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Leader Improvements

Discussion in 'Communitas Expansion Pack' started by Thalassicus, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. mitsho

    mitsho Deity

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    Does it need a solution though? I wouldn't put much (deliberative) energy into nerfs for sure...

    Moving the effect to the Cothon seems the most sensible one, but it reduces the UA to... nothing, right? Yeah, I would concentrate on other stuff for now...
     
  2. Tomice

    Tomice Passionate Smart-Ass

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    If we conclude that Carthage is a well-rounded package, just to strong, we might also consider an approach not yet used in Civ5...

    In Rome2: Total War, each "civ" has 3 positive attributes and one negative. We could add some negative aspect to Carthage's UA, like "mercenary army: +20% upkeep" or "coastal lifestyle: double upkeep for roads".



    Thinking more conservatively, the free tech really is the first candidate for removal, closely followed by the free ship. Or even better, leave the ship, remove the warrior. Don't get me wrong, the package of abilities is awesome regarding flavor, uniqueness and fun to play, but I admit it might be too much balance-wise.
     
  3. stackpointer

    stackpointer King

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    If you want to modify the harbor that Carthage gets then give them a UB harbor with their Trait instead. This way you don't need to modify harbors for everyone else.
     
  4. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I think this just ends up being not fun for many players. It doesn't really work terribly well in Rome Total War 2 either.

    This.
     
  5. Hreat

    Hreat Warlord

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    There are lots of ways to make Carthage less powerful without changing their flavor.
    Remove free sailing too much?
    how about remove free sailing but give them fishing boats at pottery, or even at agriculture.
    Don't want to take the free bireme away completely? give it at optics (or sailing if you're removing the free tech)

    I think the most important thing here is that we're all pretty much agreed that some nerf is in line, right? Because early in this conversation it didn't seem like Thal was convinced of that all.
     
  6. EricB

    EricB Prince

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    I just went back and noticed this old thread: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=516098

    Never noticed it at the time because I was off in my own world :)

    Must say that I'm definitely on the side that Carthage is too powerful. To me, it's not even a close call. First off, their unique ability of getting free harbors in every city might be the most powerful unique ability in the game, although I can't think of every civs unique abilities at the moment. It's at least in the top 5 (of over 40 of them). Greece's unique ability of basically getting to ally with every city state in the game might be the most powerful.

    So, given that they have such a powerful unique ability, you'd expect that their other unique units/buildings would be rather tame. Nope! Not the case! The Cothon is also one of the strongest unique buildings in the game. I read Thal's arguments that when you get a free luxury resource, then trade it to an opponent, then you gain happiness and they gain happiness. Here's the fallacy in that:

    Normally, I play on large map sizes with 10 players (me and 9 AIs). Say I have 5 cities and 5 copies of that unique luxury. I get one of them, then trade 4 of them away. I gain a net of 20 happiness. Opponents get 20 happiness, right? Wrong. In total they get 20 happiness, but it's distributed among 5 different civs while I get to hoard all of it. That's in addition to any normal luxury resources you'd be getting. That's a net +16 happiness over each of me neighbors. In addition, I like to trade resources with weaker civs, so this means that I'm giving +4 happiness to 5 weaker civs while I'm gaining +16 happiness from their luxuries. Not even close to balanced. In my opinion, I think we should look at re-working the Cothon, or at least delaying it. In my mod, I have Sailing as a early classical era tech with the Cothon available then, so that's a move in the right direction.

    So, the Cothon disables the need for Carthage to worry about happiness so they can expand at will. Next, you add the free harbors on top of that. That means an automatic +1 happiness per city if you get the Liberty policy for +1 happiness from city connections. Then, they get free gold from city connections IMMEDIATELY. Then, they can forgo building roads, so that means that road maintenance is essentially free. Plus since the workers aren't building roads, they are free to concentrate on other tasks, like mines and farms which causes their cities to be even more productive. This is over the top by a mile.

    Then, we're not done yet! They have a unique unit (which seems okay). Plus, they get a free starting warrior and starting bireme. You can use the bireme to knock out barb camps, so here comes even more gold. CHA-CHING! Plus, who needs to build an army to protect your workers. Your cities are coastal. Use that Bireme to knock out any barbarians in the area. Get a quick settler from liberty. Send him out unprotected because the Bireme has cleared the way. Quick easy 2nd city....no problem.

    With all that, this civilization is beyond over the top. Then, hey why not? Let's add a free 2nd tier tech just to throw a cherry on top! How anyone cannot see that this is ridiculous is beyond me. It's out of control. No wonder when I run into AI civs that are Carthage who started on a separate continent from me it turns into a really boring game really fast. I recently was playing a game as Ethiopia. Carthage started on the opposite continent. I didn't find out they were there until Astronomy. By the time that I found them, they had expanded like crazy. In the Industrial era they dotted the entire map with cities. They were raking in around 600 gold per turn while I was getting 150-200 gold per turn, and I'm typically very good at building a strong economy. That's just the typical experience with Carthage. Once it happened again and again I decided that I'd had enough and it was time to nerf Carthage. BTW that last experience happened after I had already removed their free Sailing tech.

    Take the Sailing tech away merely as a start. They need more than that. The free harbors combined with the Cothon is over the top. One of them needs to go. You can't give them free gold and free happiness. I'd prefer to keep the Cothon as at least that's an active trait as opposed to the passive free harbors.

    A civs uniques should be balanced across their abilities/buildings/improvements/units/etc. The Cothon is one of the most powerful unique buildings in the game. Maybe not the most, but it's top tier and could be #1. Their unique unit is rather mediocre and middle of the pack. Maybe even bottom half for the unit. So, just assessing the building and the unit, they're above average (compared to other civs unique buildings/units excluding abilities). Logic points to them having a below average unique ability to balance them out. Not happening though. They get a free bireme, free sailing tech, and automatic city connections letting them rake in the gold. Most powerful unique ability in the game (or top 5 most powerful). This is why they are beyond overpowered.

    To balance them, you need a nerf to their unique ability (harbors) or their really powerful building (Cothon). Eliminating Sailing is merely the beginning. Also, the Bireme needs to go. In my mod, I've replaced the Bireme with a Trireme (which I have on the same tech as Biremes BTW and it's early classical). Starting Triremes are less powerful than starting Biremes. You can explore coasts with them but you can't attack barbarians with them unless its a ship. I've given free starting Triremes to a handful of civilizations, but only a free starting Bireme to 1 civilization (Indonesia). They get one because their unique ability involves civilians being able to embark on turn 1 so that they can settle islands. They need some way to protect their civilian settler when trying to found a 2nd city. Indonesia has a really strong unique ability, but to balance it out their unique unit (Kris Swordsman) is fairly weak and their unique building (Candi) is very weak. Carthage has no such balance.

    So, right now in my mod they have free harbors, the Cothon, a starting Trireme, and African Forest Elephants, plus the ability to cross mountains. No free sailing and no warrior so at least they can't get goody huts. It's a start. Also, the Cothon comes in the early classical era, so at least they can't use that to expand right away, so a move in the right direction. I still feel like they are too powerful even with all that. The combination of the Cothon with the harbors is just too much, even without Sailing. The Trireme isn't all that much and neither is the unique unit. Maybe shifting that Cothon to do something else would balance them by weakening that building. Maybe if you had it do the same thing but be a replacement for the Seaport instead of the Lighthouse? Anything that affects the early game tends to snowball, so early advantages are really strong. A Cothon building as a replacement for a Seaport would be a below average unique building. I think that might balance them better overall since they have such a powerful unique ability. Just an idea and my thoughts on the matter.
     
  7. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    Roll the Cothon into the harbor and see if we can't make it cost more (despite the "free" tag for the civ trait).

    Carthage should be an early game powerhouse that fades back into the pack if the early game bonus isn't exploited. Part of this dominance is probably that Exploration in the main mod heavily rewards their rampant expansionism. The others are the powerful unique effects.

    The free ship instead of the free warrior is not bad as an idea. Pushing back their "free" city links a bit to require some road building would help. Upkeep on the UB would help. And then some reductions to Exploration would probably help.
     
  8. mitsho

    mitsho Deity

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    Sigh, what about:

    Remove Starting Warrior (but keep the ship - that's fun) + push Cothon back to a Seaport replacement (there's few of those and it's later meaning you'd need to beeline for it losing the tech race on the military side f.e.).

    If that's still too strong, I'd advocate for a little higher upkeep costs for units if this is possible to do with a 'free' promotion.
     
  9. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I still think this is a mistake. If you put trade routes on the cothon and remove free harbors, then we are encouraging Carthage not to have harbors at all. That has bad flavor, and is weird since it then makes them less likely to want the late-game policies that favor coastal buildings.

    The free harbor mechanic does this already; their harbor is no better than anyone elses, so once other civs have built harbors then they're back on an equal footing and get no long term benefit from the UA.

    So definitely remove free early game unit and free tech, and we could remove mountain crossing too (it's a silly hollywood-history ability rather than a real historic advantage).
    Pushing the cothon to be a seaport doesn't work well IMO for flavor reasons (it comes too late, and historically comes after Carthage est Delenda) or gameplay reasons (happiness isn't that hard to come by by that point) or fun reasons (early on it encourages you to explore to find trade partners, and to play peacefully so you can trade).

    I'd start with these changes, then come back later to see if more is required.

    It already does: the harbor trade routes don't operate until you have the wheel tech IIRC.
    I don't see any way of requiring actual roads - this is a map issue, if many good city spots and resources can't be reached by coastal cities then you will either have to settle inland and lose the ability and build roads or miss out.

    On most maps, staying roadless will also hinder effective military support and movement, since embarked movement isn't very fast until quite late and Carthage has no advantage here.
    Some naval unit rebalancing so it isn't quite so easy to defend your cities from land assaults just with naval units and their superpowerful ranged attacks would help too.
     
  10. Tomice

    Tomice Passionate Smart-Ass

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    The mountain crossing should definitively go, not to nerf Carthage, but becuase it doesn't work well.
    This is mostly because the AI doesn't understand attrition damage. If you play as Carthage, you can no longer send your units over longer distances after the effect kicks in. This is because the auto-pathfinding doesn't take mountain attrition into account. Automated workers and scouts die like flies.


    So, IMO, those 3 nerfs are already agreed on:

    - No starting land unit, only a ship (probably Trireme as ErivB suggested)
    - No free tech
    - No mountain crossing

    Can you guys all agree that these 3 changes make sense as a start?




    Then, IF we want to nerf them further, what about this:

    - Increase maintainance on the Cothon
    - No free lighthouses from exploration policies


    The first thing should be self-explanatory: Less overall gold.

    Regarding the second, I'm not exactly sure how it would work out. IIRC the policy that gives free starting buildings also cuts the upkeep on those buildings for already existing cities. So without free lighthouses, Carthage would sure pay a lot more upkeep. They also wouldn't have an abundance of Tyrian purple so easily (although chances are high that you have already enough to trade with everyone at this point).




    So overall, those 5 changes wouldn't change anything about the fun we have playing Carthage, but it should be more than enough as a starting nerf. We can consider other changes (which would fundamentally change the civ) at a later point after some testing. Doing crippling nerfs in a single step without furthe testing doesn't look too appealing to me.
     
  11. EricB

    EricB Prince

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    I agree with Tomice. That's a good place to start.

    Back in December or January, Thal added some extra maintenance to the Cothon, so that's already been done. It's 3 gold maintenance in the core mod right now. My mod removes their free starting warrior and free sailing tech. That's a good place to start and we can test from there.

    My mod also does some tech re-arrangement in the ancient/classical eras. Those changes are:
    push barracks back to Bronze Working
    move chopping forests over to Mining
    push sailing back to the early classical era (which affects the Cothon being a bit later)
    earliest ships (Bireme and Trireme) are at Sailing
    Optics pushes back to late classical with Cargo Ships there
    Prereq for Sailing is Calendar
    I didn't like work boats in the early classical era, so I moved them up to Calendar
    Then, Calendar had too many things on it, so I moved Stonehenge up to Pottery
    I did a lot of that because I like it when the ancient era is basically landlocked with sea exploration coming in the classical era. Also, it gives naval civs like Carthage, England, Ottomans, Venice, Indonesia, and Rome a bit of a head start on the seas.

    Next, there were a couple of issues that I didn't care for in the core CEP mod. One is that Chariot Archers are barely used, then they upgrade to Horseman, which are used for a long time, then to Knights, Dragoons, etc. So, I shifted Horseback Riding back to the late classical era so Chariot Archers are around longer and Horseman not as long. This way Chariot Archers are late ancient, Horsemen are late classical, Knights are late medieval, Dragoons are late renaissance. Seemed more balanced.

    The next issue was Archers aren't used very long while Composite Bowman seemed like they were around for too long. Archery isn't usually the first tech I research. I'd get Animal Husbandry, Mining, Pottery, maybe Writing or Calendar or Trade, then come back to Archery followed quickly by Mathematics. Too many good things seemed to be piled on Mathematics, so I shifted Composite Bowman back to Engineering, which didn't have much good on it. It only had Aqueducts and a couple of wonders.

    Now pretty much the early ancient era is Pottery, Animal Husbandry, Archery, Mining
    Late ancient era: Calendar, Writing, Trade, The Wheel, Bronze Working, Masonry
    Early classical era: Sailing, Drama and Poetry, Mathematics, Iron Working, Construction
    Late classical era: Optics, Philosophy, Currency, Engineering, Horseback Riding

    If you don't want to use that but want to try out everything else, just delete the folder "Research from the mod" Pretty simple. If you want just some things, then the code is commented so add comments around the stuff you don't want or delete it.

    I've also been thinking of a way to objectively test which leaders are best. I've been thinking that of selecting certain leaders, then having them play as all AIs and simulate games with the tuner, then recording what happens (how well each civ did). There are 43 civilizations. If you did it enough with different combinations, you could get an average rank for each of them and get some kind of objective measurement.
     
  12. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Yes.

    Isn't it already 2 gold higher than the lighthouse?

    This is why that policy is pretty ridiculous. I'd rather fix the policy (and the whole exploration tree).

    Also, by the time you're in the late-game the cothon isn't that big a deal anymore, the gold income from selling resources is fairly low, and you probably have so many resources yourself from your territory or city states that there aren't that many you can trade for.

    I don't really see any need for any of these. I understand that they're how you like the game personally, but I think they're idiosyncratic enough and affect the game enough to mean that many players will be deterred from using your version.

    I also think it's very strange making Rome a naval civ, I would love to get rid of the Liburna and let them have a unique arena/colosseum, sewer system/aqueduct/thermae, or market/forum, probably giving happiness to help reward their wide/infrastructure-heavy playstyle.

    I'm not bothered if chariot archers aren't used that much, and I think it's very important for swordsmen and horsemen to be the same tech tier, and swordsmen need to be early classical.

    On the highest difficulty levels archery is very often an early priority, as one really needs an archer to be able to survive a rush from an aggressive neighbor with all the free units they get.
    I'm undecided on whether moving composite bows is a good idea or not; my concern is that making them higher tech than swordsmen means makes it very hard to fight swordsmen.

    I don't know that this does what you want it to, since best-in-the-hands-of-the-AI is very different from best-in-the-hands-of-the-human. The AI is better at taking advantage of some effects than others, but that doesn't mean those civs are too strong or others too weak.
    But it would still be interesting to see the results.
     
  13. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    A general sense that certain civs are always strong or strong ish and others weak or weak ish would tell us something about what civs might need boosts in the background or which may need nerfing a bit.

    Agreed on Rome not being heavy naval and that a UB makes more sense.

    I'm not too sure about these tech changes either.

    Agreed on the main changes for Carthage yes. I would add getting rid of lighthouses from exploration. The city connections are the best part for them. I would definitely not be keen on making it a unique seaport effect.
     
  14. Tomice

    Tomice Passionate Smart-Ass

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    Had to look up "idiosyncratic" ;)

    But yes, there are quite a few changes in your version that aren't what a majority asked for, EricB. As example, Communitas always had a tendency to unlock stuff earlier, and there haven't been major complaints for years.
    Although I have to admit that many of your changes make more sense once I find an explanation for them. I give special attention to everything the people with coding skills in this forum say, and you might be the most capable here after Thal. So I read your comments carefully, and most are quite convincing. You've gained quite some respect, and it's good to have you around!
    Still, I don't feel good accepting such massive changes as the ones you made to the tech tree without proper public discussion.



    Yes, it's 3 instead of 1, but given the advantages, it might still be viable even at 4 or 5 upkeep.



    The policy is interesting and helpful to even allow lategame expansion. But it might be too much. Right now it gives you these buildings for free:

    Arena
    Barracks
    Lighthouse
    Monument
    Granary
    Stable

    The arena and monument are crucial to make new cities worthwhile during lategame, but all 6 buildings are probably too much. Especially since you save 6 upkeep (1 each) per city. I'd say 3-4 free buildings is enough. Arena, Monument and Granary should stay IMO.
    Not sure about lighthouses. As you said, Cothons are no big deal later on. Maybe it would even be better to make them free after some point, especially if we increase their upkeep to very high levels. Otherwise additional Cothons become very bad after you have enough Tyrian dye! And for other civs, a free lighthouse is not that much of a game-changer --> I'd keep it, but make the Cothon more expensive.

    This turns out to be the "ceterum censeo" of this forum. I think a vast majority agrees - I also do. I'd love to see Rome as early militaristic wide/tall hybrid (huge capital, but wide empire).
     
  15. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    At 4 upkeep (ie 3 higher than the lighthouse) that would consume half of the value of selling the luxury, and once you run out of trade partners you start being even worse off than that.

    That building would not be much better than the base lighthouse IMO.

    I think some of the difference in peoples experience also depends on their settings; with 10 players the building could feel quite different than with the standard 8 players.

    It doesn't just boost late game expansion though, it also effectively gives you ~+5 gold per city (not every city gets/benefits from lighthouse/stable).
     
  16. EricB

    EricB Prince

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    I'm not trying to force anyone to play the way that I like. I just have certain things that I prefer, so I figured I may as well set it up that way. I like an immersion style where many things are unavailable at the beginning of the game. I like it when I can't explore much more around me than what's close by, and then things gradually open up. Most probably won't like that. I figured that since I have a mod that customizes things to what I like, then I might as well make it available to others in case they want to use it. Those that don't like it don't have to, or they can pick and choose what parts they want.

    So, anyways today I ran the first simulation of all AI civs using the 4 CEP mods and my mod as well. The settings were Prince difficulty (which doesn't matter because it's all AIs), large map size, 10 AIs, 20 city states, Communitas map, all standard default settings for the map. Standard speed.

    I just picked the first 10 leaders that show up on the leader list, which is Morocco through Russia.

    I watched the AIs play (while doing other stuff and letting it run).

    A few observations:
    First, AIs build WAY too many units and not enough infrastructure. Perhaps we should tweak the flavors to get them to build fewer units and more buildings. It was routinely common for them to have so many units that they are running massive deficits to the point where they had zero science. Something is off there.

    So for the results:
    Morocco won by a diplomatic victory. They were the 1 civ not building massive amounts of units so they had cash to buy city states.

    2nd - Songhai
    3rd - Russia
    4th - Germany
    5th - Rome
    6th - Assyria
    7th - The Celts
    8th - Greece
    9th - The Huns
    10th - Poland

    Poland, the Huns, and Greece were overrun fairly early by Songhai. Rome conquered much of the Celts, but left 1 city, which Morocco took much later. Assyria was conquered by Morocco. Germany and Rome remained in the game until the end. Russia was fairly strong. I think the tweak that I made to Russia helps them by moving them back to a tundra start bias. This helps them because they get a more isolated start where they have room to expand into. It helps them use their unique ability of decreased unhappiness per city.

    I'd like to run many, many simulations with lots of different combinations of civs and average the results. One game may be an anomaly.
     
  17. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

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    We have to prioritize. I focus on improving leaders people don't like. America, Carthage, and England rank well on the favorite leaders poll. Why improve leaders people already enjoy? I feel it's more time-effective to make low-ranked leaders more fun. We still need ideas for Brazil, Songhai, Siam, and Indonesia's Candi.

    Brazil ranked horribly on the polls. Pedro received only 1 "favorite" vote. I'm not aware of bugs that might explain the poor ranking, so there's a problem with his gameplay. I suspect it's because his bonuses don't have much synergy. There's a gold bonus for jungles, a tourism bonus, and an extremely late-game military bonus. Those don't really fit a specific theme.

    We can make the Dutch Trade Office a Market replacement instead of Caravansary if that is what bothers you.

    @EricB
    I agree AIs should play well, and I believe the best way to help struggling AIs is to give them assistance only AIs will receive. It's easy to help AIs independently of humans. If leaders are balanced for humans, I don't want to disrupt that balance to fix the AI. That would replace one problem with another. I like to fix AI issues directly.

    I like your idea of letting Portugese Naus cross oceans right away. I'll add that to the list.


    @EricB, Ahriman
    I think the Songhai should have no start bias, as none of their abilities require a specific type of terrain.
     
  18. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Alternatively, boost the handicap they get for AI unit maintenance?

    The AI needs large armies to be able to pose a decent challenge to the human player in the military sphere.
    It might also need to have some flavors changed so that it is more likely to invade if and when it has a better army than the player does. It's been too likely to be peaceful.

    I'm going to warn again against balancing by polls.
    There is a big risk of overinterpreting the data. 1 favorite vote could easily mean:
    a) Tourism victories aren't working, because there is too much culture in the game, so no-one wants to play a civ focused just on tourism.
    b) Brazil isn't the favorite of anyone, but is still fine, and isn't in the bottom 5-10 civs for most players.
    c) Brazil is a country with less popular appeal; it is a young country, without much history that most players are familiar with, and they're more likely to want to play better known countries.

    A unique harbor makes more sense with their coastal playstyle.
     
  19. mystikx21

    mystikx21 Deity

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    @Thal, we're talking about nerfing Carthage to balance them, not improving them.

    America works well late game, but it's really imbalanced toward that end of the game and gets very little before that. Spreading it out a bit could give a better unique feel.

    England I think is fine as is (the Steam Mill is great on its own), though I prefer the movement bonus to the XP, I'd agree they're very good already.

    Brazil's problem isn't the tourism/golden age effects. That's already really powerful (and would be more powerful still as cultural beliefs/pantheons come back down to modest levels). Improving that would not help them. As you indicate, the problem is most likely their synergy is poor. They're kind of like vanilla Sweden in that they're all over the place. The late game infantry replacement is probably fine since that's when the tourism win should come into play, but the UI and jungle start bias aren't that cooperative. Boosting the UI probably makes more sense.

    Second the above that a harbor instead of a market/caravansarei makes more sense for the Dutch UB, both for game play and historical flavor.
     
  20. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I kinda disagree with that. I think there is room in all our civs to have one that is late game focused, and I think the US is the obvious candidate for that. It's an interesting way of making them difference.
     

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