Iron War - Official Thread

  • @redrum There is one use case, and that is for maps like TWW where there are minor powers that give their units to a major power. I've actually considered using "isHidden" to take the minor powers off of the player selection screen and defaulting them to Human (as the map doesn't support AI anyways for now). Down the road, though, I think it would be beneficial–especially because we have the other maps in development just like TWW in this regard, to somehow allow the selection of AI or Human for, say, the Germans to be applied throughout their minor powers, who are not shown on the selection screen for simplicity's sake. But all I want to say here is that there is a potential use case for an isHidden player to be a real player.

  • Admin

    @theredbaron Ah, good point as I hadn't thought of that. So I think for active neutrals they must have all the following:

    • defaultType="AI" or "DoesNothing"
    • isHidden="true"
    • All players that are part of said alliance must be 'neutrals' as well

    That way if you have any non-neutral player on an alliance then its considered an actual enemy. That way you could do something crazy like have AI control minor nations as part of an alliance that are hidden but that you'd want to consider real enemies.

  • @redrum That sounds phenomenal, fun, and flexible. I heartily endorse this proposal 👍

  • @redrum hey did you do a tactical update to the AI then, or just for the Iron War map? I just want to be sure thanks

  • Admin

    @captain-crunch I did make a few small tactical changes overall but most of them were for Iron War and other complex maps so that the AI handles them better.

  • @redrum good enough for me! Sounds like some tweaking so that's cool and I will enjoy my battles on the WWIIClassic map battling the AI and hopefully it doesn't take too long. We'll see ... it's been getting harder and harder!

  • Moderators

    @redrum I think only the passive (no combat move) should be equated to the null player. Active can be skipped, as it really would need the ability for the AI to determine how much that player is a problem for you, thus discounting TUV destruction, basically the same that would be needed in a FFA. So, I think that when you have active "neutral" (attacking you, thus not even "neutral" by any meaning of it) that would fall into just looking at the game as a FFA, about the same way as FFA without AI (or think about Feudal Japan, in which you take some players, and the rest are practically acting like active neutrals, tho they can be different each game, depending what you pick).
    But active neutral really is a wrong definition; we should not call them neutral at all, if they can even offensively attack.

    Your last proposal would probably cover most but, for example, you can have a straight play-with-the-AI 1v1 game in which the mapmaker decides to have the AI player hidden just to get it straight. That way, the game would basically be damaged on its basis. So, I still think better not relying on those things, except of course "Does Nothing" played players, as well as unused ones, should be like the null player.

    I know that many maps have no win conditions but, in my opinion, that is a map's fault (there should always be a win condition). Of course, in case of absence of a win condition, the win condition to be assumed would be to conquer the entire map except "null" ownerships.

  • Agreed on both counts.

    Purchasing more AAguns should help the minor powers, who don't have much cash, and may help to bring the bombing thing more into line (even against the AI).

    I also noticed the neutral thing, where the AI would expend a lot of energy to take even low value neutral territories. My only worry for this map is the whole Danish strait thing, if the AI starts ignoring neutrals that aren't on an obvious attack path. But I still think there are other solutions to that problem. Like leaving it completely empty of units for a walk-in, or just putting Scandinavia under German control. I still think the later makes more sense for a timeline that has Paris falling on the opening turn. The Bosporus Turkish strait is in a similar situation, since the controlling territory is also neutral. Though thematically it's less central to the history than the Danish straits were, since Turkey was neutral for the duration of the war. I don't know, I guess we'll see how it plays.

    I still think it would be cool to adapt the game more to the behavior of the Hard AI, at least for the opening round, so that the machine will adopt a more historical play pattern when possible. I think that this map has a lot of appeal for the single player vs the AI, its more interesting I think than Global or the smaller scale A&A maps, just because it has more going on to keep the single player engaged with it. I've probably played close to a hundred games against the machine, so clearly there is something here that keeps drawing me in. Otherwise it'd just be a time sink lol. Not to say that AI stuff should outweigh PvP considerations, but I honestly don't know if I'd even have clocked a handful of games if I had to go PvP exclusive. I think it's important that TripleA has a solid WWII themed standalone SP game (outside the A&A franchise) and Iron War seems like the ideal candidate. That's part of the reason I took such an interest in it. There are few things I still wish it had, like Canada as player nation, or minor stuff like the island of the Malta in the med. But on the whole, it's pretty damn solid. I'm kind of blown away that it works as well as it does under AI control. Testament to how far TripleA has come from when I first started messing around here like 15 years ago. Back then there was really nothing for the single player, even the old hasbro cd was defunct by then. So I'm sure the more timid among new players would probably just play Revised as a solitaire or something, or maybe bounce altogether if they couldn't find a way to link up in the lobby or for PBEM. Now we've got some options to keep them engaged with TripleA even if nobody else is around, which is great.

    Oh also, I noticed a marked improvement in how my laptop was handling itself under the latest pre-release. I was able to go 3 rounds with no lag or flickering, and still didn't noticed anything going awry until AI Germany just fucking wrecked me in Belo. Swarming in with hella Tanks! Though that had nothing to do with the computer, just my lack of attention lol.

    0_1524199665756_Elk vs Hard AI Axis 125 bonus Russia round 3.tsvg

    So far so good. Nice work man! I'll download the new one with the AAgun/Neutral tweaks and try again tomorrow

  • Moderators

    @cernel To be clear, a player being assigned to the AI is not necessarily one to be discounted (also, theorically, the AI can play better than humans). Requiring both AI and hidden at the same time is kind of a best guess.
    If any of those has to be, my suggestion is rather to be only "isHidden", and, then, document this AI behaviour, telling the mapmakers to never use the "isHidden" option for players in any ways competitive. So, the case that @theredbaron is pointing out would be avoided by simply the mapmakers being informed to avoid it.

  • Admin

    Here is latest pre-release which has the AA adjustments:

    Still working on the neutral changes but hopefully get those done today. Gonna move forward with the following:

    1. Passive Neutrals
      -- No combat move phase
    2. Active Neutrals
      -- Has combat move phase
      -- defaultType="AI" or "DoesNothing"
      -- isHidden="true"
      -- All players that are part of said alliance must be 'Neutrals' as well

    AI will initially look to use these player classifications in the following ways:

    1. Don't trade TUV for Passive and Active neutrals (only attack if territory worth capturing)
    2. Don't calculate defenses against Passive neutrals

  • Moderators

    @redrum I know I already said it, but I really think the "Active Neutral" should have TUV destruction valued less, but surely not nothing. At least 50%. If I would choose between 0% and 100%, I'll rather let them at 100%. If you have a discount for FFA, maybe apply that all the same for "Active Neutral" under "AI".
    Actually, for "Active Neutral", if it has to be fixed, I say 0~20% if "DoesNothing" and 50~80% if "AI".

    I'm really excited to see how this will play out in Feudal Japan FFA, and I'll try to fire up one.

  • Moderators Admin

    @redrum What constitutes if a territory worth capturing for an AI? PU value, vc and capital?

  • Moderators Admin

    @cernel Yeah FJ really could benefit from this. It a cool game just the AI's were notorious for messing the game up.

    Although it's diplomacy is terrible too, but that can be player enforced a bit.

  • Admin

    @cernel So "active neutrals" generally are like pirates/barbs/animals/etc and attacking them has very little value as every unit you lose is a unit you don't have to fight the real enemy. I'd rather start with an implementation where they are only attacked if its worth taking "X" territory to start and see how various maps that have active neutrals play (this is also mostly a minority of maps as most have passive neutrals). Adjusting the 'thresholds' tends to be must easier after we at least have players classified properly.

    @General_Zod There are a bunch of things but the most important right now are PU value, has factory, and capitals (primarily because on simple maps like revised those are the main factors). There needs more consideration for things like VC, NOs, other non-PU resources, canals, etc. There is also a sense of strategic value so that AI will attack territories that are on the path to other objectives even if they have no value.

  • Moderators

    @redrum said in Iron War - Official Thread:

    @cernel So "active neutrals" generally are like pirates/barbs/animals/etc and attacking them has very little value as every unit you lose is a unit you don't have to fight the real enemy.

    Personally, if I would make such maps, I would not hide any "active neutral", but just the passive ones; so that, then, would be pointless. I'm thinking it is good to leave the player the possibility of selecting the AI they want, or whatever.
    As I said, I'm positive on the "passive neutral" thing related simply to not having combat move, but, on the other hand, the "active neutral" package feels too complex to track and not very reliable, especially for mapmakers that don't know about it (hiding or not is really merely preferential).
    This is probably something that should rather stay in an "" configuration for the map, where a mapmaker could define what are the "non competitive" players, maybe defaulting to all players starting with "Neutral" or part of an alliance starting with "Neutral", if not set.

  • Admin

    Improving neutral categorization discussion moved here:

  • Admin

    @Black_Elk said:

    enjoying the HardAI. The only downside compared with FastAI is that my laptop gets kinda fried if I let it go for too long. Like I'll get a map flickering and delay on actions if I go much longer than a full round.

    Yes, this is my experience also. I hope that the hard AI can be developed in a direction that speeds up the calculations, so that also large maps can make use of the better Hard AI and not mostly rely on the Fast AI. And I am sure redrum is working hard on this 🙂

    @Black_Elk said:

    I think that this map has a lot of appeal for the single player vs the AI, its more interesting I think than Global or the smaller scale A&A maps, just because it has more going on to keep the single player engaged with it. I've probably played close to a hundred games against the machine, so clearly there is something here that keeps drawing me in.

    Thx. It is also the idea that Iron War should be single player and AI friendly. I also like to play single player and coop TripleA, so this also has an effect on my map designs. But surely Iron War would not be developed to what it is now without your intense interest and testing!

    @redrum said:

    the AI attacks neutrals like crazy! This is because it sees them as another enemy player rather than neutrals.

    The ”neutrals” in Iron War, as you see, are all passive and have no CM step. They are also not using their PUs. It is intentional that neutrals can be attacked, and the map would not really work if it was not possible for humans and AI to attack the neutral powers. Territories like Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Congo, Tibet, Morocco etc. are practically meant to be invaded during play. Some of the territories are 5 PU territories, which means that a factory can be placed there.

    I have also noticed that the AI does attack the neutrals even when there is no logical reason to do so, probably because of the TUV destruction that the AI prioritizes. It seems that the AI really likes to attack Ireland, Spain, Turkey etc., even though there are few PUs gained compared to the potential PU cost. The worst example in Iron War is Brazil who, instead of sending forces to Africa/Europe, uses most units in an effort to win all of south America.

    In some places, like Ireland and Spain, I have placed un-proportionally large forces just to discourage the AI from attacking, but the AI seems to attacks anyway when it has enough forces. I would like to remove some of those units if the AI got smarter in this aspect.

    It would be good for Iron War if the AI would only attack passive neutral territories very lightly defended, very PU productive/valuable, controlling a canal or stuff, even though the territories and units were not a threat. It should not attack just to kill if the enemy did not represent a threat, but it should also not NEVER attack as this would be a little dull. Redrum, maybe you could implement a very small probability of the AI doing unexpected stuff / going for low value territories. It would be nice if the AI could occasionally surprise players, of course only when the AI has the strength and does not compromise itself 😉

    PS: I think the AA gun cost will be increased from an 8 PU to a 9 PU cost. Also I will probably add a few barrels more to a few nations and territories.
    PPS: I am currently mostly working on converting and balancing Iron War Europe to the new fuel system, so this takes some of my time.

  • Admin

    Neutral changes are merged as well as a few other tweaks and here is the latest pre-release: The AI has some pretty drastic changes to Iron War with those changes. Tends to attack neutrals much less frequently and generally have better attack priorities.

    @Frostion Yeah, the AI will still attack neutrals mostly just to grab their territory value but will generally prioritize them lower than capturing enemy territories. A good example is Baltic States which the German AI seemed to almost always attack round 1 where it should really prioritize Bylo or Western Ukraine and now pretty consistently does. You should be able to decrease mass neutral stacks now and the AI should only attack when it makes sense to gain territory production. I'd doubt you see the German AI attack Spain much even with half the units it has now. And yeah AA guns being 9 PU is at least getting close to them being balanced as at 7 PU they were crazy OP and 8 PU they are still fairly decent to mass.

  • Admin

    Here is a 17 round all Hard AI game where the Axis appear to finally have it in the bag: 0_1524373939603_IW_HardAI_Axis.tsvg

  • Had a pretty fun couple games using that last pre-release. Whatever tweak was made I'm able to go like 3 rounds at a go pretty consistently now before the HardAI slows down. Its a definite improvement for playability.

    In the first game I gave the Axis 110%, and then 130% in the second game.

    0_1525057122685_Elk vs Hard AI Axis 110 bonus Russia round 13.tsvg

    0_1525057139803_Elk vs Hard AI Axis 130 bonus USA round 13.tsvg

    Both times my goal was to see how quickly the Allies could take the technical win at 20 by just throwing everything at the weakest VCs right away, then seeing how the games shaped up... like whether it was actually worth it to go all gangbusters right out the gate, or if bleeding the troops that early would come back to haunt me haha.

    Of the minor Axis powers Iran is the most straight forward to pick off, since Russia can usually storm in out of Siberia and the Caucasus/Caspian region on their second turn. But after that its a bit of a trade off, which I like. Pushing further to take Iraq or Finland, almost guarantees that Germany is going to break through and shut down a couple Soviet factories with their mobile units. Still not sure whether its better to lose the north or the south, but either way things get hectic, which is fun to try and manage.

    On the Pacific side, knocking off Thailand early on is possible, even to kill them off in the first round before they get a chance to place. But this is a little sketchy since you need to get the expected hits with British-India, French-Colonies and KNIL all right in a row. And set up blocking ships to prevent Japan from just putting everything into IndoChina on non com. Even then its kinda debatable whether killing Thailand immediately is worth it, since it takes like everything in the region to pull off. I tried it in the first game, even smoking the Japanese transports afterwards, but Japan just came hella heavy against China. Like it focused them in a more damaging direction than just stacking in south east asia would have produced lol. I think I may have really pissed off the AI too, since it was the first time I'd ever seen it run a pearl attack on J1!

    The German HardAI seems much improved. Not sure if its the tweaked neutral thing or what's going on, but they seem to attack the British fleet now, which is much better for team Axis. In both games they came at me with all the ships and the air transport, something like 80% to the attacker with a couple German ships surviving on average. They seem to use the bomber and fighters for other battles, so not quite a full sweep like it might be, but certainly makes things more complicated for the Allies.

    I was also pleased to note that Italy managed to snag Gibraltar in that first game, which is something I don't see happen very often. Could be the neutral thing again where the HardAI is now seeing those Brits as the priority threat over the neutrals in Turkey or Greece (which is where they used to go first.) Overall I'd say the play pattern for the AI Axis feels a bit more historical now.

    Also saw the machine incorporating a lot more AAguns into their builds, which makes the air war a bit more challenging. I find myself buying more AAguns now to counter, since otherwise it can be tough to maintain hitpoint parity. All in all I think the AAgun unit feels a lot more relevant now. It might be a little overpowered for the cost, but I'm just happy to see its not a completely pointless purchase in this game, like it is in traditional A&A hehe. It actually works pretty well as a spam fodder unit, if only because its somewhat easier to clear out if you buy tanks than a similarly sized stack of infantry would be. On the whole they seem to encourage a few more tank builds over air to counter, which is sort of the purpose, so I like the balance.

    I'd say most of the minor Allies feel pretty engaging now, although Brazil is still kind of one dimensional. Its basically a choice between feeding a hitpoint or two into Africa every couple rounds, or going after the neutral neighbors in South America. Of the two the latter option seems to have more of an impact since you can at least deny the Axis team a few resource points. But unlike the other minors its hard to achieve any kind of break out, and you don't really have to worry about managing a defense, so its sort of like just going through the motions. Most of the other minors can adopt a clear support role somewhere, or can become more relevant if one pf the big dogs throws some cash their direction, but I haven't really figured out what to do with Brazil hehe.

    I still think it would be nice if the minors could send Aid to the majors. Often the minors will have a remainder under 8 PUs that can't be spent (for the AAgun hitpoint) so it would be nice if they could send like 5 PUs to their associated major power. I think it would clean things up, allowing aid to move in both directions, with less cash leftover at the end of the round. That's my main suggestion for now, an option to send small amounts of cash to the big dogs, rather than turning the minors into mini-super powers and checker-boarding the map, which is sort of what I do right now.

    Anyhow, fun stuff. I like the latest changes! Nice work guys!

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