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Explotive gpt trade with AI

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Game of the Month' started by civ_steve, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. civ_steve

    civ_steve Deity Retired Moderator GOTM Staff

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    I've been receiving a number of questions with regard to exploiting the trading system to gain a gpt advantage over an AI civ. Intentionally pushing the AI into a negative gpt situation is an exploit. Per the GOTM webpage:
    It is best to avoid the appearance of exploitation when making trades, but if you have a question about a trade and whether it is exploitive, PM me first.
     
    Knightfall likes this.
  2. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    Nothing said at this link about gpt. If new rules will appear I reserve my rights to return to the point and re-play where I set my goal to use gpt from AI for my thechs.
    My oppinion is that "all allowed what is not forbiden". And as game started already
    we can't apply new rules for current game.
    After all for Sid it is hard:
    you have to have Tech advanses and strong military. And, AI pays for "your" Tech.
    And we have no power to ask where from they got this money.
    Negative gpt banned for human player, not for AI.
    AIs become more advanced and it will be harder to deal in a future.

    However at lower levels it is unbeateble exploit.
    Same in SGTOM 13, (29 AIs 27 times more effective...).
    Please make clear rules befor SGTOM 13 will start.
     
  3. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    This thread is an excellent overview and discussion of the act of pushing AIs into negative GPT to create insane amounts of money.

    It is really up to each player what is in the 'spirit' of the game, as it is difficult to regulate and even more difficult to crack down on it (especially when clear rules haven't been defined).

    We know where they got this money. It's called 'Sid level'.

    Oh sure, we can't exploit it ourselves, so let's use the AI to do it.

    If you suck out their GPT and gold, they aren't going anywhere fast. Besides, they are going to get more advanced. That's how the game works.

    Yet despite all this, this age old tactic is what I have used in cotm43, and it has been just fine:

    1) Buy tech 1
    2) Sell tech 1 for tech 2
    3) Sell tech 1 and tech 2 for tech 3 and gold
    4) Sell tech 1, 2, 3 for huge amounts of gpt (each civ).
    5) Upgrade units; buy massive amounts of troops.
    6) DESTROY AIs

    In the end,

    It is about doing what is right to you. If it feels like a shady move, it probably is. And civ_steve is great at replying to PMs if you do have a question about a tactic.
     
  4. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    But currently at Cothm43 I am absolutly advanced and have nothing to buy from AIs. And nobody have gold to pay for my thechs.
     
  5. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    This is starting to move into more information about the Middle Ages, so perhaps it should also move to PM (where we can discuss without fear of spoiling it for others).

    However, I don't know why they have no gold to give you. :confused: :confused: :confused:
     
  6. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    Better to have it open, we should let other players to know. IMO that I did not put spoiler information.
    Because I trade wise and did not let AIs come out of AA. I already sucked all their gold...
     
  7. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    Aha, I see now. :mischief:
     
  8. Chamnix

    Chamnix Chasing Time

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    I don't see anything wrong with that.

    That is where you run into potential exploit territory - if the AI has gold, then it is legitimate (in general) to use whatever method you want to get their gold from them and to you. The problem is when you start creating gold out of thin air from an AI with nothing by giving them gpt, getting the gpt back from then, and then cutting off your gpt payments to them.

    I don't know if that is what I. Larkin is doing, but it is something that I would like to see banned explicitly in the GOTM rules (although it seems to be very difficult to formulate an exact rule...). I understand I. Larkin's point about applying rules retroactively, but the GOTM does have that catch-all phrasing about "bugs or exploits not listed", and given the discussion dominating the Hall of Fame for the past couple months, anyone who read that really should not have just assumed it was OK without getting a ruling.
     
  9. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    I used it in COTM42, but I could do without it. In GOTM71 I could do that but did not, because.... well, hurry up too much. Here I deliberatly contacted Steve but did not get explanation so far. As it is Sid level to use this "exploit" will be very hard. I have to prepared well in advance, you know. If it will be "banned" my preparations will be usless.
     
  10. civ_steve

    civ_steve Deity Retired Moderator GOTM Staff

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    I.Larkin - you posted the question in the Spoiler 1 thread. Others have PM'd me. This is my initial response. I am formulating a rule to post on the GOTM Banned Exploits list, but it is sometimes a shady area.

    This will never be considered exploitive. You are taking what the AI has to give and is willing to give.

    The tactic that Elear has linked to is the extreme exact opposite. It is clearly exploitive.

    The issue is the trading of gpt to an AI, then gaining what the AI can give in gpt PLUS the extra gpt they just received through a Tech trade, then breaking the first deal. If enough gpt is given in the first deal the AI will be forced into negative gpt (which is now seen as free money to the player). Additionally the AI will lose a random building and unit per turn making them easier to conquer.

    I would welcome any thoughts regarding this tactic while the rule is being formulated.
     
  11. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    Yes, that is true.

    I wonder how you will make a rule about it, though. The HoF has been struggling for awhile to define the extent of the tactic that is banned.
     
  12. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    I agree here. I understand how retroactive application can hurt the previous efforts of players, unintended or not, but at the same time consider this situation:

    Player Joe decides that he has a way to do better in his COTM game. It is possibly exploitative, but not defined in the rules. He goes ahead and uses the tactic and submits his game, secure in his win because after all, they can't change the rules for the current contest. Even if his tactic is the most exploitative thing ever heard of, it would be deemed 'unfair' to ban his tactic after the fact. Yet even so, does this make it all right?

    I don't mean to compare you to "Joe" here Larkin, but I have make that example.

    I suppose this is the question. Is it better to penalize one person by retroactive application of rules, or have results skewed due to one person?

    I am sympathetic on one hand, but also highly skeptic that your game (Larkin) will be ruined if you do not use the tactic...

    I don't really claim to be unbiased: note that I also am in favor of retroactive rules in the HoF.
     
  13. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    I think "Joe" is genius (by Oxford defenition), and deserve at least once to get benefit of her invention. Now situation different as Ernsworth published it and intensivelly discussed in "press". All educated persons are in equal position.
    See my comments in SGTOM13. BTW, I still did not get proper "proposal" what is banned. Discussion in HoF from 25 October-7 November ends up with nothing. (No clear defenition yet).
     
  14. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    Yes, perhaps 'genius' for coming up with an exploit/using it, but that doesn't it right to be accepted in any particular way.

    You will note that 'en lieu' of allowing Emsworth's games with that tactic, they gave him the consolation of having it named after him. Emsworth handed the whole situation very responsibly by informing everyone of the details and allowing the HoF admins to appropriately handle the situation.

    You are correct that nothing specifically is banned yet in the HoF. However, I doubt any players will dare use such a similar tactic in the meantime.

    Perhaps, but there are those (such as myself) who do not want to learn how to do Emsworth's tactics. I don't want to learn how to exploit the game. I just want to play and do my best within that regard.

    -Elear
     
  15. Marsden

    Marsden Keeper of the HoF Annex Hall of Fame Staff

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    How's this: You can't force the AI into double negative. That should be clear. If you're getting more than they have, then it's banned in the HoF.

    I don't pretend to speak for the Gotm/Sgotm staff, but call my name an I'll appear, eventually. :devil:



    Now, how might you know what they can afford? There's this 999 Trick If you can see what they have beforehand, then ask for more, well there's no ambiguity there.

    If you can hurt the AI within the rules, please do, I hate the AIs, I'm not trying to defend them, but if someone does this, everyone better because it's too powerful not to. People compain about the game being too formulaic now, if everyone has to do this, then what?
     
  16. Elear

    Elear Aux armes citoyens

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    Hit it right on the nail there. :)

     
  17. civ_steve

    civ_steve Deity Retired Moderator GOTM Staff

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    There is the amount of 'freely available' gpt the AI is willing to trade, and the amount of 'total' gpt that an AI has. Getting 'total' +1 gpt from an AI is exploitive. Getting the 'freely available' gpt amount is perfectly legal.

    Players can manipulate the levels by providing additional gpt to the AI, getting the new amount of 'enhanced freely available' gpt, then cutting the trade that provided them with additional gpt.

    If we ban the intentional cutting of a trade that provides additional gpt to the AI, the issue becomes very clear. No intentional gpt manipulation allowed.

    If we allow the player to increase the amount of 'freely available' gpt an AI has to trade, then cut that bonus gpt from the AI later, at a minimum there must be a guideline to how much gpt can be gained in this manner. I am not comfortable with the 'total' gpt amount - it effectively paralyzes the AI. I'm thinking a good amount might be the greater of the original 'freely available' amount before any gpt manipulation, or an amount that's roughly 1/4 of the 'total' gpt amount for that AI. This would allow a player to set up an advantage through trade without completely paralyzing that AI.

    I don't know how much people use trades like this. I tend to trade Tech for Tech, then trade around gaining whatever 'freely available' gpt, gold or resources were available, but I can't say that a similar effect (at a lesser degree) didn't happen unintenionally from time to time. I'm comfortable with not permitting any manipulative gpt trades, but I'd like to hear more feedback.
     
  18. PaperBeetle

    PaperBeetle Emperor

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    Ah, I could write essays on this strategy/exploit. Indeed I have used it in several GOTMs, and always taken care to note that fact in my spoilers.
    It has also had its own threads before. Here is one. You were there yourself Steve (before you were a mod I think).
    :p
    But later,
    Of course you were right the first time. If one has the stomach to use this to its fullest extent (e.g. pulling some backwards Easter Island-esque civ all the way from the AA to the modern) it is a virtually infinite supply of cash.

    I remember at least one other discussion of it in the GOTM fora, several pages long, and Offa using the phrase "egregious exploit". But I couldn't find that one :hmm:.

    Anyway, I think we certainly need a definite ruling before the new SG starts. Team Regular used the tech trick in the last SG. Of course, playing in Feudalism it was of little use, but it probably saved us a couple of turns due to paying for our military while we kept research cranked up. If we had been assiduous about building only cheap units and upgrading them, it could have been a different story.
    But the last SG also demonstrated why this stratploit is so hard to rule against. Every time you come up with a way to ban it, or set a limit to it (e.g. no giving the AI uneccessary gpt - I tried that as a self-imposed limit but it just rewards you for ruining your gpt rep), there is also a perfectly common situation where it happens without you even notice. In SG12 we had a lot of small AI who we wanted to invade. A natural strategy is to buy e.g. the Aztecs to attack e.g. the Japs several turns before you land your own troops. And if you don't have a tech, you would use gpt to buy that alliance. Some turns later you have a new tech, so you want to sell it to the Aztecs. They give you gpt for it, thank you. Some turns later, the Japanese are gone, and the Aztecs are still stumping up that gpt. Was it an exploit or was it fair diplomacy? :dunno:

    Anyway, back to the present. I would absolutely support a ban if you can find some formulation that still allows us more diplomatic felxibility than, well, Civ4.
    I have used it my current game. Continue / abort / kill my victim and finish cleanly?
     
  19. PaperBeetle

    PaperBeetle Emperor

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    [musing]
    I've always been intrigued by how a set of fairly reasonable rules could give rise to such a potentially powerful exploit. After all, the trick does not actually cheat the AI. It still gets what it pays for, according to its own beaker-cost valuation. Some problems are:
    (a) the AI's willingness to buy whatever you offer it.
    (b) the simplicity of tech valuation. Perhaps a tech should be cheaper depending on the use a civ can get from it, a bit like resource valuations. Probably that creates a whole different set of imbalances.
    (c) the "world bank's" readiness to underwrite civs for a relatively small fee. Would the system work better if negative treasuries were allowed?
    (d) the invariant value of the gp relative to the shield and the beaker. If the world bank's generosity started causing inflation, excessive tech tricking could trash the world economy. :)
    [/musing]
     
  20. I. Larkin

    I. Larkin Deity

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    In first approximation "yes" if we speak about Ernsworth.
    But there are many situations when
    1) it is more risky
    2) Extendet in time.
    3) more sophysticated conditions.
    999 gpt may be varied. Say after GA.
    What about following formula: (please, polish my Englis)
    No gpt deal with AI must not include gpt gift that exceed 2 (my bet) or (1/4)(Steve bet) 999 information gpt?
    Or may be we will find compromise as 1?
     

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