Ultra and ISF Comparison

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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Xveers on Sun 30 Nov 2014 21:24

szurkey wrote:No it won't. It will slow down the pace of the game a bit. In 2nd and 3rd edition scenario products (I just love Gorm Khanite War), and the novels, most Desolate and Extreme planets & moons are NOT colonized. Why should it be economically viable in Ultra to colonize most of them?


From the (admittedly small) sample of data I personally have, most Desolate and Extreme planets/moons are not colonized either. The rationale for both being that their actual returns appear to be substantially lower than better sites, and compared to IU, colonies can't be liquidated semi-instantly for a raw cash infusion. When Desolate/Extremes are colonized, it's either due to game plot (story dictates they need a colony here, or racial policies say there's got to be a colony in every system claimed if possible), there's nowhere else to colonize and the player wants to put down population instead of IU or ship hulls (and even then, this tends to extend to Desolates that are Very Rich, or Rich at the least), or a player is deciding to use free shipping to have spare PTU moved from a planet to an in-system habitable to colonize on the cheap, which from what I've seen is somewhat rare.

szurkey wrote:And I completely forgot to say what it is. The only simple solution to reduce or eliminate Starfire Ultra's exploding economy problem is (drum roll, please): CORRUPTION!

It's not my idea, but maybe I played GDW's Imperium too many times with that guy. The Imperium player could so crush the Terrans if his economy was even half as efficient. He's probably right. A non-linear equation so that larger your economy gets, the smaller the percentage of income you get.


Which would work, but then the general player base will also want something to be able to manage corruption at some level, otherwise they game can get to a point of "well I can play it, but eventually my empire will get too corrupt and I'd have to run to stay still". The mechanics to deal with that are varied depending on game concept and style, but it adds yet another layer of difficulty and complexity that I'm not personally sure will be terribly fun.

Admittedly Starfire suffers from the "Germans in '44'" syndrome in certain cases. A single system NPR can't hope to survive against a massive multi-system empire, assuming the multi-system empire wants them dead, but from personal experience, it can be a VERY brutal slog and political considerations could force an end to the war. There is a point where a larger empire can, should, and ought to be able to prevail against a smaller one, if by sheer force of income.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Cralis on Mon 01 Dec 2014 00:40

szurkey wrote:And I completely forgot to say what it is. The only simple solution to reduce or eliminate Starfire Ultra's exploding economy problem is (drum roll, please): CORRUPTION!


Actually, this was actually what I was referring to in the Civ III and Civ IV references. It is actually what gave me the idea I'm currently working on with the infrastructure stuff. The only issue with the Civ versions is that once you build a courthouse, most corruption goes away and you're back to normal.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Sat 27 Dec 2014 19:57

Xveers wrote:From the (admittedly small) sample of data I personally have, most Desolate and Extreme planets/moons are not colonized either. The rationale for both being that their actual returns appear to be substantially lower than better sites, and compared to IU, colonies can't be liquidated semi-instantly for a raw cash infusion. When Desolate/Extremes are colonized, it's either due to game plot (story dictates they need a colony here, or racial policies say there's got to be a colony in every system claimed if possible), there's nowhere else to colonize and the player wants to put down population instead of IU or ship hulls (and even then, this tends to extend to Desolates that are Very Rich, or Rich at the least), or a player is deciding to use free shipping to have spare PTU moved from a planet to an in-system habitable to colonize on the cheap, which from what I've seen is somewhat rare.


While that is true over 12 turns, it is NOT true over 120 turns. Why? PU Growth. Consider emplacing just 10 PU on every single Extreme and Desolate planet. In 120 turn, assuming EL PU Bonus every 24 turns of 20%, you will have every single planet or moon with a max of 20 or 60 PU maxed out in PU, and the planets with 180 max PU will have 67.6 PU on them. That means your ROI is 2x, 6x, or 6.76x times what it was when you first colonized the planet or moon. IU's are NOT competitive long term.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Sat 27 Dec 2014 20:05

Xveers wrote:Admittedly Starfire suffers from the "Germans in '44'" syndrome in certain cases. A single system NPR can't hope to survive against a massive multi-system empire, assuming the multi-system empire wants them dead, but from personal experience, it can be a VERY brutal slog and political considerations could force an end to the war. There is a point where a larger empire can, should, and ought to be able to prevail against a smaller one, if by sheer force of income.


Try playing on an open space map where an enemy is not constrained by warp lines. While it is possible for a multi-system player species to mass sufficient forces to crush any single system NPS (non-player species), doing so opens up your frontiers. Coupled with the completely under developed logistics tale for fleet in StarFire, and you are asking for someone to take out your home system while you take out the NPR.

Playing on an open map is very frightful because of how exposed you are from every direction. I ended up going with nodal defense fleets in critical systems and pickets all over the place (actually couriers to let me know I've been attacked/invaded). My colonization policy was to grab the habitables (and their moons), if any, otherwise colonize the best rock in each system, just to stake a claim to the system. Only the home system was fully colonized. Unfortunately the campaign collapsed before I got into a major war.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Cralis on Sun 28 Dec 2014 14:21

szurkey wrote:Try playing on an open space map where an enemy is not constrained by warp lines. While it is possible for a multi-system player species to mass sufficient forces to crush any single system NPS (non-player species), doing so opens up your frontiers. Coupled with the completely under developed logistics tale for fleet in StarFire, and you are asking for someone to take out your home system while you take out the NPR.


The scary part is that they don't have to actually visit any systems. They can simply bypass everything and hit whatever target they want at any time. The biggest problem with open space maps is that the Starfire rules don't have interstellar sensor distances so you can't see anyone coming.

If I was going to do an open space map, I'd probably allow for populations to build massive sensor stations with the ability to detect into deep space. You could allow Yc to do it, but if so I'd have the population sensors be much longer ranged.

Playing on an open map is very frightful because of how exposed you are from every direction. I ended up going with nodal defense fleets in critical systems and pickets all over the place (actually couriers to let me know I've been attacked/invaded). My colonization policy was to grab the habitables (and their moons), if any, otherwise colonize the best rock in each system, just to stake a claim to the system. Only the home system was fully colonized. Unfortunately the campaign collapsed before I got into a major war.


Oh interesting. Yeah pickets become MUCH more important... but I didn't think it would affect colonization EXCEPT that you could race ahead to your scouts to colonize prime territory without needing to go through all the systems in-between.

Man, now that I'm thinking about this, we could make an entire topic and fill it full of the differences in the WP-restricted-map and open-map and the things you'd want to change in the rules to make it work well...
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby darbycmcd on Sun 28 Dec 2014 17:16

I am doing a solo run that is Traveller 2300 like, in that the map is open, but ships have a max jump range. I increase it a bit for each generation of engine. It opens things up, and the map terrain changes a bit over time, but there is still a sense of 'front line'. I am still sort of not happy with how I deal with entering and exiting systems, I am using the T2300 system, ships can jump in/out as long as they are more than 100 diameters from a system body.... not sure I like it though....
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby Cralis on Sun 28 Dec 2014 17:32

We thought about doing a "jump system" once. But we were going to have them appear within 1 sH of a radian, at 360 LM from the star.

We never figured out a clean way to handle binary systems though. I was thinking that if the binary was between you and the primary, you'd jump to it instead. Someone else (can't remember who) always wanted it to jump to the primary star since the basic rules always have WP only around the primary.

The alternative was to jump to 1 sH of the star, but that seemed like it would make habitable planets too vulnerable.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby procyon on Mon 29 Dec 2014 03:37

Cralis wrote:We thought about doing a "jump system" once.


That is pretty much what we did with Nemesis. It was far from a standard 'jump' system though as we had rules for time lost in 'transit' by the distance between stars, distance you had to be from a star to perform a jump, distance and bearing you would end up from when you arrived from a jump (random essentially, but ships in a datalink could 'plot & arrive' together), etc.

It made for an interesting game, as the logistics became a real issue for the players to deal and cope with.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Sat 07 Mar 2015 16:37

Cralis wrote:Eventually everything is profitable, it's a matter of how long until it is profitable. For example, an extreme body in the 2-4 stmp range took something like 40-50 turns before it turned an actual profit. It sounds more like you're advocating that some bodies should never be profitable...


Actually, what I looking at doing is to make it so that rare minerals (Dilithium Crystals, Quantium 40, Unobtainium) can be common enough because the bodies they are found on are otherwise unprofitable to colonize.
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Re: Ultra and ISF Comparison

Postby szurkey on Sat 07 Mar 2015 17:03

Cralis wrote:When I played ULTRA, we eventually reduced the trade by 50%. That's one of the areas we are trying to fix in SSF with Trade Hubs.


Actually, you may have just given me the key to fixing trade! Rather than just reduce it by 50%, why don't we continue to reduce it for each additional trade partner you have. My original idea was to us the following formula: Trade Income / (1 + Number of Trade Partners)

But is is probably too powerful. I then looked at applying it recursively down one additional level: Trade Income * 1 /(1 + ((1 + Number of Trade Partners) / 2) If you simplify the formula, you get: Trade Income * 2 / (3 + Number of Trade Partners)

Let n := Number of Trade Partners
n=1 --> Trade Income * 0.5
n=2 --> Trade Income * 0.4
n=3 --> Trade Income * 0.333
n=4 --> Trade Income * 0.286
n=5 --> Trade Income * 0.25
n=6 --> Trade Income * 0.222
n=7 --> Trade Income * 0.20
n=8 --> Trade Income * 0.182

This may not be the perfect solution, but it does point the way to solving the problem of trade hubs with a simply formula. Another option is Trade Income * m^(n+a) where 0 < m < 1, n the number of trade partners, and a some constant (positive or negative). The bottom line is to have each additional partner in the trade hub decreases percentage of Trade Income received.

Let m = 0.8, a = 1
n=1 --> Trade Income * 0.64
n=2 --> Trade Income * 0.512
n=3 --> Trade Income * 0.4096
n=4 --> Trade Income * 0.3277
n=5 --> Trade Income * 0.2621
n=6 --> Trade Income * 0.2097
n=7 --> Trade Income * 0.1678
n=8 --> Trade Income * 0.1342
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