I’m wondering what exactly the scenario is that robots should be solving. Since it seems like Robots should either add something to the mix A) or work as an alternative supplement to the population for another good reason B). Otherwise it seems like it’s rather an issue with the mechanic of population, food and soldiers.
So what are the benefits of workers? Are there benefits to a large population other than defense and (if I recall correctly) certain building requirements? Since it may be that increasing the value of having a lot of workers solves the issue as well, since it would make the investment worthwhile C).
A) If robots are better at defending and don’t require a habitat, then the initial cost will be the balancing factor on whether to increase workers or robots for your total population.
An alternative (not sure if this was used) would be that robots can only be build after a special building is constructed and they would be balanced through the building cost + no default growth versus terrain/space allocation + default growth.
This balance actually does not factor in defense, which would suggest the price should be quite high for X workers vs X robots, since at later stages the time needed to reclaim terrain and build habitats should be factored into the balancing equation. With that in mind it seems robots are already preferable later in the game than workers, since time is also a cost and it likely costs more to get the terrain and habitats then the robots cost.
It still is interesting to have robots in this way, as potentially nullifying habitats late game could be an interesting bonus to high level planets, though it seems there should then still be a bonus to keep spending resources on more population, rather than just going directly for soldiers if it is for defence.
B) If Robots use power instead of food, then this could allow for them to function similarly to workers, but using an alternative resource which might be more desirable on a given planet. In this scenario, they should not be better at defending.
C) Another option would be to make the expenses made for growing your population more worthwhile.
- Production bonus? Maybe tie that to the population tied buildings? (Like the metropolis or what it was called?)
- Population requirements for special buildings (think that was done via the main population buildings, like the metropolis?). Such as the strip mines, but maybe also scaling further? Maybe allow assigning them to some end-tier buildings that allows your population (surplus) to become a dynamic bonus to a resource?
To allow for a reward when people choose to specialize more to fewer planets. As an alternative rather than being better or worse (that’d probably be decided by the quality of the planets, making first come first serve still worth it)