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[R&F] This is Deity Civ VI (well, more or less)

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    This let's play by @TheGameMechanic is worth checking out.

    It’s a good illustration of what’s good, and what’s wrong, with Civ VI, Deity and RnF.

    Some background. TheGameMechanic is a professional twitch streamer who exclusively plays Civ VI (Deity unmodded). TGM started streaming full time about 18 months or so ago. He’s a solid player, who is very friendly and charming, minimal youtube ticks / hyperbole, and has a good community. I mean, I don’t know the him personally, but I like the guy. I don’t watch a lot of let’s plays, but his games and chat aren’t a bad way to kill some time now and again.

    Anyway. TGM is currently playing each leader as part of a “A to W Challenge”, and posting these on youtube. The linked video is his Hojo / Japan game. TGM had been winning consistently before RnF but has been struggling since RnF and the last few patches, mostly because of increased AI aggression. This game is no different.

    After Action Report:

    - Start. TGM gets a fairly strong start - Pangea map, settles a culture luxe, natural wonder, hills and chops, mountains and rivers, snags an early settler. Scout start, which is a bit weaker v builder, and then maybe TGM doesn’t lean into diplomacy and economy enough for such a peaceful start, and instead both builds slingers (a very weak early unit) and tries for a religion using one HS and projects.

    - Early game. Strong forward settles from multiple AI. Then DOW by all three neighbours (Dutch, Russia and Georgia). TGM has a huge fight on his hands: vastly outnumbered, gets religion and takes defender of the faith, loses capital then immediately wins it back in an emergency, winning a huge pot of gold.

    - After that, he consilidates, and then captures some forward settle cities from Russia, back fills more cities, and has some fights with City States (capturing one, liberating another).

    - And then the mid-game. The action rapidly drops off.

    - TGM alternates between economising (going for culture victory) and defending repeated wars from his neighbours. These wars never really have a chance of success for the AI (although Georgia’s Kveshar are a bit scary). TGM also can’t seem to avoid these wars - his neighbours just don’t respond to diplomacy (eg he builds walls to make Georgia happy, but she attacks anyway).

    - Religion is also boring: all TGM does is build inquisitors to protect his own religion (which he does easily), and gets Jesuit to buy buildings late game.

    - TGM focuses on culture victory; settles a random late city to enable seaside resorts, and builds some wonders, buys trade routes and open borders. Then it’s basically just projects, great people sniping, and selling luxes etc. Quite a few cities flip late game via loyalty, and all the City States eventually get swallowed, but there’s nothing strategic about it.

    Observation:

    - Early game is very exciting. First video or two are particularly fun, especially recapturing he capital during an emergency. But this sort of war happens every game on higher levels. It’s just war, war and more war. The AI is definitely better tactically, and yes it’s exciting, but this early war is all there is. Indeed, the early war precludes other possibilities like exploration and settling. So, you can see how tactically the early game can be reasonably interesting, but strategically it’s inert.

    - ...and then the early game is over and everything doesn’t really matter any more. TGM recovers fairly quickly from the early wars by capturing some AI cities. The early war means his turn time for winning will be higher, but there’s no doubt he’ll win. Once he’s survived he’ll win. The only issue is speed now.

    - Not much happens mid game. There are wars, but they’re not interesting either strategically or tactically. They’re not interesting strategically, because it’s just random waves of units attacking his borders with no objective - nothing strategic is being gained or lost by either the AI or TGM (apart from some minor monkey business with City States). And tactically nothing is happening - the AI just turns up and gets killed by x-bows.

    - It’s also apparent though that there really isn’t anything to do mid game anyway. TGM isn’t going to start more wars - if he wants more cities, there’s huge chunks of the map unsettled, so no need to war. And anyway, the late game cities are useless except for seaside resorts. TGM doesn’t need to war for resources, because with walls and x-bows he’s safe from all attacks, and resources don’t do anything but let you build more units. He even turns down a late game emergency.

    - So, no value in war. But what else is there to do? Well, TGM doesn’t bother with conversion and religious war because he’s not going for a religious victory. He just wants religion for some passive bonuses, and all he needs then are inquisitors to protect his religion.

    - There’s little point to diplomacy bar open borders (for tourism) and gold. TGM doesn’t even need to build some spies to knock out spaceports this game.

    - An aside: you can see in this video how weak anti-cav are - not against melee mind you, but against ranged. The AI builds a tonne of Pikes at one point. They cause TGM single Samurai some trouble, but get killed by his x-bows. Khevsar are surprisingly good in the AI’s hands (AI benefits from extra movement), and the AI does build a few which is fun. Overall, I feel like the game needs to get the AI to build more if its UUs (or just gift them to the AI), and maybe make them more accessible to the player.

    - Yet another aside: TGM has a few gameplay habits which I think other players share, and which I think make the game harder (and maybe less fun) overall. First, TGM builds a lot of ranged units, particularly starting slingers. I’m not sure these are really needed for defence; but they also limit his offensive ability because they’re so slow (although at the same time Cross-Bows are too strong against walls). Second, he does too many things early game, and he builds too many different sorts of districts (although he does at least avoid IZs). Third, he’s not very efficient getting a Religion; focus your first city on a Holy Site then running projects just seems unnecessary to me.

    Conclusions.

    This is just one game. And in fairness, I usually play Immortal not Deity, so what do I know. But I’ve had so many games like this one I’ve linked. People often complain about the early aggression, and I think this game bears that out. This game is a good example of how exciting that early agression can be; but you can also see how boring that can get when it’s every game.

    The game also illustrates the mid game lag. After the early game, there just isn’t anything to do. Partly this is because, well, except for war there’s not many other vectors for interacting with the AI. The only decisions are war / not war?, how much gold for this luxe or resource?, and do I need to distrupt spaceports? (There’s maybe some strategy around city state envoys, but that’s it.)

    But even if there was more to do, there’s little point to it. It’s apparent late game cities are useless except maybe for seaside resorts. You can see there’s nothing TGM needs from the AI except open borders. There’s no issue maintaining his cities’ loyalty, and it’s largely irrelevant whether AI cities flip to him or not.

    Anyway. Just thought this might be interesting for people here.
     
  2. juanpavo

    juanpavo Chieftain

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    Loses capital early then easily wins game later. That says it all. No need to ever rage-quit this game.
     
  3. N_M_L_C

    N_M_L_C Chieftain

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    Very interesting, thanks for the feedback.
    I'm an immortal player as well but most of the time RPing in Emperor so I'm certainly biased.

    I partly agree with you though.
    Some early agression are tougher than other ones. Sometimes you pop right next to aztecs and Rome and some other time you find you have quite some room to expand before going to war.
    but yes, early war always happens.

    Concerning mid/early game i find it rather interesting because that's where you decide the course your civ will take, which tech or civic you have to prioritize to acess your goal (whatever it is).

    But true, main problem is once you survived the early attack and managed to stabilize, well most of the time it's almost GG...you got the edge on AI.
    Late game is just going straight to your VC.

    Couldn't the solution be to have more warfare during late eras? The UN council in CiV was very nice way to add some thrill to late game, I really hope they will add it in later expansions
     
    RohirrimElf likes this.
  4. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Well, maybe if the AI was actually threatening victory more, then you'd be forced to take more action. As shown in the thread about Deity times, it doesn't really make a move until turn 250 even undisturbed despite its huge advantage. Add in the AI's inability to use late game mechanics and it means that pretty much every game of Civ regardless of difficulty ends in a similar fashion. The only difference is how fast people are doing it.

    Even on Prince in Civ 4, the AI would inevitably win space or culture if left to nothing so you'd have to factor it in. I don't even think Civ 6's AI can even win below deity. On < Deity, if you can win around t300 or so, you'll win as long as you didn't die earlier and it doesn't matter how poorly you play
     
  5. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing this, @acluewithout

    I haven't watched the video, but your excellent summary provides a great overview.

    I agree with all of your conclusions about what this says about the current state of Civ 6, the good and the bad. To comment on those and add a few of my own:
    • As you say, Scout first is almost always very weak versus Builder first in Deity. The Scout is likely to find less than it does at lower levels, and three improved tiles early (sometimes two improved tiles and a chop) can often be the difference between losing your capital and not losing your capital to a Warrior rush.
    • Bang on about Slingers being significantly worse than Warriors for defending against the initial war. If an early war is likely, get Warriors fast. Then if you're playing peacefully grab some Slingers to upgrade to Archers (and eventually upgrade them to Crossbowmen, which can hold off Knights, which will likely also attack you if you haven't shifted to offence before then).
    • There's no reason for Anti Cav to be significantly worse against Ranged units than Melee class, but they are, and yes, that's a big reason why they're usually your last option. Just changing that would be a welcome balance tweak.
    • Friendships stop the AI from attacking, but I don't think Green faces/good relationships have a meaningful impact (likewise orange faces/bad relations). I think it's just an internal AI calculation on whether it has the military it needs to beat you or not.
    • The mid- and late-game are for doing things you enjoy doing while you wait for the victory screen. It seems to me that's the experience Civ 6 is designed to provide. There's both nothing to do (if your objective is primarily winning) and lots of things to do (if your objective is empire building).
    • Going for a religion first is a good way to increase the challenge level in deity, as it definitely slows you down. But as this example shows, the impact of that is only in the early eras and then on your victory times. If you are going for one, though, a single Holy Site and run projects from it is, I think, the most efficient way to get a religion.
    • Another thing that likely slowed TCM down (assuming he cared about his victory time) is building Wonders. You didn't mention which ones he grabbed, but I doubt there's any of them that advance your victory time more than you would by running a district project instead. (EDIT: Strike that. He was going for a cultural victory, so Eiffel Tower or Cristo Redentor may have accelerated his victory time, possibly even a Great Works storage wonder if he was short of places to put those).
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  6. Aristos

    Aristos Lightseeker

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    Civilization: Snowflake?
     
  7. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    One thing this video illustrates to me is how “passive” the late game is.

    Lots of 4Xs games have this late game passivity problem. Basically, if you spend the early game setting up your economy, then it makes sense that you spend the rest of the game benefiting from that economy. But that makes the late game inherently passive - the game is not about what you’re doing now, it’s about what you did 100 turns ago.

    The casus belli system, and loyalty, religion, and spying, are maybe intended to mitigate this late game passivity, by giving you options to pursue overt war strategies or indirect / quasi-war / conquest strategies late game. But you can see from the video how that falls flat: TGM has no reason to wage actual wars (although had he done so and pllaged more he might have reduce other civ’s culture and sped up his culture victory); being declared on by other Civs is trivial to defend; loyalty flipping happens without his active involvement; spying doesn’t require any tactical decisions beyond “build spy, send spy here”; and TGM isn’t motivated to spread his religion because he’s not going for RV.

    The only late game tension is relic hunting - because taking relics from other people’s terror could trigger a war declaration (in this case, from Germany which was one of TGM’s allies). But it doesn’t; and even if it did, TGM wouldn’t have any trouble defending, so really it’s just the risk of losing open borders and or trade routes.

    Part of the problem here is the AI’s ability to wage war with Aircraft or Navies. I don’t think war should be the only strategic challenge the game creates, but the reality is that war is one of Civ’s main source of gameplay and tension. The AI however poses no challenge late game precisely because it cannot use Aircraft or Navies. If it did, this would reset the game a little mid / late game, because your standing army of land units would suddenly become redundant and you’d have to get on with building Naval and or Air units largely from scratch.

    Anyway. Leaving aside Navy and Air Units, how might Civ VI tackle passivity? Well, that is an interesting question.

    Stellaris and EU4 and other games have tackled late game passivity by having “events”. Basically, stuff that “happens”, that you then respond to. I’m not sure I think that’s a good solution, but anyway FXS seem to have shied away from that, perhaps because it risks creating too much randomness (and so taking focus away from the all important map) and maybe because it risks making that early economy set up feel less valuable.

    But. I wonder if Emegencies were an attempt to sort of introduce Events through the back door? I also wonder if we might see more of these “sort of” “events” in the next expansion via the World Congress and or resolutions and or ideologies.

    Last thought. I actually think what the game needs is to get away from this whole “rush to the finish” design. As I’ve posted about before, the early game is fun because you have meaningful conflict over territory. I think the late game needs the same. Maybe a rush to the Modern Age makes sense - but after that, and having established your empire, the game really needs to pivot to you taking your empire and out manoeuvring and outplaying other major civs.

    I don’t have any easy short answer how you achieve that. But it’s some sort of geo political conflict late game, where you and small number of mug civs seek to exert control or influence over regions or maybe key cities or resources (eg trade nodes) or smaller Civs; or if you’re still small late game, where you try to sneak through a victory while the great civilisations around you clash and war. You can read my longer posts (see signature) for chat about what I mean.

    I’m really interested to see what FXS do in the next expansion. Vanilla was so good - and so, well, thoughtful. RnF seems like a kludge (other than maybe loyalty), but that may be because it was meant to be a stepping stone to a more involved end game. I really hope so.
     
  8. N_M_L_C

    N_M_L_C Chieftain

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    I think one thig that could help end game is just a better AI... One actually able to set a plan and to be more of a threat.
    I mean, early game, it is, even though it's just by hitting you hard, and that's the only mechanice available at that time.

    But once this era is gone, it looks like it just sits there wait for you to win, vaguely doing stuffs...

    I wish agression could come through all eras.
    And there (I know I repeat myself) UN council could be fun with other Civs voting against you without actually going to war..
     
  9. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    I'm looking forward - and still feel positive about - the next Expansion. My guess is we'll get a World Congress. I think FXS will use that to introduce more ways to compete with the AI (e.g. Resolutions) and more "event" like mechanics similar to Emergencies.
     
  10. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    I mentioned this on another thread, and it's more a discussion for Civ 7 than Civ 6, as they'd never change the game this radically mid-stream, but the "fill one bucket win the game" approach to how victory conditions are set up may be contributing to the mid- and late-game malaise.

    Victory in Civ right now is based on being the best at one thing, and being so good at it everyone else acknowledges your pre-eminence. Once you get a lead in a particular area, it's just a matter of clicking through the remaining turns until you get the victory screen.

    If the AI was better at defending against leaders, or if the AI was better at pursuing victory itself, then the mid- and late-game could be more interesting, as the AI tries to throw obstacles in your way and if you're trying for a cultural victory, for example, you'd have to keep an eye on who's leading in the space race, and couldn't just ignore them. So, yes, an AI that pursues victory more effectively and puts up more speed bumps for the player could help.

    As a general game design, however, I think Civ could benefit from a pivot away from winning by being the best on the globe at one thing, to winning by achieving sufficient influence over each other civ that every other civ in the game acknowledges you as the preeminent civ on the planet. Gaining that influence could come from military prowess, cultural influence, economic influence, wowing them with your technology, etc. The key thing, though, is that influence in just one area would not be enough, and having cultural influence while another civ has economic influence over them makes it a stale mate that you need to break by gaining influence in another area. Being the first into space might give you scientific influence until someone else matches that feat, but a religiously dominant civ with a strong military might have sufficient influence over itself that it's not going to acknowledge your pre-eminence just because you sent some fancy rocket into space.

    I'd also make a lot of the influence gains quite local and transitory to maintain mid- and late-game interest. Winning a couple of wars against a neighbour might give you local military influence over them, but that doesn't help you influence a civ on another continent and your military influence could wane over time (or wane quickly if they fight and beat you in a new war). You might gain cultural influence over a neighbour in the early eras, but need a completely different approach in the later eras to culturally influence a distant civ that has developed its own unique culture.

    Finally, I'd have some game play impact to influence, so that gaining influence over another civ isn't just a box ticking exercise, but provides some benefits you'll want to take advantage of when you have it. When you're the only one with nukes, that gives you leverage, but use that leverage wisely, as when they get nukes themselves, you'll need an advantage in other areas to maintain your influence. Obviously, the general trend needs to be towards civs gaining more and more influence over each other so that the game ultimately comes to a conclusion, but not necessarily in a straight line, no back tracking sort of way, but instead in a system that rewards gaining influence even though that influence is likely to be temporary, especially in the early going.
     
  11. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    @Trav'ling Canuck I'd agree with most of that.

    The only thing I'd add, is that what you're describing is similar to what the cultural victory is now. Culture victories do still have a "fill the bucket" element, but there is a lot more than that going on.
    • While you do have to fill a bucket (tourists), there are multiple ways to fill it - great people, artifacts, relics, wonders, improvements. These fillings also vary in effectiveness depending on era (religious ones work better until Enlightenment, improvements work better after Flight). So, there's a lot more strategy to how you win a CV versus say a science or dom victory.

    • Your success is effected by both war and diplomacy - war lets you remove other Civ's culture, making it easier to beat their domestic tourists, and can net you great works, and gold (to buy more great people or great works) and theatre squares (to put your great works in)... but, you also want people to like you, for trade routes and open borders, because that increases the power of your tourism. So, there's a nice tension there. Compare Dom, Science and Religious Victory where you can basically just ignore diplomacy or (other than Dom) war as well.

    • Your bucket filling for a culture victory also requires more work between different yields than the other victories - civics, science, gold, faith, production, these are all very important at different times for different reasons. Chopping also becomes more complicated, because you're often giving up appeal you'll need later if you chop - and even worse if you then plant mines. Indeed, you often need to pull up existing improvements to get appeal back.

    • Your competing with the other victory conditions of course, because if someone gets a religious or science victory before you, then you lose. But Culture Victories are also "opposed" by the other victory types more directly - Dom is obvious, but a Civ going for Science Victory is a threat because Moon Flight gives them a culture boost, and having the same religion might help with winning a tourism victory but risks giving the AI a religious victory.

    • Culture Victories also add another layer to the map. Certain Manmade and Natural Wonders become important (eg Cristo, Eifel), so capturing or losing them can be critical. Likewise, islands become useful for seaside resorts, or cities on other continents so you can trade more easily.
    I think of the CV as the real victory, and the others as AI victory types.

    The problem is this: the AI. Really, deeply, fundamentally, the AI.

    If the AI played well, Culture Victories would be really hard to win, and pose really fun strategic problems. The AI would rush space victories and religious victories before you get a CV, forcing you to intervene - quick, stop them! The AI would pump culture to resist your influence - oh god, quick, I need to crush their improvements etc. giving them culture; I need to grab these great people with faith now. The AI would attack and target your key cultural assets - help, the AI keeps attacking the Eifel tower! And you'd have to juggle all this while trying to maintain good relations with as many civs as possible.

    But the AI doesn't do that. It makes a stab at an RV, before suiciding its religion with Missionary span; it can't challenge you militarily late game because it's got no planes or navy (and the AI wouldn't know what to target anyway); and it inches along to a science victory without a care in the world.

    I think what you want Civ to do is maybe beyond what the Culture Victory offers. I'm just saying that if you replaced the words "tourists" with "influence" then the current Cultural Victory is already sort of a game where you win by "... achieving sufficient influence over each other civ that every other civ in the game acknowledges you as the preeminent civ on the planet".

    The rule set or bare bones for a game like that is already there. There are a few things holding it back. The biggest, sadly, is the AI. And the AI getting better at moving units, or placing cities on fresh water won't really cut it. The AI needs to pose more of a strategic challenge.
     
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  12. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    I've really got something quite fundamentally different in mind, but not expressing myself well. Cultural victories are the least satisfying, most disjointed from the rest of the game style victories for me, right now. What I'm envisioning is actually almost the opposite of how cultural victories work now. I definitely don't want an "influence" bucket that fills up like the "tourist" bucket fills up now.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter. Civ 6 is set up the way it is. Maybe the AI improves once the final rule set is out and can start to pose a threat. Maybe it doesn't and people who like all the various different single objective victory styles at least get one or two new ones to try on.
     
  13. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    @Trav'ling Canuck Fair enough. Sorry if I wasn’t getting the gist of what you meant.

    Form what it’s worth, I do think FXS took a stab at a sort of “over arching” victory with the culture victory. It’s not as “fill the bucket” or “disjointed” as people sometimes make out, although it does still have some elements of that I agree. CV might also get a rework in the next expansion as part of ideologies- “tourism” and “ideologies” were linked in Civ V. If FXS link them again, then I’d be surprised if that didn’t connect loyalty to all that as well, which could be very very cool.

    CV could be better. It could certainly be more joined up. And it could throw up more strategic challenges, particularly late game, but that would probably require a better strategic AI.

    Where I think the culture (and science) victory maybe lack though is sort of social and economical management. You build stuff, race for great people or certain civics, policies and governments. But you never really need to manage anything, or indeed nurture or develop anything.

    Take Great Scientists. To get them, basically you just build campuses, or focus production (projects) or treasury (gold or faith) in sniping good ones. Beyond picking certain governments, you don’t really have to be careful to manage or nuture talent or innovation. You don’t even get more or less great people points based on happiness (except for Scotland). Maybe some wonders give you some extra scientists, but that's it.

    Even “more great people from happiness” is a bit daft. I mean, maybe an unhappy empire actually produces more great writers and artists? And maybe having lots of great artists should sometimes undermine loyalty? Likewise, Universities have historically been a big source of dissent and rebellion, not to mention recruiting grounds for foreign spies (looking at you Philby). But in Civ, Universities are just always good.

    (I mean, it’d be cool if universities made you more vulnerable to spies during a dark age. I also think “recruit partisans” would make way more sense working on universities, industrial zones and mines than Neighbourhoods.)

    For example, think of all the scientists the US got during / after WWII, which ultimately made the atomic bomb and moon landing possible (among other things). These were people escaping fascist and autocratic governments, people being drawn to greater security, opportunities and freedom in the we still; but also think of the behind the scenes espionage and diplomacy all that involved, and the sort of propaganda the west ran to convince people how good the west was. Civ doesn’t have any of that. It doesn’t even have a spy mission to siphon great people points. Campuses etc. are better because you put them next to a mountain (?), not because of how you run your economy or develop you society.

    I think a lot of this is way, way beyond the scope of a game like Civ. This is really getting into more of a simulation game. Sim-Empire. I’d love a game like that (and, hey, maybe EU4 is sort of already that game), but I think that would need to come from another game company.

    You're dead right though - I can’t see FXS radically reworking victories in Civ. The “kill everyone or go to space” is basically cannon for Civ, just like nuclear ghandi and building spearmen. FXS are pretty conservative with the franchise.
     

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