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THL Naval Mod

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Creation & Customization' started by Thalassicus, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. Thalassicus

    Thalassicus Bytes and Nibblers

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    11,057
    Location:
    Texas
    This is very much a work in progress, and I would greatly appreciate discussion on the advantages or disadvantages of different possible changes. I've been rolling around thoughts on improving the "feel" of naval warfare for years now, and have done a few XML and scripting changes from time to time (I had a form of blockading in my mod prior to BTS, the new blockade feature is wonderful!). Things with a + I've implemented, things with a - are ideas yet to be done. I'm looking for a fellow person(s) interested in improving the strategic value of naval combat, who's somewhat versed in modifying the game engine to work together on a few of these that require dll coding, and also slight AI modifications.

    New building:
    Shipyard
    120:hammers:
    Double production speed with Aggressive
    Requires Metal Casting
    50% increase in naval construction speed
    + Drydock now upgrades from a Shipyard.

    This is something to focuses naval production to a few developed cities, and make it a little easier to build a more substantial fleet in earlier ages. I've found that the AI automatically knows how to use this without any additional coding.

    New unit:
    Supercarrier
    700:hammers:
    Requires Composites and Oil or Uranium
    Can carry 9 air units

    This is an improved carrier for three times the cargo at twice the cost of a normal Carrier, to go along with the new BTS missile cruisers and stealth destroyers (see the later paragraph in regards to carriers, and also the paragraph on ship construction). I thought of having supercarriers require uranium exclusively, but there's a problem of unit upgrades. If Carriers upgrade to Supercarriers, and you don't have uranium, due to the way the game works you lose the capability to build carriers entirely. On the other hand, if they don't upgrade it means carriers are isolated in the unit tree, serving for only a short time without upgrading from or to anything else, and could still be built after acquiring Supercarriers even if you do have Uranium. From a gameplay perspective it seems like it'd work better to have them upgrade and still have the same resource requirements.

    + Missile Cruisers no longer have a gun bombardment value.
    + Stealth Destroyers now have a bombardment value of 35% (up from 16%).
    + Battleships now upgrade to either Stealth Destroyers or Missile Cruisers.
    This is to more accurately represent the use of Zumwalt-class and similar ships in naval artillery fire support, and give a greater value to stealth destroyers in assisting ground missions.

    + Destroyers no longer upgrade to Stealth Destroyers
    - Stealth Destroyers will now defend against attacks in their tile if non-stealth friendly units are present.
    This is to solve the problems with Destroyers and Stealth Destroyers in the current game. Currently, destroyers lose the capability to detect submarines or defend stacks when upgraded to stealth destroyers, and once you research Stealth you can't build regular destroyers anymore. If you're lacking the Uranium to construct attack subs, this means you can't detect the presence of a submarine at all, even if they're sitting outside your port with a Blockade order sinking ships as they pass by. (Why'd Jon's ol shrimp boat there go down?) Destroyers would be useful for sub spotting (like the Littoral Combat Ship family) and you also can improve the air-intercept capabilities of destroyers. In reality Missile Cruisers should be better for anti-air, but that would make them extraordinarily good on their own - see the paragraph below regarding fleet composition.

    - Aircraft on a carrier in Intercept mode will now air strike once per plane against surface ship attacks on the stack.
    + Destroyers and Stealth Destroyers can now be promoted with Interception.
    + Aircraft can now reduce the health of ships to 25%, down from 50%.
    I've been trying to think of some way to make Carriers properly useful during another player's turn, and scrambling the fighters is an idea is one I've had for years but haven't implemented yet. Carriers should be able to defend themselves even against powerful enemies - look at the Battle off Samar in the Philippines for an example, a handful of light destroyers and escort carriers were able to fend off some of Japan's mightiest ships, including the battleship Yamato.

    - Ships can now attack naval vessels in a hostile port.
    I've been debating whether or not to implement this. It's terribly annoying to have a stack of 12 enemy ships all sitting in a harbor and you can't attack them. While realistic in that you could achieve naval superiority, it might not be good from a gameplay perspective though, as you could not recover and rebuild your fleet while still at war. Possibly realistic (fire ships into a port, air raids on docked ships), but not sure which would be better.

    + Increased the cost of Battleships, Submarines, Carriers, Missile Cruisers, and Stealth Destroyers
    In the current game, there isn't much strategy to ship construction or warfare, you just mass the most of the largest ship you can build and slug it out. It's most effective to have huge fleets of Battleships or Missile Cruisers with one or two auxiliary Destroyers, reversed from reality, where most of a fleet is light ships surrounding a few capital ships. The main reason is cost: Battleships only cost 25:hammers: more than destroyers, so there's no reason to ever build more than 1 destroyer per fleet. It's a simple method to program and balance, but ends up being so simplistic naval warfare has no depth or even rock-paper-scissors like land warfare does. The best solution would be something more general -- the support cost of units should scale depending on the power of the unit. An archer and a battleship cost the same to maintain ingame, which means that a large number of weaker units is more expensive than a small number of stronger units. Ideally Battleships could have both a greater construction and maintenance cost, but that's a more general gameplay issue. Increasing the initial costs instead, and possibly adding in some rock-paper-scissors would work with some AI recoding. It seems to work in Final Frontier, although that has much harder counters... another possibility. Submarines could have a +50% bonus attacking slow, torpedo-vulnerable Battleships and Missile Cruisers, and likewise bring sub's costs up as well. Destroyers wouldn't need a bonus attacking Submarines, they're already 30 strength versus a submarine's 24, and destroyers attacking subs means the subs cannot withdraw. Anti-submarine warfare is also what Attack Subs are for.

    + Movement speed of non-transport oil powered ships increased by approximately half
    - Radio now increases the sight range over water by an additional 1.
    + Sentry now increases the sight range of naval units by 2.
    The speed of ships relative to horse-based ground movement is highly realistic up until Combustion, comparing the rate of travel of a horse at a working pace (6 tiles on land over a road at ~8mph) to that of triremes, caravels, frigates and so on. Post-combustion ships, however, move at 30+ knots, compared to the 10 knots average most sailing ships could manage taking into account both favorable and poor weather conditions. Having modern ships move 18 tiles would cause problems in a turn-based game that doesn't have zones of control, however... but oil/nuclear powered ships are still excruciatingly slow. Amphibious landing craft have about the right speed. I've played around with different increases for the other vessels and a one-half increase feels somewhat right, although it could always use adjusting. Likewise, radar does not improve vision capability over water, leaving cities and ships woefully inept at spotting attackers even at regular pre-buff movement speeds. Ideally there could be some way to work in the blockade feature to create naval zones of control, but that's more of a dream than a practical idea.

    Costs and movement speeds:
    150:hammers: 8 :move: Submarine
    150:hammers: 8 :move: Attack Submarine
    200:hammers: 12:move: Destroyer
    450:hammers: 9 :move: Battleship
    350:hammers: 9 :move: Carrier
    700:hammers: 9 :move: Supercarrier
    500:hammers: 12:move: Stealth Destroyer
    520:hammers: 10:move: Missile Cruiser

    - Stealth Destroyers and Missile Cruisers now have 1 First Strike.
    There should be some advantage to having a modern fleet over a WWII era fleet, although nothing too great. WWII ships are upgraded with guided missile launchers and other armaments to bring them up to a useful level of capability; the US's Iowa class battleships were added on to, for example, and still used for naval fire support in every war up until and including the first Gulf War, including Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts around the world. Even so, a missile cruiser should provide something over a battleship other than just the ability to carry missiles.

    - New mission: Target Practice
    Target a friendly ship in an adjacent tile to destroy the ship to add XP to the currently selected ship.
    This allows a player who built a large navy in the early game to still reap some benefit in the late game, even if you don't upgrade your entire navy, similar to gaining Great Generals for military specialists but on a lesser scale and specific to naval combat. The XP gain depends on the combat ratio between the selected ship and the ship targeted, as if the ships had engaged in combat. If the ships are very different in strength (battleship using a caravel for target practice) where the XP would be less than 1, there is a chance no experience will be gained. Ships can perform this mission at level 4 or lower, available with Military Science.

    - New mission: Donate to Museum
    Available when a ship is located in a city with a harbor, performing this mission deletes the ship and adds a Museum Ship building to the city with a beneficial effect, possibly +1 culture and +3 gold. An alternative to using ships for target practice, this could be useful depending on what the benefits to the city are, especially to leaders who are pursuing a more builder-oriented strategy, or with particularly ancient, low-combat ships. Only one museum ship building can exist in a city, available with Military Science.
     
  2. Gunner

    Gunner Emperor

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,389
    Location:
    Goochland, VA
    I really love these ideas Thalassicus! I too have always had a soft spot for naval combat, but sadly the civ games have always failed to give it a useful representation. The introduction of more important trade routes and blockading in BTS is a huge step in the right direction though.

    To me the only important "-" left on your list is the stealth destroyers being able to defend their stacks. I would consider it a really great improvement. The rest I would consider to be kinda nice to have, but certainly not essential.

    About ships being attacked in harbor, I think it should be left as it is. What exactly would be your historical motivation for this. Immediately off the top of my head two examples supporting the current system are the German fleet in port for the rest of WWI after Jutland and the blockaded French fleets during the Napoleonic Wars. In both cases fleets in port could probably have been defeated in open battle, but instead they sat in port for long periods of time unable to defeat the enemy but unable to be defeated themselves as long as they remained. It is kinda a pain to not be able to get rid of them, but that was how it was historically.

    One other idea I've had for a while pertains to movement speeds and transports. As you pointed out, the distribution of movement speeds as the game progresses becomes more difficult. One possible solution would be to give ships high movement speeds, but to require that transport ships must have been stationary for one turn before they may unload their cargo. In this way it would still be possible for a navy to defend its coasts without fear of unrealistic hit-and-run invasions. Going further along this line of reasoning, it could possibly be extended so that when all naval units win after an attack they lose their movement points, but I'm not so sure about that idea. Of course the problem with both of these ideas is that it would require somebody to code them.

    Good luck on this project.
     

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