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Thread: AI not as bad as some say

  1. #1

    AI not as bad as some say

    There will always be expert players who complain about the AI in just about any strategy game. Most players don't say anything for fear of being flamed as wimps. But here is my experience in my last game: I chose Islands, small world, at normal difficulty. Another faction was within 8 or 9 hexes. Feeling cocky I declared war on him. Big mistake! I was virtually buried by rats summoned almost every turn along with hoardes of lizard spearmen and archers. What really tore it was that he was casting really nasty AOE spells on my capitol city so that I had large negatives for gold, mana, and food. This made it impossible for me to create any new units. After holding out for 20 turns, I had no units left and no way to create any more. Shortly thereafter, I spotted 2 packs of werewolves coming to eat my garden. Game over! I was very impressed with this.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Gaston369 View Post
    There will always be expert players who complain about the AI in just about any strategy game.
    Yes, there will be. But there are also players who aren't expert, such as myself, who find the AI is strategically inept, and the diplomatically AI a mess.

    Most players don't say anything for fear of being flamed as wimps.
    It's always easy to assume everybody feels as we do; I do it myself. But it's also wrong. Unless of course you've taken a reasonably well performed, scientifically conducted survey.

    But here is my experience in my last game: I chose Islands, small world, at normal difficulty. Another faction was within 8 or 9 hexes. Feeling cocky I declared war on him. Big mistake! I was virtually buried by rats summoned almost every turn along with hoardes of lizard spearmen and archers. What really tore it was that he was casting really nasty AOE spells on my capitol city so that I had large negatives for gold, mana, and food. This made it impossible for me to create any new units. After holding out for 20 turns, I had no units left and no way to create any more. Shortly thereafter, I spotted 2 packs of werewolves coming to eat my garden. Game over! I was very impressed with this.
    I cannot speak to your situation. I can only tell you that when the AI has been at a distance, and dealing with neutrals as well as me, it has made choices that were inept--leaving cities unguarded, sending units that could be easily dispatched by what I had, etc. There's quite a lot of detail; but I don't want to bore anybody with it.

    This does not mean everybody agrees with me that the strategic combat AI is inept, but it certainly seems as though it really needs an upgrade badly, in just my opinion.

  3. #3
    Most of the complaints are in regard to the harder difficulties, especially Impossible - a lot of people want the highest difficulty level to be really challenging, which is a reasonable desire. I'd say the criticism of the AI is a bit overstated though. I think the combat AI is pretty decent (though it doesn't protect its more fragile unit types or handle varying damage types very well), it's just that the strategic AI doesn't expand fast enough or manage its resources well enough to truly compete with an experienced player who is adept at building things up quickly and efficiently. I always end up with a lot more resources at my disposal than all the AI mages, so at some point things become a foregone conclusion.

    Impossible difficulty is definitely not as easy as some people act like - I've had some pretty good fights from AI mages on Impossible when I invade with low and mid tier units - it's just not as hard as myself and others would like it to be.

  4. #4
    Many times the AI puts up enough of a fight on challenging so I don't roll over him. At some point I get slowed down and he may counter attack and retake a city. My capital has never been threatened though.
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  5. #5
    The AI can handle the early game really well, but it just doesn't handle the late game... at all. It just keeps playing the early game no matter what you do or how far you advance. It's not about the difficulty setting (I'm not great at strategy games myself), it's just that... after turn 100 or so, I might as well quit and start a new game, because nothing's gonna fight back in a way that matters. It doesn't matter if the AI gets a 10X multiplier on all it's income if it just uses it to spam low level units who do literally no damage to lategame stuff.

  6. #6
    I'd say the main problem with AI is what it doesn't scale well. It could swarm you with tons of meat at the beginning of the game, but isn't any challenge after 20-30 turns regardless of other settings. I compare this with Civ and higher difficulty levels are much more difficult there, although it also becomes easier later in the game.

    The main problem is what until there will be multiplayer or better AI, there are no space to get better. I could imagine more tricks, but can't check how good they are, since I steamroll the AI in any case.

  7. #7
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    Yep.... in my experience the AI isnt capable of long term reasoning. Its capable of expanding the kingdom pretty well and its collating of units initially is very good. As is using them effectively once war starts. Its what happens once a player is able to defeat the first way that is the problem. It is unable to learn how to a) slow the player down enough to refill its ranks b) get other races to join in the hope of getting the player to settle for peace - esp. if the other faction(s) shares another border with player.

    Other than that my overall experience is that in fits and starts the AI does okay. And in a few occasions exceedingly well. But alot depends on circumstances.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Bertouch View Post
    But there are also players who aren't expert, such as myself, who find the AI is strategically inept, and the diplomatically AI a mess. [...]

    This does not mean everybody agrees with me that the strategic combat AI is inept, but it certainly seems as though it really needs an upgrade badly, in just my opinion.
    I, for one, totally agree : the A.I. does not conduct smart, coherent, persistent strategic warfare (it seems to limit itself to short-term tactical improvisations*), and as it has been mentioned on another thread, its hard-coded (since build 25) extortionist pseudo-diplomacy prematurely provokes sterile and self-destructive wars.

    (* Even its short-term tactics can be "inept". Yesterday evening, I gave myself a one-city challenge. My closest neighbour had quickly provoked a war because he demanded about 50% of my mana reserve, which was huge since I was playing as Undead and my one and only city was full of mana farms. I summoned four Fire Elementals, backed by one Vampire unit, and marched to destroy his cities one by one, avoiding his capital. After having destroyed two major cities, while I was besieging a third one, four "buffed" Halberdier units appeared out of nowhere, backed by spearmen and rats, and seemed to converge against my very threatening Elementals ... which they bypassed and ignored, letting them destroy a third major city !? The Halberdiers marched very close to my Elementals, doing nothing to stop their destructive rampage. It was either tactical incompetence or ineptness in assigning strategic priorities : perhaps those Halberdiers ignored an urgent defensive situation because they were stuck in some offense pattern in their too rigid deterministic code. I quit the game in disgust : bulldozing a powerful enemy who does not care to defend his major cities is not an interesting challenge.)

  9. #9
    The AI needs to be improved. It either makes "tactical improvisations" or keeps dozens of units sitting in its territory waiting for us to attack. Convenient for the developers in having it put up "some" fight without really bothering the player too much. Like that it takes a longer time to win, but it just has no hope anyway! Well, guess, I WANT to be bothered if I set the AI to "impossible"!!!
    Also it occasionally leaves its cities empty when fighting and makes terrible mistakes.
    As I have always said this game will shine in Multiplayer, I can't wait for that.
    The AI must attack, the enemies should ally with each other and conduct synchronized attacks!
    Last edited by Black-Knight; 27-05-2012 at 18:43.

  10. #10
    Well no AI will be perfect, but Warlocks does need work. On a large continent world against 6 AI opponents, the two AI's that had separated "islands" stayed on them exclusively and never conquered anything outside of their set territory. They didnt even bother to build fleets of ships to take out the roaming sea monsters. They would send out regular units, sometimes in groups, that would get slaughtered. Their landmass was chock full of units that were obliterated by AoE spells. And to make matters even worse, the AI had zero reaction to my massive army approaching, landing and then attacking them. The AI should never allow you to position your army on their shores and get first strike.

  11. #11
    I have found on small and medium worlds the AI isn't bad. On large and huge worlds, the ai is a joke for some reason.

  12. #12
    I agree: the Impossible difficulty isn't very challenging, and I'm not one of those guys that usually whipo up on any AI. The early game can still be a little threatening because of the exponentional effect of expansion (and the consequent negative of failing if you get mobbed by monsters). But you can make up so much later in the game that you have to really fail in the early game to really be in trouble, and that really sohuldn't be the case.

  13. #13
    There is much room for improvement in the AI, but to be fair it does already do pretty well when compared to many similar games. For example, Galactic Civilizations 2 received much praise for its AI, but it was still very easy to beat. Same with the CIV5 AI (though I haven't heard much praise for that AI).

    It also seems that the Warlock AI cheats a lot less than either Galciv2 AI or CIV5 AI, even on Impossible difficulty. On Impossible the CIV5 AI starts with two extra settlers if I remember correctly, besides being otherwise buffed. Maybe the Warlock AI could also cheat more on Impossible (e.g. starting with 2-3 cities or something like that)

    I suspect that Warlock is actually a much harder game than either Galciv2 or CIV5 for the AI. Warlock's mechanisms are not easy for the AI. The opportunity for buffs, spells, many damage types and resistances etc make tactical combat much deeper in Warlock. The Warlock AI's strategy of pumping out basic combat units would actually work well in most similar strategy games. And the AI actually sometimes does things which make tactical sense, unlike the AI's in most similar strategy games. For example, the AI will often actually retreat wounded units. I suspect that the developer's experience with Fantasy Wars and Elven Legacy has helped here. So, kudos to the developers for making the AI as good as it is! I hope that you will continue to further enhance it, as this would add much longevity to the game.

  14. #14
    The AI behaviour could certainly be tweaked (throwing melee only units at Ghosts, for example), but the main problem is its inability to deal with individually strong units. Any of the higher tier units can usually wipe an enemy almost solo - especially once it's been buffed. Giving the AI the ability to remove spell buffs will be a good start, but the perma-buffs will still be around. The AI needs to be able to figure out how to focus-fire down a strong unit - especially one that can regenerate. Throwing melee units that aren't immune to death magic against Ancient Vampires, for example, is a losing strategy. It shouldn't be that hard for the AI to do a "mock" attack vs another unit and decide from that whether it's worth making a real attack.

  15. #15
    So, about the AI not cheating much on impossible difficulty. I started playing an impossible game, and ended up set right next to the AI's capitol, which was pinned against the water. I expected this to be a bad situation, so I expanded like mad, and quickly got myself four level 3 cities and a level 8 capitol. The AI had a level 6 capitol and nothing else. (Not sure why my capitol grew faster, it wasn't under attack or anything. Maybe it could buy units it couldn't support with food?) I put all my money into an army, buffed it as much as possible, and saved up mana to spam in the inevitable fight. The AI immediately threw a force about twice the size of mine at me, and replaced every member of it about three times. I was just barely holding out, because I found a unit of noble werewolves in a caravan or something, and although it spammed maximum healing or attack spells every turn, it was just throwing everything at my werewolf-defended city while all my other guys where free to attack. It then hit a level 7 capitol, and instantly changed everything to its tier 2 version. My werewolves died instantly. Fairly sure this is not a winnable situation anymore.

  16. #16
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    I agree about the early game AI being much more aggressive and difficult, but as the game progresses, the difficulty tapers off.

    1.) I have watched 2 endgame AI, both with sprawling empires, squabble over a handful of cities, while entire flanks went unguarded. This makes the AI incredibly easy to exploit with a few tough units on your front lines. Even when being attacked on two sides, the AI will fight on ONE front, dooming it.

    2.) I have seen some totally inept naval warfare out of the AI. Tiny enclosed lakes nearly packed with warships, cities spamming ships right next to a lair of serpents/leviathans/krakens, and trying to cross channels into my territory with little to no success.

    3.) Tier 1 spam even in late game against upgraded and buffed units. If the AI is lucky enough to get some unique resource units, you might see them, but to see one Minotaur with a horde of Tier 1 Archers is well, sad.

    4.) Siege units in my experience seem to be in short supply from the AI. I rarely have seen Trolls, Catapults, or Flying Galleus trying to whittle down some of my heavier units/cities/forts.

    5.) When the AI loses a city, it seems clueless on how to take it back.

    6.) Magic priorities fro the AI seem to be non-existent. Instead of spamming summons, it won't kill off that 1 HP unit with an attack spell, nor will it heal the only unit that is actually holding off my army.
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  17. #17
    I really think this late game AI weakness is important. Especially for all those turtles out there, I think this is really what separates a good game from a great game: a consistent challenge that seems fair and lasts throughout the game. And tougher player AIs would definitely encourage you to hunt and hide out in the alternate worlds. So far, I've usually had pressure on 2-3 fronts for most of the game, the best answer to which seemed to be a rolling wall of conquest. If I ever found a stalemate or peace, I might be willing to halt my conquest long enough to send an army into a portal, but so far I just haven't found it worht my time and resources to do. But I'll keep upping the number of opponents: maybe then I'll hit that stalemate condition (Capitals, at least, tend to need some serious seige power to take out, so like hte above poster said: maybe bumping into one is when you wall up and find an easier nut to crack).

  18. #18
    In my current game it was AIs that funded my way in to portals.

    I was lucky and got early access to 2 portals and two holy grounds early (there are 3 portals total on large map).

    With AI I was pretty much all time in peace. They happily attacked each other. At first, I was giving into their demands, but then I signed NA-pacts and later alliances, and usually for them giving me lots on mana and gold. And since it is Impossible, AIs had lots of mana and gold to give, due to cheats.

    Later, when relations drop a little, AI would cancel alliance and then we would renegotiate NA-pact for lots of money to me. Few turns later, and I'm doing same to get alliance and remaining mana or gold. There is obviously some glaring error in AI diplo logic, but I don't mind.

    All those resources where pulled into me upgrading units to temple variants and easily raiding portal worlds. Currently I almost cleared the first one. And my next goal would be to take out second and achieve holy grounds victory.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaceAvatar View Post
    The AI can handle the early game really well, but it just doesn't handle the late game... at all. It just keeps playing the early game no matter what you do or how far you advance. It's not about the difficulty setting (I'm not great at strategy games myself), it's just that... after turn 100 or so, I might as well quit and start a new game, because nothing's gonna fight back in a way that matters. It doesn't matter if the AI gets a 10X multiplier on all it's income if it just uses it to spam low level units who do literally no damage to lategame stuff.
    This is about as accurate a description of the issue as I've seen. Totally on the mark. Just make the AI work towards better units instead of always using the crap low level units and that would be a huge step forward.

  20. #20
    The AI has obvious flaws but I'd also say it was better than the AI in CIV5 and other games. I haven't seen it build all +gold buildings in one city or +food. This seems an obvious flaw since specialized cities produce so much more resources.

    Does the AI raze foreign race cities it captures? The -20% resource income and penalty to city growth are obviously important. Reason why I ask is I've been taking undead and monster cities from a human civ.

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