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[Vanilla] Do barbarians even affect the AI?

CivAddict2013

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May 4, 2013
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Do barbarians affect the AI in Civ VI? It doesn't seem so to me. I've found that regardless of if I play with Barbarians on or off the AI still performs basically the same. Even with barbarians on, the AI still seems to expand like crazy to me. Don't get me wrong, I can deal with the barbarians but from what I've seen, they just don't seem to affect the AI that much.

The AI still founds a bunch of cities, builds a bunch of units and spams religion even with barbarians on.

Maybe its just me? I don't know. But from what I've seen the barbarians don't seem to go as hard on the AI Civs.
 
It depends partly on difficulty. When I started with Civ6 (a month or two before R&F) I played some rounds on Prince/King and I remember at least 2 games where one AI was seriously hampered by barbarians. In one game I explored in the Renaissance era and found England on an island with 2 cities and 3 barb camps. The barbs had at that point captured 3 settlers and some workers. (I killed the barbarians, liberated the settlers and expanded on half the island.)

Since I switched to Emperor and then Immortal as go-to-difficulty (tried Diety and won 2 times, but didn't enjoy it too much), I don't recall such extreme incidents. With the extra starting military and the combat bonus the AI can easily stand its ground against barbarians. But that is not because the barbs don't target the AI but because they can repell them. In my last game I played the Cree and thanks to the extra alliance vision I could see that even in the midgame there were some full scale barb attacks against AI border cities from unattended tundra camps. Those resulted in some pillaged improvements and 1-2 lost workers but nothing more serious.

A significant difference however occurs (on King+) when you are confronted by barb units with AI units close by. Then the barbarians indeed focus the human player but not because they are scripted go easy on the AI but because your units are the softer target and thus preferred by the tactical algorithms. When the AI warrior (20 strength) can choose between your warrior (20 strength) or the Immortal AI warrior (23 strength) he is wise to choose yours. I suspect that is the main reason some players feel as if barbarians were scripted to obstruct them at any cost.
 
I’ve seen barbarians cripple AIs for thousands of years… I finally get over to them and it’s mostly smoking ruins.

(I typically play around Emperor level.)

The AI don’t have the focused killer attitude of a human and will let things get out of control. Had one game where two AIs were near a chokepoint to a large chunk of land and at the end of the game there were more than 20 captured settlers and builders living in this chunk of barbarian land. A human would see that and think all their Christmases had come at once!
 
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As said above, the AI get crippled on higher levels, since they STILL don't know how to escort a settler or protect a builder. Maybe in Civ 7 or 8, they know better.

The real criticism here is as AlannaT pointed out, their warriors are stronger than yours and the barbs. So what I find very sad is the AI send their 5 warriors and 2 archers to the east, to your town 8 tiles east, then send an unescorted settler to the west?
 
As said above, the AI get crippled on higher levels, since they STILL don't know how to escort a settler or protect a builder.

There's still an issue, but I don't think it's about the Settlers being unescorted. When's the last time (playing with no mods) that you saw an AI Settler sent out without an escort (versus one who is currently without an escort because the escort was killed)?

The bigger issue I think relates to the AI Settlers wandering around without settling. At least part of that was related to code errors discovered around the time of the MEDIEVAL and YEILD errors, which made it difficult for the AI to decide that a particular site was worth settling after the Classical era.

The AI decision tree around where to send its Settlers is likely what most needs some work at this point.
 
I too have seen Barbarians completely devastate an AI. Particularly China seems vulnerable to them, probably Egypt too. In a recent game, after taking out Persia on my continent I was wondering why I had this massive landmass to myself, then found China tucked in a corner with only 3 small cities all burned up. I think because they start building a wonder early on, and barbarians come in to steal their workers and burn their land, but the AI isn't smart enough to switch production, so they just keep building the wonder with no improved tiles, and then they get beat to the wonder so they don't even get that, and have nothing to show for the last 60 turns.
 
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I think because they start building a wonder early on, and barbarians come in to steal their workers and burn their land, but the AI isn't smart enough to switch production, so they just keep building the wonder with no improved tiles, and then they get beat to the wonder so they don't even get that, and have nothing to show for the last 60 turns.

Not adjusting production to the circumstances at hand is a general AI weakness. It would be nice if the AI could respond in a more focussed way when threatened. That's not necessarily an easy task, as it would need to distinguish between "fake wars" and ones where it is actually in danger.

Overvaluing wonders at the expense of basic infrastructure is another issue that slows down the AI. Again, not necessarily an easy task. When and how wonders are useful is situational. The AI would likely pose a tougher challenge if they just ignored all wonders, but then the player wouldn't have any time pressure on getting any of them, which would also not be ideal.

At least now they don't get nothing if they're beaten to a wonder. The 50% of production recovered when you lose a wonder race is now working properly, and not just applied when you had switched out of the wonder to building something else prior to losing the race.
 
I had a game as Germany vs Egypt. It was on a low level. But Egypt just had one city. Every tile was smoking. And I probably captured about 6 settlers from the barbs.
 
On Prince and King I notice a huge difference. AI is much stronger with barbs off. Sometimes civs like Rome just gobble a bunch of other civs and get really strong. My last domination game (picture in the funny pictures thread) had barbs off and Aztecs and Mongolia gobble a bunch of AI cities and get fairly strong.

I'm about to start a game right now, and I'll leave barbs off for more challenge (instead of increasing the difficulty level).

But Egypt just had one city

Poor Egypt always seems to struggle with barbs on TSL Earth maps. Horseman barbs really do them in.
 



These are from R&F but I remember Vanilla being even worse.
 
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