The effects of an empire collapsing would probably extend further than just planets reverting to autonomy. The Fallen Worlds scenario is all about the aftermath of an empire collapse, after all, and I think extending the consequences of these events might make for some additional levels of gameplay.
For example, tech disasters could have far-reaching consequences. If an empire that collapses through a tech disaster (like a nanotech outbreak) can continue to spread after the empire is destroyed, then other players in the game might try to force the empire to build countermeasures, or cull candidate worlds before they become an issue.
After an empire collapses and trade routes are disrupted, worlds dependent on trade could be conquered by another empire sending aid to the planet. In this case, the population would welcome the new empire and their aid, so this should be easier than conquering through force. It also allows for smaller empires to participate in the post-collapse land-grab.
It might also be interesting to see seceding groups of worlds after a collapse. In the case of a functional jumpship yard cluster, the cluster could create their own Trade and Enterprise empire and function like the Mesophons, selling appropriate ships - this might be one way to make sure mature games don't run out of traders. Similarly, other high-value worlds could form their own small empires.
These would have to be balanced to make sure they can't be abused; building a giant time-bomb empire to take out the galaxy with a nano plague should be discouraged somehow. But, I think stuff along these lines would be great for deeper gameplay.
General discussion for the game Anacreon
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