Following DeathTacticus’ thread on balance changes, I would like to highlight more outstanding balance issues and provide some suggestions on how to fix them. Most of these balance suggestions have been implemented in the Continuous Innovation mod.
Starting with the simpler balance issues and moving onto the more complex.
Solar Panels: Solar is far too weak on Ceres and Io. In high levels of play, there is almost no reason to use Solar Panels for power when Nuclear Plants provide 1.5 power without adjacency bonuses. In contrast, Solar Panels max out at 1.1 power on Ceres and 1.0 power on Io, and normally this will be lower as solar is often not built on very high terrain. In contrast to Ceres and Io, Mars has a healthy power production market where all three versions of power production are viable, depending on resource availability and founding location.
Suggestion: reduce Nuclear Plant power output to 1.2 and increase Solar so it outputs at the same amount on Ceres and Io as on Mars.
Space Elevators: Recently Space Elevators were changed to require 600 aluminum to construct. This was to prevent Transparent Aluminum abuse but makes building Space Elevators very awkward for non-Scavengers as other factions’ aluminum will have diminished by then. With the proposed change to Transparent Aluminum below, the outsized reliance on aluminum for Space Elevator construction would no longer be needed and a better construction cost could be used.
Suggestion: Space Elevator costs 200 base resources, 100 aluminum, 100 electronics, 100 glass
There are three events that are too powerful across Mars, Ceres, and Io: Dust Storms, Solar Flares, and Sulfur Frost. Dust Storms both provide a negative and positive: boosting wind power and reducing solar, condenser, and farm output, but have the same boost power as Solar Flares. Because Dust Storms have both the positive and negative, their combined effect should equal Solar Flares.
Likewise, Solar Flares have too large of a power and condenser swing for something that's unpredictable.
Sulfur Frost is simply too painful. 66% reduction in construction speed is too much if you are caught on the wrong side of a sulfur frost.
Suggestion: Reduce Dust Storm negative effects on Solar/Farms from 50% to 25%. Reduce bonus to Wind Turbines from 100% to 50%.
Reduce Solar Flares bonus to Solar Panels and Condensers from 100% to 75%.
Reduce Sulfur Frost construction speed decrease from 66% to 50%.
Superconductor provides too much value for its price. 100% more power for power buildings connected to the HQ is a large bonus, yet Superconductor is one of the cheapest patents.
Suggestion: increase Superconductor’s cost from a 40 chemical patent to a 60 chemical patent.
Transparent Aluminum is too powerful for a subset of factions. Allowing far cheaper upgrades for glass factions and cheaper construction of Offworlds and non-aluminum heavy Space Elevators.
Suggestion: Either replace glass with aluminum at a 1:2 ratio instead of 1:1 or let Aluminum replace Silicon in Glass Kilns as the input. The former has the benefit of being similar to the current Transparent Aluminum, while the latter allows Nomads and Robots to benefit from Transparent Aluminum too.
Water Engine and Nuclear Engine are both sub-par patents, especially when compared to Teleportation. In 1v1s, many top players view acquiring Water Engine/Nuclear Engine as a negative rather than a benefit.
Suggestion: reduce fuel costs when on Water/Nuclear Engine to use 3/4ths the water/uranium than fuel.
Energy Vault is probably the most useless patent in the game and most of the time is not worth the chemical or time cost to acquire it.
Suggestion: increase power storage to 200 or remove power generation and allow players to purchase, store, and sell up to 100-200 power.
When Robots had 10 electronics upgrades, they upgraded too fast and were able to pull ahead often. The correct choice between a Robot and Expansive on the same founding location was heavily skewed towards Robot, especially in 1v1 games. With 20 electronics upgrades, Robots are no longer the default steel founding faction, which is good, but do seem to be a bit underpowered when compared to Expansives or Scientists.
Suggestion: Reduce Robot electronics upgrade to be between 10 and 20 electronics.
Scientists have received two boosts in this patch: it is no longer guaranteed that at least pirates or magnetic storms will be in the black market, and Scientists start with a free goon. The first change makes it easy for Scientists to have remote claims using their input bonus. The free goon squad makes it far too easy for a Scientist to patent rush, especially when combined with their faster research times. Now a Scientist needs only purchase a hologram instead of a hologram and goon for a patent rush. Or if bold, ignore the hologram and rush anyway with their faster research times.
Suggestion: Remove free goon and add a 25% freeze resistance. Increase probability of magnetic storms and pirates appearing in the black market.
As the most likely faction to win in both 1v1s and FFAs on almost all locations, Nomads are simply too good. A well-placed Nomad can split their buildings from attack far more efficiently than any other faction and spend next to no fuel on shipping resources. Split HQs also allows Nomads to abuse auction-a-tiles and refund them with their return-a-claims. This bonus, in addition to their Scavenger-like bonus of not needing steel to upgrade far outweighs the negative of not having a starting stockpile. Nomads can be successful without a starting stockpile of resources even when electronics start at 200.
Suggestion: To retain their Nomadic feel while making them inline with other factions, found the second Nomad HQ during the level 4 upgrade instead of the initial founding. As this change will slow down the strength of the Nomadic start, they will probably need a subset of starting resources. I would suggest starting with upgrade resources only: Silicon, Aluminum, and Electronics.
Elites still seem to be the weakest faction in the game, no competitive 1v1 game would see someone founding an Elite unless it was the last resort. The exception is when they make it to the lategame in a FFA with high prices in which they become formidable with more claims then Expansives. Elites also don’t have to worry about majority buys due to their extra two starting shares, which unfairly protects them from a rush strategy. Their pleasure dome is painful to compete with as it satisfies two entertainment demand and is far easier to protect than two domes.
Suggestion: Elites need to be reimagined to become competitive in both 1v1s and FFAs. Any change to Elites needs to keep the Elite identity of better, but not too powerful, advanced buildings while giving Elites a unique role to play among the Offworld factions.
The goal with this suggested reimagining is twofold: maintain a unique Elite identity while making them a competitive option in both 1v1s and FFAs.
Elites require less steel to upgrade (somewhere around 60 or in-between 60 and 80 seems appropriate), and to increase their unique role Elite buildings use Silicon instead of Aluminum for construction. Elite advanced buildings decrease in cost by 10% as the Elite builds more to help them use their bonuses. These two changes will hopefully make it easier to get to the Elite lategame, which meant the advanced building bonuses needed to be tuned down a bit. Decreasing pleasure dome income to 150% of a normal Domes and having them satisfy 1 entertainment demand makes them less annoying to challenge, but less costly to maintain, freeing up chemicals for other buildings. Optimization Centers no longer give extra claims, an ability which is too powerful in the longrun, but every two optimizations completed decrease the cost of queued and future optimizations by 10% (queued optimizations which were purchased before the cost decrease receive a refund). Licensing patents remains the same, as does their hacker array.