This suggestion originated as a component of this forums post.

The problem

Mesophon gets weaker and the T&E doctrine gets worse as games progress. If games were seriously competitive T&E would be completely nonviable as a doctrine. This is because Mesophon worlds can be invaded by players - which is fine. However, once a Mesophon world is invaded, it is gone; Mesophon can't "grow back" and can be totally removed from the galaxy by a determined attacker.

Mesophon worlds are dangerous to have near your planets if you are not T&E, since hostile starship/ramjet fleets can come out of them with zero warning. This means savvy players attempt to destroy any Mesophon worlds within their empire's borders.

T&E empires are at a disadvantage because their Mesophon trading partner is typically weaker than a player world but still subject to being attacked by a hostile adversary, destroying the trade route. When a T&E empire goes to war, their adversary can permanently damage them by capturing their trading partner; no other doctrine can suffer permanent damage like this.

How people are dealing with this right now

The current preferred player method for protecting a Mesophon trading partner planet is to buy a bunch of starships from it and then sell them back to it so that there are strong defenders on the planet. This is kind of goofy, not to mention unintuitive. Fewer players will pick T&E as games progress because the number of Mesophon worlds declines over time.

What I feel is needed

Mesophon needs a mechanism for staying in the game with a little more resilience, but it can't rely on being able to flawlessly defend itself in an intelligent manner; moreover, players should still be able to conquer individual Mesophon worlds if they want.

The proposal

This is a suggestion that gives Mesophon some resilience without requiring it to have a complicated AI. It gives Mesophon a limited mechanic where it uses jumpships to capture independent planets as replacements for worlds that it loses.

  • Mesophon sector capitals and trade hubs get new, unique designations that are not available to players. These designations still have the starport structure but the primary structure is a "Guild HQ" which builds infantry at alloc:max. The administration structure is built instantly on Mesophon sector capitals, rather than requiring 24 hours. The guild HQ has the jumpbeacon property.
  • Once per cycle, some piece of code performs a check on each Mesophon world. If the world possesses any jump-capable ships (right now this means that a player sold some jumpships to Mesophon), they are deployed into a fleet. This fleet paths to the Mesophon imperial capital and transfers down to it. The net effect of this is that all jumpships sold to Mesophon end up on Mesophon's capital.
  • (Optionally, once per cycle the Mesophon imperial capital spawns ~10k jumpships of various types.)
  • Once per period some piece of code performs a check on the Mesophon empire. If the number of Mesophon worlds is below a certain percentage of worlds in the galaxy, the game takes the following actions:
  1. Check the fleet strength of all jumpships and jumpcruisers on the Mesophon imperial capital, this is variable MESFLEET.
  2. Check the ground strength of all infantry on the Mesophon imperial capital, this is variable MESGROUND.
  3. Query the database of worlds to identify a world that matches all of the following characteristics: within 250 LY of a Mesophon world, >50 LY from a Mesophon world, TL5-8, independent or belonging to a sovereign that has previously attacked Mesophon, MESFLEET > 2x the planet's space forces, MESGROUND > the planet's ground forces. If there is no match, abort.
  4. If there is a match, deploy all jumpships, jumpcruisers, jumptransports, and as much infantry as possible from the capital into a new fleet.
  5. Send the fleet to the target planet.
  6. When the fleet arrives at the target planet it performs an invasion.
  7. If the invasion fails, the fleet returns to the capital and transfers down.
  8. If the invasion succeeds, designate the planet as a new trade hub or sector capital as appropriate. Create reciprocal trade routes to all Mesophon worlds within range. Return the fleet to the capital and transfer it down.

So if a player goes on a crusade against Mesophon to try to wipe them out, under this system Mesophon would hypothetically be able to periodically gain planets organically to counteract its losses, assuming that it has ships available.


  • The guild HQ structure builds a stronger ground unit and a new jumpship unit, the aviso. Avisos are not for sale to players, they are for Mesophon use only. An aviso is a jumpship that both transports units and fights. For simplicity, this is the only combat ship that Mesophon will build. An aviso is basically a tough jumpship with heavy armor, a direct attack, and the ability to transport units. There could be two or three variants that use different combinations of resources that a player might sell to Mesophon (e.g. trillum + hexacarbide, hexacarbide + light jumpdrives, etc). The important thing about the aviso unit is that its supply-chain-inclusive cost is mostly in the resources needed to build it, not the labor. This means that if a player is selling lots of resources to a Mesophon world, that world will build a huge number of avisos since it does not have to operate the ancillary resource structures and the raw labor cost of an aviso is low. The result is that player trade contributes directly to Mesophon's local strength.
  • If avisos are added, unit consolidation and attacks can be performed on a per-capital basis for Mesophon since Mesophon will have a lot more combat-capable units. Areas of the galaxy engaged in major trade with players will have a ton of avisos available and Mesophon will retain an ability to regrow when it loses worlds, whereas Mesophon presence will wither away in regions where players do not trade with it.

Other things that would be good for Mesophon:

  • Make Mesophon worlds immune to civil war. Make Mesophon worlds rise to TL6 by default. Give Mesophon worlds a higher population cap than other worlds without needing to build habitat structures.
--imperator-- 22 May 2018:

These systems, if implemented, could also just as easily be applied to the "AI empires" currently present in the game's code:

SovereignType fallenWorlds.warlordEmpire
name: "warlord empire"
sovereignName: { type:random
("Anor Kingdom" "Bok Empire" "Caledonia" "Kingdom of Dagronna" "Efreet Republic" "Faorn Empire" "Gaulton Empire" "Haleborn Kingdom" "Imryrr Empire" "Kingdom of Johenna" "Kalidorn" "Lastrome Oligarchy" "Muriel Union" "Ni'altor Empire" "Olos Guaran" "Psyphor Domain" "Rone Kingdom" "Surolon" "Lok Trall" "Ur'anor Republic")

Assuming that the existence of other NPC empires apart from Mesophon is an intention of the game in the first place, very likely considering the presence of this snippet in the Core Library.

You certainly could do this if you didn't think of warlord empires as being like computer versions of players. It's much more time intensive to write a bot that can build an economy complex enough to compete with player empires and to wage war intelligently.

What distinguishes Mesophon?

Mesophon could be very simple and still do interesting stuff while mostly following the same rules as players because:

  • it gets an influx of resources from players, which it can use directly. This behavior isn't obvious because by default right now Mesophon wastes surplus labor into the spaceport structure, so it does not directly benefit from player trade.
  • it gets units directly from players, albeit in an unpredictable manner.
  • Mesophon only needs two designations (sector capital and trade hub) to serve a function in the galaxy
  • some players have an incentive to protect Mesophon, whereas a warlord empire would probably not be in anyone's interest
  • mesophon starts out large enough and widely distributed enough to be able to bounce back from a local attack. warlord empires are small and localized; attacking one planet (the capital) kills them
  • mesophon doesn't need to appear to care about things that player empires care about- especially, it doesn't need to be able to defend any specific world or wage war against players

Second-tier NPEs

Single-planet traders

One thing I suggested in some old forum post was a second tier of trader sovereigns that are just single independent planets that are really efficient at building specific components or units. These would add interest to the game without needing any scripted behavior. T&E players would be able to establish 2-way trade routes with these planets to directly exchange aes or resources for the planet's output rather than needing to produce them themselves, which would help keep the T&E planet count below the secession threshold while still being competitive with L&O empires. For this to work, the planets would need to return to being independent traders when they leave an empire and players would need better systems for defending planets that are not in their empires: gifting units to NPEs, citadels with orders to defend other planets, and/or a mechanism for liberating a captured planet back to its original independent trader sovereign designation. This system would also give T&E empires a strong incentive to wage limited wars that secure them access to specific desirable trading partner planets.

Example 1

Ceti Bazaar is a 2nd-tier independent trader. Its sovereign is "independent" and its designation is "starship component autofac trader." A human T&E player can "import from" this planet to any starship yards or hub world and the trade route will supply starship components of Alpha Ceti's TL, up to either demand or to some threshold that is enough to supply a couple yards planets, whatever is lower. The player pays the converted AEs cost of the components imported plus some small surcharge each watch.

Example 2

Corel Barracks is also a 2nd-tier independent trader. Its sovereign is "independent" and its designation is "mercenary broker". A human T&E player can "import from" this planet to any world and the trade routes will supply a large number of armored infantry each cycle divided among the trade routes, up to either whatever the player is willing to purchase or the equivalent of a couple infantry academies, whichever is lower. The player pays the converted AEs cost of the infantry imported plus some small surcharge each watch.


If you wanted to extend the concept, you could have "pirate den" independent worlds that use the mesophon scripted conquest behavior but are also independent trader worlds. By default pirate planets build heavily armed warptransports with huge cargo capacity and pirate infantry in their primary structure and they do not supply anything to their trade partner other than maybe the option to cheaply buy these units themselves. Instead, if a T&E sovereign is passing resources or aes to the pirate, the pirate starts bulding big fleets that go off and periodically harass other sovereigns' nearby planets at random. Instead of conquering these worlds, the pirates just snag all the resources and throw them into civil war. In this manner a T&E sovereign can put pressure on their neighbors and create dangerous regions under pirate thrall without inciting a direct war. Rather than being an intrinsic property of the planet like with independent traders, any high-tech world that goes independent after civil war has a chance to become a pirate den if it suffers resource shortages. So pirates will always pop up in the aftermath of big wars.