Current State (Release 1.0.2)
Fertile +25% Population Growth
Exploitive Free Terra-Former at Start
Industrious +50% Production from Workers
Reckless +50% Pollution
Bargainers -25% Purchase cost (does not reduce Production time)
Wealthy +120 Starting Credits
Economic +25% Credits from Taxation
Extravagant -2 Habitat
Frugal +2 Habitat
Sympathetic -50% Alien Aggression
Ecologic +1 Mineral from Forests and Fungus tiles
Peaceful -25% Attacker Penalty
Resourceful -25% Refit Cost
Curious Adaptive Dynamics Tech and free Seeker ATV at start
Scientific +50% Research bonus from Scientists
Free-Spirited -2 Morale
Resilient +100% Heal rate
Well-Trained Field Training Tech and 3 Free Field Training Operations
Militaristic +25% Overall Combat Power
High-Paid +50% Unit Upkeep cost
Zealous +2 Morale
Aggressive +25% Attacker Power
Fanatic -25% Military Production time (does not reduce Purchase price)
Conservative -33% Research Penalty
There is a fairly clear pattern to the racial modfications in 5 of the 6 factions. Generally speaking, everyone gets 1.) A miscellaneous advantage that cuts across game phases, 2.) an Early Game freebie, oftentimes a free unit, 3.) a Late Game "victory leverage" condition, often consisting of a scaling percentage modifier and 4.) one disadvantage.
Percentage bonuses to the basic pillars of the game (Production, Research, Taxation, etc.) are huge advantages that scale up through the end game, and for the factions that get them these are not insignificant numbers at all. As others have pointed out, Togra can be impossible to outrace to the Research victory if they are able to sustain themselves through the midgame. Likewise Noxium with the Economic victory. Notice I'm not saying this is strictly bad, but it is worth identifying clearly to help our discussion.
Free Technology (which comes as a bundle deal with the Imperium and Togra early game freebies) has some variance attached to it in regards to whether or not those techs are a "dead end" in the first level of the Tech tree.
Solar Dynasty's Production Bonus combined with it's Growth bonus make it the king of the late-game Military rush, and the free Former is a considerable early-game boon as it allows them to immediately obtain the coveted Mountain+Mine or Plains+Farm tile combos (ie. 3 Mineral or 3 Food from a single citizen) without causing a hiccup in their early military production or slowing their second city. These three abilities are very solidly synergistic and perhaps most interestingly don't directly dictate a single Win Condition, as their Production bonus can just as easily go towards City Development and the Growth can give you Scientists just as readily as Miners, Farmers, or Workers. The Pollution bonus is a good effort at balancing their tremendous advantages but it's possible that they need another downside of some kind, or at least a tweaking of their numbers.
Togra Uni has a lot going for them, between the Refit bonus which allows them to keep their trops up to date with all of the Weapons and Armor tech they will unlock and ATVs to rapidly react and protect them from early game rushes by Ascension or Imperium. Their Morale penalty feels steep for the advantages they get, but quick access to the Pollution and Holo Theater buildings can be a good remedy. I've seen some comments that Togra can have trouble surviving in the early game but to be fair I think it might be a bit overblown, they certainly demand a different approach however.
Ascension effectively combines the Dynasty's ability to rush production (albeit military units only) with the Imperium's +25% combat modifier (albeit only on the attack). This alone makes them a powerful force, and playing along with their third bonus, a High Morale approach to city development and research can add up gradually to cities that belie their actual population with somewhat oversized resource gathering and production in the mid- and late-game. Their Research penalty is pretty big, and deservedly so. They actually seem to be in a pretty good spot by what I've seen, once you figure out the warning signs of their dangerously aggressive early game bend.
Terra Salvum is very much unlike the other factions, and regrettably not in a good way. Their primary 'early game' advantage, Alien Aggression, is a variable that is highly subject to the whim of game settings. At Medium or lower Aggression, this bonus can be all but negligible. I haven't yet tested it at a higher Alien Aggression game setting, but it's not hard to imagine that this ability swings the pendulum from entirely inoffensive to crazy good once Xenos are a real immediate threat to undefended cities from the first few turns onward. The general problem is that right now with the current state of the Xenos (at least on Medium), there isn't any real reason for the other factions to care. For everyone else Hive Clearing offers so many advantages (experience/credits/land) that quickly eliminating the Drones at their source is a no-brainer, and the larger alien lifeforms operate on their own aggro timers anyway so can be safely ignored until Avenger Tanks are researched. +2 Habitat is the weakest of the late-game bonuses and perhaps most damnably can be easily duplicated by any other faction with a single relatively early Colonization era Tech (City Planning I believe). +1 Mineral from Forests and Fungus tiles is likable thematically but still greatly underpowered compared to Mountain+Mines, which is the gold standard for Mineral gain in a game where Production (using those minerals) is the absolute king.
Reduce Solar Dynasty's Worker Production Bonus to 25%, and give their Headquarters city a flat +1 innate Production
Reduce Togra University's Scientist Research Bonus to 25%, and give their Headquarters city a flat +1 innate Research (-2)
This change "flattens" the curve of the respective bonuses, ensuring that they are still noticeable in both the early and late games but less overpowering in the middle.
Others have suggested that Togra University would be hit probably much too hard by this nerf, which in hindsight I agree with.
Increase Solar Dynasty's Pollution penalty to +66% (+1 / -1)
Maybe it's too harsh, but the sheer irreplaceability of a faction-wide Population Growth advantage combined with their other bonuses seems to call for very drastic measures. That said, I haven't seen late-game Pollution effects so maybe the current penalty works as intended to rein in their other advantages.
Lots of mixed feedback on the increased Pollution penalty idea. Some think it would be far too much, others think it would be too weak. Perhaps some other idea for rebalancing Solar Dynasty is in order...?
Make the Adaptive Dynamics and Field Training techs automatic "dead ends."
They are both absolutely great (almost mandatory) technologies that other factions will likely want to take anyway, so this would offer an added challenging decision for those other factions (when can I fit in these great level 1 techs that lead nowhere else?) while at the same time eliminating the unnecessary free "boost" up the tech tree that they currently grant to Imperium and Togra.
Give Terra Salvum a Tech at the start of the game (replacing -50% Alien Aggression) (+1)
Thematically, Guerrilla Warfare comes immediately to mind (they come from developing countries after all), and this change comes with a few advantages. The first is that Guerrilla Warfare gets moved to the very first level Tech Tree (just like Adaptive and Field Upgrades), which is good because in it's current position (randomized somewhere near the back end of Colonization era), it very often gets overlooked as the game has already progressed into the Avenger Tank rush stage anyway, by which point the boost to Colonial Troopers has become negligible. Guerilla Warfare isn't a huge offset to the native attacker penalty Salvum gets but it would further encourage them to play to type by growing Forests near their cities and gives them a very helpful defensive advantage in the early game vs. the dreaded Ascension rush. Per the previous rule, Guerilla Warfare would also become an automatic "Dead End" technology and so while it would be more skippable, giving it early availability makes a lot more sense then where it currently is.
Positive feedback on this idea, one poster also thinks the Tech bonus shouldn't replace their current abilities (if we're honest Guerilla Warfare in it's current state probably isn't on the same level as either Field Training or Adaptive Dynamics).
Alternatively, Terra Salvum light biological units may move through Forests and Fungus tiles at a move rate of 1 (replacing -50% Alien Aggression)
Just what it says. Depending on how well it works out you might even fold this into the previous suggestion by integrating a movement penalty reduction in the tech itself. Hard to say if this would be a little "too good" but I'm leaning towards not.
Give Terra Salvum a +15% bonus to Food and Mineral production from Farmers and Miners (replacing +2 Habitat)
While minor, these are still far more tangible bonuses than the +2 Habitat, which is almost never a factor given the way Habitat size is regulated by the Tech tree (the current upgrade is no better then a reason to delay certain Tech advances for a few dozen turns over other factions, which is terrible). A bonus to material gathering would further incentivize Salvum's thematic approach of using the "inefficient" but eco-friendly tiles.
NEW Reduce Togra University's Morale penalty to -1, or possibly replace it with a different faction drawback.
Having what essentially amounts to -10% production/mining/farming/research hampers Togra considerably as many have pointed out. Morale penalties are huge in this game, especially for the human player since the AI already receives Morale bonuses on Medium+ dificulties.
NEW Increase Togra University's Refit price refund to 50%.
I personally like the theme of this particular bonus a lot and feel that it fits their Research bonus nicely. By pushing Togra's ability to keep well-upgraded units (that stick by their cities) a bit further you can enhance a defensive military mindset and possibly allow them to hold their own against the aggressive factions somewhat better.
Suggestions from the Thread
"What.. should be possible is the ability to work with the alien natives. That'd change gameplay completely and give Terra Salvum a very unique play style." (Veneke)
"I also think Terra Salvum should get some sort of bonus to fighting aliens or alien capture in addition to the reduced aggression. I'd imagine the strategy for them would be to mass units with the pherapod ability and farm the hives for units instead of capturing them... You could also replace the [Terra Salvum] habitat bonus for a growth bonus, giving them access to a strategy of taking large swathes of land that would be less productive to the other factions." (Hiho216) These seem like nifty ideas to me.
"Togra University, and the AI in general, would be better balanced if they took a higher priority on finding ruins. When I've played it seems I have no problem taking a majority of the ruins, even around the territory of the other factions. It's worse for Togra, because the only real value of the free seeker ATV is that you get to explore the map faster in the early game." (Hiho216)
fortydayweekend wrote:Just played through as Terra Salvum, and I think their relative strength/weakness is very situational, depending on the terrain and proximity of other factions
jdmillard wrote:I think that the most powerful faction-based advantage is the growth bonus of the Solar Dynasty. I'm not necessarily lobbying to have it changed, but it does feel noticeably more powerful regardless of whether I'm playing them or the AI.
willgamer wrote:Just based on a very limited (failed) attempt with Terra Salvum on medium, it felt like playing a one higher difficulty level. When Ascension came for me, it was all over.....
Veneke wrote:...Terra Salvum are the most difficult of the factions, I think everyone agrees with that. I've started playing on the more aggressive alien aggression levels and, if you work it right, the -50% alien aggression can give you a longer build-up period. The problem here is that, like the Togra, you need the lay of the land to be generally in your favour.
dylancromwell wrote:Morale plays a huge part in the balancing... Togra is at a serious disadvantage in the early game, I find. The other factions' morale increase (on medium) compounds the University's starting handicap and this means that due to lack of initial growth, you can spend the rest of the game being bullied and taxed. Meanwhile the other factions expand and then they soon rival or surpass whatever research advantage you had at the start....
Xytop wrote:There is definitely no need to reduce the 50% bonuses from the factions. They arent as strong as the numbers let you believe.... So lets compare this now with a +2 morale bonus (or the +2 Habitat in late game), which gives you a 10% gain on all ressources (food, minerals, production, science). Those 10% are multiplied with your total amount (again we ignore the flat bonus). In my opinion this would make the morale bonus far more superior to the 50% bonuses. Many people said the Solar Dynasty have one of the best bonuses. I agree that the growth bonus is very powerful but without it, they would just suck. ... I would even say that the increased pollution more then negates the 50% production bonus. So whats left? 25% growth and they need it badly, so that they have at least some kind of advantage like the other factions.
fortydayweekend wrote:Having played 2 games through with Solar Dynasty on Medium, I haven't found the pollution penalty much of a problem - the free former at the start lets you build forests in your early cities, and as long as you don't skip past pollution processors and prioritise forests over ocean, you can keep pollution at zero...
As far as the AI in my (limited) games has gone, Noxium and Terra Salvum always seems to be strong. Divine Ascension and Imperium will usually declare war on someone and so will either become more powerful with conquest or get ground down or eliminated. Togra seems to always be the weakest, and isn't usually ahead in tech. Maybe that Morale penalty really hurts.