Archive

Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year !!

December 31, 2009 1 comment

Celebrate the last couple of hours of this decade and the first night of the next one

All the best to everyone for 2010 – crazy shit, I remember when I was writing “1994” as a date in school next to essays 😀

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Ironman/ffa: Interaction of traits and choice of leader

December 29, 2009 4 comments

This article continues my series about Ironman&ffa, taking my previous articles on Traits in ffa and Ironman and Ironman/ffa: maps, difficulty, settings – How to adapt as a basis. I recommend reading them first.

So after those two, what is this article still about: I want to explain why picking certain trait combinations isn´t good, though the single traits are. For example on Grid Ironman Fin and Philo are good traits, but Elizabeth isn´t a good pick (though not a bad one as well).

Why two good traits don´t make a good leader

It’s a simple thought: Fin is good, Philo is good, so picking both should be just fine. This doesn´t work out for two major reasons: First both are economy traits and second they are contradicting each other in the strategy they need to be played out properly. Fin needs fast expansion, while Philo is favoring slow expansion. Philo needs cities to work farms for food, specialists and production tiles for wonders. Just with Fin those should be working cottages – they cant do both at the same time. So both traits lose momentum.
On the other hand if u are picking an expansion trait together with one of them, they help each other. This works slightly better with Fin then with Philo but is useful for both nonetheless. Take Exp/Fin for example. Expanding faster will let you work more cottages earlier and the other way round Fin will keep your economy from crashing while power-expanding.
Philo doesn´t interact that good with Exp, because the true power Exp lies in being able to slave efficiently early, because of the cheaper granaries. But with Philo you should not be slaving that much, because u need cities being constantly on high pop, either for building wonders or working specialists. So imp is working better with Philo, because you have mines for wonders anyway and will also be chopping more, with having some more workers. This is because having high pop cities early requires more workers for getting enough tiles going. As soon as you reached that state they can do other things. This fits perfectly, because imp makes chopping a lot more useful. As a matter of fact Philo/Exp is still better than Philo/Imp, just because Exp is such a strong trait. But you will notice that the difference is significantly smaller than between Fin/Exp and Fin/Imp.

So in general the traits you pick need to interact with each other, so they both enhance each others effect. Or if that is not possible at least do not decrease each others effect.

Expansion traits are great here, because they interact well with everything. Some traits interact better with expansion traits then others (Fin,Org compared to Philo/Imp), but in general they always help. Most picks are based on picking one economy trait (Philo/Fin in most cases) and one expansion trait as helper.

Exp/Imp – The Curiosity

This is a special case. With economy traits picking two of the same kind isn´t good, but with expansion traits this can work out. Basically those two enhance each other, giving you the fastest possible expansion. This lets you grab huge amounts of land, which should turn the game in your in your favor later. However there is another limit to expansion: Your economy. So you will have to focus on working some cottages to prevent it from crashing. Still how well this exactly works out depends on the land. If u can plant some gems/gold with your first 3-4 cities it will go smooth. As long as you got some rivers and get some cottages going fast enough everything is OK. Lacking both you are in trouble and have extra-focus on working cottages, slowing down your expansion.
On higher difficulties Exp/Imp is impossible to play, because there is no way to deal with the maintenance costs.

Agg + Expansion Trait

Having Agg with an expansion trait (Exp if u can choose of course) is a nice combination for any kind of open land map. You can use the expansion trait to get some cities going fast, then fight an early war (Sword-Axe stack). If u attack someone who has neither he doesn´t have a chance.

Or the other way round you can use Agg for expanding heavily grabbing a lot of land. People will think twice about planting aggressive into your direction or even attacking you.

 

Org as an Expansion Trait

When playing on higher difficulties (only then picking org makes any sense), Org is working like an expansion trait. Not in the way of getting workers/settlers faster, but by allowing you to expand at all. When having Org you will be able to expand faster then others, simply because you can afford it economy wise. This works out because on higher difficulties the limit is not how fast you can get settlers/workers, but if you can afford planting another city. This render real expansion traits rather useless, making org a good alternative.

 

Choosing your Leader

This last part explains, how to actually approach choosing a leader, with all the information given in my articles.

First of all you have to analyze the settings: Unusual difficulty? Space for how many cities per player? Open land map? Water map? Ironman/ffa diplo? How probable are early wars?

All this as to be taken into account. Now the most important question is, if there is anything you definitely need to pick, e.g. an expansion trait on pangaea, or fin on archipelago. If there is a must pick (which happens rather often), this narrows down your options for the second pick, to those interacting with the first. Now think about what strategies are probably going to be working best and which you prefer to play. Doing so also take into account how the above mentioned factors rate up/down the traits (higher difficulty rater up org, much space rates up fin). For example on pangaea with a lot of people, the game is most probably going to be very militaristic, so picking Agg to your expansion trait makes sense. This gives you initiative and the possibility to fight early wars. Of course you can still pick Fin, but you should be aware, of being in a defensive position towards the Agg players from the start.

On maps with a lot of space, Fin is probably a must pick, if its allowed. Philo is still an option, but a risky one. This leads to picking an expansion trait second, because they interact best.

Also you should consider, if there are any peculiarities you want to plan for, like rushing Great Lighthouse with Industrious on archipelago.

In general in most situations picking one of the big economy traits (Philo and Fin) with a expansion trait is the way to go, but there are a lot of specific situations the settings can create (often doing so on purpose to break that monotony). So always check twice. This should not be hurried.

happy picking

Shizanu

Challenge #1: “Robinson Crusoe’s thirst for knowledge”

December 27, 2009 26 comments

*UPDATE* (29th December 09): Golden Age is banned.

This is the first edition of a new series that is similar in many ways to traditional “Game of the Month” (GotM) games which many civ sites provide regularly. Those set one or many tasks to be completed at all or as fast as possible. Everyone can participate by downloading the save and playing it. There have been many very creative and interesting GotM and there wouldn´t be a good reason to set up yet another one. Consequently the idea behind this one is somewhat different.

First of all the challenges will be played (most of the time) on the usual multiplayer settings of the game, that being quick speed and noble difficulty. Second they will be designed in a way that simulates a scenario which demands a way of playing that follows key game principles but also the laws of certain types of multiplayer games. So for example a challenge could involve expanding as fast as possible while neglecting military units and research till a certain amount of cities has been built. Another could be getting as many specific units as possible till a certain turn. Third they will be quick to play. We´ll try setting up specific goals – not a diverse range of tasks like conquering an opponent (especially if that opponent is an AI). Hopefully this way we can focus the game around a clearly defined topic to be able to compare different results and later on provide a way of how to do it “right” in order to achieve a result close to what´s possible. That then is the fourth aspect that is supposed to make this more than a GotM – a video of “how to do it”. We might not always be able to achieve the perfect solution to a task in every single setup, but I´m confident that we can provide an idea of how to tackle certain problems and what to do when you want to achieve something specific, like building as many units as possible in a certain time period or building up research as fast as possible or whatever else is required.

  1. Release of a save with an explanation of the situation and the “tasks” demanded.
  2. Two weeks time for anyone interested to play the save and send the “end save” to challenge@fastmoves.de
  3. Release of a video showing how to achieve the tasks or achieve them as good as it can be done (or hopefully as close to that as possible ;)).

Fastmoves Challenge #1: “Robinson Crusoe’s thirst for knowledge”

You are alone on an Island. Your goal is to make 100 or more science research per turn, while not having a negative income. At the same time you need to have built at least four cities and workers each. The Great Library is banned – it is not allowed to build it.

Save: Challenge #1: “Robinson Crusoe’s thirst for knowledge” (click to download)

map: small, low sea, tropical Equal_Islands
leader/civ: Elizabeth of Netherlands
goals: 100science per turn without negative income, at least 4 cities, at least 4 workers
rules: Great Library banned, no starving a city to get a “one turn result” which doesn´t represent the real situation, no “building” technology in cities
deadline: January 10th, 2010

I hope you enjoy this. Try it out, takes only about twenty minutes. If you have questions or remarks, send them together with your save to challenge@fastmoves.de. We´ll probably involve those in the video.

P.S. For clarification a screenshot. On top is the income, it’s “positive” at +56. Below is the reserach rate, it is at 100% generating a total of 1575 science.

Categories: challenge Tags: , ,

4 city Ancient buildup with Shaka

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Merry Christmas, whichever way you may spend it!

Today no article, just a little slideshow I pasted together some time ago showing a four city war buildp in an Ancient game with Shaka of Zulu. It´s probably more an “attempt in art” then something of strategic value

4 city war buildup in Ancient with Shaka

music: “Miserlou” from the “Pulp Fiction” Soundtrack

Categories: multiplayer Tags:

Ironman/ffa: maps, difficulty, settings – How to adapt

December 23, 2009 5 comments

Continuing the series on Ironman/ffa (see here for “Traits in ffa and Ironman”) this article is going to describe what impact different maps and other options like difficulty have on the game, how you need to adopt your game style to that and what influence that has on how good the different traits and civs are, with a special focus on choice of civ.

Ironman or ffa-diplomacy

First games have to be categorized into two groups: Ironmans and ffa-diplo games. both formats can be played on all kinds of maps, but the game format itself already has a lot of impact on the way the game will be played.

Ironman means that the game is played with always war option checked and no kind of communication about the game being allowed. This makes the game a lot more militaristic, because you cannot keep yourself safe by negotioating non-aggression pacts (nap), but have to keep a constantly updated defensive force at your borders. Especially Ironmans on open maps like Pangaea often become very aggressive. Still there is a lot of unspoken diplomacy in an Ironman, which I will describe at another point.
As an additional note happiness is a far bigger issue in Ironman than in ffa-diplo, because you cannot trade any resources and are stuck with what you get from the map generator.

ffa-diplo games are more communicative then Ironman games, so they are more peaceful in most cases. People can make non aggression pacts, trade resources and have trade routes. This favours peaceful buildup and makes waging war more difficult then in an Ironman. Additionally war weariness is a far bigger issue, because the decrease from always war option doesn´t take effect. Something important you should talk about before starting an diplo game, is weather you are ok with 2v1 and breaking diplomatic agreements. For example in the german ffa community battlefield.com (BF) both was very uncommon, though not strictly forbidden by the rules, (Btw. If someone is talking about BF-style game, he means this format), while in other communities it is more common. One way or the other making sure beforehand that everyone expects the same from the game, will spare everyone a lot of trouble afterwards.

Mapsettings

I cannot describe the possible effects of every map, but fortunately they can be categorized into three major groups:

very defensive maps:
Hub, Islands

semi defensive maps:
Ring, Wheel, Grid

open land maps:
Pangaea, Continents, Hemispheres, Fractal, Archipelago &co (basically all the usual “realistic” maps except Islands)

Very defensive maps

The most important characteristics of those are that land grabbing doesn´t play a role and war is virtually impossible till mid/late-game.
This downrates expansion traits, because one of the major reasons for picking those, is that they will let you grab more land then your opponents and thus enable you to convert your early advantage into a longterm advantage as well. But since the amount of land is basically fixed from the start of the game, this isn´t possible here.
Elizabeth (Philo/Fin) is probably the best choice for those settings, but all other Fin and Philo leaders are possible as well. Not picking any of those two traits ins´t recommendable.
Since these games will often develop into pure buildup contests, also your civchoice should be focused on such in a longterm perspective. Civs with UBs that provide happiness (Maya, Ottomans) are very useful and Netherlands is very useful as well, because the Dike will provide you with a lot of useful extra hammers in lategame.
UUs are unimportant, with the exception of Indian Workers for buildup and Eastindiaman and Berserks for boatings.
In general your strategy should be aiming on a longterm buildup race. Expand carefully and get your tech going fast.

Semi defensive maps

Those are very similar to defensive maps, but another factor is added into the equation: landgrabbing and early wars.
On Ring, Wheel and Grid you can fight land wars from the beginning of the game, so everyone has to take care of military from the very beginning. On the other hand attacking someone early rarely makes any sense (only if the map is very small in comparison to the number of players), so you are still focussing on buildup for the major part of the game.
Different is, that you have direct land connections to your opponents, so there is land to fight for. This makes picking expansion traits important, because otherwise your neighbours will settle faster and also can more easily afford building military in the beginning, so they can pressure you and cut themselves a good chunk of land. So better do so yourself.
This is more important on Ironman games, because with diplomacy you will often agree on a “settling-line” with your neighbours very early.
Depending on the mapsize Medieval wars become very attractive (Though on maps with more then 8-10 cities per player they rarely make sense). Especially conquering a weaker or unsuspecting player with a prepared cata-ele-mace stack and quickly slaved knights to rush into the breach can be a way to go.
Also attacking in lategame becomes more of an option, though mostly in Ironmans. When you are leading by a couple of techs on reaching Assembly line, you can attack with Infantry and Artillery covered by Machine Guns.
Games are still decided by space-race in most cases – basically all in ffa-diplo. In Ironman it happens that the leading player can conquer one player after the other and it is also safer for him to win that way.
Best leaders are those with one expansion trait and one buildup trait, like Pacal (Fin/Exp), Victoria(Fin/Imp), Peter(Phi/Exp), Civchoice is the same as on very defensive maps, though Netherlands isn´t as good, because there is less water, but Rome and Byzantine become a possible pick for midgame wars, though not very good, because announcing what you are going to do is never the smartest thing.

Open land maps

On open land maps there is the biggest difference between ffa-diplo and Ironman games. While with ffa-diplo they can, depending on the players, still be quite peaceful, in an Ironman you will be on the brink of open warfare from the very first to the very last turn. FFA-diplo games will be similar in many cases, at least under the surface.
War is possible at any point of the game, so you have to keep your eyes open and your power high all the time. The best way to prevent war is to be prepared for war.
Furthermore landgrabbing becomes a huge issue, because borders are in no way pre-designed by the mapskript and have to be fought about.
How tight things actually become is dependant on the mapsize. When players are hardly able to plant 6 cities each, several wars will certainly take place early. With about 10 cities each, landgrabbing is still a huge issue and expansion traits most important, but fighting wars isn´t useful early because others will take away the land you could have settled.
In general you should only start a war (except early rushing), when you have planted all the land you can get. Just planting cities is always cheaper then taking them from someone else.
On tight open land maps an expansion trait is basically a must pick, you may even prefer a second or Agg to Fin or Philo. Though when playing something like Hemispheres, where it is more likely to have some space and a continent with two or three player, economy traits become better again.
The choice of civ is changed more dramatically. On the one hand the “natural” mapscripts provide less happiness resource problems on average, while on the other hand picking civs for UUs becomes a lot more interesting.
You can pick for Anti-rushing UUs like Holkan and Skirmisher. You can pick for rushing UUs, like Immortals, Impis and War Chariots and you can pick for midgame UUs like Praets and Catraphacts. On an open land map you will probably be picking UUs over UBs.
Anyway this category has most variety. A Hemispheres map with 5 continents and 7 players, is more like Islands, while Pangaea is the worst aggro map you can get. Check the mapsettings carefully, also taking factors like sealevel into consideration before deciding on your picks. Furthermore you should get some experience how big the individual mapscripts are. For example a standard low sea pangaea with eight players is still very tight, while low sea, eight players on Hemispheres is a huge map with lots of space.

Further notes on mapsize

You will probably be playing 90% of your games on standard size, so this doesn´t matter much. However it should be mentioned that the mapsize in the options is having an impact on the rise of city maintenance costs in relation to the number of planted cities. So if you ever get to play a small map, you should consider it equals to slightly increasing the difficulty, so you should give Organized and early courthouses some more consideration.

Difficulty

Most MP games are played on noble difficulty. However in Ironman and ffa games players sometimes decide to use higher difficulty for a change. This has influence on several things, especially the value of certain traits, the way you have to expand and the use of waging war.
Higher difficulties rate down expansion traits heavily, because expanding fast will let your economy crash hard. Organized becomes a very useful trait, because city maintenance and civic upkeep costs are higher. In general the focus is changed to economy traits, and picking two of those becomes a far better option.
Additionally you have to adopt your game style in general. Focus on working cottages very early and think twice before planting another city. Same goes for war, because another 6 cities will have a bigger impact on your city maintenance in all cities and thus your science rate.
Concerning choice of civ higher difficulties make Holy Rome and Zulu interesting picks, because you can reduce your city maintenance costs by 70%/75% instead of just 50%. (read here about Ikhanda/Rathaus) This can have huge impact. Though Holy Rome has the better and more straightforward boost, Zulu is probably the better choice, because Holy Rome´s starting techs are very bad, while Zulu is having good ones. This also depends on weather you are building barracks anyway, because you are in an aggressive game or not.

Starting techs

When choosing your civ, also check the starting techs of each, besides UB and UU. This is an often underestimated factor that can cause quite some problems with early expansion. In Ironman and ffa you should go worker first in 95% of the games, so that worker needs to be able to do something. When you have starting techs mysticism and fishing they don´t help you at all. Now Imagine you have only an animal food resource and lots of forest. You need to research two techs (Agriculture/Hunting + Animal Husbandry) to be able to connect your food (resource and then another two (Mining + Bronze Working), till your worker can do something else.
Basically they can be rated like this:
1 Agriculture, Mining
2 Wheel
3 Hunting
4 Mysticism
5 Fishing
The first two will let your worker immediately do something useful, while enabling you to research tech Animal Husbandry and Bronze Working immediately as well.
With Wheel your workers at least always have something to do and it’s a pretech for Pottery.
Hunting at least enables you to research Animal Husbandry right away, though not being of much help itself.
Mysticism and Fishing are virtually useless, though the first at least is something you always need at some (early) point.

Picking a civ with only one starting tech of 1 and 2 is ok and leaves you with a very low risk of getting problems. Picking two bad starting techs is something you should avoid.

Good UB – Bad UB #7: Unique Buildings in civilization multiplayer

December 22, 2009 10 comments

There are no just good or just bad unique buildings

Even though the title suggests different, there are basically no just good or just bad unique buildings (and units). Every UB and UU has to be evaluated in the context of the game settings and overall strategy it´s supposed to be used in. A (fictional) unique unit archer that gets +100% against melee units is useless in an game played on Islands, where you have no (military) contact with your opponents until Astronomy is researched and archers are long obsolete. A unique building is good if it significantly supports a (playable) strategy.

Bad

Obelisk

Unique building for Egypt; Replaces Monument
+1 culture
+1 for Charismatic leaders
Can turn 2 citizens into priests

The Obelisk is a Monument that additionaly allows you to work up to two Prophet specialists in a city. First of all there is very little use for Prophets in Multiplayer outside of Ironman/ffa games. There there are a couple of uses for them like founding a Religion’s holy building in a Holy City or attaching them to a city for additional production and gold, especially early on. Getting wonders like Stonehenge, Oracle and especially Artemis Temple for those Prophets is kind of a possible strategy – or better named – an answer to certain situations the map generator sometimes throws you into in an Ironman like game. Probably more on this from Shizanu some time soon…  Unlike in certain setups in Single Player it´s not a good idea to spend a Great Prophet on bulbing for example Theocracy in Multiplayer.

The main aspect though isn´t even so much whether Prophets are useable in a good way or not, but the fact that in a long game that´s all about research, you want to get a scientist for an academy first and probably another couple of those to settle in your capital afterwards. What the Obelisk could do best is getting you a Prophet earlier then anyone else can – you don´t want a Prophet that early though and even if you did, you´d rather do it via Stonehenge/Artemis/Oracle + Temple.

So in a long term game you don´t want Prophets as early as a monument which the Obelisk´s ablity could do (especially you also don´t want to invest into getting that Prophet that early) – and even if you did, working one Prophet takes a Philosophical leader twelve turns to pop the Great Prophet, that´s pretty long, it´s 24 turns for a non-Philosophical already. Egypt is picked mostly for its Warchariots (read about those here) in ancient, classical and sometimes even medieval start games. There its task is getting as many warchariots as soon as possible, not spamming GPs which can´t even bulb important technologies. There is little synergy between strategies that involve warchariots and those that involve breeding specific GPs like Prophets which rather have a long term effect no matter what used for.

Two rather subtle aspects are the main positive uses for egypt´s Obelisk. If you get it in a random leader long-term game like an Ironman, you´ll be able to later on in the game when having a surplus of food work next to scientists and the one engineer from forge, also Prophet(s). Overall that gives you slightly more options and in the course of a 200 turns game diversifies your GP pool in so much that you get more different GPs for Golden Ages. The other aspect being a point race in an ancient or classical start, where egypt can – if it realizes in time – get a prophet or even two for Golden Age(s) or bulbing a technology, both in order to gain more points.

Good

Odeon

Unique building for the Greek; Replaces Colosseum
+3 culture
+2 ; +1 from Hit Singles; +1 per 20% culture rate
Can turn 2 citizens into artist

The Odeon is a Colosseum that provides you with an additional happiness (good in long term games just like the Hammam, the Ball Court and the Mausoleum) and also lets you work two artists at a point in the game where no other civilization can do that by any means. Only Greece can get an artist for a culture bomb (read about culture bombs here under “D.” ) in ancient, classical and early medieval at all. Due to the fact that this requires putting one city aside for a considerable amount of time and building the Colosseum into it before that (and having researched Construction for the Colosseum) this is not always a good thing to invest into – but it can well be. The longer the (ancient/classical) game, the higher the probability that the investment is worth it. Main reason why Greece isn´t a “high pick” on those eras is that the Odeon cannot be put to great use everytime since even an artist is not able to make you catch up if the game has been going bad the first half – and in that first half other civs shine more. Still an option and especially in random civ/leader games a fine thing to get if you know how to put it to use efficiently.


For Good UB – Bad UB part #1 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #2 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #3 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #4 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #5 click here
For Good UB – Bad UB part #6 click here

5v5 Ironman Teamer PPP vs. NBK & friends, 2nd half

December 20, 2009 3 comments

*UPDATE* (21st Dec 09)

Shortly after the game resumed, [PPP] updated their massive power lead consisting of Knights and Currasiers into Russian Cossacks and razed an overall of eight cities of [NBK] (for power lead see check graph seen in the beginning of the video). From there on the already existing technological advantage brought them both Mining and Sushi Inc., also grabbing the happiness wonders Hollywood, Rock’n’Roll and Broadway together with the Eiffel Tower, losing the less important Pentagon same turn. In the end [PPP]’s 79 cities gave them ranks 1,2 and 3 in production together with a technological lead, while the game wasn´t far away from Space Race getting started.

Here a video which starts at the beginning of the Cossack attack. In order to watch it in full mode, you need to go here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

As for the author, I was gifting money all game to keep my team mates at 100% research, myself not building any research enhancing buildings and staying at 100% money rate – if the game had continued I would have build libraries, observatories and universities within 3-4 turns into almost all cities and turned up my research, while jaegga would have kept on saving money. Till that point we had basically only three people teching, I saved and used about 20000 gold for various upgrades and building buys, not counting of course the per-turn gold I was gifiting. I actually had just started switching to technology, when they conceeded, meaning there was quite some potential for increasing our research rate further.

Here a screenshot of my gold city 😛 (click it to enlarge) – notice that Sushi isn´t spread in all our cities, yet.:

20th Dec 09

Tonight from around 19:00 CEST on the second half of the Ironman Teamer game between clans [PPP] and [NBK] will be played. A live stream of the game will be available from around 19:00 CEST on at:

fastmoves livestream channel

The game is going into its deciding phase now. [NBK] just lost a culture bombed city at the front of Moineau with HolyRome to a slow stack that didn´t move on, but retreated after the city kill.