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Strategy for the AI

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  • Strategy for the AI

    I would be really impressed if, in civ3, I actually saw some real strategy displayed by the AI.
    There are a great, great number of tricks which one can play upon the opponent to confuse him and eventually beat him, and right now the AI uses none of them (for Ctp anyway).
    Here's a short, inextensive list of things the AI could and should do. For more reading I would recommend "36 Stratagems", a famous chinese strategy book which should be mandatory reading for all the civ3 team...

    1) Feints: The AI should be able to stage up feints, as in giving the impression of attacking somewhere, whilst attacking somewhere else. That is really quite a basic trick.
    2) Secretly staging a decisive attack, and watching out for such attacks. A tactic which works very often in Ctp is to build up a small strike force of just one or two very strong stacks, and ship them to the ennemy's strongest cities by sea or space. Then suddenly you drop them in the middle of your ennemy's empire, where he is not expecting them, and take a few key cities, and the ennemy is beaten. That would not work very often in a human vs human game, and the AI doing this would be a welcome (if disastrous) surprise. As it is right now, the only kind of attack I've seen from the computer is the random, unregulated flow of units towards my cities as if they could do something by sheer force of numbers - which they can if the other empire is far stronger. But since most of the time it's not, this strategy (or lack thereof) is disastrous for the computer which looses its units one by one as they clash against untakable objectives and ambushed forces.
    3) Attacking to defend. When I wander around my ennemy's territory with slaver stacks I see lots, and I do mean lots of units wandering around from city to city, following me around (and they are actually my main target since they provide me with slaves!). Would it be so hard to get the computer, when under heavy attack, to mass those forces, break through the frontline if possible and go attack some lightly defended cities instead of just providing prey for my stacks?
    4) Another feint: Give the impression of emptiness (no units) where there are lots, and give them impression of having lots of units where there are only a few. Right now it's just plain easy to guess where the computer's units are: They're right where my units are!
    5) Communications. In warfare, an army with communications is an army which has the possibility of retreating on controlled territory to get back home, and which has a supply of ammo and food and everything. An army without communications is isolated and cannot retreat or refuel or etc... you get it. If I send a stack in the middle of a Ctp computer civ, I can roam around, do a lot of damage, and then retreat when my guys are getting weaker. This should never happen. Especially with the Zones of Control feature of civilization, such an army (say of 4 samurai, 4 archers and a slaver) should be surrounded by 3 stacks of about 4 legion-like units, so as to prevent it from moving without taking massive damage. That already would masively limit the damage. Also the entry point of the stack should be blocked, so that if it does attack one of the blocking armies, it will be crushed in a few turns because of all the damage it has taken. It's easy to get rid of parasites, but you have to do it. The Ctp AI doesn't do it.
    6) As a sidenote, sea warfare is very, very poor in Ctp. The AI just cannot control the seas. That sucks. Please fix it. Controlling the seas has been and still is one of the major points of any strategy, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the Spanish armada to modern battlecruisers. Without command of the sea the English would probably have been beaten by the Germans.

    That should do for a start. I'll try to get my hands on this book (36 Stratagems) to give you the reference for it. I only have it in French but I'm sure at least some people at Firaxis/Activision speak French :-)