Alpha Centauri 2

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri & Alien Crossfire => Modding => Topic started by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 05:49:27 PM

Title: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 05:49:27 PM
March Thinker mod development version
March Thinker mod development version

Induktio released a new development version of Thinker mod in March.  I have been testing it in combination with my own SMACX AI Growth mod.  His AI abuses Condensers, Supply Crawlers, and Boreholes to the hilt.  Some hardcore human players do this too.  His AI just automates it, taking it all to its logical conclusion.  He has found the Golden Path of Profitability through the game, the One True Way To Win.

Consequently, I've been working on cost increases designed to end this abuse in the game.  If it can't exactly be ended, it can at least be delayed until late game.  That allows players who aren't into this kind of abuse, to try other strategies.  The main counter to runaway Supply Crawlerism would seem to be outright invasion, or at least a lot of artillery shelling and pillaging.  On a Huge map, when an opponent is on the other side of Planet, that takes time.  I can't really have the AI getting huge resource buffs that turn into, essentially, a fuel injected drag racer vs. a mere human player pedaling a bicycle.

The fact that the AI does almost no eco-damage for all these Mines, Condensers, and Boreholes it produces, is a huge enabler of its spam.  A human player who built all of that, on Thinker or Transcend difficulty, would literally put the world thousands of meters underwater.  All that stuff would be gone!  A human would have to learn how to get by with Subsea Trunklines, or simply die.  I've played several games where I've simply died, even wrote them all up as After Action Reports.  It ain't pretty what happens when you mess with Planet.  You even have to raise the ocean floor, because only ocean shelf is workable.  Open ocean doesn't give you a darned thing.

Things I am testing:

I already know the AI will make the expensive Thermal Boreholes.  I'm unclear what effect this has on their faction competitiveness.  Last game the Free Drones made the expensive Boreholes but didn't have impressive performance.  The Pirates got the Weather Paradigm, paid 2/3rds of terraforming costs, and didn't even blink as far as chucking everything out.  I got incredibly bored of the game and quit, even though I had built 13 Secret Projects to their 9.  It was all I could do with myself, just keep up with the Pirates' spam.  So clearly any AI faction that gains the Weather Paradigm, doesn't feel any pain at all.

I don't know what effect delaying the availability of Condensers will have.  I hope it's a significant one.

I don't know what effect expensive Supply Crawlers will have.  I hope it punishes the AI for spewing out lots of them to work many Mines and Condensers.  It won't affect Secret Project completion substantially at all.  It's always been possible to make "big denomination" Supply Crawlers and get their full value when cashed in.  Now you're just required to use big denominations.  The Fusion crawler is meant to be as expensive as an Artifact, although it will change a bit according to a faction's INDUSTRY rating.  One problem could be, since the AI gets a +30% INDUSTRY boost on Transcend, it may not even feel the difference.  But a human player certainly feels the difference, so this is as expensive as I can reasonably make them.

I have had so much stress trying to deal with long distance Secret Project races, that I haven't really tested the new military defense capabilities at all.  Who's got time for war when everything is build, build, build?  I hope I've put the spam brakes on hard enough, that we may actually see some war.  There's really no point in having a long distance war, if you can't even get your units over there, or produce enough units to have any impact.

I have determined that my unwillingness to grow my empire larger than about 15 cities, is a natural function of how many mouseclicks such an empire takes.  I refuse to feel guilty or apologetic about it.  I am not a computer, I cannot spam things indefinitely without getting very very bored.  I hand terraform every single square as it is, and I don't need or enjoy even more work than I already do.  I'm going to be a 15 to 20 city empire and I'm never going to be an Infinite City Sprawl empire in the style of Induktio's AI.  Designing a game to actually be fun / enjoyable, is very important to me.  Other people may think it's fun to spam out empires as large as Induktio's, they might even think that's what the game is all about.  But I would never force that play style on a player, and I'm not going to have it forced on me, just to keep up.

There comes a point at which an AI simply spams too much, has been given too many advantages, and isn't fun to play with, because the human player doesn't have any agency compared to the mountain of spam.  When faced with that, the first course of action is to dial back the buffs.  That could be testing the game with a different cost_factor.  But if dialing back the buffs doesn't solve it, the only remaining course is to quit playing the game and find something better to do with one's time.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 08:03:21 PM
the cult of me
the cult of me

Huge map, 30%..50% land mass with my large continents and large oceans, average settings.  Transcend difficulty, default Thinker mod cost_factor.  Random factions.  I draw the Cult of Planet.  Gaians, Morganites, Pirates, Spartans, Data Angels, and Believers in the game.  I was wondering if I should deliberately include the Pirates just to benchmark the changes in an apples to apples way.  I decided that random faction sampling has merits as well.  Well, now I don't have to worry about it.  The Pirates will probably dominate this game the same way they've dominated the others.  I almost wonder if I bit a gold dubloon in a previous life, to be cursed with them again and again.

don't believe everything you hear
don't believe everything you hear

MY 2118.  Miriam immediately seeks to bother me, so I kill her Scout.

gnarly neighbors
gnarly neighbors

MY 2122.  Morgan is nearby as well.  After many test games, I don't believe the new faction placement algorithm in Thinker mod is impartial.  I think it always places at least 1 faction right next to you, and maybe 2.  I have not had remotely the peace and quiet I'd usually expect on a Huge map, in any of these test games.  Now in the last game, my neighbors were stillborn runts, so it didn't matter.  I will see whether these 2 factions do well or poorly this time.  They were both in the last game and both did poorly.  I've seen that happen with my mod alone and the Believers, but it's really surprising to see the Morganites get crippled.  Their +2 ECONOMY seems to do great things for them with the stock binary.

I eat Miriam's Scout and continue with my business.  At least she picked the wrong faction to mess with early.  I start the game armed!  Also, I completed a Scout Rover prototype earlier by popping pods.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 08:23:27 PM
fungus is ok for me
fungus is ok for me

MY 2125.  I also suspect that the new faction placement algorithm awards crap land.  At least, it awards me crap land.  This has been the same kind of thing in pretty much all these test games.  Not only is it dry and scraggly, but there's always lots of fungus.  When I'm a Planet oriented faction, that's fine, but otherwise it's a real pill to swallow.  I am made to wonder if the Thinker mod binary changed the fungal generation settings somehow.  If it didn't, then this has been a hell of a string of coincidences in many games.  I just can't escape the feeling that these circumstances aren't random and I'm being given the same circumstances every game.

I originally started walking west because the radar echo looked like there was a lot of land out that way.  But there actually seems to be a channel separating continents.  In the southeast I can see the outline of one of Miriam's cities.  With luck I can toast it, but one thing about my mod is, cities have substantial defensive advantages.  They're strongpoints and it may not be easy to cakewalk, even with a decently fed mindworm for offense.  Maybe the spore launcher I just got will help, but they can be pretty pathetic at doing any damage.

you meatbag
you meatbag

MY 2127.  Morgan is such a jerk!  He won't sign a Treaty.  He does sell me C2 Monopole Magnets though.  That doesn't do me any good right now, but it's a tech I won't have to research myself.  I have retained the Cult's default Explore, Conquer focus.  The Believers are focused the same way.

serious stronghold
serious stronghold

Seeing a completed Perimeter Defense this early in the game is quite shocking.  I know I made them available in C1 High Energy Chemistry.  That implies Believers are Synthmetal capable as well, although they may not have prototyped it yet.  They must have popped a supply pod which completed the wall.

Either that or I've underestimated how much the AI loves this facility and will fixate on building them.  If the Believers turn out to be runted, maybe this is why?  I've gone back and forth about where to put a Perimeter Defense in my mod, sometimes earlier, sometimes later.  Things seemed to be playtesting ok before, but maybe Thinker mod has caused my own modding choices to turn into a misfeature again.

Anyways I'm not getting in there!  I did intend to prevent cakewalks, and I may have done my job a little too well.

Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 08:40:44 PM
chase the Artifact
chase the Artifact

MY 2129.  This is why you should escort your stuff, even if it takes forever.

a tale of two cities
a tale of two cities

MY 2132.  Two Perimeter Defenses?  Ok, that means the AI is fixating on them.  And even if it had only been one, and even if one had been completed by popping pods, it still means the AI decided it would be a good idea to build these this early in the 1st place.  Unless the AI got rich popping pods, and Induktio has added code to spend that money to rush Perimeter Defenses.  Since we're in close proximity and at war, that wouldn't be completely foolish, although getting Synthmetal prototyped would be way more cost effective.

This terrain is otherwise perfect for a Planet friendly faction to trash an enemy.  All I have to do is expand decently and the Believers will easily be a victim.

Actually even if the Believers got rich, spending money on Perimeter Defenses is completely freakin' dumb.  I think these are their first 2 cities!  The whole empire stillborn.

Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 09:01:10 PM
denial of area
denial of area

MY 2140.  I may not be able to get inside those cities, but I can certainly keep anything from happening outside them.

My spore launcher dropped through a dimensional rift and didn't go very far.  I think we are on an island that isn't all that big.  I think Miriam popped most of the supply pods already, but not all of them.  I'm starting to find some on the periphery.  I've picked up very few mindworms for having a +2 PLANET rating.  Just 1 mindworm and 1 spore launcher.

time to feed
time to feed

MY 2143.  The Believers have founded a new city.  I will try to whack it with my big mindworm before it can do anything else.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 09:21:13 PM
the damn sensor array
the damn sensor array

MY 2146.  Yeah I put them in my mod to be used exactly this way.  I'm just annoyed that the Believers are doing it.  Eventually I can shell that with my spore launcher, but it's on the other side of the big island right now.

Every single turn, the Believers keep trying to move an Artifact from New Jerusalem to Godwinson's Hope.  I capture it every turn, and then lose it immediately back to them.  What a show!

my forces grow
my forces grow

Up north I kill a Believer Scout Rover, and capture a mindworm larva after a multi-turn bludgeoning with a spore launcher.  Sometimes you just gotta keep at it!  The whole island has been explored and stripped now.

Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 09:28:43 PM
please die
please die

MY 2149.  The Rapture is about to get attacked by 2 mindworm larvae.  Maybe the defenders will be weak enough for me to destroy the base afterwards.  The Believers haven't shown any interest in surrendering.  In fact this turn they expected me to pay them to stop the war.  I pillaged one of their forests to hurt their production.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 09:36:56 PM
pretty please
pretty please

MY 2150.  Well I can't attack because native life forms are in the way.  But the mindworms obviously did some damage.  One was attacked.  The other got bigger as a result and then attacked.  Maybe next turn?  I don't think it would be difficult for the Believers to rush a new Scout though.

As I have over 100 credits, I decide to contact the Morganites.  They sign a Pact.  I get the Gaian comm frequency.  I ask to buy a tech, but they give me C1 Doctrine: Flexibility, which is extremely useful to the island bound.  Then they sign off.

The Gaians are standoffish, but sell me Centauri Genetics for 125 credits.  I can make mindworms now.  The fate of the Believers is sealed!
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 09:44:25 PM
well thank you so so much!
well thank you so so much!

MY 2151.  The native life forms destroyed the base!  The only downside of that is I didn't get credit for the kill.  That might make the Believers less interested in surrendering.  Still I'll take it.  Now I only need to bring a Scout over to pillage that Sensor Array and Forest.

Morganite early empire
Morganite early empire

By comparison to last game, the Morganites seem to be spreading ok.  They've got 7 cities.  I've got 5 and have been fighting a war.  I honestly haven't allocated any resources to the war, as I've got free mindworms to do that with.  I've just been colonizing.  I do have 2 Scouts tied up messing with the Believer homeland, so I suppose that's a kind of war effort.  Pretty cost effective.

Notice that the Morganites did put a Perimeter Defense around 1 city.  This supports the theory of premature defensive fixation.  Another historical AI fixation has been getting too excited about artillery.  I've tried it at very early points in the game.  Nowadays it comes with C3 Applied Physics, which also yields the strength 3 Laser.  Artillery fixation hasn't been a problem anymore.  Perhaps I should move Perimeter Defense to C3. 
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 10:09:10 PM
Gaians like to run their mouths
Gaians like to run their mouths

The Gaians contact me out of the blue and want Miriam's comm frequency.  At first I think I'll play dumb.  But then I think, the Believers cannot possibly do anything about me taking them over.  The terrain alone says they're completely dead.  I have their only 2 cities surrounded, and I killed a new colony pod last turn.  So I sell the frequency.  I don't get anything else out of the Gaians, but their demeanor changes from Quarrelsome to Obstinate.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 11:03:13 PM
MY 2159.  I offer to trade tech with Morgan.  He gives me Adaptive Economics and signs off.  Meanwhile the Gaians are working on the Ascetic Virtues.  I suppose in my mod they are a powerful research faction and I'm not.  I try to trade with them but they blow me off.  They're back to Quarrelsome.

MY 2162.  I offer to trade with Morgan.  He gives me Biogenetics, which enables Police State.  I switch to it.

MY 2163.  My spore launcher has done a pretty good job of softening up the Believer defense.  At this point they either can defend or can't.  Maybe that's always true but it seems noteworthy now.  I bring up my biggest mindworm to start doing the deed.  The odds are good and I blow the 1st defender away!  My 2nd mindworm blows away the 2nd wounded defender.  All they've got left now are non-combat units.  I lose a Scout Rover attacking them, but I kill a Former on the next attack with my wounded Scout.  They only have one 90% wounded Former left, and an Artifact.  Unfortunately I don't have anything else to throw at them.

Maybe I should have switched to Green before doing that.

MY 2164.  This jackass rushes a Scout Rover and kills both of my mindworms.  The unit is totally wounded and I keep shelling it, but that's really severely annoying.  I start making 6 mindworms to finally come finish them off.  They aren't quick though, it'll take 12 turns.

MY 2165.  That badly wounded Scout Rover even manages to blow away my own badly wounded Scout.


Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 18, 2019, 11:51:17 PM
MY 2166.  I capture a new mindworm larva.  I blow away a Former with my remaining Scout Rover.  I keep shelling.  I buy Industrial Base from the Morganites for 100 credits, which enables Recycling Tanks.  I change 6 cities to Recycling Tanks production and keep 2 making mindworms.

MY 2167.  As I position myself to threaten the Believer base and one of their Formers with my Scout Rover, they talk but won't surrender.  The Gaians are Seething and won't trade.

MY 2168.  The Believers pull a fresh Scout out of their ass and attack my Scout Rover, causing it to disengage.  So now it will have to sit around healing.  I buy Synthetic Fossil Fuels from the Morganites for 100 credits, which also enables Capitalist.  I'm not doing that as it has a -3 PLANET penalty, but in principle I can.  My version of the Cult is extremely cynical that way.  What I can't do is go Democratic, which is worth +1 ECONOMY in my mod.

MY 2171.  Where the heck did he get an unwounded Scout Rover to blow my spore launcher away with?  I kill his Scout Rover with my mindworm larva.  Now his few units are going to heal up.  I try sending my 30% wounded Scout Rover to attack her wounded units in the base, but their defense is too good and I call it off.

MY 2172.  Could the Believers be cheating?  They came up with another unwounded Scout Rover and wiped out my mindworm.  If they're not cheating, then these units are awfully cheap for them.  And I don't know where their production is coming from, because I pillaged everything.

So thanks to the beautiful new faction placement algorithm, I've been in a rockfight with this creep on a small island.  Other factions are racing way ahead and we're both puny on the graph.  This may not turn out to be much of a game.  If it continues on the trajectory it's on, I'll definitely disable Thinker mod's faction placement algorithm next time.  I mean really, I might as well have been on a Tiny map if I wanted to get stuck with this.

Morgan has learned Ecological Engineering.  He has not started the Weather Paradigm yet.  Now we will learn whether raising its cost to 400, slows any of the AI factions down.  I clearly have had no opportunity to get anywhere near it this game.  The Gaians meanwhile are working on the Xenoempathy Dome, and they have already finished the Ascetic Virtues.  The Spartans are working on the Command Nexus.  I am poor.  Morgan has 14 cities.  The Gaians appear to have 21 cities.  "Fair" faction placement algorithm my foot!

MY 2173.  Belatedly I remember to go Green.  There's a 1 turn delay until the extra Planet offensive advantage goes into effect.  Meanwhile I kill a Former.  I also capture another mindworm larva that landed on my shore.

MY 2174.  The Believers kill my mindworm with their Scout Rover.  I attack it with another mindworm and do not succeed in killing it.  This is frustrating.  Their Transcend buffs are keeping them just barely ahead of me killing them.  I have started building rails because I suspect I'm not going to be able to finish them unless I bring lots of forces simultaneously.  Piecemeal, they've survived and done ok.

MY 2176.  The Believers have cleared me from their lands.  At least I have 8 cities to their 2.  I am clearly at a huge disadvantage compared to all the other factions in the game though.  You're not supposed to be locked into deadly close quarters battle on a Huge map.  Even if you ever do have an ornery neighbor, you're supposed to be able to have a land direction to expand, and not get 8-balled.  I think the new faction placement algorithm is really all about 8-balling everyone, because I've seen someone get 8-balled every single one of my test games.

MY 2179.  I buy Information Networks from the Morganites.  I can do probe teams if I get a prototype done.  The Morganites don't like my Green economy.  At least they're not hypocrites this game, they are Capitalist like they should be.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 12:06:16 AM
serious minerals
serious minerals

MY 2180.  I complete a Recycling Tank in my capitol and finally get access to the Mine I've had since the beginning of the game.  This is the kind of thing that rubs in my face what an utterly ridiculous level of poverty I've been in.  I struggle to get a Recycling Tank done, the AI belts out over 20 cities somewhere else.  There's no question that if I see the sort of "Pirate climb" I saw last game, I'll quit immediately.  There's no point playing an apples and oranges game where I have no agency.

With my newfound mineral wealth I begin working on a Synthmetal Skirmisher prototype.  That oughtta stop the Believers from counterattacking my mindworms.

MY 2183.  The Morganites are Ambivalent.  I buy Doctrine: Loyalty from them.  This makes Fundamentalist available and I switch to it.  One of my faction powers is my RESEARCH will never fall below zero.  That doesn't make me a good researcher though.  Let's face it, I didn't learn this before, despite my Explore, Conquer focus.  But it will be good for finishing off the Believers.

M 2184.  Morgan terminates our Pact.  Well hey, they can be my next victim after the Believers.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 12:42:38 AM
armored defense
armored defense

MY 2185.  The Believers have figured out Synthmetal.  It's not going to save them, but it's yet another thing slowing me down.

MY 2188.  The Morganites build the Weather Paradigm.  Will my next door neighbor now start doing the Condenser and Borehole thing?  I have a suspicion that Thinker mod may not check if the Weather Paradigm has enabled this stuff.

MY 2189.  I forgot that we're not allied anymore.  Surprisingly, the Morganites sign a Pact again.

MY 2191.  I buy B3 Ecological Engineering from the Morganites.

they finished weak
they finished weak

MY 2192.  After all that preamble, how did they manage to have only 1 Scout defending their city?  That was a strange, shaggy dog story.

and the Lord called it Good
and the Lord called it Good

Finally they surrender.  Now I can get on with making an empire.  At least all these mindworms will be useful as police units, or maybe for exploring.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 01:40:43 AM
MY 2202.  I meet the Spartans.  We trade a whole pile of techs and sign a Treaty.  They also sell me the commlink for the Pirates.

The Pirates sign a Pact.  Here I go again, buttering myself up for the death faction of the game!  It's so easy to do when they're Passive and far away.  They also sell me the comm frequency of the Data Angels.

The Data Angels sign a Pact.

I am NATO
I am NATO

I talk to the Spartans again, and they sign a Pact.  What strange politics!  If I could get Deirdre to join my Pact, we'd all mutually win the game.  That's not gonna happen, but I do make a lot of money selling comm frequencies to everyone.

baby chucking Gaians
baby chucking Gaians

Once again we have a Thinker mod hypocrite.  She extols my Green economics while simultaneously being Socialist.  Well at least she doesn't dislike me for my Green politics.  She just dislikes me for every other lame excuse she can think of!  I don't know what they coded into the game about the Gaians and the Cult of Planet, they rarely seem to like each other.

All these Pacts give me a good opportunity to look at everyone's empires.  Nobody has built a Condenser yet.  Of course, Morgan was the only one reasonably expected to be able to.  The AI has large empires in the ICS style, but they're all ordinary empires.

let's gas Deirdre!
let's gas Deirdre!

Since I've sold all the comm frequencies, I thought about calling an election.  Then I thought, why bother?  Someone else is going to call it next turn anyways.  I thought about how I might want to kill somebody and how difficult that is with ordinary weapons in my mod.  Why not legalize Nerve Gas while I have the chance?  It's usually easier when there's no Governor to veto anything.  So here it is, all legal!  Deirdre is going to regret not being my friend.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 01:58:53 AM
Roze is a populist
Roze is a populist

MY 2203.  I'm surprised that Roze had a slightly higher population than Svensgaard.  Her land is fairly ordinary, although she did start next to the Garland Crater.  Here's the real answer:

not as bad as Switzerland
not as bad as Switzerland

The new faction placement algorithm, in its infinite wisdom as to what constitutes "fair" or "good" land, threw the Pirates into a small landlocked sea.  Despite the enormitude of ocean otherwise available on the map!  I've never seen this happen in any game.  Granted, I don't think small landlocked seas occur all that often with my world generator either.  Large ones do happen, but the Pirates could put a full empire in those.  This sea doesn't look like it was unnaturally created, such as from an earthquake.  Nope, the faction placement algorithm just thought "hey, this looks good!"

Based on all my experience in these test games, I say it's broken.  If you think fairness of start is important, it's not worth using.  If you'll accept any old random roll and see how it goes, then it won't be a problem for you.  But in my gameplay universe, this has been really throwing off the dynamics I'd otherwise expect out of a Huge map game.  I'm mildly "impressed" though, that an algorithm could find a way to bring down the Pirates!   ;rotflmao  And here I was dreading having to play another runaway game with them.  Rah rah random factions.  Long live the Data Angels, and down with Deidre!
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 02:18:41 AM
we shall gas her
we shall gas her

Morgan wants war with the Gaians!  Fine by me.  And I've got so many allies, let's all dog pile on her.  Roze is in.  Miriam does what I tell her.   ;worship  Santiago is in.   :hunter:  Svensgaard is in.  Deidre has no friends.  Let's see how long we can agree to hate her.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 03:29:33 AM
you brain sack
you brain sack

Morgan and I trade a pile of technologies, making him very happy with me.  Then he terminates our Pact.  You're lucky I just got everyone to go to war with the Gaians, Morgan.

MY 2211.  Morgan signs a Treaty with the Gaians, defeating the purpose of all that war I got started with her.  Santiago has gone to war with the Pirates and asks me to join it.  I refuse, and Santiago cancels our Pact.  Yeah, can't keep people happy.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 06:37:28 AM
MY 2225.  Morgan subverted one of my empty Transports.  What a weird opening gambit for bothering me!  Well I was thinking about using probe teams on him to precipitate a war anyways.  Now I don't have to.  I'm mainly just making lots of mindworms.  Don't really have productivity for anything else.  I'll never catch all the big advanced infrastructure factions.

fun with Weather Paradigm
fun with Weather Paradigm

MY 2227.  Morgan does not have Advanced Ecological Engineering for Condensers, nor Industrial Automation for Thermal Boreholes or Supply Crawlers.  Nevertheless he has used the Weather Paradigm to do the usual Condenser and Borehole routine.  He has paid 24 turns for Condensers and 48 for Boreholes.  I see many Condensers, but only 1 Borehole.

Gaian supply crawlers
Gaian supply crawlers

The Gaians have Industrial Automation, which means they can make both supply crawlers and Boreholes.  I don't see any Boreholes yet.  They have 7 crawlers active and 9 in production.  The Gaians are cheating with Democratic Socialist Wealth.  Wealth gives them an additional +1 INDUSTRY.  I'm not sure why their supply crawlers show 7 bars per row, as I thought they got a 30% reduction on Transcend difficulty anyways.  I don't think it's capped at 7, I think the cap is at 5.  I would expect them to be at 6, unless they just changed to Wealth this turn.

Anyways they appear to be paying 56 minerals for a supply crawler.  And they don't seem to care.

MY 2229.  I steal Advanced Military Algorithms from the Morganites.  It enables the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm.  I start on it, and I switch to Wealth to get an INDUSTRY bonus. 

MY 2230.  I switch to Eudaimonic to get an INDUSTRY bonus.  I use 2 Artifacts and 816 cash to rush the HSA.

MY 2231.  I complete the HSA.  The Pirates ask me to join their war again, and again I refuse.  They terminate our Pact. 
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 03:27:18 PM
thwarting my plan
thwarting my plan

MY 2231.  Morgan's gonna have the Neural Amplifier.  I've spent all this time to get barely underway.  All I've got are mindworms.  The "AI gets everything" game mechanic is a real problem here.  At least the city in question is fairly near me.  It's not coastal, so I can't use Marines to take it.  I could put an Airbase at the edge of my land and paradrop into it.  For the actual assault though, planes and Conventional Missiles are all very expensive in my mod.

Another possibility is to forget the fancy tactics.  Just trash 3 cities leading up to the one I need, using overwhelming force to overcome the Neural Amplifier benefit.  Capitalist will make him -30%, Neural Amplifier will make him +50%, for a net of +20% defense.  I am +40% offense when Green.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 03:36:39 PM
ain't over 'till the gun lady sings
ain't over 'till the gun lady sings

MY 2232.  Well look at that, Morgan's gonna be at a tasty -30% Psi defense after all!  I really need Advanced Ecological Engineering to bridge our continents.  I've been making a lot of Isles for troop movement in the absence of that.  I just remembered that I can cover my landing with a mere Gun Needlejet.  Morgan doesn't have Doctrine: Air Power yet, and the AI doesn't typically make SAM units.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 03:59:37 PM
air cover tactics
air cover tactics

MY 2234.  My invasion begins.  It would probably be better to have 2 Gun Jets to provide continuous coverage.  These units are going to try to take out the Sensor Array and steal Morgan's map.  My horde of mindworms is currently doing police duty, so I'm starting to make lots of cheap Police Scout units to replace them on the home front.

war choices
war choices

I have switched my values from Wealth to Power to make everyone a better fighter.  Not sure if I'll keep Eudaimonic.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 04:33:32 PM
the lay of the land
the lay of the land

MY 2235.  Well I got the map and took out the Sensor Array.  The whole place is crawling with units though, so I had to leave 1 guy behind to die.  I think I will keep Eudaimonic because I need the GROWTH and JUSTICE offsets.  I don't like the loss of MORALE, but INDUSTRY helps, and my main weapon is cranking out mindworms.  If Thought Control was available I'd do that instead, to keep Roze happy.

from one warlord to another
from one warlord to another

MY 2236.  Santiago doesn't even care that I value Power same as she does.

I hope a sign of things to come
I hope a sign of things to come

Morgan's MORALE is so bad that he fails to kill my Synthmetal Skirmisher.  And the AI is so stupid that it didn't follow up with a 2nd attack.  I know it's got plenty of units to do it.  So fine, I'll limp back to safety.

serious mindworms
serious mindworms

This invasion would be better with a land bridge and a rail, but I can handle the loading and unloading for now.  I don't know what Deidre intends to do with the ships, but I'm just ducking in and out of port. I have enough artillery that she can't harm me in port, nor shell my shores.  She's otherwise invading Morgan fairly effectively in the west.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 04:55:03 PM
a gift before Caesar
a gift before Caesar

MY 2237.  This city did have a Trance Plasma Sentinel unit under construction last year.  In fact, they completed it, it's in the supported units window.  So what did this genius AI do with the unit?  It left.  With 6 mindworms facing the city.  This should be a blowout.  Is that how Morgan's "fighting" is going to be?  I know the Gaians are providing pressure to the west, but he really should have been able to delay me somehow.  I've seen lots of R-Laser hovertanks for instance.  R-Lasers are only strength 3 and correspondingly cheaper in my mod, only the cost of an Impact gun, so not that difficult for a Borehole driven power to crank out as ordinance.  Well, maybe the Gaians are giving him a harder time than I thought.  We'll see.

I lose 2 mindworms and take the city.  If he had left the Trance unit in there, he might have held.  If he had brought anything else in for defense, he definitely would have held.

looks like D Day in reverse
looks like D Day in reverse

The Gaian navy has worn out its welcome, so I fry one of the ships with my artillery.  I want to directly supply my city but that 2nd ship is still in the way.  So I will land as I can.  The fungus flank is not a good place to land because of the R-Laser hovertanks pointing at it.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 05:40:47 PM
MY 2238.  I've loaded an enormous number of mindworms into my captured city.  I have the Hunter-Seeker Algorithm so I'm in no danger of it being subverted.  I've put 3 mindworms on the fungal flank, covered by the Gun Jet.  That may be enough to wipe out the units trying to hold the area.  The Gaian navy keeps coming, I think they like this choke point.  I keep shelling.  It slows down my landings but does not stop them.  I'm starting to make ECM 3-Pulse units for home defense, as I wouldn't want the Spartans sweeping in with hovertanks while most of my mindworms are off on campaign.

siege
siege

MY 2239.  Morgan asks for a Truce, and I'm having none of that!  He proved that his R-Lasers can fry my mindworms even behind a city wall.  I will need those ECM units for defense.  For now though, I do have overwhelming force.  Still I don't attack his next city.  Even though it has no wall, the 2 Sensor Arrays protecting it give him more of an advantage than I'm happy about.  I put lots of mindworms in the field and hope it confuses the AI into fighting me in the open, or not at all.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 06:06:16 PM
attrition baiting
attrition baiting

MY 2240.  Well I lost 2 mindworms, but he had to wound himself pretty badly to do that.  That might actually be a good trade.  A 3rd unit of his actually died trying to attack my wounded mindworms in the open.  Then he begged off, either because he's stupid, or because Deidre is applying pressure.

I did not clear the Sensor Arrays before beginning the assault.  Consequently I lost 2 more mindworms.  I don't think my production rate is good enough to keep up that kind of attrition over the long haul, but I need my beachhead.  I use the hovertank to take out a Sensor Array protecting another city.  I use the Gun Jet to cover it.  I've seen Morgan try to construct an air force, but I haven't seen any planes actually go up yet.

valuable property
valuable property

I seize my 1st Borehole.  Am I going to be able to protect it?  All the more reason why I need ECM units and can't just advance with a "glass cannon" mindworm army.  I predict that pretty soon I'll be consolidating this beachhead and not advancing anymore.

Morgan's vulnerable western front
Morgan's vulnerable western front

Morgan Construction, the home of the Weather Paradigm and the Planetary Energy Grid, looks like it's about to fall to the Gaians.  It's a pity I don't have the industrial capacity for lots of drop units.  If I were stronger, and that's pretty much saying everything isn't it, those could be mine.

I check on Deidre's attitude towards me and she's Noncommittal.  I consider signing a Treaty with her.  We're both Green, it's not going to be completely easy for me to roll over the Morganites, and I'm going to need time to consolidate his lands afterwards.  So I try to ring her up, but she's not speaking to me.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 06:50:00 PM
the rich get richer
the rich get richer

MY 2241.  Nothing I can do about this.  Something to remember about runaway AI economics.

The Morganites finally shoot down my Gun Jet.  Oddly they didn't bother to take out the hovertank underneath it.

Now how many mindworms are required to take out 1 Hardened 3-Res unit behind a city wall?  No sensors.  I have 3 fresh mindworms available to try.  In the 1st battle the odds are even and I do 40% damage before dying.  In the 2nd battle the odds are 10 to 8 and I bring it to 70% damage before dying.  I've saved my slightly larger Boil mindworm for last.  The odds are 8 to 2 and it clobbers the defender.  I send in a nearly dead mindworm by road, fully heal up, and take out a Former.  A 2nd Former stacked with it gets damaged, and I kill it with the Synthmetal Skirmisher.

The Elite Scout Tank, free of any obligations, tries to take out a Sensor Array in front of the next city.  However it is blocked by a plane I didn't think hard enough about.  Just as well, I don't have the force to attack next turn anyways.

triangle defense
triangle defense

I can defend the Borehole if nobody shells it from the ocean.  If the Gaians show up again with speed 8 Cruisers and decide to have at it, there's nothing I can do about it right now.  I'd need an AAA unit to protect it from shelling and keep Morgan's planes at bay, and I don't have the productivity yet.  Still getting these cities under control with Recreation Commons.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 08:12:37 PM
One aspect of the March development release worth nothing, is the terraformers are definitely doing a better job of not building roads.  I have forest choke points blocking me from reaching cities.  The February development release would build roads on every single forest square.  That would make it extremely easy to invade from city to city.  Here I'm not in easy mindworm range of the city I'd rather go after next, even though it's only 3 squares away as the crow flies.

MY 2243.  Why was I laboring under the delusion that I built the Command Nexus?  I didn't.  So my new troops all sorta suck.  Even more reason why I can't expand anymore.

it takes a thief
it takes a thief

Morgan doesn't have Fusion Power, but he does have a Fusion unit.  He must have subverted one of the cities Deirdre took from him.

I steal 90 credits from one of his cities, but my 1-1-1 probe team dies.

MY 2244.  I steal a mere 44 credits.  His money has dropped a lot, probably from Deirdre taking over some cities.  He used to have 1900 credits and now he's got 500.  He's learned Fusion Power.

I've been hoarding a large pile of cash, thinking I might get to do my traditional steal a tech and build a Secret Project thing.  But it's becoming pretty clear that the Gaians will clean up all the techs and Secret Projects from here on out, until they are invaded.  So I rush a number of Command Centers, which will start making hovertank probe teams.  I also begin more mindworms.

Aside from the 3 cities I took from Morgan, most of my cities are only size 4.  When they get to be size 5 they become unhappy and I make a colony pod.  I'm still trying to settle my original island while all this crazy spam war is going on.  I'm at an order of magnitude less capability than various factions.  I hope they have an order of magnitude less intelligence than I do.

I check on the Spartans.  They don't have any advanced Build techs and their terraforming is still quite ordinary.  They do have some decent armor, notably the Photon Wall, which in my mod is strength 8.  However weapons and armor have increasing expense in my mod, it's not linear, so they probably don't have the productivity to bang many of those out.  They have some cities with 10 to 13 minerals in them, and one in the Monsoon Jungle with 18 minerals.

So the Spartans are a threat, but not a monster, and they're busy fighting the Pirates.  That's probably intractable because they're unlikely to get into Svensgaard's lake moat.  They spend time exchanging the land cities.  I can't see into the Pirate bases, I was never able to get a probe team that far up north.  Their Explore, Build focus may have given them supply crawler and Borehole capability by now, but they've never had any safe land to do it on.

My allies the Data Angels have 14 Fusion Plasma Supply Crawlers and 10 more in production.  Their rows have 6 bars to them.  Looks like they're paying 9*6 = 54 minerals for these things.  They obviously don't care and aren't impeded, sitting on a large island continent by themselves.  I don't see any Boreholes even though they're Borehole capable.  No Condensers either.  They have used Soil Enrichers.

the jacker doesn't know jack
the jacker doesn't know jack

Now again, this is obnoxious.  In my mod their compulsion is Thought Control, for the very good reason that it would make their probe teams really powerful.  Yet Thinker mod ignores this compulsion completely and goes Eudaimonic.  So I face the situation where I'm avoiding talking to my ally, because I'm Eudaimonic myself, because I don't want to get chewed out for it.  Even though she's doing it herself.  It's borked.  I'm losing free techs because of this.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 19, 2019, 10:23:18 PM
MY 2246.  My 1-1-1 probe team became Elite last turn, increasing its range.  This turn I was able to steal Industrial Automation.

MY 2247.  My 1-1-1 probe team steals Fusion Power from the last city within its range.  I design new units.

Real life interruptions.

I have received playtesting feedback about my mod, that base cracking is too difficult now.  That it's painful to the point of being boring.  I changed 3 major factors:


Also in my tech tree, weapon and armor strengths proceed at the same rate.  You're not going to gain a weapon advantage over someone who has basically the same tech you do.  You could gain a production advantage, simply hitting them with more troops until they die.  You could gain a maneuver advantage, bringing stronger forces to bear against more weakly held cities.  That favors the use of Speeders and Hovertanks, or some other clever understanding of terrain and logistics.

The testing feedback, however, is I've gone overboard.  I think this is confirmed by the number of probe teams I've used to trash Perimeter Defenses in recent games, and the fact that I don't like it and get bored doing it.

So, right in the middle of this game, I'm dialing the inherent base defense back to +25%, as it is in the stock game.  That's a modest change.  We'll see what difference it makes.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 21, 2019, 02:35:13 AM
I have also decided giving Perimeter Defenses as a Conquer 1 tech is a really bad idea.  The AI obsesses about them, limiting its expansion.  I've seen it obsess about Heavy Artillery in a similar way in the past, and the answer was to move that to Tier 3.  So the Perimeter Defense will now follow suit.  It's too late to test the change in this game, we're long since past the Conquer 3 tech era.  But it's worth noting if I do another test game after this.  Real life is interfering a great deal with my ability to continue this particular game, so all things considered, I might start fresh.  I haven't decided yet.

In my mod, Synthmetal armor is a good defense against Scouts, and it's available as a Tier 1 tech.  Lasers are strength 3, can overcome Synthmetal armor, and aren't available until Tier 3.  The main downside to Synthmetal armor as an early defense, is you have to prototype it.  In moments of early desperation, I personally have blown an Artifact to get the job done.  If the game beginning is more relaxed, then I've just built the prototype in some high minerals city when I've had the time to do it.

The beginning of a Huge map game is supposed to be more relaxed.  With the stock binary faction placement algorithm, it's possible to get a neighbor right next to you, but it's unusual and not something you expect to happen.  You have to be prepared for the possibility, scout your immediate surroundings, and not do things that would leave you wide open to invasion, but that's about it.  Whereas in Thinker mod, I do believe I've been put into some kind of "close quarters cage match" every single test game.  When / if I start again, I'm definitely turning that off.
Title: Re: Thinker mod military capability, attempt 6
Post by: bvanevery on March 22, 2019, 02:45:19 AM
I've definitely lost continuity in the past several days.  I think it is better to start a fresh game that tests the new parameters.  Since I've changed some early base defense parameters, I'm going to try dialing back the Condenser and Borehole costs a bit, to 24 and 48.  Although the higher values of 36 and 72 may be more appropriate for defeating the Thinker mod AI's abuse of them, there's the question of what a human player finds palatable.  Double cost may be easier for people to swallow than triple cost, particularly when playing with the stock binary rather than with Thinker mod.