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Are Spies Actually That Useful

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by InsidiousMage, Apr 1, 2021.

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Are Spies Useful?

  1. Yes

    47 vote(s)
    49.0%
  2. No

    12 vote(s)
    12.5%
  3. Sometimes

    37 vote(s)
    38.5%
  1. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Inspired by the recent Policy Elimination thread, are spies actually useful?

    I'll admit that while I get the Intelligence Agency more often than not, I don't usually build more than one or two additional spies unit I need to guard my Spaceports in a science victory. The gold they can get isn't a lot until later eras, it's highly hit or miss and, while good for the occasional spending spree, doesn't provide a steady source of income. The steal tech mission can be nice to get a decent tech here or there in a culture victory and the Fabricate Scandal is sometimes really nice if you get the correct promotion and are competing for a specific city-state but all of the other mission seem like good ideas that don't actually have any use against the AI. Honestly, the only real, consistent use I have for them to capture enemy spies by setting up a Reyna city with a +4/5 Harbor and Commercial Hub. The recent change to how alliances work also seems to have really reduced their value as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
    João III and Noble Zarkon like this.
  2. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Mostly for the listening post to increase Diplomatic Victory and to counterspy. Stealing tech can provide some value. Another good option is to overturn CS's; this is where the card really helps.

    I usually only use siphon funds to level them up. The gold just doesn't come that fast late game and waiting anything for 8 turns then may mean that the game is over.

    But then again if you're not going to war, you might as well build the Intelligence Agency.

    They tend to have more value in SVs. But for CVs/DiploVs that I prefer, they're not particularly essential. Also in my games I often ally most of the civs; and pummel the rest into oblivion so there's not much to steal.
     
  3. Francel

    Francel Madam Secretary

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    Extremely useful regardless of victory path.

    -Domination and religion: +6 combat strength
    -Science and domination: steal eureka
    -Culture: great work theft
    -Diplomacy: remove envoys
    -All types: steal lots of gold

    Once they are built you can use them again and again. With the right promotions and/or policies, failure is uncommon.
    Also, if you want to avoid a war for whatever reason, they are one of the few tools in your arsenal for stifling an opponent, especially sabotaging spaceports.

    Furthermore, without any spies defending you, you can fall victim more readily to enemy spy ops. I find when I don’t counterspy my governors are frequently neutralized. It is a huge hassle and they take 15 turns to reinsert. I can’t speak directly to this but heard they also protect spaceports when going for science victory.

    In the elimination thread I offered some numbers. People have said the gold is insignifcant. I don’t agree. You can run ops 4 to 6 turns per spy. On the high end 2000+ gold theft per op, 400 on the low end.
     
  4. canadamufc

    canadamufc Chieftain

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    It kind of does tbh. All you need to do is Gain sources, do siphon funds, upgrade, siphon funds, upgrade, and rinse repeat until you no longer need to gain sources. It's not hard to get 3 spies to steal around ~1000ish gold every 6 turns each, and I don't really know how anyone can not see the value in that. All the other missions are just toppings on ice cream, you can use them and when you do need them, they are available. I don't particularly know how much GPT you guys are making, but in my experience I make enough so the Siphon Funds Mission actually counts for something.

    Obviously other missions have their uses, no doubt, but gold is the one thing that helps with all victory types, and to get such a high quantity of it with good spy management, you can't say that there isn't value.
     
    Socrates99, Kjimmet, Jkchart and 5 others like this.
  5. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Maybe I overvalue production but I never really find it terribly useful to buy buildings and units unless I'm after something particular, like city center buildings in a newly settled city, so massive amount of golds isn't really something I care about. By the time you can get in the thousand gold range for the spies I can usually get in Builders in two to four turns in a decent number of cities so buying them doesn't seem worth it to me.

    When you are making somewhere between 1000 gpt on the low end and 1,500 to 2,000 gtp on the high end even 2,000 every six to eight turns isn't that impressive. And, personally, games where you can just buy everything get really boring to me because you have to try and find things to do between building your districts and just running district projects isn't terribly engaging.
     
  6. canadamufc

    canadamufc Chieftain

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    More gold means that you can get the things you need faster. Why spend a lot of turns of production when I can just buy my way through the Campus district's buildings? This is why I like saving gold, so I can easily get everything I need in a single turn. Large GPT will help, but Siphoning Funds is also essential.
     
  7. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    I don't think that a turn or two for the Library, four to five for the University and like six for the Research Lab is that onerous, especially since often times lines up with getting your next district.
     
  8. Steamboat Willem

    Steamboat Willem Warlord

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    Having lots of gold also means you can just buy the Great People that you really care about. Production doesn't help you with that.
     
  9. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Sure, but GP are nice if you get them but not essential to me. Plus, I tend to buy them faith which is usually cheaper if you even don't have Holy Sites but some other way to generate faith, like Triangular Trade.
     
  10. canadamufc

    canadamufc Chieftain

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    Apologies if I was unclear, but I was more talking late game cities (where spies are really starting to get value) where it takes 50 turns to produce a Research Lab because the city is underdeveloped. Usually I just chop out the campus district itself, then buy every building.
     
  11. Leucarum

    Leucarum Emperor

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    They are useful. I don't know how many people would disagree... Diplo visibility helps a lot. Siphon funds is a good source of cash, and a nice way to level up spies, stealing great works is pretty useful if you have a high enough levelled spy, and you need some spies for defending your districts later in the game.

    I think the elimination thread wasn't so much about whether spies are useful (they are), and more about how useful was the production boost and operation time reduction from machiavellianism. Neither is a bad thing to have, but how impactful they are probably depends a lot on playstyle.

    I find spies fiddly to micromanage so while I usually have a couple, I don't often go heavily towards them... I will always have a few, but rarely enough for Machiavellianism to be worthwhile. That said, the thread prompted me to start a Catherine game, and test just how much value I'd get from Machiavellianism in a game where prioritize espionage a lot more...
     
  12. Futumch

    Futumch Calm as a Coma

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    I've called for being able to execute enemy spies caught in my territory - I certainly would never trade them back to their owners.
    Actually, if I hang onto them, that's one less spy for my opponents so maybe it's better to keep them around.
     
  13. comatosedragon

    comatosedragon Emperor

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    For my personal play style, no. I have never had need of them.
     
  14. MrRadar

    MrRadar Emperor

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    Among other useful missions I find this one rather wasteful. As long as AI are willing to sell their great works, this mission should probably be avoided, as it is the least efficient one in my eyes. During the same time a spy could steal, let's say, ~800–1200 gold, which would buy you 2–3 great works, and you can choose what to buy for theming purposes, while great work theft is more dangerous and would yield only one great work and you can't choose too much which one. And AI are willing to sell their great works until quite late into the game, when you come very close to victory. So the great works theft mission is mostly skippable. And when you buy AI's great works with the funds you've just stolen from the same AI, that does have some intangible added value too :)

    Anyway, efficient spying requires some homework done beforehand, so buy open borders from everyone and send some scouts or cavalry to find spying targets. There aren't a lot of AI built CHs early on, so unless there's Mali in the game, finding them may take some doing. And finding an AI CH is required for the fastest way to promote your fresh spies and increase their life expectancy, because, as said above, first things you want to do with your spies is gain sources and siphon funds a few times until they hit 3 promotions.

    And spy promotions are great. If you get to combine Quartermaster, Seduction and Surveillance, that will be a defensive super-spy for your Pingala, Reyna or Spaceport city. Disguise and Linguist turns a spy into a roadrunner. Smear Campaigner will help to secure desired City States. Situationally spies can help you to flip a border city.

    All in all, spying is a great and profitable side activity both for peaceful and aggressive play.
     
  15. Mahi

    Mahi Prince

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    People saying spies do not bring a steady income is just not using the spies correctly..
    It's probably the most steady income you can get and with the right promotions and policy card it's really much better than trade routes. Also the income isn't impacted by war or barbarians.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
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  16. hhhhhh

    hhhhhh Prince

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    You asked a great question. I voted "Sometimes".

    Some people play to have fun, some play to optimize everything. I'm closer to the latter.

    When I started playing, I found spies really useful and it's fun to use. It gives you a chance in mid-late game to catch up. However when I got slightly better (simply put, when I understood some mechanisms like chopping), I can catch up with AI mid-game already, so doing spies mid-late game is sometimes not worth it. Especially if you play speed runs, when you try to win faster and faster, you don't have to have that many spies. (On the other hand, Tier 2 gov plaza building has been bad, so spy agency is a constant choice, and you always get one spy to use.)

    When I play PvP games, it's a different story. Even a lousy human player is so much better than AI, sometimes you do need spies to gain some advantage. And sometimes you need spies to remove some disadvantage (e.g. if your opponent is already listening to post when you are at war, you have to do the same). It's unlikely you can use them for constant gain of gold (people guard good commercial hubs, or avoid building them, only use harbors to gain trade route capacity.) And it's painful to move spies around. The times it takes to move them just doesn't make sense.

    In short, spies are fun, and can be useful sometimes. If the pace of the game is slower it's certainly more useful.

    QUIZ: How do you make a certain spy to do an 8-turn mission in 2 turns? (Yes it's possible.)
     
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  17. Tech Osen

    Tech Osen Emperor

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    No no no, it's all about blowing up dams. Nothing quite as satisfying! :thumbsup:
     
  18. Mount Suribachi

    Mount Suribachi Prince

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    Great post. One of the few things the late game AI does well is to troll you with spies. They are essential on defence if nothing else.

    As I said in the elimination thread, one of the things I need to get better at is using my full allocation of spies.
     
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  19. Pietato

    Pietato Platonic Perfection

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    Alliance change killed them. I make sure to never ally Mansa Musa, though.
     
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  20. Francel

    Francel Madam Secretary

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    In answer to the question of fastest spy ops:

    Body guard of lies golden age dedication, linguist promotion, machiavellianism policy card
     

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