How would you define Influence?

stellaris 5 - How would you define Influence?

I was wondering how other players think of influence, because the more I think about it the less I understand about it.

I realize it's a useful mechanic to control how quickly an empire expands, having to weigh it's use against several other mechanics such as edicts or various diplomatic actions. And it does a really good job in this respect, mad props to devs for making a mechanic that is literally meant to limit players yet isn't infuriating or frustrating to deal with.

(If you don't want to read my conceptualization of influence before providing your own concept of it, skip to the last paragraph and post before reading on)

But beyond that, conceptually, what is it? Originally I thought, "it's your empires influence over other nations" because creating starbases would understandably require some influence over your neighbors. But then, why does creating starbases cost anything at all if you haven't met any empires yet?

Another thing is if influence was your empires influence over other nations, then why does it cost Influence to use edicts? Why does my neighbor care if I'm running map the stars edict? So I thought, "well, perhaps influence is my government's influence over my empires ability to interact with basically anything." Starbases make sense now, and this way makes factions pretty sensible. If factions like you, you have a lot more influence. If you're an authoritarian government, you have more influence, more control over the government. But what if you're a gestalt consciousness? Then influence doesn't make any sense. You should have complete control over the government, making influence unnecessary.

(If you don't care to read about my final thoughts or ideas of changes, skip to the last paragraph)


So I kind of went back to my first thought; what if influence was your empires political influence over other nations. If this is how it is used, then perhaps creating starbases close to a neighbors borders could cost more influence the closer you build to them, and less if they are a rival (because you don't care about their opinion). No cost at all if you're far from neighbors. A way to counter fast expansion could be that being over admin cap could decrease base influence generation. And edicts could decrease admin cap by % as long as it is active instead of costing influence. Factions could provide unity or decrease unity depending on their opinion of you (or % monthly unity change). Voting for your leader could cost unity instead of influence (several months worth of unity? % of max unity?).

I imagine unity should be more like prestige in EU4, but that's probably a different discussion. Short of it would be that it trends toward 50% and enacting traditions costs unity and decreases your unity generation (so for example you could drop your unity to 35% and move the natural trend to 45% after enacting a tradition). Buildings still increase generation (which naturally increases the trend). Penalties like crime/stability for being too low. Maybe governing ethics attraction and happiness increase for it being high. Unity needs to be a certain minimum % to enact a tradition. So that wasn't so short… Sorry.

Basically, what if influence was used strictly for dealing with galactic affairs and internal affairs cost unity and/or admin?

I'm curious what others think of what influence is (how would you define it conceptually) and if you could change it to better fit your idea of it, what would you change? Do you like it the way it is and prefer not to change it at all?

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