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Unit Cap

Discussion in 'General Balance' started by crdvis16, Jan 28, 2020.

  1. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    I'm thinking that the unit cap for tall play might need to be increased somewhat. I'm consistently finding that Tall/Tradition/Peaceful play has become overly difficult to pull off relative to before. I'm not sure when "before" was but I do remember being able to largely avoid DoWs from non-warmonger AI when playing tall in the past, usually by playing the diplomacy game somewhat intelligently (making friends via trade/denouncements/bribes etc). These days it seems like a low unit cap trumps any attempts at diplomacy. In case it's relevant I play Deity/standard/standard/continents++ with VP+EUI only.

    How it seems to currently go:

    From very early on in Tradition playthroughs I basically sit at my max unit cap at all times and still often have a very low army score in the demographics screen. This is with me trying to prioritize unit cap buildings somewhat (secondary cities are often building barracks/walls before things like market/library just for unit cap) and often settling wider than I otherwise would to try to increase my cap. I'm not attempting to go on the offensive in these games, I'm just trying to have an army size that doesn't make the AI decide I'm easy pickings and constantly DoW. I'm totally OK with not being able to deter warmonger civs but these games tend to include DoWs from basically everyone for a majority of the game (even more passive civs) and as far as I can tell the issue is my unit cap. Note that even a meager unit cap is usually enough to allow the player to avoid losing cities/units while on defense, assuming you settled cities defensively and use your units well. The problem is that the constant DoWs from everyone make diplomacy, trade, etc a non starter and generally make the game less fun.

    The only path I see for tall/peaceful games to have a decent enough army to deter constant DoWs would be to highly prioritize armory/academy and castle/arsenal techs as well as unit cap giving wonders (probably starting with great wall and himeji). Reaching for those techs/wonders is sort of counterintuitive for a tall/peaceful game that likely wants to reach for the top of the tech tree most likely but that seems to be the only answer in my experience. I guess I'm questioning if that's what we want the game to encourage. In my mind it would be something more like:

    You can play Tall/peaceful and avoid constant DoWs due to being perceived as weak as long as you do not let your military lag. This means keeping your unit count close to the cap and giving military techs/buildings reasonable priority. If you sit at, say, <80% of your unit cap, reach too far along the top of the tech tree, neglect to build wall/barracks line buildings, or fail to upgrade/modernize your army then you should be punished with aggression, though- don't be greedy! A higher unit cap for tall play would require more production/gold to go toward the tall player's military but would hopefully keep the player from being perceived as weak.

    Defensive military wonders like Great Wall or Himeji probably shouldn't be required in order to avoid perceived weakness from everyone. They should be the wonders you go for if your neighbor is a threatening warmonger and you know that normal deterrence isn't going to cut it so you want some insurance against his inevitable DoW.

    I haven't seen these issues as much in wide/Progress play. More cities means more unit cap and it seems to be enough to avoid the weakling label. I certainly don't have these issues in Authority/warmonger games, either- those playthroughs have tons of tools to increase your perceived strength and if anything, DoWs are welcome in that they allow me to conquer without triggering DPs ;)

    I'm wondering if others see these issues in their Tall playthroughs as well. As for how to address it: I'm thinking Tradition could probably use some sort of larger unit cap from population in the capital mechanic? Or perhaps the player should have the same unit cap bonuses as the AI currently has? Having a higher unit cap allows you to build more military but it also requires a lot of production, GPT, and lump sum gold for upgrades so there are drawbacks even if it allows you to field a larger army.
     
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  2. phantomaxl1207

    phantomaxl1207 King

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    I agree that the Capital should have more a more effective increase from Supply from Population than other Cities: say, instead of getting 25% from Military Bases, they get 37.5% - 50%.

    Does the AI consider Production capabilities when considering the Military Strength of an Opponent?
     
  3. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    I think I remember hearing that the AI considers gold when evaluating military strength (as their target could rush-buy units) but I'm not sure about production.
     
  4. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Emperor

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    Maybe I'm the minority here but I don't think tall play needs more unit cap. What does tall play offer? You have a better chance of grabbing Wonders and more specialists due to larger cities. If you give tall play more supply cap, then they will have a decent military for the number of cities they control. What would be the flaw of tall play then? I think Deity difficulty does have an impact on this due to how many more units the AI can field. However, Deity is supposed to difficult and challenging. With fewer supply cap, then there's a challenge to defend one's borders as opposed to getting a strong enough military and keep building Wonders with no one threatening your position. Overall, I feel that it's diplomacy, not the lack of supply cap for tall, being the issue at the moment.
     
  5. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    It would be interesting to see if changes/updates @HeathcliffWarriors makes to diplomacy might make this issue moot. Tweaking the way the AI evaluates military strength relative to other diplomatic modifiers could allow tall play to avoid the dog piling if they sufficiently play the diplomatic game to have friends despite their relatively weak military.

    Though I don't really think upping the supply cap a bit for tall/Tradition would be a big deal. Tall play has the fewest hammers and least gold typically so even if you allow more supply cap they still have to spend precious hammers/gold to keep their military at the cap and modern. If you're spending production/gold on military (likely just for defense so no immediate return on your investment in the form of taking cities) then you have less resources to put into other things that tall/Tradition would snowball from.
     
  6. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Emperor

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    I do hope that diplomacy can be adjusted so that you don't get dogpiled by your neighbors unless you are threatening to win the game. Of course, it might take awhile for that to happen.

    As for upping the supply cap a bit, how much is a bit? You might be greedy and try to spread out to get as much land as possible which requires quite a bit of units. You might have two cities relatively close to the capital and have a compact territory so less units are needed to defend everything. I understand that you can potentially have fewer hammers and gold if you invest in military but, the lower the difficulty, the more you can get away with less. For Deity, do we really need to adjust things to make things slightly easier? It seems to me that players like @CrazyG is winning most of his games already without that extra unit cap. I'm not criticizing your skills but balancing the game based on Deity standard speed seems ridiculous to me when most people cannot handle it.
     
  7. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    It's not whether or not you can defend yourself. The current unit cap is sufficient for defense usually. As long as you settle cities defensively and know how to use your units you can usually defend your cities just fine.

    The issue I see is that small/tall peaceful empires get seen as weak and easy pickings despite using their whole unit cap and generally not letting their military lag. You end up getting DoWs from everyone regardless of how well you attempted to play the diplomacy game. That makes the game less interesting because attempts to make friends aren't worthwhile anymore. It can also make that playstyle generally unplayable (small/tall/peaceful) which I think is bad as even if you don't lose cities the constant wars can have other effects.

    I'm not sure if this issue exists on other difficulties/settings. I'm not sure how many people even attempt to play small/tall/peaceful. I do it on occasion to break up warmonger games and keep things fresh.

    I'm also not sure how much more unit cap would be needed to avoid being seen as weak. My guess is like a 25% increase? I don't usually see this issue when playing Progress/wide and their cap isn't THAT much higher even with more cities.
     
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  8. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Emperor

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    What you are describing is exactly diplomacy. Doesn't it make sense that we wait to see where diplomacy is headed before we add more unit cap? I can understand how the unit cap is justified with the current diplomacy but, if it's changed, then tall peaceful play might just get a buff that requires a nerf later. That's why I don't see it justified to add more cap, especially when you claim that you have enough units to defend yourself just fine.
     
  9. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    Totally agree- addressing this via AI diplomacy changes could certainly work. I don't know if this is already on the dev's radar or not, though, so I'm not sure if any of their planned changes would help.

    If it wasn't already on their radar then hopefully this post brings it up as a possible issue.

    The one caveat is that this issue seems to hit Tall/small play in particular so it is possible that a change that specifically targets that play style could be needed. If not an increased unit cap for tall/small then perhaps having the AIs evaluation of other civ military strength be kinder to civs with less cities to defend? I believe the evaluation already takes into account number of cities but perhaps not enough?
     
  10. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    If I were to make a unit cap change, I think I would add more cap to the harbor. That would allow sea focused nations more slots to field a navy. I think the biggest cap issue right now is I don't have enough to field a proper land and navy at the same time, I usually have to choose one or the other.
     
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  11. Rekk

    Rekk Emperor

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    I agree with more supply cap to harbor/lighthouse/ocean-related buildings.
     
  12. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    Throwing this out there, what is public works gave +1 unit supply? So its a way to throw hammers at the problem if you really need to.
     
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  13. kenneth1221

    kenneth1221 Warlord

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    How good is public works right now? I wasn't able to tell in my last game if the needs decrease was a good enough use of resources.

    Not to say I don't like the idea.
     
  14. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I use it on occasion, especially if I go super wide. To me its working a intended at the moment, its a good safety valve for when you just got to have the happy. I think the same mechanic can work for unit supply. If things aren't working out, and you just don't have the unit supply you need, there's an option for you.
     
  15. Gazebo

    Gazebo Lord of the Community Patch Supporter

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    I'd rather see additional supply go to coastal buildings.

    G
     
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  16. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I would as well, though they are not mutually exclusive if we like the idea of a player controlling for supply shortages (for example in a long extended war where war weariness is kicking in).
     
  17. tu_79

    tu_79 Deity

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    How would it work to have a record of past combat performance?

    The idea is to build a combat reputation factor. Any combat a player participates in, will change his reputation among all who learn about the war.
    Considering the strength of the armies, who is the aggressor, who conquered cities and who won the war, a reputation factor can emerge.
    The player would gain reputation points in a few key combat areas:
    -Defender, when successfully repels superior forces.
    -Conqueror, when player manages to take cities with little killing.
    -Tactician, when the player win wars using much weaker forces.

    And losing points of reputation from lost wars.

    If done correctly, AI will learn that the player is a tough nut to crack, even if his army looks small, and will attempt opportunistic attacks only when the odds are better for them.

    Napoleon army was so scary due to his invincible reputation.
     
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  18. Gidoza

    Gidoza Emperor

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    I've played a couple Tall games recently and personally thought the cap was too high...I certainly see no reason for it to be increased.
     

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