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Immortal Bannor Shadow Game (MNAI)

Discussion in 'More Naval AI Modmod' started by Set, Feb 21, 2021 at 11:18 AM.

  1. Set

    Set Prince

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Messages:
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    In the same vein as the shadow games you might see over on the Strategy and Tips forum this is an MNAI shadow game. I'm hoping to get a better sense of what kind of strategies are demanded by FFH. Hopefully the community has some ideas! But just posting and thinking carefully about my play also helps me a great deal. Playing with a random leader on an Erebus Continent map.

    Map Settings:
    Spoiler :





    Settings Screen:
    Spoiler :




    I've also added two additional AI and set two AI to random evil leaders. One AI has been set too a random good leader.

    We've been dealt Sabathiel as our leader. I haven't played around with the Bannor too much so there's lots to learn here.
    Trait wise we're Organized and Charismatic:
    Organized seems to be a pretty weak trait. The bonus to civic upkeep is meh. Command Posts are powerful but they are very expensive to build and far out of our way tech wise.
    Charismatic is okay though! The bonus to happiness is helpful if not amazing but cheaper XP is very strong in FFH.
    Guardsman doesn't matter at all?

    Civ wise, the Bannor get access to Crusade. Which seems like an okay civic? I could see it being very powerful in some situations.
    Spoiler :



    As a UU the Bannor have the Demagog. A half cost champion with one less strength. I could have sworn that you got access to them from Fanaticism but the civlopedia tells me I'm wrong? You do get access to Flagbearers from Fanaticism. A 5 strength unit with access to weapons. Flagbearers can cast morale to give all units in the stack the moral promotion for extra strength and city attack.

    For a hero there's Donal Lugh from Fanaticism who can recruit free units from cities. This seems very powerful!

    The World Spell summons a free demagog on every town and city if you're running Crusade.

    IIRC, the Bannor also spawn free demagogs from towns randomly. Is this only with the Crusade civic?

    We start with Exploration which is the worst starting tech.

    Overall the Bannor seem like a pretty mid-tier civ. Flexible, with some powerful stuff, but nothing so good that you should completely warp your game around it.

    Starting Position:
    Spoiler :




    A solid start. AH is too expensive to count the cow as food and while wine is usually very good it loses a lot of early game value when it's on a hill. Starting loc seems more like a 3rd or 4th city spot. But we do see Wheat and plains hills and a lot of rivers. Game plan seems clear (but maybe I'm wrong?) Settler will go east to the pains hill southwest of the Wheat and see what he can see. Likely a good city spot.

    Hut can be saved for the scout to grab after I found a city to maximize the chance of getting a tech. Popping the dungeon can wait until I have a second warrior in case it spawns a spectre or animals.

    No need to change civics. Religion is fine for the early game.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021 at 7:57 PM
  2. Set

    Set Prince

    Joined:
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    After poking around with the scout and the settler I have a tough decision regarding where to found my first city.

    Spoiler Potential City Spots :




    Too many plains hills kinda ruin the spot where my settler is standing but it still has food, a strong production city tile and the river. Moving north means the city can grab the pigs, solving it's long term food problem. But I lose the river and a turn to movement. My worker might also struggle finiding things to do in both PH spots. After farming the wheat there's only one other decent farmable tile.

    Meanwhile, the rice makes my starting location look much nicer. Rice for short term food with the cows helping out later. A lot of riverside grassland for farming and on the river for immediate connection with a second city to the north. I lose the PH city tile though which is a big deal! Three turns slower on the worker. Combined with the turn it costs to move back I'll be almost a full farm behind compared to if I just settled where the settler is now! I will get to put the dungeon in my borders though, which means I can put off popping it until I'm ready/I start signing OB agreements.
     

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  3. Set

    Set Prince

    Joined:
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    Played until Agriculture finished on turn 16:

    I thought about city placement for a while and decided the choice was actually pretty clear. I should go with the southern spot near my starting location. There's just not enough food in the other spots! If I settle on the plains hill where the settler currently is I won't be able to hit even my current happy cap without agrarianism. Settling up north is more acceptable thanks to the pigs but this makes researching AH early pretty much mandatory and I don't think I have the commerce to do that. It would definitely mean skipping mysticim at least. I would claim a lot of land if I settled north, guaranteeing me plenty of space for cities. But the trade off is too big. Besides, claiming land isn't as good in FFH since you often want to be very far away from the AI. I'm curious if anyone here would have chosen a different city spot. Those early game hammers are just so important!

    On Turn 3 the Bannor found their capital, Torrolerial, on the shores of the Gardon river:
    Spoiler :



    Soon the dungeon will be safely ensconced in our borders and our scout will go see what the nearby tribal village has to offer.
    Torrolerial starts training a Worker first. This can be a little bit dangerous in FFH but after a little bit of experimenting I think it's the right play. You can't afford to be too slow in the early game in case you get warrior rushed. River of Blood also makes growing cities early kinda bad. Sometimes you end up losing the game to a lizardman though :dunno:. The cows will make for a nice tile to work while we wait.
    Spoiler :

    The villagers teach us their ancient chants! A nice boost that makes our tech choices look much more interesting. Afterwards our scout goes off to explore the west for likely city spots, but I've already gotten as much as I could hope from exploration. A nice tech and I already have a decent second city spot up north on the river.
    Spoiler :

    Uh-oh. Right afterwards scouts come from the north. And they're evil. Balseraphs aren't the worst evil neighbor but this probably sets the tone for the early game. I'll most likely end up being warrior rushed before turn 100 and it's now high priority to get a unit that can beat these clowns. In the shorter term, I'll probably end up competing with them for city spots. I think I feel good that I didn't build up north and thereforee I'm farther away from them even if it means I'll grab fewer cities. How aggressive is Perpentach as a leader? I don't have a good sense.
    Spoiler :

    My scout finds some decent land to the west. A lot of AH resources around but also a decent amount of seafood. But very little in the way of cereals. I might need either AH or Fishing to expand much past two cities. But I have limited commerce. Agrarianism farms could work instead? I do need a unit that can beat warriors in the field ASAP though and not sure how much I can detour. AH is on the way to horseman I guess, but that would be a big gamble on the proximity of horses. It does look like I have space for about 5-6 cities which is all you need.

    The scout heads south afterwards to check out the coast by Torrolerial and then the desert,

    On Turn 11 I see For the Horde cast, which means the clan are in the game. Hopefully the Bannor aren't an isolated force for good. The diplomatic situation could get very tough very quickly.
    Spoiler :

    On a good note I catch a sliver of Malakim borders on the last turn I play. Fingers crossed it's not evil Decius. A friendly face would be nice.

    State of the Game:
    Spoiler :

    With agriculture finished I have an important decision to make about tech. There are four* options as I see it:

    Calendar: Agrarianism is really good. Faster settlers, faster workers, faster growing cities. Just a good tech. But with no calendar resources this doesn't provide any commerce and I need to tech quick right now for military.
    Animal Husbandry: Discussed a little above. Similar to agrarianism in that it gives us food and opens up potential city sites while failing to boost our commerce much. But it's less food then agrarianism and more beakers. But it is on the way to horseman which would save us if we have horses. This is a gamble we should probably only make if we feel like we're in a bad spot. If it's evil Malakim this might be the tech.
    Crafting: Unlocks wineries. Improving the two wines by Torrolerial will be a reasonable boost to our commerce but this boost doesn't scale at all. The wineries are on hills as well which makes working them a little painful on such low food. Crafting is on the way to mining + bronze working though which might solve our military problem.
    Education: Not a tech I'd normally grab this early! But free ancient chants kinda makes it an option. We're also the Bannor so cottages, which are pretty terrible in FFH compared to Aristofarms, are a little bit better than normal. Similar to Crafting in that it directly increases our commerce but cottages scale really well. Strong cottages will let us keep on teching fast for a while. But education costs more than twice as much (470 vs 201) and it's not on the way to any military. I think this is a luxury we can't afford but all our options look not so great tbh.

    Reading my own assessment, I'm primarily drawn too calendar. AH is too much of a gamble, crafting not impactful enough and Education is too expensive. But there's another question of research after that. I need commerce at some point so I'm drawn to education again, but we still don't have any military if we go that way. No calendar resources is hurting this start.


    *Mysticism is another option that I would normally consider at this point in the game. But it looks pretty terrible here! No hammers to benefit from god king or build an elder council. No philosophical to spawn a GS quickly anyway.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021 at 9:36 PM
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  4. Set

    Set Prince

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    Played until T42

    Agrarianism is just too strong to pass up so I decide on Calendar as my next tech choice. Education is tempting, particularly as the Bannor, but it's just too slow. Second city probably ends up being 5-10 turns later!

    First thing after that of course is to meet our neighbors in the desert
    Spoiler :



    :( Decius has not chosen the path of righteousness. Seems like there is going to be some early game crusading for the Bannor as they try to fend off their unfriendly neighbors.

    Right afterwards I do find a friendly face though!
    Spoiler :



    Beeri Bawl is a sight for sore eyes. He hates Perpentach too! Hopefully they're next to each other and can fight it out.

    I also see Sanctuary cast on T21 meaning the Elohim are in the game. Can't say that early Sanctuary is a great sign though. Probably means they're fending off The Clan. With For the Horde there are probably enough orcs at this point to mount an attack. Is hopefully just barbarians.

    In Torrolerial someone has raised a Harpy as their child.
    Spoiler :



    Taking the Bard is actually extremely tempting here. I can bulb Education with her, solving my commerce and tech issues immediately. And because Sabathiel is charismatic, the unhappiness matters less. I think if I had gone for Crafting instead of Calendar I might do it, since the happiness from the wine would let Torrolerial keep growing for a bit. But as it is Torrolerial will grow too slowly if we welcome the harpy. Throw her to the mob :(

    Meanwhile our scout gets picked off by a griffin as he moves east.
    Spoiler :



    After Calendar finishes and I revolt into agrarianism (and nationhood) I decide to start teching towards Mining. Education is still too expensive I think and I'm hoping I can find some bronze to help me out militarily. I also have enough food with agrarianism to use the happiness from the wine and work the wine tiles as well.

    I also finish my third warrior which means I feel comfortable popping the dungeon:
    Spoiler :



    It's a bit of a let down. Was really hoping for a tech or a GP to bulb Education with. Can't have everything.

    State of the Game T42:
    Spoiler :




    I think I'm playing well so far but things don't feel great. Not sure I'll be able to hit a military tech before I'm attacked and I still really need the commerce from Education. But I don't feel comfortable detouring there when there's a good chance I'll be facing off with a large Balseraph or Malakim (or both) stack in about 40 turns. But maybe I need to be going for Education right now. There's just 0 commerce anywhere around the map. Even in my future cities. It's very possible I should have grabbed Education even before crafting so I can start growing the cottages.

    I've also edited the first post with the starting save in case anyone wants to play along.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021 at 8:16 PM
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  5. lfgr

    lfgr King

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    It's interesting that you consider actually doing it, to me the event seemed useless almost always, especially in the early game. What do you think about reducing the temporary unhappiness to 4? Would that make it too strong in some cases?
     
  6. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    Really? I mean it's a free GP. Whats not to like?
     
  7. Set

    Set Prince

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    Taking the harpy is sometimes the right choice but it's not so great if you don't have at least two sources of extra happiness. I went back and took the harpy and played 15 turns after just to see where Torrolerial would be.

    Torrolerial without harpy:
    Spoiler :



    Torrolerial with harpy:
    Spoiler :




    As you can see we paid dearly for the great bard. Assuming we grow to size 5 before building a settler we won't have a second city until probably turn 80? 25 turns to grow and then a slower settler as the city will be only size 5 + cottages instead of farms(being able to build cottages because we bulbed education was ostensibly the benefit of the harpy). Compare to the game without the harpy where I should have a settler out by turn 58 and a second city shortly afterwards. We don't even have a big commerce bonus yet either. Calendar was finished only two turns earlier in the game with the harpy and commerce is currently equal. Nor is our commerce in the harpy game about to explode. The city is growing too slowly because of unhappiness to work a bunch of cottages. It's probably possible to get the settler out a little faster somehow, and I certainly didn't manage my worker perfectly in either game. But we've obviously paid a very heavy price for the harpy.

    I think it's worth it to take the harpy if you have at least two sources of extra happiness and a good bulb target. ie. with Charismatic and also the wines in the game above my city growth wouldn't be slowed until after I hit size 4 which is a good trade. If you have three sources of happiness it's always worth it take the harpy for a bulb if one is available and sometimes worth it to settle her. The culture can be really nice for map control if you're having trouble with barbarians/securing city spots. With four sources (enchantment mana + wines + cotton + gold maybe?) the harpy is always worth. Of course, a lot depends on the timing of the event as well. If you get it while still building your worker it's a lot better. While if your city has already grown beyond size one it's almost a never take. The best case scenario is probably when you get the event in your second city.

    I don't think the unhappiness cost needs to be reduced but I also don't think it would be overpowered if you did. The bard is just a nice goody hut with a big downside. The event would become more interesting for non-charismatic/no enchantment mana civs who would be able to seriously entertain taking the harpy while it would be less interesting for charismatic and and enchantment mana civs who would almost autopick it. Either way, I do think the frequency of this event should be decreased! I feel like it shows up in every game.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 8:54 AM
  8. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    I guess it's not ideal if it happens in your only city. I've only ever had it happen when I already had a bunch of them so I could waste on in exchange for a free GP. Or maybe that was in one of the other modmods. Like I remember this event happening as far back as regular FFH.

    Plus I just can't ever bring my self to kill the poor thing. Harpies are cute.
     
    Set likes this.
  9. Set

    Set Prince

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    I agree that the worst part of this event is that killing the harpy makes me sad :( I kinda wish there was an option to take +1 unhappiness to set the harpy free or something but that's FFH for you.
     
  10. PPQ_Purple

    PPQ_Purple Techpriest Engineer

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    Some times you just have to roleplay your games.... That's what I do. Especially FFH.
     
  11. Set

    Set Prince

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    Played a longish session (33 turns) until Education finished. Overall a positive turnset!

    Things look grim at the beginning though. Forward scouts report a garish clown heading towards Torrolerial accompanied by a dancing troupe of uncannily human looking puppets.
    Spoiler :



    Loki is bad news. Thankfully he's arrived before I have a second city. I don't think the AI is smart enough to move him once he's settled in the capital to go flip a city* and he's less of an issue if he just parks in the capital. That being said, it will still be very annoying if he decides to just disrupt the city every turn for permanent +1 unhappiness. I definitely can't afford a war with the Balseraphs right now so I have no other option then to let him come.

    In the end Loki is much less ominous then we expected!
    Spoiler :



    Loki's only here to entertain us apprently. Grudgingly, I'll let my people have fun, crusading can come later. As I have only 1 gold income this is +1 happiness in return for 1GPT which is fine by me.

    Acheron spawns way to the east
    Spoiler :




    My settler completes as well and Vallus is founded further north on the Gardon river.
    Spoiler :



    Meanwhile a band of soldiers is sent on a goblin hunting expedition to the west.
    Spoiler :



    I leave the combat with 5xp. It makes me think I should be hunting more low strength barbs given I'm Charismatic. Probably not as I only have three warriors and I can't afford to lose any but it would be nice if I had picked up a couple promotions. This is actually the first barbarian I've seen all game which is good, but my units are all have low xp as a result.

    Balseraph forces are also sighted moving menacingly to the north. But no plotting yet means I'm safe for now
    Spoiler :



    Runes of Kilomorph is founded on T67 in an unknown land. Unfortunate. I was hoping Decius might change his alignment via Runes but seems like no luck there.

    State of the Game T75:
    Spoiler :



    The upshot of this turnset is that no one is plotting yet! We're not out of the woods, but seems like we might be rewarded for being a little greedy and going for education. From here it's a straight shot to BW and potentially Warfare to set ourselves up militarily. If we have copper and no one has attacked us yet, I'll think about the offensive. The Malakim look like a bigger threat then the Balseraphs right now as they start growing towards our eastern border. I want to secure a border in the south with them soon by building a city down by the pigs or fish. But still no AH or fishing means I might have to give up on this. The next city is probably going wherever there's copper.

    Once the additional workers are completed we can start cottaging up the capital and getting a strong economy going. No time for Code of Laws and Aristofarms in the short term. Besides, I want to mess around with the Bannor's town bonuses a little. Longer term I have an idea that I want to rush towards Fanaticism and use the world spell for an instant demagog army before we even have Iron Working. Of course Code of Laws is on the way to Fanaticism so might end up going Aristofarms anyway. Also might be worth it to go for Order. Valin Phanuel is awesomely powerful at this point in the game and if I get a random religion spread to Perpentach or Decius, they might convert and become Good aligned and pleased with me.

    *I don't actually know if the Loki flipping mechanic is in the current version of MNAI. If it is, I want to plead for it to be removed. When you use it, it feels like cheating. When the AI uses it against you, it feels really suffocating. Just bad all around.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021 at 10:12 AM
  12. Sezren

    Sezren Chieftain

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    Not sure what you mean with "too strong" but IME it goes like that in the "too strong" ranking:
    1) Starting position on the map
    2) Early game: Top events, strong dungeon results, good tech from hut
    3) other stuff
    While -4 happy is much less punishing than -5 happy (on hardest difficulties without extra happies) it IMO still would be part of the "other stuff" group.
    Amongst events the GP for 50 gold or the settler for 100 gold are often very strong early game, Settler especially on Epic/Marathon speed.
     
  13. lfgr

    lfgr King

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    I will do that. Since it is not regarded as totally useless here, I'll leave it at 5 unhappiness.

    I dislike it, too, but I'm hesitant to remove it completely. I'll consider making it optional. EMM removes it, FWIW.
     

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