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Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar» Forums » General

Subject: Musing on the Non-Player Bots rss

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Jay I

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Hey everyone. I'm pretty new to the COIN series but it has fast become one of my all-time favorite game experiences. I've played Falling Sky and a good bit of Liberty or Death (I own Pendragon, too, but it remains unopened still). I'm mostly a solo gamer by both necessity and preference, and I like to play it the pure way with one faction vs 3 bots.

I've noticed that the Falling Sky bots strike me as just a bit underwhelming compared to the LoD bots who always seem to keep the game tight and tense. I think part of this may just be a function of the design differences between the two games -- in LoD you are a lot more dependent on having a reliable ally and the bots aren't always so mindful of that. But overall I've found the Falling Sky bots to be a bit passive and somewhat easy to manipulate. They tend to want to sit around marshaling up all of the forces and slowly picking away at tribes with no real sense of urgency to meet their victory conditions. The Romans are a little more aggressive, but their march command is always one of the trickiest to execute and I rarely feel confident that I'm doing it correctly. Even once the Romans get moving, it's still fairly easy to outmaneuver them in the long game.

I have already preordered the expansion which I understand will include a revamped bot system. For now I'm just wondering if (1) anyone else has had a similar experience relative to the bots in LoD, (2) if anyone has any house rules or variants that help to spice things up a bit, and (3) how the bots in Pendragon compare.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Matt Crawford
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I've really had the opposite experience for the most part, although the nature of the alliances in Liberty or Death means it feels very different when playing. Here's my experience:

In Liberty or Death, the two bots on the opposite side (i.e., the British and the Indians if you are playing as the Patriots) are terrible at keeping the Support/Opposition battle close. I am usually way ahead in Support or Opposition.

So that means the only bot to beat is your nominal ally (i.e., the French if you are playing the Patriots). And it is very difficult to beat that ally bot. But I think that's more to do with the fact that in LoD you are not given many levers to affect your ally. You can only try to make a bunch of moves that don't allow your ally to score points. This, to me, is a very frustrating way to play. Now it's true that while focusing all your efforts on "beating" your ally, the opposing bots can start to come back and win, but again I think that's only because you're focusing all your efforts on your ally. I've given up having an enjoyable solo experience with LoD because that dynamic is so frustrating.

In Falling Sky, I agree that the Arverni bot, and the others to a lesser extent, likes to build up first and the move around in a huge mass of warbands. That can seem conservative, and I've definitely had times where I can pretty much guarantee that the Arverni bot will not win, because it just cannot take out Roman legions if the Roman player is careful.

But otherwise I find the Falling Sky bots great. The Roman bot is tough because you cannot get ahead or it will come and crush you. I made that mistake in my last game that I just finished up, getting ahead as the Aedui. I went from winning to losing in about six cards as the Romans and the Arverni came in and wiped me out, while the Belgae picked up the win. Alternatively, if I'm playing as the Romans, it's hard to win because you have to keep playing whack-a-mole on all three Gauls, trying to prevent any of them from winning.

(Also, for what it's worth, I saw the Roman bot kill Ambiorix, which I had never seen before! The Romans got a free march and battle from an event, and came in and wiped out Ambiorix completely. Then even with a replacement leader, the Belgae were able to win. I also saw a whole bunch of Legions fall in the first winter, when they were cut off from Provincia after wiping out the Belgae. That also was pretty cool.)

Anyways, I'd be interested in hearing how your experience with Liberty or Death differs from mine. Is it that you find the bots are keeping the Support/Opposition battle close, or is that you don't mind fighting your ally as much as I mind it?

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Jay I

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Thanks for the reply, Matt. As it turns out, I was making a couple of small (and one rather big) mistakes that were influencing the bot actions. A few plays of Falling Sky later and I've experienced a little more tension. Still, relative to the LoD bots, I find that they don't work as hard to manipulate the board state and consequently disrupt or interfere with the long-term strategies I may have planned. To clarify, I never felt they were easy to beat, just less tense to play against.

I agree completely about LoD forcing you to play against your ally. I just count any game where I have a positive victory margin as a win. The major difference is in how the LoD bots more frequently take actions that change the board state, potentially in dramatic ways, and I am more often forced to adjust my strategies and play to the emergent conditions of the game board.

I am not, by any measure, a skilled COIN player so any account of my experience has to be filtered through my lack of insight as to how to play successfully. I definitely do not routinely beat the bots in either game. However, now that I am playing the Falling Sky bots correctly I am finding that I enjoy it just a bit more than LoD. One of these days I will get Pendragon to the table...
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