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Old Dec 25, 2011, 03:13 PM   #1
The Oz-Man
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Help Me Suck Less: The Court of High Queen Isabella

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Hi-diddly-ho, Civ-a-rinos!

You lot were such a big help last time (and I think we all had a pretty good time overall) that I decided to pick up where we left off last time with Professor Shaka's War Academy. Last time, we had a lot of good land, an easy early rush, and opponents who teched slowly and couldn't keep up with the war machine.

Of course, that was at Noble, where I could afford to make a few mistakes. This time, things will be more... complicated.

That's right: inspired by your comments and empowered by a few really easy victories on Prince (there were some bigger stacks, but I was able to breeze through the Pick Your Leader map that everyone was having a rough time with; I also played some offline games), we'll be moving up to Monarch this time! We've learned how to not suck; now, let's learn how to suck less!

I'll restate my threefold goal here:
1. to improve my own game
2. to help other players who are stuck at Monarch and below
3. to just have some fun with some creative writing intact and hopefully have a good time with you lot.

Just like last time, we're running Fractal with no huts and events. I've decided that each of my online games would be played with a leader from the previous game, so let's meet our contestant today. Last time, she was a tech leader who peace-vassaled to the Zulu Empire when the winds of change began blowing on the other continent, and her little-buddy-style teching helped us make a bloody mess of the peaceful Hindu Holy Land. This time, she's hoping to do better than second place. Please give a warm welcome to the High Queen, Isabella of Spain!


Yes, I forgot to take that opening screenshot that reminded us of our traits and uniques! Let's go over them!

Isabella, like Shaka, is Expansive, which nets her granary discounts, worker discounts, and a health bonus. Last time, I was criticized for not leveraging Expansive well enough to build a pool of workers to improve my land; this time, I'm hoping to make that better. Isabella is also Spiritual, allowing us to leverage civic changes as we see fit. I love this trait, and I think I'm getting better at using it, but we'll see how it stands up to the Peanut Gallery(TM).

Isabella's got a nice pair of... uniques as well. Her Conquistadors are beefed-up Cuirassiers with a bonus against melee units and defensive bonuses. I've been having a lot of success with Cuirassier spam, so this is an enticing one. Her Citadel, meanwhile, is a castle that boosts XP for siege units. Hyper-promoted Trebuchets and Cannon are often considered Is's "second" UU, but keeping them intact requires a different tech path than normal, avoiding Economics. Maybe a run toward State Property, skipping Free Market altogether?

Isabella starts with Fishing and Mysticism, which makes her a good candidate to found an early religion. AI Isabella seems to love doing that, of course, building toward Great Prophets to bulb religious techs and then building the AP. It's also the way everyone who plays Isabella on this forum tends to play her, which is why I'm inclined not to do things this way, depending on how things pan out. What do you guys think? The Shaka game ended up being driven largely by Hindu politics, but then again, diplomacy in that game was very straightforward. What do you guys want to see here?

Of course, much of that depends on the start. Can we leverage Fishing to get some early tech help?



Why yes, yes we can!

So much like last time, we're starting in the hill country. Also much like Shaka, we've got a lot of food to burn, all of it on green tiles! Of course, we'll need Ag and AH to improve those tiles, and we'll also need to move down the BW path to take advantage of the bounty we have here.

If I move the capital, I'm inclined to go 1S to put us on that river for trade routes and some levees later on. It'll also rope in that green hill to the SW while still keeping all three food sources in the BFC. Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? Have I lost already?

Here's the save if you want to play along. Updates will likely come more slowly this time; I'm working as an editor and contributor to a short story anthology, and we're coming up on the end-of-the-year deadline. Still, I'm excited about our first Monarch game, so let's have some fun!
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 03:38 PM   #2
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What Speed is it on?

Also, have you checked WB for Horse and Iron? Not much fun playing Isabella without them unless you've already achieved a strong position can win with Rifle/Cannon.

You can conquer the world with Conquistadors if you get there first. Don't use Cottages outside a Bureau Cap, focus on Farms, Mines, and Specialists.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 03:58 PM   #3
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WOOT!

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Oz-Man View Post
If I move the capital, I'm inclined to go 1S to put us on that river for trade routes and some levees later on. It'll also rope in that green hill to the SW while still keeping all three food sources in the BFC. Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms?
I'd be inclined to leave it - I don't object to moving, but I prefer to move to something, and these somethings don't seem worth the effort of two clicks. The real upside I see to the move is that it kills off the misguided idea of teching Meditation or Polytheism first.



Quote:
Originally Posted by The Oz-Man View Post
So much like last time, we're starting in the hill country. Also much like Shaka, we've got a lot of food to burn, all of it on green tiles! Of course, we'll need Ag and AH to improve those tiles, and we'll also need to move down the BW path to take advantage of the bounty we have here.
And like last time, I'd like to see your planning go deeper.

You've identified the right four techs to key on, but you may have overlooked an important element. Which is that you have a problem - a good problem, but a problem none the less.

Your first worker is do in 10 turns.

The natural line (work your best tiles!) is Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Mining, Bronze Working. Assuming there are no pleasant surprises to the north, you've got one tile you can improve with Agriculture. Which means that your worker is going to be twiddling his thumbs for a bit.

Working the lake for extra commerce probably isn't the answer, because that disables your hammer bonus on the worker (now a 15 turn build. ick).

One possible solution is a small tech shuffle: Agriculture, Mining, Bronze Working, Animal Husbandry. You'll irrigate the corn, mine the pigs and the hill on the river, then chop until the cows come home.

Another possible solution is to punt the food - think in terms of trying to grind out an early Stonehenge, via Mining, Bronze Working, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry. Build order probably looks something like worker warrior chop worker double chop Stonehenge settler.

Your current location could make for a decent GP farm (specialist count: city +1, corn +2, cows +1 pigs +1.5, while still producing 5 hammers per turn), with some extra production that can get swapped in for infrastructure.

But that does somewhat waste the river tiles: the more likely play is to lone some of the food to satellite cities, and concentrate on running cottages.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 03:58 PM   #4
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People who think isabella should build their game around cuirassier play should learn isabella's true strengths.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 04:02 PM   #5
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That's a very nice capital you have there! Early game it's going to a great settler/worker pump, later on it's very likely to be your HE city.

1S is OK since you're not moving away from any resource. (there might be something 1N but you would still keep it in your capital's BFC) Another benefit of settling 1S I can see is that you'll be able to improve 5 tiles without teching BW. Not sure if that's going to help at all since delaying BW is almost always a misplay. Leevee will hardly matter IMO because if you play right you won't have to tech beyond Mil. Trad./Economics . EDIT: Ooops I forgot that you used Fractal mapscript.

The Warrior cannot really influence your settling plans so I would probably move him 1W and start scouting the surroundings. You really want to have as much land revealed as possible by the time you reach AH to see where your Horses are, if there are any. (BTW this is an advice from someone who sucks at scouting, just check my Ramesses thread)
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 04:04 PM   #6
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I would not move the capital, sure it's not on river, but no biggie. 1N is probably metal, This would be a strong production spot, but can also support a few cottages. Agri->AH->Mining while exploring surroindings and building a worker. Then decide strategy. Early religion is almost always a bad move, if you need one there is always CoL.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 04:16 PM   #7
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Very good SIP location, you can get your worker in 10 turns, tech Agri + mining for the nice river ph and also mine pigs.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 04:31 PM   #8
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If there has ever been the prime example for settle in place, this is it. 1S will destroy a forest, 1N will probably settle on a resource, you're EXP with a 2H citytile and a 3H tile right away, 10 turn worker out of the gate... what more can you ask for? The only bad thing here is that your worker will idle no matter what you do. AG -> AH, and then Wheel or Mining depending on the sorroundings.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 04:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicawoo View Post
People who think isabella should build their game around cuirassier play should learn isabella's true strengths.
What are her true strengths? You can't mean Citadel Abuse...
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 05:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vicawoo View Post
People who think isabella should build their game around cuirassier play should learn isabella's true strengths.
Notice how everyone else is saying things and then backing them up?

This is a learning thread--not just for me, but for other low-level players. What are Isabella's "true strengths"?
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 05:16 PM   #11
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I'd guess what he's trying to say is that with SPI, you can use alot more sufficient strategies than just Conquistadors. When a "pro", in this case Mylene, says that Conquistadors are very powerful, less experienced players tend to focus all their effort on just this unit and don't wage the pros and cons. Isabella has one of the most powerful traitcombos in the game, and you can do ALOT more with it than just straight-forward conquistador facemelting.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 05:30 PM   #12
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Civic switching is simple. Caste/Pacifism in peace, Slavery/Theocracy in war. Once you get the Pyramids, by hook or by crook, use Police State until you've murdered as many people as possible with Conqs and Cavs.

Police State is strong on Izzy because it allows 2-pop whips with Forges for Conqs.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 06:12 PM   #13
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Firstly, Merry Christmas!

Well done on upping the difficulty to monarch BTW.

Re: settler. SIP or 1S both look fine to me – although I’d marginally favour the latter to open up the levee and trade routes from sailing (even though moving sacrifices a forest and a turn) - and nab what look like 2 grassland hills (2SE and 2SW). Moving also opens up the possibility of a resource 2S of the cows (which looks unforested). If SIP, the capital could actually be either a good unit pump / HE city as Ororo mentioned, or a hammer heavy bureau capital – depending on what the surrounding land looks like. Moving to nab two grassland hills (at the expense of what look like forested plains tiles to the north) would likely make 1S a stellar [EDIT: or more obvious] HE city (with 6 hills and a levee) IMHO.

In either case, VoU’s and Mylene’s suggestion re: mining the pigs to avoid wasting worker turns is certainly worth considering. That said, based on what we can see, I’d probably agree with ahcos and tech agri > AH, because (i) I’d favour getting two very powerful early game tiles (pigs and cows) improved ASAP to help growth (with the pastured pigs in particular) (ii) with all that forest around, your worker will actually spend a few turns (which would otherwise be idle) walking back from the corn to the pigs (which is the tile I think follows the corn) and (iii) AH reveals if horses are around for barb defence. If the goal is to reduce wasted worker turns, I’d be more inclined to work the farmed corn and grow onto the lake (at pop 2) whilst building a warrior (that follows the worker) to eek out more commerce.
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 10:56 PM   #14
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Chapter 1
The Matriarch and the Monument

(Ho-ho-boy, Not Sucking fans. You guys are going to LOVE this game, I think. We've got some karma on our hands.)

The name of old Enrique de España is lost to history, and with just cause: he was a doddering fool who was content to allow his people--the Spanish tribe--rot and suffer at the shores of a small lake. Though he held the sacred amulet that granted immortality, he didn't seem to know what to do with it.

One winter night, just as the solstice fell, an eclipse blackened the sky, and the Spanish settlement at the shore of the lake grew black. A chill wind blew their cook fires to blackness. Late into the night, there was a dull thunk. Then silence.

When day broke, old Enrique was found dead in his tent, a pointed rock thrust into his temple. Before his body was even cold, his sixteen-year-old daughter Isabella had taken the amulet and had assumed control of the tribe.

"We settle here," she commanded. "It is time for the Spanish people to do more than exist. We must prosper." And she knelt at her father's broken body, praying that the spirits would guide him to find rest mere minutes before dragging him to the lake and casting his body out of sight.



The town of Madrid quickly set to work training workers to manage the land surrounding the encampment. Meanwhile, a troop of Spanish warriors--armed with state-of-the-art clubs--set out into the wider world. Isabella de España had said that Spain would grow beyond the mere hills, and she sought new land in which to settle her people down.

It was not long in her warriors' explorations before they encountered men of the northern hills, capable of casting barbed clubs from strange weapons at a distance! Their chief was a man of the earth, adorned in an elaborate headdress. His people were called the Lakota, and he was their patriarch: Sitting Bull.



(Oh, don't worry! It's going to get even better!)

It was not long at all before the various ways of the spirits that the superstitious Enrique had worshiped were codified into formal faiths--and not far from Spanish borders.



Isabella, though, had no time for such trivialities as religion in this time. Her people had loved Enrique, and rumors of her treachery had been no secret. Generation after generation came and went, and with each passing year, the cries grew louder. Isabella was no matriarch. Isabella was a fraud! Isabella had murdered her father and usurped leadership of the Spanish tribes!

She wanted to run them all through with rocks... or perhaps to do pacify them through other methods.



(Went Worker-Worker to start so we could get a lot of chopping done. I think I chopped one forest too many in the end, but we've at least got something nice for it! I liked VoU's idea of skipping the food in the early going--it hurt our commerce, but we've come out of it with something in return that will pay off for a long, long time.)

And still the explorations continued. More tribes arose in those days, as in the West, where the founders of the Buddhist faith enjoyed untold splendor in their forest kingdom. Their leader was a wise man but young in spirit. He welcomed Isabella to the Mayan kingdom, promising to educate her on the faith later.



(So we've got Protective Totem Pole-boosted archers north of us and resourceless spearmen to the west. Faaaaaaantastic. But no, wait! IT GETS BETTER.)

Pacal's wisdom would have intrigued Isabella more had she not--a mere year later--met a traveler from the southern lands of India. Their leader was so scientifically advanced that he had invented a cure for his own vision disorder... in 3240 BC!



Another warrior arrived from the South in those days, this man the leader of his very tribe. Isabella had tossed and turned at night hundreds of years before, dreaming of the Spanish people being enslaved to a mad despot who twisted the ways of the spirits toward his own end. When Isabella saw this very man approach her village, she did was any reasonable woman in her position would do.

She screamed. Loudly. A lot.



( )

But still the chiefs came. One final visitor came from the mountain-dwelling Celts, people who--like the Spanish--served a hard-nosed matriarch who had come to power through skullduggery and force of arms.



(So let's review.

Protective Totem Pole-buffed archers. Resourceless spearmen. Two crazed warmongers. And one tech fiend who could run away with the whole thing.

And...)




(...no Copper within immediate reach!

Yeah, this is going to be a VERY different game, methinks. )


Isabella had done much in research to improve the lives of her people, and soon her tent in Madrid was garrisoned by an honor-guard of warriors. However, still her people refused to bow before her. They had seen the chiefs coming from all four directions, and they were still unconvinced that Isabella--who despite her immortality still possessed the body of a young adult--could properly lead them. She would have to apply her knowledge to something greater, something that would unite the Spanish people as one. She needed a symbol.



Loggers in the forests of Spain were set to work chopping the forests needed to roll the great stones for this monument to Madrid.

The explorers, meanwhile, encountered the borders of the Mayan tribal lands remarkably close to Spain.



But this was of little matter. Isabella's mad directive had finally come to fruition. Thanks to the frantic woodcutting of her subjects, the great monument stood tall on the outskirts of the Spanish village--a sacred place where her people could hear the whisperings of the spirits themselves.



The Spanish people united behind the new monument. Isabella had proven that her connection to the spirits was total. Spain was reborn not as the land of the long-dead Enrique, but as that of the High Queen Isabella.

(I think we lucked out here--were it not for a straight run toward BW, one of the other Mysticismish civs nearby would've beaten us. This was definitely an unorthodox way to set up shop, but I'm glad I did it, especially since we can now spend those early city turns doing something besides pumping culture.)

With Stonehenge completed and exploration now revealing much of the empty land surrounding Madrid, the High Queen consented to allowing some of her people to strike off to new lands, founding a new settlement that flew the flag of Spain.



(A look at the micro here. My goal was to get the Settler out around the same time AH finished just in case that affected the settlement decision. With no nearby copper, I figured we'd plunk down a city near a convenient herd if such a thing was possible.)

With the study of Animal Husbandry completed, Isabella searched the land for new animals. With so many tribes at hand, would she find a way to protect her people?



Indeed she would!

Isabella was pleased with this discovery; her land, it seemed, was beginning to take shape.

(All right! So here's where we stand. We have horses! We have Stonehenge! We have two workers and a Settler a turn away! We have a worker in the forests ready to chop out the next build!

I slowed the chops a bit to get the Settler out at the right time--I didn't want to have him dilly-dallying in Madrid if we didn't know where to send him. Now, though, we do!

City #2 should obviously grab the horses. City #2 will also grab a lot of crappy plains and possibly some desert, but we can still get plenty of food in there. I see two possible ideal spots. On one hand, 1E of the horses works in both the wheat and the horses quickly. It'll get a fresh water bonus, and it won't be a bad production site early in the game, with plenty of food to work those hills. On the other hand, 1NE of the horses works all the same food tiles, starts with another food tile in the inner ring (the sheep instead of the wheat), and adds the stone. The downside is that it adds three desert tiles and loses some green tiles that it can share with Madrid.

If we want to make a run at the Pyramids, then 1NE will probably be our last chance. Gandhi already has Monotheism, which means he already has Masonry. He also tends to play the builder game, so--who knows?--he may already be making a run at the 'mids!

Even so, they're a powerful wonder for a Spiritual civ. If we want them, we need to start down that path immediately. Luckily, thanks to Stonehenge, we won't need to worry about chopping a Monument in Barcelona if that's the direction we decide to go.

And, of course, any discussion of where the early hammers should go should of course be predicated on the idea that, holy crap, we are not going to be able to pull off an early rush in this game and may in fact be in trouble depending on how close everyone is. Pacal's Holkans rule out a chariot rush outright. Sitting Bull's beefy archers do as well. On the other hand, if we don't build military to rush, we're still going to have to be on the defensive, since Boudica AND Shaka are both nearby and both will be itching for a fight before long.

So we find ourselves on what may end up being a very interesting map. You guys said the last game was too easy on me? Well, here you go: my first Monarch game ever, and I find myself involved in... all this.

Save is attached. Your thoughts? Thanks!)
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 11:15 PM   #15
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Nononooooo....
I had to look, it's true..normal game speed.
Oki...you have wet corn, Agri first is out of question. Ignoring your food for so long is terrible.
Chopping is no good if all your gain could have been achieved in better ways. 2 workers is also a very bad move, okay it resulted from no corn, but Isa's early problem are starting techs. There is not enough to do for your workers.

Please start over. I absolutely love your writing style, but It's no good for your gameplay to ruin a good start and not seeing how it could be played. There are different ways to start here, but what what i see is terrible or worse
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Old Dec 25, 2011, 11:50 PM   #16
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My first observation is that I think you are dramatically overestimating the difficulty jump up to Monarch. Stonehenge is easy to get on Monarch. You super duper rushed for it. You weren't in the slightest danger of having an AI finish it before you.

Also, you aren't in such imminent danger that you have to delay your settler and rush animal husbandry ASAP.


And I see in the screenshot four terrain improvements for a size-2 city. That's 10 worker turns that aren't doing anything to help. I'm pretty sure you would be better off with two terrain improvements and two chops.

(whoops, you have to have 3 -- forgot you need to build 2 mines while waiting for BW)


The thing with having two early workers and fast Bronze Working is that you can get a ton of production from chops. IMO, after using VoU's fast BW plan, you should be clear-cutting until you have 3 or 4 cities and plenty of workers for them (and whatever warriors you need to ensure you can settle safely), pausing only to improve the best tiles. (e.g. to farm the wheat/rice/corn, to mine/pasture the pigs, to pasture the cows, maybe to road between cities)

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Old Dec 25, 2011, 11:53 PM   #17
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I made a save for you, so you can compare what difference corn makes.
Tried to copy as much as i could, built SH.
See how big my city is, while still getting stuffs out you want?
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Old Dec 26, 2011, 12:40 AM   #18
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Here, this is my run of the Bronze Working first quick Stonehenge plan.

I get Animal Husbandry one turn later than you. I get the settler for the horses city two turns later than you....

But I have three workers, and I have already placed City #2. (I would have two warriors, but one died to a bear)

I think the main things I did differently from you were:
  • I did not delay my first worker by working the lake
  • I worked the lake after the first worker finished, until the pig mine completed
  • I didn't stop chopping. (but I did interrupt it for the Corn farm, as I suggested)
  • I didn't throttle settler production


As for the choice of City #2, I was trying not to take advantage of your knowledge of Animal Husbandry, and my knowledge of things I scouted on my first attempt (I forgot Civ 4 crashes the computer I played it on). The particular city site was chosen because:
  • All of the grassland hills
  • It can borrow pigs or cow from capital
  • The oasis will help make sure I get to Animal Husbandry / Wheel in a timely fashion
but I didn't really think about it too much, so take it with a grain of salt.


(for the record, if I was just playing this normally, I would not have tried this opening variation)



My intention from this point is to get the Cow and maybe pigs Pigs up and finally grow the capital as I catch up on warriors. But maybe I'd chop out another worker (and maybe even another settler) in the meanwhile.

(Why so many workers? I have a ridiculous number of things that need to be done yesterday -- I need to get those AH resources up and running, I need to get mines in place to go with city growth, I need to farm the wheat, I need to get roads connecting everything, I want to start cottage spam as soon as pottery comes up)

What are you planning to do with your great priest, by the way?
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Old Dec 26, 2011, 02:45 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Oz-Man View Post
Notice how everyone else is saying things and then backing them up?

This is a learning thread--not just for me, but for other low-level players. What are Isabella's "true strengths"?
Don't take offense, a lot of people overly shape their game around unique units by sacrificing stronger play. By not doing automatically doing that, your game play might get better.

There are exceptions, but not including units like quechuas, your game play should be influenced largely by the map. I'll make up a number and say 60-70%.
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Old Dec 26, 2011, 03:04 AM   #20
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fresh water corn is 6 yield, 3 more than a forested tile, forever. Chopping is 20 hammers in 4 turns (or you can think of it as 5 hammer per turn over 4).
So the opportunity cost of farming a corn is 5 worker turns, or 25 hammers. 9 turns after the corn is improved, the farm will overtake the chopping in yield alone.

agri-mining-ah is pretty straight forward: agriculture first is self explanatory. If you go animal husbandry next, it won't finish before your farm is finished, so your worker has to do something else. Mining will finish, in which case you can spend 5 to 10 turns mining the plains hill or pig.

The question is how many turns would you have to wait for animal husbandry to finish. You can also use 4 turns to work lake while waiting for the farm to finish (2 food 2 commerce vs 3 food) to speed up animal husbandry one turn.

Stonehenge, the question is what do you want to do with it? It does not speed up your expansion to build it first: What's faster, having a two cities, so theoretically double base production, at the cost of all later cities having to chop 30 hammer monuments if necessary, or having one city and having free monuments? So double production vs having some percentage of your cities not cost 130 hammers instead of 100.
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