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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Stellaris Dev Diary #198: Provocations

They say that to escape any rampaging beast, you don't need to outrun it - just whoever you're with.
- Diuuret, Spymaster operating within the Anathurian Nation.


Hello again!

Now that we've gone over several of the basic Operations, this week we want to go over Provocations.

Operations vary in risk and consequences. The simplest Operations such as Gathering Information and Acquiring Assets will only rarely cause major issues between the two Empires, while Stealing Technology or Sabotaging Starbases is more frowned upon and can cause some diplomatic issues. Provocations are the types of acts that the galaxy as a whole will generally take a dim view to, treating them as war crimes. Expect blowback and repercussions from them, even when they are successful.

Part of these repercussions is modelled by the loss of Infiltration - whether it be that parts of your Spy Network are compromised, security holes have been closed in response, or "friends" within the empire stop being quite as friendly. The flashier and messier the operation is, the more your network will be impacted.

Provocations will usually cause the greatest losses of Infiltration, making it difficult or impossible to run other operations in that network until it is built back up.

One Provocation that we're planning is Arm Privateers (Provocation, Economy). It's a fairly advanced Operation requiring an Infiltration level of 60, and has the primary objective of disrupting the target empire by providing weapons and funding to violent and unstable individuals.

1611756877653.png

Surely nothing will go wrong with this plan.

The weapons are untraceable, so it'll be fine.

1611758359021.png

These are a trustworthy group, right?

Your spymaster makes a good point there though.

1611758491624.png

Last chance to back out.

1611758535202.png

Privateers or pirates?


The Privateer fleet disabled the local starbase and set up their own little pirate base. Their fleet strength is based to a degree on the fleet strength of the empire it was created in, so while it is likely to be only a temporary annoyance, it can prove incredibly useful if deployed at the right time.

As noted during the events, these fleets are hostile to everyone, including their original patrons.

The nastiest Operation to date is the Crisis Beacon (Provocation, Technology).

1611749766626.png

Surely nothing will go wrong with this plan either.

Crisis Beacon is an extremely difficult Operation to pull off, but if successful, will add the target's capital system as a target of interest to an ongoing End-Game Crisis. It currently has the highest Infiltration level requirement (80) and cost of any Operation. This will typically require an extremely well developed Spy Network with numerous Assets.

If all goes according to plan, this will usually result in the Crisis sending a fleet to "investigate" it in the friendly way that they do when visiting systems.

1611749945551.png

Goodbye! We'll miss you!

As with many Operations, things can develop in different ways depending on what's going on.

1611750123993.png

The last time we'll hear from them.

Shortly thereafter, the bait is set.

1611750182104.png

It's like Prethoryn catnip.

The sacrifice of our operatives (and the rest of the Spy Network that we had built up in the Anathurian Nation) bought us a bit of time as it diverted a Prethoryn fleet away from our own territory. The Swarm chose to support that fleet with other resources, leading them away from our border nicely.

Now, this sort of Operation is definitely an act of war, and we're currently discussing exactly what the consequences should be if you get caught performing such a heinous deed. At the very least, your target is not going to be happy at all with you. (And if you have a Xenophilic faction they might not be too pleased.)

That's this week's dossier of secret information. Next week we'll continue to talk about the Crisis a bit.
 
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Given the Privateers content, will Piracy get some QoL improvements? Like upgrading/reparing your patrol fleet without it cancelling the patrol route, and maybe reordering patrolling vs main fleets on the outliner? And can your rewards for destroying them get better later in the game?

Also, will crime be getting any reworks or new mechanics as part of this expansion, or even as part of the base game that the expansion can build off of?
 
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Ok, thats huge! This is the kind of major impact i had hoped for the more advanced espionage actions.

Will it be possible to choose the crisis and will it work at times no crisis is active?

Will there be some advanced operations ( provocations or another) that target mega structures?

Will we get some kind of specialization on espionage with some complete new ascension perks or something like this, that give more advanced options that another empire with less effort in espionage don't have (more than a higher infiltration level or more assets, enctyption or decryption)?
 
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Sounds like we may finally be set for some new Crisis content! Hopefully an entirely new endgame one, since we've been stuck with the same 3 since launch, with only mid-game crises being added.

Is the Starbase sabotage mission still in the cards, or did it get rolled into the Arm Privateers one?
 
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What do the devs think about a provocation of announcing a release date? Now that will surely have a big impact!
 
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Will particular civics like inward perfection, prevent an empire from using certain espionage actions?
 
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If I'm totally honest, I'm kinda disappointed with the Operations. Creating pirate fleets is basically going to be pointless to do to the AI (will they even actually pay attention to them?), and incredibly annoying when the AI does it to you. The Crisis Beacon idea is pretty cool, although I feel like it has pretty limited usages in terms of emergent gameplay and storytelling, and how much are you really going to care to use it by the time the endgame crisis rolls around?

I mean, so far, you can:

- Steal Technology (I guess that's ok, but does it really affect anything significant? Much like in HoI4, I imagine most people will just ignore it as it's just not that interesting to do).
- Smear Campaign (could be interesting to break down alliances, but again... how much of an effect will this really have on anything?).

Neither of those seem particularly interesting either, if I'm honest. Then you have Sabotage Starbase (maybe, maybe useful in the early game), and Arm Privateers (which just seems like an annoyance and probably won't be worth doing most of the time).

I'm sorry if this is negative, and perhaps I'm alone in feeling like that.

All that being said, I actually do like the Intel-gathering aspect of espionage, and I LOVE the changes to First Contact, so I'm excited regardless. I'm just hoping there's more to this DLC than Espionage now, maybe some internal politics / factions stuff.
 
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What do the devs think about a provocation of announcing a release date? Now that will surely have a big impact!
Maybe can we wait a bit and hold our hurry? The game need so much attention that, even if it takes 6 more months of developpement for adressing some of the issues the game have it would be totally worthy.

PS: I admit i'm a bit worried about the AI for privaters and crisis too...
 
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Tricking a bunch of space bugs to attack the capital of your enemies and abandoning the operatives involved sounds like the kind of plan that's never backfired ever...

"I will rule this sector galaxy or see it burnt to ashes around me!"
 
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Damn, that's big. Especially the Privateers change which will have lots of uses.

And while last time I asked about Cryminal Syndicates, this time I will have to ask about one other "not-so-legal" playthrough. Is there any chance for Barbaric Despoilers to get something "extra" from these Operations? Like for example the aforementioned Privateers - maybe they could kidnap the citizens and bringing them to your Empire?
 
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Is creating a pirate base in another Empire really worth it?
In my playthroughs, most of the times other empires had an enemy fleet marker for ages within their borders and did nothing. It was always me to clean up the pirates while I was on my mission to liberate systems to form a better government that was following my guidance.
 
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Maybe can we wait a bit and hold our hurry? The game need so much attention that, even if it takes 6 months of developpement for adressing some of the issues the game have it would be totally worthy.
No doubt, but we're not talking about six months, it will soon be a year since the last expansion that added any features.
 
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Expect blowback and repercussions from them, even when they are successful.

Eeeh I'm not so keen on that. Pouring resources into Espionage - specifically Covert Action, as we're talking about here - should be a viable alternative approach to a straight-up unsubtle fleet-and-soldiers based Military approach (not entirely, but significantly). If I want to orient my Empire's strategy around this, and build up a very high Infiltration score, then I should be able to use that to reduce the odds of blowback & repurcusions in the event of successful operations. Similarly, I should be able to optionally pour resources into my Agencies in order to increase the likelihoods of success. Player choice an' all.

What do the devs think about a provocation of announcing a release date? Now that will surely have a big impact!
Strongly agreed. We've been having Dev Diaries since the start of November. It's now the end of January. I think it's high time to provide indications of a release window now please, Devs. Of course, we aren't just waiting on the juicy Espionage content here of course, but also essential economic changes - like Industrial Districts and auto-pop migration. Those latter two features, in particular, are needed sooner rather than later.
Don't think of this as criticism, think of it as... encouragement ;)

I am not trying to say "RELEASE NOW!"; I'd rather a polished product than a prompt product (within reason of course). I simply want you to help us manage our expectations. Cheers!
 
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I like the Prethoryn catnip one. Part of my problem with the espionage system is that it seems really bare-bones, it's mostly things like sabotaging starbases or stealing technology, things that don't take advantage of all the systems in Stellaris (sector interaction, individual characters, science ships and anomalies, etc.).
 
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Eladrin

Stellaris Game Designer
Apr 4, 2019
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www.paradoxplaza.com
Will it be possible to choose the crisis and will it work at times no crisis is active?
Crisis Beacon is currently only available while a crisis is present.

Will there be some advanced operations ( provocations or another) that target mega structures?
We considered having "sabotage megastructure", but it fell awry of the similar problems as "assassination" - incredibly unpleasant, even if it's just delaying your (already long) constuction.

What do the devs think about a provocation of announcing a release date?
Keep building up that spy network.
 
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Panzerslothen

Sergeant
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Feb 22, 2018
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Oh, one more thing I forgot to ask about. How mod-able is the Espionage and Operations system? Will we be able to add in new Operations and tweak values?
 
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