Playing Favourites: The Sponsors of Beyond Earth

Discussion in 'CivBE - General Discussions' started by CelJaded, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Jun 3, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Greetings all.

    I've been absent from the Beyond Earth scene for a while now and I've since noticed that activity on this forum has slumped in the wake of the most recent patch.

    It's not getting any easier to enjoy BERT what with Firaxis' suspect ability to fix big problems - what did they do to marvel quests!? - but I thought I'd start up a little discussion on the elements that people currently like/dislike for giggles anyway.

    To start off I've chalked up a favourites list of where I personally rank the 12 sponsors of Beyond Earth and might consider doing more for virtues and wonders etc. if people are keen to discuss.

    To be clear: this isn't a tier list necessarily, but just a ranking of how much I like each sponsor, taking into account everything from their design and backstory to their unique abilities and overall game balance.

    Share your top 12 too so we can get a decent discussion going. Thanks!

    From bottom to top:

    12. Brasilia

    Dear, oh dear! Firaxis just can't seem to give Rejinaldo a break, can they? Taking home many a worst sponsor award since the vanilla release, Brasilia's benefits never seem to make any sort of meaningful impact on your game.

    With the new war score system being introduced last patch, this sponsor has some potential to do something different as the idea of trained soldiers turning the tide of a war through nothing but pure numbers is a thematic one.

    After trying it out in a few games though, I can say that the bonus to war score points just doesn't have a big enough impact to be worth upgrading.

    Even with INTEGR's War of Ideas agreement in tow (which offers a total +75% war score bonus when coupled with Brasilia's fully upgraded UA), the net result is a bunch of extra technologies or resources you didn't prioritise because they weren't important anyway.

    Similar to Civilization V, Brasilia is a war orientated race that doesn't get the important tools required for actually waging a war.

    No energy support, no army limit bonus or additional combat expertise; just a hidden counter in the background that ensures any lucrative reparations payout is even more lucrative.

    All Guerilla Mastery really does is give you a slight boost whilst you're already ahead and that is neither helpful nor particularly interesting.

    I'm not even going to mention the 'diplomatic capital for kills' portion of the ability because I find it insulting that Firaxis would even consider that a bonus.

    11. Pan-Asian Cooperative

    How the mighty have fallen. And just when you thought that wonders in BE couldn't be devalued further.

    Once my favourite sponsor in Beyond Earth, PAC has been ruined for no good reason in Rising Tide. I can remember when every member of this very forum was calling this ability change a typo, with the designers stating it would be "changed" in time for release. Well, here we still are and yes it sucks.

    This ability is so remarkably unthematic that it actually makes me angry. How do you explain a sponsor who has the ability to finish massive feats of human engineering in a single turn? Do they all have magic hands or something?

    Even more hilarious is the fact that the ability comes off as somewhat weak because the majority of wonders in BE are so terribly ineffective.

    Making matters worse is the fact that most of them are unlocked on wayward technologies that you'll not want to research anyway thus making the ability more of a liability than a boon.

    This is just a very badly thought out design choice and if you want further proof of that then just look at how it badly it suits the new upgrade system; offering the worst upgrade bonuses of any sponsor, Brasilia included!

    The only thing keeping PAC out of last place is the fact that you can play a fairly different culture orientated strategy with water cities + Monomyth + Techno Artisans, but it's at the cost of wonders actually representing something unique and special and for any Civilization game - spin off or not - that's just really disappointing.

    Give me back my bonus to worker speed! ;(

    10. Franco Iberia

    Another sponsor who has fallen from grace, going from game-breakingly good to puzzlingly awful in the space of a single patch.

    The Rising Tide upgrade system has done nothing to help Franco Iberia stand out either, as a couple of free virtues per game is not going to amount to anything worthwhile by the end of your standard 200-turn conquest.

    Focusing on culture is a really bad idea in Beyond Earth and its limited role has gotten even more limited with the introduction of water cities. Until the virtues themselves are given a proper balance pass then I can't see Elodie ever rising above that of a poor/boring choice.

    9. Slavic Federation

    Similar to Franco Iberia, the Slavs are a faction that were stupidly good in vanilla BE only to be brutally torn down in subsequent patches.

    Whilst their latest incarnation is not quite as bad as the previous one, granting a surplus of useless strategic resources is hardly worth getting excited over; especially now that the trading system has been changed to require spies.

    I find the idea of an orbital focused game to be tantalising, but the problem is that they're only one or two worthwhile satellites worth launching in the first place and the new Abyssal Mirror wonder is far too expensive and out of the way to consider factoring that in either.

    You're always forced to play a certain way with Kozlov, which kind of sucks and most of the time you probably won't even notice his bonus coming into effect - especially if you play with strategic balance turned on.

    The stellar Civilian Observatories agreement can really shine in multiplayer games though, I have to say.

    8. Kavithan Protectorate

    Another good sponsor that Firaxis couldn't help but spoil.

    I can see why you would add an energy discount to tile purchases, what with the new water cities ignoring culture costs, but did they really have to remove the bonus to outpost creation!?

    This was the big selling point of playing Kavitha and now that it's missing, it really hurts her overall game.

    As a self-confessed tile-purchasing addict, I'm probably ranking this sponsor a bit higher than it really deserves, but it is fun to combine it with the diplomatic trait that grants further discounts to tile purchases, as you can have Shosone-size territory in no time!

    Good health agreements too.

    7. Chungsu

    I'm not a massive fan of Chungsu, truth be told.

    Han Jae Moon is an interesting leader, starting on water is novel and I like any ability that grants an innate science solution, but my biggest gripe is that they feel way too similar to ARC.

    We already had a espionage centric sponsor on hand so I don't really see why we needed another - especially one that (arguably) doesn't do as good a job at it.

    They'd rank much lower on my list if Firaxis hadn't fixed their icon and colour scheme though, so praise the sun for small mercies I guess.

    6. Duncan Hughes

    The debate will rage on as to whether NSA's bonuses are actually useful or not, but the water-bound start combined with the assurance that no opposing water city will have strong defences is what makes Duncan so dangerous in the hands of an experienced player.

    When combined with the fast naval unit production of aquatic cities and the Precise/Scavenging abilities especially, you can amass a dangerous fleet of ships and begin dominating water world maps in very short order.

    Solid but unspectacular, NSA gets bonus points for Duncan himself, who I think is a likeable guy (for a change!) to have in your game.

    5. Polystralia

    With the buff to their ability, not to mention internal trade routes in general, Polystralia is back with a vengeance.

    Managing all of those trade routes has been made a little easier with the new automated system too and thus Hutama is always a solid pick no matter the victory condition you want to pursue.

    A superb array of agreements only adds to the broken-feeling package, but the fact that Beyond Earth's trade route system has always annoyed me is the only reason that Polystralia isn't a higher on my list.

    4. African Union

    I wasn't sure what to think of the African Union when I first saw their proposed change, but in practice I really like this ability now.

    Actually focusing on food growth is made into a tactic again and the rather horrible Institute building really comes into its own when crammed with boosted science specialists.

    The tall 4-5 city game of Civilization games past finds a comfortable niche here and it gets even more ridiculous when combined with certain diplomatic traits :cough: Student Aid :cough.

    The only thing I don't like about this sponsor is that I feel like I'm playing the exact same way every game and I'm not sure what room there is to budge with their strategy when playing on Apollo.

    3. INTEGR

    With so many diplomatic traits and agreements on hand, you'll be hard-pressed not to find enjoyable strategies to use when playing as Lena.

    You probably won't make use of the city purchases all that often, but the discount on big agreements really expands the variety of potent options from game to game.

    Party Politics is a superb agreement for multiplayer sessions (essentially giving your allies free diplomatic capital every turn) and overall INTEGR really make the most of Rising Tide's new diplomacy system.

    Not the best colour scheme perhaps, but a well designed sponsor nonetheless.

    2. ARC

    ARC were my second favourite sponsor to PAC in vanilla and they're still clinging to the number 2 spot after receiving a rather superb buff to their overall espionage capability in Rising Tide.

    Firaxis ditched the intrigue bonus and went with faster stealing (always nice) and an inspired reduction on operations costs thus allowing ARC to steal crucial science as soon as their agents are in position.

    The Subtle diplomatic trait helps make the dream of <5 turn thefts an achievable reality and it gives ARC a niche that no other sponsor has (except maybe Chungsu).

    Suzanne doesn't come into her own until the mid game, but when she does she can be a real powerhouse and is a great pick if you're looking to go with the Supremacy affinity due to the number of free spies you can get from buildings.

    1. Al Falah

    So far I haven't enjoyed a game of Rising Tide more than the time I rolled up a map with this sponsor.

    A firm mid game bloomer, Al Falah's unique ability gives you absolute control over the direction of your colony.

    Focusing on production and growth in the early game yields incredible results when you can later convert all of that hard work into the yield of your choice.

    You want a few turns of massive culture gains? Food? Energy? Sci- YES YOU DO!

    Granted the ability is rather poorly explained, but when combined with the Industrious trait especially, the huge science gains will just carry you to whatever victory you want.

    Outside of the actual game mechanics, Arshia Kishk is an enchanting figure and the backstory of her people and their arrival on this new world is one of the more inspired stories to be found in Beyond Earth.

    You did a great job with sponsor, Firaxis. Please don't screw it up in the next patch. :lives in hope:
  2. EvilNed

    EvilNed Chieftain

    Dec 25, 2005
    Never played Al Falah, but I gave them a go after reading this. They are, indeed, awesome. I'm playing a semi-tall game. 350 turns in and just founded by 7th city.
    That city development abuse sure gets you places - fast. There's also some personality traits that enhance the city development rate even further. Forgot which one it is - but combined any one city can convert massive amount of production into whatever in just a few turns. Cities grow like never before...

    As for least favorite, out of the ones I've played...
    Probably Chungsu. The extra agents are nice, but their scientific bonus is useless. The problem with Covert ops is the amount of turns they take, making ARC's faction bonus so much more beneficial to the Covert minded.

    I'll also say this;
    North Sea Alliance and the African Union always lose big time whenever handled by the AI. They're always the first ones to go down. The African Union seems absurdly aggressive too. I allied with them for 10 turns in my Al Falah game and I went from being at war with nobody, to being at war with everyone - and it was all that Samatar Jarre's doing. In the end, I broke off the alliance. Not worth it. I've noticed similar behavior in other games with him. So him going down first might be a result of him being aggressive, rather than poor.

    NSA always goes down because the AI can't handle naval citybuilding.
  3. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Jun 3, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Glad to hear you gave them a try. I'm a big fan of Al Falah's game and it gels great when going OP Industry for virtues.

    So far my earliest Apollo win with them is turn 207 and that was a fairly relaxed game too!

    I hadn't properly considered the AI flavours when making this list; nice idea.

    Kozlov's behaviour is the one that sticks out in my mind the most. Once I was 9/9 in terms of respect for the longest time with him before he decided to backstab me for absolutely no discernible reason at all.

    Ah, Civ!...
  4. Sauron 3

    Sauron 3 Chieftain

    Oct 14, 2015
    Nice theme to discuss, thank to the author much!

    I liked Brazilia before they changed their +10% strenght for all units to the terrible increasing in obtaining war points. You have to start a war, win it and only that time you recieve something then other nations have their benefits from more or less start and during all periods of a game match.

    The most cheated abilities have Americans and Arabs, I'm fully agree with the author. Pan-Asian Cooperation really has nothing in comparance with their past acceleration to the workers speed.

    I remembered some questions about the nations benefits:
    1.Chungsu recieves science increase every time, even doing stealing energy process or hacking orbital units? And does the every agent have such ability or just the exclusive one?

    2.How to count Arabs yield increase: is it permanently growing of the food, production, culture, science and energy income or when choosing to convert the production to the other 4 resources instead of building something?
  5. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Jun 3, 2015
    United Kingdom
    All Chungsu agents gain this ability and yes it functions no matter which action the agent is undertaking. The ability is a little more flexible than ARC's in this case, but arguably not as potent.

    Saying that though, Chungsu really benefits if they can team up with ARC as the +25% spy speed agreement really helps Chungsu make the most of its own ability.

    Pretty much. This is a more complex question than it needs to be because of the poor way that Firaxis chose to explain the ability, but this thread does a good job of explaining it if you want to learn more.
  6. Sauron 3

    Sauron 3 Chieftain

    Oct 14, 2015
    Thank You much!
  7. Xinotine

    Xinotine Chieftain

    Aug 9, 2015
    My favorite would be either Chungsu or ARC. I like Al Falah and Polyaustralia least. Al Falah is fine mechanics wise but I can't stand arrogant face of the leader :)D), and I just always forget to manage trade routes.

    LORD ORION Warlord

    Jan 14, 2015
    CelJaded I pretty much agree with your entire list.

    Though I find Intergr to be boring, so put them behind Polystralia, and I prefer ARC over Al Fallah... :)

    As for making another similar list of wonders... well, there are what, 2 wonders that are worth building? (Master Control and Drone Sphere)... and then a big list of, which one of these things you probably shouldn't build the most?

    A virtues list would be interesting though.
  9. Beastfeast

    Beastfeast Chieftain

    Apr 3, 2007
    I agree with most of your points.

    Except for the Pan-Asian Cooperative, which is actually a really interesting faction now. You can focus on constructing Wonders, which for much of the game are unobtainable for the other factions due to high cost, or in many cases, being too niche to be considered worthwhile. They also get a nice boost to Diplomacy for each Wonder, which further encourages wonder spamming. I do think some of the Wonders are in need of a boost though (Cynosure, Human Hive, Ectogenesis Pod, Xenomalleum and Deep memory in particular), or are placed too late in the tech tree to be particularly useful.

    Too play PAC well, you need a good science rate to research all the early Wonder techs quickly. Easiest way to achieve this is to get the 'Insightful trait' (science based political agreement), get 5 cheap agreements with AI and upgrade to level 3. Also, spamming cities and science buildings + spy center helps a lot.

    I also think that the worker bonus was pretty uninteresting, and going back to this would be unnecessary. There is already a Quest, Wonder and the Slumber Slaughter artifact reward which give large bonuses to worker build speed.

    Perhaps the 'Free' Wonder bonus could be changed to a huge production bonus to wonders and a smaller bonus to buildings instead, if people feel that it is silly / a bit overpowered.

    The Polystralian's trade bonus is OK. But, as population rose in my cities, the trade bonus seemed to have less and less effect. Not sure if there is a bug or if I'd forgot something..

    Franco Iberia's bonus is definitely pretty weak now.. Never understood why Firaxis always made this faction so bland and dull. But I think this is partly to do with not spending enough time on the virtues system, which is much less novel than the tech web.
  10. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Jun 3, 2015
    United Kingdom
    That is a shame. I think ITEGR are really good because there are so many more agreements you can warrant taking at the price you can get them for.

    This is true, but my favourites list doesn't just take into account their usefulness, but also their theme and general design/aura too so it could be interesting. I have a list sketched out, so I'll see if it's worth expanding upon.

    That would be another big list, but a good one, I agree! I'll need to put this together too when I have time.
  11. CelJaded

    CelJaded DENOUNCING!

    Jun 3, 2015
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for sharing a counterpoint there.

    I think I've made my case about PAC quite clear, so I won't elaborate too much except to reiterate how unthematic and damaging their ability is to wonders actually feeling special in BERT.

    Compare it with Egypt in Civ V; who get a bonus to building wonders, but nothing approaching an entire wonder for 1 turns worth of production. PAC just feels silly, unrealistic and rather tacky.

    Ultimately it's a bit redundant because of how bad all the wonders are anyway, but it doesn't help matters and those diplomatic "upgrades" are among the biggest non-bonuses I've seen in this game to date.

    A boost towards worker speed may seem dull on the surface, but such an ability now would have great application due to all of the advanced tile improvements taking an absolute age to construct. I never imagine that I'll ever build a terrascape again in its current state for instance.
  12. Fins

    Fins Warlord

    Jun 25, 2014
    I don't have top-12 list, i don't even have top-2. It's just that for me, Polystralia is #1. And for rather weird reason: i enjoy his bonus the most because it never gets obsolete, and i mean - _never_.

    See, i am the sort who enjoys going for "just... one... more... turn" for very, very many turns. By the time your science output is all useless (as everything is researched, literally), culture output is all useless too (all virtues taken, - and who needs extra score anyway much into past-endgame), energy is exceedingly abundant, military is able to deal with any attacking AI while taking a nap, spies doing some silly project like city defense all in HQ, and basically you got everything possible to get in the game - hutama's extra trade routes are still going.

    It's pretty, you see. More trade routes going around, i mean. I like to see LOTS of them going around, tirelessly, with that new RT upgrade which completely automates them, it's perfect.

    That's the ultimate reason, you see. Weird one. But of course, extra trade routes rock quite much for development, as you noted yourself, too. And allow for "a little bit bigger" cities past-end-game, for extra food created everywhere. Yet if you (would) do like i do and go much beyond end-game, - you probably would end up with the same idea about what's the _main_ reason to choose Polystralia. %)

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