Beating the Chick Parabola

I don’t try to beat it, I enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Regarding the backlog:

First of all, if you have kids, they can play your library of games, and they have a lot more time. So you can play vicariously through them!

Second, in retrospect, like all media, most games are average or below-average. It takes a while to realize which ones are truly great. So you’ll hopefully just sample from the best and let the rest just sit there.


Yeah. I just aim to enjoy the game. Manipulating the AI isn’t really a part of that.

I think maybe we’ve lost sight of what the Chick parabola is. It’s not about manipulating the AI – it’s the AI being inadequate at playing the game and putting up a challenge.

Obviously there are degrees here. Sometimes even the most basic AI is missing, and that’s obvious right away – At The Gates is an example. Sometimes it only becomes obvious after you’ve played for a little while, like in Civ games. And sometimes it only becomes clear when you get really good at the game, a good example being Chaos Reborn’s AI, which is surprisingly good.

Personally, as I stated, I’m not going to spend my time learning intricate mechanics only to find that the AI is unable to function and the game isn’t available or feasible online. That frustration would have been much better prevented ahead of time, at least in my case.

Well there’s always been disagreement here right? The AI needs some help, so we get stacks of doom and people complain about cheating. The AI doesn’t actually need a unit to find your most unguarded part of a wall or a city and just beelines for it and that’s cheating. Then you see the AI in some games clearly just not able to play the game itself, like it’s glaring. It’s not that I don’t notice these things. They just have to be glaring for me to stop and think man this AI is doing something weird or in adequate. But I do not expect nor demand any AI pretend like it’s a human playing.

The thing that strategy has though are all these different types of games. If the AI is just the world, it’s still AI but it’s not even close to the same footing you are on so then it’s more about difficulty then anything else. And that difficulty, hopefully, is adjustable. If it’s something like Civ, well it’s another faction so the expectation changes that they’re close to having started off just like you so I think the expectation is more of an equal footing, just for them to play well. And then you have something like CK and EU from Paradox… yes there are other factions/kingdoms and stuff but the expectation off the bat is a country France is going to kick ass for awhile if not the entire game, whether the AI or a human plays it because they have such an advantage from the get go.

I feel like the kind of discontent talked about here aimed more at the Civ, AOW type fair where the starting point is often the same and excluding the campaigns which are usually funneled or driven in ways that the AI still isn’t playing “the game.”

Oh board games. Any board games that has an AI that can’t play the game is usually pointed out pretty quickly. They’re usually of the Civ type variety though by nature, as in everyone has an equal like starting point.

It’s not even necessarily about the AI, is it? It’s just as much about games where learning the mechanics is more enjoyable than having mastered them.

Yes that’s a good example of the different degrees. Stacks of doom was never a real problem other than the AI getting some assistance, and I’m personally fine with that if that’s what it takes to create the illusion of a great player. The new Civs’ AI is completely unable to handle 1UPT. (though it seems like there’s a mod that does it well in Civ 5).

I don’t think it’s necessary to create AI that can handle system that don’t have to do with me. For example, if they’re abstracting away production because it’s too hard to make it work in enemy cities, I’m fine with that. But I was watching a Civ 1 play (which surprisingly still holds up really, really well) and the AI couldn’t understand there was this thing called a Mediterranean Sea in the way and kept throwing its units at the coast, trying to get at the player’s cities. When the AI fails in a way that directly relates to you as a player, that’s when the illusion breaks down.

Things are best when the game mechanics and the AI are designed hand in hand. Of course a human player will be more interesting to play against than an AI in Civ. But if you design the game to begin with so the AI does what it does best (follows rules) and those rules are predictable, you’ve maximized the synergy of gameplay and AI. Alternatively, if you make it so your game is easily playable by people because it only requires short bursts of input (Chaos Reborn, Antihero, Dominions), you’ve bypassed the need for an amazing AI.

Going along with your argument, this is where these games fail for me… specifically EU. Yes, France is strong. But it couldn’t blob the world. Because they’ve called this a historical simulation, I know that there were factors that prevented France from taking over the world. But those factors aren’t present to sufficient degree in the simulation, so instead, it’s up to the hapless AIs to try and stop the player. And that just doesn’t feel at all like something that lives up to its name or is very interesting. In CK this isn’t as bad, because the focus isn’t there. Yes, the strategic AIs are mostly feeble, but I could be poisoned by a wife or nephew, and that’s where the focus is. So even though there is symmetric AI in general, it’s really asymmetric by focus (“don’t look at how crap my AI is – it doesn’t even matter!”).

@tomchick has addressed this. It was originally about the AI (I made sure to go back to the original podcast), but Tom doesn’t mind if we expand the concept.

BTW for those interested, Pandora Gold Edition, which was mentioned above, happens to be on sale right now at GOG.

And this is why I am not a fan of Civ VI. I don’t think it can play the game well, AND i can see it. Like when, I think it was Victoria, declared war on me with absolutely no way, at all, to actually land on my continent. She had no ships, none. It was like a hundred years of shouting across the ocean, and why was that, my military strength was lower than hers, so A-B = attack… which a stack of doom probably could have done since she only would’ve need to get one ship over there somewhere to that one spot the old AI would know about but in the new one… just nothing, no worse than nothing. I got ahead of her because I was not so war based and I could handle the war weariness, and she started falling apart.

Aah, I have soft spot for Civ 1. Probably one of my earliest games ever, right up there with Serf City and XCom.

Well that and the game isn’t designed for one entity to actually take over the map. It would be foolish to even try. I mean I’ve seen people try and then of course it starts to fall apart. They just designed for a different way of playing but those games, no one really has an equal footing to start with and… they don’t need to. Working your way up can actually be an internal goal even.

I love how many of the achievements are ‘heres a stupid pun/ pop culture reference, go have fun’ or ‘so you think you’re hot shit? Make France, Ottomans, and Austria so inferior you Guarantee Independence for all three’.

So many possibilities. Playing Machiavelli’s Nightmare is very different than going for Switzerlake, even if they nominally are the same region.

They’re fun game, but hard to get into if you don’t have that… goal thing worked out. When someone asks what do I do, it’s like, well that depends… are you trying to become a king, are you trying to keep an empire together, how close are you to the mongol invasion area, preparing for that all, maybe you just don’t want to piss off France for a bit. Paradox can definitely provide some unique experiences but the interface are… interesting, and yeah it’s not a win condition in the traditional sense. EU feels way easier at least though compared to CK2. And I don’t know if they were the first with CB, but like seeing that in other games… if the AI can use it well that is.

So how is the fully-patched-and-allegedly-fully-operational version? Reviews of the release version were exceedingly poor (like 60-something percent) so I’m leery of buying even on sale. But I am intrigued since Alpha Centauri is an all-time favorite.


Pandora is significantly improved by the post-release patches. And the ai is probably the best I’ve faced in a 4X.

I’m just surprised that James Cameron/Disney would license that property out to Slitherine.

I don’t understand the title of this thread. Mastering/understanding the game mechanics is the game. That is my take on TCP. Hadn’t thought in terms of beating TCP.

This dude abides by TCP.


The Chick Parabola kicks in when you’re skilled enough to know that the AI doesn’t understand the game. The thread title is about games that avoid this effect, not players.

Got it

Deity Empires fits this definition.