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Espionage Enhancement (and my two cents on some other topics)

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by blkbltchemie, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. blkbltchemie

    blkbltchemie Chieftain

    Jul 8, 2013
    United States
    Let me begin by saying, I think that Civ V is a great game and that the developers have done a fantastic job with the new features in BNW (having only just tried the demo as yet) and it is now a very well-rounded game. Some of my favorite new features from past titles are the hex grid map and one unit per tile. What follows are a couple of thoughts that I think would make the game even more enjoyable for me and maybe there are others out there these ideas might interest as well.

    Disclaimer: I know very little about programming in general and absolutely nothing whatsoever about game design so I have no idea if these suggestions would even be feasible to implement.

    I like the new espionage system that was introduced in G&K compared to previous iterations of the game. I would like a few more active options however.

    For example, with city states, you have the passive "Election Rigging" while just having a spy stationed there but you also have the active ability to "Stage a Coup." For spies in civilizations you have the relatively passive actions to "Steal Technology" and "Gather Intrigue." I would really like an active option to "Sabotage." I think that it could be implemented with a button like "Coup." Then after clicking the "Sabotage" button, you could have options to sabotage current research (to set the target back x% beakers), sabotage current production (same as previous), sabotage food supply (same as previous), sabotage building (destroy a building), or sabotage population (remove 1 citizen) where the latter two are much riskier. I'm envisioning an interface where you click "Sabotage" and then a drop down opens up with the 5 options and their percentages of success.

    Also, since spies can now be assigned as diplomats, I think we need to have more. In a game as England (bonus spy) building Intelligence Agency (+1 spy), you can have a total of 7 spies I think which is not enough to have one in every civilization on standard and guarding your capitol. Maybe we could have 3 in Renaissance, 2 in Industrial, and 1 each in Modern, Atomic, and Information. Or something similar because I feel spies are much more useful earlier on. I think this would allow the player to be more versatile. Especially since they now have to choose between spy or diplomat.

    Victory Conditions:
    For most of the victory conditions, you have a way to stop an opponent with a desperate action. You can try to take their capitol to prevent them from winning Domination. You can capture cities to steal works of art to destroy their tourism and stall them on their way to Cultural Victory. You can bribe away or if necessary conquer city states to decrease their chance for a Diplomatic Victory. These are great and I like having the ability to try a last-ditch effort to save myself. But there is not currently a check against Science Victory once an opponent starts a spaceship especially if you are in a tight space race and just a couple turns behind Korea (usually). I think that destroying the spaceship upon capturing the capitol would be beneficial.

    I've read a lot about gold and city states and the BNW diplomatic victory. While I have only played the demo, I do have a thought on this. I definitely think city state allies should supply delegates for resolutions. To make Diplomatic Victory more challenging, maybe when votes are called for "Changing Host" or "Choosing World Leader" every major civ gets 1 vote (or the base number of delegates for the era and the host gets its bonus). And there should be time before the vote to attempt to buy votes from opponents. I think civs should be able to self-vote for world leader but maybe not for changing host (meh, I dunno on this point). Like I said, I haven't actually seen the World Congress much in just the demo, but this is just a thought based on comments I've read here in the forum.

    I wasn't sure if I wanted to include this or not. All in all, I think the game is pretty full in terms of civs right now, but I have 2 ideas.

    UA - ?
    UU - ?name? (Great Prophet replacement) - founds a fully enhanced religion
    UU/UB - Iron Dome (SAM replacement/Bomb Shelter Replacement) - in addition to the bonuses of the unit/building it replaces, it has x% chance of intercepting missile (cruise or nuclear)

    Inuit (Canadian, etc):
    UA - ?name? - Land units can move over ice tiles, snow tiles produce food and production and can be farmed
    UU - Ice Breaker (work boat replacement) - in addition to the normal abilities of a work boat, can enter ice tiles and remove them (unit consumed in the process).
    UB - Igloo (granary replacement) - in addition to the normal attributes of a granary, it adds x food per snow tile

    Odds and Ends/My Wish List:
    • I would like to see early melee units (swordsmen and longswordsmen) buffed in strength a little bit.
    • Its somewhat frustrating when upgrading ranged mounted units to melee mounted units and losing promotions (chariot archers and some UUs), so maybe they could upgrade to appropriate ranged foot units (chariot archers to composite bowmen, for example).
    • I would really like a scout upgrade path, not to a new unit, but just into one of the other unit trees say after the renaissance (maybe scout to musketman).
    • If there was one thing from Civ 4 I could have back, it would be that early barbarians for the first x turns were wild animals with no camps. That was just a really fun and creative feature.
    • If there was one mod I could permanently implement, it would be one (unfortunately I don't recall the name) that added pre-ancient era techs. You could start with bipedalism and have to discover fire, stone tools, agriculture, etc. Maybe you could start with a couple warriors and gain research from exploring tiles (a new tech after x tiles revealed) and upon discovering agriculture you get a settler. This would probably be too complicated to implement but I think it would be interesting.
    • I would also like an official true starting positions world map released with the game.
    • It would be awesome if the vanilla DLC scenarios could be updated with some of the later features (especially 100 hp units). I think it could really put an interesting twist on the scenario, especially Samurai Invasion of Korea although it would probably break a couple like Rise of the Mongols.

    In the end, I just want to say thanks to the developers of this great game and series. Personally, I would like to see a little more content squeezed out of Civ V before moving on to Civ VI at this point.

    Feel free to share any thoughts or comments on my ideas or any adaptations you may have for them!
  2. ShadowWarrior

    ShadowWarrior Prince

    Jun 7, 2001
    Hi blkbltchemie:

    You responded to my post (link below) and invited me to express my thoughts on your ideas regarding espionage. Thank you for the invitation to do so. Below is my two cents.


    But before that, I like to clarify that I am not against empowering spies with more abilities to take actions as long as a controlling mechanism is there to prevent abuse. The issue of abuse can be resolved if each action that we want the spy to take requires some kind of gold/faith/spy points to be expended.

    Also, upon reflection, I realized that I have always implicitly assumed that programming espionage feature is some of the most complicated aspect of designing this game. In response to this challenge, my solution was that all that spy need to do is to provide us with comprehensive and useful information. This, I imagine being much easier to program, will enhance game play without the hassle of trying to design new actionable features into spies. It was with this consideration in mind that I said that empowering spies with more actionable features is not necessary.

    Now onto your post. I gather from what you have written that you are primarily concerned with designing new interesting actions that spy can take. I think for espionage to be meaningful to the game, the spies need to be able to go on missions that will truly make a difference to our game play. As such, a creative brainstorming session on designing new spy features must first be based on analysis of what is most important to us civ players. Once we understand what we players find strategically critical, we can safely assume that what we find important are what our rivals also find important. Then, based on that, we can design spy features which will either enhance our ability to obtain what is important, or debilitate enemy's effort to attain what is important.

    Example: For me personally, Hanging Garden is an absolute MUST! (I only play at king level, and have never graduated above that level, but I am aware that HG is impossible to get a higher level, which means that this wonder is probably not that important to higher level players anyways). It would be nice to have a spy feature telling me what misc players I have come into contact with are researching. As long as I know none of the players are yet researching mathematics (prerequisite tech to build HG), I can delay building HG, knowing that it isn't that urgent.
    But if one of the civ is already researching mathematics, then I like to know when will that civ complete the research, whether the civ will build HG right after it obtains mathematics, what is the production capacity of each of the city that civ has (so that i can estimate how soon it will built it), etc.
    Suppose that after completing the analysis, I decide that this civ that is now researching mathematics will complete its research in about 5 turns, and may likely begin to build HG right after the research is finished. I can have my spy launch a political campaign in that civ to generate opposition to building the HG for certain number of turns. If successful, the civ will be allowed to build anything but HG for that number of turns even though it has mathematics already.
    The launching of this political campaign cost money. The more money I spend, the longer I can delay this civ from building HG. Success doesn't have to be strictly yes and no. Rather, if I spend 100 gold to launch this campaign and was told that I can delay the building of HG by the enemy for about 10 turns if mission was successful, then a not so successful spy mission may end up delaying the enemy building of HG by only about 5 turns instead of 10.

    So, I guess I am not neccesarily promoting any concrete ideas about espionage. I am simply tryiing to introduce a method of analyzing how we players play the game, identifying strategic actions that civ players regularly find important to their game play, and then design spy features accordingly.
  3. ShadowWarrior

    ShadowWarrior Prince

    Jun 7, 2001
    I dont know much about comp programming and game design, but if this is possible to do, I think diplomacy can potentially take on an interesting dimension if some kind of intelligence sharing scheme can be designed into diplomacy. For example, I can go into diplomacy screen, and negotiate for sharing of all intelligence collected on our common enemy.

    Lets say that I am China, my ally is Greece, and our common enemy is Japan. My espionage resources is enough to clear fog of war in Japan (so that I know the terrain inside Japan, the military units location, etc); but not enough to figure out what kind of units Japan has and are building. Greece has surplus espionage resources to use toward figuring out what Japan is building. I can negotiate an intelligence sharing scheme in which I let Greece see the unfogged region of Japan while Greece shares with me her intel on what Japan is building.

    Alternatively, I can just pay Greece to do the espionage work for me.
  4. blkbltchemie

    blkbltchemie Chieftain

    Jul 8, 2013
    United States
    Thanks for your reply! I agree, establishing what the player needs as a common ground is important to start any discussion of changing any features.

    Like you, I am, at present, consistently a Prince difficulty player but am close to graduating to King. Like you, I tend to favor the Hanging Gardens (especially coupled with Temple of Artemis) over the Great Library or other available early wonders. It would be very nice, as you mention to have an early scout/spy who can keep tabs on where the other civilizations are right when you meet them (much better than the less informative lists like "Mostest Literate People" that occasionally pop up). For example, in the Global Politics tab of the Diplomacy menu, you can see the exact policies they have unlocked and what era they are in but don't have any specific research information or military information on that civilization.

    Even when you do get spies and can view a city, I think you can only see their production. It would be nice if they could reveal the civilization's current research and let you have a glance at that civilizations tech tree. Maybe even some information on troop placement (or just a list of units as from the military overview) beyond the few tiles revealed around the city and city yields (as from the economic overview).

    You could then use this expanded intelligence to adjust your strategy or decide on taking a high risk (either in terms of losing the spy or financial cost) active option such as the one's we have both suggested.

    I like the suggestion in your second post about expanding the sharing of intrigue. It could almost be similar to how you have the option to trade with your counterpart to declare war or make peace. For example (building off yours but in a slightly different direction): If player 1 is Russia and is friends with player 2 (China) but opposes Germany (player 3) while China dislikes Japan (player 4). Lets say China has a spy in Germany and Russia in Japan. Then there could be a diplomatic option where Russia shares intrigue on Japan with China while China shares their intrigue on Germany. Or of course the trade could be for gold or luxuries. I suppose this is more like the new World Congress vote trading. Then to prevent it from being overpowered, the intrigue could be static--only the information available at the trade deal is known; you don't get new information until you renew the trade.

    This may also help with the limited number of spies in the game since you can trade intrigue instead of needing your own spy in each civilization. Granted not everything would be up to date, and it would make you tiptoe with diplomacy when making and keeping friends.

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