The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

Part 5: Mechanics: Fundamental city placement approaches

Omobono posted:

I never played Civ 2, but Alpha Centuri is one of my favourite games and dammit it's basically just a skin to civ2 isn't it? (ok no it isn't, but you get what I mean)

Why is the AI in 5 more or less as much ineffectually sociopathic as the one in 2? Especially after 4, where it may still not be effective but at least it isn't a sociopath (obvious Montezumas exceptions aside), it's especially jarring.

Brundisium for 58/28.

I haven't actually played Alpha Centauri, but I've heard it's very similar to Civ 2 and really good.

The AI actually isn't sociopathic in this game. It is in the Multiplayer Gold Edition normally but not in the default Civ 2. You'll note for example that the Persians and I are on pretty good terms despite me bullying them. We've happily traded techs twice, made a lasting peace which they passed up several opportunities to break, and they've put up with me forcing their Horsemen to commit suicide by barbarian, encroaching on their territory, and frequently demanding money. You can easily have peace or alliances that last thousands of years- or all game- but only if you don't play well.

The reason I keep saying their betrayal is inevitable and so on is that the AI will all band together against you when you pull way ahead into a distant first place.

Of course, when an enemy civ decides they don't like you, THEN they become completely treacherous warmongers. Forever.

Kajeesus posted:

Aw, phooey, we don't even get to meet the Vikings? Name 66/44 Nidaros in their honor.

Well we may get to meet their more or less interchangeable replacements. Possibly. If a human destroys an AI civ before 1500, they get replaced somewhere in order to prevent you from winning. If the AI destroys an AI civ before 1500, that might or might not actually happen.

Junior G-man posted:

Does the size of your almost-island mean that we'll get naval combat and things? It was one of my favourite things, although I used to just pointlessly build aircraft carriers and fill them just to horse around ...

Almost certainly. It's a rare game that doesn't involve any naval combat. However, efficient naval combat is actually a bit dull. It consists mainly of building the Magellan's Expedition wonder and then just crushing your enemies with whatever the best pure combat ship available is. Subs, Carriers, and other special boats are basically never worth using and there's no terrain or anything to spice things up either.

Bregor posted:

Man, that's a lot of cities! Now that we've hit Republic I hope to see some that are bigger than two citizens.

Oh I'll show you big cities alright. But not next update. I have to keep things small for now since I can't even keep all my size 1 cities out of disorder at the moment.

sheep-dodger posted:

I'm interested to see what other kinds of weird design decisions there are. (Stuff like getting an extra settler at game start sounds unbalancingly weird)

Game-breakingly so. If you don't start with either a pile of free tech or 2 Settlers you're at a huge disadvantage. I mean, 2 Settlers more than doubles the power of your civilization immediately, and ensures you'll pretty much be twice as far ahead at every subsequent step of the game.

Akratic Method posted:

Could you do me a favor for the color-blind and rethink your text colors? Red on green and purple on blue/green are really hard to make out. The ideal for text is always black outline, white text: guaranteed contrast!

Ah, sorry, I hadn't considered color-blindness. I'll see if I can get white on black text to look right, though I do need to use more than one color at times to note different things conveniently.

BurningStone posted:

How do you decide where to found cities and how close to each other you'll put them?

This is THE question. This is 75% of all strategy in Civ 2 and I could write a book answering you. I'll talk about this even more in the future, but I'll try to give an outline for now.

First of all, there are supposedly 2 basic approaches, which Civ 2 players typically call "Smallpox" and "Bigpox".

Bigpox is the conventional, natural strategy that the AI and most beginner players will use. Only a handful of cities are built, generally far apart, and on great terrain. That means you have your scouts go out and find areas with lots of Grasslands and Rivers, good resources like Whales and Pheasants, etc. and build a city in the middle of it all such that the city zone covers the maximum amount of that good terrain.

So the Bigpox player's city is immediately prosperous and will grow at a nice, steady rate and become richer over time. The player will lovingly nurture their cities with extensive Irrigation and Road-building but will not construct many Settlers overall since they don't need to found that many new cities and don't need to build Roads and Irrigation and whatnot over that much ground. This makes their cities grow even faster. And the Bigpox player will also construct many city improvements: Temples and Colosseums and Cathedrals to keep their very large population content, Aqueducts and Sewers to allow the city to grow to massive size, Supermarkets to pull in maximum Food in the modern age, Libraries and Markets and Universities and Stock Exchanges and whatnot for Taxes and Science, Factories and Power Plants and whatnot for Production, etc.

Smallpox is the strategy most expert players claim to use, but I don't actually believe many of them play strictly the way they say they do. Strict Smallpox is the opposite of Bigpox. Cities are founded maximally close together- maybe only one square apart, maybe 2. The most hardcore Smallpox players will claim that they completely ignore terrain and just found their cities in a grid across the world either 2 spaces or 1 space apart. Cities just barely reach size 2 before they produce another Settler to build another city and thus shrink down to 1. Since Settlers are constantly being built and maintained and since the cities have cruddy terrain and lots of competition for the good squares, no cities grow fast at all. And the smallpox player doesn't even bother with Irrigation, just Roads everywhere so their Settlers can get to the frontiers faster.

The strict smallpox player will never, ever build a city improvement of any kind. They will keep their cities to population 3 or so pretty much all game and will prevent unhappiness using the Michaelangelo's Chapel wonder. They will build masses of Caravans to generate bonus Trade and build wonders. And in war they will have a constant, disorganized stream of units being produced at different paces by 50+ cities and flooding to the front along their massive Road network.

Bigpox is inefficient and obviously wasteful. It takes forever for a lot of city improvements to pay off - if they ever do- and they present a constant and massive drain on your treasury. It can take hundreds of turns to grow a size 1 city into the kind of size 12+ you depend on. Losing a city to an enemy Diplomat or nuclear attack or whatever is completely crippling. There's 2 severe limits on growth (Food and floods of unhappiness) that prevent your cities from actually getting huge anyway. This is basically not an option in Deity difficulty. Still, you CAN win like this if you know what you're doing. I once won a game where I only built a single city as a challenge run.

But strict Smallpox is so wasteful as to be comical. Anyone claiming to build their cities in an unbroken grid is apparently playing in a world that has no oceans. And if you ignore terrain, your cities will be completely worthless. A city built on a Mountain will NEVER amount to anything. It can't even make you more Settlers efficiently. A city built in the middle of a swath of Desert because your grid says so will starve and disappear immediately. You'll also often have to pass up good resources like Whales forever because they happen to be just a bit too far off from shore for your strict grid cities to be built in range. Furthermore, the amount of unhappiness generated by sheer city number is enormous. If you have something like 50 cities as a Monarchy on deity, 43 of them are generating unhappiness in about 8 of your cities. You're looking at about 4-6 unhappy citizens (thus 2-3 angry ones) in every city. This can overwhelm Michaelangelo's Chapel and leave you with disorder everywhere. Unless you commit troops to martial law in every city. You know, your cities that have like 1-2 Production to start with and thus can't spare much for unit upkeep.

In truth, I think there are 2 more strategies besides strict bigpox and smallpox: hybrid and celebration. Obviously, a hybrid strategy is somewhere between strict smallpox and strict bigpox. Hybrid is the clear good choice that most expert players actually make while claiming that they play strict smallpox. It's certainly what I usually do. What I do is maybe 75% smallpox, 25% bigpox. I try to build a huge number of cities and don't plan to build them up much, but I try to make each one of them actually functional and profitable. So I sometimes put them 1 apart, sometimes 2 apart, and sometimes 3 or even more if there are no good city spots. When I see a patch of good terrain, I try to build 2-4 cities who can all share it instead of 1 mega city to try to use it all. When I see a patch of terrible terrain, I don't build cities there. Maybe 1 if I can make that work. And I definitely try to make sure that every good terrain tile and every good resource is used by one city or another.

For most hybrid players, few of their cities have the room to get beyond size 8, but almost all of them could get up to 8. So you can build Aqueducts in a few, Temples in most, Libraries and Markets where they'll pay for themselves, and of course Harbors and Offshore Platforms because those are the key to lategame amazingness. Large numbers of Settlers will be built, and they'll build Irrigation as well as Roads. In fact, hybrid players probably need more Settlers than anyone else because they need to build both Irrigation and Roads in massive quantities. Lots of Caravans are also helpful.

And there will be a few cities- like ones on small islands or the arctic- which will have tons of space and no rivals and thus may as well be allowed to grow absolutely enormous. When you see a spot where a city can safely become huge and awesome, you should definitely get a Settler out there and get started instead of sticking to a grid of tiny ones back in your heartland.

The last major strategy is the other one I often play: celebration. Celebration is the most powerful strategy if played properly. This is basically not debatable. With celebration you start off as a smallpox-leaning hybrid, slowly work all your cities up to size 3 and hold them there, and construct the all-important Michaelangelo's Chapel and Hanging Gardens wonders and become a Republic. Then you stop teching for a few turns to hoard up gold and build some Harbors, Marketplaces, and Temples. And then you suddenly switch to massive Luxuries, trigger celebrations in every single one of your cities at once, and maintain those celebrations for 5 turns before shutting down to 10% Luxuries forever. In 5 turns every single one of your 30 or whatever size 3 villages will turn into a size 8 monster. Overnight you end up with more Science and income and Production than the rest of the world combined. And from there you can play whatever strategy you want.

The Iron Rose posted:

With one exception that breaks tables I actually thought the image sizes in this update were quite good, if a bit inconsistent.

Which one is still breaking tables?

Also, delenda est Carthago.