Author Topic: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading  (Read 1397 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« on: July 25, 2016, 07:39:00 AM »
Hello, there.

I was working on the AIW's wiki when something took my attention. The wiki says that to free the Spire Civilian Leader Outposts, the players only need to destroy the AI OCStation on the same planet. However, I remembered (and the outpost's tooltip agreed with me) that the outpost needs to be captured (with a human OCStation) in order to provide its AIP reduction.

Here is the outpost's tooltip's description:
Quote
Against their will, every hour each outpost increases the AI Progress by 1 when in control of the AI.  You have the choice of either destroying these outposts for colloduing with the AI, or freeing the outposts by capturing the planet from the AI.  When freed, each of these outposts will gratefully decrease the AI Progress by 3 every hour.
It sounds clear:
"free" <- "capturing the planet from the AI"
"free" -> "-3 AIP/hour"

I ran a test and discovered the truth: I was wrong since the beginning, and so is the tooltip. I started a sandbox game with complete visibility; 10 outposts, fine. I captured one and only "freed" one. At the 1:00:00 timestamp, I got 10 log entries: 8 times "+1 AIP" and 2 times "-3 AIP".

Consequences: players don't need to capture and defend civilians to get the -3 aip/h. I have always captured and defended the civilians I wanted to rally and destroyed the ones I gave up (unless nethack-like "conduct"). That was hard but feasible: out of 10, I need only to capture and defend 3 of them (and assassinate none) to get a positive AIP trend (positive to me, which is negative... got it?). That made interesting expansion choices and if I chose to defend a remote civilian, I knew I were in for a lotsa pain. That was tough but balance, IMO. However, with that new data... I imagine I would be able to unlock high Mk Raid Starships and assassinate some AI OCStations and a few civilians to easily make a big positive AIP trend.

Let's imagine my raiders free 5 outposts and kill the 5 furthest outposts. That makes -15 aip/h for 100 AIP, refunded after the 6h mark. And keep in mind that even without capturing, I can gather the Knowledge, which makes 15,000 K (I won't have the energy, but I would have used it to power turrets to defend the civilian; I only forfeit the metal, which isn't the most important resource in AIW). The first 6 hours will be harder because of the invested AIP, but after that, it's 15,000 "free" K and one "free" planet every 1h20. Also, every civilian falling in my territory will "cost" nothing, because I'll get all my K, E and M for the 20 AIP.

My question is twofold.
1) Did you know?
2) Is it balanced?

The tooltip clearly needs to be updated, but wouldn't it be interesting to change the gameplay to fit the tooltip? (Make capture and defense of the outposts mandatory.) IMO, that would makes (and made, for me, until now) interesting strategic and moral choices (capture and defend or assassinate).

Anyway, I'll make the wiki tell that louder.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 08:13:11 AM »
Update: a proofreading (both for style, grammatical and technical correctness) would be appreciated.
* the Minor Faction
* the Outpost
Thanks in advance!
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 12:52:21 AM »
My question is twofold.
1) Did you know?
2) Is it balanced?

1) Yes
2) Probably. The AIP Floor is a thing.

Offline motai

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2016, 03:09:35 PM »
i think it is balanced but mostly because if you deepstrike you are usually waking permanently 3-6 systems for ai reinforcements to counter the ai reduction in threat so you are making life harder and easier at the same time.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 06:01:32 PM »
i think it is balanced but mostly because if you deepstrike you are usually waking permanently 3-6 systems for ai reinforcements to counter the ai reduction in threat so you are making life harder and easier at the same time.
More planets alerted is a good thing: AI reinforcement scattered on multiple alerted worlds I don't necessarily care about. Thing is: I felt it was balanced when I thought I needed to capture and defend the civilians. I realized its is much more easy: freed and not captured, they require no protection. AIP to free and alerted planets are the same, but the need for defense and the threat to lose them is gone, to me. I would pay as much AIP and AI alert-ness, but it would spare me the trouble of defending them.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2016, 05:43:58 PM »
Agree that's unintuitive.  Did you file a mantis bug requesting either a fix to the tooltip or the mechanic?  That doesn't sound like it's working as intended. They might not get to it for a while, but it would be nice to have it logged.

I don't think it's as unbalanced as you might think, though.  It costs 20 AIP to free a civilian leader.  It then reduces the AIP by 3 per hour.  That means you're not breaking even for 7 hours.  That's quite a while; if you free all ten leaders at once that's +200 AIP, which could easily kill you on high difficulties. 

Plus, you're raising the floor.  I forget the exact AIP => Floor conversion rate, but I think it ranges from 10-33% depending on Difficulty.  Call it 25%.  That means that freeing the leader costs you 20 AIP immediately, and 5 of that AIP you'll never get back (because the floor goes up by 25% of your AIP increase).  Freeing all ten leaders is 50 extra floor.  That might not be noticeable until after the first AI HW is down, but killing an AI HW is +87 floor (though only 28 AIP). Still, if that buys you more time to prepare for the AI Homeworld assaults, say to finish building a bunch more golems, then that's still pretty worthwhile, and it does give you a ton of extra knowledge which directly translates into more strength. 

Like lots of other things, Civilian leaders seem like they're strongest on a small maps or map styles with lower maximum distances; you still have to get to them.  On a 120 planet snake map, you're going to rack up a lot of hourly AIP increases before you can free them all.

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 12:21:06 AM »
Don't forget the AIP they put in until you free them.  Even if you free them all at the same time on Hour 3, then you're in the hole for 8 hours, not 7.

(Well, actually "7 not 6" because of the immediate +3 upon being freed)

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 01:44:41 AM »
I don't think it's currently unbalanced. I just said I thought it was balanced when I thought it worked differently. I just find it easier than what I've got used to, not intrinsically easy.

And nope, I didn't made a mantis bug report.
...
I just made it.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline motai

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2016, 12:07:29 PM »
i think it is balanced but mostly because if you deepstrike you are usually waking permanently 3-6 systems for ai reinforcements to counter the ai reduction in threat so you are making life harder and easier at the same time.
More planets alerted is a good thing: AI reinforcement scattered on multiple alerted worlds I don't necessarily care about. Thing is: I felt it was balanced when I thought I needed to capture and defend the civilians. I realized its is much more easy: freed and not captured, they require no protection. AIP to free and alerted planets are the same, but the need for defense and the threat to lose them is gone, to me. I would pay as much AIP and AI alert-ness, but it would spare me the trouble of defending them.
i wouldn't discount the roaming threat. you seem to be under the illusion it stays dispersed. 10 spire civilians x 3 systems alerted x every 15 min x (60/200/500 ai progress dependent) ships reinforced all added to the patrolling threat fleet on your border. if you have a single chokepoint strategy this can often make raiding very dangerous as the threat builds up. if you are guarding multiple chokepoints this still adds up to a very dangerous threat fleet and special forces fleet you are constantly dancing with. of course the dump a missile strategy gets thru this without you noticing much and is more effective because of the reduced progress. as mentioned in smaller galaxies where you can do a faster raiding this becomes more broken and with less ship reinforcement. but under 40 systems is already a cheap shot at everything.

Offline tadrinth

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2016, 05:24:17 PM »
Unless you're playing with the Preemptive plot enabled, reinforcements will spawn as inactive defenders.  They won't wake up and turn into threat unless they accumulate to high numbers (border aggression) or until you bring enough firepower into the system to wake up the whole system.

Also, alerting more planets doesn't actually cause more reinforcements to spawn.  It just spreads out the reinforcements more.  That might be a good thing even with Preemptive; having the same amount of threat ships spawn dispersed makes it easier to kill them as they arrive.

The lower AIP from those civilian leaders does directly reduce the number of reinforcements, as long as you survive long enough for them to reduce the AIP you took on by freeing them. 

Offline Toranth

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2016, 06:44:19 PM »
I'll agree with Tadrinth - Spire Civilians generally make things easier, even considering the extra reinforcements and Preemptive.  Of course, that assumes good play.  If the player completely ignores them and goes a long, slow road doing other stuff, they could rack up hundreds of extra AIP.
On the other hand, near optimal play - scouting hard to find them all, then using Raid Starships to free 3-4 and kill the rest - gives you a solid per-hour AIP reduction at a moderate-to-low instant AIP cost.

But, as with all features in AI War, if you find that Spire Civilian Leaders are making the game easy... you can up the difficulty.  Try the same game settings, but at Diff 8.  Or Diff 9.  Or, heck, try Diff 10 and find out how different they can be  >D

Offline Vacuity

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Re: Spire Civilian Leader - tooltip highly misleading
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2016, 09:00:30 AM »
My question is twofold.
1) Did you know?
2) Is it balanced?
1) Yes
2) I'd say the Spire Civilian Leaders make the game easier on the whole, much like Roaming Enclaves, Golems, and so forth.  I enjoy using them, but I also use other options that make my games harder.  In the end I enjoy my games, and that's good enough for me.

Changing the tooltip seems fine, I'd be dismayed at changing the mechanic; I like the way it works.