Revisit Shattered Ring Origin changes (2024)

I would like to humbly propose that the Shattered Ring Origin be considered for another balance pass.

I'm not going to argue that the Origin should be buffed or nerfed relative to its current state—this is explicitly not meant to be a whiny screed about how my favorite overpowered Origin is not so completely broken anymore, or whatnot. Instead, I'm going to argue that a number of Origins are fun primarily because they allow for a gameplay style focusing on mechanics that would otherwise be overlooked or only applicable in a niche context, that the recent changes weaken that positive aspect of the ringworld Origin, and that alternative ways of balancing the Origin should be considered.

Origins for an unique game experience

Origins are easily one of the best new features Stellaris has gotten in a while. Some of the Origins that are in my opinion most interesting allow the player to build a game around certain features of the game that are less universally applicable.

  • The two Federation origins allow you to start the game as a member of a federation, allowing the benefits and challenges of the federation mechanic to be present from the very beginning of the game (not considering the cheesy strat of eating your federation partners here). Otherwise, you have to luck out or meticulously cultivate relations with an empire to form a Federation much later in the game, and even then it takes decades for your Federation to gain XP and mature.
  • The Remnants origin lets you start on a Relic World, which can be upgraded to an ecumenopolis for significantly less work than building one from scratch (which requires an Ascension Perk to be taken and all districts to be built out first).
  • The Void Dwellers origin starts you on Habitats and gives you bonuses allowing you to build an empire centered around them, instead of normal planets.
  • The Necrophage and Clone Army origins feature population growth mechanics radically different from those of normal empires.
  • To a lesser degree, Mechanist and Syncretic Evolution let you experiment with robots/specialized species from the start.

I would argue that Ringworlds are a mechanic exquisitely suited for an Origin. Ringworlds are usually difficult to get, since you need late-game technology and a significant investment of resources to build one. Once it's built, the fact that it can house a huge number of pops means that to take full advantage of its capabilities you need to spend a relatively long time growing out a population, starting from a late point in the game (unless you move pops off your other planets or do other micro).

The genius of the Shattered Ring Origin is that it allowed you to build your game around a feature which would otherwise be situational and late-game: since you started with a Ringworld segment, you could start filling it with pops from the very beginning, taking advantage of its unique districts.

Balancing the origin

The previous balance change to give Shattered Ring primary species ringworld habitability was, in my opinion, the right kind of balance change. It nerfed an origin that was seen as perhaps unbalanced, but it did so in a way that encouraged players to lean even more heavily into depending upon their ringworld.

Changing the ring segment into a Shattered Ring seems to me like a step in the wrong direction. The unique features of the Ringworld (special districts, including science district, plus huge carrying capacity) are once again locked away until very late in the game (Megastructural Engineering tech + resources to upgrade). What this Origin now boils down to is roughly equivalent to having a guaranteed ruined ring world near their start, since the timescale and resource investment required to make both operational are almost identical.

Instead, players now play through the game with a discount gaia world. It's 25 size with districts that are boringly similar to normal planet districts: yes, non-gestalts get a Trade district rather than a Generator district, and miners get alloys as well as minerals, but that's the thing: your planet isn't interesting from a gameplay perspective in the way ringworlds are interesting. Miners who extract alloys as well as minerals would fit just as well, thematically and from a gameplay perspective, as part of the Remnants or Void Dwellers origins. Otherwise, it's just Life Seeded, but arguably worse: at least Life Seeded can find, access, or terraform Gaia worlds, and their size 25 planet starts with rare resource deposits.

Possible solutions

There are a lot of possible ways to revisit this origin, and my primary purpose here is to argue that it should be revisited with an eye on restoring the ability for the player to meaningfully build a game around the utilization of a ringworld and its attendant mechanics. I'm not as concerned about what exact forms any future changes take.

However, let me propose three that might be relatively simple. The first is to revisit the requirements for the home shattered ring segment to be restored. I would suggest replacing Megastructural Engineering with a mid-game tech, and perhaps adjusting the resource cost as balance dictates, allowing the player to enjoy their ringworld sooner. The other two ruined segments would remain as they currently are, requiring Megastructural Engineering and the full resource allotment.

The second is to start players with the option to research Megastructural Engineering, and some amount of progress in the tech. This way players who want to get their ringworld up and running can get it somewhat sooner than if they weren't playing with the Shattered Ring Origin, which would also let the player spend more of the game with their ringworld.

The third is to revert to starting with a ringworld, but adding difficult blockers that must be cleared to unlock science districts. This would both delay the ability for the player to set up ringworld science, providing the balance the origin apparently needs, while also imposing a non-trivial opportunity cost on players who want to focus upon science. The 'miners produce alloys' feature could then be repurposed for a future Origin (maybe a junkworld one, something inspired by the Ketlings? An idea for another thread though).

Revisit Shattered Ring Origin changes (2024)
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