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[Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions

[Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions

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To: mike_jing@xxxxxxxxx
Cc: freeciv-dev@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [Freeciv-Dev] Re: comments on ics solutions
From: Marco Colombo <marco@xxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 16:41:27 +0100 (CET)

On Wed, 28 Feb 2001, Mike Jing wrote:

> Marco Colombo <marco@xxxxxx> wrote:
> [snip]
> >First, while I share Mike's (and others') adversion against ICS, I must say 
> >I don't enjoy playing with Mike's proposed rules. Well, Mike, you showed us 
> >a way of building a big empire with only a dozen cities, but could you 
> >please show us another one? I mean a different strategy which can be 
> >winning with your rules. Other than building your 12 cities and growing 
> >them up, with almost no need of early exploring. Do you ever build a 
> >Trireme? Or any Feudal Age military unit? I admit it's a good thing to see 
> >some Nukes sometimes, but with your rules you almost make the early part of 
> >the game just a race for vertical expansion.
> Of course I build Triremes!  Early exploration is extremely important no 
> matter what.  The number of cities are limited, but you still have to find 
> the best city sites and scout out your enemies to better defend yourself or 
> forge alliances if you are so inclined.
> As for another strategy to win, how about this: I was in a game with K and a 
> few other players.  He built Marco Polo's Embassy, exchanged a couple of 
> techs for the world map from another player, found out where my capital was, 
> built the lighthouse and sent an army of chariots to take my capital.  I was 
> concentrating on city development and my defense was thin, and he took me 
> totally by surprise.  It's not hard to imagine how that game turned out.

I see. But I won't call it a "strategy". Had he failed its attack, he
(or she) was doomed to lose the game, since the effort I imagine was too
big to recover from.

> Another example: I started a game right beside another player, so I quickly 
> researched horseback riding and destroyed him, because otherwise I will not 
> have enough room to build my cities.  This is somewhat extreme, but there 
> certaily will always be fights for territory.  So you have to balance a lot 
> of factors; there are a lot of decisions to make.

I guess it was not generator=2. And what about of a third player? If
you're playing 1 vs 1, I agree there's plenty of room for an interesting
game. But how can you afford such early military campaigns knowing that
there's another player silently building up a empire a few islands away?
Was it so easy to completely destroy another player? I mean a good one.
With *horsemen*? Horsemen vs. phalanx is possible, I guess, but I'd
expect it to take a while and some effort. And while you are building
horsemen, your enemy building phalanxes, the other players are building
their own empire. Early war is a bad choice with your settings.

> But you are right, vertical expansion _is_ the name of the game, because I 
> think that's the way it should be, given the city model in the game.  But 
> there are certainly a lot of variations around that central theme.  And as K 
> shows me again and again, there are always more than one way to win.

Suppose a 4 players game, generator=2, your rules. Excluding surprise
attacks (deadly for either the attacker or the defandant, or *both*),
I believe vertical expansion is the only way, till you reach Mass
Production or the like.  That said, every game has a story to tell.
There are many ways to achieve vertical expansion. Don't get me wrong,
I'm 100% with you, a game with your rules is better than a normal game.
I'm just looking for another way to reach the same goal. You based your
solution heavily (mostly) on happines. In a normal game, with smallpox,
happiness plays no role. It's good to make players consider it.
I'd say the same about corruption (default settings are too loose
for small maps).

It's true that playability it's more important than realism, but 
sometimes we can learn from real life. I believe in RL small cities
have very little commercial activity (this is even more true at lower
technology levels). In the game, trade improvements should take this
into account, but they fail to do that in an effective way. A 7 sized
city may have 10-15 trade, but it's still more effecitve to produce 2
settlers and build 2 other cities than to produce a Marketplace and
a Library. Even ignoring the initial production cost (160 vs 80),
they have an upkeep. With the 70% science - 30% taxes usual rates,
11 trades end up in (8 science + 3 gold). With Marketplace and Library
it's 12 science and 3 gold (upkeep counted). Just a +4 of science.
I can be more if the base trade production is higher. But I don't
percieve it as a big winning move to build them, as it should be.
(Their effect will be increased later, of course). 
Since I believe that increasing trade production in some ways may lead
to weird effects later (with bigger cities), the easiest thing to
do to is to reduce trade production on smaller cities. The way I chose
it's just the easiest.

You can also set trade <= 1 in absence of a marketplace.
Once you force smallpoxers to build a marketplace to have an
acceptable trade production, you also induce them to grow thier
cities further, since having 20 4-sized cities with 20 marketplaces
will be a bad idea compared to having 7 cities of size 12 with 7

Another idea is to count how many squares a city shares with another
one, an set one citizen unhappy every 7 square (draw a little map
with 5 cities placed the smallpox way to see how high the impact would
be). In RL, two villages placed too close will spend a lot of time 
discussing on where borders are placed. Implementing this is beyond me.
Yet another idea is to put a -1/-1/-1 penalty on a shared square, mainly
for the same reason.  All this will force people in better placing
their cities. But it's not the same as min_dist_bw_cities, which 
can be annoying sometimes if set to 3 or 4.  With correctly spaced cities,
smallpox is possible, but for sure not as effective as with current
rules.  Combine a few of the above (trade) ideas, and you'll make
smallpox just another strategy, not the Winning One.

Most of all, non smallpox players won't even notice the difference.
I already place cities in order minimize shared squares. You already
grow cities over 4. And I believe building a marketplace is high
on your priority list for city improvements. If you play the usual
way, none of the proposed modifications is visible to you.  And you
don't have to play math games in order to compute the maximum number
of cities you can build.  Given the same initial conditions, building
24 15-sized cities or 12 30-sized ones it's just a matter of choice,
no one is a clear winner.  With your nopox settings, you almost rule
out the first option, but "24 15-sized cities" has nothing to do
with smallpox.

> >I'd relax a bit yuor happiness rules, and make corruption different.
> >Something like:
> >
> >--- server/citytools.c.original Wed Feb 21 13:38:01 2001
> >+++ server/citytools.c  Wed Feb 28 13:51:26 2001
> >@@ -559,7 +559,7 @@
> >val /= 2;
> >val *= g->corruption_level;
> >val /= 100;
> >-  if (val >= trade && val)
> >+  if ((val >= trade && val) || pcity->size < 4)
> >val = trade - 1;
> >return(val); /* how did y'all let me forget this one? -- Syela */
> >}
> >
> >(not a real patch, it's just to show the idea).
> >
> >You can't have a city smaller than 4 produce more than 1 trade.
> >This will make a large empire with small cities possible, but only for a 
> >limited time. What makes ICS winning is that it gives also a trade 
> >advantage. 40 1,2-sized cities produce more trade than 10 of size 4.
> That's certainly true.  And maybe you would want to do the same for 
> production?

I'm less inclined to touch it because that's what allows you to build
city improvements. If you make more difficult to build initial
improvements, I suspect you'll favour smallpox. I admin it's a delicate
matter of balance, harder to judge without playing a bit. As a wild
guess, I wouldn't touch production on small cities. Maybe you can
re-introduce your patch that elimitates the free worker. But I believe
trade and happines is the way to go.

> >ICS should be possible, but not so winning as it is now. You need to grow 
> >some of your cities over 4 otherwise reasearch will almost stop.
> You do realize that this would make early science advance very slow, because 
> it takes quite some time to grow your cities to size 4.  And again, the 
> effect is too abrupt.

Well, I only say: try it. I've discovered that early advances are just
a bit slower. Smallpoxers are actually forced to grow some cities,
but they have a easy way to do that. There are plenty of settlers available,
so they only have to move 3 of them, combined with 3 mil units to a city,
to grow it up to 6 without need for happiness management. Carefully 
chosing some cities on sea, maybe just building an harbour, you have
very good trade cities. So in the end my patch alone it's hardly 
noticable. But it brings a bit more balance in the game.

BTW, I managed to introduce a bug in it: if you really want to
spent a few time with it, write it as:

  if ((val >= trade && val) || (trade && pcity->size < 4))

of course this is just for testing purpose.

> >(this may be combined with a happines penalty, of course. I think your 
> >rules are just too tight)
> Well, maybe.  If you could come up with a workable patch, I might be able to 
> loosen it up a little bit.  As things stand, it just won't be effect enough 
> against ICS if it is not tight.

Well I'm just taking confidence with the game internals (not with source
code enough to modify it). A real patch would make it a ruleset param
(and place it elsewhere).

Ok, sorry this is so long. But I hope you'll like. Next time I'll try and
write many small messages, one on two lines each. B-)

      ____/  ____/   /
     /      /       /                   Marco Colombo
    ___/  ___  /   /                  Technical Manager
   /          /   /                      ESI s.r.l.
 _____/ _____/  _/                     Colombo@xxxxxx

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