Jump to content

Revolts: Morale as Pollution, Marines as Cleanup (Long)

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

LeadfootSlim #1 Posted 05 May 2016 - 06:59 AM


  • Players
  • 220
  • Member since:

One of the strengths of the MOO series, especially compared to other 4X games, is how well things interweave; in MOO2, one had to balance taxes and production, production and pollution, pollution tech and weapons development... this newest iteration is doing a bang-up job in that respect, and I'm very glad for it. However, currently we have a few dead-ends, or at least ones that have potential to really mesh the game together if explored further. I've posted about ground combat in that regards, but I'd currently like to address a newly added mechanic; Revolts. There are a few others I'd like to address here, too; Morale, Security, and Marines. Let's see what we can do to take these standalone mechanics (plus a surprise guest star!) and make them weave together better.


What We Have So Far

What I've heard so far isn't much, aside from bugs with trying to reclaim planets, but as of EA3 their implementation is simple; complete a Spy mission, disable an enemy planet until Marines come in. Easy, right? Maybe too easy. The other spy missions make sense as small, discrete actions - destroying a building, killing population or stalling enemy production without building a single ship is nice. Even stealing tech is a fair tradeoff for the length of time it takes and the random luck it entails - though those may all be subject to change, and may in fact need it. However, removing ownership of a planet is a big deal, and perhaps deserves a bigger, more interwoven implementation.


Problem 1: Revolt Doesn't Play With Anything Else

The other spy missions work, ideally, by preying on vulnerabilities; you get data about an enemy's presence on the planet and decide which action would hurt them the most. Huge/Poor world devoted to research? Hacking. Volcanic world dependant on food buildings? Sabotage or Famine. Even race plays a part - Contaminate will hurt Silicoids far more than it'll hurt Sakkra, for example, and Strike will shut down the Klackon or Meklar very badly compared to Humans. Right now, however, Revolt actions don't interact with vulnerabilities, nor is there any particular defense beyond Security. This is in stark contrast to what I mentioned above; interweaving mechanics. Revolts currently stand alone, which makes them feel awfully vestigial. Rather than having a perfectly nice planet suddenly go pear-shaped, a Revolt should instead be something you can see coming - a dire consequence that you can work to prevent or stop, and one that your enemy can hasten or otherwise increase the chances of. So first, it has to be able to happen on its own.


Problem 2: Morale and Security are One-Dimensional

Morale is currently another mechanic that feels just a bit vestigial to me... Sure, there's the interplay between Taxes and workers On Strike - mo' money, mo' problems, as they say - but currently, once you get your Morale structures up and running, you can just shove your Taxes to the maximum and never worry again. This one-dimensional aspect makes the +10% and +20% Morale perks effectively read "Print more money", which is a bit redundant when you have +Credits from Pop as an alternative race pick. Even without Morale structures, you can just crank Taxes and rely on sheer taxable population for Credits to make up for your research/farming/production shortfalls. It's easy to ignore the problem, and a problem you can ignore is one less puzzle to enjoy solving.


Security is another offender here; Security is passive, and since you don't know when or where you need it, you either build it everywhere or ignore it. Even Morale has some decision-making about where to slap your Holo-Simulators first; big worlds where Strikes can occur due to larger populations, or Small worlds where every worker is needed to grow quickly? With Security, you're not only uninformed as to where you should invest, but you'll never know it's failed until it's too late. If you're down to corner-cutting, why not just rely on Counterespionage - or even blind luck - and hope nothing bad happens?  As above, you can ignore it, and that's not great.


Problem 3: Marines are Abstract

This might seem off-topic, but bear with me. Right now, Marines stationed at colonies are represented as a "Defense" number. This is, to say the least, boring, and it has the same problem as Security; their presence is an invisible benefit right up until you need them. While shipping them off in Troop Transports leaves a world vulnerable to invasion (from the people you're invading...) it's very rarely a commitment - you lose nothing when you "spend" Marines, and in that sense they're also one-dimensional. This robs traits like Extended Barracks and Marine Training Rate of their value for 99% of the game, up until you're invaded or try to mass-produce transports, respectively. As with Morale, we don't want a Race Pick to feel useless, so this can stand to be addressed.


Solution: Morale as "Pollution", with Revolt at 0% Morale

So we have three underused mechanics - Revolts, Morale, and Security. Thematically, they all go together! Marines, as icing on the cake, can serve as an actionable way to interact with it all. Let's take a look at one possible implementation of this relationship...


1) Workers On Strike Generate "Dissent"

I'm not proposing statistics and keyword bloat, by any means. "Dissent" is, for our discussion here, a cumulative Morale penalty generated by workers On Strike. This means that even one worker On Strike can complain long enough to bring your Morale down 10%, and then you have two On Strike... it's a slippery-slope problem, but that's good. You can see this problem coming and take steps to solve it, and enemy Spies can see the problem and take steps to make it worse for you. It also makes cranking Taxes a temporary measure that risks consequences if left too long, just like cranking Production risks building up too much Pollution if you ignore the "Imminent Biome Degradation!" messages. Speaking of which, I've heard some comments about tying Pollution to Morale, which would serve something like this very well; any events that affect Morale now have a much greater impact. Maybe Blockades will emerge as a strategy all their own...


So Dissent's building up. How do we fix it? You can build Morale structures, reduce Taxes, or ship unwanted layabouts off-world with Civil Transports... however you choose to accomplish it, once you've got 0 workers On Strike it can't accumulate to make more workers go On Strike. Your Dissent automatically begins to go down, thanks to... wait. We need something to get rid of Dissent, don't we?


We're going to look at two ways to follow up on this; one simple, and one complex.




2a) Security counteracts Dissent, eventually bringing it back down.

Security now pulls a double-duty; it helps catch Spies, which may or may not pay off, and it counteracts Dissent, which definitely pays off - and you'll know where it's needed. Since Morale is based on a percentage of the population, larger worlds will have a faster Dissent slope, and therefore may need more Security. A side effect of this is that you can actually choose to invest in either Security to stamp out Dissent faster than it generates, or Morale to prevent it from occurring. Choices are great! However, this approach still benefits spamming both Security and Morale to make a perfectly meshed, Revolt-proof world - and that might be okay, but then it's not really a choice anymore. So let's look at option B...




2b) Marines are movable tokens, much like Population, assigned to either Morale (anti-Dissent) or Security.

In this example, "assigned to Morale" means "assigned to counteract Dissent", replacing our double-duty security. However, for this to work, Marines would need to make up a larger part of your Security; therefore, instead of a Security bonus, most Security structures add slots for Marines to provide Security. The Barracks can be one such structure, as could the Global DNA Scanner; passives like the Cyber-Security Link can still provide an empire-wide benefit. Morale/Anti-Dissent slots are available by default so that your Marines have somewhere to go. Since both the max number of Marines and the number of workers On Strike they (might) have to pacify scale with planet size, these slots should also scale, keeping things relatively balanced.


The exact math is certainly up in the air; you could have one Marine token per Troop Transports' worth of soldiers, so that you're not dealing with 23 Marine tokens on a Mrrshan planet. Either way, there are some very interesting effects here. Security and anti-Dissent both become fluid numbers, which can change depending on the choices you make. And with a potential Revolt on the line, you better believe the stakes are high.


Need to recruit for your war effort? Better hope your Morale is in order - and if you're boosting Taxes to pay for the war, how long can you do so before creating too much Dissent? Do you push your empire to the brink, allowing a few border worlds to fall into chaos to push out that last Battleship you need to defend the core worlds?


Spying on an enemy who's just shipped all their Marines off-planet? Their Security is down, as is their ability to control Dissent. All that data you acquired is gonna pay off - now's the time to strike, especially if you want to start a Revolt. If Security can fluctuate, Spies are no longer simply flipping coins until they get caught.




If this is too much to add, that's fine - the former approach still works more or less. In either case, interweaving mechanics like this is much more interesting than having a lot of vestigial stats with only one purpose. It plays to the strengths of the genre, creating meaningful complexity and choice rather than extra buttons you're required to push.


While we're here, however, there's one more mechanic I'd like to address... the Revolt itself. Currently, from what accounts I can gather, the planet simply goes off the radar, but still belongs to the original empire. The bigger question, though; if there's a Revolt, what happens to the Marines on the planet?


Improved Revolts: Civilian vs. Marine Ground Combat

I mentioned in my other thread a few ways to make Ground Combat more interesting - but even if all that was magically implemented, there's not much to make ground combat more frequent. Without MOO2's ship boarding, Marines and their associated combat techs lose 50% of the utility they once had. So why not make a Revolt play out as a ground combat? Let's look at how it might work.


1) A percentage of the population get converted to "Rebels", and lined up against the Marines already stationed. Ground Combat ensues.

This is the tricky part; if too many civilians take part, the Marines might be able to gun them all down, and there's not really much planet to reclaim in that case. We can control our "Rebels" number by converting 1 Population into X Rebels, however... but what if the Marines win every time? Let's give the Rebels an advantage; while fighting a Revolt, Marines can accidentally shoot Population or Structures instead of Rebels - giving the Rebels an advantage so they'll almost always win an even fight. Notice I said "even fight"... with Extended Barracks, one becomes Revolt-proof, though one would still suffer the loss of Population to Rebels. Battleoids or Armor Barracks might also have this effect, but could be tweaked to have a higher chance of killing off Population or Structures instead. So that all works, but what are these Rebels fighting with?


2) Civilian Rebels use their race's Ground Combat bonus, or a bonus from a provoking Spy's race.

If we're lining our would-be rebels up to get shot, they ought to have guns - right? Giving them what their race already has access to makes things even... but if we're concerned about the aforementioned barracks/battleoids making a successful Revolt impossible, we ought to have a countermeasure. Therefore, if a Spy uses a Revolt action, the ensuing combat gives the Rebels his race's equipment combat bonus. This makes Bulrathi gunrunners a very real possibility, and prompts Darloks to keep tabs on who has what weapon tech. If population stats are ever correctly tabulated (cough cough, Silicoid captives eating rocks) then sparking a Revolt on a Bulrathi planet guarded by Psilon marines would be quite challenging. Speaking of which...


3) Revolt planets become neutral, and can be claimed by anyone - bypassing orbital defenses.

Whether or not this is currently the case, I can't say - but if it's not, this is how it should be. Especially since a stealthed Darlok troop transport sweeping in to clean up a Revolt world would warrant maniacal laughter of bellowing proportions. Or if it's your (captured) colony and you're just sick and tired of it, you could nuke the place clean. Not that anyone would do that.


4) After ANY invasion - quelling a Revolt or capturing an enemy Planet - workers go On Strike until Assimilated.

HAH! You thought I was done with the vestigial mechanics, didn't you? Well, tough luck! Assimilation has joined the discussion! This assumes we're using 2b, Marine assignments, to remove Dissent.


Right now, workers simply lose productivity until Assimilated, and no data appears to indicate how long it'll take before they stop grumbling and return to 100% efficiency. This is annoying, to say the least. It's also not immediately apparent, aside from the lower-than-usual numbers above your workers' heads. Instead, we remove this penalty and make Assimilation a Dissent penalty, so that workers go On Strike and you can immediately tell they're not putting up with this whole "invasion" thing. And this creates a lovely domino effect!


Populations will start starving if there's not enough food buildings, so you'll have to put what few compliant slaves you have on that. Bombing the hell out of the planet beforehand may exacerbate this issue. More pressingly, however, you'll now have Dissent building from the workers On Strike, so you'll need those Marines to prevent a Revolt from happening again. This means that you'll need more than one Marine transport to properly quell a rebellion. Otherwise, you run the risk of another revolt, with more Population signing up to die as Rebels... meanwhile, somewhere an enemy spy is laughing.


And since we mentioned Race Picks earlier?... -25% Assimilation is a laughable penalty, and +25% or even Instant Assimilation are useless. However, if Assimilation is instead our anti-Dissent rating, it's suddenly incredibly useful and ties into the rest of the gameEmpires with a higher Assimilation rating can forgo Morale for a time - or even take penalties to it - and bank on dictatorial, Marine-based dissent management for their colonies, and take over enemy worlds far easier as a result. Inversely, empires with poor Assimilation have trouble with invasions, but also have issues quelling rebellions at home - making them particularly vulnerable to Spy attacks, and prompting them to invest heavily in Morale as a countermeasure.




So there's one possible approach. Security, Morale, Revolts, and even Assimilation all get a nice touch-up that elevate them from one-note vestigial mechanics to a well-knit web of choices and consequence. Even if nothing else above is considered, these tweaks can and should be added anyway:


-Marines/Tanks/Battleoids visible on planet screen, instead of a Defense number

-Revolts and reclamations as ground combats

-Revolts make planets neutral for anyone to take

-Conquest as a Morale penalty, slowly removed by Assimilation

-Conquest/Assimilation penalty applied to Revolts


I doubt we'll keep the current black-box "coin flip" Revolt we have now, and I can't predict what it'll look like; I just hope something I've said here contributes to the discussion in a positive way. If you have something to say or a better idea to offer, please discuss!


*edit: some grammar.


Edited by LeadfootSlim, 05 May 2016 - 02:21 PM.

Nicholas13 #2 Posted 05 May 2016 - 03:31 PM


  • Players
  • 46
  • Member since:

You brought up so many good points and good ideas. I really love the idea of marines producing security and the dissidence mechanic. All of these ideas are great. Ground combat especially needs that kind of revamp to make them more important which buffs the Mrrshan and Terrans unique bonuses. 


*Update: I just recently uploaded a post about population management, marines, and slavery that you would probably find interesting. I want to know what you would think about my ideas in relation to your own. 

Methuselas #3 Posted 24 July 2016 - 09:14 PM


  • Players
  • 10
  • Member since:

Revolts, in their current incarnation, really piss me off.


In the current game I (was) playing, one of my biggest colonies revolted, due to my proximity to the Mrrshan Nation. I knew it was them, but of course, couldn't prove it, so I went back a few turns and demanded they stop spying. They, of course, agreed to. Played through and once again, the planet revolted. So, I went back even further and this time, I made sure to max out all of my security, since the spy I had there doing counter intelligence (the only worthwhile thing to do in the current incarnation) was pretty much useless.


The planet revolted, yet again.


So, I went back even further, maxed out my security, added a marine barracks and counter intelligence.


The planet revolted, yet again.


So, I eventually had to succumb to just posting transport ships in orbit and just wait for the planet to revolt, so I could take it over again. To add insult to injury, the spy I had there, not only didn't warn me of pending revolution, but as soon as it happened, just split. Why even bother having him there in the first place, if as soon as the fire starts, he just takes off, instead of putting it out.


So, it took 3 revolts before I finally got that damned spy, who turned out to be Mrrshan, even though they agreed to stop spying on me (they obviously didn't.) The Mrrshan were WAY below me in tech and didn't have the Espionage Training Facility, so I was baffled on how exactly they managed to cause my planet with 100% Morale, Level 3 Security, a Spy doing Counter Intelligence on the planet, not to mention a Marine barracks, to revolt.

Any change to the current Espionage system will be a welcomed one.

diehardtwinsfan #4 Posted 25 July 2016 - 10:31 AM

    Rear Admiral

  • Players
  • 510
  • Member since:
I'm not sure how I managed to miss this thread a few months ago.  Lots of interesting ideas here.

Mithlas #5 Posted 01 August 2016 - 04:49 PM


  • Players
  • 31
  • Member since:
I don't like the idea of marines as an asset that has to be specifically allocated (that would add more micro than I think would be necessary), but I like your other ideas. As the revolts and AI spying...I think The AI is Cheating, and that makes it a lot harder to recommend the game to others. I've always been a firm believer that if it's a rule for the human, it should work the same for the AI, and vice-versa.

M002mod #6 Posted 01 August 2016 - 05:54 PM


  • Players
  • 242
  • Member since:

View PostMethuselas, on 24 July 2016 - 09:14 PM, said:


To add insult to injury, the spy I had there, not only didn't warn me of pending revolution, but as soon as it happened, just split.


LOL, what a traitor!!

1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users