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Old Apr 16, 2012, 10:03 PM   #1
ShengWuLien
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Praetorian Rush (Emperor)

Hey all,

Recently I've been winning consistently on Emperor, playing Normal/Standard, basically the settings most folks on here seem to play. So far I feel like, at this level, I've mastered the chariot UU rushes, HA rush, catapults or elepults, and the standard Lib + mounted break-out.

I'm not an out-and-out warmonger--I'll take Space if it seems like the best option. But I much prefer games where I do a lot of fighting.

Soon it'll be time to try Immortal, but for now I want to test out a couple other things at this difficulty level. One of them being the Praetorian rush.

I tried it a couple times this week and found my economy crashing pretty hard--I'm generally not into playing cooked maps with tons of early commerce.

I've been playing with Augustus as opposed to Julius, because I do like the option of grabbing a couple important wonders on the cheap, and 2-pop whipped forges rule. Is that a bad call, though?

My main question: what tech path would you recommend for a Praet rush at my level? Is it worth trying to grab early Pottery? Writing? Is my early commerce going to be dependent on seafood tiles?

I'm hoping this thread won't turn into a re-run of the "Great Praet Squabble of 2011." Just looking for some tips.
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 01:58 AM   #2
Iranon
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Nothing wrong with it, but trying to collect wonders and keeping a major war running at the same time is a tall order. It can work, but on high levels it requires constant re-evaluation and is probably harder than a more focused approach.

Keep in mind that failing wonders is a perfectly good use of Industrious. You can have +25% to production from forges, +25% from Organized Religion, +50% from Industrious and possibly another +50% from a resource at a time before gold multipliers.
You can switch building nice-but-not-essential or national wonders between different cities, then cash in on them when you want rather than when some AI finally gets it. Pillaging and worker stealing go well together, this can even draw out the AI military to vulnerable terrain. Later on, there's trade missions and plain old extortion...
gold multipliers suck for a long time, any alternative is welcome.

I like early forges, especially when Industrious and coupled with an Oracle/Metal Casting slingshot (Bronze Working and Pottery are the most valuable economic techs anyway). Researching the religious line and building the Oracle takes less citizen-turns than researching Metal Casting by hand... you practically get the religious line for free.
Still, a hard no-frills rush and the Great Lighthouse should be evaluated too.

Whether to bother with decent research when warring is an important judgment call. Catapults for support and Currency for recovery (possibly Code of Laws for Julius...) are nice, but getting the ball rolling is more important and Praetorians can do a lot without support on Emperor (higher levels tend to favour quick catapults). Technology is nice, but the situation is similar to wonders: it's even better if you can get them via conquest/extortion.
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 02:05 AM   #3
Seraiel
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I think on Emperor you have to self-tech IW, because AI will be too slow. On Deity, AI tends to get IW at 2200 - 2000 BC so one can easily trade for it, but I don't think that this will work on Emperor. If you go for Oracle, I'd oracle Feudalism, as the 2nd promotion from Vassalage helps the Praets a lot, as does an early Vassal. CR2 Praets beat LBs at a fairly decent rate, as they beat Shock-Axes behind Walls in Hills-cities. With Vassalage, the economy also doesn't crash that hard imho because of the free unit support. I might be wrong, but I'm usually able to run 100% for almost the entire game, I play Julius atm though. IND is nice, but ORG is nicer, only Wonder I self-build is the Oracle, everything else I conquer. Best of both leaders though is the IMP trait, atm. I'm playing a game, where I would have been stuck with 3 cities if not being IMP, with being IMP I'm gonna get at least 4 if not 5.

As Tech-Path I would choose Agri if you don't start coastal, then BW, then beeline Monarchy -> Oracle Feudalism in 2200 BC, trade Monarchy for Alpha and Alpha for everything else. This works with 2 Golds on Deity, so it should work with a little Commerce on EMP.
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 12:14 PM   #4
ShengWuLien
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You know, of all the wonders the Oracle is one I virtually never build. I've never figured out how to expand fast enough, defend against barbs, and still get it in time. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

Thanks for the tips, folks. Anyone else want to weigh in?
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 12:43 PM   #5
Iranon
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I think it helps to think of the Oracle as not-really-a-wonder. You don't gain anything from conquering it, returns are immediate, it mostly allows you to turn hammers into tech at a favourable rate under certain constraints.
Consider the investment research instead of production, if you're getting plenty of beakers and you're not still working for a prerequisite for the free tech you intend to snag you may be teching too hard and neglecting "real" production.
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 07:03 PM   #6
Seraiel
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The key to Oracle is to beeline and skip techs. If you play Rome for example, you only need a Food-Tech + BW, like stated above already. That's either Fishing, with which you start if you start coastal, or it's Agri / Mining. Don't research AH, it takes too long, farm the Pigs, Mine them, beeline Priesthood, REX only to 3 cities, support Oracle with Chops to have it earlier than 2000 BC, then you're on the safe side for 90% of the games.

I did Oracle -> MC at 2400 BC in the last GOTM which was normal speed and had Joao as a leader, had only some Crabs + Palace for Commerce and like 3 Forrests, was no problem if one simply skips all the techs and starts building it from 2500 BC onwards.
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 07:37 PM   #7
ShengWuLien
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At what point in that beeline are you grabbing IW, out of interest? Right after BW?
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 09:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seraiel View Post
REX only to 3 cities
Hmmm... Is somewhere more detailed strategy for Rome? Kinda of normal play, not "conquer the pangaea map with prets being all the time in anarchy"?
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Old Apr 17, 2012, 11:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Iranon View Post
Nothing wrong with it, but trying to collect wonders and keeping a major war running at the same time is a tall order. It can work, but on high levels it requires constant re-evaluation and is probably harder than a more focused approach.
Couldn't you just take the wonders you want if you're Praeting? After all, the Oracle would be the only one that doesn't give you anything on conquest.
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Old Apr 18, 2012, 02:46 AM   #10
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I may split my efforts if stuck on a small-ish continent with AIs who don't build many wonders. Praetorians keep well, no need to rush... and the biggest problem is often to deal with the strongest AI on other continents rather than taking over the neighbourhood. There are only two things we can really do to prevent a faraway runaway from the start: collecting wonders, and not hogging religions for a less touchy-feely atmosphere overseas.

If there are many islands around, the Great Lighthouse and discounted settlers are a great combination and if we can get an Oracle/Metal Casting slingshot for an early Colossus on top of that that's tempting too... not reliable on higher levels, but that'd give us the economic clout to keep warring hard until Praetorians obsolete.
If we're mostly warmongering and successful at carving out a big empire, the Hanging Gardens become very attractive (production in a developed city into whip fodder in underdeveloped cities), and that's another wonder that gives limited benefits if conquered.
Others like the Great Library depend greatly on location.

Many wonders are perfectly reasonable choices even if we plan to kick in some heads... prioritising according to overall gamestate is the tricky part. If you don't trust yourself to avoid the "oh, shiny" trap, deliberately making do with what you can conquer is safer.
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Old Apr 18, 2012, 03:09 AM   #11
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Praetorians keep well, no need to rush..
If you aren't planning an all-in take over the world with praets game, this is the best advice you're going to get.
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Old Apr 18, 2012, 06:33 AM   #12
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gg

settle u 1st gg in production cap, makes all the difference for war without siege

only tech u gonna need is currency

if u not gonna cottage due to unit spam bulb alpha to cheat u way to currency
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Old Apr 18, 2012, 08:12 AM   #13
Seraiel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShengWuLien View Post
At what point in that beeline are you grabbing IW, out of interest? Right after BW?
Self-teching IW before Oracle is impossible. On Deity, one can grab IW at 2000 BC, after Oracle, when one get's Alpha trough trading Monrachy (if Oracling Feudalism for example) or anything else one has teched. IW is a high priority tech for AI, that's why it's easy to get by trade, and self-teching imho makes one too backwards for the rest of the game and doesn't help that much in chewing out Praets earlier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Handel View Post
Hmmm... Is somewhere more detailed strategy for Rome? Kinda of normal play, not "conquer the pangaea map with prets being all the time in anarchy"?
The rex only to 3 cities was related to Oracle. I rex further after that normally, as on my maps, there are still good spots I want to settle, but simply producing chain-Praets works until the enemy gets Maces. LBs need some Siege support to reduce city defenses, later, one can transfer to Treb - Praets / Maces / anything warfare but one has to be careful when Knights become available, and have enough Pikes mixed in then to be not vulnerable to counter-attacks. Still later, if possible, grab Steel with Lib and use Cannons + Praets / Maces / anything, this works until the enemy gets Rifles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckDizzle View Post
Couldn't you just take the wonders you want if you're Praeting? After all, the Oracle would be the only one that doesn't give you anything on conquest.
Taking the wonders with Praets is imho a very important strategy, as building them is almost impossible on very high difficulty, conquering with Praets though is quite doable. Oracle is a wonder one has to self build as mentioned, and I would never miss out on it, because getting something like 4k Beakers (Huge / Marathon values) for only 450 Hammers is extremely powerful. Also, Oracle-Feudalism reduces the chance for the AI to tech LBs and an early Vassal helps with tech-rate. Anyhow, with low Commerce on start, one has to go for CoL or MC, depending on whether one plays Julius or Augustus.
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 07:04 AM   #14
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But, if you delay IW after Oracle, don't you risk to lose iron sites to AIs ?
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Old Apr 20, 2012, 07:32 AM   #15
Seraiel
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Yes, you do, but with Oracle before 2000 BC the risk is ok, you maybe get no Iron in 1/10 games, and in half of those, you would not have gotten Iron anyway, because there simply was none. If one times a Settler to be rdy after Oracle, chances to get Iron are still very high, the lower the difficulty, the higher, the 1/10 is from my last games.

Trading for Iron can be very difficult, I just experience this, I'm playing a 5 Gems Start with Ragnar and have none, Hatty has 2, but wants Horses + 4 Ressources + 10 GPT (!!!) for it and that after I gave Guilds to her which hightened the value of the horses. Before that, I had to pay the Ressources +50 GPT (!!!!!) for it. Already wanted to complain, how ridiculous this is. There's a reason why most players give up games where they got no Iron, but I'm not yet willing to give up a start like that.

To understand the why, you have to understand that playing on Deity often relies on gambles, if you don't get Oracle and oracle something good, you can basically screw the game as if you got no iron, because you'll be on the last place until you (maybe) get Liberalism. Oracle Feudalism pushes you from the last place to the upper ranks and gives you the chance for warfare while you can stay in the tech-race by trade, Oracle CoL does the same but doesn't delay AIs Longbows and doesn't give you CR2 Praets, but it's the only choice for low-commerce-starts.

I don't say Deity is not winnable without Oracle, it's just extremely hard even if you play pristine, you'll be backwards for the great part of the game and heavily rely on getting techs with peace-treaties, maybe you'll even need to choke a neighbour to have a soft-target to conquer, and maybe even then you'll loose some games.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 05:09 AM   #16
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On emperor I would recommend getting food techs(whatever's in your capital), beelining IW, then going currency/construction right after. Food techs are obviously important, the AI's slow in teching IW, and you need currency for the trade routes to stop from going broke and construction for catapults. If you had to oracle something I would say currency, because feudalism is off the tech path. Going for oracle itself might result in a later praet rush, giving the AI more time to get shock axes or pro archers our whatever.
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 02:51 PM   #17
ShengWuLien
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Thanks for the tips, everyone. Had a really fun game trying this but got screwed by impossible diplo/peace vassal nonsense/backstabbing/dogpiles. On to the next attempt...
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Old Apr 22, 2012, 04:01 PM   #18
Seraiel
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It's incredibly hard to know what happened in that game from that description, but just 2 things:

Peace-vassalages: 30 turns before you go to war, stop begging money or anything, reserve that for the moment when your target is willing to capitulate (check that at every end of the turn) , when you got peace-treaties with everyone who's pleased to it, peace-vassalages shouldn't be possible because of "you cannot join wars on our sides" .
What I do: Have strong allies that are in the same war as I, then the other Civs won't accept peace-vassalage because of "we're afraid of your enemies" .

Backstabbing: You can learn about who is able to backstab from the "Bastard-Chart" in Kossin's signature. What also helps, is, that most Civs you're pleased with, cannot go to war with you, having them on friendly should protect you by 100%.

Dogpiles: Be an unattractive target. "You must not be to close to yourself", means, use less overlap, expand horizonatally. Civs will attack you, if you have a lot population on little space, then you're regarded as "juicy" , doing what I does makes it unlikely for Civs to attack you.

Impossible Diplo: When somebody goes to war before you have Alpha, bad luck, but once you have it, gift small techs (especially the religious ones) to all Civs that are not the worst enemy of someone to get +4 through fair-trade. You should have 80-90% of the Civs on pleased after this, making it war very unlikely.
Also learn about favourite Civics, choose your friends by that, someone who's religious like Hatty with +4 from fairtrade while running OR is friendly in no time, HC can be a strong ally if you are in Hereditary Rule, Pericles is a good tradepartner especially once you and he have reached Representation, Peter loves Burocracy, a.s.o.

Hth, Seraiel

P.S.: It were actually 4 things ;D
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Old Apr 23, 2012, 06:20 AM   #19
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If you plan an all out war with praets don't wait for IW. Go to war with axes first. By time you would of been ready for praet an Ai could of already been killed.

As for the Ai back stabbing you. If you are on all out war mode you should have swarms of praets. Pends how you play I guess. On Emperor I just builds praets everywhere and use city capture gold to keep the economy going.

Of course there are times when playing the Romans when a HA gambit could be quicker.

Oracle is a great wonder. On lower levels you can sometimes get CS or other techs free.
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Old Apr 24, 2012, 09:22 AM   #20
ShengWuLien
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If you plan an all out war with praets don't wait for IW. Go to war with axes first. By time you would of been ready for praet an Ai could of already been killed.
Yeah, on this game I went with axes first because I didn't have iron until I conquered it. I had to wait for catas, though, because I was boxed in by Saladin, Hammy, and Charlie, all of whom are immune to pure axe rushes.

It was just one of those games where the diplo suddenly goes haywire due to religion changes, typical ridiculous AI settling right on my border and immediately starting to lose a city to my culture flipping, pure peace vassal nonsense (not the guy I was warring against) that disrupts the alliance system, Saladin DOWing at cautious when he had two other worst enemies a few turns earlier, etc.

Probably I need to work on the diplo side of things, but it was actually pretty funny when Saladin's small (but big enough) stack showed up close to my capital when my massed praets, axes, and catas were finishing off Hammy on the other side of my empire. Sometimes you just have to lol and restart.
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