Hello Again - and a couple of quick questions

AspiringScholar

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Hello forum!

This is actually my first post here in over eight years. As many can certainly attest, this game has a unique draw to it that pleasingly keeps me coming back to a fresh experience, many hundreds of hours or however many years later, and recently I've gradually gotten back into it more seriously. I started with Civ 3 as a child when it was new and enjoyed the historical flavor, but did not have the critical faculties yet to appreciate or participate meaningfully with the strategic aspects of it. I am also an original Civ 4 player and proudly own a boxed copy of both the vanilla game and BTS. :)

Even though I ended up sinking a lot of time into 5, I slowly came to the realization that it simply lacks the dynamic cohesion and strategic challenge and depth of 4 (the presentation style and ambience of this game is a lot better too IMO, nostalgia aside). Have not bothered even to try 6 as it looked very silly and from some testimonials seemed to make even more of a departure from what was great about 4 and towards what was poor about 5. No intention of stomping on others' fun if that's what they enjoy, just not for me.

I've actually been reading these forums since the late 2000s and upon recent lurking am surprised and glad to see that some familiar names from that time are still active here! Relative to the amount of time I've put in, I'm actually not as good of a player as I should be (monarch), but I want to make it to emperor soon and then before too long immortal. Really, glad to find that people are still talking about and playing this game. I had guessed its community was pretty much dead.

That said, a couple of quick questions I have from some recent games:

- Does razing a city increase the AI's willingness to capitulate, relative to simply capturing it? In some modern/industrial wars, I had invaded a foe of near parity in terms of power and tech (usually right upon getting an edge with siege and quickly upgrading), wiped out a stack or two of theirs and taken a relatively insignificant border city. In one case it was Shaka, and he was of course unwilling to cap from just this, however, upon taking his next city which was a bit larger and deeper into his land, with the menu asking whether to raze or capture the city interrupting my ability to check for capitulation in the diplomacy menu, I decided that it might "scare" him more simply to destroy the city, which I did, and consequently he did capitulate. This is Shaka, as well, and while I'm not incredibly familiar with the XML values for AI behavior, I'm pretty sure he's up there on the stubborn list. It makes intuitive sense as a concept, and would be good to know for future wars weighing the cost/benefit analysis of vassalization, since eliminating that city in the case of the latter does entail a loss of sorts if that civ simply becomes your vassal, even if you can accelerate that outcome by doing so.

- Does placing spies in your cities entail any hidden espionage point accumulation? Usually I make a point to station a spy in every one of my major cities by about the time of civil service. I need to improve my offensive use of them, but eventually found that this is a relatively cost-effective counter on land maps where you'll be basically overrun by enemy spies otherwise. I also often leave the espionage slider at 0%, and prior to Constitution, only have courthouses and the occasional stray spy specialist I forgot to reassign generating actual EPs. Yet somehow I find that my actual point accumulation against the AI gets pretty high, and I'm wondering if the actual spy unit has something to do with this, since I do actually emphasize getting them built. I know Firaxis has hidden modifiers for leader disposition towards you, so I wonder if there's something similar going on here. Does anyone know?

Thanks
 

lymond

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Razing cities would essentially lower an AI's power rating due to loss of pop and power related building like walls and barracks. So it may help some. However, I rarely ever raze cities unless they truly suck. I either want to keep them or give them back to my vassal. So I'd only raze sucky ones if my intent is to destroy the civ.

Shaka cap resistance is on the higher side. By the way this strategy article here, is very useful in understanding AI behavior. It's based of game code, but puts it all in a readable format.

No, spies do not generate EPs.
 

ArchGhost

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Razing itself has no effect on the willingness to capitulate, which is determined by war success only. Taking the city at all grants you the war success +10 for capturing it, the net of war success from killing the defenders (which can actually be in the defender's favor, if the attack is bloody enough on your end).

Eligibility to capitulate is also determined by size, either population or land controlled. In either case, Shaka has already lost the city, it's population and the tiles its culture controls, so razing has no effect.

Refusing to talk (which blocks the option to capitulate) is unrelated to capitulation directly and is a different mechanic. Attacking or killing enemy units may variously make them more or less likely to talk.



The only passive EP generation comes from the palace, spy specialists, or buildings that provide it (like Courthouses).

You likely have a good ratio against AIs because they tend to spend their EP on missions a lot (not just on you either!)
 

Lennier

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Razing itself has no effect on the willingness to capitulate, which is determined by war success only. Taking the city at all grants you the war success +10 for capturing it, the net of war success from killing the defenders (which can actually be in the defender's favor, if the attack is bloody enough on your end).

Eligibility to capitulate is also determined by size, either population or land controlled. In either case, Shaka has already lost the city, it's population and the tiles its culture controls, so razing has no effect.
Except that keeping it increases your population (and eventually land controlled.) while razing it doesn't.
 

AspiringScholar

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I see.

Thank you for the thoughtful replies.

It is good to know that there is no separate mechanic for increasing peace weight or willingness to talk from razing cities, beyond the effect of this on the base calculations themselves.

Strategically on that note, however, if you already have the domestic capacity to win and your war was primarily preventative in purpose, what of the merits of razing as a tool anyway? Particularly in the later game, it can be expensive and annoying dealing with border encroachment from a weak cultural grip on newly acquired territory, or the unhappiness when complete kills aren't possible. The utility of razing an enemy's legendary or near-legendary city speaks for itself, but in other scenarios it seems like it could be a useful tool: for instance, crippling a rival's productive heartland who is at near-parity with you in space, when directly controlling that city might only represent a liability to you as you are already building your ship at a good pace and only need to halt an opponent's doing so, or if they are approaching a domination or diplomatic win, literally eliminating scores of their population units guarantees an immediate reduction in a vital stat when outright control of the city might be a point of question in the long term (and if it's not a holy city, there should not be any unique diplomatic fallout from this decision in the first place). It seems that wars post-renaissance are more endeavors to prevent wins rather than to establish a winning position yourself, but others might have a difference experience in general.

Again, I am only a monarch player and am far from familiar with what constitutes "optimal play" in most cases, and so am merely bouncing the thought against what the consensus among strong players is.
 

civac

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In MP games (Pitboss/Pbem) razing cities is extremely common. In many instances, it is simply impossible to defend captured cities so they are razed and replanted when the resistance is broken. You sometimes see that in SP too, where defending a captured city vs their knights or relief stacks while the main army is advancing is a huge headache. But the AI does not press this advantage as hard as it could and also wastes too many units just defending its cities.
 

AspiringScholar

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In MP games (Pitboss/Pbem) razing cities is extremely common. In many instances, it is simply impossible to defend captured cities so they are razed and replanted when the resistance is broken. You sometimes see that in SP too, where defending a captured city vs their knights or relief stacks while the main army is advancing is a huge headache. But the AI does not press this advantage as hard as it could and also wastes too many units just defending its cities.

Interesting.

I decided to download RI and am getting into that. I know its endeavor for realism isn't necessarily the aim for deity players intending to beat the strategic challenge, but is it well-regarded among advanced players? It seems to correct a lot of the possible exploits in the base game quite nicely, but I've only just started playing it.
 

drewisfat

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It's a touchy subject, because no one wants to attack all the hard work that modders do, and many people enjoy them immensely. Especially for someone who hasn't already mastered and gotten used to the game, or for someone who wants to roleplay, they can feel natural and fun. That said...
No mod that changes gameplay is well regarded among top players.
The first issue is obvious: you can't give advice or compare games with people who are essentially playing a different game.

The second issue is the Realism issue. Realism is generally not a good goal for a game, and no matter how much progress you make towards it you're still going to fall far short. From the BCs up to modern rifling, infantry warfare was dominated by spear + shield. Even your knights and hussars generally used lances. Spearmen should be mopping the floor against axe/sword/macemen. Swords were a secondary weapon for use once your formation (or your spear) was broken. Meanwhile in one of the original RI threads "Also to make game more tactical, lets give spearmans, pikemans 20% disadvantagemant vs melee units" "Spearmen are not meant for melee combat anyway. They are for anti cavalry duties." Then they shift gears and people start recommending warrior monks :crazyeye:. Realism went out the door immediately. Claims of realism as a goal should always be looked at skeptically.

The third issue is the other point you bring up "correct a lot of exploits in the base game quite nicely". Well now, does it? Lots of things that look exploitative to a new player are looked at as essential by a veteran. A big one that I know KMOD tackled, and probably by extension RI, is the supposed exploit of wonder failgold. It's looked at as a bad unintuitive thing that people would start building wonders they had no intention of finishing just to build wealth with a multiplier. An average player might be fine with that change and notice very little. However, an expert player knows that most of the mid-late game wonders are bad. Failgold let them still meaningfully affect your tech path and gave you some interaction with them. Half of the early game wonders are great, however, you can't consistently beat the AI to them as it's too early to have a tech advantage. Wasting precious early game hammers with 0 compensation is a game ending move. Remove failgold and wonders are for the AI only. Stone and Marble are now bad resources you always want to trade away. IND goes from a top tier trait to worse than PRO.

Most modders are not top BtS players and neither is their intended audience, and so glaring issues like this aren't addressed, and then later are dismissed by saying the mod is meant to be challenging or whatever.
"As an author, I know the ins and outs of the mod, and I am not comfortable playing beyond Monarch (though I know people who play on higher difficulties). In general, having to concentrate on things you paid no attention to in vanilla (such as barbarian threat) takes some getting used to."
That is a big red flag. I don't think any IMM-DEI player would attest to the statement that they pay no attention to barbs. This adds a lot of credence to the idea that they played Monarch level not just in RI but in BTS as well. I would never trust a Monarch player to make balance changes, because when I was a Monarch player I saved my forests for lumbermills and thought slavery was terrible.
 

sampsa

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Extremely well written, @drewisfat . Realism is not what turn based games should strive for, but rather their aim is to provide strategic depth. To me, there are no exploits in a game, only rules and choices. Well, perhaps something that could be labeled as a bug, but I suppose those have been taken care of in the way developers intended to since the game is what, 15 years old by now.
 

Fippy

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Yup and no failgold removes some excitement in gameplay from early eras.
An easy example: putting some :hammers: into SH with Myst starters. No biggie and gives Myst some use.

I guess these things are easily forgotten, if everything was perfectly balanced there are no fun little tricks left that just give a satisfying feeling of playing smart.
 

AspiringScholar

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Interesting responses... I just played a couple hours of RI (on Monarch, as that is what I am used to in the base game), and barbarians were actually quite a bit tougher than in BtS: I did not neglect building units, had a fairly hemmed-in start, and still very frustratingly got two of my cities sacked! Also, slave revolts keep barbarians a threat even once enough fog lift would otherwise have done away with them.

Also, perhaps it was a recent change, but failgold is still a thing. Failed to complete The Parthenon and absolutely got a massive influx of gold, consequently.

I can see and agree with the reluctance to regard realism in a 4X game as all-important (and it's not like BtS lacked excellent historical flavor anyway), but so far I don't see how anything is worsened by the overhaul, even for those who are indifferent to role-playing or an attempt to flesh the game out further. In particular, I like the concept of logistics as a nerf on the SoD and separatism as a possibility.

Thoughts?
 

AspiringScholar

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Yeah, touché... (And it is very frustrating when the AI catches your stack with siege and does just that; rookie mistake from a mid-level player like me which you're probably not apt to make lol.)

I think I should make the disclaimer if my OP didn't communicate this already, that I think this game is superb, almost perfect for what it is; so my interest in trying the mod has little to do with any disappointment with the base game.

I do think there is something to be said for the appeal of massive content expansion and a reorientation towards slower play. Adding literally thousands of units and making them culture-specific is quite cool IMO, as are some mechanical features such as stacking unit costs, incorporating food into the production input for certain unit types to reflect their manpower cost, no longer being able to make a colony of GGs who produce 5 promo units out of the gate, instead spending them towards a "school of thought" approach, and perhaps biggest of all, scaling the time such that movement in a campaign doesn't entail an enormous consideration of technology shelf-life. Granted, that one is not so big of a deal on epic or marathon, but it does feel a little awkward and unsatisfying how quickly you have to use units before they expire, and their movement in literally just one campaign often entails a large chunk of their useful life.

However, at the same time, Civ is a game; it's supposed to be cerebrally fun and present you with dynamic situations and strategic challenges, not necessarily replicate history. The older Paradox games like EU3 and Victoria 2 provide more of an authentic simulative feel to me, but they're also less game-like the pure way that Civ is. So, in my mind, some kind of approximation is still important but at the end of the day, it's a flavor more than anything else and I'm not concerned that it doesn't provide a legitimately plausible model of real history. That said, I'm not really one for rushing through the game and aiming to play as quickly as possible, either.

So far this mod is feeling a bit like Civ5 with regards to the eliminated tech trading (fortunately optional) and the prohibitively restrictive requirement for domestic buildings (unsure what I think on that aspect so far - as I don't like how buildings are "suboptimal" in the vanilla). Tech trading was one of the more fun and interactive aspects of diplomacy, and even though it's pretty "unrealistic," its absence makes the leftovers a bit hollow, IMO. Honestly, deliberate, state-sponsored research of the sort modeled in the game is also historically anachronistic for most of the game's time period anyway, so it doesn't really bother me. Trying to rex with minimal infrastructure as I prefer to do early game, however, was quite punishing; really low happy caps, scarce early commerce and more expensive units against more prevalent barbs was tougher to juggle. I'm inclined to like this, as long as the restrictions are meaningful and not an endless rabbit trail of "everything wins" like in Civ V. The way that city maintenance works in the base game is a good compromise against the ICS from Civ 3, I think (you still have to be thoughtful in choosing the speed and intensity of your expansion), but something that allows for a more viable "tall" approach would be welcome, I think, as BtS still pretty unambiguously favors war and punishes more peaceful play.
 

Fippy

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Anti-SoD arguments feel a bit like typical hype trains..some peoples start and others join in.
We can also easily see where they are coming from, i think everyone experienced how an AI suddenly declares with a stack of units that seem unbeatable.
Totally normal when being new to Civ4, it's amazing how everybody started as newbie even after playing previous Civ games..very deep game.

But they should also realize how much you can do to prevent all that from happening, by handling diplo well we can sometimes avoid building units for actually..most of the game.
(in single player)
As Sampsa already mentioned, with some experience invading SoDs are not difficult to handle.
Collateral damage, or flanking out their siege so other units have little chance against fortified cities are just 2 examples.
Luring them into a city and then hitting them hard with cannons i.e. another.

If AIs present a danger that's good for overall game quality, imo.
Especially if there are good strats available as counter.

They could have just made a different game (not Civ) with 1upt for peoples who prefer that kind of gameplay.
I am disappointed overall that IV was the last challenging Civ game.
 

AspiringScholar

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Anti-SoD arguments feel a bit like typical hype trains..some peoples start and others join in.
We can also easily see where they are coming from, i think everyone experienced how an AI suddenly declares with a stack of units that seem unbeatable.
Totally normal when being new to Civ4, it's amazing how everybody started as newbie even after playing previous Civ games..very deep game.

But they should also realize how much you can do to prevent all that from happening, by handling diplo well we can sometimes avoid building units for actually..most of the game.
(in single player)
As Sampsa already mentioned, with some experience invading SoDs are not difficult to handle.
Collateral damage, or flanking out their siege so other units have little chance against fortified cities are just 2 examples.
Luring them into a city and then hitting them hard with cannons i.e. another.

If AIs present a danger that's good for overall game quality, imo.
Especially if there are good strats available as counter.

They could have just made a different game (not Civ) with 1upt for peoples who prefer that kind of gameplay.
I am disappointed overall that IV was the last challenging Civ game.

I get the feeling that my extremely high regard for almost everything about BtS as a game is being somewhat missed.

Also, as long as realism is any point of question at all, Civ 5 made a huge departure in the wrong direction in numerous ways and is much the worse in this regard overall: aggregate global happiness and the ways that it is reduced is probably the most unintuitive and abysmal mechanic aiming to model a check on expansion that I've ever encountered in a strategy game, or even just mechanic in any strategy game honestly. IMO, that was already handled very well in Civ 4 and was not something that needed reinventing. Numerous other mechanics made annoying, unintuitive and oftentimes senseless changes as well and I am not defending any of those.

I am very much against 1UPT, as well, and hope that no one is thinking that I am in favor of it... :/ AFAIK, the mod I'm referring to allows stacks of 15 before technology improvements which increase this, prior to any penalty coming into effect, which is initially mild anyway. Stacks of 15 are a farcry from 1UPT, and in the base game more than that can very well be overkill at times.
 

PPQ_Purple

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No mod that changes gameplay is well regarded among top players.
The first issue is obvious: you can't give advice or compare games with people who are essentially playing a different game..
Honestly I am not sure that is a good attitude to take. And I say this as a guy that plays video games and not as a defender of mods or anything.

Yes, absolutely mods make the game very different from the base game. And this often goes to extreme levels like FFH that gives up tanks in favor of dragons and magic. And yes, that absolutely does mean that beyond a certain point in terms of difficulty level the skills you need to master in order to be very good at the base game are different to those you have to master to be equally good in any of the mods. And often those skills are absolutely not transferable. But why would that not be a good thing? After all, if you like the base game and enjoyed learning to be good at it you'll probably also like any mod and enjoy learning it. The game underneath is after all the same game. It just has a fresh coat of paint and new cool things to explore.

I mean sure, a mod might be very different from what you are used to. It might even be specifically designed to declare the things you consider vital strategies as exploits. But at the end of the day does that not only mean you have a new thing to play around with, new skills to master and new "exploits" to find? This is also a question for everyone who plays modded but only like plays their one favorite mod and nothing else. Why stop at one?

To me, those different challenges are what makes games like this have staying power and not go stale. If the game didn't have mods I'd have mastered it ages ago, gotten bored and moved on. But with mods I have like a dozen different games based on BTS to engage with.
 

AspiringScholar

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Honestly I am not sure that is a good attitude to take. And I say this as a guy that plays video games and not as a defender of mods or anything.

Yes, absolutely mods make the game very different from the base game. And this often goes to extreme levels like FFH that gives up tanks in favor of dragons and magic. And yes, that absolutely does mean that beyond a certain point in terms of difficulty level the skills you need to master in order to be very good at the base game are different to those you have to master to be equally good in any of the mods. And often those skills are absolutely not transferable. But why would that not be a good thing? After all, if you like the base game and enjoyed learning to be good at it you'll probably also like any mod and enjoy learning it. The game underneath is after all the same game. It just has a fresh coat of paint and new cool things to explore.

I mean sure, a mod might be very different from what you are used to. It might even be specifically designed to declare the things you consider vital strategies as exploits. But at the end of the day does that not only mean you have a new thing to play around with, new skills to master and new "exploits" to find? This is also a question for everyone who plays modded but only like plays their one favorite mod and nothing else. Why stop at one?

To me, those different challenges are what makes games like this have staying power and not go stale. If the game didn't have mods I'd have mastered it ages ago, gotten bored and moved on. But with mods I have like a dozen different games based on BTS to engage with.

This is an agreeable point that I would second. At the same time that I respect the skill level of deity players, one ought to bear in mind that there is a collective wisdom of nearly 15 years and hundreds of thousands of hours from top-level players for this game, refining what works and what does not work in an expansive list of possible scenarios. Many shoulders of giants are stood upon, and the conclusiveness of optimal strategies for various situations is very much contingent upon the precise structure of the base game.

Saying that the base gameplay ought not to be changed because it violates nominal optimal play somewhat affirms the consequent that that very optimal play stems from endless trial and error within its own parameters, and mutes any speculation about potential changes to the base mechanics themselves. Lest I be misunderstood, I will say again that I think BtS as it is among the best games of all time and is dynamic, deep, constantly replayable and consistently enjoyable.

But that doesn't mean that its writing is some kind of sacred canon that can't be changed for variety or a unique challenge, given the above. Obviously it has some crutches (or "choices" as you prefer) that are nearly essential at high levels but nevertheless rest on mechanics that could be modified to remove those possibilities and require (or simply enable) a different approach. In my previous game, I built a classic stack of early cannons (paired with my latent medieval units) intending to blast the AI into husks which anything could mop as, as was possible in the base game, only to find that the bombard (while providing a healthy bonus to attacking cities directly) was only capable of about 15-20% maximum collateral damage and my assaults did not avail well-fortified cities. To me, that felt a lot more plausible and strategically satisfying, even in defeat, than the overwhelming strategic questions being tech pace and the productive capacity of wheeling-up a massive pile of siege weapons which reliably convert any defenders into chaff, regardless of the supporting units.

My perspective as a lowly Monarch player will most likely be dismissed off-hand by those who are better, but for what it's worth, I do find the game to have more depth and to be more dynamically challenging in RI so far. To take one example, early warfare is more fluid and constant on a smaller scale. A barbarian city near my capital released most of its garrison to attack one of my cities after centuries of staying put (as I thought they would continue to do), only after I had to divert most of my own garrison to deal with a sneak attack elsewhere, this while remaining at power-parity with all the AIs in question.

I'd be curious to read the experience and impressions of a BtS deity player attempting the equivalent difficulty in this mod.
 
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PPQ_Purple

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Mastering BTS on deity takes so much more than most peoples think. Years i would say.
Considering I bought the game when it came out on CD I'd say that I would have had the time.

This is an agreeable point that I would second. At the same time that I respect the skill level of deity players, one ought to bear in mind that there is a collective wisdom of nearly 15 years and hundreds of thousands of hours from top-level players for this game, refining what works and what does not work in an expansive list of possible scenarios. Many shoulders of giants are stood upon, and the conclusiveness of optimal strategies for various situations is very much contingent upon the precise structure of the base game.
That's another thing I newer understood. I mean, the fun in strategy games is in figuring out the strategy for your self. If someone else already did that for you than he got all the fun. If a game has been "solved" and has an established meta and all I have to do is get really good at following those steps than where is the fun in that?
 
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