[BTS] Emperor Large Marathon game for those who normally play Noble or Monarch.

Severus

Warlord
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Hi. It's been at least 10 years since I last seriously played Civ. I started playing again a couple of weeks ago and decided to drop down to Emperor (used to play Immortal exclusively when I last played as Deity never interested me with the settings I like) with a view to playing a few games to get my brain back in gear before going back to Immortal. Who knows, maybe this time I'll go up to Diety.

Anyway, I started a new game yesterday and it quickly became apparent it was a very nice starting area so I thought I'd post the starting save here in case anyone wanted to give it a go. I would say it's such a nice map that anyone who usually plays at Monarch or below would find it an easy introduction to Emperor, or anyone else who fancies a game of civ with the proper settings ;) The icing on the cake is I randomly rolled Pacal. Without wanting to give anything away I'll just say both his traits are nice here.

Game settings:
Speed: marathon (This is an unpopular opinion but anything quicker than this just detracts from the experience and strategy for me. Researching techs in 3 or 4 turns as standard holds no fun for me. I've always believed tech strategy is more meaningful when you're faced with having to commit 25, 35, or however many turns to your next tech)
Map: fractal
Tech trading on but no tech brokering. (IMO tech brokering just allows the player to exploit the tech game and from a conceptual point of view no brokering has always made more sense to me)
Size: large (IMO you get more natural feeling maps on large than you do on standard, the different biomes have enough space to actually be distinct. Also I would argue that especially once you get to Immortal level the AI bonuses combined with the increased number of cities on large maps counteracts the supposed drop in difficulty level that comes from playing marathon speed)
NHNE
Leader: Pacal of the Mayans - financial & expansive.
New random seed on reload.

Mods (no idea if this matters): BUG, BUFFY, and Detailed Terrain.

Feel free to go ahead and give it a shot, and if there's interest I'll do a write up of my game with spoilers (currently at 1AD).

Turn 0 screenshot:

Civ4ScreenShot0030.JPG
 

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sampsa

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Welcome back! Unfortunately, I'm afraid a marathon game won't get many takers. I did play to +150T though and it's certainly a fun map!
 

Severus

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Yeah marathon isn’t many people’s cup of tea unfortunately but I live in hope that it’s not just me!
 

sampsa

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Marathon certainly isn't my cup of tea. I don't think it's strategically more complex, more rewarding or more difficult. Clearly the biggest difference between marathon and normal is warring. The human player already has a massive advantage in wars, so making it even bigger isn't the direction I want to go. I actually think quick speed needs more love.
 

Severus

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Marathon certainly isn't my cup of tea. I don't think it's strategically more complex, more rewarding or more difficult. Clearly the biggest difference between marathon and normal is warring. The human player already has a massive advantage in wars, so making it even bigger isn't the direction I want to go. I actually think quick speed needs more love.

I’ve seen an awful lot of people reached conclusions based on false assumptions over the years when it comes to effects of speed and size on difficulty. The majority who liked to massage their egos cherrypicked “facts” until statements like “playing marathon lowers the difficulty by one to two levels” are commonly made by people who have never even played enough game of the different speeds and sizes.

I’ve played a lot of both and IMO at higher levels there’s no reduction in difficulty playing marathon large, if anything it’s easier to play standard normal. A couple of points to illustrate this:

1) Increased tech costs mean you need to exceed the AI by far more in order to overhaul the difficulty modifiers. Take Astronomy on Immortal as an example:

On standard normal the base cost is 2,600. The player pays 1.25 the base cost so has an increase of 650 beakers. The AI receives a 20% reduction of the base cost so needs 520 less. So on standard normal a player has to find 1,170 beakers more to overcome the immortal modifiers.

On large marathon the base cost is 8,400. The player pays 1.25 which is 2,100 more. The AI’s 20% reduction is 1,680. So on large marathon a player has to find 3,780 beakers more to overcome the modifiers.

The AI receives a far larger advantage from turn 0 on every tech in the game.

2) Large map further increases this advantage because the player and AI cost modifiers are of more significance than on standard size as there are more cities, so it gains more in-built advantage from a larger map than the player.

When it comes to warring something like a cuirassier rush which you prepare for with a prior golden age popping a couple of GMs to upgrade pre-built / whipped elephants there is zero difference between normal and marathon. The length of time units stay relevant for isn’t a factor when war is done right on either speed.

But like I say people in an echo chamber over the years have formed a consensus over larger maps and slower speeds being easier when it’s simply not the case in my experience.

Edit: spelling.
 
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sampsa

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I’ve seen an awful lot of people reached conclusions based on false assumptions over the years when it comes to effects of speed and size on difficulty.

I tend to form my own opinion about things and it sometimes differs quite a lot from conventional wisdom (examples are values of tiles, values of buildings, values of wonders, :gp:-usage). I haven't really paid attention to what people think about large or huge map sizes. I think it's very clear that they are more difficult, for several reasons. Your point about tech cost differences seems valid to me.

I also think it's very clear that the slower the speed, the bigger edge the human player has (this assumes the human player is strong enough to take advantage of it though). I don't really understand why you say a cuirassier rush is the same on normal and marathon. No it's not, in the latter your units move at triple speed. That means that instead of taking one AI out you can take 3 AI out, instead of 10 cities you can take 30. I also think relatively cheaper units benefit a smart human player more than the AI.
 

Severus

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I wasn’t implying you don’t form your own opinions, was just putting it out there that in my experience there is no drop in difficulty contrary to what most say :)

I do take your point about the triple speed but this is somewhat countered by 1) having to take more cities from each AI. It doesn’t automatically follow that if you can take three times the cities you take out three times the AI. Assuming the AI has approaching 15 cities, not uncommon on a large map, then if taking 30 cities is the rule of thumb you’re taking out 2 AI. Taking out 2 AI with a cuirassier rush on normal isn’t particularly exceptional either. 2) More cities to take, more units to have to destroy, means more pauses to heal. 3) You need to cover more distance, especially when it comes to reinforcements against a second target on the opposite side of your first victim. So it’s not as simple as “you move three times as fast so you get three times the advantage”. Plus the units do cost more, whip unhappiness lasts 30 turns each time, so again there are more factors involved than a simple “three times faster means it’s this much easier”.

When it comes to “the slower the speed the bigger the edge the human has” that again fails to take into account the tech modifiers. From the beginning of the game, for far more turns than on normal speed, the AI accrues more and more of a lead because it’s getting the same advantage as it does on normal yet on normal you can research BW for example in 10 turns while on marathon you’re looking at 35 to 45 turns. Same goes for every other tech in the game. The modifiers which give it its edge over you last hundreds of turns more before good play will overhaul the deficit.

Anyway what people prefer and what they believe to be the case is fine with me. The game is kind of a very different beast on the different speeds, just another reason why it’s still the best game ever made IMO :)
 

sampsa

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I wasn’t implying you don’t form your own opinions, was just putting it out there that in my experience there is no drop in difficulty contrary to what most say :)
Cool. I just wanted to be clear that I am presenting my opinion, not defending the supposed consensus of the forum.

I do take your point about the triple speed but this is somewhat countered by 1) having to take more cities from each AI. It doesn’t automatically follow that if you can take three times the cities you take out three times the AI. Assuming the AI has approaching 15 cities, not uncommon on a large map, then if taking 30 cities is the rule of thumb you’re taking out 2 AI. Taking out 2 AI with a cuirassier rush on normal isn’t particularly exceptional either. 2) More cities to take, more units to have to destroy, means more pauses to heal. 3) You need to cover more distance, especially when it comes to reinforcements against a second target on the opposite side of your first victim. So it’s not as simple as “you move three times as fast so you get three times the advantage”. Plus the units do cost more, whip unhappiness lasts 30 turns each time, so again there are more factors involved than a simple “three times faster means it’s this much easier”.
I think we are not talking about exactly the same thing. I am comparing standard normal to standard marathon while you are comparing standard normal to large marathon.

Your point 1) is based on large vs standard size, not normal vs marathon speed. We agree that large is more difficult than standard size. While your point 2) is true, also it needs to be said that units heal at triple speed (I have no doubts you did realize this though). Your point 3) is again only true on a large map.

I think my point still stands, even if you can war only at let's say 2,5x or even 2x the speed on marathon vs normal. Faster warring is very beneficial for a skilled human player and makes the game a lot easier.

When it comes to “the slower the speed the bigger the edge the human has” that again fails to take into account the tech modifiers. From the beginning of the game, for far more turns than on normal speed, the AI accrues more and more of a lead because it’s getting the same advantage as it does on normal yet on normal you can research BW for example in 10 turns while on marathon you’re looking at 35 to 45 turns. Same goes for every other tech in the game. The modifiers which give it its edge over you last hundreds of turns more before good play will overhaul the deficit.

Anyway what people prefer and what they believe to be the case is fine with me. The game is kind of a very different beast on the different speeds, just another reason why it’s still the best game ever made IMO :)
You are correct that on marathon, especially in the early game, the tech choices require even more accuracy. The early game is tougher also due to triple amount of barbarian activity.
 

Severus

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I think we are not talking about exactly the same thing. I am comparing standard normal to standard marathon while you are comparing standard normal to large marathon.
I assumed we were talking large v standard since my game is on a large map. Fair enough, I’m not going to comment on standard marathon since I’ve never played that other than agreeing the lack of increase in size would definitely favour the human much more in war :)

Edit: Regarding units healing three times quicker I’ve never seen any evidence of this in my own games, I’ve never looked for it though. I usually have a great medic very early on so if it’s true I suppose I wouldn’t spot it. Is there any info on that anywhere?
 
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sampsa

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To state the obvious - if you want to compare different speeds, all the other settings should be the same, otherwise it's not a fair comparison. Again I do agree that the large map slightly compensates for the easiness of marathon.
 

Severus

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To state the obvious - if you want to compare different speeds, all the other settings should be the same, otherwise it's not a fair comparison. Again I do agree that the large map slightly compensates for the easiness of marathon.
Most people who play marathon also increase the map size I think, so comparing one of those settings in isolation doesn’t give a true reflection of the effect on difficulty.
 

sampsa

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Most people who play marathon also increase the map size I think, so comparing one of those settings in isolation doesn’t give a true reflection of the effect on difficulty.
Yes. But it's inaccurate to say marathon isn't easier. Increasing world size makes it slightly harder, which might not be widely accepted, I don't know.

Edit: Regarding units healing three times quicker I’ve never seen any evidence of this in my own games, I’ve never looked for it though. I usually have a great medic very early on so if it’s true I suppose I wouldn’t spot it. Is there any info on that anywhere?
Healing rate per turn is the same. Thus, as units effectively move three times faster they also heal three times faster.
 

Severus

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Yes. But it's inaccurate to say marathon isn't easier. Increasing world size makes it slightly harder, which might not be widely accepted, I don't know.
It’s inaccurate to say I was inaccurate when I said marathon isn’t either because, to be accurate, I said marathon large isn’t easier than standard normal. That’s what I said and I stand by it. That’s why I gave the beaker costs on immortal for standard normal v marathon large. I hope that’s accurate enough ;)
 

sampsa

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It’s inaccurate to say I was inaccurate when I said marathon isn’t either because, to be accurate, I said marathon large isn’t easier than standard normal.
Well... I didn't exactly say YOU were inaccurate. ;)

You keep mixing map size into the equation, which makes the discussion a bit confusing. It's much simpler to consider every setting separately, even if two of them (say marathon+large/huge) are often used together.

I think we agree that bigger maps are harder. I believe that we also agree that the slower the game speed, the easier the game. I think the disagreement is in which one makes a bigger impact. Anyway I don't think this topic is worth many more posts.
 
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Gumbolt

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I play huge maps on immortal at normal speeds. Yes tech costs increase from 100-130 as a percentage due to map size. It also allows AI to expand to 10-15+ cities. Can make early rushes harder when AI are not right on your doorstep and so much option to expand peacefully. The chances of a larger run away AI maybe higher.

Main difference on huge maps is distance to the next Ai is sometimes 15-20 tiles instead of 8-10. Without horse early rushes may not be viable. When you come to start spamming units the AI will take longer to tech techs like engineering, guilds and rifles. Main downside to huge maps is once you hit 30-40 cities you have such a large empire you can spam armies of 80-100 units and crush whole map. In reality you might have 4-5 stacks of 20-25 units. If AI don't have LB even less units needed. Chain vassal at this point should be easy.

If you go Marathan too build costs and tech costs increase 3 fold. On a marathan game you have up to 1500 turns instead of 500. So mostly most things take 3 times as long. All about different timings.The reason Marathan is easier is because you have a larger time frame to use/whip units. The human player can beeline HBR and form an attack. The AI will rarely beline HBR. Horse archers early on will crush a non metal AI. Especially if the army is whipped. If you can amass an army of 10-15+ Horse archers these can take down 1-2 AI. The AI will also prioritise a lot of useless techs early on. The human player knows to try and skip techs to reach targets sooner.
 

Severus

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Well... I didn't exactly say YOU were inaccurate. ;)

You keep mixing map size into the equation, which makes the discussion a bit confusing. It's much simpler to consider every setting separately, even if two of them (say marathong+large/huge) are often used together.

I think we agree that bigger maps are harder. I believe that we also agree that the slower the game speed, the easier the game. I think the disagreement is in which one makes a bigger impact. Anyway I don't think this topic is worth many more posts.

Lol I don’t keep mixing map size into the equation, you keep removing it ;) This was my original statement after all:

“I’ve played a lot of both and IMO at higher levels there’s no reduction in difficulty playing marathon large, if anything it’s easier to play standard normal”.

Yes it’s not worthy of many more posts because both size and speed have to be taken into the equation together because they don’t work in isolation. It’s not a case of “marathon = x amount of difficulty reduction” “large = y difficulty increase” then x-y or y-x = end result. eg. I mean the effects of the large number of turns to research on marathon in the early game benefitting the AI is greater on a large map than a normal but that’s a different effect from what you’d get on a standard size marathon or a large size normal speed. You can’t separate size and speed into separate effects. So essentially we’re comparing apples and oranges and won’t achieve anything. Unless there are others who have played a sizeable amount of normal standard AND marathon large there’s not enough experience to continue. But hey it’s always fun to exchange views, it’s good to talk :)
 

sampsa

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Of course you can and should separate size and speed, because they are not dependent on each other. Adjusting them makes difficulty go to a known direction. I agree that perhaps there are details that make it non-linear, but there is no real reason to overcomplicate the conclusion. Slower=easier, smaller=easier.

We have Gumbolt, an experienced player who doesn't seem to think huge maps are a lot harder which I find interesting. Well, perhaps a seasoned player does realize that once empire reaches a certain size and potential, the rest is a matter of technique.
 
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