I beilieve that there are relics of this game, back from ye olden days of beta's past, that should be removed and cleaned up; design decisions that changed core faction mechanics that shouldn't exist anymore due to how the game has evolved since.
Let me start this with a discussion on scientific. My current belief on them is that they are generally weak. Perhaps I am right, perhaps I'm jsut bad at scientific ever since the debt change, perhaps I'm just not used to them not being OP anymore. This has occured mainly because they lost their double-speed research, they were jsut dominating every game with it , so it was removed. Later it was decided that what was actually OP was the engineering labs themselves, so they were significantly nerfed, but science never got back their science bonus. This means scientists science theme is basically non-existent in my eyes, especially since scientists patents got hurt for no reason. Perhaps it might need to be returned, perhaps it's better to leave it dead. However, this personal opinion still doesn't cloud my judgement in this: Scientists need to lose their black market protection. Why? What gives? I just siad they were weak and I want them to be even weaker? Thing is, how are we supposed to know these days which black markets scientific has protection from? From an outside perspective I can imagine that it seems odd an arbitary that they are protected against some black markets, and not against others.It feels like an out-dated mechanic, made for when EMP and power surge were always there. Scientists were very powerful back then, so it makes sense to put in black market effects that can be used against scientific with full effectiveness. However, this has meant that their bonus lacks any sort of logical consistency when you look at the game as a whole. Indeed, after review I honestly think that certain black markets perhaps were put in primarily to deal wth scientific. It feels the black market has been designed around scientific, either conciously or unconciously. This makes it so that my entire decision of whether or not to found scientific depends on what the black market is, not anythign else. If there's EMP and power surge, the scientists will win, because they have resistance. If new claims and adrenaline boost are on the market, again scientists will do very well. If it's pretty much anything else, they will lose. Why then is the scientific faction the one that relies the most on the black market RNG? Surely the scavengers should be the ones to care about the black market the most, yet I find my decision of foudning scavenger is almost completly dependant on the amount of carbon I could make and if there's enough water on the map to rush to offworlds or not, if there isn't then scavenger can be incredibly strong beccause their offworlds are usually later than everyone elses. Indeed, black market is my third or maybe even fourth consideration with scavenger, whereas it's top priority as scientific. This is in my eyes a serious issue, when an entire gameplay defining factor of a faction is not consistent with them thematically. I suggest we remove this bonus, now for a different reason than I asked for those months ago. This time it's not strength, but just wrong design-wise.
Similiarly, as I mentioned before I ignore the black market when choosing scavenger. This is becaus they usuallyhve less funds early game than other factions, they become unable to make use of their bonus until late-game, unless there is new claims on the market. Why do I declare this a problem now compared to before, in previous beta's when the black market was such a defining factor of the faction? Well, it's because a lot fo the time, you don't want to use the current black market effects much. New claims, EMP's, Power surges, these will always be strong, in a 1 vs 1 particularly you wil always throw one at your opponent when the market is off cooldown, but these days the black market is jsut so inconcsistent. You do not want to spam magnetic storms, slowdown strikes or network virus off cooldown, you want to save those for when they cna be most devestating, and those opportunities nearly always crop up within minutes of eachother so you don't need scavengers bonus. This interacts in a similar way with other factions too, if a strong effect is on the black market, such as a new claim, you can be sure that your not goign to be able to buy it as a scavenger consistently off cooldown. Why? Because the rest of the market will not be so powerful, so everyone will be getting as much of the strong stuff as they can early on. This black market gold rush leaves scavengers behind because they jsut don't have the funs to get in there intime. If there were more strong effects, the scavenger could be guaranteed to have some cheap options to choose from later on that are also worth it to spam off cooldown. They were always later to those initial purchases, but before people would be buying a variety of things, so once you got your income properly established you could rain down the effects. As it is though, you will never have the funds to buy things off cooldown unless they're not worth buying off cooldown. Also, what about spies or holograms? I woudl argue holograms have become the most important black market item in the game now, but they don't have a cooldown. If they had a cooldown then perhaps it would be worth being a scavenger to use the bonus, but these black market effects were deemed too weak with a cooldown, so it was removed. They were buffed in such a way as to ignore the scavenger bonus, and just like scientifics this has made their overall bonus much more inconsistent. Their bonus just does not fit the design of how they are played. I don't believe this bonus needs to exist for them right now. However, at the same time, this was always how they should be themed. Do we want to take that next step to change the factions very roots? I will provide what I believe to be a compromise shortly, but if we keep the black market bonus then we need to make the black market as a whole stronger or more consistent so that it's worth the lower cooldown and allows scavenger to transition back into that sabotaging style and make it work.
Finally, robotics adjacency bonuses. Need I say more? If you have 3 steel mills and use an iron mine to get adjacency, that's +0.2 steel per second. Ever since the adjacency change this bonus has been near-worthless. It's just un-necissary complexity, something for a new player to learn for no reason. This should just be removed or buffed to be good enough for people to consider it. The only saving grace this has is with dry ice. However, the new interactions with power is cool. I really like the idea of being able to improve mines, which you can't always get the adjacency of. If a building has absolutly no adjacency then the new power adjacency will be great, and sometimes a high tile can't get adjacency. It's so good infact that I treat it as a completly seperate mechanic to what robots already have.Thematically speaking robots have become the factiosn that requires no life support, and less aluminium because they're efficient. They are no longer tile efficient, they're now debt and PRIMARY RESOURCE tile efficient. Let''s remove the relics of the old design, and approach things like the power adjacency without the previous design getting in the way.
Now, these things arn't easy thigns to fix, but I have an idea I#'ve been toying around with and bouncing off of some players these last few weeks. Let's focus on the HQ's themselves, not their faction, not their bonus, but the actual building itself. Did you know you can click it? you actually get a menu. Pretty mcuh all it has is an upgrade button, and it seems to just waste space honestly. Let's actually make these buildings useful, let's improve the factions themes by giving each HQ building a unique effect, soemthing you can do by visiting the HQ building itself.
To me, the most obvious one is the scientific HQ. Let's make it a patent lab. Let's make it so that scientists have a patent lab from level 1, something that cannot be attacked by anyone, and something that fits the theme of science very clearly. The patents honestly aren't all that used right now, and the biggest reason for it is that building a patent lab wastes a tile that could be spent doing literally anything else. We're not lowering the cost of the patents themselves, indeed as a scientist you might almost never want to spend your money researching something, or maybe you want to research as market demands change. When you actually have a patent lab up, you can interact and react with the market through the use of patents in very interesting ways, I used to be a personal fan of the level 3 scientific patent lab back in the day,but no one wants to spend the tile when tiles are so important, especially with new claims rarely being on the black market. It also doesn't necissarily lock other peopel out of a patent if they desperatly want it, your HQ is not attackable but it also isn't adrenaline boostable. If 2 players suddenly decide they want a patent at the sane time, well the non-scientific player can still beat them to the patent. Tons of strategies would open up to the scientific player, and I don't think it would make them any more or less over-powered than they are now, because a patent is almost an entire upgrades worth of money early game.
Hopefully with that you can see how mcuh of a benefit making a HQ it's own building can be for a faction, and it can be used to fit themes so eprfectly. Another idea I really like is one for robotic. Have them have the ability to make mules from their HQ. They may or may not have a cooldown, but the idea of robots making other robots to mine primary resource tiles and further being claim efficient fits the robots very well in my eyes. This doesn't mean the black amrket cannot also contain mules, but mules being on a seperate cooldown for robots from the rest of their black market will still make it worthwhile. Heck, if there is a mule cooldown for their HQ's then a robot can go double super-muler! Perhaps it would be interesting as well to have the mules cost resources instead of have a fixed cost, such as costing a certain amount of aluminium and electronics. This means that it might actually become worth it for a robot to go into electronics because they keep driving the price of electronics up by buying mules, compared to how they play now which is only elecronics at level 5 because other things are worth more.
Now, this gets a little more tricky for scavenger and expansive, because these are both much stronger factions that could spiral out of control if we give them too much. The way I'd like scavengers theme to go however means that I would liek their HQ to offer them a second set or maybe even every non-goonsquad black market effect, at a high starting cost (say 10K). This means that instead of saying 'oh this black market is bad, I shoudl go expansive' you might say 'oh this black market is bad, scavenger would be amazing here because in the late game I could sabotage people without fear of repercussion myself, and without the prices being already insane because everyone else has bought everything before I could get to the late game', or you might not because your no where near so verbose. Now, this would provide them a lot of consistency, but RNG would still unfortuantly be there but that's just the nature of the black market. This would not work though if goon squad won't always spawn on the black market, it would jsut be insane if you couldn't defend yourself from a scavengers attacks. Infact, slgiht tangent here, could we please always have goon squad on the black makret no matter what? It's jsut dumb when you can't defend yourself from EMP, makes the game so unfun.
Expansive is the one I struggle with thinking of an idea for though. I think the main reason for that is because Ifeel they more powerful than everyone else right now, and so I'm hesitant to provide them with anything new. Nevertheless, an idea with keeping to the expansive theme would be to provide them with a pleasure dome-esque system. Expansive HQ's are big and use a lto of life support, I would expect there to be a lot of living spaces you could perhaps rent out to the local inhabitants. Perhaps a system similar to the campaign mode, where you can build extra housing within your own HQ. Then when you open up the housing, 'turn them on', they consume life support and give you a fixed income inexchange. This would somewhat fit their theme as the most life-support using faction, and the net effect of it would be your not earning much from the housing, but your effectively having the colony pay for extra life-support, injecting demand for it onto the market. Soem peopel argue scientists are the king of life support, but the faction that benefits most from more life-support demand being put into the market is expansive, this would allow them to use their large amount of claims even more effectively becuase seriously, it's never any fun when all the resources onworld suck and your jsut slowly winning an offworld race. Infact, this potentially could allow them to focus more on onworld goods and less on the offworld rush, which thematically isn't quite what I personally think expansive shoudl be focussed around.
Thanks for all those who read it all, for those who didn't no TL;DR for you!