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Balance and some suggestions

Discussion in 'Communitas Expansion Pack' started by Bernd-das-Brot, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Bernd-das-Brot

    Bernd-das-Brot Prince

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    First my thanks to Thal and everyone who is working on this great mod! Thal's mod made me come back to Civ5 two years ago after I abandonded the vanilla game for being...unfun. Even now vanilla BNW is fun on its own, this mod is way better! :goodjob:

    I played some games with the mod in the last month and here are my observations regarding the things that I would like to see changed. Most of them are balance things. The bugs I found, I posted on the iusse tracker.

    My settings were mostly standard map size and speed, communitas, map, immortal, no special rules.


    Balance:

    - Chopping is way overpowered and makes the early game too easy, unbalanced (for non-forest and forest lands) and fast. 30-40 prod for chopping a forest may be a adequate. But not 80!

    - The unit cost are really strange. Vanguard(!), air and some ship units are way too cheap compared to others. As this was discussed in the army thread, I hope it will get changed.

    - Late game production costs seem weird to me.
    Example: Cinema 1000 prod!, Broodway and Hollywood 1070, planes 330!, tank 610, Rifleman 210!.
    Late game buildings are too expensive in comparison to units and wonders.
    This should be more like this: Non-ressource units a bit cheaper than buildings, ressource units like buildings and wonders at least 1,5 the cost of buildings. Example: Rifleman ~400, buildings, tanks and planes ~600, wonders 1000+.

    - Upgrading units feels to cheap. Should be more like the difference in production cost x 2.

    - Mines (without ressources) are too weak in comparison with engineers. Both generate 3 production, but engineers generate GPP, too. Mines on water give +1 prod with iron working, but even then engineers are clearly better, if the city has a real chance to generate a GE sometime. This is hard to balance.

    - Too many early engineers. I like early specialists! Really! It's way more fun than vanillas specialist free early game, but two engineer slots in ancient times and four in medieval (without the national wonder) is too much. This makes the relative weakness of mines (see above) even worse. It produces too many early GEs/manufactories and leads to too much production in mid-game and makes GS hard to get (only two slots till late renaissance). Please remove the engineer slots from walls and castles. Add one for factory.

    - I made 3 games without the stories/opportunities and three with them and I am sorry to say that I think they make the game more unbalanced and random/luck dependent and at least for me in no way funnier. Sadly quite the opposite. Civ is a strategy game with important random elements like starting positions and neighbours. A bit of luck is okay, but adding more of it without any need seems like a bad idea to me. My strategy should lead to glory or doom and not the hope for this or that opportunity. And most of the opportunities are really powerful and influential. Here are two examples why I think them unfun:
    Hire Mercenaries: Two units for 100 gold around turn 50! 500+ gold for free. Removes the pressure to build early millitary and allows to build more infrastructure, which allows to build more of...what I want. A really great boost, if I have the luck to get this one.
    Fence pastures: The production boni which make pastures better than manufactories! I want to earn a manufactory by generating a GE, not by getting some lucky chance. Leads to too much production by the way.
    Please tone them down or make them optional, if this is not too much work. For me oppurtunities feel like huge rewards out of nowhere without any challenge or the feeling to have earned that reward.

    - Rome seems to build too many liburnas. They were really weak in all the 4 games I encountered them. Never more then 2 cities, not many land units for a militaristic civ, but lots of liburnas/caravels.


    Suggestions:

    - -1 food for cities on hills or +1 food for cities on flat terrain!
    Cities on hills give extra prod and receive a major defense bonus, which has become really important in the last versions. (By the way, I really love the city defense changes!) That is absolutly fitting, but now cities on hills are nearly always way better than "flat cities". I think it would be realistic if those cities get a food bonus. Agricultur should be easier/more efficient on flat terrain.

    - Is it possible to make the GG visuals change only after entering the modern era (and not the industrial)? It's just a cosmetic problem, but I think it is really immersion breaking to see my general abandon his horse and use his jeep an era before its invented.:)

    - Science progress in the ancient and classic era feels a bit too fast. As I play on immortal it's no wonder everybody techs like crazy and I have no specific numbers for this feeling. I just would like to get the early game a bit stretched. (I mean raising tech costs, not reducing AI boni!)
     
  2. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    Lot of stuff here :) Mostly agreed.

    1) There was a thread on this too. 80 is already a reduction from previous versions. I'm not sure why there's resistance to making it 40 or so instead. That's already 2x vanilla as a good enough incentive to chop. It seems like there's a related problem in balancing village-mill-mine vs camp-pasture-plantation yields that just keeps getting put off to the side too.

    2) Agreed. I'm hoping this is addressed alongside the other balance changes that appear to have finally gotten through to Thal (he seemed to be the key hold-out on gatling guns and longsword upgrade paths). The vanguard costs were just reduced again in the last couple versions for... no apparent reason that I can tell. I personally set them about 50% higher than they are currently (still discounted, but not nearly as heavily). Movement toward that kind of balance would be excellent.

    3) General balance of costs is off with buildings and units too. Your general scale seems fine with me. I'd agree wonders seem a little too cheap often. This was a problem back in GEM too with some wonders giving free buildings but cost little more (or even less) than the building they provided.

    4) Upgrade divisor is set way too low. It was around 2.25 in GEM. It's 1 now. I'm not sure why this change was made or when. Something around 2 was fine and 2.25 was itself set after being a topic of some debate during GEM changes. As such it was well-balanced.

    5-6) Engineers shouldn't be 3 production without a wonder. I'd also agree we should spread out the specialist slots a little better. The factory being restored to default would be fine with me instead of either the wall or castle slot.

    8) Rome naval flavor could be toned down yes. Their strong point is really the Legion on most maps.

    I'd endorse the possible increase of food on flat terrain cities. I'd rather not take away from the hill versus giving an incentive not to go there. I think there's a production building you can't build on hill cities but otherwise, there's not much reason to avoid it.

    I'd expect the GG graphic change shouldn't be that hard but I haven't investigated.

    Edit:
    I think the stories are fine in theory but they're not well balanced. Some are way too powerful, especially in the early game.
     
  3. ExpiredReign

    ExpiredReign Deity

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    A very well documented discussion piece. Well done.

    I am surprised you didn't mention the "ocean going work-boats", so I'll do it for you.:mischief:
     
  4. skodkim

    skodkim Deity

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    A lot of good point here. One thing I'd really like to see changed is the vanguard costs. I understand there's been a long discussion some time ago that led to this but they really do seem wrong.

    Example: Why is the spearman cheaper than the warrior even though the former has a higher strength and bonusses?

    \Skodkim
     
  5. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    There was discussion a while ago which justified a discount on those units (I guess, I'm fine with some discount, just not a large one). But the discount has been increased since then, recently I think. It was 25% and it's more like 50% now.
     
  6. Bernd-das-Brot

    Bernd-das-Brot Prince

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    I did not mention it here, because I posted this as an issue on github.:lol:
    Really intended?

    :confused:
    At the moment there is just one way. Maximal chopping as fast as possible. Early hammers are so powerful, that there will be no forests in the time when lumbermills could get interesting. And as long as there are many early engineers available, lumbermills and mines without resources are uninteresting.


    On cheap wonders:

    Yes, I had this on my old GEM suggestion list, too. Flavian Amphitheatre for 240 and an arena for 200. Hanging gardens the same numbers. Nearly every wonder should be much more expensive. Most of them are clearly worth it.
    The problem with the cheap wonders is that 1 or 2 tech leaders normally get 75%+ of all World Wonders and often just in one city (Seoul, Babylon). Even a minor tech lead is enough for this effect.


    You are right, it's not just the late game. Monument, shrine 50! Smithy 200? Warrior 80! Spearmen 70?!?
    I don't see any reason for vanguard units getting any discount over the elite units. Elite units should be better overall than ressourceless units to make the "hunt for ressources" rewarding. Horses will always be relevant because they have special abilities, that are worth more prod. But nearly 3 vanguards for one swordman!
     
  7. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    Thank you for your wonderfully detailed feedback. I love posts like this! :goodjob:

    Cities on flat terrain gain 2 production and +10% for buildings (from the workshop). I can move the workshop earlier. Do you think that would help in a way like you want?

    I don't know what controls the Great General visual change, but I'll investigate further. :)



    1) 4 out of 10 people rarely clear forests, so I consider it balanced.

    2) Vanguards are cheaper than other units to make it okay to lose them in combat. This makes the game less stressful and more fun for perfectionists like me who used to panic over losing a single unit.

    3) The real cost of something also considers gold. Buildings are much cheaper to build with gold than units, and wonders can't be built with gold at all. This raises the overall difficulty to get units and wonders.

    4) I don't remember why upgrade costs were set to 100%, and it's not an important point to me. I'll raise it to 150%. :)

    5) Hills used to be considered a necessity for a successful start location. We reduced their importance to balance start locations.

    6) Each type of specialist should have 5 total slots spread mostly evenly across all eras. You can see details on the Specialists tab of the Cities table below. Scientist slots appear a little later because most people considered scientists better than other specialist types. Engineers appear slightly earlier because several of their slots appear on highly situational buildings like city defenses, which have no value if we defend our empire with units.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...4RFhEQzRUWUluNmxVV1VWUGc&usp=drive_web#gid=12

    7) Stories add narrative to the game, something the Civilization series has always lacked. This is most frequently cited as a favorite part of the project in comments and reviews I see. Everyone gets stories at an identical rate to ensure balance. I'm happy to balance any specific stories you're concerned about. I'll raise the cost of the Barbarian Mercenary rewards by 50%.

    Many people like having luck in their games. A lot of people actually want the game to have more random luck! I strive to find a balance between luck and skill.

    Gaining two barbarian units costs 100 gold plus 4-10 gold per turn; remember the maintenance cost. There's also a downside to getting units this way. We can't control when or where we get the units, and we can't choose what type we get. These limitations balance the reward.

    8) I'll reduce Roman naval flavors like you recommend.



    @Bernd-das-Brot
    I agree it's a problem how the tech leader usually gets all the wonders. I like solving this problem by making more wonders require policies. We only can hog all the wonders if we're leading in both tech and policies, and if we're doing that well we probably need to increase our difficulty level.
     
  8. jwerano

    jwerano Wonderstacker

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    I like stories a lot but I do feel they should be balanced or cost increased for most of them. Getting + 4 production or food on a tile early is extremely powerful and 100 gold is too cheap maybe 150-180?. If you cannot afford it and the AI rarely can you still get a +2 gold benefit on some tile as a reward, this is pleasant even though it is not too powerful.

    I also recall that late in the game there are situations where you can get +8 science or +8 production in a city for 130 gold. Its too strong an effect for too little gold, Maybe 250-300?

    There is also a story where you can pay 70 gold for 100 culture, 70 to upgrade your scout for a spearman or have or get 30 culture for free. Spearmen currently only cost 30 gold to upgrade in your own territory so I don't see that as a real opportunity.

    I do not even think about saving gold for opportunities and I have enough 80% of the time.
     
  9. ShmooDude

    ShmooDude Chieftain

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    So do cities on hills at the moment. There's no restrictions on building a workshop (just tested to be sure). Is it intended to only be built on flat land? For me, I tend to favor Rivers far more heavily than Hills (water mills are awesome), but get both if I can, but usually not over resource diversity.

    Could it be changed to be per era? Perhaps 60 + 20/era instead of a flat 80? Would slightly reduce its value in ancient times but buff it from Medieval on.
     
  10. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    @ShmooDude
    That building should require flat land, as it does in the unmodded game (it's a renamed windmill). I don't know how that changed. I'll fix that bug.

    @jwerano
    These options are not equal:

    • 300 gold's worth of units we select at a time and place of our choice.
    • 300 gold's worth of unknown units at an unpredictable time and place.

    The first situation is clearly better, but how much? It depends on how much we value the ability to choose. I consider the choice worth 200 gold, but it sounds like choosing is less important to you, so we could place the value of that choice at 100-150 gold.

    The AI should almost always be able to afford the good story options. They should save gold equal to about the cost of a research agreement, which is more than the price of most story rewards. I did an analysis a year ago, and found they intelligently choose the best option for their circumstances in most situations. You can see their spending decisions in the lua.log file. If you don't see them saving gold, I can investigate to see where the bug is. I haven't watched their spending decisions lately.
     
  11. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    Here's some changes I've made in v3.14 based on your feedback. What other story rewards do you feel are too weak or strong? :)


    I checked out Augustus and found he actually has a below-average naval flavor. It's not higher like England or Denmark. I suspect he's building those Liburna simply because they're a unique unit.
     
  12. skodkim

    skodkim Deity

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    Sound like some really nice changes.

    Also I just committed a tweak to the renowned warrior and renowned Archer stories. The former lets you upgrade a warrior to a spearman for 300 gold, which is kind of pointless since the spearman cost less (and is also a vanguard unit). The latter seems better balanced with a composite Bowman.

    \Skodkim
     
  13. jwerano

    jwerano Wonderstacker

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    I see what you are saying. The example I am referring to is the renowned scout story not the random units but I see how some players may want to instantly upgrade their scout to a spearman and heal it if they are taking out a distant barb camp, even if the cost WAS more than what it would cost to upgrade in their own territory. I suppose its about equal now. I dont like to upgrade spearmen to scouts til late unless I have to for defense because I value their no terrain penalty. I'd be happy to pay even more for a spearman with no terrain penalty.
     
  14. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    Right, the scout story reward gives us more powerful bonuses than a basic upgrade:
    • The spear keeps the ignore-terrain effect from the scout, unlike a normal upgrade!
    • We don't have to bring our scout back to our territory.
    • We get a full heal.

    The full heal and field-upgrade can potentially save a dozen turns of movement and healing, and it's fun to have a spear who ignores terrain costs. It's also possible to get a spear before Bronze Working with this story reward.
     
  15. jwerano

    jwerano Wonderstacker

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    Ok that's great. I wasn't aware that the spearman kept the ignore terrain cost promotion. I don't remember seeing the story explicitly state this. I do know that it is explicitly stated in the story where the scout upgrades into an archer and that's why I assumed it would be stated here if it applied.
     
  16. Bernd-das-Brot

    Bernd-das-Brot Prince

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    A pleasure to help you in your efforts to make the game more fun for everyone.:)

    I think the +1 extra food would have been more intuitive, than a "flat-only" building, but it should do. It's not that important overall, just an idea that came to my mind while writing this feedback.

    I think the poll only states that 4 out of 10 players play a really suboptimal strategy! It says nothing about the balance!
    I assume you are an excellent civ5-player with your long years of experience in modding and playing the game. I can hardly believe that you feel 80 production for clearing a forest is balanced. This is so obviously unbalanced to me:
    - Mostly you lose nothing clearing the forest, because mines or engineers are at least equaly attractive. Only if you have no hills/engineer slots, chopping all the forests may be a disadvantage over time.
    - Early boni are extremly powerfull. They have a heavy snowballing effect and multiply in the course of the game. 80 prod for 3 worker turns early in the game is huge. Gives easy wonders, one turn units/buildings and the like. It makes the game too easy.

    I am sure if two guys with equal skill would play civ5 against each other and one would be allowed to chop forests and the other one not, the "non-chopper" would get crushed like a bug.
    As said before 40 would be very strong. Everything above is unbalanced.

    It's hard to discuss about personal preferences/tastes.:) As you are the one doing all the hard (modding) work, it is absolutely okay that you mod the game the way you like to play it.
    From a gaming/balancing perspective I still think that a discount on any unit is not a good idea. Every unit should cost what it's worth in the game. Too achieve this kind of balance is hard. But we should try at least. And at the moment the discount on vanguards and air units is definitely too big. Let's see how it looks in 3.14.

    I don't think 4 of 5 engineers available from chivalry on is very spread out across the eras. And why must situational buildings like city defenses be useful, if you have a huge army and your cities are safe without them? Only makes your decisions to build or not build them a bit more unimportant.

    My personal dislike for the stories is that they are coming out of nowhere (as far as I know). If they would be conditional they would feel deeper and more narrative.

    Example: You may not have one scientist enlisted or may have build no shrine, but get the mountain refugium.

    It would be more fun if the stories would depend on your choosen social policies or the wonders or buildings you have.
    Let's say you only get the Mountain Refugium with SP faith/2+ shrines or unit promotions/upgrades-stories only with SP honor/many baracks and so on.

    There would still be a bit of random what story you get, but it would reflect your playstyle and feel more as a consequence of what you did and not just like something totally random.

    And is there a list of the possible stories? Would make it easier to help with the balancing if there is a way to see the stories out of the game instead of playing and waiting for them appearing.


    Wonders (like units) should cost what they are worth. On wonders a small discount seems appropriate as only the first who tries to build one gets it. ("If you play the game of wonders you gain it or not. There is no middle ground!":p)
    So to get many wonders you must not only be tech leader, but also need a very strong production capacity. Then there is no need for further policy requiring wonders.
     
  17. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    Bernd

    1) Agreed. But I'm not sure how to explain this to Thal that the reason for that 4/10 isn't really a game optimizing balance problem but more "I don't like cutting trees" types skewing the result and more a psychology problem that isn't resolved by just giving the people who do more stuff. The fact that I feel like I HAVE to cut trees because it's so powerful is a major problem for me. It is way out of whack at 80.

    2) the possible next version looks like it gets rid of the vanguard discount, or at least should heavily reduce it. I don't think there's any change on air units but on infantry units it's moving toward normal. The discount was around 50%, which was a huge problem.
     
  18. EricB

    EricB Prince

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    I do wish that there was a way where one or two civilizations do not dominate and build almost every single wonder in the game. It's an issue that I've disliked for a while. It makes it boring if you are the tech leader and build everything. It makes it where you pull even further ahead of everyone else. I haven't found a way around this yet though.
     
  19. cp1977

    cp1977 Chieftain

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    -I like the events, but they are way overpowered. Just cut all tile rewards in half and it will probably be ok. (for I have a pasture that is producing more than a manufactory).
    -Furthermore, please remove the engineer slot from walls.
    -Tree chopping is powerful, if you are lucky to have enough trees. In my last two games I had only two forest tiles all together within range of my starting city... I don't mind
     
  20. EricB

    EricB Prince

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    I haven't tried the stories/events in CEP yet. I disliked them in GEM because they were too frequent and too powerful. I like to play on epic or marathon a lot for a more immersed game. In GEM, every tile would have some sort of enhanced ability making it a super tile. It was quite ridiculous. I was able to optimize them while the AIs couldn't optimize correctly, so beating them became very easy. I had to disable them completely unfortunately in GEM.

    I do think that the effects of them should be quite minor. It should be a minor perk of the game, not a game-changer. Something like adding +1 or +2 food to a tile. Not sure what it's doing currently.
     

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