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Ramses the cage fighter

Discussion in 'Civ 4 - Advanced Civ' started by Lanstro, Nov 2, 2020.

  1. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    Relevant milestones:

    1765AD: Roman-Celt peace treaty
    1785AD or maybe a turn earlier: Celtic conversion to Hinduism
    1795AD: screenshot 27 above: we first notice military buildup against us
    1804AD: Brennus declares war
     
  2. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    We left off having just been ambushed by Brennus for the second time this game, that snake in the grass. He was about to take Ulundi, and we were pondering peace options.

    Playing around with the peace screen for a bit, we negotiate giving him 66 gpt instead of a city. We watch as he puts pen to paper, vowing that he will repay the favour a thousand times over. We go into universal suffrage to squeeze out some extra hammers. Brennus soon goes into free religion and our relations are back into the red.

    A few turns before our ceasefire with Brennus ends, Caesar declares war on Brennus again. What a bro - neither of them was willing to be bribed into war, and this does the job for us. Caesar's army is about 50% bigger, and Brennus' is out of position. Unsurprisingly, over around a dozen turns, Caesar to take the southern ex-Khmer regions from the Celts. Importantly, he also takes Neapolis back, which means he will have oil later.

    We finish physics first, tech corporations, and also finish steam power. We reveal plenty of coal, and trade steam power to Gilgamesh for steel. It seems Caesar had stopped trading techs with others long ago, and we are de facto tech leaders. This prompts Gilgamesh to start being a bit selective about which techs he's willing to trade with me.

    We have three boatloads of macemen and trebuchets return from overseas, and the workers sent to the southern islands last session make great progress with lumbermills and workshops. By the end of the session, the island cities mostly have quite respectable production, and will be able to pump out navy in future.

    Anyway, it's time for our revenge:

    It's a bloodbath. Most of our riflemen are double or triple or even quadruple promoted ex-city raider macemen. Cannons knock down the walls in one turn, 8 airships come in and soften the defenders up, and our veterans massacre the Celtic troops. Less than ten turns later, our secondary stack is about to take the fifth city of the campaign:


    Brennus is being absolutely pig-headed about capitulation as usual. We probably want to just wipe him out instead of vassalising anyway, as there are delicious holy cities to snap up, but will pause here in case it's the overflow bug mentioned earlier in the thread. Perhaps he's just more willing to serve Caesar than me. Save attached.

    Tech-wise, Gilgamesh is keeping up, but we should pull away in due course. The worry is that he is teching combustion - is he planning on establishing naval dominance and cutting off our southern islands?


    Caesar is of course still the immediate threat. For starters his army is still apparently 80% larger than mine. He also has oil now (albeit close to our borders so trivial to pillage), and is well on the way with railroads. The machine guns will stonewall our infantry, and he could potentially overwhelm us with his production bonuses.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
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  3. f1rpo

    f1rpo plastics

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    In the savegame, with the bug fixed, Brennus still refuses to capitulate, but, yes, only because Caesar has - apparently - had even greater war successes. I've uploaded v0.98b with the overflow bugfix to the database. Perhaps he'll capitulate to Caesar; that would give Caesar a chance to at least put up a good fight. (Sorry to start rooting for the AI. I do think you've beaten it fair and square so far.)
    Thanks. So 8-10 turns of imminent war, probably. Or, more important from a player's perspective: War declared 7 turns after turning Friendly. As a comeuppance of having displeased Brennus earlier, that is a long delay given how long a single turn takes and feels this late in the game. Well, I've at least tweaked the formula in v0.98b (a little bit; not even mentioned in the release notes).
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
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  4. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    Thanks. Unfortunately I also play a bit of MP with two other guys, who are less happy to install beta updates, so Caesar will have to live without his puppet. Seems fair anyway, given the time I had to waste on the Zulus earlier in the game.
     
  5. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    We leave off about to finish Brennus the backstabber off, while watching the Romans warily.

    It does not take long to finish the Celts off. Unfortunately, as we are taking the capital, Caesar sneaks up the coast and takes Vienne. That's the Hindu holy city, and would have been worth big bucks. The army that does the job for him is around 25 rifles and cannons - we knew peace would not last long.

    Two turns later, Rome comes knocking... 'peacefully' at first:


    We debate the decision for a while, and decide to buy the 10 turns of peace. The Celtic cities were freshly taken and needed most of our troops to quell, the stack that took the capital was still injured, and we would almost have flight by the time the peace treaty ended. We tech democracy and start on flight, switch to emancipation and organised religion, and greedily build factories and coal plants (somehow we have a huge surplus of health).

    When the treaty ends, we notice that Rome is about 2 turns into researching assembly line. With his 1.8 power ratio, we can't allow him to hit that tech peacefully - we need to cull his rifleman numbers to avoid being overwhelmed. We turn down our science rate, in preparation to upgrade our rifles into infantry.

    On that very turn, Caesar sensed the weakness from us building a round of buildings instead of military, and declared war. He moves out of Vienne towards Nongoma with a menacing stack:

    So kicks off a bloody handful of turns. We move our main stack to the lightly defended Vienne and take it. Caesar continues marching his main stack to Nongoma, and also spends the few turns throwing cavalry, riflemen, airships and cannons at our border cities and stray units. The roads near Vienne on the Roman side are poor, and we are heavily favoured in trading in that area. Up and down the border, we trade efficiently at about 2:1 if not 3:1, but his strength ratio stubbornly stays at 1.8, and some of our best veterans are dying. Bibactrate also decides to rebel at this moment, and we feel immensely vulnerable.

    We take some calculated gambles and move some garrison from not-quite-quelled Celtic cities to the frontline. Luckily they did not rebel in subsequent turns. Together with our fresh infantry from our newly industrialised core cities, they stabilise the line in the nick of time. We finish flight and our upgraded airships shoot down Caesar's, establishing air dominance again.

    Up north at Nongoma, our hastily assembled defence force of 3 infantry and a machine gun fall to Caesar's stack, but not before taking about 7 units into the depths of hell with them, leaving this stack isolated in the middle of my lands:


    You can see that Caesar was 79% of the way to infantry at that point, and his military ratio was still 1.7. We don't have long, and we scramble all available units to assault Nongoma. On the turn before he finished assembly line, we killed 5 riflemen. On the turn he finished it, we killed another 8. The turn after that, he had 2 infantry in the city, but that was too late. We had cut Caesar down to size, his ratio now a mere 1.2, and his ego swallowed:


    In the meantime, Gilgamesh seems to be mainly concentrating on science. Despite us running 0% science for about 5 turns to upgrade our troops, he isn't really pulling ahead. We southern islands are also pumping out destroyers now, so at some point we will hopefully secure a naval advantage over him, ensuring future security.

    So a tense session that threatened to spiral out of control, but in the end achieved the purpose of destroying the bulk of the Roman army before it all got upgraded into infantry. Now that he has mostly just garrisons left, I'm minded to push on to Neapolis to ensure it is easier to deny him oil, and then reassess from there. If he cannot beg or borrow oil from Gilgamesh, then it'll only a matter of time before my future bombers and tanks roll over his limited military options.
     
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  6. f1rpo

    f1rpo plastics

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    Looks like the fastest way to end the game is to keep warring with Caesar until Domination.

    I've come to think that it's strange that Brennus switched into Free Religion so early, and indeed there's a bug that causes religion civics, especially Organized Religion to be undervalued by the AI. If Brennus had stayed in OR, then it should've been possible to keep him Friendly and win the map with him and Caesar unvanquished. With Brennus undecided between Free Religion and Theocracy, this strategy may still have been feasible. A bit depressing to think that it was always going to be Last Man Standing. The early warfare was, at least in part, inevitable; I chalk that up to the starting position.
    Fair enough. Perhaps it's bad form anyway to amend the AI over the course of a game when there isn't a gamebreaking problem. Blurs the distinction between playing (for a challenge) and playtesting. The update isn't exactly betaware though. I haven't tested everything all over, but the changes are pretty straightforward and to the point. v0.98 also includes some last-minute bugfixes of that kind.
     
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  7. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    Last session of the game. We leave off having just retaken Obamba to the far north, leaving Caesar with no more offensive troops.

    We regather our forces at the front line, which actually takes something like 6 turns given the distances involved. A stack moves out to take Neapolis (ie, Caesar's only source of oil), and does so easily. One turn later, this appears on the northern coast:


    This was something like five times the naval force I had in the area, and so we peace out with Caesar, with him paying 134gpt of tribute. We move our steady stream of new destroyers into the area to ensure that next time around, it won't be a problem.

    During the peacetime, Gilgamesh splits off some of his islands into a colony, which is happy days for us:


    A couple of turns after that, Caesar sails off with his navy and declares war on Gilgamesh.

    It is now about two turns before our peace treaty with Caesar expires. On the border, we have two solid 25+ unit stacks, 8 fighters, 3 bombers and more coming quickly, and about 10 destroyers. Rome has no oil, is a few techs behind us (he still doesn't have electricity), and all he has in the area are small 3-5 unit garrison stacks:


    Victory seems trivial at this point, so we end and call it a win.
     
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  8. Lanstro

    Lanstro Prince

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    And now a confession - back in the iron age when Brennus and Shaka first declared war on us, we actually tried pushing into the Celtic lands. We took two cities at a pretty steep cost, giving one of them back for peace. Then while we attacked the Zulus, Brennus declared war again, and we would have had very little chance against his war elephants and Celtic warriors at that point. So we loaded and played the alternative strategy of focusing on the Zulus and peacing out with the Celts instead.

    So unfortunately, a clean land-based victory at Emperor still eludes me.
     
  9. f1rpo

    f1rpo plastics

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    Weird. When did Caesar produce all those transports ... In your last savegame (1862), when Brennus is down to 3 cities and at war with you and Caesar, Caesar is already three turns into preparing war against Gilgamesh. That's OK insofar as Brennus is practically defeated and as you look too strong for the moment whereas Gilgamesh's two small continents are vulnerable. But Caesar is ignoring the likely upcoming confrontation with you.
    Same problem here, but worse because another war against you is very likely at that point. (Although ... perhaps hopeless enough to just ignore it.)

    I had deliberately not written AI code for anticipating two-front wars because I had worried that it would lead to stalemates too often, but now I think some discouragement would be an improvement. At the least, the AI should delay its own war plans a bit when there is a dangerous third party; if only to give that third party a chance to make the first move.

    That last war of Caesar wasn't decisive in this game, but Brennus also might've been wiser to wait a little while before attacking you after his peace with Caesar.
    Doesn't sound like it would've made the game impossible to win. Seeing that the AI produces such blunders all the time ... Looking at screenshot 10, you probably would've lost the remaining Celtic city and Hadrumetum at the border. If you'd managed to hold off both Shaka and Brennus at Instanbul, you still would've had 5 cities with room for a 6th, maybe enough to stay competitive. Difficult to hold onto the Copper though ... Well, waiting for Brennus to direct his attention to the Khmer sure made things a lot easier.
     
  10. crullerdonut

    crullerdonut Warlord

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    Thank you Lanstro for a fun read. :egypt: There's no shame in starting from an auto-save in cases where you think that the outcome will not be fun to play. After all, it's a game and there's no point in beating your head against a wall when it's not going to be enjoyable doing so. On the other hand, as f1rpo says, there's always a chance at an AI blunder, so it sometimes be fun waiting for those to happen, too.

    Besides being entertaining, these kinds of reports have uncovered a lot of ways the game and mod can be improved. I guess that Civ will always have interesting AI-related overflow bugs to discover :lol:

    Maybe something more direct to the meaning of the message, such as "We have yet to decide this on the field of battle!" or "I fear not a threat which has hardly appeared on the horizon."
     
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  11. f1rpo

    f1rpo plastics

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    The player could argue (well, he or she cannot, which is the problem ;)) that the matter has already been settled through battle (a very one-sided battle at that) and that the invading forces have already descended upon several cities. Though the second proposal is so explicit that, yes, the player would probably draw the right conclusion.

    "It looks like your offensive has stalled ..."
    A bit strange when it's shown on the very turn that the player has taken another city. "has come to a halt" would work better in that situation – but would be worse when there is an invading stack and it's a bit too small.
    "has run its course", "is winding down" ... hard to decide, but I think one of these will do.
     

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