I have played about three games as a pirate, and, while the root concept is great, I cannot help but get the sinking feeling that the pirate experiance is incomplete.
Early game pirates are probably the most complete part of the experiance. Pirates make empires tremble in terror, and the biggest competition to pirates is not empires but rather other pirates. However, even as a pre-warp empire you are not without recourse, pirates main tech advantage is their early access to Genox hyperdrive, aside from the Genox, Pirates only have access to the following ship techs: Maxos Blaster, Epsilon Torpedo, Ship Boarding, Armor Plating, Fission Reactor, Corvidian Shields, Proton Thruster, Thrust Vector, Storage Systems, and Crew Systems. All of these are the basic models, so, in terms of military vs military, empires generally do not start off very behind, only the hyperdrive is where Pirates start off enormously ahead. Now, early-game pirates do start off at a technological advantage, but they start off at an economic disadvantage. Unlike empires whom have an entire populated planet to draw taxes from, Pirates must fight tooth and nail for every last credit through protection agreements, hidden pirate bases, trade, raiding, and missions.
One of my favorite opening moves as a pre-warp empire has been to build a defense base first, then watch it thrash the handful of frigates and destroyers that attempt to raid you.
Now, at some point, the long-term goal of a Pirate is to obtain a planet, and establish a Criminal network on it. Usually independant planets are chosen for this, but occasionally a small empire colony is picked as well. Criminal networks are enormously valuable for pirates, in that they cover one of the biggest weaknesses of pirates, the lack of steady income.
However, I feel that Criminal Networks are not only far too easy to obtain, they only cost a measly 330K credits, including pirate base and fortress, but they do not substantially change the game enough for pirates. Yes, grabbing a colony does get you a very, very nice source of steady income, but thats about it. But Pirates cannot even benefit a whole bunch from their colonies, as a few of the normal buildings and many of the wonders do not function at all for pirates.
Thus, I suggest the following:
Some fixes for early game pirates:
- A 'Truce' option between pirates and empires, which results in no money being exchanged but empires are far less likely to break it. This is mainly for smugglers whom would rather not fight an empire at all and have no use for protection agreements as they net more money from smuggling
- Some kind of reputation benefit for smuggling. Surely an empire would be appreciative of a pirate faction providing them much needed materials
- Empires should not attack smugglers whom are doing smuggling missions directly for them
- Pirates should get some kind of sanctions option against empires, where they refuse to take smuggling missions or trade with that empire
- Fix Pirate Base/Pirate Fortress defense, especially the Smuggler/Mercenary bonus to Pirate Base/Fortress defense which is currently not working
- Racial benefits should be fixed to work with pirates, as, at the moment, only three-ish races get any kind of benefit as pirate at all, which are Haakonish, Ackdarian, and Ketarov
- Independant planets should not issue defense missions unless they are actually threatened, at the moment they are an enormous source of free and easy cash for pirates, most of the time you do not even have to send a fleet to defend it
- An alliance option between pirates and empires? A far shot, and not something thats critical, but I figured it could use mentioning
Some fixes for late game pirates:
- Criminal Network should be substantially increased in price, I would give it a base price of 1M, at least. Pirates acquiring a colony should be a very big deal, a gamechanger
- Pirates should be able to gain research bonuses from scientists and wonders
- Should also get the ability to recruit Colonial Governors, if they own planets
- Access to more events maybe? I noticed I never got much in the way of events even after I acquired a colony, racial or otherwise
- Pirates should get the same research capacity from planets they own as empires do (At the moment they only get a small fraction)
I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles