Espionage Megathread: The good, the bad and the review

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The longer i play with espionage, the more i come to the conclusion that it's handed as a side feature sadly. There isn't any operation with real impact or if there is a bit more impact, then there is a far to huge cooldown on it. Actually i think that sabotage starbase is one of the better operations because it does at least SOMETHING. Arm privateers is good in some way but you destroy most of you network at once...

So i'm not sure that we will ever get real impactfull espionage operations from paradox. Most likely they fear the outrage of the community. That will start that moment the first player rage quits the game because getting destroyed by espionage. But they don't see the other side. My disappointment about the toothlessness and sometimes even wasting of time for espionage operations bring me sometimes close to ragequit...

What has to happen to fix that:
-Espionage operations need to be much more deterministic and predictive in outcome in dependence of your codebreaking vs encryption
-The network loss needs much smaller or the recover rate has to be much higher (prefer first)
-The effects of the operations need to be much more drastic in result. Examples: Sabotage starbase need to downgrade the starbase back to base level or arm privateers has to spawn stronger pirates, that raid from system to system and don't wait for their demise. And especially: Smear campaign need a full list of all empires with communications to, not only three.

These sound interesting to me, but they seem unbalanced. As things stand I don't see much benefit to specializing in espionage, while empires that are already wealthy, technologically advanced, and powerful will be able to do more espionage and get more out of it. It's extra snowball, and as a result it has to have some sort of limit on how effective it is or else dominant empires just become more dominant slightly earlier.

For espionage to be more impactful I feel like it needs to be an avenue worth developing over some other options, and for that we'd need a whole new suite of risks and rewards. The system would need to be valuable enough to be worth pursuing but not so dominant that it requires all players to leverage it in all cases. Without those meta considerations I would be concerned that the game will end up more constrained rather than more flexible for players, and that sounds like a much heavier lift than tweaking the outcomes of existing operations so that they're more effective.

Though, with that said, I would love to see espionage do at least a bit more. As it currently stands I agree that it's a feature that it seems like every empire type could ignore without much impact, and that is not ideal. What kinds of tradeoffs might people like to see with a more robust espionage system?
 
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The sad truth is: People like me are putting there hopes in the modding community rather than in paradox itself.

I agree 100% with all your points @A2ch0n , thats why I dont think there will be any major updates/min-maxing/evolution to this system. Its a shame, that people at Paradox are selling DLCs overprized with so little impact/depth actually to the game. They have the audacity in there DD like nothing has happend, everything is fine and go along with that joke of a system.

Think about it for second: Sure, people are complaing about pop growth, granted. But what will happen if Paradox fix all of that issues? Right, people are playing a game where the only thing that matters is fleet power an NOTHING else, again.

So i'm not sure that we will ever get real impactfull espionage operations from paradox. Most likely they fear the outrage of the community. That will start that moment the first player rage quits the game because getting destroyed by espionage. But they don't see the other side. My disappointment about the toothlessness and sometimes even wasting of time for espionage operations bring me sometimes close to ragequit...

This so called "problem" where people are always complaining about: This is nothing new to 4X games, since MOO2 or birth of federation we had the same arguments over and over again.

The solution is very simple imo: If you are playing against the AI only, use a formula or a slider (hi Paradox ;)), based on the difficulty level, that only a amount of X empires can/will attack you at the same time. Easy win....

And for those who cant make anything out of espionage: toggle on off option will fix your problems as well.

After this, we can finally start having a system which is worth the name Espionage on a galactic scale. Run the schemes to have a big impact in a stage of cold war. The groundwork is there. They have to min-max it, add new meaningful operations. There a plenty of ideas, just listen to your community Paradox.

Im so sick of this one sided game where only your beloved fleet will manage all the outcome you need: win the game.
 
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A2ch0n

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These sound interesting to me, but they seem unbalanced. As things stand I don't see much benefit to specializing in espionage, while empires that are already wealthy, technologically advanced, and powerful will be able to do more espionage and get more out of it. It's extra snowball, and as a result it has to have some sort of limit on how effective it is or else dominant empires just become more dominant slightly earlier.
What is balanced actually? ;) The empire with the biggest fleet win. End of the cycle. There is no balance in this case and stellaris was never pefectly balanced and i don't expect this! But i expect different ways to play the game and succeed with them. And one of the most effective strategies should be espionage in my opinion. You have two empires that are allies and you don't like? Disrupt there relations and make them fight (yes a operation to start a war would be a dream!). Your enemy fleet is too strong? Sabotage them and destroy a good amount (Another missing op)!
There should be a lot of options to disrupt the play of your target entirely be it a player or AI. Espionage should is a kind of "control" gameplay where you force your enemy todo what you want or stop at least your target from snowballing.
so is this balanced? Maybe not! But what balance are you looking for? Balance in kind of warfare? Maybe we have that because nothing else exist. But what i expect from a balance: Warfare -> as it is. Diplomacy -> Make all empires your frinds and mediate between other empires, even remove every casus belli against you. Espionage-> Disrupt the play of your oponents and stop them from "doing their thing". It's the same with criminal syndicates. They do exactly that, but tuned down too.

To your point about specialization: In my opinion it doesn't matter how advanced you are. If you don't pick the espionage Civics, ascension perks and edicts you will not win against a spy focused empire that does this because you lack in speed, Codebreaking and Encryption. You have to sacreficed your advancement in other areas to get powerfull espionage. And that how it should be. You pay a price by specialize and gain certain powers. On the other hand you miss out other things. Thats why i love AP's so much. They force you to specialize and after that, there is no turning back. Actually all empires are the same and even a psi ascended empire can barely break a gestalt.

m so sick of this one sided game where only your beloved fleet will manage all the outcome you need: win the game.
Exactly this... For me there are two things that should absolutely equal in power to open warfare. And that is diplomacy and espionage. They eliminated the power of diplomacy with the start of Nemesis entirely. I even don't imropve relations anymore! There is no value in it because it's capped low, drop off quick and the worst, harm retations is far stronger actually without embassy, so you will never get one against those empires you need it. Worse, all empires try to rival you even the "friendliest" ones. My style of gameplay is actually completely ruined....And that is sad.

And for those who cant make anything out of espionage: toggle on off option will fix your problems as well.
They did this with xeno compatibility and now in the last beta DD with popgrowth. So yes, that would be a fine option if espionage in exchange get some real firepower.
 
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For me there are two things that should absolutely equal in power to open warfare. And that is diplomacy and espionage. They eliminated the power of diplomacy with the start of Nemesis entirely. I even don't imropve relations anymore! There is no value in it because it's capped low, drop off quick and the worst, harm retations is far stronger actually without embassy, so you will never get one against those empires you need it. Worse, all empires try to rival you even the "friendliest" ones. My style of gameplay is actually completely ruined....And that is sad.

exactly this sir, I´m 100% with you.
 
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