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New patch: ICS-lover's dream

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Strategist83, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

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    Sorry, but I think we have a problem. If it was there before, it certainly is there now with the new patch. Frankly, Firaxis has me confused at this point. This patch has done precisely what I expected, but I just don't understand why they're taking the game in this direction. Let me explain:

    There's a single line in the patch changelog which I doesn't stand out as something special but in fact has considerable ramifications:

    • Reduced per-city Policy cost increase by 50%.


    This in particular, coupled with the main trend of this patch which in turn builds upon what was done in last patch - namely the conversion of building bonuses from being percentage-based into being raw numbers based -(such as how the Factory has gone all the way from a 50% production into a 10% (sic!) one - means wide empires are more powerful than ever before. Tall empires benefitted the most from the 50% bonus while wide empires will be pleased to receive that +4 hammers instead. The picture is the same across the board, the Universities, for example, have received the same treatment. It even continues into the policy system, where constitution no longer gives you a percentage-based culture bonus, but simply a flat +2 per wonder. It permeates every aspect of the game - the current CiV isn't even close to what it was out of the box.

    Another trend of this new patch is the allocation of happiness bonuses from being based on population into being based on number of cities. Even the reduction to luxury happiness leans towards this trend. Essentially, nearly every social policy is now an 'Order' policy, rewarding you with happiness not from growing your cities large and developing them well, but rather from founding lots of them. This is true even despite the fact per city unhappiness was increased by a single point. That single extra unhappy is made up for by the fact you now get your happy from your Stone Works, Circus, Monument, University, garrisoned unit and Walls - etc etc etc - all of which are per-city based. There's only a single policy left in the game now that rewards you for going tall: Monarchy. Everything else is numbers-based, arguably even the Landed Elite one from Tradition! In a sense, tall empires simply don't exist anymore - even 'tradition' empires will want to be more horizontal.

    Now, this isn't a problem to me. I like wide and I always disliked seeing only a fraction of the continent being settled, a wilderness ruled by barbarians even far into the industrial era. Rather, the problem is the national wonders which are starting to look woefully underpowered - with the exception of the ever-incredible National College, which has the benefit of being not only absurdly powerful (with a % science bonus that now dwarfs the University!) but also available very early - a powerful combination.

    So, the issue is this: Those national wonders - with the notable exception of the glorious NC - aren't going to get built. Why? Because the bonuses they offer, while very nice, simply aren't good enough to make up for your not expanding. 50% culture bonus from Hermitage? That's massive - but it's useless if it means you must stay at four cities throughout most of the game when you could have grabbed all that free land around you for a 12 city empire. Same story for the National Treasury or Ironworks - the bonuses are nice, but not if you must pay for them by being only a fraction of the size you could have been. Do recall that this is where the real change is from previous versions: You used to pay a hefty price for expanding by your policy cost increasing considerably - but it's been cut in half now and your policy cost increases just an insignificant 15% per city.

    I suspect part of the reason there is this 'problem' is the AI is too reluctant to expand and there are therefore too few luxuries being traded between empires, causing the whole word to have less happiness overall. But it does seem to me that now, more than ever before, there's no real choice between tall and wide - wide is the only answer.

    What are your thoughts on the matter?
     
  2. Zeknichov

    Zeknichov Chieftain

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    Oct 22, 2010
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    I think wide was always the way to go. People just went wide with a bunch of puppeted cities. The easiest way to beat deity last patch I thought was to Longsword rush with 1 mega-city, set yourself up politically to attack 1 AI without getting all the other AIs on your case. Puppet all the AIs cities, while getting a couple military CS and sign some RAs to shoot your through the tech tree as you finish off the first AI. Move on to the next AI and continue this till you win. Usually after the second AI is done the game is pretty much over. You've got some wicked gpt, a bunch of gold from peace treaties, your research is above everyone else and you've got a super upgraded military.

    I think this patch changed this strategy a little, though I haven't been home to test it yet. I'm hoping that wide empires in the sense of annexing or expanding will be more beneficial to wide puppet empires.

    I actually think the nerf to LS is an indirect buff to tall empires because an early aggressive strong military was always the biggest weakness of tall empires.

    I think overall the patch might have made wide puppet empires worse while making wide annex/self-expanded empires better and I don't think tall empires have changed very much.

    I will have to get home to test my assumptions though.
     
  3. Emstinson

    Emstinson Warlord

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    Aug 1, 2010
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    Florida
    well on a much less in-depth opinion that I can offer... I tried a game last night to see how the AI would approach it, King difficulty, huge continents, two AI, everything else random. I ended up on my own massive continent and the two AI were on the other even larger continent. I fought off a lot of barbarians as there were no roaming AI troops to do it for me, not finding any AI on my island. So i finally got a caravel to the other island and found both Japan and Egypt had dozens of cities. I was impressed to see this as I am used to one AI out any random number of opponents and difficulty even try to go that big with their own cities.

    So the AI seems to enjoy the changes so far, I can't wait to actually get out on their island with troops and see what resources and such they have gone for or if they are all junk cities. And the possibilities of many more opponents in a giant land grab is invigorating...
     
  4. magnus333

    magnus333 Warlord

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    Or they could be using math to balance the two play styles to the point where either one is almost equally viable for any victory condition and the choice between which one the player will pursue comes down to which civ they selected, the map layout and events that unfold in the game.

    Your theorycraft is nice but actual in-game comparisons are much better.
     
  5. Polycrates

    Polycrates Emperor

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    I haven't played enough to make a full judgement, but I don't think I agree completely. And ICS is definitely the wrong term - try to ICS and you'll crash and burn HARD.

    Because there's so much less total happiness floating around, the wide player is really going to feel that +3 unhappy from every new city. That's a lot to make up when it's hard to get more happy. To get all that happiness that's floating around, the wide player is going to have to be focusing on a lot of extra happiness buildings etc instead of doing other potentially more useful things. The amount of time that a new city spends as a net drain on your civ has increased, I think. And clearly there's going to be a harder limit to how wide you can actually go. Eventually, yes, more well-developed cities may be better...but in the meantime the tall player is happily building cities that can grow steadily to decent sizes and build other things and be useful. I guess I'd say I think there may come a point where the tall player would do better to continue expansion outwards rather than just up, but not out just for the sake of it.
    Also, tall empires were a bit of a lie anyway, since they often consisted of the few "tall" cities and then half a continent full of puppets. That style of tall empire is no longer so viable, I think - and good riddance! - and a tall player who does a little conquest might now consider actually annexing a city or two.

    I couldn't resist a bit of early conquest in my post-patch game, and I was left lagging behind with tiny cities until I was able to develop my infrastructure. The lack of happiness in the BCs is very noticeable now, and it HURTS early overexpansion.
     
  6. Thry

    Thry Warlord

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    And this is why the AI is now 500% more aggressive.

    On Prince difficulty, if you start near Napoleon / Catherine, etc, expect to be DOWed if you have a very wide empire (which will mean you will have very little army).
     
  7. _hero_

    _hero_ King

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    Happiness is not as easy to come by as it used to be. Go ahead, try ICSing with reckless abandon on a higher difficulty. It doesn't work too well. You hit the -10 unhappiness wall constantly if you do that. The AI might be able to do it, but it's simply not that cut and dry for the human player like it used to be.


    Now, the 50% culture penalty from new cities reduction seems like it favors ICS, but really what it does is makes up for the significantly higher policy costs later in the game.
     
  8. insaneweasel

    insaneweasel Prince

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    With the happiness nerf, it seems as thought an ICS player would get huge unhappiness.
    Every city must be carefully placed, and if it doesn't have at least one luxury resource, you are going to be in trouble. If you place cities anywhere there is room, you will likely run into huge issues.
     
  9. Uniform Sierra

    Uniform Sierra Warlord

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    I always thought tall was better.
     
  10. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

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    Sounds like not many agree. Which is good. Calling it 'ICS' was probably a bad choice of words on my part, anyway. If you just outwards expand right from the get-go in ancient era, you'll run into problems fast, of course.

    I still think I'm correct to a large degree, but it may be that whether to go wide or not and the degree to which one does is very map dependent. If you can settle cities in locations that have both horse and stone, that's a 'free' +3 happy right there - almost as good as a luxury now. And it's just the beginning, because there are now so many inexpensive small happy boosters depending on policy choices. Monuments, temples, walls, garrisoned unit (with an Archer that costs only as much as a Warrior), a simple road connection. That's a lot of sources of happiness that you get from going wide. You're kind of limited in how many Monuments you're going to build if you plan to stay at three cities - and there aren't many other sources of happiness other than Monarchy unless you manage to grab one of the world wonders.
     
  11. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    The new patch is expansionist's, builder's and conqueror's dream. Finally all three are perfectly okay to pursue without the game being overwhelmingly in favor of 2 cities + a multi dozen puppet empire.
     
  12. civnoob13

    civnoob13 King

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    I don't do ICS because I find it dull, but I think it's great to reduce the policy cost penalty for city expansion. The happiness penalty for number of cities is something that you can manage and it is good for gameplay; I think it should be increased, but so dramatically increasing SP cost isn't reversible and just punishes the player. I welcome a dramatic reduction, I welcome the elimination of that factor altogether. Maybe replace it with a health (which should be introduced as a local variable) penalty the further away you are from the capital). The Forbidden palace should work as a second capital to reduce this (and a new wonder should replace the FP's current effects).

    Just my two cents.
     
  13. Montov

    Montov King

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    I just think there are viable paths to go wide, or tall. It's just that you need to put effort into it with regards to policies and buildings. I love it how the concepts of happiness, policies and buildings are linked but specialization is still needed to take full advantage of a strategy. ie: Honor + military buildings provide happiness, or culture buildings + Piety, or Science buildings with Rationalization.
     
  14. Drawmeus

    Drawmeus Emperor

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    If everything's working the way it seems to be, they're no longer mutually exclusive, also. That is, I can make progress towards my victory condition while fighting wars, expanding horizontally or building vertically, whichever is appropriate based on the course the game is taking. I don't feel like I'm picking a strategy up front and then executing it as perfectly as possible; I feel like I'm making appropriate decisions to shape my empire based on what's actually happening.

    A dominant strategy might emerge, I haven't crunched any numbers, but from just playing the game it seems... really, really good.
     
  15. Polycrates

    Polycrates Emperor

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    After playing some more, I can definitely say that if you're going wide you really have to work for your happiness much more than the tall player. When you're only getting +1 happiness from each of these buildings, it works out to be a lot of buildings and an awful lot of hammers you're spending just to keep growing. You could easily spend a huge proportion of the game just building all the many and varied happiness buildings that you need to stay afloat - while the tall player has more happiness for more population per city, and enough population and production per city to be able to actually build all those buildings and then go ahead and build something useful.
     
  16. gingerbill

    gingerbill Prince

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    i think its harsh to complain about smaller empires not being as good . Surely they have it better than ever before in the history of CIV? . I havent played the new patch enough to decide but they have made a big effort to make small empires fun and competetive. Civ 5 has been a big step forward in that direction i think.

    i am so glad they are moving away from puppet cities being the answer to everything . They were a good idea but i didnt like how they were simply better than having your own cities.
     
  17. SlightlyMad

    SlightlyMad Prince

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    You can definitely get the happiness to go wide if you work for it, but it seems like you need a tall core to be able to do so. The biggest reason it's possible now is that it's much easier to grab wonders, as the AI doesn't seem to prioritize them nearly as much as it used to. So under normal circumstances, wide is difficult, but with 1-2 really good production cities and a nice science core, you can snag a bunch of +happy wonders and be set. You can't just mindlessly expand anymore and that's a good thing.
     
  18. Pazyryk

    Pazyryk Deity

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    I think optimal pre-June patch was puppet empire (for domination victory or a weird culture victory) or true focused tall (other victory types; see various posts in strategy forum). Wide non-puppet was optimal in only specialized circumstances (e.g., Babylon).

    I like that the emphasis has been moved away from puppet empire toward a true wide (non-puppet, or combined puppet/non-puppet approach). This is not the same at all as ICS, which I don't think will work. Still, the happiness hits will restrain or at least delay expansion, and those late cities don't really contribute much if you're going for space victory.
     

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