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Poll: Should Defensive Pacts be nerfed?

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by ElliotS, Jun 26, 2020.

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Poll: Should Defensive Pacts be nerfed? (We can discuss solution, only vote on if this is a problem)

Poll closed Jul 10, 2020.
  1. Yes

    19 vote(s)
    79.2%
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
    20.8%
  1. JamesNinelives

    JamesNinelives Emperor

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    So it's on me to understand other people, but asking other people to try to understand me is unreasonable? I give up. I don't see the point in having a conversation if the only kind of response I'm going to get is 'everything you've said is wrong and also having emotions is bad'.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  2. ElliotS

    ElliotS Warmonger

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    I'm glad you're seeing the logic behind my idea more, I guess I should have explained it more like you did from the get-go.

    However I think there is one more unintuitive thing many people are missing: Increasing the number of DPs per player isn't necessarily a great idea except in niche scenarios.

    For example you mention that the cap could start at 2 or 3 on large maps, and others have expressed that it could increase by era. Those ideas sound good on their face, and sound intuitively correct. However your ability to declare wars with more people doesn't increase via map size or era, so I don't think that is a good idea. Being on a huge map won't make a 4 civ coalition easier to deal with (outside of cases where one is too far away to help, not something you rely on.) and being in a later era likewise won't help.

    For the later era argument you might claim that by that point you should be better able to fight more civs as a warmonger, but I don't like the idea of freezing all non-warmongers out of wars by that same logic. Someone going for a culture victory should have the option of smashing the capital of their main rival to clear a path towards victory, and if it's gated behind 3 or 4 other civs that's no longer an option.

    That's why I was very careful about restricting where allowing more DPs could be done, because otherwise I think we'll get the same problems, but a bit later.
     
  3. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    You could try to increase it through Ideology. Perhaps DPs with two civs of the same Ideology doesn't "count against the limit". This allows for a more block like manner in the late game, more "freedom block vs authority block". Might still be too much but something to consider.

    Also, how would vassal DPs work in this limited system? Are vassals DP also "free", or would vassals not automatically provide DP benefits anymore?
     
    Delvemor, vyyt and InkAxis like this.
  4. Gizmoman

    Gizmoman Chieftain

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    Vassals are not civs anymore, so of course they do not count :D
     
    ElliotS likes this.
  5. JamesNinelives

    JamesNinelives Emperor

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    IMO making warmongering more difficult is the whole point of defensive pacts. If you want max 2 civs with no way to increase that number I don't see how you are going to make domination difficult on larger maps. Once you conquer the first 2 civs you're twice the size of everyone else. You don't care about sanctions. Where's the 'counter' for that?

    At least with 4-civ alliances it's only defensive; they can't invade you - all they can do is sit there and hope you don't win a science victory. But if I sail across the seas to find the second continent is occupied by The Huns and their 2 vassals, there's very little chance of winning in a war against them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
    Recursive likes this.
  6. Recursive

    Recursive Deity

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    You can't make DPs with vassals to begin with, they have no rights.
     
  7. Recursive

    Recursive Deity

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    I think this is a good point. There's already criticism that war is too easy, and limiting DP alliances limits potential counterplay. War is also more powerful earlier in the game, when proposals are for the number of DPs to be lower. There isn't really an option for many smaller nations to band together against a larger foe.

    On the other hand, there is a strong argument for nerfing the existing coalitions, as having to declare war on many civs at once (particularly friends) to make progress is not a fun mechanic.
     
    JamesNinelives likes this.
  8. Gizmoman

    Gizmoman Chieftain

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    Except DPs doesn't make domination harder, if anything it makes domination easier by completely removing the ability to declare any war at all while playing peacefully.

    Yeah maybe that wasn't very clear. The point is that DP spam makes it impossible to declare one war, because you're going to be at war with everyone and you'll be branded a warmonger forever by everyone in the game. This doesn't change anything for someone going for domination, by the time DPs become a thing they've probably earned themselves enough global hate already to not care about it.
    What the DP spam actually does is removing any possibility of making a timing-based push with your unique unit (if you have one coming online later in the game) without completely committing to a domination victory, as you pretty much lock yourself out of diplo and culture victories completely by antagonizing the entire world. I'm honestly not aware that these specific strategies were actually considered good, doing timing-pushes with unique units was mostly something fun to do as a distraction while waiting for your culture or diplo victory.

    And as far as the AI goes, the DP spam seems to make them just not war with each other at all once the medieval era hits, so that's not exactly fun either, it just creates a stale gameplay.
     
  9. JamesNinelives

    JamesNinelives Emperor

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    I don't think there's any contraversy about that. Perhaps I've been unclear, but I support nerfing DPs. I simply don't want to see my options restricted to only 1 regardless of the circumstances.

    The stakes aren't 'all or nothing'. We have the option to be nuanced about this.
     
  10. CrazyG

    CrazyG Deity

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    That's how I see it. If you've been peaceful for three eras, you don't have the strength to war half of the world. If you rely on trade routes or luxuries or any other form of cooperation you are just screwed.

    On the other hand, if you play someone such as the Aztec and just decide to kill everything that moves from turn 1, you can actually war everyone at once.
     
    ElliotS likes this.
  11. ElliotS

    ElliotS Warmonger

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    Okay so we have 2 issues that need solving for: 1- Warmongers shouldn't have an easy time crushing everyone 2- The countermeasure to #1 shouldn't completely ice anyone that's not already an extremely powerful warmonger out of the game.

    Here is my solution: Rather than these giant blanket DPs that can freeze everything over, make the AIs much more responsive and willing to declare wars against a warmonger that recently declared a war. (Or maybe any time the warscore is about even.) It's on the same path as my idea about greater anti-snowballing behavior being the major solution to snowballing AI, and would work much more dynamically and better imo.

    Basically if a nation declares a war and seems to have a clear advantage over the other side, the AIs will see "Can I make a difference by joining in and declaring against them?" or if no "Can I ask any of my friends and can both of us join together to help?"

    If they're able to help, then they can decide to join in depending on their relation with the attacker. If they're friends with them, joining in to stop them may not be worth their while. If they hate them, they might be willing to risk joining even if they're not as able to help. (Which might cause other AI to decide that now they can help.)

    This makes diplomacy still worth it as a warmonger. (Which is often chalked up as a lost cause. I think there should be/is some ability to balance warmongering and diplomacy.) It also creates a new counter-force to exist against warmongers that is both more fluid than the current one, and probably more powerful. (Because you don't know for sure if anyone will join in, so you need to plan a bit more conservatively or be willing to take risks.)

    Meanwhile with DPs reduced to 1 max (in most cases) then non-warmongers aren't locked out either.

    Thoughts?
     
  12. Recursive

    Recursive Deity

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    Not a bad solution IMO, but it'll require a fair amount of work on my part. I'll bump up "major revision of diplomacy AI's DoW logic" on my to-do list.
     
  13. JamesNinelives

    JamesNinelives Emperor

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    I honestly don't know what the optimal solution is. It's above above my head at the moment so it's difficult for me to give you critical feedback from a game balance perspective. I really really appreciate that you've taken in different people's thoughts and come up with something that might address multiple potential issues though :). That's not an easy thing to do.
     
    vyyt likes this.
  14. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    I kinda wish DPs lasted a shorter amount of time. I dunno what (if any) effect it would have on people's concerns in this thread but 50 turns feels way too long to lock DPs in to me. Maybe half it to 25?
     
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  15. Vhozite

    Vhozite Warlord

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    Honestly the more I think about this the more I think we shouldn’t make huge changes to Defensive Pacts before we see how they work when better communicated to the player. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I feel like there is some confirmation bias on my end regarding how powerful and annoying they are since I only ever really notice them when they are in the way. Better communication won’t fix the issue of one DoW leading to a world war, but better transparency will at least let us see just how much of a problem it is.

    Also, I wonder how much of the player’s difficulty in getting DP’s is related to stubborn trade logic. A bunch of deals have “impossible” next to them no matter what you offer, so I wonder if fixing that (if it’s indeed an issue) would bridge some of that gap.

    I mention both of these things because I don’t want to see Pacts gutted, just slightly toned down. As annoying as half-map coalitions can be to deal with, imo they should still be possible under certain circumstances.
     
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  16. azum4roll

    azum4roll Emperor

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    I watched several AI games. There's almost always a war going on from Classical onward, and DPs didn't stop them in the slightest, since the other AI(s) is likely already locked up in another war.

    Of course, things could be vastly different in a Pangaea map and different map sizes, as well as game speed.

    I propose to just shorten the DP duration and watch the next version.
     
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  17. Gizmoman

    Gizmoman Chieftain

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    One thing that I see as either a bug or just a gross violation of the rules of the game is that DPs ignore existing peace-treaties. Nothing else in the game acts that way.
    If you have one of those 10 turn 'peace-treaty' things with a civ after a war, a dp should not be able to pull you into a war with that civ.
     
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  18. wobuffet

    wobuffet Barbarian

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    +1 from me as well.
    Halve DP duration to 25 turns or so + increase visibility (to human players and hopefully to AIs too), then see what folks think.

    No sense in starting from scratch when changing 1 constant and adding little accessibility/transparency might be good enough.
     
    InkAxis likes this.
  19. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I also think shortening the DP is the simplest out of the gate fix (heck I think 20 turns on standard speed is still a very solid treaty length that's almost half an era right there). That way you can see if the nuances of diplomacy prevent the blocks from being stagnant.
     
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  20. JamesNinelives

    JamesNinelives Emperor

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    My main concern with shortening the length of DPs is that it won't be easy to renew them after they've ended. It's much easier for the AI to scroll through their contacts and ask if anyone is interested in a DP than it is for the human. I think that's part of the reason that the AI tends to have more than human players - it costs them nothing to ask whereas for humans you are more or less waiting for someone else to make the offer to you.

    I do support small changes over a rework though. And while I think a limit of 1 would be stifling, I think a limit of 3 or 4 could make things more interesting for human players.
     

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