The "Tweaks" Espionage System - Draft v1.0

Stalker0

Baller Magnus
Joined
Dec 31, 2005
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So completing my triumvirate here of offering a few different options for people. My goal (assuming I can get people to counter propose some of these), is to offer several options to people in a VP congress proposal. this way they can decide on what "flavor" of espionage they want the game to proceed with.

  1. Looking for a big change to espionage but keeps the complexity: https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/stalker0s-espionage-proposal-draft-2-1.684398/
  2. Want to return to a more vanilla-esque simple espionage system: https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/the-kiss-espionage-system-draft-1-1.684722/
  3. This version is meant to keep the current system but tweak some of the core problems.

Problems with the Current System
Here are the key issues I see or hear about with the current system.

  • Spy Resistance has almost no impact to the current system.
  • Gold stealing is too penalizing once it starts to stack up.
  • Certain missions take far too long to complete.
  • There isn't much defense against spies, counterspies and spy buildings don't seem to do too much.

Proposed Tweaks to the Current System

Yield Steal cannot cause negatives
For the various yield steal missions (gold, science, faith, etc). In the event that you have a negative income for that yield, the amount you lose from espionage is lowered until you are no longer negative. This does NOT impact how much the spy holder gets.

Example:

Lets say I currently am losing 15 GPT due to espionage. On a given turn, I have a -10 GPT income. In that situation, my espionage lost is dropped to 5 GPT (leaving my income at 0 GPT). The spy mission holder still recieves 15 GPT, and I lose 5 GPT.
If on the next turn I gain +20 GPT through a trade deal, the steal once again increases to the full 15 GPT amount.



Spy Resistance is removed from the game
As there is now a mechanic to reduce or increase the duration of spy missions, spy resistance serves little direct purpose, and just confuses things. So we will remove the mechanic entirely.

(Pending: Needs list of spy resistances and new benefit).



Mission Duration Adjustments
  • Broaden Surveillance: 20 -> 10
  • Steal Yields: 30 -> 20 (duration also lowered from 30 -> 20)
  • Radicalize Citizenry: 25 -> 15 (duration lowered from 25 -> 15)
  • Kidnap Specialists: 30 -> 20 (no duration change)
  • Target Local City Defenses: 15 -> 5
  • Steal Tech (need to confirm base mission duration)
  • Forgery of Great Work (need to confirm base mission duration)
  • Arm the local populace (need to confirm base mission duration)


No Mission Spy Level Prereqs
All spy missions are now available for a 1st level spy.



Spy Kill/Discovered rates no longer lowered by spy resistance
The main reason that counterspies feel so weak right now is....they are. The way spy resistance is interacting with them greatly lowers their kill and identify chances. So even though a counterspy might give you a +50% base kill chance, the actual kill chance might be more like 10%.

Along with removing spy resistance, we will leave the base chances unaffected. So a counterspy with a +50% kill chance will actually give you a +50% kill chance, making them much more effective.
 
Certain missions take far too long to complete.
Tactical missions need to be instant, whenever you want it to happen. The human can prepare a spy in a target city before declaring war, but the AI can't. By the time the spy can complete a mission you've already taken the city.
 
Problems with the Current System
Here are the key issues I see or hear about with the current system.


  • Spy Resistance has almost no impact to the current system.
  • Gold stealing is too penalizing once it starts to stack up.
  • Certain missions take far too long to complete.
  • There isn't much defense against spies, counterspies and spy buildings don't seem to do too much.

YES, the new spy is BRUTAL on higher difficulty levels, when every gold counts. So if you are playing agains 5 AI, they will steal all your gold because counter spy don't work all the time and you will lose because of that. And you only have 1 spy, and they have 5 and if they put 5 spies in your cities its Game Over. You cannot even play anymore. Counter spy should be effective at killings spys 90%.
 
Besides the issues with counterspies, the main problem with the current system is that tall civs are affected much more strongly than wide civs: The cities of tall players both produce more yields that can be stolen and contribute more to the empire-wide total yields. I do think some kind of change to the siphon formula is necessary, those missions shouldn't be based completely on the yields of the city the spy is in.

Including empire-wide yields in the formula would make it more complicated, I know, but I think that's fine as long as the UI shows the value you'll get. The formula for trade route yields is much more complicated than the formula for siphon missions would be, but since the yields from trade routes are known beforehand and a sound decision can be made, that's acceptable.

Another issue with the current system: Before moving a spy to a city, it should be shown in the UI how much can be stolen there, or at least a rough estimate of those values. Right now, it's too much guessing.
 
Before moving a spy to a city, it should be shown in the UI how much can be stolen there, or at least a rough estimate of those values.
It should not. Why would you know how much a city is producing without a spy network present?
 
The current system has a nice feature-set imo, just needs tweaking for balance, not complete overhaul. Even proposal here seems a bit bigger leap than strikes me as necessary.

in civ 2, parking a "diplomat" unit in city helped bump up spy resistance. Here we don't have diplomats in the same way (ie they're not units that can move around the map), but we have "envoys", and our "envoys" only have a single function currently, and feel a little flat in this regard. Competing player choices make the game more interesting, and we need a mechanism for spy resistance anyway, so I'd propose we allow envoys to "defend" cities by increasing spy resistance. Current system with added mechanism to stack a bunch of spy resistance as necessary could work fine imo. Only question is whether the AI can be trained to weigh the choice of sending envoy on foreign mission vs staying at home to increase anti-espionage
 
The current system has a nice feature-set imo, just needs tweaking for balance, not complete overhaul. Even proposal here seems a bit bigger leap than strikes me as necessary.

in civ 2, parking a "diplomat" unit in city helped bump up spy resistance. Here we don't have diplomats in the same way (ie they're not units that can move around the map), but we have "envoys", and our "envoys" only have a single function currently, and feel a little flat in this regard. Competing player choices make the game more interesting, and we need a mechanism for spy resistance anyway, so I'd propose we allow envoys to "defend" cities by increasing spy resistance. Current system with added mechanism to stack a bunch of spy resistance as necessary could work fine imo. Only question is whether the AI can be trained to weigh the choice of sending envoy on foreign mission vs staying at home to increase anti-espionage
Currently there are 3 missions worth doing (siphon gold, siphon science, steal tech), 2 situational (siphon faith, siphon tourism), and 7 worthless ones. The one that hurts the target civ the most is actually steal gold, which is always available. I can see many fundamental problems that aren't tweakable here.
 
Tactical missions need to be instant, whenever you want it to happen. The human can prepare a spy in a target city before declaring war, but the AI can't. By the time the spy can complete a mission you've already taken the city.
so you want to make lower local defenses a 1 turn mission. Was there other ones you would consider in that same boat?
 
Currently there are 3 missions worth doing (siphon gold, siphon science, steal tech), 2 situational (siphon faith, siphon tourism), and 7 worthless ones. The one that hurts the target civ the most is actually steal gold, which is always available. I can see many fundamental problems that aren't tweakable here.
I consider kidnap specialists situational useful, when I'm playing Tall the yields you can gain in your capital can be decent. You can always pick an out of the way city that won't necessarily have the strongest spy defense but still get mostly the same benefit.

With local defenses having its duration lowered I think it immediately becomes a solid mission. The other missions I do think require more adjustment, which is out of scope for this "tweaks" model. That is more suitable to one of the grander redesign proposal drafts already out there
 
so you want to make lower local defenses a 1 turn mission. Was there other ones you would consider in that same boat?
Instant - when you want it to happen, it happens. Otherwise they're not going to be useful to the spy owner.

Target local defenses
Arm local populace
Foment local unhappiness
Radicalize rural citizenry

Steal tech and GW should work like this too, this can remove the need of giving secondary prizes when there's no tech/GW to steal at the end of the duration.

And if you go this far to change half of the missions, why not overhaul the whole thing - this is why I made my proposal.
 
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