House rules and suggested game settings for multiplayer?

stellaris 3 - House rules and suggested game settings for multiplayer?

I want to get some suggestions for a multiplayer game with my friends when Federations releases. We played one game already, but it really dragged on, and one of my friends absolutely loathes playing anything other than Machine Empires, so he ended up kind of dominating the entire game. This game was I believe Small size, whatever the max number minus the number of players (4) of AI Empires, 1 Fallen Empire, 1 Marauder Empire, 2x Habitable Worlds, 2x Primitive Civilizations, 1x Tech/Tradition speed, and 1x Crisis strength, although we didn't get far enough to get a Crisis. I could've sworn that we used Distributed Players, but I think it may have actually been Random, because we all ended up in one south-southeast quadrant of the galaxy, with the Machine Empire bottlenecking the other two players' access to the rest of the galaxy.

We're looking forward to playing again once Federations releases, especially since the two other players are now more familiar with the game, but we're trying to figure out some house rules or tweaked game settings that could make the game a little more interesting and less of a really long stalemate.

I would just ban Machine Empires, but as I said my friend absolutely hates playing anything else, so I'd rather not force him into playing something he doesn't enjoy. So, as an alternative, we thought that maybe we could restrict any Machine Empire players to not be allowed to expand past their Administrative Capacity. Obviously you could exploit that by waiting to colonize until you've expanded as far as you can via outposts, but this is a friendly game and we can all be expected to play to the spirit of the rules.

That's the only house rule we've been able to think of so far, any other ideas? I should mention, we also want to try to roleplay our Empires more in this new game, so that may also help.

As far as game settings are concerned, here's what I was thinking:

  • Galaxy Size: Medium
  • Galaxy Shape: Eliptical or 4 Arm Spiral – I figure these are the two most dynamic shapes, least likely to leave someone cut off.
  • AI Empires: 15
  • Advanced AI starts: 5
  • Fallen Empires: 3 – If I could do 2-3, I would, but the only random option is 1-2 or 1-3.
  • Marauder Empires: 2 – I think having 2 means that each individual player has a better chance of being able to utilize their services, plus a greater chance of there being a Great Khan.

My rationale for the Galaxy Size and Empire numbers is that with 5 players (what we're aiming for) that divides out to 24 systems per Empire, so assuming that several Empires will be conquered by others, everyone will hopefully have some room whilst not having an excess of breathing room.

  • Tech/Tradition Cost: 1x
  • Habitable Worlds: 1x – 2x – I hesitate to turn up the number, because I know it'll cause more lag, but I also really don't like the sparsity of 1x.
  • Primitive Civilizations: 2x – 3x – 1x seems to have barely any Primitives at all, so I like to turn it up, but I'm not sure how far is ideal.
  • Crisis Strength: 1x – None of us are masters of the game, so I figure 1x is probably enough to challenge us.
  • Mid-Game Start Year: 2300
  • End-Game Start Year: 2400
  • Victory Year: 2500
  • AI Aggressiveness: Normal or one step higher – I don't want to be under a constant barrage of AI, but I want things to stay active.
  • Empire Placement: Distributed Players
  • Advanced Neighbors: No
  • Hyperlane Density: 1x – 2x
  • Abandoned Gateways: 2x – 3x
  • Wormhole Pairs: 2x – 2.5x
  • Guaranteed Habitable Worlds: 2
  • Caravaneers: On
  • Difficulty: Ensign or Captain – I dislike the AI cheating, but at the same time we don't want to roll over them. I'm leaning towards Ensign, especially with the new AI economy improvements in Federations.

Again, any thoughts welcome!

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