[C3C] Spy missions failed and they are not pleased

livinginaz

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
45
Location
Land of the Yinzers, PA
I can't seem to place spies with any consistency and after I reloaded repeatedly to place them in weak border civs, I cannot achieve any spy missions. I was hoping to take the adjacent colonies of the Incans on my island, but propaganda fails without them having police stations or even Industrial techs. Same goes for any other civ.

What's weird is that there is no option to plant a spy any other way but safely. Even then it often failed, with some Civs it fails every time on repeat and I take a diplo hit. I've heard musings that Government types affect this but nothing concrete. Everyone was furious with me after I kept trying it.

Is there a trick to mastering the Spy usage or is it just unfairly broken? Crazy expensive too. On difficulties, I tried on the lowest up to Deity with similar results.
 

tjs282

Stone \ Cold / Fish
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
4,332
Location
Inside my skull
The definitive source is here:

https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/a-study-of-espionage-mission.97042/

The TLDR (IMHO) is that yeah, unless you have an enormous pile of gold (and really nothing better to do with it?!?), espionage-missions are pretty inefficient compared to the simpler method of "build a stack of (fast) offensive units, and capture their towns via open warfare".

That said, deliberately annoying the AI with failed spy-missions can sometimes be a useful as a means of provoking a declaration of war, e.g. in order to 'safely' break a GPT-deal you can no longer afford/ do not wish to pay for in full (if the AI breaks a per-turn deal by DoW-ing, you don't get the reputational hit).
I was hoping to take the adjacent colonies of the Incans on my island, but propaganda fails without them having police stations or even Industrial techs.
It's the Courthouse which acts against propaganda, not the Police Station (the Police Station's secondary function is to reduce War-Weariness) — though (if I understood @Oystein's analysis) it generally only reduces the probability of success (i.e. it doesn't prevent propagandised citizens from becoming unhappy, but does reduce their numbers, and thus the probability that the city will defect).

But the target-town lacking a Courthouse does not guarantee that your propaganda-mission will be a success, and a foreign colony which was established early enough in the game will likely have a Courthouse (long) before the Industrial Era is reached by anyone, especially at Monarch+ (= increasing shield-cost discounts for the AI-Civs).
Even then it often failed, with some Civs it fails every time on repeat and I take a diplo hit.
If you get caught trying to plant a spy, yes, the offended Civ's Attitude towards you will be made worse.

Even if they don't actually declare war on you, you will also get (invisibly) flagged by that Civ, putting them on high alert to any subsequent attempts to plant another spy (i.e. the mission will fail). The probability that this flag is removed = 33% each turn, so the longer you wait after a failed plant, the more likely it is that the flag will have been removed, but even after 6 turns, there is a >5% chance (0.66^6 = 0.08265, 8.3%) that it remains in your (save)file.
I've heard musings that Government types affect this but nothing concrete.
No musings required: it's visible in the Editor.

Communist (and Fascist, according to my cheat-sheet) Civs' spies have "Veteran" status (compared to "Regular" for all other governments), and this increases the probability of mission-success at each cost-level (Immediately, Carefully, Safely).
 
Last edited:

livinginaz

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
45
Location
Land of the Yinzers, PA
The definitive source is here:

https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/a-study-of-espionage-mission.97042/

The TLDR (IMHO) is that yeah, unless you have an enormous pile of gold (and really nothing better to do with it?!?), espionage-missions are pretty inefficient compared to the simpler method of "build a stack of (fast) offensive units, and capture their towns via open warfare".

That said, deliberately annoying the AI with failed spy-missions can sometimes be a useful as a means of provoking a declaration of war, e.g. in order to 'safely' break a GPT-deal you can no longer afford/ do not wish to pay for in full (if the AI breaks a per-turn deal by DoW-ing, you don't get the reputational hit).It's the Courthouse which acts against propaganda, not the Police Station (the Police Station's secondary function is to reduce War-Weariness) — though (if I understood @Oystein's analysis) it generally only reduces the probability of success (i.e. it doesn't prevent propagandised citizens from becoming unhappy, but does reduce their numbers, and thus the probability that the city will defect).

But the target-town lacking a Courthouse does not guarantee that your propaganda-mission will be a success, and a foreign colony which was established early enough in the game will likely have a Courthouse (long) before the Industrial Era is reached by anyone, especially at Monarch+ (= increasing shield-cost discounts for the AI-Civs).If you get caught trying to plant a spy, yes, the offended Civ's Attitude towards you will be made worse.

Even if they don't actually declare war on you, you will also get (invisibly) flagged by that Civ, putting them on high alert to any subsequent attempts to plant another spy (i.e. the mission will fail). The probability that this flag is removed = 33% each turn, so the longer you wait after a failed plant, the more likely it is that the flag will have been removed, but even after 6 turns, there is a >5% chance (0.66^6 = 0.08265, 8.3%) that it remains in your (save)file.
No musings required: it's visible in the Editor.

Communist (and Fascist, according to my cheat-sheet) Civs' spies have "Veteran" status (compared to "Regular" for all other governments), and this increases the probability of mission-success at each cost-level (Immediately, Carefully, Safely).
Thanks for the detailed reply. I see what you mean about annoying the AI with spies, the only thing is that I wonder if you're greatly more powerful or advanced than a Civ if they will chicken out of declaring war. In the case of the Incans, I have a great gpt and resources deal with them, so either this or taking advantage of like of RoP will be the way to go. I will likely strike at them at some point, given that I have the naval ability to easily reinforce my colonies and they already are above 6 pop. meaning if I lose them they can rebuild. Very fertile island the colonies is on, so his won't be razed immediately either for relations hit. Since all of my units can upgrade to modern or close to modern already I will just do that instead of wasting on attempts to flip border towns.

I do wonder if stealing tech is ever viable though, as that one seems to have a good success rate, perhaps for a Communist switch for long war if you can afford to place spies you could be grabbing techs too or something along those lines.
 

vorlon_mi

Emperor
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
1,138
Location
Chelsea, MI
This analysis led me to basically ignore spy missions in Civ3.
  • I nearly always run Republic, so I have regular spies
  • Investigate City (which I use at least once, every game) always succeeds
  • Steal World Map / Steal Plans are rarely useful for me
  • Steal Technology still fails 32% of the time; seems high for my tastes, and I am rarely too far behind for my (admittedly lower) difficulty level
  • Sabotage Production might be useful if I'm in a tight space race. But I'm rarely in one, and 32% failure rate again seems too high for me to spend gold on it
  • If I want a city on my border, I will usually conquer it rather than try to flip it. I haven't tried Initiate Propaganda in a long time.
If I increased my difficulty level, then Steal Technology might be more attractive. I may also consider propaganda on a town that has some of my citizens in it.
 

livinginaz

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
45
Location
Land of the Yinzers, PA
This analysis led me to basically ignore spy missions in Civ3.
  • I nearly always run Republic, so I have regular spies
  • Investigate City (which I use at least once, every game) always succeeds
  • Steal World Map / Steal Plans are rarely useful for me
  • Steal Technology still fails 32% of the time; seems high for my tastes, and I am rarely too far behind for my (admittedly lower) difficulty level
  • Sabotage Production might be useful if I'm in a tight space race. But I'm rarely in one, and 32% failure rate again seems too high for me to spend gold on it
  • If I want a city on my border, I will usually conquer it rather than try to flip it. I haven't tried Initiate Propaganda in a long time.
If I increased my difficulty level, then Steal Technology might be more attractive. I may also consider propaganda on a town that has some of my citizens in it.
Definitely like to investigate cities, that one is worth it before wars. I’m always uncomfortable with warfare with small aims, because I don’t like getting rep hit with other Civs over one city, but I’ve slowly been finding ways to maximize my war gains without taking things I don’t need.

What does become frustrating is that twice in this game I conquered a city and in peacetime (after initial resistance was over) it flipped back to the original owner even though I had modern units in it, not sure if quantity affects it or not. Never had that issue before.
 

tjs282

Stone \ Cold / Fish
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
4,332
Location
Inside my skull
What does become frustrating is that twice in this game I conquered a city and in peacetime (after initial resistance was over) it flipped back to the original owner even though I had modern units in it, not sure if quantity affects it or not. Never had that issue before.
IIRC, the most important factors affecting a town's flip-risk are "Their total historical Culture versus yours" and "Proximity to the owner's Palace", but these are quite difficult to influence (beyond razing their towns, and/or capturing their capital, forcing them to move their Palace further away from yours).

The flip-factors that are easier to exert control over (at least in the short term) are "Number of BFC-tiles under foreign control", "Number of unhappy citizens", and "Number of units garrisoned". But that last is generally the worst option, because while it is possible to prevent flips by garrisoning a large enough stack of units in any town, the unit-numbers required can get ridiculous, especially in the mid- to late game.

So it's generally not worth doing that, in my experience, because if you have that many "spare" units, then it's better to use them to push the enemy's border's back even further (ideally onto a different landmass), to reduce their ability to generate Culture-points, and ensure that none of their BFCs impinge on the town(s) you want to keep.
 

vorlon_mi

Emperor
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
1,138
Location
Chelsea, MI
As I recall the flip risk calculation, it includes the number of unhappy and resisting citizens. Thus, setting the city governor to "Manage Citizen Moods" as described in this thread https://forums.civfanatics.com/thre...disorder-automation-fix.658077/#post-15785007 can help reduce that risk factor somewhat.

A big factor is the number of foreign citizens compared to the number of "native" (that is, your) citizens. This explains why many players would choose to either:
  • Produce workers or settlers from the city, reducing its population
  • Turning all the non-resisting citizens into specialists, e.g., all tax collectors or all scientists, resulting in starvation to shrink the city by one. One cannot use the governor trick if one wants to go the starvation route
As you let the city grow back from size 1, all the new citizens are *your* nationality, gradually tipping the ratio in your favor.

I will park my injured units in a conquered city for a turn or two, to heal. If I recall correctly, the city cannot flip on the first turn after being conquered, so you get a bit of a grace period. Parking enough units to totally eliminate the flip risk would usually require more units than I can spare. It's usually better to leave a token garrison while the war is ongoing and reconquer it if it flips. As @tjs282 wrote, conquering a few more cities and pushing the borders back is a better way to reduce the risk.
 

justanick

Emperor
Joined
Oct 6, 2010
Messages
1,310
Location
Germany
A big factor is the number of foreign citizens compared to the number of "native" (that is, your) citizens.

No, there is no such comparision. The amount of native citizens does not matter.

As I recall the flip risk calculation, it includes the number of unhappy and resisting citizens.

Not quite true either. The amount of resistors matters, the sheer amount of unhappy citizens does not. But WLTKD and riots do matter.

https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/d-2000-in-flip-formula.41933/

As @tjs282 wrote, conquering a few more cities and pushing the borders back is a better way to reduce the risk.

That is just a bit better. The best solution is of course to completely annilhilate the home nation. When no home nation is left no flipping to it can occur. :)

Practically speaking it is almost ever the better choice to incur some war waeriness in the short run than risking a flip in the long run.
 

livinginaz

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
45
Location
Land of the Yinzers, PA
That is just a bit better. The best solution is of course to completely annilhilate the home nation. When no home nation is left no flipping to it can occur. :)
This is what I ended up doing in the first case of this happening, the Civ in question was so battered and engulf in alliance wars that I just waltzed into their last cities. However, I believe due to having been in alliances with others in that war, somewhere along either the first peace or me destroying them everyone on the map became furious with me at an instant, I just don’t remember what causes that to happen.
 
Top Bottom