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Cossacks: the expansion of the Russian frontiers

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by aelf, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    I noticed there's no review on the Russians as yet, and in here the rating for the Cossack as a unique unit remains low (3rd tier, if I remember correctly). I believe, therefore, that this detail of the War Academy is grossly out of date.

    I don't think I am qualified as a player to give a full fledged civ review on the Russians. The most recent and most successful game I had playing as the Russians, the pesky Dutch beat me to infantry and was mass-producing it like nobody's business, giving even my armies of Cossacks a lot of pauses in the mostly mountainous warzone of the English and Portuguese lands. But I shall highlight the advantages I had playing as Russians, especially armed with Cossacks, that I observed - just to give my point of view on a matter that has been overlooked for some time.

    To begin with, the Russians, being scientific and expansionist, make an excellent early game civ. Fast exploration and, as a consequence, a more rapid and certain expansion, coupled with cheap libraries to stretch those borders make a huge early empire very possible. Personally, I don't like managing a huge (and usually backward) early empire, so I would usually get to decent size quickly and capitalize on the early culture boost that cheap libraries allow. Playing as Russians, I would build up my infrastructure to a respectable level under Monarchy with constant (but not too often) warring to expand my borders a little and to weaken neighbours before I get Military Tradition. By the time I was training Cossacks, I had a good number of universities (the lower cost of which I find a great bonus) up and running.

    Now I move on to the jeune premier - the Cossack. Previously, the Cossack was a 6/4/3 unit, making it a respectable defender, but did not render it much more useful as an offensive unit that it is. In C3C, however, the Cossack is a 6/3/3 unit with a blitz ability. This gives the Russians an early version of the Panzer! The cavalry often has hit points to spare after one round of attack, but only the Russians can make use of this. This translates to a horde that can increase its capability by as much as 1.5 times. 30 Cossacks can attack like 45 or even 50+ cavalry, making them a powerful horde.

    This ability of the Cossacks also translates to a less tangible but nevertheless present advantage - the creation of GMLs. Because the Cossack can attack up to 3 times a turn, the chances of them getting promoted to elite are a lot higher. This in turn leads to higher chances of generating leaders. In my last game, more than half my Cossacks were elite and Cossacks alone were responsible for the appearance of 7 leaders.

    Of course, for this to happen, many wars need to be fought. Once I had Cossacks, I was fighting most of the time. I totally defeated the respectable Spanish empire, taking all but one island city and moved on to trying to weaken the powerful Dutch. My empire doubled its size and I was rushing all my small wonders with the leaders I had, including an Iron Works that almost immediately transformed an unproductive, corruption-laden town to a productive centre.

    At this point of time, it's worth mentioning that, true to Russian history, the huge empire I had won was best served by Communism, which I switched to once I got it. With the Hoover Dam on the way, the Dutch can look forward to being totally eclipsed productively in the long run. If only I can quickly end this burdensome war against the seemingly endless waves of Dutch infantry. But, on hindsight, this is exactly where the downside lies.

    To make full use of the Cossacks, you must not be left behind in the tech race and must use them as soon as possible. If you get them early enough, you can totally obliterate the enemy's defending musketeers. Against riflemen, they are still good, but you will need proportionally a lot more Cossacks. Up against infantry, however, their effectiveness is reduced drastically. With a defense of 10 against the Cossack's offense of 6, the infantry is a very tough nut to crack. Most of your Cossacks will retreat with 1 hit point (if they do not die, which really sucks) and this diminishes the chance of using their blitz ability. You will need to create armies of them, which renders their advantage redundant. This circumstance necessitates the acquisition of Military Tradition as soon as possible. Once you get it, you have to start mass-producing the Cossacks. The more you get them early the better. One good strategy is to use them first against an enemy who is most likely to get infantry before the others to slow him down and crush his power. If you let the enemy get Replacable Parts early (like i did with the Dutch), consider your advantage against him forfeit. If only they gave the Russians some sort of Russian winter advantage :p

    As an expansionist civ, the Russians tend to slow down after the initial land grab phase. The only other go you have at turning a close game in your favour is with the Cossacks. The scientific trait can help you get there more quickly, but should you fail to make great use of this advantage, it could break your game.
     
  2. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Just made some editions. I was wrong about the panzer part because I thought panzers have 2 movement points like normal tanks. After a bit of thinking, I also added stuff about the downside of the Cossacks.
     
  3. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Czar

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    Cossacks are more expensive than standard Cavalry though. Blitz is decent, but definitely not worth an extra 10 shields in my opinion. I think Cavalry>Cossacks personally...
     
  4. SimpleMonkey

    SimpleMonkey King

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    It occurs to me that the Russians can be formidable indeed if the player really pushes to keep rough tech parity in the AA (rushing scouts everywhere to pop huts, pop-rushing libraries before getting out of despotism), and then using the free tech at the beginning of the MiA to bee-line towards Military Tradition. Pre-build to get Sun Tzu's and Leo's (or make capturing them a priority) and then keep pumping out horsement or knights to be upgraded. (Having Leo's helps make the Cossack more affordable, and so by upgrading you don't have to wait nearly as long to make an effective force.) Then send out your hordes of Cossacks to work your will upon the world. Follow up with a bee-line through the usual pathways to get to Mass Production in the IA. With proper arty support, your Cossacks can still put the hurt on riflemen and even infantry, extending their usefulness all the way until you bring in the bombers and tanks.

    The above strategy is one I've used before with just cavs, so it looks like it would only be that much more effective with Cossacks. This approach uses the Russian traits effectively as well. In fact, I think I've just talked myself into setting aside my just-started emperor game as the Maya to give the Russians a try. I think I've been giving them a pass so far just because Catherine is so homely. :eek:
     
  5. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Hmm... good stuff, SimpleMonkey. May I incorporate your ideas?

    Well, about the Cossacks being 10 shields more expensive, I think the 7 leaders I got out of them more than meets the cost :p I have also found the blitz ability very useful against enemy cavalry or other offensive units. So I guess it makes the Cossacks much better at a defensive war than normal cavalry.
     
  6. SimpleMonkey

    SimpleMonkey King

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    FYI, I am indeed trying out the above strategy with the Russians in my current game. The synergy possible with expansionist and scientific traits is really interesting. I'm also about to go on my first big cossack offensive, hoping to pump my empire up at least 50% and capture a bunch of resources and luxuries. That's going to take some limited wars with about 3 or 4 civs one right after the other. Should be fun. :king: I'll let you all know how it goes.
     
  7. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Yeah, I think the Russians received little attention for their merits. In vanilla their UU sucked, but in 3C3 the all-new Cossack, arriving at the crucial cavalry offensive stage in the game, adds much to their already effective expansionist and scientific traits. I think this enables the Russians to have a large empire very conveniently.
     
  8. AutomatedTeller

    AutomatedTeller Frequent poster

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    I think with CSC, the UU's got modified so that none are super for too long.

    Immortals used to rule the battle ground until at least longbowmen, if not until muskets and cavalry - now there is an answer at Feudalism.

    Man o War and Cossack got upgraded - but no UU is dominant for more than an age or so. Sipahi might be the most dominant for the longest time, since they have the highest attack of anything before tanks and can take over the battlefield for 1/2 the medieval age and much of the industrial age - but even so...
     
  9. gmaharriet

    gmaharriet Ancient Crone

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    I had my first Monarch win using Russia. I was going for an SS, and the Cossacks helped me obtain the resources I was missing. The techs from huts gave me a tech lead early on that I never lost with cheap libs and unis and making science/tax farms in the corrupt areas.

    I'm currently going for my first Emperor win (without success yet) and maybe I should try using Russia. :hmm:
     
  10. AutomatedTeller

    AutomatedTeller Frequent poster

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    I think it's always good to go up a level with a civ you are familiar with. or one that you can get good advice from others on.

    You know how they play and how to use their traits,and so when the AI plops a city down right next to you on Deity before your borders expand, it's a shock, but one you can eventually overcome...
     
  11. Weird_bug

    Weird_bug Warlord

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    Yeah, like I'm going to tell you...
    I love Russia! It was the first civ I played(apart from rome).
     
  12. Ringo Kid

    Ringo Kid Prince

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    The strategy would be strong on a map with lots of water, because when you get artillery, you could perhaps send the artillery by ship so you would not always be waiting for the artillery to catch up with the faster Cossacks.
     
  13. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    Greek Hoplite is effective form the start of the ancient age through to the start of the industrial age. Man O War is still have decent in the modern age if you're in the lead with technology.
     
  14. drakdan

    drakdan Prince

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    While the Hoplite and the Man O War's powers might not be hugely surpassed until those times, do they honestly warrant using those wretched units?
     
  15. Virote_Considon

    Virote_Considon The Great Dictator

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    Actually, I like using them both.

    Hoplites are cheaper Pikemen, that come from the start of the game (if it hasn't been modified), and don't require Iron. Also, if you can get Horsemen to hold off enemies from your border cities, their Golden Age may not get triggered until the Middle Ages.

    Man-O-War's can give you a very good mobile artillary base, and you can use them to go ship hunting, and coupled with the Privateer, you've got an almost mainanance-free navy that you can use in peace and war. (Almost mainenance-free, because you'll need a couple of each unit to start with, and you'll also no doubt have Galleons for troop transport).
     
  16. Spoonwood

    Spoonwood Grand Philosopher

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    Dromons anyone?
     
  17. eldar

    eldar ChiefTank

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    I was quite upset in my current game when I had to upgrade my Dromons because I really, badly, needed the additional carrying capacity of Galleons :cry: I only had a couple left by that point, not as if I'd built hordes of them to begins with.... but still, I had Frigates by then and they do, admittedly, do a better job than Dromons on pretty much every count (apart from cost and starting a GA obviously).
     
  18. timerover51

    timerover51 Deity

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    Dromons are an odd case as they actually upgrade to a less effective combat unit in the caravel, which does have the ability to carry 3 verses 2 units. In reality, the Dromon was a larger vessel than the caravel, and used by the Byzantines for transport as well as combat. They were considerably larger than the ancient galleys, with more ability to carry troops. A better reflection of their transport ability would be to give them the same carrying capacity as the caravel. The curragh is another underated unit, as it has no carrying capacity whatsoever, but was actually a much better sea boat than the galley, surviving in the seas around Britain and Ireland and being able to travel to Iceland, the Shetlands, and the Faroe Islands, and with at least the same cargo and personnel carrying ability. The combat capabiity of the galleon/carrack is also badly underated. The Portuguese carrack was easily as big as a galleon, and the standard trading ship with the Far East. A caravel simply did not have the range for that, in the sense that it could not carry sufficient food and water for the crew for that long a voyage. The Atlantic crossing was a different story.

    I have been reworking the entire naval vessel rating system, and will be posting an outline of the changes shortly.
     
  19. TheOverseer714

    TheOverseer714 Overseer

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    I keep Dromons around for their lethal bombardment. They can kill enemy ships without the risk of actually attacking, which is huge. Pretty much every player has lost frigates attacking galleys, but with Dromons that doesn't happen. They can be attacked, but a decent fleet of more modern ships make fine guards.
     

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