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Vassals, how to make the most of them

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by Mutineer, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

    Joined:
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    Vassals, how to make the most of them.Mostly I will talk about permanent vassals, obtained by capitulation.

    Many people starting to play Warlords get very disappointed with Vassals. They expect them to give all their tech and gold to us. Well, it does not work this way.
    It would be way too overpowering to give players automatic access to all of that.
    Next thing we try is to make them fight for us. Well, a civilization that was just beaten into submission will not be much help. Some of us have had the pleasure of a vassal winning the game.

    What you need to do to obtain a vassal.
    You need to meet the following conditions:
    1) Your population needs to be more than 2 times bigger than your prospective vassal.
    2) Your land needs to be more than 2 times bigger than your prospective vassal.
    3) You need to have more than 2 times the power of your prospective vassal (Demographic).
    4) You need to be perceived as winning the war. The AI decides who is winning or loosing the war only on the basis of who killed more units. So, even if you take all his cities, but lose more power than him then he would still not surrender.

    I think different AI’s have different thresholds on their limits of becoming a vassal. Mansa is rumored to be easiest to vassal. Some warmonger AIs are very hard to vassal.

    Understanding vassals.

    This is the key to understanding vassals. A vassal is a civ that still hopes to win. It surrenders or volunteers to become a vassal for military protection. In exchange it loses some of its independence.
    What you can expect from a vassal:
    1) It will always go to war together with you, make peace when you do.
    2) You can ask your vassal one resource as a tribute.
    3) A vassal will always agree on open borders.
    4) A vassal always has all of his resources available for trade.
    5) You can ask your vassal to adopt any of your civics even if he would not normally switch from them. This option is always available.
    6) You can ask a vassal to adopt your religion. This option is always available if your vassal has a city of that religion.
    7) You can direct your vassal’s research. I had one case when a vassal was ignoring my instructions. One of the AIs with representation as a favorite civic was refusing to research anything else until he finished researching Constitution. Otherwise vassals have always switched research to what I've asked them to.

    Vassals follow the same tech trading rules as any other civ.

    What you should do for your vassal and what your vassal will do for you.

    There are 2 main uses of vassals.
    1) A tech trading partner.
    2) Military support.


    Both of these uses let you exploit AI bonuses to your advantage.
    If you want to use your vassal as tech trading partner you need to improve relationships to friendly or have a vassal with a high WFYABTA limit. Getting a vassal up to friendly is reasonably easy, if you did not alienate him too much with -9 you declared war on us and -6 you raised one of our cities. The default defense pact gives a boost. Trade/gift tech to your vassal for max +4 fair trade. Give into his demands. Open borders with him and go to war. That generally insures a fast friendly state.
    By directing vassal research to tradable non military technologies you can insure you have a tech trading partner for this tech. That could make you and your vassal into a tech giant and let you catch other AI’s.
    Military is a second good use of vassals. There are 2 general uses of a vassal’s military.
    1) Passive. You raise your vassal’s power in order to discourage attacks by other AI. AI have big bonuses to unit maintenance and to upgrade costs. By gifting to him your obsolete units you insure that you pay minimum support costs and keep your military up to date. Vassals will upgrade units you gift him to the best he can, which will raise his military power rating. The AI looks at the sum of military power of the master/vassal block in order to decide if it will go to war or not. It could be a good deterrent from AI aggression.
    2) Active. If you build units specifically to exploit your vassal’s AI upgrade bonus, gifting them to your vassal together with some cash can drastically raise his military power, to a degree where he will become the main force in wars. By declaring on a civ reasonably distant from your vassal you can wage war with a powerful civ with minimal military forces. You can take cities selectively, leaving your vassal to raise most of your opponents cities and suffer most of the war weariness. In that case you exploit AI bonuses to war weariness. This can be an effective strategy, as you can ignore the biggest limitation the human player has in SP and continue your technological development unimpeded in war time.

    Some vassal problems.

    Some of the vassal functionality is not logical and can surprise you and reduce your enjoyment. The biggest problem in my eyes is the mechanic of tech trading with vassals.
    Every time you do a tech trade it goes by the team mechanic. The team mechanic was designed for permanent alliances and teams. In this scenario alliance members share research and tech.
    It is logical that when the AI considers a trade with the team it takes the average relationship into account. This affects the AI trade threshold and friendly WFYABTA criteria.
    In the vassal case you are still considered as being a team for tech trading, but do not share tech. So, the AI has to be in good relationships with both you and your vassals in order to tech trade. In case of an AI being in the WFYABTA state, it needs to be friendly with both you and your vassal.
    But that is not all, the same rule applies to intrateam trades.
    So, in order to trade within your team, your vassals need to be in good relationships with all of your other vassals. In case of WFYABTA it needs to be friendly with you and all of your other vassals, which is practically impossible to achieve.

    An additional vassal problem is in order to get a second vassal you need to be winning the war. Even if your vassal has beaten the other civ into dust it would not think you are winning the war and refuse with the excuse “You must be joking”.

    Some references:
    Link to special variant SG games designed to investigate vassal uses.
    This game mostly discusses how to get vassals and how to use vassals for research.
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=206341
    This one is about how to use a vassal's military.
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=213061
    WFYABTA discussion.
    {Need to find the link}

    PS: Thanks to 50_dollar_bag be so kind and editing my writing, thsi is now second edition :)
     
  2. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    Reserved for future use.
     
  3. Tatran

    Tatran Chieftain

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    What was the message ? ("We've our reasons" ?)
     
  4. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    there was no message. It sad we switch stright away, but next turn come and same tech is in research.

    Bug of sort, I think.
     
  5. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Chieftain

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    They can be annoying to partner with in a war though - I often find that the nice city I want to take off Mansa with all its lovely cottages gets pillaged back into the stone age before I finish capturing it. It would be nice if you could tell your vassal "we don't need your help - just stay home and mind the house".

    Another problem I find with taking vassals is that at the time they will vassalize to you they will often vassalize to someone else. So be very wary that you don't get drawn into a war with a superpower that doesn't like you too much. I check every turn. Also if you have an AI war ally on higher levels they are more likely to get the vassal than you are due to their higher power, so be careful bribing in war allies if you want to take a vassal.
     
  6. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    Article is not about problems or dificulties with Vassals, if you look in forum you will find 1000 of this.

    Article is about how to make use of them, even with existing problems.

    Allies in war with vassal covered by condition of getting vassal. If you have less then 2 times of potential vassal power, and your ally have more and have enogth land/population, it is lickelly your potential vassal surrender to your ally.

    Just apply main principles.
     
  7. mice

    mice Moose

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    With BTS there is the option to gift a city back to your vassal. It gives +2 to +4 AFAIK, and helps them recover.

    I don't know exactly how this affects the land % compared to Master.

    Another BTS feature involving vassals, With Apostolic Palace, the civ you are attacking can vote to stop the war. If you defy the resolution because you want to continue fighting, you risk a -5 unhappiness for "the world sees you as a criminal". Minus 5 is too hard if you are drafting.

    Your vassal will, it seems, defy the resolution for you. You can vote anything. If the Vassal defies it the war will continue, but the vassal will incur the -5.
     
  8. IKILL4LAFS

    IKILL4LAFS Chieftain

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    What tech do u need to make capitulation an option? I thought it was feudalism, but I did a feudalism slingshot and capitulation doesnt come up when you talk to the other civs. Do both people need to have fuedalism or is there something else im missing?
     
  9. Firewind

    Firewind Psionic Fox

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    Capitulation happens during war, so you need to be at war with the other civ. If you're not at war then the name changes to Vassal State - which is basically the same thing, but you didn't beat the snot out of them for it so they're incredibly less likely to go for it. (Although if you have a civ ally you want to bail out of a war, or a civ ally in a war you want in on without making too many waves, then vassalizing an AI being smashed by the other AI could be a good move)
     
  10. BrianJ

    BrianJ Chieftain

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    What does WFYABTA stand for?
     
  11. Swedishguy

    Swedishguy Chieftain

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    I've got a question. When I asked for tribute from Ramesses, who is my vassal, he declared war on me even though I had infantry and he macemen. He foolishly used his macemen in a suicide rush on a border city. The outcome of the war was that he capitulated AGAIN and this time with only a one-size city on a one-tile island very close to my capital.

    Was demanding tribute from my vassal smart?
     
  12. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    not really. I do it only when I have no choise, I need this darn resource and I have nothing to trade for it.
    Vassal allways have all his resources avalible for fair trade and a good vassal policy is to keep him strong, so he can help you.
     
  13. Swedishguy

    Swedishguy Chieftain

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    Yeah, but since i claimed so much of his land, it helped me to win on domination.
     

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