Early game defense


Dec 9, 2007
Do you guys actually build defensive units in early game? I was chugging along to turn 70 and was suddenly invaded by the AI with a lot of units. On the standard difficulty setting! (Mercury?)

That shocked me totally, unprepared.

With the rat race in teching and slingshots, I dont wanna lose turns building units until I get battle suits usually
Most games it seems I can get away with very few units, but I've been burned twice in Gemini already (by Brasilia and Slavs). After that, I tend to build at least a handful of rangers when I hit Physics and be prepared to stop building/reseraching whatever I'm doing and focusing on military whenever I see an AI's units shuffling on my borders.

Depending on the map, you might also need a non-insignificant military just to assure you can expand early game, specially if you spawn close to a couple or more nests.
Personally, I always try to minimize the amount of military units I have as possible, and focus solely on growth. If you have early game neighbors, a great way to make them Coopeartion Agreememt with you is to send a trade route or two over. Aliens are always a problem, but Purity level 1 Explorers help immensely, and you should always try to get Ultrasonic Fence to protect your trade routes. Besides that, I've found that not messing with Aliens in general is a good way to not have them attack you.
If you are not going to build a few unit build some defensive building. Only takes 1-2 to increase the double the number of early game units needed to take a city. Make sure you do that with all front line cities. Have to scout a bit or look at diplomacy to see when an attack is coming.
Build a soldier reasonably early if you have aggressive neighbors - Rej, Koslov. You'll get another (free) soldier with the first settlement. Explorers count as military units, so if you have three or four, that helps. Then build a ranger or two, unless you're beelining for the Aff-4 uniques.

The AI has been pretty good to me about signalling when it thinks I'm a nice target. It gets demanding and it moves it's units close to our border all at once. If you immediately send it a trade route - there's one available every few turns - that can improve their opinion a bunch. "We share a valuable trade relationship' or something in the diplo screen. That gives you time to build or buy some units. Often, if they can't attack you, they'll just attack someone else instead.
Most of the time I get 2 soldiers (+1 from the quest) once trade routes are running. If there's no neighbor very close I use them to kill 1-2 stations. That way they pretty much pay for themselves with the ruin that can be excavated.

If I get attacked, the AI will usually suicide a few units into my soldiers and then give me some gold for peace.

That said, I don't exploit Slingshot-BOs and try to keep it as "raw" as possible. But if you really want to you can probably avoid 90% of all earlygame-DoWs by just sending a trade route.
It seems like the AI is too incompetent to actually conquer anything from each other when they go to war (at least on Apollo). They also don't seem to sign a peace treaty, ever, so I generally just find a way for them to attack each other, which will mean they leave me in peace and waste a ton of resources to boot.
I find early game DoWs to be the biggest challenge (and the only real challenge) in Apollo. Basically any AI will DoW -- I got creamed by PAU in a recent game, figured I was safe since he was friendly and he's the cooperative sort, but bought two tiles in one of my cities near him and he instantly DoW'd. Then creamed me because my army was on the other side of the map defending against aliens, and there was a frikkin canyon wall separating most of my settlements.

While AIs have trouble taking each others' cities, that's because they both always have big armies and defensive buildings -- whereas your cities will fall like flies to a handful of tier 1-2 units. Early game AI wars are especially detrimental on MP, since your human opponent will be spamming colonies and TRs and getting way ahead while you're wasting resources on military.

If you are near a lot of AIs in a closed space, get defense structures and might 1 to make your units last longer with instaheals. If you're really concerned, beeline for affinity 4 and your first unique unit -- these crush all non affinity units and once you have a couple the threat of AI warfare pretty much vanishes. Do not count on being friendly with your neighbors to avoid wars -- they will DoW anyway unless you can actually sign a co-op agreement. They also seem less willing to be paid to attack each other than in civ5, but maybe I've just had bad luck with that.
DoW just depends on the map,how limited the resources are and if you ignore their requests. Unless I get stuck in the middle I do not get DoW on a Pangaea map. Altantan are peaceful unless you have a neighbor. Continent is harder to avoid with limited good resource areas.
I find that the CivBE AI telegraphs its aggressive intentions even more than in Civ5. It'll spend at least 15 turns slowly moving more and more units next to your border before it actually DoWs. If you start building defenses as soon as the AI starts massing units on you, often times the AI will give up and not attack you at all. Either that or it will attack anyways and you'll kill their army easily.
I consider Rocket Batteries essential to fend of early game attacks. Backed up by a gunner in the city an 2 Marines next to the city you should be able to fend of quite a lot of units.
Is it dissimilar to past civ games where a basic unit or 2 is sufficient for early game defense?
I don't bother with early game defenses unless I'm going for an early rush. I usually get to Affinity 4 units before the AI comes a knocking - I play on Apollo with standard or larger maps.

Occasionally I'd spawn on a map with a zillion aliens. If that happens, I'll build some armors and rangers to run them over, worms included.
When lots of aliens are nearby, I had good results using the first 3 virtues on the left branch of Might to get :c5science: from killing aliens. With this, you can justify having 2 or 3 soldiers roaming about just killing aliens and taking out nests.
Through the extra research, you'll get to affinity level 1 sooner than normal and your soldiers become marines - which are that much better for beating up even more aliens.

If your neighbor comes knocking, just send those troops over to him instead...
With how easy energy comes by (trade routes...), and how all your troops upgrades automatically for free, I don't find a reason to not build 2-3 of each type of unit.
Well, because of the opportunity costs of not building something more useful. At that time of the game there's so much other stuff that can be built, that, if you try to really get the best out of it, not building defense if an attack can be prevented by other means, is what might you the furthest if there's not something that makes these soldiers have a general value.
I, um, usually open Might to get all the way to +20% Affinity from technology while avoiding Affinity techs until that point, and then do a more normal tech progression from there.
What that means is that I have a lot of incentive to build military units as they are more powerful against aliens and give me lots of delicious bonus science, and so by around T70 I have a handful of military units and really poor infrastructure. No AI wants to attack at that point because their army is likely close in size to mine, so I never get rushed by them.
I, um, usually open Might to get all the way to +20% Affinity from technology while avoiding Affinity techs until that point, and then do a more normal tech progression from there.

I've tried this a couple times but I always seem to find there aren't that many aliens around me, and I end up way behind in science and expos.
I've tried this a couple times but I always seem to find there aren't that many aliens around me, and I end up way behind in science and expos.

It can be pretty hit or miss. Fortunately in more than half of my games I've been close to 2-3 nests that I can farm into the mid game, and of course being able to explore with rovers (or just explorers who aren't as instantly dead when attacked by aliens) is nice.

Only go for survivalism if you are planning on using those military units, because trying to eke resources from that passively won't get you very far.
I almost always go for rocket batteries to stop early AI aggression. I'm currently playing on Soyuz without any difficulty, and forward settle a lot. Rocket Batteries on frontier cities is a must. AI is bad at war too. I've defended a city with one Marine (first affinity upgrade after soldier), and a rocket battery.

However, I'm more commonly building two rangers to group with the free soldier. Then, using this group to clear aliens to make room for more cities. Having a small army to both scare the AI, and clear aliens for more land isn't a bad investment.
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