In the past week, I played a few different games, some board, some video, and I think I may have hit on a sweet idea for reducing end-game tedium and micromanagement.
First, the games that I played? Castle Risk (board game), Eador: Genesis, and Heroes of Might and Magic 2.
In Castle Risk, each player has a Castle that he must protect at all cost. If he lose the territory that contains his Castle, he's out of the game, and his army is removed from the game, leaving the now unoccupied territories open for free invasions.
In Eador: Genesis, you start with a hero and a stronghold. The map is divided into Shards that is further divided into provinces (spelling?). A Shard is basically a whole game in itself as you don't transfer armies between shards. You can move units only with your hero, and you can capture provinces. However, even if you are in a province with an army (including hero), it is not fully explored at first. Maybe 5% or 10%, but sufficient to "claim" the province and its output.
In HoMM 2 (and all other games in the series), there are resources and stuff scattered across the map. There's lumber mills, gold mines, and so forth. There are few castles in relation to the map size. You can develop each castle by building stuff which adds new types of units that you can gather into your hero's army.
So here's my proposal. If I were to combine those elements, it will enhance the "Explore" and "Exploit" aspects of the 4X label for my game.
First, starting with exploration aspect. Let's say that you have a "FTL Carrier" which is an equivalent of heroes in HoMM and Eador, that can transport other ships with it, but it is not involved in battles (it will retreat immediately if you lose the battle). You can't explore other systems without a FTL Carrier. However, a FTL carrier will be very expensive to build, and pricey to maintain, so you won't have too many of them. They will have a limited capacity in the number and size of ships that they can transport, so over the game you will upgrade your FTL carriers to be bigger and faster.
When you arrive at a star system, there is a chance that you may encounter something guarding the system (Guardian, Space Monsters, etc), or not. If you choose to battle and is successful, or if there's no guardians, you claim the system, otherwise you retreat. Once claimed, you don't see all the planets and other stuff at once. You'll need to send some ships to explore (if you have at least one ship in the system idling, it will automatically explore). Some planets on discovery may require you to attack defensive satellites, baby eels, natives, or some other stuff before you can claim the planet. Once claimed, it is now open to development. People will automatically move to it, so that's how the "Colonization" will work in the game. There will be other stuff that you may discover, such as derelict ships that you can add to your fleet, ancient artifacts, stockpiled resources, etc.
Your home system will be your "Castle", and will have a planet that is unique to your race that can support a full "home". This means that most of other planets are really just outposts with some people on them, mainly for mining and production. If you lose your home system, you lose the game. So in late-game, you don't need to wipe out all the enemy's systems, just his home system.
If you own a system, and an enemy attacks it, the battle is for the whole system, not on per-planet basis. You will use all of your ships in the system, and it's only two sides in the battle (if two enemies attacks, you deal with each one individually). If you lose, the enemy now claims the system, but he will still need to explore it. If you added defenses to your owned planets, he will need to wipe them out before he can claim the planets, buying you time to get reinforcements and attempt to take the system back.
So a fully developed system will take quite some time for an enemy to fully conquer as opposed to a newly settled system. In real life, f you were to invade a country and topple its government, it don't mean that its people are now immediately under your control. You'll have to go to each city and battle it out, unless the country decided to surrender. However, if the government is totally toppled, it makes it much more easier to capture cities, so that's how it will be in the game. If you managed to capture a home system, it means that the player is out of the game, but all of his previously owned planets will still have defenses and such that he developed.
I believe that another part of micromanagement tedium is waiting for stuff to be built. In Eador, you can go to your stronghold and build a new building in a turn, paying the cost to build it though. In Beyond Beyaan, each turn is a year, so I assume that it shouldn't take more than a year to build a farm? :) So you can go to planet management screen, and filter out planets, then add buildings and regions to the selected planets' queue, and they will be built. However, the price will be deducted immediately when you assign a planet to build, even if it's not for a few turns. Every building and region will only take one turn to build.
As for ships, I think the idea is to have few small ships to defend and explore systems that they are in. You can upgrade a system to build larger ships, but those upgrades will be expensive, so most likely only a few systems will support that. Then you send FTL carriers to pick up those large ships and replace the lost or obsolete ships. If you see planets in your systems that are not claimed yet due to being heavily defended, you can wait until you build ships,
You design ships, then you can "buy" them (they will be built in a turn). However, ships will be expensive and high maintenance, so you won't have too many of them, and making it more of a incentive to retreat if a battle is going badly, getting rid of the "disposable ships" idea.
All in all, it will be similar to HoMM/Eador system, with a lot less fleet moving around, but emphasizing exploration and focusing on fun aspects that I mentioned in last post.
What are your thoughts? It maintains the strategic aspect of moving ships around and conquering, but with added emphasis on exploration and exploiting resources, and reduced tedium in waiting for stuff to be built. If you want more resource output, you have to decide between building ships, or developing planets, or buying technologies so you can improve your ship's designs, and few other things.