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Tom Chick's take on Civ 6

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by footslogger, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. kornelm1978

    kornelm1978 Warlord

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    Resigning form transports was a great move of civ5. That step was exatly the one where global strategy like civ should take. Simirarly city defenses. But this 1upt spoiled those small good steps.

    And I can name so many more small things where CIV5/6 goes in good direction, comparing to 4. Some bad as well, but the list of good things is longer. But 1upt really cancels all good things as it ifluences much more areas than warefare, diminishing Civ srtrategic depth.
     
  2. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    You keep talking about logistics in Civ6, but I find that the current game design takes away as much logistical decision-making as it adds. Let's first agree on terms: what is logistics? dictionary.com defines it thus:
    1. the branch of military science and operations dealing with the procurement, supply, and maintenance of equipment, with the movement, evacuation, and hospitalization of personnel, with the provision of facilities and services, and with related matters.
    2. the planning, implementation, and coordination of the details of a business or other operation.
    I hope that we can agree that one facet of logistics in Civ is planning how to execute a military operation, such as taking a city. A second facet is the issue of how to best move units to the front, and this especially means reinforcements. Some parts of this are interesting in Civ6, for example considering good routes of attack and envelopment maneuvers. Unfortunately, the extremely low movement speed makes a mockery of most of these attempts in the current game design, so positioning of different units is often more incidental than a result of good logistics and as a result front line maneuvers are much less interesting than they could be.

    Additionally, reinforcement logistics are all but non-existent due to free healing of units and efficient buying/selling of units. Where reinforcements are concerned, Civ4 was certainly a much more interesting game where you constantly were building new units in your cities and had to move them to the front lines (this was potentially non-trivial as single units were very vulnerable and could be preyed upon behind the lines if your strategic positioning was stretched). In Civ6, you simply have units sit around for a while and they are automatically healed at no cost whatsoever. Similarly, buying units near the front is very efficient and also a great way to completely remove this part of logistic decision-making.

    Moving your veteran units through your realm is not very engaging to me (and I would hazard it isn't for most players, but perhaps you are an exception and like this kind of slide puzzle thinking enough to spend hours with it every playthrough) and you spend a lot of time on "decisions" that are none because the optimal (or at least a very good) way to do this is obvious with a little experience since there are no meaningful trade-offs involved. In theory the computer could very easily calculate the best movement path but fails to do so because it tries to move all your units through the same route, so you have to baby-sit them. The only interesting part about it is that it takes a lot of time - speaking in game turns here, though it also takes an awful lot of real time - which keeps you from being able to bring your units to bear at multiple fronts.

    So all in all, 1upt in Civ6 is, to me, not more logistically interesting than stacks were in Civ4. They provide different takes on logistics, but neither is terribly interesting and at least the Civ4 approach took a lot less real time spent on trivial non-decisions to execute it. More importantly, I dislike how the near absolute removal of the need to produce and move reinforcements warps the rest of the game around it in a very bad way, preventing you from having to make trade-offs between military production and civil development unless you screw things up very badly.

    Note that these are very fundamental design weaknesses: I haven't mentioned AI even once so far. It must be mentioned, however, that properly leveraging free healing is a big part of what makes human players trounce the AI so easily. Furthermore, 1upt makes concentration of force much more difficult, and combined with effectively immortal player units, the AI has a much harder time leveraging their production advantages on higher difficulty levels. When designing a combat and logistics system for a game that is largely targeted at the single player market, the cost of creating a competent AI for the system you design should be taken into account from day one, not be tacked on later as an afterthought. I agree that the Civ4 AI was not better than the one in Civ5 or 6, but the system made it easier for it to use its advantages, which at least made it seem more competent.

    Can these issues be fixed? Probably. But Firaxis doesn't have a very good track record of doing it. Does 1upt have more "potential" to create engaging warfare than stacks? I think so (games like Panzer General of Battle for Wesnoth are good examples of tactically interesting games), but if you do that the tactical/logistics game is likely to become the primary concern and I don't think it would make the game more fun all things considered. I prefer games that decide on whether they are primarily tactical or primarily strategic games to those that try to be both and make neither part of the game very interesting.
     
  3. kornelm1978

    kornelm1978 Warlord

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    Do agree, 1 upt has potential, but not for game like CIV. There are obvious AI flaws because of that, which will never be solved. Devs never made it good in 5, mods improved it significantly (thank you modders!), but it was still not competitive comparing to player, in any way. In Panzer General, I believe, was much easier to implement. Less choke points, mountains etc, less things to consider.

    It limits significantly harrasing strategies, pillaging, naval landings, paratroopers use. It limits those even for human player as they are to dificult to use when you do not have huge advantage (and when you have it, you can do it for flavor, nothing more). AI will never do proper naval attack, there is too many variables to do that (and threats which even humans face).

    Last, not less important, the wars/sieges which take few hundred years really spoil the immersion. The need of upgrade of your units before they reach destination is also not fun.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
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  4. smartcanuck1988

    smartcanuck1988 Warlord

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    Almost every war game (or rather, game that has wars) I play lets me stack units, but also enforces restrictions on the stacking. Some games enforce a hard maximum of say 3 units per tile. Others limit you based on the "leader unit" ability (e.g. Napoleon can stack more units in his tile than Bernadotte). Yet others make each terrain type hold a maximum (e.g. grasslands up to 4 units, desert only 1 unit) or you suffer attrition. All these games had their own (simple) way of dealing with movement and combat of mixture of units. Wars with multiple armies coming from different directions still occur, so strategically planning your wars/battles is there.

    Civ is the only game where it either let you stack as many units as you wanted, or forced you to 1 unit per tile (+ a support unit). I'm relatively new here, so I really don't understand why "limited stacks" is not an option in these discussions?
     
  5. kornelm1978

    kornelm1978 Warlord

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    I will tell you why. Because many 1upt lovers will tell you that all games have 1upt and stacking is jus in civs 1-4. I had already the discussion with a guy saying that Galactic Civilizations is 1 upt. Really.

    You will see that they are pretty immune to any arguments.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2016
  6. Chinese American

    Chinese American Hamtastic Knight

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    I just came to the same conclusion. Civ 5 and 6 have identity issues. They want to be both empire builder and tactical wargame, but is good at neither and satisfies neither fanbase.

    I'm more solitaire player, so i dont care if AI is dumb. So my main drive in Civ games is the rewarding gameplay in building my empire. Which Civ 1 to 4 and even Civ Rev has scratched that itch to much satisfaction. Unfortunately Civ 5 and 6 never bestowed the same enthusiasm, joy, and immersion of running an empire. The general grand vision has been lost, to be replaced by gimmicky shallow minigames and facetious leader personalities and their tiresome interruptions.

    You may get tired of the same complaints about 1UPT, but the fact remains the devs have no desire to understand what makes a great combat system. Someone mentioned Warlords 2, which at the time and still is one of the best wargame designed for computers. Yes thats a major hint: they utiilzed the computer platform to enhance gameplay to its maximum capabilities. On the other hand, you see bad designers copy board games mechanics wholesale without fully exploiting the advantages of computer-based interface.

    That is, stacks are bad in board games due to real world physical limitations of manually moving pieces around and organization. For instance, it would be difficult to stack figurines on top of each other. However computers have no such restrictions. So to imitiate board games just because that was how they did it is bad design.

    Even if you would copy 1UPT, at least have the proper deep understanding of the underlying interconnected systems, including movement rates, stats, abilities, range, etc. Most board games have thoroughly thought this through to provide the best experience. On the contrary, Civ 5 and 6 provides the clumsiest, almost patronizing implementation one could conceive, thus the outrage and disappointment of its "tactical" warfare. It's insulting to the fans.

    Which warfare implies multiple contestants. So it's not the player's fault to expect a decent challenge from the AI. It's not like the units and states are even complicated, compared to other genres like CCGs and MMOs. So we see a AAA experienced studio who can't make a decent AI to play simple 1UPT rules with simple unit stats. Which video games have done successfully and better since at least 20 years ago.
     
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  7. TomChick

    TomChick Chieftain

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    I really appreciate the discussion of the review, from folks who liked it and didn't like it, but I just want to clarify a couple of important points that people often miss, largely because of their expectations from other reviews.

    First, my ratings system isn't intended to be interpreted as a school grade with a pass/fail threshold. I wouldn't presume to grade someone's game. I am not a teacher. My rating is simply a matter of whether I liked a game. Quarter to Three's rating system is explained at the bottom of every page and it's very simple: 5 stars for loving something, 4 stars for really liking something, 3 stars for liking something, 2 star for not liking something, and 1 star for hating something. That's all. It's that simple, subjective, and broad. It has nothing to do with bugs, design choices, specific features, or even the inherent quality of a game. I reserve the right to not like games that are supposedly fantastic and to like games that are supposedly terrible!

    Second, and this flows from the first, my reviews are never intended as recommendations. I have no idea what you like and don't like. It would be silly for me to suggest you should play something, especially when I'm writing to an audience of more than one person, most of whom I wouldn't know from Adam. But hopefully, you can infer from what I've written whether a game is for you. Hopefully my experience with a game and how I write about it is helpful, or at least entertaining.

    I've written at length about my approach to reviews here (I should warn you that's a Patreon link, but it's also a sort of manifesto). And while I don't necessarily expect anyone to agree with my perspective, I do feel it's an important disclaimer if you're going to somehow evaluate what I write and whether it's useful to you.

    Anyway, I appreciate the discussion and I'm particularly enjoying everyone's opinion on one-unit-per-tile and Civilization IV. I would love for one-unit-per-tile to work out someday, because it gives the units a LOT of personality and it situates tactical challenges on the same map that provides strategic challenges. But without an AI that understands it, and without some solution to the ridiculous crowding issues, Firaxis seems incapable of making it work. And while I'm on the topic of disclaimers, I happily uninstalled Civ 6 after writing the review and jumped back into Civ 4. I'll take stacks of doom any day over missionary swarms, archers on the front lines, and trying to get my catapults in range.

    -Tom
     
  8. Ricci

    Ricci Prince

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    Amen.


    So, did you actually have to buy VI?? Ok, no need to answer... Haha ha
    Keep up those needed reviews if you will.
     
  9. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    1. I think you're still selling it short, here. You can quite easily plan the movement of units, through your own territory and through the enemy territory as well. If you're just making the arrival of units incidental, then you're not planning it as much as you might. The AI might not make that matter at the moment, but it should at least matter in the sense of how they perform at the front. If you're putting your Archers in front of your Warriors, or spend a turn or so at the front rearranging them because you didn't plan for it, that's absolutely not incidental. For that matter, if it were so trivial to code, the AI wouldn't be so bad at it.

    2. There are no more selling of units. The fall patch means you get no more money from selling units.

    3. I think you've overestimating how much healing units really need, and even when they do, you do often have to move them back to "reinforce" themselves safe from enemy attack. Moving your units around and cycling them effectively is key in MP battles and reinforcements are often how you win these. If you can outdamage your opponent simply because you're cycling faster, you can push. It's why Germany right now is as effective as it is because it can outproduce the enemy - and that means making units and then sending them to the front effectively. Sitting on units for healing without replacements is a losing strategy. But once again, perhaps not too shabby against the AI. Not that the Civ 4 AI is any better.

    4. I've already suggested that the weakness of the AI is already being addressed properly at the higher difficulty levels - with straight Strength bonuses. Perhaps more is necessary? Would you recommend a +15 Strength bonus on Deity? Would that be enough?

    5. The weirdest part about all the critiques is that they're often contradictory. Strategy is less, but a good position in Civ 6 allows you to dominate an AI with vastly more units and production than you. That doesn't make sense. The reason the Civ IV AI is so "good" is because the positioning matters much, much less. It's not nonexistent, but it is much less important. At this point, if we really want "good" AI, then let's just reduce the combat to tic tac toe. Even I can code an AI that won't lose that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  10. HF22

    HF22 Warlord

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    At least +10, so you can't just overcome it with unique abilities & governments (ie autocracy plus say Scythia is +9). 10 points is also an eras difference, so it might be a good place to start playtesting.

    Also nerf archers to 1 range - AI can't handle it & 1 range is good enough for machine guns.
     
  11. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    You can beat the AI in Civ6 more easily because you can thrash it with superior tactics, no strategy involved. Being able to dominate an AI is rarely a good indication of strategic depth, anyways, and is more about whether the AI can play the game at all. Honestly, I can't see what's so supposedly contradictory about that.

    As for straight combat bonuses: yes, this does make the game more difficult and it's probably the approach the devs need to take to make 1upt more interesting. However, from reading the forums for different games, especially the Total War series, a lot of players hate this kind of straight-up combat bonus (ironically, they don't seem to hate production bonuses so much). I would like it if they introduced an additional dimension to the difficulty setting: tactical difficulty and strategic difficulty.
     
  12. Buni0ns

    Buni0ns Warlord

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    Armies is the answer.

    (Limited Armies - No SoD)

    As so often occurs in life a middleground approach is best. It really seems to me that people tend to polarize their arguments in our society. (Western) Perhaps that is just conformation bias speaking but I don't understand why more people don't take a centrist approach to a problem where you have 2 divided camps of people.

    I feel like I am taking crazy pills saying this, but has no one played / observed Endless Legend? There is a army style approach that works. I am sure there are others. I really don't get why Civ the 800 lb gorilla in the 4x space cant figure out a blended approach would work best by now.
     
  13. MyOtherName

    MyOtherName Emperor

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    I think it's a matter of suspension of disbelief.

    Production bonuses -- if they're not too exaggerated -- creates a facade that the AI is doing a better job managing its cities. People tend not to scrutinize too carefully exactly how many turns it takes an AI city with specific improvements to produce warriors. And the level production is something the player can match if they trim the fat and optimize carefully.

    On the flip side, when your promoted warrior is losing in combat in open terrain against a green AI warrior... or your archers are barely denting the enemy warriors but his archers are ripping your warriors apart... well, it's hard to suspend disbelief in that.

    I never realized that this is yet another disadvantage of 1UPT -- that it makes it far more difficult to maintain the illusion of a better opponent. In stack combat, production bonuses translate into greater force concentration but that quickly stops working in 1UPT.
     
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  14. rezaf

    rezaf Warlord

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    Hmm. If you can write a good tic-tac-toe AI, how about an AI that can solve sliding puzzles? Because isn't that the AI Civ6 really needs?
    The AI brings large armies to the field, if it doesn't need to cross a citystate or terrain obstacle, sometimes even in an organized fashion, but as soon as hostilities begin, the formation is torn apart, and trying to come up with a way to get that catapult in firing range, move that injured swordsmen to the back, replacing it with another uninjured one and still keeping the crossbowmen covered when there's only a single free tile available in the midst of all plus a mountain, a lake and a neutral missionary compicating things ... that proves too much for the AI.
    And it's annoying for the player as well. Where's the fun in solving such "challenges"? How's that tactical? It's a friggin' sliding puzzle! I'll never understand the 1UPT apologists.

    It's a cool system where it makes sense, in the scope of a game like Panzer General, where one tile might be the bend of a minor river, a tiny village or a patch of trees, where a given unit can move a dozen tiles each turn and where deciding where to end your turn, which bottleneck to close and which tiles to deny the enemy are important decisions, none of which has a guarantee to be perfect, because there's always a free stretch of land elsewhere the enemy could utilize to outflank you.
    This is where 1UPT shines.

    When 1 tile is the english channel, depicting the crusades would involve a looooong worm of units with the last knights still hanging out in france when the first knights were already duking it out in jerusalem and every piece of land in europe in between would house a knight, swordsmen, archer or whatever whilst all of arabia would be covered with the muslim units, where the nazis would easily beat the soviets because properly leveraging force of numbers would not be possible for the red army and where the thirty years war takes thirty years because it was impossible for the armies to reach each other due to neutral religious units blocking the way ...not so much.

    1UPT in Civ makes as much or little sense as it would make to zoom in to 1 vs 1 FPS deathmatch whenever 2 units ran into each other.
     
  15. Roxlimn

    Roxlimn Deity

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    It simply requires a level of abstracting the terrain that is no more or no less than stack combat.

    I guess it's because I'm a builder? When I'm building a worker in 5 turns and the AI is building their workers at 3 when we are clearly otherwise at parity, then that entire suspension simply crumbles and I'm reminded of that every time I have to whittle down a massive stack that doesn't know how to defend itself, or doesn't know what to do. It's partly why I don't like these kinds of things. They're obvious to me and I don't like it.

    Endless Legend is Master of Magic - basically kind of 1UPT only your units are armies and they play out on a tactical map whenever you attack unit to unit. Armies still can't occupy the same tile as other armies. It's kind of a mixed bag and it really depends on how much you like how MoM did it and whether you like the idea of superforces. By superforce, I mean that the superunit that's the Army is basically going to wipe the floor with everything it encounters that's not also a sizable army and you're basically playing rocket-tag with one or two units on the map. Especially in Endless Legend, if his superunit can beat yours at any point in time with enough left over, it's basically game over for you. Your entire Civ is gone - it's just a matter of time.

    GalCiv2 also does this, but it's a little more like Civ V and VI because the production level in that game is such that you're probably going to have two to three fleets going right at the start and you're likely going to have a great deal more in the mid to late game. By the late, late game, the Drengin or the Yor can literally bog you down in single ship fleets that don't stand a chance in combat whatsoever - but you can't move more than 1 or two tiles every turn because you have to engage in a carpet of them, one tile at a time. Because each tile is a battle. While you do that, their own fleets with sticks and stones are rampaging through your planets because they only have garrison forces.

    You haven't seen an obnoxious carpet of units until you have to wade through them like that. Civ V's carpet is nothing.
     
  16. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    You may be on to something. Suspension of disbelief seems plausible to explain why players don't mind production bonuses so much while going up in arms when the enemy gets significant combat bonuses. Playing against an AI is always about smoke and mirrors.

    Which is why I personally prefer asymmetric gameplay where the AI plays a different game than you. Giving the AI different units, for example, means that you cannot easily see how many "cheats" the computer gets - or feel that it's justified for the AI to get these bonuses because the asymmetric gameplay may cast you as the underdog. Unfortunately, I am apparently in a small minority with this preference, which means that there are very few games that actually do this (AI war is the only example that really comes to mind, though in some games scenario design can play a similar role).
     
  17. kornelm1978

    kornelm1978 Warlord

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    To show a little bit more
    Assymetric gameplay is great idea. Lets look at XCOM2, I never thought that AI should be better there. But the game has also much better AI by the way (I can imagine CIV AI in XCOM2, running around and waiting to be killed). The other part of the XCOM2 is simplicity of the system - it is easy to program AI "decently", to find cover and shoot. That 3 elements make the the AI competitive. I do not see possibility too have pure asymetry in CIV (apart form bonuses), it would change the whole philosophy. But the last 2 can be implemented - simpler system to be played by AI (which is still difficult to master) and decent AI code. And none of this two is in CIV5/6.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  18. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    I think XCOM's AI looks more competent mainly because you don't see what it's doing. Good players can easily run circles around it. But then again, the asymmetric gameplay means that the AI doesn't necessarily have to be that good, it just has to be an interesting stumbling block.

    Civ is definitely never going to be asymmetric. I was not proposing that it should go that route, either. It's a completely different sort of game. I was merely stating a personal preference.
     
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  19. kornelm1978

    kornelm1978 Warlord

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    I got it. Yes, you do not see all bad moves of AI because of assymetry. But AI is doing basic thing correctly, find cover and shooot. But in civ there is no such easy mechanics, thus programming even basic proper behaviours is nearly impossible.

    Sorry, my answer might have been misleading as I touched different things, not being very clear.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  20. Magil

    Magil Monarch

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    While I like Endless Legend in some respects, I don't much care for the combat. It breaks the pacing of the game to suddenly stop and having a little tactical turn-by-turn battle. And this is though I greatly enjoy those kinds of things on their own, I love turn-based small-scale tactics games, like Final Fantasy Tactics. And auto-resolving is just lame (the outcomes just don't make sense a lot of the time). Stack combat where each unit attacks the enemy stack individually is preferred to me for a game like Civ, mostly for pacing reasons.

    I understand that some people might like that system. I would say those people should play the Endless games, but don't put it in Civ :)
     

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