Discussion: military progression and the importance of promotions

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
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434
I want to ask for opinions around here about what do you think of the current states of unit promotions.

Personally, I found it too important to ignore, yet not very fun to play with. Particularly there're a lot of very good promotions that fundamentally change an unit's capability like indirect fire/logistic/range/blitz/march... that you really need to get, thus putting most if not all other customization options pale in comparison. You're semi railroaded into rushing those particular promotions asap instead of really customize your units based on situation (like terrain centric promotions) and to me it's not very fun to play with.

This also brings another issue that those promotions are too good the game is balanced around you having those on all of your units. It's the very bad feedback loop: if you're going heavy on military your units would become too powerful with those promotions, thus AIs need huge xp bonus to also get those promotions to keep up with you at all time, thus now you must have those powerful units even if you don't plan on going hard on military or you'd be at disadvantage. Some ppl playing on Deity might still be able to handle those disadvantages but it's still not fun to play with.

Thus I want to make a suggestion: even the playing field by putting all those powerful promotions into upgrade from limited military buildings (thus gated by tech and numbers), and give the customization back to normal promotions (terrain centric or situational). No need to keep units alive through thousands of years, no more delaying peace or meaningless war just to train units (pretty gamey I would say, but it gives huge advantages). The military buildings that give the specific promotions would give them to specific units trained in that city, some are mutual exclusive, and are limited to 1 or 2 per empires or with a big strategic resource requirement (more city specialization).

What do you guys think ? I can gather opinions to put up a proper proposal for next season if there're enough interested warmongers around here (not this season, we're too close to sponsor phase)
 

stii

Emperor
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Oct 3, 2010
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1,149
I think it is rather subjective. Like I agree with half your promotions. I never taking anything other than logistic/range on ranged units, with a scattering of indirect fire depending on terrain. But I also most never bother with blitz or march and would rather have +35% defence(steadfast I think?).

Terrain centric upgrades are just so hard to use, it is tough to have the units in the right place. Combat is complicated enough without having to position every slightly different unit too.

Overall the idea seems fine, grinding out units over years is rather tedious.
 

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
Messages
434
Yea I was just picking up promotions that changes how you use the units, if we only count powerful promotions (which are also what we want) it would include most tier 3-4 ones. The idea is still the same, those are really powerful and you're railroaded to get them to keep the edge against AI's bonus xp.

I think terrain centric upgrades are pretty easy to pick though. If you're in forested region get some more forest bonus (combat and/or movement), amphibious is good for rivers and coast, open terrain is for dessert/plan. It will be a lot more situational based on where you're gonna use that units, and there's no need to keep them alive through the age, when you start a new war later in a different region/location you can get other terrain bonus for new units to fight there (or keep old units with forest bonus to guard forest region, and amphibious unit to guard coast or something). The idea is to keep them situational/customizable in order to not having too much of an advantage over lower level units but still worth picking up tactically.
 

andersw

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Feb 11, 2008
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sweden
+1 range and indirect is good but I get indirect from upgrade cannon > field gun.
Archers can be good but they are squishy, need vision, dont do dmg when moving, I dont build that many outside of garrison needs.
I like skirmishers for defensive wars and I like accuracy line better, Parthian Tactics is really nice.
As for melee its usually cover1+2+stalwarth that is most important (so recent swordsman change is a bit of a nerf on that strat), city assault is nice but melee units are often too squishy without the former, blitz (too late) and march (I can pillage or swap around units) rarely make a difference.
So yes promos are important but mostly so my siege can attack cities from a safe distance.
 

ma_kuh

Prince
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Sep 13, 2022
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340
I'm waiting for the current congress to roll over before proposing anything, but I've also been thinking of suggesting some "core" promotions move onto buildings, mostly the exiting military one. Things like Stables, Armory, Workshop giving Mobility, Formation, Volley for relevant unit types. Tying in building requirements with nearby resources I think would go a long way towards making cities feel "specialized" when it comes to military production, and might even be a little bit of a buff to warmongering as well. I don't know what the limits for implementation are in this regard, however, so having some dev insight into what is easy (adding TrainedFreePromotion in some circumstances perhaps?) would probably help the theory crafting.
 
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ma_kuh

Prince
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Sep 13, 2022
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340
Of course you could also make dead-end promotions not dead-end.

E.g. Shock I > Amphibious > Shock III or Drill I > Cover I > Cover II > Stalwart
(in addition to their current paths)
 

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
Messages
434
Most of the implementations I mentioned have already been done to other buildings in the game so I don't think it would be hard technically.
A system where you can pick any promotions available based on level would need new code though.
And the main point is to even out the field at end game whether you have very high level units or not (since high level units would only have the advantage of able to fight better in more different terrain and not having multiple high level promotions stacking together). Putting them into different trees only prolong the process (and still encourage mindless grinding due to how strong they can be stacking together). The only way to prevent that is mutual exclusive promotions given through mutual exclusive buildings.
 

Delvemor

Warlord
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Feb 8, 2020
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I like the idea of having new promotions tied to a specific building, just like Heroic Epic giving the morale promotion. Anything involving city specialization is always interesting. At the same time I find the current situation to work just fine. You don't need to farm those promotions, you inevitably get them when the AI gets very aggressive. I never felt the need to extend a war for the purpose of gaining XP.
and there's no need to keep them alive through the age
Not sure what you mean there. Are you saying it would make it more affordable to sacrifice those units or disband them when you're done with a war? Training those units in the first place already has a considerable opportunity cost, that's why we need to preserve them, and not just for the acquired promotions. Even the units with far less promotions are still useful to protect the flanks, act as a garrison, prevent your most important tiles from being pillaged and much more.
 

nekokon

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Aug 9, 2017
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Not sure what you mean there. Are you saying it would make it more affordable to sacrifice those units or disband them when you're done with a war? Training those units in the first place already has a considerable opportunity cost, that's why we need to preserve them, and not just for the acquired promotions. Even the units with far less promotions are still useful to protect the flanks, act as a garrison, prevent your most important tiles from being pillaged and much more.
By that I mean to play super safe and avoid getting any unit killed even if it drags the war out unnecessarily. Unit maintenance is practically nothing after early game, no point disbanding units.

If you play peacefully and mostly fight defensive war then extra promotion might not be needed, but if you're not very peaceful or have to fight more than 1 enemy at once you need those bonus to not get overwhelmed by AIs numbers and production rate, especially for naval. Inevitably getting them isn't really enough.
This suggestion is indeed asking for warmonger opinions as I don't see a lot of them around and not sure if a proposal cater to war would get any support. I see a lot more ppl scratching their head making serious calculation for extra 1 food or production for a building instead.
 

CrazyG

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Oct 14, 2016
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In hindsight I don't really like the promotion system of civ 5 much at all. It leads to fairly tedious gameplay and rewards heavy micromanagement which really extends how long it takes to play a game. I think a lot of other games have better overall military systems. That isn't a criticism of this mod though, I think it's done a good job. And there are rewarding moments, the feeling of an archer from ancient era upgrading into elite late game units is pretty good.
 

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
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so such a change would have a lot of consequences, for good or ill is debatable. Let’s dig in on a few.

1) it would shift military power from combat experience to hammers/science. The economic civs would gain a new military advantage over more military focused ones.

2) upgrading would become less useful. Building/buying would become a lot stronger, which might add an attrition element to the game.

3) it would likely make the AI stronger…probably. Since the AI tends to tech faster and hammer more, they will be able to churn out a legion of +1 range g guns for example.

On the flip side. The human player would also have “infinite” +1 range, and while it would take longer to ramp up, the human could also do more with an army of +1 range compared to the AI. Play America if you want to get the experience of how powerful an infinite +1 range army is.

4) ranged units would get stronger. Range promotions tend to be better than melee ones. Blitz, March, and mobility are all useful but they tend to be limited in scope, and have to be used well for best effort. Meanwhile +1 range and logistics is just straight up useful.


So whether it’s good or bad it’s hard to say. Vhf it would make the game quite a bit different.
 

Laz0r

Warlord
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
119
I play with a mod called "level promotions" which gives you the ability to unlock all promotions in tiers rather than a tree, making it so that in level 2 (barracks and armories/orders) will grant you access to IDF/medic immediately on unit creation, and range/blitz/mobility at level 4 (mil academies). This system is a lot better than what is the base VP promotion system because it makes players who are peaceful for the early-mid game can get access to these promotions upon training an army after armories/military academies so that they aren't so hopelessly outmatched by veteran armies and so the player does not necessarily have to grind tediously for the best promotions (while still preserving a rewarding power growth for veteran armies who start stacking +CS% promotions past level 4, after having acquired the S tier promotions.)

This kind of promotion balancing is best, and really I think level promotions should be incorporated into base VP. The vanilla promotion system is just terrible and plays more into VP's balancing as making "wide warmonger" the ONLY viable way to play in the higher difficulties/worse circumstances, something I've grown distaste for after putting so many 1000's of hours of playing wide warmonger.
 

balparmak

Prince
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Sep 20, 2015
Messages
544
I have my reservations about promotions and their effect on the warfare too, but VP does the best under the restrictions of 1UPT & AI. A return to the base game's terrain centric promotions would be awful, they're both harder for AI and terribly micromanagy for the player (as anything contextual). I frankly don't see a good way out, any change is likely to disturb the balance too much. Like you can make units lose xp/promotion upon upgrade to nerf XP farming, or introduce XP cap per era, both would feel bad.
 

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
Messages
434
I play with a mod called "level promotions" which gives you the ability to unlock all promotions in tiers rather than a tree, making it so that in level 2 (barracks and armories/orders) will grant you access to IDF/medic immediately on unit creation, and range/blitz/mobility at level 4 (mil academies). This system is a lot better than what is the base VP promotion system because it makes players who are peaceful for the early-mid game can get access to these promotions upon training an army after armories/military academies so that they aren't so hopelessly outmatched by veteran armies and so the player does not necessarily have to grind tediously for the best promotions (while still preserving a rewarding power growth for veteran armies who start stacking +CS% promotions past level 4, after having acquired the S tier promotions.)

This kind of promotion balancing is best, and really I think level promotions should be incorporated into base VP. The vanilla promotion system is just terrible and plays more into VP's balancing as making "wide warmonger" the ONLY viable way to play in the higher difficulties/worse circumstances, something I've grown distaste for after putting so many 1000's of hours of playing wide warmonger.
While I don't think the actual implementation is very balanced (giving promotions to all units created), it's interesting there's already a mod going for this design, means it's good in practice but still needs some rebalance/refinement.
And a lot of warmonger love, as I'm not sure why it's not more popular in general for 1upt design. A lot of great 1upt 4x games also focus much more on warfare, but civ 5/6/vp are mostly about building everything abstractly "inside" a city.

Regarding AI being bad with terrain centric promotions: promotions won't be as game changing as it is currently now, thus having them not exactly where you want is still fine (like barbarian having them). It's an added bonus for players who enjoy warfare (thus micromanaging units more) but not really needed if you don't want to. The main point is still to reduce the perk power for high level units later in the game which is the reason for some needed gamey and grindy behavior.
 
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KlHannibal2

Warlord
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Messages
229
No need to keep units alive through thousands of years, no more delaying peace or meaningless war just to train units (pretty gamey I would say, but it gives huge advantages).

Even if you don't go for domination and any military policy, wars can give you a lot more than promotions. You can gain cities and vassals and you weaken the AI. It can also help making other AIs close allies.

But I agree that some promotions are much less attractive than others. And some of them are real game changers. First and formost range on siege units for domination games IMO.

Just a thought how to reorganise promotions: the uber promotions like range, march etc should not require 3 specific promotions like shock 3. Instead, there could be a pool of lower level promotions. If you have 3 of this pool you unlock the uber promotions. So you could get shock 3 to unlock march. But you could also pick drill 1 and cover 1 + 2 to unlock march.
 

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
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I have already mentioned that option, but it requires new code and unlikely any of the veteran dev or modder around here would pick it up due to not having a lot of interest in warfare.
That's why I tried to suggest things that already been done so new modder can try to make a modmod if this gets enough attention and we can gather enough feedback for solid changes, in case nobody sponsor this in the congress.
 

Tekamthi

King
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Aug 12, 2016
Messages
725
i've been rather enjoying where promos & xp are at -- I generally only get a very small number of highly promo'd units (on marathon). afaik the current flavor of broadly-applicable upgrades was reached to support AI's ability to make the right promo choice -- they're just never gonna be able to assess the implications of subtleties of terrains or other niche circumstances to pick promos accordingly if that were the dominant design choice.

I think it would be nice if there was some way to recover lost xp, however. Losing a game-long promo'd unit in late-game is just too impactful as things stand. Maybe a portion of the lost xp can be allocated to a new unit of that type somehow.
 

azum4roll

Deity
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
2,232
Part of the current problem comes from all the "great" promotions being unlocked if and only if the unit has 3 of the same "stem" promotions. T1 and T2 leaf promotions are less picked as a result even if they're situationally good. If you go for 3 stem promotions you immediately have access to Range, Indirect Fire, Logistics, March, Vanguard, Blitz, etc. depending on which unit class it is.

An ideal suggestion (with tons of new code and UI work):
At every level up, you can pick one promotion from a pool of normal promotions and a pool of elite promotions.
Normal promotions follow the current "tree" structure with requirements as such, and picking them costs nothing.
Elite promotions do not have requirements, but cost a certain number of the unit's elite points to pick.
Each level up gives one elite point to the unit.
 

nekokon

Prince
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Aug 9, 2017
Messages
434
So most of the opinions still prefer to keep the uber upgrades in promotion progression rather than putting them into mutually exclusive and limited buildings ?

The reason I went further than only reorganizing promotions trees is so that high level unit won't be as much better than lower level units (thus remove the need for grinding level through the age) while still keeping the amount of fully upgraded units limited (to have similar effect for late game warfare - not turning them into full armies of elites). The implementation would also require less new code (but more balancing for where and when the upgrade should be - thus more discussion). Warfare and city specialization right now feel like such an after-thought piling everything into promotions and xp gain, thus the only "proper" way to do it is grind.
 
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