AI Discussion: Mid Game Expansion


Baller Magnus
Dec 31, 2005
While the AI is better at pioneer timing expansions than it used to be, I still find that they are slow on the draw to colonize new lands. I can often claim whole new regions before the AI has even sent a pioneer. And this part is difficult I'm sure, there are a lot of logistical plannings that go into midgame expansion. So I thought I would highlight my methods on the communitas map to see if it can lead to any AI improvements.

After Compass: Banking vs Astronomy
One of the first key questions is whether I can get a lot of value out of pioneers close to my mainland, or I need to branch out across the ocean. If there are 2-3 good pioneer sites on nearby islands or even on the mainland (tundra spots, even with good resources, are commonly unclaimed by the AI in the early game), than I will often push towards banking. Otherwise towards astronomy first.

Compass: Explorer/Caravel Conquerors
While I will build an explorer or 2 (or often use my original scout) for long distance exploration. I find that to prepare the way for my planned expansions, barb clearing is an essential part. Now that barbs are a lot fiercer than they used to be, you can no longer just casually deal with the barbs. A systematic extermination is needed!

I will pair up at least 2 (often even 3) explorers into hunting parties, along with 2-3 caravels. The job is simple, find barb camps and eliminate them. The caravels handle the ships, and the explorers take on the land.

Astronomy: Send in the Marines!
If I'm going astronomy over banking first (or if there are just that many barbs to deal with), I will now send my regular units across the ocean to finish the job of barb clearing. Knights are good for this function due to their speed, though Longswords (or Tercio depending on timing) are also good. I will also have them secure the specific pioneer sites I want to acquire.

Pre-Banking: Settler Prep
One of the key things I do as I approach banking, l will build a number of settlers (however many I think I need based on the sites I've identified), and then send them out to the city that is as close to my expansion sites as possible. That way when I get banking, I immediately upgrade them to pioneers and can send them quickly to their chosen sites. This can easily save 10 turns on the settle timing as compared to building pioneers after banking.

Don't forget the Church
Accompanying my pioneers is always a missionary. As soon as I found I will convert the city, reaping whatever religion benefits I need.

Secure the Position
After the colonization (generally around musket men), I want to start bulk building ranged units to send to my colonies for defense. This is especially important for the more island expansions.

What I find is that the effort to get that first pioneer city is a lot of effort and work...but often once I've cleared the deck I can secure 2,3,4 even 5 cities in short order as the expansion machine starts rolling.
yes AI players have no clue how to handle the island barbarians. might need to invent a new army type for "colonization parties". but timing will still be bad, planning ahead like OP is hard. of course there are frameworks like GOAP but so far that is not used anywhere.
Just to showcase an example, I have built 7 pioneer cities (and about to do my first colonist one) before the AI has started its own expansion, this is one emperor.

Spoiler :


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