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Old Nov 07, 2010, 02:40 PM   #1
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Airstrip Tile Improvement For Airlifting Units

There is a strong desire for a CIV5 mod that would add a 'airstrip' tile improvement giving players the ability to airlift units.

It was suggested that this thread be placed here:

I personally think that a worker, available with flight+radio, should be able to build one airstrip (in 16 turns) adjacent to a city or citadel (1 per) located within player's cultural borders. An airstrip would then allow a player to airlift one unit from one airstrip to another. A player would airlift by moving a unit onto a airstrip, selecting airlift icon, selecting an airstrip to airlift the unit to, and the unit's turn would then end with the unit having been airlifted to the new airstrip. The unit would then be available to move next turn.

There is a valid concern that airlifting could be overpowered because of the increased potency of units in C5. In other words, it would be a huge advantage for a tech-leading civ to spam a bunch of airstrips and dump his entire military on his enemy's doorstep in a matter of only a few turns.

To avoid this, there needs to be some balance.

1. Some have suggested balancing by limiting the number of tiles that a unit can be airlifted. There may be some strategic value to limiting the number of tiles that can be airlifted however. For example, if a player could only airlift a unit across, lets say, 15 tiles, then to gain the ability to leapfrog-airlift units across the ocean may require a player to first obtain islands between continents to serve as airbases (think Pearl Harbor etc.)

I could get down with the above limitiation, but on the other hand, the point here, I think, is to eliminate (to some degree) the ridiculous amount of time that it takes to ferry a unit overseas and to eliminate the micro-managing aspect of moving units across great distances. In the thread referenced above, it took the player 24 turns to his unit to the front lines -- annoying! (in the modern era that's 24 years!).

2. Therefore, personally, I think the following balances may be sufficient:

A. I think having two pre-req techs (flight and radio) and a slow build time (16 turns) will lessen the chances of quick spamming.

B. The tile improvement should be made costly: lose the ability to work the tile + 5 maintenance + 1 unhappy citizen (noise pollution).

Discussion: I think that the above balances would lessen the chances that a player would spam a bunch of airstrips. Rather, a player would likely choose to limit the number of airstrips to a handful of key points across his empire that would a allow him/her to airlift a handful of units across the empire in a turn or two.

Obviously, since tile improvements can't be purchased, it would take an invading inter-contenental civ some time to get airstrips built before it could begin airlifting in reinforcements -- again balance achieved.

How would this play out?

Well if you had a sizable empire with overseas land holdings, a player might want to build a couple overseas airstrips and have 2 more back at home. This would allow a player to airlift 2 units per turn from the home continent to the overseas continent.

On the home continent, having one airstrip located on each opposite side of the empire would allow the player to airlift one unit per turn from one side of the empire to the other.

The cost of having this adaptive ability, 4 airstrips = 4 lost tiles, 20 maintenance, and 4 unhappy citizens per turn.

If a player were silly enough to spam airstrips, lets say one for each of 12 cities, then the cost would be 12 lost tiles, 60 maintenance, and 12 unhappy per turn. Fairly costly!

Could we get the AI to utilize this option in a responsible and effective manner? What'cha think? Suggestions? Anyone interested in building something along these lines or at least helping me figure it out?
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 03:04 AM   #2

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Sounds like a good idea. Perhaps another way to counter the possible overpowered nature of air strips would be to have a diplomatic penalty if air strips are too close to another civs borders. Although making them sufficiently costly should cover most of any unbalance.
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 12:58 PM   #3
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It does bother me that you cannot have a military with global reach without airports.

I think the best way to avoid spamming would be simply make it a building, rather than an improvement. 1 airport per city, and it can cost a hell of a lot more. (I don't know if you can make a building take a tile - aesthetically, it would make sense, but I don't think it is really necessary to have the lost-tile cost. It might resolve the problem with 1UPT of having units spawn in a city, where you might want a garrison. It would also add a strategic element because it would be vulnerable to pillaging).

I think the best way to balance it would be to limit which units could be airlifted: No Tanks, Modern Armor, Mech. Inf, Mobile SAM, and Giant Death Robot. This means you can get some units to the front to assess the situation, set up a perimeter, and do some light combat/desperate defense; but for anything serious, you'll need to ship the big guns or compensate with savy use of air/sea power.

(for game-play reasons, I think you should be able to air lift artillery, anti-tank, and anti-air guns. I know those who want realism are probably going to squeal about this . . . )

Inquiry: could you airlift to an ally's city that has an airport/free air tile? It seems that could really help out, even if you can only send the units above.
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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I personally have no problem with an airport building. But, I think the consensus had two major concerns:

1) someone reported that airlifting a unit to a city containing a garrisoned unit required moving the garrisoned unit out of the city first, before the airlifted unit could land in the city (I have no way of verifying this). This was reported as being very annoying. Thus a tile outside of the city was suggested, which according to the mechanics outlined above, would avoid that added micro-managing annoyance.

2) people wanted to avoid allowing a player to invade a continent and immediately purchase an airport, which would then allow the player to begin airlifting units over in quick order. People felt this made purchasing airports followed by airlifting units an overpowering offensive ability given the increased value of units in C5. People felt this would be a overpowering benefit to technologically advanced players with more modern units. On the other hand, it could be possible to make the airport a building that can't be purchased (like courthouses).

3) people also liked the fact that building the tile improvement in newly conquered lands would require strategic and tactical skill in protecting the worker while it builds, and then later defending the tile with hostiles around. Making it a tile improvement would somewhat favor the player defending their continent because occupying the airport would hinder the enemies ability to quickly reinforce. People liked that I think.

4) people thought it was more realistic since, generally, airports are built on the outskirts of a city rather than in downtown let's say....

Last edited by Atwork; Nov 08, 2010 at 01:16 PM.
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 02:50 PM   #5
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Found this mod if anyone is interested....
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Old Nov 08, 2010, 05:24 PM   #6
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I don't think it should cost an unhappy citizen. 16 turns build time and 5 maintenance is already a massive cost, and I don't think airstrips are as unbalancing as you're making them out to be. You can already march your army close to your enemy's borders without them being any the wiser, so long as you don't go right next to them, so the surprise factor isn't that important. If the enemy attacks you, being able to send an extra unit or two per turn isn't that big a deal in the modern era.

I think airstrips have two big advantages. They reduce the tedium of reinforcing or moving your armies, given the frequent conflicts posed by the game's terrible pathing, making things more convenient for the player. If you make airstrips too inconvenient, this advantage is lost. Secondly, they make it easier for the AI to recover from being backstabbed while their entire army is off trying to kill a random city-state. If airstrips are too expensive, the AI will either be without the advantage of airstrips or crippled by the cost of the necessary airstrips, given that the AI would probably need more airstrips than the human to achieve the same goal.
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