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First win on Great difficulty - random tips/comments


Praise Vivec!
May 23, 2011
Hi guys, I've had my first win on the Great difficulty as Rome, playing them for the first time. I can't say if they are OP or do I start understanding the game.
AI rivals turned out to be Persia, Greece, Assyria and Egypt, only Egypt not being aggressive.
Ended up like ambition victory but I had 25 cities, 76/83 score T138, Assyria was 2nd at 46/83 and just attacked with the most advanced units one can get. The game itself is not important.
What is funny is that I still do not really use a lot of the game and still have a problem understanding the trade-offs. Basically, I feel like still having no idea what is going on. Somehow it seems like nothing matters all that much as I just buy stuff I failed to plan for properly. You just need surplus of anything.

What I currently do in my games and still not know if it is good:

Marry to the agressive neighbour and give in to all tribute demands. You can't deal with early war when you are at 2 cities and AI at 5-6.
Families: Very important part, I do not care which family gives which benefit all that much, I just balance to stay happy and not deal with too many rebel units.
Luxuries: All go to families, sometimes to neiggbour, almost never to cities.
Powerful courtiers: no longer relevant after early game after the nerf, but they do not give benefits if they do not like you.
Religion: I tend to stay in Paganism, I like to be able to build multiple shrines and keeps things simple and I can skip the whole religious path in favor of modern army. Some people will definitely follow some other reli to complicate things, but you just make more gifts to them.
AIs:You can't be friends with all of them. Focus to avoid having 2 opposite fronts. Influence the ones you care about and care about those who can mess you up easily.

The more the better. Eearly Slavery is a no-brainer for me. Later on, I tend to forget about Garrisons/Strongholds and regret it. Schemer ruler (can buy orders with legitimacy) can help if tech path was unlucky and no orders infra is in place.
I will often buy them with training, especially if needed to settle that city 1T sooner. Force March is used extensively, and I currently think that buying orders to make Scouts find more ruins is worth it.

One would expect to decouple the two, but for me this is the same thing. Spearmen guarantee safety. Complete focus on Archer/Spear combo and upgrading it, later on accompanied with advanced Cavalry. Border boost, Free settlers, Stone boost and early courtiers seem worth it too me. I always make my ruler focus on Wisdom with the exception of a Judge when some Specialist/project rushing phase is underway. Focus is on getting Pikemen/Longbowmen, then Cataphract and Mangonels.

Rush to all the sites in the vicinity, you can have a good relations with one tribe but you must betray them quickly before AIs wipe them out. Happens very quickly on Great difficulty.

Stone and Wood are critical for things to work. Start each city development with food/growth to ensure influx of citizens for specialists. Midgame (>T75) food is not worth it as it will never pay off.

Almost no early wonders are worth it because you need army to take tribal cities and to defend yourself as you WILL get attacked more than once. You can get maybe one developed wonder and all Strong and Legendary if you wish.

Just wanted to get some discussion started about how you handle the Great difficulty and stay alive. I would especially like to know how a religion can be used to a great benefit.


Nov 19, 2006
Good job.
There are several strategies to stay alive, one is to be friend with your neighbors and hope they dont attack you.
Give in to their demands and so on.
They might still get declared on.
Another strategy is to build units early to deterr an enemy aggression, you will need units anyway to fight barbs, tribes and secure city sites. Those low tech units can be used as garrisons later anyway, so they are not wasted.
But if they are far away, even if there is a war they might not send units to you anyway.
Also if you have a defensive position a good strategy is to defend and let the AI waste their units and then go on a counterattack, so even if they declare on you, that might not be so bad.

Religion is interesting, you can get advantages with them from laws and you can make them better like in civ 5 by using a unit to give the religion traits. But you can still build pagan shrines, so even if you play for a religion.
I think it is fun, for roleplay reasons to try to found a religion and try to spread it around. You can get Zoroastrianism, by event or if you have a family that can found a religion. Judaism is often possible to get, if you beline what you need to found it.
Dont know if it is optimal to play like that, but it is fun.
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