Strategic Resource: Ivory & Elephant

Tekamthi

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referencing recent unsponsored congress proposal: https://forums.civfanatics.com/thre...s-use-new-elephant-strategic-resource.685951/

I'd like to experiment with the model outlined, to gain some familiarity with how this plays, whether its viable for balanced gameplay, reasonably AI accessible etc. Perhaps this will serve as basis for further 'Strategic Resource' mods, we'll see.

In brief, plan is to break the connection between ivory lux resource and elephant (regardless of whether other congress proposal re: CS gifted elephants passes or not), add a "khedda" building enabled by ivory via same local mechanism as stable with horses/sheep/etc or stoneworks with stone/marble; this building will provide x 'strategic elephant' resource(s), which in turn will allow elephant unit to be built, much like horses are required for each mounted unit. Will start at 1 strat resource per khedda building, open to discussion -- in congress thread some felt this should be more.

Anyway, I can build the mod, its not too complicated, and there's probably not too much point in fretting over all the balance subtleties til we reach this initial milestone -- but the big time consuming piece for me is adapting the art needed -- if anyone with required skills wants to volunteer, will speed up the modmod's v1 availability. I *could* steal art from elsewhere, there are some assets floating around, but they're of middling quality, and I'd like to get art worthy of mainbranch VP in place.

Tentative Implementation Details
Spoiler :

  • the current direct link between elephant and ivory is broken, ivory becomes just a standard lux resource
  • new building, the "Khedda":
    • requires trapping
    • can only be built if city has local ivory resource (ie same gating mechanism as stoneworks w/ stone/marble, stable with horses/sheep etc.)
    • obsoletes when current elephant unit obsoletes (chivalry iirc)
    • no maintenance
    • same cost as 1st tier ancient era buildings
    • provides 1 copy of strategic resource: "captive elephant"
  • new strategic resource, "Captive Elephant"
    • does not appear on map, only given by khedda
    • obsoletes when current elephant unit obsoletes (chiv...)
    • monopoly bonus: none
  • War Elephant unit
    • no longer requires ivory resource directly
    • costs 1 "Captive Elephant" strat resource
    • all other attributes unchanged


WIP artwork

I've already done a building icon which, in my view at least, comes close to civ-esque style:
Spoiler :
kheddaSample1.png


I have a source for the resource icons -- its a little sci fi when you look at the details up close, but at icon-size I think it'll work well. Artist has given permission to use and publish within VP community:
Spoiler :
ruslan-bikmurzin-elephant-hex-small.jpg


Anyway, it won't be an immediate thing, this modmod -- couple weeks at least possibly -- but anyone interested and with specific ideas on balance etc., please share here in the meantime.
 
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I always found the War Elephant Unit implementation in Vox Populi to be a bit quirky. It's essentially the only (that I can think of) Pseudo-UU that instead of being bound to a Civilization, is instead bound to a Luxury Resource. It is in a way the same as Stone and Marble, providing an unique bonus for improving it.

As for making it into a strategic resource, I see two problems with it.

1. Requiring you to build a building to get a resource that allows you to build it pushes back the access and essentially nerfs the War Elephant a lot imo. Would make it feel more like a Classical Era cavalry which you probably should rebalance it to be. The balance of this also depends a lot on what the stats are for the Khedda building is.
Then again, I haven't seen an actual War Elephant in-game for several hundred hours at this point (Ivory is really rare for me apparently) so I don't know if the War Elephant is actually signifcantly better than the horseman to warrant such a nerf.

2. This is a lot of work for... one unit. The only other elephants in the game is Siam's and India's UU and it specifically doesn't require Ivory (or horses) because being stuck without one of your Civ bonuses suck ass.

I don't see the reason to make an Elephant Strategic Resource if it's just for one unit. Every Strategic Resource in the game is used for a lot of different units and some even for buildings over several eras. As such, there's a great incentive to expand or trade for such resources. The Elephant resource would atm only be useful in 1.5 eras at the start of the game for one unit.

You would need to either make an Elephant line to justify why Elephants would be worth having (IMO would be very ahistorical as elephants was used too sparsely for a reason.)
or an another "elephant sink" for the mid to late-game. Only one I can think of is... Circus? But making it take up elephant resources while allowing civs with no elephant to still build it is impossible I believe.
 
I always found the War Elephant Unit implementation in Vox Populi to be a bit quirky
Is there some vp-specific aspect of these that fits oddly? It's been a long time now since I played vanilla, but my understanding was this was a holdover, not necessarily modified by VP. For that matter, ivory elephants also appeared this way in civ 4

Pseudo-UU that instead of being bound to a Civilization, is instead bound to a Luxury Resource

As I've alluded to, I'd like to explore this concept as something that could be replicated for other resources and unit pairings. So it's the only pseudo uu for now, but if this mod finds a good balance and fit, maybe be the first of a series of era-specific military resources. VP does a decent job of representing the "conventional" military technologies, but leaves out certain noteworthy, if slightly oddball techs -- our dearly departed zeppelins being the prime candidate for a possible limited-appearance revival. I'm confident there are both historical gaps and available 3d models to have one "temp resource" per era, at least through the first two thirds of the game.

build a building to get a resource that allows you to build it pushes back the access and essentially nerfs the War Elephant a lot imo
I'll move some specific details from Congress over into op: plan is to have khedda cost same as 1st tier ancient building, available at trapping. As proposed last round, the unit would STILL require barracks to build, so you're right this would impose a delay on elephant availability -- I'd propose we just eliminate the barracks part if this is deemed too undesirable, then there's no real delay, in fact it's available earlier (possibly too early though)

2. This is a lot of work for... one unit
I'm not sure if you're referring to the process of acquiring elephant in game, or the modmod itself. The actual modmod piece is not much work, it's database only, I can assemble it all in about 30 mins, once the art's finished. It's about as much effort, mod-wise, as a single civ in 3/4UC, a little less even. Artwork, on the other hand... That does take some time for the unskilled like me... I have to re-learn gimp every time I use it, and getting a result that truly fits with the main game's art style, for me that can be really hit or miss. Playtesting and finding necessary balance tweaks will be a drawn out process, but arguably that's what many of us wade into this subforum for.

The Elephant resource would atm only be useful in 1.5 eras at the start of the game for one unit.
Imo there may be room to have a second elephant unit, but that's probably it as far as historical basis. They did show up on battlefields for a good thousand+ years of human history though, there's a case to be made to expand the concept slightly, maybe
an another "elephant sink" for the mid to late-game. Only one I can think of is... Circus?
I'd agree with your take here, having circus actually rely on elephant raises new issues. What I'd suggest in this direction is to maybe have khedda buff circus. Other obvious candidate is the zoo. The elephant resource itself will just obsolete, I don't see any way around this, nor any drawback really -- it's different than the other strat resources, but it's not a problem.

Afaik a building can either require the presence of a local copy of resource, or consume a national copy -- that's it for resource building interactions really. If buildings could add yields dynamically based on available resources, this might be a better fit, but this does not exist currently

Classical Era cavalry which you probably should rebalance it to be. The balance of this also depends a lot on what the stats are for the Khedda building is.
Then again, I haven't seen an actual War Elephant in-game for several hundred hours at this point (Ivory is really rare for me apparently) so I don't know if the War Elephant is actually signifcantly better than the horseman to warrant such a nerf.
Adjustments to the unit itself will be out of scope for v1 of this mod. The unit exists in main branch, and will be available regardless of Congress results this round. Unit stats affect the whole of VP, there's no reason to adjust for this purpose specifically, at least til we have a sense of the subtleties of how this all plays together
 
Is there some vp-specific aspect of these that fits oddly? It's been a long time now since I played vanilla, but my understanding was this was a holdover, not necessarily modified by VP. For that matter, ivory elephants also appeared this way in civ 4
I did double check the base game and the current War Elephant was previously an UU for Carthage. The current iteration was to imitate Civ 4 I wager.
I'm not sure if you're referring to the process of acquiring elephant in game, or the modmod itself. The actual modmod piece is not much work, it's database only, I can assemble it all in about 30 mins, once the art's finished. It's about as much effort, mod-wise, as a single civ in 3/4UC, a little less even. Artwork, on the other hand... That does take some time for the unskilled like me... I have to re-learn gimp every time I use it, and getting a result that truly fits with the main game's art style, for me that can be really hit or miss. Playtesting and finding necessary balance tweaks will be a drawn out process, but arguably that's what many of us wade into this subforum for.
I'm referring to the access of the War Elephant in game. Although I didn't realise War Elephant required a barracks to build in the first place. That makes it even weirder as that makes it the only unit that also requires a building to build I think, aside from Manhattan Project->Nukes & Apollo project->Spaceship parts.

Regardless. I think it's fine if it's the pipeline was just "Improve Ivory Tile" -> "Build Khadda" -> "Build War Elephant".
Adding a "Get Strategic Resource -> Use Strategic Resource" feels like some extra complexity steps for small rewards. Being able to buy/sell elephants is a bit cute, but I honestly rarely buy strategic resources and allowing you to sell it is probably a weird buff to the ivory resource compared to other camp luxuries.
Oh, and adding an extra strategic resource might make that one CS quest about you getting access to iron/horse also target elephants. Although I do remember that there was a custom civ that added their own custom strategic resource called Loot. I don't remember if CS asked for that resource though, but I digress.

I rather prefer if it's possible to implement Assyr's Siege Tower unit limit into the Khadda instead, if your idea for the strategic resource implementation is to limit the amount of elephant units. Although not sure if VP allows you to change that limit on the fly through buildings or improvements. More I think about it it does sound like the strategic resource implementation but the reason I'm adament against it is because of unneccessary UI clutter lmao.

As I've alluded to, I'd like to explore this concept as something that could be replicated for other resources and unit pairings. So it's the only pseudo uu for now, but if this mod finds a good balance and fit, maybe be the first of a series of era-specific military resources. VP does a decent job of representing the "conventional" military technologies, but leaves out certain noteworthy, if slightly oddball techs -- our dearly departed zeppelins being the prime candidate for a possible limited-appearance revival. I'm confident there are both historical gaps and available 3d models to have one "temp resource" per era, at least through the first two thirds of the game.
Personally, this is the direction I want this modmod to push towards: Giving extra unique flavors to your starts by letting various resources and luxuries unlock special buildings or units.

We already have this in-game with said War Elephant and with Stone and Marble wonder production bonus. I believe Even More Resources has sulphur that adds some gunpower unit production bonus too. A modmod that focues on pseudo-civ bonuses based on your starting area would be really cool!

And for that type of modmod I rather prefer if it mainly followed the formula of: Specific criteria/resources improved -> Unlock buildable building that has specialized buffs and/or unlock special units. No need to make it *too* complex.

Other examples I can think of is like
Have improved Tundra resources -> Unlock Inuit/Sami Scout Sidegrade
Have 2 or more Sea Trade routes to a city on a different landmass -> Unlock Colonial Ports -> Unlock Privateers
Have a natural wonder in your borders -> Unlock National Park building
 
The current iteration was to imitate Civ 4 I wager.
yup you're right... funny i thought it was a vanilla thing but it isn't on double-check, just a civ 4 legacy feature. I tend to be a little biased in favor of these old features from the franchise's past (aging myself here but I've played em all), hence part of my interest on this specific feature. Early voting suggests we may end up keeping the current civ 4 version of ivory elephants, but the recent proposal that we might eliminate them got me thinking about what else is possible.

I didn't realise War Elephant required a barracks to build in the first place. That makes it even weirder as that makes it the only unit that also requires a building to build I think
correct, double-checked and the only other one in the same table (there may be others that use alternative methods to accomplish similar effect) is archaeologist/museum.

Being able to buy/sell elephants is a bit cute,
if it's possible to implement Assyr's Siege Tower unit limit into the Khadda instead, if your idea for the strategic resource implementation is to limit the amount of elephant units.
Yes, this is on point to the purpose of this mod. The main reason for the shift towards a strat resource, vs just enabling the elephant unit via the building, would be to enable it for trade. In status quo, it is available for trade, and personally I often will prioritize trade for ivory if I am hunting for just any lux resource early game, or if its one of several in demand in my cities, so it struck me as desirable to retain this functionality in some form -- but its not necessary as you say. Personally I miss having the opportunity to play "arms dealer", which was a vanilla-available thing, albeit asymmetrically accessed by human only -- however again its not directly within scope here. One subtle consideration that IS within scope, however, is that strat resource allows unit to be built anywhere in the empire, ie in your military specialized city, vs a direct building-gating mechanism will require it be built by specific city local to the resource.

The available unit count limitations in existing tables are based on global count (ie max x amount ever), a max per team, per player, or per city -- I haven't tested the particulars recently but iirc these can be set to any integer. Siege tower is set to 2 per player. Other than using the strat resource method, I am not aware of any way to limit on a per building basis (this could be trivially accomplished via lua, but trying to avoid lua use for this one) -- per building unit limit would likely be the most desirable, if it were possible. If we moved the mod in this general building-link direction, I'm leaning towards making the khedda a 1-per-player building, and the unit x-per-player as well (2 or 3?). The 1 unit per city would be my second choice, though this would count all cities, not just cities with khedda. Ultimately this building-link direction is a simpler implementation, and cuts out the need for incomplete art for the strat resource direction, while still maintaining some kind of resource tie-in. Could work.

And for that type of modmod I rather prefer if it mainly followed the formula of: Specific criteria/resources improved -> Unlock buildable building that has specialized buffs and/or unlock special units.
yeah i think if we could get a way to limit unit counts on a per building basis, or per improvement basis, these would be useful features to have if this resource/unit concept were to be expanded. Its possible that I am just unaware of how to do this: if anyone else is aware pls point me towards the correct table. I'll consider making a request for feature addition on git in the meantime, though the existing strat resource system does effectively allow either of these.

Alternatively, we could have the building just spawn the unit on construction, but then thats it, you only get whatever amount you get, no rebuilding later.

Have improved Tundra resources -> Unlock Inuit/Sami Scout Sidegrade
Have 2 or more Sea Trade routes to a city on a different landmass -> Unlock Colonial Ports -> Unlock Privateers
Have a natural wonder in your borders -> Unlock National Park building
All sound interesting to me -- I will likely stay away from buildings that are directly yield-focused, as I am concerned about the careful balance that has been crafted in VP, but the building -> unit unlock strikes me as very manageable. Generally, will try to stick to database-available functionality, at least in early iterations of any of these concepts (detecting two overseas TRs would probably require lua, for example) -- but there are some possibilities beyond resource/building/unit links.
 
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