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(7-14a) Remove Spy Levels

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axatin

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Main idea:
Remove the level-up mechanic of spies completely.

Rationale:
The number of spies available scales with era. But also the strength of spies increases over time because they level up. Together, this makes espionage too strong in the late game while it's not strong enough in renaissance/industrial.

Every game mechanic should be tied to making strategic decisions, otherwise it just adds unnecessary complexity. Before the espionage rework and in BNW, there was a risk of spies getting killed when performing missions or attempting a coup. So, there was a trade-off: Perform dangerous missions, get high rewards and a lot of XP at the risk of the spy getting killed, or play it safe, just rig elections without taking any risks and get low rewards. In this version, the risk of spies getting killed is removed almost completely, so there's no point in keeping the level-up mechanic.


Details:
1. Spies in city-states gain influence as in the current version (currently doesn't scale with spy rank). Success chances only depend on how long the spy has been staying in the CS during the current election period.

2. The base NP rate for offensive spies is set to 30. The NP reduction for the counter-espionage mission is set to 20. Both are the values for a current level 2 spy.

3. In the current version, the calculation for the number of votes that can be traded when a diplomat is active is:
- 20% of the starting votes (at least 1) for a rank 1 diplomat
- 25% of the starting votes (at least 1) for a rank 2 diplomat
- 33% of the starting votes (at least 1) for a rank 3 diplomat

It is changed to:
- 20% of the starting votes whenever a diplomat is active
- additional 5% for reaching the thresholds 200NP, 500NP, 800NP
- minimum value of 1 in all cases

4. England's ability "All spies act one level higher" is replaced by "Spies in foreign cities are 25% stronger", which means they generate +25% NP (EDIT: clarification: +25% to the NP generation after taking into account city security), +25% votes to determine rigging success chances and +25% influence when rigging an election successfully.

5. Bletchley park loses "all spies are leveled up". Instead, the bonus to city security in all cities is increased to +20 (currently +10).

6. Without spy levels, there's no need to distinguish between spies being imprisoned and spies being killed. Therefore, imprisoning spies is replaced with killing them. The "chase down foreign spies" counterspy mission (identify all spies, kill all caught spies, gain 50x counterspy level science when killing a spy) is removed. This mission is currently already weak and would become even weaker, and it's misleading because people are led to believe they can stop spy actions with it. Also, the UI shouldn't be lying about identification chances.

Based on an idea by @Stalker0 in this thread
 
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Sounds nice, though how will the national intelligence agency change?
 
Without spy levels, there's no need to distinguish between spies being imprisoned and spies being killed. Therefore, imprisoning spies is replaced with killing them. The "chase down foreign spies" counterspy mission (identify all spies, kill all caught spies, gain 50x counterspy level science when killing a spy) is removed. This mission is currently already weak and would become even weaker, and it's misleading because people are led to believe they can stop spy actions with it. Also, the UI shouldn't be lying about identification chances.
Hmm, then all counterspies are visible.
5. Bletchley park loses "all spies are leveled up". Instead, the bonus to city security in all cities is increased to +20 (currently +10).
What about increasing NP gain/NP prevention by +10, city strike strength by +10%, and number of votes per turn by 1 (mimic current +1 level)? Pure security is boring.
England UA should do the same also.
 
simplify spy bonuses = a big yes from me.

You'll have to rework NIA and Bletchley to match, but I have been begging for that change a long time.
 
I think we are overthinking NIA and Bletchey here. To me, the real benefit of those national wonders is more spies. If you remove the spy levling, I will still like these wonders. Bletchey gies a LOT of new spies, and NIA also still gives a lot of gold for CS rigs. These are still good buildings, just remove the leveling and call it a day.

I also like that the diplomat positioning gives a bit more vote buying power. It won't change my opinions on the diplomat one way or the other, but it doesn't hurt.
 
Have we ever considered allowing player to just build more spies? Ie you get base amount that works as it currently does, but if you getting hammered by spies or w/e just build more, like with everything else in this game...

Edit: so maybe instead of levels we'd have different spy variants, the base spies, and the optional production spies -- the former auto revive the latter do not. Perhaps a few other restrictions on the produced variety to lock them out from any missions that would be too unbalanced en masse
 
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NIA doesn't level up spies anymore, that has been removed in the espionage rework
Spoiler :
nia.PNG

What about increasing NP gain/NP prevention by +10, city strike strength by +10%, and number of votes per turn by 1 (mimic current +1 level)? Pure security is boring.
England UA should do the same also.
For now I want to keep it simple, Bletchley Park is not really what this proposal is about. We can discuss it in detail in another session. As for England: I prefer a percentage change because it doesn't modify the relative value of the other bonuses, and it can be explained more easily. Four different abilities would be too complicated and require too much text in the civ description.
 
I don't like how the England UA doesn't buff counterspies.
 
Also, +25% NP implies that it's a modifier that stacks additively with the security modifier, which is intended to be the only % modifier for NP.
 
Also, +25% NP implies that it's a modifier that stacks additively with the security modifier, which is intended to be the only % modifier for NP.
I mean why wouldn’t it stack additively just like every other bonus in the game?
 
I mean why wouldn’t it stack additively just like every other bonus in the game?
It would, so it's not a good bonus to give.
 
This +25% is not affected by security NP reductions. The current +10 flat NP is.
 
No, I meant England's bonus to be multiplicative with city security, just like the bonus for Great Leap Forward. The intention is that spies are always 25% stronger so it doesn't affect the balance between the different options to choose from. A bonus for counterspies was not included because 1) I didn't find a clear way to make them 25% stronger and 2) using spies only for protection wouldn't be very perfidious.

Proposal edited for clarity.
 
Hard to convey in UA text. It's assumed all modifiers on the same thing are additive.
 
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