My 4.5 Playtest Report + Feedback

L. Vern

Sep 5, 2022
Ontario, Canada
It's been a while since I actually spammed out some vp games, so starting on reading week until now I have been attempting to get a win with every victory type and seeing how that goes, while trying out a few civs I haven't played before. Going to go over a quick overview of the games, then my overall thoughts on each win condition, state of the mod in general, ending with a discussion of the civs I played as.
Each game took a bit over 10 hours, with the domination game being closer to 20 hours.

All games were played on Emperor (6) on version 4.5 with a few modmods, notably 4UC.

Spoiler Game 1 - Poland, Cultural Turn 342 :

Tectonic Standard, 10 player

This game I conquered Morocco fairly early, which made the other civs on my continent angry at me, so I fought a 2 front war until I got winged hussars at which I won both, then mostly cruised to a cultural victory with a few invasion defenses along the way.

Spoiler Game 2 - Babylon, Science Turn 368 :

Tectonic Large, 14 players

This game was the opposite of the last, my early game was fairly uneventful then everyone declared war on me, Songhai and America and Sweden were constantly a pain, but I conquered a bit of my continent then turtled till rocket.

Spoiler Game 3 - Greece, Diplomatic Turn 378 :

Tectonic Standard, 10 players

Game was fairly uneventful until about turn 300, was basically me just getting control of every single non open-doored city state (2) but even then I couldn't pass UN because EVERY SINGLE civ voted against me. So I spent the rest of the game basically just eliminating my neighbors with lots of votes until I could pass the correct legislature.

Spoiler Game 4 - Songhai, Domination Turn 225 :

Communitu standard, 8 players

Yea I mean this civ is kind of strong for dom, I also got fairly lucky in that I caught most of my neighbors warring each other so never had to fight multiple civs at once, basically picked everyone off one by one.

Also I lost a game with korea around turn 360, I was 10 turns max away from launching rocket but Egypt wins CV, so yea they are certainly a credible threat late game now, was not expecting to lose on this difficulty as usually before I have been able to extremely consistently get wins on 6.
State of The Mod
Buildings: I think overall the variety and uniqueness of buildings is great and I like the number of buildings and where they're at. There's some periods of time where in your tech progression you won't have buildings unlocked and your best cities can make units for a while, and some periods of time, notably starting again at public school + zoo, where they're busy with buildings for a while. The power plants are super cool imo, and I have nothing negative to say really except the constabulary line seems kinda bad, I often end up just hiding it from the build menu and never thinking about it again :/

City States: I think they're in a healthy and fun state overall. One thing in particular I like is how they will actually fight with you in wars actively, makes them an active goal of being allies for that reason alone. I'm not sure how much I like the fact that you can snipe a few city states at once then instantly declare war and suddenly you're locked out of becoming allies again because of war and have to fight with a huge swing in power. Makes some fights trivially easy when you pull it off, and feels bad when AI does it to you (actually the only time I had to reload a save the entire run was when this situation happened to me and I couldn't hold LOL). Would not mind seeing some kind of buffer system or duration that you can't be at war after ending the allies status

Combat: Undoubtedly the AI has gotten much better this patch at controlling its units. It is now very good at knowing when it has an advantage and mercilessly pressing it: for the first time since I was a beginner I found myself losing cities to the AI! If there is one criticism I still have it is that it often blunders in positional, mostly static battles - will occasionally move units forward and let them die for little gain. All things considered, they are a very credible threat and make the other systems like diplomacy meaningful because it's really difficult to defeat larger opponents without teaming up on them or catching them off guard when they're at war with another civ.

Culture/Policies: I think the AI bonuses are just straight up impossible to keep up with on lvl 6 lol. I was artistry Poland with full culture focus with a whole continent of good cities from 3 neighbors for half the game and there were still AIs ahead of me in policy count. All 5 games I played this patch I was very much outpaced in policies. I played all the trees this run except tradition (which I personally think is much weaker than its contemporaries, which are both really good). I think some of the medieval policies are kind of passable overall, none of them make me really excited to get them like the ones in classical and industrial policy trees tbh. Some have useless sub-effects, and some are overall arguably also entirely useless (at least in a lot common situations), whereas there's some fun/cool ones in the other 6.

Gold: I'm not exactly sure about the series of changes we took to get to where we are, but I think the gold balance is excellent this patch. I was often having to make many international trade routes to maintain a positive net income, but unit and building maintenance costs are balanced well enough that while it could be a challenge, I never found myself in a position where I could never break even no matter how much I focused gold. That being said I think tech trading maybe takes up too significant of a percentage of the overall revenue.

Religion: It feels fine. I'm not much for religious gameplay so probably wrong person to ask here, I do it for the bonuses I need if I need them otherwise I'm pretty meh on it, I don't think it matters too much after medieval or after you get enough percentage for the reformation. I do however really like the pantheons, some are situationally amazing that feel great like god of fire with a ton of gems and gold around or the tundra one if you luck into a huge stretch for many cities with a ton of resources, but there's plenty of interesting choices that are good generalist picks too. I really like the pantheon system in VP!

Science: Techs feel in a good place to me duration wise. They make look like they take a while in modern and above but they cost so much to account for instant yields which make up often the majority of science contribution at that point of the game and it ends up feeling like a very reasonable total length. Overall I think the AI bonuses are really quite hard to keep up with, I ended up going rationalism every single game except with Songhai because I felt like I was consistently ~7-8 techs behind the leading AI. With that increased science output and catchup mechanics like spy techs steals and trading I often even surpass the AI little bit by the end of the game, so they're doing their job well.

Stability: Stability was good. No consistent crashes, a few memory ctds lategame but no more than 3-4 per game. The babylon game was certainly the worst for this as there was a lot of war with ton of units I guess.

Unit Balance: I think overall is great, assuming a variety of terrain. All units feel like they can get the job done in their correct niche, and I'm quite impressed at the strategic depth and composition choice, especially in later eras.

Victory Types
Culture: Still feels a bit too easy. Admittedly this game I was working with the cultural output of a smaller continent so maybe it should have felt easy but it was really quite a casual cultural domination, all I had to do was send out a few musicians and try to open borders. It also feels unstoppable being on the receiving end of it sometimes, even in advance, might be cool to consider some more active defensive options - would make the victory type feel a lot better overall I think, but honestly no idea if its necessary.

Science: It's the same as ever, not sure if too much can be said about this victory type. I do like how the longer later eras combined with endgame aggression means you actually have to use cool things like stealth bombers and jet fighters, I used them extensively for probably hours of ingame time while defending myself on the way to building the rocket.

Diplomatic: So this is the first time I've went for a diplo victory so some of this may be attributed to inexperience but I just didn't see a way to pass united nations without killing off my neighbors who controlled the most votes. This was due to the fact that even though I controlled every single non open-doored city state (2), every single other civ voted against it which beat me, so I had to eliminate enough people so that I could have enough delegates as there wasn't any feasible way for me to get like another 20 votes. Also I thought it was really annoying how the whole world voted to decolonize like 5 times total. (thankfully the passive gain from trade routes from statecraft and freedom coupled with having trade routes with every city state lets you rebuild global dominance fairly quickly).

Domination: I think this one will always be a freebie for sufficiently motivated players, such is 4x games. I think the state of combat and domination is fine overall. Cities can take like literally 15 turns to take before cannons, which is a bit annoying, but at field guns you can basically sweep the map.

Civ Reviews
Poland: This was my first time playing Poland. I really, really liked this civ overall! Ducal stables are crazy, they allowed me to pump out enough strong knights to take out my first neighbor. Winged hussars were even more crazy, they're super strong and being able to push units out of their forts or out of their fortified status or out of the way of your low hp units path allowing them to escape is super strong. They allowed me to take out neighbors #3 and #4 on my continent. Love the extra free policies, I thought it might not feel as impactful because the vanilla version has every era instead of every other era but no trust me it's still super strong and feels extremely impactful. Would highly recommend this civ!

Babylon: Due to the early game UUs, up till turn 100 is a breeze. I went progress wide and built a ton of walls of Babylon, I ended up getting ridiculous bulbs of 30k+ science late game. But wait, there's more! The invest UA that gives extra production is so good! It's maybe the stronger part of their kit, allows for such easy setup of new cities and construction of key buildings. And being technologically superior in war is always nice in this game too. They feel like they're built to win a SV and they do it quite well, it was very natural from the UB.

Greece: First time playing this civ. Felt extremely easy to get every city state under my control, and the combat bonus is easy to cap out at 5 city state allies and is super nice at 25% boost to all troops! I really liked the stacking gold mechanic with the unique market, idk if it's any good but I like stacking mechanics so it was fun for me lol, and by late game I was getting like 180 from diplomat missions which is great! I think they're super strong for "aggressive diplomacy", definitely recommend them if you like benefitting from huge quantities of city state bonuses while relying on them to help you attack and conquer large parts of the world!

Songhai: First time playing this civ. Wanted to see what it was all about and yea, I mean the UA is broken :/ . I thought going into the game the most busted thing would be knights with amphibious but it turned out the answer was actually a mix of knights and skirmishers with amphibious, it's crazy how many of them can attack the same tile pretty much anywhere. Also their UU (knight that's good vs cities) can just attack from a water tile for coastal cities under cover of a ship to massive effect which is nuts! I think by far the coolest thing about them that I enjoyed the most was actually the city connection on river thing. It felt somewhat similar to the Iroquois connection on forest to me, but nonetheless unique and I thought it was very cool and thematic to just be settling down a few rivers with roads just connecting the rivers.
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Cool analysis. So it kinda smells like a gold version of VP, except tradition being bad.
You should try my mod for more balanced supply and see if Tradition is still bad that way (remove other parts if you don't like them). Will Tradition be good without that much of a supply problem?
Also I did happen to record all of these games - I don't know if there's any interest for something with no commentary and no editing but I'll throw it out there.

Spoiler Game 1 Video :

If there is interest I can process and upload the other games too
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You should try my mod for more balanced supply and see if Tradition is still bad that way (remove other parts if you don't like them). Will Tradition be good without that much of a supply problem?
I doubt it honestly, lack of military supply isn't the only thing holding that branch back - I think the bigger problem is their satellites are just the worst cities in the history of cities.
Admittedly the last time I played tradition was June of last year but it was as a direct comparison to progress (same start, almost same city positions) and at that point it just couldn't compete. The non-capital cities are chronically unhappy and have low production and take forever to set up. And in this mod you need to get more territory as the game goes on, it's very difficult to win with only your starting cities, especially if there's only 4-5 of them. At turn 150 I had (globally) 30-50% higher of every yield except culture, and 7 useful and productive cities as opposed to 1.

It could very well be the case that I'm just inexperienced in Tradition gameplay and don't know what I'm doing, but at least from my experiences given my background and skills I found it to be highly suboptimal and have serious doubts about its ability to get consistent wins on high difficulty. I think the tree needs to actually lean in to having a populous and powerful capital.

As it currently stands if I have a 30 pop tradition capital or a 25 pop progress capital there is honestly not much separating the Tradition capital from the Progress capital, which is absolutely insane to think about when you consider that progress will also have 10-15 useful, productive cities and tradition will have much fewer, happiness crippled satellites with probably not even their core buildings completed :/
I want to see more food and growth rate, and some more pop scaling and ways to make use of it! Having a 50 pop trad capital with access to sci/culture/gold per population or per laborer sounds a lot more appealing and like it might actually be able to compete with the other trees yields-wise.
Sounds like Tradition needs more food in the Capital to work the specialists, instead of just growth. The Capital can also struggle to complete basic buildings since it just has so many things to do.

There are other ways too but they aren't thematically fitting:
- More yields on tiles worked by the Capital
- More yields in satellites

Funny how yields on buildings are in Tradition when it isn't the building tree.

We really shouldn't be buffing ancient trees any further though.
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