To start with: I really hate the Colossus perk. I never, ever want to use a colossus. Even stupidly late game, I want to use planets, not blow them up, and it's easier to conquer them with cheaply produced armies than quasi-unique massive vessels.
But, I usually get the colossus perk, for the same reason everyone does: Unrestricted wars without dealing with all of the claims/influence/caussus belli stuff. The fact that people are taking a perk to get out of it probably warrants re-examining those systems as a whole, but that's a larger topic. So, I have a perk that I'm getting to let me build a ship that I don't want, because for some reason I'm not clear on, having that ship sitting in a system doing nothing ever gives me a nice wargoal. I think it would be more fun and more thematic to have a perk to give me that wargoal directly, with a little more flavor to go along with it.
So, add a set of "Grand Crusade" ascension perks. Each would represent a total cultural commitment to a particular form of ideological war. They'd be sort of like a radical commitment to an ethic, one step past "Extreme", and a way to become something like a genocidal empire late game.
There would be a lot of options:
- Xenophobic empires would become fanatic purifiers
- Authoritarian Empires would become a slaver-equivalent, with an "Enslave" wargoal
- Spiritualist empires could have an "Exterminate synths" option, or something to reduce planets to "Purer" primitive lifestyles
- Egalitarian empires could get a "Free all slaves" option, or a global-Communist-uprising thing to put everyone into shared burdens++
- Ascended empires (along any of the three, potentially) could get the option of an "Assimilation" wargoal (though bio-ascension might only be for swarms)
Each perk would give you a new wargoal for total war on appropriate factions, plus some thematic bonuses to go along with it – + society research and unity for purging synths, maybe, or bonus slave production, or an empire-wide happiness modifier for freed slaves.
I'd also like each to have an "End Crusade" counter-wargoal, where if you get beaten badly enough (it would be a very expensive goal), you can be forced to abandon the crusade, effectively losing the perk. I doubt that would ever happen to players unless they were losing the game anyway, but it would give a fun option to deal with AI crusades – beat them up until they have to be normal empires again.
This could either replace the option to start off genocidal, or work alongside it. I think they could be roughly balanced – the perk cost and starting late weighed against having diplomatic options in the early game, and maybe having the perk options be stronger/weaker than the starting bonuses. (I'm honestly not sure which.)
Actual Colossi ships would still exist, of course, they'd just no longer be perk-locked. Alternatively Juggernauts could be moved to the same perk, or the perk could change Colossus/Juggernaut limit from empire-unique to just a low cap.
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