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Malakim Desert Mechanics

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by ophite, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. ophite

    ophite Chieftain

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    Deserts suck.

    They provide no usable resources. If you've got a desert in your fat cross, you're probably going to want to get rid of it--using Spring--as quickly as possible. The only reason you'd ever want a desert is if you had a river crossing through it (in which case you'd want to snap it up as quickly as possible).

    Unfortunately, deserts without flood plains also suck for Malakim, who are supposed to be the desert-dwelling civilization. Even though they get combat bonuses in deserts, the usefulness of those bonuses are solely determined by the enemy's behavior. Which is to say, although there's a bonus, there's no strategy attached to that bonus.

    There area lot of potential solutions. It could be handled like the Lanun--bonuses from their favored terrain--but that both repeats a mechanic and is thematically incoherent besides. It could be handled like the Ancient Forest mechanic--but that's, likewise, incoherent. It could be handled with a special improvement, buildable only by the Malakim--but there wasn't any such thing in the real, medieval world, as a highly developed desert.

    So I got to thinking about real desert-dwelling civilizations, and how they handle the same mechanical problems imposed by the simulation. Then I got to thinking about how to make it fun. Here's what I came up with:

    (1) Desert cities have to have some compelling reason to be there. There aren't a lot of them. That compelling reason is usually trade. Conversely, that trade sustains the city by bringing in food that isn't otherwise available.

    In order to allow Malakim cities of reasonable size, surrounded by desert, one of a couple mechanics could be used. The most obvious one is the Sid's Sushi/Cereal Mills mechanic from BTS. Unfortunately, this requires more than a little micromanagement by the player. Alternatively, you could go one step out in abstraction and cause trade routes themselves to provide food to Malakim cities. This would both reduce the need for player micromanagement and require the player to think harder about his choice of economics.

    (2) Desert cities don't require a lot of land. The vast majority of medieval cities had enormous support networks, in terms of farms. Real-world cities in the desert, on the Silk Road, were supported by farms, but those farms were a long way away. Consequently, throughout desert areas of North Africa and the Middle East, nomadic tribes, sharing the same culture as the city people, occupied the same space. Pastoralists weren't competing with agriculturalists for food.

    In game terms, at the time of Mohammad, the real-world Mecca wasn't working a lot of tiles in its "fat cross," since they were unproductive. But Meccans weren't the only ones occupying the "fat cross": there were nomads there as well. Later, the Caliphate treated them like a state-within-a-state, signing treaties, making deals to levy troops, and relying on their expertise to make the deserts more navigable.

    In game terms, this could be represented by causing desert tiles to produce a nominal amount of 'Nomad Prince' Great People Points. A nomad prince can do a number of things:

    (A) Produce a 'nomad camp' building in a city. This causes deserts to produce a nominal amount of commerce (probably two, to trigger the Financial trait if that's the way you want to go) and enables some units down the scout line.

    (B) 'Recruit', like a Great Commander, a number of Malakim units.

    (C) Attach to a city to provide a bonus to food and gold. Since this modification would cause the Malakim to have more ready access to great people points, this bonus should probably be something like +2 food, +3 commerce, contrasted with the Great Merchant's +1/+8.

    Anyway. That's just an idea. I frankly don't even know what in here is doable and what's delusional. What d'you think?

    -- ACS
     
  2. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    most (if not all of what's in here is doable), and i like the sound of it.


    by the wa, welcome to CFC :)
     
  3. SwordofStriker

    SwordofStriker Prince

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    These are some good ideas. Maybe a point of food for every point of commerce via trade routes would be an easy fix and in the spirit of what you are suggesting.
     
  4. Falc

    Falc Warlord

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    The problem with the trade route fix is that, if it goes for every Malakim city, then overall desert cities remain weaker than normal cities and you still don't get an incentive to use deserts.

    And if it doesn't go for all Malakim cities, then which ones? How many desert tiles, and which ones, do you need in your fat cross to start getting this bonus? In some cases, you'll end up Scorching not-that-useful terrain to get more Deserts and cash in... Valid strategy, yes, but counterintuitive.
     
  5. Silverkiss

    Silverkiss NekoChan

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    How about you only get the food from trade routes if the city tile is a desert ?
     
  6. Farmer Bobathan

    Farmer Bobathan Sanity is for the weak

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    or maybe a cap on the food you get from trade routes could be placed at 3 per desert tile. (to make it as useful as a plain with a farm)
     
  7. Love

    Love Deity

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    or you can just screw desert and make malakim the only civ using sun mana instead
     
  8. xienwolf

    xienwolf Deity

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    I think it would be nice if not only did Malakim get some kind of bonus in desert tiles, but also that their cultural borders caused desert to spread a LOT faster (not quite as fast as Hell Terrain, but enough that it outpaces the cultural borders themselves and begins to spread into your neighbors).

    Then, Malakim players CAN'T decide to play outside of the desert, because soon enough all the world's a Sand Box! (unless they go water/adept crazy and change it all back, but that would take serious micro management).
     
  9. MrUnderhill

    MrUnderhill Civ-loving Hobbit

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    Mania did a really good job of representing nomadism in his mod.
    Perhaps the Malakim (and maybe some other races like the Hippus) could a toned-down version of that.
    I'd give them a unique Pasture that gives +1:hammers: on any tile with 1 :food: or more.
    Couple that with a +1:food: from deserts and a few unique units and I think you've got something.
     
  10. Basil II

    Basil II Bulgar Slayer

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    Maybe they could spread 'nomad camps' in a similar fashion to the the ancient forest mechanic, but on desert tiles.
     
  11. OzzyKP

    OzzyKP Emperor

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    I really like the Nomad Prince idea.

    But we'd need to tone down all the terriforming options otherwise it could be abused. Personally I don't like terriforming in the mod, it is unnatural and just results in too much micromanagement.
     
  12. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    How about moving cities? tent cities that can be moved around on the desert... and it would be beneficial to have an adept with scorch around, just to move the city further.
     
  13. Nikis-Knight

    Nikis-Knight Deity

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    Hmm... I have a hard time seeing mobile cities (Let's pick up and move our library, aqueduct, stables, walls... and oh yeah, don't forget to pack the catacomb liberalis!) but being able to shift cottage improvements might be interesting.

    Actually, it'd probably be irritating in practice, come to think of it, so I don't know.
     
  14. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    I've always seen nomadic, RL, civilizations as having a few, fixed, cities, where most of the culture and development takes place, but most of the population living on the move, going to war, and moving to better pastures... (the mongols, for example)

    so maybe a malakim city that grows and can be moved, and can build a few, basic buildings. (it's not so hard to move an archery range, just pick up a few targets, store them in the yurt, and leave... same thing for horses... ride them around, and then, at night, build a temperorary fence...

    idk, it might be hard to mod...
     
  15. Mailbox

    Mailbox King

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    Why not give them the ability to move population points (perhaps one per turn or so)? It would have to be balanced but if the population was nomadic they'd be able to move around and go from city to city easily.
     
  16. OzzyKP

    OzzyKP Emperor

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    I think the suggestions in the OP were the best so far.
     
  17. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    The inability to build improvements in deserts is one of the few things that annoyed me about (unmodded) Civ 4. Seems kind of silly, too, since you'd think a civ that can build a spaceship to Alpha Centauri can improve a desert. So I've really enjoyed the terraforming options available in FfH.
     
  18. Silaor

    Silaor Chieftain

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    Population moving could be done via a "Join city" spell available only to malakim settlers/wrokers (à la Civ III IIRC)
     
  19. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Or it could be automatic: malakim nomads randomly leaving cities as uncontrollable units, which travel to other cities to add to the population there.
     
  20. Dora190

    Dora190 Warlord

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    Its worth pointing out that once Chingis got his empire the first thing he did was build a static capital. The Hordes also settled into static cities quite quickly in there new territories too.

    I don't think mobile cities would fly, why not just allow a desert terrain construction specific to them that abstracts out trade, food, et al, otherwise you could end up with a lot of micromanagement.
     

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