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Subject: C3i bots general experiences/questions rss

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Matt Crawford
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I played just through one game with the new C3i bots to learn them (kindly sent to me by BGG user travisdhill).

My experience was that the bots tended to have a lot more times where the selected Op or SA didn't do anything, and so it "overflowed" into the next Op or SA choice. And then that one would not do anything, so it would move on to the next choice...

Is that other people's experience? Is it by design? It could just have been the board state I got in to, and won't necessarily always be like that. It's not a complaint or anything, but it does make them more cumbersome because you have to work through a few boxes of priorities each turn for different Ops and SAs, instead of just one set of priorities.

I'm excited to have them because I really like being able to play with all four factions solo, and to have the bots watch out for both me and the other bots. But so far they seemed a bit more cumbersome, as above, and also a bit more complicated than I'm used to from the other COIN games, with lots of prerequisites to each Op. It could also be my inexperience with A Distant Plain in particular, so I was just wondering what other people's experiences so far have been.

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chuck reaume
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First let me say the new bots are extremely well designed. However, my experience with them tends to be similar to yours. I also found them to be cumbersome, mostly due to their increased (at least that's my perception) complexity. In short, for me, they extended the length of the game due to the increased time it took me to go through all the prerequisites.

Now a lot of this may be user error or inability to grasp the new flows, but I've found it more comfortable to use the bots that came with the game. I haven't given up on the new bots, I just haven't warmed up to them just yet.
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Lars Enden
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Yes, I have had a similar experience with the new bots. I often have to wade through many options that cycle through different Ops before finding what the bot will actually do. Sometimes I feel like the flowchart is kind of superfluous, and it would have been more straightforward to just present a continuous list of priorities for each bot. Then you simply go down the list and stop at the first one that applies. I have considered the idea of making each bot into a flip book and using that instead of the flowcharts for precisely this reasons.

Still, these are well designed bots that are great fun to play with. I suppose it should be expected that more complex bots will be more fun but also more cumbersome. So, I really have no serious complaints about the bots.
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Hi all,

Many thanks for the honest feedback, first of all. That's much appreciated and a valuable lesson that I want to learn from.

A few remarks, however. As to increased complexity, I'm probably too close to judge it. In any case, I wouldn't know how to measure of complexity between the two designs anyway.

Regarding the so-called "preliminaries", are we sure that my method of methodically listing them all in one place at the top of each action box isn't deceiving us into thinking that there's more going on here than e.g. in Volko's bots? I mean, the qualifications like "lose no Control" and "do not March with the last so and so many Guerrillas" are there also in Volko's design. Admittedly the resource spending limits are a new preliminary.

As to the use of the If None arrows, that's conscious in the case of the Warlords who indeed do often pass via the March box to Rally. Other than that, I'm not sure there ought to be too much "useless" going through an action box only to find that the If None arrow will be used.

Also, with regard to the Warlords passing from March via If None to Rally, all that it really takes most of the time to check whether a March occurs is to see whether any 'lords' guerrillas are free to march (i.e. have they got more than one guerrilla at each of their bases or would a march-out create control somewhere).
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Matt Crawford
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I played another game, this time as the Taliban vs. the other three bots. I lost on the third Propaganda card to the Coalition.

The second time through with the bots was definitely smoother. I think it's a fact of life that tougher bot opponents are going to be more complicated, so I guess the art of bot design is in finding the best balance between complexity and difficulty.

As far as the preliminaries go, the only one that seems complicated is the Coalition Sweep. I really struggle to figure out what to do there. It's a complicated maneuver, similar to the Air Lift and Sweep actions of the US in Fire in the Lake. Very difficult to parse.

The special activities were where I saw the most looping. The Government would try to Govern, but couldn't, then try to Eradicate, but couldn't, and the finally Transport. Similarly, the Warlords would try to Cultivate, but failed, then have to fall back to Traffic.

I did get in a funny corner case with the Warlord bot -- for a while, I was winning, so it would follow the arrows down to "Terror could reduce Player VPs?" But I was not co-located with any Warlords, so that was a No. Attack also wouldn't do anything to me, so it was back up to Terror. The only places the Warlords could use Terror was against Support, so that's what he did. It happened a couple of times. Overall, the Warlords were never in the game.


As a side question, I could not figure out how to reduce his support, which is why I lost. If I March or Rally in (Pashtun) support spaces, then on his next turn he will definitely Sweep me out. So I would never be able to Terror to reduce the support. It seemed like my only option was to March or Rally when the Coalition bot would take the next event, and then that might give me a chance to actually use my Guerrillas that I just moved in to the support space. Are there other ways or strategies I could have used?
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Wow, go Coalition bot! It's great to see them win because their victory takes so much hard work, and the process toward victory is so fragile. It was a real joy to design that bot exactly for that reason.

As to countering the Coalition bot, I could imagine you'll need to interfere with their plans earlier. If they've got the populous non-Pashtun spaces at Support and fortified, it can be too late to react. What I saw in testing was that most of the time the Warlords occupy the said spaces with their bases so quickly that the Coalition does not really get to establish an extensive presence up there.

Re: the complexity of the Coalition Sweep. Yeah, it can be that. On paper it's simple enough: sweep at or into support, then everywhere in place, and finally, if they still have the troops to do it, go in the offensive and sweep into a counter-insurgent hotbed. You cannot make it much more basic than that.

My personal nightmare, though, is the Taliban bot march, especially when the Islamabad and/or various capabilities change the normal parameters (you know, who flips where and to what, and what does it all cost). That can be a real monster to figure out. But, what can I do? Brian and Volko designed the game like that!

Re: the Warlords never being in the race.

Yeah, I can see that may happen sometimes. What they tend to do in my games is they relatively quickly get a good number of their bases and up to all their guys onto the map. After that they stagnate as they lack effective means to Suborn lots of uncontrol. But then, if the Govt and the Taliban get out of their strongholds and begin to mix forces, that's when Suborn together with March can quickly create lots of uncontrol by tilting the balance in contested spaces.
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Christian Nierensieb
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I've been following the play examples in the pdf-file but for the life of me I can't figure out why Talibot can't execute Terror for 3+ shift on page 22? I may be a bit rusty on ADP rules but why not for example execute Terror in Kandahar for a 2-shift and one of the many other places where there is an underground Taliban guerilla?
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nierensieb wrote:
I've been following the play examples in the pdf-file but for the life of me I can't figure out why Talibot can't execute Terror for 3+ shift on page 22? I may be a bit rusty on ADP rules but why not for example execute Terror in Kandahar for a 2-shift and one of the many other places where there is an underground Taliban guerilla?


I haven't got the Vassal file in front of me right now that I used while typing up these examples so I cannot double-check. However, one or the other of the modifications to the short scenario standard set-up that the example tells us to make, ought to take care that Terror won't get triggered.

Quote:
Set the board as at the start of the
Short Scenario except as follows. Add two
Taliban Guerrillas each to Kandahar, Ghazni,
Khowst, Waziristan, and the Northwest Frontier.
Add one Taliban Base to each of the three
Pakistani spaces. Shift all the Afghan spaces
among these as well as Nuristan to Opposition.
Remove the two Taliban Guerrillas in Zabol and
in Oruzgan, respectively. Oruzgan becomes
COIN Controlled.

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Christian Nierensieb
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Hand --> Forehead yuk

Thanks a lot. Completely obvious.
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Christian Nierensieb
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I have some further questions about the new bots:
1. Does “No voluntary removal” under 8.1 mean that GovBot will never replace a base it placed on a province without a Coalition base even when the player as Coalition placed its own base there later (thus preventing Govern for Patronage)?
2. What does “sweep with troops taking them evenly from random sources” in 8.7.6 (GovBot Sweep) exactly mean? I get “random” but what does “evenly” mean? Say, I have two qualified spaces for the sweep origins, one with 6 and one with 3 troops. Do I take two from each (resulting in 4/1 on the origins) or only from the 6 troop province (resulting in 4/3)?
3. Under the same bullet, what does “get up to four troops (or more if needed” mean? It feels like a strange way of saying “get as many troops as are needed to get control” there. But I can’t figure out another meaning.
4. Government Propaganda Procedures (8.7.7.) tells me not to remove/replace the last troop or police in a space. Is this supposed to overwrite the game rules (Gov must redeploy all troops in provinces without COIN bases)?
5. “Terror” from TaliBot (8.8.3) never exposes the last guerillas at a base – even when the next card is a Propaganda card and the exposing would not result in any danger because of that?
6. TaliBot Attack (8.8.6) “with Ambush if needed to ensure success” – So if less than six guerillas ambush I am supposed to pair it with ambush and if there are six or more, success is guaranteed, so no ambush necessary?
7. Sometimes the flowchart directs me to special activities that the rules don’t allow for the current operation. Do the rules or the flowchart prevail in such a scenario?

Thanks a lot for the work you put into the bots and the clarifications here on BGG 
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nierensieb wrote:
I have some further questions about the new bots:
1. Does “No voluntary removal” under 8.1 mean that GovBot will never replace a base it placed on a province without a Coalition base even when the player as Coalition placed its own base there later (thus preventing Govern for Patronage)?


It does mean that, if taken literally. The general guidelines like this are compromises between giving a broad rule that yields ok behaviour in most circumstances and missing out in a certain limited number of situations. If we'd think about, the list of exceptions as to when it makes sense for a faction to place from the map might quickly grow long.

Quote:
2. What does “sweep with troops taking them evenly from random sources” in 8.7.6 (GovBot Sweep) exactly mean? I get “random” but what does “evenly” mean? Say, I have two qualified spaces for the sweep origins, one with 6 and one with 3 troops. Do I take two from each (resulting in 4/1 on the origins) or only from the 6 troop province (resulting in 4/3)?


This is a word that probably should be in 8.2.2 Abbreviations Used. It is intended as the former option: you take two from each. The same word is used in a couple of places with the same meaning (Surge, Govt Desertion and Redeploy, Taliban Redeploy).

Quote:
3. Under the same bullet, what does “get up to four troops (or more if needed” mean? It feels like a strange way of saying “get as many troops as are needed to get control” there. But I can’t figure out another meaning.


Yeah, a tricky sentence. This formulation is intended to cover a couple of possible situations. One is when the Govt can take control with just a single troop, in which case the sentence tells us nonetheless to try and move up to four troops cubes there (for base planting purposes later on).

Quote:
4. Government Propaganda Procedures (8.7.7.) tells me not to remove/replace the last troop or police in a space. Is this supposed to overwrite the game rules (Gov must redeploy all troops in provinces without COIN bases)?


No, the bots do not modify the base game rules (with the exception of always getting an op+sa regardless of what the eligibility track affords). This statement only covers cases where there is choice.

Quote:
5. “Terror” from TaliBot (8.8.3) never exposes the last guerillas at a base – even when the next card is a Propaganda card and the exposing would not result in any danger because of that?


This is a case parallel to your question nro 1. above. We could begin to introduce exceptions to a nice general rule, but it's a slippery slope. Feel free to give the bot these benefits as you see fit.

Quote:
6. TaliBot Attack (8.8.6) “with Ambush if needed to ensure success” – So if less than six guerillas ambush I am supposed to pair it with ambush and if there are six or more, success is guaranteed, so no ambush necessary?


Yeah, that's the idea.

Quote:
7. Sometimes the flowchart directs me to special activities that the rules don’t allow for the current operation. Do the rules or the flowchart prevail in such a scenario?


What!? Where is this happening? If the flowchart says such a thing, then that's a mistake. The bots do not get special privileges like that.

Quote:
Thanks a lot for the work you put into the bots and the clarifications here on BGG


My pleasure entirely. I'm glad someone is spending time with these bots.
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Christian Nierensieb
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Ha, if I paid that much money for C3i in Germany you better believe I am trying to get my money's worth

I have to check for the incorrect SA-activity at home where the flowchart is, but I vaguely remember it coming from the WarlordBot-Cultivate SA (if no such cultivate move to...). I will check and let you know tomorrow.
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chuck reaume
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Im starting to get more comfortable with the new bots. Really starting to dig them and ween myself from the ones that came with the game


Full disclosure: I'm traditionally a slow learner with the COIN bots so it's not a reflection on your work. :)

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reemer wrote:
Im starting to get more comfortable with the new bots. Really starting to dig them and ween myself from the ones that came with the game


Wow, Chuck, thanks!

reemer wrote:
Full disclosure: I'm traditionally a slow learner with the COIN bots so it's not a reflection on your work.


I'm a slow learner, learner by doing, as well, and these COIN bots aren't the easiest. As a matter of fact, I'm working myself into Volko's Pendragon bots and the base game itself as we speak.
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Christian Nierensieb
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I might be reading the flowchart wrong but IMO if the WarlordBot executes a Rally operation it adds a Cultivate SA. In the Cultivate SA box it says at the bottom "If no such Cultivate, Traffic" and an arrow towards Traffic SA box. In the traffic SA box it says on the bottom "If no such Cultivate Traffic" (seems like a typo BTW, should probably say "if no such traffic, suborn", because otherwise we'd be stuck in a loop). There is an arrow at the bottom of the Traffic-box saying "if none" and pointing towards the Suborn-box. Thus it could be possible that WarlordBot is trying to pair Rally OP with Suborn SA which should not be possible by the rules.
 
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I'm looking at my first printing ADP faction foldout for the Warlords right now. It says Rally may be combined with any special activity including suborn. Does it say something different in the second printing foldout?

I give you that typo there with "if no such cultivate, traffic". Well spotted!
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Christian Nierensieb
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masil wrote:
I'm looking at my first printing ADP faction foldout for the Warlords right now. It says Rally may be combined with any special activity including suborn. Does it say something different in the second printing foldout?

I give you that typo there with "if no such cultivate, traffic". Well spotted!

Wow, I can't reall figure out where that brain fart on my part came from. You are totally right of course, Rally + Suborn is a legal move. Sorry about that. Well, at least I got the typo right blush
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Brian Hard
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I got reacquainted with the game last night and noted again how much easier the c3i bots are to use compared to original published version. Thank you! I did also notice the the Warlord non-Player didn't appear to prioritize non-Pashtun spaces for Rally to pick up the pop+bases bonus. Then, in looking at that method, I noticed maybe that avoids piling up guerrillas and bases up near Uzbek and limiting Warlords spread to slow March. I'm guessing that might have been the reason for not using that as part of selection. Otherwise, I'm just using random on 2+ pop with base if no base placememt. Sound about right? Thanks.
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sentient02970 wrote:
I got reacquainted with the game last night and noted again how much easier the c3i bots are to use compared to original published version. Thank you!


Very pleased to hear that! Thank YOU for spending time with these bots!

sentient02970 wrote:
I did also notice the the Warlord non-Player didn't appear to prioritize non-Pashtun spaces for Rally to pick up the pop+bases bonus. Then, in looking at that method, I noticed maybe that avoids piling up guerrillas and bases up near Uzbek and limiting Warlords spread to slow March. I'm guessing that might have been the reason for not using that as part of selection. Otherwise, I'm just using random on 2+ pop with base if no base placememt. Sound about right? Thanks.


Yeah, I think the Wlords are better off spreading out than always with certainty Rallying where they get to place the most guerrillas. That said, the third action point of the non-player Wlords Rally does say

3. Where Warlord Bases but no other Warlords: (a) at highest Pop (b) most Bases

which steers them into particular directions pretty rigidly.
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So if the Government Bot DOES remove the last troop in a space without a COIN base, what is the purpose of the instruction that says not to "remove/relocate the last troop or police."

Also, does the Taliban Bot redeploy a guerrilla away from Kabul. The original game rules say not to but the C3i bot instructions say nothing about leaving any guerrillas in Kabul. So I'm thinking I do leave them there since the original rules say to do that. Am I right?
 
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Oerjan Ariander
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jchron wrote:
So if the Government Bot DOES remove the last troop in a space without a COIN base, what is the purpose of the instruction that says not to "remove/relocate the last troop or police."

It covers Desertion and Police Redeployment.

Quote:
Also, does the Taliban Bot redeploy a guerrilla away from Kabul. The original game rules say not to

Taliban Guerrillas in Kabul cannot Redeploy away from that space, since rule 6.5.4 explicitly says that they stay. Since they are not allowed to Redeploy at all, there is no need for any additional bot instruction to say that they won't Redeploy.

Regards,
Oerjan
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