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  • CtP2 vs. Civ 3 - a guide

    I just saw another of these threads asking how do Civ 3 and CtP2 compare, and whether the latter would be of any interest to a player of the former, and so on. Now, seeing how this is probably the most common question asked by the newcomers to the CtP section, I feel the need to write a post in this subject, also given that I have played both games for a more than fair amount of time. The most important areas of inquiry seem to be whether the games are different enough, what the main differences are, and how enjoyable can CtP2 be. I’ll try to write the post mainly for those who have already played Civ 3.

    For the starters, though, so that there’s no confusion, a few words need to be said on the history and background for each of these games.

    Background

    Civ 3 is developed by Firaxis , and is the official sequel in the original Civilization franchise. Civ 1 has been developed with many same team member as Civ 3, and so Civ 3, like it or not, is the current legacy. Civ 3 also is a Sid Meier game – while one can debate as to how much influence did Sid actually have in making the game, he is said to have decided on at least some things on the design, and, at any rate, it’s his company that developed Civ 3.

    CtP2 is NOT a sequel to Civ 1 or Civ 2. It’s developed by Activision , a company that’s mainly known for publishing games, not making them. Activision has published such hits as Quake III or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, and will in the coming months also publish Doom III. At some point, though, Activision decided to make a civ-style game, which was originally called Civilization: Call to Power (often referred to as CtP1).

    CtP1 had many original concepts that were different from Civ 2 (the latest civ game at that point), and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri (SMAC). SMAC was in development at Firaxis at about the same time as CtP1 was worked on, but SMAC seemed to stick more with the Civ 2 formula, although it had a sci-fi setting and surely added many innovative things to the game. CtP1 aready introduced most of the concepts that are to be seen in CtP2, the main of which probably are stacked combat, public works and unconventional warfare, all explained in more detail below.

    As CtP1 came out, though, things didn’t look too good. It received a lot of critcism from Civ oldtimers, mainly for being too original – unfortunately, many people couldn’t accept that this wasn’t just Civ 2 with new graphics, and they couldn’t accept the new concepts CtP1 brought forward. Also, Activision got sued for using the word Civilization in the name of their game, which is a trademark of MicroProse, and later Firaxis, and there were, apparently, arguments about CtP1 taking some other names from Civ franchise. Other areas of critcism for the game included a poorly done interface (it might have had some shortcomings, but it was quite easy to use, actually), and poor stability. Unfortunately, I have indeed encountered stability problems with the game, at least till the official patch.

    Not long after that, Activision started working on Call to Power 2 – this time without the name Civilization in the title. CtP2 was supposed to fix the problems found in CtP1, while also adding a couple of new things. The interface was completely reworked, receiving a pretty beautiful style, although some of the things were arguably done better in CtP1 interface. Most unfortunately, the Activision administration decided to disband the development group, leaving the company to deal with publishing games. CtP2 wasn’t, therefore, regarded as a highly important project, and it was apparently rushed somewhat, and as a result, the game had some problems on release, the most notable of which were a very weak AI, big multiplayer problems (fixed in a patch somewhat), and lack of official PBEM, although PBEM was enabled afterwards. David Ray, one of the developers of CtP2, talks about Activision and making of CtP2 in his interview here at Apolyton, which could be of interest if you want to learn more about this game.

    CtP2 didn’t make too many changes to CtP1, though the future victory was changed, the space layer was removed, and the diplomacy system was made much better. Also, supports for various mods is even better in CtP2.

    Final words – let me say again, CtP2 has nothing to do with Civ 3 except for sharing the same core ideas that make up Civilization games as a genre. The development of these games took place under different circumstances, by different companies and by people who have never worked together.


    The differences

    While CtP2 has the same general idea that Civ 3 (and any civ game, to that extent), you must realize that CtP2 is a much different game. Note: if I say CtP at any point in this post, I mean the same CtP2, unless explicitly noted otherwise. The idea is indeed to build a mighty civilization as you start with very little, but there are many and many things that make these two games different. I’ll start with the two I would consider the most important, Public Works and Stack Combat.

    Public Works: In civ 3, you use Workers to improve your land. Those are built and appear as regular units, and are issued orders to build mines, roads or whatever. The main downside of this system is that the game becomes much about worker management later in the game. In the Industrial age in civ 3, if you have a lot of land, you need, say, a hundred workers to keep it all efficient, and build railroads, and other improvements in newly conquered land. That would be fine, if only you didn’t have to move each of those 100 workers by hand each turn, and give them orders. Yes, there’s the automate function, but it doesn’t always work as you want it to, and will never give you optimal tile improvements. And even with your workers automated, you’ll spend a lot of time sitting at your screen doing nothing and just watching your workers leap around automatically.

    In CtP2, field improvements are handled in a completely different way. You dedicate a certain percentage of your total production to go to public works. If you set that to 100%, your cities will not produce anything, and all your production will go to the public works. Now, these public works are what you use to improve your land. For instance, building a road costs 60 public works – normally. That figure will increase if you’re building a road through the forest, mountains or other unfavorable terrain. Generally, with the public works system, you need a lot of planning to make sure that you have enough public works to improve all your cities. But, you can’t just road every single square in your empire like in Civ 3, because going too much of public works will undermine your ability to build things in cities. Also, you can use public works to terraform land – that is, change the terrain type of tiles. Note that most terraforming requires you to have discovered the necessary technology, and consumes a lot of PW.

    It has to be sad that many people, even those who normally don’t like CtP, have mentioned the public works system as generally superior. It requires more strategic thinking than workers, and has absolutely no tedium. You never need to spend 10 minutes a turn working with your PW – if you have border expansion or new cities, you can place the needed tile improvements fairly quickly.

    City-level economics: There is a difference in how Civ3 and CtP handle economics at the city level. In Civ 3, cities become more productive with every population point they gain, as that adds an extra worker to the city. In Civ 3, each city has a big X like area around it from which resources are gathered. However, a cize 3 city will gather resources from 3 tiles out of the 20 in that X, but a size 8 city will be much more productive by generating resources from 8 tiles. You can at any time take a worker off a tile, then the resources from it won't be incoming, and your worker becomes a specialist.



    Above, you can see that each tile within that big outlined cross has symbols in it, that means resources are being extracted. The mountain tile on the west side produces 1 unit of production (shield) and 5 of commerce (stack of coins), while the northwest mountain only produces one shield. A Civ 3 city can only use 21 tile - the 20 in the cross, and the city tile itself. If your city exceeds that size of 20, again, you must create specialists.

    CtP2 handles it completely differently.



    Look at how cities have areas around them that are also outlined with a white line. A city gathers resources from ALL the tiles in that area, no matter its size. The trick here is, the area really depends on the city size. A new city gathers resources from the 8 tiles immediately adjacent to it, as the city grows, that radius expands. This has important implications on the strategy. In Civ 3, you can keep up with a Worker or two improving as many tiles as the city uses. In CtP2, you are better improving all the tiles within that city economic radius as soon as you can. And, when the radius expands, improve all the newly available tiles once again.

    Specialists: This is highly relevant to city-level economics. In Civ 3, creating specialists can be expensive - you don't want to have entertainers at all, for the long term solutions, while converting a city to that full of scientists will result in starvation. Therefore, specialists are to be used carefully.

    In CtP2, specialists are also not easy to mange correctly. However, they come in more types and do more things. Below i a screenshot with specialist control screen.



    You will notice that it has a growth bar there. When you add specialists, your efficience bar drops, and therefore the city gathers less resources from its economic area. That sounds bad, but is often offset by what your specialist does. For instance, adding a farmer will usually increase your food gathering, or adding a laborer will increase production. Sometimes specialists are not much of a benefit, though, if the land around the city is very fertile. You will notice numbers above the growth bar that are very good at telling you how much exactly of everything your city is producing. Specialists such as Laborers or Mercants also have prerequisites - Factories and Banks respectively, while Scientists need Universities.

    Strategically, you need to take great care with specialists. If you have a city with mines all around, scientists will be a bad idea there, because mines will produce less resources. While Laborer push is a very good strategy for war time - convert as many citizes to Laborers as you can without sending them into starvation, and get many units/improvements in record time.

    Stack Combat: CtP2 feautures a combat model completely different from that in Civ 3. In Civ 3, every unit acts on its own. Imagine a city defended by a spearman (defense value of 2). If it’s fortified in a small town, then it gets the +25% bonus from fortification, and the inherent 10% bonus from defending – thus the bonus is 0.5 + 0.2 = 0.7, and so the Spearman has a defense value of 2.7. Now, you have a stack of 3 Swordsmen and an Archer outside the city. You attack with your archer (attack of 2). It loses to the Spearman, which gains an additional hit point. Now, you attack with one of your Swordsmen (attack of 3). It isn’t lucky, and dies, as the Spearman has one hit point remaining. Then, you attack with another Swordsman, and kill the spearman. So, that one spearman has managed to kill two of your units. Does it make sense that while your archer was attacking the swordsmen stood there and did nothing? Hardly.

    In CtP2, every unit has the attack, defense and ranged attack values. If the enemy has a city defended by one Hoplite (the equivalent of Civ3’s spearman), and you have a Samurai and an Archer there, you stack your two units before attacking. Then, you attack, and both of your units attack – the Samurai engages the Hoplite in melee, while the archer also shoots from the back row, and takes no damage. The Hoplite will be eliminated without losses to your side. The maximal stack size is 12, and this allows for some great battles, when 24 units are involved. In a modern battle, for instance, you may have 6 Marines in your front line, supported by 6 Artillery units (which are exceptionally weak in melee combat), facing an enemy mixed force of Marines and Tanks. If your front line gets eliminated, then the units from the back line move to the front one, which might not be good for you, like in the case of Artillery, which are only decent in the back rows.

    To make it easier to understand for those who have never seen CtP2, here goes an example.



    In that picture, you see a pretty unbalanced battle, but that’s not the point. Look at the blue front row. Each unit has another unit right in front of it, except for the leftmost Knight. So, each of those units attacks the one it’s in front of. That letftmost knight has the Flanking ability, so it attacks the pink leftmost Hoplite – which is also under attack from the Cavalry right in front of it.

    In the blue back row, there are Cannons and Artillery, in the pink back row – Mounted Archers. These all are units with good ranged attack (though surely Artillery beats both others). As the battle starts, the first thing to happen is a ranged attack by the blue back row, which deals damage to the pink front row. The pink back row also fires, damaging the blue front row. Then, the front rows fight each other in melee. Then, again the ranged units fire, and again the front rows fight. When a unit from the front row dies, it's replaced by a back row unit. Strategically, it's important to remember that the best ranged units suck in melee. Then, this continues until one side loses all the units or until the attacker retreats. Retreat can be initiated at any time by the attacker - the defender's units then get a free shot at the attacker, and the battle stops.

    This battle system allows for very interesting and much more realistic battle outcomes. You will never lose 6 units to take a city that’s defended by one defender of the same age. Also, this obviously requires you to do much more strategic planning. A stack of only melee units is weak. Stack 12 Samurai and attack, and the ones in the back row won’t do anything, as they have no ranged attack. So, you need to work on your stack composition very carefully.

    Unit Mixing: Generally, you are more likely to use and encounter different types of units in CtP2 than you are in Civ 3. This is not only because of the stacked combat, but also because of the different unit abilities and traits.

    Imagine the early-Industrial Age time in Civ 3. You are generally likely to use 3 types of units – I’m taking land units only for this example. Those would be Cavalry, Riflemen and Cannons. Each of these units also has a very clearly defined usage. You mass Cavalry, and throw them at the enemy. Riflemen are used to stack with Cavalry to protect them from counter-strikes, and also left in taken cities, if you choose so. Cannons (which will in fact be skipped by many players) are used to combard the defenders, softening them up significantly before the attack/ Now, you’re not likely to use the Riflemen to attack. Yes, they can do that, but if you’re in a situation where you are attacking with Riflemen, you definitely didn’t bring enough attackers and your planning probably wasn’t that good.

    In CtP2, at about the same time, as you enter the Industrial Era, you will have access and are likely to use a wider array of units, for more differentiated purposes. The units would be Cavalry, Infantrymen, Machine Gunners, Cannons and Artillery. Cavalry is a mobile unit with good all around abilities. Infantrymen (Musketeers, actually) have the best defensive ability at this time, but with decent attack. Machine Gunners have the best offensive capability, but don’t defend as well as Infantrymen. Cannons and Artillery are two powerful ranged units with bombarding abilities, but you’re quite likely to use both at the same time. Partially because the Cannons are much cheaper and can be produced in smaller cities.

    Since you need to stack units in CtP, it’s not like your Infantrymen will only function in a defensive role. You need some stacks with a defensive/ranged combination, some with attacking/defending, and so on. So to perform well, you would be using four or five different types of units here, contrary to using two or three in Civ 3. Of course, you may also be using some unconventional units (see below) at the same time – I prefer to always have Spies when I am in a war.

    It also has to be said that obsolete units are more useful in CtP2. If, by the early Industrial Era, you still have a stack of Knights and Mounted Archers, it can be put to use. The stack is, after all, still mobile. You can use it very well in the enemy land to kill weaker stacks. It only makes sense that a pair of Infantrymen will not hold to a dozen mounted attackers. In Civ 3 obsolete units are generally upgraded to their better counterparts at the first ability, or they can be sometimes used to attack in hopes of getting a lucky hit.

    Military Strategy: I have to say that military strategy and tactics do indeed differ greatly in CtP2 and Civ3 – or any other Civ-game for that matter. This is what caused me frustration when I first played CtP, I tried to apply my Civ2/SMAC military experience to the game, and found myself losing wars badly. In CtP, you have to think different, and play different.

    In Civ3 (again, Civ3 doesn’t differ much from other civ games in combat, so I could as well speak about Civ2 or SMAC for the purposes of this section) you generally have clearly defined technological levels. For instance, there’s the Knight with attack of 4 and its contemporary Pikeman with defense of 3. At that stage, much warring action takes place usually, and Knights dominate the battlefield (by the way, they’re used almost exclusively). Then, however, Gunpowder is discovered, and the introduction of the Musketeer as a defensive unit puts the reign of Knights to an end. It’s still possible to do limited conquesting, but you can no longer wipe out an enemy blitz-style, and, in fact, conquering something now requires a much greater effort than defending, so war is unprofitable and not advised. Then, there comes Cavalry, attack of 6, and they again rule the world – Musketeers stand no choice, and the Riflemen who appear soon also have a hard time against hordes of Cavalry. Then the Infantry is discovered as a defender, and no offensive action is possible. Infantry is such a superior defender that the amount of Cavalry needed to take down a city with just a couple of these is ridiculous.

    In CtP2, technology doesn’t define whether you can go to war or not. It’s numbers and tactics that do. Technology helps a lot, but you can’t win a war purely on technological edge if you’re outnumbered by one to ten. In Civ 3, if you have got Cavalry but your enemy is stuck with Musketmen and will be so for quite some time, you can beat him with ease. In CtP2, such technological advantage means little. You need to have stacks big enough and composed correctly. A lone Cavalry unit won’t do you much good against a stack with 3 Hoplites and 3 Catapults. Whereas in Civ 3, one Cavalry can, with luck, eliminate six weaker units.
    Last edited by Solver; July 4, 2004, 20:19.
    Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
    Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
    I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

  • #2
    So, the first thing about CtP2 military tactics that’s different from Civ 3 is to never be overconfident because of the technological edge – always bring sufficient numbers of attackers. In Civ 3, the common way to move troops is the Stack of Doom – have a ton of units stacked in one tile, and move them towards cities methodically. In CtP2, the maximal number of units in a tile is 12. Therefore, you need to approach in a more spread-out manner, and you must make use of roads. Roads work for your troops just as well as the enemy, regardless of where the roads are, your land, enemy or neutral. So taking control of a road is crucial, denying your enemy quicker movement through that road without needing to confront your stack. Also, in Civ 3, you see every square having a road at some point, while that’s not the case in CtP2, because Public Works aren’t that abundant and need to be spent with care. So, you will see few roads, especially early on, that will normally be between cities. Moving across a road gives you big advantage in mobility.

    Bombard units are more versatile in CtP2. Most good ranged units can bombard – and if an enemy stack of 12 includes 5 or 6 bombardment units, that should be no surprise, yet the stack is strong. In Civ 3, bombard units are weak in small numbers, but create a possible exploit or, rather, a pushover strategy for the human player. That would be to build masses and masses of bombard units (works best with Artillery due to bombard range of two squares), bring them to enemy city, bombard all units town to 1 HP, easily take it. Such an approach is for slow conquest, but basically assures low losses. In CtP2, you can also bombard enemy cities before attacking them, but beware of counterbombardment from within the city – or if you have a stack composed only of bombardment units, it will fall to a more balanced stack.

    Similarily, navy is more useful in CtP2. In fact, the low usefulness of ships is a common complaint about Civ 3, where having a strong navy doesn’t indeed do much and little water combat takes place. In CtP, navies are important at least because they can pirate trade routes, but there’s also the important fact that there are water tile improvements, such as fisheries. When at war, enemy ships can pillage your water improvements – and if you don’t have a navy to defend them, then a few cheap ships can damage the growth or commerce of some of your cities significantly by just pillaging those improvements. So you need a navy to protect your tile improvements and possibly pillage those of the enemy. Of course, like all other CtP2 units, ships have different abilities. First there are only transport and combat ships, one of each type, but then two combat ships exist at some point – Ship of the Line, a good medieval ship, and the Ironclad – more powerful, but slower. After that, also Destroyers, Submarines, PT Boats and Battleships come into play. Destroyers are mobile with good firepower and ability to defend themselves against air units. Submarines are good for their stealth ability. PT Boats are very fast and detect submarines, while Battleships have the most impressive firepower, but lack any special abilities and are poor against air units.


    Government types and social sliders: The government types in CtP2 are more numerous than in Civ 3, and much more different. Depending on your government, you may get access to special units (such as the powerful Fascist infantry, or the Theocracy Clerics), and your government has impact on how tolerant your people are towards war, what’s your maximal number of cities before people become unhappy, and many other things.

    Also, your nation is defined by the sliders of workday, rations and wages. You have sliders for each of these parameters. Increase workday, and your production goes up, decrease rations and the growth is more speedy, decrease wages and you get more gold in treasury and towards science. Obviously, your people won’t be happy about that, so to make them happier you can make other changes – like make a really short workday, lowering production, but at the same time lowering rations, for high growth – and happiness should be balanced. Depending on your government, people will have different expectations. For instance, under Democracy your people expect an 8 hour workday and pretty high wages. Under other governments, though, your people may be content with a longer working day.

    This system puts you in better control of your empire, and you can make ‘pumps’ when you need to. For instance, put workday at the highest value, and set the Public Works rate to 90% (100% will probably render you unable to maintain your troops), and you will have an enormous number of PW coming in.

    Future technologies: This is another very highly debated aspect of CtP2. Simply put, the game doesn’t nearly stop at the modern age with Tanks and Bombers. In CtP2, there are two more ages after Modern, the Genetic and the Diamond age. In these ages you get more sophisticated units and technologies. For instance, the Fusion Tank is an upgrade of the Tank that can not only travel by land, but also by coastal waters. Or, you get the ability to build undersea cities, that are typically very good sources of income. At the end of the technology tree, you also have access to a very difficult technological victory, where you have to also cover a good part of the planet by certain tile improvements.

    The future ages are actually quite fun. They allow you to see how will the civilization develop under your rule – it might become a machine-centric technocracy, or a happy ecotopia with minimal pollution. Of course, the additional weapons are also an important factor.

    You also get the ability to transport units through space – which means that they can arrive to any part of the map very quickly. CtP1 also had a space layer above the earth, where you could build space cities and wage war, but in CtP2 it has been removed.
    Unconventional Warfare: This is a feature that has been argued a lot about. Many CtP-bashers point this out as a pretty ridiculous part of the game, though us, the CtP fans, like it. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

    The basic idea is that there are some unconventional units that can damage your enemy without you formally declaring war on them. The first such available unit is the Slaver, which can capture enemy citizens and send them to one of your cities as Slaves. Later, you get Clerics that convert the citizens of enemy to your religion and thus provide you income, Lawyers who can file injunctions to halt enemy production, the versatile Spies who can initiate revolts in enemy cities, steal technology and even plant nuclear devices, and more. Unconventional units have the stealth ability, which means that they are not seen by normal units – only by other stealth units, unless a regular unit tries to move into a square occupied by a foreign stealth unit, in which case it is revealed.

    Civ 3 basically lacks the aspect of espionage, and whatever there is, is done through a special screen. Civ 2 had the spy unit, but the system in CtP2 is much more advanced. Personally, I am a big fan of stealth units. It’s great to load some Spies on a helicopter, drop them in the middle of landmass of an advanced enemy civilization, and get all their technology you lack in a single turn.

    Trade: The CtP2 trade system is completely different from that of Civ 3 and Civ 2. You build caravans in CtP2, but those are “virtual” – you never see them, they just contribute to the total number of caravans you have. Now, the map is scattered with various trade goods. When a city has access to a trade good, it can create a trade route with another friendly city – the trade route will require a different number of caravans depending on how far the two cities are, also, foreign trade routes require more caravans. Having these trade routes generates gold for you. As it stands now, the trade system might be a little bit hard to understand, or you ay at times even find that it does not offer enough rewards, but this is for the most part fixed in CtP2 modifications.

    The above points summarize the main parts where CtP2 differs in gameplay, though there are many smaller things you will notice. For instance, pollution is harder to deal with and is thus more of a concern, naval battles are of bigger importance, etc. Now to give Civ 3 a fair credit, here are some things that Civ 3 does better.

    Where Civ 3 is better


    Trade: I believe, personally, that the idea of strategic resources is excellent. It can surely be developed even more than it is in Civ 3, but its implementation is better than having none. Also, it makes it really important for you to have roads and other trade connections before your cities. Basically, trade in Civ 3 is crucial, like in real life, while in CtP2 it remains a booster to income, at the expense of production spent to build the Caravans.

    Diplomacy: Civ 3 has the most sophisticated diplomacy system, as virtually any deal can be offered. CtP2 still has the model where one thing might be offered and one demanded in an exchange. So, you can ask for Gunpowder in exchange for 5000 gold – that’s good. In Civ 3, though, you can ask for Gunpowder in exchange for your map, 3000 gold and 40 gold per turn. While the Civ 3 AI sometimes might apparently have a strange idea of what’s a fair deal, the system certainly works. On the upside, though, CtP2 has interesting treaties such as an agreement to reduce nuclear or biological armament, for instance.

    Of course, there’s still a lot to wish for in the diplomacy system for either game, like deals with multiple parties involved, for instance.

    Culture: Well, this is something absent in CtP2. I’m not saying that this is a perfect part of Civ 3 – the whole deal about culture flipping cities seems a little bit strange, especially the fact that your forces completely vanish if your city joins an enemy empire. I do, however, appreciate the fact that culture adds another aspect to Civ 3, something else to build, and another peaceful victory. I do, though, believe that this concept can really use some redesigning.

    Concept interaction: I would have to say that the various concepts in Civ 3 work together better than in CtP2, with the exception of Civ 3 espionage, which sort of falls out of the game. In CtP2, though, sometimes you end up playing without using some things the game has to offer, or you sometimes may get the feeling that some concepts are maybe a little bit too isolated from the others. This is, however, a pretty subtle thing, and you may actually feel differently on this issue.


    OK, so far, so good. I know that many civ players, myself included, put very high value on how good the AI in a game is. And, this is a pretty big topic, both for Civ 3 and CtP2. I’ll try to give some insight for possible basis so that you could compare the two games.

    AI

    I have to say, first and foremost, that the AI that CtP2 ships with is weak. It may not seem so to you during your first CtP2 game, as you still don’t know the CtP2 strategies, which are after all different to those in Civ 3. However, regrettably, once you learn the basic strategies about the game, you will probably find the AI, even at the highest level, not competitive. Yes, it will defend its lands with all the production bonuses it gets, but it will never mount a good offensive against you, and you will soon build a much superior civilization and push him over with general better economics and far better planning.
    This is one of the main reasons to use mods for CtP2 – I’ll have another section on mods later in this post, though, for more detail on the issue. For now, I’ll say that the various mods improve CtP2 AI dramatically. At the very least, AI follows a rather intelligent pattern when building its empire, and can defend it lands properly, periodically striking you, and dealing some damage. Also, in the better mods, the AI can actually do intercontinental invasions properly, and sometimes it will certainly surprise you with a pretty massive appearance of forces at your borders. Note that CtP2’s stacked combat means that you can’t expect to see 20 enemy units on the border, send 20 defensive units there and be sure that you will win. If the enemy pops up, say, with two 12-sized stacks, you need at least two 12-sized stacks of your own that would have proper composition of forces.

    The Civ 3 AI is fairly competent. It can beat you even when you know the basic and some of the more advanced strategy. The AI will strike you at your weak points, and probably the best thing about it is that it will use all the tools the game has to offer – that is, bombardment, naval invasions, Marines, air power, diplomatic isolation through getting other civs to sign an embargo against you, etc. Also, you may notice that the AI can achieve significant success in war, but this is mainly because of the extremely simplistic combat system of Civ 3. If you have a border city defended with 3 units (more simply isn’t practical, usually), and the AI shows up near that city with a dozen attacking units backed up by half a dozen bombardment units, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise when you see the city fall. True, the Civ 3 AI knows some tactics, like it can actually strike you from two directions, but again, much of the possible fun that could come from there is negated by the relative simplicity of Civ 3.

    In CtP2, conquest is harder because of stacked combat, the need to place tile improvements strategically, using the unconventional units, etc. And the AI can actually be rather effective at that – I have been hampered seriously by the AI unconventional units at times. Yet, the AI manages to provide a good challenge when you fight it, and it will take your capital and raze it if it’s given the chance.

    Of course, both AIs have some pretty stupid flaws. For instance, the CtP2 AI will very often take a city of yours, and on the very next turn move all the units out of the city, leaving it empty and thus easy for you to recapture. While the Civ 3 AI, for instance, places an extremely high value on Workers, and it will usually capture your Worker instead of attacking and killing your unit – which is often bad, as, for instance, very late in the game killing that single unit would mean more than capturing a single worker. Also, I’ve noticed the Civ 3 AI being pretty ineffective if I set up a strong defense line at my border, with bombarding all his approaching units, and having a unit fortified at every tile of my border. Then, the CtP2 AI sometimes misses good opportunities to strike in the field and eliminate an attacking stack.

    That should show that neither AI is perfect, and given the higher complexity of CtP2 AI, it actually does some very good things. Again, install one of the mods, and you shouldn’t be disappointed by the AI performance.

    I would like to take the chance and give credit to Soren Johnson of Firaxis, who created the Civ 3 AI, alone. It is, in my opinion, an amazing work, and I have been amazed by the Civ 3 AI many times, when it dropped a transport of troops behind my lines or did similar things. For a programmer to accomplish this alone, while also having to work on other parts of the game, this is a most remarkable achievement.

    Moddability

    Now, this is one area where CtP2 is undeniably superior to any other civ-game. First, it has almost all of its data stored in text files, that can of course be edited. Second, it feautures SLIC, a fully developed language for writing event scripts, enhancing the AI and doing many other things. Through the use of SLIC, many great scripts have been created, that improve the AI, add new feautures to the game, and so on.

    Also, approximately half a year ago, in October 2003, the source code for CtP2 has been released. This gives the community complete access to the game, and thus it’s now possible to modify absolutely anything about it – though, clearly, it would be a massive undertaking. Yet, many bugs are already fixed, and pretty significant improvements are made to the game.

    Over the years, many great mods have been developed for CtP2. You can refer to this thread to see a comprehensive list of the most important mods. I’d like to point out that the Cradle mod improves the AI a lot – beating it on the highest difficulty level is a feat that not everyone can accomplish. Also, the Apoyton Pack leaves the game quite similar to its original state, but it improves the AI, fixes bugs and addresses some of the most obvious balance issues in the original game.

    How does the moddability compare to Civ 3? Well, unlike Civ 3, every rule can be edited. In Conquests, yes, the rules editing ability of Civ 3 is good. In CtP2, you get all of that and more. For instance, you’ll never be able to create events for scenarios in Civ 3, or complex scripts that, for instance, award you additional gold if you have n units, or anything like that. In Civ 3, mods can provide balance and experience changes, in CtP2, they can add complete new feautures. Also, CtP2 has modifiable graphics, unlike Civ 3.

    The people working on the CtP2 source have already done much to improve this game. You can go to the CtP2 Source Code forum to see the changes and download the latest build. Soon, there should be a better patch that would make it possible to play any of the released mods for CtP2 with all the improvements made to the source code as well.


    Would *I* enjoy the game?

    You have to decide for yourself. The above list of concepts and differences in CtP2 should give you a fairly good idea of whether you find these concepts attractive. However, if you enjoyed Civ 3, I have no doubt that you will like CtP2, and probably see also the parts of it where it shines. Just remember – this game is NOT civ 3. Don’t expect the same strategies to work. Yes, there currently may not be too many strategy threads about CtP2, certainly not as many as in Civ 3, but look around the forums, and you’ll find what you want.

    Multiplayer

    CtP2 has full support for normal multiplayer games and PBEM. CtP2 is less active than Civ 3, so you have little chance of starting up the game and finding an online match at once, but if you post at the forums, you should be able to arrange for a game. Note that, to enable PBEM, you need to read this thread. CtP2 has been played online since it came out, and the players agree that the online experience is just as enjoyable as in any other civ game. Also, more enhancements are expected in the long run as the source code project develops.

    Recommended Reading

    If you’re considering to buy CtP2, there are some more good threads and links.

    Guide to CtP2 by Locutus – it contains a lot of useful info for potential buyers
    The CtP2 FAQ – addresses the most common complaints and questions
    CtP2 Files – a section of the Apolyton directory where you can download mods and other files for the game.
    Velocyrix’s strategy thread – here Vel gives some basic ideas on CtP2 strategy, and those are supplemented by input from the other players.
    Cradle Differences – if you’re in doubt about Cradle, check this out for information about the mods.
    Last edited by Solver; July 4, 2004, 20:20.
    Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
    Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
    I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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    • #3
      This is why I keep nominating you for 'Apolytoner of the Season'

      Locutus should top this!
      Yes, let's be optimistic until we have reason to be otherwise...No, let's be pessimistic until we are forced to do otherwise...Maybe, let's be balanced until we are convinced to do otherwise. -- DrSpike, Skanky Burns, Shogun Gunner
      ...aisdhieort...dticcok...

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      • #4
        I know you just like the positive feedback I give Cradle .

        I later realised that I missed some aspects altogether - like the use of city specialists in CtP2, abolishing of worker system (as in getting resources for cities), the controversial city caps, the fact science advances slower than in Civ 3.... hmm, maybe I should add those points.

        Can you maybe point me to some other stuff I've forgotten?
        Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
        Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
        I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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        • #5
          Updated: added background section at the beggining
          Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
          Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
          I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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          • #6
            Excellent work Solver...

            I would have pointed out somewhere that one of the stronger point of CtP2 is that because the micromanagement has been reduced you really have the feeling to manage an empire.

            "Democracy is the worst form of government there is, except for all the others that have been tried." Sir Winston Churchill

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            • #7
              Thanks Tamerlin, I may add that at some point. I considered putting it in, but somehow dismissed as being subjective somewhat, but maybe it deserves a mention.
              Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
              Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
              I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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              • #8
                This is probably my first post in the CtP forum here... but I went to read your article thanks to the shameless plug posted in the Civ3 forum...

                Excellent reading, Solver, thanks a ton!

                After reading your summary, I might even give CtP2 another try one day (I have already given it two tries, but failed both times - I was not even able to run the damn thing). Some of the features look really interesting.

                Thanks again!

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                • #9
                  Hey vondrack, I sure remember you by your Civ 3 posts!

                  The good news are... a new playtest build for CtP2 was released by source code project yesterday, and as far as I've tried, it seems to support the mods completely. So, you can also play with that playtest build, which will also get you bugfixes for the most annoying bugs, etc. Also, it improves greatly as to game stability and similar.
                  Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
                  Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
                  I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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                  • #10
                    Looks great solver (Although i didn't bother to read through ot all!!)
                    When it all comes to it, life is nothing more than saltfish - Salka Valka

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                    • #11
                      You always have to appreciate praise from those who believe you to write good things without even knowing what is it that you write .
                      Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
                      Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
                      I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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                      • #12
                        Finally got around to reading it all. Basically I like it, but two points of criticism:

                        a company that’s mainly known for publishing games, not making them
                        This is definitely not true. Some great games have been developed by Activision (the CtP series being the most notable of course -- but there are many others). It has a history going back to the days of the Atari. To call it the Blizzard of the '80s is probably going too far but they were once a great developing house. In recent years it's true that they only publish though, but only in recent years (pretty much since the release of CtP2 -- no, those events are not related ).

                        Then, the front rows fight. The back rows don’t fire till either front row is completely eliminated. Blue units are clearly superior, so the pink front row gets eliminated – at which point half of the back row will go forward to form a front row – the back rows attack again, and the battle continues like that.
                        This passage is wrong. You seem to suggest that the front rows continue fighting until all units on one of the two front rows are gone and only then the back row fires again. In reality, the front rows fight for 1 round, then the back rows attack again, then the front rows fight again, etc. This continues until a front row unit dies, at which point he's replaced by one of the backrow units. This continues again until all units of one side are dead or the attacker retreats.


                        I'm still working out a way to merge this guide with the stuff already topped (there are too many topped threads already so we'll have to find a way to combine it all), but don't really see a good way of doing it. Will let you know when I do (suggestions welcome).
                        Administrator of WePlayCiv -- Civ5 Info Centre | Forum | Gallery

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                        • #13
                          Put a link from the FAQ: Which is better Civ3 or CtP2? Is it worth owning both? What are the differences between them, etc? Words to that effect?

                          And untop the year old SP Tourney thread too
                          Concrete, Abstract, or Squoingy?
                          "I don't believe in giving scripting languages because the only additional power they give users is the power to create bugs." - Mike Breitkreutz, Firaxis

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                          • #14
                            This is definitely not true. Some great games have been developed by Activision (the CtP series being the most notable of course -- but there are many others). It has a history going back to the days of the Atari. To call it the Blizzard of the '80s is probably going too far but they were once a great developing house. In recent years it's true that they only publish though, but only in recent years (pretty much since the release of CtP2 -- no, those events are not related ).


                            True, those oldies sort of slipped my memory for the moment.

                            This passage is wrong. You seem to suggest that the front rows continue fighting until all units on one of the two front rows are gone and only then the back row fires again. In reality, the front rows fight for 1 round, then the back rows attack again, then the front rows fight again, etc. This continues until a front row unit dies, at which point he's replaced by one of the backrow units. This continues again until all units of one side are dead or the attacker retreats.


                            Of course. Interestingly, though, the way I said it (wrongly), is also mentioned somewhere - wasn't it the CtP1 or 2 manual, perhaps? I'll edit my post to reflect that, though - a pretty silly error.

                            I'm still working out a way to merge this guide with the stuff already topped (there are too many topped threads already so we'll have to find a way to combine it all), but don't really see a good way of doing it. Will let you know when I do (suggestions welcome).



                            Nothing much to suggest for the moment except for what I had already said on ICQ, if there was anything sensible at all.
                            Solver, WePlayCiv Co-Administrator
                            Contact: solver-at-weplayciv-dot-com
                            I can kill you whenever I please... but not today. - The Cigarette Smoking Man

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                            • #15
                              Hmm, interesting.

                              Personally, given that I actually *like* workers, the public works system didn't appeal to me. I did try CtP1, but took it back after a day or two. I've never tried CtP2. The "unconventional" stuff doesn't appeal to me at all, either.

                              I think you gave the CivIII AI too much credit regarding its warfighting abilities, Solver. I love CivIII, and I think the AI is pretty good all things considered (at least the AI in fully-patched PTW... Conquests has issues), but the AI hasn't a CLUE how to use bombard units, or how to mount an effective intercontinental invasion.

                              -Arrian
                              grog want tank...Grog Want Tank... GROG WANT TANK!

                              The trick isn't to break some eggs to make an omelette, it's convincing the eggs to break themselves in order to aspire to omelettehood.

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