It was the most surreal thing I can imagine. The khmer turn by itself lasted nearly 15 minutes, while swarms of cavalry suicided against my fortified infantry on a hill. I killed roughly 40 cavalry as they attacked, and it took 12 more to finally kill my wounded units and conquer the city. When I looked at the garrison, I saw a list of cavalry without a single damaged unit, which means they hadn’t even gotten to attack in the previous battle. I estimate over a hundred enemy cavalry in that sneak attack.
The only thing I can say about civ4 is that the game just does not want to be played. I can’t think of a more tedious gaming experience. At least other bad games boldly announce how lousy they are after just a few minutes of playing. With civ4, every game sucks you deeper and deeper into the experience, making you forget how frustrating it always turns out. Seven hours into a game, the computer completes 12 parts of a spaceship the turn before you would have launched, or completes 3 wonders in a row all less than 3 turns from when you would have completed them, or wins 9 out of 10 battles in which you were favored by 75% or more, ending your game with a disappointed, disgusted feeling. The never ending horde of suicidal cavalry is a new gut-wrenching frustration, though. I thought I had seen it all after dozens of times playing this game, but civ4 always finds new ways to ruin my afternoon. Fuck!
I do remember Tokugawa send his cavalry to strip my lands bare, destroying every improvement in a matter of turns, before taking my cities and making me quit in frustration.
The computer seems to cheat so badly, it will decide you’re going too well and do something to spoil your day. Alliances seem pointless because your best mate will decide to turn on you for no reason other than you look like winning. And also the computer is the biggest cheat ever.
The combat system is the main reason I’ve stopped playing it, mainly because of the type of scenario outlined in the OP. Free clue Firaxis: all those troops need to f*cking EAT (i.e. if the game completely lacks any sort of supply system, you get these 100 cavalry type of absurdities). Upkeep costs only partly remedy the endless hordes issue. Combat resolution itself is like an “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon (keep bashing each other on the head until one of the stacks dies, rinse, repeat). Occasionally over at Civ Fanatics someone will recommend an overhaul of the combat system, but the diehards invariably rise up in arms against the idea (such as a tactical combat screen a la Heroes of Might and Magic).
Gosh, I would HATE tactical combat. It’s just completely out of concept, like adding a free throw contest to a hockey game.
But I’d agree that Civ4 computer players seem far too prone to “blob” armies that come out of absolutely nowhere; heaven knows how they get built, but even at levels where the computer is allegedly playing by the same rules I am he’ll come up with a 47-unit blob early in the game that just can’t possibly have been constructed that quickly.
The problem seems easily fixable, at least to me:
Add a LOS function, as you’ve suggested, and perhaps most logically,
Slavery, also known in my circle as ‘The computer’s bitch-move civic’. You attack an enemy that you’ve thoroughly scouted and discovered almost no defensive units. The computer switches to Slavery and before you know it even the size 2 cities are cranking out a unit a turn with no noticeable decrease in population. It never works that well for you.
Technology trading is also incredibly stacked against you, they’ll give away the farm to each other but wont even consider an even up trade with you.
They really need to make it so that modern units are impossible to defeat by units below a certain level. There’s simply no way a longbowman should ever be defeating my tank. They shouldn’t even injure it.
Y’know, they actually did fix this…in Civ 2. They had a “firepower” stat for units—so if, say, you had a Phalanx with 10 defense points go up against a Musketeer unit with 4 attack points, but the latter had 8 firepower points as opposed to the former’s 3, you’d probably be having hoplite stew for dinner. Something like that.
It always seemed to work fine, to me—no idea why they changed it, later on.
In fairness, though, there are probably circumstances where a more primitive unit could manage to surprisingly hurt, or even defeat, a more advanced one—witness Isandlwana, or maybe Teutoburg—but, indeed, you’d think there should be enough drawbacks and odd circumstances involved that they’d become more like gamer campfire stories (“Hey, I ever tell you gals about the time I held back a Zulu blitz with Mongol longbowmen? Magnificent yew-plucking bastards…”) instead of a common “bug.”
In Civ 3 the difficulty levels were handled by handicapping production. It was not really worth playing a higher level game because the computer would come with a massive army too early on the game for you to really get into it, and then it owuld just be this tedious slog back from an impaired state. Unless you got blessed with some kind of fortified landmass, your own island or surrounded by mountains or a defensible peninsula. I always played at the equal level. I assumed Civ 4’s handicapping worked the same. I don’t know though.
Wake me up when Civ handles logistics. When every single person in the world has a job and a few uniquely identifying characteristics, then I’ll be interested. Until then it’s just not worth playing.
I know the game very well. The AI doesn’t “cheat”, at harder difficulty levels they do get to build things for cheaper etc but the mechanics works the same for the AI and it can’t just magic up a stack of troops. Also, if it says 75% chance to win, then it is 75% chance but sometimes you get an unlucky run and you’ll remember it more than a lucky run.
I’ve never seen a stack that size or seen a size 2 city pump out 1 unit a turn by slavery. It just doesn’t happen. I’ve put 100s of hours into the game and have discussed it in detail with people who’ve played more.
Improvements to the AI in patches and expansions have led to much larger stacks than in the early days of the game, it’s just to make the game a bit more challenging and to get the AI playing more like a human. If people are constantly getting beaten they should play around with the settings to get to a level they enjoy playing.
Ever since Civ 1, I’ve reasoned that the times when a modern unit is defeated by a medieval or ancient unit can be chalked up to that unit’s having smuggled or stolen some tiny one use modern weapon such as an RPG or Stinger, but their manufacturing capabilities are so tiny and primitive that they can’t replicate it, so they can’t produce more units of it.
If a war elephant killed a gunship (helicopter) then the gunship must have been pretty badly damaged. Maybe it was on the ground being refueled or having a few quick, temporary repairs done when the elephant charged? Or maybe as it swooped in to target the elephant it clipped a tree and spun into the ground? Let’s try and use our imagination people!!
This sort of thing has been much reduced since the earlier versions of civ and is a now very rare occurance if the troops are managed well. It can happen in very unfortunate cases but as it happens so infrequently it doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game. Anyway, odd things happen in war at times.
I gave up building battleships in the first Civ game, when one was taken out trying to soften up some musketmen in a city, belief staggered a little, then fell over and hit his head a little too hard on the ground.