“Death Cult” as a civic is just straight poorly designed and not very creative… here’s how to improve it

Content of the article: "“Death Cult” as a civic is just straight poorly designed and not very creative… here’s how to improve it"

TLDR for what's wrong with death cults: There is no good reason why any normal biological empire should kill pops. Ever.

None of the sacrifice edicts are even remotely well thought out or balanced for the opportunity cost killing so many pops brings. Even if you only aim for the absolute minimum bonus, the civic is trash because: if you can get the minimum bonus just from killing a single pop, why even gamble more pops if the risk far outweighs the reward?

Even if you roll the 30% for mineral/energy for instance you realistically could only ever roll a break even. At the minimum 5% bonus for instance, 5% will net you .3 minerals per miner extra.

This means that at a base level of production you need to have 20 miners working before you can even reach the break even point of sacrificing even one mortal initiate. This exchange gets worse as we add more and more modifiers to worker output. Keeping with the base level theme, at the maximum 30% you would get about 1.8 minerals more per minute extra meaning you would need 3.3 miners per mortal initiates sacrificed to make the break even point for output opportunity cost from killing pops. Meaning if you sacrificed 30 mortal initiates you would need 100 miners to reach output break even.

There's a caveat here to mention before we go deeper that sacrificing one can potentially get you the maximum bonus, but its not likely. So you could basically sacrificing a pop every few years to potentially get a big bonus… but that kinda seems lame(not to mention micromanagey).

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Now, here's the problem, this already writes off death cult for use in the early game but then you have to consider: sacrifice edicts only last about five years at base. Assuming an average growth rate at about 4, it would take 20 months to create a pop on any given world. Now assuming seven worlds with an average of five mining or energy districts(since the bonuses for either are about the same, they can be interchangeable in this), that would mean there is literally not enough time to replace all the pops you lost even if you have enough miners to reach break even.

So that's the other problem for early game: you can't really get much use out of the maximum output of sacrifice until you have about ten or so planets; and even then the edict only lasts five years, so yes, you'll replace the pops you sacrificed, but you are coming out pop neutral(or slightly negative depending on growth factors) i.e not growing… in a game where growth is king.

So suddenly you either sacrifice 30 more pops to go back to your previous output OR ….maybe you don't sacrifice a total of 60 pops just to get a 30% bonus in output and just keep them doing normal work, which honestly would be better mechanically; because going back to earlier in this post, it is a gamble, you aren't even guaranteed the max reward, and in the most extreme example where you sacrifice 30 pops and still get the minimum bonus, you would need 600 miners to reach break even.

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We aren't even going to discuss the other sacrifices because it should be pretty obvious why the unity bonus is bad; and why the the happiness bonus is at best extremely situational if not worse than the resource boost, since there are far more resource efficient ways to boost happiness than wasting pops for a temporary buff to it that could have been spent producing amenities instead or working in a stability building of some sort (like a noble estate etc).

Anyway, in short: Death cult should not have been a normal civic; I propose it should have replaced Fanatic Purifier for spirtualists; with xenos, slaves and finally citizens(if none else are available to fill the job) being offered as sacrifices on a semi-regular basis in a mechanic setup similar to rogue servitor bio-tropies but with Necrophage elevation chamber mechanics as well. Also, I feel the pop growth speed bonus should scale with sacrificed initiates, in exchange for being smaller for balance, but with no cap, to encourage a lot of sacrifice in exchange for bursts of extreme growth.

Anyway, thanks for listening to my TED talk, sorry it got so long but that really is the TLDR, we could be here all day talking about why Death Cult in its current state is kind of a meme pick with no real value.

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