With the release of Civilization 6 just around the corner what is likely to be the last update for Echoes of Earth has been released. The “Artifacts & Expeditions” contains a wide range of changes but focuses on the Expedition rewards and Artifacts.
Expeditions & Volatility
One big concern I’ve long has about expeditions in the base game is how volatile or swingy they are. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and get over a dozen free Affinity points. Other times you get a Manticore, which can’t scout or fight effectively.
The way Artifacts were tacked on to Expeditions where you either get them or get nothing make the variability of expeditions even worse.
There are multiple changes designed to make the impact of Expeditions to be more consistent. When you complete an expedition or collect a Resource Pod you either get an Artifact or an Expedition Reward (ei: Energy, Free Unit, etc). With how valuable Artifacts and the combination rewards they can provide there was no way keeping Artifacts a separate die roll would be tenable.
Artifacts themselves also changed and were simplified. No longer can players grab a Resource Pod on turn one, get a pristine Old Earth Artifact that provides Culture and immediately get 3 Virtues. Artifacts no longer come in pristine verse damaged condition. Every Old Earth Artifact provides Energy, every Alien Artifact provides Science and every Progenitor Artifact provides Culture.
Controlling the yields in this way allows better pacing during the early game. Old Earth Artifacts can be acquired from the very start of the game (through Resource Pods) while Alien and Progenitor Artifacts require Explorers. Early Science and Culture can shave ten or more turns off a Virtue or Technology, making those yields extremely valuable. If Old Earth Artifacts provided other yields which Artifact you got could make a huge difference on your opening.
Another reason to simplify Artifacts is managing complexity. Echoes of Earth is a complex mod but I do not subscribe to the notion that “more is always better”. Echoes of Earth is not the kind of mod that triples the number of buildings, Virtues or Factions available just so it can advertise a cornucopia or repetitive ideas. Every mechanic has to justify itself as interesting and worth including. The variable quantity of yields of Artifacts made them more fiddly and problematic to balance.
One big problem with expedition rewards from the base game is that they could provide a dozen free Affinity points. Echoes of Earth has made many strides in diversifying the number of ways to generate Affinity points. This uncontrolled Affinity gain was the last vestige of the original Affinity point economy that I’ve replaced in Echoes of Earth.
Now Expeditions Rewards are more consistent, providing Energy, Diplomatic Capital, Science, Culture or a Free Unit. Completing Expeditions remains a core way to get your early game economy going but if Aliens, Miasma or hostile Colonies keep you from scouring the planet you no longer have to fear falling behind in Affinity points.
To compensate for the loss of Affinity points from Expeditions you can now get Affinity points from combining Alien or Progenitor Artifacts. The rewards for Progenitor Artifacts have changed from unlocking various Wonders to providing a free LaserComm Satellite. This makes all the Alien or Progenitor the same (Global Health or a LaserComm Satellite) with the only difference being what Affinity they advance. This gives you a way to have some control over what Affinity you get if you have more than the bare minimum number of Artifacts.
The free LaserComm Satellite provides a new path to completing the Signal from Old Earth quest, without requiring a player to beeline communications and hard build a LaserComm Satellite. New players often struggle to complete this beeline in time and that is because it is intended to be difficult. Alternative sources of LaserComm Satellites exist to be faster but they won’t allow players to place a LaserComm Satellite over all of their cities.
Mixed Artifact Rewards now all provide extra copies of the Strategic Resources (ei: Titanium, Petroleum and Geothermal). Because of how entwined each of the Strategic Resources are to the overall Echoes of Earth economy I wanted players to have alternative means of acquiring them even if none were available in their immediate territory.