[Civ] Super micro management saves Baba a critical turn

Civ V NQMod streamer BabaYetu_ saves a turn on the construction of the hotly-contested Hanging Gardens wonder with a beautiful display of expertise. Baba’s micro speaks to intertwined cross-game ideas: pursuing marginal value to pass a threshold of effect and win a contested gamestate. Let’s check out the clip:

It is imperative that Baba push to finish the Hanging Gardens wonder in as few turns as possible. Multiple players are likely to be going for it, but only the first player to complete it will win the race. The others will end up paying the opportunity cost of spending time on the wonder without even earning the reward of completing it in their empires, meaning they will have painfully wasted their city production time for naught.

Accruing little advantages to production can be important, but only helps if it passes the threshold of effect. In this case, that means actually moving up the construction schedule by a full turn. At the start of this clip, Baba realizes that he is tantalizingly close to finishing the wonder in two turns. At that point with his starting trajectory he would have 163.65 of the required 167 production required. Painfully close! Baba strains to find ways to generate the necessary 3.35 prod over the next two turns.

Baba notes at the start “we have two food stored.” One can also see that at the start, the city is growing at a rate of +1.1 food/turn after consumption. Each citizen consumes 1 food/turn to avoid dying to starvation. The city’s stockpiled food allows baba to transfer a citizen from the +2 food +1 hammer buffalo tile the +0 food +2 hammer hill. With these temporary assignments, the city will go to -1 food/turn, which it can sustain for two turns before exhausting the 2 food stockpile.

Baba has cultural policies from the Tradition tree, one of which gives his empire a bonus +15% production to world wonders. This bonus ends up being very important. Moving a citizen from buffalo to hill netted him +1.15 hammers/turn for two turns, a total +2.30. Without the policy, it would only have been an even +2. But he still needs a little more, 3.35-2.30=1.05. Where will it come from? On the second of these two turns, Baba finishes improving a pasture on horses, which gives the tile +1 production, or +1.15 towards wonders. 2.30+1.15=3.45, which is greater than the missing 3.35 by just 0.1 production. There it is! With only one tenth of a production to spare, Baba makes the wonder in the space of two turns instead of three.

[Civ V] Pop micro on growth turns for extra hammers

Civilization V NQMod streamer Yoruus explains how he manages to squeeze an extra 2 production hammers out of his city on a population growth turn. In Civ V, city yields are processed in an order that starts with food, which means a new citizen can be born and start working a non-food tile to contribute to income on the same turn it is created. Further, with the NQ mod unassigned citizens (“laborers”) provide two hammers of production rather than the unmodded game’s one. By setting his city to “focus production” and leaving an unoccupied hill (which can be worked for 2 hammers), Yoruus ensures that the new citizen will go to the hill and provide an additional 2 hammers this turn towards the production of the Temple of Artemis wonder he is racing to build before any other player completes it.

Contested gamestates are won at the margins, a theme that crops up just about everywhere. Eeking out a mere 2 extra hammers may look like nothing, but it can push one over a threshold of effect by changing a 3 turn build to 2 turns. And even more subtly, it can alter the threshold of effect down the line, as the carryover of production overflow will influence the timings of later builds. Such tiny advantages accrue and over the course of a long game can actually move up a city’s entire production schedule by several turns, bit by bit.

[MTG] 3 Vintage Super League match commentary higlights

Rachel and Randy, commentating on a Vintage Super League match between Davids Ochoa and Williams, start out with a discussion of Williams’ hand. Williams, playing a Monastary Mentor deck, has not drawn the explosive mana pieces that sometimes lead to enormous early pressure. His hand will not speedily play out Mentor, but it does have ways to buy time towards finding one. He holds two 1-mana removal spells with many targets in Ochoa’s artifact and creature reliant Workshop deck:

Unfortunately for Williams, while he does find time to draw two copies of Mentor, he does not draw enough land to combat the Workshop deck’s soft-lock mana denial elements. Williams loses game 1 of the match with Mentors stranded in hand, an example of “threshold of effect” that I introduced last week. Williams, due to not mulliganing his opening 7 and also playing card-drawing spells, has access to more cards than his opponent, which is abstractly an advantage. However, without the ability to actually play the cards, their contribution is illusory. Despite Ochoa mulliganing his opener to 6 cards and not once actually drawing extra cards, he effectively has the card advantage:

Finally we have an interesting discussion of how recently printed magic cards have influenced the Vintage metagame. Vintage is a powerful format, and it’s fairly unusual for new cards to be strong enough for the Vintage context. New “toys” for Vintage decks have included Monastary Mentor (for a cheap spells deck), Paradoxical Outcome (for some storm decks), and Walking Ballista (for Workshop decks). Rachel favors Mentor, partly because Stony Silence is an effective hoser against both Outcome and Workshop decks:

[FTL] Eke out marginal advantage, create opportunities for luck

At the start of this post's source video, FTL player DarkTwinge (DT) was in a very bad spot. Without fuel for his warp drive, he drifted until the pursuing rebel fleet overtook him, leading to hard combats and low rewards. With only difficult choices available, DT does his best to survive. In these clips we'll see ideas of marginal value, cooldown rotation management, threshold of effect, and luck favoring the prepared.

In the first fight (not shown here), DT won 4 fuel but took more hull damage. In these two clips from the second fight (vs another elite fighter), he's still in rebel space. Since DT now has a small buffer of extra fuel, and since elite rebels drop poor loot, his goal is to escape taking minimal damage rather than to destroy the enemy ship.

DT activates cloaking to dodge just a moment before the first salvo reaches him, eking out every bit of marginal value. An earlier cloak would have been wasted while the shots were still harmlessly mid-flight, and would also expose his ship to danger earlier by moving up the decloak time. By activating at the last second, he forces the enemy to sit wastefully on recharged weapons for longer on the far end of the cloak's duration:
Continue reading "[FTL] Eke out marginal advantage, create opportunities for luck"