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Civ IV PBEM Update

May 29th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Me, Multiplayer

We’re about a third of the way through our PBEM Civilization IV: Warlords game, playing the excellent Chinese Unification scenario. In single player, the scenario is largely about diplomacy – persuading your opponents to support your claim to the Mandate of Heaven. So you export your bloodline or strategically convert, all the while beating on whoever looks like they are going to be a threat. Then you suck up to get the votes you need to win.

In multiplayer, this is not going to happen. Aside from a couple of “open borders” arrangements, there hasn’t been a lot of chatter or horse-trading. All sides start with similar resources, so there is no blackmailing with horses or tea. Three of the states are AI controlled and serve as buffers between the human players. This game will be almost entirely about conquering the votes you need to win.

This would be exaggerated in a two player game, of course. When the only options are “win” or “lose”, there is no incentive to talk to your opponent at all. But with four players, the politics should be getting sticky soon. Eventually, an alliance of convenience will have to be formed against whoever is the biggest threat. Balance of power politics will make sure that everyone is in play when the Council Building is constructed.

The nature of the opponent has a dramatic impact on the civics you choose. Since this will be a military game, keeping the people happy in a prolonged war becomes important, as does lowering the cost of conquered cities or extra troops. It’s a truism that you play differently against the AI in all games, but this isn’t about exploiting AI weaknesses or taking advantage of AI predictability. It’s about the entire zeitgeist changing because the AI is willing to vote for someone else where a human is more likely to drag it out to the final conclusion. Add to that the fact that you know what your computer controlled opponents think of you (Annoyed because I Follow A Heathen Religion) whereas everything that Alan Au does is sure to be a trap.

My Wei Kingdom is doing nicely, by the way. Two of my AI controlled neighbors declared war on me. One agreed to a draw after a sitzkrieg and the other lost a city to my chariots when a fake buildup on the other side of the map pulled a lot of his defence away. I’m also putting a lot of cultural pressure on one of his cities – pressure that will grow once I take a nearby barbarian settlement.

Still in third place though. A human opponent built the Chinese Great Library, so that gave him a huge boost. My marble is still unquarried since I had to rush to get my metals ready for the wars. I’ll keep you updated as I go through this.

The scenarios, by the way, are the best part of Warlords and are well worth the price of admission. With the new Civ expansion two months away, I hope we’ll hear more about what stories Firaxis has included this time around.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Alan

    That reminds me, I should open a dialogue with Wei (Troy). Also, pay no attention to the graph of faction “power” rating–that’s just me garrisoning my cities.

    Yeah, there hasn’t been much diplomacy lately. I’ve been sporadically contacting some players, but mostly it’s been a slow buildup for the inevitable military clash. That is to say, the initial push is to lay claim to the “neutral” AI territories before the other players do. After that, things will start to get really interesting.

    I’m very happy with the way the scenario is constructed; diplomacy quirks aside, I find that the scenario is much better balanced for competitive play than the epic game.

  • Jon Shafer

    Glad you guys are having fun with the game. :) Wei is a hard one to play because it’s stuffed in the middle of everyone else. I’ve heard reports that the style of play necessary for the perimeter civs is quite a bit different from the interior ones because of the prevalence of barbarians in the uninhabited parts of the map. That may be people playing on the highest difficulty levels though… hard to balance everything across levels…

    [Shameless plug]Hopefully you enjoy my BtS project, Final Frontier, just as much. ;)[/Shameless plug]

  • Troy

    Barbarians are a constant issue for the perimeter states, and least in single player. This has its advantages – easy conquests – but can be a major drain on attention or military resources.

    I fully expect to be the meat in a Chinese sandwich.

    And you know I’m a serious Civ nerd, and everything I’ve heard about Final Frontier (which isn’t much) has me very curious. (Make sure it’s not broken like Omens was, eh?)

  • Jon Shafer

    Hehe, well, I only made Chinese Unification and Genghis Khan, so I can’t speak much for the other mods that were in Warlords. I can say that FF has been under development for quite some time now, so hopefully it’ll live up to expectations. More information should be available soon. :)

  • Troy

    “I can’t speak much for the other mods that were in Warlords”

    There is no I in Civ. Wait. That’s not right.

    There is no Me in Meier. Wait. That’s not right either.

    You’re part of a team, Jon. You get to share the grief. ;)

  • Jon Shafer

    Haha, you’re harsh. Well, if that’s how it is I’d better get back to work… ;)