Stellaris

War is the weakest aspect of this game and is dragging it down

stellaris 4 - War is the weakest aspect of this game and is dragging it down
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There are currently 2 problems with the wars in stellaris:

  1. There are basically only 2 viable strategies, making all wars feel identical as well as boring
  2. There aren't enough war goals to make it worth going through the tediousness

Currently, all wars are fought and won in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Chase down the enemy fleet across half the damned galaxy with your single doom stack, while capturing the planets you come across (tedious)
  2. Hold a fortified choke point at the edge of your empire, waiting for the larger enemy fleet to attack in the hopes that you'll hurt them enough to make them accept a status quo (boring)

Rarely is there any point to splitting your fleets into multiple groups with different objectives, unless its to capture that 1 annoying starbase the AI built in the middle of nowhere. When fighting against a foe with a stronger fleet, you can't really try to fight any type of war of attrition, since the current War Exhaustion system seriously discourages playing the long game.

In EU4, you have a bunch of different military strategies you can use. You can wage economic war against your opponent by blockading his coast if you have a larger navy, or, if he has superior tech/a larger army, fight as economically as possible in the hopes that your opponent reaches bankruptcy before you. Alternatively, if you have a smaller army than your opponent, you can force your opponent to siege down a line of forts while keeping your army in reserve, attacking whenever your enemy separates his forces.

You see none of this strategy in Stellaris. While I understand that war in space is fundamentally different than 17th century war, you should have some way of attacking your enemy's economy that doesn't require you capturing each planet one by one (some equivalent to blockading trade routes, maybe). Further more, wars shouldn't just be 1 or 2 doomstack vs doomstack battles; I should have a strategic incentive to spread out my forces and attack or protect different targets of importance. Currently, the only targets worth going for are the war objective and the capital planet, there are no targets of strategic importance that could cripple your enemy. Heck, sometimes the enemy's capital doesn't even seem to be worth capturing, as the enemy's ability to continue the fight isn't even diminished when you do.

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What we need are a few valuable systems whose control is critical to an empire's ability to continue the fight; say an important shipyard whose capture would cripple it's ability to repair it's ships, or an important trade node without which it would be disconnected from the galactic market. Or heck, how about this? The resources each colony produces/consumes won't be delivered if it's hyperlane connection to the capital is cut, making it so that all those worthless "filler" systems within your space have strategic importance.

Of course, in order to be able to fight economic wars, the War Exhaustion system would need to be fixed – that hard cap on how long you can stretch out the war would make them too short for any economic impacts to be felt. The War Exhaustion should be more flexible; in EU4, you can spend some bird mana in order to reduce the impacts of WE. You are still penalized for stretching out the war, but at least the player is given the ability to keep fighting for some time. Similarly, WE in stellaris should lead to unrest on your planets and reduced production, with the players having the ability to temporarily reduce the effects by spending Political Influence.

Then, there's the whole matter of there not being enough war goals to make wars worth it past the early game. Once you reach mid game, the claim CBs all become worthless – why would I waste my time fighting for a few systems that will give me a couple of minerals, or trying to capture a trash AI planet? Unless it's to capture an important choke point or a system containing a megastructure, there's no point. Subjugation CB? The AI needs to be so much weaker than you for it to be valid that it wouldn't even be a worthwhile vassal. Truly, the only worthwhile CBs are extermination, total war, or establish hegemony.

As a result of all of the above, I'll find myself declaring one or two wars in the early game, then avoiding them as much as possible until a crisis (those are actually fun because you do have the option, and are in fact forced, to fights wars of attrition). I'll spend all game upgrading and maintaining my fleet, for the sole purpose of discouraging attack from the AI and preparing for the end game.

I'm curious to know what the rest of the Stellaris community thinks, please feel free to write down your comments, guys

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