0.81 Yor Playthrough ~300 turns
Galaxy settings: medium everything for the most part; 3 sectors; all AI’s added; “very slow” pacing & tech pacing.
So I thought I’d give the Yor a spin, since this is a faction that I’ve played a lot of during the GC3 era, I wanted to see how they felt to play vs how I recall..
All and all they play pretty well and have no glaring issues/problems. One of the most annoying things about the Yor in GC3 is that if you didn’t happen to find the appropriate resources in the early game you would just be completely screwed because you just wouldn’t be able to build pop. I like that this shortcoming has been addressed with the addition of domestic Durantium production on Iconia. The industrial bonuses associated with the Durantium cloud/mine/whatever are a nice bonus also, and fitting with the Yor thematically (production focused). Additionally, being able to build pop without special tech makes sense, to head off any tech card RNG vicissitudes (I actually cannot recall if tech was required in GC3, I believe it was).
I started near the edge of the map along with 4 AI’s in my sector: Arcean, Navigators (middle), Iconians, and Torians; with a starlane leading to a particularly dangerous sector on my doorstep (Krynn, Drath, Iridium Corporates, Terrans, Drengin – yikes!). Somewhere between turn 150-200 the Yor really started hitting their stride with their #1 production rank relentlessly starting to pull their other ranks toward #1 as well (by turn 300 I believe they were all #1 except for one); and it was at this point that the Yor had a huge military backbone (intimidating any aggression) and were able to start grinding out opportunistic low-risk plays to build out their foothold. They are a great faction for a conservative low-risk/high-reward playstyle (which fits my personal playstyle well). The game was more or less over by turn 250, and I was just spinning the turns, exploring the game, and looking for bugs – rather than attempting to win the game.
My impressions are generally that the Yor are fine, and I like them, but they don’t really have a good “hook” that make them particularly compelling, or that makes a player say: “oh man, this is a Yor-only thing and it makes me feel bad-ass to play,” or “oh, I’m starting next to the Yor, I need to be concerned because they are super scary in XYZ manner.”
To analyze this, I guess I’ll break down what the Yor lost from their transition to GC4 from GC3:
Movement: in GC3 base movement early game was much lower than GC4, so the fact that the Yor received a special ‘Mechanic’ citizen choice (+1 move) was really special. Especially if one selected the movement racial traits at game start (ie +2 move) a player would ALWAYS feel like they had great ships from game start, to game finish. Yor fleets could use this advantage in fleet design (I always skipped engines in lieu of combat stats – but you could also just make supid-fast ships). Thematically, this makes sense obviously – robots can probably pull a lot of G’s in acceleration/deceleration… They don’t get crushed to a bloody pulp, duh…
Income: One often overlooked perk of playing Yor in GC3 was their +99 Approval bonus. Robots are never unhappy. A player could always run the highest tax regime possible and largely skip the early game doldrums of break-even budgeting mediocrity, and by late game could have stellar books. I recall late games of 2000+ income/turn without any planetary income focused building at all. A player could just invest solely on production & research, and the money just didn’t matter. This is not the case in GC4, the only income benefit that the Yor received (as far as I could tell anyway) is that they have a very high pollution tolerance, and so the “Strip Mine” planetary action = free money. But it’s not nearly as cool and your planet(s) must be entirely built-out before this is useful, obviously.
Production: The Yor have always seemed to be an industrious species. The productive feature I actually liked the best in GC3 was actually removed during one of the balance iterations. But it was the removal of the pop cap on planets for the Yor. They were the ultimate build-tall civ. Production was still advantaged by the ability to ignore building: wealth, agriculture and approval (one now has to build approval in GC4), but the complete lack of pop cap made them a formidable late game force to be reckoned with, and this made them unique – especially before the pop cap was re-instated..
Discussion: So here’s my take. The Yor don’t feel special in a way that does them justice. They are the only Synth race, but being a Synthetic organism basically doesn’t really do much. The main difference at face value is that they get no organic pop growth. But having the opportunity cost of building pop out of production really doesn’t seem like a bonus, rather than a penalty. Other civs get “free” pop, the Yor have to slow down planetary build out just to attempt to keep up (which they really don’t, they are late game), it’s hardly something that makes them cool to play. Potentially later game they can pump out transports faster than other factions, but that’s really situational...
The cool things they had in GC3 are absent in 4: they no longer get any kind of cool ship/fleet ability like they had with the potentially awesome movement bonuses from GC3; the re-imposition of approval constraints on the Yor robots hard-nerfs their income (and also industrial output, if they aren’t happy) and imposes not only low taxes, but sacrificing build tiles for approval structures; and again, their production is nerfed by both approval and pop-cap constraints.
There is also the issue of their Synth-specific weapons bonuses being uninspiring, but I feel like that falls into the general weapons-balancing discussion taking place elsewhere, so I’ll set this aside. I will comment though that thematically at least, robots should do better than others at long & drawn out wars of attrition. Robots never get tired of fighting, right?
My (tentative) Proposals: Go big or go home, right?
Remove pop caps - either no cap, or a soft cap. I’d proposed (in the distant past) increasing build pop cost above cap something like 2x cost (ie durantium) for up to 2x cap, 4x cost for up to 3x cap, 8x for 4x, etc. Or have it tech-gated. Or just remove it entirely. In GC3 pop was the base unit of production, whereas in GC4 pop is only a % modifier to output – thus sky-high pop in GC3 meant insane base production that was almost impossible to balance. But the % citizen modifiers in GC4 make this much less problematic. The cap should be abolished one way or another.
Approval should just be pegged at 100%. The 1984 movie The Terminator is one of my favorite movies. I don’t watch it because I want to see Arnold whining about his lame girl-problems or whatever, I watch it because he’s a cyborg and he’s a badass. The Yor are supposed to be badasses too. Approval does not compute. There’s a great quote in this movie where Kyle Reese is describing the Terminator to Sarah Connor: “that Terminator is out there: it can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with – it doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear…” That’s supposed to be the Yor, right?
Ship movement is a lost cause with base movement now much higher in GC4 than GC3 (which I think makes the game more fun!). But the Yor could get another trait that makes them scary in space instead – after all, you’re fighting murderbots. I haven’t really thought about this, but it could just be something like Synths get: “Relentless Adversaries” : Synth fleets get one extra free round at the beginning of combat. Or they could get insane fleet regen, etc... I'm open on this, but a ship filled with vacuum being operated by robots seems like it should be scarier than fighting air-breathers... right?
As with ALL of my posts, I’d LOVE to hear other peoples’ thoughts on the above. GC4 is coming along GREAT, and I wouldn’t be playing/writing if I didn’t find it enjoyable.