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Emperor: Win Every Game with Horsemen

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Strategy & Tips' started by PTM, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. PTM

    PTM Chieftain

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    I thought I'd share this in its own thread. To be honest, part of why I'm posting this is to highlight a severe balance issue...

    This strategy has worked for me and a friend multiple times in a row now. I cannot vouch for its viability on Immortal/Deity (although I will be playing some Deity games this weekend), but on Emperor and below you will win 100% or near-100% of the time. What really bothers me about this strategy is not only how effective it is but how sickeningly easy it is to do. It's clear to me that this game was either a) very poorly playtested from a balance perspective or b) designed around more competent AI that has since been mysteriously nerfed.

    Initial Setup:
    + Found capital.
    + Open tech tree. Click "Horseback Riding."
    + Build scout.

    Then:
    + Build Worker.
    + Build Settler.
    + Build whatever.
    + Found City 2 next to horses. Send Worker with Settler so you can construct a pasture on City 2's horses immediately.
    + Build whatever in City 2 (Monument, likely).
    + When the pasture finishes you must then immediately switch the production queue of both Capital and City 2 off of whatever you're building. Make them build Horsemen instead.
    + When the first Horseman finishes, buy another Horseman. Let the other Horseman finish building. Now you have three.
    + Steamroll all AI.

    Win every time. Every. Single. Time.

    AI cannot handle Horsemen at this stage, or really any stage. Abuse the extra moves enjoyed by Horsemen to dodge whatever spearmen they have (likely they have 0). Use all promotions on full heal (save for when your Horsemen get weak). You probably won't need to reinforce these Horsemen, although it couldn't hurt to send one or two more up to the front lines by the time you get to AI #3 or #4. You'll trigger a domination victory by about turn 100 on small maps, turn 140 on standard maps (depending on number of AIs selected). You can even conquer some City-States along the way if you prefer. Turn 90 and lower victories are possible if you just chain declare on AI.

    Play Greece and tech Honor (free GG to lead troops, +str for units adjacent to other units, and double XP) for even more lulz.
     
  2. yanner39

    yanner39 Emperor

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    To add to that, use up the first 3 Honor social policies and add the Great General to the army and the AI has no chance. The only thing I could suggest to you is play continents. By the time to get to the other contiinents, they would probably have Pikes.
     
  3. Frank327

    Frank327 Warlord

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    One balance fix that's definately needed is that the full heal promotion shouldn't be available if the unit is in enemy territory, or in the zone of control of an enemy unit. Without it, the outcome of most battles is decided by how many promotions you can spend on healing your units. Also, the AI should be immediately retreating its units into cities if faced with an overhelming force, and maybe use their scouts/warriors as sentries outside border cities to see the enemy coming earlier.

    Edit: Also, let the AI on higher difficulties keep a big enough gold buffer for buying an emergency spearman or archer. That'll at least allow them to kill one horseman.
     
  4. Syiss_

    Syiss_ Warlord

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    Funny you should mention it...



    This is the game I just finished. Emperor/Ovals (Pangaea like map)/Standard size. I was Russia, not that it did me any good. First 4 enemies died to horsemen, at which point I gathered them all up and mass upgraded to Knights (seven units). Then split the army, one half going to clean up America, the other to take out Egypt and France.

    Game ended on turn 132 (425 AD). It would have been considerably faster with Greece. As you can see, I didn't even just snipe capitals, which would have shaved even more turns off. The only cities left are America's one city down at the bottom which would have fallen next turn had the game got there, and France's final city above me, which I didn't attack because his capital was closer to my army. I suspect that with Greece and ignoring everything but enemy capitals, you could easily win on a Standard sized map in under 100 turns.

    There was one potential hang up - Greece was one of my enemies. I got lucky that his army (3 hoplites, 3 archers, 2 warriors) was off trying to conquer a city state when I got to him, since I was still rolling with Horsemen at the time. Those hoplites would have torn me up. Fortunately when I invaded, all he did was send 2 archers and a warrior off from his invasion force, which were mincemeat for my horses.

    I also had Germany as an enemy. If I had let him get his UU (Landschnekt or whatever the hell they're called) and start spamming them, that would have been a tough task even for Knights (and he does love to spam them when he gets the tech for it). He was my closest neighbor though, and the first to feel my wrath.
     
  5. budweiser

    budweiser King of the Beers

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    I am playing Germany now on King. Its 640AD and I have wiped out Greece, Persia, Songhai and Siam. England, Russia and Arabs are left on a standard pangea. Among other units I have 6 horsemen and chivalry is my next tech.

    If you just kill the AIs and leave the CSs alone, its pretty easy to collect capitals.
     
  6. PTM

    PTM Chieftain

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    It is remarkable how poorly equipped the AI is with respect to warfare.** I hear people complain about the AI being handicapped by 1UPT but, to be honest, the AI just doesn't build nearly enough cities or units. They get bogged down in wonderspamming and useless infrastructure (buildings in this game are absolutely terrible for cost). I devised this "strategy" to exploit that problem by coupling fast attacking with the most overpowered unit in the game. Voila, instant guaranteed victory.

    ** Or anything, really. Usually there are one or two "decent" AI and the rest might as well not even be playing. The AI obsession with wonders *cripples* them, because a) :hammers: are hard to come by in this game b) wonders really aren't that good in this game and c) building any infrastructure at all is just not necessary in this game like it was in Civ4.
     
  7. alpaca

    alpaca King of Ungulates

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    To be honest, this is a pretty obvious strategy, I tested it on Immortal first and it worked fine (to make it even easier, I used Songhai). Although I think it works better if you don't use your upgrades on instant heal: If you can get your units up to march and blitz, they will pretty much beat the hell out of anything, even spears on rough terrain.

    The AI does have some units on Immortal but it doesn't use them to any sensible effect. The primary problem in my opinion is that you can attack, then retreat your wounded unit.
     
  8. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    Even pikes don't stop good horsemen, unless they really have a lot.
     
  9. bobbyboy29

    bobbyboy29 I was saying boo-urns...

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    Yeh this is pretty easy and powerful. Hopefully it won't take too much to fix. If the Ai can build even a few spears it will make a huge difference. Hopefully they'll change it (or someone will mod it) so the AI upgrades all its useless warriors into spears as soon as it gets bronze working.
     
  10. PTM

    PTM Chieftain

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    I'm not saying it's a good or unique strategy. I'm not even really saying it's a strategy. Read my posts more closely, it should be evident that the purpose of this thread is really to highlight something that is gamebreaking and borderline-exploitative. March and blitz are nice, but failing to insta-heal will slow you down a decent amount. If you want to kill 5-6 AI plus a CS or two with three-five horsemen by turn 90, you'll probably be better served insta-healing.

    Either way, it's ridiculous.
     
  11. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Giving horsemen, knights and cav a city attack penalty would slow this slightly. Wouldn't fix it though. For that, you need to reduce horseman strength, and encourage the AI to build better military.
    [Of course, making them build more military in the early game risks having them with less infrastructure, and thus left behind economically in the mid-game.]
     
  12. PTM

    PTM Chieftain

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    Left behind?

    A horseman is better than nearly every building in the era. Libraries aren't even that useful until you have a pop of 6 or higher, which can take a while. Unlike in Civ4, infrastructure isn't that important in this game and can, due to maintenance, actually hurt you in some cases. Buildings like Stables, Harbor, and others are essentially glorified goldsinks with little to no practical use. Three or four extra cities will trump a few markets any day of the week. AIs focusing exclusively on military for the first 100 turns - and then focusing exclusively on *using* that military, particularly against the player - would be drastic improvements over the AI we have now.

    In the first 100 turns:
    No AI should build more than one or two wonders - this should be hardcoded. AI should not begin building a second wonder until they have at least a second city.
    No AI should build less than two spearmen unless gearing up for a horseman rush of their own - this should also be hardcoded.
     
  13. vranasm

    vranasm Deity

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    you can't upgrade warrior to spear (it's possible only from ruin), they go directly to swords.
     
  14. Monsterzuma

    Monsterzuma the sly one

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    Thread should be called: "Deity: Win Every Game with Horsemen" :crazyeye:

    +1 to the comment that insta-healing is ridiculously powerful. I use it over promotions all the time.

    What I find most bizarre about horsemen is that they are:
    - easier to access than swordsmen (horses show up on the map almost instantly whereas iron only appears after teching a classical tech)
    - move faster than swordsmen, meaning you can also retreat them after attacking and make room for a next unit to attack while moving into safe territory - all extremely useful
    - are stronger than swordsmen TOO!!!

    What were they thinking? How is this justifyable on any level? I don't understand it. Why mess the game balance up in such an obvious way?
     
  15. budweiser

    budweiser King of the Beers

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    There are probably too many horses on the map. They are a strategic resource and should be a force limit. But so far, I am never wanting for a horse. This may be the problem, especially if the Diety AI never uses up the resource.
     
  16. Uncle_Joe

    Uncle_Joe Prince

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    I personally have no problem with Horseman being so strong. They are the only 'Ancient' unit with a direct counter. The trouble is that the AI doesnt make very good use of that counter. In MP games, it's pretty easy to defend yourself against the early Horseman. Heck even well managed Warrior strikes with city bombardment can make it costly.

    I do agree that a city attack penalty wouldnt be out of whack though. Taking cities should not be the role of Horseman... ;)
     
  17. Celevin

    Celevin King

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    Their biggest point is being able to move after combat. Even with a 2-move swordsman, if I could attack then move, I'd be a lot stronger.

    I saw a lot of threads when the game came out about Companion Cavalry dominating. I was at the time dominating with just horsemen. It's not that the Greek UU is overpowered, but that it's a big bonus on a unit that's already overpowered.
     
  18. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    Yes, if you change the AI so that it builds more military units, it will tech slower and have a worse economy.
    What is hard about this to understand?
    Everything has an opportunity cost.
    Forcing more military units is not necessarily conducive to long-term AI performance.

    In the hands of a human player. Not necessarily in the hands of an AI player.

    Hard-coding is a very, very bad idea, particularly once you add mods.
    Its possible to lower preferences for Wonder building without a hard-code block, just change the leader flavor values.
    It would also help if some of the wonders were rebalanced.

    This is definitely part of the problem.
    I think it is also not so much that there are too many horses on the map, but that they are concentrated in the terrain types where you want to build your cities. Iron is less accessible because it can also show up in tundra and deserts.
    But I think in general strategic resources aren't strategic enough, because they are far too common.
    Setting every strategic resource to only provide 2 (instead of 2/4/6) would be a good start, as would reducing the clustering of horses.

    That would be another interesting fix, leave this for knights, lancers and cavalry.
    But I think this would make them less interesting. I would rather reduce their strength while leaving this ability.
     
  19. Compugasm

    Compugasm Chieftain

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    Making the horsemen attack less powerful wouldn't affect the Japanese as much.
     
  20. Ahriman

    Ahriman Tyrant

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    I guess on reflection what I really don't understand is the swordsman/horseman balance.
    Horseman have double the movement, require a much more accessible resource (which they don't have to share with siege), can move after attacking (which surely compensates for no defensive bonuses) and yet are higher strength than swordsmen who cost the same.
    And their production is boosted by stables, should you so desire.

    Sure it would. Japanese horsemen would still deal less damage to enemy units, and would suffer more in return.
     

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