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Subject: Poll: Do you prefer to solo with bots? or take all sides? rss

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David Goulette
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Hi all,

I realize that this is an imperfect question as your opinion may be different with different COIN games (feel free to discuss nuance below of course!). But I thought this would get a conversation started nonetheless.

Poll
This poll is intended for those that play COIN solo at least occasionally.
When you play COIN solo, do you prefer to play solo with bots? Or do you prefer to play solo by taking all sides?
I prefer to play solo with bots.
I prefer to play solo by controlling all sides.
      144 answers
Poll created by anaturalharmonic
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Gus I
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Solo with bots on vassal - no need for counting, control etc.

I think it works really well and plays quickly. It allows you focus on a particular strategy. I have played AA and ADP solo dozens of times. The bots are strong so I rarely win. I loose track of the strategies for the different sides if I play them all at ones.

Falling Sky is yet to hit the table and one day I have to learn the (non coin) Navajo Wars.

I am surprised that there isn't a computer coin on the way. With the bots available you'd think the hardest part in automation has been solved.



 
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David Goulette
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GuusI wrote:
Solo with bots on vassal - no need for counting, control etc.

I think it works really well and plays quickly. It allows you focus on a particular strategy. I have played AA and ADP solo dozens of times. The bots are strong so I rarely win. I loose track of the strategies for the different sides if I play them all at ones.

Falling Sky is yet to hit the table and one day I have to learn the (non coin) Navajo Wars.

I am surprised that there isn't a computer coin on the way. With the bots available you'd think the hardest part in automation has been solved.



I didn't know that the bots on Vassal were handled for you. Is that true for all COIN games on Vassal?
 
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Dan Joyce
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Bots are not on vassal, the modules however do the math crunching for everything else. Makes it easier to keep track of game state.
Dan
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David Goulette
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danjay1 wrote:
Bots are not on vassal, the modules however do the math crunching for everything else. Makes it easier to keep track of game state.
Dan
Oh. I see. I misunderstood. Thank you.

Is it possible for somebody to implement bots on Vassal so they are handled automatically? (I'm sure this has been asked before. I am not a Vassal player.)
 
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Niko
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anaturalharmonic wrote:
GuusI wrote:
Solo with bots on vassal - no need for counting, control etc.

I think it works really well and plays quickly. It allows you focus on a particular strategy. I have played AA and ADP solo dozens of times. The bots are strong so I rarely win. I loose track of the strategies for the different sides if I play them all at ones.

Falling Sky is yet to hit the table and one day I have to learn the (non coin) Navajo Wars.

I am surprised that there isn't a computer coin on the way. With the bots available you'd think the hardest part in automation has been solved.
I didn't know that the bots on Vassal were handled for you. Is that true for all COIN games on Vassal?
AFAIK no COIN vassal implementation automates the bots for you.
Vassal does help in so far as it tracks other information for you so it's not quite as much of a brain burn as the physical version.

There have been some unofficial attempts to make software that automates the bots, but I haven't been following them that closely so I don't know where any of them are at.

EDIT: ninja'd
I think some of the unofficial software attempts where planning to read info straight from Vassal so you don't have to type it in manually.
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Juan Valdez
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Ze_German_Guy wrote:
There have been some unofficial attempts to make software that automates the bots, but I haven't been following them that closely so I don't know where any of them are at.
I've poked at this myself, found it rather time consuming. I do have a yaml file with the Medium scenario setup. If anyone would like it, PM me.
 
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David Goulette
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mtngrown wrote:
Ze_German_Guy wrote:
There have been some unofficial attempts to make software that automates the bots, but I haven't been following them that closely so I don't know where any of them are at.
I've poked at this myself, found it rather time consuming. I do have a yaml file with the Medium scenario setup. If anyone would like it, PM me.
Medium scenario for what?
 
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Juan Valdez
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anaturalharmonic wrote:
mtngrown wrote:
Ze_German_Guy wrote:
There have been some unofficial attempts to make software that automates the bots, but I haven't been following them that closely so I don't know where any of them are at.
I've poked at this myself, found it rather time consuming. I do have a yaml file with the Medium scenario setup. If anyone would like it, PM me.
Medium scenario for what?
fitl
 
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Gus I
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I doubt that anyone would get permission from GMT to automate the bots in VASSAL. The bot flowcharts are not included in the vassal module and you have to use your copies from the game.

Going through the flowcharts gives you the designers insight on how each site could be played. I find it quite helpful.

I was more thinking that the COIN games could be implemented as a non-free commercial product in Unity. Just like PC-Twilight Struggle and iOS Dominant Species. The AI in DS is not very good, I think I have won every game. The AI TS is much better and I only beat it half the time. More experienced players can beat it all the time though.

The COIN bots are good (or have an unfair advantage) and so you'd get a good challenge every time. If it is designed well you'd be able to roll out all the modules with the same underlying game engine.

Anyway solo COIN on VASSAL is a great gaming experience. I use a 2k screen and tweak the zooming so the whole board fits on the screen. If I played on a full-HD laptop I'd probably only play CL and FS so it fits comfortably on the screen. One day I'll upgrade to a 4k screen.
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Vez A
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Quote:
I doubt that anyone would get permission from GMT to automate the bots in VASSAL. The bot flowcharts are not included in the vassal module and you have to use your copies from the game.
True, but the non-player action priorities ARE available also in the rule books which have always been published and made available free of charge.

For what it's worth, I'd love to see someone put in the time and effort to create a computerized engine to run the bots. It could even be an HTML/Javascript thing that runs in each player's own browser without needing to sit on a server somewhere.

However, from what I've seen in terms of attempts to date, and as noted above, such programming appears to be so time consuming that, to date, no one has yet completed such a project.

I designed the FLN bot for upcoming Colonial Twilight. That's just a single bot, so that might be doable in terms of time and energy though ...
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David Goulette
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I am actually somewhat surprised that the vote was slightly in favor of taking all sides.

As much as I appreciate the bots, I much prefer (at this point) to play all sides with the regular rules. (The negotiations I have with myself are interesting.) I find the bots to be more work than they are worth. And I like to tell my own story.

But I thought I would be in the minority on this.
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Brian Hard
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While I agree the bot design in COIN games are great and present very challenging adversaries (versus playing against oneself) I do find walking through the prioritization checks tedious at times and really slows down the flow of the game for me. Maybe I just need more time with them but my best example of this is how I roll my eyes every time I had to execute either a Warlord Rally or Taliban March in ADP as those are probably the slowest for me to walk through when I've got an entire country of pieces for those factions to deal with.
 
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Gabriel Conroy
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I sometimes assist or accelerate the bots - often you can make the obvious move. But I like them to be in charge of their own destiny as much as possible.
 
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Bart de Groot
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Ze_German_Guy wrote:
I think some of the unofficial software attempts where planning to read info straight from Vassal so you don't have to type it in manually.
Michael Auton
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was trying to make a bot script in Python for LoD (inspired by the LWoT python helper script), and I was trying to make a bot script for the VASSAL module of ADP. We joined forces last year to make a bot script for Falling Sky running from VASSAL. It will read the VASSAL module game state, run a script with the game state as input in JavaScript or Python, and tell you what the bot decides to do. Michael had a start for the Gaelic factions, and I was pretty far along with the Romans. But then I stopped hearing from Michael and I had to deal with things IRL.

The tech works (although not the most elegant), you get a button in VASSAL for each faction, and can ask it what the bot will do for its move. It will print the instructions to the VASSAL chat log as text, and you can execute it – it doesn't move pieces for you. Or it will pop up a dialog asking for a question, like for permission in the case of Falling Sky. I would like to finish this, but not sure if and when. It is a lot of work, and it would need a considerable commitment to get back into. You have to consider every possible combination of special condition and exception and game state beforehand and programme what it should do, instead of just looking it up if/when it occurs. FS was also perhaps not the best choice as the bots seem more complex than other COIN, with lots of back-and-forth questions.
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Juan Valdez
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bdegroot wrote:
I would like to finish this, but not sure if and when. It is a lot of work, and it would need a considerable commitment to get back into. You have to consider every possible combination of special condition and exception and game state beforehand and programme what it should do, instead of just looking it up if/when it occurs. FS was also perhaps not the best choice as the bots seem more complex than other COIN, with lots of back-and-forth questions.
My experience working on a just the Sweep/Air lift mechanics with the Fire in the Lake bot bears this out: it is a _lot_ of work. Enough that I can't justify any more work on it in 2017.
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Drew
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bdegroot wrote:
Ze_German_Guy wrote:
I think some of the unofficial software attempts where planning to read info straight from Vassal so you don't have to type it in manually.
Michael Auton
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was trying to make a bot script in Python for LoD (inspired by the LWoT python helper script), and I was trying to make a bot script for the VASSAL module of ADP. We joined forces last year to make a bot script for Falling Sky running from VASSAL. It will read the VASSAL module game state, run a script with the game state as input in JavaScript or Python, and tell you what the bot decides to do. Michael had a start for the Gaelic factions, and I was pretty far along with the Romans. But then I stopped hearing from Michael and I had to deal with things IRL.

The tech works (although not the most elegant), you get a button in VASSAL for each faction, and can ask it what the bot will do for its move. It will print the instructions to the VASSAL chat log as text, and you can execute it – it doesn't move pieces for you. Or it will pop up a dialog asking for a question, like for permission in the case of Falling Sky. I would like to finish this, but not sure if and when. It is a lot of work, and it would need a considerable commitment to get back into. You have to consider every possible combination of special condition and exception and game state beforehand and programme what it should do, instead of just looking it up if/when it occurs. FS was also perhaps not the best choice as the bots seem more complex than other COIN, with lots of back-and-forth questions.
FWIW, I would be very excited to see the Falling Sky automation finished.
 
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Abe Delnore
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I sometimes find the bots too tedious.

Another questions that might be worth posing:

If you have 2 players for a 4-faction COIN game, do you use bots or not?

In this instance we don't use bots since they really slow the game down compared to having each player just take a set of aligned factions.
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David Goulette
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Abe Delnore wrote:
I sometimes find the bots too tedious.

Another questions that might be worth posing:

If you have 2 players for a 4-faction COIN game, do you use bots or not?

In this instance we don't use bots since they really slow the game down compared to having each player just take a set of aligned factions.
I generally agree with both of your opinions here. I think if you really played one coin game a lot, then the bots would be worth learning. But I only play occasionally. So just knowing the human rules is all I can handle.

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Ron A
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ajpl wrote:

FWIW, I would be very excited to see the Falling Sky automation finished.
Instead of 'automation,' I think the proper term is 'autobot.'




Bots and COIN are weird for me.

On one hand, I personally am never really satisfied by the old wargamer trope of 'playing both sides to the best of my ability.' In my case, some sort of bias always slips in and I can never come up with the variety of imaginative moves a Real Live opponent does. I don't have to worry about my personal bias with 'bots, I just follow the script.

On the other hand, bots (in ANY solitaire game, not just COIN) are liable to be gamed. In addition, with COIN, strategies that work vs 'bots usually don't work vs opponents.


One of the things that attracted me to COIN in the 1st place was that you could play vs people OR solitaire when you couldn't find people. In reality, my ratio of FTF to solo COIN games is over 9-1.

I appreciate the existence of 'bots, but for me, 'bots are not just not used that much.
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