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[freeciv-ai] Re: Document for newbie against the AI

[freeciv-ai] Re: Document for newbie against the AI

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To: Freeciv AI List <freeciv-ai@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [freeciv-ai] Re: Document for newbie against the AI
From: Jordi Negrevernis i Font <jorneg@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003 03:17:49 +0200

En/na Thomas Strub ha escrit:

I doubt that the "How_to_beat_the_AI.html" will give good players. And i
don't think it's enough to beat the upcoming hard AI's ..

It was a first version, you have a better version attached. So, more comments?

How to beat the ai computer players

0. Introduction

    This document is intended to teach the first time users of the game. It does not explain how to play with the game, it only talks about strategies and describes the best ways to win the ai players. Well, or not falling miserably in the first turns...

    Also, it is advisable to read the manual on the server.

0.1 How to set up the server?

    For a solitaire game to see how is the game and the interface, just open two terminals and type in one terminal 'civserver' or 'ser' if you're in the source directory, then in the other terminal type 'civclient' or 'civ' and connect to the server. Then on the server console type 'start'. This will set up the server with only one player (you) and barbarians.

    For a game with other players just type 'set aifill 5' before typing 'start' at the server console. This will set up a game with you and 4 ai players.

    There is another option which is the 'generator' option. This chooses the type of world and the start positions in it. There are 5 type of generators. But if you want an easy beginning, is better to choose the 2 o 3 generator options. This will place each player in an own island isolated from the other players. To do so,  just type 'set generator 2' before typing 'start' on the server.

1. Ai Levels

    There are 3 types of ai levels: easy, medium and hard. In Freeciv 1.15.0 there will be a novice level to weak the ai code even more.

2. Expansion

    One of the key things in a game is the amount of terrain a civilisation has. More land means more population, more resources and more trade. So the first thing to do is to build as many settlers as you can to found new cities. And use this new cities to build more settlers. You can use work lists to build a defender in every city and then begin building settlers.

    The best places to settle a city are near specials. The cities use the tiles around its location (2x2) and the centre of the square to produce food, shields and trade. So, the best places to settle new cities are where this specials fall inside the 2x2 square. Provably, the best for fast grow are Wales and Fish, which are in the ocean. So, place your cities side by side the ocean tiles, that way you can build a Harbour later, this will increase the food output in the future.

    Try to not leave gaps between the cities, and create the necessary cities to full fill all the terrain. Do it even though there aren't specials. You can later improve the terrain and, in the latest stages of technology, can transform the terrain.

    When building cities in the borders of your nation, or where you now there will be attacks, it's better to locate the city in terrains which has defense bonuses if you can do it. Don't locate a city in a hill if this implies losing a special tile. Also, you can send there defensive units of lastest technology to fortify the city.

    Do it until you are surrounded with enemy opponents. Then, you can bodyguard settlers with defensive units to steal terrain to your opponents just founding new cities in front of them. Or you can stop founding new cities near its territory and sending the settlers to other land not owned yet. You can send the settlers to land not owned by your enemies, you can send your settlers to explore new islands with triremes or caravels, or you can use the settlers to irrigate and improve your home land.

    When you finish your expansion because you can expand anymore, you must let your cities grow. To do it, do not keep your cities building settlers, make them produce military units and send them to the borders of your nation. You can use them to fortify your cities or to attack your neighbours. And use the settlers to improve the terrain. You can even build some caravans to establish trade routes or build some wonders which can be helpful.

3. Governments

   There are four types of government you can be interested in researching: Monarchy, Republic, Communism And Democracy. Monarchy and Communism are the most useful to have war with your enemies, and Republic and Democracy are the most convenient to have a peaceful relation with your neighbours.

    You begin the game in Despotism. You must research as soon as possible Monarchy or Republic, and switch to those types of government when you have them. To do it set the long term objective to Monarchy in the science report. There is a huge amount of corruption in Despotism, and the trade-tax-science of far cities from the capital is lost. So, surround you capital with cities at 2-3 tiles distance to maximise the science output.

    When under Monarchy or Communism each city support for free up to 3 units and military units doesn't cause unhappiness. That's why these are the most militaristic government types.

    And under Republic or Democracy each units needs one shield for upkeep. Each military unit outside a city causes unhappiness and cities can revolt, which means that cities cease to produce. So, managing wars with enemies is expensive and not productive. On the other hand, this regimes are the good ones for economies based on trade. There are trade bonuses unlike the previous ones. And also, with this types of government you can make your cities grow fast, because when cities celebrate the population of the city will grow at 1 citizen per turn. Mainly, the differences between Republic and Democracy are that with the former you suffer corruption and with Democracy no, and with the later your cities and units are unbribable and citizens are more easy to revolt when in war.

4. Terrain Improvement

    For a detailed explanation of the different terrain follow that link.

    Well, in fact, the terrain improvement must be done when you are still expanding and occupying new land. You want to communicate all the parts of your home land. You must be able to send military units to the border cities of your civilisation, in order to engage in war with your enemies. You, also, need communications to establish trade routes. To do this, you must make roads between cities. And roads give trade, so that way you will be able to increase your economy.
    Be aware that roading your land makes it easy for an attacking force to conquer your cities. So have some attack and defense units distributed all around.

    To make the cities grow you have to irrigate and road the plains. First the plains, that will give you food, production and trade (2/1/1). With that production you will be able to stop the AI attacks.

    Then irrigate and road the grassland and create mines in hills and mountains. Also make roads in hills and mountains. A defender or attack there will have bonuses, then, this is a good place to stop an invasion.

    Have in mind that if you place a worker of a city in a hill or mountain, that will slow down or stop the grow of the city. The AI does not have in mind this. This is why the production/wonder cities of AI players are little cities. It's always better to have a city of size 8 and production 15 than the same with size 3 and production 7.

    Also, if you build a harbour in a coastal city the default routine of the game will choose the ocean tile instead of the irrigated ones. So, you will lose the production of the irrigated tiles. So, rearrange yourself the workers.

    When you discover Railroad you can railroad all the country. Which is advisable. Try to connect all your cities with rails. And specially, railroad the mountains and hills because this gives production, and the rivers which gives trade.

    Ah, you can implement the concept of supply lines - the AI doesn't know how to do it. The supply lines are this roads/railroads that connect your production cities to the front lines. Normally, your production cities will be near hills and mountains, but not near the border lines of your civilisation. So, you must move your units to the front lines. Is not the same having a unit in the front line in 1 turn that in 10 turns! The AI doesn't now this, so its units will last to arrive to the front line. So, you can win this battle.

    Exploit the weakness of the AI. The AI doesn't know about strategic cities and connected cities. To attack a civilisation that occupies two peninsulas connected by a land pass you can conquerer the cities that connect all the empire. The AI doesn't understand that this cities are strategic to connect and protect the empire. Then concentrate all your forces to fortify this fallen cities and conquer first one half and then the other.

5. Trade

6. War

6.1 Defense

    The ai defaults to war when it has the first contact with an enemy unit. So, the ai player will begin to build attack units since the first time it declares war on you. But before building attack units the ai will build barracks on its cities, so making the units more powerful.

    Then, you must be able to neutralise this attacks. One of the things you can do, is placing your capital and border cities on hills or forests. That way you will benefit of the terrain bonuses and your defensive unit will survive to the ai attacks, and will become veteran.

    Also its important to place veteran defensive units in the border cities to make it difficult for the ai to win the attacks. So a way to stop the attacks of the ai is to build the veteran defensive units in the production cities inland of your country and to send them to your frontier cities. Its very useful to use the resources of your production cities to fortify your border cities.

    Remember to replace frequently your obsolete defending units. You can upgrade them, or disband them in a city to use its production units to build an advanced unit in the next turn.
    Its very important to have the lastest researched defensive units in your border cities. The AI has omniscience and sees what you have in our cities. So, if the AI player sees that you have defensive units that it can't win, it will not attack that city and will search for another, hopefully of another player, and will leave you alone and in peace.

    The best defensive units are Phalanx, Pikemen, Muskeeter, Riflemen and later Mech.Inf. Also Marines and Alpine Troops are a good ones.

    Another thing that you can do is to build city walls in your border cities and your capital. Also, you can build city walls and fortify your wonder cities.
    Also, its a good thing to build barracks in border cities. In case of an emergency is a lot better to build a veteran unit than a normal one.
    And later in the game, i'd better build city walls in coastal cities to stop sea attacks. And, when someone researches Ironclads, Destroyers or Cruisers, build coastal defenses to protect them from sea attacks.

    And good thing to do is sending attacking units to border cities to protect that cities and the inland ones. It's a way better to attack before being attacked.

    You can also build diplomats and send them to your border cities to protect them. I can also use them to bribe enemy units or incite revolts in enemy cities. Anyway, the easy ai will not build attack diplomats.

6.2 Attack

    To attack a city of another civilisation we have to use the latest technology units. And also this units must be veterans. That way your units are likely to survive and conquer the city.

    You can not conquer a city sending a unit alone to a city. This is useless. You must build an army with defensive and aggressive units, using the aggressive units to attack the cities and its defenders, and your defensive units to protect the attacking units, and later fortifying the occupied city. If you don't do this the ai will counter attack and liberate the city, and the AI will stole technology from you.

    Also, its good to know that the Horseman, Chariot, Knights, Dragoons, Cavalry and later Armor, are good to attack cities without city walls. This units are fast units and so are good to kill enemy units that invade your terrain. To attack cities with walls your need strong units like Archer, Catapult, Cannon, Artillery and later Howitzer.
    In fact, you can check which unit type is best to build in the work list Tab of the City Window. In the Info Column you have for each available item a short description of its properties (Attack, Defense, Moves). Just choose the best attack unit to build. If you have a unit with equal attack strength that another with more move points, just build the last.

    And of course, always attack the weakest civilisation with less technology. You can use diplomats to establish embassies in that civilisations to see if you can attack them, or just look at the its units you see in the map. Do not attack a city that you can't conquer with your technology, just send them some diplomats to incite revolt or sabotage that city.

    Also, exploit the AI weakness. The AI is vulnerable to coordinate mass attacks. When the AI sees that is being attacked, it will build defensive units instead of aggressive units. So, if you send and army of 10 Howitzer is really easy to conquer AI cities. A very useful strategy is to attack with Howitzers only once, and return to your conquered city to recover hit points. You will be able to do it if the distance between the cities is small and there is a road or railroad path that communicates them.

    Always try to conquer a city in 1 turn. The AI can attack in the next turn and kill all your units.Use Naval and Air units before attacking with ground units.

    Another trick, is that the units of the AI player does not look at a distance of a turn. If there are knights or alpine troops in a city, they will not attack an armor 2 tiles away. So, if you want to attack a city place your fast units 2 tiles away and the AI will attack you!! This also works for the diplomats.

6.3 Barbarians

    Barbarians can be turned off ( 'set barbarians 0' on the server console).

    If you leave huge masses of unexplored land or unsettled land, barbarians will appear. It appear in form of armies on ground tiles or in the sea - the sea raiders!!! -.

    They are an AI controlled player. But it's an special player. It only build aggressive units and send them to attack your cities without bodyguards. So, to liberate your fallen cities just build an army of fast attackers - Knights or Dragoons - and attack the cities. They almost never build defensive units, so its easy to reconquer a barbarian city.

6.4 War under different governments

    There are differences in the level of  unhappiness that the military units cause under different types of government.
    The best government to have a war is Communism. Under Communism and Monarchy, military units outside a city does not cause unhappiness. And you have limited martial law. Military units in a city reduce unhappiness. Up to 3 units can be used to make citizens content and not-revolting. So, you don't have to build Coliseums or Cathedrals to keep the people content.
    Under a Republic or Democracy, each military units outside a city causes unhappiness. You will have to increase the luxury rate of your empire - which cost you money or science - or you will have to build improvements to your cities.

   Another thing to have in mine, is that the military units are not free. They cost shields to build and mantain. You must use 1 production point - 1 shield - to upkeep that unit each turn. So, the units already produced by your civilisation reduce the capacity to generate new ones or to build new improvements.
    Under Monarchy or Communism you can upkeep 3 military units for free. This is very useful. That way you can use the defensive military units to impose martial law and defense the city. And you can produce military units in your production cities, send them to the destination city, and make it its new home city. That way you don't penalise your production.
    Under a Republic or Democracy you have to support the upkeep of each military unit. So, only produce the necessary units when you want a defender for a know threat, most attacks aren't surprising.

7. Diplomats & Spies


8. Technology

    In the long term, you must be the first civilisation in the world in research. But it's only necessary to have the right techs. The technology you don't research can be told by occupying enemy cities or stolen by diplomats.
    Technology is the most important variable in the game. If you're the first civilisation with regard production but you are the last in technology you will end up killed. A huge army of warrior can't do anything against a veteran cavalry.

    If you see that you're in tech lead, and need money for buying City Walls or Coastal Defenses or other improvements, stop research and generate money, but don't do it for a long period of time.

    The strategy in choosing the long term objectives for developing technology differ whether you are alone in an island or in a continent surrounded with enemies.

    When you're alone in an island you can research first attack technologies and them defensive technologies. You must research technologies to build naval units (Automobile, Combustion, Steel, Magnetism, Navigation, Map Making) and naval defenses (Metallurgy). Also, you must develop the technologies for ground units.  The most successful strategy in this scenario is going for Republic, Map Making, Horseback, Magnetism or Steam Engine.

    If you are in a continent with enemies, i'd better research defense and attack ground technologies. First the defensive ones.
If you are in the beginning of a game is recommended to research first 'Horsemen' And 'Bronze Working' to be able to build Horsemans and Phalanxs to resist the ai attacks. Then research Monarchy. Later on you must research 'Iron Working' and 'The Well'. And then, go for the rest of ground technologies.

9. Wonders

10. Happiness

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