Apparently popular opinion has turned against Basil II

Alex Vance

Chieftain
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Oct 23, 2020
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10
Remember all those Youtube videos when Basil II was spoilered? How "insane" he would be, how fun, how easy it would be to win, etc...

I'm not here to disagree with that. I'm here to point out that the "average player" (i.e. people who go on TierMaker to broadcast their personal opinion) considered Basil II to be mid/low tier -- which kind of blows my mind.

I don't believe I've ever lost a Diety game when I've played Basil II seriously (as in, not messing around with an experimental playstyle). In any case, I win far more often than I lose; so long as I'm playing by his rules and not the standard, vanilla Domination build order.

Basil II requires a different approach to the game than your typical Domination-focused leader. That doesn't make him weak. If that isn't your thing, don't play him -- but don't call him weak because you dislike the play style.

If there is one leader that can go from zero to 100, it's Basil II. And I genuinely cannot think of another Civ that snowballs harder or more consistently than Byzantium.

Many naysayers focus on Basil II's only arguably weak spot: the extreme early game. But a good Basil II player will be taking entire empires with Warriors and Archers by the Classical era. By the time walls are relevant, your Tagma are pulling triple duty as Knights, aura-bots, and Siege weapons. You rarely face issues with Amenities because of how effective Hippodrome are at providing them (not to mention free knights/tanks with each Hippodrome + each upgrade to the Hippodrome) which means the ability to expand faster without overexpanding. And combining that with the option of winning via Religion means you can viably keep 5 allies to boost your trade routes and not have to backstab them in the end, instead relying on your raging Apostles to dominate the Religious front. Not to mention all the free Religious-based Wonders you'll be obtaining from conquered Civs not going to waste.

I'm not saying that Basil II is totally without weakness, or that he is overpowered. But I'm sure he is in the Top 10 Civs; probably more like Top 5 (imo) but I'm willing to compromise. In any case, I'm getting tired of newbs rating him low tier or at best mid tier, and I had to vent somewhere so... have at it.

Anyone else agree / disagree / play Basil II?

Moderator Action: Please help us keep our forums family friendly by using appropriate language. Have made edits to accomplish this. leif
 
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Haig

Deity
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Aug 3, 2010
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Really fun to play, it's all about going to a crusade.

But I have noticed that I get behind in science as I try to build many religious buildings and wonders so my empire tends to run off steam.
 

Alaindor

Warlord
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Feb 28, 2021
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Well, I tried about ten games with Basil on Deity (Marathon / huge continents map / 12 Civs) and have consistently been conquered by warring neighbours in Ancient or Classical Era. Possibly I was focusing too much on getting a religion but my armies were never powerful enough to resist my foes. I loved the music, though.

I'll probably try again in one of my next games, when I feel like playing civ again (taking a break right now).
 

Archon_Wing

Vote for me or die
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5,255
Yea they're pretty easy.

And yea randoms on the internet are inconsistent in their knowledge.
 

Alex Vance

Chieftain
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
10
Really fun to play, it's all about going to a crusade.

But I have noticed that I get behind in science as I try to build many religious buildings and wonders so my empire tends to run off steam.

Crusade is essential. All other religious perks are not, which makes Basil II quite flexible at building a religion that works under any particular scenario. And since NPCs never pick Crusade, your most important perk is very safe.

If you want the advice of a Basil II main: I never build more than one Holy Site. Its only purpose is to obtain a religion, and if you build one and upgrade it to a Shrine, you're getting +3 prophet points per turn. Throw in a few prayers and you should have a religion before the ancient era is over.

I never build a scout, opting instead to immediately go for a monument and then straight into military units (warriors). Then as soon as archers are available, get a few of those and when Crusade is online, start lighting up the nearest Civ and take their cities. The +3 power combined with +10 from Crusade makes such a massive difference early game that even walls fall quite easily to a mass of warriors.

Faith and Science is something that comes naturally as you conquer cities with Holy Sites and Libraries. You want to have enough units to hit hard and fast as soon as your religion is online. It takes a little practice - its a balancing act - but once you get the hang of it, doing that isn't hard.

Also, if you fail to take a significant amount of land in the Classical era, plan on doing the "zero to 100" strategy by pre-building a bunch of Hippodrome until they have 1 turn left, then obtain Tagmata. Building a large amount of free knights (that buff each other) all at once can and have turned games completely around for me. I remember once being in a 4 way fight between warring nations, and I was decidedly the weakest. In one turn I went from the weakest to the strongest, and I immediately wiped out two of the closest nations and took their entire empires for myself. I stabilized and took over nation #3, and from there had enough resources to snowball the rest of the game without stopping. Just one example of how Basil II can come from behind and just slam.

It's a strange playstyle, because its more about build order, timing, balance, and even creativity than it is about racing Science and Military advancements. They will come as Basil II, but indirectly instead of directly.

And never underestimate the power of your Missionaries and Apostles once you have converted say, 4 holy cities (plus your own). 5 x 3 = 15, all your Apostles have 75% "Debater" strength, and God forbid one or two actually have Debater on top of that. You can easily wipe out all enemy nations, and then turn the game into a late-game Religious race by converting your Allies with cheap Apostles (since you haven't used them all game up to this point).

Basil II also is arguably the best user of the Apostle trait that turns them into a makeshift Medic, as then you have more conversion power AND healing on the go.
 

ezzlar

Emperor
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Really powerful, yes. However, they don´t stand a chance against the Medieval Babylonian bombers.
 
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Basil is my most guilty pleasure of all. He is stupid good, but also takes a very particular and untraditional opener to consistently pull off, so he isnt boring to play at all for me. And as a long time civ 6 "wall-hater", it feels nice to not to worry about walls for once.
Hippodromes are imo a bit overrated, but it doesnt matter, the guy already synergizes extremely well with or without them.

I'll keep playing this guy whenever I feel like a fun and easy game.
And yes, he is OP and easily a top 5 civ, only minorly inconvenienced by how he is somewhat vulnerable in the first 40-50 turns.
Basil is to domination play what Peter is to peaceful play - do it right and you are essentially playing on emperor when choosing deity.
 

Mahi

Prince
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I would still say he is the easiest all around civ to play with
 

Earl of Pembroke

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Dec 3, 2020
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Really fun to play, it's all about going to a crusade.

But I have noticed that I get behind in science as I try to build many religious buildings and wonders so my empire tends to run off steam.

Yep, not a fatal problem but annoying/frustrating. I make the other civ's scientific cities a priority to capture so I can mitigate this problem.
 

Vargas1

Prince
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Sep 30, 2020
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I would still say he is the easiest all around civ to play with

It's so funny you say that, since I was going to posit that the reason Byzantium are undervalued is because they are one of the more difficult top-tier civs to play with. You need to balance a lot of competing interests early - expansion, religion, army, keeping up with science/culture - and then nail the timing on when your conquering takes off. They are indeed very strong when you get it right, but you definitely need to have a good plan and execute correctly.
 

Alex Vance

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Oct 23, 2020
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It's so funny you say that, since I was going to posit that the reason Byzantium are undervalued is because they are one of the more difficult top-tier civs to play with. You need to balance a lot of competing interests early - expansion, religion, army, keeping up with science/culture - and then nail the timing on when your conquering takes off. They are indeed very strong when you get it right, but you definitely need to have a good plan and execute correctly.

Agreed 100%. This difficulty -- along with the payoff -- is what attracted me to Basil II's playstyle to begin with.

I would say no aspect of Basil II is easy until after you've already established a winning global position; then all that is left is mop-up duty (which at that point is more formality than anything else).
 

AntSou

Deity
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Jun 8, 2019
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It's so funny you say that, since I was going to posit that the reason Byzantium are undervalued is because they are one of the more difficult top-tier civs to play with. You need to balance a lot of competing interests early - expansion, religion, army, keeping up with science/culture - and then nail the timing on when your conquering takes off. They are indeed very strong when you get it right, but you definitely need to have a good plan and execute correctly.

That was never my experience. On my single player games I consistently found it too easy to convert enemy cities, often while barely trying (literally. AI is bad with units as we know, but in Basil's case it just turns into free and constant religious pressure). Tagmas feel like tanks to me, they just bulldoze everything in their path.

I also never felt the need to balance much or had any difficult opportunity costs to consider because Military, Religion and Culture run so smoothly together. In fact I consider Byzantium one of the smoothest experiences. It never feels cumbersome.

I don't recall having to worry much about science. All the bonuses added up seemed to compensate for being behind on tech, but I was never really far behind (not more than usual for Immortal difficulty, anyway). I found it too easy to expand my religion playing Byzantium. I tend to prefer tiny to normal sized maps, which probably contributes to my views on Basil. Basil's religion is all over the place in no time in smaller maps, and less tiles means less ground for the Tagma to cover when their time comes.

PS: On a different note, has anyone had a game where the Dromon was used consistently? Seems like a strong naval unit but I've never been in a situation where building them would be the right decision, so I think I've only used it for the era points.
 

Linklite

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PS: On a different note, has anyone had a game where the Dromon was used consistently? Seems like a strong naval unit but I've never been in a situation where building them would be the right decision, so I think I've only used it for the era points.
No, but honestly, I've only ever had one game where ships (other than Barbs) were an issue, and I was playing as Portugal (Dido kept raiding my trade routes, so I had to build a fleet to suppress her naval activities in the Mediterranean until I conquered her, then saw no more enemy ships). Against the AI, naval unique units are largely pointless because they don't really build navies. Perhaps in multiplayer they're of more use? I never build unique ships unless they replace a type I'd build anyway to deal with Barbs and protect trade.
 
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That was never my experience.

Was this on deity or below?
On deity I found that I need to pull a rather tailored opener for byzantium, usually a 2 or 3 city opener, with holy sites beelined in at least one city, ignoring science for straight heavy chariot and horseman production off of 3 cities. Then going inmediately on the offensive with those cavalry units once I get my religion is up and a missionary has converted the first border city with crusade. Usually that timing push hits before they get medieval units up, and even with the first medieval units up, crusade can have the push work. Science tends to take of itself once I start conquering and/or I choose my founder belief.

Very fun to play like that though!
 

Vargas1

Prince
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PS: On a different note, has anyone had a game where the Dromon was used consistently? Seems like a strong naval unit but I've never been in a situation where building them would be the right decision, so I think I've only used it for the era points.

My last Byzantium game (Emperor) I played a pangea map but had both Indonesia and Portugal so lots of coastal cities and the dromons (dromen?) just ate them alive. Two-shotted their archers, which converted their cities before my land troops even got there, and then shredded their city defenses with crusade and bombardment promotion. Also Indonesia built a lot of galleys, though of course had no idea how to use them, which helped with spread and experience. I think I had a fleet of 4-5, and could have taken half the map with just a warrior for mop up.
 

Tuvok694

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What I have learned from this week's futile attempts to win on level "immortal" with Basil: All his bonuses are useless when you are scientifically so far behind the AI that they have waaaaay more advanced units and city defenses. A tagma cannot defeat aan Australian digger army. I think Basil is something for the more capable players. I might give it another try on level king, just to have a chance to win at least once with Byzantium.
 
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What I have learned from this week's futile attempts to win on level "immortal" with Basil: All his bonuses are useless when you are scientifically so far behind the AI that they have waaaaay more advanced units and city defenses. A tagma cannot defeat aan Australian digger army. I think Basil is something for the more capable players. I might give it another try on level king, just to have a chance to win at least once with Byzantium.
You have to execute a narrow range of builds to make it work, but if you do its really braindead and extremely OP because of how strong and consistent it is.
A lot of players will claim that you should rush Tagma - this is a noob trap.
Basil's main strength lies in the fact that he can knock down cities fast, even walled cities, with cavalry and your religion in place in the target city.
But, nowhere does it specify that you have to use Tagma for it, any sort of cavalry will do (light and heavy alike, any type).
What you are looking to achieve is to use the combination of religion and cavalry, as soon as possible, and use a strong early timing push where you overwhelm your first neighbour with extremely strong units.
My usual standard build to steamroll as Basil on deity is roughly the following (some minor adjustments are always made depending on circumstances, obviously):
  1. Build a Warrior or Slinger first. You need to get your army value up, and a Scout is just too risky. The only thing you need to scout for is your nearest neighbour and what he's up to, and your Warrior can handle that.
  2. Tech towards Astrology as your first pick. You need your religion up asap, don't delay it.
  3. Get a Settler out once your Warrior/Slinger is done, and once you reach pop 2 in your capital (should be roughly at the same time).
  4. Settle a decent city with decent food/production. You need all the production you can get to get the religion and cavalry out as fast as possible, because right now is the point where you're at your weakest..
  5. Start building a Holy Site in both cities once Astrology is teched.
  6. Start teching Animal Husbandry, you need to know where horses are asap.
  7. Depending on how close and aggressive your neighbour is:
    1. If your neighbour is close, has a big army and you feel threatened, build another one or two Warriors to buy you time. The AI will generally not attack you if you have a decent army value.
    2. If you have no close neighbours and/or they don't seem interested in you, finish the Holy Site in both cities, and follow up with a Shrine for the city with the most production (usually your capital).
  8. Build either another Settler, or a Builder. The Settler if you don't have horses in your first two cities and/or you want to delay your timing push a little to get a third city. The Builder if you need to get a (horse) pasture up, or want do the rush faster. Both are good choices, as long as you eventually have a source of horses.
  9. Start teching towards Wheel. You want Heavy Chariots fast, and as soon as possible after that, Horseback Riding for Horsemen.
  10. This is roughly the time where your Great Prophet should be popping (assuming you finished two Holy Sites). Pop your Prophet immediately, and choose Crusade (100% required!). Then either Work Ethic if you managed to get at least two +3 adjacency holy sites or better (ideally +4 or more), otherwise choose whatever you like. Your choice really doesn't matter as long as you secure Crusade.
  11. Start saving faith for a Missionary.
  12. Start spamming out Heavy Chariots from your 2-3 cities, non stop. You want at least 4 Heavy Chariots just to have the manpower, but feel free to add more.
  13. Once you teched Horseback Riding, spam Horsemen instead.
  14. Spend your faith on a Missionary as soon as you can afford one. If you still haven't teched Horsemen at this point, just stick to Heavy Chariots.
  15. Send the Missionary towards your target that you want to invade. Bring your army of cavalry units (and any Warriors if you feel you need those) along.
  16. Once the city as flipped to your religion (through the Missionary), declare war and take the city. Your Heavy Chariots have 41 base combat strength within the city borders now due to your religion (Crusade + Taxis), your Horsemen 49. You are essentially using Medieval Era cavalry against someone who is defending with Classical Era units at best.
  17. From there on out, and essentially for the rest of the game, just focus on killing enemy units and swooping in to take cities once they flip to your religion (also bring Missionaries if needed). Science will take care of itself, as you take over more and more cities to the point where you just snowball way past the AI.

The order here is not 100% strict of course, but the gist of it is that you rush religion and any type of cavalry as soon as possible.
Executed correctly, your target should have pretty much nothing that can withstand your cavalry, as long as you have flipped the target city with Crusade in place.
Get Tagma later when you tech them naturally, but I would personally never go out of my way to get them, or try these wonky "timing Hippodromes to get lots of Tagma for free" strategies.
Focusing on those things just delays you too much, to the point where you indeed risk being so far behind that you are using Tagma against Infantry.
Hit hard and early, and reap the rewards. :)
 
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