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PolyCast Episode 193: "Choices Matter"

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by DanQ, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    For certain. The one-hundred-and-ninety-third episode of PolyCast, "Choices Matter", features regular co-hosts "Makahlua", Philip "TheMeInTeam" Bellew and "MadDjinn" with returning guest co-host Scott "AlphaShard" Dirk and first-time guest co-host "Reyzant". Carrying a runtime of 59m59s, the summary of topics is as follows:

    - 01m47s | Forum Talk
    Concluding a point-by-point consideration of one user's "Balance Patch" dream for Civilization V: Brave New World at length.
    - 39m51s | Open Mic
    Replying to one, two, three emails addressed to the show's panelists: an argument for taking the full Liberty and Patronage Social Policy trees from "Nick" followed by when to assign Specialists in cities from "slo" (44m44s) and how to more effectively utilize spies in CivV multiplayer games from "Mats" (48m54s).
    - 49m18s | News
    Acknowledging CivV: BNW's nomination for a 2014 "Games: Strategy and Simulation" award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

    - Intro/Outro | Miscellaneous
    Crowding out, leading by example and what the "ish".

    Recording live before a listening audience every other Saturday, PolyCast is a bi-weekly audio production in an ongoing effort to give the Civ community an interactive voice on game strategy; listeners are encouraged to follow the show on Twitter, and check out the YouTube channel for caption capability. Sibling show RevCast focuses on Civilization: Revolution, ModCast on Civ modding, SCivCast on Civ social gaming and TurnCast on Civ multiplay.
     
  2. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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    On the combined pool reducing choices; it would only be because food sources are now so plentiful (from food cargo ships and to a lessor extend food caravans)

    Also, I think the increased combined numbers could be solved by increasing both the cost for the first great person of each type and the rate that it increases. (Compare Prophet formula even disregarding the RNG)

    But most of the desire for split is that Great Merchants bonus is so weak compared to the alternatives in the same shared pool that it currently feels like more of a penalty to spawn a Great Merchant than a bonus. (Exception of Venice)

    Perhaps if the standard Great Merchant had extra gold & influence of the Venice one then it wouldn't be considered a booby prize for a regular civ to get one.

    On opening a Tree just for the wonder: You guys missed opening Exploration just for the Louvre if planning on completing the Aesthetics tree.
     
  3. Nick31

    Nick31 Chieftain

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    Hey, thanks for answering my question. Sorry to make you read for so long :).

    I think one of the guys got my question, of why Liberty with Patronage might be stronger than Tradition with Patronage: extra gold from 10 cities (5-6 built, 4-5 Puppets), connected via trade routes, and a GE-popped wonder for extra gold (Machu), and selling copies of extra luxuries, strategics, et al).

    I've often had 16-22 CS allies in games and that gave you 200+science (Scholasticism), lots of extra food, lots of extra faith and culture, etc. Anyway, I thought Liberty's ability to get extra gold would mesh better in collecting CS allies and Patronage bonuses. The Food and Happiness from the CS Allies get those 10 cities swollen in a hurray, and with a Freedom (specialist) economy, you can get 7-8 powerful cities rather than just 4.

    Nice listen and thanks again.
     
  4. kaspergm

    kaspergm Warlord

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    Wow ... I listened to the first 20 minutes of this, then I had to stop, because I got so annoyed. The handeling of the discussion of the balance patch suggestions ... those are not even my suggestions, but I got so frustrated with the way they were discussed - not even because I agree with all the change suggestions, because there are several that I don't agree with, just like the panel didn't, but I found that the panel completely failed to acknowledge the reasening behind the suggestions, but just repeatedly saying "noooooo", "imbaaaaaa", "oppppppp", etc. and then pointed out why they didn't like the current suggestion (instead of discussion possibly solutions to the actual problems lying behind the suggestions).

    Just a couple of examples: Separation of the Great Engineer, Great Scientist, Great Merchant onto different counters. Will it give more great people and hence make them less unique? Yes, arguably. Will it be overpowered? Possibly (if only because Great Scientist and Great Engineers currently are kind of overpowered, which should perhaps be addressed). But will it reduce the strategic element of the game? It would, if there was a strategic element, but let's take a step back and look at current situation of the game: There *is* no really choice in current game. I mean, Venice case aside, when do you ever choose the Great Merchant? And before someone comes in with some oddball situation where they have actually chosen the GM, the point here is not that there might be a 0.1 % situation where you will want the GM, the point is that in 99.9 % situations you will not want the GM, and that (imo.) is a game design flaw. Is separating the counters the solution? Perhaps, perhaps not. But let's not pretend that game leaves us super much choice on this area as things are now.

    About the Lancer issue: I won't say upgrading Lancers into Landships is my prefered solution, but that aside, let's acknowledge that there IS a problem with the Lancer. The upgrade path is just way off, and apart from that, whoever said that the Lancer strength is "fine as it is" haven't gotten the numbers correctly, because the Lancer is currently strength 25 + 25% formation bonus for a total of 31.25. The Cavalry is strength 34. Arguably, Lancers sit in a position between Knights and Cavalry, but since they are just one level before Cavalry and two levels after Knights, it seems fair to say that Lancers will be going up against Cavalry in most situations, and in this case, we have a "counter"-unit which is weaker than the actual unit it's supposed to counter, which is just weird and bad game design. Unless we say that the Lancer is not supposed to counter Cavalry, but then why the h... does it have formation promotion and sit between Pikeman and Anti-Gun in upgrade path?

    About the ranged units vs. mounted units discussion: This suggestion probably spawns from a desire to have a rock/paper/scissor mechanism in game units, so that each unit has a counter. Since melee units (pikes) counter cavalry, but are themselves vulnerable to ranged units, it would make sense (imo.) to have ranged units being vulnerable to cavalry units. Cavalry was nerfed heavily after vanilla launch, to the point where they now play a relatively limited role, whereas ranged units are considered the go-to for early warfare. By giving cavalry units a bonus against ranged units, they would get a greater role as counters to early bowman rushes, a role that also fits well with their movement and hit-and-run abilities, which lets them get out of firing range after attacking. Whether it makes sense is for me less relevant, although I do guess you can argue that a formation of archers are pretty vulnerable to a full cavalry onslaught.

    About the discussion of siege units using their +200% bonus on defence: I'm not myself for this suggestion, but I do feel the panel completely fails to adress the fact that catapults are completely incapable of surviving even one ranged attack from cities (which means a catapult will never get to fire even once of a city if it isn't in company with another catapult which takes the hit and dies instead). Trebuchets are better, if only marginally. So when the panel says that the game is "balanced" around cities having a ranged of two, I do think that's a bit of an overstatement, as balance seems far from perfect on this area. As someone says, you can pick Cover on your catapults, but this brings us to my final point:

    Finally, about the Cover on siege weapons: There is afaik. still an unresolved question here. A while ago, I raised the question about whether cover promotions actually work against city attacks (here), and the thread was rapidly filled with disagreeing reports about this perhaps, and perhaps not, being the case. I never found any conclusive demonstration of this, but some people report cover only working on melee units but not on ranged/siege units, which if true clearly is a major bug.
     
  5. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    Given that I wasn't on this episode, I am going to ask my fellow regular panelists and our two guest panelists to respond to this point instead. I hope that you will feel willing to listen to the remainder of this production at some point in the future. I have added to my notes that all of your comments are to be addressed on the next episode.

    Good catch!

    No apologies necessary, Nick. I'm glad you've already had the opportunity to listen to the response to your letter and are pleased with it. Thanks for the check-in. :)
     
  6. Vitruvius

    Vitruvius Chieftain

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    1. I agree with the OPness of GS and GE. But I also agree with the element of choice when you group the counters together. It forces you to specialize. A buff to GM would be enough.

    2. About ranged vs mounted. I would say naaa. Mounted are good enough against ranged. Ranged units are pretty squishy to be honest. The real problem lies in the easily accessible pikes that prevents effective mounted use.

    3. Catapults survive against city just as well as composites. If you want to give them bonus defence against city, wait till the AI sends some over and attack you, and you will want to take back your word. A fix on the cover promotion to work against city and air units would help though.
     
  7. forcedalt

    forcedalt Chieftain

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    The lancer is a funky evolution tree , that seems to have missing links. Spear to pikes , oh , ok , that's very sensible , but then ...it just becomes a mounted unit out of nowhere ,then: it loses movement , looks and moves like a cannon ,but, goes back to fighting like an infantry unit. Then , of course : it becomes a flying machine. Now the fastest land unit in the whole game.

    Perhaps "gunship" ,with appropriate stats , would be better as the upgrade from modern armour , stylistically speaking.
    The GDR renamed as "mech" would look better being an upgrade in the infantry line ,also with appropriate stats of course ,more geared toward defense ,and anti-tank ,less toward offense,and not needing uranium.
    If there would still even be a dedicated cav/tank counter line: Spear , where it is now. A unit called Phallanx (borrowing from previous civs) taking the old pike spot. Pike taking the old lancer spot. the anti-tank where it is ,and , mech inf. , as : the final anti-armour unit.....although...if helicopters ended the armour line , i guess something in the anti-air vein would be more fitting.
     
  8. joncnunn

    joncnunn Senior Java Wizard Moderator

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    More on the policy trees.
    Current Rationalism is still Over powered. But I'm thinking it would still be OP even if "Balance Patch" was adopted as is given how important science is. Without a major change to game mechanics, about the only thing I can think of that would reduce Rationalism from OP to about average would be a forced delay to Industrial era to open which would force more direct competition with Ideologies.

    The other changes I'd personaly make to trees would have more to do with aligning them even better to what (in my own opinion) they are designed for.

    Tradition is supposed to be all about getting a few cities better. As such; the global food bonus is out of place and should be cut to only first 4 cities (same ones as free aquaduct). And the city ranged bonus is out of place as well and belongs more to Honor.

    Liberty is supposed to be all about getting a self founded wide empire better. As such, the free great person seems rather out of place (and stepping on Piety''s closer) and I'd remove that part entirely. In addition a self founded wide empire could use more workers than one in which you only built a few and so instead of a bonus in worker tile improvement rate to Liberty I'd make it a double production bonus for any city building a worker.

    I also think that Commerce should be all about making gold via well Commerce while Exploration should be all about Exploring and so would have Wagon Trains improve all trade routes and not just land trade routes. On the exploration side, I'd replace the bonus of gold for cargo ships with increased gold pillaging opponents trade routes along with changing its name to "Piracy".
     
  9. shaglio

    shaglio The Prince of Dorkness

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    You beat me to it. I haven't read that thread in a while, but from what I remember, after all the experiments and calculations, it was determined that while the Combat Calculations screen said that Ranged and Ranged Siege units got the benefits from Cover I and Cover II, in actuality they didn't receive the bonus. I'm pretty sure the analyzers' deduction was that the Cover Promotions affected Combat Strength while Ranged and Ranged Siege units use their Ranged Combat Strength on defense.

    It would probably be better to allow them to use their Combat Strength on defense so they can take advantage of the Cover promotions, than to allow Ranged Siege units to use their 200% City Bonus. Why else would they even have a separate Combat Strength listed in the first place?
     
  10. GoStu

    GoStu Chieftain

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    I hadn't realized my thread was under 40 EDIT: 60 minutes of scrutiny by the panel. I'll reply more in depth when I'm not posting from my phone.
     
  11. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    Good to hear from you, Stu.

    As it happens this episode featured the second of two installments covering your "balance patch" suggestion thread -- the first being the most previous episode. Between the two, the total discussion runtime is just over an hour.
     
  12. TheMarshmallowBear

    TheMarshmallowBear Benelovent Chieftain of the BearKingdom

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    I feel but for Stu but take it from those guys, they're pros and KNOW how the changes would affect the game.. so I wouldn't take it personally, I liked the effort you put in and there were many things I'd agree with you that could be improved. :)
     
  13. GoStu

    GoStu Chieftain

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    Okay, I'm back in range of my keyboard and not just killing time in between meetings. Let's give this a proper reply! To save my poor overworked fingers, I'll reply to the points where we disagreed more than anywhere we agreed - not much to talk about when we agree! (I'll copy this more or less verbatim over to the thread itself later, too.)

    First off, I'm kind of surprised that of all the suggested change threads around here, mine got the in-depth treatment. Also for clarity: I subscribe to the ol' Activision-Blizzard school of balancing: It's better to go a bit overkill than underkill. This means that at worst the dominant strategies will change around a bit than stagnate.

    RE: Great Person separation on the counters.
    My thinking was that Great Merchants as they stand right now are SO inferior to Engineers and Scientists, that it's actually a penalty to spawn them (unless you're Venice). To speak to your talk of Choosing between an Engineer or a Scientist, I can't say that's ever my first thought in allocating my specialists: generally it's more "I need science" and then "I need Production!" and the GP shows up later as a nice bonus.

    Regarding the demotion from "Great People" to "People"... I already feel this is the case with the addition of GWAM, as well as Faith-buying even more people, etc.


    RE: Cover Promotions. It's somewhat dubious on where exactly the Cover promotions are working. To the best of my knowledge, any unit with a Ranged strength is not benefiting from them as Cover applies to base combat strength, but Ranged units use their Ranged combat strength to defend, regardless of what's actually higher. This is a bug and needs a fixin'.


    RE: Natural Wonders spawning somewhere impossible to work. I didn't know this was a longstanding tradition in civ games. Shall we leave it? :lol:


    RE: Lancers. I wanted to change two problems here. The first is that Lancers flat-out suck at their jobs at 25 Strength. It's not actually stronger than Cav even with Formation, and it's pretty much on par with Muskets... except that it's on a later tech and costs a Strategic resource. They come out too late and in the wrong direction to be useful against Knights except as mop-up of a dated unit. Also, about that Formation promotion? It doesn't work against some units - namely Keshiks (unless this has been patched when I wasn't looking).


    RE: Siege vs. Cities: ain't no kill like overkill! My first thought is of all the times that my hard-built catapult got reduced to splinters in a single hit by the city... and this Catapult is supposed to be good against cities? Directly tinkering with Ranged strengths is a dangerous game, so I preferred to tinker with the unique-to-siege promotion.

    While 200% is excessive, I went for a nice big number to make siege units truly terrifying when they show up. Let's face it, they're pretty bad in open-field fighting with weaker attacks and inability to shoot & scoot. I dislike the situation that I see so often, where ONE archer in a city, plus one or two behind can hold nigh-forever. That Siege unit needs to be the 'oh hell' button to force someone to either come out and deal with it, or die.


    RE: Anti-tank going to Ranged units
    After firing, they'll still be stuck in place without a Blitz promotion. It's also a representation of alternate uses of these weapons in wars. Anti-Tank rifles work pretty well as sniper rifles for anti-materiel uses, high-velocity Anti-Tank Guns were useful for smashing hardened fortifications, and attack helicopters are good anti-everything provided they're not hit back.

    Also, this is a very personal gripe, but I despise seeing the animation of antitank/antiaircraft guns being rolled forward as melee units. Both are items you hide desperately in a bush somewhere to keep from being spotted, not trundle up face-first into an infantry platoon.


    RE: Oligarchy
    : I had a feeling that cutting down on Tradition's core mechanics was undeserved, and that taking apart the "tall growth" was unfair. Tinkering with Tradition too much might just make Liberty better at Tradition's job instead, and that's the thing I wanted to avoid most. Instead I wanted to come at it from another angle and open the door a little wider to just walking in and killing the 4-city, mass-science, beaker-spamming player. Oligarchy adds a lot of early strength to cities, making these very infrastructure-heavy plays very safe. Also, once it starts stacking with things like Himeji castle & that obnoxious pantheon, it reaches the level that you can almost hold armies with little more than an Archer or two.


    RE: Meritocracy: this is meant to balance out the lack of Gold in those new cities. Pre-BNW new cities could pay off the cost of those new roads with new rivers - now they seem like more of a financial drain trying to get new Buildings up, while the city is too small to spare Food to work a Gold/Production resource. Maybe Meritocracy isn't the right place, but I think something like this might be the right effect.


    RE: Honor:

    - Gold per Kill as a finisher is too late for this to matter much. By the time you're at least six policies, the gold from a kill (7-8 early game?)... it's pretty negligible. Compare the amount to what it can buy; you've got to stack the bodies awfully deep to buy more than a single starter building. The Barbarians bonuses typically expire somewhere between Medieval and Renaissance. Doubling it up later might be strong, but as I said at the beginning, better too much than too little.

    - Happiness/Culture from Units: every single one was absolutely overkill. My thoughts were that Maintenance would bankrupt any player trying to abuse the hell out of it, but looking deeper into the exact formulas of Unit Maintenance, a better balance might be struck around 1/2 or 1/3 that effect. It needs to be somewhat useful on a small army a player can afford while not being game-breaking with straight unit spam. Listening to your ideas, I think it might be fair to exempt Scouts from working with this too - I forgot about them, but they'd be a low production for higher reward unit available deep into the game.

    The other mitigating factor is what happens when someone kills your units. Someone DOW'ing and eating your scout swarm could both give them some uncomfortable amounts of experience (uncomfortable for YOU, that is), and pitch you deep into frown-town and bereft of Culture.

    Ultimately, it might be best to keep the Happiness/Unit ratio higher while putting a hard cap on the max output, possibly tying it to 2-3 per City in empire, or by forbidding it from taking you above a certain smile count. (So your troops won't let you become UNHAPPY, but they'll keep you at zero or something).


    Re: Scholasticism
    - City-states often generate approximately :c5science:buggerall for themselves, although I get that it's better the higher the difficulty. Last game I was on Emperor for (my preferred for fun factor), and it was generating somewhere around ~10% of my empire's total... after I'd allied every CS on the map. Given that the Rationalism opener does that, and stacks with other things, and is a lot shallower in the tree... eh. It could use a second look at, is what I'm driving for here.


    Re: Commerce

    - Mercantilism already gives Science to those buildings. My net increase is +1 on the Bank and +2 on the Stock Exchange. I don't think this is too much, given that by the time you're reaching Stock Exchanges +2 beakers isn't much, even multiplied by Universities and/or Labs.

    - The second free Trade route lacked creativity I suppose. Some alternate effect could be better, or the Finisher could remain as-is.


    Re: Exploration

    - "Merchant Marine": I had assumed that Cargo ships would keep their pathing through other units, and they're the last unit targeted in the stack. In hindsight, this isn't quite right; maybe if the ship still stacked differently, but automatically attacks if it runs into an enemy? It's better than the automatic death they suffer right now. My intent here is that a big sprawly naval empire will run Cargo ships all over the damn place, probably farther than they can really control effectively (as their range doubles, the area to patrol effectively squares.) Protecting them from random barbarian Galleys and Trireme attacks in the Modern era would be nice.

    - Navigation School: the more of a 'naval' empire you are, the more likely you need to move civilians or troops around Embarked. Being able to do this faster would be nice, versus the sometimes 15-20 turn embarked voyages you'll see lategame. That England could get to LUDICROUS SPEED is... meh. Hooray for England? Also, this policy is a massive low point of the tree; I think it needed something.

    - Buying Archaeologists with Faith: the cost could be tweaked to whatever it needs to be to make this not too crazy. Buying Admirals with Faith... like you said, that basically does not happen. There's some theme with Archaeology given Hidden Sites and the Louvre; I thought this fit.

    Re: Rationalism
    - Libraries. Oops. That was supposed to be Universities.

    - I changed the opener around so it's not totally free science (10% for first SP in the tree always felt strong to me), but I can be convinced otherwise. At least the Scientists require you to be working that kind of Specialist is my thought.


    Anyways, thanks for the review. There's no more divisive topic in any community than game balance. I'm not bothered by the quick "OP" on some of the points - I know the pacing of the show demands that you move on: even at that pace it was an hour across two shows. There's just not time for in-depth back and forth across everything.
     
  14. DanQ

    DanQ Chieftain

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    Your thorough reply is most appreciated, Stu.

    I am the one who, with rare exception, chooses the topics that are discussed on PolyCast. I felt that it was time again to discuss such a balance suggestion thread; given the time and effort you put into yours, combined with the discussion it had generated by when I first came upon it, I decided to have it covered on the show.

    I was not expecting our taking this long to discuss your suggestions -- I had beforehand estimated about half the time would be spent. Indeed, your suggestions generating as much debate, controversy even, is a testament to the importance of raising and considering points and counterpoints to them towards the common goal of seeking to improve Civilization gameplay however one comes to regard improvement.
     

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