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The Case Against Using Scouts

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by TW_Honorius, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. Redcoat Captain

    Redcoat Captain Leader of the Redcoats!

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    Getting that scout->archer upgrade is just the best :)

    Do you always go for the vis upgrade then? I tend to go for the +1 healing and +50% defence route? Or is that just a bit silly on a unit with base combat values?

    Might try the +1 vis range from now on. Admittedly, i've always thought of it as the weaker upgrade...:crazyeye:
     
  2. timtofly

    timtofly One Day

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    Why would any one use a scout that can be upgraded to an extra sight and extra movement via barbs and works great in tandem with a warrior. After the second upgrade and getting a bow and arrow, they always can cover more land and work even better with a warrior. A warrior can clear an encampment, but a scout can remove that encampment on the same turn. Once a scout has a bow and 3 unhindered movement points it can clear the unit and the warrior can remove the encampment. Upgrading this scout to a crossbow, with extra sight and 3 all-terrain movement points, will take out barb encampments with musket production.
     
  3. The Pilgrim

    The Pilgrim Deity

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    For sure. Unfortunately luck dependent, while getting extra sight is a matter of proper timing and is almost 100% doable.

    Having extra sight your scout should never get wounded unless you decide to attack a severely damaged unit on purpose. Which is not gonna happen often enough to justify sacrificing the benefits of improved visibility.
     
  4. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    I haven't been convinced by any arguments I've seen here. I'm very openminded and that is why I have tried all number of different combinations of strategies and continue to do so, my experience has been that very rarely does building a scout provide an advantage over a warrior, owing to this experience I promote this strategy. Since no arguments yet have been very compelling and when I presented very rational arguments in favour of my strategy (warrior build) I received some personal attacks for the effort, I continue to hold to my opinions.
     
  5. vexing

    vexing knows

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    it's all about the ruins
    • lower build cost (25 vs 40)
      you can get out a second scout two turns after you'd have gotten your first warrior out. how many times have you seen a ruin in front of your second warrior that gets snagged by an opponent's scout? the 3 to 5 extra turns needed to pop out a warrior are extremely significant in the race for ruins.
    • no movement penalty
      hitting rough terrain with a warrior halves movement speed. this probably averages out to a warrior being able to cover only 2/3rds to 3/4ths the area a scout can. also being able to go on hills with the first movement to see more ground helps scouting.
    • better scouting promotion(s)
      though a warrior takes less damage in combat, if your scout manages to scrape up 10 exp you can safely continue scouting with 1 hp via +1 sight.
    • better upgrade via ruins
      warrior turned spearman is almost a downgrade, the 7 vs 6 cs isn't very significant and you lose being able to upgrade to swordsmen. a scout-archer on the other hand is one of the most valuable units you can get.
     
  6. malitano

    malitano Warlord

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    scouts are essential to map the area around you so you can plan out where you will send your settler in the near future. more importantly, your starting warrior + a scout or two can kill any barbarian unit or enemy warrior in one turn. it is a little more time efficient to build 1-2 scouts instead of one warrior.

    Scouts are also cheap and if they survive, you can send them to other continents to keep exploring the map for you until they eventually get killed.

    not to mention that they can find ruins quicker etc.
     
  7. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    vexing: All valid points. When a scout gets upgraded into an archer that does make it a more valuable investment imo. Unfortunately this isn't something that can be relied upon, while it is definitely excellent when it occurs it is still too variable to predict any sort of strategy off of. You might be interested to try playing some standard type of map, like continents, or pangaea (no amazonian or other forest/hill heavy map), take honour as your opening policy, use your first warrior to scout your border area while building a second warrior. Link them up when second warrior is built. Use them playing off of eachother to scout a wider visual range, taking precaution to end movements on penalizing terrain with an emphasis on hills (ie, use your first movement on flat land, second movement for crossing rivers/going on hills/going into forest). Take out barb camps in your vicinity. I think you will find that you will have no issue in meeting the other civs, who will all send scouts your way very quickly and early. The further extension to making this strategy really pay off is of course to build a worker after and then a few more warriors. Get ironworking timed for purchase of a settler (if iron is not in your first city's hex/range). Upgrade all troops and take out a neighbour. I'm sure you're aware of this strategy so if I mention it here it's only for the benefit of some others who might not be. I think scout or warrior, if you can play a decent game you will do good, I would just argue that there are other options than simply building a scout every single game, there are other viable strategies which will gain just as good if not a better result (depending on how well you put it into practice and the unforeseen variables which might impede or enhance it).
     
  8. snarzberry

    snarzberry Emperor

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    woodshadows, I'd like to run a friendly experiment with you if you're willing that I think will provide some food for discussion and comparison. If you're up for it I'll generate a save of an immortal pangaea on the initial turn, don't care what civ, though best that it not be Aztec, Germany, Songhai or America and we both play that same map exactly 50 turns and then report back to this thread with saves/screenies yadda yadda.

    A gentleman's agreement that I promise the map will be as new to me as to you, and we both promise to only play the map through once.

    You have to open with warrior-worker (Is that what you have suggested? please correct me if I'm wrong).

    I must open with scout-scout. My next build will be monument then I will react to the game.

    You may not build scouts for these 50 turns.

    Now this isn't a competition or pissing contest of any kind, it's not about which of us will play a better 50 turns on this sample size of 1 (which would prove nothing anyway), but I think the differences in the two maps after 50 turns when one player started with 2 scouts and the other none, will provide a lot of talking points and could be an interesting bit of fun as well.

    Probably needs to be fleshed out so fire away with any suggestions or amendments if you are keen to give this a go.
     
  9. Barth

    Barth Chieftain

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    You (woodshadows) brought up the fact that higher level AIs start with a scout and find ruins faster and argue that trying to grab more ruins is pointless, but I'd argue that this is the exact reason that opening with at least 1 scout is so powerful. Rather than one game, I'd suggest doing 4 sets of 10-20 Immortal/Deity games up to turn whatever, 40-50. One set of games go Scout->non-Scout, next set go Scout->Scout, next set go Warrior->non-Scout, then last go Monument->non-Scout, and compare the average number of ruins you grab, civs you meet, and CSs you find (track both the total number you find and the number you find first). I think you'll be very surprised at how many additional ruins you're able to grab, not to mention other civs you find and are able to trade with.
     
  10. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    OK, Inca it is! Just kidding of course. I'd be up for this challenge, I should have time tomorrow evening to spend with it. I suppose we'll have to just rely on the honour system that neither of us will 'cheat' through playing through to reveal the map prior to our 'saved/screenshotted version'. Outside of this however I think it could be an interesting comparison, I'd certainly enjoy losing if it shows up a flaw in my game, maybe you use scouts more effectively than I have been using them, or maybe I use warriors more effectively than you? We will see.

    I should really learn to read an entire post before responding.. Agreed.

    The worker was an optional part of a further rush strategy, I wouldn't want to confine myself to it depending on what circumstances might arise which would dictate a different decision in my second build. My only hypothesis is that building a warrior first instead of a scout can be just as if not more effective. For instance depending on what ruins I hit or what sort of land I have will completely change what my second build would be.

    I can tell you right now that a scout then scout build will probably do far better than a warrior then worker build, for 50 turns at least, if I remember correctly (I rarely look at turn time while playing) but 50 turns wouldn't allow for a sword rush to come to full fruition, while on the other hand you'll have gained advantage through better exploration.

    A further condition I don't really consent to. I generally will build a scout later in the game, again depending upon circumstances, such as how much gold I've gotten through ruins, etc. I don't disqualify the scout as a completely pointless unit, that's not what I've been saying at all, I just don't think it's the best thing to build first.

    I could go along with the conditions you've set if you are interested in simply comparing two extreme variants, but it really would not be comparing what I am arguing and I would like that to be stated upfront here. This might sound like splitting hairs but I can provide an easy example here of something that would entirely change the course of my decision in a game. I build a warrior as my first build. Warrior1 and warrior 2 go out and meet a barbarian taxiing a citystate's worker to a barb camp. I capture the worker and bring it back to my territory. In this situation I would not want to build a worker for my second build. Or, say I hit a ruin that gives me a load of gold and I smash some weakened barb camps early, in this situation I would probably spend the 140 gold or whatever to purchase a scout just to get some cheap reconnaisance without impeding any rush strategy.

    As to which leader to play we'll have to give this a lot of thought and you might be better advised than me on who would be most neutral. I can think the abovementioned as being automatically disqualified but as well should Arabia be disqualified, with their starting bias for desert which would negate any disadvantage slightly I might suffer from terrain impediment early on.
     
  11. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    If I did that I would expect Firaxis to pay me QA wages for my labor.
     
  12. timtofly

    timtofly One Day

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    Is it just me or does it seem that the AI scout makes a beeline for the CS around you and take your ruins before getting their own? It seems like one would want a couple good scout/warrior teams to do the same thing to the AI?
     
  13. tibbles

    tibbles Warlord

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    Count me among the mob, but I fail to see why GOTM entries with crazy low win times that started scout first are not considered evidence. Civ is all about compounding the early turns and those early turns are the easiest to go back and replay over and over to optimize. You don't think by now those players haven't tried out opener after opener to see which shaved off turns?

    There's always better strats to be found out there, but unless your strat can do an even better finish from the same start, there's no shame in copying an accepted opener. Like, I'm not going to argue on the strat forums on how to do a better space race until I can post a similar time to the players who already post guides.
     
  14. BenAxiom

    BenAxiom Chieftain

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    I've wondered about this too, but can't think of a way to test it. I'm also curious if some AI are programmed to be less interested in scouting. On the lower levels at least, it seems some leaders tend to just let the CS and ruins near their own borders sit; then again, I could be reading into things.
     
  15. timtofly

    timtofly One Day

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    To be honest, I have had only one game where trying again had a better result. It does matter more on the positioning than the style. The only thing different about that one game was I expanded in the opposite direction. I was on the continent with Alexander and expanding towards him instead of away from him worked out for my benefit. For some reason he is more aggressive if he finds your capital exposed than if he finds it surrounded by a nice wall of cities.
     
  16. TomeTraveler

    TomeTraveler Chieftain

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    Bingo. The game is driven by the decisions you make, and the earlier the decision, the more multiplicative effect it has. If you're not making these decisions with the absolute fullest and best information you can acquire, you may as well be making decisions by rolling dice to see what comes up.

    While I scout with my initial warrior in addition to building at least one scout (and often two), the scout gets out there earlier than a second warrior would, will cover more area than the warrior in all but open, non-riverine terrain, and should I be unfortunate enough to get into combat with the scout (losing valuable exploration time to healing) there is at least the side benefit that after a couple of those I can give it a Scouting I promotion for even better sight.

    An extra early tech is immense. A culture ruin can change your entire early game plan. Money huts and earlier contact with city-states could BUY you that warrior or worker that you skipped so as to build a scout.

    The only time I don't build is scout is when it's obvious I'm on an archipelago map on a smallish island (and at that it is only a postponement as I'll still build a scout later, after Optics).
     
  17. tibbles

    tibbles Warlord

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    I don't mean replaying the same map over and over (scouts lose a lot of benefit doing this if you can beeline your warrior(s)). I mean you can play a lot more games thru the opening turns to see which opener averaged stronger to the desired goal. Or can get a lot more people being willing to take 20min to play 50 turns on the same map than it is to get people to play a whole comparative game.

    Given this and the exponentially increasing computations as turn count increases, it's safe to assume that the early turns are the most analyzed and the most likely to be optimal.
     
  18. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    Sounds good on paper, but tell me what decisions are you making that will be vastly influenced by learning that Catherine has some cows in her territory on the other side of a large continent? I will map other territory lying further afield than my immediate neighbours, but only later in the game when building a scout doesn't make as much of a dent upon my goals as in the early game. When you have your scout finding out about the cows in Catherine's territory what will you be doing about the barbarians who are invading your territory harrassing your workers/pillaging your improvements? Build a warrior or archer I suppose? Okay, well I've already built a warrior with only slightly more turns than you did for that scout, I've used that warrior to team up with my initial warrior which provides a very strong protection against being killed by ambushing barbs and allowed me the preemptive ability to take out barb camps before they spawn barbs to harrass me, gaining gold, sometimes workers, and sometimes influence with city states. I think these benefits are worth more than finding out that Catherine has cows on her land on the other side of a continent who I won't have to worry about coming to blows with for probably 100's of turns. And while you are building that warrior or archer to defend your land from barbs I can invest my hammers into something more productive like a worker/settler/extra warrior or monument, depending on circumstances.
     
  19. snarzberry

    snarzberry Emperor

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    ah yes forgot about them, actually giving it more thought there are quite a lot of civs that would slant things one way or the other. We want a civ with as few early advantages as possible, and definitely no bonus that deals with scouting or barb hunting etc...


    Okay, fair points. I agree that you should not be bound to do almost anything with your subsequent builds, but I'm leaning towards some kind of restriction with regards to you and scouts in order to sharply distinguish between the two opening styles. You put together units very early that can take out barb camps, whereas I avoid them almost completely until later.

    Let me ask you a question, in roughly what percentage of games do you forsake the scout unit altogether and rely on other units to reveal territory and ruin hunt? Would this experiment be likely to influence you to purchase or build a scout when you probably wouldn't have in one of your normal SP games?


    Candidates off the top of my head - England, Japan (bushido neutral?) and Siam...
     
  20. woodshadows

    woodshadows King

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    That could be interesting, I've done that with Aztecs to good success but of course their uu lends itself to it far better than a standard warrior. I'd be curious to see how well it would go as well. So what are you proposing exactly? That my first two builds are strictly defined as warrior builds, or warrior then worker, and then I'm free to build/buy whatever I want after that? Or am I also banned from buying/building scouts at any point?


    I often build a scout in nearly every game. Once my cities are more established or I hit some extra gold I might buy/build a scout or two and send out to autoexplore safely, during a time when most barbs have been eliminated. This gives me the maps I'll need for later game wars and more importantly I try to find the natural wonders for the extra happiness they provide/city states extra little gold they give. In early game it really is variable and hard to say what percentage is involved. In my latest game with Catherine I ended up buying a scout some time after my worker was built because I was playing lakes map and I find this map it's more important to scout more as you don't have a coastline which restricts the amount of scouting required to determine who is on your borders etc. I really go on a case by case basis for deciding when and whether to build a scout, I think it's bad to confine yourself to a strategy too strictly, gotta be flexible. I don't think I would build a scout in this challenge tho just on account of it being a challenge, simply because I'm not of the opinion that the scout in-all-situations would provide an advantage, as is well known I still think in most cases there are better things to be built.

    England sounds good. I'm not sure if they have a start bias.. probably coastal? I think that would be okay tho, I can't think that would give an advantage to either of us. I'm thinking possibly pangaea or continents for the map type?
     

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