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Breaking the Monarch Barrier

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Artisan, Jan 14, 2021.

  1. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    I've been playing Civ IV on and off for a long time, and I've improved a lot from when I started. When I found the forums I ghosted them for a while and even dug through the War Academy articles. I watched videos from Lain and AbsoluteZero as well, and those seemed pretty helpful. I tried to emulate them, but could only make it work up to Prince, where I can beat the AI over time unless the map is just monstrously bad. On Monarch I just get stuck (except for a cheesy culture win on a lucky map once), which feels like cheating to me. My goal is to eventually have a passable winrate on Immortal (maybe 75%+). What am I missing?

    Two things I've noticed specifically: I struggle with teching quickly until I have a vassal or two to dump part of the burden on. I also seem to have production issues late game, when I switch out of slavery. Hammers aren't as readily available, with respect to production costs late game.
     
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  2. crullerdonut

    crullerdonut Warlord

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    Welcome to the forums! :)

    Without seeing any game reports, screen shots, etc., I couldn't pretend to offer any suggestions. I usually play on Monarch unless I hadn't played in awhile, so I'm no expert. There do seem to be some general points of advice, though:
    * the most general strategy is to always play to the map. Depending on what the map gives you (and your Civ and Leader), adjust your strategy accordingly. You might have to go in a radically different direction!
    * an early-ish war is pretty important in order to get a Great General and make a "super medic". Then you will be able to build a Heroic Epic, which is almost essential.
    * use tech trading as effectively as possible. Avoid self-teching too many old technologies and instead go for the really main-line ones like Civil Service or the AI-bait ones like Aesthetics, so that each :science: can ultimately go toward several techs through trading.
    * many cities are :hammers:-poor. Build basic infrastructure there (Granary, usually a Courthouse, Library) and then let them build :gold:. Oftentimes, the majority of my cities are doing that the majority of the time.
    * don't underestimate the amount of :gold: you can get from selling resources, nor the diplomacy bonus you get from doing so. Usually you don't need many :health:-related Resources, so sell as many of them for as much :gold: as possible. You may even want to just give away an early Sheep or whatever, just for the diplo brownie points. You can sell your Marble and Stone most of the time: let your neighbors pay you for resources to build nice Wonders that you'll capture later.
    * a tried-and-true strategy is to use a Great Scientist to Bulb Philosophy, and then self-tech to Liberalism, and pick up Nationalism for free. Then when you get to Rifling, Drafting is incredibly powerful, especially if you have a Globe Theatre in your high-food city.
    * you normally only want your Great Scientists to build only one Academy, preferably in your Bureaucracy (+Oxford) Capital. The rest are more efficient to use for Bulbing technologies.
    * a tried-and-true military strategy is to rush Cuirassiers and then upgrade them to Cavalry on the cheap.
    * when in doubt, build more Siege units.
    * for late-game :hammers:, remember that Hills and Mines only get you so far due to their :food: penalty. Some of my highest-:hammers: cities are on river cities. Once you get Replaceable Parts, Watermills become quite good, and then you add on the +1:hammers: per river tile from a Levee, a few Biology Farms to feed the city, and as many (hopefully Caste System) Workshops as possible, and River cities can become true powerhouses of :hammers:.
    * If you have predominantly Plains/River food-starved land, then focus on Communism and Watermills, especially if you have a large empire with not many Resources. If it's feasible to get out a Great Engineer and Great Merchant, and you have plenty of seafood resources, then go with the Mining Inc. + Sid's Sushi combo, which is superior to Communism in many cases in the long term, provided you can make it happen.
    * also, once you get Replaceable Parts, it's time to replace many (or even most) of your Mines with Windmills.
    * unless your leader is Industrious, most Wonders aren't worth it most of the time, especially if you don't have the resource. The most important Wonders in most games seem to be Great Library, Mausoleum of Maussolos, Taj Mahal, the Oracle if you can afford it, the Great Lighthouse depending on the map, the Pyramids depending on your strategy, and the Statue of Liberty in the late-game.
    * don't underestimate Mercantilism during the middle of the game, especially if you have the Pyramids. Sure, you will lose out on some :commerce:, but your opponents will be hurt as well. Oftentimes, most of the world is running Mercantilism anyway, so it's often good to follow along.
    * In Golden-Ages, it's often best to go Caste System+Pacifism and starve many of your cities by running as many Specialists as possible, in order to use the Great Person bonus as much as possible.

    That's a pretty lofty goal. Remember that even the best players will have many losses. Instead, for me, my goal is to have fun! :)
     
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  3. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    I play mostly deity and should win nearly every immortal map (it's possible to lose on very hard maps). To be honest everyone who struggles on say monarch has a very weak early game. Habits of doing things way too slow and inefficient, not really understanding :food:, not chopping, going for techs that don't do much instead of the good ones (BW, pottery, on low levels I'd say even monarchy).

    In chess, beginners focus way too hard on openings. In civ4, I think focusing only on openings (say first 75T) is the best way to improve your game very quickly.

    Post a save that you've played or plan to play (4000BC i.e. T0). Experienced players will show you their interpretation and you can see where the difference is. Oh and Strategy&Tips is the place to learn, General Dicussions seems to be more for people who are not very interested in improving their game.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
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  4. 6K Man

    6K Man Bureaucrat

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    If you can't beat Monarch, you are probably making some basic errors. Here are 10 simple rules to remember
    1. Build a worker first
    2. Direct research towards improving the terrain resources you have, first.
    3. Settle with food adjacent to the city square and improve food first
    4. Food is king
    5. Land is power
    6. The only must-build structure is the Granary.
    7. Have at least 1 worker per city, preferably 1.5.
    8. Use slavery a lot, especially whenever you are working unimproved tiles. Try to eliminate at least 2 population points each time you whip.
    9. Chop your forests
    10. When in doubt what to build, build a unit, worker, or settler, or Wealth ( :gold:, unlocked with Currency)
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
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  5. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    I think that's a pretty nice list! I kinda disagree with 7 though - the amount of needed workers varies quite a lot. With many coastal cities and not much forest/jungle to clear something like 0.5 workers can be enough. Into 10 I would add building wealth/research/failgold.
     
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  6. 6K Man

    6K Man Bureaucrat

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    I see your point re #7. I find that most new players don't build enough workers, so to keep it simple, I went with 1 to 1.5 workers/city. #7 could also be "If you find yourself working unimproved tiles, either build a Worker, or whip"

    I meant to mention Wealth and forgot it - I added it to #10. Failgold is a more advanced concept IMO, and at lower levels, you can wait a looooong time for that to pay off.
     
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  7. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    Thanks for replies, will probably try to play a slower game and keep everything in mind if I can. I'll post the start of the next game I play on this thread as well.
     
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  8. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    Don't be afraid to have one shadow-game here on the forums on a slow-burner, playing short turnsets and waiting for feedback.

    You can play offline side-by-side with that if you are impatient for feedback. :D
     
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  9. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    Here's a screenshot of a starting position I just rolled. Stalin of Russia. I'll put up the settings as well. Trying this one out on Monarch to see how it goes. Civ4ScreenShot0005.JPG Civ4ScreenShot0006.JPG
     
  10. 6K Man

    6K Man Bureaucrat

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    If you've read shadow game threads here you know the drill: Wait for suggestions before settling and any moves. Also, try to turn on resource bubbles - I guess that is Wheat 2N of the Settler?

    My initial thoughts are to move the Scout to the Hill S of the Cows to see what might be that way and ensure you aren't making it impossible to work seafood if you settle in place (SIP). There aren't any Plains Hills in sight (settling on a Plains Hill gives an extra +1 :hammers: so it's often advisable). Some of those unforested tiles may be hidden resources (e.g. Horse, Copper, which don't appear on forested tiles). But you should see what others think too.
     
  11. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    It's spices, not wheat. Only food visible is that plains cow. Could be a really tough start.
    Scout sw and sw up on that hill to see if there is something in the west.

    Depending on what that reveals, I would move settler 1s, then possibly settler 1e from there.

    But huts/events should really be turned off for these educational games, very little that translates to other games if you pop bronzeworking from that hut...
     
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  12. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    I've never seen a shadow game thread here, I've already played a few turns. Is it still worth moving forward with this one, or should I change it out and keep this game for my own personal playthrough? I haven't gone too far, gotten a Worker and Warrior out and was planning my first Settler. I also have large suspicions about the type of Fractal map it is.

    I normally do play with resource icons on, I think it was off because the end of my last game involved microing some overly large stacks and I wanted to clean up the interface. Forgot to turn them back on after that.
     
  13. 6K Man

    6K Man Bureaucrat

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    Spices :sad: Plains Cow as your only food resource is a really tough start. Arguably a 3 :food: Cow isn't a food resource at all.

    With that as your only food, I'd agree with krikav, moving 2SW reveals the most potential BFC tiles. If that doesn't reveal food, you could consider moving, or (considering this is a learning game) restarting. It's a tough starting position to tackle a higher level with.
     
  14. SittinDown

    SittinDown King Supporter

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    I'd keep that one for your own use. It's a tough one with the weird food. Could be kind of interesting with Cows if you were imperialistic, but with who you have, it's just going to be a slow tough start. Lots of forest though - should probably aim to do a lot of early chopping, and not much whipping.

    • Start a new one without huts, or events.
    • Post the initial save.
    • Don't play any turns until you get feedback.
    • Shoot for 10-turns roughly between uploads and waiting for feedback.
    • Play some other games in parallel, cause it gets slow to wait for feedback, but the feedback is always really helpful.
     
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  15. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    Alright, thanks all. I'll keep this one and start a new one when I'm back at my PC again.
     
  16. Artisan

    Artisan Chieftain

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    So here we are. New map. Rolled Wang Kon. So I should think about it, wait for feedback, then take maybe 10 turns and repeat?
     

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  17. 6K Man

    6K Man Bureaucrat

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    That's a more interesting start location IMO. Yes, think about it. Consider what your goals are for a first city, people will volunteer ideas.

    My thoughts: You want to see as much land as possible before deciding where to settle. Move the Warrior to the Plains Hill (1E), which should reveal several tiles to the E and N. Moving 1W would also reveal tiles, but we already know 2 of the unrevealed tiles to the W have Forest on them. Knowing what is to the E helps with the decision whether to settle on the Wine (for bonus :commerce: on the city square) has anything else going for it.

    (Moving the Warrior NW, N, or NE would reveal tiles, but not many that would be part of your first city's BFC)

    IMO you settle on the Wine, absent any new information. Wine is a nice commerce source when improved, but you can't improve it until Monarchy, whereas settling on it now gets you the :commerce: immediately. Anywhere other than there or SIP gives up either the Fish or the Cow or 1 or more Floodplains.
     
  18. Snowbird

    Snowbird Prince

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    I would move warrior 1NW. The point against 1E is that it is very unlikely to provide any information which would change course of the action -- most revealed tiles go into cross of the city on the wine.
     
  19. SittinDown

    SittinDown King Supporter

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    Agree with others - I also would see what 1 NW shows before deciding. you should post that before moving on. Where to found the capital is a major decision in the game - so turn 0 usually requires 2 posts to get right.

    Scouting first is always the right move - though the wine spot isn't too bad.

    Fish + cows are awkward for your starting techs - (Myst / Mining). The cows are particularly weak in this situation. You need Fishing, Agriculture, and Animal Husbandry to improve your tiles, and you'll want Bronze Working pretty soon too.
     
  20. as2w

    as2w Chieftain

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    @Artisan, can you post the original save for the new game?
     
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