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Navy Brainstorming Thread

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by Nor'easter, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    There’s been a lot of discussion about naval AI in various threads on these forums – the bug thread, the balance issues thread, the AI feedback thread. Someone recently started a thread with suggestions specifically for the Man O’ War unit.

    I thought it might be helpful to brainstorm more generally about navies in FfH, and I’m going to toss out a few ideas to get things started.

    Bts versus FfH

    I think it’s pretty generally agreed that the AI in BtS uses navies pretty well. A lot of people commenting on these forums have pointed that one of the big differences in FfH is the existence of the crew promotions, which the AI seems not to understand or use well. Turns out there are other differences, too.

    Part of what I’m going to suggest, therefore, is moving back in the direction of naval units in BtS.

    Just to refresh people’s memories, here’s a comparison of naval units in BtS versus FfH.

    BtS Naval Upgrade Paths (not including modern-era units)

    Galley (2 strength, 2 move, cargo space 2) --> Galleon (4 strength, 4 move, cargo space 3)

    Trireme (2 strength, 2 move) --> Caravel (3 strength, 3 move, cargo space 1 (carries scouts, explorers, spies, missionaries, great people)) --> Frigate (8 strength, 4 move)

    Trireme (2 strength, 2 move) --> Frigate (8 strength, 4 move)

    Ship of the Line (8 strength, 3 move)

    Privateer (6 strength, 4 move)

    Carrack (Portuguese UU) replaces Caravel, has 3 strength, 3 move, cargo space 2, can carry military units

    FfH2 Naval Upgrade Paths

    Arcane Barge (8 strength, 3 move, cargo space 1) --> no upgrade

    Galley (5 strength, 3 move) --> Frigate (10 strength, 3 move, cargo space 2) --> Man O’ War (13 strength, 5 move, cargo space 2)

    Galley (5 strength, 3 move) --> Frigate (10 strength, 3 move, cargo space 2) --> Queen of the Line (9 strength, 3 move, cargo space 6)

    Galley (5 strength, 3 move) --> Privateer (8 strength, 4 move, cargo space 1)

    Galley (5 strength, 3 move) --> Caravel (7 strength, 4 move, cargo space 1) --> Galleon (7 strength, 5 move, cargo space 3)

    Trireme (7 strength, 2 move, cargo space 1) --> Frigate (10 strength, 3 move, cargo space 2) --> Man O’ War (13 strength, 5 move, cargo space 2)

    Trireme (7 strength, 2 move, cargo space 1) --> Frigate (10 strength, 3 move, cargo space 2) --> Queen of the Line (9 strength, 3 move, cargo space 6)

    Trireme (7 strength, 2 move, cargo space 1) --> Privateer (8 strength, 4 move, cargo space 1)


    What you notice is that in BtS, the “pure” combat ships cannot carry cargo, unlike in FfH. (The Caravel in BtS is a partial and limited exception.) Also, the earliest transport in BtS is the Galley, which in FfH has zero cargo space.


    Suggestions

    Warships

    1) Have one upgrade path: Trireme --> Frigate --> Man O’ War

    2) Keep the Arcane Barge, that’s a nice flavorful unit.

    3) Reduce the cargo capacity of these 4 ships to zero.

    4) Following on #3, block them from getting the Expanded Hull promotion or the Skeleton Crew promotion. Since their cargo space is 0, they probably need to be blocked from the Longshoremen Crew promotion as well. That means that the only crew promotion they would be eligible for would be the Buccaneer Crew promotion.

    Caravels

    I’m not entirely sure whether or how to change Caravels. We could make it like BtS, so an alternate upgrade path from Trireme would be Trireme --> Caravel --> Frigate --> Man O’ War in addition to Trireme --> Frigate --> Man O' War.

    If we reverted to the BtS Caravel, then the Caravel would be limited to carrying recon units, great people, and – if doable – T1 and T2 priest units. Again, would have to block them from the Expanded Hull, Skeleton Crew, and Longshoremen Crew promotion.

    Another possibility would be to make the FfH Caravel like the BtS Carrack, with a cargo capacity of 2 and the ability to carry military units.

    Transport Ships

    1) Give Galleys cargo space of 2.

    2) Simplify the upgrade path as follows: Galley --> Galleon --> Queen of the Line.

    3) Rename the Queen of the Line something else. A ship “of the line” is really a warship, not a transport. If you want a name that fits a medieval/fantasy setting, maybe call it something like “Imperial Transport”?

    Privateers

    1) Keep Privateers, but don’t make them upgradeable from lower-tier units or upgradeable to higher-tier units. Just have them as stand-alone naval units, like the Arcane Barge.

    2) Also, reduce cargo capacity to 0 and block them from the Expanded Hull, Skeleton Crew, and Longshoremen Crew promotions.

    Crew Promotions

    I didn’t address crew promotions as a separate issue, but made suggestions above.

    One extreme possibility would be getting rid of the crew promotions altogether. I wouldn’t advocate that at this point, since I think they're a really nice addition. If, however, the team determines that it's going to be really complicated to teach the AI to use them, and the AI cycling through its naval units each turn decide what crew promotions to give each one is going to further slow the game down, it might be easier to get rid of them.


    So, those are some preliminary ideas. Jump in with your thoughts. Hope the team will find a thread this like useful.
     
  2. MrPopov

    MrPopov King

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    I'll go ahead and advocate the removal of crew promotions then. I think they don't add much. And if the AI can't use it, or doesn't know how to use it right, then axe it.

    I also like the explorer unit that some mod mods use when you discover fishing. Something that can upgrade later so when you explore shipwrecks, you can make use of fun promotions and effects it may earn. On the other hand limiting that to later techs like sailing so that the players who go for sailing early have an extra incentive of being able to grab the shipwrecks before everyone else.
     
  3. Emptiness

    Emptiness []

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    I would hate to see the crew promotions removed. In my opinion they are one of the neat things about FfH2. They add flexibility to navies. I can build a reasonable-sized fleet, crew it for combat, and defend my shores. If the need to transport a unit arises, I can recrew a ship, make the transit, and crew back. Without crew promotions I would have built a combat fleet, and when the need to transport a unit arose I would have to build another ship, which after the transit would then sit around doing nothing (or else just be deleted). The crew promotions are more fun.

    I can understand that the AI has trouble with them, but it should be possible to teach the AI how to use them. If the complexities of switching back and forth as needed are too much, then at least the AI should be able to build a ship and then crew it based on how the AI will use it:

    Combat ships intended to defend resources should take Buccaneers.
    Combat ships intended to hunt down enemy ships or escort transport ships should take Longshoremen.
    Transport ships intended to explore should take Longshoremen.
    Transport ships intended to transport units should take Skeleton Crew.

    The promotions would be taken when the unit is built, and then not changed. That should be simple enough for the AI to handle.

    Of course, this would create some situations that don't make a lot of sense. For example, the Galley would not be useful as a transport because apparently the AI needs a transport to have a cargo capacity of at least 2 in order to use it properly. The AI would need to use the Trireme as a transport ship, which in turn would put the AI at a disadvantage with respect to settling across water boundaries (it would need Sailing+Copper or Optics, a human would only need Sailing). This could be fixed by adjusting the design of ships in the mod, which is probably a good idea, but I don't agree with all of the changes you suggested. These are my suggestions:

    Crew Promotions: I disagree with your suggestions about blocking certain ships from certain crew promotions. A warship should be able to make space to squeeze in a unit (Skeleton Crew) at the cost of being less effective in combat, and a transport should be able to take on additional sailors and weapons (Buccaneers) to increase its combat effectiveness. The AI doesn't need to worry about all the possible permutations if it picks one promotion for each ship (like I suggested above), but flexibility and flavor are preserved by not limiting the human to the AI's potential.

    A ship should not be required to have a transport capacity of 1 in order to take on a Longshoremen crew. If necessary (for balance or technical purposes), two versions of Longshoremen should exist: one that gives +1 move for -1 cargo, and another that gives +1 move for -1 strength.

    Warships: I agree with reducing to zero the cargo capacity of the Trireme, Frigate, and Man O'War. These warships can be expected to devote all their space to being good in a battle. If a human needs to squeeze a little extra carrying capacity out of a war fleet then Skeleton Crews can be used, but for serious transportation (such as large-scale naval invasions) it is appropriate that transport ships would need to be built.

    Caravels: This should be a specialty ship focused on exploration and exploration-related transportation. It should only be able to carry certain units, as you suggested. (I would limit it to Great People, Scouts, and Disciples. Allowing more advanced recon units or Priests would open the door for Caravel-based naval invasions.) The current upgrade path is fine; the Trireme should not upgrade to a Caravel, nor should the Caravel upgrade to a Frigate. A production cost reduction might be appropriate, considering its more limited role, but should not be too large because it is strong enough to be effective in combat.

    Galleys: The current Galley is a hybrid combat and transport ship (as demonstrated by its upgrade options). I think the Galley should be refocused as strictly a transport ship: 4:strength:, 3:move:, 1 cargo space, upgrades to Caravel only. The AI can use Skeleton Crew to turn this into a transport it can use, but transport potential remains limited (appropriate, because this is the earliest transport). In absence of Copper the Galley can still be used to defend resources (in conjunction with Buccaneers, preferrably), but will clearly be inferior to the Trireme.

    Arcane Barges: Technically, a Barge is a type of transport ship. The Arcane Barge just happens to have some casters along to help defend the cargo. Although one could make a combat fleet of Arcane Barges, they would not fare particularly well if they were attacked before they could send in fireballs. I typically use these as support ships, with real combat vessels to defend them. I don't think they should be limited to combat-only roles by removing the potential to transport units.

    Queen of the Line: I agree that the name should be changed, but I don't much care for "Imperial Transport". I don't have a good suggestion of my own, however.

    Privateers: Personally, I don't think the Privateer should be a unit at all. It should be a crew promotion: Pirates - gives HN, +1 :strength:, +1 :move:, 20% withdraw chance, and blocks the unit from transporting any units (ie cargo space is considered full). (The Lanun would also get +3 :gold: from combat victories by Pirate-crewed ships.) This represents the facts that a privateer isn't some type of special ship, but rather a ship used for a special purpose, and that any ship can be used for piracy (though, naturally, combat-oriented ships will serve that purpose better).
     
  4. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    @Emptiness:

    Nice ideas, particularly about how to have the AI handle crew promotions. I should have predicted that you'd have some good thoughts on this.

    If you noticed, I put a question mark after "Imperial Transport" in the original post, since I know it's far from the best name. I was groping for something that wouldn't be a generic "Troop Transport" or "Transport Ship," and unfortunately that was the best I could come up with.

    Seriously, though, your idea about having the AI take a crew promotion from when a ship is built and stick with it might be the best way to handle that.

    Interesting idea about making the Privateer a crew promotion rather than a separate unit.
     
  5. Jenaelha

    Jenaelha fields of Elanor

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    From the other thread, I like Onion Soldier and Medicine Man 55's idea of Man 'o War being National Units (limit number). Also the notion of a quick naval unit with the Marksman promotion (yikes) might be interesting.

    Personally, I don't think the units need much tinkering beyond a National limit on Man 'o War which would make the game play more interesting.

    For Arcane Barge, if this is a barge with fireball casting mages why not allow boarded mages use their own range spells?
     
  6. Emptiness

    Emptiness []

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    Oh, they can. Casters on ships can still cast spells. Ring of Fire, Maelstrom and Fireball are all quite welcome additions to a war fleet.

    I don't personally see the Man O'War as being so much more powerful than a Frigate that a national limit needs to be imposed. I'd rather see the unit controlled (if necessary) by increasing the :hammers: cost and/or removing it from the upgrade paths of other ships (so that they must be built, which will make the transition from Frigates to Men O'War more gradual).

    The Marksman promotion on a fast ship would essentially shut down invasions. If you can sink all the enemy transports before they reach you (transport ship + transported units) for only the cost of one ship each (Marksman ship) then invasions become economically catastrophic. Still, it's possible to achieve this situation now (Flesh Golems), so I can't say there's no place for it at all. The ship would need to be expensive to build and require a high level tech, so that it isn't significantly easier to have than an Invisible Flying Marksman Flesh Golem (which requires, at the minimum, Hunting, Deception, and Guilds). This Marksman ship might actually be a good candidate for having a National Limit. Even four of them could put a serious hurt on an invasion force (that's up to 32 invading units killed before they reach the beach).
     
  7. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    Well, there's been a lot of commentary in these forums about the FfH AI using navies very poorly, certainly as compared to BtS. That's why I thought it might be helpful to look at what base BtS does and move somewhat back in that direction.

    Making the Man O' War a national unit might or might not make the game more interesting, I don't know -- I'm inclined to agree with Emptiness that it doesn't seem necessary -- but it wouldn't solve the larger problem of poor naval AI. Actually, I like Emptiness's idea of removing it from the upgrade path -- that would make it like the Ship of the Line in BtS. (Of course, the difference is that in BtS Frigates and Ships of the Line both ultimately upgrade to modern-era naval units -- Destroyers, I think -- so the BtS Frigate is not a dead-end.)
     
  8. Jenaelha

    Jenaelha fields of Elanor

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    @ Emptiness - I had no idea that mages could fire from ships, great thanks! Can Hawks patrol? Regarding MoW, I think it is the fact that Frigates are ignored once MoW are in play and their gameplay value is lost. With limited National MoW Units Frigates now become a essential part of the Navy while MoW remain dominant but less disposable.
    Increasing the MoW unit costs will slow production and thereby numbers but it may be a fine balance to find the point at which the Frigate is chosen over the MoW. Doable, but I think the National Unit concept is more interesting.

    @Nor'easter - Go towards the BTS implementation may benefit the AI, seems reasonable. I know so little about how the AI is implemented that I cannot know what impact it would have to implement these Naval Brainstorms (though Kael is past gameplay changes, I believe). I tend to think of FfH AI as code that hasn't been finessed yet and believe someone will get to it in time (reference Sephi's Wild Mana). I imagine the naval AI is not as far off as it may seem as I have actually seen the AI conduct an impressive Naval Assualt (once).
    I see your point about Marksman taking out Transports (probably why they don't currently get that promotion). What if they could be restricted like assassins are with workers (I think assasins don't target workers in a stack)?
     
  9. Emptiness

    Emptiness []

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    No. Hawks can't board ships directly, nor can they board units that are themselves in a ship. Also, recon units carrying a Hawk cannot board a ship until the Hawk departs (they also cannot upgrade to non-Hawk-carrying units until they put the Hawk down).

    Floating Eye works just fine from a ship, though.

    It's not the same situation as with workers, but still it might be possible to make Marksman (or another similar promotion specific to ships) target the weakest non-transport in a (naval) stack. If it worked that way, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
     
  10. nmcul

    nmcul I have missles

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    I have, as a fan of both FFH and history in general, had a few thoughts about this topic over time, and, if you'd permit me, have a few points to make and ideas:

    The effect of good naval artillery is pretty much completely blown over in this mod save for the actual Man-of-War unit, which is probably a mistake. Considering the fundamental shift that naval gunnery caused in ship-to-ship combat, changing what was an extension of land combat (just, you know, on the ocean) -pitting two movable castles and their garrisons against each other- to what we think of today, with two ships engaging in long-and short-range ship to ship combat until one surrendered or sank, with boarding actions only occurring occasionally and then only either as a finishing blow or a desperate final struggle. What we have in FFH is really a continuation of business as usual as far as navies go, so what I would suggest is that frigates still upgrade to a new ship type-(more on that later), and maybe all your old ships gain Combat I and II and Drill I to represent the retrofitting of all your older vessels with the devastating new equipment.

    Frigates are kind of weird in this mod. The flavor text depicts them being fast and lightly crewed when in fact they are neither: they have a base move of three and in order for them to be anywhere as near powerful as they are in game they would need a heck of a lot more than about fifty crewmen. This is medieval naval combat, after all, so more sailors and especially soldiers = more ship strength. So frigates should probably be completely replaced with some sort of "War Galleon" or something, given that galleons were pretty much the most powerful ships of the Renaissance, with their huge crew capabilities still reflecting the dual use of ships for cargo and military capabilities.

    Once you hit Blasting Powder and get your gunpowder resources hooked up, you should probably get the options of two or three separate ship classes. The redesigned frigates would upgrade either to frigates or men-of-war, with frigates having a strength of 10 and a free strike with high movement (7 or 8), while men-of-war would keep their 13 strength and have 1-2 free strikes (or be immune to free strikes). The national units would be your flagships, and have noticeably higher strengths (16+, magic resistance?), representing your first-rate battleships designed to obliterate anything else in the ocean, up to and including the kraken itself. They wouldn't be terribly fast (and most people would probably give them buccaneer crews to increase strength even more), so they wouldn't be good as cruisers.

    The reason I'm suggesting so many different ships is because the endgame period really is the beginning of the great era of naval trade. Trade on the seas is lucrative now, but in that time period it was essential for all those middle classes that were popping up everywhere to move all the stuff they were now able to produce. Without access to the ocean and with railroads nowhere in sight, your messy, muddy roads, crowded with draft animals and handcarts, aren't gonna be able to handle your attempts to trade dyes, sheep, reagents, and whatever with your neighbors in any large amount or. Control of the seas should be becoming paramount to your strategy, as the destruction of a nation's economic resources should be as important as the destruction of their military resources, allowing you to starve their trading, teching, and upkeep. Likewise, something like Customs Houses should show up with Taxation or Mercantilism, and the +1 trade routes on taverns should be given to them instead (with taverns boosting trade routes to 50% instead). The AI should be encouraged to build navy defenses to blockade everything in sight as often as possible, as should the players, reflecting the fact that a nation can be devastated from another player controlling its seaways.
     
  11. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    I know that Kael has said that the mod is in feature-lock at this point. I don't think changing a few units' stats (e.g., cargo space for warships) would count as a new feature. Changing the upgrade paths, on the other hand, might.

    And Kael did recently add the Disciple of Acheron and Son of the Inferno units, so maybe his definition of "feature-lock" is, um, flexible? :)
     
  12. Jabie

    Jabie Wanted in Monte Carlo...

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    As Spain found out when Drake sent in fireships and sunk the Armada? But gameplay-wise, you are right.
     
  13. Lascivious

    Lascivious Chieftain

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    A problem with both BTS and FFH is that there is not much point in having a navy at all. You can have the greatest armada the world has ever seen and it still won't have much of an effect.
    Sure, you can blockade trade and use of sea squares, but since most wealth usually comes from land, that's at most a nuisance for the enemy.
    You can use it to move your troops along the coast, but since travel by roads are as fast or faster than travel by sea (unrealistically I might add) you rarely get any mobility advantage over your enemy that way.

    The sea is just too damn worthless in civ. The way the economy works, your landlocked cities are usually better than your coastal ones, sea trade can be substituted partially by inland trade and you're very rarely reliant on rare resources from overseas territory.
     
  14. Tlalynet

    Tlalynet Emperor

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    Privateers\Pirates need cargo capacity as only HN ships can transport HN units.

    Its a good thread but I thought I should note that, Esus and the Stooges need a way to get overseas too.
     
  15. Tasunke

    Tasunke Crazy Horse

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    If Man O' War ships are kept the way they are ... then allow us to all build as many as we want. However.... if you want it to become a true Master of the Sea, a Magical Battleship with Gunz (if u will), then it should be severely buffed as well as having a National Limit imposed.

    Honestly if i am building a fleet, any ship NOT an arcane barge is a waste of hammers.
     
  16. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    One change FfH needs is letting Naval units get Blitz (which also involves allowing drill III and IV which are required for Blitz). BtS added that ability, but Kael never ported it over.
     
  17. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    @Tasunke:

    I wasn't the one who suggested making Men O' War a national unit, that was an idea from a different thread dealing specifically with Men O' War, which someone mentioned here. I agree with you (and Emptiness) that there doesn't seem to be any need to limit their numbers UNLESS -- as you noted -- they're seriously buffed.

    Unlike you, if I'm building a fleet I'm doing some combination of ships: Galleons and Queens of the Line for troop transport if I'm going to do an overseas invasion, Men O' War and Arcane Barges for coastal defense and to protect my transport ships.

    @Magister:

    Nice idea about Blitz for naval units. I haven't played regular BtS in a long time, so I'd forgotten that naval units in BtS could get those promotions.
     
  18. Tasunke

    Tasunke Crazy Horse

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    Hmm, maybe Man O' War should get a 50% vs Naval unit bonus. This way they are really good against other ships, even if enough Arcane Barges or other type of warfare (like Stygian Guards + Cultists) could make them toast, they at least have a significant advantage at Naval Warfare. Perhaps give the Lanun's Black Wind the same 50% advantage.

    I heavily agree that Privateer should be a Crew Promotion and not a separate unit. I think that the generic promotion should be "privateer" granting +1 strength, +1 move, +20% withdrawal, and +2 gold per combat. much like the afore mentioned idea, although with gold for all.

    Then the Lanun replacement "Pirate" would grant +1 strength, +2 move, +30% withdrawal, and +5 gold per combat.

    In this way the Lanuns would still have superiority when it comes to piracy, via more plunder and better use of their Sails, rudders, what have you. I think that maybe it should cost 30 gold to "hire" a pirate crew to navigate your vessel (privateer as well) ... or maybe less. However it makes sense for there to be some economic trade-off to hire your elite mercenary pirate crews instead of merely disabling the loading of units. oh, both promotions (pirate and privateer) would grant HN of course. I also like the 20 or 30 gold cost of equipping a Ship with the "pirate" promotion would be the greater ability of a WEALTHY nation to garner respect for pirates and the like. Historically it has always been the Wealthiest of Naval Trade nations that employed the greatest number of Pirating vessels, and to me it just seems flavorful and balanced, especially with my idea that ALL combats survived by such vessels would bring in a small amount of capital.
     
  19. Nor'easter

    Nor'easter Emperor

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    @Tasunke:

    I also liked Emptiness's idea of making Privateer a crew promotion rather than a separate unit.

    Your elaboration of that to give the Lanun a separate and more powerful Pirate promotion is nice -- among other things, it would mean that you wouldn't automatically know that a HN ship attacking you is Lanun, the way you do now when you see a Pirate ship. Good call.
     
  20. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    Technically, Privateers were ships that had government issued Letters of Marque, and still flew the flag of the nation that contracted them. It might be more appropriate for Privateers to be AlwaysHostile while Pirates are Hidden Nationality. It would of course require having some Barbarian Pirates in order to make the HN mean much.




    Unfortunately, normal FfH does not currently have the ability to make unit AlwaysHostile through promotions yet. Considering that Kael has stated he wanted Wrath to work that way and that FF has long had the ability it seems like he would have copied that code by now.




    Hmmm..what would you think if non-Lanun ships sailing into a Pirate's Cove/Port/Harbor had a chance of being commandeered by pirates? I think that would be thematically appropriate and only require a pretty simple PyThonOnMove call. I'm thinking the chance would be higher in the updraded improvements, and that if the improvement in is Lanun waters the ship would likely become Lanun while otherwise it would always be barbarian.



    I was also thinking that Lanun ships that had already declared their nationality could have a spell to restore their HN status in pirate coves/harbors/ports.
     

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