[BTS] Espionage strategy too slow for island civ

Oaq

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Monopolizing copper and iron on a two-civilization continent at Emperor difficulty, I eliminated my rival early, taking sole control of 25 percent of the world's land area on a well-balanced landmass including some flood plains and plenty of resources. Unfortunately, lacking access to any trade partner other than the eliminated rival, I fell behind in technology. Even after distant civilizations eventually made contact, I had no tech for which they wanted to trade.

An espionage strategy seemed warranted under the circumstance, so I prioritized research of Alphabet and Optics, but it takes a long time to set up a transoceanic flow of caravels, missionaries and spies. Meanwhile, unfortunately, a distant civilization had completed the Great Wall. Thus, by the time I was ready to start stealing Feudalism and other such medieval techs, the AI was already achieving Radio. The AI was building security bureaus long before I could build any jails for myself. No AI civilization was even making war on me, despite that any one among several of them could easily have wiped me out; and yet I was still losing the game.

In short, as the sole surviving civ on a large, rich continent, I pursued an espionage strategy that failed. The strategy was too slow.

Where did I go wrong, please? This wasn't even an Immortal game, and overall my luck was excellent. It seems to me that I should have been able to win this.

You need not load my saved game to answer, but a few saves of the game are attached for reference nevertheless if you want them.
 

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krikav

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I think the strategy was faulty.
Claiming control over so much land, I would have rather prioritized developing it asap, with emphasis on cottages and economic tech.
With such a land advantage, you should be able to catch up and get into the trading game eventually, or at least to self-tech everything you need to do some endgame warfare.

For espionage to shine, it's nice to have a city in close proximity of the capital to steal techs from, preferably from someone you have traderoutes with, and where a religion that you have the shrine for, the religion is present in the city, and the AI being in another religion.
Also helps if you have alot of culture in that city!
All these things are very hard to achieve over the continents, making espionage cumbersome in such a situation.
 
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konata_LS

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on a two-civilization continent

@ krikav has already given you very good advice about how and when to use :espionage: economy.

First of all: semi-isolation (= you and an AI share a continent, and both of you can't contact other 5 AIs before Optics) is often more difficult than normal Emperor games. Semi-isolation with a peaceful AI (such as Lincoln, Asoka, Gandhi) makes the game slightly easier, while semi-isolation with a warmonger (example: Monty, Shaka, or Genghis...) is among the most challenging settings.

In your game, you're semi-isolated with Isabella, which is fine, because she often focuses too much on religious techs and neglects her military build-up. Plus, it's easy to get AI Izzy to Friendly via shared religion.

On Emperor level, the human player usually doesn't need to steal techs from AIs, unless the starting place is extremely poor or gets some extremely bad luck.

Checked your 1665 AD save and noticed some things:
Spoiler :

With Mansa Musa and Darius on the other continent, the tech pace is surely very fast: it won't be an easy game.


The events log shows you converted to Izzy's religion in 1080BC. It's a very good choice diplomatically.


However, your tech path makes me a little confused: you've decided to do a construction attack, good. But why did you get Construction after the DoW? Usually people finish Construction and build catapults before the DoW:


The war with Isabelle lasted from 150AD to 800AD. Maybe that's one of the results from the lack of catapults in your warfare:


The tech order in the screenshot below seems a little strange to me: after the necessary military or food techs, people usually beeline Optics. But you got Sailing only in 1050AD, and you research CoL and Monotheism before Sailing-Compass:


Your situation in 1665AD:

I turned off :espionage: slider and run 100% :science:. You have nearly 500 :science: per turn before Astronomy - which is very good. But the problem is: you still don't have Astronomy.

If you don't have Astronomy, you won't benefit from intercontinental trade routes with your opponents. But your opponents can get trade routes from your cities, because they have Astronomy :).
Another thing is the forests left around your capital, in the red circle: if you decided to do a construction attack, there should have no forests around your capital by now, because all these forests should have been chopped into Swords and catapults.
The fur and a whale up north need to be improved. You already have a workboat on the whale tile <-- very good.

The reason that I emphasize on the fur and whale is in the resource trade screen:

Suleiman, Washington, and Darius are all willing to pay 10+ :gold: per turn for buying the fur and whale from you. I suggest improve the fur and whale immediately, and sell the extra resources to the AIs.

Last but not least: spreading your state religion is fine, especially you've captured the shrine from Isabella. But building wealth and/or research are much better.
You've got 3 GProphet, but in semi-isolation, GScientists are much more useful than GProphets, as GScientists will bulb your way to Astronomy.
10 workers for 13 cities are too few.
You've built 10+ Granaries, very good. But Aqueducts are not necessary before Coal plants.


Despite some questionable decisions, I don't think your situation is as bad as you imagine. Build/chop 5 or 6 more workers, finish Astronomy, building wealth/research to backfill Guilds-Gunpowder-Chemistry-Steel, and you might find some opportunities to conquer the backward Toku with Cannons.


@krikav
It seems OP's question is more related to the tech path and strategic choice under semi-isolation than espionage. Maybe you could give OP some advice about semi-isolation and construction attack, with the screenshots above? :)
 
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Gumbolt

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You should not need espionage for this map.
From what I can see.
1. Not chopping forest early on. Big mistake.
2. Spamming buildings. The key buildings are granary for growth. Library if it's a science city. Barracks maybe for military cities. Rest is usually a waste unless playing late game.
3. If you are isolated you should settle island cities as this increases trade routes to 2 commerce a turn. Another reason to keep Spanish alive!

125ad.
1. Five cities is very low for this date. When I first started on civ 4 I was doing this and not winning many games. 8-15 cities by 1ad is not a bad thing.
2.You settled Argos over the clams/corn site? Settling near food and closer to capital is always a good idea. This would of been a great city!
Same for the clams/sugar/fish. Corn/fish/stone city too. Pigs corn crabs looks good too. All these great city sites and you went to war before settling them. Of course some of these needs border pops.
3. Early game techs. Agriculture first then mining/BW. You wanted to clear this forest asap. You jumped to pottery when your capital was 90% covered in forest. Play the map!
4. Slavery. 125ad and you are in tribalism? Meaning you did not whip anything in first 120 turns? Are you even using the whipping game option?

Not sure you went worker as first build. Then you needed to grow to size 3 and settler. I might of even done settler at size 2 given only flood plains/corn to grow onto. You settled your second city at 1960bc. You could of settled 2520bc from a quick run through i did. My second settler arrived 2360bc. Albeit I delayed my corn improvement on second city. Did very little micro to get these dates. Built worker, improved corn and flood plains. Waited a turn for BW and chopped forest. Built double settler. Maybe finished off warrior too. Settled corn/clams site. Probably wheat next as a blocker city.

Corinth should of been settled on plains hill next to wheat. Always settled next to food.

Overall your basics are shooting you in the foot here. You are also philosophical. So running scientists here really helps in golden ages.

Only reason you are thinking about espionage is because your early game meant your tech pace here was slow. So expand quickly at start, improve food resources first and chop forest. Once pottery is in build/whip granaries. Add monuments to help border pops in key cities. Keep Spanish happy. Let her spam religion to all your cities. Get her to friendly and trade techs.

I would turn off huts. Spanish grabbed most of them here. If you started with a warrior you would likely get barbs anyway.
 
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krikav

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@krikav
It seems OP's question is more related to the tech path and strategic choice under semi-isolation than espionage. Maybe you could give OP some advice about semi-isolation and construction attack, with the screenshots above? :)

Woah! Nice work @konata_LS !
What more is there for me to add? You highlight several important areas of improvement. :)
 

Oaq

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What a detailed reply! Thanks.

I have carefully read all your advice. There is much there to think about, especially in your advice regarding Astronomy tech. Meanwhile, I will just answer the specific questions you ask.
However, your tech path makes me a little confused: you've decided to do a construction attack, good. But why did you get Construction after the DoW? Usually people finish Construction and build catapults before the DoW.
I declared war early because I saw an unanticipated opening. This was my only reason. Isabella was defending her cities with archers and chariots, and was building too many chariots, and had not yet researched Construction or Feudalism or even Horseback Riding. I already had my force of swordsmen trained, ready, and waiting for catapult support; so I suddenly sprang an early surprise attack without the catapults.
The tech order in the screenshot below seems a little strange to me: after the necessary military or food techs, people usually beeline Optics. But you got Sailing only in 1050AD, and you research CoL and Monotheism before Sailing-Compass.
Yes, I thought the order strange, too, only it seemed to make sense at the time. My dilemma in this specific game was that I wanted to expand rapidly after or even during the war over a continent that had rivers and a few flood plains but not much grassland except some hilly grassland. The war was netting me a surfeit of captured workers, so when you put all these facts together, Code of Laws and Monotheism (the latter of which leads to Monarchy) seemed to demand slightly higher priority than they otherwise would have had.

As far as Sailing goes, I had no foreigner with whom to trade with during the war, so couldn't see the point in rushing that tech under this, specific circumstance.

I have one question for you, please.
Build/chop 5 or 6 more workers....
More? I thought that I had too many workers as it was. Until shortly before the saved game you have kindly examined, my workers had all been standing around, building unnecessary roads just for something to do. I had even considered deleting some of my workers.

What have I misunderstood?
 

Oaq

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All these things are very hard to achieve over the continents, making espionage cumbersome in such a situation.
I see. Makes sense. Now that I look more closely at the game's espionage-cost breakdown, you seem to be right.

I will try to avoid the mistake next time.
 

konata_LS

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Ah, I see your reasons behind those decisions. Can't blame your willingness to fight wars though, because you were thinking about "seize an opportunity to conquer more land", which is much better than some noobs who are turtling with 4 cities for 5000 years.

my workers had all been standing around, building unnecessary roads just for something to do. I had even considered deleting some of my workers.

Very good question. If I were you, I would change some plain farms into watermills, change some mines into windmills, irrigate non-riverside grassland, and change all the cottage/hamlet into workshop. But your question makes me realize the technology issue in your 1665AD save:
Spoiler :

Impossible to irrigate, because no CS; workshop is mediocre, because no Guilds, no Chemistry; same for watermills, the tech situation is too far from Replaceable parts.
The other continent tech like crazy, especially after Mansa peaceful vassal to Darius:




So, IMHO, your workers have nothing good to do mainly due to the lack of several important techs which boost the :hammers: or :food: of improvements. It seems some early game decisions slowed down the economy development, thus led to the tough situation in 1665AD.

Unfortunately I'm not very good at worker management neither, and my early game is usually terrible (I'm often at the edge of the strike around 500BC). There are many other players who can help you about the early game much more than I can. So I suggest that you wait for their answers/suggestions.

@krikav
You're quite familiar with the semi-isolation / isolation. As I'm not good at explaining things, would you mind describing briefly to OP the tech path under semi-isolation, please? For example, would you give OP a short explanation about "why should people get Optics asap in semi-isolation"? Thanks :)

You could of settled 2520bc from a quick run through i did. My second settler arrived 2360bc.
Did you settle on that PH?

The screenshot below is the starting position. Maybe some players here want to share their thoughts about where to settle, where to move the scout, and tech path? I don't think it's an easy map: low commerce, low happy cap. The only early :)- resource is tundra fur.
If some people have time to play the first 30 or 50 turns and explain briefly the worker management and city placement, that would be of great help for OP.
Spoiler the start - to settle on the PH or not? :


Will you move 2 turns to settle on the plain hill 2W of the corn? and why?
 
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sampsa

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Where did I go wrong, please?
I browsed some of your older threads. I think you have improved, but the core of the mistakes you make is still the same. You don't expand as hard as you can, you don't chop enough and you build too many buildings. These also happen to be probably the most common mistakes people playing below immortal commit. I can't see myself ever having 5 cities in the ADs, simply because more cities is better.

If you want to improve your game, focus on the BCs, especially the first say 75 turns.
 

krikav

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In isolation it's important to contact the other AIs quickly to get discounts on research, and get access to trades, and just to gain intell on whats going on on the map so you can plan ahead and prevent AIs from wining culture or running away.
It's also very important to get astronomy so you get forreign overseas traderoutes, which can be 3-6 gpt per city!
The resource trades are also important to expand happy/health-cap and to aquire gold.
Thats why it's important to reach optics fast, and likely bulb astronomy.
Self-teching CS and alot of other techs takes too much time and distracts from the astro goal.

A semi-iso situation is roughly similar, since you can't get trades from your buddy, and traderoutes are not overseas.
However... if you eliminate your buddy and claim the continent for yourself, it might be possible that developing hte land could be a viable option to rushing contact with the others.
 

Gumbolt

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If you want to improve Sampsa has summed it up quite nicely.

I tried size 2 with plains hill and it saved 1 turn on second city 2520bc. 1 chop?. Think my science was slower as I lacked the second flood plains. Plus a turn slower teching meaning worker idle. Albeit I could of built a mine? Difficult start. I would hate to settle on a flood plains as you lose the food!

I think I would of built 1-2 blocker cities here then rex towards stone and go for mids. Settling on stone might speed things up. Once you have that you can choose your civics to help with happiness. With sailing stone is connected to your nearest coastal city. Sailing does have some big advantages as you don't need culture across the coast line for trade routes to your cities. Same for Spanish cities. No road required to Madrid with sailing.

Once Spanish spread religion that is +1 happiness. Plus the fur. Plus mids/rep civic. Quite a few calendar resources too. The capital is nerfed a bit as the game takes hidden resources into acount. So where you might of got 3xfood. Instead you end up with stuff like coal and uranium which can't be used for years.

Not saying don't take out Spanish but early on their trade routes can be 2-3 commerce. Spread of religion is important for great people later on. Beelining astronomy is very important. Avoiding ability to bulb paper is key to double bulbing astronomy. You could even bulb machinery too. Just avoid CS/theology.
 
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sampsa

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I agree with your strategic insight, Gumbolt. I don't see a pressing need to wage war pre intercontinental contact. I'll add that there is an alternative to Mids as the stone is a bit far - get alpha and try to gain monarchy via trade. Shouldn't be terribly hard even on emperor as Isabella likes the religious line. City gift, religion, should be a friendly Isabella in the BCs so you can get more stuff via trade.
 

sampsa

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I'm quite rusty, but I think this is roughly what T50 should look in general.
Spoiler :
Agri-mining-BW-wheel-pottery. These are in general all very important techs (well, mining and wheel not really, but they are needed for BW and pottery, the two most important early game techs. I think going for the plains hill is the obvious move despite 2T loss. 1NW is a possibility, but moving twice just gains so much more. Hoping it's on iron for another extra :hammers:. I think I'm going straight to alpha after writing, but will probably turn off research for a while to wait for an academy.

3 cities, 3 workers. I have built one road which nets 2:commerce:. 3rd city will be connected later. Connection to Isabella is very important for religion spread. I'm very light on defence and barb spawn near beavers could be troublesome, something I need to address asap. Trying to get at least 7 cities up as fast as I can, plus gift city for Bella.

Civ4ScreenShot0381.JPG
 

Oaq

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It is always an honor to have my game tried by a more experienced player.

Some of the points you mention have already been discussed by you and me long ago, so I will let them pass today. However, this is new:
I'm quite rusty, but I think this is roughly what T50 should look in general.
I notice that your second city is off-river. You forgo levee and health.
... gift city for Bella.
Why, please?
 

sampsa

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I notice that your second city is off-river. You forgo levee and health.
Things that matter are :food: and speed. Latter in this case means 1st ring :food:. I guess you could go 2N of my Sparta, but as capital has only one :food:-resource sharing it isn't that hot, so I rather claimed the clam. :health: is not a huge deal, it will matter only a lot later when the game should be in the bag. Levee is a nice building, but doesn't really matter, you should most of the time have a winning position by then with or without a levee.
Why, please?
City gift is to boost relations. It's immediate +4 for fair trade and +1 for liberation, if it's close enough to AI capital. At +10 diplo (well there are some hidden modifiers) you reach friendly status, when AI will trade even monopoly techs with you. In semi-isolation this is way more important than normally, since the AI hasn't met anyone else so considers all the techs "monopoly" and will only trade ones which don't unlock a unit or a building (agri, monarchy, alphabet at least). As a bonus AI loses its ability to plot war on you!
 

sampsa

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Which buildings might you have forgone?
Good buildings:
  • granary
decent buildings:
  • forge
  • library for some cities
  • AGG barracks
  • lighthouse if you have seafood
Capital might benefit from a few more, like monasteries that offer decent +%:science:/:hammers: -ratio

Mostly instead of buildings you should put a lot more :hammers: to settlers and workers.
 

sampsa

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T100
Spoiler :
After writing I turned slider to 0% for 20 turns, waiting for both capital library and academy, which worked nicely IMO. Alternative was to emphasize expansion. Got religion spread and after T80 missionaries started to crawl towards me. Gifted a city next to a barb warrior :satan: which is why I didn't get liberation bonus I think. City ruins can be seen 2W of my desert warrior.

Civ4ScreenShot0382.JPG


AH via trade, saved money was spent on myst-poly-aesth-lit line, as I got a nice marble trade. Bella was teching insanely slowly, but finally on T99 both friendly and CoL, so I got a very nice trade.

Civ4ScreenShot0383.JPG


Realized I should probably go calendar before music for resources and MoM (Sparta?). GLib done in Athens. Philo bulber out in 4.

Civ4ScreenShot0384.JPG


Civ4ScreenShot0385.JPG

 

Gumbolt

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Nice. 8 cities 375bc. Guess even Sampsa builds academies now.

400bc and Isabella needs agriculture. Love it when AI skip techs to beeline techs. Is Izzy improving? Maybe she had no resources to farm? Do AI change techs if they lack a certain type of resource?
 

sampsa

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Guess even Sampsa builds academies now.
:lol: Yes. PHI and needing to do most of the teching myself makes academy a pretty decent choice, even if the capital is not that great.

Is Izzy improving? Maybe she had no resources to farm?
4 cities 1 AD and teching slow. I even gave philo for monarchy because I felt sorry. :mischief: No agri resources, so maybe skipping agri was "smart".
 
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