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Spies and Corporations - Utterly Useless?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by GarethBeaumains, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Virtual Alex

    Virtual Alex King

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    It isn't fair to say things are useless if you have won the game already.

    Also one thing about corporations that I found is that they are insanely profitable. I read sid's sushi article and in it he says that spreading the corp costs 22 gold per turn upkeep (in the sample game he was using). In my experience I was spreading sushi for an upkeep of 7gpt and mining for 10gpt. But my wallstreet/HQ city was turning all those 4gpt incomes into 12gpt. So each branch I made earned me profit rather than a slight loss. My HQ city was making SO MUCH GOLD!

    The main problem the OP has with spies is he just isn't using them right.

    You are trying to make them do things they aren't supposed to do (wound units/flip cities). I know in Civ II "incite revolt" simply purchased the city. It does something totally different here. You can also send in spies a few turns before declaring and place them on all the copper/iron/coal/oil and then on the turn of declaration you destroy all their access. Obviously stealing tech is useless if you are ahead, but if you are not ahead it's far from useless.

    I haven't really messed around much with poisoning water supply and fermenting unhappiness but I am sure heavy use of that could slow an empire way down. Spies are cheap enough to be made in your low hammer cities after they have build all their useful buildings and you can just camp them about.

    Also you mention that most of the uses of passive espionage can be accomplished with sharing a religion? Although in Warlords and Vanilla you could investigate cities that shared your religion IF YOU ARE THE FOUNDER, that is no longer the case in bts. The passive benefits of espionage are very useful and the only way to investigate the cities.
     
  2. T-hawk

    T-hawk Transcend

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    That is not what spies do. A spy cannot make a city change sides. (You might be thinking of the Propaganda mission in Civilization 3 which could.)

    "Incite Revolt" from a spy causes the city to riot for one turn. That sets its cultural defense to 0 for the turn, and makes it not produce any food/hammers/commerce/cash/culture/GPP/etc for that turn.
     
  3. Badtz Maru

    Badtz Maru King

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    What intelligence can you get for having a religion in a city in BtS?

    I use spies for counterintelligence, destroying improvements on strategic resourcesduring war, dropping city defenses for invasions, and for shifting culture. The last one has a pretty small payoff, but I have seen borders shift to give me an extra tile or two with only a couple of spies used to influence culture in a foreign border city, and in peacetime it's a good use for spies if you already have a lot of EP in that civilization.

    I still haven't figured out how to use espionage to steal techs, though.
     
  4. Lemon Merchant

    Lemon Merchant Mercatrix Citrorum Moderator

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    I completely agree.

    You really understand how important a corp is, for example, when the AI founds Mining Inc. before you do. Sid's Sushi can be a game killer in the hands of the AI as well.

    A corp can give you that last leg up toward the end game if you have some moderately productive cities, and a reasonable amount of resources. An extra 17 :hammers: per city, in a recent game, was enough to help me build an adequate army fast enough to fight off a coordinated DoW from Freddie and Charlie, and I wound up winning a game that I thought was lost.

    Corps are just another part of the game that needs to be learned in order to use them effectively, just like you need to learn wonder strategy, building optimization, whipping optimization, and city specialization. They only get really good after you've used them and tinkered around with them for a while, and you can employ (or exploit) them to their maximum benefit in your game.

    Keep trying. Corps get to be real powerhouses. :)

    As for spies, well Darlin', I'm still learnin' that one... :crazyeye:

    @Badtz Maru: I just saw this.
    Send a great spy to the civ you want to steal from, and infiltrate. Then send a bunch of spies to steal the techs you want to. This works best in the early game, when the EP costs are lower and the techs are cheaper. And the longer your spy stays in the enemy city undetected, the cheaper, and the more successful the steal mission becomes - to a point.

    Gee. I guess I knew a little more than I thought I did.

    Go Lemon Go! Go Lemon Go! :)
     
  5. Virtual Alex

    Virtual Alex King

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    Stealing tech is pretty expensive EP wise. I mean some techs cost 5000 beakers. I think it costs more EP than beakers to steal. Of course you apply all bonuses to that too. So if it's close to your capital, and has your religion, and the spy has been camping for a while you can make it happen for much less.

    The great spy infiltration really only works early game. later in the game when you can pretty easily generate 500 EP a turn at only 20% slider the 4500 EP isn't really much. But early game 4500 is a huge amount and you can surely steal 3-4 techs off that.
     
  6. duckstab

    duckstab Child of Noble Family

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    I use spies quite a bit. I try to keep one in each of my cities at least until I have Security Bureaus and at least one per rival to run counterespionage missions. And even if you've got an overall tech lead there may be a gap here and there, and it's helpful if your rival isn't willing to trade something that would be too time-consuming to research yourself.

    If I'm not warmongering that may be the extent of it. But if I'm on the offensive the ability to take down the cultural defense for one turn is insanely useful. I don't look at it as a replacement for siege weapons but it helps you conserve them.

    The one mission I just don't really get is Influence Civics. It would be great if you could get them to revolt to something useless like Serfdom or OR in the middle of a war, but it seems you can only get them to revolt to a civic that you yourself are currently running. I guess it might be useful in the rare case that they're running a powerful civic you haven't unlocked yet, but that just doesn't seem to happen very often.

    As for corporations, I haven't given them a whirl yet but I'm just staring up a game as Willem and I'm planning on trying to found a couple.
     
  7. mariogreymist

    mariogreymist Deity

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    One thing influence civics is useful for is spreading corporations (switching economic from SP/merc into FM/enviro) You can also slow a GPP civ by forcing them out of pacifism, or a wonderspammer out of org religion. Let's face it, most leadership trait combinations have a particular civic structure that best works for them, and it will usually differ from your own in some key way. If you can make them play your game, you will probably come out on top.
     
  8. Lemon Merchant

    Lemon Merchant Mercatrix Citrorum Moderator

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    Willem + Mining Inc. + Sushi + Dikes = Simply obscene production/food/GPP capability on the right map.

    Have fun! :D
     
  9. Xellos-_^

    Xellos-_^ Prince

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    steal tech is only useful early in the game, late in the game it takes a insane amount of EP to be able to steal a tech. Not even a GP spy gives you enough gp to do so.
     
  10. Virtual Alex

    Virtual Alex King

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    That's not true. Mad Scientist did an RPC using an espionage economy.

    If you are generating 2000 EP a turn (Something that isn't hard to do later in the game at 80% espionage slider) than after only 5 turns you will have generated 10,000ep. That should be enough to steal a tech. I know a great spy wont do it, that is what I said in my post. 4500 is not enough to steal a tech late game. But 10k is, and it's not an unreasonable number to reach if you are investing in espionage seriously. Stealing 1 tech every 5-8 turns at 80% espionage slider seems like a totally fine way to tech up to me.
     
  11. Bushface

    Bushface Deity

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    Spies: I use them heavily just before I make an invasion, to knock out the enemy's luxury and grain resources. This reduces his happiness and health, to be followed by fomenting more unhappiness which gives him angry citizens and reduces his production. Then maybe a revolt or two when my armies are at his gates. As for trying to use spies to get a city to flip using "spread culture", I've found that almost useless: that mission is not available unless your culture is already present in a city (which means it has to be a border city). In any case it will use a whole lot of spies unless your culture is already up to 30% or more, and even when you've pumped you culture up to over 50% the city will not necessarily flip. (The mechanics of flipping are quite complex: there's only a 10% chance that a city which could flip will actually go into the flip calculation, which involves culture, state religions, number of units present, ownership of adjacent tiles, and maybe other things.)
    Corporations: Other posters have trumpeted the advantages of Mining Inc., which I build as soon as I can. My second favourite is Cereal Mills to boost my best cities; as I usually play pangaeas, never over-rich in seafood, I've never built Sid's Sushi which in any case gives a smaller food boost than Cereal Mills (and I couldn't care less about the extra culture).
     
  12. GarethBeaumains

    GarethBeaumains Chieftain

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    I will definitely try again.

    If anything, the one mission I want to try with spies is that counterespionage mission to at least up the costs of my enemies to perform missions against me!

    I guess the big problem I was having with corporations is the opportunity to actually start them early enough to matter. I haven't been getting the right combo of GPs and resources, apparently. Only in this last game did I ever get the option to create a corporation.

    I'll admit that I mis-read or misunderstood one of the strategy guides. It was suggesting for me to spread my corp in my enemy's territory, rather than my own. That's probably why I wasn't noting much effect.

    Mrf.

    Meanwhile, in response to the fact that BtS changed religions so that I am not seeing the enemy cities due to religions, but due to espionage points... I am still wondering about that. I'm pretty sure when I spread a religion to an enemy territory I am able to see what they are building. Maybe it was due to static EPs? But I was pretty sure that when I was spreading a religion to a foreign city I could see what it was building, and it didn't "go grey" once the religious figure was consumed.

    Huhn. I'll check into that more.
     
  13. Powerslave

    Powerslave Prince

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    Spies are not always useful in every playstyle. Maybe you're a big fan of siege combat, because you want to wound the defenders. In that case, causing riots through spying wouldn't really be as amazing. Maybe you generally dislike pillaging improvements, because you're going to be invading that land soon, and you don't want to remake all the improvements. Certainly, pillaging oil and other strategic resources will always be a priority, but it can still be accomplished with mounted units. In that case, spies might seem a bit less useful, as commando mounted units are much faster. Finally, even though spies can cause enemy cities to flip to you (through the 'spread culture' mission), maybe you're more likely to simply crank up the culture slider. Instead of producing more spies and spending EP, you could be producing temples and cathedrals, which will make your culture victory much more likely. Stealing technologies is awesome, but you will never be a tech leader by stealing technology from more advanced opponents. That means that you'll be making riflemen, tanks, and bombers only after at least one opponent is already doing so, which is dangerous.

    No, spies aren't always useful. In fact, I frequently ignore espionage, in my games. That doesn't mean that espionage is useless, though. It just means that I'm making use of alternative strategies to that of a more espionage-oriented game. There's a trade-off to every strategy. My favored strategy revolves around cottages, tech-whoring, and tanks. I'm cognizant of the drawbacks of this strategy, and sometimes I like to mix it up with a more espionage-oriented strategy or use more specialists. Sometimes I'm a warmonger, and sometimes I'm more peaceful than Gandhi. Always playing the same is boring, and I think the OP should experiment more with spies, to see how they're good.

    Corporations are most useful when you get them early in the game. Regardless, Mining Inc and Creative Constructions can speed up any kind of win, including cultural (faster cathedrals built means a faster win) and space (those space ship parts take forever to build in Epic).

    Here's a short list of the cool things spies can do:

    • Steal technology
    • Cause a city to flip to you ('spread culture' does this, not 'cause revolt')
    • Bring defenses down to zero, without the need for slow siege equipment
    • Show what your opponents are researching (so that you can plan ahead and either make counter-units or so that you can research something else and trade for what they've researched)
    • Compel your opponent to change civics (put them all in Vassalage/Nationhood to cripple their research or Pacifism to cripple their economy)
    • Destroy all cultural buildings in a border city
    • Destroy all economy/research buildings in a commerce city
    • Foment unhappiness in a city that's already angry
    • Poison a city that's already sick
    • Destroy all healthy/happy buildings in a city after the previous two missions
    • Destroy spaceship parts (sometimes the only way to stop Mansa Musa from winning)
    • Destroy all progress on a wonder (why doesn't the AI do this?)

    Et cetera.
     
  14. mechaerik

    mechaerik Tuturuu!

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    Revolt is very useful always. Especially in the medieval era, where bombardment can take a looooong time with Castles and Walls. Simply pop them into revolt, then use your siege for collateral instead.
     
  15. mariogreymist

    mariogreymist Deity

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    If you found your main domestic corps in your wall street city, and give it all the possible financial bonuses (Bank, market etc) then you should see a profit spreading the corp. (at least under fm, and with courthouses in your cities) And remember, while the opponent must pay upkeep on the corp you bring to their cities, they also get the benefits. Only give strong corps to close friends and vassals, or people you can effectively limit with resources. (even mighty mining inc doesn't help them if they have no iron, copper, coal, gold or silver).
     
  16. Lemon Merchant

    Lemon Merchant Mercatrix Citrorum Moderator

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    Actually, that's a very good tactic for damaging your enemy's economy and hampering his research. It's quite effective, if you do it right. :mischief:

    EDIT: And what mariogreymist said.
     
  17. pesgores

    pesgores Deus Vult!

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    Corporations are very useful if:
    a)You own the headquarters
    b)It has expanded to lots of opponent cities

    Damages the enemy's economy as well as it gives a boost on yours.
     
  18. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    The renaissance EP buildings generate enough EP on their own to steal some good tech. Every city can put up > 40 EP/turn with the buildings, even at 0% slider. There are two things this is very good for when it comes to tech stealing:

    1. Backfill without having to trade or accrue hits against your trade cap
    2. Recovering tech position after conquering a huge swath of land ----> the output from the buildings is irrespective of anything else, and they can be captured potentially.

    EP can be used in a dedicated fashion, but it can also just be used by a large empire with lots of EP buildings as a catchup mechanic to overwhelm a smaller, more advanced empire with EP and steal techs. A huge empire at tech parity is very dangerous, because it will probably take the lead soon and it definitely has the best production given even skills.

    Also, it is technically possible to get a very temporary lead with pure espionage if you broker tech between civs unwilling to trade with each other. For example, steal all from A, then trade some of A's tech to B (which is less advanced) for a tech B has but A does not. Now you have every tech other civs have, one on the #2 civ, and several on the #3 and are therefore tech leader X_X.

    You are always tech leader if you kill everyone else.
     
  19. Bostock

    Bostock King

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    That applies to a *large* portion of the GP uses late-game though - bulbs start to look bad, and settling even worse. Comparatively, late-game infiltration is a medium-sized fish in that small pond. :)
     
  20. skullking77

    skullking77 Chieftain

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    I am actually curious about the mechanic of spies. Like, if there are spy mods out there please PM me, I'd love to see them (lil' new to modding Civ 4: BTS), but I was thinking about a mod where 1 is really valuable, and you can promote them to make them more successful or see other spies, and make it so they don't instantly just back to your capital when they're done.
     

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