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Old May 17, 2011, 04:50 AM   #1
pirsq
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Suleiman's Caravel Rush

Introduction
I wanted to write this guide because it contains elements of Civ 5 that are rarely seen in higher level play. The Ottomans are widely regarded as having one of the worst unique abilities, and navies in general are seen as underpowered. Current domination builds focus primarily on timing: getting a certain number of a certain unit before a certain time, in order to crush nearby enemies before they get the tech to counter it. And no one seems to pick the Honor policy branch any more. This guide will be quite different in these regards, and will hopefully make a refreshing change of pace for anyone following it.

As you probably expect, this build won't work well on maps with continent-sized landmasses. You could either pick an islandy map to try it out, or if you're like me and like to play with all random settings, pull it out of your repertoir whenever the conditions seem to be suitable. Any civ can do it fine, although Ottomans and England certainly have sizeable advantages. It will work fine on any difficulty, as the AI bonuses - higher tech and numerical advantage - don't counter ships particularly well.

The Key to Naval Power
In my opinion, naval logistics (two shots per turn) is by far the most powerful promotion across all units in the game. Double attack is more powerful for ships since they have more movement points to use it, but more importantly, logistics lets units move after attacking, which not only makes ships immune to land-based counterattack, but also overcomes the one-unit-per-tile limit by allowing multiple units to shoot from the same tile in the same turn.

Here is a comparison to demonstrate my point. An unpromoted caravel is about as good as an unpromoted crossbowman: both do minor damage, the crossbowman fights better, but the caravel has substantial scouting abilities. A caravel with logistics is about as good as a keshik with logistics: both do damage without getting hit, the keshik does more, but the caravel is much harder to kill and still has its scouting abilities. Caravels also get to keep their promotions upon upgrade, while crossbowmen and keshiks don't.

So far, getting logistics improves a caravel's worth from a crossbowman to a keshik, but it gets better. A fleet of 10 caravels with logistics is about as good as an army of 10 artillery with logistics. Before you call me a liar, keep in mind that an army of 10 artillery with logistics is about as good as an army of 5 artillery with logistics, since any more just get in the way (of course, you could split them into 2 armies of 5 artillery, but my point is that naval logistics overcomes one-unit-per-tile limits). Add in shots wasted moving and setting up, and in the long-run average, only 2-3 of your 10 artillery will actually shoot in a turn. This kills about 2 infantry a turn, which is also what 10 caravels will kill.

One step further, and a fleet of destroyers with logistics is so powerful I can't think of a land equivalent. They are unkillable except by missiles or nukes - land units can't reach them, naval units will land one shot and get sniped instantly, and while I haven't tested it against aircraft (mainly because once you get your destroyer fleet, the game is pretty much over), destroyers are designed to be anti-air units, so I assume the aircraft would lose badly. They also have 10 (!) moves and 9 (!!) sight, assuming they're upgraded from caravels and you captured the Great Lighthouse, and 8 of them will bring any city to 1HP in 2 turns.

The Opening
If ever there was a situation to go straight for National College, this is it. Your goal, Astronomy, is a renaissance tech with Writing as a prerequisite, and you won't have much room for expansion anyway. I usually tech Pottery->Writing and build Monument->Granary->Library->National College, as there's not much need for an early Scout on island maps (on random maps, you can usually figure out you're on an island immediately). For social policies, nothing in Tradition or Liberty help much, so get Honor and go straight for the 1.5x XP policy, and then Commerce (make sure you hit medieval in time) for +1 move/+1 sight and +3 hammers in coastal cities. I still haven't figured out what to do with the Great General (ships don't get their bonus), but since we're demonstrating unusual stuff here, you could very well make a citadel to make yourself completely safe against land-based aggression.

Once writing finishes, get your resource techs, Sailing to explore (and capture barbarians) with triremes, and Philosophy for a temple, which is much more important without Tradition/Liberty to increase your culture. From there, just get to Astronomy however you like. If you like RA blocking, you've probably already figured out you can get Education and Astronomy from RAs around turn 100. If you don't like RA blocking, it'll probably happen around turn 150. That seems like a huge difference, but being late isn't too bad, as you'll have more gold to purchase caravels, and also more barbarian caravels to capture. I definitely wouldn't recommend non-Ottoman no-RAs, though.

National College will finish around turn 40-50, after which you can build anything you like. As I mentioned above, a Temple is more important for an Honor-based strategy. You definitely want a worker, although Optics will usually get you one from a barbarian camp on a nearby island with a city-state. Settling more cities is certainly a good choice, but being an island map, sometimes there aren't any good spots. Getting Heroic Epic up is nice, since ships can get Morale (they don't get barracks/armory XP), although it isn't vital for a strategy where you always do 1 damage per shot and never get hit (suggestion by Lokos451). If you really run out of stuff to do, you can build wonders for the gold you get when someone beats you to it. Just try to get a harbour up before Astronomy, as you'll be building a lot of boats.

The First Attack
Make as many caravels as you can, purchase them if possible, and try to capture every barbarian ship you see. If you haven't played with this ability before, it works in a strange way: when you move your ship into a tile adjacent to a barbarian ship, it has a 50% chance of converting. If it doesn't convert immediately, it will never convert, so kill it for experience. You should also bombard coastal barbarians for experience; anything that gets you closer to logistics is helpful. You'll also need a scout (if you're not familiar with the mechanic, ships can't capture cities, they can only bring it down to 1HP, while any melee unit automatically wins against a 1HP city - in this case, you will keep your scout embarked and attack from the water when the city gets down to 1HP).

Once you have 5-10 ships (how many you need depends on your target), it's time to attack! You need to pick your first target city carefully, and make sure your navy is in position before the attack commences. Your target should have plenty of ocean tiles next to it, so that your ships can all attack at once. It should have minimal ranged defenders (try to avoid trebuchets, cannons, caravels or frigates). It should also have a second target city nearby that is also not too heavily defended. The goal is to take it without losing any caravels. However, make sure it can't be retaken by the enemy the next turn, otherwise you'll lose your scout (it's fine to lose it the turn after that, since then you can save your scout).

Any ship you have will do 1 damage to a city. Sometimes a caravel will do 2 damage, but don't count on it. Thus, the Ottoman mass of captured galleys and triremes are just as good as caravels at attacking, although they are much less manoeuvrable. Furthermore, the AI prioritises weaker targets, so they're going to keep attacking your worthless ships (especially if you can use Heal Instantly on them), while your caravels survive to get the XP they need for logistics. If you're not playing Ottomans, you should have built 2 triremes to explore; these should be enough cannon fodder to take your first city, although you might need to wait for more caravels or pick a weaker target.

Once you take your first city, your ships can heal, and life becomes much easier. Your damaged ships should heal up while your undamaged ones farm ground units for XP. Then, proceed to take the second target the same way, only this time you can swap damaged caravels in and out from the healing grounds next to the first target, which means you can accomplish this even without any cannon fodder. If you're playing Ottomans, you're likely to have a large surplus of crappy boats at this point; I like to sacrifice them, since otherwise I'd probably just delete them to save upkeep anyway.

A key ingredient to success is XP farming. You need 100XP to get logistics. Shooting a city gives 4XP (with the Honor 1.5x XP policy), unless the city is already at 1HP in which case it gives no XP, shooting a unit gives 3XP, and killing an embarked unit by moving into it gives 1XP. You should always be on the lookout for maximising XP on your caravels. Maybe you can take the city this turn, but if you wait a turn, they can each get another round off. Maybe you can kill a land unit outright, but spreading out your fire lets them survive and heal, thereby giving more XP. Maybe you can instantly kill an embarked unit, but if you shoot it with 3 caravels (it always does 4 damage), you get 9XP out of it instead of 1. If things went well, your caravel fleet should have logistics, or be very close, after taking this second city and mopping up the defenders. If not, keep fighting until they have it.

The Endgame
Notice that I left out the middle game. Unlike land-based rushes, there is no middle game, as a successful opening generally leads to a situation where you can win as long as you don't make any mistakes, regardless of what the other players do. Many will blame the AI's ineptness at naval combat, but I think it's more a fundamental imbalance in Civ 5's naval system. There simply isn't anything in the game to counter naval superiority, as land units can't reach, and naval units are outnumbered by definition. Barring misclicks, a counterattack is pretty much the only thing that can go wrong, but with a citadel, that's not likely to work either.

Anyway, once you have your logistics fleet up (I find a good number to start is 4 caravels for Ottomans, 6 caravels for non-Ottomans), it's easy going. You should continue to build/capture ships, training them to logistics on random land units (your caravels who already have logistics should move on and save them for new ships to farm). Capture the city with the Great Lighthouse if you can. Slowly tech towards Electricity for destroyers. Don't bother with frigates; they're more expensive, slower, and still only do 1 damage to cities.

Watch out for England. A frigate will absorb a fair bit of damage and can do some damage to you; a ship of the line might kill a damaged caravel instantly. Longbowmen carpets are also nasty. I usually wait until England's unique units become obsolete before I attack them. In fact, picking England yourself is powerful as much for their bonuses as for ensuring no one else gets them. Of course, watch out for artillery too. Just hang back out of range until you picking these dangerous units off, and don't send your non-logistics caravels against them.

Happiness might be a problem. Unlike land-based domination, however, you can just trade away unnecessary cities, as they won't cut off your trade network or your reinforcements. The AI will also sometimes pay huge amounts of money to get one of their former cities back. You don't even need to hold onto capitals; as long as you're the only remaining player who hasn't ever lost control of their capital, you win. In theory, you could just go around sniping capitals and gifting them back immediately.

Last edited by pirsq; May 22, 2011 at 09:14 PM.
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Old May 17, 2011, 05:22 AM   #2
iggymnrr
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Been here. Done it. Works great. Then add in air support. Nice.
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Old May 17, 2011, 06:03 AM   #3
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Cool, the ottoman fleet of death. Nice write-up. I've pretty much avoided water based maps like the plague so far. I have played a few games where I depended on the ship of the line as England but I've not used the Ottoman's ability even one time so far in my games with them. I'll definitely give this a run through.

I remember when reading the preview of the game thinking that 'Barbary Corsairs' was going to be a cool ability and then was really disappointed when the game came out. It's good to come up with a strat that really uses the Civs UA even if it's not optimal, just for flavour. Good stuff.
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Old May 17, 2011, 11:22 AM   #4
Lokos451
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Heroic what what?

This is a interesting strategy, I've done the same sort of thing with a mix of those and Elizabeths second UU.

Something you left out that I think is absolutely essential, cheap and easy to do, and will reduce the number of units you might need is to build the heroic epic before spamming boats; they still get morale and are quite a bit more effective.

*Edit*

As well, you might want to consider strongly going into patronage. If you pick it up first, you basically double your culture immediately. This in practice makes it pretty much free for a OCC, which is what you seem to be talking about for the first 100 turns. Doing that also means that when you tech philosophy early, you can pick up the free culture building for the temple and double it again, as long as you work that artist.

Along the same vein, if you also pick up the free bonus to wonders, you might actually win a race to get oracle...which makes it free, and gives a 20% prod bonus to Heroic epic and national college, which are a must, as well as to the colossus. If you miss the last it's like you said: much needed money for caravel rushing. If you don't, you get to increase your capitol's economy drastically, especially in conjuction with a sp like monarchy.

In short, I think you can play your first 100 like a OCC culture/wonder win and basically get patronage out of it for free: there shouldn't be any pressing need for the 1.5x xp out of honor to make the strategy work until you get yourself caravels in the first place, and the naval path and cultural techs are closely interlinked anyways, making lots of SP's pretty achievable. The +3 prod from coastal cities can wait until you're already conquering, although the money + speed are early musts.

Last edited by Lokos451; May 17, 2011 at 01:06 PM. Reason: Incomplete!
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Old May 17, 2011, 02:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
As well, you might want to consider strongly going into patronage. If you pick it up first, you basically double your culture immediately. This in practice makes it pretty much free for a OCC, which is what you seem to be talking about for the first 100 turns. Doing that also means that when you tech philosophy early, you can pick up the free culture building for the temple and double it again, as long as you work that artist.

Along the same vein, if you also pick up the free bonus to wonders, you might actually win a race to get oracle...which makes it free, and gives a 20% prod bonus to Heroic epic and national college, which are a must, as well as to the colossus. If you miss the last it's like you said: much needed money for caravel rushing. If you don't, you get to increase your capitol's economy drastically, especially in conjuction with a sp like monarchy
Some interesting points. I like using patronage with this but not so sure on tradition vs. honor paths. Getting double attack capacity quickly is necessary IMHO but there may be an extra policy that needs to be taken before commerce opens up. What to do? I prefer merchant navy before patronage as rationalism/freedom also opens up with caravels. But I've only done this on an archipelago as Sully with raging barbs. (I may play Betsy differently.) Money tends not to be a problem. A person can explore the map quickly with streaks of 50-100 gold per turn, er, in-between turn. Triremes multiply fast even if one deletes a bunch. Naturally, I want Sully to scoot around quickly for all that gold.
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Old May 17, 2011, 02:50 PM   #6
pirsq
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokos451 View Post
Something you left out that I think is absolutely essential, cheap and easy to do, and will reduce the number of units you might need is to build the heroic epic before spamming boats; they still get morale and are quite a bit more effective.
Oh, nice. I didn't realise they got morale; I'll add it to the guide. Though, it's not as big as for land units, since I'm relying on 1-damage-per-shot stacking up through logistics, which doesn't depend on combat strength.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lokos451 View Post
As well, you might want to consider strongly going into patronage. If you pick it up first, you basically double your culture immediately. This in practice makes it pretty much free for a OCC, which is what you seem to be talking about for the first 100 turns. Doing that also means that when you tech philosophy early, you can pick up the free culture building for the temple and double it again, as long as you work that artist.
You mean Tradition, right? It's definitely worthwhile if your good working tiles are located far from your city and you need you expand your borders faster. If not, Honor is better - while Tradition/Legalism keeps up with the policies you need in Honor and Commerce, it will fall behind after that due to rising policy costs. Besides, this is one of the only situations where it's actually viable to go Honor first.
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Old May 18, 2011, 07:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by pirsq View Post


You mean Tradition, right? It's definitely worthwhile if your good working tiles are located far from your city and you need you expand your borders faster. If not, Honor is better - while Tradition/Legalism keeps up with the policies you need in Honor and Commerce, it will fall behind after that due to rising policy costs. Besides, this is one of the only situations where it's actually viable to go Honor first.
Yes, tradition! My bad.

Basically my theory is that you can use the first two in tradition as 'freebies' if bought first, then go into honor until 1.5 xp, and leave yourself in a position to pick up monarchy or landed elite at leisure should you get policies before unlocking medieval. I'll have to playtest it and see about it though!
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Old May 20, 2011, 08:43 AM   #8
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I recently tried this out as Sully. Worked fine. The range promotion was priceless giving my boats the ability to sit outside of a city's ranged defenses. I found that the AI's would spawn a ship in the sacked city and move in a siege or archery unit giving 3 ranged attacks on boats that got into the 2 tile range.

With range, I could sit there and earn XP while the rest of my navy arrived from abroad. Even so, getting to logistics was a yawn fest.

The OP's idea that the sole ground attacker could be a scout didn't work out for me. As soon as a scout or other wimpy land unit got within range, the AI would sift targets from one of my ships in two tile range and destroy the land with city ranged bombardment.

All - in - all a fun distraction.
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Old May 22, 2011, 09:12 PM   #9
pirsq
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Originally Posted by IgnatiusTBarfat View Post
The OP's idea that the sole ground attacker could be a scout didn't work out for me. As soon as a scout or other wimpy land unit got within range, the AI would sift targets from one of my ships in two tile range and destroy the land with city ranged bombardment.
You don't need to attack by land - keep the scout embarked, and attack from the water. It suffers a penalty, but it's going to lose all but 1 hp regardless so it doesn't really matter. I guess I left it out, added to guide now.
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Old May 25, 2011, 06:58 AM   #10
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Playing a game with these tactics atm and it is going pretty well. I chose a small map with only a few civs and raging barbarians to increase my fleet.

Did a few things differently and perhaps it's just because I'm playing on a smaller map, but it's working as a charm.

I started with a trireme because I couldn't wait. Stole a couple of Galleys and started training them on my nearest neighbour. At the time the first few got logistics, I took their capital. Because I didn't use caravels but triremes, I have to upgrade them to Frigates so I need iron. I attacked a city state with a nice 9 iron square and then moved on to my next neighbour. At that time, all remaining enemies (3 more) attacked me, but were no match for my trireme/galley fleet.

Right now, I'm rolling over my other enemies and very close to upgrading to frigates (1 turn) and my enemies haven't overtaken me in science. One of them has cannons, but that doesn't matter as they will never be able to get a shot off against me. An extra nice thing about this is that your enemies won't build many wonders because they are preoccupied with building a military.

This makes me wonder... Would this work for a cultural win too? Just keep your capital and raze any and all cities your enemies build except their capitals.
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Old May 26, 2011, 09:12 AM   #11
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Nice use of the Ottomans UA. It's not horrible if you're on the right map and use it well.

I'd say the Heroic Epic part of the comments is a good bonus. You're not looking for +RA but rather getting +def. Naval units usually have much higher CS than RA.

The single most painful part of any naval strategy is the sheer cost of upgrading the units to destroyers. The upgrade costs are insane. (the gpt costs of having too many barb ships can be dealt with by deleting them in your own territory) So Professional Army (Honour) is absolutely needed to do it well. Two caravels getting upgraded costs you ~4-5 RAs. That's a hard choice.

But yeah, do as the AI does.. scour the islands for barb camps, bombard them and wait for boats to appear. Capture/kill them and wait for another. The poles tend to be good places for this since very few AI ever think it's a good place to settle.

Getting into Commerce (left side) is also a requirement. the extra movement helps with attacking cities once you have blitz.

general plan is to just shift the boats into range, fire twice, leave range. Since you can keep moving after firing with logistics, and boats have a good movement base, range isn't as needed; though it eventually helps when you get a large fleet.
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Old May 31, 2011, 02:01 AM   #12
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Trying a slight variation of this tactic atm... Playing with Montezuma, standard size, deity, small continents, high water. Going for a science victory by taking my enemy's coastal cities and bombing their units so they don't get a chance to advance very far (preoccupied with building units). The massive amount of culture I am getting with bombarding I am using to get far into rationalism asap.

Right now, I have 6 frigates and 1 caravel with the logistics upgrades. Only built 3 cities but they are completely surrounded with jungle which helps my science a lot. I'm not sure I will win this game as I started on a continent alone with no coastal tiles connecting me to any other landmass, so I had to hard-tech to caravels to meet my neighbours and couldn't sell any luxuries for the largest part of the game.

I just reduced the Ottomans to rubble, razing 5 of their cities and now they just have their capital left. I might be too late, but I am learning a lot from this game. Just waiting a few more turns while my 6 RA's are finishing and after that, I am going to declare war on as many enemies as possible and keep them busy with my frigates.

Update: Egypt is crushed; China just has their capital left; currently at war with France and already destroyed two cities. I did build a carrier and some airplanes to defend my fleet of destroyers, because enemy planes are attacking my fleet. So far going great, I'm still not denounced (only took a total of two cities) and two civilizations (apart from the ones I crushed) are still friendly with me; Japan and America.

Last edited by Johan de Witt; Jun 01, 2011 at 02:42 AM.
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Old Jun 07, 2011, 06:46 AM   #13
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I tried something similar to this, but I already had a fleet of 15 ships by the time I reached Astronomy and Caravels. The beauty is that I'd only built one ship in the entire game! I blew through the other civs and although I was on track to win a culture or science victory it was just too much fun to send a fleet of destroyers around crushing cities with impunity.

My only problem was that until you get logistics it is extremely slow going. You have to wait for a long time and if you don't pick up "Supply" after two standard promotions you basically have to add time to return to your friendly land into the mix.

Finally, I agree with MadDjinn. If you want to get a good fleet built up do what we did. Find an island with a barbarian camp and set your ships around it next to each tile which touches the camp and the ocean. You can do it with as few as two ships. As soon as the barbarian ship spawns it will switch or not. If not then just blow it out of the water with your ships that are waiting, and if so, send it off to the front. I could only handle doing this at one camp because the upkeep quickly started to overwhelm my bottom line because they were spawning faster than the enemy was killing them! Depending on the proximity to your borders you can still make a little extra cash by sending it back home and deleting it for 7 gold.
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Old Jun 16, 2011, 03:29 AM   #14
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As Ottomans you don't have to wait for caravels. Just attack with your cought galleys and triremes and train them to doubleshoot. I'm just in a game, where I try a deity domination win without building any unit beside my first ship (and no help from militaristic City States). Looks good so far, two capitals sacked in BC.
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Old Jul 05, 2011, 06:12 AM   #15
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I came along this screenshot on Steam:
Spoiler:


I made the screenshot because my enemy decided to embark most of his army with my fleet in close proximity. Needless to say, he didn't have a lot of army left at the end of that turn.

Check out the promotions on those ships! A few turns later, I upgraded them to Frigates and mobbed up the remaining AI players.

I also found this one:
Spoiler:


I never finished that game, but I think I'll start a new maritime game with the Aztecs soon.
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Last edited by Johan de Witt; Jul 05, 2011 at 06:16 AM.
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Old Jul 14, 2011, 03:12 AM   #16
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Just got my first win on deity (random civs, duel, random map type, standard speed). On discovering that I'd rolled Suleiman and Archipelago, I remembered reading this article and decided to give it a go. I build up a large ex-barb navy pretty quickly and found my opponent (Gandhi).

Delhi was hidden from view by a chain of hills so my initial plan was to take out a one-tile island city and annex it to gain some friendly territory to heal my ships, with the added bonus of no land tiles adjacent for him to be able to steal it back.

From this point it was a case of spamming caravels out of Istanbul and training them on his endless supply of crossbows and later cannon. This became much easier once the +1 range promotion was taken, and led to the fall of Mumbai and a foothold on his main island. Five caravels with logistics+range+indirect fire took care of the remaining army and eventually his capital fell.

All in all, nice strategy and it feels great to have beaten deity, but I'll be back to king/emperor for land-based maps...
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