Civilization V Update

Over the weekend there was a patch released for Civ V. Yet again a total fuck up.
The turns are taking far longer. It is next to impossible to use an arrow key to move between cities. Trying to queue building projects is a raffle.

In this thread there is a story of some guy playing Civ II for ten years. That will be the time needed for an average game after this latest dog.

It looks like there is a total of one gameplay change:

Still, it’s a nice change…

The game has been out long enough there shouldnt be release day bugs or balance issues. Very disappointing. The turns taking longer than should be necessary has been a problem since day 1, and it boggles the mind that they released a patch that made it even worse.

Worse for me, a few days before the update, I bought a new upgraded computer so I could crush those evil Aztecs so much more quickly.

Then all of a sudden the game slowed noticeably and things were turning bad in a big way. I thought my new computer was a lemon!

Anyway I went to CivFanatics today and read 20 pages of bitching about it which made me a lot happier.

Two things I learned that have assisted me to get it to run more smoothly:

  1. Go to Steam/Library/ right click on CivilizationV/Properties/ Local Files and verify integrity of the game cache.

I did have one corrupted file from the download and it seems to be a common problem.

  1. Go to your Config.ini file and change Enablegamecorethreading=1 to a value of 0. I don’t know how it works but I’m told it helps the computer to use threading more efficiently.

Ok good, I thought it was just my computer as to why my game suddenly started running slow. Also, in between turns my screen starts moving around randomly.

Civ V really blew it but they’re weren’t completely wrong in trying to fix the ‘death stacks’ of Civ IV. One unit per hex is not an elegant fix though. I did some unit modding awhile back on IV and changed my copy to double sea movement for ships, I like big maps and was getting sick of transatlantic ships becoming obsolete before they touched land again. I’ve been thinking about doubling upkeep on units, players and AI will still be able to build stacks but wont be able to fund them for long, limiting empire expansion and conquest in a more realistic way.

I really like the one unit per hex rule but wish they’d added some useful ways to move armies around. I should be able to lock units in a formation and move them all at once. It’s especially annoying when moving an embarked army across an ocean, considering I tend to play as the English that happens a lot…

I’ve never understood what the problem was supposed to be with Stacks of Doom to begin with. If you have a larger army than the other guy, it should give you advantages on the battlefield.

I didn’t like the stacks of doom because of the automatic preference for the best defensive unit to meet whatever unit you attacked with. It felt very cheap that a player could protect their weak units with their strongest ones, without any sort of tactical thought.

Players’ views toward the stack’o’doom phenomenon can be divided according to the two types of people who play. One type enjoys building cities and expanding and concentrating on long term strategy, and sees the tactical battles as icing on the cake. The other type plays the game specifically for the tactical battles, because that’s the part they enjoy the most. Stack’o’doom is a strategist’s dream, because the person who spent the most effort and made the best decisions in the centuries leading up to war wins. It’s a tactician’s nightmare, because it removes almost all of the tactical depth from the battles.

I’m the second type. I enjoy the civ building part, and I’m pretty good at it, but it rubs me the wrong way when my army just stomps all around one square at a time blowing up anything that moves. It’s only satisfying in a long-term sense. The war itself has all the excitement of watching a sausage making machine.

I have a few thoughts on the stack of death, although I haven’t played V.

I would’ve liked a stacking limit. You might start out only being able to have a single unit in a square/hex. Add one to the stack limit for key military units unlocked, such as archer, axemen, horse archers, and so on. That would all have to be tweaked so that stack size isn’t too big or small. You’d have pluses for city size and fortification level-- a large town with walls might add plus 3 to maximum stack size, while a size one village maybe only one. Fortifications could also add to stack limits, which might make forts more worthwhile; I hardly ever built them. You could also have bonuses to stack limit for things like civ traits.

All that sounds like it would be easy to add to a Civ game. What might be more interesting is the addition of a tactical map. It’d be sort of like in Total War, except turn based. Actually, a lot like the old board game Titan.

Y’know, there just may be something to that: I am, in fact, more of a big-picture player. This may also be compounded by the fact that I generally manage to postpone all of my wars to at least the medieval and preferably industrial era, when you can’t really cover your attack units with your defensive units due to the different move speeds.

Is it just me, or is Civ V markedly less pretty than Civ IV?

I’m so much the former that I didn’t even notice the stack of doom until someone pointed it out to me. I do remember a few times when the AI was considerate enough to stack most of its army on one tile so that my stealth bombers could efficiently massacre them, though.

For all I care, they can go back to Civ I/II rules: When a stack is in the field, killing one unit kills the whole stack. Well, I guess SMAC rules would be better (collateral damage to many/all of the rest of the stack’s units when one is killed). Better still would be Total War-style; even assuming that TW tactical battles are beyond the capabilities of Civ’s designers, the TW campaign map auto-resolve between groups of units would be a big step up.

I do enjoy Civ V, but I think a lot of the best features of previous Civ’s have been thrown out for the sake of change.

I had no great problem with the stacking but recognise that you can only place so many Army Divisions in a space in the real world. I didn’t mind religion and the consequences, espionage and the previous system of culture where a cities boundaries were variable. Also the health being dependent on items such as fish etc. I also like from a few iterations ago that a resource such as iron could become depleted.

I’m still not a fan of no ships- it is so easy to escape a stronger enemy unit by jumping into the water. It is like the British at Dunkirk could have just swum away. And I also believe there should be a system whereby if you are not using a resource (or importing one you don’t use at the moment) it can be stockpiled.

I like playing Civ V for awhile, but then after a time I found the artificial intelligence lacking in well, intelligence. It reminded me of the old Age of Empires games in which the computer to make up for lack in AI will give the computer the advantage of shorter times to build up an army or whatever. I just don’t understand why they can create really great AI programs for computer chess, but can’t for things like CIV and AOE. Is the AI that much more complex to program or are game developers just unwilling to spend the resources to produce truly intelligent AI?

It’s both, but I think you’re really underestimating the scope of the problem.

First, consider the number of variables the AI needs to account for. Chess has a maximum of 32 pieces, of exactly six different varieties, and a fixed grid of 64 possible positions, with only two players to account for. In Civilization IV, on the biggest map, you have a grid of 10240 squares, populated by ~75 unique units, whose total numbers can number in the hundreds, controlled by up to twelve different players. Plus, the units have a huge number of different abilities and statistics (compared to chess, where the only variable is really how the unit moves, plus two special cases for en passant and castling) which affect both how those units can be employed, and how they need to be reacted to. Plus, there’s at least a dozen different possible terrain modifiers that can be applied to each square, sometimes multiple modifiers per square. So, yeah, it’s a massively more complicated AI problem than you find in chess.

On top of which, people have been designing AI for chess since 1950, and that’s on top of literally centuries of thought and philosophy on how best to play the game. Just on the computer side, that’s sixty years of people working on the same problem using exactly the same parameters, the forefront of which is being done as pure AI research by leading figures in the field working to no particular deadline. By contrast, the only people working on the AI for a Civilization game are employees of Take-Two Interactive, they’re working on a game that’s been around for less than twenty years, and the game fundamentally changes every three or four years, which requires massive revamping of the AI. And they’ve got to get it done before Christmas if they want to get paid.

Excellent post. People don’t realize how staggeringly complex a game Civ is. Chess itself is an extremely complex game and Civ is many orders of magnitude more so as you point out.

Given that fact, I am quite impressed with the quality of AI they are able to come up with (at least for Civ 4 since I haven’t played 5 yet). It took me a couple of months to be able to comfortably beat Civ 2 at Deity and that was my first Civ game. After several months I was still stuck at Prince on Civ 4 though I was a more experienced Civ gamer at that point.

Anyway threads like these don’t make me any more eager to get Civ 5. I would probably have to buy a new computer and I am not sure the gameplay is better than Civ 4 anyway.

Pretty much (more or less—I could be a bit more nit-picky) agree with you except for this part. Modders have tweaked the AI considerably, and even after they add more variables. Oh, and of course, 2K (not Take 2) is the publisher not the developer.

I’ll eat a bit of humble pie here. I got a stop watch and did a bit of testing (I posted these results at CivFanatics).

For the first round I used a new computer that is supposed to be able to run Civ V at fast speed. I started a game and went to 20 turns, saved it and then timed the lag for the same game on different settings.

I played as Spain, large map, continents plus, king level. There was no combat and I disregarded turns where dialogue or an announcement was made- it was virtually turn to turn for me.

I tested with corethreading set to 0. The lag time between turns was slightly over 9 seconds.

Tested again with corethreading set to 1. Virtually the same at around 9 seconds.

Then I uploaded the latest graphics driver and started the game again. The lag time was reduced to about 5 seconds. Big difference.

After about 180 turns it has slowed to about 12 seconds lag but that is understandable.

Unless they’re modding the game before it’s released, I’m not sure that’s really relevant to what I was saying.

2K Games is a wholly owned subsidiary of Take 2 Interactive. And I never said they were the developer.

Ditto.

Stack of Doom was problematic, but one-unit-per-hex was going too far. Limiting stacks to, say, 3 units would mean you still have to make choices: two spearmen defending one swordsman is strong defensively, but weak on offense, etc. Ranged and mounted units would have similarly have plusses and minuses as part of a mixed force, and make tactical thinking important.

As it is, a huge part of my military strategy involves putting one hard-to-kill unit (say, a Janissary or a Samurai) on favorable terrain (say, guarding a pass in the mountains) and forcing the enemy to fight one-on-one. They might outnumber me 5 or 6 to one, but I still win.