Changes in Population

After playing through my first games and experimenting with different ways to get assassinated, I decided to change my strategy up in a simple way that just utterly breaks the game: just implement the cheapest (political capital; not dollars) policies first. I did this with Germany, France, and a couple of times with the USA. The first time I tried it I got 83% turnout and 100% of the vote after my first term - not a single person voted for the opposition. This was in the USA with all settings at default.

To replicate:

  • Immediately begin implementing new policies. Start with those that cost 4 or less political capital, beginning with those that affect your current crises the most followed by what costs the least.
  • Manage current policies. Abolish the use of tear gas, water cannons, tasers, and anything else related to Law and Order than angers liberals; pissing off liberals is very easy to avoid as long as you are not a cartoon villain. Go through all policies and abolish/reform as needed so long as the cost for doing so is below 6 political capital. Prioritize in the same way that new policies are: by affect on current crises followed by lowest cost in dollars.
  • Repeat steps above, increasing acceptable cost in increments of 6 as you run out of cheaper policies
  • Reform taxes. Implement desired tax reforms, regardless of cost to political capital. The policies you’ve been dealing with up to this point will keep public opinion on your side if you increase taxes.
  • Run hog-wild. You now have enough money and support to implement and reform any policy to nearly any degree without significant threat to your re-election chances.

The primary cause:

  • Highly malleable populations. Crises such as illegal immigration and the protests associated with them can be ignored because, while the policy makes people in a group unhappy, it doesn’t have a significant number of people joining the group to cause you any concern. This is because many of these policies change the population way too quickly. It only takes about 1 term length for me to alter the population in a way that ensures victory. In short: the game rewards you much more than it should in efforts to alter the population which decreases the incentive to compromise. This is so much the case that as France I simply let the crisis happen, used emergency powers to implement capital controls to stop corporate exodus and brain drain, and then didn’t actually address the debt crisis because even though the middle class was now 90% of the population and extremely mad at me the individual voters weren’t mad since they belong to enough happy groups to override that.

Suggested fix:

  • Delay shifts in public opinion and population. The material effects of policies seem to have reasonable delays, but for many issues the population changes its mind very quickly. Even if a policy has taken effect and is improving people’s lives they often still take a bit to come around to the idea. Conservatives didn’t all immediately become supportive of weed legalization following success in Washington and Colorado; it’s taken years for many of them to change their minds on the topic. No matter what changes in childcare or immigration I make, there is absolutely no way I should be able to reach a 40% population increase in 1-2 terms - especially when other measures are being taken to reduce global instability.
  • Increase political capital requirement for certain policies to reduce the return rate on the player’s investment in said policy. This wouldn’t fix the issue but it would at least make the first term challenging.

Hi, thanks for your feedback, its very helpful. So when you say population, you are talking about individual voter group memberships right? So for example you seem to be suggesting that the parents voter group can be grown too rapidly?

Its a difficult thing to get right because the game design has to balance 3 opposing forces:

  1. The game has to seem vaguely realistic
  2. The game has to present a challenge, and be fun
  3. The game has to seem to be under the players direct control, with them seeing the direct impact of their decisions

That last one means that having effects take so long the player forgets the cause can be a problem :frowning:

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Thank you for your comment. Yes, you’re understanding me correctly.

I see how those are very difficult to balance, especially considering the 3rd point you listed. Maybe it would be good to have a non-linear change in that voter group’s population (obviously excluding places where it would be game-breaking or not make sense)? Take the smoking campaign for example: maybe there would be an initial drop in tobacco usage due to people who avoid thinking about the consequences of smoking being forced to confront them, followed by a slow and consistent drop in smoking as more stubborn people quit, and then another steep drop in tobacco usage a few years later due to the next generation of voters being less likely to take up the habit in the first place. This could also contribute to the “carrot vs stick” dynamic of some policies: increasing the tax on tobacco products would decrease usage faster but also be far more unpopular as many who don’t want to stop will be made to. I know that smokers aren’t counted as a voter group, but the same concept could apply to reducing the number of motorists through biking campaigns and other voter groups with policies that affect them.

As for keeping the player aware of this: perhaps they could be notified in the turn summary menu when the rate of change is adjusted? Let’s stick with our smoking example: the policy page itself could describe the expected change in tobacco usage for the first phase (or all phases), after 6 months you could get a notification in the summary page telling you that tobacco usage is stabilizing, and 3 years later you could get a notification in the summary page telling you that tobacco usage is dropping significantly. It could have the symbol of the relevant policy which is affecting that change next to it (like the face of a particularly unhappy minister might appear in the turn summary menu).

In regards to the player’s wish to control the situation: perhaps after they are out of office the game could simulate the effects of their policies over the next “n” years and present the resulting data? If the policies of administrations following the player’s administration are factored in that could also incentivize the player to be maintain popularity and get that “3rd term” (as it’s called in the US), rather than simply implementing hardline unpopular policies because their final term is coming to an end.

I’ve done my best to make myself clear but it’s still quite convoluted haha. I know it’s a lot and if this is outside of the realm of plausibility I wouldn’t be shocked. However, I think if implemented properly it would do wonders for balance and drastically increase the game’s enjoyability.

Well the gameIS very complex :smiley:
We currently signal the slow change of values in three ways. We have the ‘implementation delay’ bar on a policy, and show a ‘ghosted’ slider to show how gradually a slider is moving from one position to the next when implementation is slow.
We also have the UI on the effect bars for each effect where we show what the ‘final’ effect of a change will be that is currently underway. I THINK that most players of the game are understanding that all of these things are happening, but its very hard to be sure, and its a huge break from pretty much any other game, where the players actions are immediately implemented and then any effects are immediately apparent.

The real problem is that because of the delays, there may be multiple effects (even contradictory ones) happening at the same time on a specific effect.

So to take your smoking example, we may be increasing the tax on tobacco, but at the same time maybe increasing the tax on alcohol, so we may have one effect pushing alcohol consumption down, as the other pushes it up… Its really hard to make all this clear!

Ah, that makes sense! This is definitely a very complex game (one of the only political games that doesn’t infuriate me with its complexity as a political science student haha)!

I noticed the lightly colored portion of the bar but was unsure of what it was for a long time. The only suggestion I have now would be to add explanatory text to the existing “right-click for details” graphs/tooltips for things that may need a explanation.

Thank you for your responses!! This game is already leaps and bounds ahead of the competition and I’m looking forward to y’all fulfilling more and more of its potential in the coming months :smiley: