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A WIP Essay: Refining ideas in CiV

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by Isikien, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Rather than putting the rant at the top of the page and leave it there, I'm going to use my first post to describe the issues and ideas discussed in this topic.

    Personal ideas:


    Diplomacy, stability and happiness: Discussed possibilities of a casus belli system influencing AI and player decisions in war and peace, as well as diplomacy having a much more noticable impact on gameplay.


    Stability in peacetime and in relation to policies
    : Further expansion on the idea of stability linking in with policy choices.

    Other ideas discussed in this thread:

    1upt and removing the tile limit: Dicussion originally propositioned by 'Shoes', the discussion involves making the mechanics behind army logistics more complicated, especially in the regards of attack vs defense. Several ideas have been brought up by different members, including:

    - Hard cap on the amount of units that can be contained within one tile. (Shoes)
    - Tiles have no hard cap but ONE unit in the tile is designated as 'combat ready', while the others are defined as being in a 'convoy'. (Pooh)
    - (SilenceotClams) further elaborates on the above post by proposing 'vanguard' and 'reserve' units.
    - Further elaboration on the idea of 'vanguard' units, how they should be designated and how combat should proceed. (Pooh)

    Research agreements: Though there may be differing opinions over whether the system is easily exploited by the Human players, most people seem to agree that research agreements aren't working as intended, whether it's due to a variety of factors or its design. Ideas include:

    - Idea proposed by (SilenceotClams), in which he states that relationships between both civilisations should affects RA gains as well as a 'bidding' system to increase gains from RAs when civs work together.
    - Counter-points by (LordTC) who states that the current vanilla RA system is a good idea but is poorly executed and balanced.

    We need much more discussion, so by all means add what you can to this thread. I will update it periodically and will try to make sure that everyone's points are accounted for, should they have enough detail.
     
  2. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Ye sadly I am a man of idea theiving, thus why you'll probably have heard all this spiel before. But I wanted to put it in a better context and collate the ideas and the opinions of the forum.

    So without further ado:


    Issue I: Diplomacy, stability and happiness


    As stated above, these three things currently make very little sense and at worst causes a sense of 'I'm not having fun' in the player.

    Let's steal a couple of quotes from some forumers. I'll try not to cut them down to avoid misinterpretation:

    Spoiler :


    Posted by Maktaka in 'Civ 5 compared to Civ 4'

    Perhaps a better phrasing of Civ 5's diplomacy dilemma is that it requires the player to sacrifice too much to maintain good terms with anyone. In Civ 4 one could have a city's culture pushing against an allied city's culture without losing the ally in the end. Civ 5 requires you to keep your borders away from their borders completely or you'll lose that ally eventually.

    There's also the issue of DoF giving you a relations bonus at the expense of constant one-way requests from the ally, unlike in Civ 4 where a close ally would pop up with actual trade offers that you could benefit from and got better deals through (although they were usually just offering some low-level naval research that you had skipped because you're on a lakes map). An ally in Civ 4 brought with them the opportunity for greater economic growth on both sides. In Civ 5, an ally just ends up requesting your only copy of Spices or 1/3 of your net gold income per turn and gets hissy if you decline. We have in Civ 5 a very good and clear reason to engage in regular trade with the AI: excess luxury resources. We gain something and they gain something with neither party having to sacrifice a part of their own strength to do so (as opposed to, say, a pigs for diamonds trade in Civ 4). But even though maintaining such a trade would be beneficial to the AI, it does not include fair trades in its ally calculations, only whether or not you fulfill its demands, regardless of the strain doing so might put on your empire.

    Maintaining an alliance should be doable through actions that benefit both parties, such as fair trades of excess resources or declaring war on a mutually disliked third party. But the former yields no benefit at all and the latter eventually gets you branded a warmonger and the loss of the ally. You can certainly make the right maneuvers to maintain an ally, and the December patch was a big first step in that regard, but there's still some changes that need to be made for alliances to feel more natural.


    Spoiler :


    Posted by whb in the Civ 5 Rants thread:

    5. Mundane diplomacy. In Civ 4, religion had the handy effect of putting the player into some tough choices -- you couldn't easily be on happy terms with everyone. Your internal choices affected diplomacy, as did trading with the enemy. And when other teams acquired a religion and how they were distributed dramatically changed the diplomatic landscape from game to game. In Civ 5, I can basically ignore diplomacy with very little impact.


    Spoiler :


    Same thread, posted by Poundmaker

    5. diplomacy is still very weak - the biggest nag is there is no transparency in foreign relations - there should be different ways to build influences with other civilizations just like with city states so you have friends, foes and allies amongst other civs


    Like I said, I'm sure you've all heard it before, but I'm quantifying this to prove my point. Diplomacy is silly at times in CiV, allowing players who don't really care about interacting with the leaders to totally bypass them and go on doing their own thing, rarely getting involved in world politics, and for people who do want to get involved, they are finding themselves getting stabbed in the back despite how much they trade with the opponent. I range somewhere in the middle. I play on the basis of ye olde triangle diplomacy. Pick a small selection of allies who like each other and cultivate relations with them while alienating everyone else. Of course, this doesn't work in the current CiV. Hell, a lot of players have gone so far as totally ignoring denouncements and declarations of friendship, simply because it's a ton of trouble.

    Pilfering ideas from other games: Casus Belli and your empire

    Though I lothe using it because of its unreliability, let's get an ad-hoc interpretation of what is meant by Casus Belli from Wikipedia:

    This concept exists in Europa Universalis III. Basically in that game, at certain points you may have certain things that happen in game that will effect the external politics between two nations. This may be due to a multitude of things, from religious differences between two nations to a war of honour on the basis that one empire insulted another. They can also be automatic due to internal changes within an empire, for example, if you're imperalist, you might get some blood thirsty people on the look out for new provinces or territory. There's a full list in the wiki you should check out.

    But the central premise behind a casus belli is that it gives right of war to the nation in question. Who bestows this right? Well you could say it's the game but I'll explain further.

    In this game, if you declare WITHOUT a casus belli on a nation, you can recieve STABILITY penalties. The penalties to this basically means you get reduced income from your territory. Worse yet, you can have riots and uprising if its really damned low. So in actual fact, control to a certain extent is in the people's hands and unless there's a good reason to go to war with another country, the people won't like it and will drag their heels throughout the war. In a long-term situation, especially if you were reliant on your provinces for income, this might screw you.

    This creates an interesting counterbalance where you have to find or fabricate wars to successfully pick fights.

    This would be cool if it was ever implimented in CiV or any future versions of Civilisation. From a realism perspective this happens all the time in world politics, ranging from petty squabbles over religion to guranteeing nations their independance (this already happens in CiV admittedly in the form of city states, which I personally have never had any problem with). From a gameplay perspective it (for me at least) would make war much of a less random, 'free for all' affair for both the AI and human and more of a 'calculated' thing.

    Ok, let's say stability was in CiV. How should it be implimented? Obviously stability should on the most basic level reward players for being more 'stable'.

    What should the rewards be? Let's just say for now increased production, just for the hell of it.

    What should the penalties be? Let's go with decreased overall income and production from cities. And for the biggest extreme, lets go for increased chance of organised riots happening in cities furthest away from the capital's sphere of influence (I wouldn't want to to be too much of a dick with that) as well as revolts.

    How should it be increased? Policies, passage of time, golden ages, a threshold of luxuries recieved etc, things that denote good circumstances in your empire, peace treaties when at war

    How should it be decreased? Adoption of certain policies, over-expansion and distance to capital (reminicient of corruption yes I know) and most importantly, war, specifically who you are warring with, how strong you are in comparison to him or her and how many troops you've lost or have commited on the front lines, how many cities you have occupied.

    War and peace should play a big part. And with a system like the casus belli in place this would force the player to make intreguing choices relative to their situation.

    I would say for a game like ciV, casus belli's should stack, giving more and more bonuses the more one civ accumulates them against another. So you can have multiple CBs going at once. So lets say:

    No CB's and a war declaration: Stability decrease that starts small and continues to decrease over the next couple of turns (say a medium decrease in stability every 20 turns). Troop losses makes stability decrease faster.

    1 CB's and a war declaration: Stability stays where it is, but it can be worn down with severe troop losses and city occupation. Basically, if you're finger is itching on the trigger to declare, you don't get rewarded, neither do you get punished, you have to get what you want without any additional bonuses.

    2 CB's and a war declaration: Stability increases slightly. Your people are psyched for war so you get a slight production boost when it kicks off, whether you declared or the enemy did.

    3 CB's and a war declaration: Stability maxes out, beyond a limit you can't achieve in peacetime. Your people lust for blood, either that or they want to defend your country to the death against the foreigner scum. You're at max stability for a number of turns, you retain the slight production bonuses that you would on 2 CBs plus your troops have increased movement.

    A stability max out could also happen with triggering golden ages.

    For example, I depict a game where this happens. I am imagining that I'm playing as a bloodthirsty warmonger:

    I am playing as Montezuma. I meet Ghandi and Bismarck early game.

    So I do what any sensible psycho would do and wipe out Ghandi. I do this by souring my relations first by settling near him. Ghandi tells me off and I give him a hostile answer, increasing our CBs on each other by 1.

    He's pretty small by this point, so when I declare war on him I take his small amount of cities without much stability penalty. However, Ghandi was friends with Bismarck.

    Oh crap, this means he has a CB on me. Let's say the CB was (You wiped out/declared war on our friend). He didn't like me much before this point anway, since I didn't trade him much so that didn't help.

    Maybe I should've traded with him. He's neutral with me, so it doesn't necessarily mean he'll declare on me, it just means that if he does he wont suffer any penalities to his stability. And he's not really strong by this point.

    30 or so turns later I meet Catherine. Catherine and I hit it off fast. However, she's trading with Bismark. Now Germany is getting pretty strong, I don't want him getting any stronger. So I ask for a trade embargo against him.

    Great, she agreed to it. But crap, Bismarck knows I negotiated the embargo. He has a second CB on me now, and he's unlikely to forget the first CB since it was essentially wiping out a nation. This means he has a very good reason to declare war.

    So I need more land by this point. I'm playing a very stupid game. So stupid in fact that I forget to check relations between city states. I try attacking one and apparently, guess what, it's allied with Bismarck. Oh dammit, he 'guranteed its independence'. Well feck. Sure enough, Bismarck dials me up in 13 turns and declares war. His troops start stomping all over my land and he's building them at an accelerated rate. I also never had a CB against him, which means I get no bonuses. All I can hope for is holding the line and attempting peace.

    Ok that's it. See what I mean? Now I do think that in a system like this, CBs should decay over time, effectively revoking the 'right to war' just as easily as you can gain it.

    Tell me what you think all. Essentially I am stealing ideas but it's only for example's sake. After all, similar systems have been done in different game.
     
  3. code9

    code9 Warlord

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    This is more of a criticism than an actual refining of ideas. You have little or no suggestions, perhaps only implicated ones.

    I disagree that immersion and realism are very important. As soon as we get good gameplay, nobody thinks about how unrealistic it is. This is a game, not a simulation anyway.

    I agree about choice. This is a design problem, and it's as if the designers of Civ5 were afraid to create anything "powerful" in any single area of the game (further nerfed in the patches) because they didn't know how to balance it.

    As for many of your other points, we've already heard them, I'm afraid.
     
  4. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Read the thread closely. And notice the reserved post. I am writing the ideas up, I just seperated the two posts for clarity, one for criticism (essentially yes a review of everything that's been said before and many times before that) and the second post will be for ideas.

    Actually while I'm away, why not people elaborate on what they think about global happiness and the idea of stability. It's one of the ideas I wanted to look at first.
     
  5. OrsonM

    OrsonM Our man

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    Yes, I also get that from the essay. Now it's time for atonement and understanding, for a why and how of the things in the game.
     
  6. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Well said. I think you have summed it up very well. :)
     
  7. SilenceotClams

    SilenceotClams Chieftain

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    I think that's a fairly good summary of some of the main problems with civ5 - certainly the lack of risk in choosing things like policies is a problem. I would also add that you forgot the substantial problems created by research agreements, which makes actual research less effective than simply throwing coin at RAs. It's effectively a giant hole in the economy out of which free tech pours, just like with great scientist spam.

    Code9, I don't agree. A game about building a mighty empire is interesting because we like the idea of making empires all by ourselves, and if it doesn't feel like we think empire-building should really feel like it spoils things. Do you think that chess sets have pieces called 'knights', 'queens' and 'bishops' just because it helps us to remember what they do? It is also the key point in a very, very current debate in the gaming industry about design vs. concept - essentially a debate between formalist and naturalistic principles in the creation of games.

    It also explains a number of things that people feel to be problems with the AI: we don't want AI that just WIN because that would defy our expectations of what we feel is actually going on. Why else would we feel cheated by AI that, er, cheats? And the fact that the modders have exposed the levels to which the AI makes crude fudges over decisions that, in their place, a human might deliberate carefully upon underlines the issue. In Civ4, the AIs played like rulers - capricious, grasping, or inept rulers as often as not - and in Civ5 the AIs play like machines that don't comprehend human ideas like 'territory', or 'cooperation' or 'survival'. Reading the modders' AI threads I constantly feel that in Civ5 we have imperial aimbots, not civs, lined up against us in SP.

    How does that help? Maybe it doesn't, much, but it opens another approach: instead of tinkering with the relationship numbers that rule the AIs, which is all the modders can do for now, the trick might be to give the AIs a better understanding of the situation: find a better way of measuring whether a player means to expand into their lands, or a way of comprehending when peace is beneficial as opposed to war; AIs that don't just waddle like clockwork towards the year 2050 but actually appraise the world around them, and the player's actions, as if they were the real thing. That, for me, would make civ5 the game it should be, instead of a big, dull boardgame against repurposed Quake2 bots.
     
  8. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Although you seem to think immersion is not so important (that's fine of course) a strong majority of players do, myself included.

    Our imagination is a very powerful thing. It's what makes children pretend that cardboard boxes are castles or that tree branch is actually a holy sword of vengeance.

    Games that feed off our imagination help make the game come alive. They draw you in and make you feel like you are more involved.

    At least for me anyway.
     
  9. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Shameless bump to show mah idea (check second post)
     
  10. Shoes

    Shoes Warlord

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    As much as I agree with everything you said, I simply can't believe you haven't said anything about 1UPT.

    In my opinion it is what made the mess in the 1st place. Because of it they nerfed tile gains, because of it they nerfed big cities (kinda goes with the tile gains) just so that you couldn't build too many units, but then they noticed that the builder kind of players will be too strong so they said "Heck we nerfed that why not nerf them too?". That led to every building and road paying maintance. You want buildings PAY FOR IT, you want roads PAY FOR IT, you want a big city with a lot of infrastructure HAHAHAH, NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

    Conclusion: Yeah SoD's do suck, BUT WHY THE F*** REPLACE THEM WITH SOMETHING WORSE?!?!?!?!? In my opinion they should set a limit on stacks (5-6 units) and reduce the range archers can shot at (make it the next tile and maybe, just maybe 2 tiles away if you are on a hill).

    PS: Many of the things I said HAVE been said before and WILL be said again, but a week or two ago I mostly stopped caring since all Firaxis seems to want is new players who don't wanna learn, but only take pride in winning vs an AI that is ridiculus anyway.
     
  11. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Thanks for replying to 1upt in particular, I definately wanted a reply on this because it is by far the most polarising factor. :)

    I've said in previous threads that I don't really like stacks'o'doom. They do work for CivIV, but they often turned wars into dick waving contests on who has the biggest stack. You were rarely encouraged to split up your units and relied on a critical mass to blitzkrieg through cities before you took too many losses, especially when you got to rifling and steel.

    Now a hard cap on tiles up to about 4 would be nice. I have seen this idea multiple times and I am starting to verge on agreeing with it. It would definately stop the carpet of doom nonsense that a lot of higher level players are getting.
     
  12. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    I quite like the Casus Belli system in EU3. Combined with stability and war weariness, these are elements that should be added to the Civ series.

    I think you have explained it very well why such a system would be fun and challenging.

    The best part is you haven't even mentioned city states which could make things even funner. :)
     
  13. code9

    code9 Warlord

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    @SilenceotClams , Thormodr

    Of course Immersion is important. I am not saying civ would be just as fun if instead of the map we had a petri dish, and empires were actually expanding bacteria. The game mechanics would be similar but it wouldn't be fun. I'm just saying, that now as it is, the game is extremely unrealistic. I mean, it's been said before. A ship that needs 400 years to circle the globe? There are many basic concepts with Civ that aren't realistic. I'm just saying that players would (and have in the past) forfeited closeness to realism for good gameplay, civ series included. As long as the game designers give the game mechanic a sensible name, it will be OK with us the players. Why? Like you said, we have imagination. That's all I'm saying.

    I immerse myself as much as you do, don't get me wrong.

    However, there are more realistic games, such as Hearts of Iron 3 where there are complex lines of supply, weather systems, terrains, niche technology trees, political influences etc, and it's a generally realistic system, but it's still not "a simulation". In fact, a simulation would not be fun. That's probably what I meant by realism.

    Civ is a bunch of units, tiles with models on them (cities), windows with tree graphs in them (tech trees), screens with 3 resource types (city screens) that we interpret as parts of our "empire" using our imagination. Any and all game mechanics can be interpreted from a designer point of view to provide gameplay, because the concept of a civilization is so huge, it leaves room for a lot of possibilities.
     
  14. code9

    code9 Warlord

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    @Isikien,

    I read your second post. I agree.

    However, you're talking only about diplomacy with the AI (or at least primarily if I understand). This is simply a matter of coding, something that the game should have had by now.

    What is your view on the happiness issue?
     
  15. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Ah ok. No worries then.

    I agree that there is a trade off and games can certainly be too realistic.

    In my opinion, I though cIV struck that balance very well. Soren Johnson is a wise man. :)
     
  16. Isikien

    Isikien WHOA

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    Primarily yeah I am talking about diplomacy, but I'm trying to combine seperate entities to make the game make a bit more sense. This at least in my perspective would make the game make more sense.

    Well, happiness 'works' in this current game so by that argument it's ok. I mean, lots of happies feed golden ages, less happies stymie growth

    However, it is definately oversimplified. Just having one global happiness issue to solve is in my opinion boring. Especially when it prevent growth. Essentially that's too much of a saving throw in my opinion. It means that the game is turning round to you and going 'you're getting a little big, maybe I'll reduce your growth for you'

    There's only a couple of bad aspects of the current happiness system but I personally don't like it enough to want it in future iterations of the game.
     
  17. code9

    code9 Warlord

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    @Isken,

    I think that the global happiness takes the tedium out of managing cities. Before, like in Civ4, I didn't like how cities that I want to focus on research, I had to build happy buildings so that I could do research, or production, or anything. Global values for happiness allows more city specialization, and this is fun for me.

    Wouldn't it be great if we could somehow build cities that completely specialized in either one of the main resources: Gold, Production, Research, Food, or Culture?

    Don't you think?

    So that we could only focus on city improvements for that particular resource more that we want that city to focus on. It would just be more fun, I think.
     
  18. SilenceotClams

    SilenceotClams Chieftain

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    In the general (not to say enjoyable) vein of setting the (Civ5) world to rights I thought I'd expand on my RA comments earlier.

    Basically RAs are another sloppy, thoughtless addition to the ingame economics: you pay x amount of gold, which is a fixed lump sum, and then 10 turns later (dependent on the game speed of course) you get a new free random tech. Of course the lump sum is always less than the beaker cost of the tech, and you can have multiple RAs ongoing at any given time, so any fool can see that RAs spam new tech into the world like it's Edison's Christmas and Einstein's birthday rolled into one. As far as I can make out, this is one of the main reasons why games of Civ5 finish between 1650-1750, as opposed to the slightly more plausible 1920+ of Civ4.

    This situation is idiotic. It models scientific cooperation between friendly powers in the same way that Lego models the construction industry. Two civs who dislike, distrust, even hate each other will still give each other a whole free tech. Even if one is researching Rifling and the other Military Science, they could easily end up giving one another Fertiliser and Archaeology. It's as though (to crib an earlier metaphor) Edison and Einstein, whilst still pressing ahead with electricity and general relativity, still found time to work together and invent Kinder Eggs.

    How could it work? Less ******** would be: you pay in a lump sum, which is multiplied/scaled by a relationship factor - essentially, a number that represents how much the other civ trusts you not to take your newfound knowledge of cavalry/machine guns/pokemon and bum rush them. You then receive this new amount of beakers towards the tech that your ally is currently researching after some 10 turns.

    Even more interesting: turn the RA into a kind of prisoners' dilemma. You set a buy-in amount of gold, and the AI sets a similar amount in secret, again based upon how much the 'trust' you. If you both put in equal amounts which are high (relative to, say, the cost of the techs you're researching), you each receive a beaker boost roughly equal to the sum of the two gold inputs, delivered to the tech your ally is researching. Likewise, if the amounts are roughly equal but low, each bidder just gets their own gold in beakers and a relations penalty with their research 'partner'. But if the amounts are badly inequal, the lower bidder gets the sum of the two bids and a relations penalty whilst the higher bidder just gets the lower bid in beakers. Not that any modders will want to take me up on it - but it seems more interesting than a gold-activated beaker-spurt.
     
  19. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Great second post. Welcome to the Forums. :)
     
  20. LordTC

    LordTC Warlord

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    I think this isn't actually the case, I think RA's aren't really any faster than being able to trade techs, it's just that the tech tree is streamlined to very few techs which aren't all that expensive. RA's are an improvement in many respects because they remove all sorts of exploits like getting a bunch of techs from someone and then declaring war. Of course they are poorly implemented and introduce a bunch of other exploits as well (1 turn micro to guarantee the tech you get, etc.). In reality at any reasonable difficulty level the AI's had all sorts of techs for you to get (filling in) as long as you were researching beelines.

    I think RA's are designed to represent agreements to share data and cooperate between the best and brightest researchers in the country, so yes they give new techs. I also think there was an attempt made to reintroduce the unpredictability of research through the RA, although the concept is flawed (game fun issues) and the implementation is suspect (1 turn exploit removes randomness).

    Lastly, I think RA's are badly balanced relative to game speed, they are certainly far more interesting and well balanced on the epic/marathon timescale than they are on quick. They are designed to be a positive for staying at peace rather than going to war, and when you have to maintain peace for 60 turns (even if its the same number of years, the AI has more opportunities to DoW, get angry, etc..) then its a much more tenuous balance. Of course at these slower game speeds the 1 turn exploits are much more unfair!
     

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