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Useful Tools: Civ4Fans, Teamspeak and Hamachi

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Tooltime

When moving around the civ multiplayer community one soon stumbles upon certain handy tools used by people on different occasions. Some are useful any time playing civ, others only serve a purpose in specific situations. Three of those programs that come in handy for every league player at one time or another are supposed to find a closer description here. Most of their functions are self-explanatory, it´s more a questions of knowing about their existence.

Teamspeak (TS)
Download Link: Download Teamspeak here.

Teamspeak is a voice-over-ip communication program, which allows you to talk and listen to multiple people at once. Many clans have their resident teamspeak server, using it for normal league play in order to share some strategical thoughts or just have some fun together. Often many people playing in a random shuffle teamer gather on one of those servers. TS shines most during clan games, where it allows for precise coordination and extensive in advance planning – it is a precondition of reaching a higher skill level as a team to use a voice communication program, most civ players choose teamspeak here.

TS Server from various mp civ clans:
French + SD2R + XXX + PPP: 81.28.97.25:8767 / pw: coa

Civ4Fans (C4F)
Download Link: Download Civ4Fans here.

Civ4Fans allows you to access the civ lobby, also when not having civ itself started or while being in a game. To do so click on “chat/lobby – bts”. It´s often used for finding a substitute in league games in case one is needed. To do so leaving the game is not necessary, tasking to the already running c4f or just the desktop to launch c4f is enough and allows for a more comfortable and faster way of getting the game to continue within the league rules.

Another aspect of civ4fans is the possibility of chatting with other people, leaving them messages and generally providing a comfortable platform to interact with other members of the community or organize games.

Finally C4F provides a couple of useful options. For one it´s possible to set civ to automatically disable caching. A not emptied cache can be responsible for blocks between players during the joining of a game. To enable this option, click on “options – civ 4 bts configuration” and set “Disable Caching” to “1”.

Hamachi
Download Link: Download Hamachi here.

Hamachi is a software which simulates a local area network (lan) over the internet. This comes in handy in cases of severe connection problems between specific players or whenever Gamespy is having a bad day.

The buttons have no names – in order to join a network click on the middle one from the bottom three, the triangle one. Click on “join network” and enter the data you´ve been provided with. After having done that, you see the hamachi network IP´s – right click on the name of the host of the game you want to join and choose the option “copy address”. Within civ go to multiplayer-direct ip and paste it (ctrl +v) where demanded. If necessary enter the password.

Categories: Technical Support Tags: , ,

modern & future start, especially in multiplayer teamers

October 30, 2009 1 comment

modern & future start
Modern and future start games are quite different from all earlier eras. Research doesn´t play any role, instead it´s about setting up the initial cities as fast as possible and especially about gaining momentum on your opponent, putting pressure on him at different spots on the map until the position becomes so strong that a city or more can be taken. Due to artist bombs and railroads those eras are all about constantly paying attention and reading the game, especially predicting what the opponent will do and preparing for a response to it, often long before it happens.

I´ll try to give an overview over an average buildup during the first turns of 3vs3 modern and future game as they are played in the CCC, in between some general concepts for those eras.

buildup
While there are exceptions, depending on some specific strategies, the initial buildup on modern and future is pretty clear and similar for both eras. A spiritual leader is an absolute must (or getting Christo Redentor somewhere turn 3 – a future strategy involving a player with Gandhi getting a Great Engineer turn 2-3 for it, while his two teammates have traits like Imp/Chm and Agg/Pro).  I recommend Ashoka of India for a test run in single player (it´s restricted pick, Ashoka for being spiritual and commanding fast workers) – this allows for a “normal” buildup without the usual Great Person (GP) duties of a Gandhi.

The goal is to have each of the three starting cities produce one unit a turn, preferably an offensive one like a tank in modern or a modern armor in future (which are a little more expensive then for example (defensive) anti-tanks in modern).

initial civics

  • Universal Suffrage: in order to buy up to two workers right away  in cities where no forest chop comes in right after founding or accelerate the building of the first units. Remember: Research slider to 0% and all commerce into money. Once a city becomes unhappy, turn the culture slider up for happiness. It´s not unusual to reach 80 or 90% culture at the end of alonger game.
  • Bureaucracy: 50% bonus on base production and especially on forest chops in capital.
  • Serfdom: 2 turns for workshop on forest instead of 3, 1 turn for mine instead of 2, 1 turn for pasture instead of 2 and so on. Since cities are pop 4 in modern and pop 5 in future from the start, improving land to have something decent to work as fast as possible is key.
  • Environmentalism/Mercantilism: For Gandhi it´s Mercantilism for the free specialist, but otherwise it depends on the land and city positions. The decision has to be made turn 0, deciding on planting spots and examining them for their health situation. Jungle, Desert, no Fresh Water = bad, forests, fresh water, health ressources = good. Bad means Environmentalism, good is mercantilism for the additional production of an engineer specialist.
  • Organized Religion: possibility to build missionaries without monestaries

Click picture to open gallery.

What to do after game launch
Each turn counts in late eras, so plant your cities fast. When the game launches, follow this order of action:

  1. Push “F3” and adopt initial civics.
  2. In future, do a quick scan of the map (you got satellites!). On a map with balanced ressources like Balanced there are only 6 oil. Those 3 you see that don´t belong to your team are the positions of your opponents.
  3. Plant accordingly – I know this is vague, but planting “correctly” in a a modern/future game can´t be taught in a couple of sentences in a text. Rules of thumb are, planting as fast as possible with the help of roads done by the initial 3 workers, not planting a “double front”, meaning one city above the other in a line while the opponent is left or right of those cities. The best way to orientate when chosing the spots for the first 3 cities is to check for oil (and aluminium in future) and keep the opponents position in mind when doing so.
  4. Fresh water, forests and grassland tiles are what you want beyond that, overall a city should have around 10-12 tiles to work.

build order
Assuming a not super-aggressive approach (where you chop units basically right away), the way to build up your empire looks about this:

  1. go to around 10 workers (you start with 3) first.
  2. get barracks in every city.
  3. spread your religion. Religion “pops” turn 5, everyone gets one in a 3v3 game from Renaissance on.

worker moves / land+city management
The golden rule of modern and future: Try getting everything you build in 1 turn.

In order to do so start first with producing those 6-8 aditional worker. Either get a chop or buy them if that is not possible, avoid building workers for more then 1 turn – worker movement is key here. Get barracks and missionaries afterwards, time a chop if necessary in order to get them in 1 turn. After that start producing units – hook oil/aluminium right away – the shorter the time spam where you don´t spam one unit per city per turn the better your play is.

Hook ressources and build workshops on every other tile, even on some ressources like horse or elephant. Those ressouces that you can hook in 1 turn (those requiring mines/pastures) have first priority. Mix hooking ressources with chopping forests right after you´ve hooked ~2 ressources per city. Build workshops right away on forests, priority on grassland forests. Make sure each city has 2-3 workers improving it. RAILROAD TO YOUR TEAM MATES, send 1-2 of those early workers to do that right away.

civic switch
This switch is designed to maximize the production of your now decently improved cities that are working 4-5 or more workshops each already and to give your units another promotion next to the one from the barracks.

Police State: +25% Unit Production
Bureaucracy: +50% Unit Production in capital
Caste System: workshops produce 1 additional hammer
State Property: workshops produce 1 additional food; all cities +10% production
Theocracy: 2 additional experience for all cities with state religion

conclusion and warning
At this point it should be around turn 8-10, cities being at the point where they produce 1 double promoted unit per turn. At this point a warning, often in a modern or future game you will have to not “cleanly” go from 10 workers to barracks to religion spread to building units, but be in a position which you won´t be able to defend with just your three initial units. In that case you have to “shuffle” some chopped units into the usual build order. For example gettign three more workers, then chopping 2 units, then continuing on the initial road.

differences future/modern
In both eras oil plays a significant role, but in future you additionaly require aluminium for modern armor. Remember that while planting your first three cities, also remember that uranium allows you to build the same ships oil does – especially important in case an opponent pillages your sea oil and you require ships to get it back.

Mech Infantery are a decent substitute of a unit in case you don´t have oil, especially when playing an aggressive or protective leader (Montezuma or Saladin are standard picks right after the 2 Indian leaders). Main difference in general between modern and future is the fact that siege weapons here have 2 moves (mobile artillery), which is unique in civ.

In case planes/airships are not banned, building 1 or 2 very early is very important. A trick to use them most effectively with little effort is queueing the scouting command. Select the plane, click “R”, hold “Shift”, left click on tile to scout. Repeat 30 times.

I recommend to anyone interested to start a single player game without any timer or opponents and just play the first 10 to 12 to 15 turns according to the principles mentioned here. After a game or two one can add a medium timer and/or opponents. Doing this takes little time and is an effective way of mastering the basics of those eras.

concepts #2 – city commerce specialization

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

City Specialization
Currently civilization gameplay allows you to specialize cities either for commerce (that can be out into research, money, culture, epionage) or production. A city with a couple of hills and production ressources will benefit from a forge relatively more, while a library has very low priority if it will be build at all. It´s the other way round with a city next to (rivered) grassland and maybe a luxury ressource like gold. Once a city has been designated mainly for commerce though, it´s not possible to specialize it 100% for anything then science (in a cottage economy at least!). What I´m referring to is the commerce slider that regulates the distribution of commerce for an entire empire. Hence if it´s set to 70% technology and 30% wealth, that is the way commerce is distributed in every city.

 

commerce distribution Practical example
A city has a base commerce rate of 30 and a library. Let´s see what happens to the overall commerce output on different research/wealth distributions. Only the research rate is named, the difference between it and 100% is consequently the wealth rate (just like in the game). Remember that a library gives 25% bonus on tech, meaning that on every 4th beaker the city receives an additional beaker. The calculation is always rounded down, so 7 base beakers result in a bonus of 1, just like 4 do.

0%: 0 tech, 30 gold = 30 overall commerce
10%: 3+0 tech, 27 gold = 30 overall commerce
20%: 6+1 tech, 24 gold = 31 overall commerce
30%: 9+2 tech, 21 gold = 32 overall commerce
40%: 12+3 tech, 18 gold = 33 overall commerce
50%: 15+3 tech, 15 gold = 33 overall commerce
60%: 18+4 tech, 12 gold = 34 overall commerce
70%: 21+5 tech, 9 gold = 35 overall commerce
80%: 24+6 tech, 6 gold = 36 overall commerce
90%: 27+6 tech, 3 gold = 36 overall commerce
100%: 30+7 tech, 0 gold = 37 overall commerce

Of course if a market is build in that city, the overall commerce output will be pretty much equal on all distributions of wealth/research. But a market is another building you have to build. Assuming that your research rate is where it should be, at somewhere around 80%, the gain of building a market into a commerce city is (happiness bonus set aside) pretty small to non-existent.

A concept for specialization
It´s the nature of civilization that most commerce is put into research over an entire game or at least over the vast majority of it. Wouldn´t it be nice if it was possible to regulate commerce distribution for a city independant from the rate set for the entire empire ? And I don´t mean “just like that”, but for example with a building, a wonder or a civic. This way cities could be specialized for wealth, culture (if that made sense) or even espionage (it´s another topic though that I really don´t like the concept of espionage for multiplayer!). A “wealth-city” could build a market, a grocer, a bank, Wall Street… and no science buildings! At the moment those buildings are almost solely build for their health/happiness bonus – exception being a bank in a capital city for example.

Ideas for implementation

building: Local Parliament
required technology: currency
cost: 100 hammers
effect: Cities can distribute commerce independant from rest of the empire.
Can be build only once for every 4-5 cities.
Double production speed with Organized trait.

Wonder: ???
required technology: ???
cost: ???
effect: All cities can distribute commerce independant from rest of the empire.

Civic: Economic Autonomy
effect: All cities can distribute commerce independant from rest of the empire. (Maybe additional effect required, otherwise too weak?)

“Easy Tournament Series” for civ multiplayer newcomers

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Nolan from civplayers has been organizing multiplayer tournaments for beginners lately. Anyone who is interested in participating in some civ competition for the first time without the danger of being crushed by seasoned players should take a look. Last Sunday it was Ancient start, next one is Renaissance. I might use the chance and post some basics on ren during the next days..

Till then here is a 40mb tutorial video for download done by frenchie Moineau on Renaissance in general and the 3v3 Renaissance on Green_Wheel in specific.

related links

In order to sign up for a tournament you have to be a member of the league. Here two short video tutorials on how to sign up and play/report games.

Edit: It seems, the tourney next Sunday might be Ancient Start also, it´s not decided yet though.

Categories: multiplayer Tags:

A summary of the ways civ4 is played in multiplayer

October 28, 2009 5 comments

I. ffa / cton / ironman

The setup of these kind of games is pretty similar to the average single player game. It´s a certain amount of players all playing against each other. In CTON (named after the french – female – player who first introduced those settings) and Ironman games “always war” is checked, while ffa (free for all) allows for diplomatic arrangements like open boarders, ressource trades or non-aggression pacts since war isn´t declared automatically upon contact. Tech trading in all forms is usually off in all three, certainly in CTON and Ironman.

A CTON is defined by its turn and city elimination limit and the lack of diplomacy due to “always war”. The most commonly played setup is the ancient start CTON with a turn limit of around 120 and a city elimination limit of 2, meaning the loss of 2 cities results in a defeat for the player. Ironman is basically the same with the big difference that neither a city nor a turn limit exists. These games often end with space race and can last – depending on the map settings and amount of players – for 8, 10 and more hours, while CTONS take around 2-3. While an Ironman basically always starts in ancient, there is theoretically no rule as to where a CTON has to start. Most common is ancient, classical and renaissance work as well. An ffa has usually a turn, but no city elimination limit. With skilled players the lack of “instant war” usually doesn´t make a big difference compared to an Ironman – the abscence of a city elimination limit does though.

In general CTON and Ironman tend towards a “fairer” game in their settings, while ffa is less about a competetive approach towards the game. That means that ffa is mostly played with random leaders, with barbarians, huts and random events on and often on a map that isn´t always famous for providing balanced positions and ressources. This can be beneficial, resulting in an interesting, unexpected game situation. On the other hand often a player or two are screwed from the start due to small land area, much worse land or lack of strategic ressources.

settings examples

Inland_Sea CTON
map: Inland_Sea
size: small for 5-6 , standard for 7-8 players
climate: temperate
sea level: medium
era: ancient
speed: fast
wrap: cylindrical
ressources: balanced
options: no barbs, no huts, no random events, no vassal states, no tech trading/brokering, always war, no spies, unrestricted leaders – no leader/civ picking
turn limit: 120
city elimination limit: 2

Pangae ffa
map: Pangae
size: small for 5-6 , standard for 7-8 players
climate: temperate
sea level: medium
era: ancient
speed: fast
coast: solid
wrap: cylindrical
ressources: balanced
options: no vassal states, no tech trading/brokering, unrestricted leaders – no leader/civ picking
turn limit: 150

Current CCC Ironman
The CCC is a world wide civ clan tourney, the biggest event in the mp world. More on that soon 😉
map: Grid_beta2 (download here)
size: standard, 8 players
climate: temperate
sea level: high
spoke: 3
era: ancient
speed: fast
wrap: toroidal
ressources: balanced
options: unrestricted leader, Pacal as leader banned, India as civ banned

II. duel

A duel is a duel… What´s interesting are the settings. By far most common are ancient or random era start. Ancient is usually played on Mirror, random start on LD_Mirror_Inland_Sea_3a, both duel size. Both maps provide the same land for both players, a key element to a fair duel. The wrap is flat, ressources are balanced. City Elimination limit is mostly 1, in the ancient mirror setup rather 2.

III. teamer

Team games are usually played 5v5 on ancient start and 3v3 on classical to future start. Different setups exist for all eras, some more defensive, some with more attacking possibilities, where defending is harder.

The in the civ multiplayer community most commonly played setting is the ancient 5v5:
map: Team_Battleground
era: ancient
size: large
sea level: low
climate: temperate
wrap: cylindral
team position: start separate
options: no barbs, no huts, no vassal states, always war, no random events
turn timer: blazing
city elimination limit: 2

IV. occ

OCC, the one city challenge was born in the days of Alpha Centauri, when people for the fun of it started playing the AI with only once city. Such games are about bringing your capital to an unreal technology output, usually winning on points by researching more technologies and/or building wonders for points. Some are played with always peace, some include warfare, mostly though in the late stages of the game with massive Modern Armour / Mobile Artillery stacks. Most popular starting eras for OCC are especially renaissance, but also ancient and industrial. OCC games are a subcategory of CTON.

OCC Renaissance Peace
map: Equal_Islands
era: renaissance
size: standard
sea: low
options: unrestricted leader, always peace, no tech trading/brokering, no espionage, no open borders, no internet, no nukes, no space race, unrestricted leaders
turn limit: 130

V. fixed map

Last we have the possibility of playing a fixed map. The main and only commong example here would be an Earth game, a map that simulates the actual world geopgraphy. There are different version with different civs since the game has a limit of 18 players and there are more civs in the game. Earth provides the same land and starting position every time hence each civ has certain ways of dealing with its situation which are the same everytime. Some civs have opportunieties for an early attack, other need to played fora  long term gain.

Various versions of the Earth map for download after the click.

Categories: multiplayer Tags: ,

concepts #1 – building: assembly line

October 26, 2009 Leave a comment

building: assembly line

assemblylinerequired technology: assembly line
cost: 120 hammers
effect: 1 additional production slot for armored units and gunpowder units.
Double production speed with Organized trait.

With this building, whenever a city builds an armoured unit  (example: tank) or a gunpowder unit (example anti-tank, mech infantery) the used-to-be hammer overflow from the first unit directly goes into a second similar unit without any losses.

  • A city that produces 160 hammers a turn is able to finish two similar units each 80 hammers a turn.
  • A city that produces 120 hammers produces 3 similar units in 2 turns. First putting 80 hammers into one and 40 into the second unit and next turn finishing the 40/80 unit next to having another 80 hammers left for the third.

The purpose of this building would be to revive an aspect of civ multiplayer in modern and future start games, which is lost due to the nature of those eras. In such a late era game there is no need or use for building up tech rate – since there is either nothing worth teching (future) or costs too much in relation to the state of your economy at the start (modern) – there is not much room for micromanagement of land beyond the crucial first 5-10 turns and there is no need for long-term city planning. A city requires 10-12 tiles, better green then brown, and will very fast and without much skill required from its controller reach the point where it builds one unit per turn. In both eras the goal is to plant cities fast, get barracks, spread religion and then bring them asap to the 1-unit-per-turn status.  From there on it´s a game of building up pressure on your opponent and eventually being able to overwhelm him due to the strength of your position (culture borders!). The problem is that there is not much room for creativity – you simply spam a unit a turn and in between sneak a settler or two in.

With the assembly line building there is a reason to do something else then units-only all game long. The base production of an average modern/future city with its free forge and production enhancing civics is around 80-100 hammers, enough to build one tank or mech infantery a turn. In order to be able to consistently spam out 2 units a turn though a city next to the assembly line would require additional production enhancing buildings or a lot more then 10-12 tile to work. Factories, Levees and power buildings become much more appealing, so does long(er)-term city placement and not-to-close planting of initial cities. In addition a new city is potentially worth a bigger advantage over an opponent then right now.

Bottom line is modern and future start games would receive an additional strategical component. A player would have to decide whether and if when to get the required buildings. The short term loss of units would be compensated with a long term gain. Question would always be whether the timing is good. When a team is under constant pressure by an early artist bomb and some chopped units from the start, it won´t find the opportunity to do something else then units for defense so easy. The other way round a more defensive strategy that involves getting out additional settlers might pay of much more since a disadvantage in unit numbers could be caught up with and turned around easier.

Categories: concepts Tags: ,

Civilization Network – a commentary

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

nw

Sid Meier himself – it seems – announces the coming of yet another game with “Civilization” in the title. Going only a few years back, that would have ment we are about to be presented with an innovative and probably highly addictive gameplay fest. There is reason to believe this might not be true anymore.

What has changed? Well, nothing dramatic. It´s more a nasty feeling a civ fan might get looking back at recent publications by Firaxis. It´s not so much about being sceptical towards a game that will be published on Facebook instead of being a standalone PC title. By itself a browser game is legitimate in its ability to entertain, whether one enjoys such games or not.  By itself there is nothing to be said against a company creating such a game based on or related to a game series they´ve been developing.

What itches is the way Firaxis has been trying to milk Civilization lately. Over the years, basically since the beginning of the era of computer games, we have come to trust that what is labeled “Civilization” can be expected to be … well, Civilization. That includes among other in-depth gameplay like few other in a well balanced and tested game with lots of relevant innovations. Neither Revolutions nor the new Colonization came even close to performing according to this standard. You might be willing to argue whether they are plain bad and not properly tested or just toned down versions of civ, but you can´t seriously say they ARE civilization.

I know this is semantics. I´m probably criticizing Marketing and its tools more then Firaxis last publications, but then again they keep on calling stuff for the Wii, weak shadows of a grand game (here the name of Colonization gets dragged into the mud, too) and spin offs for the IPhone and IPod (!!) Civilization. This criticism is born out of the knowledge that Firaxis is able to do more and out of the adoration for civ. A group that brought us Civilization could be more honest in its way of dealing with the well-deserved fan base they´ve created. You don´t just spam out one civ after another – be honest: Revolutions is a try to break into the market of Wii (and now IPhone/IPod) games, nothing more. Whether this has succeded is not the point. The last civ release is old now, the fan base nevertheless remains big and those 2 factors combined result in the wish for the continuation of the series. If you´re not ready, yet – fine, but don´t use your loyal fans admiration for your product in order to mislead them.

This text is a testitomy of respect towards Sid Meier and his crew more then a criticism since the believe that a profit-orientated company might be able to take their customers seriously and name their products as what they are, in name as well as during marketing, is a statement of trust.