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Capitals too easy to capture early game

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by Voremonger, Dec 26, 2019.

  1. Voremonger

    Voremonger Chieftain

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    Version 11/25 reduced the Combat Strength and Health of Cities.
    I think that this makes Capitals too easy to capture early game.
    Currently a Capital will have ~11 Combat Strength early game.
    This makes them very easy to capture before an AI can found their second City by using the following strategy:

    - Research Trapping.
    - Build two Warriors while researching Trapping.
    - Use Pathfinder to scout an AI Capital after securing as many Ancient Ruins as possible.
    - Start building Archers and immediately march towards the AI capital.
    - Declare war once you have your Pathfinder (or Scout), your two Warriors, and one Archer at the AI Capital.
    - Kill enemy Units (should only be Warriors). Shield your Archers with your melee Units to keep attrition low.
    - Surround enemy Capital (at a distance of two hexes).
    - Start firing with your Archers. Prioritize killing enemy Units first. Make sure no Settlers escape.
    - Capture the enemy Capital with one of your Warriors.
    - Puppet enemy Capital.
    - Improve the enemy starting Luxury Resources to offset the 1 Unhappiness from the Puppet City.

    Following the above strategy I am able to consistently kill an AI by capturing their only City on turn ~40 on Deity at regular game speed (note that I'm modding Pathfinders to be able to choose Ancient Ruins bonuses).
    To capture a Capital early on you currently only need to build two Warriors and three Archers (but I usually build four Archers to make the whole thing faster).
    I think that the strategy I outlined is simply too strong, especially when playing as Spain or Assyria.
    As such I think that Capitals should be made more difficult to capture early game.
    I think that a sensible solution would be to increase the Combat Strength bonus granted by Palace, and to increase the attack range of Capitals without Walls to two hexes.
     
    SwirlSlayer and civplayer33 like this.
  2. Voremonger

    Voremonger Chieftain

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    I tried the same strategy as described in the OP but with an increase in the bonus Combat Strength granted by Palace: +5 -> +10.
    The strategy still works but it now requires a minimum of four Archers.
    It also took me ~7 turns longer to execute the strategy.

    I also noticed an issue with the AI where they tried to pull back their newly created units (presumably to group them for a counterattack) but because I had the Capital surrounded with Archers this meant that they were simply annihilated without attacking even once.
     
  3. civplayer33

    civplayer33 King

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    Well if it still works after increasing the City strength by that much then it would have worked even before the strength nerf...the question is: is that something that we're ok with? Partly the answer, IMO, would depend on what you're losing with this strategy...sure, you just completely eliminated one of your opponents, but you also spent the first 50 or so turns (at least with the strength increase you have added to the Palace) doing only that instead of building e.g. a Monument and Shrine and so on; plus, now you have a Puppet that needs to be defended, thus tying up part of your army for the foreseeable future.

    Ultimately I would agree that the City strength boost from Palace should be increased if the overall City strength nerf is kept, but I'm not sure if there is something so broken here that it requires a major overhaul...I mean, 4 Archers and two Warriors equal building a Monument, Shrine, Stonehenge (=Council and Pantheon as well as more Culture, Faith and GE progress) and Well or Granary...that's some significant infrastructure and Pantheon / Religion progress you're missing out on...which also means being able to settle your own secondary Cities later and getting your first Social Policies later, which has knock-on effects; your finances will also be in trouble because you need to pay maintenance for your relatively (considering how early it is) large army.
     
    SupTo, SwirlSlayer and Gokudo01 like this.
  4. Voremonger

    Voremonger Chieftain

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    I think how good the described strategy is also heavily depends on the map:
    -If there are City States nearby you can demand tribute from them to offset the Unit maintenance cost or to accelerate the Unit production.
    -After killing one of the AI you might be able to use the Units you already have to cripple another one.
    -If you're killing an AI that would have attacked you later on you can save on building Units later on, especially if you're on a map/continent with a low number of Civs.
    -If the AI you killed was right next to you or at the edge of a continent you might not need to tie down Units for defense. If the AI you killed is far away from you defense will be harder.
    -Not every Capital has four or more spots two hexes away that you can attack from.
    -Some Civs like Aztecs or Inca would be much harder to kill.
     
  5. andersw

    andersw King

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    As I wrote in the recent patch notes thread I erased Progress Poland with 2 archers and a scout on emperor diff.
    His newly settled flat land city had a whopping 4 city str (no garrison) and his capital was at 11 WITH a garrison.
    Both were flatland settles, I did have a great general and 1-2 barrage upgrades on the archers.
    One issue is that before walls are up cities have 1 range and archers can just sit safely and poke it at range 2 until the city goes down.
    It is a bit situational, a hill capital, tradition, a warmonger going for early spears or with an early uu would all probably defended better but it is bad enough and I assume exploitable against a LOT of civs.
     
  6. Tekamthi

    Tekamthi Prince

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    i have returned recently from about a year w/o a game of VP... playing 12/1 as iroquois, i have used this strat in the past when spawning in large forest. I deliberately moved my settler towards neighbours when it spawned in thick forest, and the whole thing worked well enough once again. quickly moved on another capital too, though i should mention that this used to be possible in the old versions i used to play, >1 yr ago.

    while i didn't notice a change in its difficulty, i did notice that the ai now tends to defend a lot better at first, but eventually pull back even out of its last city and/or capital after its army is sufficiently diminished, even though it still might be able to reasonably hold if it didn't squander its forces, or if it was better at coordinating counter attacks on multiple fronts, etc...
     
  7. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Just something else to note, often this rush will plummet your civs unhappiness, often below rebellion levels. So while it is quite powerful, it does have some additional costs that can be easy to forget.
     
    Kim Dong Un and civplayer33 like this.
  8. Voremonger

    Voremonger Chieftain

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    No it doesn't.
    If you puppet the Capital you get 1 Unhappiness per 5 population (rounded down).
    Capitals always get free luxury resources that will easily offset that small amount of Unhappiness.
     
  9. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    You get some turns of resistance first though right? Early game that could drop you down potentially. But yeah- if you're just taking a single city followed by their capital or something then you can probably manage your happiness.

    Does this early conquest translate into easy success moving forward, though? I assume this rush means you're unlikely to found a religion. Focusing on early game units means you are giving up shrines, or workers, or infrastructure presumably. Archers are typically worse for tributing than warriors->spearmen. Does knocking out a nearby AI and gaining a capital prove to be worth it in the long run? It very well could be a net gain but is it so much of a net gain that it requires being addressed?

    I'm genuinely asking because I haven't attempted this myself to see if it leads to an auto win, or falls a part, or something in between.
     
  10. Tekamthi

    Tekamthi Prince

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    If followed up with good play, it often translates to a fairly strong advantage. It's not auto win necessarily, and it's difficult to quantify how strong it is across all games and contexts, but imo it is substantially better outcome than anything else you could be doing during this time in almost all cases, when it works.

    That said, if attempted and failed, player is at considerable disadvantage. When I've used this on older versions of VP, my attempts would fail occasionally due to AI accumulating archers more quickly than I'd hoped, or 2+neighbors synchronizing their war declarations. From others' descriptions here, recent versions have made it almost infallible to human though. I can confirm it still works, but whether it's too easy now is a little more elusive
     

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