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"Paradise Found" Deluxe

Ja Mes

Dec 5, 2020
I was recently replaying some Civ5 and have gotten really hooked on the scenarios. I had a lot of fun with Scramble for Africa and Conquest of the New World Deluxe, not to mention some modded scenarios like the Revolutionary War and the Rise and Fall of Andean Civilization (both by framedarchitecture, whose attention to detail is excellent-when America conquers Iroquois cities in RW, they're renamed to their modern variations). However, when I returned to Paradise Found, the "History of Polynesia before and during Captain Cook's voyages," I remembered how disappointing it is. In his review, Kalle called it "certainly the weakest so far... It feels like not much effort went into this." I couldn't agree more. The scenario has a fascinating setting, but really weak gameplay. Before I get into some ideas on how I'd like to improve it, I want to put down some thoughts about the base gameplay, and why some aspects of it are so weak. [As a disclosure, I've never been great at playing Civ5, so if my comments seem plebian please let me know.]

Special Rules, Theme, & Victory
One thing I like about this scenario is the setting, and how it relates to the special rules and victory. The main rule change is "Grow your empire as large as you want; the cost of social policies does NOT increase based on number of cities in the empire." To win, you simply have to unlock all 18 Cultural Policies. From my preliminary historical research, there was obviously never anything like a cohesive Polynesian state. This scenario really pushes the limits of what the "Civilizations" in Civilization are, from just the Union and Confederacy in the Civil War Scenario, to empires and kingdoms in most others, all the way to Civilizations in the grandest sense. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay doesn't live up to the grandiosity of this scenario. This is one of the only scenarios to not have a turn limit, but you end up not doing much anyways.

Exploring the Ocean & Unit Movement
Civ5 was not a game with ocean exploring in mind. There are only two variations of water-coast and ocean. Unlike land, there is barely any variation to the terrain, or to your unit's line of sight. Embarking land units is a pain, especially your workers which have to move between one-tile islands. Overall, this makes exploring the ocean in Paradise Found a bit of a chore. Assuming you're playing on the random map, you can just pump out a few Triremes and put them on auto-explore. One of the fun things in Paradise Found, however, is the unique random Oceania map script. Going into the code that generates the map, you find it's not just the archipelago map script, but a custom map that always features three specific landmasses: New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island. [A funny thing about the Steam achievements for discovering these in the random map: the game literally just checks the size of each new landmass you discover. The South Island is 36 tiles, the North Island 27, and Easter Island has two Marble resources.] These three landmasses are also a get-rich-quick scheme: because the ocean sucks in Civ5, you can create real cities on the islands and spam Moai on coastal tiles, which are boosted in culture by adjacent Moai.

Happiness, Resources, & Citizen Management
There's a rather funny reddit thread about the scenario, that ends with "TL;DR Paradise Found made me starve my people to death in search of happiness." The map is simply barren of luxury resources. The scenario actually doesn't feature any strategic resources. There is only one building with a useful specialist slot-the Temple, which has a Cultural Specialist. Not that I ever try-hard citizen management very much, but all the nothingness of the ocean means you don't have much choice-most of the tiles are the same. If you're not at war (which isn't a great strategy, anyways) you won't actually have much to do most turns.

Civilizations & City-States
There are four Civilizations in the scenario, only with Unique Abilities:
  • Receive free Settler when you discover Astronomy.
  • City-State Influence degrades at two-thirds the usual rate and recovers 50% faster than normal.
  • Unhappiness from number of Citizen reduced by 25%.
  • All land and naval military units (including Scouts) have +1 sight.
Kalle points out that "since [it's] the same [strategy] for all 4 civilizations, the scenario gets a bit boring." There are also City-States, which, if you try to do the quests or, just bribe them, can give you some happiness from any luxury resources they have. Unlike the Fall of Rome scenario, which has wildly different strategies depending on which Civilization you play, Paradise Found just feels very, very samey. The simple renaming of leaders and abilities definitely weakens the replayability.

Paradise Found features one of the most interesting tech trees. While there is a new pre-industrial tech tree specific to Polynesia, the scenario features Captain Cook's voyage a few dozen turns in, which unlocks the previously gatekept Scientific Theory, and the rest of the industrial tech tree, featuring Caravels, Frigates, and gunpowder units. This is one of my favorite parts of the scenario, because it means the gameplay should change significantly midway through. Unfortunately, it doesn't really, except it makes military conquest easier. I think this is supposed to reflect the unification of the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1800s, but it's unlikely that multiple Civilizations will actually settle on Hawaii. framearchitecture does this trick really well in the Inca scenario, where after unifying the Andes, you must survive Pizarro's Spanish onslaught.

Other Thoughts
Paradise Found is probably the weakest Scenario developed by Firaxis. There's a lot of good-the new art for the Policy trees, some good research into historical background-but the Scenario lacks what I think makes a good scenario: differentiating itself from the base game and providing a unique, contained experience. I could have relatively the same gameplay if I downloaded the End in the Renaissance mod, chose an archipelago map script, and only enabled a cultural victory. I have a few thoughts on how to improve the Scenario, which I'll expand upon in the next post.
I've decided to organize this into what I, realistically, can achieve. Modding is hard! Let me know if you have any ideas on the technical or gameplay aspects of these changes.

  • Switch charges for Workers and Work Boats: make workers disappear after one instantaneous tile improvement; work boats persist but take several turns to make fishing boats
  • Remove Scouts: there is barely any land that is not visible for sea units
  • Add new Ocean Exploration Unit: something to replace the scout
  • Buff Happiness: just make unhappiness from population less, or add better happiness policies
  • Rework UAs: since we're already stealing one UA for all the Civs, we should make them a little more unique to differentiate the playstyles
  • Disable auto-explore: Steal the code from the Scramble for Africa scenario
  • Convert to BNW: the updated health system and Great Admirals would be great for this scenario
  • New win condition: a race for culture is kinda lame. A new victory condition could be The game ends once all islands in the Pacific have been settled, highest score wins. This really plays into the Grand Civilization theme and the settlement of the Pacific
  • Religion: I would need to research this more, but it could be like the Conquest of the New World Scenario, where every Civ gets to choose a Pantheon
  • Bonuses for Settling Unique Landmasses: Maybe there should be a unique boost for founding cities on Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island, either a special unit, a boost to resources, or just +500 points.
  • Rework Tech Tree: There should be more balance rather than a distinct military/non-military side, but I want to keep Captain Cook's voyage as a catch-up point
  • New ocean improvements: Definitely going to look for inspiration from some other mods
  • New Policy Tree: Because we're removing the boring win condition of "unlock 18 policies," I'd like to add a fourth tree to the scenario that unlocks after Captain Cook's voyage: something reflecting the new political organizations in Oceania, culminating in the United Tribes of New Zealand with the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand (before British annexation). These policies would probably be a late term boost to gold (reflecting organized trading with Europe), boosts with city states, and a final push to happiness.
  • New sea resources: adding resources to an existing .lua map script is extremely difficult, but I think one method is to just replace 1/3 fish with a different resources
  • New leader screens: just need to do some art!
  • Natural Wonders: Adding Natural Wonders, like resources, is a pain for changing the script, but there could be some for the unique landmasses
  • Great Works of Art/Writing/Music: would be difficult to research, but would be wonderful to add
Not Planned
  • Trade Routes
  • World Congress (what would it do?)
  • European/American colonization, the scenario should end ~1840
  • Tourism
  • Implementing "Ocean Cities": in some this could be interesting, but I don't want to overcomplicate the scenario
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