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Subject: The state of the AI rss

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Brad Keusch
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I was hoping to copy my AI play I just completed but it looks like the logs from the game aren't saved anywhere after the game in completed unfortunately. Here are some thoughts from my play as best as I can reconstruct them.

I played the USSR, and won via autovictory on turn 6 AR1 (started the turn at 17 VP, nazi scientist got me 2 in the headline, then U2 incident the final VP).

-The AI is probably interesting for a new player, but for experienced players, it is in pretty poor shape.

-It HIGHLY values realignments in its decision making. It spent no less than 5 AR realigning me in the 5 turns it got to play, starting on T2.

-It has VERY bad decision making when it comes to headlining cards. I am not sure if this will change at all with player rating? But it opened the game by headlining socialist governments against itself. Coupled with my suez crisis T1 headline, I was able to lay an early smackdown. On T3 it headlined destalinization against itself.

-It also gave me decolonization and got very little for it.

-It spent MANY AR inefficiently shoving influence into my controlled countries with ops, only for me to easily recontrol the countries.

-There were multiple instances where it seemed to dance around the board in a way that made it hard to predict what scoring cards it had. In one instance it held Africa scoring but was making a concerted effort in CA/SA/africa, which made it somewhat hard to tell what it was holding, which was somewhat effective (though probably not as effective as just fighting for africa).

I know they are planning to make big upgrades to it, but I would say at this point it might help new players learn the rules, but it is not fit to really teach them much in the way of strategy. Here's hoping the next release is better!
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Chris District
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anatana wrote:
it opened the game by headlining socialist governments against itself....
On T3 it headlined destalinization against itself.

what?!
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Joe Pilkus
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Brad,

I'm definitely new to the game, and as the board game skews to the USSR until the Mid or even Late War, I'm planning on playing the first dozen games as the U.S. I've clocked two games so far, and while the AI defeated me, it's taken a bit longer (Turn 4 during the first game yesterday and Turn 5 tonight).

For $12, it's a great primer for the game and will serve me, again, a new player for weeks, if not months.

Cheers,
Joe
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N P
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It plays the ussr better as a whole. Try going against it as USA and see if u beat your last game. Also you should give it at least a couple more iP to begin with if you are playing ussr.
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Rick Blaha
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All this "inferior" AI talk is depressing. Though, that might be due to my 1-for-9 record against the computer. cry
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Ben Kyo
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anatana wrote:
-It has VERY bad decision making when it comes to headlining cards. I am not sure if this will change at all with player rating? But it opened the game by headlining socialist governments against itself. Coupled with my suez crisis T1 headline, I was able to lay an early smackdown. On T3 it headlined destalinization against itself.
This seems like an easy fix - favouring your own events is almost always going to be better, with exceptions programmed in.

anatana wrote:
-It spent MANY AR inefficiently shoving influence into my controlled countries with ops, only for me to easily recontrol the countries.
This is the biggest problem I have with the AI as it stands. Putting influence into controlled countries shouldn't be completely ruled out, but at the very least the AI should analyse the probabilities of OP totals in each hand, and only consider putting influence into controlled countries when there is a better than 50% chance of it having X more OPs free than its opponent, and/or it is trying to avoid a loss, and/or it knows it has back-to-back unopposed ARs, and/or it is making a last AR play to potentially get a BG coup.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't expect the AI to ever be *good*, but that some really obvious rules that could make significant improvements haven't been programmed in.
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Phil Mouser
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I only played one games verus the ai. I was playing as USSR. I won on a Europe control victory in the early war. I noticed the AI wasn't too concerned about Europe battlegrounds, it seemed more interested in Aisa, so just went for the jugular. Even when defeat was staring it in the face while I waited for the scoring card to turn up (which it was holding and could have played just before I got control) instead it seemed more interested in mid war regions and cooping Asia.

Some strange headline decisions too. Coders should read the twilight strategy website site card descriptions and strategy for coding the AI.

Hope AI improves, just giving an influence as a handicap isn't enough. But, I'm sure it'll get better it's a good start
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John Woods
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Actually in one of my games against the AI, I was the USSR and in turn one the AI headlined Blockade. I was thinking WTF, but it turns out he discarded another Soviet event card.

I can't remember the rest of his hand, but he got rid of a semi-valuable Soviet card in a manner that suited him.

I've noticed the AI likes to keep its own events in the deck, so in this case he was able to get rid of a Soviet event in a controlled fashion and didn't expend one of his events in the headline phase.

I dunno if I'd call it brilliant, but it was interesting.
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Chris District
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Standard play when US pulls blockade.
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Ben Kyo
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I've only played one game so far, but it was me as USSR vs US with +2. It ended around turn 6 or 7 with me dominating CA, Europe, and Mid East, controlling Africa and SA, and stably equal in Asia. That's after I lost a 2/0 Pakistan and a 6/3 Thailand to wars.

I'm not a very experienced player, having played only about half-a-dozen games before the game against the AI. I don't remember any particularly favourable dice rolls or hands other than my opening hand, and essentially I won because the AI threw so much influence into countries that I controlled whenever it had a scoring card of a region I was dominating.
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titi gaganu
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AI is very weird and a very weak player.
In all 5 games i played USSR AI started with a AR1 coup in Philippine.

Many times is completely ignoring what is going on the board and is ignoring basic strategies stated in Twilight Strategy, thought will be the basses for the AI.

He even CIA cheated himself into DEFCON suicide when he was not forced to. For experienced player it presents absolutely no challenge.

Not I really start wandering why it took so long to develop it because the program itself is not very complex.

I thought that creating the AI was the demanding thing in the development but it is clear that they didn’t really make it work.

And as I said, it would have been so much easy to just program Twilight Strategy into the AI.

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titi gaganu
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District wrote:
Standard play when US pulls blockade.

Headlining Blockade is not really a standard play for US nor is it a very good move.

On one hand maybe the USSR player is headlining Red Scare/Purge and if you don’t have a 4 op card to sacrifice you are in big trouble.

If you do have a 3 op card belonging to the USSR player, then why waste the chance to use the 1 op to play for operations during the action rounds and discard the USSR 3op anyway.

The only reason to deadline Blockade as US would be if you had a really, really bad hand.
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Ben Kyo
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titigaganu wrote:
AI is very weird and a very weak player.
In all 5 games i played USSR AI started with a AR1 coup in Philippine.
Thankfully the AI started a more sensible game as the USSR for me, with a coup of Iran (1/0 to 0/4) and reasonably sensible moves in Europe and ME.

I suspect the developers put too much faith into their touted "machine learning", and didn't do enough spadework with guidance to direct and channel that learning.
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Chun Ping
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a proper machine learning should be seeded, ie guided with good opening moves. or else a pure random machine learning is neither desirable nor efficient.

imagine DeepMind Alpha Go playing Twilight struggle. haha!
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Sylvain Martel
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District wrote:
anatana wrote:
it opened the game by headlining socialist governments against itself....
On T3 it headlined destalinization against itself.

what?!

It depends on what the AI played afterward though. Was it stuck with only horrible cards? Or no good headline cards? I think at one point, we all had to play an unfavorable card in the headline because of the hand we had.

Too bad we don't have the save game(they are indeed deleted once the game is over) as we could have seen the hand the computer had.

Also, during the beta, when we saw something like that that we thought to be fishy, we would send the savegame for them to analyse and improve the AI. I wonder if we can still do it?
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Chris District
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Kinwolf wrote:
District wrote:
anatana wrote:
it opened the game by headlining socialist governments against itself....
On T3 it headlined destalinization against itself.

what?!

It depends on what the AI played afterward though. Was it stuck with only horrible cards? Or no good headline cards? I think at one point, we all had to play an unfavorable card in the headline because of the hand we had.

Too bad we don't have the save game(they are indeed deleted once the game is over) as we could have seen the hand the computer had.

Also, during the beta, when we saw something like that that we thought to be fishy, we would send the savegame for them to analyse and improve the AI. I wonder if we can still do it?

This morning, the AI, on Turn 1, headlined Indo-Pak.

Think about that one for a while.
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Brad Keusch
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Yeah I REALLY expect them to allow you to save game transcripts, it seems trivial and would actually be a great tool for both new and experienced players.

I also think the AI is still pretty great for teaching brand new players, especially since it will definitely familiarize them with all aspects of the game, realignments included which will not be used by many newbies.
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Ben Kyo
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District wrote:
This morning, the AI, on Turn 1, headlined Indo-Pak.

Think about that one for a while.
Better than a turn 1 Blockade headline against an empty West Germany.
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Liam
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Moved from Twilight Struggle to VGG>>Twilight Struggle: General.
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Alex Drazen
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District wrote:
This morning, the AI, on Turn 1, headlined Indo-Pak.

Think about that one for a while.


I just got the PC version and played 2 games against the AI last night (both with me as USSR, +0). It did the same thing to me, but on turn 2 (however, Pakistan and India were empty, it was a weird turn 1 because I kicked him out of Iran).

In two games, the AI managed to play Decolonization as a 1 op instead of holding it. It apparently enjoys breaking North Korea and taking South Korea before Korean War is played. It headlined Comecon at one point. It played Blockade on itself on AR7 and lost 5 West Germany influence -- when I had already taken France and Italy. For some reason the AI likes taking Indonesia and the Phillipines. It coups 1-stability countries with high-op cards. It headlined Marshall Plan on T1... and then put it mostly into things like Benelux, Finland, and Denmark (Marshall would be pretty easy to code a roughly useful outcome for: basically, overcontrol BG's to +1, then Canada if < +4, usually +1 to UK, then Greece/Turkey/Spain if no USSR influence in them, and only after that should you be going to freaking Denmark).

It sure does like realignments but oddly, it would pay double to put some influence into Cuba and then realign on Cuba at +0. Same thing in Brazil (where it was admittedly unlucky and realigned itself out at +1).

AI seems to favor Space Race and sent a lot to space as USA, which is not really how you beat USSR. At least in the second game it had the sense to space Decolonization instead of handing it to me and then putting an op in, like, Indonesia.

To the AI's credit, it never let me use DeStalinization, so I guess that's something. It also did give me a challenge in Africa and South America in the second game (party because I screwed up but it actually seemed half-reasonable).

If I had to describe the USA play I would say the AI favors early VP (it took 3 VP from Duck and Cover on AR6, since I had run out US coup targets yet DEFCON was still 3). It also seems content to keep regions even and try to control-break them to headline a scoring card the next turn for 0 VP with the idea of keeping the score track better than -6 VP. Sometimes it worked out for it and sometimes it didn't.
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Michael Kiefte
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It often plays my events in the Headline Phase.

This is pretty confusing as it causes me to suddenly forget which side I'm playing.

I'll grant that sometimes it's a good idea, but it plays events like Independent Reds as the USSR in the Headline Phase.
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Alex Drazen
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Just beat it on Turn 2 as USA, via DEFCON.

AI played China Card on Turn 1. On Turn 2, I drew Five Year Plan and UN Invervention, so as a lark, I headlined FYP. AI had played into Zaire, Angola, and Algeria, so when it did not coup on AR1 and did not play CIA either, I did a coup myself and then it had no escape hatch remaining. It was amusing watching it space Duck and Cover and another US card, only to see CIA come up on AR6.

That seems like something the AI should really know how to avoid! It's a rookie mistake.
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Brad Keusch
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Been playing this against the CPU a lot recently, and it is still in pretty bad shape. I usually play as US and give the CPU +10 influence as USSR, and still have no problem beating it.

Some thoughts w/ the AI as USSR:
1) It does not value events that give it access properly. It routinely plays destal/decol/allende/junta for ops when they would make way more sense as events.

2) I don't fear playing destal against the AI, because it doesn't know how to use it. Multiple times the timer just runs out on it and it moves no ops with the card. If it does use it its generally into only one country. I don't think I've ever seen it hop into SA with it.

3) The AI values keeping defcon high to an unreasonable degree. One of its favorite headlines is Nuclear Test Ban. This is not altogether unreasonable because it likes to try to snipe Italy with it on AR1, but in general it will rarely try to coup battlegrounds, it loves to coup available non-battlegrounds (e.g. one of the most common AR1 moves I face is a coup in the philippines). It will pounce on colombia and nicaragua but never brazil or angola or nigeria. This can sometimes force defcon suicide, as I think it assumes the player will try to keep defcon high as well.

4) Kind of in line with point 3, the AI doesn't value battlegrounds properly. Given the choice of placing ops into an uncontrolled battleground or shoving ops into one of your controlled bgs, it will very often take the latter option. It will place into non-bg over bg many times. There have been many times on turn 3 or later where at defcon 3 I literally have nowhere to coup to lower defcon except for usually Iraq.

Additionally, unless I just can't read properly, the card "non-aligned movement" is coded incorrectly. It can be used on any country, without the correct restrictions in place. This is super lame.


I assume they are done working on the AI now, I just wonder what someone else could come up with I guess?
 
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
1) It does not value events that give it access properly. It routinely plays destal/decol/allende/junta for ops when they would make way more sense as events.

On the Android app, the AI definitely plays Junta and Decolonization for the event regularly.

However, if it cannot get SA Control or Domination, it seems pretty content to leave me alone entirely in SA.

I haven't seen it get Allende often, but it is terrible with De-Stal. I saw it move influence into Turkey with it once.
Quote:


3) The AI values keeping defcon high to an unreasonable degree. One of its favorite headlines is Nuclear Test Ban. This is not altogether unreasonable because it likes to try to snipe Italy with it on AR1, but in general it will rarely try to coup battlegrounds, it loves to coup available non-battlegrounds (e.g. one of the most common AR1 moves I face is a coup in the philippines). It will pounce on colombia and nicaragua but never brazil or angola or nigeria. This can sometimes force defcon suicide, as I think it assumes the player will try to keep defcon high as well.

I think the AI has some sort of heuristic about going after the highest potential VP regions the most aggressively. It's ridiculously indifferent about Europe, despite Europe Control being auto-victory. But it is obsessed with Asia/SE Asia, Africa, and Central America (in roughly that order) above almost everything else. The AI loves to coup Asia and I'm guessing that is why it wants a high DEFCON. The Android app at least sometimes does an AR1 coup, but not if you give it an AR7 crisis.

Occasionally it will also target the Middle East, but only if it's ahead there. I've been trying to unlock the "Stevenson Conundrum" achievement, and sometimes the AI won't even attack a region where I'm leaving it wide open to gain Domination.

The AI also basically seems to ignore scored regions in favor of unscored ones, so if you have enough spare ops it's easy to put together a long-term lead.


Quote:
4) Kind of in line with point 3, the AI doesn't value battlegrounds properly. Given the choice of placing ops into an uncontrolled battleground or shoving ops into one of your controlled bgs, it will very often take the latter option. It will place into non-bg over bg many times. There have been many times on turn 3 or later where at defcon 3 I literally have nowhere to coup to lower defcon except for usually Iraq.

This is not my experience, I find the Android AI definitely targets BG's, then takes a bunch of cheap non-BG's once it has Domination.... although it still does the control breaking thing way too much - though that can be quite an irritant when your hand is chock full of 1's, 2's, and scoring cards.


The really inexcusable thing is how often the AI will headline an opponent's event. My last game, it headline an inactive NATO!

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Brian E
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I bought the Steam game recently and have played against the AI many times as the American so far, to become comfortable with gameplay and card interaction. Soon I will switch sides. Unless I gaffe or consistently get extremely unlucky, I beat the AI, which isn't much to write home about, but the AI it is a valuable training tool and a resource against which to hone game discipline and to try new strategies.

The AI is not totally incompetent, but it has identifiable weaknesses. I have found that it prefers to coup Italy or Philippines, rather than Iran, with a T1/AR1 coup roll.

The Italy coup, if tried, always succeeds with a 6 roll. No other result is ever rolled. I don't get mad at computers, so I play through it, sometimes replying by deploying 4 Influence to Iraq and using Brush War or realigning Italy later because the AI usually likes a high DEFCON.

When the AI coups Philippines, which does not always yield 6 and has even failed before - a real waste of T1/AR1 - it is trying to get into Indonesia, while trying to force American control play into Malaysia (where I have also suffered an early Soviet coup). This aims to interfere with the American Asia strategy of Soviet domination denial by control of small countries (similar to the Mediterranean strategy in Europe). The Philippines coup isn't something I would try in a real game but it isn't quite as suicidal as it looks. (The real error is wasting The China Card on it). The Soviet has the initiative in the Middle East anyway and might not need to press an advantage early: it depends. With Asia Scoring in hand, no Vietnam Revolts, or holding Nasser, coup Philippines might be a higher leverage play than coup Iran: it gives Indonesia and doesn't drop DEFCON, so it leaves the Soviet player possibly in a position to make the prospectively "Asia-closing coup" or final coup of the turn in Asia (the coup that drops DEFCON from 4 to 3).

The AI uses Decolonization well but does not De-Stalinize with much skill. I have (I think) never seen the AI De-Stalinize into the Americas, which given how hard it can be for the Soviet to gain momentum there and the fact that Decolonization is impossible in the Americas, is the card's main purpose.

Another error the AI makes is indifference to Europe in the second half of the game. As the Soviet the AI will try to win in Europe in the first half, but loses interest in Europe later, sometimes allowing the American to make serial uncontested moves that win a game the Soviet is winning everywhere else.

Particularly when in possession of a scoring card, the AI also does commit influence suicide by repeatedly deploying Influence in your controlled countries and allowing you to spend less Influence repairing the damage, exhausting its options.

In the strangest game I ever played against the AI, I was the American. For a combination of reasons I was behind the game early, and at one point the VP total was -18. What saved me was perfect Space Race success. I never failed a Space Race roll and always had cards whose appropriate handling was to send them to space, so I completed the entire track at a clip long before game end, while the Soviet AI never advanced. I needed to complete the last two boxes urgently at the time to get 6 VP and to avoid losing in a midgame VP track loss. After that, momentum quickly shifted and the Space Race privileges proved valuable in the turnaround.
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