Ascension perk points need more granularity

stellaris 3 - Ascension perk points need more granularity

This thought comes from reading the never-ending questions of which ascension perks are too strong, which are too costly, and so forth.

My thought is to give an ascension point with every tradition pick, instead of once per filled tree. Or perhaps to give 0.5 each plus 2.5 for finishing each tree, so as to not weaken the incentive to finish one tree before starting the next, although unity costs and finisher bonuses should be enough either way.

In place of the perk slots, a (more modding-friendly) perk tree would exist, with varying dependencies and point costs almost like what existed in WoW in the BC/Wrath days. At the cost of adding more choice complexity, this would:

  • Increase the appeal of weaker ascension perks, which are often left unpicked for no other reason than the meta-gaming strength of alternative choices
  • Allow for bundle discounts via prerequisites, ie. after three points in terraforming, both gaia world and ecumenopolis are available for purchase at two points each, effectively making the first cost 5 points and the second only 2 more.

I would start by bundling the mega engineering perks into a sub-tree. The interstitial points would reduce project time/costs so as to provide some intermediate usefulness. Habitats would be one of at least two paths to unlock ring worlds.

Planet shaping expertise should be cumulative, and as such a requisite number of points spread over tile blocker clearing/planet “enlarging”/etc would together unlock all the different special planet types (still gated, of course, by empire type eg. machine worlds for machines). Each of those would be tucked behind a small number of repeating boosts to terrforming. Perhaps learning to make ecumenopoli requires four rounds of decreased terraforming time, while getting to gaia worlds comes after a couple rounds of reduced resource costs. Thus despite the diminished value of a second special planet type, there is some merit to specializing within the ascension tree.

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I need not explain the value to the player in having less incentive to gravitate to the same perks every game, and I believe this change would go a long way towards facilitating that goal with future additions. The biggest downside is they would feel less powerful, and at worst could become less flavourful versions of the tradition trees. That can still be avoided, but would require more conscious effort from the design team than the current format.

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