Make viable the Tall strategy

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Oberlus
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Make viable the Tall strategy

#1 Post by Oberlus »

  • Tall strategy: few but big colonies, favours boosts to population and pop-based boosts to output.
  • Wide strategy: many but small colonies, favours flat bonuses to output.
In FreeOrion, due to how are arranged the techs and how much they cost (early techs very cheap, later techs quite expensive), everybody goes Wide(colonize everything)+Tall(also grow) strategy: colonize as much as you can, devoting research to combat techs when you reach enemy borders and production to armed ships only when needed for defense or invasion, and get population, research and production boosts simultaneously (including flat and pop-based).
Even if we arrange techs so that there is a well differentiated path for flat and pop-based bonuses, the fact that early techs are much cheaper than later ones would invite/force players to research all branches more or less equally. And that makes not going Wide a voluntary suicide.

With current gama balance, there is no way an empire with few colonies can stand a chance against an empire with say twice the colonies.
We need to ensure that going Wide makes hard to go Tall (and vice versa, but that is irrelevant for now). With policies I think we can get it.
We also need to balance the output of few big colonies and many small colonies.

Bonuses and maluses for Tall policies:
  • Bonus to target population.
  • Bonus to population growth rate.
  • Malus to colony part/building cost and time.
  • Flat malus to influence per colony, based on distance to capital to encourage narrow empires, but maybe we want Tall-but-spread empires also viable and thus the malus should be flat.
And roughly the opposite for Wide policies:
  • Bonus to colony part/building cost and time.
  • Flat bonus to influence per colony, based on distance to capital to encourage spread empires, or just flat.
  • Malus to target population.
  • Malus to population growth rate.
Or make the default values already bad (as if they have the maluses), and make the policies to only give bonuses.

Tall policies:
  • Bonus to target population.
  • Bonus to population growth rate.
Wide policies:
  • Bonus to colony part/building cost and time.
  • Flat bonus to influence per colony, based on distance to capital to encourage spread empires, or just flat.
The bonus to pop for Tall empires should be big enough so that a Wide empire with same developing time got a similar output from colonies. That will need a lot of number crunching and playtesting.

Another thing outside of policies that can help, maybe decisively, to make Tall a viable strategy is that troop/colony parts and buildings consume local troops/population.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#2 Post by o01eg »

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LienRag
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#3 Post by LienRag »

Making different strategies viable is a core FreeOrion design principle, you are right about that.
You are also right that the game mechanisms we have now do not really allow for Tall strategies.

Though, if I can understand the mathematics you present here (and they seem relevant and convincing), I don't see the gameplay consequences of these wide and tall empires, past the obvious (less planets with more population on them).
In other words, where's the fun in them ?

If wide or tall only means achieving the same result (Production - Reasearch - Influence Points total) in a different way, I guess one of them will become optimal depending on the corresponding techs balance - so the only players who will play the non-optimal ones are those who did not make the calculations.

The only way I can see those strategies being really different is if we have Wide strategies getting more Production/Research¹ as they do now, but Tall planets being the only ones able to produce some specific things (via a minimum Population / Infrastructure requirement), like specific Ship Hulls or Ship Parts, or even specific buildings (like the Monolith as we have now - though the requirement for it would need to change).

Then (if we solve the case of the HomeWorld always being Tall - maybe by making them not Tall enough by default, only a carefully executed Tall strategy would make the HW meet the new population/infrastructure requirements) the player would have to choose between going for a Wide empire with high production or a Tall one with lower productions but some specific units - thus giving very different gameplay.

Also, I'm a bit worried that Policies would be used to remove a player's agency rather than enhance it as they were (I guess ?) intended to : if to pursue a Wide strategy one just has to pick Wide policies it will make the game quite dull.
At least it should be difficult to achieve, either because the techs unlocking Wide policies are on a separate branch, or because all Wide policies have bonuses useful for Wide strategies but also maluses that hinder the same Wide strategies (or another way I can't think of right now).


¹ I specifically left Influence out of it because I can't figure whether having Tall strategies getting more Influence than Wide ones would make the game better or worse.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#4 Post by labgnome »

@Oberlus, when you say you want a bonus or malus to influence per planet, are you referring to influence generation or influence upkeep?
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#5 Post by Oberlus »

labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:04 pm @Oberlus, when you say you want a bonus or malus to influence per planet, are you referring to influence generation or influence upkeep?
They are the same in the end, influence upkeep is a red line in the dropdown of the influence meter of the planet, influence generation is a green line.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#6 Post by labgnome »

So I think that the ideas outlined here would fit nicely as social policies, especially if we go the rout of influence upkeep. They'd also fit nicely into ideals.
Maybe call them "Unitary" for tall empires and "Federated" for wide empires?

Tall/Unitary Policies
PolicyBonusMalus
Unitary Consolidationhigher target populationincreased colony part and building cost and time
Social Cohesionfaster population growth rateextra influence upkeep per colony
Global Urbanizationhigher target populationextra influence upkeep per colony
Migration Controlsfaster population growth rateincreased colony part and building cost and time

Wide/Federated Policies
PolicyBonusMalus
Colonial Expansionismdecreased colony part and building cost and timelower target population
Federated Coloniesless influence upkeep per colonyslower population growth rate
Free Movementdecreased colony part and building cost and timeslower population growth rate
Agrarian Idyllless influence upkeep per colonylower target population
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#7 Post by Ophiuchus »

LienRag wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:54 pm If wide or tall only means achieving the same result (Production - Reasearch - Influence Points total) in a different way, I guess one of them will become optimal depending on the corresponding techs balance - so the only players who will play the non-optimal ones are those who did not make the calculations.
I agree with your thinking here mostly. I think one idea would be probably that you would have different peaks in production/research vs influence points-but of course you would need distinct ways to achieve your goals.

The other rather obvious thing is that your empire layout would be different and that would interact differently with you neighbours. So Wide vs Wide would be strong competitors. Wide vs Tall could well coexist. Not sure how Tall vs Tall would play out.

Also generally such a stragegy/policies would suggest some certain way of expansion.
LienRag wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:54 pm The only way I can see those strategies being really different is if we have Wide strategies getting more Production/Research¹ as they do now, but Tall planets being the only ones able to produce some specific things (via a minimum Population / Infrastructure requirement), like specific Ship Hulls or Ship Parts, or even specific buildings (like the Monolith as we have now - though the requirement for it would need to change).
I am not sure about infrastructure - a lot of micro lurks there. But yes, minimum population could gate some effects e.g. from buildings - e.g. extra defenses. This could also make the inflated bombardment techs more useful (e.g. first down the enemy population so the defenses drop to an economic level). Also we could have exclusive planet specialisations - currently there is basically gaia, but maybe there could be others which are mutually exclusive and not easily removable.
LienRag wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:54 pm Also, I'm a bit worried that Policies would be used to remove a player's agency rather than enhance it as they were (I guess ?) intended to : if to pursue a Wide strategy one just has to pick Wide policies it will make the game quite dull.
A Wide/Tall policy should be quite a commitment, so switching policies should not be cheap. Also such policies should be only one part of the puzzle. So e.g. not a Wide policy but a "Different Viewpoint" policy giving 1RP on all your planets and outpost.
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#8 Post by Geoff the Medio »

Oberlus wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:36 amBonuses and maluses for Tall policies:
  • Bonus to target population.
  • Bonus to population growth rate.
And roughly the opposite for Wide policies:
  • Malus to target population.
  • Malus to population growth rate.
I think you need to think through / detail such mechanics a bit more and how they are intended to support a particular empire shape. Just "bonus to population" is not clearly better or worse for empires with fewer or more planets... If I get more population per planet, how is that not beneficial for empires with more planets?

Rather, there could be policies that affect the largest N planets, or effects tied to buildings that only affect a limited area (planet, system, distance around system) with substantial costs (to produce or ongoing), so that it's not worth producing them everywhere, but at select locations they can be very beneficial.

Most relevant, I think, are limits on effect size or minimum conditions before which there is no effect. So, you'd need a large population on a planet to get any bonus from a policy, so that small planets don't get a benefit, to support a "tall" strategy. Or, you'd have fixed bonuses or proportional-up-to-limit bonuses that work well for small planets but don't give any additional benefit for large planets, to support a "wide" strategy.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#9 Post by Oberlus »

Geoff the Medio wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:39 am If I get more population per planet, how is that not beneficial for empires with more planets?
Right, it might be flawed even If it comes with a malus to influence per planet that offsets all flat bonuses (Prod/Res/Inf). And the malus to cost and turns of colony parts/buidings could not work: you go first wide then you get the Tall policy...

Another thing I didn't think of before: if you focus on getting bigger but few planets, you have to use the PP not sunk into colony parts/buildings into something else. More military, or more research focus. That has its appealing, but might end up being more colonies (through invasion or researching extra sources of PP), so in the end Tall empire is still "forced" to expand and become Wide.

Effects that apply only to colonies with a minimum population would encourage colonization of big planets, the Growth policy, and techs that boost population, but in the end won't encourage an empire to stay narrow, just selectively wide. One could go wide at start and only go Tall after enough medium-huge planets are sufficiently populated. So again, we get Wide+Tall is the best strategy.

The building route seems to me the best, for now:


Arcology

Humongous building to enclose huge population with all their needs except the extractive industries.

Requirements could be
- a minimum number of outposts (or colonies) in the same system, maybe 3, to use as sources for natural resources, maximum one arcology per system,
- (if the above is too restrictive for low density galaxies) a minimum number of supply-connected outposts (3-5), or colonies at less than X (1? 2?) hops, arcology can't be build at less than 2X hops from another arcology,
- ?

Bonuses could be
- Boost to population and infrastructure on the arcology colony, something huge, like +6*planet size.
- A pop-based boost to whatever the focus of the arcology planet is: research, production, influence, stockpile and (even) defense (it makes little sense to focus your powerhouse to logistics or growth, so those get no bonus).
- A flat, unfocused bonus to production and research on the arcology planet, per each supply-connect outpost or colony in the vicinity (that X mentioned above).

Construction cost should be something around the cost of two new colonies, time around 10 turns.


(Edit for improvements and corrections.)

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#10 Post by Oberlus »

Another huge "building" for Tall empires:


Dyson Ring

Destroy several non-big planets and asteroid belts in a system to construct a ring in orbit around the star.
Almost unlimited surface compared to the original planets and asteroids used for the construction, and so an enormous amount of population and industry facilities can be located in the ring, as well as getting a huge surface to gather solar energy.
Gravity in the surface facing the star is achieved by spinning around it, but actual gravity due to mass is quite small in any point of the ring. That coupled with its enormous size ensures a big boost to supply.
The structure is fragile, and defense systems must ensure that no rogue asteroids hit the ring. All this implies a great deal of maintenance to avoid the ring shattering.
All the materials used in its construction are part of the structure, and hence there are no mines or other sources of natural resources in the ring. All primary resources for the industry in the ring must be imported from other planets. To ensure enough supply of raw materials, each ring requires the resources of all nearby star systems and no more rings can be built in the proximity.


Requirements and quirks:

- Can be built in an asteroid belt or on a tiny or small planet.
- There must be at least N (2? 3?) belts or small/tiny planets in the system.
- All asteroid belts and tiny/small planets in the system except the one where the ring is built will be destroyed after completion (used to built the ring). Populations on those belts/planets would be lost if not evacuated (or killed in camps) first.
- Ideally, a new type of planet (Dyson ring), with its own art, takes the place of the belt/planet where it was built.
- Lack of resources in the near vicinity (owned outposts and colonies at V hops or less) incurs in high influence upkeep due to having to bring in resources from far away planets. For fully resource supply, at least 6 owned, supply-connected asteroid belts or planets must be at V or less hops.
- Minimum distance of 2V hops between any other owned ring.
- The environment must be good for a given species... Add a Gaia special?
- Optionally (although it also needs some new art), the belt/planet where the ring was built gets a special "Dyson ring", more powerful based on the number of destroyed belts/planets.



Proposed values (need more thinking and number crushing):

- HabitableSize = 15 (three times a huge planet).
This means end-game population could be as high as 15 * (3 good env. + 1 symb. bio.) * 1.25 good pop. + 15 * (1 sub. hab. + 1 orb. hab. + 2 n-dim. hab. + 3 gaia + 3 growth specials or self-sustaining + 2 HW growth focus) = 15*4*1.25 + 15*12 = 255. (240 for average pop, 225 for bad pop).

- Base supply: +4 (like a tiny planet +2)

- Planetary defenses gets a +200% bonus.

- Base influence upkeep: 18 - 2*min(6, # owned outposts/colonies at V hops).

- Construction cost: 4 or 5 times the cost of a colony building, 15 turns.

- Base stealth: -25 (quite hard to hide, not intended for stealth empires).

- Bonus to production (surplus of solar energy): +0.5*pop in the ring.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#11 Post by Oberlus »

The proposed buildings (archology, dyson ring) won't work.
They are great at soaking PPs, and if we make them available soon enough in the tech tree (hard for the dyson ring, which makes sense to place after force-energy structures), they could soak PP that would go otherwise for coloniaton (ergo Wide).
But the requirements of outposts/colonies around, and the lack of anything bad for Wide strategy, makes them a good objective for Wide empires.

I now think that the bonuses from policies for Tall should come with maluses for Wide, and vice versa.
For policies it can make a lot of sense regarding fluff/explanation, and for strategic gameplay it is great: if applying both policies gets you to (roughly) the same point that not applying any of them, you'll prefer to apply only one of them (say Tall) and keep the other slot for another bonus (also Tall or concerning another strategic dimension). And plays along very well with the concept of policies: it makes sense that you can apply policies that counteract each other (you can always switch policies if you change your mind or had planned to transition to a different strategy later.
For buildings maybe it should be enough doing as pointed out by Geof, with bonuses that give poor performance for the opposite strategy. Problem with this is that I can't find such bonuses for Tall empires (yes for Wide, like the one in Geoff's post): if minimum population is required to get the bonus, you can go Wide with mostly big planets and rushing growth techs and benefit greatly from that bonus.

So what about this maluses for requirement for the proposed buildings?

Arcology:
- The flat bonuses do not depend on number of nearby/supply-connected outposts/colonies.
- It causes a flat malus to industry and influence of the nearby/supply-connected colonies.

Dyson ring:
- Make it unique (only one per empire, as the palace).
- Cause a flat malus to industry and influence of all owned colonies.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#12 Post by labgnome »

Oberlus wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:13 pm Right, it might be flawed even If it comes with a malus to influence per planet that offsets all flat bonuses (Prod/Res/Inf). And the malus to cost and turns of colony parts/buidings could not work: you go first wide then you get the Tall policy...

Another thing I didn't think of before: if you focus on getting bigger but few planets, you have to use the PP not sunk into colony parts/buildings into something else. More military, or more research focus. That has its appealing, but might end up being more colonies (through invasion or researching extra sources of PP), so in the end Tall empire is still "forced" to expand and become Wide.
So tall play would probably be geared toward non-conquest victories. Like a tech victory, a diplomatic victory or a score/end-turn victory. So we may not need to railroad players into a tall vs. wide situation. That being said we should try to figure out how to solve our current tall & wide problem.

On the Arcology:
- Boost to population and infrastructure on the arcology colony, something huge, like +6*planet size.
I'd boost population and have it consume infrastructure. I'd also make it boost population to a specific set level, like how the space elevator works for supply. Maybe to something like 80 after growth techs for average population species.

On the Dyson Ring:
- Can be built in an asteroid belt or on a tiny or small planet.
- There must be at least N (2? 3?) belts or small/tiny planets in the system.
- All asteroid belts and tiny/small planets in the system except the one where the ring is built will be destroyed after completion (used to built the ring). Populations on those belts/planets would be lost if not evacuated (or killed in camps) first.
I'd personally remove the planet size/type restriction and have it work similarly to the Honeycomb special and destroy all planets surrounding the construction site, 1 or 2 hops out. Removing any asteroid belts and turning any other planets into asteroid belts themselves.
- The environment must be good for a given species... Add a Gaia special?
It shouldn't need a Gaia Special (which would just terraform the planet from a ringworld to the preferred type) as if it's a new type of planet we can just make the environment good for all species preference, except exobots.

I'm not hot on the name, as a "Dyson ring" is supposed to be a ring of solar satellites collecting energy that's basically a partial Dyson swarm/sphere. Maybe call it a Niven Ring or Ringworld?

For both.
- It causes a flat malus to industry and influence of the nearby/supply-connected colonies.
I'd probably include research in that list as well. Otherwise you might still go wide for the research.

For in-between the arcology and the Ringworld I'd like to suggest the Ecumenopolis.
- Boost to population on the ecumenopolis planet based on planet size, something big, like 160 for medium planet with an average population species after growth techs. Basically bigger than an arcology but smaller than a ringworld.
- Boost to infrastructure maybe comparable to the megalith.
- Extra boost to pop-based output boosting buildings built on the planet. IE: industrial center, enclave of the void, collective thought network and communications array/whatever will boost influence.
- Only 1 per species per supply group.
- Requires 3 uncolonized outposts in the system.
- Similar malus to arcology and ringworld.
- Malus to population on supply connected planets of the same species.
- Cannot be built on the same planet as arcology or megalith.
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#13 Post by Oberlus »

labgnome wrote: Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:21 pm tall play would probably be geared toward non-conquest victories.
I don't think Tall would be more geared toward non-conquest than Wide. To win a game, in any way, you need to outperform your oponents. If a Tall empire has the resources to outperform in research (or diplomacy) a Wide empire, then it could also try to outperform the Wide empire in production.
My suggestions in this thread are about that: increasing performance (in any sense) of few-colony empires. Whether the player choose to use that extra performance for research, production or influence is up to the player.

On the Dyson Ring:
[...]
I'd personally remove the planet size/type restriction and have it work similarly to the Honeycomb special and destroy all planets surrounding the construction site, 1 or 2 hops out. Removing any asteroid belts and turning any other planets into asteroid belts themselves.
Would you care to elaborate on why?
My idea of turning belts/tiny/small planets into a single humongous planet is aimed at increasing population (and hence also output) of otherwise bad production centers.
Destroying everything around could be rather annoying and counterproductive for a Tall&Narrow empire.
as if it's a new type of planet we can just make the environment good for all species preference, except exobots.
I like that, but I'm still on design phase. I'm not sure it's a good idea to create a new type of planet. I'm mulling over the idea that a Ringworld (best name, yes) should be easily destroyed in combat, something like if enough infrastructure is lost the ringworld reverts to asteroid belt. For that, using just a special created on the belt upon finishing of the building and removed when the ringworld is destroyed could be enough and maybe better.

- It causes a flat malus to industry and influence of the nearby/supply-connected colonies.
I'd probably include research in that list as well. Otherwise you might still go wide for the research.
You can try go wide research with a flat malus to production in all your planets (so no production at all), but I wonder how would you defend your empire against others with no armed ships.

Ecumenopolis.
I like this. Since it is not about particular buildings but a form of planetary urbanization, it could be a policy instead, that increases population of big planets and reduces output of small planets, or something like that.

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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#14 Post by labgnome »

Oberlus wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 10:59 am
On the Dyson Ring:
[...]
I'd personally remove the planet size/type restriction and have it work similarly to the Honeycomb special and destroy all planets surrounding the construction site, 1 or 2 hops out. Removing any asteroid belts and turning any other planets into asteroid belts themselves.
Would you care to elaborate on why?
My idea of turning belts/tiny/small planets into a single humongous planet is aimed at increasing population (and hence also output) of otherwise bad production centers.
Destroying everything around could be rather annoying and counterproductive for a Tall&Narrow empire.
It's a significant improvement over any regular planet, so the construction shouldn't be limited to planets strictly smaller than Medium size. Likewise the destruction shouldn't be limited to smaller planets. Having its destruction effect go out at least 1 hop means we can ignore the multi-planet system requirement and build it anywhere and in low density galaxies. It also means the placement is really strategic.
as if it's a new type of planet we can just make the environment good for all species preference, except exobots.
I like that, but I'm still on design phase. I'm not sure it's a good idea to create a new type of planet. I'm mulling over the idea that a Ringworld (best name, yes) should be easily destroyed in combat, something like if enough infrastructure is lost the ringworld reverts to asteroid belt. For that, using just a special created on the belt upon finishing of the building and removed when the ringworld is destroyed could be enough and maybe better.
I don't know that it needs to be easily destroyed. Especially since it will be coming after Force Energy Structures, we can always have some fluff about "structural integrity fields" or the like.

I'd probably include research in that list as well. Otherwise you might still go wide for the research.
You can try go wide research with a flat malus to production in all your planets (so no production at all), but I wonder how would you defend your empire against others with no armed ships.
I'm not sure what having or not having armed ships has to do with research output. But if we are trying to avoid the pitfalls of Tall+Wide I don't think that we should incentivize going wide for any output. Your production, research and influence centers should be your Arcologies, Ecumenopoli and your Ringworld.
I like this. Since it is not about particular buildings but a form of planetary urbanization, it could be a policy instead, that increases population of big planets and reduces output of small planets, or something like that.
I don't like the policy idea, as it negates the one per species per supply group limitation. Basically I want there to be fewer Ecumenopoli than Arcologies but more of them than the Ringworld. I also think that they should be a production point sink. Maybe their creation could be gated behind a policy?

Thinking about it, maybe the Ecumenopolis could add a special to the planet its built on. The special could produce the effects of the building as described.
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Re: Make viable the Tall strategy

#15 Post by Oberlus »

labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm It's a significant improvement over any regular planet, so the construction shouldn't be limited to planets strictly smaller than Medium size. Likewise the destruction shouldn't be limited to smaller planets. Having its destruction effect go out at least 1 hop means we can ignore the multi-planet system requirement and build it anywhere and in low density galaxies. It also means the placement is really strategic.
I don't see those reasons. Strategical will be in both cases. I don't like it.

labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm I don't know that it needs to be easily destroyed.
I do. I do like the idea. You better defend well your humongous powerhouse. Relatively easy for Tall&Narrow empires, harder for Wide empires.
labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm
You can try go wide research with a flat malus to production in all your planets (so no production at all), but I wonder how would you defend your empire against others with no armed ships.
I'm not sure what having or not having armed ships has to do with research output.
When your planets are conquered (by enemies) they stop contributing to your research. I see some relation here...
labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm I don't like the policy idea, as it negates the one per species per supply group limitation.
That limitation is a pain in the ass, I don't like it.
I would make the policy affect only a subset of your colonies, the larger ones probably (planet size or current population).
labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm Basically I want there to be fewer Ecumenopoli than Arcologies but more of them than the Ringworld.
I think it's better to start with more varied stuff, two buildings seems to me more than enough.
labgnome wrote: Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:51 pm The special could produce the effects of the building as described.
Being a building or a policy is enough to trigger the effects, no need for the special.

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