Now that the mechanic for the trade routes is out there, I thought I'd be much more realistic to have them transport all sort of resources and not just a vague "trade value".
Currently all resources of the player are, let's say, stored "in the cloud". As soon as they're produced, they're available everywhere in your empire instantly. So you can have a mining world on one side of your empire and a manufacturing world on the other side, and they can function together without delays or problems.
What if those minerals however had to be transported through an 10-jump route just to be arrive in their destination. Similarly for other things like food etc.
While the way it's handled right now is nice and abstract enough for a 4x Game, the availability of the trade routes mechanism allows for so much more.
In such a scenario as I describe, empire planners would have to organically take into account empire coherency and plan accordingly their planets so that each, say, sector has its own production cycle going so as to avoid relying on planets too far away. One could still design specialist planets, but they would act more like an export generator in times of peace, or a buffer in times of crisis.
It would similarly make pirates more of a threat, as they would be able to disrupt the inner workings of your empire.
Similarly we might see mechanics such as privateering funding by foreign empires which would allow them to steal your resources without being officially hostile. Furthermore, In times of war, empires with very spread out manufacturing chains, would be much more vulnerable to surgical strikes at critical trade junctiions which might, say, disrupt the delivery of alloys to their shipyards.
EDIT: This could also allow more technologies focused on empire logistics and route improvements
EDIT: The more I think about it, the more this would also make sprawling empires more and more difficult to handle organically as they expand, rather than requiring abstract penalties in science and unity. The larger you extent, the more difficult it is to handle all the piracy eating away your productive capacity. And if you make piracy in a sector contribute to the crime of all the planets in that sector, oof, this would make a wonderful simulation of empire decadence and decay!
Imagine a far away sector splitting off, because the rampart piracy you are unable to prevent (due to the all-out war your started on the other side of your empire), is causing huge amounts of crime while starving the populace of resources and amenities.
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