Favours are flawed and easily exploitable

stellaris 6 - Favours are flawed and easily exploitable

This is a copy of a post I made on the Stellaris forums. It's a big enough issue that I think it's worth putting here too. You can read it there too, as it's probably better formatted/easier to read

In essence, favours in their current implementation are so easily exploitable that you can gain infinite free resources or drain an AIs influence (from it using your favours), or gain unlimited favours/DW in the GC (provided you have the influence to use them), even in MP

  1. So, can we talk about favours, as they are currently implemented?

    what favours do & observations/ exploits I've found for each usecase:

    1. They Add to your DW (Diplomatic weight) in the GC (Galactic community), either to promote/demote a resolution in the queue. Or during voting.
      • But they do not subtract DW from the other party,
        • (e.g. you can add 5k DW to your vote, and the other nation doesn't lose 5K DW during voting)
      • You can call in an unlimited number of favours on each vote, provided you have the influence to do so.
    2. Favours are used to get AIs to agree to commercial/ migration/ research/ defence/ Non-Aggression pacts and for joining your/their Federation.
      • Provided you have the funds, you can get your way with anything over an AI.
      • You can get an unlimited number of favours from an AI by trading them stuff in return, 10 Favours at a time, repeatedly.
      • This means a strong economy (e.g. playing as a MegaCorp in a trade Federation) can be used to buy your way in/out of most things.
    3. Favours are a currency – they can be used in bilateral trade deals.
      • E.g. I can offer the AI 10 favours (which they can only use in the GC, as favours cannot be used to obligate human players) in return for 5000 alloys (based upon my last game, I assume the trade value is tied to my diplomatic weight – but if it isn't, it should be).
        • BUT I can issue an unlimited amount of favours, so whether it's trade value is tied to DW or not is immaterial.
        • An AI is seemingly always happy to keep trading with me for my favours – even if it already has hundreds and lacks the influence to use them all.
        • Further, it seems you can trade favours with AIs whilst not being in the GC (which is the only place an AI can "cash in" player favours),
        • So you could be outside the GC lending many multiples of your diplomatic weight to AIs in the GC, in return for free resources..
    4. You also gain favours from some events like returning a neighbors downed cargo ship gives influence and 1 favour
      • (incidentally, you can trade this favour back to the AI for more minerals than you'd have gotten by keeping the cargo ship).

    Some ways to exploit this
    Favours are a good idea. They add an interesting dynamic. Here are some ways to cheese them:

    1. Right before an invasion (assuming you're not so hostile to an AI that you cannot still conduct trade) Trade all the favours to an AI that you can in return for their resources.
      • Take everything. GC influence won't matter as you won't leave them alive.
      • And by draining their stockpiles, you'll make it harder for them to bounce back and rebuild their fleet in the war.
    2. AIs gain free resources on higher difficulties.
      • The only bottleneck on trading favours for resources with an AI is how many resources they have to give you (as they seemingly always want your favours)
      • This means that you, too, can have free resources on harder difficulty settings.
      • Just keep trading for them with favours (sure you'll lose out on GC sway, but if you trade with AIs with similar ethics or in your own federation they were probably going to vote your way anyway).
      • You can also then sell their resources on the market for even more EC.
    3. if you just keep milking one (or more) AIs with favours they will quickly burn through their influence using your favours in the GC.
      • Megacorps won't be able to open as many branch offices to compete with you (if you're an MC), they cost EC and influence to open.
      • AIs won't have as much influence to issue claims on you, so you're safe unless they try to subjugate/liberate you.
      • If it's still early game and there's lots of space left, you could actually stunt their growth/expansion (this needs more testing/is a rarer case) they may not have enough influence for outpost building.
    4. In MP 2 players could ping their favours back and fourth between them to give themselves an unlimited amount of DW in the GC
      • (the theoretical limit to this comes from how much influence you gain to use favours, but late game I've been able to hit +7 – +10 influence a month with some builds in 2.6.1)
    5. In MP If you're playing with any AIs you can also exploit them for free resources, too. Most of the other above "strategies" work in MP too.

    How to fix this
    Now, you could say this isn't an issue in SP, it's up to the player if they want to cheese favours and gain unlimited DW or resources from an AI, or wipe out their stockpiles before invading.

    But it probably is an issue in MP – particularly if you're playing with players you don't know/trust.

    Imo there are a few things that could be done

    1. Limit active favours for each country to 10 in total + any extra gained via events if you are already at 10.
      • I.e. no lending out 50 favours to 10 different AIs simultaneously.
    2. Make favours decay – either one each year, or the whole stack after 10 years, or whenever the other party has a change of rulers/government.
      • (this is also fair as favours would might not be honoured by subsequent governments)
      • By making favours decay it would constantly free up favour "slots" so the player can use the system (incase AIs are hogging them)
    3. Make each favour count for more
      • It's not uncommon to need 5+ favours to get an AI to do something (sign a pact etc) Why?
      • Just make any bilateral act take 1-2 favours, this combined with 1 above would make each favour both rarer and more valuable. There would be more opportunity cost with using one.
    4. Make AIs less likely to want your favours if they either
      1. already have some
      2. Lack any influence to use them presently (run a calculation, based on current influence amount +gain*12, will i have enough influence to use one of these in the next 12 months?)
      3. Attach a cool down on trading for favours to prevent constant resource milking.

    Further, despite listing it as an issue, I would not actually suggest making favours detract from your own DW in the GC, as you have no control over when an Ai will use your favours. This will make the GC voting process even more opaque and may feel frustrating. (The counter argument to this is learn to master the system, I guess, probably isn't new player friendly though..).

    Imo favours' biggest issues right now are

    1. That they are not limited/capped (e.g. at 10 or 100% of a nations DW).
    2. Can be constantly traded without a delay/cooldown and..
    3. They don't decay over time leading, to stockpiles of hundreds of favours lol.

Has anyone else found other ways to exploit the AI with favours that I missed?

Source: Original link

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