The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

Part 7: Mechanics: Details on bad wonders & also some navy talk

Tiggum posted:

I like to think of the player as a god. The human government takes care of the stuff you don't care about, which explains the effects of the various government types. A revolution therefore is against the human government (which is why you need to start one if you want to switch, the current rulers below you aren't going to step down without a fight). I don't think you can order anyone to kill themself though, disbanding a unit just means sending the troops home and abandoning or selling off their equipment.

I used to play this game fine on a computer that couldn't go above 1024x768.

Great Library was always my favourite.

You can order people to kill themselves by ordering a city to not produce enough Food. You will get an announcement that there's a famine and 10,000+ people will die per turn as the city shrinks. Or order blatantly suicidal attacks. Or tell planes to fly when they have no fuel. It might also kind of sort of count to nuke a square next to some of your own troops. The weirdest part is that all of this probably improves morale if you're a Democracy.

I also used to play on small computers and it worked fine there- as long as it was fullscreen. I cannot get it to work at anything less than full screen. If I try, it becomes impossible to steer the map view properly among other things. And again, the visual quality in the city and diplomacy menus drops a lot with most things I've tried.

The Great Library is wonderful. And more so the higher the difficulty. It's not only good to have, it's good to make sure the enemy doesn't have it. I think I still rank Hanging Gardens above it among the ancient wonders though.

Poil posted:

I haven't got a clue what most of those wonders do.

Personally I think the best thing about the wonders in Civ 5 is that they don't freaking expire or become obsolete for arbitrary reasons. Sure they might become less useful later on but they never actually stop working.

I actually think the expirations are a fine idea in principle and an interesting part of wonder balance. And many of them are well thought out and change the metagame in cool ways. Automobile expiring Leonardo's Workshop and Railroad expiring Hanging Gardens are great design decisions imo.

As for details on those wonders:

Colossus affects only the city it's built in but grants +1 Trade in every worked tile that already grants Trade. If you're serious about Trade, you're probably playing a Republic and working mainly Oceans, so that's about +33% to +50% for that city. Of course, some of that is lost to Corruption. Even playing Bigpox, +50% Trade for one city wouldn't be THAT big a bonus. For Smallpox it's a triviality. And you could get more oomph for less shields from building a Library and a Market (though of course they do stack with the Colossus if you have time for both).

Oracle makes your Temples (the most basic anti-unhappiness building, they cost 40 shields to build and 1 gold per turn in upkeep and make 2 unhappy people content) affect 4 unhappy people instead of 2. A nice little benefit.

The first problem is that it's only as good as the number of Temples you have, so besides needing to spend a massive 300 shields building the Oracle itself (most early wonders only cost 200!), you also need to build piles of Temples everywhere and pay gold every turn to upkeep them.

The second problem is that it unlocks just shortly before Monotheism and thus Michaelangelo's Chapel. Michaelangelo's Chapel makes 4 unhappy people content in every city for free, stacking with Temples. That's much better AND doesn't require as much building. The third problem is that Theology unlocks just after Monotheism and makes the Oracle expire. So the Oracle can expire within 2 techs of unlocking. Heck, it's not infeasible to expire it before it finishes BUILDING. And let me just add that if you're having unhappiness problems (and why else would you build the Oracle?), Theology is a great tech which you want to acquire promptly. It unlocks the magnificent J.S. Bach's Cathedral wonder and iirc it also has a hidden benefit of improving the effects of all Cathedrals (and Michaelangelo's Chapel), though that might just be in Freeciv.

Copernicus's Observatory grants the city it's in +50% Science. A mere Library grants the same benefit and unlocks earlier and costs much less. A University also grants the same benefit and is available around the same time and is also slightly easier to build (though it does have a significant cost over time). The Colossus, which I regard as a terrible wonder, is both more beneficial and easier to build. And there's another bad wonder, Isaac Newton's College, that unlocks soon afterwards and is twice as good anyway.

Darwin's Voyage takes the cake though. I mean, there's like 12 other wonders that basically just give you more Science, and 2 of them are on this list. Darwin's Voyage is worse than all of them. Literally all it does is let you instantly research 2 technologies when you finish it. But the tech that unlocks it is Railroad, which means you already have or could easily already have ALL the techs it's important to rush to (Republic, Democracy, Monotheism, Democracy, and Railroad itself). Heck, you'll definitely have Industrialization by the time you finish building the thing. And the worst part is that every single other science-y wonder will get you more technology over the course of the game. Even Copernicus's Observatory can grant you more than 2 techs worth of Science over a long game if it's in a good city.

Lighthouse is a trap for complicated reasons that I am about to explain in excruciating detail. Let me start with the basics. It grants +1 move for all naval units, makes all your naval units spawn as veterans, and makes your Triremes not have a 50% chance of instantly dying if they end their turn away from shore. All great benefits.

The reason it sucks is that it is obsoleted by Magnetism. Magnetism is the tech that unlocks the first good ships in the game and is the prereq for all serious ship techs thereafter. So if you're serious about your navy (and if you're not, why would you build the Lighthouse?), then you must rush to acquire Magnetism. Which will immediately make the Lighthouse stop functioning.

To add insult to injury, an even better naval wonder (Magellan's Expedition) unlocks even before Magnetism. Now this stuff alone makes the Lighthouse garbage, but I believe in being thorough, so let me explain why all possible ways of cleverly gaming the system to get some benefits from the Lighthouse are actually not good ideas:

First, here's a brief list of just about every naval unit in the game:
1) Trireme. Unlocked earliest. 1 Attack, 1 Defense, 10 HP, 1 Firepower. It can theoretically fight, but it is without a doubt the worst combat unit in the whole game because it has a Warrior's insufferable stats but costs 4x as much to build. Even as a veteran it will lose any battle. It can carry 2 people and move 3 squares, but if it does not finish its turn right next to land, it has a 50% chance of being destroyed (everyone aboard dies too).

2) Caravel. Unlocked reasonably early. 2 Attack, 1 Defense, 10 HP, 1 Firepower. Still moves 3 squares, but can carry 3 people and is not destroyed if it ends up away from land. Once again, don't even TRY to fight land units with this thing, veteran or not. It can't win and is far too expensive to sacrifice.

That is IT for pre-Magnetism stuff. Well almost. See, it turns out there are exactly 2 ships which are much higher tech but don't technically have Magnetism as a prereq:

3) Ironclads. Unlocked just before Industrialization. They only cost 50% more, but are actually very good combatants (though mediocre for their price). 4 Attack, 4 Defense, 30 HP, 1 Firepower. That 30 HP is amazing. Mediocre Attack and Defense means they get roughed up a lot, but high HP means they usually still win overall. This is the first ship which is actually a good combatant and it will appreciate the Lighthouse veteran bonus. +1 move on top of its 4 will also be nice. However, the Ironclad can't transport anything.

4) Transports. Unlocked with Industrialization and used for the whole rest of the game since they're the ultimate ship at their job. Transports barely cost more than Triremes but they are a thousand times better. They have 0 Attack (so they can't attack at all, but who cares?), 3 Defense, 30 HP, and 1 Firepower. Once again, the massive HP means they're surprisingly capable in fights despite poor stats. But the poor stats mean veteran bonuses don't actually do much for them. Oh and it does appreciate +1 move on top of its sweet 5. Most importantly, this baby can carry up to EIGHT ground troops.

Ok, so Magnetism actually unlocks 2 specialized ships instead of 1 generalist one:
5) Frigates. Available with Magnetism, so early-middle game. 4 Attack, 2 Defense, 20 HP, 1 Firepower. They're the first ship that's supposed to be able to fight. They carry on the grand tradition of sucking at that for their price, but they CAN at least sink enemy ships extremely efficiently. 4 move and they only transport 2 units.

6) Galleons. Available with Magnetism, so early-middle game. 0 Attack, 2 Defense, 20 HP, 1 Firepower. So this is the middle ground between the Caravel and the Transport basically. It can carry a pretty great 4 people and go 4 squares.

And what about the advanced ships? All their techs have Magnetism as a prereq directly or indirectly. I'll just list the two earliest advanced combat ships:
7) Destroyers. A really weird specialty ship. They're actually available startlingly early, before Transports and maybe even before Ironclads if you have the right techs (which include Magnetism). More or less the exact same stats as an Ironclad but 2 more movement and double vision range.

8) Cruisers. Available just after Transports. 6 Attack, 6 Defense, 30 HP, 2 Firepower. This is the first ship that is actually really good in combat. Due to the Firepower increase as well as better combat stats, it's well over twice as good as an Ironclad. It also moves further, can see twice as far and is thus great for scouting, and doesn't cost much more. This is a great ship.

So how could one try to game the system to make the Lighthouse actually good? Well there are several ways:
1) Lighthouse as a SUBSTITUTE for actual naval techs. Don't use Lighthouse in hopes of making your navy better, use it to scrape by with Triremes instead of real ships for 5000 years! There are a couple of problems with this.

First of all, even veteran Triremes that have +1 move and don't sink away from shore are still arguably worse than Caravels. And strictly worse than Galleons.

Second of all, you don't actually need the no sinking benefit as much as you might think. See, the Oceans in civ 2 are almost always extremely narrow. Like just a few spaces wide. 95% of the time it will only take a little exploring to find a perfectly safe crossing point, so you don't actually need the Lighthouse to use Triremes as your basic transport ship for eons. Also, several techs like Seafaring and Navigation secretly decrease the chance of Triremes being lost at sea.

Third, a lot of the ship techs (Industrialization, Electricity, Steel, Steam Engine etc) which you're trying to avoid learning to focus on other things are actually good techs in their own right . Even the lowly Seafaring unlocks Harbors and Harbors are awesome.

So yeah, the Lighthouse isn't necessary for relying on Triremes and you don't actually benefit much from not picking up the naval technologies because you need them eventually anyway.

2) Try to pass off lighthoused Caravels and Triremes as a legit navy. So basically you rush up to Caravels, build both Magellan's Expedition AND the Lighthouse, and thus have 6 move veteran Caravels. So you can do a naval rush and dominate the seas. Sure. That'll work. Won't accomplish anything though because even veteran Caravels will be crushed in battle with ground units. And dominating the seas doesn't really help much at all. It's not like you actually have the resources to rapidly colonize multiple continents at this point. The other issue is that the Lighthouse isn't contributing much. Even non-veteran Caravels can wipe out the enemy navies effortlessly with the Magellan's expedition speed boosts. And you'd STILL be better off just teching up to Magnetism because a Frigate is strictly better than a lighthoused Caravel in combat and a Galleon is strictly better at transport.

3) Basic Magnetism skip. Here you avoid the Magnetism tech in particular but otherwise play fairly conventionally after building the Lighthouse early (you must build it early because if you don't, someone else will). Then when you get to Industrialization you can actually have lighthoused Ironclads and Transports. Now we're talking! The problem is that you had to make a massive investment 4000 years before getting any kind of payoff. Building the Lighthouse first while also snagging the actually important early game wonders is not going to be easy. And you've got this other issue too: lighthoused Ironclads are darned good but they're STILL strictly worse than the Cruisers you could get if you just took Navigation and teched up a bit already.

4) Advanced Magnetism skip. Now this is my kind of strategy. It's weird, requires intricate knowledge of the rules and exploiting loopholes, involves manipulating the enemy into wrecking themselves, and has a hilarious and awesome payoff. Basically, you start it off like the Basic Magnetism skip. However, then you make sure that an AI civ acquires the Electricity tech (which requires Magnetism). Electricity unlocks Destroyers and is the needed prereq for Steel, which gives Cruisers, and so on. See, you must have Magnetism to RESEARCH Electricity. But you can acquire techs without researching them. Once an AI civ has Electricity (maybe because you handed them all the prereqs other than Magnetism) steal it from them or sack a city and take it or trade for it. Bam! You haven't learned Magnetism, so the Lighthouse is still in effect, but you CAN build Destroyers. And from there you can build ALL later ships. If you also have Magellan's Expedition, this allows you to have a navy which is stronger than any other one imaginable. Your Battleships will train as veterans and have a whopping 7 move instead of 4. Sweet. But brilliant and spectacular though it is, this strat still just isn't worth it.

See, you're now looking at making a massive initial investment by building the Lighthouse when you have other stuff to do and then not reaping any benefits until OTHER people are in the industrial age. That could take all game unless you hand them most of the techs yourself. Even then there's no guarantee they'll actually learn Magnetism and Electricity any time soon. But the trouble doesn't stop there. Even if you get this strategy going properly, it won't last forever. Sooner or later you will be FORCED to learn Magnetism. See, technological advancement is not optional. Everytime you conquer an enemy city, you MUST steal a tech from them. Every time you research a tech, you MUST start researching a new one. Sooner or later your only option will be Magnetism. And then the party ends and it was all for nothing.

In conclusion, the Lighthouse is not only worthless playing when conventionally; there outright exists no strategy that can make it worthwhile to build.

Delenda est Carthago.