Stellaris

Once in a while we return to our roots: Popehat began as a blog about computer gaming and similar disreputable pastimes. Nowadays it takes a hell of a game to make us admit that.

So, back in the days of VGA graphics cards and pentium processors, "turn-based strategy games" were a thing. A big thing. "Civilization" wasn't the only such game most gamers had heard of. There were competitors in non-historical genres, such as epic fantasy or science fiction space opera. In that field, the king was the still well-regarded Master of Orion and its sequel, Master of Orion 2. MOO and MOO2 allowed the player to take the helm of a galactic empire, to unleash fleets of hundreds of ships on enemies, and in general to boldly go where no silicon-based rock form of life had gone before. They were great. And then the genre sort of … died. A followup sequel, Master of Orion 3, played like a spreadsheet and featured artificial intelligence opponents from which the intelligence had been removed. While there are still occasional gems in 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) space opera gaming, such as Galactic CivilizationsSword of the Stars or Distant Worlds, it's strictly a niche genre, for devoted fans only.

Master of Orion diplomacy in action.

Master of Orion diplomacy in action.

The newest player on the scene, Stellaris, by Swedish games company Paradox Development Studios, probably won't change that, but it should.

Stellaris is not a turn-based game. It runs in real time (which can be sped up, slowed down, or paused by the player), but it definitely hearkens back to the glory that was Master of Orion. The game is big. It's complex. And it's glorious, made by people who clearly love space opera sci-fi and all its tropes.  A game begins with the player custom-designing a species (humans, avians, reptilians, and much stranger things are allowed) by look, ethos (anything from benevolent peacekeepers like Star Trek's Federation to xenophobic militarists such as Doctor Who's Daleks is on the table), and exploring from one planet in a galaxy of up to a thousand stars (yes, I know) to build a star empire. Technology will be researched. Aliens will be met, traded with, federated with, and / or conquered. And much else will happen, in scripted or triggered events. Pretty much anything from science fiction can appear depending on the player's actions, such as rogue A.I. attempting to exterminate all life, "uplift" of pre-sentient animals to sapience and starfaring, or the tearing of gaping holes in reality caused by science meddling in Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, leading to galactic invasion by Lovecraftian horrors from another dimension. If there's a trope you can think of, chances are it can appear in a game of Stellaris.

"Diplomacy by other means," from Stellaris

"Diplomacy by other means," from Stellaris

I say "a game," because Stellaris is long. Though the game was released on Monday and I've been playing it in pretty much every moment of free time, I'm nowhere close to finishing a game. As with Civilization on a huge map with lots of opponents, it's possible for a Stellaris scenario, in a thousand star galaxy with numerous A.I. opponents, to take dozens of hours to complete. In the game I'm playing, after a couple of false starts (Stellaris' tutorial, while good, can't really teach you everything you need to know about a game that's quite deep), I've come to dominate the northern spiral arm of the galaxy, violated the Prime Directive to lift pre-spacefaring civilizations to the stars, exterminated one species entirely (because I could tell they'd eventually be trouble for my benevolent vision of multicultural galactic harmony), and had my ass (well, my waste disposal oriented anatomy) handed to me by a decadent race of godlike aliens who were upset that I didn't take their warnings about not exterminating species seriously. And I'm nowhere close to finishing.

Combat is a big thing in Stellaris, but this isn't a tactical game. It's grand strategy. Battles are resolved, graphically, by the computer rather than the player based on number of ships, officers commanding, technology and equipment (Shields work wonderfully against railgun projectiles, but anti-matter missiles slide right through. Should have invested in point defense lasers!). The player can gain an edge in battle with good ship design, or that can be delegated to the computer.

Diplomacy, on the other hand, is lacking. Choices on how to influence cooperating and opposing factions, such as trade, war, and peace, seem rather vanilla compared to what's available in other games by Paradox, such as its World War II simulation Hearts of Iron or its medieval empire simulator Crusader Kings. And the A.I. can be rather passive even in war. And espionage against rival empires is entirely lacking.

That said, Paradox has a good record of supporting and expanding games over time. Europa Universalis IV, released in 2013, still receives regular content additions and brand new features three years after its release. This is not a "fire and forget" game. I expect Stellaris to grow and to improve vastly over time, with expansions to diplomacy, to trade, addition of espionage, and more events such as the A.I. apocalypse.  The game is highly moddable by players. If you want to play in the Star Trek universe, or the hellish future of Warhammer 40,000, I'm quite sure such mods will be available in the not distant future.

I've only scratched the surface of what's available in Stellaris. If you enjoy grand, sweeping strategic games, and have a desire for something deeper than Civilization, in an entirely different setting, I recommend Stellaris highly. This is a game that can keep you entertained for hundreds of hours.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

Comments

  1. Daniel Weber says

    I've got Master of Orion 1 and 2 on CDs somewhere in my house. I think. I got them as part of a 4-pack with XCOM and TFTD. Every time I mean to go hunt them up life keeps me busy.

  2. says

    Daniel, I recommend shelling out for the Good Old Game versions. A few config tweaks and they'll run in reasonably high resolution windows right on your modern box, no problem. I still play both (and Master of Magic) every 1-2 years.

  3. Anon Y. Mous says

    exterminated one species entirely (because I could tell they'd eventually be trouble for my benevolent vision of multicultural galactic harmony),

    So you committed genocide against the alt-right species?

    Some might say that isn't really all that bad.

  4. Pat says

    Consensus among a lot of reviews that I've read seems to be that the opening exploration/expansion phase, and the end game, are all awesome, but that the mid-game kind of bogs down and isn't that much fun. This concern is the second-biggest reason I haven't bought this yet (the massive time suck that all Paradox games cause is the biggest, but I'll be irresponsible for the right game). Overblown concern by reviewers nitpicking, or a real thing in your view?

  5. ketchup says

    Clearly the game is not as immersive as Civilization, because you QUIT PLAYING long enough to blog about it! Just kidding – thanks for the tip. My workplace is planning layoffs, so I may have some free time soon.

  6. Daniel Audy says

    Thanks for the review.

    Sounds like something I should pick up if I ever spend months convalescing from a crippling car accident and desperately avoid otherwise due to my history with games like MOO and Civ devour my time. I love these deep, long games but they aren't conducive to my lifestyle (parenting, school, work, relationships) like they were in my teens.

  7. robbbbbb says

    Like our gracious host, I'm a big fan of the old 4X games. I played the heck out of Civ, MOO, MOM, and MOO2 (definitely the best of the bunch.)

    As I've gotten older I've moved over to playing board games. First, I get actual human contact, which is kinda nice. Second, my kids are getting to be an age where we can play board games together and it can be a family activity. (I am a big fan of the notion of growing your own gamers. It's fun!)

    If these are the kind of games you like, then there are several entries in the board game market that are fun. You can find a (mostly) complete listing under boardgamegeek's 4X category. But I'll note a couple of the big contenders here:

    The king is Twilight Imperium, now in its Third Edition. 3-6 players (up to 8 with an expansion), games run 4-12 hours. Getting that many people together for that long is a challenge, I know, but this game has all of the depth talked about above.

    Eclipse is a contender, but I don't like it as much as TI3. Shorter, more focused, but I don't like the game mechanisms as much. YMMV.

    Another popular entrant is Space Empires: 4X. I don't own it, but it's a more traditional hex-and-counter type affair. Not nearly as pretty as TI3.

    My boys and I have been playing Star Wars Rebellion for the last month and loving every minute. This isn't quite a 4X game like the ones you list above, but is a counter-insurgency game. The Empire is trying to find and crush the Rebel base, while the Rebels spark a galaxy-wide revolt. Very, very fun.

    Fantasy Flight Games is the master of this particular chunk of boardgame-space. Check 'em out!

  8. Cheshirelion says

    Will wait a bit for Stellaris to get a bit more polished. Till then I have Factorio to keep playing which is a wonderful management/scifi game.

  9. El Saico says

    Paradox games are like Windows: they get much better after receiving a bajillion patches.

    Though the only reason I'm holding my horses on playing the game is because i already got virtually no time for it. Or for Crusader Kings II. Or for EU4. Or for Cities: Skylines.

  10. says

    Since I have no self-control I picked it up as well. Thumbs up here.

    It combines a lot of elements from diverse 4x space games that I've liked: multiple research tracks, leaders who improve and can be hired, improving the impact of buildings by positioning them, etc. Not as steep a learning curve as I expected — but could use some more descriptions/explanations.

  11. Aaron says

    I've been addicted to Aurora 4x lately. And the new Doom (4?) just landed today. So many things to play, so little time in one day :(

  12. Ornithorhynchus says

    When I saw the picture I thought this was going to be about the new version of Master of Orion, which I haven't heard much about yet. Last I heard, they had some sort of Beta version available, but the real game wasn't out yet.

    Anyway, I LOVED the first two versions of Orion. I still have the CD for the second one, but I can't figure out how to install it on my modern computer.

    But that third game sure was awful. I spent a couple of days trying to play it at my brother's house. It was boring and confusing, and seemed to bear no resemblance whatsoever to the earlier games.

  13. says

    @Pat:

    Overblown concern by reviewers nitpicking, or a real thing in your view?

    The advanced portion of the midgame is the part of Stellaris that's most … ordinary. That said, a secret friend at Paradox tells me it's the portion of the game most likely to get additional features and similar love in upcoming free patches.

    And patches are part of the game, for better or worse. You don't buy Paradox strategy titles to enjoy for 20 hours and then forget them. I thought Europa Universalis 4 was great on day one, but that pales compared to what it's become three years later.

  14. says

    @Ornithorhynchus

    I once again point to Good Old Games.com. Both Moos will run fine on any computer, purchased from them.

    I have played MooNew. It's. . . ordinary. KThis is very much ordinary access and subject to change. I'm not hopeful it will become a game I enjoy.

    It's moo2, with a few twists.

    1. Smaller fleet engagements, no really we mean it this time. They mostly pull this off. Ships cost more command points relative to 2 (especially as you go up in class), and there are fewer ways to generate command points. That said, it's easy to get an economy going to help ease the burden of a large fleet. Also as of the last time I played (month ago?) there was a hardcap of 1 doomstar period. Another nice change is that larger hulls get more special slots. Something like 2/3/4/5/6 over various classes. I though tthis was a nice touch. Overall I think they had a step in the right direction here. I'd tweak command points up here and there and probably call it a solid mechanic.

    2. Imagined Moo2's colony management (civ style, with all the structures to build). Now add even more structures, albeit some more specialized ones which on the surface add flavor. An econ structure that eases the cost to rush buy. Possibly two separate prod structures to boost ship production. That's what we're talking about for the "more specialized".

    But now yhou have an even shorter production queue than Moo2 (5 slots; the UI makes me wonder how much they can expand it). Further, given the caps on expansion and colony growth this all really draws out colony development but not in a great way.

    Also, we;re a billion years post Sid Meier's Alpha Centuari, which featured saveable production queue templates, up to 10!. No such feature exists here.

    3. Expansion and growth is capped everywhich way. This is Moo2 colony management with the 3 resource generation "bars" and you assign colonists to each. But planets, based on actual biome (there is a little more variety here now) can cap how many people you allocate to each type of production. Most noticably, this can affect food or more likely production. So a size 6 world may only have 3 prod slots, or room for colonists making production. And slots have diminishing retuirns. The first will generate X prod, based on racial abilities and existing facilities. The next might also do X. But the third might do x-1, the fourth x-2, and down to 1 per slot. I never got a full grasp on what caused the breakpoints to fall where they did.

    You now move ships *in* star systems. This always costs the rest of a ship's entire move. So a ship with warp 5 that needs to traverse from a world to a move 2 starlane, then cross a system, then cross a move 3 starlane, will take 3 turns (1 to move to warp. 1 to warp to new system and move to a spot therein, last turn to enter the warp and move to the third system).

    Expanding is slower. A goal that might be noble, but I'm not sure if they pulled it off well (I've basically played about 3 games of it; my mind could change and of course there is more development to come).

    4. There assorted new features. All travel is star lanes. There are now system facilities (e.gl you can build special resource generation facilities in asteroid belts, or special types of bases on warp points).The tech tree is supposed to have a lot of "this or that tech" choices but I think they're still implementing it. But they all feel underwhelming in their current format.

    It's not a bad game. But it's not an especially interesting one either. I would not recommend it at this time, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

    OTOH ,I will again recommend getting Master of * copies from Good Old Games (don't forget Master of magic!).

    Meantime, I've played a bit of the Stellaris tutorial but haven't gotten very far in.

  15. M. Alan Thomas II says

    On the board game front, I hear great things about Twilight Imperium but also long game is long. Eclipse is fun and only long-ish.

  16. Jordan D. says

    I've been having a lot of fun with Stellaris, but I'd agree that while it's a very wide game that's deep in places, there are big holes. It's got a lot of pretty vestigial features which I expect to come alive through either patches or mods, and there are a few causes of serious frustration. There really needs to be a way to sweet-talk the AI out of an alliance, or do some espionage by running guns to disgruntled factions in other empires.

  17. Careless says

    I'll third GOG for cheap, playable installs of old games. They finally got the Alien Crossfire expansion for Alpha Centauri for sale and working, too

  18. Procopius says

    Hey, I have Masters of Orion 1, 2, and 3 on my computer. I don't like 3, but don't remember why, and 1 is too primitive, but I enjoy 2 fairly often. I got it from one of the abandonware sites and really mean to go back and give them a donation.

  19. Anonymous Fatguy says

    MOO2 is, in my opinion, possibly the definitive space 4X game. It and Star Control 2 are the games that continue to dominate my perception of "what a great sci-fi game looks and feels like".

  20. ChrisH says

    GOG is a great site.

    Unfortunately I am absolutely rubbish at strategy games, turn-based or real-time.

  21. says

    I have started two games of stellaris. The first abandoned because I felt like it/sort of botched the race I made/basically didn't understand a lot of things well and was weirdly sub optimal in some decision making it turned out. The second I just wanted to leisurely explore the game mechanically so it's 800 stars with me and 1 other AI race, and who knows how many fallen empires in between.

    The UI is marvelous in some places and a bleeding train wreck in others.

    Some of the mechanics appear to be a bad fit in terms of level of abstraction (e.g. you design ships but only watch fights. However, there's nothing to prepare you for the fact that the way to beat the game is to employ scads of corvettes like 90% of the time).

    I'm not sure how I feel about sectors. You can only directly manage so many planets directly (this representing a decrease in typical micromanagement tedium) but I think this increases the likelyhood of having some amazing planet you find after early expansion being abstracted away; these re the ones it's most fun to spend attention on. We'll see.

    I do not enjoy having to micromanage leaders, even a little bit.

  22. A.Nagy says

    Stellaris is fantastic, but if we are pining about amazing 4X games that are old can we please mention Sword of the Stars: Murder of Crows. I have never played a more exciting replayable 4X game ever before, with each race having massively different playstyles. Due to having different research specialties, ship designs, modes of travel, and drastically different bonuses/gimmicks.

    Heck the game is just worth it just to play the Zuul the roaming space pirates that just move in a giant goon fleet that builds more ships from the scraps of your ships while moving around, and just suck planets dry then blow them up for resources.

  23. Infinityzen says

    @ Grandy:

    "scads of corvettes" is only an effective option until you develop the high tier weapons. All of those require a "L" slot. Or the high tier fighters/bombers which are the highest damage model you can us, along with being very energy efficient (but really crappy range).

    The energy weapon path has a choice between lances (60 range, 95% accuracy, 2nd highest dps weapon in game) and arch (60 range, 95% accuracy, 10~20% less damage, jumps from enemy to enemy). I use 1 lance on destroyers, 2 lances on cruiser, and 3 lances + 1 arch on my frontline battleship.

    The mass driver path gives you rail artillery (60 range, highest dps weapon) and flak artillery (20 range, fairly fast firing, crap accuracy). I haven't tried using these.

    The missile path gives you energy torpedoes (60 range, ignore shields) and MIRVs (30 range, multiple missiles per shot). I have used the energy torpedo in place of one lance on my cruisers and frontline battleships against an enemy with good shield tech.

    The longest range weapons, matched up to a defensive or sentient ai control system, tries to keep your ships away from the enemy and blow them to little bits. If you have any corvettes in your formation, you get drawn in to a shorter range contest and take much more damage. Mid-late game on, I mostly use an even number of battleships and cruisers, with a few destroyers (Lance, M-Plasma, 2x point defense) that kills most enemies before they get off more than a few missiles.

  24. says

    @Infinityzen – been reading a lot of stuff about this on reddit. A lot of people don't seem to agree with that assessment. I think the statistical spading is still in the infancy. And enough people haven't focused on differences in the control systems (uh. . . yet. I haven't browed for a few days. So maybe some have!). Also, if there's been a patch my info could certainly be out of date.

    But I'm reading that larger hard points have penalties against smaller ships (or that smaller ships get dodge bonuses against larger weapons). And that it's possible to stack evade to absurd levels. I know there's some talk about whether Lightning Cloud nullifies this (but it's a purple), and there's been some debate about Arc's effectiveness at countering it.

    I am also reading that missiles tend to be inefficient due to overkill (e.g. a huge opening volley might only take out a small % of ships even thoug missiles by themselves might do tremendous damage. I'm curious about how effectively you've been able to stay way from enemie fleets in what might be considered "late game", or late mid game. I haven't gotten that far yet.

  25. robbbbbb says

    Thanks for reminding me about MOO and MOO2. I was off work sick yesterday, and so downloaded 'em and spent a good couple hours playing MOO2. I needed that.

  26. Aaron says

    Anyone else miss Sierra adventure games?
    At least Total War: Warhammer comes out Tuesday!

  27. says

    Some tips for people diving in:

    1. When you create a sector (it is inevitable; although you can manipulate a lua file to increase controllable planets. There is a government that increases the # too), you need to give the sector energy credits and minerals from your own reserves. Yuo do this under the empire screen, on the left most tab. The sector appears at the bottom (for some inexplicable reason you cannot collapse the list of planets listed in this screen) of the list (or rather sectors appear). You will need to periodically dump resources in.

    The penalty for colonizing beyond your control maximum is -10% overall energy per world. It may be multiplicative, not sure.

    2. Sectors deliberately overload on farms while developing colonies. Oncce they are done with that , they start converting uneeded farms into other structures. You control the "focus" of a sector. Research is deemed the best bet, because you only get a fraction of what the sector produces. That isn't to say that the other ideas are bad.

    Also, you can start a colony and then queue up all the buildings/clearings to taste and *then* hand it over to a sector if you want.

    4. You still control space stations and their components on sectors. Don't forget to have at least one station that can service fleets as needed.

    3. You can queue up orders for ships with shift. It's not that useful for Science ships, unfortunately. They default to "evasive" which means when they bump into hostiles they flee the system and this disrupts the order queue (bad form, Paradox. Bad form). You can set to passive which means they stay in the system but I'm not sure why you would. They cannot fight and hovering in a system is no good.

    4. Frontier bases allow you to push outward past your borders (the "color" of your empire on the galaxy map). You might later find that such systems fall within your borders (which expand through colonization *and* tech, possibly even edicts). You can remove thosr frontier bases safely at that time. They cost 1 influence per month, so it's always a good idea to go back and check and see if they are still needed.

  28. says

    @Grandy:

    Good tips.

    After restarting many times as I learned the ropes, I'm now 45 days into a game.

    A few observations:

    1. How the resources are randomly set up can make you a king or a pauper. I got extremely lucky in this game with nearby minerals and that allowed building and expansion I couldn't do in any of the other games. Still struggled at first — it's painful to save up for that first colony ship — but now 45 days in I'm flush with 10k minerals.

    2. Sometimes the notifications lag behind actions — like a popup telling me something doesn't come up until after I've already dealt with that thing.

    3. A few glitches, mostly related to special projects showing as finished when they aren't, or vice-versa. Those may prevent completion of those particular plotlines.

    4. It would be great to have a mechanic where excess food production past a certain point gets turned into energy credits, or can be shipped for a price to another planet.

    5. As others have said, I think system-based limits rather than planet-based limits would make more sense.

    6. Still trying to figure sectors at all. It can be damned inconvenient. Sometimes the planets you want to turn over and the planets you want to micromanage don't divide neatly into regions.

    7. I totally thought I was going to unleash Old Ones upon the galaxy and was obscurely disapppointed when I did not.

  29. says

    One thing to remember is that if you think you think you were going to unleash the Old Ones and didn't, it's entirely possible you either (1) made it easier to open the gate or (2) got unlucky. Or lukcy, as the case may be. I've seen evidence of events I have repeated a number of times having other available actions when encountered in specific instances by other people. This, I think, points to multiple factors beyond success/failure and degree, coming into play.

    I think sectors being geographically bound is something of a mistake, point of fact (I do understand why they did it; it makes for an easy to parse visual). I think what they should have done was count "max manageable units of management" at the system level, not planet.

    Early system "makeup" is certainly critical. The strategic resources can be nice (getting those purple, uh, bars and then the special power plant can really kick ass). but honestly I think the mining resources really are super duper important because they're a fairly cheap way to boost that early trickle of income (although it's worth noting that the average planetoid will offer maybe 2 minerals, which takes 40 months to return the investment. OTOH, energy providing planetoids are a huge boon since it's much easier to get minerals). So *some* discretion remains in play but that's typicaly early strategy game stuff playing out nicely here. Anyway the mining stations can afford flexibility in colony development. A boon for sure.

    I've half stopped caring about what scientist does what. Gimmie someone young so I don't have to worry about it save in an election. The bonuses can be really nice but ugh to all that micro.

    Oh! you can drag and drop pops between squares on a colony freely. No more "fuck, why didn't that guy move into this necessary hydroponic farm" tears!

  30. Christopher Best says

    I wish I had time to play Stellaris… But I can heartily recommend Endless Space for anyone looking for a great take on the classic 4X MOO-like! The Dust mechanic in particular is a neat twist on the old formula… And the universe's rich backstory has spawned a few other really neat games exploring the history leading up to it. Really impressive stuff from an indie studio.

  31. says

    Small things the game needs (it needs big ones, too).

    1. A way to collapse planet lists in the empire screen, so you can easily view all sectors.

    2. A better sector system (Well this is more of a big thing)

    3. An indicator on the galaxy map that a system has a pre-warp population you can observe in it (yes, funky things can happen to the scientists stationed there!).

    4. A better planetary UI screen. It works pretty good in some respects; tabs for summary, surface (where you build), army, and the space port. But when you are building it would be nice to see all the details from the summary screen so you can know e.g. "is this colony profitable? How much science is it producing?" because there are lots of one off decisions. E.g. do you want to build an observatory module in the space station? Or a Mining Hub on the planet? This shouldn't be too hard to do: just list all the ummary numbers as part of a header on the UI. Include hab rating and happiness as well.

    5. I don't mess with edicts too much, but I think yo uhave to go digging to see where they are turned on (there are edicts that can be toggled at the planetary level). If I want to mess with this I need a better UI first.

    6. Hostile fleets disrupting queued up survey/construction orders is so obnoxious.

    7. You can select a science or construction ship and then right click on the galaxy map and select "survey system" or "build all X stations" (research *or* science; or build outposts/observation stations). But you cannot research battle debris in a system this way, and should be able to.

    8. It's not clear, frequently, when technology research scientists is going to be forced to stop researching tech to work on a specil project you just queue'd up/okayed. This is annoying.

  32. Jon H says

    Picked up a game recently via the Mac App Store called "Sid Meier's Starships". Played it once.

  33. Ian Argent says

    No mention yet of Sins of a Solar Empire? 4x, space, slow realtime rather than turn-based. No custom races, but now 6 factions

  34. says

    The UI needs a lot of work. It seems like you wind up having to do an awful lot of micromanaging. It definitely shows a lot of promise though, I hope they keep developing it.

  35. A.Nagy says

    @Sins of a Solar Empire

    I think of that game more like StarCraft or other RTS's. Mostly because of it's speed of play, and yes you cannnnn play on large maps but the 4GB ram limit and single core only really limits that from working well at all and that's even with the mods to make trade ships less of hogs on game memory

    1v1 matches on smaller maps ~30stars typically last 40-60minutes(25 in the good old Vasari Rebel starbase rush days).

    While matches with up to 6 players on ~80 star systems generally wouldn't last more than 2 hours.

    Basically while Sins is great it's a very different kind of game at heart.

  36. says

    Been having quite a bit of fun with it. There's features I miss from Distant Worlds Galaxies, but there's also new things I'm enjoying — the semi-random tech tree and discovering techs from completing missions, for one.

    So far, the most annoying element has been influence starvation; I came close to having my empire shut down because my leaders were dying and with 0 influence/turn, I could not recruit new ones… which meant no scientists on my science ships, so I couldn't survey systems, so couldn't expand, etc. Had to blow up a Frontier Outpost that cost me extensive operations in three systems in order to start gaining influence again. Live and learn…

    Love seeing the shoutouts to other 4X games I've played here, like Aurora. Now, there's a game for the truly dedicated…

  37. Pete says

    I've broken out MOO2 many times over the years, because it's just that good. My favorite games always involved creative researchers who could get really far into future techs and miniaturize the crap out of stuff.

    Doomstar with 30 stellar converters in independently targeting groups? Sure why not.

  38. Agammamon says

    Sadly, the one thing from MOO that I think should have been copied in all the other games is the one thing they all refuse to implement:

    Priority sliders.

    Every other game has you building structures, some even require you to place them on a map. I'm the leader of a multi-stellar nation – ain't nobody got time for that! That's what the planetary governor should be doing (behind the scenes – no need to (poorly) AI it) while I simply set priorities. This planet is where I'm going to focus on research – get to building schools and labs, but I've got some interstellar diplomacy to be doing so let me know when its done.

    I also like the semi-random research tree and that you couldn't pick what you got, only the general area of research.

    The later games and their clones all take the focus too far down into the weeds.

  39. jj says

    It was a really good first game until my galaxy was invaded by some other race from outside the galaxy with incredible firepower and tech, here I am sailing around with fleets that are about 10k power, and they come warping in with WHAT? 50,000 fleets?

    WHAT?

    Well, live and learn!

  40. says

    @Agammamon – you're touching on reasons why I've alwys found Moo to be superior to Moo 2. I love both games, but the actual design is an order of magnitude better in the first. Modern amentaties – still lacking from MooNew, I believe – would make Moo2 better by reducing tediousness in empire management. But there's a part of me that never wants to be at that level managing or thinking. Now, I prefer variety in all things so I like that there are games that do different levels of abstraction in managing the empire. I'm sad that nobody has really copied Moo though. I think there are directions you could go in with the game that would spice it up while keeping that original vision intact.

    Stellaris has random techs but it's just a deck where techs you bypass can get "discarded" but come back around later. I prefer Moo's elegant approach, but the Stellaris approach is better than the typical fair. OTOH Stellaris has some unusual ideas about how to have you manage empires that I think need tweaking. You can only directly manage so many planets (5 , it can be increased by government choice and a few techs). You have to put things into a sector beyond that limit or else suffer crippling economic penalities. That's all well and good (contrary to a lot of complaining I've found the sector AI to do generally what I ask it to do but you've got to keep pumping in resources and it takes them longer to build up because the planets tend to overbuild farms until full capacity and then start switching over to whatever the sector focus is). But the downside is that while it's not uninteresting to micromanage a few planets, you wind up frequently not getting to micro the really interesting ones because you'd already expanded to your direct management allotment before you found them. And you need to expand with an eye towards the fact that sectors work at the system level (while still being constrained to your "colony limit" and require annexing of adjacent systems to get things connected up. the system is very quirky.