User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

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louis94
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User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby louis94 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:06 am

Hello,

I can see many people having trouble winning games against the AI. This thread is an attempt at retracing Freeciv users' histories, or how they learned how to play. I hope these stories can help beginners understand the game. Those interested in developing learning tools could also find them useful.

So the question is: How did you learn playing Freeciv?

Louis

louis94
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby louis94 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:09 am

So here is my story:
My first game was back in the 1.x days. I was about 10 years old, and I didn't even know of Sid Meier's games. By the time I had built 3 cities, Koreans had a few dozens. I remember founding a city in the desert to get more production "out of the oil". (Bush had invaded Iraq of the same reason, right?) I can't remember what happened next, but much likely I was overwhelmed by 4-5 Korean units and I lost the game.

My second attempt went farther. I had learned smallpoxing from the AI, and successfully applied it. I actually had a dozen cities and an ally when my neighbour broke treaty. I ignored them for quite some time, until they finally attacked. By then I had researched Railroad but not Gunpowder, which they had. I don't think I had City Walls in my cities. You can imagine how easily they wiped me down. The few units my ally sent to me didn't help much.

At around that time, my father gave me an old manual for Civ II or III. Reading it was very helpful, and helped me understand most of the core concepts: science, combat and the like. I should be able to find it if you're interested (but I think it's in French).

A game I learned a lot in was a lone game. Yes, playing alone in the world was very formative. For the first time I saw the whole tech tree. Barbarians taught me how to defend my cities (and conquer poorly defended ones). I built railroads to speed up colonization, and even some buildings in my cities. Finally, I ended the game by sending a spaceship to Alpha Centauri.

The first time I beat the AI was a 5-players game on a large map. I had plenty of room to expand, and got to Advanced Flight before even filling my island with cities. Then I chased the Arabs off my island and tried to invade their own. This proved to be very difficult, as they had Walls in all their cities. Even holding beachheads was a nightmare, but I finally managed to take the whole island. By that time I had also conquered half of the Bavarois' land using Howitzers. Today, I would consider that game to be won, even if I a lot remained to be done.

I've played many games over the years, but very few actually taught me something new. I can remember one more: I learned the value of buildings in a standard 5-players game, but with the peculiar property of not seeing any war. In fact, there was a big alliance covering the whole planet. As I had few cities, I had to let my cities grow. I used their output to build Marketplaces then Harbours then everything else. Since then I try to get Smith's Trade Corp. as early as possible to lower the initial cost of developing cities.

So now I'm able to beat the AI in most situations. I've never tried multiplayer, but I think humans would defeat me quite easily. I'm just good at exploiting the weaknesses of the AI.

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dunnoob
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby dunnoob » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:58 am

After my OS/2 box died (~2006) I was reduced to 10MB surviving as obscure homepage plus a refurbished 60€ Dell Optiplex + 2nd hand Windows 2000 license (more expensive than the Dell box.) Because I didn't resume all old projects to keep me busy I looked for a free game. Freeciv sounded promising, I knew the old (~1980) boardgame, and I also knew that a commercial Civilzation (the Sid Meier series) existed.

Not sure at which version I got it, presumably 2.2 or 2.1. I tested the tutorial, that worked, and played the default (now classic) ruleset. Not completely happy with this alone I also tested some other games and spent about a year with Illyriad (an almost free online game ignoring the costs for more than 5 GB Internet traffic per month, and various ingame Paypal decorations to support the developers). Mobile broadband sucks, I returned to Freeciv at 2.3, it was fun:

Caveats: Freeciv, Wesnoth, and Illyriad are all seriously addictive, DO NOT USE.

Learning is relatively simple, never ever try the default "tiles per player" map generation, 100 is far too small (unreported bug). Never ever try civ2civ3 with the 2.5 defaults, it ends up with 12 players on a map for five players. And it's seriously different from classic, I already knew that something is wrong when I got the great library without problems. Learning from the AIs, sometimes they know what's important. :oops:

Never ever try experimental, it is a collection of sub-zero fun-factor features not intended to be actually played. But it's brilliant to get ideas for a personal ruleset, classic with a static city radius is boring after you tried experimental with a variable city radius.

Ignore the AI skill level, no matter what it is, the AIs are always better than you until roughly turn 100, and if you still live in turn 200 you'll presumably win. Some mixture of normal and hard is acceptable.

There's no compelling reason to tweak the barbarian settings, just get a wall + phalanx + catapult in all cities before turn 60 (classic, civ2civ3 has this later), or more precisely, have enough gold to buy the unfinished wall or unfinished catapult in turn 60 or later on demand.

Catapults require math, and your chances to get literacy in time for the great library are slim. If you get it anyway with the classic ruleset you have won, otherwise try Newton's College, the AIs do not know that this is a certified winning strategy. If that also fails you're in serious trouble, try SETI Program at all costs. And no, your riflemen are not good enough against battleships and howitzers. The AIs never try nukes and stealth bombers, it would be overkill. :P

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GriffonSpade
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby GriffonSpade » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:27 pm

I've always just turtled in my 1-3 cities and held out until I became advanced enough to beat the AI.

I try to make an AI ally if I can, they take care of all the combat while I feed them gold and tech.
In my second most recent 2.6 game, my ally did the whole 'trade king' thing, and got ridiculously advanced by trading with me. With my cities 2-4 times larger than AI cities, he was getting multiple technologies some turns, winding up with battleships and tanks in the 1700s, while the other AI's had Steam Engines and Frigates.
I also load up on any wonders I can get in my capital too.
Last edited by GriffonSpade on Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

louis94
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby louis94 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:35 pm

dunnoob wrote:There's no compelling reason to tweak the barbarian settings, just get a wall + phalanx + catapult in all cities before turn 60 (classic, civ2civ3 has this later), or more precisely, have enough gold to buy the unfinished wall or unfinished catapult in turn 60 or later on demand.

I usually try to expand as quickly as possible, and don't build anything but Settlers in the first dozens turns. Playing this way, I can get more land than the AI, but I fall behind in production and research. When I decide not to expand further, I develop my cities (basically building everything that costs 1 gold/turn if I got Smith's Trade Corp). At the time all these buildings are complete, I'm far ahead of the AIs and basically I've won.

This means I can't afford building Walls or Phalanx, let alone Catapults. When barbarians appear, I buy a defence unit in the nearest city, and some attack units farther away. They can sometimes take one city, but usually can't hold it for long. And else it's not a problem, because I've got a lot of cities anyway.

dunnoob wrote:Catapults require math, and your chances to get literacy in time for the great library are slim. If you get it anyway with the classic ruleset you have won, otherwise try Newton's College, the AIs do not know that this is a certified winning strategy. If that also fails you're in serious trouble, try SETI Program at all costs. […]

AIs' research sucks in the mid game (maybe they spend everything fighting each other), so research wonders are not necessary if you get The Republic and maintain 80% research.

GriffonSpade wrote:I've always just turtled in my 1-3 cities and held out until I became advanced enough to beat the AI.

I think that's a bit more involved, because you need to know precisely which buildings and units you need. And if an hostile AI gets Metallurgy or Steam Engine before you have Gunpowder, you're in serious trouble.

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mir3x
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby mir3x » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:01 pm

So now I'm able to beat the AI in most situations. I've never tried multiplayer, but I think humans would defeat me quite easily. I'm just good at exploiting the weaknesses of the AI.

Not really, killing 5 hard AI with tiles per player about ~ 100 using horsemans only is not even a chalenge ( even setting luxuries to maximum and gold to 40% staying to end in despotism and disabling tech stealing)
Neither is killing 10 allied AI with polled research on island game.
Challenging could be winning vs 5 hard/cheat AI using warriors only and staying whole game in anarchy.

On island solo game my personal record is getting computers in turn 91 - starting stadnard units - cccwwwxxxx - specials 350 ( and ofc very nice island, but it was when player couldn't use scientists before size 5, now could be a bit worse, bc trade routes give less trade it seems)

I started playing freeciv at 2.1, mastered at warserver.
And I never wrote anything for qt except hello world, before I started commiting patches to freeciv-qt client.

Btw there is my ruleset on freeciv.nmte.ch. - use /read conf_doom to load.
Tweaked classic ruleset for eazy and fast farming without caravans. Destroyers at turn 50. Stealth about T80. Its made for late game fighting. And its not final version.

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GriffonSpade
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Re: User stories - How did you learn playing Freeciv ?

Postby GriffonSpade » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:02 pm

I think that's a bit more involved, because you need to know precisely which buildings and units you need. And if an hostile AI gets Metallurgy or Steam Engine before you have Gunpowder, you're in serious trouble.


Hmm, I've never really had a problem with Ironclads like that, but I HAVE had Destroyers wreck me. I think it just takes new steamers too long to get to me, as I've already refortified by then. Having a few thousand gold by that point probably helps with that. And of course, only when I don't have an AI ally to keep them off my back.

And I actually prefer letting my science evolve naturally, I never actually set it myself, just roll with whatever the RNG gives me.