Alliance of the Sacred Suns - if CK2, Stellaris, and MOO3 (Emrich Edition) had a strategy baby


FYI, the 3-turn LP is now up on YouTube here:

It’s about an hour long, but it goes into many of the current game systems and give some strategic thoughts about the game.




no video? well at least from an Oz perspective?


Try it now. Apparently it had to process for a good while. -S


all good. with thanks good twin


No worries. Enjoy!! -S


FYI, I’m implementing an extensive help system over the next 2 weeks! Details here:



I am soooo looking forward to this!

One suggestion. Somewhere recently you were describing the consequences of taxation, where under 20% you get beneficial reactions, and above 30% negative reactions. imho, this is going to be a problem. Wouldn’t it become a no-brainer to set taxation at 29% or below 20? Never in between. And that seems jarring.

My suggestion is that if you want to keep it simple, you could have a line like this at 25, where harm begins at 26 and benefits begin at 24. But if you want to create realistic complexity, that those already displeased with your governance begin to react negatively to taxation as soon as you raise it over 20, but those pleased with your governance begin to react positively as soon as you drop it under 30. (Ordinary citizens who resist taxes are very often, in truth, resisting the way the money is spent as much as the taxes. The only time I ever howled about taxes was when they went for a war I disagreed with.)

Just my opinion. :)


I would like to see 4x developers challenge the pervasive “taxes are bad” narrative and take a more nuanced and realistic approach to the impact of tax rates. So many games use the low to no taxes results in happy peeps.

High taxes in and of themselves don’t necessarily lead to negative population effects. If the population is receiving high quality services and understands that those services are paid through public funds, they may grumble but not revolt. This assumes the corruption rate is under control, which is another conversation.

One could argue that no taxes could lead to subpar services and a very angry majority of the public. In my small town local government is managed well and we receive very good public services for a community that is not well heeled. We get that nobody else is going to pay for our schools, public safety and infrastructure needed to attract investment and jobs. Only a fool thinks they will get something for nothing all of the time.

Be brave @Texashawk, swim against this “no taxes is ideal” tide.


If pops are divided by income/social class, tax rates can be computed against those and other factors like corruption, so for example, very high earners are more displeased by higher taxes than lower paid earners, given little corruption, etc…

But this is feature creep for something that does not feel integral to the design. So whatever, don’t get distracted!!!


I would like to see a 4x/GSG game where fiat money is a thing (MMT style), or, at least, where money has actual properties of money. Seeing the Gold Bug in space is more than odd.
Still, with other things going on, it isn’t necessarily terrible.


Like many things, it’s an abstraction. A useful shorthand.

Like in CK II. Do the ducats represent some literal form of currency? Of course not! They represent an abstract value of all resources at the disposal of the nation. It can be good, but it also represents things like food rents used to feed armies, manditory feudal service for the serfs to do improvements to their lords lands. Access to quarries or dockyards. The rights of the minter to make a small profit from making the actual daily currency. In kind or service based kingdom taxation where they would get some fungible material instead of direct currency taxation.

Certainly if you think of it as literal coinage it starts to get silly!

But money as a medium of transaction is well understood and easy to visualize as a means of achieving disparate productive endeavors. So we don’t need to think of it as the king literally giving some serfs coinage to cut down trees and forming it into lumber which will be used to build a boat. That would be ridiculous in a feudal context. Instead it represents the king forgoing some direct taxation revenue. Basically saying ‘instead of paying taxes this year as two bushels of wheat and three sheep, and a barrel of beer, instead I want you to provide me with three trees worth of lumber to be provided to the docks’, who will instead of paying taxes as 50 pounds of spices collected as import duties, instead use that lumber to build one galley.

But each setting functions differently, of course. A sci fi setting naturally may use money as a different representation. Maybe not how we understand the term either.

However taxation in strategy games often follows a more medieval understanding on the correlation between population unrest and taxation levels. Because the idea of a 1:1 link does not mesh with modern society. There is absolutely a correlation between taxes and population unrest, but it is more correlated to satisfaction with services. Does the government function effectively, and provide the sort of societal benefits we expect? If yes then higher taxation levels are not an issue. But if there is not that perception of governmental effectiveness than even low taxation levels feel onerous. I mean if it is just going into the pockets of the military junta’s buddies? Then any amount is too much. But if you’re in Scandinavia then even high taxation doesn’t feel oppressive.


Sounds very Victoria 2-ish, which, to my recollection, had a wonderful interplay between tax efficiency (the inverse of corruption) and social spending, where you can reform yourself to the point where your taxation is too inefficient to pay for your reforms while still leaving your various pops enough money to pay the bills.


Absolutely. I was thinking Victoria when on my rambling tangent about money in games.

I feel that there is a sort of ‘uncanny valley’ for money that rests between the EU/CK usage, and the Victoria usage. The abstract notion you see in The former works, and is easily digestible. It may start to tear at the seems a bit, but it works.

Or you go the latter route and do a deep dive into what that money actually means, and how it is used. Hey, you are using your national treasury to ensure your nation has enough access to fish and grain, literally using taxes to subsidize food prices to keep the nation happy. Where the usage of money is very lightly abstracted, and require active participation. It’s half the game!

But between those two levels, it’s probably a bad place to be. More detail than CK II, but without the fundamental economic modeling and focus of Victoria? Eww. And for a game like this seems to be, a disaster as it would pull too much attention from the core concepts.


Even Victoria is terribly wrong, if you look into it; the currency inevitably gets sunk into the “central bank”, instead of deficit spending being par for the course.
Anyway, I agree that tax vs. amenities is usually fine, but I just can barely stand tax vs. pop growth anymore, especially exponential growth.
And not to be only negative, I bought the game when it was first on sale to help make something different happen (it runs on Wine, yay), even if I can’t get around to Alpha testing it.


And now you need to model currency expansion, inflation, debt servicing, interest rates and bond markets, and so on. I’ve seen games that wave in this direction, Railroad Tycoon 3 has one of the most interesting economic models in games for how it handles such things. Purchasing though leveraging asset values to take on debt, bond rates and how economic cycles impact them, the value of using debt to fuel growth, these are all things the game does.

And it is really all the game does. It’s a purely economic game! It is less sophisticated in some ways than Victoria, and more in others. Different focuses. But the point is that those types of things can only really be done if that is the game. Because the reality is any game can only abstract and present so much, if you try and do it all. Like putting the bond market and interest rate and debt servicing from RRT into Victoria? It may be too much. Especially as you are playing a sovereign nation, you need to be able to control some things directly that neither game offers. Do you really want to dictate monetary policy in Victoria? To make managing inflation fundamental to the game?

I’m not sure it would be improved by that.


To an extent, yes. I understand it to be pretty fundamental to how industrialization happened in a lot of places, including how it gave Britain such a head start while at total war, as well as the influence to both world wars. I also understand it’s not an easy thing at all, so it’s more of a wish than a complaint. Like, in the end, HOI4’s simple economic system probably models the war economy much better than assigning random monetary values to every thing.
It could even end up badly and lead to monetarist propaganda like saying monetary policy and inflation are related, and then the game state always ending up in degenerate cases that aren’t supposed to happen.


…not really. I’ve never seen central economic policy/Central Bank monetary policy raised as being a factor in either industrialisation, how/why different nations industrialised in different ways and at different speeds, or as a factor in the the various wars of the late 19th century.

More of a factor was the German style ‘bankinitiative’ (also used in Italy & Russia) vs the English & French (Mobilier) style of banking but even then, it’s only one of many proposed factors.


What a fascinating discussion! I really love this site, and the minds therin.

So I thought long and hard about the economy model with AotSS. I settled for a model that is simulated quite a bit underneath the hood, but can be tightly controlled with inputs from other areas. However, I didn’t want it to be an economic sim (at its heart, it’s a people sim in a 4X sandbox). But here’s a little more detail about how the economic model works:

Each Pop has its own ‘base yearly product’ that is more or less generated based on a combination of their profession and the development level of the planet. Farmer Pops would contribute less than Merchant Pops in this model, since it’s assumed that Farmer Pops would generate less wealth than Merchant Pops. There is also adjustments for planet happiness (more wealth generation with a happy planet) and Retail adjustment (higher level Pops spend more than lower level Pops), as well as adjustments per region of the planet based on the Bio level (Pops on nice planets don’t have to spend as much, if anything, on environmental mitigation costs).

Then, the viceroy’s economic skill has an effect on overall wealth generation (it’s assumed that skilled economic viceroys are more likely to pass planetary laws that encourage growth, jobs, and small business/retail, while poorly trained economic viceroys would not be able to harness the potential of the planetary economy). All of that is added together to produce the base gross planetary product.

From there, export profits are added, import costs are subtracted (in AotSS, the state pays for all trades), and governmental infrastructure costs are also subtracted for state items like starbases, planetary complexes, city infrastructure like roads, rail, etc. This final calculation provides the total gross planetary product, from which taxes are collected from.

The Economic Prime is responsible for overseeing this process yearly, and his efficiency determines how much of the base tax is collected from each planet (the totals of which are the Gross Empire Product, and yes I know that’s not quite an accurate term but I’m still using it :-) ) and is used for the following year budget.

So the flowchart goes something like this: Pop(employed)—>Economic Production<—>Planet Development Level (they feedback into themselves) —> Base Gross Planetary Product —> Expenses/Revenues —> Gross Planetary Product —> Taxes Collected by the Empire from All Planets (Holding taxes or Non-Holding Taxes)—> Subtract all negative GPPs as subsidies to money-losing worlds—>Final Gross Empire Product.

Hopefully that makes some sense. Writing it didn’t make me feel any better about explaining it, but essentially: if you want to generate wealth, build complexes that will employ high-wealth creating Pops, make sure they are happy and have a robust retail sector, build strong trade systems that can sustain throughout a province, and minimize planets/colonies/outposts that have a negative drain on the overall Empire GPP.

Sometimes, it’s legitimate strategy to let a money-losing Holding go to another House to prevent further drain on your GEP, especially if their treasury is low. Let them deal with planetary default. >:-D

Oh! And I forgot to mention - retired Pops produce a small retail boost, but this is more than mitigated by their upkeep, which is higher based on what their last classification was (in other words, Merchant Pops are a larger drain than Farmer Pops). And unemployed Pops produce nothing at all but unrest and misery if they stay unemployed long enough.



So with culture ideas, this will in part determine how people feel about taxes. For example, cultures with a high Authoritarianism level will be OK with high taxes, because they support the state’s right to tax. Cultures with a low level here will be much more unhappy about new/more taxes. Cultures with low Worldliness will be especially unhappy, because they do not believe in material things, or the concept of ‘economy’ while high Worldliness cultures understand that to have pretty things, they must be paid for. -S


I kind of forgot how the details, so I had to go look it up. I am very wrong on dates, indeed.
The Bank Restriction Act of 1797 in Britain temporarily established a fiat currency, allowing the government much more leeway in spending on the Napoleonic Wars, with a short amount of chaos when rescinded. (And again in WWI and WWII.) This supposedly should have crowded out capitalists, as well as the massive debt that came after, but the investment ended up funding the change in production - Keynesians say it would always end well, others still say no.

It’s a perfectly fine abstraction I think. I have one question, do better viceroys make better long-term investments, that is, do they prefer to import to improve growth?