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Old Apr 01, 2006, 08:56 PM   #1
Sisiutil
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Sisiutil's Strategy Guide for Beginners

Sisiutil's Strategy Guide for Beginners

What I've tried to do in this file (attached) is to collect together, in one document, a summation of most of the basic strategies and tactics that I gleaned from this community. I verified the utility of each as I moved up the difficulty levels. I hope it proves useful to some. I just wanted to give something back to this community which has helped me enjoy this wonderful game far more than I could have just on my own.

Please note that the guide is not meant to incorporate all possible game strategies, but rather, just enough for a beginner to experience success in Civ IV's lower levels (Settler through Noble).

Speaking of which, this is also not meant to be a strategy guide for the higher levels. This is why it's a beginner's guide. I myself have only had my first victory on Prince at the time of posting. And from what I've seen on the board, at Monarch and above, players often vehemently disagree over strategies that work for some but not others. They also warn against relying on strategies that worked in the lower levels but are often counter-productive at Diety, Immortal, and so on. So, once you leave Noble behind, all bets are off, in my opinion.

Revised October 17th, 2011
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File Type: pdf Civ IV Basic Strategy Guide-5.0.pdf (486.4 KB, 57764 views)
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Old Apr 02, 2006, 05:50 AM   #2
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No mention of stone Henge? Or did i miss it? Whats wrong with stone henge !!!!! Essential for early game on some civs i think. Especially as it can be chopped quickly and covers all cities. That my only gripe.

Good general guide.
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Old Apr 02, 2006, 06:31 AM   #3
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I think you just need to have a subsection for early culture (i.e. growth of a full fat cross). In this subsection you can explain that you will gother the necessary culture points either due to Obelisks/Stonehedge, or due to a religion, or due to having a leader with the creative trait.

You also must edit a bit the wonders section - you need to include Statue of Liberty and Kremlin, IMO.
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Old Apr 02, 2006, 10:05 AM   #4
JohnYoga
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Thank you very much for this strategy guide, Sisiutil. This is precisely what I was looking for.

I will guess others will help refine it, as this gets more play time on this thread, but nonetheless, I am going to send off to my MP family we all study it today now.

Regards,

John
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Old Apr 03, 2006, 04:22 PM   #5
Sisiutil
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Thanks SO MUCH for the feedback, everyone--I made a couple of revisions based upon it.

I added a "Culture" section--good point, Atreas, culture is a vital part of the game. I still remember playing an early game as Rome, founding a city two tiles from that vital Iron resource for my Praetorians, and impatiently waiting for the fat cross to extend to it!

I also modified the "Good Wonders" section to add in Stonehenge, Statue of Liberty, and Kremlin, which I have built and have noticed are favoured on this board. I took out Colossus, Hagia Sophia, and the Great Lighthouse; nothing against them, but I've rarely built them and have seen few big fans of them on the board compared to Stonehenge or Oracle, for example. I don't want to recommend too many Wonders, as I've warned against "Wonder Addiction" in the guide.

I don't want to add to much too it. It's supposed to be a "Beginner's Guide", and it's already up to 13 pages! I guess that's to be expected for a game this wonderfully complex.

Now, when some newbie posts his frustrations with the game elsewhere on the board, I can reply with a link to my own panacea for his/her troubles!
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Old Apr 03, 2006, 05:58 PM   #6
JohnYoga
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Thanks Sisiutil...Again, outstanding.

Two petty requests: Page numbering and revision.

Regards,

John
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Old Apr 04, 2006, 08:41 AM   #7
maltz
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A very complete guide.

Although it is nice to give new players a few guidelines such as "the 60% rule" or the worker - warrior - settler build orders, the gameplay isn't necessarily optimized.

For example, earlier I made a discussion thread of "Optimal research rate = 0% at early expansion", and many people had the same opinion. Also, there is a famous "Optimal early growth" thread stating the optimal build order is worker-worker-settler. I personally find worker x 3 (x 2 if I have few forests) -> axeman x n is good for early expansion.

So far I found a couple of minor issues, not really significant, but maybe you will find them useful:

1) Sell a tech to a Civ to prevent it upgrading its unit

Actually, one turn of 0% research is going to enable the AI to upgrade every single unit, unless you are playing at a very low difficulty. I like to keep the AI's cash low because I can always use some extra cash, but the AIs still upgrade their troops instantly. Sometimes, the AIs do keep a few of their units in the outdated form, while they do have a lot of cash. Bugs?

Another interesting thing I found in the map editor is that the "cash" we see from AIs is not really the total amount of cash an AI has, just a small portion of it. Also, the AIs get 10G (or multiple of it) of allowance every turn.

2) +2 food surplus is needed for growth

I know what you mean, but it is a little misleading. You can rephrase it to:

Food surplus is needed for growth, the more the faster. Each extra citizen will consume 2 extra food.

3) Health resource actually includes spice and wine (Grocer).

I will report more if I see more.
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Old Apr 04, 2006, 12:13 PM   #8
Sisiutil
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Thanks, guys. I will add page numbers, add the missing health references, and clarify the phrasing on food for city growth.

I have a couple of questions/comments:

JohnYoga, what did you mean by a request for "revison"? Some sort of version history table, perhaps?

Maltz, I appreciate your comments on research and selling techs, but I consider those to be more advanced strategies/considerations, best left out of a beginner's guide. Optimizing gameplay as you suggest is something that happens when you get to intermediate/advanced levels--mainly because it often requires you to behave counter-intuitively, like leaving your research counter at 0% for awhile.
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Old Apr 04, 2006, 01:28 PM   #9
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Great guide!

Some suggested revisions/additions:

- Mention that many of the numbers and strategies depend on Speed = Normal, and less so on Size = Standard.

- Add Recycling Center to health improvements.

- For civics to increase happiness, add Hereditary Rule. Also consider removing Environmentalism. I think most players are out of jungle and forest by the time they get that far in the game. Usually the only cities that still have them around are the small stunted ones anyway.

- Really just a pet peeve of mine, but the symbol for research is not really a "beaker" (which is shaped like a cylinder), but rather a "flask" (in particular, an Erlenmeyer flask). But since everyone on these forums already calls them "beakers," what can you do?

- I don't really consider "science city" a specialization type. I suppose you could if you just considered the buildings you put there first. But commerce cities usually start out as science cities because you often want to build monasteries/libraries/etc there first anyway, since banks/markets/etc aren't usually available until later. And GP factories become great science cities later under the right civics. It's almost always best to have a single GP factory and make all the other non-production cities into commerce cities, using farms only sparingly in the early game to grow the city faster, then replacing the farms with cottages.

- Temples and cathedrals are irrelevant for science cities. Granary and aqueduct are irrelevant for production cities. Airport and harbor are irrelevant for commerce cities. Add bank and Spiral Miranet for commerce cities. The benefits for these buildings are related to other factors besides these city specialization types.

- Prime choices for commerce cities are holy cities. The gold income from shrines is independent of the tech research slider, and thus you can always get a strong benefit from banks, markets, etc. in these cities. Otherwise commerce cities only generate income if your tech slider is low.

- The simplest way to check your military strength is to check the Power graph on the Info screen. You should try to stay no more than 20% or so (ballpark figure) below neighboring civs.

- A more reliable way of seeing combat odds is to select a unit, click Move, and then hover over the target.

- You might want to mention that galleys can travel in ocean squares that belong to either you or someone you have Open Borders or a war with. The in-game documentation for galleys is wrong, implying that they're limited to coastal tiles. But this is only true for neutral territory. This is not only good to know in terms of your own exploration (i.e., pay attention when your coastal cities increase their borders, because you might be able to jump to a new continent before astronomy), but also because your enemies can send galleys into your territory if your coastal cultural borders meet.

- Combat experience is capped at 5 from animals and 10 from barbarians.

- In particular, a promotion heals exactly half of existing damage.

- Bribing other cities to go to war with each other before you do isn't a reliable strategy. Sometimes it weakens them, but other times it gives them plenty of promotions. I prefer to use this tactic only to give the enemy multiple fronts to worry about.

- I'd suggest changing Ironworks to "Good" (usually too expensive in terms of production cost and health penalty, and too late in the game), Globe Theater to "Best" (for your GP factory or best slavery city), and Kremlin to "Best" (cheap gold rushing is incredibly powerful).

- Discourage attempts to build World Wonders without the beneficial resource.

- A non-state religion in a city only produces a culture point under Free Religion.

- Religions can only spread automatically to cities that have no religion yet.
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Old Apr 04, 2006, 08:07 PM   #10
Sisiutil
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Revised yet again, with several of your suggestions incorporated. Thanks again, everyone!
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Old Apr 04, 2006, 11:03 PM   #11
maltz
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Yeah, those green solution's containers are flasks, not beakers! Beakers take shape of a cylinder, the same radius for its bottom and top.

A few extra sidenotes:

1) Great Scientists

"Add early/mid-game GS to Science City as super-specialists"
"Use mid/late-game GS to help discover specific (expensive) techs"

I usually just work them into academies. One can work out the math of an Academy's bonus in a city, and compare it to the bonus of merging the GS into the research center x 2 (Oxford U later). If playing a very small, peaceful map, then maybe there won't be too many cities to add academies.

The later techs are not really "discovered" by an GS. They usually die before their papers are accepted by Science magazine. For example, a GS gives about 7000 flasks to a 20000 flask Electricity. It is roughly equivalent to 5 turns of research time in one of my games. However, a GS may have saved me 10 turns on an earlier tech, or more. An early 10 turns is always better than a later 5 turns. However, an earlier Academy may play an even bigger role... it is really hard to decide.

2) Stonehenges

Like a holy city, stonehenge is better to be captured than built, as Mysticism takes extra turns to research.

An alternative, and very common way to get some culture to city radius 2, is to have some religion in the city. It is largely by luck to get a religion spread to the city in the first place. However, it is largely up to the player to "keep this bonus", by not converting to a religion that is different from the one present in the city. It is sometimes very useful to delay a conversion until the expansion is complete.

Another alternative that I frequently use is to chop out libraries. Writing comes very early, and a library only costs 3 forest. Library supplies up to 2 scientists, which are also very handy for early research boost in any city that has a few food surplus.
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 11:16 AM   #12
Sisiutil
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Interesting points, maltz.

On Academies, I did some math a while back and figured that by mid-game in your science city, every beaker/flask/pocket protector/whatever is multiplied by 225%:
  • Oxford U.: 100%
  • Academy: 50%
  • Library: 25%
  • University: 25%
  • Observatory: 25%

(Add a monastery or three for an extra 10% each (though that multiplier does expire mid-game with Scientific Method), and the Laboratory for an extra 25% (though it comes quite late), and you can get up around 250%.)

A merged GS becomes a science super-specialist, which adds 9 tech research points each turn. With the above multipliers, you get another 225% of that, or 20.25 points for a total of 29.25 research points, and I'm not even counting the monastery/laboratory multipliers which could put it over 30.

Conclusion: to get the same boost from using a GS to build the 50% Academy multiplier in another city as you would from adding a GS as a super-specialist in your science city, the target city would have to be producing about 60 tech points per turn. I find very few non-science-specializing cities get close to that until very late in the game. So once the Academy is built, nearly all of my GS become super-specialists in the science city.

As for Stonehenge--I find it's very useful if you lack the cultural trait, and if you have the spiritual trait, Mysticism is a freebie. Even if you're not spiritual, it takes a heckuva lot more turns to found and spread a religion than it does to get Mysticism. There's also no guarantee that Stonehenge will be built close by to be grabbed by your Axeman/Swordsman/UU rush before its effects expire with the discovery of Calendar. Lots of players, including me, rush Stonehenge because you can get and build it faster than just about any other Wonder, and its effects are immediately beneficial: it grants you more flexibility in your initial city site selections and it allows you to more effectively land-grab before the AI beats you to it.
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 02:53 PM   #13
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Sisiutil...I second your analysis of the preferred use of the Great Scientist. Just a couple quick points. Your assertion of 9 beakers per turn (or 'flasks', if you prefer) assumes the Representation civic, I believe...

And when you speak of the alternative of building an academy in another city, you correctly point out that the city needs to be producing 60 beakers (or 'flasks') per turn...just note that that 60 beakers needs to be your basis, BEFORE any multipliers are taken into account. Example...a city may be generating 70 beakers (flasks); but if it has a library, university, and observatory that 70 is coming from a basis of 40, plus the 75% bonuses. The academy in this case will give you the 50% bonus on the base of 40, adding only 20 more...

I set up my science city the same way you have described, with the science improvements and Oxford. Great Scientists join the city as super-specialists up through about the late industrial age, when it becomes better to have them help research a tech directly...just like you suggest. When you scroll over the 'discover tech' option for the great scientist, it will tell you how many beakers it will give you toward the dedicated tech. Simply divide that number by 29, and you will get the number of turns that it would take that scientist to generate that many points in your science city. Then make your decision...

On a side note, I often combine my science city and GPP city...I combine the National Epic with Oxford, and run a lot of science specialists. This will generate lots of great scientists...the downside is that this prevents you from adjusting your specialists, and makes it very hard to get a great person other than a scientist. The advantage to a specialist-based science city is that your research times are not as closely tied to your research rate...if you have to turn you overall research rate down for a few turns to generate some more gold (after expansion, for example), this science city will continue to generate strong research. You also are getting a 'double' use from your science specialists (Science from Oxford and GPP from National Epic)...

If you are diligent about designating great scientists as super-specialists (and you will get a lot of them with this strategy), getting your science improvements (and Oxford) built here, and joining your great scientists to this city, it is normal for such a science city to generate well over 400 beakers per turn in the mid-to-late game, and 500 beakers per turn is not uncommon.

A variation of this would be to combine Wall Street and the National Epic in the same city, where you can run several merchant specialists, and make it a gold-generating city...this will give you a lot of great merchants, and again, not allow for a lot of flexibility in the type of great people you get. If this can be combined in a city with a lucrative shrine, it can generate a lot of gold...and allow you to run a high science slider rate all game. Have your many great merchants join this city as super specialists in a manner similar to the science city as described above. Great Prophets also do well joined to such a city as super-specialists, too.
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 03:08 PM   #14
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Thanks for the analysis about the "60 flask rule". May I rephrase it here: if you see some city with potentially > 60 flasks (raw value) and no academy, then go for the academy; otherwise merge it to your research center.

About stonehenge: Sorry I haven't played with any Mysticism Civs, so my statements are biased against religious techs/buildings.

However, if I remember correctly, Mystycism takes half of the research time as Writing. A stonehenge takes 3 forests to chop with stone, or double without it. A library always takes 3 forests to chop. Wouldn't it be better if one save the mysticism research time, and save the forest for the library instead? I know free obelisks are nice, but getting writing -> alphabat faster could really make a difference in terms of game progress. In many of my games, the completion of stonehenge does not happen much earlier than a Pyramid. I would definitely build a Pyramid if my forests are limited.
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 03:51 PM   #15
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Awesome guide! Where were you 2 months ago?

Some nit-picks:
You should let everyone know that values for culture, prod, etc are for "normal" speed...

4.2 ~ sell a tech to use up AI's gold to prevent upgrading ~ dubious as it seems, many times, that the AI has drastic reductions on upgrading, and sometimes seems to upgrade for free....

5.1 ~ Granary give +1 Health f or Wheat, Rice, Corn; Harbour: +1 for fish, clams, crabs; Grocer: Bananas, spices, sugar, wine; Supermarket(Grocery): cows, sheep, pigs, deer

5.3.2 ~ tile improvements: noobs may take your suggestion to mean that they shouldn't build farms at all...build farms to be able to work you production tiles...

6.1 ~ to go along w/your first tip, advise them to check power graph to see your relative military standing; also, later in section: right-hold to see odds of combat, not right-click; Navies ARE important (which, as a noob, i had a long time learning that!); Combat Engineers: Workers to accompany the army for roads

but again, these are nit-picks and the guide itself is great!
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 05:46 PM   #16
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Another voice of feedback

5.2 Commerce slider should be mixed in with the happy goodies.

5.3.2 Cows should be next to horses

5.3.3 Commerce vs Gold. I'll point to Next-level City Specialization rather than repeat the whole mess, but to summarize - this section confuses Commerce and Wealth/Gold, and should be rewritten after that distinction is understood. This is particularly important as it's an area of the game where it is very easy to confuse beginners.

8.1 There are no culture generating Improvements. There are culture generating Buildings. Improvements are for tiles (Mines are improvements, Forges are buildings). "Consistent terminology is a win". This probably exists elsewhere in the doc, but it caught my attention here.

9 A section on the uses of GP without a reference to Golden Ages?
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 06:12 PM   #17
zrulli
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even as a casual player, these tips really help.
But some of the grammar is confuzzling at times.
Keep up the good work!
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Old Apr 05, 2006, 09:09 PM   #18
JohnYoga
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[QUOTE=Sisiutil]
JohnYoga, what did you mean by a request for "revison"? Some sort of version history table, perhaps?
QUOTE]

That may be too much work? I was thinking something simple, like "April 5, 2006" (put date of guide?)...That way when I am going through my stash of Sisiutil's words of wisdom, I will look at the date and know which one is the latest.

Regards, and thanks for allowing comments to your very helpful work...

John
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Old Apr 06, 2006, 02:04 PM   #19
Sisiutil
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It looks like I will be house-sitting for my in-laws, then out of town, for the next few days. AWAY from my only Civ-capable computer.

But at least it means I should get a chance to incorporate many of your suggestions. Zrulli, I will definitely clean up the grammar. This started as a simple point-form list of tips, but grew, and many of the recommendations require clear phrasing to understand. I have also noticed many participants on this board speak English as a second language, making clear communication even more important. So that is going to be a priority in the next revision.
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Old Apr 07, 2006, 08:02 PM   #20
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I am unable to open up your guide. I am not sure why but a blank screen comes up.
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