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Thread: Basic agent stats and use

  1. #1

    Default Basic agent stats and use

    I can't really find the time to write a full guide, but wanted to just verbalize some of the basics of the agent mini-game. Yes, I see agent use as a mandatory mini-game. I wrote this because watching Youtube let's plays, I see, still, a lot of frustration with agent use, and notice the complete lack oif understanding of the larger system.

    It won't surprise many of you, I am sure, that it all comes down to Authority, Cunning and Zeal rating. Now, yes, I could go on and talk about how to build your generals and cities with regard to Authority, Cunning and Zeal, and this is applicable, but I will try to just stick to agent use. keep in mind they are all interrelated though.


    1. There is a direct relationship between the type of skill you are using (Authority, Cunning and Zeal) and the rating of Authority, Cunning and Zeal of the target, be it another agent, city or general (army).

    * This means check your agent's rating before choosing your target. If you have multiple of your agents to choose from to hit a target, or there are multiple targets to choose from (3 enemy agents in one area is not uncommon). This makes a very large difference.


    2. Your Authority, Cunning and Zeal are also your defense against the enemy's Authority, Cunning and Zeal. This is true for all of your agents, generals and cities.

    * You could theoretically put a high Cunning spy in a high Authority protected city (buildings) with a high Zeal general and have a lot of protection against enemy agents.


    3. Each stat has a set of benefits, but they will not show until you are at 4 in that skill. In fact, if you have a 3 in Authority, Cunning or Zeal, you are neutral. No benefits, no negatives. If you are below 3, you get a negative. For example, if you have 1 in Authority, you will deal with a +20% cost to your agent actions. However, once you hit a 5, it will be a 10% discount on cost (don't quote me on the exact percentage). Incidentally, it works this way for generals too.

    * You can check the effects of each stat by selecting the agent and then floating over the icon at the bottom. There are a couplle other icons there that show the current status, such as if agent is invisible or has been spotted.


    4. Each stat has its own skill tree, so to say. But you must choose the basic one to "open" the tree. For example, you could have a +1 Zeal from a trait and another from a house member so you may be at a 4 or 5 Zeal, but until you actually choose the +1 Zeal trait when the agent levels up, it won't open the the tree.

    * You can level the skills you have already chosen seperately from the actual Zeal, Authority and Cunning skill trees. I haven't figured out when, though it feels like 2-3 levels past when you have taken it.


    5. Agents, generally, (and there are exceptions), can be built for three purposes: travelling with an army, province control or direct action against army/town/agent.

    * Travelling with an army: training trooops is borderline OP, reduce cost of upkeep or troop creation, raise moral or lower enemy morale, adding charge to your troops, reducing enemy fighting stats...
    * Provincial control: This can be done just by building them with these benefits and can be used when agent is in army etc, but also by just standing him in the rovince where you want the raised tax income, culture conversion or public order. Incidentally, you can toggle on their ability they can use while just standing there not part of an army. It is left hand button when you select them. Hero typed raise moral, spies develop an anti-spy network, dignitary types raise tax income etc. Oh, putting a spy near an enemy or your own settlement just setting up a network is reasonable experience for agent with far less danger.
    * Direct actions against army/town/agent: I would seriously guess this is what most people are doing with their agents, and probably dying or getting wounded a lot on higher difficulty levels while doing so. This is as it sounds, you directly try to influcent an army, town or agent, making that single attempt for its turn. This is where you are able to check your success rate by percentage, and it was WIN when they added the different percentages for success chance overall, for full effect or partial effect (chance to kill or wound, chance to fail, get killed or wounded). Now, you could obvioulsy just check all of each option every time you try to use a skill, but whan I am trying to sell here is that it is PREDICTABLE and you can PLAN. This is VERY GOOD!


    6. If at all possible, research Champion and Dignitary as soon as possible, and always have your maximum. Converting agents to your side (why can I not remember the actual term?) is fabulously valuable. You can go over your cap limit this way. If you have 1/1 spies and one defects to your side, you will have 2/1 spies. I cannot stress this enough!

    So there are a million things to talk about as far as overall plans and tips, but I will leave that for the discussion afterward.
    Last edited by Mhantra; 11-12-2013 at 13:59.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Nice write-up. Some good stuff here.

    A few additional thoughts:

    There's really no viable alternative to using champs in armies. The military training buff is just too valuable. Plus their zeal bonuses for the army's combat capabilities and movement range. The obvious skill spec is +zeal for army movement range and military training bonus. I rarely use champs for direct action...even when I do, it's usually to prevent an enemy army from reinforcing, which doesn't require a crit, just "normal" success. The champ's basic skill rank is usually plenty sufficient for this.

    I've kinda flipped around on dignitaries...a pretty versatile agent. For 2 campaigns I used them as civil administrators in my richest provinces, for income boost. This worked well enough on Normal difficulty. At Hard and above, however, there's really too much AI agent spam to keep agents away from the front lines. I've now shifted to embedding them in armies as well...the military admin upkeep reduction has pretty much the same effect as using them for civil admin at home. Meanwhile the dignitary is closer to the action if needed against enemy agents/armies, and his +authority bonuses help out the general. I generally spec dignitaries toward military administration, but also the basic +zeal for army movement bonus.

    Spies are my main direct-action agents; I'll supplement them with champs/dignitaries from nearby armies if things really get hairy. As you suggest, however, first I just deploy them in intelligence mode for the first 2 or 3 skill-ups, getting them to at least rank 3 and preferably Rank 4. At this point they become reasonably effective for direct-action missions, even against higher-rank targets. I generally spec my spies up the Poison tree (the snake icon), and also the authority tree for the boosted crit chance. Once these are maxed, then I go with the 2nd poison skill to boost casualty infliction.

    Sometimes, this orderly scheme of things breaks down when an all-out agent spam erupts, and one needs all hands on deck to beat back an enemy agent flood. The basic +authority skill is good here for all agent types, as it substantially increases crit chance. This in turn greatly increases the rate of enemy agent conversion, which is usually how these "agent wars" are finally won.

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  3. #3
    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Basic agent stats and use

    Very nice!

    Im putting this in the guides section because it is a guide.


    Edit: going over this again, I believe this might be one of the best and most concise guides on agents and related activities out there. Kudos!
    Last edited by Hooahguy; 11-12-2013 at 05:01.
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  4. #4
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    An excellent summary on agents, Mhantra.

    A couple additional thoughts:

    I tend to embed my dignitaries in my armies as well since I usually run at the max army limit all the time (so, my champions cannot cover all my armies). 1) dignitaries do significantly reduce army upkeep (frequently, the upkeep savings give you more money than the tax boost a dignitary can give to a province); 2) dignitaries give a huge authoritas boost (affects the area of influence) to the general allowing the general to specialize in other skills (such as cunning for night battles, marching range, etc.); 3) dignitaries allow for quick cultural conversion of the conquered provinces.

    For the inevitable agent war that inevitably erupts on very hard and legendary difficulties, my tip would be to explore the 3 options that you have for manipulation. The top level probability is for the critical attack (conversion). However, when you drill down to the next level of detail in that menu it will show you that the real probability of success is higher. The real probability accounts both for conversion and disabling the target for a turn. So, you can have a situation where your top level for manipulation shows 30% with one attack. But when you drill in, you find out that a different attack type that had a 10% success on the top level actually has a 95% success level when you account for disabling. Whereas the 30% one actually has only 50% success chance when you account for disabling.

    In an agent war, I'd pick the attack that gives me the highest total chance. Disabling is as valuable as converting since that allows my other agents to pick different targets rather than hit the first one repeatedly (on the same turn). At times, in the East, I'd have a swarm of disabled AI agents that get slowly manipulated to my side. Heh, in those agent wars I tend to have 20+ out of my allowed 3 agents.

    Oh, the same thing about top level probability applies to using agents on enemy armies. The top level probability is for the primary attack (such as poisoning). Frequently though what I am really interested in is stealing move points. So, when you drill down to the second level of probabilities you'll see that a different attack has a higher probability of slowing the enemy army down or completely stealing its move points. For champions, the "attack patrol" action (which otherwise would seem quite useless) tends to have the highest probability of stopping the enemy army cold in its tracks.
    Last edited by Slaists; 11-12-2013 at 14:29.

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Quote Originally Posted by Bramborough View Post
    Nice write-up. Some good stuff here.

    A few additional thoughts:

    There's really no viable alternative to using champs in armies. The military training buff is just too valuable. Plus their zeal bonuses for the army's combat capabilities and movement range. The obvious skill spec is +zeal for army movement range and military training bonus. I rarely use champs for direct action...even when I do, it's usually to prevent an enemy army from reinforcing, which doesn't require a crit, just "normal" success. The champ's basic skill rank is usually plenty sufficient for this.

    I've kinda flipped around on dignitaries...a pretty versatile agent. For 2 campaigns I used them as civil administrators in my richest provinces, for income boost. This worked well enough on Normal difficulty. At Hard and above, however, there's really too much AI agent spam to keep agents away from the front lines. I've now shifted to embedding them in armies as well...the military admin upkeep reduction has pretty much the same effect as using them for civil admin at home. Meanwhile the dignitary is closer to the action if needed against enemy agents/armies, and his +authority bonuses help out the general. I generally spec dignitaries toward military administration, but also the basic +zeal for army movement bonus.

    Spies are my main direct-action agents; I'll supplement them with champs/dignitaries from nearby armies if things really get hairy. As you suggest, however, first I just deploy them in intelligence mode for the first 2 or 3 skill-ups, getting them to at least rank 3 and preferably Rank 4. At this point they become reasonably effective for direct-action missions, even against higher-rank targets. I generally spec my spies up the Poison tree (the snake icon), and also the authority tree for the boosted crit chance. Once these are maxed, then I go with the 2nd poison skill to boost casualty infliction.

    Sometimes, this orderly scheme of things breaks down when an all-out agent spam erupts, and one needs all hands on deck to beat back an enemy agent flood. The basic +authority skill is good here for all agent types, as it substantially increases crit chance. This in turn greatly increases the rate of enemy agent conversion, which is usually how these "agent wars" are finally won.
    Excellent addition, Bram. I think just wrapping your brain around the basic system is probably a bit overwhelming at first, and reading other's basic systems helps.

    Yeah, I hear you on the training being the only real option for champions. Except in my Pontus campaign I was running into some terrible issues with public order while expanding...then having the Civil War hit. So I used them all in those territories to try to stem the public order issues. But the whole time I was unhappy at having to do so, because I would rather they be in the army. Really, that needs to be toned down though lol. I had one general with 60 exp per turn for soldiers, then he also had that one that lowers morale of enemy AND raises your charge? Then add army movement range? Come'on!! lol I guess if AI used it effectively also, it would balance it out, but I haven't seen it.

    And yeah, except when I am (safetly) leveling my spies just setting up spy networks for defense or intel, I mostly use spies for sabotage, converting and assassination. Almost exclusively direct action.

    Dignitaries are my weakest link. I haven't really solidified their use in my system yet.

    And yeah, I agree, at higher difficulties converting is the only way to win that agent spam war. It feels almost a little too much. I remember once on Legenday playing Iceni, I had 5 enemy agents around my city, assassinating, sabotaging and causing a huge ruckus. Then, and I kid you not this was all within 12 turns, a flood hit, then some other natural disaster, can't even remember what it was, then Brigantes declared war and attacked. I was wiped off the face of the earth in 14 turns and blame it completely on those agents. I got poor rolls, they did anything they want and I never even got off the ground. They sabotaged my military building, the floor crushed all by building etc.

  6. #6
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Quote Originally Posted by Mhantra View Post
    Excellent addition, Bram. I think just wrapping your brain around the basic system is probably a bit overwhelming at first, and reading other's basic systems helps.

    Yeah, I hear you on the training being the only real option for champions.
    Try to level up the champion "assault patrol" action + give them an authoritas boost. You'll be able to stop the enemy armies cold in their tracks most of the time. That has become my primary champion use in the East.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    2. Your Authority, Cunning and Zeal are also your defense against the enemy's Authority, Cunning and Zeal. This is true for all of your agents, generals and cities.

    * You could theoretically put a high Cunning spy in a high Authority protected city (buildings) with a high Zeal general and have a lot of protection against enemy agents.
    I think it's worth elaborating on this OP point, in the context of agent wars. Let's say you've got an agent spam going on in a province, and you've got your own agents there combatting it. Now let's say you've got a new low-level agent one province over, who would be at a disadvantage attacking the enemies due to low skill. Or perhaps your treasury is low and you know you can't afford actions by every agent present if you add this guy into the mix.

    Put her in there anyway, and deploy for the free ability. Even if you don't use this agent for actions, her zeal/auth/cunning within the region will help lower the enemies' chance of actions against all of your agents in the region.

    I also suspect it lowers enemy resistance to your own other agents' actions. Eventually an "avalanche" effect occurs with conversions due to the ratio of friend-to-enemy agent presence in the contested settlement region.

    I can't really point to a specific mechanic or trait description which documents this second point (about lowering enemies' resistance)...I've simply seen it too often and consistently to chalk it up to random good luck.

    TL;DR version: Have more agents present in an agent war than the enemy, even if you don't use them all for direct action.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    That's an interesting point, Bram. I never really thought about the overall settlement's sum-of-ACZ (authority, cunning, zeal) in the area, but that makes perfect sense.

    I have had both extreme advantageous avalances and disadvantageous avalanches before. Hadn't thought of it simply being the number of agents in the area. It makes sense.

  9. #9
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Quote Originally Posted by Mhantra View Post
    That's an interesting point, Bram. I never really thought about the overall settlement's sum-of-ACZ (authority, cunning, zeal) in the area, but that makes perfect sense.

    I have had both extreme advantageous avalances and disadvantageous avalanches before. Hadn't thought of it simply being the number of agents in the area. It makes sense.
    Oh yes, the numbers matter, lol (the law of large numbers comes to mind: if you fail, you can repeat the attempt for as many agents as you have; of course, the large numbers have to be present also in your treasury). Play as Seleucids, get into the satrapy war, send your agents over to Media (who tends to stick with you) and help them win the war with agents only (+ the AI's agents you convert). Media grows huge fast.
    Last edited by Slaists; 11-12-2013 at 19:34.

  10. #10
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Your own agents can be stealing your army's move points

    Another thing about agents is that when embedded in an army they actually can be stealing move points. I realized this when I had a dignitary in my army and adding a +move point general did not budge the available move points. Once I removed the dignitary, the army could go much farther. So, it seems, the move points are limited to the lesser of what's available to the army + the general or the agent.

    Here, let me demonstrate: an army's move points with a dignitary embedded and removed. The difference is significant.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I. An army's move points with a dignitary embedded (the dignitary has no negative traits):



    II. The same army's move points with dignitary removed.



    Last edited by Slaists; 11-14-2013 at 14:18.

  11. #11
    A Livonian Rebel Member Slaists's Avatar
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    Default Re: Basic agent stats and use

    Just for fun, an example of agent war: 9 attempts and the target remained standing (I was trying to get the last Getae scout before I wipe out the faction). He sent 4 of my agents to the hospital... Got 2x disabled himself too.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Oh well, the agent will die within the turn once that Getae stack is killed.
    Last edited by Slaists; 11-13-2013 at 03:29.

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