A Deep Dive into Authority

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
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I am considering some balance proposals for Authority, and I would like some thoughts and insights before I craft anything. As I am not a major warmonger, some of my concerns could just be biases.

Authority - A deep dive
Authority at its core serves as the "kill them and take their stuff" tree. It has a weaker economic engine than Tradition or Progress, and that is by design. Your focus with Authority should be aggression. You need to kill units and take cities to compensate for your weaker innate bonuses.

The Problems with Authority
When I use authority, I generally find the following are my biggest issues.

  • Feast or Famine nature of the map: Authority's entire power lies on someone nearby to steal. City States to get tribute, barbarians to get culture, cities to take. If you get the right map, your a god. You tribute a culture CS and your swimming in early policies. You get 3 barb camps nearby and your feasting on culture for turns and turns. But other times, you have open ground. You found that one early barb camp, and then nothign. No city states in the area. Suddenly you are completely stuck in the mud. While tradition and progress have natural terrain that benefits them as well, neither of them are nearly as swingy as Authority. This to me is the number 1 problem with the tree.

  • Happiness: As you are generally building more units and less infrastructure, you don't have as many per turn yields to help with unhappiness, and you often have early puppets from your conquests, happiness can be a real sore spot for Authority. While it has a happiness policy, it comes very late in the game and frankly works anathema to the playstyle Authority cultivates. Authority players want to be using their units, not holing them up in their cities.

  • Early melee units suck at taking cities until they have promotions. While Authority has innate melee bonuses, early on melee units just do not perform well at the core role of taking cities until at least Drill II and especially City Assault. That is fine later in the game, but if your goal is early aggression and conquest....your stuck a bit high and dry.


Change Ideas (I am placing these in order that they are normally taken in)

Opener

Old: +25% combat bonus versus barbarians, reveal barbarian camps. +1 prod per city. Gain culture when killing units and clearing barbarian camps.
New: +50% experience versus barbarians and city state units. Reveal barbarian camps. +1 prod per city. Gain culture when kill units.

Commentary: The idea here is to replace the barbarian combat bonus with an Xp boost that works on both barbarians and city state units. This gives you a way to level up your early units quickly, getting them ready for the "real fight" when its time to attack a civ (which also increases their value for tribute purposes). However, this ability is naturally limited because you cannot get higher than level 3 off of barbs and CS units, so it prevents abuse. Now you get your initial army ready quicker, but it doesn't have any scaling concerns into the mid game.
(NOTE: I believe CS units are also XP capped like barbarians, but I may be wrong here. If so, we would need to amend it)

Second, we are removing the barbarian camp culture bonus (in favor of a change to tribute below). Right now Authority players have a weird anti-synergy, where killing a camp prevents spawns to get more culture. Further, a lot of their early culture is too tied up in barbarian spawns, so we want to smooth out that curve. See below for more details.

Tribute
Old: Cities gain 20 gold and production when expanding borders, era scale. Gain 25% of tribute from city states as culture.
New: Cities gain 20 gold and production when expanding borders, era scale. Increase culture from unit kills by 50%.

Commentary: Right now there is too much swinginess for authority culture sources. If you don't have barb camps or city states nearby, you are simply screwed. However: Cities, barb camps, and city states all have 1 key thing in common....enemy units to kill. So by focusing the culture gains with unit kills, we smooth out the curve. As long as there are units from SOME source, you have a steady supply of culture to gain.

Imperium
Old: A free settler appears near the capital. Cities founded or conquered gain 40 science and culture, scaling with era and population.
New: A free settler appears near the capital. Cities founded or conquered gain 40 science and culture, scaling with era and population. Monuments give +1 happiness.

Commentary: Authority needs an earlier and more reliable source of happiness that works with an active moving army, not one just stuck in garrisons. This gives them that key need at the time when they need it.

Dominance - Unchanged

Militarism

Old: Each city with a garrison gives +1 happiness and +2 culture. -15% to Unit Maintenance, -50% to road maintenance.
New: Each city with a garrison gives 2 culture. -20% to unit maintenance. Gain a supply free unit when the city hits 5 population.

Commentary: We moved the happiness into imperium. We removed the road maintenance in favor of better unit maintenance as that tends to scale better with the larger army we are trying to produce (and helps us to field that police force we need for the culture). We also move the supply free unit here, but now its a single unit you get at 5 pop. The current one every 10 pop isn't all that useful. Most cities will only ever get 2 units from it, and that won't happen to much later in the game (when you already have nice big unit producing cities that can crank out units), whereas Authority wants to encourage earlier aggression at a time when your production is very low. By making it a single use at 5 pop, we give Authority a free unit when it really needs it, but we remove the scaler.

Honor
Old: +10% CS, free unit every 10 pop, -25% to war weariness.
New: +10% CS, -25% war weariness.

Commentary: We are stripping a few things from honor in favor of moving things earlier in the tree. Ultimately considering your getting your finisher at this point normally, the total package is still more than worth it.
 

DeAnno

King
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The main issue I have with this is it encourages the degenerate behavior of farming barbarian camps instead of beating them and moving on. I don't have a solid theoretical reason that this is a terrible state for the game to be in, but I'm pretty sure the AI would be bad at it, and I would find it very unfun.
 

Circe

Chieftain
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The main issue I have with this is it encourages the degenerate behavior of farming barbarian camps instead of beating them and moving on. I don't have a solid theoretical reason that this is a terrible state for the game to be in, but I'm pretty sure the AI would be bad at it, and I would find it very unfun.
Yeah, I think this and peacing out vs. city states are two 'exploits' that need to finally be addressed. I hope that more liberal camp spawning rules will reduce the emphasis on farming the one or two that spawn near your territory, maybe move away from having existing camps spawn new units and just spawn more camps instead. Or having some barbs spawn in fog without camps. Declaring war on a city-state needs to come with a commitment of 5-10 turns.

I'm concerned the loss of -road maintenance isn't made up for by another -5% unit maintenance cost. I'm chronically poor as Authority already, and roads are important when waging war on rivals.
Otherwise it sounds good, but I guess I just don't like Authority fundamentally. Much more soothing to build up under Progress and then go to war when I'm ready without the constant pressure to kill units for policy yields.
 

ma_kuh

Prince
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Maybe it's just the last few starts I've had with Authority attempts, but I feel like I'm lacking in Science when trying to go full Authority. The Progress neighbor gets all those military techs before me, so even though I want to aggress, I can't.

I also think making all the on-kill triggers work for on-pillage would be a nice QOL change, it feels very "raiding party", and you have a natural incentive to sweep through a CS/neighbor and break all their things, then just back off so they can rebuild everything to restart the cycle. I know there are specific civs that do this, and I think baking some of that into this tree gives more options.

I really like stepping away from forcing you to demand Tribute from CS because it opens up Authority > Statecraft. Tributing is such a huge swing, so if you can't or don't want to trigger it, you can be stuck on policies really badly.

Also, could you add the unchanged Dominance text? I don't really trust any specifics/numbers on the wiki, so it would be easier to talk about the entire tree with that added.
 

pineappledan

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At one point we discussed changing the Drill I/II/III promotions so that they stacked damage reduction vs cities instead of %CS vs cities. This would mean they would take less damage attacking cities, but take more hits to take down a city, resulting in safer -- but slower -- sieges with more attacks per unit and therefore more XP. I think that is a better fix for your XP woes than farming barbs.
 

Alpharius

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Maybe it's just the last few starts I've had with Authority attempts, but I feel like I'm lacking in Science when trying to go full Authority. The Progress neighbor gets all those military techs before me, so even though I want to aggress, I can't.
Apologies if I'm jumping the gun on this, but I hope you're not proposing to buff Authority on this area... The :c5science: per kill for Authority works fine, IMO. The whole point of picking Progress is for tech leads and infrastructure. Making Authority on par with Progress on techs just sounds like an unnecessary buff to warfare which is already the META by a large margin.

Another thing I worry about is how Authority AI would be buffed with having already superior numbers. As a peaceful tall player this doesn't sound fun. If Authority's science per kill is really lackluster, maybe it should apply to ranged units as well?

Otherwise the proposed changes looks fine. I also agree having Authority buffed on sources of culture and making them better at waging war.
 

rusbeh

Chieftain
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Oct 20, 2022
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Maybe it's just the last few starts I've had with Authority attempts, but I feel like I'm lacking in Science when trying to go full Authority. The Progress neighbor gets all those military techs before me, so even though I want to aggress, I can't.
I notice this too. Would be cool if barracks gave an additional +1 science when unlocking dominance or some other policy to reward going full military infrastructure.
 

ma_kuh

Prince
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I don't think I play aggro particularly well, (part of why I wanted to try it out), so I won't push the point that Authority strictly needs more science. Maybe it's fine, I probably just mistimed my attacks and got properly punished.

Boosts to military infrastructure I think have room for improvement, but I don't know that I'd put them in the policy tree. Things like Barracks give +Production when making units, or tying some free promotions to its construction, that sort of thing. So it's more than just having the unit unlock, you actually need to invest away from top-tree buildings to leverage it. But that's a bit off-topic for this discussion.
 

zeofig

Warlord
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I would rarely farm barb camps with authority. It's usually more effective to farm CS units, which also gets you easy tribute. Or declare war with your neighbour and kill their units, if there's no CS.

My main problem with authority is that it lacks consistent science. Sometimes you can do well if you get science tributes or a lot of kills, but in many cases you should just go progress if you want to enjoy/win the game, because your medieval wars are going to suck. This is really annoying for civs that would like to go authority but have no (early) science bonus like Sweden or Zulus. Even if the map looks good, you're still going to be researching currency while your neighbour is building knights. I suggested this before and saw the argument "but that will make progress useless/bad", which I think is ridiculous. Progress gets decent science pretty much for free. It also gets a lot of other very good bonuses. That doesn't mean progress has to be the science opener. It also doesn't mean that authority has to suck. I don't think that buffing science per kill is a sufficient solution because it remains a very swingy way to get science. These problems also apply to culture.

I think tribute is a big part of the problems. Ancient era tribute yields are huge. If you get a lot of them, authority can be great. If you don't, it's bad. I would suggest reducing them so that authority can be buffed in other ways. Tribute is a fun mechanic but playing authority usually means sending my melee and triremes on a grand tour of the continent to snipe CS units and demand tribute. It can be fun but it's also super inconsistent and detracts from things like fighting early wars.

Warfare is the meta regardless of whether you go authority. It's nearly always optimal to build some units and start a defensive war with your neighbour or a CS to farm XP. In most cases this will escalate into being able to conquer them, because sooner or later the AI will feed you enough XP that you get good promotions (range/logistics) and crush them. Especially later in the game, if you want to win you should be thinking about how to attack the most dangerous AIs. It might be unnecessary if you're far enough ahead, which means you played an easy game. Changing this would be rather difficult and require broader changes than modifying civics.
 

Rekk

Emperor
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At one point we discussed changing the Drill I/II/III promotions so that they stacked damage reduction vs cities instead of %CS vs cities. This would mean they would take less damage attacking cities, but take more hits to take down a city, resulting in safer -- but slower -- sieges with more attacks per unit and therefore more XP. I think that is a better fix for your XP woes than farming barbs.
Should go straight into a proposal.
 

Alpharius

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Spoiler :
I would rarely farm barb camps with authority. It's usually more effective to farm CS units, which also gets you easy tribute. Or declare war with your neighbour and kill their units, if there's no CS.

My main problem with authority is that it lacks consistent science. Sometimes you can do well if you get science tributes or a lot of kills, but in many cases you should just go progress if you want to enjoy/win the game, because your medieval wars are going to suck. This is really annoying for civs that would like to go authority but have no (early) science bonus like Sweden or Zulus. Even if the map looks good, you're still going to be researching currency while your neighbour is building knights. I suggested this before and saw the argument "but that will make progress useless/bad", which I think is ridiculous. Progress gets decent science pretty much for free. It also gets a lot of other very good bonuses. That doesn't mean progress has to be the science opener. It also doesn't mean that authority has to suck. I don't think that buffing science per kill is a sufficient solution because it remains a very swingy way to get science. These problems also apply to culture.

I think tribute is a big part of the problems. Ancient era tribute yields are huge. If you get a lot of them, authority can be great. If you don't, it's bad. I would suggest reducing them so that authority can be buffed in other ways. Tribute is a fun mechanic but playing authority usually means sending my melee and triremes on a grand tour of the continent to snipe CS units and demand tribute. It can be fun but it's also super inconsistent and detracts from things like fighting early wars.

Warfare is the meta regardless of whether you go authority. It's nearly always optimal to build some units and start a defensive war with your neighbour or a CS to farm XP. In most cases this will escalate into being able to conquer them, because sooner or later the AI will feed you enough XP that you get good promotions (range/logistics) and crush them. Especially later in the game, if you want to win you should be thinking about how to attack the most dangerous AIs. It might be unnecessary if you're far enough ahead, which means you played an easy game. Changing this would be rather difficult and require broader changes than modifying civics.

Now that I think about it, yeah you're right in that warfare would be meta regardless of policy. I still disagree on having Authority easily reach tech parity with Progress.

IMO the Social Policies having distinct strengths and weaknesses is fine. Trying to make them perform well in all areas just doesn't sound good.
 
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youngsteve

Prince
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There is definitely an issue with Authority being weaker than Progress & Tradition, particularly for AI. One of the biggest issue for that is due to the efficiency of the AI which ensures barbs & camps are disposed of very quickly, leaving Authority civs with scraps to fight over. This though is being looked at by the developers, hopefully in expected new release, which will make barbs more numerous & dangerous.

Wouldn't it be better to await the new changes to see their effects, before discussing changes to Authority.
 

Alpharius

Chieftain
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Misunderstanding on my part, then.

+1 on having a more consistent way of getting science as Authority. I also think removing Tributes as a core part of Authority is a good idea. It reduces tedium and unpredictability.

And it makes Civs with tribute related UAs more unique.
 
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CrazyG

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There are a lot of good ideas in this thread. Just my 2 cents:

City state tribute in general is overdue for reform. It's tedious, gimmicky, and swingy. Its really OP if you get the right mix of CS and makes pangea style maps really easy compared to continents just because of how many CS you'll find and harass. Also the values make no sense, a single pathfinder is enough to scare most city-states in the beginning, when their army has 3 or 4 warriors. I personally just house-ruled myself into never using heavy tribute because otherwise its so overcentralizing.

Authority has crap science unless you get some via heavy tribute. AI with authority perform really poorly and I'd guess the reason is science, particularly that you get none at all if not at war. I think the finisher should be something like +1 science to barracks and armories instead of even more production. As is there is just way production than necessary.
 

ma_kuh

Prince
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Another thought for a trigger, "gain [science] on unit promotion"? I want to say I remember one civ or another having this type of effect, but I don't know. Also, that might just be a round-about way of adding science-on-unit-production, which was rejected. Possible way to mitigate this: the amount of granted science scales with the new level, in addition to era. So leveling up veterans has more of an impact than just spamming units, and the abuse is further reduced because buying units triggers XP at half-rate.
 

balparmak

Prince
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Sep 20, 2015
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There are a lot of good ideas in this thread. Just my 2 cents:

City state tribute in general is overdue for reform. It's tedious, gimmicky, and swingy. Its really OP if you get the right mix of CS and makes pangea style maps really easy compared to continents just because of how many CS you'll find and harass. Also the values make no sense, a single pathfinder is enough to scare most city-states in the beginning, when their army has 3 or 4 warriors. I personally just house-ruled myself into never using heavy tribute because otherwise its so overcentralizing.

Authority has crap science unless you get some via heavy tribute. AI with authority perform really poorly and I'd guess the reason is science, particularly that you get none at all if not at war. I think the finisher should be something like +1 science to barracks and armories instead of even more production. As is there is just way production than necessary.

Yeah, tributing can get really wonky. I like the the 10 turn peace lock/commitment idea from your previous post, but that can't work now because tributing friendly CS is a lot harder for some reason, and the usual barb hunting often makes you friends. Apparently declaring and peacing out is the meta to solve that, which is textbook wonkiness. A concrete tribute rework proposal would be much appreciated.
 

pineappledan

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Another thought for a trigger, "gain [science] on unit promotion"? I want to say I remember one civ or another having this type of effect, but I don't know. Also, that might just be a round-about way of adding science-on-unit-production, which was rejected. Possible way to mitigate this: the amount of granted science scales with the new level, in addition to era. So leveling up veterans has more of an impact than just spamming units, and the abuse is further reduced because buying units triggers XP at half-rate.
Japan’s dojo has this ability.
 

CrazyG

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Yeah, tributing can get really wonky. I like the the 10 turn peace lock/commitment idea from your previous post, but that can't work now because tributing friendly CS is a lot harder for some reason, and the usual barb hunting often makes you friends. Apparently declaring and peacing out is the meta to solve that, which is textbook wonkiness. A concrete tribute rework proposal would be much appreciated.
You raise another good point, which is that tribute is so strong that influence with a city-state can be a disadvantage (at least early game). I can write up something specific-ish
 
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