Would having Lumbermills earlier unbalance the game (Not really a modding thread)

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Tomice, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. TriremeLost@Sea

    TriremeLost@Sea Chieftain

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    You could always stagger the hammer bonus so that they grant a small bonus at Machinery and only reach full potential at Replaceable Parts, or something like that.
     
  2. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    I thought that was already implied. The "small bonus" they give initially is the 1:hammers:. Whether they get the next +1:hammers: with RP or some other thing like railroading the tile is another issue and probably a less important one IMO.

    @mirthadir

    I can't really fault anything with your comments but somehow I don't feel early LMs are as powerful as you make them sound.

    Firstly, grass forests you don't cut are a lost potential cottage AND the 30:hammers: immediate. In my testing (only very limited so far, I admit) it seemed important to still clear many forests for the essential cottages. Working grass forests without LMs is not very good so until you even have the option of LMs you're stuck with not being able to make any use of a very powerful tile you own.

    Granted, after you can build LMs, the option of keeping forests for LMs becomes a lot stronger.

    Anyway, the view I have at the moment is that even if 2 grass lumbermills beat all else, is that so bad? Having more forests in the game makes it a bit more interesting IMO. You can later change the improvement to a forest preserve or cut it down for something else. The 2 grass LMs are powerful but to me don't seem unbalancingly :)lol:) powerful.

    One more thing, as TMIT already mentioned, is it really appropriate to call LMs at Machinery "early game"? Surely we're talking mid-game here. Beelining machinery is at the expense of other important techs like Currency and Civil Service. I agree with the estimate of late ADs for Machinery, but I'm not sure how much this changes with difficulty, number of AIs, mapsize etc.
     
  3. Artichoker

    Artichoker Emperor

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    This one was on Deity (Leveraging Vassalage VII, game 3), with 5 forests in the capital...but one grassland hill forest could have been saved, had there not be a shared tile with a neighboring city.




    Here is another example, also on Deity, but with 8 forests:



    This was only a demo game, not played to completion. But it's clear that even with the many forests in the city, it remains very productive, with the forests having a positive impact.


    Now, some people will say that you need lots of grassland farms to run a good GP farm. That is not really true. Good food resources and a well-timed Golden Age is enough.
     
  4. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    Cottages are not always on the radar. If we are planning on extensive cottage play, then it doesn't really matter when improvements are open, you are just going to have to invest in the cottage for the long haul (70 turns later). But comparing :hammers: to :commerce: yields at this point is a bit dodgy, for your production cities the efficiency of the mill not only utterly crushes the already mostly useless WS, but also every other improvement. Talking about the opportunity cost of pursuing the tech is a bit nonsensical, MC is great tradebait and can be a faster shot to CS (due to the fact that it opens up a shot at trading for both CoL and Currency).

    To whit we have a tile that under certain circumstances is just barely less productive than a bio farm off an Oracle tech. If I have enough food and health issues this is a gimmee. At the very least I'd look at moving this back to machinery or perhaps even guilds/paper/optics.

    My biggest worry here is that the AI, who sucks at any long term process is going to suck it up even more given the required tradeoff analysis. We can look around pretty easy and say that well if I leave these trees here now in about 15 turns they are going to become the most productive tiles in the BFC and that even though those these trees are great production now I need the commerce bonus that is coming in 70 turns. I'm always leary of increasing the AIs decision load, particularly stuff that requires it to pretend it can plan ahead.

    I make reasonable use of LMs now between tundra, building the NP, and leaving up plains forests because working an extra tile beats the 30 :hammers: cold in 20 turns; but I could see making them more viable by moving them forward. I can't see moving them to a point where you can Oracle them without massive sacrifice.
     
  5. Tomice

    Tomice Passionate Smart-Ass

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    Nice to see my topic started an interesting discussion! :)

    Personally I'll mod them in for my next game and see how it turns out. Since you all (or most) agree it's balanced, it can't hurt to change a few flavour things after so many playthroughs. Reconsider a few old strategies...

    EDIT: Workshops and Mines still remain your only choice when there's no no forest on a tile. It depends a lot on which map you are playing. I love "PerfectWorld 2" from Cephalo, and it often has lots of similar terrain in an area (more like the real earth), so if you start in the great planes...

    To me, early lumbermills has a lot to do with realism. I live in Austria, and my country has a long history with the holy roman empire,and still our landscape is far from being deforested (43% forests, acc. to wikipedia). It seems strange that cutting forests clear was a sound choice in any era... (although ancient rome did it in croatia to build venice, for example, but it turned out bad for the region!)
     
  6. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    @mirthadir,

    Wait, did you think I was suggesting LMs with Metal Casting?
    It's at Machinery now. Does that change the nature of any of your comments?

    Moving it back to Paper or Guilds is a possibility I'd consider.
     
  7. tempuraki

    tempuraki Warlord

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    This got me thinking, how about making mines unhealthy like floodplains? Would that be unblalancing? I mean, it'll add some realism to the game, and make forests more important. Maybe make the unhealthy-ness go away after certain tech, say machinery?
     
  8. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    Hmm, interesting. I'd say keep the unealthiness until the more modern era. I mean, I'm pretty sure that it's only been in the last 100 years that mines have actually started getting safer and less damaging to the environment.
     
  9. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Forest distribution would suddenly become a big game balance issue...I don't trust the implications of that in a game that can't even get the controls right.
     
  10. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    I thought the mod in question had it at MC; I've never played but I thought I had read that.

    Machinery is a completely different beast than MC and then tech progression is a major factor. I still have two major concerns:
    1. The AI is going to be an even bigger moron about this. This can provide a substantial boost to the player's mid game production that requires long term planning the AI will crap out on.
    2. This makes some weak improvements, for this era, even weaker.

    I like the ideas, but they do make it hard for other improvements to compete. Essentially there is a trade-off here between putting them too soon (which makes them the default choice in way too many situations) and putting them too late (so as to make them a non-factor.

    My WAG is that placing them at guilds or paper is a better bet; there the time to alternatives (like either RP wind or water mills) is less but they are around long enough to make them a viable option.
     
  11. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    Sorry, what's WAG?

    Regarding AI concerns, I'm a little surprised it's one of the main points you want to focus on because it seems you're assuming the AI is fine with improvements as they are now. Even with Better AI you still get AI workers constantly changing improvements, often when the human player thinks they shouldn't be. You say it takes planning to keep some forests around etc. Actually in my test games with PIG (where forest preserves are also available earlier in the game) my gut feeling was that AIs were keeping too many forests. As it turns out, this was partly to my error of leaving the "workers leave forests" option checked when running AI autoplay but even without that AIs seemed to keep lumbermills and forest preserves for a long time. If you want to see what I mean and are prepared to sacrifice some CPU cycles for the cause :)lol:) try running AI autoplay for a couple hundred turns on a Borealis map with the latest PIG version. The AI is nowhere near a clear-cutting maniac.

    The second point, making weak improvements weaker is more a concern to me. Workshops in particular seem to miss out. The problem is that workshops already are a poor improvement when they are introduced unless running CS.

    With PIG at the moment, Serfdom gives +1:commerce: to farms (also with -25%GPP production). This means a farm for 1:food:1:commerce: is a viable alternative to a LM.

    Note that if LMs are introduced at Machinery it is a part of the game where the health cap is not the main limiter to growth (EDIT... Actually, I don't mean that quite that way. It depends largely on resource distribution and city placement for how much health is available early - things that can vary wildly from game to game), partly because all those forests may still exist and are providing their benefit. For that reason, the potential +0.5:health: for a LM improvement does not have much effect early unless you are growing a large city from some very food rich resources. As the cities grow larger however, you're absolutely right that 0.5:health: starts to make a noticeable difference for a city's production potential.
     
  12. Nares

    Nares Emperor

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    Plains forest lumbermill == grassland hill mine.

    The only differences are 0.5 health to the lumbermill, and whatever paltry percentage there is to pop a resource from the mine (less than 1% per turn?).
     
  13. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    IIRC it's something like 1 in 10000 per worked mine per turn.

    EDIT... 5000 posts. [party]
     
  14. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    WAG = Wild Ass Guess

    I realize the AI is moronic about improvements now, but valuing things like health/happy cap increases 30 turns from now has a lot more play for min/max options and I'm worried that:
    A. The AIs will clear cut everything and lose a LOT of economic potential.
    B. The AIs won't cut anything and lose a LOT of economic potential.

    My guess is that A will be the bigger problem for the AI, but I don't know.

    Would it be possible to make WS's +1 :hammers: and +.4 :yuck: (no food change) and then make them lose the :yuck: in SP? I'd also consider just giving them +1 :hammers: at machinery (paper) and guilds with nothing at chemistry.
     
  15. Aaroc

    Aaroc Warlord

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    As it stands currently, I personally never use workshops until I've got all the bonuses for them, and even then I rarely use them. I'm also they type who prefers to save a few forests to be later converted to lumbermills.

    I might build a workshop or two if I have a food heavy city with no hills to mine, especially if I can swing a riverside workshop.

    I actually find myself playing a lot of games which start in the modern age just so that I can start building lumbermills and/or fully loaded workshops right away. Honestly, if I had it my way, i'd make it so that there are no requirements for building any improvements, simply because I hate having to wait for them, but I'm just impatient. I want to have my cake and eat it too. One of the things I hate most about the game is how late biology comes in. I'm often stuck on maps where there simply aren't enough food resources to grow a city properly, especially if it's in an otherwise resource rich area. a lot of the time I'll find a nice group of resources in an area, usually commerce resources, that I can't really make the most of because it will be a plains river basin with no food resources nearby, which means I'll have to wait until biology to make the most of that city, and of course by that time I've either grown tired of the game and quit, or I've won it. Most likely the former. While the PIG mod does combat this some (by giving farms a minuscule chance of discovering a grain resource, much like mines have a chance of discovering a mine resource) it usually doesn't help the cities that need the help.

    And now I've gone horribly off topic, but while I'm here, I'll say that i'd like to see a way to transfer food from one city to another without the need of (again, ridiculously late-game) corporations.
     
  16. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    Oh ok. I don't usually take advice from wild animals but in this case I'm willing to make an exception. :p
    My view is that planning small amounts of :health: gain here or there is of fairly little importance to the AI.

    The thing is, with the way lumbermills are in the vanilla game, the AI has little chance of adequately planning for them. As we talk about making LMs a more viable option by moving them earlier, its inevitable there will be some sacrifice in AI. I am fairly confident we are talking about a very small sacrifice here, and the gains of players having more enjoyment choosing from a wider range of improvement types earlier in the game IMO weighs greater than the small potential for AI poor use. Of course, we haven't really included yet the possibility it helps the AI even further. When you think about it, chopping forests quickly is more a human player strategy and advantage so actually making forests more valuable to keep could very well bring AIs closer.

    Only testing will say for sure though.
    I believe it will take some SDK modding to give an improvement a health penalty that expires after a tech but in theory it can of course be done.

    An idea I had when I was thinking about it today as to give workshops a simple +1:hammers: with no penalty when they become available. State property would give them a hammer instead of a food.

    The other possibility I have considered more and more is tipping the :hammers: to :food: balance a little. To do this, one can adjust the amount of food a granary stores from 50% to something like 40%, 30% or even 25%. It would nerf slavery a decent amount and suddenly 1:food:3:hammers: tiles start to look probably better in comparison to 2:food:2:hammers: tiles (at least compared with before).

    Neither of those 2 ideas I have thought through very well yet though.

    (I know, I'm double quoting)...
    I do like the idea but is there any reason you want 0.4:yuck: instead of a simple 0.5? Is it because some features give .5:yuck:?

    Anyway, is there any way to achieve a similar result without having to expire the :yuck: at SP? Things like giving an extra hammer at SP, perhaps even removing that SP bonus completely. (it's already a good civic for its other two functions and the workshop you propose is already better than before anyway).

    Just trying to get some ideas.

    By the way, as this is a fair way off topic of the OP now, I'm wondering if it's worthwhile starting a separate thread for this kinds of discussion? I would post in the S&T section but I'm not sure if it's frowned on to discuss modding balance suggestions/questions outside of the modding forum. Limiting this sort of thing to the modding forum all the time means the opinions of players who mostly stick around S&T like TMIT and yourself go sadly missed.

    The alternative is to invite you all to the PIG Mod thread but as it is now, that thread is pretty bloated and disorganised. Perhaps a separate PIG balance thread in the modding forum would be best.
     
  17. noto2

    noto2 Emperor

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    How come everyone is ignoring the health bonus? That's usually the reason I leave forests around in the first place. If you made LM available at machinery, it would have this effect - anyone with HR at machinery could have size 20 production monster cities. I'm not saying that's imbalanced...I'm just saying the health boost shouldn't be ignored, it's the defining feature of lumbermills imo.
     
  18. PieceOfMind

    PieceOfMind Drill IV Defender Retired Moderator

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    I'm not sure how much of the thread you read but the health bonus is definitely not being ignored. It would be fair to say it's not being considered seriously enough, though.

    In BtS, I also leave forests around primarily for the health bonus, but every 2 forests you leave is only giving you 1:health: which at health cap should equate to ~1:food:.

    Supposing you are able to get a size 20 monster city, and let's say you have 8 forests contributing 4:health: total, how can you argue the forests are making that much of a difference to the ability of the city to grow to that size? If you used workshops instead, the city might reach only a couple of pop points lower but it would also be getting a higher hammer yield from the workshop tiles than if they were forest.

    I think the issue of early LMs really is one you have to try in game to fully appreciate. This means I need to take my own advice and play some more test games.

    In my current test game, which I can't continue til tomorrow, I had to knowingly slow my expansion rate by not cutting so many forests just to have a chance at attempting a forest "monster city" after Machinery and HR. It's not as easy as you'd think trying to grow to size 15 (let alone 20) while you still have an urgent need to produce settlers and workers (which halt growth) all while not being able to use extensive chopping.

    What I'm saying is it takes a significant early game sacrifice to set up this sort of situation and I think that in itself produces some of the needed "balance". I'd imagine that at high levels, leaving forests so that you can have such nice cities after HR and Machinery would be giving the AI a huge leg up on you. Maybe the use of chopping and whipping is used so extensively now at high levels it's hard to picture what will happen when you can barely make use of either.
     
  19. AySteve

    AySteve Chieftain

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    I really like the idea, although I think the penalty here is a little low. Personally I would make it +1 :yuck:, that way in the mid to late game, where they can be useful currently and you are near the health cap, they are effectively very similar to how they are now and you need to balance their usefulness against other improvements. However, in the early game, where the health cap tends not to be so much of an issue, they are improved significantly enough to make them viable in some situations.

    I guess you could counterbalance the +1 :yuck: with a +1 :health: at state property rather than removing the :yuck: if this was easier to mod in, although it would not look so tidy on the list of health modifiers in the city screen.
     
  20. Tomice

    Tomice Passionate Smart-Ass

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    After some calculations i realized that everything is well-balanced for hills if lumbermills come earlier, but watermills and workshops make less sense. maybe also windmills. They all become a niche improvement, useful only when you lack forests.

    It seems to balance this, one would need to put every bonus repl. parts give to an earlier tech, say guilds. Generally it seems that it was an intention to make the trio mine/farm/cottage the most effective thing until repl. parts. But the details of this go over my understanding of the game...

    My guess for the hammer improvements is that there are three points where balance is given:

    - After guilds workshops are somewhat useful, but at this stage hills are still for hammers, flats for the rests, more or less, but all available things have their place

    - repl. parts/chemistry boost everything except mines, which makes them less outstanding than before. generally things seem well-balanced, windmills give one of each, which is arguably better than the 2 hammers of mines, but mines make still sense.

    - railways/electricity boost all except workshops, which get weak again. mines and lumbermills are well-balanced as always (health vs. chop boost and half time to build, plus chance to find ressource, wait, maybe mine is still stronger???), water- and windmills are good for non-hammer needs.

    State property makes the former niche improvements very good, but that's another story.

    _________________________________________________________________

    Since this is not a modding thread but in the tips section, do you agree that for vanilla BtS 3.19 mines are rarely wrong, farms and cottages are something unavoidable anyway (except pure specialist economy), so this trio is almost all beginners need?

    And the other stuff more for unusual city surroundings or special strategies? (when I arrive at communism I can't imagine changing my whole infrastructure makes sense that often...)

    This is the first time I feel I understand the less-used improvements, but I'm a bit dissappointed about their weakness...
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

    What is your opinion - when are the improvements balanced best? (depends of course if hill-centered production is a desired gameplay mechanism)
    During which gameplay era do you use these uncommon improvements? I read a lot of guides describing what their effect is, but I never found any decent strategy tips for e.g. watermills.
     

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