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Is it time to rethink how border expansion works?

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by SupremacyKing2, May 24, 2018.

  1. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Warlord

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    I dislike how borders expand one tile at a tile.

    Specifically, here is what I don't like about the mechanic:
    1) One tile at a time is too slow. Your borders expand in weird shapes and take very long to fully encompass your area. Even in the mid game, your empire can feel very disconnected. Your cities are basically just disassociated patches. And it is odd that you can have tiles technically outside your borders even though they are completely surrounded by your cities. It would be like Utah still being outside the US today because the US borders from Las Vegas have not expanded that far yet. There should be a way for tiles that are clearly inside your empire to automatically flip to you. I like how SMAC does it, where borders automatically get pushed several tiles out in every direction. It creates much more continuous borders.

    2) The fact that the expansion is random is bad because the player loses control over the process. Players should be able to control gameplay mechanics. Having the game do stuff randomly to the player is less than ideal.

    3) Yes, the player can buy tiles but then why do we even need borders to expand randomly on their own? Since there is already a mechanic that gives the player control over border expansion, why not just use that? Having borders expand on their own randomly seems a bit redundant. Honestly, I rarely care about which tiles are expanding on their own since I just buy one if I really need it, like a strategic resource.

    4) Culture is used for researching civics so using it also for the purpose of expanding borders slowly, especially when the player can simply buy tiles with gold, seems unnecessary.

    I think it would make more sense to get rid of the one tile at a time formula and instead, use the SMAC formula where borders expand like 3-4 tiles in every direction or up to another border. Or alternatively, use the civ4 formula (I think) where borders expand 1 tile in every direction each time your city reaches a certain threshold. Also, make buying tiles cheaper with gold so that the player can buy a group of tiles together with gold. Also, make it so that cities founded in your territory start with more pop. This would encourage players to buy territory with gold first before settling new cities. I would also love to see the ability to trade or buy tiles from other civs.
     
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  2. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    Civ's borders are very much a relic of traditional 4X games. Realistically, rarely is any land unclaimed--claims may be contested, though if the contested land isn't particularly valuable neither side may work very hard to assert that claim (see: Western Sahara). And yeah, the patchwork empires are bizarre things that virtually never happened in the real world. The closest I can think of is the US, which started on the East Coast, then moved to the West Coast and sort of filled in the middle--but NB that that middle part already belonged to the US even if it wasn't settled. If Canada or Mexico had plopped down a city there, it would have been a major international incident potentially leading to war. There's also the fact that borders tend to follow geography (for example, the Pyranees formed the border between Spain and France, and the Rio Grande forms the southern border of Texas). I'm not sure how much I want to see borders revised--assuming the entire map starts claimed with those claims having to be asserted would not be a fun game IMO--but seeing something change would be nice.
     
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  3. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Warlord

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    I think the easiest way to reflect this would be to adopt a system where borders automatically expand 3-4 tiles in every direction from cities and stop at nearby rivers or mountain passes. That would make borders more natural. I would love this. Also, you could have a rule that unclaimed tiles that are completely surrounded by your borders would automatically flip to you. That way you would never have unrealistic islands of unclaimed land in the middle of your empire.

    But I don't think the entire map should be claimed from the start, no. It might be neat however if special units (maybe the scout or the explorer later) could claim land with gold, say a 3x3 grid of tiles for you. Or maybe scouts/explorers could get charges like builders have that you could spend to claim tiles? That way you could claim areas with good resources before settling them. This could create more interesting situations for possible conflict too since civs might get pissed if another civ claims some land with resources that they wanted.
     
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  4. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    I really like that idea, especially since claiming land usually preceded settling it. All in all the game needs more incentives to colonize, especially after R&F penalized colonization with the loyalty system.
     
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  5. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    There are two elements here: 'International' Borders between Civs/City States, and 'State/City' Borders representing the territory that can be accessed to support an individual city. The game botches both.
    The suggested change to International Borders might work, with the proviso that someone settling near to the 'recognized' border may push 'Loyalty' Influence into your territory and eventually move the border unless you settle the tiles with your own people (build a new city or 'work' the tiles from an existing city).
    The 'working tiles' around a city need to change how they progress also. In reality, before late-game Tech changes (railroads, vastly improved Roads) no city could really get anything from a land tile more than a short distance away, Unless it could be reached by river or other water transport. Therefore, the spread of 'city tiles' should be weighted towards tiles up and down rivers, around lakes, or along the coast from the city site. That would also have the advantage of (slightly) increasing the Value of coastal cities, which is already considered sub-standard by many players: a coastal city, all else being equal, will be able to access tiles along the coast and so 'work' more land tiles than its inland neighbor not on a river or lake.
     
  6. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Warlord

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    Good analysis. Thanks.
     
  7. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    In general Civ represents rivers poorly. Rivers were important for fresh water, yes, but arguably they were more important as the easiest, fastest way to get goods and people from Point A to Point B. Rivers should function as roads and be given preference (and bonuses) for trade routes.
     
  8. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Rivers and water transport in general have been continually and consistently 'Nerfed' in Civ games. I just finished reading a book on Ancient (pre-Classical) ship-building in the Mediterranean/Middle East regions, and the difference in carrying capacity between land caravans at 100 kilograms per camel and 20 - 30 tons per ancient ship is mind-boggling, let alone the efficiency of 8 men running the entire ship versus one man per 4 - 5 camels if you're lucky, and 30 - 40 kilometers per day (on Good Terrain) on land versus 200 kilometers per day on the sea or river.

    Given God-Like Control of the Game Design, I'd allow:
    Food can only be traded by water before the Railroad in the Industrial Era
    Trade Routes by preference would be traced by river/sea tiles, and those routes would have 3 times the length and twice the capacity of land routes.
    City workable radius would expand up to 4 - 6 tiles along the coast or both sides of a river, but only half that over land - again, until railroads/modern hard surface roads are invented.

    Not having even Cherubic control of anything, I'll settle for what I can get, but the trade and trade route system in Civ 6 is in many ways a step backward from Civ 5, where at least sea-bourne trade was more lucrative and longer-ranged than land trade routes.
     
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  9. Crenickator

    Crenickator Chieftain

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    Another thread had the suggestion of regions that could be claimed, warred over, settled, and developed. Should such a thing exist, I would think regions should be around 2-5 (current) city sized blocks of tiles, with cities eventually, naturally growing to encompass all the tiles in the region on their own. Multiple small cities or one large city could be variants with their own pros and cons, while disputed regions might have cities from more than one civlization, whereas territory grabs via gold and culture could play out similar to how it does currently.
     
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  10. mitsho

    mitsho Chieftain

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    Keep it simple:

    1) ALL Yields in a city contribute to border growth, not just culture (so you can focus on other aspects as well and still get border growth, also ‚colonizing‘ the area around you is as much about faith and trade as it is about theatre plays).
    2) Make a mid-game tech speed up the process.
    3) Gold OR Faith can buy tiles.
    4) Increase the AI likeliness to buy...

    But I like that it is tile by tile. It makes you see your empire grow, it‘s tactical in that someone can steal away a tile you need and it‘s simple enough.
     
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  11. Phrozen

    Phrozen Chieftain

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    Rivers shouldn't loss anything in the late game either. There is still quite a lot of barge traffic on the major navigable rivers. In the really wide rivers there is a lot of container ship traffic as well.
     
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  12. SaiH

    SaiH Chieftain

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    Why not link culture and loyality in terms of border growth? Loyality pressure that is exerted on a tile is some kind of claim so it would be a logic consequence when borders expand faster to these tiles.
     
  13. UWHabs

    UWHabs Warlord

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    Wouldn't mind shifting tile growth to loyalty instead of culture. Would also love to see things be less of a strict formula about distance, but take obstacles into account. So, for example, if your loyalty starts at +20 on your capital, maybe it drops by 2 loyalty per tile, but also cuts in half when it crosses a mountain or river. Then I would suggest border growth should essentially be a system where, when a bucket gets filled up, the tile that gets expanded to should be whichever tile has the most loyalty to you.

    Mostly, I think they need a system where the border doesn't have to fill in every tier-2 tile before trying to claim a tier-3 tile. I do think there should be other natural borders, too. For example, your culture should never expand to another island or across a mountain range unless if they have a neighbouring tile to come in from. I wouldn't even be opposed to not even letting a city work a tile unless if you can naturally reach it from your city given some rules. Like, if the continent is split by a mountain, I don't understand why I can just buy a tile on the other side to plop down a campus in there. You should not be able to cross a mountain to work tiles until something like Engineering.
     
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  14. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    The R&F addition of 'Loyalty' as a Game System cries out for that system to be applied elsewhere - like to Tile Expansion. The Prcise tiles to expand to and in what speed and sequence needs to be based on the terrain/geography of the map surrounding the city, BUT we have to get the geography right:

    1. Rivers are not barriers, they are Highways, and have been since before the nominal Start of Game. Governments like to make them Borders because they pretty obvious lines on a map, but people live on both sides of them, travel and trade along them, and can cross them pretty much everywhere there isn't some armed guard on the bank. The Rhine River is a classic historical example: Rome and later France and some German states have tried to use it as a boundary, but since Caesar's time it's had Germans and Gauls/French living on both sides: culturally, the Rhine valley is now German but even in the 'German' language spoken along the Rhine there is lots of French influence.
    2. Mountains are barriers only if there is no pass through them. Where there is a pass, that becomes a funnel and a highway for movement of people, language, and cultural influences.
    3. Deserts are barriers only up to a certain Technological Point: if you have a reason to cross them - like lucrative trading partners on the other side - then once Camels are domesticated the desert becomes much less of a barrier - look at the trade across the Sahara to/from Mali and Songhai and the Mediterranean coast or parts of the 'Silk Road' that tracked right through the Taklamakhan Desert in central Asia from late Classical Era.
    4. Jungle/tropical Rain Forest is a probably the worst Barrier to travel and settlement. The land is full of obstacles, from swamps to heavy foliage, the climate and local fauna are unhealthy, and in fact jungles have probably killed more people trying to move through them than any other type of terrain, including deserts and mountains. After all, the dangers from the desert are pretty obvious: no water and searing heat. The dangers from the jungle are frequently microscopic, and can keep right on killing after you've left the jungle.
    Realistically, trying to plant a city next to a Jungle/Rainforest with a Settler from plains/forest/grasslands terrain should have only about a 1/3 chance of success: Europeans in fact had a 90% mortality rate in parts of the Americas because of the disease-infested jungles and swamps, not only in Central and South America, but as far north as Virginia (swamps) on the central North American coast. This is one of those Game Mechanics that would NOT be popular, though.

    Finally, building roads through mountains/deserts/forest, etc was done as far back as early Classical Era, as long as there was a Pass, river, or other 'natural road' to follow. The biggest Technological Change to Rough Country passage comes with Gunpowder: the ability to blast away rock and other obstructions, or re-route rivers to make barriers into thoroughfares, was Major. Dynamite was more efficient, but the early railroad tunnels through the Appalachian and Sierra Nevada mountains in the USA were all done with Black Powder, and over a century earlier tunnels were blasted through hills and mountains in France and England for canals using gunpowder/black powder as well.
     
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  15. Gedemon

    Gedemon Modder Moderator

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    Some great input here, thanks

    About the rivers being both natural frontiers for nations and a natural "highway" for population, how to translate that in a game mechanism ?

    In my mods I use faster culture spreading between tiles along rivers, but lower when crossing, any better idea ?
     
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  16. Phrozen

    Phrozen Chieftain

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    If rivers are highways and barriers there needs to a ford tile where there is no penalty for crossing a river which would of course also net bonus gold. Also I would like to see whole tile rivers as well to represent the fully navigable rivers like the James, Thames, Northern part of the Nile, Yellow, etc.

    There are all sorts of natural terrain features that could be introduced: bays, natural harbors, mesas, plateaus, arroyos, deltas, salt flats, etc.

    As for the European colonizers dying off in such great numbers. That is an issue of the Jamestown and Plymouth colonizers coming from cities and towns and knowing nothing about farming. Once the colonizers were taught to farm and more rural populations moved in, mass starvation and death ceased to be a problem with some exceptions like the tsetse fly carrying sleeping sickness preventing colonization or even much non-native human settlement in parts of Africa until modern medicine.

    Jungles are a bit different in that there was quite a bit of human population in them just that the jungles were so lush that wide spread organized agriculture simply wasn't needed but soil was so poor that migration every couple of years was needed, speaking of the Amazon here. Though for some reason Civ likes to give the Aztec jungle bonuses even though they were on the Mexican Plateau and not anywhere near the jungle part of Mexico. Even then you saw civilizations rise out of jungles like in Southeast Asia and southern India. Most of them were coastal trade based but they were there.
     
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  17. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Warlord

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    Why not just have rivers inside a tile instead of in between two tiles? If rivers were inside a tile then you could treat tiles with rivers as roads and give extra movement (unlocked with the sailing tech). But you could also have borders go up to the tile adjacent to the tile with a river. So that would also make them natural borders too.
     
  18. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    The optimum solution, in fact, would be to have rivers one tile wide so that 'the river' could have its own movement rates, trade routes, etc. Given that Civs IV, V and VI have not done that, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to be implemented. For one thing, it would throw the ground scale of the map off even further than it already is. Perhaps with better computer rendering so that the 'size' of tiles could be about halved it would be possible, but that would require maps about twice the size they are now, and the average computer can barely handle that (my own is old but above average, and it will not render the largest size map well enough for my taste)

    I would separate the City Radius from the Loyalty/Cultural Influence, as is done now. City Radius, or tiles that are politically and economically part of your 'Civ', would tend to stop at the river, making it a 'national' border. Cultural/Loyalty Influence would be heavier right across the river because of the trafficability of the river, but would fall off rapidly away from the river unless there were Trade Routes/roads or other influences favoring wider settlement.

    See above. So would I, but I just don't think it's likely. The HUGE influence of rivers on transportation and trade, however, could be added to the game by extending Trade Routes along tiles with adjacent rivers and increasing the 'spread' of city radii along rivers and cultural/loyalty influence along them. Not perfect, but I think doable as the game is currently configured and better than the Gaping Hole of influence that rivers represent now...

    Yes! Yes! Yes! In addition to the singular 'Natural Wonders' we should have some examples of the huge variety of land forms, for visual variety if nothing else: the mesas of the American Southwest, the 'sugar loaf' mountains of central China, Tidal Flats, Glaciers, Waterfalls (which could represent Head of Navigation for River Trade Route/City Radius Influence), Mangrove Swamps, Waterfowl-laden coastal marshes, - the map gets positively Boring at times now, and there's NO excuse for it. Especially when most of the 'terrain enhancements' don't even have to be animated, so amount to a single set of image renderings and then some new map/terrain placement programming.

    Actually, Jamestown also suffered from having salt-laden ground water which poisoned the colonists' wells, and being right next to a coastal swamp full of disease - the reason the settlers could be there at all is that the Native Americans knew better than to put a permanent settlement anywhere near there! Death rates went down permanently only after the bulk of the colonists moved into the 'Piedmont' regions (higher elevations) away from the coast.

    See Mann's book 1491: there is evidence that peoples of the Amazon could 'manufacture' good soil and settle permanently along the high ground near the river. Also some evidence that a large percentage of the trees near the river were planted or otherwise 'artificially' encouraged because they were useful sources of nuts, berries, etc. We are still just beginning to learn how completely 'primitive' people could modify their surroundings, especially in jungle regions that are hard to study even today.
    And the Southeast Asian civilizations were less jungle-based than River and Coastal based - in addition to the coast, the Mekong River and its watershed seems to have been a 'Mother of Civilizations/Cities' in the region.

    But then, I've said for a long time that Civ The Game downplays the extreme importance of Water Source as a factor in city placement. It is extremely rare to find an ancient city placement that does not include access to a river, rivers, coast, or all of the above, and no large ancient city grew without a river next to it - even Athens, which has no obvious river today, had access to numerous smaller streams carrying 'run off water from the hills to the seas nearby as well as springs around the Acropolis. Water, Food, Resources for economy/construction should all be programmed as Cit Placement Factors.
     
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  19. Phrozen

    Phrozen Chieftain

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    Wells were not unheard of and could support cities even in ancient times. The site of Ubar/Iram is testament to this at least for some time. Flowing water was preferred for trade and simple ease of access. There should be a point where fresh water shouldn't be a factor since modern technology lets us drill down into aquifers so you can have big cities like Dallas, Las Vegas, and Phoenix that are in the desert.
     
  20. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Aquifers which in many places are now being rapidly depleted...

    And among your examples, Las Vegas actually gets water from a major 'irrigation' water/hydroelectric project, Lake Mead, while Phoenix, I believe, is one of the places sucking so much water out of the Colorado River that it stopped reaching the sea decades ago. And, of course, you left out Los Angeles, another desert/dry land city which gets its water piped/sluiced in courtesy of Mulholland's hydro-engineering from far away sources.

    But, since at least the Atomic Ea, Desalinization Plants have provided another water source for desert/semi-desert areas, so 'spreading' city siting in the last 1/2 to 1/3 of the game is entirely accurate.
    In addition, 'irrigation' type constructions have been used to provide water to cities since at least the 7th century BCE (Assyria had stone aqueducts to some cities) and possibly earlier - both the palaces on Crete and homes/palaces in the Indus Civilization almost a 1000 years earlier had indoor plumbing in dry climates, implying some serious Hydro-Engineering techniques. Later, places as different as Palmyra in the desert and the cities of Khmer in Southeast Asia and the Maya in Central America 'managed' water sources and resources for both people and food supply. In general, the game may need some more options, or some more Effects from the options it has now like Tech: Irrigation and District: Aqueduct for Food Supply and City Growth.
     
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