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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Methone

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Compared to what they were pre-2.0, Awakened Empires are, to put it charitably, neutered.

For those who weren't around, prior to 2.0 FE didn't have to wait until endgame to awaken. So what would happen is someone would approach the FE in power, and one of them would awaken, triple in power, and immediately begin cracking skulls. They were practically a crisis in their own right, and unless you were exceptionally powerful the most common strat was to submit to the AE, wait for Decadence to weaken them over time, and then overthrow them.

And even that didn't often work because, again, the moment you got close to them in power they began looking to awaken.

Since 2.0, however, AE have become drastically less of a threat. For starters, them needing to wait until Endgame to awaken usually means that the younger races (Especially even a halfway experienced player) will reach and surpass them in power; they wake up and open their eyes just long enough to get said eyes punched out.

In addition, 2.0 seems to have broken something in the Awakened Empire AI. Anecdotes are not evidence, but since 2.0 I literally have not once had my submission demanded by an AE. There have even been reports of the Berserk Machine AE not declaring war, despite it supposedly having the same Aggression and Bravery of a Metalhead.

While AE will sometimes get off their couch and subjugate an errant Devouring Swarm or Evangelizing Zealot, they're nowhere NEAR the domination-happy zealots they used to be pre-2.0.

2.2 also has introduced new problems into the AE - not only is their aggression broken, but AE don't even expand their territory anymore. Their construction ships do nothing except play Gateway Building Simulator.

In the interest of making Awakened Empires a real threat again - rather than some grumpy old men that you ignore throughout the entire endgame, up to and including the arrival and defeat of the crisis - I propose 2 categories of changes:

Just as meeting the Materialist FE has them go 'yes yes, we've heard this before. Well met, good to meet you, stay out of our space or be destroyed etc' there is separate First Contact dialogue for meeting an AE. Stuff like the Awakened Xenophobes saying 'tremble in fear, for we have returned. You can choose submission or annihilation. Choose wisely, and choose quickly'.

The problem is, nobody ever sees this dialogue because it requires you to first find the Awakened Empire by the time it's, well, awoken. No points for knowing about the FE and then seeing it awaken. So, in the interest of preventing this dialogue from going to waste, I propose fixing it so that, once the AE awakens, everyone gets the First Contact dialogue, whether they knew about the FE beforehand or not.

Possibly even separate dialogue for Guardians of the Galaxy awakening, it'd be weird to see the Materialist AE talk about how they'll enforce their regulations, and then instantly go "Forget the regulations, young children! We must fight the Unbidden together!"
There is something, I don't know exactly what, horribly wrong with Awakened Empire behavior. Their frequency of demanding submission and then declaring war to enforce it is broken horrendously. I don't know what would need to mechanically change in the code to rectify this, but something must be done to make them as active as they were prior to 2.0.
This is a bit of an odd one.

The first case is the Xenophobe FE, who only use Kinetic Weapons. Prior to 2.0, there only existed two levels of Flak PD. And the Xenophobes used the max level, Tier 2 Flak PD. But then 2.0 came along and introduced a third level of Flak PD.

The Xenophobe FE, however, did not seem to get the memo. Their ships, and defensive platforms, all still use Tier 2 Flak, whether they're still Fallen or Awoken.

Second, all FE and AE use hilariously low tech for their Starbases. While the defensive outposts surrounding their citadels all use up to date tech (Except the aforementioned Xenophobe Flak) the citadels themselves use stuff like Tier 3 Missiles, Tier 1 Torpedoes, Tier 1 Disruptors, Tier 3 Shields, etc. Some advanced tech still appears in them - they use proper Neutronium Armor and Tier 3 Strike Craft - but most of their weapons are outrageously outdated, whether the empire is Fallen or Awoken.

The solution to this is simply make their stations and ships use proper tech that one would expect from an ancient ascendency.
While having their stations and ships use max level tech properly as I outlined under the bugs and oversights would strengthen them, that won't be enough to answer the fact that, unless you set endgame to an early date, by the time AE awaken they're often too late, and the younger races - particularly a player - can stomp them into the dirt with usually little effort.

So... what can be done to make the Awakened Empire TRULY a force to be reckoned with like they were prior to 2.0? Stellaris team has tried to make them stronger after 2.0 - FE and AE used to only have 5 of each repeatable, but now they have 10. Their Ancient Caches of Technology used to give +25% resources, now it give +50%. This has not been nearly enough. My ideas are as follows:
I lied when I said they have 10 of each repeatable. They have 10 of MOST repeatables. But for some, they still only have 5. Notably:
  • Physics Build Cost Reduction
  • Society +Starbase Capacity
  • Society +Fleet Command Limit
  • Society +Naval Capacity
  • Engineering +Planet Build Speed
If rectified from +5 to +10, the major effects of this change would be +50 to their Fleet Command Limit, +5 to their starbase capacity, and +100 to their naval capacity.
Currently, once a Fallen Empire awakens, it both loses its crippling old civics and gains two beneficial ones.

The problem is, the new civics don't really do all that much.

The first is Revanchist Fervor which gives +1 Monthly Influence, probably to compensate for the fact that AE have no factions. But even if we fix the whole 'AE only use influence to build gateways' issue, like... what does this do? They burn through a bit of Influence expanding into their two or three unclaimed neighboring systems and then nothing.

The second civic they get is Ancient Caches of Technology which, in its current form, gives +50% Resources from Jobs. The problem is, AE don't get resources from jobs. All their alloys and rare resources and such come from one of two sources; their powerful automatic buildings that don't give jobs but instead give resources directly, and their innate, incredibly high 'base production' tied to their empire itself. Neither one of these is affected by Ancient Caches. For most AE, the only job that gives them ANY resources is their unity-producing Hedonist jobs, and AE never pick traditions or ascension perks.

There are really only two exceptions to this rule - the Xenophiles and Spiritualists. The Xenophiles can have their Preserve pops work normal Ruler-Specialist-Worker jobs, and the Spiritualist pops work special Acolyte jobs... but those only produce Energy, Food, Minerals, CG, and Amenities. None of which goes to their fleet.

(Amusingly enough, the same thing that makes Ancient Caches not power up the AE also makes Decadence not weaken them as much; Decadence gives -Resources from Jobs among other things. But whatever might need to be done about that, this is a thread about making AE stronger so making Decadence more punishing is kinda counter-productive to talk about)

A similar issue exists with the Fallen Machine Empire, who upon awakening, gets the Final/Corrupted Defense Directives, which gives +10% fire rate (Peanuts compared to their +Fire Rate repeatables, since it's additive) and +50% energy credits from jobs... and they have no energy-producing jobs.

Amusingly enough, the Rampaging Machine Awakened Empire also has the same 'Reactivated Custodian Matrix' that the Guardian Machine AE has, preventing it from conquering worlds from the neighboring empires it's supposed to be, well, rampaging against.

So I propose the following changes to the AE civics:

  • Revanchist Fervor becomes, instead of +1 Monthly Influence, +300% Naval Capacity. Combined with 'proper' 10-repeatables, this brings AE naval capacity from the 300-400 range into the 1200-1600 range, the reason for which I'll explain shortly.
  • Ancient Caches of Technology becomes, instead of +50% Resources from Jobs, -25% Ship Build Cost and +50% Ship Build Speed. This, combined with the passive Ascendency Shiprights empire modifier all FE/AE have, will result in ships costing a quarter of what they normally would, and enable AE to replenish their losses more rapidly than they currently can.
  • Final/Corrupted Defense Directives becomes, instead of +10% Fire Rate and +50% Energy from Jobs, +300% Naval Capacity and -25% Ship Build Cost and +50% Ship Build Speed. The reasoning for the build cost and build speed is the same as above, and the increased Naval Capacity will be explained soon.
  • The Rampaging Machine AE will stop getting Reactivated Custodian Matrix and will, instead, get Corrupted Custodian Matrix or something similarly renamed. Instead of being unable to conquer or colonize planets, this will make the Rampaging Machines have -33% War Exhaustion Gain on top of the other reductions they have (Being Gestalt and related techs) so they can fight their rampage wars longer.
Most fleets that FE and AE run around with are ~90k stacks of 8 Battlecruisers and 18 Escorts, for a total of 100 fleet command limit. This is sizable... but less than half of their total fleet command limit of 210, and much less than the 260 fleet command limit they'd have with the previously proposed increase to their repeatables.

Now, sometimes an FE or AE will merge their stacks and make better use of their command limit, but I suggest that when a Fallen Empire awakens, in addition to the standard "You get extra fleets", their new AND old fleets should also ALWAYS begin using their full fleet command limit, which would bring the average AE fleet strength up to ~200k.

Which is to say, the Awakening event not only spawns them new fleets at max command limit, but also fills their existing fleets up to the limit too. Something similar for the reinforcements gained by the War in Heaven triggering.

This would also bring their total Naval Capacity used, in the worst case scenario (Upstart Awakening gives +2 fleets, then WiH gives another +2 for a total of 6 fleets) to 1560. Hence the reason for the new civics I described earlier.

Edit: Having done the math, AE can perfectly use up their 260 fleet command limit with:

1 Titan
20 Battlecruisers
42 Escorts
Please read through and tell me what you think. AE are one of my favorite things in Stellaris, and it's a crying shame that they practically have not even existed for close to a year and a half now.
 
Last edited:

hart30

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The 2.3 patchnotes Mention a bugfix, where the AFE couldnt expand because of a Buggy starbase template. So the constructors simply werent able to build any starbase and this will finally be fixed. AFE will expand again!

This means all the bug Reports and suggestions About the AFE caused the developers to look Closer into the Problems with the AFE. The patch notes dont say anything specific About the AFE ai getting back their war declarations, but i hope there was something done About it too.
 

Methone

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The 2.3 patchnotes Mention a bugfix, where the AFE couldnt expand because of a Buggy starbase template. So the constructors simply werent able to build any starbase and this will finally be fixed. AFE will expand again!

This means all the bug Reports and suggestions About the AFE caused the developers to look Closer into the Problems with the AFE. The patch notes dont say anything specific About the AFE ai getting back their war declarations, but i hope there was something done About it too.
It's very good to hear, and I was surprised to see that the two issues - low tech AE starbases and AE not expanding - were related.

Unfortunately, those are only some of the more minor problems with AE. The more crippling ones, as far as I am aware, remain. This does give renewed hope though.
 

KingAlamar

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I agree -- I miss having multiple in-game crisis events ... awakened empires AND an "external" threat. I suspect PART of the AE behavior problem has to do with limiting AE behavior and forcing them to use CBs. I suspect they don't use them correctly therefore get a bunch of stuff wrong.

TL/DR: I like most of your ideas. Before adding in "new civics" or other rules I would consider allowing FEs/AEs to take full advantage of any & all game features including unity trees, APs, techs, MEGASTRUCTURES, edicts, decisions, etc. When normal game rules [strongly] get in the way of making a FUN & competitive opponent then adding in special rules seems called for -- and I'm sure it will be. Note: I would CONSIDER scaling AE / FE power to galaxy size, habitable planets, difficulty, and end game date. Of course I might also modifying new & existing sliders.

************************

First Contact: I would like to see [more] tailored messages and possibly even interactions with FEs and AEs. Specifically depending on how you respond to meeting an FE they may like or [esp.] dislike you. So if you don't show them proper respect they will remember the slight ...

Awakened Empire Aggression & Demands: I suspect forcing the FEs & AEs to follow similar CB rules as the player is a large part of the issue here. I think this could be fixed though. Maybe FEs / AEs could go through people's territories LIKE Marauder clans can thus ignoring open / closed border status?? With enough limitations removed I think the AEs / FEs could behave as desired. This would make fixing any bugs with issuing / enforcing demands less complicated.

FE Tech: IMHO FEs / AEs should NEVER use tech lower than what a "human endgame fleet" would look like. In addition having each FE / AE have access to certain techs [shield, armor, computers, etc.] that the player can't get through normal research is appropriate. I.E. Some L6 techs would be fine ... maybe not L6 across the board though.

FE "quests": To spice things up I'd give each FE at least one [maybe two] quests for the player. Depending on how you interact you may get [in addition to other things] a tweak in the speed the the FEs will wake up. While the FEs may not declare war on you they'll remember the slight and possibly deal with you first WHEN [not if] they wake up.

*****************

Re-balancing​

Old Awakening Trigger: I liked the FEs waking up depending on the power of the most powerful empire. I'd consider tweaking that to add federations, defense agreements, and vassals into the mix. You might also add in multipliers depending on how much the AE / FE may "dislike" the upstarts. If we're going to use "endgame" date for the primary trigger then ignore this.

End Game Awakening Trigger: I would adjust the random chance of waking up depending on the POWER and DISLIKE the FEs have of various empires. The race with the worst POWER & Dislike factor is used to speed up the awakening.

Tech Levels: AEs & FEs have all base techs. For repeatables take the MAXIMUM of 10 levels of EVERYTHING OR 5 levels higher than the HIGHEST other race -- evaluate this for each and every repeatable tech.

Traditions: Benefits from completing all tradition trees are added to the FE/AE.

Influence: AEs start with 1000 influence. They gain 10 influence per month.

Unity: AEs start with 300K Unity and gain 1K Unity per month.

Resources: AEs start with a cap of 125K of everything. The AEs are at their resource cap across the board.

Ascension Perks: Choose up to 8 appropriate perks. Note: Allowing for modified APs seems possible

Edicts: Edicts appropriate to Traditions, Tech, APs, etc. Possibly add new edicts if & as appropriate.

Asymetric CBs: Allow the AEs / FEs to declare "total war" on players HOWEVER players are forced to use whatever CBs they normally have. So if you can't declare a total war yourself and you want the FEs / AEs territory you must CLAIM it.

Updated Civics: Allow for higher naval cap, faster construction speed, reduced cost, etc. if & as appropriate for balancing with the above in mind.

Leaders: AEs & FEs have level 10 leaders. Those leaders that "die" get replaced with level 5 leaders. Leaders have appropriate perks / skills.

Fleets: Lets go "full command limit" based on techs, perks, trees, skills, etc. Same goes with Naval Capacity. Start as far above the limit as you can go without running negatives in resources. See FE Tech above. No "crappy tech weapons, defenses, aux slot usage, etc."

Megastructures: AEs have any / all appropriate MS for their personality type, APs, and native set of planets.

Sensor Jammers: Perhaps many [all?] fallen empires retreat to a nebula so they can wait out the centuries?? Thus they're free to do many things without prying eyes checking on them.
 

Methone

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I would like to see [more] tailored messages and possibly even interactions with FEs and AEs. Specifically depending on how you respond to meeting an FE they may like or [esp.] dislike you. So if you don't show them proper respect they will remember the slight ...
Indeed. Have the first contact actually matter. Though then it might screw you over in some edge cases with a perma-angry FE.
Maybe FEs / AEs could go through people's territories LIKE Marauder clans can thus ignoring open / closed border status??
They actually already can.
: To spice things up I'd give each FE at least one [maybe two] quests for the player.
Eh, maybe not the Xenophobes, for obvious reasons.
For repeatables take the MAXIMUM of 10 levels of EVERYTHING OR 5 levels higher than the HIGHEST other race -- evaluate this for each and every repeatable tech.
Thing is, FE get their repeatables at the start of the game. I've done some more testing, the repeatables they only have 5 of are repeatables that max out at 5 for some reason. I don't think they should be capped.
Benefits from completing all tradition trees are added to the FE/AE.
Eh, I actually disagree. FE/AE are supposed to be all about cultural stagnation. As their Stagnant Ascendency gov form says: "A government based on long forgotten traditions and principles".
Perhaps many [all?] fallen empires retreat to a nebula so they can wait out the centuries??
I don't know. It's implied FE core worlds are centered on their homeworlds.
 

KingAlamar

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Well those were just ideas to spitball :)

I don't think I'd have a player DOWed over an initial interaction but maybe, if the FE wakes up, they'll remember ALL interactions and then deal with you appropriately afterwards.

As for FEs something seems to be causing a hesitancy. If they already have all the freedom they need it's just up to the DEVs to analyze and adjust FE/AE behavior as needed.

Yeah Xenophobes shouldn't have quests. They should also [negatively] remember if you bugged them later if you tried to communicate .... or simply not respond at all.

I was thinking FEs could get their initial techs at the beginning of the game. If I recall properly though the "event" of a fallen empire awakening could allow you to change what they have on-the-fly.

As for the "max 5 repeatables" I assume they are there for [human] game balance reasons. Seeing that we're already giving FEs / AEs special rules allowing them to go to 10 on those doesn't hurt my feelings.

FEs / AEs are about stagnation. You've got me there. My goal when talking about this was to use / reuse existing in game mechanics where and when possible. So while you are clearly 100% right about lore, role play, etc. I contend from a developer perspective that leveraging as much of the existing mechanics as possible SEEMS like a reasonable way to go.

As for the nebula thing my goal was to give the FEs [and AEs] a tactical advantage during gameplay. I thought about giving them "sensor dampeners" or similar as a tech but then I ran into the issue of why wouldn't they use that for all their conquered territory. That's when I settled on using nebulas because they did what I largely wanted them to do.
 

HugsAndSnuggles

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While AEs could be improved in terms of bugfixing/economic management, I think that straight up buffs is wrong approach to the problem of poorly chosen default pacing. Better make devs adjust it for realistic development speed, that does not involve shutting down economy 50ish years in as vanilla AI loves to do (or whatever they took for a model when they came up with 100 year intervals) to ensure "proper" player experience on default settings.
 

KingAlamar

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My preference would be for different pacing HOWEVER if for the purposes of this discussion we limit ourselves to the tools the DEVs currently give us then I'm thinking all you've got is bugfixing + intent fixing as the first hurdle. After that then buffs & debuffs to balance things out seem called for.

YMMV
 

Methone

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While AEs could be improved in terms of bugfixing/economic management, I think that straight up buffs is wrong approach to the problem of poorly chosen default pacing. Better make devs adjust it for realistic development speed, that does not involve shutting down economy 50ish years in as vanilla AI loves to do (or whatever they took for a model when they came up with 100 year intervals) to ensure "proper" player experience on default settings.
What economic management do AEs have to worry about?
 

HugsAndSnuggles

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What economic management do AEs have to worry about?
You are the one to propose putting their ship costs on par with AI swarm (0.2 base cost) - you tell me :p
Besides, it's ran with the same AI as normal empires: even if there was no decadence stuff, it'd happen on its own, eventually.
 

Methone

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You are the one to propose putting their ship costs on par with AI swarm (0.2 base cost) - you tell me :p
Besides, it's ran with the same AI as normal empires: even if there was no decadence stuff, it'd happen on its own, eventually.
The ship cost reduction is simply "They can build 2 ships where before they could build 1 ship." That's hardly 'economic management'.

The all rest of their resources are just automatic. While sure, their pops being locked into Precursor stratum means eventually they'll face problems, that's also very slow and very minor; AE don't particularly care if they have a Consumer Goods shortage reducing pop happiness and science output.