Taking down or even slowing down large empires is still way too hard and expensive. We need a way that can scale to large empires, without requiring that you fly to every one of their planets to start an expensive rebellion.
In addition, we have an inconsistency between swaying relations (which works as well for large races) and planetary damage, which doesn't scale to the size of the race.
Here's what I suggest instead:
- When at a planet, you get the choice of planting a spy there instead of the current options. The spy can be planted for different amounts of money, similar to espionage right now: cheap, medium, or expensive, with different chances of success. This means you only need to fly directly to a planet when you need to plant a spy.
- The better your relations with a race, the cheaper it is to plant a spy. Planting a spy with an enemy you're at war with is impossible.
- The more race planets have spies relative to the total number of race planets, the more effective your spy network is.
- Your spy network builds up spy points over time with a certain maximum (say 50) -- similar to the way raids worked in Zombasite. The more spies relative to the number of planets, the faster points build up. This means you want to keep your spy to planet ratio high to be effective.
- Operations with your network use up certain numbers of points. For example, choosing 'high chance' propaganda could use up all 50 points, but creates propaganda *throughout* the planets on which you have spies. 'low chance' propaganda only uses 25 points, but obviously the chance of it working is smaller. The advantage is that there's a lower chance of your spy network being revealed.
- Swaying a race diplomatically (rumor) is much much more effective if you have a high spy to planet ratio. You can get about 10 points of sway (or perhaps more) if you go for maximum sway with spies in every planet, vs say 1 point if you only have 1 spy for 10 planets. This allows you to tilt the scales much more effectively than currently.
- When you come close to 0 or negative spy points, your spy network becomes much easier for a race to detect. Your spies will randomly get caught, and this will hurt your relationship with the race. Now you have to go to the planet and restore the spy, and it'll be more expensive since the race likes you less. Going negative may be necessary to take out a certain race, but the more negative you go, the more your spies reveal themselves, so at a certain point you'll basically lose all of them, and the massive diplomatic hits from the spies being detected will essentially cause the race to go to war with you, or make planting new spies more and more expensive.
- Occasionally, races will try to flush out spies, and if you want to tell your spy network to lay low or you could lose a lot of spies. If you're in the middle of an operation, it's very risky. Totalitarian and paranoid races will try to flush out races a lot more often, and it's hard to build effective spy networks for those races.
- A planet with spies on it will show you all of its status.
- It would be nice (but not required) to have a spying screen that shows you all info from your spies in one place. Also, I'm sure you can think of many other cool things that can be added to this system.
- The AI can function the same way it does now. It's still causing rumors etc. You can add events of spies getting caught and simulate some of that stuff if you want, but it's not necessary.