Final Text of Ming's Cheat List:
—Summarized by Thread Manager: Ming—
Even though this section is called cheats, it really encompasses much more. This was also meant to cover design flaws that can be utilized to your advantage while playing the game. We recognize that much of the new game will be different from the current game. And many of the things we are going to bring up will probably be changed anyway. But our intent is show you how we abuse the current game. By seeing how we do it now, you will have an idea of what to pay attention to in the new game.
1. FREE INFORMATION
Much of the fun of the game is in the discovery. But little did you know that you provide us with tons of ways to cheat and get information we shouldn't have:
1.1) If you are looking for other civilizations, you can use the city menu and click on a unit. It tells you the nearest city, even if you haven't found the city yet. It helps you find or hunt down other civilizations.
1.2) Clicking on the map where you haven't explored and looking at the number after the coordinates tells you if the place is ocean or land…very important when moving ships that can be lost at sea.
1.3) Double-click a square that you have already explored. If you don't see the terrain information, then you know somebody has built a city there.
1.4) Any city that has built a wonder may be located using the "Find City" command. You get an exact location, even if you haven't discovered the city yet.
In multiplayer, there are a few real good sources for "free" information:
1.5) The start-up screen when you select civilizations while continuing a saved game: This gives you the number of cities and number of units for all civilizations. Now, you probably did this to allow somebody new to pick the better of the AI-controlled civilizations. Why not set it up so that if a civilization has been passworded, the information doesn't show for them?
1.6) The chat screen provides titles for the players you are sending messages to. If you learn the different titles for each race, you can reasonably track what government they are in, or when they are between governments.
1.7) If somebody investigates a city with a spy or diplomat, all players in the game that have that city on his or her map can see what's in it, too.
2. THE CHEAT MENU AND GAME SECURITY
And right behind all the free information we can get through the above things, there is always the cheat menu. Most people love the cheat menu, and nobody really wants it eliminated. However, better security is needed. Here are the issues that were raised:
2.1) Password protection on multiplayer was a great idea. But if you use the scenario menu and flag the scenario option, you can then use the cheat menu to view the board, or even change the rules. Some people have been saving the game, and then loading it onto a second computer so they can view the whole world while playing a multiplayer game. Why not offer the same protection? If you want to use the scenario options, have it check to see if there are any passwords. This won't stop designers from doing what they want, but it would stop the blatant cheating.
2.2) The next point is one you can't probably do anything about, but most people brought it up. The reloading of a game to avoid and replay a "bad event" is always discussed. It's ok that you can do this, because many people do it. But, is there some way a "no cheat" option can be selected at the start of the game that would not allow reloading? Again, it is probably impossible, but many people would like to see this option. Another suggestion was to use a random number generator that would set things up a few turns in advance. Many games use this feature. It limits the advantage of resetting until the desired results occur.
2.3) The cheat menu is nice. And it's really nice that if you use it, it is recorded in the game. But most people just go to cheat, look at the map or whatever, and then reload the game so it isn't recorded. Again, probably impossible to do, but anything that would even make this harder to do would help.
2.4) The password coding is too easy to break. Several people have come up with ways to read or cancel them.
3. FREE MOVEMENT
While airports and railroads already provide almost unlimited movement; there are many design flaws that allow big abuses of the system.
3.1) In multiplayer, you can give a unit to a player after you have moved it. The other player can also move it on his turn. This can double the distance it can move in a single turn. It's a great way to sneak a spy through good defenses to bribe a city. And it even gets worse. If you move a unit, give it to a player, and he gives it back during your turn, you can move it again. This can be repeated as many times as you like, giving a unit unlimited movement. Some have suggested that all you need to do is make it so a unit can only move once during any given year, or make it so a unit can't be moved during the year after it was given to somebody.
3.2) The Free Trade Route Trick is also a good cheat. If you give a caravan or freight to somebody, they can set up an immediate trade route with you. By doing this, there is no need to ever have to move a caravan over land or sea…just give it to a player, and on his turn, the trade route is established. Instant money. You can be on an island and move caravans to any point on the globe as long as you have established contact or built one of the two embassy wonders. Some have suggested that when you give somebody a caravan or freight, it moves to whatever city is considered its home. Yes, this is also free movement, but is the lesser of two evils.
3.3) The 'I Can Walk On Water Trick' is also a good way to increase movement. If you give somebody a ship, any units on it appear on the nearest shore. You can move your ship just past the halfway mark of any large body of water, and give the ship away. Your units remain under your control, and appear on the other side of the ocean, ready to attack or move. (One additional comment: If you give a boat to somebody else who happens to be in a stack, the rest of the ships disappear. This must be a flaw.)
3.4) Ship Chaining is also a good one. By using a chain of ships, you can move units from one ship to another and move them very large distances in one turn. As long as you have your ships in the right place, it's amazing what you can do. We understand the need to allow the transfer of troops from one ship to another, but there must be someway to limit just how many ships they can be transferred to. Some people don’t consider this a cheat. If this was meant to be the case, fine.
3.5) Another concern by some is the ability to move a unit into a city using its last movement point, then putting it to sleep so that it can board a ship on the same turn. Combine this with ship chaining, and things get out of hand. Some have suggested that a unit's disposition shouldn't be allowed to be changed by a city menu after its movement points have been used.
4. COMMAND MENU CONSISTENCY
This section is only really meant to ask you to be consistent. If there are multiple ways to give a unit a command (command menu or city screen), make sure that both allow the same thing.
4.1) Changing the home city of a caravan or freight is a classic example. In the rules, it says you can't do this. On the command menu, that option can't be selected. In the city menu, you can. Now, the latest patch fixes this for multiplayer games, but not for regular games against the AI.
4.2) The free fortify option is another example. If you select a unit in the city menu and fortify it, it is not fortified until the next turn. If you fortify a unit in a city by using the command menu, it instantly becomes fortified.
5. COMBAT CHEATS
5.1) The old "unattackable stack" trick is a real cheat. Put a bomber over a stack of units, and no ground units can hit it. Is this really what the designer intended?
5.2) The "ZOC Avoidance Trick". By using spies or diplomats, you can move your military units through zones of control. We actually can't agree on whether this is a cheat or not. But the real question is, was this what the designers intended?
5.3) By using multiple engineers, you can change a square from fortification to air base and then back again all during the same turn. This gives you the advantages of both, which goes against what is written in the manual.
6. LAG TIME CHEATS IN MP
Thanks to the “lag time” in MP, some new cheats have become available. I’m not sure what can be done about these, but it should be remembered that lag time can cause problems like these.
6.1) Sometimes it takes longer than usual to move a unit. This can be very useful when a player moves a diplo/spy up to one of your units. The minute you see the unit move next to yours, you have time to disband the unit before it can be bribed. If it is timed right, the person still loses the money and doesn’t get the unit.
6.2) The next one can be used to create non-units. Move any unit into a city that isn’t the unit’s home city. You wait until the person before you are almost finished with his turn. Open the city window, and select the unit that isn’t supported by that city. When the screen tells you it is your turn, immediately clock on “support by this city”. The unit becomes a non-unit. You can create non-unit a turn by using this method.
6.3) Lag time can also allow you to save Wonders (or any thing that you are building) from being sabotaged. Two methods have been reported. First, if you see a diplo/spy move up to your city, open the city window and click on the rush buy option. It will then tell you the cost and ask you to confirm the choice. If the diplo/spy then successfully sabotages your stored up shields, just click on “confirm to buy.” The cost will only be based on how many shields you had before they were all taken away. The second way to do it is similar. When you see the diplo/spy, open the city window. Let’s say you are building the UN. Let him destroy your shields, then click on the screen to change what you are building, and select the UN again. The shields magically reappear.
6.4) A similar strategy can be used to shaft somebody that is about to bribe one of your cities. When you see an enemy diplo/spy move next to your city, you can quickly sell an improvement. This makes it more expensive to bribe the city, since you now have more money, and keeps him from getting it when he takes the city. You also have time to disband units, so he won’t get those too.
7. MP CHEATING IN GENERAL
Cheating in MP has caused the most problems, and has almost destroyed the entire concept. Granted, a hacker can always find some way to cheat, but the Gold Edition just makes it too easy. As pointed out in section 2.1, you can load the game between sessions and look at the map. But that’s not all you can do! You can also use the scenario editor to do WHATEVER you want. You can then save it as a scenario, and load it the next time the game is played. The other players have no clue that you have loaded a scenario instead of the real game file. One suggestion to combat this type and similar forms of cheating would be to use the AutoSave, and have you machine automatically check back with the host at the beginning of a turn and look for major differences in the files. This could be also done automatically when people begin a saved session. Something has to be done to combat this type of cheating. Many people have given up on MP because of the massive possible cheating. It takes the fun out of the game.
8. OTHER CHEATS
Here are some more things that may or may not be considered flaws. Nobody really knows if some of these were intentional or not.
8.1) Airbases provide additional shields and food when built within a city radius. They also provide instant railroads. In addition, you can build a line of them, and keep enemy air units and nukes away from specific locations. This can't be intentional, could it?
8.2) Some people use nukes and cruise missiles to explore or patrol. The thought of a missile coming home defenses logic. Some have suggested that missiles should be treated like paratroopers. You pick a target, and the missile goes there. But then again, having a paratrooper in a city allows you free scouting too. If you click on the unit and start a paratroop drop, you can move the arrow around and can tell whether there are units in a given location. You don’t know what they are, but you know something is there, even though you can’t see it.
8.3) The way food caravans make the food box full can be used in a strange way. You can send multiple food caravans from city A to city B, and it will only cost you one food subtraction for the trade route. The first caravan fills the box, and the second adds a population. This can be repeated endlessly to build cities up to the max population without any concern to the availability of food in the city radius. All this for the cost of ONE food trade route. You can also send a food caravan to the city that built it to fill its food box, and then a second to increase its population.
8.4) Rush-buying military units has caused a lot of discussion. From Civilization I to Civilization II, they changed the building process to create three categories: units, city improvements, and wonders. This was done to stop many of the cheat building tricks we were using in Civilization I. But if you want to rush buy a military unit, it is cheaper to buy it in stages. If you want a diplomat, buy a warrior, change to a horse and buy it, and then change to a diplomat and buy that all in the same turn. This is cheaper than just buying a diplomat straight up. Interestingly enough, you can only use this trick on units. It doesn't make a difference to do this with city improvements or wonders. Since this difference exists, many consider it cheating. Whether it is or not isn't the issue. If this were intentional, we just ask that you include information on it in the manual so we know.
8.5) The "Repeated Commodity" has also caused discussion. Usually when you build a freight or caravan, you pick a commodity. After that, that commodity can't be built anymore. But rare cities have the ability to allow you to produce the same commodity over and over again. Is this a flaw?
8.6) The turbo settler/engineer is another one. If you command a settler/engineer to do something and then stop it before the action is complete, you can move the settler to another spot and continue the same task there. Any time spent in the previous square working on the improvement is transferred to the new square. This can be effective when attacking a city. You can move a “charged up settler/engineer” right up next to a city, and if you have even 1/3 movement left, you can create a fortress on that turn to protect your other units. Bug or feature?
8.7) Another problem is that more than one city can have the same name. This should be a simple fix. People can name all their cities the same, to confuse people. And, it is also used by a player to hide a city. You just name it the same as a nearby enemy city, and it makes it harder to find if you are using the old closest city to unit trick to scout. And last but not least, it makes the goto commands even worse.
8.8) One real big problem in MP is the Host Tech Advantage. It seems like about half the time, the host gets many free sciences, while nobody else ever seems to. This gives the host a big advantage. We have had to reset many MP games until we have one where the host starts with no sciences. And this depends on the host being honest on whether he got free sciences or not. Maybe this was built in to insure that the host survived. And if it was, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING! All most players want is an even playing field.
I'm sure that more examples will pop up in the future. But that's not really the issue. Since this will be a new game, we know that many of these things will not be relevant. However, all we ask is for you to consider how we are cheating now, and think about it as you design this new game. No game is perfect. When it comes out, we will find new ways to cheat. With a little extra thought up front, you can make it harder on us. And, when we do figure them out, just ask us what they are so you can fix them (if possible) with new patches.
Thank you for listening to us.
People who made this possible:
Ecce Homo, Carolus Rex, Theben, Zorloc, EnochF, DaveV, Txurce, Xin Yu, Depp, GP, Rainer, Sieve Too, Bird, Travathian, Rashind, Sten Sture, JoshXLII, Matthew, Alexander's Horse, mingko, MWHC, RAH, Kaak, jpk, Iceman88888888, smilo, mzilikazi, Francis, Mauddib, and Bergman.