The 93rd dev diary focuses on a Stellaris wargoals overhaul, continuing the theme of fixing war in this grand strategy title. Entitled “War, Peace and Claims”, the dev diary reinvents the wargoal system, introducing the Casus Belli (“reason for war”) system common to other Paradox titles and a new mechanism known as “Claims”.

This is my second dev diary response, with the first arriving in the wake of the FTL rework last week. You can see all responses hereSubscribe and follow if you want to be notified of these posts.

Stellaris Wargoals Overhaul

Stellaris players have targeted the wargoal system as being undeveloped, or at least developed in the wrong direction. This week’s dev diary has revealed three new concepts to work into a reformed wargoal framework to overhaul the system:

  • claims;
  • Casus Belli;
  • war exhaustion.

These will work in combination with the border changes discussed in the 91st dev diary (in which borders are now largely decoupled from planetary ownership).

Briefly, these new concepts work as follows:

  • Claims – Described by Wiz as “territorial ambitions”, an empire can spend influence to place a claim on a system they don’t own. Claims can later be pressed in a war.
  • Casus Belli – Empires now need a good reason to go to war with one another. What constitutes a “good reason” will vary between empire types.
  • War Exhaustion – War exhaustion replaces warscore and behaves a little like its inverse. An empire on the losing side of a war will suffer higher war exhaustion and eventually surrender.

These new concepts will work together with existing and announced concepts to change the way war works in Stellaris. One synergy is the idea of “system occupation”, in which an aggressor gains temporary control of territory and its economy.

System occupation in the Stellaris wargoals overhaul

The Stellaris wargoals overhaul is the latest insight into a larger underlying refactor. I highly recommend reading the dev diary in its entirety to properly understand how all of this comes together to produce a machine greater than the sum of its parts.

Opinion

I’m starting now to see the forest for the trees.

When Wiz announced the changes to the border system in dev diary #91, I was sceptical. I enjoy the portion of the game that allowed me to passively assert my dominance through boosting border growth. Population growth was satisfying because of it. Some of my favourite Ascension Perks and Traditions took advantage of it. There was a certain enjoyment in enveloping another empire and choking its economy.

I see, now, why that concept had to go. The more subtle wargoals mechanism being proposed relies on more atomic “systems”. It’s systems, not planets, that are the crux of the Stellaris wargoals overhaul.

The Border Skirmish

I’d like to expand on the idea that this is a more subtle mechanism than the existing one. It’s more complex, for sure, though no more so than its equivalents in other Paradox titles.

Wiz has touched upon an interesting point and sparked the imagination with his mention of border skirmishes:

As wars can now be anything from a small border skirmish to a massive war of conquest (depending on the wargoal and number of claims), we felt that the Warscore system so common to our other games was inadequate for dealing with this variety, and tended to turn every conflict into a total war with one undisputed winner and another, utterly crushed loser.

War exhaustion in the Stellaris wargoals overhaul

This is an idea for which I’d be willing to trade my fondness of passive border expansion. The idea of a smaller border skirmish, for a few choice systems, is enticing. I mentioned in my first dev diary response that one of the big draws to Stellaris for me is its ability to pique the imagination, and this more flexible system of wargoals, claims, Casus Belli, and the ability to “Settle Status Quo” does just that. It allows for shifting borders even in a drawn out, unresolvable war.

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Neutral Space

Star Trek. The Neutral Zone. Now the stuff of sci-fi legend, but conspicuously absent from – to my knowledge – any space strategy game. On Paradox Plaza, in the dev diary comments, user pguyton wonders whether he’d be able to establish a neutral zone between himself and his hated neighbour. Wiz took his usual strategy of reeling us in:

This would actually be possible with the new border system, and something I’d like to do at some point. It could simply work by having two empires agree not to take systems next to each other, and have a CB to force out any other empire that tries to take those systems. It would be a good way to have stable borders with Xenophobic Isolationists and the like.

Modding

I’m always on the lookout for modding stories. There are hundreds of Stellaris mods featured on Odin Gaming, so, naturally, one wonders how these new concepts can be exploited by modders. From Wiz again:

Worth noting is that the CB/Wargoal system is entirely moddable and very easy to work with, so you can potentially set up all sorts of interesting Wargoals.

A revoke claims and/or demand claims diplomatic interaction is something I’m considering.

Summary

The news of the Stellaris wargoals overhaul revealed today has made me more comfortable in general with some of the reforms being put forwards. I’m still not convinced that the most has been made of the opportunity to rework FTL, especially with the mention of system occupation, which adds further depth to FTL differentiation.

I can see that there are still a lot of ideas milling around behind the scenes. I’m excited to see it all pulled together in future diaries.

What about you? Strong opinions about the announcement? Leave a comment below and subscribe if you want to hear more about Stellaris updates in the future. Also consider checking out more Stellaris posts on Odin Gaming!

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Comments (2)

  • November 9, 2017 at 22:06 Reply
    Definitely I like concept of more smaller conflicts for about two-tree systems now, without needs occupying 2/3 of enemy empire to get them. Also capturing enemy space station end use it to repair your damaged fleet is amazing idea, added more deep to the game. Overall i give solid A for war system change.
    • November 9, 2017 at 22:10 Reply
      Yeah, it was definitely a bit of a slog in the late game when trying to show a neighbour who's boss. Now you can slowly eat away at border systems and use they infrastructure to your advantage immediately. I hate to think of the thousands of credits and minerals wasted across the galaxy because stations have to be reconstructed immediately after war...

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