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Thumb twiddling counter spies

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Hiskias, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. Hiskias

    Hiskias Chieftain

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    How do counter spies affect the success rate of AI spies siphoning funds from my city? Do they lower the success rate or do they have some base chance of intercepting the operation while success rate remains the same? I assume the latter, since the AI succeeds just about every time, and since all the opponents are targeting my richest city, I keep losing gold at atrocious rate.

    I have tried to place multiple counter spies on the districts adjacent to the city center, to no noticeable effect. I was hoping that the chance of intercepting the enemy either stacks or then each one gets a go at it. How do multiple counter spies protecting the same district/city center work in practice?

    What really baffles and frustrates me is that enemies succeed in their operations in spite of counter spies something like 9 out of 10 times, and my stupid thumb twiddling counter spies are never able to capture any of them. If I attempt any offensive spying operations myself, the given success rates are nowhere as generous. Does the game boost the enemy success rates depending on how well I am doing overall? Meaning, if I am winning, the enemy spies get a bonus to their success rates.

    Finally as I understand it, the amount of gold that a spy siphons is the amount that the target city accumulated during their operation in that city. However, it looks like every spy stationed in the same city gets that same amount, which is illogical, as they in effect are stealing the same funds multiple times. What a "fun" mechanism to bankrupt me while I can't do anything at all about it!

    Or can I? Advice welcome.
     
  2. Pfeffersack

    Pfeffersack Deity

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    If you have the NFP or the Ethiopia pack of it, you can use adjacency to the diplomatic district as protection. For counterspies, pay attention to the special promotions helping counterespionage. There are ones which simply increase the counterespionage effiency on the tile the counterspy is, while others effect adjacent districts, protect the entire city or all enemy spies operating in your lands. Clever combination of these can really help.
     
  3. Datian

    Datian Warlord

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    Do you put your spy on the CH ?
     
  4. Karmah

    Karmah Emperor Supporter

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    Yes that works. Although if your defensive spy is unleveled while the opponent managed to survive a couple of missions you might want to use a card to kick-start the defense level or send your spy on easy missions before coming back to defend. Once you have a couple of level you should be fine, and if the RNG provided you with good defensive promotion even better.
     
  5. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    Yes, there's nothing to stop multiple AIs getting magic money from the city at the same time, even though none of this makes logical sense.

    I had a similar issue playing as Mansa Musa in a recent game. Thanks to the way trade routes work, and having the Great Zimbabwe wonder, I had one city with by far the highest gold income per turn in the world, and every AI spy seemed to end up there as they could get 4000+ gold from a siphon mission. I stuck a level 3 counterspy on the commercial hub and ran the cryptography policy. This caught a fair number of enemy spies, but a few of them had already picked up promotions which made them more or less impossible to catch. I quickly realised however that it wasn't actually much of a problem. It reduces income from that city after a successful mission (I think? It didn't actually seem that noticeable). I actually came to the conclusion that it was probably an overall benefit to me having all the AI spies tied up doing this at one city, rather than forcing me to repair districts or playing whack-a-mole with partisans.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
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  6. Hiskias

    Hiskias Chieftain

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    So, does anyone know how the chances of the counter spy intercepting the enemy spy operation is calculated? Does it reduce the percentage probability of a successful spying operation, and if so, how much?
     
  7. MrCynical

    MrCynical Deity

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    There's a rather frustrating lack of clear information on the exact numbers for how counter spying works. As far as I can tell from observations of the espionage system:

    There are a set of eight discrete probabilities of success for missions, other than the listening post and sources which have 100% success always:

    90% appears to be the highest possible.
    84%
    74%
    63%
    50%
    37%
    25%
    16 % - is the lowest I've ever seen displayed. I can't quite exclude there being a value below this requiring an odd combination of promotions I've never encountered.

    Each mission has a base difficulty. For a new agent with no promotions, and no other effects:

    Partisans is the hardest at 16%
    Disrupt Rocketry and Steal Great Work at 25%
    Steal Tech or Sabotage at 37%
    Siphon Funds at 50%

    So siphon funds is the easiest of the offensive missions to begin with.

    A spy's effective level can be increased by promotions, gaining sources, and certain policies. So if we look at the siphon funds mission specifically:

    A raw recruit succeeds 50%
    Spy with one promotion (not specific to siphon funds) 63%
    Spy with two promotions 74%
    Spy with the maximum three promotions 84% success rate.

    However there is a promotion (con artist) which gives a further 2 level boost to spies on the siphon funds mission. So a 1 promotion spy with the con artist promotion has a success chance of 84%, while a level 2 or 3 spy with it will have hit the cap at 90%.

    Running the "Gain Sources" mission increases a spy's effective level by 2, so even the raw recruit with no promotions gets to 74% success rate for siphon funds if the AI uses this (I'm not sure if it does).

    On the defensive side of things, we have the Cryptography Policy card. This reduces the effective level of enemy spies by 2. So the raw recruit spy would be down to a 25% chance for siphoning funds, or 50% if the AI is patient enough to run the "Gain Sources" mission. A master agent spy with three promotions including Con Artist would still have an 84% success chance, or 90% with "Gain Sources". The Police State card also offers a 2 level reduction.

    Now we get to the bit I'm not so sure on. I think the counterspy also works by reducing the effective level of the enemy spy, moving them down notches on that table of percentages. 1 notch per rank of the counterspy would be logical, but I haven't seen this spelt out anywhere.

    If so, then simply sticking in a raw recruit agent as a counterspy as the only defensive measure will have quite a modest effect, especially against highly promoted enemy spies. The master agent with the Con Artist promotion would only see a drop from 84% to 74% success rate, and if they take the time to use Gain Sources, they wouldn't be affected at all (they'd still be able to hit the 90% cap). Against a raw recruit enemy agent it looks slightly better (down to 37% if they don't gain sources, 63% if they do).

    But we can promote the counterspy, right? If I am right how the counterspy works, so a raw recruit reduces enemy level by 1, a 1 promotion agent reduces level by 2, and so on up to a reduction of 4 for the master agent. Now the enemy raw recruit is down to at best a 25% success rate for siphon funds even if they take the time to run the Gain sources mission. We can do better than that though. The "Seduction" promotion gives us a further two levels of counterspy effectiveness. So the counterspy is now taking a total of 6 levels off the enemy's rank.

    The raw recruit enemy is now down to 16% success even if they Gain Sources. In fact they're still one notch below that - I'm not sure if this is a fixed cap. The game never displays success chances of less than 16%, but I'm not sure if the display takes into account the effects of counterspies. So it's possible there's a level below 16%. A master agent spy with the Con Artist ability effectively has +6 levels, balancing the -6 of the counterspy for an overall success chance of 50% without sources or 74% with them.

    We can still do better. Stack the Cryptography policy, and the master counterspy, with seduction. Now the master Con Artist is down to 25% success, or 50% with sources.

    One other relevant promotion is Quartermaster. Keep that spy on Counterspy duty in your territory, and you get one more level of effectiveness on all your other spies, so helps on both defense and offense. Finally we have the buildings. Intelligence agency increases effectiveness of all spies (offense and defense?) but doesn't specify how much. A lot of enemy spies might have an extra level thanks to that. The diplomatic quarter building Consulate reduces enemy spies by one level, provided you have either it or an encampment in the city.

    The big unknown is if overlapping counterspies from different districts stack. If so, there's far more scope for reducing enemy levels. I can't find clear information on this anywhere, but my guess from my own games would be no.
     
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  8. Arithmion

    Arithmion Chieftain

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    Very well explained, sir. Bravo. What I love is that with all of this, you still haven't even touched the "capture or kill" or escape type percentages.:crazyeye:
    If I may add something, I believe @Victoria mentioned in his guide that quartermaster promotions do stack.
     
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  9. wesplaysciv

    wesplaysciv Chieftain

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    I've never seen the success rate be something different than what I anticipated, so I would guess that the display does not take into account counterspies. (But I'm not even sure if AI tends to do counterspying?)

    By the way, training a spy in a city with Victor and Embrasure gets your spy to start with a free promotion, and a counterspy that catches an enemy spy will also earn a promotion—two things I learned very recently.
     
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  10. fossar_

    fossar_ Chieftain

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    Based off the symmetry of the numbers it looks like a 10% success chance is very possible. This would require 4 levels of reduction through mission difficulty, cards, and counterspy promotions. I would expect this would never be visible though as you don't know what cards/promotions the enemy has in effect to reduce your effectiveness.

    My assumption is that most missions you send spies on have a lower chance than displayed because of these invisible operating level modifiers which is why players may find they fail missions more regularly than the stated success rates would project.
     
  11. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    indeed, damn annoying
    And very hard to test, I will perhaps try one day, I just need to hotseat and do a few hours of testing after getting both players to spies (annoying hotseat does not allow firetuner)
    ... and it’s more confusing than that (see below)
    Your assumption is half right. I did my testing because everyone was complaining that they were dying too much. The answer is in fact in the text of the success and failure messages.
    So for example you go to siphon gold, at the end of the siphon you can be captured or killed as per the % quoted but ...
    Sometimes you are asked to choose an escape route... what is that all about? Well, when both you succeed and fail there is a 50% chance of being spotted and that’s when you make your escape choice, so you see messages like
    Your spy successfully siphoned 200 gold but was captured/killed when doing so. Same with failure.
    So you may have an 85% chance of getting gold as per the quote but your chance of getting captured/killed is greater than that quoted.
     
  12. kb27787

    kb27787 Deity

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    I'm pretty sure counterspies have their own separate catch chance. I've never seen a Seduction + Surveillance + Quartermaster spy fail to catch.

    Moreover, I'm not sure what effect stacking spies on adjacent districts has (if I have 3 spies in a triangle, I suppose the enemy spy has to evade all 3 to succeed perhaps?) But from personal experience that doesn't seem to be the case and just the highest level spy does the catching, if he fails then the spy gets through. (stacking is still good on your Zimbabwe city since once your spy catches/kills someone he always returns to the city center, leaving the district now exposed)
     
  13. Pietato

    Pietato Emperor

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    What annoys me the most is when my spy catches one AI spy, then goes back to the city-centre for promotion while letting 10 other spies steal the technology for potato farming. That and spy upgrades using up a turn.
     
  14. fossar_

    fossar_ Chieftain

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    I agree that promotions taking a turn can be annoying but there's no need to go quite so extreme on the hyperbole saying you miss 10 spies on that one turn out of 20 after you managed to catch one. If that's actually happening then chances are your spy was not in the right district to block all those spies. We already know that spies can be successful in their mission even if their caught and that applies equally on the offense as it does on the defence. Just remember the rules are the same for the AI so as long as you build all the spies you can, pick your promotions as best you can, and watch where your enemies are successfully spying on you and adapt to cover it I'm sure you'll have fewer problems like that.
     

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