Version: 0.71 Alpha
Victory: Turn 250 (Prestige)
Settings: Default (Mostly), 12 AI opponents
Experience: Have played many 4X games over the years, new to the GalCiv series
First of all, I would like to start off by thanking Stardock for their current work thus far on the game. I understand it is early access and I will be listing feedback including critiques however that is only in the interest of (hopefully) helping to see it along to a successful launch, thank you.
1) Planetary Management:
Overall, I enjoy the gameplay puzzle of finding optimal placement for districts and improvements, but I have personally run into some issues. As it stands, Inputs mostly come from the raw yield of the planet itself + colonies and a few other (rarer) factors, with buildable structures mostly contributing percentile bonuses. This is understandable since you do not place your cities like in other 4X titles but rather they begin in space and you do not wish to detract from their strategic value. The problem is I have often found that I run out of useful things to construct by the midgame in many worlds since the planets are already somewhat specialized by these base inputs. You will build to either maximize the good tiles on the planet or to benefit the higher Input values but I find there is often too little to actually build that is worth your time on a majority of planets. One suggestion is maybe consider allowing the Colony Unique (One per planet) improvements to be buildable on top of districts since it feels somewhat anti-synergistic to build up districts, upgrade them, but then destroy some to replace them with far more efficient improvements. I think the Player and Galactic Achievements are fine as is since you will not place nearly as many in comparison.
2) Manufacturing and Shipyards
Somewhat related to the previous point, specializing in Manufacturing has a strange effect to me. I want my planets to have a solid industrial base, even if they are not truly focused on it just so it can build up its initial infrastructure. However, the incentive to go beyond that is a bit awkward for me. I enjoy that some focusing on the yields comes at the cost of others (like Pollution hurting Food and the Approval vs Tax rate), however due to this Manufacturing has a weird relationship when thinking about specialization. Manufacturing + Wealth can seem somewhat redundant since you could build the structures with high production or buy them with much wealth, yet Approval which directly affects Manufacturing conflicts with you getting a bigger payoff from wealth which wants a higher tax setting. Food + Manufacturing is anti-synergistic due to pollution (maybe offer more clean production solutions in the tech tree? Maybe at the cost of not being as efficient or having more maintenance costs) Manufacturing + Research seems the best partners (Inputs permitting). Shipyards getting 100% of the sponsor worlds Manufacturing also seems strange to me. Once again, one reason why I might feel I am running out of things to build is because units are produced in their own separate queue, but still receive 100% of the production at the same time. I suggest a simple toggleable setting to focus Manufacturing either mostly toward the shipyard, mostly towards the planet or balanced in between akin to the Tax Rate but on a Planetary level rather than Empire-wide one. Other suggestions I have are to add more projects and even the ability to produce certain resources, like the shipyard currently can if there are no other structures you need to build on a developed world.
3) Victory Conditions
Again, this is my first time playing the franchise and forgive my ignorance if there is some aspect I am not understanding but the Prestige and Influence based victory conditions seem to be flawed to me. First of all, one thing I want to make the devs aware of is the fact that the Wealth score for prestige changes based how much you are taxing. It seems extremely overtuned because I was around 35% but then set my taxes to Max and it triggered the Prestige victory screen. I personally think that the amount you are choosing to tax really should not factor into the actual victory points accumulated for the prestige victory, it should simply be the GDP, because the actual amount you are choosing to tax is arbitrary and can be changed at any time, also from an abstract perspective it makes no sense, you are rewarding the player not based on how much wealth exists in the empire due to their investment in building the districts, improvements, trade etc but simply the taxing of it. Even if you think the tax rate should contribute, it should probably not go from 35% to 100% within the pressing of the button. Maybe if you are basing it on the actual wealth gained from the taxes then you would be indirectly rewarding the player keeping a higher tax rate but just the act of playing the entire game with Low tax and then pressing max and winning the game at the end seems strange. I also think Influence is a strange victory condition that based on what’s required seems like it works differently in practice than what I believe the devs intend. Control of 75% of the galaxy and being at peace with all civilizations seems like something that is only going to be achievable if you are essentially doing a conquest victory but peace out the essentially the final or final few factions. Putting aside being far ahead and kind of having “won” the game already with such a massive discrepancy in resources compared to who is left, all that is required to prevent this win condition from triggering is simply declaring and staying in a state of war with the player. Which will just require the Influence victory attempting player to “finish the job.” This seems the most rational choice left for the remaining player(s) since the alternative is simply to surrender and they win regardless. I understand you can expand through influence and push borders around and such but just going toward a conquest victory and eliminating players is accomplishing the same thing and sometimes you will just win an influence victory instead in some situations. If the AI (or a human) is just completely passive and let you overwhelm their borders and never fight that would be the only way the Influence victory would end up playing out differently than how I am currently understanding it. Also, it seems like with 75% of the galaxy under your control a Prestige victory also seems like its going to often trigger far before anything else in most cases.
Thank you again, and I look forward to the future builds and eventually final release of the game.