The “Wonders of the New World” update has been released! This large update changes all the Wonders in the game. Wonders in Echoes of Earth have three core properties:
- Wonders provide unique local effects
- Wonders provide one-time Affinity points when built
- Wonders require Geothermal Resources to build
You can see pictures of all the new Wonders at the official guide. In this post I want to describe the design problems I wanted to solve and the advantages this approach provided.
Wonders provide unique local effects
Wonders all provide effects that are local to the city they are built in, rather than empire wide. For the detailed reasoning for this check out the previous post on Design Space, Wonders and Virtues. The short version is that by focusing Wonders on local effects each Wonder poses an interesting question: “what city would be best to build this in?”. For example, the Abyssal Mirror (aka Petra 2.0) provides Energy from Desert terrain worked by the city. To get the most value out of the Wonder you’ll want to build it in a city with lots of good Desert tiles.
But you can also anticipate building the Abyssal Mirror, such that it influences your expansion decisions. If you’re choosing between placing your colonist in a patch of water or a patch of Desert, the Abyssal Mirror can push you toward wanting to settle the desert spot so you have a city that can make a giant windfall from building the Wonder.
The Abyssal Mirror is just one Wonder, but there are many more. Each of these Wonders will be subtle asking interesting little questions like “how to I make the best use of this?” and “what should I do to best position myself to take advantage?”.
Wonders provide one-time Affinity points when built
Beyond Earth is defined by its Affinity point economy. In Echoes of Earth I’ve wanted to move the Affinity point economy away from its “quest & tech” structure in the non-modded game to something with more options. One early step was the free Affinity levels from the Signal. Wonders providing Affinity points is a more decisive step in a new direction.
Wonders provide a way for players to leverage their production into Affinity points. One risk with connecting production to Affinity points is that player would find the best way to get Affinity points would be to repeatedly build and sell whatever gave them Affinity points. This counter-intuitive strategy would make those who discover it feel clever but it would have a disastrous effect on the game as a whole. Cities would not be developing and changing over time. Instead they would be stuck building the same thing over and over again.
By putting the Affinity points on Wonder it avoids this problem. Wonders are non-repeatable and can’t be sold. Once they have provided their Affinity points they will never be able to provide them a second time.
Wonders require Geothermal Resources to build
This restriction serves multiple purposes. It helps give Geothermal a “strategic identity” or role. If you want to build lots of Wonders you need to secure multiple sources of Geothermal. It also helps nudge players into prioritizing which Wonders they want to build.
Because the value of Wonders changes so much based on what kinds of cities a player has (ei: Abyssal Mirror is a weak Wonder if you have no Desert cities in your colony) not every Wonder will be worthwhile for every player. If a player only has enough Geothermal to support four Wonders than they will want to consider which Wonders their colony is in the best position to take advantage of. This can help shake up each game, as even if a player likes a specific Wonder if they don’t have a city that can make use of it they will want to reassess the situation and find a different path.
Pulling it all together
Each of these core aspects support and reinforce each other. Geothermal requirements make it difficult to build every Wonder in the technology web. This means players will want to focus on Wonders that provide Affinity points that align with their chosen Affinity. Taking advantage of specific Wonders will encourage them to develop their colony in unique ways. Rewarding them for rushing specific technologies or settling cities in specific locations. Wonders provide another collection of strategizing and decisions that help make each game a unique experience.