Tannhäuser Cake

First Lieutenant
Nov 22, 2020
244
696
(this suggestion has been simplified and updated to conform with recent developer diaries;
the simplification means that the proposed solution has been relaxed and is now less specific;
at the time of the change, the net vote count was 5)


Currently, barring single-minded focus on tech rushing life extensions, leader level cap bonuses are nearly worthless for mortal leaders. This affects not just traditions, policies and leader traits, but also much more expensive sources such as pop traits, civics, and ascension perks. One fundamental cause is that the increasing experience point requirements per level [see table 1] make higher levels require increasingly large numbers of years for the next level. Another fundamental cause is that there are so many level cap bonuses that none of them is essential. When you need at most +5 but can get +13 or more in total [see table 2], getting your level cap up to 10 requires no special commitment, and every level cap bonus beyond level 10 is worthless.

The leader level system should be reformed, in adherence to some principles.
  1. The leader level cap bonus sum should never exceed +5, meaning that many of the current leader level bonuses need to be replaced with something else.
  2. The things that provide a leader level cap bonus must be permanent in nature, to avoid situations where the leader level cap could drop below the levels currently achieved by leaders. Civics and ruler trait effects are not permanent in nature.
  3. The ability to reach level 10 should not depend on luck, and should not exclude (or require) any ascension path.
  4. This would be an opportunity to make certain dearly bought species traits and ascension perk truly special, by requiring them for the highest levels.

Here is one possible suggestion for a reform of the system:
  • Level cap bonuses that should stay
    • +1 The Collective Self / Embodied Dynamism (technology)
    • +1 from Mind and Body (tradition/Harmony, being added in 3.1)
    • +1 from type-specific bonuses (traditions)
      • +1 for Admirals from War Games (Supremacy),
        +1 for Scientists from Science Division (Discovery),
        +1 for Governors from Colonial Viceroys (Domination),
        +1 for Rulers from Privy Council (Domination)
        • there is currently no +1 level cap bonus for generals, which would need to be added
      • this would mean a reduction of the current +2 level cap bonus from these traditions
        • the increased rarity and value of level cap bonuses would make these traditions retain their value, if not become more valuable
        • if they still need some compensation for losing a +1 level cap bonus, +xp gain seems reasonable
    • +1 Talented / Enhanced Memory (traits)
      • this would mean a reduction of the current +2 bonus for Enhanced Memory
      • the lost level cap bonus could be converted to another bonus; +xp gain seems reasonable
    • +1 Transcendent Learning (ascension perk)
      • this would mean a reduction of the current +2 bonus for Transcendent Learning
      • the lost level cap bonus could be converted to another bonus; a starting level/xp bonus seems reasonable
  • Level cap bonuses that should be converted to starting level, starting xp or xp gain bonuses
    • +1 Polytechnic Education (tradition/Discovery)
      • a starting level/xp bonus seems reasonable (it also already gives +25% xp gain)
    • +1 Meritocracy / Ruthless Competition / Pooled Knowledge / Factory Overclocking (civics)
      • +xp gain seems reasonable
    • +1 Erudite (genetic engineering, requires biological ascension trait)
      • given the leader trait bonuses, +xp gain may be best
    • +1 Neural Tissue Engineering (hidden technology)
      • +xp gain seems reasonable (on top of the already present xp gain bonus; otherwise starting level/xp bonus)
    • +1 Eye for Talent (organics ruler trait)
      • a starting level/xp bonus seems reasonable
      • (currently, losing a ruler with the trait could drop the level cap below the level a leader has achieved)
    • +2 Capacity Boosters (non-machine non-egalitarian policy),
      +1 Selected Lineages (non-machine non-egalitarian policy)
      • a starting level/xp bonus seems reasonable, given the tooltip texts (it would be strange if old leaders were affected)
    • +1 governors (Aristocratic Elite),
      +1 admirals (Distinguished Admiralty),
      +2 rulers (Philosopher King) (civics)
      • a starting level/xp bonus seems reasonable in all these cases
Talented / Enhanced Memory and Transcendent Learning would be essential for reaching level 10, which is an appropriate reward for species and empires forgoing other potential traits and ascension perks. The selectable tradition tree changes would, under this suggestion, mean that empires may have different leader level caps for different types of leaders, depending on which tradition trees they pick.
As for the current unreachability of level 10 for mere mortals, the large number of level cap bonuses that would be converted to starting or gain bonuses would offer the developers ample opportunity to make it slightly less unreachable, and ensure that the mentioned traits and ascension perk will offer substantial value even for mortal leaders.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[table 1]
Levels and experience point requirements:
Code:
01      0
02    200
03    475
04    825
05   1250
06   1750
07   2325
08   2975
09   3700
10   4500

[table 2]
Sources of level cap increases in the current system:
  • Eventually everyone gets at least +4 level cap, +1 from technologies (+1 from either The Collective Self or Embodied Dynamism) and +3 from traditions (+1 from Polytechnic Education and +2 from type-specific bonuses via traditions), with the exception that generals only get +2 level cap (no +2 type-specific tradition).
  • All empires can potentially get an additional +6 level cap, +2 from pop traits (living: Talented and Erudite / soulless robots: Enhanced Memory), +1 from civics (Meritocracy, Ruthless Competition, Pooled Knowledge or Factory Overclocking), +2 from ascension perks (Transcendent Learning) and, if lucky, +1 from the hidden technology Neural Tissue Engineering. Except for the NTE technology, these all come at a relative cost, as you can only get them by making choices where you forgo other benefits.
  • Non-machine non-egalitarian empires can also use Capacity Boosters (+2) or Selected Lineages (+1).
  • Finally, organic empires can get +1 from ruler traits (Eye for Talent) and standard empires can get +1 for governors (Aristocratic Elite), admirals (Distinguished Admiralty) , and +2 for rulers (Philosopher King).
  • This gives us a theoretical level cap bonus of +11 for generals, +13 for scientists, +14 for governors and admirals, and +15 for rulers.
 
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Tamwin5

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The trouble with current leader level cap is that every point becomes less and less valuable. Even if the hard cap at 10 were removed, this would still be the case.

The trouble with leader starting level is that every point becomes MORE valuable beyond the first. The first "+1 leader level cap" is worth 200 xp, the fifth is worth 1750 xp, more than 8 times as much.

So while I completely agree that leader level cap needs to be changed somehow, I don't think this is it. I'd be ok with adding starting leader level from only a couple of sources (say, species traits? Seems the most reasonable), or changing it to starting xp (like how ships and armies are done).

Another option would be to make every leader level cap over 10 give +10% xp to leaders, or something similar.

Ideally I'd also like to make Transcendent learning actually transcend something, rather then just being some leader bonuses. Having it be another source of starting leader level would be one option, another would be allowing it to surpass the level 10 hard cap on leader level, or add or upgrade traits in some way. With your current suggestion it's the only way to get level 10 leaders, so I suppose that's decent.
 
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Tannhäuser Cake

First Lieutenant
Nov 22, 2020
244
696
The trouble with current leader level cap is that every point becomes less and less valuable. Even if the hard cap at 10 were removed, this would still be the case.

The trouble with leader starting level is that every point becomes MORE valuable beyond the first. The first "+1 leader level cap" is worth 200 xp, the fifth is worth 1750 xp, more than 8 times as much.

So while I completely agree that leader level cap needs to be changed somehow, I don't think this is it. I'd be ok with adding starting leader level from only a couple of sources (say, species traits? Seems the most reasonable), or changing it to starting xp (like how ships and armies are done).

Another option would be to make every leader level cap over 10 give +10% xp to leaders, or something similar.

Ideally I'd also like to make Transcendent learning actually transcend something, rather then just being some leader bonuses. Having it be another source of starting leader level would be one option, another would be allowing it to surpass the level 10 hard cap on leader level, or add or upgrade traits in some way. With your current suggestion it's the only way to get level 10 leaders, so I suppose that's decent.

I thought long about bonuses to starting experience points, but I am inclined to believe that bonus starting levels are better, for three reasons:
  • An additional level has a constant value. Each level does not add more leader bonuses (research, unity et cetera) than the previous level did.
  • An additional experience point does not have constant value. The increasing distances between levels make the value of each additional experience point drop sharply.
  • At the same time, the difficulty / "price" of obtaining yet another starting bonus goes up. Getting one or a few starting bonuses would not be terribly difficult to do, but almost every increase involves a price being paid. Getting a large number of bonuses involves dedicating 1-3 civic slots, investing 2 racial trait picks worth 5 points, sacrificing 3 ascension perk slots, forgoing non-biological ascension paths, avoiding ethics that prevent one from having both Meritocracy and Capacity Boosters at the same time, beating everyone else to the psionic entity system, and dealing with the (probable) hurdles involved in obtaining a ruler with the Eye for Talent trait.
    (I would personally not be terribly willing to do the minmaxing required to get the maximum starting bonus under the system I suggested.)
With constant bonuses to starting experience points, we would still have a situation where the value of the bonus goes down while the price goes up. We would still have the problem that additional bonuses are nearly worthless beyond the first few. By keeping the value of the reward constant, we instead get a tangible reward for the sacrifice made (a civic slot, an ascension perk, a racial trait pick) regardless of whether it is the first or the fifth.
 

Tannhäuser Cake

First Lieutenant
Nov 22, 2020
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696
The suggestion has now been simplified and updated to conform with the recent developer diaries.
The simplification means that the proposed solution has been relaxed and is now less specific,
regarding exactly what the to-be-removed level cap bonuses should be replaced with.
 

Ninjamestari

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Nov 16, 2016
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What if level cap bonuses were just treated as bonus levels? The leader would level up normally, but would be treated as a higher level than he actually is for the purposes of calculating leader bonuses; let's say you have the talented species trait and thus +1 bonus level; your leader would normally start at level 1, but for the purposes of calculating leader bonuses (and and for scientist anomalies and special projects) he would be treated as if he was actually level 2 leader, at level 2 he'd be treated as level 3 and so on and so forth. Now you don't even need a cap on these bonuses.
 
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Tannhäuser Cake

First Lieutenant
Nov 22, 2020
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I have considered that, but:
  • As far as I know, the game currently does not support direct level bonuses - only changes to level cap, xp gain, and starting xp.
    • Support for direct level bonuses could be added, of course, but that would require programming - while a solution that relies only on existing types of modifiers would only require modifying the game settings of the techs, civics, et cetera involved. If the solution only needs changes of settings, it needs less time and can be done by a developer even if they are not a programmer (the currently proposed solution could even be be made into a mod).
    • (If level bonuses have actually been used in the past, it obviously turns this whole point on its head as the code would probably still be in there somewhere.)
  • The current game design is that there are 10 levels, but bonus levels could necessitate levels beyond 10 being added, and I would not feel comfortable adding that here.
    • In this suggestion I am just pushing for the resolution of two problem, primarily the current worthlessness of individual leader level cap bonuses (due to the large number of them) and secondarily the worthlessness of high-end level cap bonuses for mortal leaders (due to short lives and insufficient xp gain). Increasing the maximum level would be a more far-reaching change, with implications for game balance that would require a lot more thinking, and I suspect that including it in the suggested solution would also reduce the chances of it being implemented.
That being said, I would not mind if leader level bonuses were added to the game.
 

GOLANX

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I have considered that, but:
  • As far as I know, the game currently does not support direct level bonuses - only changes to level cap, xp gain, and starting xp.
    • Support for direct level bonuses could be added, of course, but that would require programming - while a solution that relies only on existing types of modifiers would only require modifying the game settings of the techs, civics, et cetera involved. If the solution only needs changes of settings, it needs less time and can be done by a developer even if they are not a programmer (the currently proposed solution could even be be made into a mod).
    • (If level bonuses have actually been used in the past, it obviously turns this whole point on its head as the code would probably still be in there somewhere.)
  • The current game design is that there are 10 levels, but bonus levels could necessitate levels beyond 10 being added, and I would not feel comfortable adding that here.
    • In this suggestion I am just pushing for the resolution of two problem, primarily the current worthlessness of individual leader level cap bonuses (due to the large number of them) and secondarily the worthlessness of high-end level cap bonuses for mortal leaders (due to short lives and insufficient xp gain). Increasing the maximum level would be a more far-reaching change, with implications for game balance that would require a lot more thinking, and I suspect that including it in the suggested solution would also reduce the chances of it being implemented.
That being said, I would not mind if leader level bonuses were added to the game.
I think what he was saying is that your leaders would act like they have a the next level while the actual leader level works like you suggestion. So a meritocracy level 1 scientist starts with +2% survey speed, anomaly speed, research speed and +1 archaeology skill like he was a level 2 scientist but then still has the same level cap of 10 and reaches it at the same rate as another not meritocracy scientist.