Difficulty settings as a new player

Can't beat the AI? Is it too tame? Discuss the best strategies!
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Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 2:54 am

Difficulty settings as a new player

Postby emeraldincognito » Mon May 08, 2017 3:08 am

Hi there,

I am a civ vet, but new to freeciv and this forum. I tried a couple of games, (the tutorial and one that I created), earlier today. I am not sure what the difficulty settings were for the tutorial, but I put the difficulty on normal for the second game. In both games I got completely destroyed. In the first game I was overrun by my neighbour's ironclads around 700 CE. The same thing happened in the second game, though with riflemen. Is there an option I need to change? Did anyone else have a similar experience when he or she first started? I am just wondering because this obviously seems a little off. I am naturally playing the latest version; I think it is 2.5.6.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 2:00 pm

Re: Difficulty settings as a new player

Postby bard » Fri May 19, 2017 1:39 am

It uses to happen to new players, you surely can find similar threads in this forum.

My opinion is that AI is good with some game mechanics that can make a huge difference if used properly, and new players do not use to know, even if they played civ2 (it happened to me). People use to suggest to search guides (for example http://freeciv.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Tutorials) to improve your gameplay, or to play on easier AI levels. You can also try to disable the rules that might be given the advantage to the AI, at least for your first games. For example:

- It is a big advantage at start of game to build cities close to each other (smallpox strategy). If you do not do it, you can force the AI to stop it too. In the server settings when you start a new game -> Sociological tab -> Minimum distance between cities -> Set it to 3 or 4.
- If you are not good optimizing your trade routes, you may disable them in -> Economic tab -> Minimum distance for trade routes -> Set it to 999 (the max value, greater than the map size).
- If you do not use rapture growth to grow your cities when they are celebrating, you may disable this rule in -> Sociological tab -> minimum turn between rapture effect -> Set it to 99 (this max value should practically disable it, though I have never tested it).

Those 3 rules have a bigger impact on difficulty than any AI level that you use, so I suggest to learn to use them, or disable them until then.

- I forgot... if the AIs use to ally all against you, you may forbid that they exchange techs -> Sociological tab -> Technology trade -> disable it.

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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:24 pm

Re: Difficulty settings as a new player

Postby Kernigh » Wed May 24, 2017 5:25 am

Years ago, I was a new player with Freeciv 1.x. AI civs had more cities and more techs than my civ. They sometimes invaded me with Ironclads or Musketeers, when I only had Phalanx or Legions. I learned to resist by building Diplomats. The invader conquered some of my cities, then I sent my Diplomats there to establish an embassy, steal technology, or incite a revolt. I can only steal one tech from each city, but I got a second tech with each revolt. I used revolts to buy back my cities! A revolt also buys the units in a city. With more techs and better units, I defeated some invasions.

In newer versions of Freeciv, the AI can use its own Diplomats to defend cities. Your Diplomat might reach the city before the AI builds a Diplomat, or your Diplomat might eliminate the AI Diplomat, or you might get unlucky and lose several Diplomats to an AI Diplomat who gained veteran levels.

At the beginning of the game, AI civs expand fast. You must also expand fast, or the AI civs will be much larger than yours. I spam Settlers and try to claim much territory. I wait for a city to grow to size 2, then use my gold to buy Settlers. I build cities to expand my national borders. When I can't find empty land, I spam Caravans for wonders or trade routes. I make short trade routes, then replace them with longer trade routes. AI civs like to make trade routes, so I also make them, or else AI civs get too far ahead in science.

I can't find a good explanation of AI difficulty levels. Here are the main features of each difficulty level, from my reading of the source code of Freeciv 2.5.x.
  • novice AIs have a handicap to science. They need 2½ times the bulbs to learn a tech. If you play against novice AIs, they probably won't overwhelm you with advanced units. They also have the same limits as easy AIs.
  • easy AIs have a few limits. From huts, they only get 25 gold or barbarians. They never build planes. They are more peaceful with human players than with other AIs. They are slow to build new cities, and don't like to build cities if they have more cities than the largest human player. If you play against easy AIs, you might not have problems with them being much larger than you.
  • normal AIs don't use Diplomats or Spies to attack other players. They can also cheat by skipping Anarchy when switching between governments.
  • hard AIs cheat more by ignoring limits on tax rates; they can set 100% tax or 100% science if they want. They can also see through fog of war when looking for enemy units to kill.
  • cheating AIs get extra bonuses from the ruleset. They get faster science, more happiness, and other stuff.