Jun 10, 2015

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The Hardest Decision To Make

On Monday I wrote about Powerplay, the big update to Elite: Dangerous, and that post was based on my cursory experience with the system’s details as provided in-game. I had watched the introductory video about the system, and while informative, didn’t really drive home the depth and complexity of the system. I was linked to this player-created presentation by a friend, and on Twitter, that goes over the benefits and ramifications of throwing your lot in with one of the factional powers, and it’s an excellent guide for anyone interested in what Powerplay has to offer.

For the tl;dr crowd, here’s the rundown:

  • Factions own control systems and influence exploited systems.
  • These systems generate control capital (CC) which is used to pay upkeep on these systems and to expand influence.
  • There’s three phases of controlling a new system:
    • Preparation: Players undertake actions in-line with their power’s Ethos, and vote on which prepared systems to expand.
    • Expansion: Players attempt to influence the system while other players attempt to thwart their expansion
    • Fortification: Players undertake actions to fortify the system, while other players attempt to undermine their fortification
  • Players earn merit points from participating in these phases. Merit determines the benefits players can claim from their powers, and how many votes they get during the preparation phase.
  • Powers can enter into CC debit and can be eliminated from the field if they lose control of enough systems due to an inability to pay the necessary CC upkeep.
  • Players can withdraw support and keep their goods, or defect, keeping their goods and some of their merit points.
    • Defection will earn a bounty from the previous faction lasting for a period commiserate with the amount of merit the player left with.

I’m not sure which faction I want to join, if any. The Federation is heavy-handed about their capitalism, while the Empire is all about taking a page from ancient Rome…including slavery. The Alliance is a middleman, and the independents are really just flavor as foils for the Feds and the Empire. All of them have different benefits, though, in terms of discounts on goods or bonuses on bounties, special trading commodities and ship equipment, and other do’s or do not’s.

I can always stay unaligned, of course, which allows me to move freely though any system (NPC pirates notwithstanding), but then I don’t get the benefits from any of the powers, or the driving force that Powerplay really provides.

There’s two sticking points. The first is the lore-alignment. Not super important, but I’d like it to be part of the consideration. I have Fed rep already, but they seem too self-absorbed. The Empire seems more egalitarian, but is built on slave labor. The rest of the options aren’t really fleshed out as much, so they’re pretty much a blank slate. The second is the benefits. This is more nebulous, and plays into what opportunities present themselves for gameplay. For example, the Alliance seems more geared towards traders, while Archon Delaine of the Independents is a pirate king, allowing for impunity when selling black market items.

I’ve heard tell that a lot of players (and developers) seem very gung-ho for the Empire for some reason, but I’d rather not simply choose the popular side. On the other hand, because the features of the system require a lot of people working towards a common goal, I don’t want to be the only resident of a ghost town either. I would fathom that a lot of open play players will be siding with the pirates because institutionalized griefing and all. I can’t see why anyone would focus on the Alliance, Sirius Corp, or the Utopians unless there’s some meta-benefit to the perks they grant that I’m not seeing.

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