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 They are all nicely summarized in tooltips and explain in-depth, in the good albeit out of date manual.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