(6-CP) The "Intelligence" Spy System

Status
Not open for further replies.

pineappledan

Deity
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Messages
10,117
Location
Alberta, Canada
Preamble:
  • The current state of the espionage system gives nothing that players want, because players are already getting too much stuff for free.
  • The only thing that is left for spies to do is contribute to yield inflation by stealing X and giving it to you, or rigging elections in city-states. They're just another economic tool, on top of the 7-8 economic systems in the game, all of which are far more robust than the espionage system. Spies as they are simply fail to justify their existence as a hollow, inferior copy of better mechanics.
  • It can't even do that bad job properly, because you steal yields from others only to have them stolen back from you. The system leaves everyone more or less as they were if there were no spies at all, except we are all forced to engage in this system and click all these buttons just to ensure that we can run in place and remain exactly where we were before. Pointless.
  • The current system has too many small, low impact decisions: Where to put spy? What roll? What action? What's the cost-benefit of X over Y? How long will it take? What if it fails? The decisions could be made weightier if spies gave tangible, visible benefits, had predictable outcomes, and the decision to move them was rarer and weightier.
  • It's opaque, based on % chance actions, and if you fail you lose a bunch of time because of an arbitrary dice roll. Chance based mechanisms are not fun if what you are gambling is purely game time.
Overview of proposal
  • Spies are earlier, more numerous, and weaker
  • Spies focused on gathering strategic information about other civs to help players make decisions:
    • Heavy incentives to keep spies in 1 place for a long time to gather intelligence
    • Greatly reduce yields and lock yield bonuses behind lvl 3 Spies
    • Spies only give benefits to their player, they never hurt their host
    • Hide some player info that is currently freely available, and unlock it with spies
  • No %-chance based actions. No "Spy Points":
    • No More Advanced Actions
    • No More Coups
    • No more tallied up points to keep track of
  • No more counterspies in your own cities. Security is the only defense.
    • Spies cannot be killed
    • Security from buildings etc. passively reduce the rate that spies in the city gain XP
    • Security lowers the amount of bonuses max level spies get.
Details:
Spoiler Details :
We currently have a lot of good information about other civs in-game. Maybe a little too good?:
Spoiler example of a leader UI box in the game right now :

1697749028055.png

I have colour-coded the new spy abilities.
Legend:
  • Something that spies already do
  • Something that is currently freely available to players, without needing spies
  • Something that is a new ability
General mechanics:
  • Spies can be assigned to cities. It takes some turns for them to travel and set up in a city. This time can be shortened with cultural influence.
  • All Civs get 2 free spies at the start of the Medieval Era, and +1 spy for every Era after that. (Total # of spies increased by 2 per player)
  • Spies passively gain XP every turn they are in a city, gathering intelligence.
    • Spies gain 5 XP per turn once set up on a city, minus 1 XP for every point of security in the city. (eg. A spy in a city with level 2 security will gain 3 XP per turn)
    • Spies gain a level once they have earned 100 XP
    • Spies lose all XP and levels when they move cities, and have to start over from lvl 1 (unless you have an ability that boosts their levels or XP)
Spoiler Spies in major civ city :

Level 1
  • Share “intrigue” with you
  • Give vision of a foreign city
  • Gives you access to that city's screen, giving you access to the following information about that city
    • Production queue
    • Building list
    • yields per turn
  • Reveal the host player's game score (civ icons are still in order from highest to lowest, but exact amounts are hidden)
  • Reveal the host player's icon in the Demographics screen (currently hidden until you meet the player. now requires you spy on them)
  • List of Wonders they own (can be visible from the map tiles, but could get a complete summary from spies)
  • Number and types of policies adopted (the UI will simply indicate you are "Ahead", "Behind", or "Similar", depending on if you are within +/-1 policy of the host civ)
  • Total number of Technologies researched (the UI will simply indicate you are "Ahead", "Behind", or "Similar", depending on if you are within +/-2 technologies of the host civ)
  • Total Population and number of Cities (can be calculated from vision of their lands via reconnaissance, but the summary stat is hidden unless you have a spy)
Level 2:
  • Reveals the host player's icon in the Monopoly overview (ie, how much % control they have of what luxuries. Currently hidden until you meet the player)
  • Reveals host player's number of copies of resources owned by that civ in the trade menu.
  • Reveals host player's Culture overview information in CV victory progress window (without a spy, you are only told if you are exotic/familiar/popular/etc. with another civ, but don't have vision of their culture bar, or if your tourism is rising/falling w.r.t. theirs)
  • Reveals host player's active Open Border agreements.
  • Reveals all of the host player's ongoing trade deals.
Level 3:
  • Unlocks Passive actions for your spy in the host city:
    • Embed in the Military Brass:
      • Local Effect: Your military units gain +100% combat strength vs this city. Combat bonus is halved for each level of security in the city (ie. 100%/50%/25%/12.5%/6.25%/3.125% at security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
      • Global Effect: Reveals Host player's Unit list (window is visible from the host city's screen)
    • Embed in the Black Market:
      • Local Effect: Gain 100% of the host City's :c5gold: Gold from Trade Routes in your own :c5capital: capital. Yields are halved for each level of security in the city (ie. 100%/50%/25%/12.5%/6.25%/3.125% at security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
      • Global Effect: Import 1 copy of a luxury that the host civ controls that you don't have. (The luxury picked is the one that the host civ has the highest % monopoly control of that you don't already have. Counts toward the Dutch UA)
    • Embed in the Intelligentsia:
      • Local Effect: Gain 100% of the host City's :c5science:Science from Specialists in your own :c5capital: capital. Yields are halved for each level of security in the city (ie. 100%/50%/25%/12.5%/6.25%/3.125% at security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
      • Global Effect: Reveal Host player's current research choice and progress (window is visible from the host city's screen)
    • Embed in the Aristocracy:
      • Local Effect: Gain 100% of the host City's :c5culture: Culture from Great Works in your own :c5capital: capital. Yields are halved for each level of security in the city (ie. 100%/50%/25%/12.5%/6.25%/3.125% at security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
      • Global Effect: Gain a notification whenever the Host player creates a new :greatwork: Great Work, or completes an Archaeological dig, and reveals details about the new :greatwork:GW
    • Embed in the Local Guild:
      • Local Effect: Gain 100% of the host City's :c5production: Production from Buildings in your own :c5capital: capital. Yields are halved for each level of security in the city (ie. 100%/50%/25%/12.5%/6.25%/3.125% at security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
      • Global Effect: Gain a notification whenever the Host player begins construction on a wonder in any city, and reveals what the wonder is

Spoiler Spies in City-State :

Level 1 to 3:
  • Rig elections (unchanged)
  • Cannot coup (removed)

Spoiler Diplomats :

Diplomats can only be placed in a foreign civilization's capital.
Diplomats are immune to Security levels, and gain XP at their full rate.

Level 1
  • Gives +1 Vote in the World Congress (requires Globalization tech)
  • Can buy/sell votes in the World Congress via the trade screen with the host civ
  • Share “intrigue” with you
  • Give vision of a foreign city
  • Gives you access to that city's screen, giving you access to the following information about that city
    • Production queue
    • Building list
    • yields per turn
  • Reveal the host player's game score (civ icons are still in order, but exact amounts are hidden)
  • Reveal the host player's icon in the Demographics screen (currently hidden until you meet the player. now requires you spy on them)
  • List of Wonders they own (can be visible from the map tiles, but could get a complete summary from spies)
  • Number and types of policies adopted (the UI will simply indicate you are "Ahead", "Behind", or "Similar", depending on if you are within +/-1 policy of the host civ)
  • Total number of Technologies researched (the UI will simply indicate you are "Ahead", "Behind", or "Similar", depending on if you are within +/-2 technologies of the host civ)
  • Total Population and number of Cities (can be calculated from vision of their lands via reconnaissance, but the summary stat is hidden unless you have a spy)
Level 2:
  • Reveals the host player's icon in the Monopoly overview (ie, how much % control they have of what luxuries. Currently hidden until you meet the player)
  • Reveals host player's number of copies of resources owned by that civ in the trade menu.
  • Reveals host player's Culture overview information in CV victory progress window (without a spy, you are only told if you are exotic/familiar/popular/etc. with another civ, but don't have vision of their culture bar, or if your tourism is rising/falling w.r.t. theirs)
  • Reveals host player's active Open Border agreements.
  • Reveals all of the host player's ongoing trade deals.
  • Can Broker Peace/War via the Trade Screen with the host civ
Level 3:
  • Gives you a 15% :tourism:Tourism modifier with the host civ

Spoiler Security :

All cities have a Security rating between 0 and 5 stars.
These stars are now a discrete rank. There are no increments or partial stars. There are exactly 6 levels of security between 0 and 5.

There are only 5 sources of Security in the game that each give +1 Security level:
  • Local Happiness: Cities with no excess :c5unhappy:Unhappiness have +1 Security
  • Local Building: Constabularies give +1 Security in the city they are built in.
  • Policy: Rationalism Finisher policy gives +1 Security in all cities on empire
  • National Wonder: The National Intelligence Agency gives +1 Security in all cities on empire
  • World Wonder: The Great Firewall gives +1 Security in all cities on empire
Each level of Security:
  • reduces the rate at which lvl 1 and lvl 2 spies in that city gain XP by 20% (ie. spies gain XP at 100%/80%/60%/40%/20%/0% of the normal speed at city security level 0/1/2/3/4/5)
  • Reduces the benefits that a lvl 3 spy in that city will give to its own civ
Note: Diplomats are not affected by Security, and gain XP at the full 100% rate regardless of the Capital's Security level

Spoiler list of things you can currently do without needing spies that would be locked behind spies :

  • view other players' :
    • game score (requires lvl 1 spy or diplomat)
    • demographic rankings (requires lvl 1 spy or diplomat)
    • wonder list (requires lvl 1 spy or diplomat)
    • number of policies and techs (requires lvl 1 spy or diplomat)
    • city and population numbers (requires lvl 1 spy or diplomat)
    • monopoly control (requires lvl 2 spy or diplomat)
    • number of tradeable resources (requires lvl 2 spy or diplomat)
  • Broker peace deals and pay other civs to go to war (requires lvl 2 diplomat)

Spoiler changes to buildings/policies/wonders/etc to integrate new spy mechanics :

Changes are Underlined

Constabulary/Wat (building)
Gives a flat +1 security
gives -5% Empire Size reduction modifier in the city it is built in, and -2% Empire Size reduction modifier in all other cities on empire.

Police Station (building)
Gives +1:c5happy: in the city for each level of Security
gives -5% Empire Size reduction modifier in the city it is built in, and -2% Empire Size reduction modifier in all other cities on empire.

NIA (national wonder)
Gives flat +1 Security in all cities
Gives +1 Spy​

Bletchley Park (World Wonder)
Free Research Lab in the City​
+1 level to all spies (ie. all spies start at lvl 2)​
All Naval Melee units gain the submarine detection promotion for free

Great Firewall (World Wonder)
Gives flat +1 Security in all cities
Nullifies enemy civilizations' Internet tourism bonus​
+10:c5science: to Research Labs​
Shadow Networks (policy)
Receive 25% of :c5science:Science generated by Allied City-States.​
+2% :c5culture: Culture in the :c5capital: Capital for every active Spy or Diplomat (up to 30%). (down from 3% per spy)​
+1 :c5science:Science from Specialists​
+3 :c5science: Science from Constabularies and Police Stations.​

Rationalism Finisher (policy)
Gives flat +1 Security in all cities
-1 to all :c5unhappy:needs on empire​
Can purchase GScientists with Faith​
unlocks Bletchley Park wonder​
Covert Action (Freedom tenet)
All :c5influence: Influence changes from Election rigging in City-States doubled
+1 Spy (scaling with number of city states)​
Double Agents (Order Tenet)
+3 Spies (scaling with number of city states)​
Spies operate as if the city has 1 less level of security

Great Leap Forward (Order Tenet)
Gain 1 Free Technology.​
Gain 3% :c5science: Science for every active Spy or Diplomat.
+1:c5science: for every 3 non-specialist :c5citizen:Citizens.​
Perfidious Albion (England UA)
Naval Military units have +1 Movement and -25% :c5gold: Gold maintenance.​
Starts the game with +1 Spy​
Spies gain experience 100% faster​
Public Works (repeatable city project)
Remove Empire size reduction (moved to Constabulary/police station)​
+1 :c5happy: Happiness and -1 :c5unhappy: Needs in this city​

 
Last edited:
I love it. Just a minor suggestion:

Instead of 2 spies in Medieval why not 1 in Classical, 1 in Medieval? Spies have been around since antiquity and with this system you will need them earlier.

I'm assuming England still gets an extra spy at the start of the game? Perhaps with this system she should get 2.
 
I hate having already public information "hidden" behind tedious manual calculations.
- Population and number of Cities: already visible on the map, now you have to manually add them up.
- Number of World Wonders: now you need to use a notepad to jot down which city has which wonder.
- Policy tree, and sometimes the policy count: already deductible by looking at city tiles.
- Monopoly: now you need to scan the map and count the resource improvements, as well as CS allies if they have Statecraft.
- Number of tradeable resources: now you need to go into the trade screen and try to get each resource's price to roughly guess if they have 1 or more of the resource
- Open Borders: I guess you can't prove a lack of Open Borders, but you can confirm one by spotting any unit in foreign territory during peace time.

Moreover, many of these "hidden" features are needed for diplomacy, military operations, etc. Without this info, how do the AI decide whether to be friendly with you or not, or how much they should value a resource when you buy it?
 
I really like the simplicity of this proposal and the idea of actually using spies to get information about other civs, but I think I have to agree with @azum4roll that hiding this kind of basic information would unfortunately add more tedium than strategy to the game. I think it would be much better instead to have level 1 and 2 spies conduct passive actions as well, but higher level spies simply get higher yields, e.g. 33% for level 1 spies, 67% for level 2 spies, and 100% for level 3 spies. I do think the scaling on passive actions would be better as reducing by a third with each security level, rather than a half, as the yields in the late game would be pretty meaningless from a city with a security level of 3 or higher.

To maintain some of the intelligence theme, Level 1 spies could give you 1 tile of vision around the city and the civ's icon in the demo screen, level 2 spies could give you 2 tiles of vision and vision of the city's production queue, and level 3 spies could give you 3 tiles of vision and access to the civ's military unit roster.

In keeping with that theme, level 1 spies in city states would simply give vision, level 2 spies could tell you who their second closest ally is, and level 3 spies could tell you how much influence each civ has with the CS and at what rate it is changing.
 
What is the Xp gain for spies in this system?

So this system is not using "spy points". Is the intention to get rid of them with this system? Currently with that system you get 1 spy at medieval, but 2 at renaissance (if your not statecraft). Is the plan than to get 2 in medieval now, 1 in renaissance?
 
I hate having already public information "hidden" behind tedious manual calculations
If you want easy access to information about other civs without extensive use of reconnaissance and vision then spies are more plentiful, earlier, and easy to set anywhere at zero risk in this system. The point is that spies give useful information, and that you use them to acquire it. I’m not sure what about that you are not getting?
What is the Xp gain for spies in this system?
Per the OP, spies gain XP every turn once they are set up in a city. They get 5XP per turn if the city has 0 security, minus 1 XP per turn for every point of security in the city. They gain a level at when they accrue 100 XP.

So, if a spy were in a city with 0 security, it would take 20 turns to reach lvl 2 and 40 turns to reach lvl 3
 
Last edited:
I think it would be much better instead to have level 1 and 2 spies conduct passive actions as well, but higher level spies simply get higher yields, e.g. 33% for level 1 spies, 67% for level 2 spies, and 100% for level 3 spies. I do think the scaling on passive actions would be better as reducing by a third with each security level, rather than a half, as the yields in the late game would be pretty meaningless from a city with a security level of 3 or higher.
It is very much intended in this system that the yield rewards from spying are miniscule, passive and incidental. The vision, intelligence, and basic fact-finding functions of the spies are front and Center.

There is a possibility that, if you are willing to jump around a bit, you can find a civ that has neglected security, and you can get some pretty good yields from them, but that is meant to be an exception and not the rule.

Bear in mind, also, that by the time you unlock constabularies in renaissance, all civs will already have 3 spies, 2 of which are a full era old, and could be lvl 3 for a long time. You need to reach constabulary and have a happy empire to reduce yields to 25% of total, and the next guaranteed security level bonus doesn’t come until the NIA in atomic. 2 of the 5 security levels are exclusively locked behind an industrial policy tree finisher and an Information era world wonder, so most civs will only ever get 2 or 3 levels of security
 
Per the OP, spies gain XP every turn once they are set up in a city. They get 5XP per turn if the city has 0 security, minus 1 XP per turn for every point of security in the city. They gain a level at when they accrue 100 XP.

So, if a spy were in a city with 0 security, it would take 20 turns to reach lvl 2 and 40 turns to reach lvl 3
I'm not seeing the 5 xp or the 100/200 xp lvls noted in the proposal even after my double check. if its there its well hidden :)
 
If you want easy access to information about other civs without extensive use of reconnaissance and vision then spies are more plentiful, earlier, and easy to set anywhere at zero risk in this system. The point is that spies give useful information, and that you use them to acquire it. I’m not sure what about that you are not getting?
Everything. Other than Open Borders, none of them even require "vision" to see. You only need to reveal the tiles once and they'll auto update when a city is found, city tile yields are updated, etc.
You only need to meet the civ to access the trade screen, unless either side is sanctioned.
 
- Population and number of Cities: already visible on the map, now you have to manually add them up.
- Number of World Wonders: now you need to use a notepad to jot down which city has which wonder.
- Policy tree, and sometimes the policy count: already deductible by looking at city tiles.
All good summary stats to be immediately available at lvl 1 by simply moving a spy there.

That is In addition to demographic ranks, game score, and technologies, which you wouldn't be able to accurately guess without a spy.
- Monopoly: now you need to scan the map and count the resource improvements, as well as CS allies if they have Statecraft.
- Number of tradeable resources: now you need to go into the trade screen and try to get each resource's price to roughly guess if they have 1 or more of the resource
Inaccurate, since you wouldn't be able to guess where their EIC is, and therefore what monopoly resources they have double quantity of. You would also need to account for CS ally resource imports, so it becomes hard to keep track of. You can get close by counting up improved resources... Or you could just put a spy in one of their cities.
 
Last edited:
I hate having already public information "hidden" behind tedious manual calculations.
- Population and number of Cities: already visible on the map, now you have to manually add them up.
- Number of World Wonders: now you need to use a notepad to jot down which city has which wonder.
- Policy tree, and sometimes the policy count: already deductible by looking at city tiles.
- Monopoly: now you need to scan the map and count the resource improvements, as well as CS allies if they have Statecraft.
- Number of tradeable resources: now you need to go into the trade screen and try to get each resource's price to roughly guess if they have 1 or more of the resource
- Open Borders: I guess you can't prove a lack of Open Borders, but you can confirm one by spotting any unit in foreign territory during peace time.

Moreover, many of these "hidden" features are needed for diplomacy, military operations, etc. Without this info, how do the AI decide whether to be friendly with you or not, or how much they should value a resource when you buy it?
That's a fair point. It'd make much more sence if the fog of war hid those information: population changes, tiles changes, notification about the world wonder would only have info where it was build if the city is out of the fog of war. Would it be hard to add these effect to fog of war?

@pineappledan do you think AI can still play well when this info is hidden? It would need to be tweaked, so it can use spies to get relevant infornation.
 
That's a fair point. It'd make much more sence if the fog of war hid those information: population changes, tiles changes, notification about the world wonder would only have info where it was build if the city is out of the fog of war. Would it be hard to add these effect to fog of war?

@pineappledan do you think AI can still play well when this info is hidden? It would need to be tweaked, so it can use spies to get relevant infornation.
Just to make sure, when you say "fog of war", you mean discovered tiles but not actually seen, not unseen tiles ?
Concerning the World Wonder, do you mean you shouldn't know which player built it ? (unless vision/spy in empire).
This looks good to me. Maybe add basic information if you do not have a spy. Like anything you are able to deduce would be shown to you, with indication that it might not be accurate.
 
Last edited:
Just to make sure, when you say "fog of war", you mean discovered tiles but not actually seen, not unseen tiles ?
Concerning the World Wonder, do you mean you shouldn't know which player built in ? (unless vision/spy in empire).
This looks good to me. Maybe add basic information if you do not have a spy. Like anything you are able to deduce would be shown to you, with indication that it might not be accurate.
Yep, exactly
 
How does the score board sort without scores? Do you still know the order of each civ and their score is a question mark, or are they sorted randomly until you get that info?
 
That's a fair point. It'd make much more sence if the fog of war hid those information: population changes, tiles changes, notification about the world wonder would only have info where it was build if the city is out of the fog of war. Would it be hard to add these effect to fog of war?
That indeed would be cooler… I would like that, and would make a lot of sense.
@pineappledan do you think AI can still play well when this info is hidden? It would need to be tweaked, so it can use spies to get relevant infornation.
The AI already plays with some stats that humans don’t have access to (without cheats like infoAddict). As Azum pointed out, many of the things I propose to hide are things human players can deduce with scouting and vision. I’m not proposing we remove any relevant stats from the AIs that they already have access to.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom