Marathon Difficulty Settings

Hsinchu

Prince
Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
429
Location
Southern California
I just completed my first Marathon Game, won an accidental domination circa 1400AD.

Noble, Fractal, Small, 3 rivals.

I was playing Mao Zedong of China (for the first time?) and was originally shooting for a diplo win but felt the military opening given to me by my opponents was necessary to exploit.

It appears that on Noble difficulty (or maybe its just me) that the Marathon game is too easy. I lurk the GOTM and HOF Gauntlets in order to glean education on how to start and I am proud to say that my Noble and Prince games normally go very well at the start in terms of micromanagement.

This start I did push a gold/plains/hill start for the phat bonus in exchange for one turn delay. I also was lucky enough to ride a river for early hookups (including gems).

While I understand that credit is due for proper planning on execution, it looks like the AI never really met me in the military sense. I led the military massing at 4 Horse Archers and some pitiable defenses while EARLY in BC and my opponents right up until AD never produced more than a couple metal units and loads of VERY soft archers. Aside from a few jilted combat odds (98.6% HA vs Archer loss... twice) I managed to crunch Ghengis and JC and maintain +16 or so dip with Isabella. Louis of France was on his own small continent and led culture and pop for a large duration of the game since he was unopposed on his own continent.

I was wondering three things:

1. Is a PHAT gold start REALLY that advantageous in the long run, or just in a Marathon game?

2. Are Marathon Noble AI really that soft?

3. Is the "jumping the shark" effect of moving from Noble and Prince to Monarch and Emperor really going to change my world, and if so, how?

I find that I can live with the numerical handicaps of Prince and Monarch since I know how to push a lead and manage with less, but I still don't really understand specific AI reaction differences and long term consequences of that population squeeze at the start.
 

madscientist

RPC Supergenius
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Oct 6, 2006
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New York City
From someone who was a devout Marathoner for many years, and now a Normal/Epic player.

From the military point of view, Marathon is easier than Epic which is easier than Normal. You can move military faster, it is cheaper relative to Normal, and teh AI techs towards a better military faster.

On the other hand the peaceful aspect of the game (culture/space) are easier since you adapt to the AIs attacks faster yourself, and infrastructure is cheaper relative to military (at least compared to marathon).

One way to balance out MArathon speed is to increase Map size.
 

michmbk

Emperor
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Jan 22, 2008
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Gold is advantageous at all speeds - it's definitely responsible for a fast start any speed, any level. IIRC, that's 8 commerce per turn right off the bat - assuming you can work it at size 2 with a food resource, that's a major benefit, shaving turns off each early tech.

Marathon is set up better for war than for peace. You (and the AI) can produce units faster relative to other speeds, and units obsolete much more slowly than they do at epic or normal. I've made the move from epic to normal to allow me to play more games, and have noticed that I need to be much tighter when it comes to military action on normal speed than on epic. Any delays are more likely to cost you at faster game speeds.

And on noble, the AI's production (I think) is equivalent to yours - no bonuses for the AI, so modest micro, enough workers and city specialization should allow you to move ahead of the AI.

Haven't played vanilla in awhile, but I found noble-prince was easy, and prince-monarch was tough for me - that was playing mostly on epic speed though. Prince-monarch obviously has its challenges as the early rush becomes more challenging with AI starting w/archery.
 

Hsinchu

Prince
Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
429
Location
Southern California
Oh! Archery is the pill to swallow. I didn't remember that one, but that is probably crucial (and the reason so many Mansa Musas populate the HOF around that difficulty).

What I meant by the gold start was that I planted on the plains/hill/gold. Incidentally, there was another gold/plains/hill in the first pop to add to a remarkably advantageous BFC. I didn't have any food resources in the immediate area, but I capitalized my flood plains with Agr as a starting tech for China.

I'm not at my laptop which I used to play this game, but when I do, I'll try to post my start screenie to field if I made the best decision or if maybe I just had too much handed to me by the RNG gods.

Incidentally, I think the military analysis is very helpful to understanding. I figured obsolescence would be different and expected that, but I didn't know the relative builds are lower, too. What I did notice on both epic and marathon is that shielding workers from getting killed and still layering on infrastructure while at war is harder. No more "build the road and then get covered by friendly units" because two and three turn roads have become 6 and 8. Also, 1 turn pillaging for 30 turns to improve scars ALOT more. Particularly when it is the marble I am using to build wonders.

I didn't know that game speeds other than quick and normal were preferences of anyone, and I admit that 80% of my games are normal with the remaining mostly filled up with quick. I get what you mean about the military decisions being more... urgent. The AI definitely seems more intent on military build-up at normal speed and I'm not sure if they get free unit upgrades at noble, but that deterrence to obsolescence (I don't have to pay to upgrade or waste turns building new military) is definitely the biggest felt advantage in a marathon game. Everything else may just seem like a stretched out civ game, but the AI not being able to breathe down your neck with the threat of an unanswerable DoW is definitely a reason that I might switch to Marathon for my weekend play run.

I think I am going to up the size before I up the difficulty. I think that the reduced diplomatic stresses and the map competition to spread religion is probably much easier in marathon because its a small map. Moving to Standard on my next Marathon game.
 

michmbk

Emperor
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
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Settling on the gold typically wouldn't be as beneficial as settling near it and mining it - you lose out on a massive commerce bonus. If you had flood plains, you could farm 2 flood plains and work two gold hills at size 4 and still grow. If there's a food resource, even better, cottage those flood plains to keep growing and keep the commerce coming in.
 
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