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Espionage Opportunity Cost

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Siggy_23, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Siggy_23

    Siggy_23 Chieftain

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    I know at least in civ 4, you had to train the spies and devote resources to espionage activities, but in civ 5, it seems that there is no reason not to participate in the spy game.

    All the spies are free, and their operations cost nothing. This is unique in Civ 5, think about everything else:
    If you dont want to deal with the city states, you dont have to, and you can save yourself a lot of gold/work
    If you dont want to found a religion you dont have to, and you save yourself a lot of buildings
    If you dont want to build wonders you dont have to, and you get a lot of hammers to devote to other things.

    but

    if you dont want to have spies youre an idiot because theyre free and you dont get anything for not using them.

    Dont get me wrong, i like the current espionage system (it could do with some more options etc) but i think there should be a trade off.
     
  2. Flying Mathias

    Flying Mathias Warlord

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    Well, you can just keep your spies sitting in your cities, and just sort of passively use them.
     
  3. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

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    The trade-off is surely that you have so few spies, and you can't devote them to everything you need to - with 2-4 spies and a large number of civs, and all the city-states, all of which take time to infiltrate, and with your own cities each of which is vulnerable to espionage without a spy performing counterintelligence, you have to make careful decisions about how and when to use each one. In my current game, if I'm spying on my current rivals Ramkhanhaeng and Attila, having just entered the Industrial era, I can't do anything to kill Attila's own spies if they try infilitrating my cities (as they have in the past), or protect my technological superiority.

    Sure I can improve my city's base counterespionage with constabularies, but (a) I don't think that can actually kill an enemy spy, and (b) Attila's already got away (twice) with stealing tech from Palenque, which has a very high intrinsic anti-espionage rating.

    Also, the intrigue system adds an, ahem, intriguing element. Say you have a rival with no technology you can use, but you want to know if he's planning an attack - or for that matter you decide that diplomatically it's valuable to know if he's planning an attack on someone else so that you can share that knowledge (or indeed withhold it). That could potentially be a better use of your spy's time than fomenting a coup in a city-state somewhere, and how long do you keep him on watch, and so lose the opportunity to do other things with him, for a chance of finding something out?
     
  4. Siggy_23

    Siggy_23 Chieftain

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    well, yes, there is opportunity cost within the system because you have a finite number of spies, but my point was that there is no opportunity cost to the system as a whole.

    IE: with religion, there is opportunity cost within the system because you can only choose a few beliefs, but there is also opportunity cost to even participate in the system all together because you have to build faith buildings and/or maintain relationships with religious city states. Espionage is not like that.

    This means that EVERYONE will be doing espionage of some sort or another as soon as anyone reaches the renaissance because there is no reason not to, your spy is free and so are his operations; that kinda annoys me. I really think it should be a trade off of some sort.
     
  5. Eagle Pursuit

    Eagle Pursuit Scir-Gerefa

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    I was rather unimpressed by the intrigue ability before launch, but in my current game I'm using it to good effect.

    Sweden has been down on me the whole game because they covet my land. I've been trying to make good with them the whole time to get their little GP bonus. No dice. I just noticed America sending an army over to Sweden, so I'm sending a spy to Washington and I hope I can warn the Swedes and maybe they will finally be my friend. I made friends out of the Egyptians by warning them of the duplicitous Iroquois.
     
  6. stealth_nsk

    stealth_nsk Deity

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    It has diplomatic consequences and you risk your spies. Converting city-states is easier, but also gives less bonuses. So it could be worth just settling your spies in cities to defend against tech stealing.

    I understand what that's not too big point and would agree with you. But espionage isn't a separate concept like religion - it's designed to spice up diplomacy and as part of this, it can't be optional.
     
  7. Cymsdale

    Cymsdale Prince

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    I think that's a good thing. If you have a cost of using the system, then there is the danger that the cost will be too much in comparison to the system, and you end up either being an idiot for using it, or you get blocked off from an entire game system.

    I think games are better when they don't give you benefits for avoiding the systems the game provides, and focus more on having you making interesting decisions within them.

    Espionage in G&K is quite simple, and while there could probably be more depth and improvement added to it down the road, I think it stands as a good example of how a game system should be designed. I like it much better than the espionage implementations of the former Civs.
     
  8. Andulias

    Andulias A Stranger on a Train

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    Yes, it's something I've mentioned in several threads already. I do feel Espionage needs more of a trade-off than just some simple opportunity costs. One of the best things about religion is precisely the race to get it going, while spies just come in automatically.
     
  9. AriochIV

    AriochIV Colonial Ninja

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    I think the "opportunity cost" is intended to be whether you use your free spies for influence, technology stealing or counter-intelligence. However, I agree that it's very strange not to be required to invest any resources or infrastructure in the system to be able to use it, which is unlike any of the other systems in the game. One would expect at least the equivalent of an Apollo Program or Manhattan Project, or even just a simple building, to unlock basic Spy abilities instead of everyone just being given them for free.

    Of all the new systems in G&K, Espionage feels the most "tacked-on" and unfinished. It's very easy to forget what your spies are doing since there's little feedback or interaction in the main UI, and having to constantly check the Espionage screen every turn is not ideal. The Intrigue element is a great addition to a weak diplomatic system, but the basic three functions of Espionage are pretty threadbare.
     
  10. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    The opportunity cost of espionage is as you put it, what you lose out by not using it. but they are free and don't cost you gold or espionage points to use them.

    A spy in a CS can effectively give you free influence every 15 turns.

    There are opportunity costs related to everything else in the system however, involving who to spy on, which city state to plant your spies, which CS to compete for, which CS to risk your Veteran Spies on. (I've had 80+ success rate coup fail - from a bad dice roll and lose my promoted spy)

    There are a number of things they can do to the espionage system to balance out the opportunity costs.

    Right now the easiest way to level up spies is from tech stealing and preventing techs from behind stolen.

    Rigging elections/coups doesn't seem to increase their promotions. That is fine for coups for balance reasons, but I would think promoting recruits up 1 level for rigging X number of elections (for example 10) would be appropriate. I would also layer in a modifer for election rigging, where a spy also gets a place specific experience modifier.

    Thus a spy who has been in a CS rigging elections for 150 turns should not only get tier2 promotion (no tier3 regarldess of how many successful rigs they do) but also know the city like the back of their hand and receive a bonus. I'm not sure if such a system exist right now, but I don't think it does. I'll check again tonight.
     
  11. SammyKhalifa

    SammyKhalifa Deity

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    I've started just planting them in my cities. Those "someone has stolen your technology" messages are annoying enough to me to offset anything I could possibly gain from running spies around. ;)
     
  12. Babri

    Babri Emperor

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    No opportunity probably helps AI more than the human, that could be a good thing in eyes of players who want the ultimate challenge. But it can be annoying due to some reasons (eg :everyone dogpiling spies on u to disrupt CS allies).
     
  13. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I dunno, I'm finding I really like the espionage system. It's pitched just right for me: the level of micromanagement is low, I can set the spies to a task and then leave them alone for 14 turns. Meddling in elections and coups is fun. There are opportunity costs in terms of city state meddling vs tech stealing vs defense. Its a small system with only modest gameplay impacts, but doesn't require a lot of time. That feels exactly right to me, historically. There is no risk of espionage overwhelming the great path of empires, but it has good flavor and is sometimes really useful.

    The only part I think is weak is the police station building line.
     
  14. Callonia

    Callonia Deity

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    I've gotten messages like, someone has stolen your trapping technology!

    Someone has stolen your Masonry technology!

    Those kind of tech steals just make me feel pity for the AI especially when I'm in renaissance, and they're... classical era.. tech.
     
  15. Lyoncet

    Lyoncet Emperor

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    I think it's fine as is, but it could use a few more options than defense, steal tech, or prevent tech steals (although sharing intrigue is a neat addition!) With a limited spy pool and a broader range of ways to focus said spies, you'd have the built-in opportunity cost that some 4x games go for of "You can do anything, but you can't do everything." Which I think is a great way of limiting behaviors in TBS.

    Of course that already exists to an extent, since you can focus everyone on CSes or everyone on tech stealing, but if there are, say, 8 different ways of focusing your spies, and you can only have 1-5 (6 with Intelligence Agency + England?), you're going to have to decide how much you can afford to focus on each activity and which you need to leave by the wayside.
     
  16. Olleus

    Olleus Deity

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    If you've actually gotten that then you need to move up 3 difficulty levels or more.
     
  17. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    So long as you cannot use spies to directly damage other civs in any way, I don't object to more options for them.

    As far as opportunity cost goes, I find I like a system where something is produced that doesn't depend on the number of cities and/or their population for its power.

    Of course, the two are related; espionage as-is is a support system that therefore does not require the opportunity cost (any more than you have to build a diplomatic building to talk to other Civs, etc.).
     
  18. Polycrates

    Polycrates Emperor

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    I like the way it is. The poorest, weakest civ can spy just as well as the master of the world. Better, in fact, because they can focus on stealing tech while the leader can't - and may have to devote a spy to actually protecting it. I've long thought the game needed more rubber-banding to keep the leaders from running away with the game in the mid-to-late game, and this is a good start.
     
  19. smallfish

    smallfish Immortal

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    "An Aztec spy has stolen Education"

    The Aztecs had trebuchets and musketmen at that point to my longswords...
     
  20. Siggy_23

    Siggy_23 Chieftain

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    I agree completely, i just dont like how its a non optional opt in system. Everyone has spies; literally everyone. I would just like it to have some sort of barrier to entry so that there is a reason NOT to spy if you dont want to.
     

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