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Are Spies Actually That Useful

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

?

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. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    edit: deleted. Apparently gold stolen per turn is constant so faster missions doesn't mean more gold. In fact it is worse because it increases the chance of failure due to having to start missions more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
    Leucarum likes this.
  2. Mahi

    Mahi Prince

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    Mansa Musa is a ridiculous cash cow for spies.

    Usually you should have 90% chance for every siphon funds one you have the spy promoted. It's really rare a 90% siphon funds run fails. It's even rare in my experience that a 76% siphon funds fails. Or at least capture or kills the spy.

    Strangely enough a 90% tech steal run vs. a 90% siphon funds run doesn't seem to have same success rate.. Siphon funds are really hard to fail in my experience.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
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  3. AriaLyric

    AriaLyric Nonbinary | Peaceful Builder Vietnam & Māori Main

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    So at first I voted for "Sometimes", but changed it to "Yes", because I do think spies are always useful, if for nothing else then for counterspying and stealing gold. But the thing is, they just don't feel that good to use to me, so sometimes in a casual game I just think "Yeah, I would probably be able to shave a few turns off my victory if I used spies to their utmost, but do I really wanna deal with the spy menus? Are the turns I save worth the bother?" And sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it's no. But in any case they're always *useful* for something.

    I wish there was an option to interrogate captured spies, giving you some temporary diplomatic visibility, or allowing you to steal a eureka for a tech, or making enemy spies from the same civ operate at a higher disadvantage in your territory for a while, with a chance of failure. Though if that gets implemented I think it'd be best if captured spies died eventually if not released (y'know, like real world ones).
     
  4. Deadly Dog

    Deadly Dog Prince

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    I voted "sometimes" but I mean that as "sometimes I use spies offensively and maybe use Machiavellianism", but I always use spies defensively and I always try to get them promoted quickly.

    I don't run siphon funds cycles as a rule, but I do use the mission early to get a spy promoted. Always hoping to make a single counterspy (Qmaster/Polygraph/Seduction) and a fast offensive spy (AceDriver/Linguist/Disguise). It rarely works out that well, of course, but to get my spies trained I like to double them up so only one has to run Gain Sources. Also because it's worth taking a turn to promote after a successful mission which means you will lose the buff in the middle of a mission later on. And a soon as I can I pick Qmaster and send that spy home, while the other rookie plays out the gain sources buff on whatever mission is easiest.

    Offensively, I like to look for opportunities to steal some tech, take out a governor and maybe even cause some loyalty issues. These are rarely game-changing and are just something to do with the spies that didn't get any defensive promotions.
     
  5. Klinn

    Klinn Warlord

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    Besides defensive placement, I mostly use spies to help flip cities (neutralize governor & foment unrest) while playing as Freleanor. That's for games where I'm going for a domination victory without firing a shot.
     
  6. Leucarum

    Leucarum Emperor

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    Nice job.

    Basing the effectiveness of the operation reduction time on siphon funds does seem to be the way to go as that's the most readiky spammed.

    It seemed like a lot of the upvotes were based around the value of the siphon funds operation rather than the difference in how much additional gold you'd accumulate over time with the card slotted...

    The fact that it's quite late for it to reach maximum potential is also very relevant especially since by that point gold is rarely a limiting factor.

    I guess an additional variable is spies getting promoted. Especially if they get con artist that can remove the need to put gain sources into the cycle...
     
  7. SammyKhalifa

    SammyKhalifa Deity

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    They're good I suppose, I just don't think very fun.

    So the spy cycle to steal funds is 24 turns, so like twice an era? You're going to use a policy card for that? I mean I'll put it in now and then if I need one, but still.
     
  8. bengalryan9

    bengalryan9 King

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    As already pointed out, spies are a fantastic source of gold, science, and suzerains. Situationally they can also help slow down an AI's space progress or to flip cities faster. I can always find uses for them and they've completely turned games around for me in the past.

    A couple quotes that jump out to me in this thread:

    I agree that stealing great works isn't the most useful, so that's not what I want to mention here. One of the knocks against spies in the other thread was things along the line of "I don't like to use them" or "they are too much of a pain to manage", and that's fine, but let's not pretend that trading with the AI isn't also tedious. People always talk about how easy it is to fleece the AI by selling diplomatic favor or resources at high rates, or through buying great works or relics for way under market value... but me personally, that sounds awful and I'm not ever doing it because I think I'd be bored to tears.

    That doesn't make that aspect of the game weak or pointless just because I personally decide not to make use of it, yet that was the argument being made against spies.

    I assume the 24 turn "cycle" comes from 8 turns to move your spy to a city, 8 turns to gather sources, and 8 turns to siphon funds, but this is still an exaggeration. If you use your spies intelligently to steal gold, you'll move them ONCE to a city that is a nice juicy target (and the UI is kind enough to show you how much gold you'll get from each city). You might gather sources when they first arrive there, but once your spy has a promotion or two the need for that is virtually eliminated when siphoning funds because it's already got such a high rate of success (you'll have it up to 90% in no time and then there's no point in gathering sources anymore). Then you just keep siphoning gold every time the spy is ready to begin a mission - you'll have gold rolling in every 8 turns from then on out, not every 24. All of these times can be reduced via card, too.
     
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  9. tedhebert

    tedhebert Emperor

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    Exactly what has been my experience. I build all the spies I can get, siphon funds to level them to master spies, then I counterspy in my spaceport city with one, maybe 2 spies. I will then abuse the AI with all my other spies by scrapping their spaceports. all the other missions are crap in my mind, except maybe when there’s a big contention for a specific CS...

    Siphon funds has a much higher real life success rate than what is shown in the tooltip. Either that, or ALL the other missions have a way lower success rates than THEIR tooltips.
     
  10. João III

    João III Warlord

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    -Domination and religion: I never do domination so not that helpful. And religious combat is marginal at best.
    -Science and domination: If I'm at a point where I'm consistently stealing eurekas for it to be worthwhile, my science game's already in trouble.
    -Culture: Easier (and faster) to just trade for it. If I have Drill Manuals slotted in, I could even just trade some coal.
    -Diplomacy: I never have an issue with envoys.
    -All types: I don't feel like I struggle getting gold, especially when I can run trade routes which give gold along with other yields.

    I don't know if it's cause I play on King but spies just don't do much for me. If I build a spy, it's to counterspy Catherine or grief the AI's dams. I just don't see them as the game-changing force others do, especially if they aren't that decisive on at least 5 of the 8 difficulty levels
     
  11. Vargas1

    Vargas1 Prince

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    For me, spies are always fun, sometimes useful, and rarely necessary. I do wonder if part of the differing opinions is based on difficulty/playstyle - I play almost entirely on Emperor, and for the games I finish, I tend to win between turns 200 and 250 (3/4 of my games I abandon around turns 125-150 if it looks likely I will eventually win but doesn't seem fun to get there). So that means that for me, by the Renaissance I'm usually ahead of, or at least even with, the AI in tech, and am starting to pull comfortably ahead overall.

    In these circumstances, the different missions break down for me as follows:
    • Listening Post - extra strength in combat can always be useful, but not something I tend to need. If I'm warring at that point in the game I'm usually pretty dominant. I do run this mission though because I like to see what the AI is working on.
    • Siphon Funds - again, maybe a function of the length of time I play a game, but I never see the massive numbers that other folks are talking about here. If I'm lucky, I'll find one or two cities that can give me 400-500 per mission - nothing to scoff at, but not the 1000+ that's been tossed around. If games lasted longer into later eras then I suspect this number would rise.
    • Great Work Heist - my favorite mission, though from a roleplay (not a gameplay) perspective. Sure, you could easily trade the AI for great works, but it's a lot more fun to use a spy network to rob them blind.
    • Sabotage Production - never felt the need to do it to the AI; I've maybe used it a handful of times to level up
    • Steal Tech Boost - I think this one probably reflects different playstyles the most. I'm almost always ahead or near the top in science by the time I get spies, so I often will go a whole game without having the opportunity to steal a tech boost (or if I could, it's something I would get the eureka for anyway in a few turns). I'm in the middle of playing a game on Immortal now where Scotland is actually staying slightly ahead of me in science, so I may now have an opportunity to see how this works in the later game.
    • Recruit Partisans - fun as a trolling mechanism, if the AI builds any neighborhoods. Doesn't do much from a gameplay perspective
    • Disrupt Rocketry - again, based on difficulty/playstyle not something I've needed to use, but I can certainly see the utility if competing for victory late-game
    • Foment Unrest - I haven't played with Eleanor, and I've found this useless in other games. I don't think I've had many experiences where cities are on the edge loyalty-wise where this might make a difference
    • Neutralize Governor - same with Recruit Partisans - can use it to troll, but there's only so much joy that can bring you against the AI
    • Fabricate Scandal - One of the few that I actually think can make a major impact on my game; if you have one CS that you really want, but the AI has also pumped a lot of envoys in, this can help out a lot
     
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  12. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    Gold is just a path to promotion

    Removing envoys... seriously suze of the right CS just helps to much. Whether it he Hong Kong, Rapa Nui, Kabul or Geneva, these CS benefits can be huge.
    Removing Governors is very useful for taking over cities with loyalty if you are playing that game and dropping loyalty in a city with no positives can spell its doom... if you truly understand how loyalty works.
    The dip visibility bonus is a no brainer but I also just use them for range finding indirect fire.
    Great Zim is only useful with defensive spies.
    Wrecking a spaceport is sometimes the only way to victory and concentgrating 5-6 spies on a culture leader when you are going for a culture victory makes a difference.

    The best promotions beyond just being a higher level are the ones that speed up tasks.

    The number of spies depends on my production but they are certainly useful.
     
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  13. Francel

    Francel Madam Secretary

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    I think we should make a distinction between whether or not something is useful and whether we personally make use of it.

    Case in point, for me, managing cities tedious. Usually I have 3-5, lately I’m doing 1 only, and the most I have over had is 7. I do just fine. Still, I recognize it is better to have more cities, more districts, more tiles, more trade routes, etc.

    Even though currently I have more spies than the 2 trade routes that aren’t doing much for me at all in comparison, I wouldn’t conclude trade routes are bad or superfluous.
     
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  14. Sixty_Three

    Sixty_Three Chieftain

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    Are spies useful? Sometimes, if their mission succeeds.
    Do I use spies? Yes, always.

    I have found this thread (and the current related elimination thread) to be a useful source of data/considered opinions about espionage. The only thing I’d add is that the random element of the spying missions - the key determinant in whether you view spies as being useful or not - makes use of this game mechanic engrossing. Will Sheldon eliminate Ibrahim to facilitate a coup in Trabzon? Will Kim audaciously steal “Starry Night” even if she has to flee away on foot?

    There’s an engrossing role-playing aspect to spying.
     
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  15. Vargas1

    Vargas1 Prince

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    This is very true - the espionage aspect of the game is one area where I think the role-playing can shine. There is also something very satisfying about the message you get when your spies hit their maximum promotion.
     
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  16. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Just out of curiosity, what sized map do you usually play with and on what difficulty level.
     
  17. aieeegrunt

    aieeegrunt Prince

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    I build the bare minimum for counterspy duties because they are just as stupid and ahistorical as fracking vampires and zombies and the other fantasy silliness

    I’d almost say they are worse, how the frack is James Bond making off with half the GDP of a nation or destroying the industrial infrastructure of an entire region?

    They should make it a mode, rename the Spies with hero and villain names from Marvel and DC or whatever so when the Joker burns down the entire Ruhrgebiet it is at meast thematically appropriate

    Also give me an Arkham Asylum world wonder that gives me a free counterspy in every city or something
     
  18. Francel

    Francel Madam Secretary

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    Actually deity. Most often small map size. I like to increase the number of AI though so that makes it easier.
     
  19. hhhhhh

    hhhhhh Prince

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    BTW there was a huge fallacy in the argument that Machiavellianism gives extra gold since spies can do more siphon fund mission.

    The amount of gold a siphon fund mission generate is equal to the amount of gold that the city has accumulated for the duration of the mission. So if you do it faster then you gain less gold. Many seems unaware of this. (It's more obvious when your spy can finish a task in 4 turns instead of 8.)

    I kinda hate how dumb the AI is when it comes to counter spy (maybe it's for making players feel smart). Someone please make a mod so that if an AI got funds siphoned in one city then they move a spy to guard that commercial hub. (And add AI's tendency to do counter spy on high income cities with CH.) In that case one will have to move spies around and moving spies are painful. (To be fair I hate a lot of AI's dumb behavior, so it's not just for spies.)
     
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  20. InsidiousMage

    InsidiousMage Prince

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    Okay. I play on emperor with large and huge maps so end up with something like 10 to 20 cities. You actually get less gold from Siphon Funds on lower difficulties since the AI generates less due to do not having as big of a bonus so it just easier to generate large amounts money with trades routes and envoys for me.
     

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