Leoreth Plays Congo

Discussion in 'Rhye's and Fall - Dawn of Civilization' started by Leoreth, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    So as noted, I started playing Congo. Pretty straightforward, although I am aware the course of the first goal depends a lot on factors out of your control. I met HRE pretty early and Catholicism spread to me not long after. I made sure to expand for more population and votes. Reformation wasn't lucky for me (only England and Sweden) but a well timed plague was.

    Spoiler :
    Civ4ScreenShot0284.JPG Civ4ScreenShot0285.JPG

    One change you can see here is that there is now a goal completion announcement, and that it features the actual goal description to make it a bit easier to understand. The same is true for the failure announcement.

    If you look closely, there is also something wrong with the first Catholic goal - I did not actually spend 50 turns as pope.

    I played a few more turns, the Portuguese conquerors showed up the turn I completed the goal, but I had prepared with a few Pombos that defended Mbanza Congo until the Portuguese suicided. One thing that I noticed is that I received not a single slave from battling natives. I remember introducing a rule that prevents you from getting slaves before the new world is discovered to prevent Ethiopia from uselessly capturing them early on, but by that point the new world had already been conquered. So maybe there is a bug here, or another reason preventing slave capturing. Maybe the new world rule is also too strict, it's probably better to allow Congo to start capturing right from the start. I will restart and investigate those issues.
     
  2. BaneFire

    BaneFire Warlord

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    Perhaps Ethiopia should be able to sell slaves to the Arabs, Egypt, Persia, India and Tamils?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Ocean_slave_trade

    With all the various plantation goods around getting slave plantations in those regions would be a pretty nice bonus.
     
  3. stillblackadder

    stillblackadder Chieftain

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    AFAIK, it suppose to only represent transatlantic slave trade
    But can Congo buy Ethiopian slaves to resell them to Europeans, counting to their goal?
     
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  4. Publicola

    Publicola King

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    This made me realize that there should be some in-game mechanic to represent the East Africa slave trade, which both lasted far longer than the Transatlantic 'Triangle Trade' and involved greater numbers.

    Perhaps this might involve a 'Swahili' civilization with the new map, with a slavery-centric UP that allows their economy to run on slave raids & slave trading across the Indian Ocean. Perhaps this might involve a larger number of 'native' barb units along eastern Africa so they can be enslaved by other civs, even without a Swahili presence (the early Arabs engaged in numerous slave raids, especially under the Abbasids -- notably, the Zanj Rebellion was one of the largest slave rebellions in world history, and corresponds to a period of severe decline in Abbasid power.

    More broadly, the absence of a significant slavery mechanic is partly striking as it relates to the Ottoman Empire. My memory may be failing here, but I don't think the Ottoman civ even has a single slavery-based UHV, which is odd given that they were as profoundly slave-centric as any plantation colony in the New World. That applies to both the Ottoman economy and Ottoman society -- between the Barbary pirates, the 'Zanj', the nearly annual 'harvest of the steppes' by the Crimean Khanate and Nagai Horde, and of course the devshirme system within its own Balkan territory, there's really no part of the Ottoman empire that wasn't touched by the practice.

    To represent the 'Barbary Pirates' (and piracy in general), I wonder if we could attach a slave-generating mechanic to pirate combat -- successfully defeating an enemy ship has a chance of auto-generating a 'slave' unit at the nearest friendly port?

    To represent the 'Harvest of the Steppes'... I wonder if there could be a land unit (light horse?) similar to 'Privateer', that could cross borders and raid without a declaration of war. This would actually fit pretty well with any number of tribal & nomadic civs (including the current Turkic & Mongol civs, but also potential/future civs like Huns, Lakota/Sioux, etc.) so it might be best to include this feature in a future 'nomadic civ' package.
     
  5. 1SDAN

    1SDAN Brother Lady

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    I'd suggest representing the trade with a "Sub-Saharan Route" Company. A "Spice Route" Company would be cool too.
     
  6. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    I have been playing a few more Congo games. It seems I got lucky in my first game, because in the others Catholicism either did not spread at all, or too late to be spread across the rest of the civilisation.

    There are two factors at play here. Contact with a Catholic civ, and the actual religion spread. I think the latter works fine once contact is established, but the former being also mostly out of your control is kind of bad. That makes the goal dependent on two random elements before you even get the chance to actively interact with it. Other than that, all you can do is wait for a Catholic European civ to show up at your doorstep, which they are not always inclined to do.

    You cannot contact Europe by boat yourself, because even if beelined Compass required to cross the Cape is too far off to matter. I haven't tried squeezing in a scout to make contact via the land route - but even if that is feasible, I don't think it's very thematic and I don't want the goal to rely on that. Maybe they should start with Guilds to make Compass attainable in time?
     
  7. DanLT3

    DanLT3 Warlord

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    You can always send one of your military troops exploring up to the Mediterranean, which is almost guaranteed to meet a catholic civilization. Moors is very keen on an open border if you don't meet France in Alger already.
    The hard goal is the slave trade. There simply is not enough natives to enslave to get the amount of money needed.
     
  8. Xfactor

    Xfactor Warlord

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    For the slave trade i wanted to also add - if the euros finally start buying your slaves and you have lets say 7-8 out of them , they usually value them very low , if they dont approach you - as around 75-100g at best, with Spain often giving you 112 gold for each one for some reason. I remember on previous versions that the AI valued slaves alot higher - up to 200
     
  9. Hickman888

    Hickman888 Warlord

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    What if we gave the Congo unique building, Mbwadi, a priest slot, and let them potentially burn a Great Prophet on spreading Catholicism to the area?
     
  10. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    That's not how that ability works. It spreads your state religion.
     
  11. Hickman888

    Hickman888 Warlord

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    At least with the Ethiopians, I was able to use a Great Prophet to spread Orthodoxy to my pagan civilization.
     
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  12. Krieger-FS

    Krieger-FS Warlord

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    I agree that we should think about new specific in-game mechanics for representing other types of slavery, particularly considering the possible new civilizations. The main question here is how to represent the historical slavery practices in Islamic societies, as right now we can argue that we have a good representation for Transatlantic slavey, for the old/classical world and for Mesoamerica (Aztec’s special mechanics).

    I’m far from being a specialist about this topic, but IIRC, slavery in the medieval/early modern Islamic world was mostly concerned in getting concubines, eunuchs (who served also as administrators) and slave-soldiers. The first is not a good idea and can’t be reasonably represented in game mechanics, but the two latter can be interesting. To toss some ideas here, we can argue that Islamic civs running the Slavery civic could capture defeated units from non-Muslim civs/barbarians and/or “draft” them from cities with other religions. The slave unit then could be sold for other Islamic civs (just like the current in-game mechanic), settled as a specialist (representing eunuchs) or “promoted” (with associated costs in gold/resources) to a military unit (we can even think in special units). While such mechanic could be quite powerful, it would also involve certain risks: maybe negative diplomatic modifiers with the victim/religious group and/or stability hits if you become too dependent on these eunuchs and slave-soldiers, representing how often they played a kingmaker role and overthrew their former masters (like the Mamluks in Egypt).
     
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  13. trevor

    trevor Warlord

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    Given the priors of the Zanj Rebellion, one could also argue for a Muslim civ slave unit that could be used to build mines/farms/orchards in addition to plantations. It'd be really helpful to have a Swahili civ though to better represent the Indian Ocean slave trade & not just leave it to an Orthodox Ethiopia to trade with Muslim civs (Arabs, Egyptians, Ottomans, et al) that'd be disinclined to deal with them.
     
  14. Krieger-FS

    Krieger-FS Warlord

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    Honestly, I'm not sure about. I mean, if we want Muslim slaves as means for building improvements and increased yields, well, the Slavery civic already does exactly that (since it allows the capture of workers and give bonus yields for mines and quarries) and we really don't need a distinct slavery mechanic.

    About the Indian Ocean slave trade (and likewise the Trans-Saharan one), I also dunno, but I like 1SDAN’s idea of using companies to represent these routes, since they involved much more than just the slave trade.
     
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  15. Publicola

    Publicola King

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    There are really two sides of these proposals:
    a) making slave units more common & easier to acquire
    b) enabling slave units to be used in different ways

    Is 'Slavery' a useful civic for Islamic civs, that they'd be using it to begin with? I do like the concept of using the Slavery civic in this instance, though I'm not sure it quite fits. (I feel like it was designed to represent slave labor in mines & farms, not slave-raiding or slave-trading).

    'Drafting' slaves from cities with a foreign religion does fit really well as a way to represent the devshirme. OTOH, given that the devshirme was used almost exclusively for janissary slave-soldiers, I feel like this is better represented through normal conscription, though your suggestion of a special unit is fitting.


    Eunuchs were often used (in both Islamic and in Chinese dynasties) as palace officials, which means that slaves could be settled as 'statesman' specialists! OTOH, I'm not quite sure how to represent the instability that often resulted from eunuchs holding power, or from the role of slave-soldiers and slave-administrators (in the case of Ottoman Janissaries as well as earlier Mamluks). Statesman specialist and Great Statemen tend to improve stability, rather than the reverse...

    This made me realize that both trans-Atlantic and east African slave trades were largely intra-religious -- between members of the same faith (Christian to Christian, or Muslim to Muslim). Perhaps this could be represented by making it easier to trade slaves to/from civs with your own state religion? Or increase the acceptable 'price' so you get greater rewards from trading to those civs?
     
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  16. Gritzeldrei

    Gritzeldrei Warlord

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    Welcome to the slave talk.
     
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  17. Krieger-FS

    Krieger-FS Warlord

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    Yeah, we are kind of straying a bit from the original discussion, about the issues in obtaining slaves for the Transatlantic slave trade.

    We can argue that the Slavery civic represents most accurately the generic classical slavery, but nonetheless, AFAIK, most of the Islamic civs started with.

    About drafting, I got thinking if other systems like the Ottoman devshirme existed in other places with similar magnitude. Maybe it should be exclusive to them, so probably the current representation is reasonable.

    On the other hand, I still like the idea of “promoting” slaves to military units. Sure, when we are creating a unit in-game, we can presuppose that the hammer cost represents all the conscription, equipment and training process (which could arguably include the cost of buying slaves for military uses), so I’m not pressing much here. Maybe such units could be regular ones with a special promotion indicating that they are slave-soldiers (similar to mercenaries) or we could have a special ghulam unit for it.

    That's the main issue if we think about them as specialists. Maybe there could be a distinct specialist called eunuch, with similar bonus but without contributing to GP creation? So while settling them on city could give a helpful early boost, maybe they also would produce unhappiness in the longer term, which would help creating the desired and historically accurate instability that they provoked.

    Btw, I didn’t think about the Chinese eunuchs! I confess that I don’t know much about their recruitment, but maybe if we introduce the eunuch specialist it could be also available for Confucian/Taoism civs.

    Agreed. It would be quite weird seeing European colonial powers buying Christian/European slaves for work in the Americas.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2021
  18. KeeperOT7Keys

    KeeperOT7Keys did nothing wrong

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    about the case of zanj rebellion and ottoman usage of black people as slaves, I don't think eunuch stuff is worth including at all. but the africans were used to improve swampy areas where malaria was a big problem and locals wouldn't work. (at least that was the case in my hometown's history)

    so I think slaves can be used to improve/remove marsh tiles (or a new special map feature, which can be added to mesopotamia/turkey) before a relevant technology appears. I think this is the only relevant large scale usage of the slaves for the muslim civs. devshirme thing is already represented by topkapi palace iirc? by giving free drafts, or am I mistaken?
     
  19. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    Sorry for the lack of updates, but I don't have a lot to report in terms of actual gameplay. But I have been playing lots of Congo games to find a way to address the issues it has. I'm glad that you asked me to address Congo because there's a lot to do here, so let's go through it by goal.

    1. Control 15% of the Apostolic Palace vote by 1650 AD

    So this goal breaks down into multiple components:
    1. Establish contact with a Catholic civilisation
    2. Wait for Catholicism to spread to your cities
    3. Build additional cities, spread Catholicism there, and grow them as much as possible
    There's also an unspoken fourth part, which is "hope that the Reformation and plagues in Europe play out in such a way that the overall Catholic population allows you to get to 15%". So first of all, I like this goal because of all these separate components. You have to go for Compass to meet Europeans, you have to make sure to expand as soon as possible so your cities can grow, while at the same time assets are scarce and you also have to protect cities, improvements and workers from Natives. I think that's a fun dynamic.

    While I am pretty sure that I have found an optimal build order, the different ways Natives can spawn and threaten your civ still makes it engaging to play. Impis are a cool challenge to deal with: they are much more mobile than Pombos, the only unit that can reliably deal with them (and are also prohibitively expensive to build at the start). So you have to invest in roads to be able to respond. Still, Impis can threaten cities and workers from any two tiles apart, and also threaten to pillage improvements one tile away that take precious worker time to rebuild. You would like to deal with them offensively because it's hard to defend everything, but that means eating the attack penalty into the rainforest etc. everywhere.

    Anyway, so it's clear that almost all components here are luck based: you can have early contact or not, spread chances are random, and plague and Reformation are random. Only the third component is fully under your control, but if Catholicism spreads late, there isn't enough time to get the monastery and missionaries required to get it to all your other cities. I considered if the goal is too randomised, or too strict considering how unpredictable it is, but I don't think that's a problem. Congo is like an ancient civ in that regard: their options are limited, so either a goal becomes rote if you know what to do, or there has to be external randomness to keep things interesting, and I think it's more fun this way. There are games where you are completely screwed because the Reformation fails, and if it is very successful it becomes trivial. That said, I found 15% to be a good threshold for the most common ways the Reformation plays out, where your population still matters for reaching the goal.

    That said, I still changed some things to make the goal less frustrating.

    First, I let Congo start with Guilds. This gives a faster route of Alchemy -> Compass, and also enables Regulated Trade if you prefer the commerce over food in your capital (I don't until this goal is met).

    Second, I accelerated distant religion spread to make it more dependable. In case you didn't know, religion usually only spreads from nearby cities. However, religion can also spread regardless of distant if the religion is historical for the city, the owner has contact with someone who has the religion, and the owner does not already have the religion on the same landmass. It is supposed to help religions spread to places like Congo, but also e.g. into Indonesia and the New World. This spread is supposed to be fast, but still too slow to reliably happen in a good timeframe for the Congolese UHV. Therefore I significantly inreased the likelihood of this distant religion spread, which helped a lot. It's not that big of a change because it only affects the first spread per civ and landmass, but the side effects should only be positive in letting religions get a foothold in the New World.

    Since this change I never had the problem that Catholicism came too late to be feasibly spread to my cities.

    2. Acquire 1000 gold by selling slaves by 1800 AD

    Similar to the goal above, this is dependent on multiple factors:
    1. The number of Native units that spawn near your units/territory
    2. The amount of defeated Native units being captured as slaves
    3. The willingness of AI civilisations to buy them
    4. The amount of gold AI civilisations are willing to pay for them
    Again, there is some degree of randomness in points 1 and especially 2, and point 3 is somewhat circumstantial as well. My initial playthrough saw only a handful of slaves captured and AI civs being unwilling to buy any of them. I eventually wound up looking into addressing every single one of these factors, so let's go through them.

    Point (3) turned out to be the most important one: at one point I changed the AI so that it is only looking for slaves to improve tiles with, ignoring the potential of settling them in eligible cities. The motivation for that was that the potential number of slaves to be settled in cities is quite high, resulting in an excessive AI demand for slaves irrespective of the benefits that settling slaves has. In practice though that often meant that AIs had no need for slaves at all, or only later on in small numbers. I relaxed this a bit so that overseas cities also induce a demand for slaves. This is mainly because we want the AI to be willing to buy slaves before they control tiles that may be improved by them, under the assumption that they will at a later point. Maybe I went a bit too far and may tune the conditions a bit, but from a Congolese perspective it works. Civs that have colonies that can use slaves are willing to buy your slaves. I still have only seen one instance of them actively requesting such a trade though, I may look into that as well.

    However, there was a second, unrelated problem related to AI unwillingness to buy slaves: they would often only have very little gold available to trade. After some investigation, I found out that their treasuries were actually not that empty, they were just unwilling to trade that much gold with you. The reason was that the amount available to trade is supposed to be very small right after first contact, and then gradually increase with each turn after contact. I made a change not too long ago that would make those counters stop increasing when contact is cut. That made sense for things like open borders and peace etc. where it didn't make sense to accrue good will from another civilisation when you cannot even currently contact them. However, I accidentally folded some other counters (such as "turns since first contact") into that rule too, even though that doesn't make a lot of sense and adversely affected AI behaviour like this. This impacted Congo a lot because of its isolated situation and how late they begin to make contact, but I observed available gold for trade being low in general. So I hope fixing this has improved the AI overall.

    For point (4), we can observe that AIs currently offer around 50-75 gold per slave if you initiate the trade (higher if they do, but see above). That makes the 1000 gold requirement quite steep. Currently the AI evaluation for the value of a slave is quite static, and depends more on unrelated factors such as their civics, geographic location, and state religion, rather than how badly they want to use slaves (because the logic for that is itself not very specific). I remember the value being a bit higher in the past, closer to the 100-125, but I am unsure what caused the change. I considered increasing the value overall, but I don't think that would be a good solution. The benefit added by a single slave is not that great, and only accrues over time. ~50 gold is maybe fair if you consider the long term, but I don't want to force the AI to value it higher and make losses on these trades just because it's convenient for the Congolese UHV. Not only is that essentially a sanctioned AI exploit, but would also work against the player in the reverse situation, because the seller and buyer evaluations are identical. I may tweak this later on to make the value more dynamic based on their need for slaves, but in doing so I don't want to increase the average slave value.

    Now, of course that means you have to capture and sell 14 slaves at the higher end of the guaranteed price range to meet this goal. You would not see even nearly that number of slaves until 1800 AD in a Congo game.

    I tackled this on both the remaining factors. First of all, I increased the chance to capture defeated units as slaves from 35% to 50%. Dealing with Impis is quite challenging and should have a higher chance to be rewarded.

    But I also increased the number of Native units spawned overall. Most importantly, previously Native Impis would stop spawning after 1700 AD, which made that date the effective deadline of the goal. It also made the whole game experience more passive overall. I extended this spawn period to 1800 AD for Natives spawning in West Africa (which includes the north of Congo) and to 1900 AD for those spawning in South Africa (it includes the Zulu, after all). In addition to that, I introduced additional spawns of Native Archers and Warriors with the capability to traverse Rainforest/Jungle/Marsh. Those are essentially intended to provide additional opportunities to hunt slaves, without the challenge provided by Impis.

    (By the way, I also took the opportunity and renamed Impis to a more generic "Raider", considering that they are active all over Africa a connection to the Zulu does not really make sense.)

    I think these changes were largely successful. In my current test game I am currently at 975 / 1000 gold traded in the 1760, looking for just one extra slave to catch and trade to meet the goal. I actually have hunting parties active in sub-Saharan Africa, and noticed Mande stacks and Portuguese bandeirantes doing the same, which was cool to see. This feels a lot more right than before and kept me committed to staying at the 1000 gold requirement, despite the lower trade value.

    Having more slaves, but cheaper, is also desirable from the perspective of colonial powers. In the same game, Mali had 16 available slaves for trade. So there should be enough slaves to go around now, which is important because I am aware how people have reported issues with even having the option of buying them as e.g. Brazil. Still, Mali accruing so many of them may indicate problems in colonisers actually buying and using them, but that is a separate problem to address.

    I will see how my current game plays out and maybe tweak things a little, but overall this feels like I am on a good track.

    3. Reach the Industrial era before any other civilisation reaches the Global era

    I actually accomplished this in one of my game, where I decided to keep playing despite missing the second goal. It's not hard in the sense that it requires any particular strategy, but it's not trivial either. When I completed it (via Metallurgy, the easiest Industrial tech to beeline), England had just researched Pneumatics and therefore the option to enter the Global era soon. I think this goal still works well because it's something you always have at the back of your mind, you cannot neglect your economy and research while going for the other goals, and in general the idea of catching up before it is too late is fun. You have to identify a viable tech path that includes things like Centralism and Universities while also trying to trade with some other civs that are ahead of you but may still need a few techs that you can research on time. No need to change anything here in my opinion.

    Conclusion

    As I said, there's a lot of random elements in this UHV. The third goal is also affected because you cannot control how well the AI is doing. Like I said above, this may make Congo frustrating, but the alternative for a primitive civ with limited option is a UHV that results in rote gameplay, and I find it a lot more interesting like this. Winning may require a few restarts, but not to the extent where you have to roll the perfect start to have any chance at all. I'm glad I got to play this UHV (and will continue to do so until I won and continue to tweak along the way), and I'm glad it's in a playable shape again now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2021
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  20. Cosmos1985

    Cosmos1985 King

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    I'm probably completely OOTL here, but doesn't sub-Saharan civs also have the option of getting slaves from its own cities? The drafting-ish thing?
     

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