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Subject: Poll: Is the Playdeck AI any good? rss

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Ben Kyo
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Osaka
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Forward 1, Forward 2, Forward 3... siege attack 5?
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Inspired by another thread:

Poll
Is the AI a challenge for you?
  Yes No It can win the occasional game and that's good enough for me
I'm new to the game
I know all the cards and have played before
I'm an experienced player
      218 answers
Poll created by Benkyo


Feel free to add answers if and when you graduate from one level of experience to another.
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Dave Rubin
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"It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater or more lasting effects upon the history of the world.” — Sir George Otto Trevelyan on the Battles of Trenton and Princeton
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The AI seems to overvalue breaking control of a country if it will change Domination to Presence or vice versa. In the short run, this kind of aggressiveness makes it hard to play events or to the Space Race and makes it harder to time Scoring Card play. In the long run, the drain on OPS slowly but surely erodes the AI's board position.
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Jim McNaughton
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The voting so far is showing what I'd want from the AI - challenging for new players, beatable and worthwhile for a player growing in experience who can graduate to more effective opponents online. It is reassuring that human capacity to learn and adapt is still superior to machines.
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Dan H
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I'm positively surprised by the AI. Good enought for a good game. If I play seriously, I win all the time but that is exactly what I want ninja
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Matt Boehland
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I just give the computer a few extra free influence points at the start of the game with the slider.
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Stevenson Junior
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Maccyn wrote:
The voting so far is showing what I'd want from the AI - challenging for new players, beatable and worthwhile for a player growing in experience who can graduate to more effective opponents online. It is reassuring that human capacity to learn and adapt is still superior to machines.

I'd prefer few difficulty levels to choose from.
I'm pretty sure that AI that headlines Bear Trap or NATO as Soviet player or that uses China Card to make first turn coup against Phillipines does not help human player to improve as it is highly unprobable to meet such an intelligent player in real life.
 
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Ben Kyo
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I'm intrigued by the number of people who have graduated from one rung of experience to another in two days. 138 votes by 113 people. That's some hard-core intensive TS play going on over the weekend.
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Ben Kyo
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I thought, based on my own experience of offline play, that there would be an overwhelming "no" vote for the categories other than "new to the game". Interesting results.

I think the AI is useless for anything other than letting absolute beginners learn the basics, but it seems that a surprising number of players are getting good/sufficient value out of it. Great for them, but a bit of a shame from my perspective, as presumably that means there won't be much pressure for Playdeck to invest in improving it. I hope they do iron out some of the most glaring issues, even if getting it to the level of challenging skilled players is a pipe dream.
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James Webb
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I've played 12 games so far, and won 11 of them. The one that I lost was because I misplayed a tricky hand and DEFCON Suicided rather than because of the AI.

I'm pleasantly surprised by the AI. It's better than I thought it would be - at least half of my games have gone into the Late War, and that's good enough for me.

The AI is stronger during the Early War, but as the game goes on the number of things you have to take into account increases and the AI can't cope - by the Late War it begins making moves that seem almost random. For example, in one of my games it ignored me as I took over Europe, and continued its bizarre plays of trying to Realign me out of Peru and Tunisia. I'm sure there was logic to its play, but it just stood by and let me get Europe Control.

I've managed Europe Control in about a quarter of the games. That shouldn't be happening.

It likes to break Control of Battlegrounds, which can be a good irritant when you're wanting it to just move on to something else and let you get the Scoring Card down, but - as mentioned above - it's inefficient and costs the AI too many OPs over the course of the game.

Again, there's the odd bizarre case, such as an opening Coup of the Phillipines with the China Card,, but it's a nice change to play against someone who doesn't always open with a Coup of Iran.

I'm content, and I don't think you're ever going to get a Grandmaster AI from PlayDek because there's just too much going on in the game. If you want a challenge then head online and play against other players of your calibre.
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Brian Pierce
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dirubin wrote:
The AI seems to overvalue breaking control of a country if it will change Domination to Presence or vice versa. In the short run, this kind of aggressiveness makes it hard to play events or to the Space Race and makes it harder to time Scoring Card play. In the long run, the drain on OPS slowly but surely erodes the AI's board position.

I think this is a very astute observation, and it mirrors my experience with the AI. A few comments from an experienced TS player after a few plays against the AI:

The Negative:
(1) As already mentioned, the AI seems to overvalue breaking control of battleground countries. It often spends excess ops to temporarily break my control of a region, and I am easily able to repair the damage and make progress in other areas of the board. This has led to a bit more difficultly in scoring huge points for early scoring cards, but the end result is my domination/control of almost every area of the board over time.

(2) To go along with (1), the AI has an irrational obsession with the Koreas. In many of my games the AI will seemingly “waste” ops to try to get into both of these regions when there are much more advantageous plays to be made.

(3) These points combine to make me feel that the AI is too “short term” focused in its execution. It often spends several plays trying to coup/realign seemingly insignificant non-battleground countries in regions that will score soon. These are often easy to respond to and don’t strengthen the AIs position much at all. I imagine that this is an artifact of the process in which the AI works, most likely predicting how certain moves will affect the game over the next turn or so, instead of the entire game (a computationally challenging problem).

(4) The coup logic of the AI doesn’t seem strong. I see the AI often doing coup attempt against very difficult targets. For example, using a 2 ops card to coup a 2 stability non-battleground where I have 4 influence present. The AI needs to roll a 5-6 to break my control and I can very easily pop influence back in to make this a futile effort.

(5) I’m not sure that the AI correctly plays some difficult events such as Blockade. I have seen the AI (playing as US), Blockade itself at the end of a turn with nothing to discard and eliminate itself from Western Europe. I have seen it do this after Space Racing a 3 ops USSR card on the previous turn. Obviously this doesn’t make sense, but it seems the AI isn’t able to fully understand how to deal with these “tricky” events.

The Neutral:
(6) Because of point (1) above, the games against the AI can give the illusion of close games due to their length. The AI does a decent job of limiting the effectiveness of early scoring cards, and as a result most of my games have gone to the end of the mid war or into the late war. However, in these games I am usually in a very dominant position across the board. I am effectively just waiting for the correct scoring cards or Wargames to come out to end the game. I put this under “neutral” because it has negative and positive effects. It is a nice way for newer players to get to see the mid and late war cards against an opponent. It also gives the “illusion” of closer games than I think are really present, but for some this will add confidence.

The Positive:
(7) Even though the AI hasn’t been much of a match for me so far, I am still very impressed with what we have. TS is my favorite game but I have played it only once with the primary gaming partner, my wife. TS can be a difficult game to teach if you and your opponent are mismatched in terms of experience. In a perfect world you want to look at their hand and explain some of the things to consider. However, this isn’t really possible in anything but a learning game. The other night, my wife and I sat down and played together against the AI. She really enjoyed this experience and said it was a phenomenal way to learn the game. I could explain things I might consider, and she and I could play together. I think this AI will serve as a fantastic learning aid for new players.

(8) This implementation has allowed me to play TS with my best friends (that live on other continents) and introduce them to this great game.

(9) The interface is very slick and works well for me and new players I have spoken with. I have a few minor quibbles (ex: I would like to undo a placement of influence instead of undo my entire turn), but there is no denying that this is a professionally produced digital version.

In the future, I think it would be wonderful if Playdek can use game data to increase the sophistication of the AI. I think that eventually, multiple difficultly levels could be established to allow players to choose their level of challenge. The number of things to consider in this great strategy game is vast, and I know that programming an AI cannot be a simple task. Thank you Playdek and I look forward to improvements (and ios implementation) in the future!
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Kasper Lauest
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Played only two games vs the AI - I played the US both times. Based on that, the AI is better than a beginner. It probably plays at the strength of a player with 2-5 plays under his/her belt, I would guess. Any experienced player shouldn't have much trouble unless they have terrible luck.

Some really dodgy plays here and there like unrealistic realignment attempts, poor use of strong cards like destalinization and the failure to space key cards. In both my games the AI played Bear Trap on himself, which is usually pretty dumb. It also seems to use the China Card at any given opportunity.
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Kasper Lauest
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bpierce72 wrote:
The Neutral:
(6) Because of point (1) above, the games against the AI can give the illusion of close games due to their length. The AI does a decent job of limiting the effectiveness of early scoring cards, and as a result most of my games have gone to the end of the mid war or into the late war. However, in these games I am usually in a very dominant position across the board. I am effectively just waiting for the correct scoring cards or Wargames to come out to end the game. I put this under “neutral” because it has negative and positive effects. It is a nice way for newer players to get to see the mid and late war cards against an opponent. It also gives the “illusion” of closer games than I think are really present, but for some this will add confidence.
Oh yeah, this is so true. In my two games, I pretty much constantly had the feeling that I was cruising, but it still took me to rounds 9 and 7 respectively before I closed out the win, which was inevitable because I was totally dominating the board in both games. The AI is quite good at prolonging the game.
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Ken Marley
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I had the AI play CIA with DEFCON at 2, and Fidel in Cuba.
(He didn't have to play it. He could have held it.)

Otherwise it seemed pretty good.
 
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Kasper Lauest
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BlueSwan wrote:
bpierce72 wrote:
The Neutral:
(6) Because of point (1) above, the games against the AI can give the illusion of close games due to their length. The AI does a decent job of limiting the effectiveness of early scoring cards, and as a result most of my games have gone to the end of the mid war or into the late war. However, in these games I am usually in a very dominant position across the board. I am effectively just waiting for the correct scoring cards or Wargames to come out to end the game. I put this under “neutral” because it has negative and positive effects. It is a nice way for newer players to get to see the mid and late war cards against an opponent. It also gives the “illusion” of closer games than I think are really present, but for some this will add confidence.
Oh yeah, this is so true. In my two games, I pretty much constantly had the feeling that I was cruising, but it still took me to rounds 9 and 7 respectively before I closed out the win, which was inevitable because I was totally dominating the board in both games. The AI is quite good at prolonging the game.
Actually, I sort of take that back. It is pretty good at prolonging the game at the Soviets - it is NOT good at prolonging the game as the US. I just tried two games against it as the USSR. Early turn 4 knockouts both times and it was really really easy. The main problem indeed seems to be that the AI wastes its OP's trying to break control constantly.
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Liam
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Moved from Twilight Struggle to VGG>>Twilight Struggle: General.
 
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Christopher Yaure
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I am an experienced but below average TS player. My AREA rating is 4678 (5000 is average). I do not find the AI challenging, but have played a few games against it to get experience with the Optional Cards, which I have not used before.

I have noticed two weaknesses not noted above. 1) The AI often puts a lot of resources into CA/SA/Africa during the Early War, to such an extent that it loses on Victory Points (+20/-20) due to losing Europe, ME and Asia by Domination vs. Presence and 2) sometimes it just makes a completely unexplanable move, such as losing a game on Turn 1 or 2 by holding onto a Scoring Card.
 
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Tyler Jakes
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I have no idea what my rank would be, but I win most live games of TS (barring ridiculous opponent draw) and the AI summarily beats me when I play as US. As USSR, I easily crush Europe almost every time. So...I think it's very tough AI.
 
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Ben Kyo
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mandor1784 wrote:
I have no idea what my rank would be, but I win most live games of TS (barring ridiculous opponent draw) and the AI summarily beats me when I play as US. As USSR, I easily crush Europe almost every time. So...I think it's very tough AI.
If there's one thing I've learnt since the Playdek app, it's that there are a lot of really bad TS players out there. If you never play anyone competent, you never find out how much there is to learn.

The AI is a really, really weak player. Even without exploiting any of the holes in its programming, like Europe control, the AI simply cannot win against competent play unless it is the USSR and it is fantastically lucky.

I still think it's fine for an AI though, because making one that could challenge competent players would probably require years of dedicated research and programming, if it is even possible.
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