[size=+3]Feudal Ranks[/size] Feudal Ranks is an AI/difficulty mod for Brave New World that aims to provide a fresh challenge for skilled players by rescaling the handicaps and mitigating some of the more severe strategic flaws of the AI, without changing the game itself. [size=+2]10 things ...[/size] No rules changes of any kind. Civilizations, units, buildings, techs, policies and religions are all unchanged. Only handicaps and AI preferences are modded. Deity-level AI without free starting techs and units. This means that you should have a realistic chance to beeline for early wonders, even at very high difficulty levels. (But are the sacrifices you need to make worth it strategically?) Nerf the research speed of the human player in order to compensate for the lack of free techs and units for the AI. This makes the mid to late game (much) more difficult. Also, since the research penalty increases with the difficulty, era progression is slower for the human player and therefore the number of turns required to win also increases with the difficulty level. Keep the same bonuses to production, maintenance costs, etc. as in BNW. These bonuses are considerable (they produce the notorious "carpets of doom"), but they mostly have a long-term effect and don't feel like cheating in the short term. They are unfortunately necessary to compensate for unintelligent AI. Provide several difficulty levels that are more challenging than Deity, in addition to levels similar in difficulty to Prince, King, etc. Improve AI city siting - further reduce the AI's tendency to settle useless locations in the early-mid game (still a problem after the fall patch). However, expect the AI to continue to make strange new settlement choices during the mid-late game. Improve AI social policy choices - increase the AI's probability of selecting Tradition, Liberty & Rationalism. Unit equality. Identical military units should have the same basic strength, whether they are human, AI or barbarian. Minimalism. Every change risks causing more balance problems than it solves, so don't go too crazy with the tweaking. Mod theme. The difficulty levels are named after feudal classes, see e.g. this Wikipedia article. No Immortal or Deity levels here, because I prefer to keep things real. [size=+2]Difficulty levels[/size] [size=+2]Serf[/size] Based on Prince in BNW, and similar in difficulty. Human research cost nerf: +0% (i.e. +18% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Yeoman[/size] Based on King in BNW, and similar in difficulty. Human research cost nerf: +7% (i.e. +26% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Knight[/size] Based on Emperor in BNW, and similar in difficulty. Human research cost nerf: +15% (i.e. +35% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Baron[/size] Based on Immortal in BNW, and similar in difficulty. Human research cost nerf: +22% (i.e. +44% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Earl[/size] Based on Deity in BNW, and similar in difficulty. Human research cost nerf: +30% (i.e. +53% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Duke[/size] Based on Deity in BNW, but more difficult. Human research cost nerf: +40% (i.e. +65% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Prince[/size] Based on Deity in BNW, but substantially more difficult. Human research cost nerf: +50% (i.e. +76% higher than the AI). [size=+2]King[/size] Based on Deity in BNW. Good luck - you'll need it. Human research cost nerf: +60% (i.e. +88% higher than the AI). [size=+2]Emperor[/size] Based on Deity in BNW. "Only the best players in the world will beat this level." That quote may actually be true now. Human research cost nerf: +70% (i.e. +100% higher than the AI). For comparison, the AI always gets a 15% discount on listed beaker costs of technologies (this is unchanged in the mod). This explains the higher research cost relative to the AI. For example, a Feudal Ranks Emperor player needs (100+70)/(100-15) = 2 i.e. twice as many beakers as the AI. I imagine that winning at the highest levels requires maximizing the unique abilities of your civilization, or going for an early domination victory. But feel free to prove me wrong by posting a Let's Play winning a science victory on Feudal Ranks Emperor with a lower-tier civ! [size=+2]More implementation details[/size] Reduce the AI tendency to aim for a culture victory (this indirectly increases the chance of going for a science victory). Tweaks to tile priorities when settling: increase minimum fertility requirement, increase likelihood of settling on coasts, remove the devaluation of resources 2-3 tiles out from the city, etc. Both AI and human bonuses vs barbarians have been removed for all difficulty levels. AI spam of empty air carriers has been reduced. (This is somewhat incompatible with bullet number 9 above, but it's a pet peeve of mine. In my games, the AI often churns out 20+ aircraft carriers and only uses one or two of them.) Feudal Ranks is mostly an XML mod (except for tiny tweaks to the basic and advanced setup screens in Lua), so this mod should be compatible with many other mods. [size=+2]BNW requirement, usage and beta status[/size] Feudal Ranks currently requires BNW. For most users, the modded difficulty levels will show up on the basic setup screen with nice big icons (it depends on whether or not you have the Upgrade 1 DLC). If not, you will find the modded difficulty levels under Advanced Setup (no icons unless you return to the basic setup screen after selecting your difficulty). I will consider releasing a version for G&K and Vanilla if the demand is high enough. Download and install from the database, or go to the Steam Workshop. The mod is currently in open beta. Please post your experiences in this thread!