My point wasn't that monopolar alignments are necessarily more complex than bipolar alignments, just that a great deal of the purported disadvantage of bipolar alignments actually applies to monopolar alignments as well, so the additional complexity of bipolar alignments is minimal, and therefore justified by the increase in gameplay value.
OK, so you concede a bipolar system is more complex, but it is justifiably
so. I'll consider that progress. More on comparing the relative gameplay value later.
Examples of short-term alignment tradeoffs aren't really relevant to the issue. In the short-term, no significant change can be made to a species' allegiance, so there should always potentially be options for increasing the happiness of your planets, which will make things better in the short-term.
I don't know. Surely there will be some
options for increasing happiness. What exactly are you proposing to temporarily fix happiness problems?
...The point is that altering alignments scales isn’t a quick-fix, and it’s primarily the big decisions which are considered by the player with regard to alignment for example: “This tech will allow me to capture planets and enslave them more easily - this will make it more strategically viable to capture and enslave planets. Therefore, I will naturally do it more often, and my elitism alignment will increase. I want to increase the allegiance of my Warlords, so I should research this tech,” ....
I agree that's the way i'd like things to work. But bipolar alignments don't lend themselves to being regarded so generally, since too much capturing and enslaving can push a species from being acceptably disloyal to dangerously disloyal. Happiness patches alone shouldn't be able to deal with the problem, at least not indefinitely
In addition, you have fully neglected to integrate species-empire alignment into your calculations, and it will probably be much more difficult to get many species to high levels of species-empire alignment, particularly since increasing a race's status will be a primary method of increasing its species-empire alignment. And species empire alignment will contribute either a third, or half of a species' allegiance, depending...
I think we can go with "half" each from the subjective and objective sides as a working figure until we have a reason to do otherwise.
But, yes i realize i haven't been dealing with with the subjective side of allegiance, and that will throw additional complications in the way. But the subjective side can potentially increase or decrease allegiance, and it works the same weather the system is bipolar or monopolar. Since i'm trying to highlight the differences between mono- and bi- polar systems i've left subjective allegiance factors out of the description. So lest there be any doubt, i'm only talking about the objective side of allegiance in this post.
* If you go to the Bloodthirsty, Elitist, Isolationist or Pacifistic, Egalitarian, Diplomatic extremes, 40% (2/5th) of the species would love your alignment, 20% would be indifferent, and 40% would absolutely hate it. So you have a full 60% of the species that wouldn't object to your alignment, and 40% that are probably impossible to win over.
* The player that starts with (and plays) a Pacifistic Isolationist (Recluse) can only win the extreme loyalty of 20% of the species. 60% or 80% of the species would be indifferent to his ethos --depending on weather he takes Elitism<>Egalitarianism to an extreme or leave it neutral. If he goes to an extreme 20% will hate him.
I've considered these numbers before - I don't believe that this is a problem. In one sense, you're absolutely right. There will be no problem integrating most species into an empire - assuming there are no external influences
. However, as the game progresses, and more and more of your opponents max out allegiance and happiness, your allegiance and happiness will be lagging behind. This means that
- since espionage meters will be increased greatly by the end of the game as well, even a planet with a happiness of about 60 will make a highly vulnerable espionage target, and could relatively easily become a site of espionage incited rebellion,
- due to lowered allegiance on some worlds, empires whose alignment scales are fully
compatible with a particular species' ethos will easily be able to capture planets of that species in your empire, due to militia support.
If Neutral, or even moderately high allegiance is going to be a serious problem at some point in the game (and i'm not saying it shouldn't be), there are some additional problems with the bipolar system-- that it's highly inflexible, and boring. Which is a lead in for the second installment of the comparison between bipolar and monopolar...Further Comparisons between the Bipolar and Monopolar systems
I think the there will be some common elements in the way savy players most frequently play--- no matter which ethos system (mono- or bi-) is chosen. A player chooses a species that has bonuses and an ethoi couplet suited for whatever basic strategy he is planning to employ. And so, because it fits his strategy, and because it will make his first and likely main species happy, he'll usually try to maximize the two scales that initial species cares about.It also may be valid to stay neutral on 2 or more scales in a bipolar system, but i think that will be a less common strategy, and as nothing unexpected happens, i'm not discussing it here.
However, even in a bipolar system, a focused player could very likely leave the decision on which way to develop the third scale until later. For example a Bloodthirsty Isolationist, might stay neutral on Elitist<>Egalitarianism until he finds a species he want's to please that cares about that scale. Even more plausibly in a monopolar system, a player focused on an Exploratory, Diplomatic strategy, might wait to decide weather to tweak his strategy with a secondary emphasis on Diversity or Defenses.
The point is that you can have a specific plan, and follow it, without initally deciding what all
your alignments are going to be. In fact that's probably a good idea, because you don't know what the alignment will be of the first species you meet that will have bonuses that make it the ideal complement to your initial species in carrying out your basic strategy.Worst Case: Bipolar, BigJoe's 5 Couplets Only
What i described above just doesn't work with only 5 couplets. If you start out as anything but a Pacifistic Isolationist, and try to maximize for your initial species 2 scales, there's only going to be one additional ethos could possibly have more than a neutral ethos alignment to your empire. The Bloodthirsty/Elite and the Bloodthirsty/Isolationists can work together, as can the Diplomatic/Egalitarians with the the Diplomatic/Pacifists. the Pacifistic Isolationists has nobody else.
In other words, if you want to maximize allegiance, and want lots of species, there are only 3 valid strategies. And who wouldn't want the opportunity to collect more species if there are no ethos conflict to worry about?
Bloodthirsty / Isolationist / Elitist,
Diplomatic / Pacifistic / Egalitarian, and
Pacifistic / Isolationism
The Pacifistic/Isolationist can't make anybody like him with the third scale, but he can use it to adjust who hates him.
In conclusion: this system is far to complicated if all it does is shove the player into one of 4 boxes (counting neutrality). In this scenario, it's not clear that the Egalitarian/Elitist scale does anything worthwhile, since the Bloodthirsty bloc and the Diplomatic bloc combine forces so readily.Less Bad Case: Bipolar, all combinations
Admittedly the Bloodthirsty/Diplomatic combination seems pretty counter-productive. But maybe the other six are valid combinations. In fact they almost certainly are, since Egalitarian/Elitist is comparatively inconsequential, and should be compatible with any other strategy combining the other two scales.
So here's the break down if all 12 possible combinations are represented, and you max out the two scales of your initial species.
* 4 of 12 won't care how you change the 3rd scale. Either Way...
* * 1 of 12 your starting species' ethos which will love you anyway.
* * 1 of 12 the opposite of your starting species' ethos still hates you.
* * 2 of 12 are neutral no matter how you change the 3rd scale.
* 4 of 12 have the potential to go between neutral and max allegiance.
* * This bloc is divided in half. You can make half love you and the other half indifferent, or anything in between.
* 4 of 12 have the potential to go between neutral and minimum allegiance.
* * Again, this bloc is divided in half. You can make half hate you and the other half indifferent, or anything in between.
With the Worse Case, or the Less Bad Case, either way, there's not much you can do (if anything) to refine you basic strategy to take accommodate a new species as a highly loyal part of your empire. Choose two scales to emphasize, and the lines are very strongly drawn. Even if you are willing to refine your strategy to accommodate new species (i.e. switch from Elite to Egalitarian), that has only a small ability to adjust which species could be loyal members of your empire.
The consequence of this is that the effectiveness of any particular strategy depends heavily
on weather species of compatible ethos exist which have the complementary bonuses. Each time you play a strategy, only the same few species will be available as anything better than indifferently loyal members of your empire. Since making species with anything close to all the possibly useful EP, Ethos, and bonus combinations is prohibitive, species design would have to be very carefully balanced to avoid giving any ethos bloc an advantage.
It's pretty much a straight-jacket. From the player's perspective, this isn't going to be an empowering system, its a system that strongly constrains what the player can effectively do.
Bipolar alignments are conceptually cool, buy they get in the way of the player, add at least some complexity, and overall have no advantage (that i can see) over monopolar scales besides the flashiness of a cool sounding but impractical idea.Monopolar Freedom and Flexibility
In contrast, with several (6-8 sounds about right, i'll be describing a 7 scale system)
monopolar "values" the players initial choice of a main species and basic strategy doesn't lock him down. If the player starts with an Exploratory and Diplomatic species and basic strategy, can quite plausibly add on a secondary emphasis to Expansion, or Defense or whatever according to the needs of his situation, or to accommodate a new species he's discovered.
While it won't be practically possible to give a strong emphasis to all the value scales at once, an emphasis on any combination of the value scales is possible. Thus these scales provide a more fine-grained measurement and response to the player's strategy. The player can design his own strategy to a much larger degree, and the species of the galaxy will react in with varying (but easily predictable) levels of allegiance.
You won't always be seeing empires made up of a core of the same few blocs of species, because any
few species could become the loyal core of an empire. It just probably won't be practical to make all
species highly loyal. The number of effective species-based strategies that the player can employ and needs to counter vastly increases, because species don't strongly divide themselves into blocs.EDIT
: i've updated my alignments wiki page
with better definitions and a provisional short list of the best 7.