Old World (pka Ten Crowns) from Soren Johnson

Hence me asking about the source code!

In this game, not. This and Gladius turned me around on 1UPT.

More specifically, my understanding is they designed systems but without taking the AI into account, whereas here in OW the systems appear to have been modified specifically for the AI, map generation being a specific example.

Fair enough.

On the map gen front I don’t remember seeing that but I also don’t really read games press any more. I can tell you that my experience with the game is that choke points definitely exist (mountain ranges are very consequential, which I love) and the AI isn’t great at attacking into them … but it’s really hard to attack into a choke point in this ruleset and the AI at least can make a credible attempt (it doesn’t do the idiotic Civ shuffle) and seems to try to go around if such an option exists.

Two large reasons why Old World is better than Civ at handling 1UPT are the orders system and the scale of the game.

The inherent problem with 1UPT is the “carpet of doom” where there are so many units and everything becomes so clogged up that no progress can be made and turns take forever.
Civ’s attempt to fix this problem is by making units much much more expensive (after the very early game). And to prevent this being overwhelmed, production levels can’t ramp up as fast. This has its own (imo negative) effects on how other gameplay systems work compared to earlier entries in the series.

Old World has the orders system which severely limits the utility of any units beyond the number you can command with the orders you produce. (This is probably why units do no retaliatory damage when defending.)
The scale of the game is also very different when compared to Civ. There is vastly more distance between cities, allowing manoeuvring room for a reasonable number of units, and the units move much faster. That means the AI can generally choose the ideal hex for each of its units to bring all their weapons to bear.

Lastly, the shorter time period means early units are not so hopelessly outclassed by later units. This provides more strategic choice on how and when to strengthen your military and means that when a player loses a war it’s likely to be for strategic reasons (failure to build enough units / have them in the correct general area) rather than tactical ones (difficulty manoeuvring / being temporarily slightly behind in tech).

Well said, agreed on all points. Hadn’t thought of the distance-between-cities aspect, but as soon as I read that it’s obvious on its face.

To expand on the tightness of the timeframe, one of the biggest things that works in OW’s favor IMO is how scaling over time stays really flat. Yes, later units are better. Yes, bigger cities produce more. But on like a 3x scale at the outside, off the top of my head? You just don’t have these breakpoints where “whoops, they got Muskets first, guess I’m boned” because their army just flatly outclasses yours (or vice versa, which certainly can be amusing in a comp-stompy sort of way).

Though, tbh, I think production scaling is a much bigger culprit than unit effectiveness. All Civ games have suffered from this – hell, Stellar Empires suffered from this – but the absolute worst offender of all time has to be Master of Orion 2. A developed colony in the midgame could output what, 20x? 100x? Some absurd multiple, anyway, of an underdeveloped or new colony. Which meant that the optimal strategy was always, always, always to boom econ unless you had an exceptionally cheap war of conquest to fight (likely because of a tech advantage, likely because you out-boomed the laughably bad AI).

Anyway. All this is to say that Old World is great and I love it so.

Is this global orders/AP system the first time it’s been successfully executed? Hi moo3.

Soren & Team actually spent the time figuring out what would make 1UPT work instead of just slapping it in to an existing framework like Firaxis did with Civ 5 and 6. Going from stacks to 1UPT is a fundamental and dramatic change that is going to require that the scale of everything be reworked but they didn’t do any of it, they just hacked around the edges by making a combat unit cost almost as much to build as a Wonder. It was bad enough in Civ5 but after they just ported the system over which next to no changes for Civ6… well, that’s when I washed my hands of the franchise. I shouldn’t be thinking of these issues more than their game designers are.

Old World has absolutely shown that 1UPT can work in a Civ-like game. Props to them for not only designing holistically around it but spending the effort on the AI to make sure it can play the game as designed. That’s a major problem I have with 9 out of 10 strategy games out there.

I think it is equally due to the high level of individual unit movement points and significantly less ZOC-lock than other titles. That is, while orders do limit the number of units one can move, each unit can be moved multiple times and each move frequently results in multiple tile moves, on top of that forced march can push units even further.

The effect is an initially surprising degree of movement and fluidity for an (initially) small number of units. In the early and midgame, due to fewer units, map openness, the degree of movement freedom, and the sheer number of moves one gets to take in IGYG fashion, while their opponents units sit frozen, unable to reaction; it is almost impossible to create fronts and solid lines of engagement.

Units quickly rush across empires (especially along controlled coasts), and dance ‘through’ and around enemy positions.

Further thought: the attacker advantage works in concert with the above to make early and mid games warfare feel like COPA-style futbol in comparison to the more static UEFA-style football of previous titles.

I love how it thematically works, too.

Sure, you can move a legion across the empire in a year. If you have the logistics and C3 to do it. Makes so much more sense than “nope, these dudes can only move from Chicago to New York in this hundred-year span.”

Yeah. The orders system and how it ties into movement like that is just sublime. I love it, it’s such a neat design that is integrated so well into the game.

My personal opinion is that larger, more spaced out maps are a key reason OW works with 1UPT, and Civ5/6 don’t. The Civ maps are cramped, and with slow unit movement it means you’re constantly trying to funnel your armies into the available paths. For the AI this means the pathfinder becomes unreliable - any small change due to a hostile unit or anything else means many paths become impossible. Pathfinding is a very hard problem, and the Civ AI is mostly brought down by attempting to deal with the traffic jams. If you try Civ6 on a more spacious map without chokepoints, you can definitely see the AI perform better at war.

Old World just circumvents the issue by having larger maps and faster movement. A unit suddenly appearing in your path won’t entirely mess up your ability to get where you want, you can just go around the unit. Certainly within your own lands you can move freely, without having to carefully plan just because there’s a mountain in your territory.

I’m actually not that impressed with the AI. I mean, it works. But it’s not pretty. :(

It’s also shown that the AI will still fall apart at a certain point. I’ve gone from being really happy with the AI in Old World to a growing sense of dismay as I play into late games with most of the map unfogged by agents. To Mohawk’s credit, they’re showing you everything. Which is how I know the AI struggles with how to use its units and where to move them. And, as I said, it’s not pretty.

There’s a ton of suboptimal moves going on. Units marching back and forth for no reason, units loitering unused near the front, while orders are squandered bringing units from farther away. Missed opportunities for taking advantage of terrain, and abilities, and so forth. Also, it seems like the AI flat-out doesn’t know how to use ranged siege units. I don’t know if it’s the unlimbering or the extreme range, but I’ve see swarms of onagers and mangonels go to waste when they would have decisively ended a war. Conversely, I’ve seen the AI march lone onagers directly up to cities to pillage resources. And don’t even get me started on how it has no idea what to do against heavily defended chokepoints.

Hopefully these are issues Mohawk is working on, because right now what makes the AI competitive is its considerable resource advantage, which lets it produce a ton of units that it can’t use very well. In terms of the big picture, as long as it has more units than you, it can wear you down. But down in the weeds, at the level of individual units on individual hexes, it’s basically Civ V with more transparency, and – more importantly – with more thought given to how the design and the AI interact (as you guys are discussing upthread).

I mean, it’s far better than Civ V, but it still seems like a deeply flawed AI that can’t leverage its military advantages very well.

-Tom

I don’t think there are many easy improvements to be made to the AI - it has to be able to handle a very wide variety of situations well enough, which sometimes comes at the cost of specific situations being handled worse - but it is hugely useful if you post saves where you run across specific identifiable dumb AI actions, such as moving an Onager right up to a city, or placing infantry in exposed terrain right next to forested terrain.

(Basically, we can look at things from the AI perspective and figure out why it takes a certain action, but that depends on having saves where’s there’s a good action to look at)

One thing you mention I want to point out is that units marching back and forth may well have a reason. Since the AI doesn’t cheat with visibility, shifting units in border areas is useful to reveal if anyone is approaching.

Oh, I get that the AI is working with some of the same limitations as a human player. I’ve spent enough years watching AIs in strategy games to know that there are a lot of unknowns at work, so I shouldn’t make too many assumptions about what I’m seeing. For instance, I know the AI will harvest resources regularly, so I’ve seen it running loops between resource nodes. It looks pointless, but it’s not once you realize that it’s getting a benefit from what it’s doing. I’ve also seen it do things that look nonsensical until you realize that it’s probably dealing with fog of war that you can’t see.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the AI’s inability to win encounters that a human player would easily win. That, to me, is a fundamental failure of the AI. When I get home later today, I’ll dig up a saved game of the onager situation I was talking about and post it here.

-Tom

I’ve also seen the AI position hillfighters in the hills, rangers in the forest and maximize other bonuses to annihilate troops. That’s a lot more than a lot of strategy games. It’s happened too often and too thoroughly to be random I would think, but it’s far from perfect. Of course, there’s plenty of times I’m not taking advantage of terrain bonuses either (due to other circumstances, not out of laziness) so who am I to judge? ;)

Are resource bonuses spelled out anywhere? I checked the manual and didn’t see it there, and unfortunately I don’t my PC in front of me. I don’t recall seeing bonuses listed on the difficulty tooltips, but I do know they crank out an ocean of units.

There are no resource bonuses for the AI. It’s all the starting development - the AI has several cities to begin with, some improvements, and of course a bunch of units, so their army is bigger than yours for a while. But there is no discount for anything, the AI is building units at full cost.

Thanks, Solver. I recall you saying that previously, so I wanted to double check. I know about the Development setting giving them starting cities but thought I might have misremembered your prior posts and there was a resource bonus too, as is typically the case in the genre. I do know that when I’ve had agents watching the cities they didn’t seem to be building them any faster than I could, but damn can they really carpet the map with them.

I wonder if I still have a 2v2 save a friend and I were playing (I take it you guys fixed the MP issues by the way, haven’t had problems finding his game the past few times!). I had a wall of swordsmen and Mangonels keeping a tsunami of enemy units at bay as I moved towards a point victory. Those Mangonels are why I might not play Egypt so much anymore. While I love the Landowner family, that game really made me value Artisans and their bonuses to siege even more…

That gave me an idea. @Solver: could we have some sort of overlay (on a held button perhaps) to indicate where the current unit gets defensive / offensive bonuses? The existing one to point out good structures to idle on is really helpful.

I’ve noticed that since I’m playing Rome as conqueror instead of my normal builders as Egypt, or Babylon, my opinion of the tactical AI has decreased also. I’ve seen more shuffling of units than I think makes sense. Some of it’s clearly good, pull those almost dead units out of the line and go heal. But some of its seemly pointless sail an Axe unit from north city to south city, followed by sail a different axe unit from south city to north city. Now while I suppose, they are positioning them in different hexes. It is not clear that a 25% max bonus they get is worth the 4 orders or so they are using. Especially when they have a large number of unused army units near the battle.

I have yet to be attacked by a siege unit also.

The AI still provides a challenging game. In fact, I’d recommend those looking to play at higher levels make a couple of changes to the default conditions. (Map setting/Advanced settings)
First, turn center bias off. This means instead of starting in the center, the player will start on the edge. This enables you to grab 2-4 cities from empty city sites and barbarians, without having to attack a minor or major countries.
The second change is to turn play to win ON. This gives increasingly negative foreign relation malus, (I saw a -180 one game) . This basically means you’ll be fighting a 2 or 3 front war as you get close to victory.

I like having a steadily increasing difficulty.YMMV.

The AI gets a head start with multiple cities. The AI in Old World is kind of like the AI in a racing game where you start in last place and you have a certain number of laps to get up to first place. I think even at the default difficulty, the AI starts with two developed cities. As you push the difficulty level, it starts with even more of them.

-Tom

There honestly aren’t that many. Basically, woods and urban give you a defensive bonus from ranged, and urban gives you a defensive bonus from melee. Otherwise, melee attacks across rivers take a 50% hit. Other than that, it’s just a matter of Improvements and city centers. Am I missing anything?

-Tom