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Balance for victory/loss in war

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by oddtail, May 26, 2016.

  1. oddtail

    oddtail Warlord

    Sep 23, 2010
    I'm really excited about Civ 6, and I've been worrying how the new installment will handle the way war progresses. I feel the series has never been very good at handling prolonged wars, and Civ 4 and 5 was no exception. Let me explain.

    My experience playing was that war in the Civ series, especially Civ 5, was difficult and tedious, but once you went past a "tipping point" of sorts, the victorious side snowballed and destroyed the enemy completely in many cases. I've had this happen in multiplayer, and certainly on higher difficulties in SP when I would lose against the AI.

    The thing is, there seems to be no middle ground. Either you're not doing well enough to push into enemy territory and gain *anything* (other than gold from a few pillaged tiles), or you run over the enemy and take everything with ease. There are relatively few wars that have you take two or three cities, but the enemy stays alive and capable of continuing. This was present in human-AI interactions, but much, much more obvious in runaway victories of AI over AI (like the all-devouring Russian AI in Civ 5 vanilla).

    Now, there were a few ways to counter that, but they never really worked all that well:

    1) Taking too many cities is detrimental to the victor. This was introduced after vanilla, and while it solved part of the problem, it was badly implemented. Yes, you don't want to have *too* many cities, but if you destroy another civilization, they are basically screwed, and there is no viable way to recover for them. I'm not saying it should never be possible for a civ to be crippled, but there, in my view, *should* be wars that are not "all or nothing".

    And well, since global happiness is gone and wide empires are now going to be viable, this tactic of limiting conquest will no longer be an option, not really.

    2) Less aggression from AI. It was pretty obvious in BNW. AI is just much less likely to attack in the game with expansions. It's not a terrible choice, but it limits the game somewhat artificially. War *and* peace should both be options in Civ, and both should be stages in the game that will happen at some point.

    3) Diplomatic hits for expansion. Now, in principle it's a good idea, but the system in Civ 5 feels like a way for punishing a player for success. If you take too many cities, everyone hates and attacks you - even if you were attacked in the first place.

    The problem is, you don't get any incentive to stop *during* the war. The system is not very involved. If you got warnings from a third party that you should stop (or even an ultimatum to call for peace or you will be attacked by another civ), the game would encourage restrained without feeling too punishing. If there were stronger military alliances, a more involved system of reputation, immediate feedback of how much it will hurt you to continue the war, future diplomatic hits would make more sense.

    On top of that, if you have a stick, you need a carrot as well. The AI could do anything they wanted with impunity. They could settle new cities without other civs being angry, they could create a large army and put it on your borders... they could, in the end, take your cities and nobody would blink an eye. If *you* are peaceful and reasonable, you don't gain much. If you war with others, you are a warmonger. It's an uninteresting and unbalanced system, and to an extent, the "everyone declares war on you if you go too far" is just another badly done tipping point. It encourages you to be either a pacifist or to just shrug and go "OK, I'll fight everyone at once, then".

    4) On higher difficulties, AI (as far as I could tell) blatantly got free units, lots of them, if it got beaten badly. That's an ugly way to patch over a system that does not work, and obviously it doesn't work for the player. And it broke my immersion a lot. I'm OK with *some* level of the game cheating in certain situations, but not this much. And it didn't remove the problem, it just made war against AI more tedious (but I still felt I needed to destroy the enemy and take a lot of cities, or lose).

    I hope Civ 6 can avoid war being either too costly and non-viable, or war leading inevitably to a huge advantage of the victor. There needs to be some middle ground, and I'm both interested and slightly worried as to how this will be implemented. I hope that diplomacy will be a big factor, but also the war will be more about attrition and taking cities with effort, rather than destroying the enemy army and then steamrolling over everyone. An informative system telling you what your actions so far have done for your diplomatic reputation would be very helpful (as opposed to being hit with penalties and finding out later that everyone hates you). And an incentive for BOTH the winner and the loser to negotiate for peace seems like a must. AI in Civ 5 usually goes from "I'm not even gonna talk about peace" straight to "OK, OK, I surrender! I will give you three cities, just don't kill me!". I think AI should have a peace offer ready at ANY point of the war, regardless of whether it's winning or losing. Saving resources and giving/taking a reasonable amount of stuff rather than bleeding both sides in a war should always be priority for AI, and hopefully the player too.

    EDIT: taking a city usually destroys most of its population and buildings. If the AI was able to account for that, a peace treaty that, say, gives one city to the victor (as opposed to a prolonged war that would lead to capturing three cities, but severely crippled) would actually be beneficial for both parties. I'm hoping this could be balanced in such a way, and combined with an AI smart enough, for peace treaties to be the norm rather than a way to end a hopelessly lopsided war.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Felis Renidens

    Felis Renidens Prince

    May 25, 2016
    In earlier versions of Civ you could have been forced to a peaceful solution if you were a republic or a democracy - which had great benefits to trade. Perhaps with new governments it can be done - having a government type which will force you to end wars soon or not conquer - but will give lots of benefits while there is peace.

    Also they mentioned in the video just war vs. surprise war. I suppose this will have an effect too, you might be able to conquer some things if you had a good cause - but not push it to far.
  3. oddtail

    oddtail Warlord

    Sep 23, 2010
    I hope this is not implemented the way it was in those games. I don't think arbitrarily taking the choice out of the player's hands is a good idea. "You are overruled by the Senate. Action cancelled" was the most annoying message I have ever seen in ANY civ game.

    On the other hand, I'm perfectly OK with penalties from war and/or having a big army being higher for certain governments (more unhappiness, higher army maintenance). This mechanism is fine, I think. If nothing else, it will encourage a war-minded player to take a different government, and the choice of the Government will not be a no-brainer (as it was in Civ 1, for instance).

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