View Full Version : Needing Advice


Hodory
Jan 20, 2011, 11:50 PM
It's been so long since I played a round of Civ 4. I lost my original copy around the time I moved and haven't played for over 2 years. Now I am getting back to it, and it seems I am very rusty and have forgotten a lot of things...

Currently, I am playing as Alexander. I share a continent with Brennus, Justinian, and Darius I. Justinian (founded Hinduism) and Darius I are Hindus, and Brennus (founded Buddhism) is a Buddhist. Both are sending their missionaries over my way, and apparently in the next turn, Brennus will be asking me to stop all deals with Justinian. It seems they are not getting along very well, considering they both are religious fanatics.

I have four cities in 775 BC, running representation after having built the Pyramids. The land is big, though there is a lot of jungle. I could try to expand peacefully but the map layout doesn't seem very ideal for it. Taking out Justinian who is directly north of me could be an option, but there is certainly no copper available to me, and I am 3 turns away from Iron Working, which will hopefully reveal iron around me.

I am not quite sure what is optimal here. Representation just gave me 3 extra happiness cap room, so I am letting Athens grow to happy cap at the moment after running a couple of scientists with a library for a while. I settled my first great scientist in Athens.

Should I be preparing for war, assuming that iron will be readily available? I feel like as if I will be boxed in and left too short of good land if I don't, but all that jungle and my apparent situation with my cities and my military makes me nervous about war. I certainly do not want to crash my economy... which is what happens quite a bit when I try to war not too early but before I get courthouses built.

If anyone has the spare time to look at my save, any expert advice will be greatly appreciated. I've been playing shadow games on lots of ongoing series in this section of the forums, trying to replicate the level of success.

Many thanks in advance. It's good to be back.

lymond
Jan 21, 2011, 12:32 AM
1) Oracle would have been cake. Mids is fine but Oracle > CoL is a good play here

2) You need more workers. Build 2 immediately and get a worker back on Corinth. overall, you aren't doing that badly with improvements but Corinth is in bad shape. 1.5 workers per city is a good rule. You should have about 6 by now

3) You are in fine shape here. No need to rush war early as you have room to expand easily. You can fit 2 decent cities below Athens - I'm sure you are aware. And I would try to grab that phant/fish city just NE before Just does. Phants/Cats would be good against him if you show no metals early. Also, grab that barb city which is a decent site and the 2 fish city just west may make a good GP farm, although Athens may be the best option as a GP farm/Wonder Whore city with the National Epic.

4) I might have gone Sailing here before IW. You have Chariots so there is no rush despite the jungle. GLH might not be a bad call on this map but it's not mandatory. Probably too late at this point anyway. I don't know, it is Emperor.

5) IW>Sailing>Literature for the Great Library. Parth is a possibility if you have the hammers to spare but you really don't need it

6) You should definitely have enough land early so I would see how diplo shakes out and then possibly an early Phant/Cat war to grab more land, but you could wait.

7) Try to get more specialists running soon. Take advantage of the Philo trait.

I will post a dot map screenshot here shortly

edit: okay, here is a dotmap. Although not a bad city, i didn't really like the Thebes site in terms of making the best us of land and blocking - just a slight shift. It's done though and it will still be a good site. I just realized the phants are in Byz borders and the fish is hard to reach unless settling on the cows. The cows are a very good tile so I would settle where I suggested and likely grab the phants later with a border pop. CoL will help. You can get plenty of cities if you focus on it. Then sit back and wait until your production kicks in and start a war later when the timing is right.

http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/8807/alex0000.jpg

lymond
Jan 21, 2011, 12:47 AM
by the way, run a scientist in Athens and you will get IW in 2 turns

AbsoluteZero
Jan 21, 2011, 12:51 AM
Self teching IW is almost never recommended, unless you have no trading partners. Researching Alpha or something you can trade for alpha, and then trading Alpha for IW + a bunch of other techs ( and maybe even start a few wars ) is usually the best way to go. The huge bonuses from rep scientists should have gotten you to alpha by now. Why you built the pyramids but aren't taking advantage of rep by now is beyond me.

Don't settle the jungle. It takes tons of time and workers to clear jungle and you still have good non-jungle land to settle. Instead let the AI expand into the jungle, then later you can take the cities the AI has built and cleared for you.

You have 4 cities and 3 workers. Get some more workers quick. Corinth has tons of forest which you can us to chop out some workers / settlers.

Why is the worker building a road over those jungled gems? You would think with so few workers you'd have something better to do. You don't even need a road there because it's next to a river which is already connected to your empire. In the beginning you should only road to connect trade routes. Don't worry about mobility unless your at war. You don't need to road every little thing when connecting trade routes. For instance you roaded the hell out of the forest near Corinth. You didn't need to do this because there is a river near there. Just connect the road to the river and the river acts as a road for trade routes.

A worker improved the pigs south of your capitol but you don't have a city there yet and you aren't building a settler. Waste of time, you could have chopped one out in the time it took you to build the pasture.

You're building a chariot in sparta. If it's for barb defense then ok, if you're building it to explore or something then you have enough of that already. In fact there is no reason to keep roaming around the enemies territory, you know where everyone is. Bring that other chariot home to help vs barbs. Later on when you have settled everything you can go peek at what the AI is up to.

Graneries in every other city, but why? Corinth doesn't have the food to really whip much, Thebes certainly doesn't:lol: Your capitol, maybe a granery is justified but I would probably be pumping out workers / settlers at this point. I would expand until my slider was at 20% or less, then I would build libraries and run 2 scientists in every city to take advantage of representation.

As for religion I would wait a while to switch. Let both AI's give you border pops by spreading religions throughout your cities. You don't need to choose a religion until you get something access to a civic like Organized Religion. The +1 happy is not needed right now and you'll only piss off someone before they've had time to decide who they will DOW.

Hodory
Jan 21, 2011, 11:16 AM
1) Oracle would have been cake. Mids is fine but Oracle > CoL is a good play here

Considering the marble required no border pop initially, I also wonder how I didn't end up utilizing the production bonus for the Oracle. Instead, I ended up with the Stonehenge and the Pyramids. It would have been nice to get a free tech, but I think I wanted the other two a lot more. Do you think building a Parthenon is an overkill? Alex is already a Philosophical, so I don't know if the extra +50% on top of this would be good or waste of time.

2) You need more workers. Build 2 immediately and get a worker back on Corinth. overall, you aren't doing that badly with improvements but Corinth is in bad shape. 1.5 workers per city is a good rule. You should have about 6 by now

I think this is one of my weaknesses. This will have to be addressed soon, especially if I want to start clearing out those jungles. By the way, with all these riverside grassland tiles, what makes more sense? Cottages or farms? Athens could easily be the GP farm with so much food for sure but maybe one extra GP farm city?

3) You are in fine shape here. No need to rush war early as you have room to expand easily. You can fit 2 decent cities below Athens - I'm sure you are aware. And I would try to grab that phant/fish city just NE before Just does. Phants/Cats would be good against him if you show no metals early. Also, grab that barb city which is a decent site and the 2 fish city just west may make a good GP farm, although Athens may be the best option as a GP farm/Wonder Whore city with the National Epic.

I wanted to build cities toward my neighbors before backfilling those proposed sites. Surely, those two sites south of Athens would be very good sites though. As for that barb city, I think I need a bit more military strength to take it out as it is heavily defended by archers. On top of that, I think Justinian has his eyes on this city and may already have moved a small stack towards it. As for the overall situation, having only 4 cities make me nervous at this point.

4) I might have gone Sailing here before IW. You have Chariots so there is no rush despite the jungle. GLH might not be a bad call on this map but it's not mandatory. Probably too late at this point anyway. I don't know, it is Emperor.

That makes great sense. I think I panicked when I saw no copper anywhere near me. I also saw a few spearmen from barbarians and Justinian, which made me even more nervous. I think you are probably right that GLH may be too late to attempt to build, but then maybe I can try building it just for cash?

5) IW>Sailing>Literature for the Great Library. Parth is a possibility if you have the hammers to spare but you really don't need it.

I love the Great Library especially with representation and philosophical leader. I will definitely have to go that route. Isn't Aesthetics a good bait for trading techs?

6) You should definitely have enough land early so I would see how diplo shakes out and then possibly an early Phant/Cat war to grab more land, but you could wait.

Elephants mean I would have to immediately settle NE of Corinth towards Justinian by the east coast. I am not sure if Justinian has settled there already, if not having made settler ready to settle there.

I thought I was really in a bad position land wise. Glad to hear that it isn't so bad.

Do you think it is vital to start war vs Justinian before the longbows show up? I really hate those guys. Thank god he is not protective at least. None of my neighbors are.

7) Try to get more specialists running soon. Take advantage of the Philo trait.

I just popped the Pyramids and switched to representation. With the extra happiness, I can now grow my cities a little more. Athens has plenty of food for scientists, but I am not sure how to go about doing this with other cities. I don't know if I should start whipping again, for either workers, settlers, or some military units (if iron does show up)

I will post a dot map screenshot here shortly

edit: okay, here is a dotmap. Although not a bad city, i didn't really like the Thebes site in terms of making the best us of land and blocking - just a slight shift. It's done though and it will still be a good site. I just realized the phants are in Byz borders and the fish is hard to reach unless settling on the cows. The cows are a very good tile so I would settle where I suggested and likely grab the phants later with a border pop. CoL will help. You can get plenty of cities if you focus on it. Then sit back and wait until your production kicks in and start a war later when the timing is right.



With regard to Thebes, where would you have settled it?

Thank you for the detailed dotmap. I will definitely look into this. I hope my economy doesn't crash trying to settle too many cities... and yet here I am being nervous about having too little land. :)

Hodory
Jan 21, 2011, 11:52 AM
Self teching IW is almost never recommended, unless you have no trading partners. Researching Alpha or something you can trade for alpha, and then trading Alpha for IW + a bunch of other techs ( and maybe even start a few wars ) is usually the best way to go. The huge bonuses from rep scientists should have gotten you to alpha by now. Why you built the pyramids but aren't taking advantage of rep by now is beyond me.

In my defense, I just erected the Pyramids and switched to Representation, so I didn't have much time to play around with the civic bonus. Regardless, I think you are absolutely right. Judging by the AI's typical research pattern, they almost always go for IW, and it could have been something I could have traded for. Seeing that only Justinian has Alphabet, having Alphabet myself would have been a good trade bait.

As I stated in the above post, I think I got nervous when I saw no copper around and a few spearmen from barbarians and Justinian. I also don't seem to be good at judging when to start a war. I start getting too anxious to grab as much land as possible, but that often leads me into going bankrupt early, even before Code of Laws is available for courthouses. Part of my initial intent was to find iron as soon as possible so I can build spears, phalanx, and swordsmen. Do you think warring with these units against the Byzantines at this stage of the game worthwhile or too risky and foolish?

Don't settle the jungle. It takes tons of time and workers to clear jungle and you still have good non-jungle land to settle. Instead let the AI expand into the jungle, then later you can take the cities the AI has built and cleared for you.

I am assuming you mean to the west of Corinth and to the south of Athens? I could see at least 2 or 3 additional cities. What about up the east coast? Far up, there is a site with jumbos and cows and fish, but Justinian may already have settled up there, if not having a settler ready to settle there... but what about directly east of Thebes? There are no resources there, and the coastline is too straight, but the land is very green and there are some hills for production.

You have 4 cities and 3 workers. Get some more workers quick. Corinth has tons of forest which you can us to chop out some workers / settlers.

Definitely my weakness when it comes to having enough workers. Something I need to improve in my games. In regards to Corinth, if I were to chop, would you prefer settlers, workers, or military units(assuming iron pops near me)?

Why is the worker building a road over those jungled gems? You would think with so few workers you'd have something better to do. You don't even need a road there because it's next to a river which is already connected to your empire. In the beginning you should only road to connect trade routes. Don't worry about mobility unless your at war. You don't need to road every little thing when connecting trade routes. For instance you roaded the hell out of the forest near Corinth. You didn't need to do this because there is a river near there. Just connect the road to the river and the river acts as a road for trade routes.

Don't you need sailing for the rivers to act as trade routes? Or does it not matter when it comes to only getting your resources connected to your cities? Something tells me I should have gotten Sailing much sooner...

You are right about the jungle gems and the bananas though... since they are right next to the river, I really could have done something else in the meantime. I guess I function in a way where I want to see a tile completely finished with every available means of improvements one by one... I will work on correcting that.

A worker improved the pigs south of your capitol but you don't have a city there yet and you aren't building a settler. Waste of time, you could have chopped one out in the time it took you to build the pasture.

The unchopped forest tiles east and south of Athens... I wanted to save them for a possible city directly 1E of the pigs for some production later on. I did chop a few forests on the hills that are now mined as well as the unimproved grassland tile directly 1S of Athens for the Pyramids. Even with the stone, it was expensive and I really wanted to secure it before the AI does. I just got that built a few turns before the save, so it was a very recent development.

As for the pigs... I don't know. The worker was just done with a chop, and since the pig was within my borders and so close, I thought I would improve it and get an extra health out of it. I guess I could have been more efficient.

You're building a chariot in sparta. If it's for barb defense then ok, if you're building it to explore or something then you have enough of that already. In fact there is no reason to keep roaming around the enemies territory, you know where everyone is. Bring that other chariot home to help vs barbs. Later on when you have settled everything you can go peek at what the AI is up to.

Solid advice. Will do so immediately.

Graneries in every other city, but why? Corinth doesn't have the food to really whip much, Thebes certainly doesn't:lol: Your capitol, maybe a granery is justified but I would probably be pumping out workers / settlers at this point. I would expand until my slider was at 20% or less, then I would build libraries and run 2 scientists in every city to take advantage of representation.

Looks like another typical rookie mistake, from someone attempting to play an emperor game. I feel very humbled and embarrassed at the same time. I have to agree.

As for religion I would wait a while to switch. Let both AI's give you border pops by spreading religions throughout your cities. You don't need to choose a religion until you get something access to a civic like Organized Religion. The +1 happy is not needed right now and you'll only piss off someone before they've had time to decide who they will DOW.

Thank you for the overall solid and critical advice. I also thought that it would be wise to hold off on converting to a religion for now. What I am more concerned about is the fact that Justinian and Brennus are worst enemies and they keep coming at me with requests to stop all deals thing. It's very annoying because I don't get any diplo bonus for accepting such requests, but yet I end up with only negative diplo penalty for either not accepting the request or angering the other civ for accepting it.

Something tells me I really need to address my military issue soon as well. Having to rely only on chariots make me very nervous.

Bucephalus
Jan 21, 2011, 12:19 PM
1)GLH might not be a bad call on this map

I see a number of posts extolling the virtues of the GLH, Lymond; as someone who is relatively inexperienced with CIV, I'm not sure why. Would you care to explain it for me, please?

Wrath_Zt
Jan 21, 2011, 12:40 PM
From the top of my noobishness I can tell you it has a great synergy with REXing, if, of course, you have good coastal spots. So, if you have no close neighbor (close enough to make of rushing the optimum choice) and decent amount of good coastal spots to expand, I'd say go for the GLH. It will fund your growing number of cities. IMHO, I like it on isolated or semi-isolated starts. I didn't see the map, so I'm not saying if it's good or bad in your situation. But, if lymond says so, it's probably true =D

Hodory
Jan 21, 2011, 12:45 PM
I see a number of posts extolling the virtues of the GLH, Lymond; as someone who is relatively inexperienced with CIV, I'm not sure why. Would you care to explain it for me, please?

In my humbled experience and knowledge, depending on the map layout and location of cities, the extra +2 trade routes on coastal cities will greatly improve your commerce. I think it is even better on maps where landmasses are only separated by 2 tiles or less, as this would mean you won't have to wait until Astronomy to be able to trade across ocean tiles.

I absolutely love this wonder as well.. I think it is still good even on pangea maps as long as there are lots of cities settled on the coast.

lymond
Jan 21, 2011, 03:15 PM
I see a number of posts extolling the virtues of the GLH, Lymond; as someone who is relatively inexperienced with CIV, I'm not sure why. Would you care to explain it for me, please?

Anytime you have a goodly amount of coastal cities to settle early, the GLH can pay off. The 2 extra trade routes are almost overpowered at this point and many consider it a gimme win once you get it. It helps fund expansion and boosts research significantly. Not always great on certain maps like Pangaea which will have less coast.

Another great thing with GLH is to settle islands or little landmasses off the coasts if you can get to them. Even if the cities are marginal the trades routes pay for themselves.

Hodory
Jan 21, 2011, 05:04 PM
Anytime you have a goodly amount of coastal cities to settle early, the GLH can pay off. The 2 extra trade routes are almost overpowered at this point and many consider it a gimme win once you get it. It helps fund expansion and boosts research significantly. Not always great on certain maps like Pangaea which will have less coast.

Another great thing with GLH is to settle islands or little landmasses off the coasts if you can get to them. Even if the cities are marginal the trades routes pay for themselves.

A bit of an update here. I missed out on the cow/elephants/fish site, as Justinian grabbed it first, and the culture was just too overwhelming over there. Also, to the southwest, Cyrus has managed to expand toward that area, so I couldn't pop the yellow proposed city site... so I had to make an alternate site viable and settled Argos to grab horses, fish, and wheat to the west.

I've built a bit more workers and have 1 settler ready to go, plus another in production. I am thinking about settling on the jungle hill directly 5N of Sparta to block the Byzantines and then maybe settle the clam/fish/pig site southeast of Athens.

I admitted cheating once though... because I missed out on the Great Lighthouse by 3 turns in Athens... so I reloaded and whipped away 3 or 4 citizens (I am not sure) to get it built. Was this the right move or should I just have taken the gold? I chopped away one forest tile for it... the rest I am trying to save for the other proposed city sites southeast and southwest of Athens.

I just popped Aesthetics and Literature. Parthenon and Great Library both look like a good build for Athens... I haven't bothered with Alphabet yet, and it seems funny because none of my neighbors seem to have it.

Cyrus recently demanded me to switch to Hinduism and I refused... Brennus also asked me to stop all deals with Justinian... refused again. It is getting hard to make friends as of yet...

My research rate seems okay... I popped my 2nd great scientist in Athens and had him build an Academy. If I get the Great Library erected there, that city will be a monster science generating city, along with the Great Lighthouse bonus.

I placed Music as my next research as a placeholder... thinking more towards Code of Laws actually... but maybe I can try to snag a free Great Artist? I can definitely use one in Thebes... it is really feeling the culture pressure from the Byzantines.

Army is still relatively weak and I have to fix this soon... thankfully Iron Working revealed an iron close to Athens and then another one popped randomly near Thebes. I know Justinian has a lot of spears and axes roaming around. I should get prepared if I don't want to be DOW'ed.

I think I can fit in 3 more cities... 1 more settler build and many more worker builds...

----------------

All thanks to everyone who was kind enough to spend their time looking at my save.

AbsoluteZero
Jan 21, 2011, 05:05 PM
Part of my initial intent was to find iron as soon as possible so I can build spears, phalanx, and swordsmen. Do you think warring with these units against the Byzantines at this stage of the game worthwhile or too risky and foolish?

With Phalanx you don't need spears, unless your enemy has HA's or elephants. A pure Phalanx rush is not bad if you execute it around 1000 - 1500 BC or so. Although if it's a lower difficulty then you can do it later. With your situation I'd say don't rush because you still have plenty of land to fill out yourself. A rush is good if your boxed in or an enemy is really close, otherwise it's better to just expand in all the good spots first.



I am assuming you mean to the west of Corinth and to the south of Athens? I could see at least 2 or 3 additional cities. What about up the east coast? Far up, there is a site with jumbos and cows and fish, but Justinian may already have settled up there, if not having a settler ready to settle there... but what about directly east of Thebes? There are no resources there, and the coastline is too straight, but the land is very green and there are some hills for production.

Some of the places you want to settle are way far out from the rest of your cities. I wouldn't settle so far away unless you really need to grab a resource. The maintenance costs are not worth it generally. Wait till you have COL and currency before you expand that far. Also if you go to war you're reinforcements will have to march too far to help and you will probably lose those fringe cities anyway.



In regards to Corinth, if I were to chop, would you prefer settlers, workers, or military units(assuming iron pops near me)?

What good are settlers when you have a cronic worker shortage? You settle somewhere but you have to work unimproved tiles and your maintenance costs go through the roof.



Don't you need sailing for the rivers to act as trade routes? Or does it not matter when it comes to only getting your resources connected to your cities? Something tells me I should have gotten Sailing much sooner...

Not if the rivers are in your cultural borders. I think:confused: sailing lets rivers outside your cultural borders carry trade routes.


What I am more concerned about is the fact that Justinian and Brennus are worst enemies and they keep coming at me with requests to stop all deals thing. It's very annoying because I don't get any diplo bonus for accepting such requests, but yet I end up with only negative diplo penalty for either not accepting the request or angering the other civ for accepting it.

Don't worry about it, just try to keep them above annoyed. I've never fallen below cautious because of refusing demands to stop trading alone. Eventually other bonuses will kick in that should keep you at cautious+, especially when you start trading tech. If you are really worried about it, then just build a settler and settle between two of the AI's and gift the city to one of them. +4 relations with one and more likelyhood they will go at each other.


Something tells me I really need to address my military issue soon as well. Having to rely only on chariots make me very nervous.

You're pretty sure to have close iron. Then just pump out a few swords and you'll be fine.

I admitted cheating once though... because I missed out on the Great Lighthouse by 3 turns in Athens... so I reloaded and whipped away 3 or 4 citizens (I am not sure) to get it built. Was this the right move or should I just have taken the gold? I chopped away one forest tile for it... the rest I am trying to save for the other proposed city sites southeast and southwest of Athens.

Meh, I would have taken the gold, with the pyramids and rep you should be focusing on a specialist economy.


I just popped Aesthetics and Literature. Parthenon and Great Library both look like a good build for Athens... I haven't bothered with Alphabet yet, and it seems funny because none of my neighbors seem to have it.

The great library is great with rep. Parthenon is iffy. Depends on how easily you can get it and if you have nothing else to build. If you don't have marble I wouldn't bother.


Cyrus recently demanded me to switch to Hinduism and I refused... Brennus also asked me to stop all deals with Justinian... refused again. It is getting hard to make friends as of yet...

Okay for Cyrus you should have accepted. You can switch out in 5 turns and it gives a permanent ( I think ) +1 relations with Cyrus. I wouldn't worry about the bad relations with Brennus for only 5 turns.


I placed Music as my next research as a placeholder... thinking more towards Code of Laws actually... but maybe I can try to snag a free Great Artist? I can definitely use one in Thebes... it is really feeling the culture pressure from the Byzantines.

Settling a GA is a bad idea usually. I can't think of any situation where I wouldn't want a golden age or +4000 culture or a free tech more. Well, maybe since your in rep it might be worth it, if your intending to settle all the great people you get.

Hodory
Jan 21, 2011, 05:21 PM
With Phalanx you don't need spears, unless your enemy has HA's or elephants. A pure Phalanx rush is not bad if you execute it around 1000 - 1500 BC or so. Although if it's a lower difficulty then you can do it later. With your situation I'd say don't rush because you still have plenty of land to fill out yourself. A rush is good if your boxed in or an enemy is really close, otherwise it's better to just expand in all the good spots first.

First of all, I much appreciate your solid advices. As for the rush in this particular game, I guess it was out of the question considering that everyone was too far away. Justinian is the closest, but between him and myself, there was all that jungle and it probably wasn't worth it. And I realized that too much time has passed with enough land to expand peacefully, that warring probably isn't worth it at this point.

Some of the places you want to settle are way far out from the rest of your cities. I wouldn't settle so far away unless you really need to grab a resource. The maintenance costs are not worth it generally. Wait till you have COL and currency before you expand that far. Also if you go to war you're reinforcements will have to march too far to help and you will probably lose those fringe cities anyway.

I agree and ended up not trying to settle too far away. The jumbo site in particular was way too far and containing Byzantine culture there would have been annoying. Right now, as posted above with my update, I am at a point where I can build Parthenon and/or Great Library and can research CoL and Currency in relatively reasonable amount of time. I am not sure which one would be best. If I were to grab both of them anyway, wouldn't getting Currency give me a slight discount when researching CoL? Or should I try to trade for one? Currently, none of my neighbors have Alphabet, and shame on me that I don't have one either. I am thinking about getting it via trade when someone finally researches it.

What good are settlers when you have a cronic worker shortage? You settle somewhere but you have to work unimproved tiles and your maintenance costs go through the roof.

I still need more workers for sure. I don't know what causes me to skimp out on workers a lot of times... even now, I think I am still short of them....

This advice made me see the light in a great deal in terms of prioritizing between settlers and workers. Thank you.

Not if the rivers are in your cultural borders. I think:confused: sailing lets rivers outside your cultural borders carry trade routes.

I've always been confused about it myself. With your prior advice on excessive road building, I tried to contain myself from not doing it again.

Don't worry about it, just try to keep them above annoyed. I've never fallen below cautious because of refusing demands to stop trading alone. Eventually other bonuses will kick in that should keep you at cautious+, especially when you start trading tech. If you are really worried about it, then just build a settler and settle between two of the AI's and gift the city to one of them. +4 relations with one and more likelyhood they will go at each other.

Understood.

You're pretty sure to have close iron. Then just pump out a few swords and you'll be fine.

Yep, iron did pop near Athens upon researching Iron Working, and another random one popped within my borders on one of the mines. I've gotta get a few phalanxes online, as I haven't built any military units since that extra chariot I was building to take out a barbarian city that is now in ruins. I ended up erecting another city a tile away to grab all the resources around... and no, I didn't burn the city... the barb city was only 1 population city, so it got destroyed automatically.