Shadow Empire - Mad Max meets Operation Barbarossa

Hmm… oO


the reviewer Was very positive, but they lost me when they mentioned alt tabbing out during the long AI turns

Can anyone help me understand something? I’m quite early in a game because it’s a PBEM so I only play a turn or two a day. Until very recently I had a food deficit according to the panel on the left of the screen (SHQ items?). However the zone was producing an abundance of food. Very little of it was flowing back to the SHQ. Why? And how can I increase that flow? I eventually just built a ton of farms, but I have the feeling that isn’t very efficient.

I share many of the concerns that you all expressed in the podcast, and I also agree with most of the points that @fox.ferro said.

I’m probably 10-20 hours away from hitting the top of parabola. I’d like to get to the point where I have laser weapons and such, but I’ll never play a game long enough to probably fully win it.

I think SE is an excellent wargame. The UX is a big step up from the typical Gary Grisby game of old.
I especially like the preview of the attack hex where you can easily select the units you want to attack see the bonus associated with them. My only issue with the UI is couldn’t find a next key to make sure I’ve moved all my units. I think SE simulates the various factors of ammunition, fuel, readiness, morale, experience, flanking, armor etc. as well as any wargame I’ve played. They are all nicely summarized in tooltips and explain in-depth, in the good albeit out of date manual.

The tactical AI is competent, on par with Planetfall, but maybe a tad behind Old World.

A particular shout out for SE handling of supply. Simulating supply is tough and I like how you can easily see the impact of supply on your units, without some artificial penalties if you are cut out of supply for a turn. On the other hand, if you remain out of supply for extended period of time, you literally starve.

As a 4x game, I find SE to be merely mediocre. I don’t like the Explore (or survive) stage because the starts are so completely unbalanced. I restart all my 4x game until I get a start that I think will challenging but not impossible to play. I find I need to re-roll and restart my SE games more than damn near any other 4x. Some starts you are surrounded by alien races, with super tough soldiers. Other you have lots of nearby goodies, and your soldiers magically find a heavy tank equipped with a plasma gun, liquid armor. That does 4,000 soft attack and can take out a major regime by its self…

The luck factor dominates the skill factor in the early stages of SE, and that’s really discouraging IMO.

I found the Expand stage to be really confusing. It sure would have been nice if someone explained when you conquer or start a new city, you need to set emergency food on. The trades off for horizontal vs vertical growth are also not easy to understand.

The game really shines in the Exploit stage. The economy is nicely balanced, between all the resources, food, fuel, water, metals, money and people. You get decent economies of scale for increasing an assets level, higher output for lower inputs of say workers, although generally requiring more energy. You can use trade to help with shortfalls, but not finding a good metal mine early really sucks though.

That said Hearts of Iron IV has really spoiled me for a what realistic production looks like. You should not be able to save up all of your IP for several turns while you wait for the latest tank to be developed and the viola magically produce an army of medium tanks. I honestly don’t see the point of the separate discovery, research and development phase, It adds unnecessary complexity that I don’t think makes the game more fun at all. I actually dislike a variable research tree in a post-apocalyptic setting. Two hundred years ago nobody knew that laser tanks were possible, so making laser one of numerous possible techs you could discover in a 4x game make sense. However, if we all get nuked in 2200, society may no longer be able to produce the M-200 Powell tank, with its Gatling laser, but the knowledge of such thing existing will still be around for centuries. I particularly hate how the R&D of new formations are handled, I really don’t want to research a MG army formation when I haven’t developed a new machine gun and have no intention of doing so.

As for the Exterminate phase, I doubt I’ll ever get there, for a variety of reasons. But from my observation, major regimes share the same problem as Civ VI. The system is so complicated the AI has no idea to how to expand. Minor regimes can put up a good fight, but as long as I’m nice to a Major Regime, they are very passive and hardly ever expand. Sometimes, I just take one out cause hey I found a heavy plasma tank why not.

As for the Crusader King RPG elements, the cabinet, the cards etc. They add some flavor which I think is really nice, but I found myself really not caring about most of them pretty quickly.

Part of the problem, is it is one man show, and with the number of restarts I do I quickly found the optimum answers. e.g Don’t shutdown the lab, cause a few turns latter you can get a research bonus.

I think if you want to do something like this you need a ton of events like Leyla is doing for Old World. Soren say they were at 2,000+ events

Likely lack of logistical resources to transport the food to the SHQ. If you’ve got road connections then you may just need an upgraded transport hub.

You can’t really write about Shadow Empire without talking about logistic. Since this post is going to be a bit of shaggy dog story, feel free to skip it.

There are a zillion quotes about logistics.
my fav is Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."

Shadow Empire is by far the deepest dive into logistics I’ve seen in a wargame, in fact, is probably even deeper than games like SimCity, Transport Tycoon or the various Rail games.

Like Tom, I found the experience both fascinating and frustrating. The game gives plenty of tools to see the bottleneck, available logistic points, previews of the next turn. Still, it is frustrating to not be able to understand why you can’t build a farm next to your new growing city, to keep your people from starving (turn on emergency food is the short answer). I’ve just dabbled with rail lines and not even explored high-speed rail, much less air transportation. So I’d be interesting to hear what people think of them.

Here is my shaggy dog story about logistics. 18 months ago, I meet an air force colonel Bill. Bill, was retiring and want to start a new career at a startup. Bill had a pretty impressive-sounding job, head of logistics for IndoPacific command. He was responsible for delivering everything from baby formula, to bunker buster bombs, to about 1/2 million people, and more than 1/2 the world. Now Bill was a bright guy, an Academy grad, detailed oriented, very nice. But he was not a charismatic inspiring leader type. I was really interested, in the basic question, how the hell do you figure out what planes and ships to send what stuff. He answer was kinda of disappoint "we run a bunch SAS and SAP, MRP programs plus a lot of customer software and the computers figure out. 2020 was lousy time to be looking to join startup most of whom had their world turned upside. Bill did find a job at startup, albeit a 25 year old startup, with logistics challenges even bigger than the US armed services. Amazon, not surprisingly snapped him up and I’m pretty sure he’s is involved in the recent purchase of a lot of land in Oahu by Amazon.

The point of the story, is that while professional army do study logistic. What you really want to do rather figure out what’s where you should build your supply and truck station to ensure that you can feed your army is you hire guys like Bill.

The logistic challenge puzzle that SE present are interesting, and sort of satisfying to solve, but at the end of the day, I don’t think they make that fun of a game.

Fwiw, I think that 8 and 9 do next and previous unit

Thank you, I guess that’s it. I assumed that the SHQ being sited in the city would be sufficient for it to access anything the zone produces. I also just found this nugget buried in page 76 of the manual, in the section about the items tab:

Any excess Items not needed for the Zone Inventory will be sent to the SHQ.
The number will be yellow if not all Items could be sent back (for example due
to lack of Logistical Points between Zone and SHQ

I’m guessing the next time I play a turn and I look at the items tab I will see a yellow ‘out’ number for food.

It’s a bit like captaining a steampunk engine to somewhere very far off. There are lots of levers to pull and dials to twist and pressure-type guages to monitor, many of which unmarked. The discovery is definitely part of the joy. Incidentally, who would have predicted 20 years ago that not providing full instructions was going to be a major part of the computer games industry? But which 4X game have you (plural you) played where your plane design is affected by the planetry atmosphere? I was just baffling myself because I couldn’t get a recon aircraft to fly beyond 10 hexes, which was signficantly less than my last playthrough and then, duh, I realised. It’s the atmosphere. So now cannot approach an enemy zone / army etc in the way that I did in my last playthrough. Which is another way of saying one of the great genius developments in this game is the planetry development is massively important. Yes really annoying if you get a seed that’s instakill but hey, utterly joyous to know that your models and your resource generation and hence your tactics & strat are going to actually have to respond to the procedural development. Personally I’m doffing my cap, even if as per many of these types of game the AI’s resistance crumbles the more powerful you become.

I do really like that how viable airpower will be in any given game is dictated by the planet, and that the game still gives you technology paths to overcome that, such as rocket engines. However, the design screen just can’t handle making any of those air complexities clear to the player, so designing aircraft is just a major headache.

For anyone who cares, the ‘out’ number was not, in fact, yellow despite the fact that a lack of logistical points must be the reason not enough food is getting to the SHQ. But that’s the least of my worries. As it happens, I think the problem is that I built a railroad out to two of my farms (out of pure desperation I think) without realising that there needs to be a rail head somewhere along the line.

Except…now that there’s rail along that road, no truck points are being sent up the road, so I can’t get the LPs to the rail head to build it! I’m not sure what I can do about it, but I’ve used the traffic lights system to temporarily block all truck points at the city except for those going in the same direction as the rail. Hopefully that will force the LPs there for the rail head to get built.

The logistics system in this game is something to behold…

I am attracted to and repelled by this game in equal measure. I’ll probably pick it up once my anniversary coupon from this year rolls around and I stick it in my cart to marinate until the inevitable summer sale.

Hmm, how good is Old World at this? People are saying some very unkind things about the AI in this game, so a “tad” more competent is not saying a lot, it seems.

It really is a pain in the ass but you might find this guide I found on the matrix forums helpful in designing air assets.

The manual also mentions that if air pressure > gravity then thopters are the way to go.

Well it’s been a while since I’ve played since I’ve played Old World I fully intend to play a lot more once Old World hits releases. Also to be clear I’m saying the tactical AI, not the strategic is competent in both games. In particular the AI in Shadow Empire will cut supply lines, make attacks at good odds, withdraw from bad position, seek out defense terrain and form a line with units. The tactical AI in Old World will do all of that and more it is able to conquer cities given ~3-1 odds . Something that that Civ V and Civ VI failed to be able to do.

I’m about ready to give up on this fucking game. I’m sick of food not getting to my SHQ with no explanation. The logistics system is over-engineered to the point of insanity and it’s really spoiling an otherwise brilliant game.

Do you have a save uploaded anywhere that we could take a look at to see if we can help?

Thanks, I truly appreciate the offer but the point I would make is that even if I did understand what’s going wrong, the logistics system is still far too much and not something I want to deal with. I think I should take a break from the game, maybe try again in a month or so and see how I get on then.

@Paradroid Have you tried the simplified logistics? It’s in setup somewhere.

Still, if you find the energy, let me know if you do upload it? If nothing else, it might be a particular circumstance that Vic can be pointed at