Stellaris

Thoughts on the Nemesis Crisis and Imperium.

stellaris 2 - Thoughts on the Nemesis Crisis and Imperium.
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I've been playing with Nemesis since it released, and across multiple playthroughs, I've destroyed the galaxy, unified it, and defended it against another empire becoming the crisis. And from a story or roleplay perspective. I found this to be extremely underwhelming.

Let us look at how the Crisis plays out if you are not the Crisis empire. The first warning sign you get is the notification of the two new Casus Beli the offending empire gets against you, beyond that, you hear and see nothing until they finally reach their final stage. At which point, if you are a member of either the Imperium or the GC, you are instantly dragged into total war. No build-up, no political maneuvering, and no use of the Espionage system. It feels very flat.

I would thus propose the following ideas to help expand the crisis to make it feel a bit more like it has a story;

– Keep all empires updated:

Whenever the Crisis Empire finishes a special project, broadcast a galaxy-wide message about 'weird things' happening within their society. This would be entirely flavour text, just something to show the empire's descent into extreme evil.

– Don't drag everyone into total war the instant level 5 Crisis is achieved:

I would propose that once the Crisis empire reaches level 5 rather than instantly calling a DoW on everyone and everything, we instead have an event chain fire.

To begin with, on hitting level 5, the empire would be silently granted a prototype star destroyer, rather than two fully operational ones. To progress to becoming the full-on crisis, however, they must destroy at least one star system with the prototype. The prototype would be destroyed in the process and give a galaxy-wide message about a sudden, unexpected supernova in 'X' system. We now move on to the next step;

A new espionage mission opens up on the to-be Crisis empire. One of Routine or harder difficulty, thus increasing the value of setting up a spy network early when you get the first notifications of them becoming a crisis. This mission would, on completion by any nation, reveal to the GC what happened to 'X' system (Alternatively, having a fully built sentry array could skip the need for the infiltration mission). This would then start a short event chain within the GC, where the various member states would argue on a course of action. Every member would be asked, via event, if they wish to declare a crisis, and should more than 50% of its members agree. Then total war is declared. I found it strange how as soon as the Crisis reached level 5, the GC would somehow just know exactly what they were doing and how they were doing it without needing investigation. I mean, look at one of the trailers, it shows an operative being obliterated by a star-eater, which then causes the parent empire to look into it.

But what of the Crisis Empire itself? As mentioned, the prototype was destroyed in the initial use. Leaving them without a star-eater. I would propose a short special project for the Crisis Empire to complete, one that once finished grants the empire the standard 2 fully operational Star-Eaters. It always felt strange to me that an empire can just snap its fingers and figure out how to build star-destroying ships that could survive the process without ever needing to invest some science into it.

– Provide some sort of fanfare for finding and capturing the Engine.

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Currently, if you take over the home system of the level 5 Crisis Empire. The engine remains, and what's more. You can continue its construction. If you somehow had enough dark matter with a star-eater, it is entirely possible to build, finish, and use the engine yourself. Even if you are not the Crisis, thus winning you the game.

My proposal would be to have a few flair events, one being for the first time a ship enters the system with the engine, one for capturing the system it's in, and then one final event; Once the crisis empire is properly defeated, the empire who now owns the Engine should be given an event to destroy it, thus concluding the 'darkest hour' of the galaxy. Destruction of the Engine should, like any other defeated crisis, provide galaxy-wide bonuses to happiness for a few years. After all, you just saved the entire galaxy from destruction.

Now, for the Imperium. This feels, for lack of a better word. Unfinished.

It is laughably easy to establish the Imperium, you don't even need to have overwhelming diplomatic power to do so. A current quirk with how the AI chooses to vote is that if there is a Crisis, either an end-game/Nemesis Crisis, or a manufactured one, they will be far more open to both ending the custodianship and creating the Imperium. (A manufactured crisis is where your vote to declare another empire a crisis.)

Once established, it's laughably easy to maintain unless every empire in the galaxy hates you. This has the side effect of making it very hard to rebel if you don't want to be a part of it. I'm unsure how best to address this, beyond making the AI much, much more trigger happy with its use of espionage to weaken authority.

Empire subjects should also be granted the ability to petition the Emperor for aid. This would provide the chance for the ruler to decide if they want to be a good, or evil ruler. For instance, lets say an empire with negative food income comes to request aid, you can either supply them with a lump sum of food, or tell them to shove it. This would come with obvious opinion modifiers, for both the target and other member states.

Finally, I feel like there ought to be more flavour given to an Imperial Ruler that manages to maintain cohesion to the point of signing the Pax Galactica. This, I feel, should be a sort of 'win condition' for the empire. After all, you've unified the galaxy, wars can no longer be waged on member states with the single exception of fighting for a council seat, and you have set yourself as the ultimate ruler of the galaxy. And what do you get for signing this? Nothing. No message, no fan fanfare, no victory screen. Nothing. One potential alternative would be that once the law passes the Senate, it would trigger the rebellion as one last, final ditch attempt to stop the ruler from cementing themselves as the defacto sovereign. Think Frostpunk when trying to sign either the "New Order" or "New Faith" laws. Should the Rebellion fail, the law is signed and the Emperor 'wins'. Should they succeed, then the empire is dismantled. It would make singing the law an actual choice that one must prepare for, versus an afterthought since it often comes near the end of the game.

Rant over. What are your thoughts?

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