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[BTS] Experienced players that find emperor level easy

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Oaq, Sep 6, 2020.

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  1. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Thinking back about when I moved up in difficulty levels, that's not how it was for me. But I was present here and asked questions, so probably weeded out bad habits during that process. Immortal felt pretty similar to Emperor, and I remember it was so surprising at the time, because I looked at Immortal as an "impossible" challenge. Ofc, that was before I had actually played it. Things generally happen faster on Immortal ofc, the AI has higher bonuses after all and starts with a free worker, but it didn't feel much different than Emperor to me.

    Deity, however, is a different beast. Bonuses go into overdrive there across the board, and the AIs starting with an extra settler means they grab a pile of land before you know what's what.

    Looking at above posts again, if a player doesn't use slavery, grab land or improve food early on, Immortal is going to be rough. But that's mainly due to poor habits rather than the game being gruesomely difficult.
     
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  2. nate46

    nate46 Warlord

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    But did you ever go back to emperor and lose after winning easily on immortal? I doubt it. You probably just leapfrogged the whole spectrum of difficulty by reading this forum.
     
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  3. Snowbird

    Snowbird Prince

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    I think if player has good basics (lots of emperor players overfocus on rushes and early military, clawing they way out due to AI deficiencies) and he wins 75% on emperor, he should win at least 25-35% on Immortal. Assuming he sticks to the industrial era and grinds late wars. On something like Immortal player can fight at parity or slight disadvantage without real problems.

    Immortal to Deity somethings (scouting, barb defense, expansion, potential diplo stuff) changes fundamentally. Emperor to Immortal it is just earlier expansion and a bit of hammer bonus - I mean one needs to play tighter, think a bit more a head and most Emperor stuff can be applied to Immortal.


    I wonder if I have more than 5 wins on Emperor by that definition.
     
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  4. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Sort of, I guess, which shows how important it is to post shadow/learner games here and interact back-and-forth with the forum. They see what you do, or talk you out of doing stupid crap to begin with, and you learn a lot. Don't recall what level I tried when I got here, but I do recall posting some games like that.

    Therefore I go back to the earlier point about removing bad habits and therefore making sure you get more out of the earlier turns. That's really all it takes to become competent or even good at Immortal level.

    That isn't to say that everything below Deity is piss easy - that would be a simplification - but there isn't a huge difficulty spike between difficulty levels until you hit Deity really. The AI gets higher bonuses at each step (or lower penalties before Noble). When you get the first 50 to 100 turns in order, it's fairly easy to get a map under control and be able to choose your wins. Immortal or Emperor isn't going to be a big hurdle then.

    Anyway, this whole thing is probably a side-track. People obviously have different experiences. The main thing now is to weed out those bad habits so that Immortal AIs will fear the human too. "@¤$$! Nex to the human again. I'm doooooooomed! :cry: "
     
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  5. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Also: Here is an Emperor game that was not easy.

    (The deadline for submissions has passed, but you can still try it out)
     
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  6. nate46

    nate46 Warlord

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    "Regardless of which class you play the AIs start with the same techs and units, which are not the default ones :devil:."

    hmmmmmmmmmmm....
     
  7. Fish Man

    Fish Man Emperor

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    I would say the 3 biggest difficulty jumps are:

    1. Immortal to deity (by far)
    2. Prince to monarch
    3. Emperor to immortal

    1. is a HUGE leap, perhaps greater than settler to immortal, for reasons mostly stated before. The free settler means AIs automatically begin with twice as much production and food potential, as well as land, which in turn speeds up their proceeding expansions by an exponential degree. On most deity games, AIs found their 3rd city faster than they found their 2nd on immortal, both of which are faster than you found your 2nd on any difficulty noble and above. Besides that, religion also plays into their favor because founding a religion means a free border pop (2, eventually) and high cultural pressure exerted by their 2nd city that otherwise needs a monument to slowly accumulate culture - this lets them claim a ridiculous amount of land and resources simply with a single tech. Finally, the AI bonuses from immortal to deity are up to four times greater than the previous incremental increases. Units are 85% as expensive on emperor, 80% on immortal, and 60% the cost for the player on deity. Combined with the per-era bonus of teching, production, and growth bonuses all increasing 1% for the AI, and it makes the computer players both fast and deadly.

    These bonuses essentially put you on a strict timer, where if you get too far into the game without dealing with the strongest opponents, you're basically left hopelessly in the dust with no way to catch up against someone far stronger and more advanced than you in every way (coincidentally, the fact that the later civ games lack this sense of urgency, is one of the main reasons why they're bad - you can be in the information era in V and have 5 cities to Shaka's 25 and still roll him over laughably easily with stealth bombers + XCom, because you can defeat 100 units with 10 no problem, regardless of what difficulty). As an example of the increased pace, AI on emperor usually get lib by about 1400-1500AD, on immortal about 1000AD, but on deity as early as 600AD on quite a few maps (I've seen Hannibal nab it 175AD on my playthrough of the cooked Charlie map played by @Lain about a year ago).

    2. is still a very big jump, signifying when you start having to take things somewhat seriously to win - deity level players will roll over any AI emperor or below regardless, but for newbies, monarch is when the game effectively takes the "kiddie gloves" off. Archery for all AIs means you can no longer warrior-rush them (and barbs are far greater of a threat). And the bonuses they get are "twice" that which they receive on prince (-10% costs compared to -5%), which is usually when you begin to see enough of a difference to the point where you can no longer win without knowing basic game mechanics like chopping, cottaging, and whipping, as well as when AIs can train actual stacks instead of pathetic 6-unit armies, and tech noticeably faster.

    Finally, 3. is less of a jump than the other two but still visible. First, on immortal, AIs start with a worker + agriculture. This is huge, as it allows them to start improving food and growing cities immediately, instead of waiting 50 turns to research the proper worker techs like religious-flavor AIs tend to do. But the bonuses accrued on this level...I dunno, from a gameplay perspective, also hit a "sweet spot" where the size of their armies and speed of teching/expansion jumps up noticeably from emperor. There's a reason that on this level, as stated before, AIs start being serious contenders for lib (especially if you have a bad start/crash your economy), where they can field stacks that can threaten to lose you the game if you're not careful, where they reach feudalism/engineering early enough to stop you from easily running over everyone with HAs/elepults, and where their army size and tech is good enough to tip the scales in favor of libbing cuirs instead of pre-Renaissance units to do a breakout.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
  8. Oaq

    Oaq Chieftain

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    The replies are appreciated. The playtests are even more appreciated. The latter were an unexpected courtesy.

    If you still have time, I've one more question, please. At emperor difficulty, I do not really understand expansion beyond three or four cities until Currency and/or Code of Laws is achieved. Nevertheless, it appears that many expert players here prioritize planting extra cities to lay early claim to the land and resources near these cities.

    My usual plan has been
    • to plant second and third cities at the best possible (usually nonoverlapping) sites I can find,
    • to plant a fourth city only if an excellent site is available, and
    • to await Currency and/or Code of Laws before planting a fifth city.
    I might be doing other things meanwhile, like building a Wonder or reducing a neighbor, but I will keep maintenance costs low and research high until Currency and/or Code of Laws is achieved. Why is my plan flawed?
     
  9. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    Because more is more. Having more cities leads to more :food:, more :hammers:, eventually more :commerce:. If you build cottages and grow, you don't really even need currency. I close to never build courthouses, they are very expensive (unless ORG).
     
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  10. scheines

    scheines Warlord

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    Overlap is fine, and often good when your capital has multiple food resources. It allows you to share food resources, which helps to manage whip timers, and grow cottages for the capital later. Also, it speeds up the new city’s growth since there is no need to wait 5 turns for a worker to finish a build.
     
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  11. FlyinJohnnyL

    FlyinJohnnyL You need more workers....

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    Also, overlapping, especially with your early cities, is not a bad thing. It reduces maintenance and gives you more flexibility with the whip. The reason being that you want to be working your power tiles every turn, so you don't want to whip away any populace working that title. But if another city can ALSO work that power tile, then you have more freedom to whip away the population point and simply let the second city work the tile for a few turns while you grow back the whipped population.

    95% of the time you want to place your cities with regards to what is important *now*. Don't worry about what the city will look like when it can work all 20 tiles-you may not even make it to that point if you play aggressively enough.

    Edit-Looks like scheines said the same thing above me, it's good advice!
     
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  12. elitetroops

    elitetroops Deity

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    Not sure how you judge the state of your economy, but a common mistake is to judge it by slider position at break even. Slider is only a percentage, 20% or 50% means nothing on it's own. A large empire that produces 200:commerce:/turn but only can average 20% slider (40:science:/turn) still techs faster than the small empire that produces 50:commerce:/turn and can keep up a 70% slider (35:science:/turn).

    Like Sampsa said above, more is more. Rapid early expansion might temporarily put you in a spot where teching seems to come to a halt, but that is quickly overcome when cities get to work some good tiles. In this case you have two gems which alone can fund several cities. There are also various tricks to accumulate gold even before currency, like failgold, to help the push to currency.

    Didn't even notice the non-overlapping part at first. Absolutely, you should aim for some overlap with the early cities. Much better when they can share resources. A capital with 3-4 food resources simply cannot keep working them all the time without quickly going over happy cap. Much better when other cities can borrow them and also start using them to immediately grow when settled.
     
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  13. dankok8

    dankok8 Elected World Leader

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    I've made a relatively slow transition from Monarch to Immortal over a long period of time while lurking these forums. I've taken long breaks from the game as well.

    Anyways what's helped me go from a good Monarch player (won maybe 90% of the time) to a good Immortal player (maybe I win 70-80% but most games are comfortable at this point) is really a much better grasp of the early game plus diplomacy and planning.

    Being able to make a proper dotmap for cities, fogbust, and manage Workers are incredibly important. You have to improve food and enable BW for whipping, chopping as early as possible. Those are the only important goals in the first 30-40 turns. Nothing else matters. Oh and try to protect your first Warrior or Scout because if you lose them you won't know what's around you. Some of the concepts here can be explained in much more detail.

    In most games you have to either build the Pyramids, go for early Monarchy, or less frequently beeline Calendar if you have a lot of happy resources. I've started to pay attention to happiness much more because it is really the biggest constraint to an early civ. It's not the number of cities so much as it is the total number of good tiles worked. I used to think 6 cities is too few but on Immortal I've had a bunch of games with just 5-6 cities where I got Mil Trad with Liberalism and Cuir-rushed opponents circa 700 AD. 6 size 10 cities are better than 10 size 5 cities when it comes to getting ahead on higher levels. With 10 tiny cities, your economy is ruined due to high maintenance and you're not working enough tiles so your overall commerce is smaller as well.

    When you build your cities, don't hesitate to build them close by and overlap. When cities are closer, there are lots of advantages. 1) They can share food. 2) Secondary cities can help the capital grow Cottages then pass them over. Bureau Capitals are seriously strong! 3) It makes the empire easier to connect. Use river and coastal links whenever possible and roads to connect cities. The trade routes you get will be a nice commerce boost. 4) A smaller more compact empire is easier to defend.

    On higher levels like Immortal+ you will NOT be able to have a standing army that is large enough to deter or even repel many invasions through the first 150 turns. You have to be in charge of diplomacy. Every time you start meeting AI's you have to formulate some kind of strategy diplomatically and work very hard on this aspect of the game. My most recent NC Willem game I won Space surrounded by Genghis Khan and Catherine, two of the most horrible AI's in this game but I buttered them up and they didn't attack me all game. Because Cathy liked me, she also traded me Horses which I needed for Cuirassiers to get some land from Mao.

    One last thing is simply build fewer buildings and think about short-term advantages more. Build Wealth now so you have gold to run the slider at 100% next turn so you can get a key tech sooner. Many buildings simply don't return their investment and even if they do their opportunity cost doesn't justify them because an earlier advantage can snowball dramatically. What good is building a bunch of Markets in 1 AD instead of building Wealth. The Markets pay off by 1000 AD but if I don't get Cuirassiers around 700 AD, breaking out may be impossible or at least drag me into a 50-turn war and I will lose the game.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2020
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  14. Snowbird

    Snowbird Prince

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    Very good advice:)

    I think then I played Emperor i built a lot of stuff like non spiritual temples, custom houses, curthouses, etc. I also said that building just libraries and racks is disgusting skeletal economy. Nowadays I think I should build less libraries:)
     
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  15. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    This is a really good summary of the different levels.

    One other thing I've noticed- and you can tell me whether or not you agree- is that deity kind of "fixes" a lot of the problems that the AIs have. They like to build every building in every city, and on deity they have such large bonuses that they can actually do that in a reasonable amount of time, and get back to making research or building units. They like to stack up lots of defenders in every city before building an invasion stack, and again, deity lets them do that and still have time to make scary attacking stacks. Their maintenance costs are so low that even the really aggressive leaders with huge armies can still tech reasonably well. And of course, they also expand so fast that unless you have an isolated start, there's no way to match them in expansion.
     
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  16. Oaq

    Oaq Chieftain

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    I have started a new emperor-level game with some of the advice from this thread in mind. This time, my leader is Pericles and the starting position is fine: the position is slightly weak in food resources and lacks flood plains; but horse, copper, some rivers and even stone are nearby, and there is plenty of wood to chop.

    By 675 BC (turn 88), I am reducing my neighbor who has no horse and no copper. I have 10 phalanxes (axemen). My neighbor has nothing but archers.

    However, in 650 BC (turn 89), my neighbor produces his first longbowman. More longbowmen quickly follow. My offensive collapses.

    As far as I know, the game is lost. What went wrong?
    Spoiler :

    Civ4ScreenShot0000.JPG

    I do not ask anyone that does not wish to playtest my game to playtest it. Unplaytested answers will be accepted and appreciated. Nevertheless, players here often ask for saves, anyway, so my save is attached for reference.

    For information, the sequence in which I gained technologies is (i) Fishing [Greek starting tech]; (ii) Hunting [Greek starting tech]; (iii) Agriculture [to develop an available food resource]; (iv) Animal Husbandry [to develop an available food resource]; (v) the Wheel [for roads and chariots]; (vi) Mining; (vii) Bronze Working; (viii) Pottery; (ix) Writing; (x) Masonry; (xi) Mathematics [still in research as of 675 BC]. Mysticism was skipped because Pericles is creative. As far as I recall, tribal villages (huts) delivered no techs.

    If you reply with advice, would you please say whether your advice regards (a) something I failed to do that might have rescued this game or (b) something I could have done better, but which would not have rescued this game?
     

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    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  17. elitetroops

    elitetroops Deity

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    A lot went wrong..

    -2nd and 3rd city too far out and neither of them have any food. Essentially both cities completely useless. ALWAYS make sure your cities have food! To pick up horse you could have settled on top of silk where you can borrow cow from capital until border pop then at least get a dry rice. Not the best food but still a lot better than what you have now. Also 2:commerce: city tile. Another very good city spot is 1W of wheat. It gets one own food source and can share two with cap. Copper location is unfortunate, I probably wouldn't have picked it up at all. Horse is enough early on.
    -Capital is not developed at all, unhappy and mostly working forests. With a forest heavy start, Philosophical leader and stone it would have been very strong to chop those forests into pyramids then go Representation. Or chop those forests into military units if you plan to conquer something. In general much better to whip city than grow it onto unimproved tiles, or even worse unhappiness.
    -You have libraries, you're philosophical, but haven't used scientists at all.

    The main thing you have to change is realize that food is king. No exceptions. A city without food cannot grow, if it cannot grow it cannot be productive. Also, early game production is all about whipping and chopping. Slow-building stuff takes way too long. The AI might have production bonuses, but since the human player can utilize whips and chops much better it is still very easy to outproduce the AI.

    Longbows this early on emperor is unlucky. Usually they are not that fast even on immortal.
     
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  18. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Not looked at the game, but it isn't lost. Sucks that your victim got longbows that early (think that is very early for Emperor), but you can always direct your army to somebody else. You can finish off your first victim when you get better units, such as trebs so you can bomb away walls and possibly castles, and ruin those nasty longbows. Bring lots. You will lose some of them.

    Edit: Hold on, looking at the screenshot again, do you really only have 3 cities? For some reason no city has claimed the wheat up north? Nor the rice. These are obvious early spots that you should grab by about 2000BC.
     
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  19. Oaq

    Oaq Chieftain

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    No exceptions? I had not realized this.
     
  20. elitetroops

    elitetroops Deity

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    Pretty much. Sure, there are some rare exceptions when a must have resource cannot possibly be grabbed with a city that also has food, but those are very rare. Even more rare when you are Creative. Often it's better to change plans and come up with a new one that doesn't require that resource. When deciding locations for 2nd and 3rd city the first thing you should look at is where are the best food resources (in this case that would be wheat). Strategic resources are also important, but when deciding how to settle them you should still always aim to also have some food.
     
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