So I haven’t had time until now to provide my thoughts on MW74, but I think there is lots to learn from it. Above all, I think we learned that no matter how successful your start or how good your infra is, significant early fighting or attacks from multiple families is completely insurmountable. Diplomacy is currently the vast majority of what goes into winning a round. It feels like other choices matter so much less they are nearly insignificant compared to the alliances and agreements that are made out of the game.
I had a ton of fun at the start of the round and really enjoyed how much the changes shook things up. As much as it pains me, I think a huge takeaway is that most people don’t play this game for the heavy spreadsheeting and eco planning. I definitely disagree with most people’s feedback from this round so far in general though. Airwing has the opinions I most agree with though, with UA being a major source of imbalance. The game was not designed for or balanced around UA, and bringing it into balance while keeping UA means that major game design and balance changes to other areas is needed. I know Pie loves the diplomacy part of the game, but if I wanted to just play Diplomacy, I would go play Diplomacy and not sink a week into planning and building things that end up not mattering. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate diplomacy, but I really don’t think I’m exaggerating how much more of an impact it has than anything else. Ideally I think 25% evenly on diplo, eco, attacking skill, and luck would be the perfect balance. Ideally we could minimize the heavy reliance on activity as well to appeal to more players.
Only two families had very good eco starts, one of which had their round ruined by literal griefing (I still don’t understand why this is allowed). I know airwing’s start was slowed by execution, not the actual planning, so we can call it three people out of 60 who were able and had time to make workable starting strategies. Granted, the round effectively ended after 14 days because one family’s diplo far surpassed the rest. They would have won even if their start was 4th or 5th best rather than 3rd best.
I disagree that uncapped explores caused all activity to be focused on only two players per family. One of the major pitfalls of my round was that I put 500 explores on a new player since he was the only one who could offload to 1 planet quickly as travel times were getting close to a full day for everyone else. It was extremely fun to watch and we knew it wasn’t a good idea. We were even able to keep almost all of the planets after 2 full wars, but by that point enough families had suicided their rounds on us that there was no way to defend since the only other fam with competent eco could portal and have double our fleet.
As far as specific recommendations go, I would double the OB cost penalty, remove the gc cost to station fleet, change portal cost to 20k plus 250 per planet instead of 15k plus 1k/planet, and lower the defense stat of figs and ground until the attack bug is fixed. I would also bring back the pseudorandom join process to get rid of some free drafts (at least at the start, we can still do the open 1 spot at a time to make sure it’s even by round start). Round length obviously would need to change if expos stay uncapped, but I don’t think that change is staying.
For things I liked, I thought it was an absolutely perfect galaxy size - not too small but every planet mattered and securing a whole system was a big deal. I liked the fam sizes too.