It’s seems to be a common complaint that armies in stellaris are boring. People have proposed they could be made more interesting by adding more features and customization options. However, I think this misses the problem with armies and would merely add more needless overcomplexity. The main problem with armies is their over abundance.
Armies in stellaris seem to have two core purposes. First, there is a role-play aspect where it makes logical sense for one to send an army to take over a planet. I would argue it would feel odd if you could take over planet by merely taking over the starbase and the full war experience would feel incomplete without a mechanic representing a planetary invasion.
More importantly from a gameplay perspective, the purpose of armies is to stall an attacker and make the war more costly. An attacker with a superior fleet will always take the planet eventually due to bombardment, but a strong garrison makes this process take more time and generate more war exhaustion. It seems like a fortified planet is suppose to function like a fort in EU4 and play a similar stalling role.
This is situation for the AI roughly speaking, and a fortified world can successfully stall them in order for fleets to regroup/be built. Unfortunately, a savvy player can ignore the whole system by simply building a huge army and attacking with it. Currently, there is minimal cost to having a large (1k early game, 3-4K in the mid to late) army to just swarm the enemy and take their planets immediately. Furthermore, your defensive ability aren’t limited by having a huge army stack in the field, because you simply raise more assault armies if necessary.
Thus, I think there needs to be mechanic that limits armies in a meaningful way. An army spam strat should be viable but come at more of a cost. Conveniently, there is already a mechanic in the game that represents an empire capacity to comfortably project military power. Therefore, I believe that assault armies should cost fleet power.
Having each assault army cost 0.5-1 fleet power instantly makes them more valuable and the fleet/army dynamic more interesting. Most importantly, it creates interesting choices for the composition of an attacking force. Do you build up fleet cap in order to win the naval engagements, but then struggle more with planet invasions, or do lower your ability to win space battles in order to more easily take planets. Or perhaps you invest heavily in armies in order to grind a superior opponent down in an Vietnam style quagmire. The numbers would have to be tweaked (and bombard would probably need to be fast eracross the board) but I think there is lot of strategic potential to creating a real opportunity cost for maintaining an army.
At the very least, they should put some sort of more strict army cap, but I think making it part of fleet cap is more interesting.
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