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Were "stacks of doom" really that bad?

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Blitzscream, Feb 25, 2011.

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  1. Brian Shanahan

    Brian Shanahan Permanoob

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    Sorry, but as I have posted elsewhere, if civ moves into tactical wargaming, I'm gone. And 1UPT is taking the game in this direction.
     
  2. freeluos

    freeluos Chieftain

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    If they remove the hexes and the "End turn" button it would be a great game. Now it's nothing of both :D .
     
  3. sketch162000

    sketch162000 Warlord

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    This is exactly what stacking was pre-Civ V. The trick was in stack composition--bringing the right (and the right number of) units to the battlefield. In my opinion, this is where Civilization needs to be. Tactical 1upt puts an unnecessary amount of focus and management on battle.

    The insanity is that tactical wargames like Total War at least have auto-resolve if you want to focus only on empire building. Civ V's 1upt forces you to engage in tactical combat even though the series really isn't built on a war game foundation.
     
  4. Nicol.Bolas

    Nicol.Bolas Prince

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    production is keay aspect of the game. all of what you wrote sounds horrible to me. limiting production is one of the major concepts that alienated the fans.

    since in civ there is combat and production, and in civ 5 the focus is takes off production to some tactical hexes. movement remained the same, turns the same, but much less city managementand production
     
  5. Jean Nicollet

    Jean Nicollet Chieftain

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    A possible compromise would be to allow certain units to stack if they received a "stacking promotion". For instance: a range unit may have a possibility of 3 stacking promotions making it possible to stack up to 3 for those same units. The strategy decision would be placement of those units with stacking promotions vs the same units with other desirable promotions. Just a thought...
     
  6. brxbrx

    brxbrx Worthless loser

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    that isn't what it came down to.

    instead, all we got were endless mountains of troops to manage and put together, finished off by prolonged, grueling duels and stand-offs.

    they just weren't fun
     
  7. Iranon

    Iranon Deity Whipping Boy

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    An unfair comparison in my opinion. Production was limited in the most shallow possible way in Civ5. Those sound like clever limitations that allow for interesting decisions.

    A parallel: Many people didn't like how Civ4 'killed' fast ICS. That approach is arguably still the strongest - playing around the growing pains simply became a challenge on par with getting the most out of a small but more sophisticated empire.
    Keep expanding by peace or war at the verge of economic collapse? Stick to a few cities, focus on economy and diplomacy? Expand rapidly first, then slow down and consolidate? Focus on economy first, expand via war once you have a substantial military tech advantage?
    All combinations are viable, and this offers much richer gameplay than a simplistic 'bigger is better' approach. I don't see any reason why the same shouldn't apply to one's military.

    *

    A small request: If you can bother with capitalisation in your name, could you do the same in your posts? Not doing so feels discourteous to some, myself included.
     
  8. Bandobras Took

    Bandobras Took Emperor

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    Not much of a trick in Civ 4: siege and then the rest didn't really matter until BtS, and even then you just needed a couple of anti-mounted units along with whatever.
     
  9. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Prince

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    EU3 has a somewhat different approach because you don't build "cities." Rather, you start in any of the various European countries extant in 1399, and go from there. You can expand, consolidate what you have, explore, build up your trade, etc. There's no clear "winning" condition, and as far as I know, no "victory movie." You set your own goals.

    There are sliders, but they deal with where your national income goes in terms of specific areas of research (which is where you "tech up" to build province improvements, better ships, better ground forces, get trade advantages, etc.).

    Different nations have different advantages and disadvantages, but they aren't necessarily as blatant as "The French get +2 culture every turn" or whathaveyou. The French have rich lands that yield large armies...but their armies may not be as high quality as, say, the English. The Spanish and Portuguese have a natural positional advantage for things like exploration and trade, as well as the conquest of North Africa, but you can still beat them at their own game playing another nation.

    There are also real PRACTICAL dangers of overexpansion. Playing as England, I once decided to unify the British Isles (took out Scotland and took over Ireland), and then pressed my claims on France, gradually taking over all of it. To do that, though, I needed a large enough and strong enough army to take out the French mega-armies (and later the Burgundian armies), and that cost a LOT of money. So...I minted a ton of money. Bad idea. I had enough coin to build my forces, but I screwed myself in the long run because my money became worthless, inflation was out of control, and I was only really strong for that one era because I was too far behind in tech. I MIGHT have been able to pull it out later, but I'd need to fight wars to control colonies in North America, and I'd be continually fighting the Portuguese or Spanish to do it, who were WELL ahead of me in the tech race. So, there goes Delaware to the Portuguese. Oh well. At least Total Wine will have a better port selection this way... :) (Sorry, inside joke for folks who live in PA and DE.)


    Anyway, my point is that the system imposes limits, but does so in a more realistic, believable way, and does so in a way that can be grasped conceptually, rather than "Oh, by turn three, you have to switch production to a pikeman so you don't waste hammers/shields, then once he's built, build a medic unit like a scout to handle the overflow."


    Now, all that said, Civ has NEVER been an historical simulator the way EU3 is. (Well, sort of -- it's not perfect, but it strives to hew closer to "history sim" than Civ does.) We accept the more "gamey" elements of Civ knowingly. That said, there needs to be a balance and 1UPT introduced all manner of OTHER limitations in order to make it work. Bibor mentioned that the "Carpet of doom" screenshots come from a "modded game." As if that somehow makes the pictures of what could happen irrelevant. As I understand it (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the "modded game" introduced something like Civ 4 production speeds to the Civ 5 game. End result? Carpet o' doom. Nothing can move on the map. Thus, you have to at least figure that SOME of the reasons for the production speeds have been to AVOID the carpet o' doom scenario, but at the cost of the "peaceful builder" approach to the game to where, if you aren't attacking something, you're sitting around bored while clicking "next turn" and then assigning another building that....pretty much does the same thing as the last building you built.
     
  10. sketch162000

    sketch162000 Warlord

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    And so the alternative of painstakingly moving several units one by one across a continent only to have them engage in a prolonged, grueling duel for (in-game) decades is a better option? Different strokes. It just shows that "fun" is very subjective.

    You are a much better player than me, I suppose, if that is all stacking was to you. And yet, this subpar player has run circles around the AIs in Civ V on a difficulty level higher than he played on Civ IV. It works both ways; find a choke point in Civ V and you're golden.

    In any case, I fail to see how your reasons are problem that would have warranted switching to a different system entirely--one that the AI has trouble with, mind you.
     
  11. vandyr

    vandyr Prince

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    Ok, to be more detailed:

    Stack siege, a couple spearmen, and a horde of swordsmen. Throw stacks at everything.

    Modern - stack siege, a horde of infantry, throw stacks at everything.

    This 'strategy' worked fine all the way through diety, and as a matter of fact, the higher the difficulty level, the more it became important to stack as many units as possible.

    At least with 1upt I can practice tactics and strategy. Things like chokepoints actually matter, which just makes me giddy.
     
  12. redmosquito

    redmosquito barbarian bear

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    Agreed. Actually they could solve this "limitation" problem easily without making the cities garbage, introducing global happiness etc. If they made all units resource dependent, limited the number of resources and the number of units that can be built per resource then the rest of the game would be saved. This potentially great idea (1 UPT) turned into a curse due to the poor design decisions that followed it
     
  13. Shaka II

    Shaka II Chieftain

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    Civ has always had tactical war gaming as part of it. There have always been many ways to win, where war has to some degree been an important aspect, even if to only build a sizable deterrent force to prevent Washington from getting hostile.

    In switching from SOD to 1UPT, they tweaked the unit cost and production cost to lower the number of units, to remove the micromanagement that having and moving too many pieces individually would result in. And SOD certainly has tactical combat too, but it’s not as clever in my opinion, has fewer variations. It generally ended up with whoever had the bigger stack won, rather than the skill/tactics of combat.

    Civ is still a building game with many ways to win peacefully. It's just that conquest got a whole lot more interesting with 1UPT. We never really wanted more units, just more clever ways of using them and 1UPT offers that.

    I don’t think battles take any more effort with 1UPT using fewer units than SOD does using two or three times as many units. The units are moved more carefully. Battles are more satisfying than seeing the crush of two 12 unit SOD’s.

    Auto-resolve is a nice feature for TW as not every battle warrants a full tactical experience, particularly near the end. But, TW’s strength is in those amazing real time battles, whether on an open field, desert, forest or castles. It’s a blend of reasonably complex TBS civilization building and deep strategy, with outstanding real time tactics. AOE games had great real time simulations, but they didn’t offer the deep thinking strategy and civilization building to lead up to battles that TW has.

    That’s an interesting thought, even if only to keep the SOD lovers from defecting. It’s a slippery slope though. ;)
     
  14. Brian Shanahan

    Brian Shanahan Permanoob

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    Where? Civ has always been based on a strategic level system. You honestly expect me to believe you when you come here and make unsupportable assertions and have me believe you.

    Oh and the builder parts of the game have been nerfed two ways, 1) the production nerf to make the 1UPT system even remotely workable, 2) the usefulness nerf to a) reinforce the prod. nerf, and b) because Shafer specifically wanted to turn Civ into a PG clone spread out over different eras of war tech.

    The fact of the matter is, even the Lead Designer, the one person most responsible for the develoment of the game, wanted to introduce a tactical element (IMO replace strategy with it) into a game that was completely about the strategic level empire building. Now you've got a tactical level battle simulator over 6,00 years, which due to the legacy of the series has some very simplistic and bad builder elements attached.

    But frankly if you are going to make simply wrong statements like the one I quoted, whats the point of even responding to you. You hold a certain opinion, and nothing can shake you of that resolve, not even the blatant evidence contrary you see every time you click on the Civ 5 icon.
     
  15. sketch162000

    sketch162000 Warlord

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    *Ahem* Here's me butting into your other replies :p

    I'm very skeptical about the "tactical" part. War certainly has always been a piece of the puzzle, but tactics, in the sense of battlefield maneuvers, seems to have been shallow or nonexistent in previous versions. Outside of maybe terrain modifiers, and a very basic rock-paper-scissors system, the idea seemed to be more about getting forces to strategic areas on the world map, instead of commanding them in the field of battle.

    For what it's worth, I don't even think that Civ V's 1upt is a very deep tactical game in and of itself, which only highlights the fact that Civilization is not built on tactical war gaming foundations. As someone who enjoys Total War, surely you have noticed the differences between Civ V and a true wargame. Civ V lacks basic tactical concepts such as morale and routing, cover, friendly fire, ambushes(that would be sweet) and it doesn't really have enough variation in units to advance the rock-paper-scissors concept. 1upt is really only a taste of tactical combat, and for that small taste, other established parts of the series are thrown into jeopardy.

    IMO Civilization, as we have come to know it, does not really need tactical combat, but if they absolutely had to go down that route, it's annoying that they seem to have just kind of shoehorned it in, instead of creating something that would play nice with the rest of the established game and would allow for a rich tactical feature. A separate battle map, perhaps. Since you are a fan of TW, would this be acceptable to you?

    Again, I'm not sure that Civ V really *needs* tactical combat. It's like, when you are changing a bunch of unit costs and production values to make a combat system work, at what point do you step back and ask whether or not the combat system is worth all the changes? "Never," is apparently Firaxis's view on the subject. As much as I disagree with 1upt (which is a relatively recent opinion on my part, mind you,) if the rest of the game was fun I could probably deal with it. But when I'm bored out of my skull in peacetime and the evidence for why points at the one "fun" mechanic, I'm going to get suspicious. Your preferences obviously keep you entertained, and that's okay :) I'm just trying to share some insight on my experience.

    I'll put the same question to you that I have put to others who have complained about "Bigger stack wins."

    What about this is unrealistic, exactly?

    I mean, sure, several historical battles have seen the smaller force win. But we remember those specifically because they are exceptions to the rule, no? It seems to me that if you were the commander of a vastly outnumbered force the best you could hope to do was slow down or demoralize the enemy and get out alive. I'm sure Leonidas didn't realistically think he was going to "win" at Thermopylae. Kill a lot of Persians? Sure. Make them think twice about marching on Greece? Of course. But to honestly triumph over a force of "millions" with a few thousand? This is madness.

    I had a blast recreating my own Hot Gates for a while, but when I noticed I was outnumbered and surviving, comfortably, like 90% percent of the time, I remembered that at Thermopylae, all the Spartans died.

    In terms of the A.I. it does. Having to consider the objective, Cranking out the appropriate units and then having to plan the movements of several units to avoid overlap likely takes a lot of computing power. That's probably a lot harder than being able to ignore unit conflicts with stacking. It's exacerbated by the fact that space is at a premium. Humans get into traffic jams all the time, so imagine the computer's dilemma. Chess AI's handle 1upt well but, then, chess doesn't allow you to create units.

    Whether or not battles are more satisfying is, of course, a matter of personal preference, but there are other games better built for tactical warfare. Why does Civilization need to be retrofitted for this?

    I agree. My gripe is that Civilization is *not* a wargame series so it doesn't require amazing tactical battles. The irony is that Total War, which IS a wargame and pushes the battles as its main feature, allows players to skip said battles and focus on empire building, while Civ V, an empire-building game, forces you to play every battle out. And this isn't because the devs were negligent. It's because we now have 1upt and each "battle" is simply a series of moves on the world stage. Since we have no stacking, it's impossible to auto-resolve battles for players who want to play the game for it's supposed primary feature. AFAIK, the series has NEVER forced played into such an arrangement before, especially at the expense of the main premise of the series.

    [/GREATWALLOFTEXT]
     
  16. MkLh

    MkLh King

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    Some could consider unit promotions, healing units and terrain modifiers as tactical elements.

    But this all only underlines the fact that words "tactical" and "strategical" don't have clear meaning in the context of computer gaming. Speaking about how Civ is supposed to be strategical rather than tactical game is really just meaningless semantical mumbo jumbo. To me, only thing that matters is how interesting war (which has always played a big part) is. 1UPT could make war more interesting than stacks if implemented properly.
     
  17. Shaka II

    Shaka II Chieftain

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    You said it a lot better than I. :goodjob:

    Tactics is tactics. Call it tactics-lite if you prefer. I’m not going to argue as to how deep the tactics were in past Civ versions, but they were always there. Strategy and tactics, and war. There is not that big a change in my opinion. We now have probably 1/3 the number of units as previous civ versions, but move them individually. It seems to work. Can it be made to work better? Probably.

    I think that we can agree that Civ is first and foremost a civilization building game, hence it’s name, and that war has always been an important part of it. Some players like that aspect as much as the building part, while others don’t like the war part much at all. It’s hard to please everyone.

    I didn’t say it was deep tactically, just deeper than previous versions of civ.

    Morale can be considered as promotions in Civ V. We’ve had promotions before. We have cover. We have ambushes, just not the same as in TW, but try coming through that mountain range of mine and you’ll see. It has always had rock/paper/scissors in combat. Not much change there, just the 1UPT. I only compare to TW to make a distinction between Civ with emphasis on building and TW with emphasis on war. They each are great games yielding different experiences. Plenty of overlap though.

    In the end I think it has to go up to a vote as to what civers really want to see, what sort of combat. I like the 1UPT. It seems more interesting to me.

    I think that would be acceptable to me. I get my TW scenario, you and Brian get your auto-resolve combat. Everyone is happy, maybe ...

    But TW already does that very well, so I don’t see the need to duplicate that. What Civ does very well is offer the depth of civ building, deep strategy. Diplomacy is pretty good, but always in need of improvement. The war is a heavy function of technology, economy, happiness, etc., so it does not stand alone.

    I agree that Civ doesn’t need amazing tactical battles. The 1UPT as implemented provides just the right amount. :) Let TW provide the amazing tactical battles. Also, the battles are not really complicated enough to skip in Civ V. There are many fewer pieces than previous Civ versions. You can't tell me that you're going to auto-resolve as you see your lovely Paris fall to the Romans. :cry:

    Also regarding small armies defeating large ones, there are many cases throughout history where this is so, e.g., the Mongols rarely had more than 100,000 at a battle scene, and usually in the 50,000 to 70,000 range, against armies often much larger. But, they were highly skilled horse archers, high morale, true warriors, and their tactics were amazing. I see no conflict in believing that a skilled player should be able to beat an AI with larger army. That is a part of the fun and at the harder levels, it often seems necessary.
     
  18. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Prince

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    I think the issue is less with "computer gaming" and more with "computer gamers."

    Tactical wargames with things like morale, opportunity fire, etc. are few and far between (mostly because turn-based tactical wargames -- as translations of old school board games -- have largely died out in favor of RTS games). However, an "RTS" game is in and of itself a bit of a misnomer. But that's beside the point. For the sake of argument, let's consider "tactical" to mean:

    "Actually getting into detail about unit maneuvers, facing, morale, etc." Basically, really detailed combat.

    "Strategy" games are usually at a larger scale. You aren't micromanaging your units in terms of things like "Ok, this unit is routed. Let's rally them. That unit needs to make sure it's out of the line of sight of the enemy, so we should fire smoke rounds ahead. This unit here should hold fire so as to surprise the enemy with opportunity enfilading fire," and so on and so forth. "Strategy" is more like "Send this unit here and have it attack that unit there. I don't care how you get it done." Basically, strategy games are more about the overall plan than the micromanagement and nitty-gritty of moment-to-moment battle. It's a question of "attack" vs. "Ok, first round, semi auto fire and then throw grenades."



    Civ games have never been particularly clear on whether they're "strategic" or "tactical" in the more scientific sense of the terms. They've tended to hew more "strategic" in the sense that I've described above -- more about general movement of units than about specific details. Your pikeman attacks their knight. Maybe you get terrain bonuses, but that's about it. The pikeman never retreats, the knight isn't told to advance slowly and only spur to a charge when he's within 40m, etc. It's not even really clear what a "unit" represents. Three guys? A company? A battalion? Nobody knows. It's just a "unit."



    Trust me, though. For those who have never played any of the Battleground games, Steel Panthers: World at War, the old Squad Leader game, or hell, even Dawn of War (which has tactical elements in the sense of micromanagement and morale), you have no idea what a tactical wargame really is if you think Civ 5 is tactical.

    Civ 5 is "tactics lite -- now with 60% less tactics than the leading wargame!" It is, however, "40% more tactics" than previous Civ games....and that's the problem. It doesn't fit the map.


    I mean, I can see where people enjoy the underlying concept of a tactical wargame, but if you want that, seriously, go try Steel Panthers: World at War. It's FREE. Not gorgeous graphics, mind you, but still free and VERY detailed. It'll give folks here a sense of what a true tactical wargame is. And it will probably blow their minds in terms of how detailed the game is and how much micromanagement is involved -- something which is NOT true with Civ.

    Don't get me wrong. The Civ games are TERRIFIC games for what they are. But what they are is NOT a tactical wargame. Never has been, and really shouldn't be. Civ games are a genre unto themselves -- the 4X genre. They aren't historical sims, wargames, or "empire sims." They're 4X games. I think the designers of Civ 5 lost sight of that underlying fact, and tried to tack too hard in a particular direction. Now we see the latest patch backing off of that change, but to what effect? They've supposedly sped up production times, but will that solve the potential "Carpet of Doom" scenario? Even if that isn't a problem, we'll at least see more traffic jams, I suspect, simply because there'll be more units on the field.

    And at a certain point, you have to ask yourself: what was the point of these design choices, if they're going to back out of them after the fact? And once they back out of them....what are we really left with?
     
  19. gingerbill

    gingerbill Prince

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    stacks of doom were horrible . i'm glad they have gone. I prefer the new system , its not perfect but also nowhere near as bad as some make out , better than stacks of doom for sure.
     
  20. brxbrx

    brxbrx Worthless loser

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    we've got a bit of a tl;dr fest going on here. you guys wanna maybe snip it down for those of us that didn't finish high school and have short attention spans?

    or you can flame me.
     
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