Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Factory sleeps (Post-Dynastic Commentary)

Okay, I know it’s a bit early to be posting this but I’m going to sleep rn and I doubt anything is going to change in 4 hours.

This Dynasty…was kind of a mess.  I know, first time and all, but I’m pretty sure I still got off to a rough start by those standards.  And then it ended in a midgame scam.  Hey, at least the scam felt satisfying to me.

Comments

ais523:

21-08-2021 06:32:31 UTC

This dynasty was a lot of fun for me, but I recognise that this style of dynasty may not have been fun for other people (and had recognised this even during play).

One problem is that this was a very “grindy” dynasty – a lot depended on making optimal use of your actions in order to set up for future cycles, and the eventual winner was basically just going to come down to whoever could plan out their turns to the end of the dynasty most efficiently. And the other problem is that working all that out was hard; it took me several hours a day of thought over multiple days (which I was happy to use because it was such an interesting problem to work on). My solution for getting to the infinite loop took quite a while to plan out, and I doubt I did it optimally; my actions over the last three cycles took a number of attempts to plan out (e.g. the idea to use two Seeders two cycles ago took me quite a while to find, and eventually ended up saving me a critical point of Energy during the startup of this Cycle by allowing me to grow Corn without spending Energy clearing away a Seeder).

If anyone’s reading this in the future, and likes this sort of puzzle, then there’s still one remaining unsolved problem in this ruleset that might be interesting for such a hypothetical person to solve: I strongly suspect that there’s an infinite loop that uses no Corn, instead relying on Wheat and Sugar. I failed to figure out the details, though (either for what the loop is, or for how to get into it).

The problem with grindiness is that it makes it hard to get into the game if you’re a) new, or b) fall behind for any number of reasons. I expect we would have seen player numbers plummet over the next couple of weeks if the dynasty had continued – when players feel unable to win by conventional means, as most players pretty much were at this point, they tend to either turn to pooling attempts (not possible here, and that’s probably a good thing), or idle out. (It’s also possible to try to win via scam or punish-the-leader proposals, but those are less common courses of action; and this dynasty was reaching the point where most substantive proposals would fail out of paranoia.)

The thing you need to be aware of as a new Emperor, though, is that all this is usual! A “this dynasty is too hard for me” / “I can’t guide this dynasty’s mechanics in a direction I like” / “I’m too far behind and can’t catch up by conventional means” point happens to most players, in most dynasties, and it doesn’t reflect a failing of the Emperor; it’s very rare to come up with a theme that can keep everyone engaged all the way through, and almost any ruleset will appeal to some players but be off-putting to others. When a dynasty reaches that point, normally the best course of action is for someone to win the dynasty on the spot and cause a reset (in my opinion, it’s very unusual for a dynasty to remain fun for the majority of players all the way through, and the best course of action is to find the point at which interest starts dropping off and end the dynasty by pool / scam / proposal / making the victory condition trivially easy). Although I haven’t done it myself, I have a suspicion that back in the Age of Scams, some players saved core rules scams for use at a moment when they thought there was greatest need for a dynasty change.

Vovix: he/him

21-08-2021 06:53:19 UTC

Was it a mess? I actually felt like it was coming together quite nicely as a basis for an engine-building game. It was grindy in the sense of requiring regular actions, sure, but at least we set the pace slow enough that it wasn’t a burden and every turn involved making decisions rather than just the “log in, claim your daily production, log out” that a lot of dynastic mechanics suffer from.

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:04:09 UTC

Some thoughts about strategy.

This dynasty was very unusual in one major respect – there was an infinite loop scam in it almost from the start. (In one sense, I “put the scam there” as it was my proposal that completed the loop, and I was aware of this at the time I posted the proposal; but the combination of very powerful Machines like the Harvester, and very low costs for many of the more powerful Machines due to the buy cost = use cost rule, meant that the loop could be completed using Machines like the Crusher that were much weaker than those that already existed.)

As such, my proposal pattern this dynasty was very unusual. Much of it was just air-keyboarding. I was spending some of the rest of my effort trying to increase the chance that someone would propose a victory condition and let me end the dynasty before the usual ruleset drift ended up breaking the loop. Finally, I was putting quite a bit of focus into making the various loops harder to execute, and/or to require more setup (thus, e.g., nerfing farming to a point that nobody but me wanted to use it, but where it was nonetheless still sufficiently powerful to form a loop); some of the earlier loops were so easy to pull off that I thought it was likely that other players had already found them and were just waiting for a victory condition, and I wanted to lock them out from that.

I know some players talk about BlogNomic as collaborative game design, but it has one big shortcoming in that respect – you can’t talk freely about game balance. The numbers in my proposals were often carefully chosen. (For example, you probably can’t perform this loop if Harvesters cost 3 Cogs, and it’s much too easy if Harvesters cost 1 Cog, whereas increasing the cost to 2 Cogs makes it difficult but still possible. Nobody questioned my increase of Harvester cost to 2 in “Fairer Farming”, whereas an attempt to balance a real, playable game will have lots of discussion of the exact numbers. Having an honest discussion about that here would probably require disclosing all the possible loops that might exist.) Likewise, the initial cost of Crusher was designed to make it hard to loop (by ensuring that the box it generated from a freshly build Machine couldn’t be used to power the Crusher itself) – this left it looking mostly useless (to the point that it got reworked in a later proposal), but if I hadn’t done that, infinite loops would have been so trivial to pull off that I’d expect someone else to find them first. So this lead to a pattern where I had to make a lot of decisions in proposals without being able to explain the reasoning, which isn’t really conducive to good game design.

Giving feedback on proposals early continues to be a very powerful strategy. Workshop Maintenance was probably the scariest point for me in the whole dynasty, because it required a discussion about the Crusher’s balance properties that was more honest than I would have liked (and Clucky came very close to recognising what was going on). Fortunately, this lead lemonfanta to rework the Crusher into something that gave a really interesting infinite loop problem (basically because it changed the basic resource you needed to continue a loop from Sugarcubes, which could be converted into Cogs fairly efficiently, into Bread, which was harder to make and which had a horrible direct conversion rate to Cogs). The resulting problem took me days to solve; however, I realised that it was probably solvable during the proposal’s voting period (although I underestimated its difficulty), and voted FOR partially so that other people who wanted to loop would be presented with the same problem, and partially so that the Crusher change would discourage people from repealing the Crusher or changing it a second time.

The other scary moment was Cold Reboot, which would have broken the loops altogether (an experienced Werewolf player may have realised I was panicking there). Luckily, it broke everything else too, so I was able to talk Kevan into self-killing it. Fortunately, I still had a spare slot, so was able to “take ownership” of the problem of fixing Clients and could fix it in a way that wouldn’t break the scam.

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:13:55 UTC

On the subject of Cold Reboot: the “submitting a report heats all your machines” mechanic was actually broken in two different ways. Kevan had identified that it would allow you to submit a Report mid-Cycle and then buy new machines afterwards, but (as far as I can tell) only thought about the implication that would have on Reports. There was a much more powerful use of it, though: because it heated machines, it could heat Greenhouses, which would save you one Energy per Greenhouse heated (as long as you’d seeded the Greenhouse in a previous cycle). My initial plan for entering the loop relied on that scam, but fixing the bug with Report submission would fix the Greenhouse-heating scam too. This made me reconsider and, fortunately, I found a way to enter the loop without relying on the scam at all (so I was happy to close off the scam to prevent other people using it against me). Trying to keep that scam alive would have been very interesting when it came to proposal-based gameplay (I could have submitted “Nine to Five” as-is – the game-breaking typo in it was accidental but could easily have been added intentionally if need be – and then self-killed the fixed version of it some time later, but that would have definitely made people realise I was up to something), but fortunately it wasn’t necessary.

Clucky: he/him

21-08-2021 07:16:02 UTC

None of the problems with the dynasty were really your fault Jumble so I wouldn’t feel bad

yeah, dynasties that can be brute forced by people willing to waste 20 hours of their life to optimizing the gameplay for a fun little internet game aren’t really the best dynasties. but it was still a cool idea with some fun gameplay involved and a good lesson for the group as a whole what sort of mechanics don’t work well in the future (early victory mechanics that are theoretically achievable even if you’re not sure how; grindy periods that make a lot of success in the dynasty come down to just how many turns you’ve taken; lots of various choices so that success boils down to simply having the time to crunch all the possible combinations) but each dynasty is a lesson for the future and like, enough people voted on that stuff for it to pass so its not your fault it got in

Clucky: he/him

21-08-2021 07:23:11 UTC

anyways watching ais admit to basically having every proposal/vote they made be an attempt to manipulate people into helping them win is probably a good idea that in future dynasties to just vote against anything he proposes on principle in order to avoid getting manipulated like that in the future

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:34:14 UTC

On the subject of victory conditions.

There was a major argument this dynasty about whether victory conditions should be instant, or whether they should be based on time quantisation + a tiebreak (e.g. “if multiple players activate Chime in the same cycle, the Chime activator with the most Cogs wins”).

In this case, knowing that infinite loops were available and that I was probably going to win using one unless someone else found one first, I was strongly in favour of the instant win, for two reasons:

a) Demonstrating an infinite loop, but not winning immediately, tends to rather ruin the game as people try to recover and/or try to prevent the loop leading to a win and/or try to steal your idea to use it themselves. So that would mean, in effect, delaying the end of the dynasty another 59 or so hours. Delaying your win when you have a forced win is bad manners because it wastes everyone’s time. (This is the main reason I posted my win so soon after the start of the Cycle – no reason to keep everyone waiting.) It also requires you to be online at a specific time (the end of the cycle) to win via infinite loop (whereas with “instant wins”, you can do the loop at any time in a cycle and still win).

b) If infinite-Cog loops exist, a Cog-based tiebreak will have horrible effects; an win early in the dynasty is likely only possible due to an infinite loop, so if two players do it on the same cycle, the whole game will turn into “who can name the bigger number” as the winning players repeatedly try to bump their Cog counts above the others. This has even worse effects on the game than the “be awake when the Cycle action happens and try to get in first” tiebreak; it still requires you to be awake at the time of the Cycle action, but 60 hours later, and given that both players will be trying to edit the wiki to the largest number available at the same time as each other, it’s going to run into Fair Play problems when MediaWiki rejects the simultaneous edits (which is probably an unexpected behaviour for many players).

I was therefore perhaps more dismissive of Clucky’s viewpoint on this during the dynasty than I should have been; the timing problem he picked up on is real, and the fix might help in close cases where there’s no possibility of a scam being involved, but I knew that for this dynasty in particular, that problem would be unlikely to occur, but the fix to it would cause much larger problems. I just couldn’t say that without giving away what my plans for victory were.

It crosses my mind that a decent improvement would be to base the tiebreak on Cog count at the end of the previous cycle – although that prolongs the dynasty a few days in cases when the winner is clear (which is usually going to be the case), it does at least avoid the win scam affecting the tiebreak too. Maybe a good compromise would be to only instigate the “wait one cycle and use a tiebreak” if someone other than the winner is “close” to victory in some sense.

On a side note, I was somewhat apprehensive that Bucky would win as soon as “Collector’s Victory” passed; I couldn’t see a way to do it in one cycle starting from Bucky’s gamestate, but knowing how loop-heavy this dynasty was, I was very concerned that I might be missing something. I was therefore somewhat relieved when the proposal’s enactment went through without incident.

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:45:50 UTC

@Clucky: Only two of my proposals this dynasty, “More Machines” and “Fairer Farming”, were attempts to change the ruleset into a form that would be more favourable to me. (“We Make New Things” to some extent, too, but I basically just wanted to get people talking about victory conditions – I wouldn’t have minded much if that particular implementation got voted down, although I was hoping to steer the victory condition towards something that an infinite-loop scam could achieve within a single cycle, as opposed to, say, “fulfil 20 Wants”.) In the case of “Fairer Farming”, the proposal only benefited me to the extent that it ameliorated a major balance issue, and having a more balanced dynasty increased the chance that I would be able to break it where other players couldn’t, as opposed to everyone being able to break it ­– I don’t think it’s reasonable to argue that the unbalanced versions of Sugar farming made for a better game, or that it makes sense to vote down proposals that fix bugs because they increase the chance that someone will win using a random bug exploit.

Some of the rest of my proposals were intended to benefit me, but in ways that were unrelated to whether they passed or failed. In the most extreme case, “Let me paint you a portrait” was an outright proposal that benefited every other player at the cost of myself – I only proposed it because I expected that it would fail, and/or that the dynasty would end before it could be enacted.

There were plenty of other proposals that were intended for the good of BlogNomic as a whole and had nothing to do with helping me win, such as “By any means”, “Neater Machine tracking”, and “A minimal consensus shouldn’t have lasting effects”.

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:51:41 UTC

On another note: there were a surprisingly high number of proposal timeouts this dynasty, often on very low vote counts. “Charging My Lazers”, for example, timed out 1-2-1, despite a player count of 12, and potentially major impacts on the balance of the dynasty (it would have made big infinite loops much easier to pull off by the Cog-rich, given that Energy was the limiting factor on loop-starting). I was delaying my vote on it to stall the queue (as I was in a winning situation, I wanted to deprive as many people as possible of slots to reduce the chance that something would change and break the win), but I did vote on it eventually.

ais523:

21-08-2021 07:56:51 UTC

(I submitted the first half of the previous comment early unthinkingly, here’s the rest…)

I’m wondering whether the reason behind all the timeouts was a) players being lost in the dynastic gameplay / feeling that they didn’t understand the strategy and therefore not knowing what basis they should be voting on; b) players having trouble keeping track of all the proposals; c) players not seeing voting as being important; d) players missing the proposal altogether because the 48-hour proposal timeout window was shorter than the 60-hour cycle action pulse; or e) something else. Last dynasty, many of the timeouts appeared to be an issue of slow adminning (proposals were frequently timing out while quorate), whereas this dynasty, the timeouts were primarily due to very limited voting.

I’m guessing that it’s going to be some combination of the above points (e.g. there were some Core changes that timed out, for which disconnection with the dynastic ruleset doesn’t really apply as a possibility; of course, some players may be disconnected with the core ruleset). It may be a problem worth looking into, though, when only a few players are voting and thus only a few players get to shape the game.

ais523:

21-08-2021 08:11:44 UTC

FWIW, I’d argue that early victory mechanics are generally very good for the game (and to me, this didn’t feel like an early victory mechanic – it was already feeling like late midgame by the time it was posted).

For one thing, they give direction to the game, which helps solve the issue with aimlessness.

For another thing, they make it clear which resources are relevant. This greatly reduces the extent to which the game is about social manipulation; if player A has a lot of resource X, and player B has a lot of resource Y, then the game may well be decided by which player is better at convincing the playerlist as a whole to make the victory condition X-heavy as opposed to Y-heavy, but that won’t happen if the victory condition was already determined in advance.

Finally, they give an outlet for scams, allowing them to be used for the win rather than being bottled up until they’re relevant. This helps to increase the chance that the dynasty ends while it’s still enjoyable; past a certain point, proposals to make the dynasty easier to win (even in minor ways) are likely to be voted down, and if the victory condition is too hard to achieve via conventional means, the dynasty is forced to collapse into pooling or just abandoned outright. Scam wins frequently happen at the point where the dynasty is going from its “fun” phase to its “no fun” phase, resetting the gamestate and changing the theme, and thus helping to keep the game fun constantly.

The main argument against is that an early victory condition dramatically increases the chance that the dynasty ends early on. I don’t consider this to necessarily be a bad thing, though.

Vovix: he/him

21-08-2021 08:42:37 UTC

@Clucky Please knock it off with the comments not so subtly belittling other player’s playstyles. Yes, it’s a fun little internet game. For a lot of players, the fun of the game is in solving the puzzle and finding the optimal move. Some are willing to spend 20 hours solving the puzzle, because they find that fun. If that’s not fun for you, you’re free to spend as many or as few hours thinking about the game as you want. But coming in and calling other people’s fun a “waste of time”, and especially implying that their win is somehow less legitimate because they didn’t play by your standards is just incredibly unsportsmanlike.

And yes, ais wrote/voted on proposals to achieve gameplay advantages. That’s how the game goes. I voted against sugar-nerfing proposals. You voted against proposals that buff Prototypes. It’s just inevitable as part of a game where we all vote on things that will affect different players differently. Quit acting like it somehow makes him an “untrustworthy player” that needs to be systematically excluded from the game. This is going beyond strategic play or concerns about game health and into personal vendetta territory where it feels like you’re trying to turn the community against a particular player.

Josh: he/they

21-08-2021 09:06:31 UTC

I agree with Vovix. ais played well in this dynasty and the victory was a lot of fun to watch.

Jumble - you have nothing to worry about - for a first time emperor you did great :) And now when you get your second dynasty, you’ll know what it’s like and be more prepared.

Kevan: City he/him

21-08-2021 09:16:39 UTC

Well played there. Was good to see a properly complex infinite-actions scam.

I’d taken my eye off the ball a bit in the last few days, partly because of the proposal timeouts mentioned - combined with the Emperor being due to idle out over the weekend, it was feeling like the dynasty might be turning the corner into altering the Chime cost and having a quick knife-fight between the active players, meaning that any Chime change would be made on fairish terms among them (and maybe even coming down to a merit-random handshake), and I wasn’t feeling like too much of an outlier.

Main takeaway for me is that if you’re not planning to brute-force or infinite-loop through a particular complex corner of the game yourself, you should propose a common-sense sanity check to stop other players from doing so (or at least to see if anyone starts rhapsodising about how fun loops would be). It had crossed my mind that Chime really should be something that had maybe a two-Cycle gap between building and activating, so that we’d get a heads up on someone moving towards the victory line, but I didn’t go as far as actually putting that on paper.

I hope Clucky will take the Community Guidelines on board when they hit the ruleset. Ais’s comments about using underexplained votes to protect a long-term plan do show why it’s better to assume “this player is trying to win” than “this player is lying to spite me” when they do something apparently inconsistent.

Clucky: he/him

21-08-2021 16:24:45 UTC

If people like dynasties that can be brute forced by some willing to dedicate 20+ hours of their time to them, they are welcome to vote for proposals that lead to more of such behavior in the future. Personally, I don’t think its fun for games to be decided by who can devote the most amount of time to them and so will try to avoid introducing mechanics of voting for proposals that lead to them in the future. If you know someone else is going to spend 20+ hours brute forcing a dynasty, then there isn’t a ton of point in doing anything strategic in the dynasty at all cause you’re just going to be out resourced in that department.

Similarly, in the same way that if a person backstabs you without being the traitor the best way to respond in order to not get taken advantage of in the future is simply to not trust that person; if a person sets out to be manipulative through their votes and their proposals from the very start of the dynasty and so you know they are always going to be doing that, the best way to avoid getting manipulated is to simply vote against their proposals and ignore what they have to say on other proposals. People can’t manipulate you if you don’t listen to them. You can’t say “manipulation is part of the game” if you don’t also allow responding to people who are overly manipulative to be part of the game. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of being too manipulative are that people stop trusting you.

Bucky:

21-08-2021 16:59:04 UTC

I don’t see this win as a scam; rather, it’s at the limit of normal play.

As a late joiner, I was missing some critical context. I didn’t analyze ais523’s voting behavior for proposals from before I unidled, nor did I attempt critically examine the implications of his earlier proposals. However, there is a particular precaution that I should have taken purely because ais523 was active, and didn’t, that e.g. should have raised suspicions about “Reap what you Sow”.

FWIW, my solo against vote on Unlockables was secretly backed by concern that requiring three Thing-sets instead of two to win would tilt things too far in favor of various flavors of abnormal gameplay - infinite loops included, but not the only method - vs. “honest” stockpiling over many cycles. It turned out not to matter, though.

I think if we did this dynasty again, aside from anti-infinite measures, I’d try to put more emphasis on Boxes as costs instead of Cogs and make it more difficult to get specific Box values; trying to manufacture the box-allocation dilemmas that were rare here. I’d also try to work in some ways of interfering with other players’ Lines besides rule changes.

Clucky: he/him

21-08-2021 17:06:45 UTC

I think from a preventing people from going infinite standpoint, this dynasty would’ve been fine if we didn’t introduce a way to gain energy.

why not speak up about the “tilt things in favor of abnormal gameplay” scenario? Seems like the kind of worry you’d want to tip other people off too.

I also agree with the notion that having more player interaction would be better. With it, even if someone is willing to put extra time into optimizing the game that can be better countered by a couple of people just working together and showing off the power of teamwork. Plus teaming up makes a dynasty far more enjoyable even if you figure you’re efforts are probably gonna fail because you each put 2 hours into your strategy and you’re up against people putting 20, at least you’re having fun working with someone.

Bucky:

21-08-2021 17:15:50 UTC

Speaking up about it doesn’t just tip people off to the fact that I’m concerned about it, it also hints that I’ve identified some abnormal gameplay to be worried about which implies that I might use said abnormal gameplay which leads to increased scrutiny on my future proposals.

And I couldn’t just identify a particular example, either, because I was worried about broad categories for which I hadn’t (yet) identified specific exploits.

Clucky: he/him

21-08-2021 17:21:49 UTC

Fair enough. Though I’d argue that suspicious voting patterns makes people far more wary of what you’re trying to do than just being like “I think there might be some problems here”. I know if you had spoken out against scam concerns it would’ve probably made me more trusting of you, not less.

Bucky:

21-08-2021 17:45:40 UTC

BTW, here’s an alternate infinite abusing the Tracking Conflict:

Setup: Greenhouse* (Corn) x4, Harvester, 2 cogs
Step 1: Greenhouse* (Corn) x4, Harvester*, 8 cogs
Step 2: Greenhouse* (Corn) x4, Harvester [Boxing Widget]*, 3 cogs
Step 3: Greenhouse* (Corn) x4, Harvester* [Boxing Widget]*, 9 cogs
Step 4: Greenhouse* (Corn) x4, Harvester [Boxing Widget]* [Boxing Widget]*, 4 cogs
...

Then if you also have Wheat seeds you can get cash in your huge pile of cogs for a sufficient amount of Energy, use the tracking error to forget your machines are warm in order to remove and replace them, and so on until you can chime.

lemon: she/her

21-08-2021 18:22:45 UTC

i enjoyed playing this conventionally, and i think i did a pretty good job at it (until the Big Scam)!! those sort of open-ended systems are fun to intuitively explore for me. and honestly im not even that upset about the scam bc of the impressive spectacle of it!!

the start of this dynasty was a big motivation-killer for me, since i went into the collab w/ jumble with *very* different expectations about what a/the collab looked like compared 2 him, and when i got demoted it was after a few weeks of having a lot of things i like canceled. but the feeling passed, and i had fun with the boxes game (i was gonna get so many big boxes chopping boxes w/ a boxing module and then gluing them back together w/ a second one, u have no idea), so its not a bad dynasty in my eyes

one thing i’m sad about is that i was planning to start proposing things that cared about their position in ur lineup soon, like a heat sink that cooled the adjacent machines. could’ve been neat!! altho prolly even more exploitable :U

Josh: he/they

21-08-2021 19:27:53 UTC

Yeah that could have shaved as many as 150 turns off of the 6,600 turn victory loop 😂

ais523:

21-08-2021 19:28:25 UTC

I still don’t think the Tracking Conflict is a real bug – being able to change the tracking page in ways that mean it doesn’t track something properly doesn’t actually change the thing being tracked, it just means the tracking page is wrong.

FWIW, I agree with Bucky’s all comments on Unlockables. I actually got very close to writing a comment like “although this mechanic looks interesting, using it for Chime is a mistake, because it’ll just force people to make three Thing-sets rather than two”, but decided that I didn’t want to rock the boat and knew that it was unlikely to matter at that stage of the dynasty. I also agree with Bucky’s comments on what might have been interesting directions for the dynasty (I think very early on I was aiming for a “looking for boxes with specific values is worthwhile” direction but got outvoted, and the Sugarcube and Press mechanics quickly put that sort of gameplay out of reach).

I was also concerned about the way Boxes were becoming increasingly irrelevant (I said as much in the comments of Collector’s Victory, but let the proposal through anyway because it was so helpful to my chances to win).

Bucky:

21-08-2021 19:38:20 UTC

It’s not an irreconcilable conflict as written, except for storage with widgets. Otherwise, you can simply track the machine as “*Harvester [Boxing Widget]”

ais523:

21-08-2021 20:39:41 UTC

@lemonfanta: I was also interested in “position on the line matters” mechanics but never got around to it (mostly because I couldn’t think of something that would be fun to play with, and would actually get enacted – we were reaching the point in the dynasty where anything any of the leaders did would be assumed to be a scam).

I think the pace of gameplay was maybe too slow for a conventional win to be viable, though; if we could somehow have ensured that all infinite loops were impossible (which seems like a hard thing to guarantee in this style of dynasty), it would probably have been a good idea to give players more Energy, Machine space, or both (maybe we could make Machine space expand every couple of cycles). Perhaps a stream of new and powerful mechanics would have been sufficient, but it’s very hard to pass that sort of thing unless the players who are behind want it to pass and outvote the players who are ahead.

It would have been hard to deal with the issues of “players who are behind, or new, have trouble catching up”, though; I agree with the sentiment behind “Welcome package”, and would have voted for it on a health-of-the-dynasty basis, but don’t think it would have been enough by itself.