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The Computer Is A Cheating Bastard / Civilization

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Official Games

  • The original Civilization for the PC has a lot of ways for the computer to get a huge advantage over you:
    1) Improvements in the Emperor Level are about a third of the cost for the computer.
    2) Technologies are discovered at alarming rates.
    3) Wonders can be built almost instantly.
    4) The computer's caravans are transported instantaneously.
    5) The computer never has production penalties despite city-wide riots.
    6) Your Triremes sink if they end their turn too far from shore. Computer controlled ones can sail across the Atlantic with no problem.
    7) The computer can build spaceships without the required technology.
    Et cetera.
  • In the sequels, the game manual actually details exactly how much the computer cheats and in what areas at various difficulty levels.
    • Here is a video that explains the AI cheating of Civilization 3 and 4 in more depth (25 minutes in), as well as the reasons they were designed that way.
      • There's also an example of Hoist by His Own Petard. In Civ 3, the computer can see through the fog of war and always attacks the city with the least defense. By moving units just outside of a city faraway, you can trick the AI into marching back and forth without attacking any cities.
    • You can't see strategic resources on the map in Civ 3 until you have the skills to use them. The AI can see them all right from the start of the game though, and will make an effort to build cities next to them to give itself an advantage later on.
      • Often, the AI will have building towns in the middle of the desert for oil as a very important priority during the expansion phase.
      • In Civ 4 this also works for you, the blue rings for city suggestions on your settler often uses the resources around to make it a good choice. In really rare occasions it will suggest empty fields, just to find iron, coal, uranium and oil once you have the appropriate techs.
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    • Also in Civ 3, the AI have their production phase after their turn instead of at the start of the next turn; or more precisely, you always have the first turn, which means the turn order goes You->AI's->Your Production Phase->AI's Production Phases->You Again, which means that they can hurry units and have them produced before your next move, while you can't, as the production phase for the units you hurried won't occur until after the AI takes their turn. You can tell when they did this because they haven't had the chance to fortify the unit yet. Sometimes, while you're fighting an AI civ, one of the cities you took will revolt back to them during your production phase, which spawns a defensive unit in that city- and they'll draft two more defensive units and rush a fourth that still completes before your turn.
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    • If you cheat so that you can control the enemy's cities, you will see that despite having far inferior cities, they have huge commerce and production bonuses, making them far better than yours.
    • However, in the interest of fairness, the player can cheat mechanically too — one of the ways lower difficulty levels are made easier is by giving the player free Happiness and Health.
  • Computers in Civ4 will always know what you have access to, what you have explored, etc, and use this to become massive cheapskates in trade. If you have no access to horses and thus decided not to research Horseback Riding for awhile, the computer will do everything in their power to push the technology down your throat while making off with as much of your gold and technology as they can. And you can be sure that the computer will never offer their world map at a halfway decent price unless you've already explored everything they have.
    • For example, the AI will pop up with a ton of trade requests for your world map if you find a second continent. While a smart human would know you would find it some dozen turns after you sent that galley off to the side of the map, they wouldn't know when you found and mapped a good portion of the new world with the crazy precision the AI does.
    • If the computer uses nuclear weapons against the player or another AI then they take the "you nuked our friend" relationship modifier. If the player uses nuclear weapons they get a reputation hit with EVERY civilization, even their worst enemies.
  • Civ5:
    • A subtle on is that you can't place a new city within 4 hexes of a pre-existing one. Your computer opponents? Don't have that problem.
    • More on Civ 5: on the nice side, no matter how rampantly the AI cheats on higher difficulties, they will never build wonders at accelerated speed; not even on Deity (although their other advantages will certainly help them build wonders sooner). On the not-so-nice side, the computer's happiness and maintenance costs are always as though the computer were playing on Chieftain ("Beginner"), so even if you're playing on Warlord ("Easy"), they still have an edge for happiness and gold. This is pretty obvious; press F9 on the first turn and your civ will already be in dead last for approval. Ever wonder why an AI can expand so much faster than you when you're playing on "Normal"? Wonder no more. Also an example of The Computer Is a Lying Bastard since the game implies that Normal is fair.
    • Ever settle a city nowhere near an AI player's empire, yet still get the "they covet lands you hold" message under diplomacy? Or how convenient the placing of things like Oil and Uranium are within enemy territory? That's because all the resources in the game, including future ones that haven't been revealed yet, are pre-determined upon map generation. The AI players know from the get-go where the best resources in the game will be, and settle their cities accordingly, dodging currently-hidden strategic resources for city placements to the best of their ability. Amusingly, the player's own AI helper suggesting city locations will also do this, but the usual cluster-of-three suggestions stop the player from outright exploiting this.
    • Another one for Civ V, the computer can have ships that cannot cross oceans on deep sea tiles, like Civ 1. This creates a problem in Gods and Kings if you use a pirate ship to capture the enemy Trireme and then find you can't move it next turn.
    • World Congress votes have two buttons — you can increase or decrease the total number of votes for or against a topic, but obviously there'd be no point in sending 8 for and 4 against instead of simply abstaining votes, right? The AI will do this to get around a promise to vote for an issue that you traded for; they'll send some of their votes for an issue they would otherwise vote down, as promised, and then vote down anyway.
  • Civ 6 has somewhat more subdued cheating, but it is there:
    • Barbarians will usually prioritize attacking the player and their cities, even if they have to walk past units and cities of AI civs to do it. The AI civs will often ignore these barbarians in turn.
    • Barbarians do not pillage AI trade routes. This includes Routes going straight over barbarian camps.
    • It's not clear whether the AI "knows" about the likely voted from each others or are just applying the same shallow heuristics, but they will frequently band together in completely different (though often predictable) directions from the player.
Civilization Revolution
  • On Emperor, the AI gets a 20% handicap on all costs (unit production, science needed for techs), which increases to 40% on Deity
  • The AI can teleport units throughout the Fog of War (even previously uncovered). Explicitly. The devs did this to save on processing resources for consoles, but it's quite annoying to have armies marching out of ANY tile you don't currently have vision of at the moment.
  • Boats also count as outside your vision, as you can't see what's in them. The AI uses them like conduits to vomit units into your borders no matter how far away their cities actually are.
  • AI culture is much more powerful and supersedes yours in almost all cases unless you specifically crank out culture buildings/wonders. An AI with only the Palace can push 3-ring borders just a few tens of turn into the game.

Fan Games

  • Freeciv, the open source version of Civilization, has the AI settings "Experimental" and "Cheating".

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