Mesophon units idea

General discussion for the game Anacreon
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Militia Captain
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Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:32 pm

This post is inspired by a mechanic in the strategy game Crusader Kings II. Crusader Kings II allows players to hire mercenary bands for in-game currency in order to fight their wars. These units replenish themselves and have interesting unit composition but have both a purchase cost and a continuous currency maintenance cost.

Right now, players can buy fleets from Mesophon. Once purchased these fleets behave just like regular units and have no further cost beyond their AE cost. They available to all empires but T&E empires are best positioned to use them since these empires have a continuous income of AEs that is mostly hands-off. Inconveniently, T&E empires relying on Mesophon fleets have to constantly re-purchase them when needed and the interface for buying units is very clunky. ("Normal" empires relying on built fleets do not have an equivalent mechanic where they must constantly perform an action to maintain fleet strength. This is because normal empires are constantly building ships at yards).

I propose a revised or supplementary system for purchasing mercenaries through Mesophon.
  • Mercenary fleets get continuous reinforcements (possibly only when orbiting a friendly world? only once a period?). They only reinforce enough to reach the size that they were at the time of purchase.
  • Reinforcing imposes a continuous AEs cost exactly equivalent to the converted AEs cost of the units that they reinforce with.
  • Mercenary units have unique unit types. Mercenary units have higher speed and attrition than high-TL normal units. There is only one tier of mercenary units, unlike the two-tier system for normal units. Mercenary units have comparable combat strength to high-TL normal units or are slightly better.
  • Mercenary fleets can be merged with one another. They cannot transfer units between one another (they have a fixed cap size that the game remembers) and they cannot transfer to or from normal fleets or to planets, except for cargo and infantry.
  • If a player runs out of AEs to support mercenary fleets (let's say they hired more mercenaries than their AEs income can support, or they have no AEs income), their mercenary fleets stop reinforcing. The fleets do not disappear right away, but mercenary units have higher than normal attrition so they will disappear sooner rather than later. The player gets a warning if their income exceeds their expenses and another warning when they run out of AEs. The player cannot go into debt to support or purchase mercenaries.
  • If a mercenary fleet is completely lost to attrition or combat, it gets destroyed and a new fleet must be purchased.
  • Mercenary fleets can be manually dismissed by player decision. This normally causes the fleet to disappear (along with with all carried cargo & infantry if there are transports).
  • Mercenary transports have two tiers, a basic transport that has high capacity and an infantry transport that comes with special mercenary infantry that regenerates and cannot be transferred. Mercenary infantry has a 1:1 reciprocal relationship with its transports; when the infantry dies in battle the corresponding transport unit is destroyed (maybe the transport can be both a space AND a ground unit? Is that possible?. When the mercenary transport fleet reinforces, it does so by generating new transports containing infantry.
  • It would be nice to also be able to hire mercenary infantry units that are not tied to transports, but I am not sure how this could be accomplished easily.
  • Mesophon worlds get jumpbeacons.
  • A mechanic for preserving Mesophon without implementing true AI behavior: If a mercenary fleet is manually dismissed AND it contains mercenary infantry AND the number of Mesophon worlds is below a certain threshold, the mercenary fleet will change sovereign to Mesophon, gain a small number of gunships (so that it can move at gunship speed if it is all jumpships), path to a random nearby independent world, and attempt to invade it. If the fleet fails it disappears. If it succeeds, it disappears and the world becomes a new Mesophon trade hub. This will keep Mesophon in the game longer and potentially allow T&E empires to seed Mesophon hubs in locations they want to expand into.
  • A mechanic for making Mesophon a retaliatory actor without implementing true AI behavior: If a Mesophon world has been recently invaded by a player AND there is a Mesophon hub within jumpship range of the invaded world, any dismissed mercenary fleet paths to and attacks the invaded world. If the attack is successful, the hub dispatches a bunch of transports and infantry which invade. If the invasion is successful, all Mesophon fleets at the planet transfer down and the planet becomes a new trade hub. Otherwise all Mesophon fleets at the planet disappear.
The advantages of mercenary mechanics would be:
  • T&E empires get reinforcing fleets, so they can maintain strength while AFK
  • T&E empires do not need to perform a bunch of tedious purchasing every time they play
  • Maintaining mercenaries can serve as a substitute for AEs attrition.
  • Players in otherwise powerful doctrines like L&O have to be more selective about their use of Mesophon units since they do not get continuous AE income to support them.
  • Mesophon gets a somewhat unpredictable mechanic for self-preservation without permanently getting control of specific planets - it will feel like they Mesophon is "resisting" invasion, but determined players will still be able to repulse their attacks.
  • T&E players are not permanently broken if they build around a Mesophon hub that gets conquered, since there is a chance that dismissed mercenary fleets will produce new hubs.
  • More unit types could mean more interesting gameplay and strategic options
The disadvantages of mercenary mechanics would be:
  • The game would need to track mercenary fleet cap sizes for each unit type. This mechanic is not needed for normal fleets.
  • More unit types = More cognitive load on players to identify merc units and and formulate appropriate strategies relating to them
  • The calculations required to track reinforcements for mercenary fleets might put additional load on the server, although they shouldn't be much more intensive than calculating attrition and there should be numerically relatively few mercenary fleets compared to all other unit and resource groups.
  • The relationship between mercenary infantry and transports might be difficult to program.

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