third, I wanted there to be a decision about how you explore the map which will become more apparent what I mean as I explain it.
Moving a ship into a new system will still grant you information about enemy ships there and the resource profile of the planet (good at water, bad at ore, etc.) but your ships will now have an Explore Action they can take. Exploring a planet takes a turn which represents your ship sending out probes, away teams, reversing the polarity on the navigational deflector to gain insight, whatever. Doing this will give you a deeper reveal of the system.
Systems can have either nothing of interest, a one time small benefit of a resource or money, or native alien species. Any aliens present will then provide you with what is essentially a quest. The aliens are seeking someone who will be able to get one of their colonies (any one) up to a certain technology level, for instance they may require Engineering 2 for you to collect the reward. Once a player with this condition met visits the colony, they can collect the one time reward which could be citizens, or a larger amount of resources or money.
While the reward is uncollected, no player may colonize the system. Really want that system but don’t have the time and patience to unlock the reward? Sending a somewhat large early game fleet (4 ships?) in can destroy the aliens and unlock the planet for colonization that way. Unfortunately you’ll lose out on the reward (or prevent an enemy from getting it) and your actions will be announced in the Galactic Times. However, it can be an effective means to an end.
So, you have two effective early game exploration options. Do you send your ships to the far reaches of the galaxy with the goal of removing the fog of war, learning about enemy positions, and finding out colony resource profiles before they get colonized? Or do you slowly explore spending several turns of actions in nearby systems with the hope of getting small bonuses or finding alien species that give you a direction for your own colony upgrades.
I imagine by mid game most of these systems will be explored and many alien species will be assimilated or destroyed as things start to heat up and player conflict escalates. If I include it, I do hope it will make for a fun early game.
What do you think of this new system, is it something I should include?
Would you be okay with removing disasters in this iteration with it likely returning with a cooler, more fully developed system in a later one?