Stalker0's State of the Mod (V4.2.7)

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
Messages
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Every once in a while, I like to take a larger look at the mod in general (you can search for my previous state of the mod threads if your curious). Think at a high level how its looking, and where I think it should go into the future.

VP Congress
One of the biggest changes to how we do the mod, it was a fundamental change to the structure of modding updates. As one of the creators of the system I am assuredly biased, but I have been overall very happy with the implementation of this system. Has it been perfect?... of course not, nothing ever is. But ultimately what I am most happy with are the following:
  • A consistent schedule. In the pre-congress days, releases was a "finger in the air" operation. We would sometimes have 3 releases in a month, sometimes 6 months without a peep. Now we have a clean consistent schedule that people can rely on.

  • A lot of buzz. I find the voting times creates a lot of buzz and excitement in the community. We get a LOT of debate during that time, much more so than we ever saw pre-congress. Everyone knows to show up and throw down to get their opinions heard.

  • Finding the "real majority". A lot of historic changes were made based on who complained on discord/CFC the most, or what G happened to be feeling was the common assessment at any given time. With the congress, we now have a really statistical basis to say "this is something our community wants", and we can gauge just how much they want it. When people debate ideas on discord, we can now take them to a definitive place that gets a real and hard result, rather than just "well you feel this way, I feel that way...lets see whose louder".

  • A good track record. After 6 sessions, I am very happy overall with the changes the community has chosen. That doesn't mean I agree with all the changes, there are in fact several I have voted against. But that of course is the way of a community. What I mean is that there have been very few changes that I fundamentally HATED (aka "omg the mod is ruined I can't believe people voted for that"), and generally those have been dealt with in a later congress. Generally the proposals I thought were "absolutely crazy" have ultimately been voted down by the community, to me showcasing good judgement in our group overall.

The Hunger for Change
One thing that hasn't panned out like I had expected.... the hunger for change. I don't know why this surprised me, hehe I once pushed for a "gold version" of the mod years ago...and yet years after that there has been a whole bevy of changes. And so even after 6 congress sessions we are still seeing a lot of proposals. Modders like to mod it seems, and so our little project continues to hum along with new ideas and new updates. It appears at least for the near future to remain the case.

The Rise of "Data Driven" Analysis
I want to take a moment to personally think @L. Vern for introducing a lot of logging tools that have dramatically increased our ability to assess things in the mod. I have personally saved scores of hours using his scripts rather than some of the other ways I used to track numbers. Beyond that, the rise of the AI tests now allows us to check the balance on all sorts of measures: Victory Type, Civ, how long it takes to win games, etc etc. Just recently he is started to add in religious metrics, to understand how important or essential religion is to a win.

This is a big improvement mainly because as a mod like this get older, a lot of personal thoughts on balance start coming down:

  • Personal Playstyle: I may think Belief X is garbage because I've never really given it its due, while another player found a way to make it amazing. Forcing yourself out of your own playstyle can be challenging, and it starts to limit your thinking.
  • Narrow representation of games: Most of us can only play so many games of Civ. Because the game has a lot of random components, sometimes you see a phenomena that happened in one game....that might not happen in the next 20, but you don't play enough games to see that bigger picture.
The AI games help to cut through that and give us some clear measures over 100s of games played. While this is but a single tool in the belt, and most always be tempered by user experience, to me this is a major way forward as we continue to refine the mod. I sincerely hope to push data analysis into more areas of the mod to help assess more things.

AI Difficulty Curves
The goal with the AI remains as it always has, provide an AI experience that is competitive throughout the game. We don't want players to feel that they can't do certain things in the early game before the AI will "always get them". Likely we don't want players quitting in Industrial once they catch up with the AI because "The AI can never come back".

With the latest congress, we are making a big change to our "ABC" system of AI bonuses. With the change, we are no longer using a formula, but now have a table of values for each era and difficulty level (including Ancient which gets its own entries seperate from classical). This gives us a wonderful new toolbox to make specific changes to the AI bonuses. Whereas before, a change to classical would also impact every era behind it, I can now perfectly adjust classical without touching anything else.

We already have introduced the first round of this in the last congress to try and weaken the AIs early game a bit but greatly increase its midgame bonuses. This will almost certainly need to be tweaked several times in the next few congresses, but the hope is to create a competitive experience over the lifecycle of a game.

World Congress
As the AI has continued to become more competitive, the world congress has become more difficult to work with, and is now often a very punishing mechanic. Its likely we will see more discussions and debates around the congress structure and proposals in upcoming VP congresses.

Espionage
With our recent congress, we have chosen to remain with a "mission based" espionage system that promotes a lot of activities for spies. Now with that chosen....its time for polish. We will likely need a few congresses to work the rust off the new concept, tweak the numbers, and get it into a solid state.

The Late Game - The "Final" Frontier

So what is left? Though there are a dozen ideas other there for various adjustments, if I were to pick the largest real "project" left in the game balance wise, its a focused look at the late game. There are a number of concern points here.

  • Naval Balance: Now with ENW integrated into the mod, we need to shore up the numbers. Are the ships good as is, or do they need some tweaking?
  • VC Balance: How easy is it to get any given VC or pivot between them. How fast should one VC be vs another?
  • The Tedium of War: A lot of players complain that late game war is just too much. Too many clicks, too much to do. Are there ways to streamline this back down?
  • Late game building balance: With little time left in the game, any "yield per turn" type structure becomes very questionable as to its benefit. We want to really look at the late game buildings and ensure they are doing a worthy job considering the short timespan of their existance.
  • Tanks and Planes: Many have argued tanks are "too good" in the late game. Meanwhile, planes could use a look at and review as well, as the interception system remains a bit clunky as well.
 
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I agree tanks are too good but it is really compounded by how the tech tree works. If you want bombers have have to take a lot of non military techs while tanks give you constant military upgrades on the way there. So even if they were equal tanks would still be better. You can do a pretty huge beeline and it is hard to justify anything else if you are planning on fighting at all. It also leads to awkwardness with light tanks needing a resource you literally won't get for ten techs.

Tanks have everything stacked in their favour currently, easy beeline means they have high combat strength. A bonus vs archer units means they crush them and siege. Nothing really counters them either. Compare to planes which have a direct unit to stop them
 
Tanks are seemingly invincible with a resistance to everything, but that's mostly because of the AI futilely throwing attacks at them and feeding them XP. Landships don't seem as strong despite having the same stat ratio with respect to Gatling Gun/Rifleman vs the Tank/Machine Gun/Infantry trio, since they were upgraded from Lancers which were likely starved of XP being outclassed for an entire era.

Counters start to appear later in the form of Bazooka and Helicopter Gunship, but I've never seen those interact with each other since it's so late.
 
Tanks are seemingly invincible with a resistance to everything, but that's mostly because of the AI futilely throwing attacks at them and feeding them XP. Landships don't seem as strong despite having the same stat ratio with respect to Gatling Gun/Rifleman vs the Tank/Machine Gun/Infantry trio, since they were upgraded from Lancers which were likely starved of XP being outclassed for an entire era.

Counters start to appear later in the form of Bazooka and Helicopter Gunship, but I've never seen those interact with each other since it's so late.
For what it's worth, I find landships also facilitate absolute slaughter once I unlock them. They crush way harder than knights do at their prime.
 
I can't be as reckless with Landships as I do with Tanks, mainly because that's usually when they get enough XP for Stalwart/Overrun, and I have a huge tech advantage.

I've never tried fighting the AI at equal tech so late into the game.
 
Naval Balance: Now with ENW integrated into the mod, we need to shore up the numbers. Are the ships good as is, or do they need some tweaking?
Industrial and later naval melee ships have way too much hp and take way too little damage for the amount of damage naval ranged/melee units do.
 
Submarines significantly speed this up. Naval Melee doesn't get as much flanking bonus as Land Melee, so they aren't a good unit attacker until they have more promotions (Pincer, Encirclement, etc.)
 
Like azum said, submarines are amazing and will tear apart any naval army, just make sure to have some other ships to block the submarines from being attacked themselves, they are the definition of glass cannons
 
I'm definitely of the opinion that the naval melee units are still a bit overtuned compared to the ranged units, though the Ironclad CS reduction was definitely a good step in the right direction. I'm personally a huge fan of how brittle naval combat is, in the sense that unlike land combat at that point of the game, melee units can just stomp ranged units, especially when you have a tech advantage. But I think that its still a little too hard to punish overly-aggressive melee units with your ranged units, so in my own game I recently increased the RCS of the ranged naval units slightly (and the CS of the Frigate):
  • Frigate: 40/28 (up from 35/25)
  • Cruiser: 60/40 (up from 55/40)
  • Dreadnaught: 70/50 (up from 65/50)
  • Battleship: 80/60 (up from 75/60)
  • Missile Cruiser: 85/75 (up from 80/75)
After I think 3 naval-heavy games I feel like these changes made naval combat better, though I think I overtuned them for combat vs. cities, and maybe just a little bit in general too. I think I'm going to nerf Broadside to +25% against cities (down from +40%) and reduce the RCS increases to just +3 (instead of +5) before my next game.

I would also be interested in moving the Iron requirement from ranged naval to melee naval instead of changing the power relationship between the two classes, though I'm too lazy/inept to implement that in my own game.
 
Like azum said, submarines are amazing and will tear apart any naval army, just make sure to have some other ships to block the submarines from being attacked themselves, they are the definition of glass cannons
I disagree. Subs don't "tear apart" destroyers, they "do about as much damage as a regular ranged unit does on land". Now they do tear apart ranged ships...but that's not the problem, ranged ships are easily to kill once you get through the melee line, melee ships tear them up too.

And actually with the change to sub promos coming, they will do less damage overall.
 
I think multiplayer stability improvements from these last months should be mentioned !
 
while i do agree subs will be doing less now, that has not been the case for me. Subs are 3 shotting their opponents, where ranged takes about 5.
 
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