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Beginner help - the basics

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Fippy, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    In this thread i will collect everything (i can think of) that helps new (or newer) players with founding their empire, and learning the basics of this wonderful game :)
    I will not get into advanced mechanics like keeping barbarians out, preparing war or annoying AIs, etc. which can be for another thread.

    Part 1
    Founding your first city (capital)

    Every game starts here, and while turns are moving fast cos there are only few units available, an early turn counts as much as later ones (we already have our first important lesson).
    Many decisions that are made now will define your game later.

    So let's jump right in, here is an example of what we see first.
    I use "Blue Marble graphics", hopefully it's not too different to regular ones.
    Spoiler :
    We always have a warrior (or scout if our Civ starts with hunting), and a settler.
    Our first task for the warrior / scout will be assisting with the settling decision.
    Maybe he can reveal more tiles, that we eventually want for our first city?
    Moving west or southwest makes good sense, could be something in the fog.

    Next we look at the visible resources and tile yields.
    Every (good) city should have some food, and Rice on a river provides +5.
    We would not want to move away from this tile, unless we see something better :)

    Now there are some options with this start, settling on Ivory i.e. will gain an extra hammer for our city square. While i will not go into detail here, 2 screenies of how SIP (settling in place) and settling on Ivory compare, as food for thought:
    Spoiler :

    So either scouting or settling on Ivory by default also shows an extra cow.
    Please notice how the improved city square reduces worker build time from 15 to 12 turns.

    Conclusion: While the map generator usually picks okay spots for our settler, improving by moving is very possible.

    Part 2: What shall we build first?

    For this i will run a "simulation".
    In pic 1 i thought okay i want size 2 before holding all my growth and building a worker.
    In pic 2 i started on my worker right away.
    Spoiler :

    What can we see? With worker first i am 1 improved cows & 3 turns ahead, despite holding city growth on T0.

    Conclusion: on a regular inland start, start with your worker build right after settling.
    With improved tiles being so much more powerful, show patience while waiting 15 (or 12) turns.

    Part 3: What should i research first?

    There are a couple choices, also depending on Civ specific starting techs.
    Always possible are Mysticism, Agri, Fishing, Hunting, Wheel and Mining.
    AH (Animal Husbandry) is available if you start with Hunting or Agri, and BW (Bronze Working) with Mining.
    Others are not important for now.

    We can categorize them.
    Food techs are Agri, AH, Fishing, Hunting (with Deer)
    Religion: Mysticism, as we could found one with the next tech.
    Road network: Wheel
    Production: Mining, Hunting (with Ivory)

    We found out in part 2, that we want a worker as first build.
    So what if we tech mysticism first, eying a religion? Let's see..
    Spoiler :
    We are about to found Buddhism (luckily another AI took Hinduism..), but our worker stands at the Rice and looks sad cos he can only build a road (our starting tech, wheel) :)
    This will slow down city improvement and settler building, by at least 12 turns.
    What will Buddhism do for us, besides putting a nice symbol at our city? Honestly? Nothing for now.
    Would hunting first have made sense, maybe? Not really, with Ivory being 1 food tiles we would not improve growth and also slow down progress.

    Conclusion: ignore religious techs at start, and improve your food.
    In this case Agri and AH.

    Part 4: When do i start my first settler?

    Let's go back to our best start, with worker first and improving Rice and 1 Cow by turn 21.
    Spoiler :
    If we start a settler now, we need 10 turns. Cows advance as best tile before Rice, with both food & hammers counting for settlers and workers. But wait..why not 15 production (4+5+6)?
    Each population costs 2 food, so at size 2 we have to deduct 4.
    Cows are in fact 4 production here, Rice 3 and so on.
    Why am i highlighting this? :)
    To show how weak unimproved tiles are, and how important worker first.
    One of those other tiles would only add +1 production for our settler.

    So do we want to start now already?
    Nope, seeing how strong cows are we want size 3 in this case, so we can add cow #2 when completed.

    Conclusion: normally start your settler production when all "super tiles" can be included, use growth before.

    Part 5: What should my warriors and / or scouts do meanwhile?

    They can walk into areas closer to our capital, and look for nice city spots.
    At start everything is covered by fog, and we want to know more of "our" lands :)
    Should they wander off and look for AIs? Nope, that can be for later and is not important at all early.

    Would it be helpful if one warrior sits in the capital?
    Nope again, on regular starts our cap can grow until size 4 before eventually looking for a military police unit against unhappiness. Barbarians won't enter culture borders until much later, and animals never do. So the unit would waste it's potential.

    Here i already spotted something very nice in the west:
    Spoiler :
    While Tundra deer counts as rather weak food (but still better than nothing), gold tiles are powerful.
    They provide 7 commerce once improved & worked, and having one connected with roads will also give +1 happiness to all cities.

    We would like to know more about this area, and our warrior can jump on both gold hills next (improved sight on height), then look around the deer tile.
    After some turns we found out: no other interesting tiles are around.
    Where to go now with the warrior?
    Spoiler :
    If you find such an important spot (an early commece center), i recommend that it's guarded by an unit.
    So i would sit on the circled gold tile, barbarians and animals can only spawn in the fog.
    By having our warrior close, the immediate area will stay free of them.
    This helps settlers with moving later (no fear of getting eaten ;)), and maybe a worker will also be grateful that he can build roads in peace.
    On higher levels, barbarian cities can also spawn rather fast, and the warrior would prevent that from happening .

    With our first unit staying put now, we also have the question answered: what are we building after the worker?
    Answer: another warrior, who can look for more nice spots.
    As you can see, we have no time or units yet to wander off further.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    Gumbolt, tjs282, Jivilov and 6 others like this.
  2. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    Part 6: What should i research after my food techs (Agri and AH)?

    So we have figured out what we want to build between worker finished and settler started (warriors),
    now we think about what techs would be most helpful.
    Screenie with the situation and options:
    Spoiler :
    There should be 2 thoughts on our mind now:
    a) which techs can help with improving the capital further?
    b) which techs would be benefical for setting up a gold city?

    From left to right,
    1. Mysticism: allows building monuments for culture, which gives new cities their second ring of tiles after 10 turns. Can be useful for getting either deer or gold #2, cos it's not possible to have all tiles in your first ring.

    2. Pottery: we have this available already, Japan starts with the wheel.
    Allows building granaries (they will get their extra part later) and cottages for commerce.
    A good line of thinking here would be: cottages are not needed now already, Kyoto has many better tiles to work and boost production. We will be busy with more workers and settlers soon, so granaries could also wait a bit.

    3. Sailing: completely useless here without water :)

    4. Writing: allows open borders with AIs (will also get it's extra part later), and libraries.
    Almost 3x as expensive as smaller techs like hunting or mining, and can certainly wait until we really want to build any libraries.

    5. Hunting: while not always a needed tech, Kyoto has Ivory and gold city deer.
    Both tiles will require it, and make hunting a good option. It's also cheap.

    6. Mining: Rather cheap as well, and gold will require it.
    Unlocks Bronze Working, an immensely important early tech for chopping forests & Slavery Civic.
    We would not want to delay mining for long here.

    7. Horseback Riding (HBR): A very expensive early war tech, for powerful mounted units.
    Becomes an option after other basics are set up, but not for now.

    So hmm, how can we make a decision on which tech path would work well here?
    Lots of potential useful techs, but which should come first?

    I always recommend looking at our most important unit now: the worker.
    What will he do after improving cows?
    He could build roads towards city #2. Or he could improve Ivory (1 food, 3 hammers, 2 commerce).

    Which of those is more urgent would already fall under "more advanced tips",
    but you could start thinking about this: Will i want my capital to grow on Ivory, or would i prefer connecting my 2nd city first?

    In any case, connect your tech choices with immediate work & needs for your empire.
    Pottery, Writing or even worse Sailing would be wrong.
    Hunting, Mining and then either Mysticism for new cities or Bronze Working for chopping would be good.
    Advanced line of thinking: Maybe i want to chop monuments so i can get culture quicker,
    so Bronze Working after mining looks better.

    Part 7: Improving worker management

    While we could argue it's not "basic" anymore, i feel that it often gets mentioned in shadow game threads and can be fit in without much effort :)

    In the example game, i teched hunting after AH and now we can do this:
    Spoiler :
    I did move from cows onto the close Ivory, started camp, selected our worker again and (mouse) pressed the cancel action button that appears while they improve something.
    Next turn i will move on the forest, and then cows.

    The "blocking forest" plays no role here, but could while moving west in other examples, for 2 movement points (mp) units.
    Anyways, no matter if we put 1 turn into the camp or not, our worker would always land there after 2 turns of moving :) So you could sneak in 1 saved worker turn for later, on an Ivory improvement that will be wanted.
    Please note that this would not work if Kyoto would be on a hill, only with a free path between Ivory and the forests west.

    Next i plan worker vs settler timing, as the new city will be in need of immediate improvements:
    Spoiler :
    What does all this mean? ;)
    I looked at when the city will be founded, 5 turns (3t build time, 2 turns of moving).
    Then i look at what my worker can do meanwhile, first improvement will be Deer (food first..!)
    This will ideally happen in 5t as well, and so i decide that i can spend those 2+3 worker turns for a road on cows & plains hill.

    Questions, will this complete a connection between both cities?
    Nope, one road on a forest will be missing, but it's helping other workers later.
    Would improving Ivory, as suggested by the game engine (blue circles), be better than roads?
    Doubtful with Kyoto at size 3, as we already have better tiles for this size, but more important:
    the worker would be too far away from deer.

    Soo, result:
    Spoiler :
    Good timing, city founding & starting on deer happens on the same turn.
    Every turn saved will help with having food availabe for working gold tiles, which cost -2 food.

    Part 8: Expanding to more cities

    Dropping our Toku game now, and i will use quickly set up pics to help with examples.
    Usually my first thought when playing new games is, will there be hints like an advisor that can put me on a good path?
    Those do exist in IV (not as pretty as in previous versions with the funny & arguing people sadly ;)), and should in general be ignored.
    Just like city governors using silly tiles, or automated workers doing totally random stuff, there's not much logic behind the timing of recommended settler builds.
    Same goes for blue circles (engine suggested city spots), they can make sense or be 100% illogical.
    You can use them as inspiration to check possibilities, but should never trust them.

    First we will go to which cities do i want?
    Imo there are 4 categories:
    * Those i want to reach before an AI does (and steals them)
    * Those that can be made productive fast (or at least not slow), and please remember food = :hammers:
    * Those that help my economy now or soon (and support faster progress this way)
    * Those that claim important resources (for example copper against barbs or general defense)

    I think #1 (preventing AI steal) explains itself, let's see pics for others.
    First we have this one
    Spoiler :
    If we settle on the yellow circle, we grab nothing new..just lots of water. Not good, right?
    Wrong :) This city can share 3 food tiles with our capital (which will always have 5:food: wheat), and makes a very nice, quick setup support city. While there can never be too much food for 1 city, you are usually limited with available resources, and food sharing plays an important role.

    Now we look at this
    Spoiler :
    Assuming we find no resources in this area, would this still be worth settling after better spots are done?
    Yup, very much so. It's a commerce city example, and 3 floodplains add up to +5 :food:, enuf growth for plenty river cottages. Those are worth settling no matter how your economy might look like, they will improve it after some work.
    What if there was only 1 floodplain? Still worthwile, could be farmed and green tiles cottaged, but ofc there will be better spots out there first.

    Now an otherwise empty resource spot
    Spoiler :
    edited to look particular depressing :)
    I want to highlight that even if there would be only peaks, copper & Ivory, this can still be a valuable city spot.
    Both copper and Ivory provide important boosts, esp early, and if nothing else this city can produce another worker and / or settler with 6 yield copper.
    I highly recommend to not judge cities by "how would they look like at size 10+" (and this one might never go further than size 2), nice if have fun building those up but there are many more ways that cities can help you with.

    So those would be 3 cities we could use, how fast should i get settlers & support out for them?
    A general rule for Civ4 would be: make an order of importance, pretty much like in all round based games.
    If you would first like security in form of Axemen, and can also use the happy boost from Ivory, you might even settle this no-food spot first :) (can be true for very high level games i.e.).
    If your start is very commerce poor, and you tech pottery quickly, you might instead want the floodplains river so you can estabilish some "income".

    Also we want a bad early city example
    Spoiler :
    All covered in jungle, pigs too. Now this would be okay early if Pigs could be improved under jungle, but unlike Ivory they cannot. So this one would be stuck with nothing to work until IW (Iron Working), a rather expensive tech, and should really be avoided until you can clear it out.
    But would also make a great example for a spot that you may want to settle before an AI does (if close), cos it's very good without jungle.

    Should you be "scared" of costs per turn, resulting in a lower research slider?
    Generally speaking, on lower levels almost never.
    We usually advise newer players to ignore slider positions, so they are not slowing down their expansion.
    If you can reach pottery for cottages, and writing for libraries (and foreign trade routes), you should be fine.
    I would rather have higher costs and start building up commerce tiles (cottages), or use scientists, in several places than worry about my slider too soon.

    How we can actually produce 100 :hammers: settlers and more workers in reasonable time (especially with what looks like low production starts), will be for another part.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2019
    Jivilov, Fish Man and Bandobras Took like this.
  3. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
  4. Holkan

    Holkan Chieftain

    Aug 9, 2019
    I understand that this thread is for new/newer players but I hope it is fine to ask a question related to deity. I struggle with the question you address in Part 4: When do i start my first settler?

    The problem is that very often, if I apply your advice and start the settler soon then I have only two military units (and one of them may be a scout) as there is not enough time to build more and/or the initial unit may be killed at that point.

    Now let's say that I see an ideal spot for my second city which is very close to my capital and I have a warrior nearby. Good but... there is a barbarian archer circling around my warrior. I have already started the production of my settler but sending the settler to the spot is very risky because the archer has good attack chances against my warrior (even if the warrior is fortified on a forest tile).

    It seems to me that the only safe (at least a little bit) solution is to immediately produce another warrior and hope for the best. But I would like to hear what you think about this. In my games this is a very frequent situation so I think this deserves some discussion.
  5. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    Sure, everyone can answer, ask or suggest stuff now..3 posts from me should be enuf ;)

    Deity is ofc very different, and defending (or more specific, fog busting) with warriors can sometimes work well but not always.
    If you need another unit for safety, by all means fit it in before continuing with your settler.
    Good chance that more barbs arrive rather sooner than later, as they rush towards cities from turn ~38 on.

    On deity getting a strategic resi for Axes or chariots, or if no other option archery, often has high priority.
    Order goes like this: secure yourself against barbs, then expand. Other way round can hurt a lot.
    We all highly recommend watching Lain's videos for deity gameplay, if you are not aware of them yet:
  6. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    Doing parts here when i have time and creativity,
    some worker management added.
  7. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    Sorry for the delay here, i will start "working" again soon ;)
    Happy to take requests on topics too.
    sampsa and lymond like this.
  8. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

    Mar 17, 2013
    I finally moved on and edited in part 8 (evaluating city spots), more soon ~~
    sampsa and lymond like this.

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