As all of you know, the bonus system is a relatively new addition to Earth Empires. I feel that we’re coming from a pretty good starting point, but there’s still a lot of balancing work to be done to make bonuses more relevant across different servers and strategies. The changes made a few days ago, mostly on our side, are a big first step in that process. These changes are already live on the Alliance server and will filter down to each server as it restarts, excluding Express.
Alliance players have hopefully noticed by now that all permanent bonuses, except GDI, cost 8 points and the bonus effects have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a decimal point. For those curious about the rounding, we did traditional rounding except if it was judged that rounding would make that permanent bonus infeasible. For example, going from 3.3% to 3.0% is a relative reduction of nearly 10%, so that category may be rounded up instead of down. Players can still exchange bonus points for extra turns at the rate of 2:1, but “boom” events now require 6 points per pair. The Fascist government gets an additional 15% effectiveness for permanent bonuses. For example, if a monarchy spends enough points to get +50% defense, then a fascist would get +57% defense for the same cost. However, the added effects will be lost if the player switches governments from Fascism.
One of the most significant changes was reducing the effectiveness of the decay bonus. For now, we feel that the bonus decay mechanic is interesting enough to continue offering, but only as a reduced measure. Here is our rationale:
1) On the Alliance server, top farmers and cashers generally don’t have large stockpiles during the midset bushel peak. This means that out of the top ten capable countries of the server, only techers will be able to take advantage of the decay bonus. Some of the networths achieved by techers that used the decay bonus are almost at the point of being unreachable for other strategies. This was an obvious balance defect that demanded correction.
2) Since removing the 2 billion money limit, we have consciously tried to maintain the midset Alliance food peak. When a casher stocks a few hundred million bushels and gets the decay bonus, there is a relatively small drop in demand and a relatively small increase in supply. Instead of stocking bushels during the peak, the casher can sell the bushels previously stocked for a profit. The effect is even more pronounced for grabbing techers: a grabbing techer can stock hundreds of millions of bushels, sell them all, and then continue to tech. Clearly there will be a large decrease in demand and a very large increase in supply. If we try to limit the countries that take full advantage of decay to farmers, specifically Fascist farmers, the only effect on the market will be relative small increases in supply. It may also open up another avenue for Fascist oilers, though it’s admittedly difficult to see that working in practice.
3) Countries irresponsibly using the decay bonus can lead to easy access to money and land for griefers, which is something that we want to limit. In an alliance game, one country should not be able to easily ruin many.
One final change was adding spent bonus points to the list of resources damaged by government switches. This should not have a large effect. The main intention is to make strategies like demo techer with decay->fascist techer more difficult to run.
As stated before, the internal changes made to the bonus system allow for easy tweaking of effects and server specific customization. It is now relatively straightforward for us to change which permanent bonuses are offered on each server. For example, the decay bonus probably isn’t very useful on servers without clans. Additionally, the building costs bonus probably isn’t very useful on short servers like Tourney or Express. We are currently seeking ideas for server-specific bonuses. For bonuses that are offered on multiple servers, the effectiveness will automatically vary depending on the length and the number of turns per round of each server.
We are also open to adding more bonuses that are focused on warring, but players should understand that bonuses of that type are difficult to implement and balance. A bonus that is useful for early wars would very likely be too powerful for midset or late wars. In addition, the current political situations make lopsided wars more common than fair wars. That makes adding warring bonuses, in my view, almost pointless.
One final issue that needs to be addressed is blog comments. It’s fine if almost no one wants to comment on blogs, but if that is the case, we are just going to disable commenting to avoid the arduous process of deleting the thousands of attempted spam comments. If you feel that commenting should remain open, you have a week to make your case by responding to this post.