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Balancing Spies - Printable Version

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Balancing Spies - VanderLegion - 04-27-2012 07:23 AM

Elph and I have been chatting in the beta and having both tried out spy builds, we're thinking spies are a bit too powerful. Once you hit a critical mass of spies - even without the tech to double their effectiveness, there's pretty much nothing your opponent can do. The games I used it, I was stealing tech the turn pretty much the turn my opponent researched it. When they had no new tech for me to steal, I'd switch everyone to sabotage and start killing ships and stealing cash. Elph is using them in a game against me and it's worked out the same way. I can't speak to how often he's stealing tech, but with all his spies on sabotage I've perpetually had no cash and he's been sabotaging my ships as fast as I can build them. I haven't lost yet, but it's only a matter of time till he has enough of his own ships build to come finish me off.

My proposal for a start to balancing spies at least is simple: Change Colonial Security Facility to be empire-wide tech like advanced farming and taxes are in 1.1.3. Currently (for those who aren't really familiar with it), CSF provides a 20% chance to prevent sabotage on the planet it's built on, CSF2 provides a 50% chance. I propose changing it to be an empire wide reduction of the opponents chance of success with spies by 20%/50%, and apply to both sabotage and espionage.

If an opponent has 20 spies (ignoring charismatic or repulsive for simplicities sake), he'd normally have a 20% chance of success if you have no spies on defense. With CSF1 he'd have an 16% chance, with CSF2 he'd have a 10% chance. You'd still be able to get a critical mass of spies eventually, but it would take longer and cost more money to do so, giving your opponent more time to build up his own spies for defense or possibly get enough ships to come kill you before you sabotage them all.

Another addition I'd love to see for spies would be the ability to assign spies on sabotage to certain areas - Buildings, Ships, Money, etc. When leaders go in for 1.1.4, an option could be added to the list for Assassination of enemy leaders. Another cool option would be the ability to target enemy spies first, to try to kill of your opponents defenders.

The way I envision this part working would be that you aren't guaranteed to sabotage the selected area, but you have a higher chance of doing that than anything else. So if you want to target ships, maybe you have a 50-75% chance of getting a ship when you successfully sabotage, otherwise it randomly picks one of the others, similar to how I'm assuming it does now.


RE: Balancing Spies - Bruin - 04-27-2012 07:56 AM

I've been experimenting with spies lately and I've definitely noticed that they can get extremely nasty once they reach a certain point. I'm not opposed to a point of no return against a spying opponent (in my mind it isn't so different from reaching a point where simply cannot compete with ships against a military opponent—it is just a battle with spies instead of ships, or a player's ability to use ships to secure victory before they are overwhelmed with spies) but it feels a bit like spies can turn the table very quickly under the right circumstances, and it isn't entirely out of question to make that happen without any particular research or bonuses associated with spying.

Stepping up Colonial Security Facility, as VanderLegion suggested, to be an empire-wide technology which offers some added security against certain spying activities seems like a very good evolution of that particular technology (I feel like it kind of sucks right now, correct me if I'm wrong on that, VL) and might help to balance things out for an opponent who decides to use research to aid themselves in defending against a powerful spying opponent.

I like some kind of change in this regard because it seems to me, if done properly, it will help to evolve the spying battle a player might choose to take up rather than poke a glaring hole into it or nerf it completely. It would also help more against players who, rather than focusing on spying, supplement another strategy with spying.


RE: Balancing Spies - elph - 04-27-2012 08:05 AM

+1

VL did a spy build on me and very shortly, there was nothing I could do. I started asking VL what tech he wanted next.


RE: Balancing Spies - Sarducar Dun - 04-27-2012 08:32 AM

+1 from me


RE: Balancing Spies - TerranEmperor - 04-27-2012 11:46 AM

+1 from me as well.


RE: Balancing Spies - falanor4421 - 04-27-2012 02:43 PM

+1 Look up some of the posts Nagov has made about this. We've made some good ideas.


RE: Balancing Spies - StandAlone - 04-27-2012 08:04 PM

I was thinking about what if spies don't steal actual tech but research points. Maybe a turns worth. That way they supplement their own research and sabotage their opponents. But at the same time they aren't getting a free tech or more if they still a higher level version.


RE: Balancing Spies - Bruin - 04-27-2012 11:15 PM

Stealing tech is a pretty vital part of what makes a spy build viable, from what I've experienced. They can't out-produce or out-research their focused opponent (without stealing tech or doing their own legwork first) so if changes are made in this department it would have to be substantial enough to keep them dangerous. (Or, from a different angle, it feels like something which would tone down supplementary spying at too much expense to focused spying).


RE: Balancing Spies - StandAlone - 04-28-2012 12:50 AM

(04-27-2012 11:15 PM)Bruin Wrote:  Stealing tech is a pretty vital part of what makes a spy build viable, from what I've experienced. They can't out-produce or out-research their focused opponent (without stealing tech or doing their own legwork first) so if changes are made in this department it would have to be substantial enough to keep them dangerous. (Or, from a different angle, it feels like something which would tone down supplementary spying at too much expense to focused spying).

No, I get that. My thought was that if you are stealing their research pool output and adding it to your own then you can make strides in terms of research while preventing their research from progressing without giving spying to big of an advantage.

As far as production, once you hit a critical mass of spies as elph and vanderlegion have stated then you can devote some of your planets to building ships.


RE: Balancing Spies - BookBeast - 04-28-2012 02:15 AM

(04-27-2012 08:04 PM)StandAlone Wrote:  I was thinking about what if spies don't steal actual tech but research points. Maybe a turns worth. That way they supplement their own research and sabotage their opponents. But at the same time they aren't getting a free tech or more if they still a higher level version.

I actually like this idea. If you change espionage so you steal your opponent's research points (instead of their technology), that would still preserve a major advantage of spies and might also address the issue where stealing tech from an opponent sometimes locks off parts of the tech tree from you (e.g., in my last game I stole Orbital Laboratory from an opponent but then couldn't research Orbital Lab 2 and 3).

I was also thinking that it might be fun to add a certain feature to spying: framing someone else for your actions. You can steal tech or sabotage something and make it look like someone else did it. Your opponent would get a message like "our spies report that X stole Plasma Turrets II/sabotaged our fleet/whatever" when it was in fact Y who did so. This might be useful in multiplayer games for getting an opponent to focus on someone other than you!

Not sure how to implement framing, but it should be more difficult or expensive than straight-up theft or sabotage.