[.86 Strategy] Guns or Butter trade off still lacking

By on March 2, 2012 5:40:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mistwraithe

Join Date 05/2003
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Originally I had two doubts about FE: would it get enough fun stuff packed into it and would it be a good strategy game.

Looking at 0.86 I'm becoming quite confidant that the former is not going to be a problem. As the Fall From Heavan mod demonstrated Derek specialises in adding good crunch and differentiation between factions. However I still have some big doubts about the strategy side.

A key element of good strategy games like Civilization 4 (which I believe is close to the pinacle in this area, Kohan is another one but in the RTS area) is the trade off between building military and building economy. At higher difficulty levels in strategy games the AI typically cheats and good players usually still beat them by either focusing heavily on military (steamroll them before their economic advantage can pay off) or by focusing heavily on economy and using a bare bones military and diplomacy to hold off the AI while they slowly out build the AI.

My concern in FE is with the second path of focusing heavily on economy. In Civ 4 this involves three main mechanics:

1. running a smaller army which allows a lower tax rate which allows more research

2. spending less time building military units which allows building granaries, libraries, markets, etc to invest in long term growth.

3. expanding more rapidly with new cities etc to benefit from the higher long term growth of having more cities.

In FE #1 is possible due to the tax slider (tho there are problems there, more later) but #2 is pointless because the only early building of any use is the Inn and it is so easy to build that every player will probably build it (regardless of whether going heavy military or economy). So an economic player is starved of things to build (ironically a military player has many more things they could build including workshop and lumbermill to build troops faster, but they probably don't need them because building units takes little enough time that the gildar cost of supporting the units is usually going to be more of a limit than the production time). There are a few level 2 and 3 buildings which benefit the economy but they are limited in number, it takes a while to reach level 2 and a very long time to reach level 3 meaning they are next to useless as an early economic accelerator for a player focusing on economy.

Doing #3 (more cities) in FE is somewhat counter productive because it splits your prestige more finely amongst more cities so while your empire as a whole grows slightly faster due to an extra inn, your older (and bigger) cities will grow slower, taking even longer to reach level 3+ buildings. The net affect is potentially slower economic growth rather than faster.

Compounding all this is that there are also severe problems with the #1 trade off. By running a small military one would think an economic focussed player would be able to hold their tax at none/low for longer and thereby research faster. But in fact the opposite is the case because the best way to keep your tax rate at zero is to have a moderate sized early game army which is capable of knocking over monsters and taking their items which can be sold for vast sums (relative to the value of early game economies).

I'm not necessarily fussed with my last point above, FE is obviously a game about having heroes and fighting the environment so it seems reasonable that a player be forced to have some early military for this purpose (although I do think the size of the disparity between loot value and early game economic output is a bit ludicrous).

But I am frustrated by the fact that early game cities spend most of their time building nothing (#2). There are no real options for an economically oriented player to try to get ahead. And with the current model even if there were more useful early game buildings a militarily focussed player would potentially also have enough time to build them because even with a military focus I find my cities still having plenty of time building nothing.

 

TLDR; cities are completely boring early-mid game with no interesting building choices. Cities spend most of their time building nothing even if you tech up civics.

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March 2, 2012 7:04:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some interesting points.

On my current .86, large map, challenging game I have my cities doing improvements, army units, explorers and lots of pioneers. Later in the game, some might be idle for periods until research provides something to build. Early game, I always have things for my cities to build.

Interesting building choices? I find it interesting to optimize what I can do with each of my cities. The buildings are just my different options.

I will say that maintenance costs on buildings may need some balancing. Paying 1 gold per turn on the same building in 20 cities gets expensive.

 

 

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March 2, 2012 8:37:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the reply. My capital was busy for a while, say the first 30-40 turns doing just as you say. However once I added a few more settlements and had two monster hunting groups I realised there was little more to build unless I wanted to launch an invasion against a neighbour (ie go heavy military). At that point one also realises that those workshops, lumbermills and barracks are just holding you back so I sold them in all but a single military production city. And then my cities sat there doing very little but build their level 2 special building and a granary (and even the granary was unnecessary because none of my cities were near pop cap but it was a free building so I built it). I'm about to build a brewery at which point I can see a spurt of pub building but you need a level 3 city and a brewery first so we're talking 150 turns into the game...

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March 2, 2012 9:01:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with what you say.

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