Intelligence (SEIV)

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Intel in Space Empires IV is the system by which you can instigate and counter sabotage and espionage. Once you have researched some intel projects, you can go to the Intel screen, which is accessible from the Empires screen. From here you will see a selection of intel projects to choose from. Selected projects will be added to a queue, and each turn your intel points will be applied to the first item in the queue until enough points have been spent to activate the project. Excess points are applied to the next project. By moving items about in the queue, you can keep projects 'on hold' indefinitely. This is a valuable tactic, particularly with counter-intel.

Generating Intel points

To carry out intel, you will need intel points. You can get these by building the appropriate facilities on your planets. In the standard, vanilla game, the relevant facilities are the Intelligence Centers I to III, which generate a fixed amount of intel points per turn.

You can also get intel points by signing certain treaties with other players.

In modded games, there may be different facilities for generating intel points. For example, city and cultural centre facilities can generate intel points in the proportions mod. In some mods, it may even be possible to generate intel points from components.

Intel modifiers

You can modify your income of intel points in several ways. Intel points gained from treaties are not subject to the modifiers below.

The first way to boost your production is to build certain facilities:

To get access to these facilities in the vanilla game, you must research "computers". The planet-wide and system-wide modifiers will stack together, but they do not affect points earned from treaties. They also do not affect points generated by components (not available in unmodded games).

You can also apply a racial bonus to your intel point production. To do this, you must spend your racial points increasing the "cunning" trait during game setup. Alternatively (or additionally, if you like), select the schemers or xenophobes cultures. Note that many of the available cultures actually decrease your intel production.

Offensive intel projects

One of your spies returns from the field to report. (Image Credit: SEIV, Malfador)

Broadly speaking, these fall into the two categories of "get information (espionage)" and "damage your opponent (sabotage)". This damage can be physical (damage or destroy ships or units) or simple disruption of the running of your opponent's empire. You can also use intel to steal ships and even planets.
When you add an offensive project to the queue, you will be asked which empire you wish to target. This can be any empire with which you have made and maintained contact.

Name Type Level Intel cost Description
Ship Bomb Sabotage 1 10000 Spies attempt to bomb an enemy ship, doing 80 damage.
Engine Damage Sabotage 1 10000 Spies attempt to sabotage the movement of a starship.
Fuel Leak Sabotage 1 10000 Spies cause a ship to lose 1,000 supplies.
Crew Insurrection Sabotage 2 50000 Spies incite the crew of a ship to rebel and join your empire.
Crew Rotation Sabotage 2 5000 Through faked messages, an experienced crew is broken up and reassigned.
Cargo Bomb Sabotage 1 5000 A small bomb placed in a cargo hold causes damage to the ship's cargo.
Order Snafu Sabotage 1 10000 Faked messages gives a ship new and incorrect orders.
Force Concentrations Espionage 2 10000 Stolen empire communications detail ship concentrations in various systems.
Queue Concentrations Espionage 2 10000 Census materials on the largest concentrations of construction queues in the empire.
Ship Blueprints Espionage 2 15000 Spies infiltrate construction yards and return with complete ship schematics.
Weather Disruptions Sabotage 3 20000 Carefully planted atmosphere bombs damage the conditions of the planet.
Ground Contamination Sabotage 3 20000 Pollutants and other created disasters permanently decrease the planet's value.
Food Contamination Sabotage 2 15000 Food contamination kills large sections of the population.
Anarchy Groups Sabotage 2 15000 Spies foster dissident groups who incense the general population.
Puppet Political Parties Sabotage 4 100000 Through political donations and sympathetic politicians, operatives install a government on a planet which rebels against their empire.
Cargo Maintenance Problems Sabotage 2 10000 Operatives disrupt the normal maintenance cycle of units on a planet, resulting in significant damage.
Industrial Sabotage Sabotage 3 25000 Machinery sabotage leads to entire facilities rendered unusable.
Covert Recon Espionage 2 5000 Reconnaissance operatives convey details about other planets.
Census Thefts Espionage 2 5000 Spies procure the latest data about an empire's planets locations.
Economic Disruption Sabotage 3 20000 Operatives cause widespread destruction to an empire's economic infrastructure.
Resource Procurement Sabotage 3 15000 Bribed transports bring their resources to us.
Technological Espionage Espionage 3 150000 Operatives steal technology from another empire.
Technological Sabotage Sabotage 3 45000 Operatives disrupt research projects currently underway.
Intelligence Sabotage Sabotage 1 30000 Our operatives infiltrate and disrupt intelligence operations of another empire.
Trade Disruption Disruption 2 20000 Through intimidation and bribery, merchants cannot complete their transactions.
Communications Taps Espionage 3 15000 Specially placed sensors intercept messages between empires.
Communications Mimic Disruption 3 20000 Special devices can create messages that appear to come from another empire.
Embassy Taps Espionage 2 15000 Surveillance units unveil the treaties between different empires.
Communication Interceptors Disruption 3 10000 Special devices can intercept and prevent messages from getting through between two empires.
Empire Star Charts Espionage 2 10000 Stolen star charts reveal information about other systems.
Empire Archives Espionage 3 15000 Operatives raid another empire's libraries for general information.
Unit Blueprints Espionage 2 15000 Operatives retrieve the designs for another empire's units.
Tech Reports Espionage 2 20000 Spies for our empire retrieve reports about an empire's current technology levels.

Countering your enemies' projects

There are two ways to counter enemy intel. One is to build a facility that blocks enemy sabotage, such as the Fate Shrine I to III.

The more common (and more effective) way is spend points on the "counter intel" projects. Unlike offensive intel projects, these are not targetted against specific empires. Rather, they sit in your intel queue and soak up projects directed against you. Points invested in counter-intel are worth more than points invested in offensive intel: They get multiplied as follows:

  • Counter-Intel I: 120% of points invested.
  • Counter-Intel II: 240% of points invested.
  • Counter-Intel III: 360% of points invested.

For a counter-intel project to be effective, it must remain incomplete. Completing an counter-intel project effectively flushes away all the points invested in it.

When an offensive intel project is challenged by counter-intel, the point-cost of the incoming project is compared to the points invested so far on the rightmost counter-intel project in the queue. If the counter-intel has more points then it succesfully blocks the attack and the cost of the offensive project is drained from the defending project. However, should the offensive project have more points, then the counter-intel project is deleted and the next rightmost project is attacked. When there are no remaining counter-intel projects, the offensive project will be successful.

Intel and modding

In SEIV, the intel system seems to be closely linked to the "random events" system. Certain events can be modded as intel projects, and vice versa.

Modding Intel Projects

The intel projects available are all controlled by the file IntelProjects.txt in the data folder. Here you can define:

  • How the projects are grouped in the intel screen.
  • How much each project costs.
  • Which projects are available
  • What tech levels are required to access a project.
  • What messages and images are displayed to the empires involved when each project is successful.
  • the type and extent of damage/ espionage that each project will do.

Modding Intel Point generation

The generation of intel points can be controlled by adding, deleting or altering entries in facility.txt. For example, the entry for Intelligence Center I contains the following lines:

Ability 1 Type      := Point Generation - Intelligence
Ability 1 Descr     := Generates 500 intelligence points each turn.
Ability 1 Val 1     := 500
Ability 1 Val 2     := 0

Since version 1.90, it is also possible to generate intel points from a component, ship, unit or planet rather than a facility. To do this, simply give the desired item the "Generate Points" ability.

You can also adjust the settings of the 'Intel modifiers' listed above. The racial bonuses are controlled by Cultures.txt and Settings.txt (using the 'Characteristic Cunning' lines in the latter). The point modification facilities are defined by Facility.txt.

Restricting the AI's use of Intel

The SEIV AI will use intel. However, it doesn't use it particularly effectively: It seems to just pick projects at random from those it has researched, and run them against its enemies. This is fine for sabotage projects, but not so good for espionage projects: The AI will not change it's behaviour in any way as a result of infomation gleaned from espionage, therefore points spent by the AI on espionage are utterly wasted. Modders who want to improve the deadliness of the AI may choose to address this inefficiency. One way to do so is as follows:

  • Edit intelprojects.txt and techarea.txt so that the sabotage projects require a "sabotage" tech area as well as the normal intel level, and the espionage projects require "espionage"+normal tech level.

For example, ship bomb might require research in intel level 1 as well as research in the sabotage tech. Food contamination might require intel2+sabotage. Emabassy taps would want intel2+espionage

  • Make the sabotage and espionage areas really really cheap to research- they are there for AI guidance, not to represent actual research work done.
  • Now tweak the Race_AI_Research.txt for each race so that the race WILL research sabotage but definitely will not research espionage. This way the AI will be able to use the sabotage projects, but will not be able to waste points on espionage projects. Human players, on the other hand, can research what they want and gain access to the entire intel tree.
  • Of course, if the AI comes across the espionage tech via trade or ruins or something, then it will go ahead and carry out espionage anyway. Sadly there's not much you can do to stop that short of putzing about with racial techs, but it should be a pretty rare occurence anyway. Also does not work on games in which you start with full tech.

Games without intel

You can switch intel off during game setup. Many PBW game owners feel that intel in SEIV is unbalanced, and play without it. In games like this, the intel-specific facilities and and menus are not available.

This gives players the opportunity to twink their racial setup by reducing the "cunning" trait as far as it will go, making more racial points available for other areas.

Preceded by:
Manual (SEIV)
Section 10.1
Followed by: