Endless Space is a 4x game that came out recently -- it's got a nice economy and exploration setup, a decent tech tree, and the shittiest combat system ever. Well, okay, I've seen worse, but it's really quite minimalist and a fundamental design flaw means beams always win, except that sometimes they'll have a mutual kill with missiles.
Combat has three phases, each with three rounds.
Long range: Missiles are at their best, beams do okay, kinetics suck.
Medium range: Combat usually doesn't get this far, but here beams are the best and kinetics start being slightly effective.
Short range: Combat never gets this far unless two scouts are going at it or something.
This is further sabotaged by the way missiles work -- in round one of each range category they launch, but they don't hit until the end of round three. So your missiles will do nothing to cut down on incoming fire until the end of the round, but on the other hand even after all your ships are destroyed they might still hit.
Beams are the best because they can destroy enemy ships each round, the defenses against them are in a part of the tree no one wants to research because there's nothing else useful there, and they work decently at long range where most fights end.
At any rate, it comes with a bunch of pre-made races but I decided to try out some custom ones because they seemed to be a mishmash of reasonable and useless traits. The first one I tried was a success -- I gave them big planets and fast food generation, which led to super-high population and that made everything better. They were also naturally happy, which kind of seemed to be a waste since most planets ended up being pegged at 'ecstatic'. Also, the 'pilgrims' base racial trait was useless -- it let you evacuate a system and recolonize an empty system with all your buildings intact, but there is NEVER AN EMPTY SYSTEM after the beginning of the game since invading doesn't kill people. I guess you could use it to swap systems around or something?
So, when my computer got wiped by McAffee and I reinstalled, I decided to do better. I picked the 'sowers' base racial trait where production was turned into food (but in return food production was halved), gave them a happiness penalty instead of a bonus, kept big planets, but instead of +food production gave them a discount on building ships and improvements (aka, 'everything'). Because there was no +production option. To get the last few points I made their homeworld extra sucky.
And wow, did they suck coming out of the gate. I could never grow my population because the sowers trait in no way replaced normal food generation, even with factories literally everywhere I could stick them -- the starting planets you can colonize all suck for production and are good at making food. No pop means no science means no tech for colonizing the worlds you'd want, and the worlds you want give huge happiness penalties and did I mention this was a naturally unhappy race? By turn 40 I was in second to last place in every category, by turn 60 (where in a normal game I'd have basically won, being so far ahead of the computer) I had a sprawling empire of misery continuously on the brink of bankruptcy and rebellion. Half my worlds were converting production into coins so that I could keep the tax rate low enough not to have popular revolts. I could not afford any sort of military; I even had to scrap my scouts.
Around turn 100 (when previous games usually ended with a science victory or something) I'd managed to turn it around enough that only a couple worlds needed to produce coins and the rest could churn out ships. The sowers forcing me to focus on production combined with the discount on improvements meant that unlike in the previous game, every planet had every improvement and still had lots of room to grow more population. So I didn't *need* to invade my neighbors... but what else was I going to do?
The first planet I took from them instantly became my best system because it had full population. Clearly, I need to conquer more. Also, playing a sucky race can be more fun than just going straight-out overpowered. n.n
Over the weekend, the CoX guild I play with on Sundays convinced me to buy Guild Wars 2. It's technically not out yet, but you can 'pre-buy' it and instantly get into the 'preview' so... yeah. I first tried to make a Charr Engineer named Kijji, but:
(1) The name Kijji was taken. BY WHO? WHO ELSE WOULD USE THAT NAME? It's a totally made up sequence of letters! The whole reason I use it is because it's not a real name and no one picks it! Argh!
(2) Somehow I failed to make the connection that engineers == turrets and turrets == !fun. Also, Charr are assholes, and the whole beginning of the game revolves around fighting the ghosts of the valiant defenders of Ascalon that the Charr committed genocide against in Guild Wars 1.
(3) Charr have four ears. Wat. O.o
So I rerolled as a... plant-thingie elementalist named Terrible Butterfly, after my favorite EMo Guild Wars 1 character. Elementalists are a lot more fun, although SO MANY WEAPON SKILLS TO TRAIN. And you're expected to switch between elements in combat, which means *memorizing* them all. I guess once I have a favorite weapon setup (I suspect dagger/focus or 2-handed staff will win out) it'll be easier to keep track of. Still, much more fun in every way.
I'm annoyed that you have to pick a server (I picked Jade somethingorother because I thought that I remembered someone mentioning it) and can't ever change it though. It means I'll probably never get to play with anyone I know. Not that I usually do anyway!