View Full Version : Expansionist Chariot Gambit with ICS topping

Apr 16, 2002, 05:23 AM
An exploit of AI stupidity if ever there was one...

The Settings:

Large landmasses are where this works best. Huge Pangaea maps, especially with Warm/Wet/5 Billion year settings are optimal. Many of the same principles work on smaller maps though. The fewer the AI the less resources will be on the map, which is a good thing. 8AI is my favorite setting on Huge maps.

The Civs:

Obviously Expansionist Civs. The Americans and Iroquois are the two most suited for this style of play. Any of them can do well.

The Attributes:

Play your Civ to its strengths. The Iroquois can upgrade to Mounted Warriors for an earlier rush as well as pop rush Temples at will. The Americans use the Industrial attribute to build the most cities possible. Zulu's build Barracks, Russians build Libraries, and the English don't build anything.

The Plan:

Chariots are my new favorite military unit. War Chariots are good too, but it's better to be Expansionist. Chariots cost twice as much as Jag Warriors while having the same stats, require horses, and can't pass Mountains or Jungles without roads. Pretty good eh? So good in fact that you should hold off on obtaining Horseback Riding as long as you can.

What to do with these Chariots? Build them. As many as possible. Forgo Ancient Era wars with Horsemen and/or Swordsmen just to build more Chariots. In the average city you can fit a Chariot or two between Settlers. The timing is perfect if you make the proper terrain improvements.

Of course you can only build Chariots after Horses have been hooked up. Usually that takes a while to do, so in the meantime build Scouts. Try to hook up the Horses by the time the 20th Scout has been produced. Those Scouts explore the map, meeting the AI, gobbling up goody huts, and most importantly, stand on hills and mountains (with Iron in them) doing nothing but telling the AI Workers to go build roads somewhere else. Just make sure that you 'research' Horseback Riding with no funding, otherwise your Scouts will make your Chariots obscolete before you can even build them!

When you meet your neighbors, make sure and give them Masonry if they don't already have it. You want the Pyramids to be built close to home.

Now that you've settled into the Chariot/Settler cycle it's time to cover city placement. An Ancient Era 'productive' powerhouse needs 2 things. Each of those things is a tile that produces 2 food. That means just about any city site will do, build them everywhere, always covering up the worst food terrain with your city. A city can't build anything unless it's a city, having Settlers walk around is a waste of production. So build them tightly packed.

Once you hit the number of cities corruption limit is where the fun really begins. Cities that are corrupt just cut out the Chariots and focus on more Settlers, or Workers if they are in short supply. Buy the Workers from the AI when you can, especially as the Americans. Each city becomes 2 every 30 turns. They are 'worthless' anyways, why not claim every available nook and cranny with them? Who knows where that future Saltpeter or Rubber will turn up...

By 500BC you should have a commanding lead in number of cities compared to the AI on any difficulty. Always check the F8 screen, powergraph, to see where you stand in relation to the AI. Once you get a noticeable lead on any of them, renegotiate your peace treaty. Make note of size 1 cities the AI has before going into negotiations. Check each of these for availability. The ones that are unavailable have resources nearby. If you can't see them, they are still there. Send a Scout to stand on a likely area that resource may pop up. Even if you guess wrong the Scout can sometimes get in position before the AI builds a road there. The cities you can extort just keep building Settlers like the rest. On any difficulty other than Deity you can hit the domination limit on a Pangaea game without fighting a single battle!

As you get a few luxuries built up, pop rush until your happiness levels can barely take it. A good rule is that for every 'spare' two luxuries, you can pop rush 1 time every 40 turns. Spare in this case means anything above the point where a city can be size 3 and not in disorder. If you've been keeping to the ICS settler flood, you should have plenty of spare luxuries. The only question is what to pop rush? If the city is size 4, rush the Settler. If not, rush a Chariot (or a Horseman if you've somehow been tricked into recieving Horseback Riding)! Then you can rush another if you aren't going to war anytime soon.

Eventually the AI will make it to the Middle Ages, don't worry. All this time of spending no money on research should have built up a big bank account. Along the way your maps should have kept the AI without any spending money. Sell them every turn! The key is to save up as much as possible before Chivalry hits. 5-10k is a good target range. The higher the difficulty level, the less time you'll have to save up. Sell ROP's to every civ except your closest neighbor (target) to further increase your income. The AI pays for ROP's according to number of cities and/or territory ratio. Not sure which. Either way they should be paying from 5-10 gold per turn each once in the Middle Ages.

Now the time has come for your Chariots. Trade for Chivalry and build a Barracks near the borders of your target Civ. If at all possible, target whoever built the Pyramids first. Upgrade all the Chariots you can to Knights. You should now have anywhere from 50 to 100 Knights, and none of the AI should have any Iron. It won't matter at all that your Knights are just regulars...

The chariots you haven't been able to upgrade should follow along, being used to quell resistance in captured cities. First leader should build Sun Tzu's. Having a Barracks in each newly conquered city is the perfect compliment for the offensive.

At the same time begin disbanding a few core cities, freeing up room for more production later on. Target suspected Saltpeter sites (from earlier peace negotiations) with your Knights. Your armies should be invincible until the advent of Nationalism. Enjoy!

Apr 16, 2002, 08:55 AM
Good stuff. I'm unsure of how the economics of this ploy work. You need quite a bit of money to pull this off, right? Are you buying techs all along? At discount prices? Selling your map? I admit I don't know much about map selling. Can you save a ton of money while buying your way to Chivalry? The horseman->knight upgrade is pretty expensive.

Your story is a little reminicient of SirPleb's GOTM5 & the tale of the 21 (was it 21?) knights. Stockpiling horsemen over swordsmen seems to be a good overall strategy no matter how far you want to take it... except for maybe the Persians or Romans, where good alternatives exist too.

Apr 16, 2002, 11:18 AM
On Deity I usually earn about 10k overall in the BC's this way. A lot of that I spend to rush Settlers, I feel comfortable waging war with about 50 Knights and as many 'resistance' troops as possible.

Techs and Upgrading:

Ancient Era techs in this type of game are covered by the Scouts for the most part. I usually have to stop opening huts to keep from getting Horseback Riding (and advancing to the Middle Ages) before I want it. If you are researching Horseback Riding, you will get all the other Ancient Era techs from huts first. The lower the difficulty level, the more you will get from Huts. You can't get Middle Ages techs from them though.

Because of this, all your income can go towards the upgrade fund. Once you get into the Middle ages, you should have a big enough tech lead (even on Deity) that you can get 1 or 2 of the 3 techs needed for Chivalry just by having one Scientist. Chivalry doesn't cost much when 8+ AI all have it (and once one of them has it, they all will).

Another variation on this, more useful at lower difficulty levels, is to switch early to a Monarchy or Republic early on, and use your gold to rush Settlers in corrupt cities. This can really speed up expansion, but cuts down on the number of Chariots you can upgrade. Each upgrade to a Knight costs 100 gold without Leo's.


As an Expansionist civ with lots of Scouts, you should be able to sell maps and contacts to all the AI on your landmass. Sell the maps every turn, the AI should give just about all they have. On higher difficulties they will have more money, which works out well because you will need to upgrade more Chariots. You should be getting 3-10 gold per turn on average from each of the AI for your map, just keep uncovering those tiles. Even if your map doesn't change at all the AI will still pay something for it in most cases.


By the time the AI switch to Monarchy or Republic they will begin having gold per turn available, and your maps will be close to useless. Selling ROP's will keep the money rolling in, just don't sign them with anyone you want to attack within 20 turns. You can also get gold per turn for renegotiating peace treaties if needed.

Apr 16, 2002, 11:53 AM
Here's what doesn't compute...

"Those Scouts explore the map, meeting the AI, gobbling up goody huts, and most importantly, stand on hills and mountains (with Iron in them) doing nothing but telling the AI Workers to go build roads somewhere else."

If that mountain does eventually end up within the AI's borders, he'll tell you to get out or declare war.:confused:

Apr 16, 2002, 01:22 PM
Scouts can stay in AI territory for long periods of time without having to be withdrawn. It is a bit dependant on power ranking I think, but 40 turns seems about average, I've never had to withdraw a Scout in under 20 turns. If you send any other type of unit the AI will demand that you remove them.

Also a main part of this gamestyle is to sell ROP's to everyone but who you are planning on attacking soon. So there are really no limits to how long you can keep the Scouts in AI territory.

Apr 16, 2002, 04:10 PM
Hmm, i never really bother to build more than 5 or 6 scouts but then again i have never tried your resource denial scheme. Seems interesting but a bit hard to pull off.

Also from what i understand you're saying let the AI build the wonders and take them. Okay but if you get Pyramids so late the granaries won't help too much because its Middle Ages and you aren't doing so much expansion anymore.

But i really want to try to use those scouts now. I guess Zulu seem the best for your strategy being militaritic.

Apr 16, 2002, 05:22 PM
Very nice indeed Aeson!! You've kept evolving your Expansionist approach until it has become a finely tuned machine :)

I wonder if a variant could even be used on a tightly packed (lots of AIs) Deity map? Since power ranking seems to be affected a lot by number of cities, a dense build might create an impression of power even in a small territory. And even if not possible to deny resources to all AIs on a dense map, playing the same approach but denying resources only to a few adjacent rivals might give a huge boost by making the first few rivals easy to deal with. (At least those who end up not being able to trade for what they need. Perhaps they're even so stupid as to not try to trade for iron when they "know" they've got some and will get it hooked up soon. :) )

I don't know whether to hope that the 1.21 patch blocks this approach or not! :lol: It would be a shame to have it undermined so soon after you've published it. On the other hand it sure does seem overwhelming now that you've got it all worked out :)

Apr 16, 2002, 06:37 PM
Thanks SirPleb! I made the same post over at Apolyton, some discussion about how the main principles involved apply to smaller or more crowded maps has taken place there.

The Scouts could still be used to deny most of the Iron on the map even with 15 AI. The important thing is to make sure none of the AI get 2 sources hooked up, because then you can't be sure who will be trading for it. The farthest civs can have Iron, and it's probably better that they do eventually. You need them to help railroad the world for later conquest! Of course if you control the Iron, you can make a lot of money selling it off. Once the AI has Nationalism, there really isn't any reason not to.

I tried to include all the 'exploits' into this playstyle. The one I forgot was the Palace jump... something that was pointed out in the Poly thread too. Probably not early enough for Firaxis to patch it all out with 1.21f, though I've posted most of this various times in various threads. I really hope they fix the Scout resource denial and renegotiating peace for cities parts though. I feel somewhat dirty taking advantage of the AI in that respect, but for the sake of efficiency I can't stop while it's still legal! :lol:

Apr 17, 2002, 09:36 AM
Judging from the readme it doesn't look like any of the 1.21f changes will affect this too much. Might actually make it more efficient, with pop rushing unhappiness cut in half. Pop rushing a Chariot won't be affected by the shield decrease, but rushing a Horseman or Swordsman will. Really hurts the Iroquois, added with no more 'free' pop rushed Temples.

Jun 20, 2002, 09:29 AM
I tried this strategy out as the Americans. It worked great. With quick mines, I could build 2 chariots, and 1 warrior, and then a settler. The warrior is used to protect new cities.

I have 3 times the score of the 2nd civ and earning 15 per turn. Have 2500 gold, and thats going up to. Building GL in capital so I can save money in the Middle Ages too.

Its on monarch where the tech rate is a bit slower than diety, so I plan to upgrade my 45 chariots to horsemen and destroy one or two civs, then build more settlers and horsemen and upgrade them to knights.

Plus all the iron is blocked off, and still have 6 or 7 scouts wandering around checking for new iron sources.

My 2 neighbors India and Babylon are both powerful, and then 2nd and 3rd most powerful civs. If I kill them with horsemen, I'll have 3 weak civs, Japan, Germany, and Iroquois who have no iron and about 4 cities. Egypt the other civ is also powerful but further away. I'll deal with them later. The 2 other civs are on some other continent. I don't know who they are as yet, but most likely some European civ, since culture linking is on.

Jun 23, 2002, 02:12 AM
I take it you are using an earlier patch God? Scouts don't work very well for resource denial in 1.21f, or did you find a way to still keep them on the Iron?

Jun 23, 2002, 08:56 AM
No, I'm using v1.21f. The scouts stay on for a while. I've been forced to make a ROP with only 2 of the 6 other civs. Some of the iron didn't even start near their borders! Germany has 3 in its borders, so I have an ROP. India had 2, so ROP for them. Babylonians had 3 but I've finished them off. The other civs either only have one iron or no iron even near them.

Jun 23, 2002, 09:42 PM
Ah, I forgot that you could do the same thing with ROP's.

Jul 10, 2002, 10:37 AM
Short question - what exactly means the ICS thing?
Does it have something to do with the city build order?

thanx in advance

Jul 15, 2002, 11:48 PM
It has to do with city spacing. ICS is usually spacing your cities 1 or 2 tiles apart, and allowing them 4-6 tiles each to work.

Jul 16, 2002, 09:36 AM
Thanks Aeson! I... City Spacing?

Jul 16, 2002, 02:05 PM
You can see a screenshot that shows an example of ICS here:

(My 3rd post about half-way down that page).

Jul 18, 2002, 05:24 AM
cool thx!

Oct 05, 2002, 11:38 PM
Why have them so close together? Is it so appropiate defence can get there in times of distress? I prefer your OCP. But then again I know nothing of ICS. please help.

Oct 06, 2002, 12:09 AM
Some players will use ICS for the first city or two for defense, yes.

ICS is for an early power rush, OCP is for building infrastructure so you have the late power rush. With ICS you have many cities that are building settlers and since these settlers build a city almost immediately they can start building another settler right away. Sort of like a snowballing effect. All those cities don't need temples, military police, marketplaces and other stuff and can strictly build cheap units, settlers, and workers. At first your territory is small, but since you are doubling your number of cities every 15-20 turns, then 5 cities become 10, then 20, 40, 80, 160....and that's when you quickly gain a tremendous amount of territory.
More cities = more free unit support while in despot, monarchy or communism. With cities close together like that you use every available tile much earlier in the game. You don't need as many workers since the worker doesn't need to travel far between cities, and several cities will be sharing tiles as their population goes up or down from settler production. With ICS it is very easy to make hundreds of gold/turn and have hundreds of units while still in the B.C.'s.

It works best on huge pangea maps with minimal civs (more room to expand your 'settler flood'), but it does work on smaller maps to some degree. On smaller maps I will ICS, but not go with the full 'settler flood' and have every city building units instead. Depending on map size I stop after 10-30 cities and then have every city building horseman to attack. I don't play alot of maps smaller than huge, but I got ICS to work awesome on Monarch level on a standard size map. I got conquest not too long after I got knights.

ICS is mostly for trying to kill the AI off (or most of them) before rifleman (hopefully before they even have pikeman). If some AI do survive and have tanks, you just disband some of the cities around your palace, so the other cities that you leave can grow bigger in size and produce the tanks faster. ICS does have it's share of people who dislike it and feel it is not in the spirit of the game to build cities like that. I sort of agree with them, but I will use it as long as it is allowed. But I don't always play ICS or OCP.....

Oct 06, 2002, 12:20 AM
Thank you very very much Bamspeedy I see your point, you can own Half the map before combat even if you so choose.

Sep 10, 2003, 10:14 PM
I get the idea behind ICS, but I don't understand this statement:

"Chariots cost twice as much as Jag Warriors while having the same stats, require horses, and can't pass Mountains or Jungles without roads. Pretty good eh?"

This is sarcasm, right?

Since I'm already posting... In what ways has the game changed since release to discourage ICS?

Sep 11, 2003, 08:19 AM
Originally posted by ddubois
I get the idea behind ICS, but I don't understand this statement:

"Chariots cost twice as much as Jag Warriors while having the same stats, require horses, and can't pass Mountains or Jungles without roads. Pretty good eh?"

This is sarcasm, right?

Since I'm already posting... In what ways has the game changed since release to discourage ICS?

Yep, Aeson definately meant that as sarcasm! Chariots are very good. Great for mass upgrades to knights/cavalry..

ICS is still very, very powerful. You should go see the HoF, and check out Bamspeedy's 26K regent game. He used an ICS approach to this game and that was vanilla civ3 1.29f.

Sep 12, 2003, 10:05 AM
Since I'm already posting... In what ways has the game changed since release to discourage ICS?

Nothing really has been changed. Since 1.07f (the out of the box version), the changes I think that have hurt the power of ICS (some only slightly):
1. Poprushing was changed from 40 shields to 20 shields
2. You no longer get food bonuses from the city center for building directly on a food bonus tile
3. Corruption has been lessened, reducing the need for ICS.

There isn't much you can really do about ICS anyways. About the only real solution is to limit how far apart cities can be, but that can screw up some legitimate city placements (like having just 2 cities on a lake, or some peninsulas/chokepoints where only 2 cities are just 2 tiles apart-just one situation of two cities that close isn't ICS, ICS is where all or the majority of your cities are 2-3 tiles apart).

ICS (6 or so tiles/city) is only really good for score, tons of free unit support and creating a settler flood against the AI with the right map conditions. I think 12 tiles/city (dense build, not ICS), is more powerful against humans and for a variety of map conditions.

Feb 02, 2004, 12:24 PM
In C3C Fuedalism sounds like a perfect for people using ICS.

May 01, 2009, 01:46 PM
In C3C Fuedalism sounds like a perfect for people using ICS.

Sure does. I'm gonna try this build for sure, it sounds very interesting and i have tryed to find a way to play feudalism for a long time now. Every build i try to play with feudalism fails;(( So i'm excited to try this one out.

But maybe then you need to be religious to change gvts quick, so you build up large force without ever building aqueduct in any of your cities, and get some money in a bank, like a 1000g-2000g or so before gunpowder and stuff, and then quickly change to monarchy and conquer large territory, while keeping to produce units. Casulties should be tremedous if you strike as much cities at once, but you should also get a lot of new territory. So that should equal up the upkeep loss from changing gvts(since monarchy gives only 2 upkeep per town). And then change to republic or feudalism again, and research communism asap. Change to communism and there you go, got reduced corruption for your empire, no war weariness and tremedously high upkeep(i mean 6 per each city, imagine if you have like 100 cities since ICS has a lot of them, its like 600 unit upkeep, thats just insane!!!!:D)

EDIT: Tryed it with mayans, complete disaster. Research is just waaay too slow. Feudalism just sux in general;( If even this strat didnt prove the point, i dont think it ever will. Maybe religious, but anyway i'm done with it. And ics isnt THAT good also. Its just a simple strategy nothing more or less.