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[BTS] Founding an ancient religion (Emperor difficulty)

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Oaq, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. Oaq

    Oaq Chieftain

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    At Emperor difficulty, standard settings, is founding an ancient religion always foolish?

    If not, then what circumstance would make it wise?
     
  2. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis King

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    "Always" is a strong word, but I can't imagine a situation in which it'd be beneficial to found an ancient religion over getting other basic tech. Like, say you're semi-iso with Shaka or Genghis Khan it could be good to found a religion yourself for relations, but I'm not sure if founding an ancient religion would be worth it.
     
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  3. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    I'd say it's pretty rare when early religion can possibly prove beneficial...and still probably never better than going the normal worker tech path. (Check Zaddy game below for case in point).

    First you'd either need to start with Myst, or understand Demographics to know that no AI starts with Myst. Then likely have a boosted commerce tile, such as a coastal tile or better and Oasis, or FIN with some commerce tile to work or settle on. But not starting with Myst regardless is then a huge detour from an optimal path, so I'd not even consider doing it without Myst. Then take into account land and other start techs.

    Myst/Mining guys like Pacal/Wang can be good, although they are not Spiritual and Spiritual really helps make that religion pay off more. The Indians are Myst/Mining too and both Spiritual, but not FIN.

    Sal, as in the Zaddy, game is Spiritual/Suck with bad starting techs including Myst, but as Rusten pointed out with that Oasis and Stone an early religion can offer some interesting options especially with the Madrassa.

    Still, I don't think it is ever going to make you ace your games that way unless you really know what you are doing. It can be fun to try sometimes though just for fun.
     
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  4. Fish Man

    Fish Man Emperor

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    Honestly the best use of an ancient religion is a border pop and lots of free culture in your second city. But since you’re not a deity AI you won’t ever get a second city before you found the religion (except in one very specific case), so it’s basically never a good idea especially on deity.

    *That one very specific case is when you’re Justinian and can work 6 hammers immediately when founding your capital; and no other civs start with mysticism. Get that imp settler out in 12 turns, found your first city, then found the religion right after you settle. Congrats, you basically get 2 free border pops and block off potentially quite a bit of land. Could be useful if there’s not a lot of worker techs you have to go after anyhow, and, say, Shaka is your neighbor that you gotta pacify somehow.
     
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  5. Tobiyogi

    Tobiyogi King

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    Speaking of that "Zaddy"-game, I went for Monotheism, in that case, second city already existed before Judaism was founded there. Spiritual leader, starting with mysticism and good commerce, obviously not a bad idea to go for an ancient religion. Mono has the additional advantage of OR, so this is something to consider. Founding Buddhism or Hinduism, I don't know, I would rather not do that.
    Nevertheless, I am wondering if the benefits of mono were worth the price. Benefits = border pop in the 2. city, +25% on buildings and the possibility to spread the religion to any new city (like a mobile monument). Not bad, really. But the cost of this = delaying important techs like Agri / Pottery / AH, and therefore delaying expansion. Also bad relations with practically everyone on the map, because they were religious nuts. I could have been more lucky and find a neighbor w/o religion to become friend with.
    Conclusion: I remember lots of games where it was perfectly fine to play w/o religion or adopting one later (mostly for pacifism), so I would not rate that too high. And getting an own religion, that is a luxury where the benefits are not clear to me.
     
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  6. Oaq

    Oaq Chieftain

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    It's funny that you should mention Justinian. It was a failed playthrough as Justinian (randomly selected) that prompted me to post the question.

    All my playthroughs at Emperor difficulty fail, but this particular playthrough seemed to have been going comparatively well except for the fact that Justinian's religion, which Justinian had been unable to transmit to any rivals, made all neighbors dislike him. First one neighbor attacked, and then a second. The two attacks broke Justinian's empire before 1 AD. Religion was apparently to blame, so this made me wonder: is there a net benefit to founding one's own religion early?

    I gather that you and the others are saying: no, costs usually outweigh benefits.

    Civilization IV is a carefully designed, finely balanced game. If founding a religion seldom helps, then I wonder why the game so prominently features the ability to do it. Does it feature this ability because designers have balanced the game mainly around the Monarch (or an even easier) difficulty level?

    I see. Just for fun. Well, it has that benefit, doesn't it?
     
  7. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis King

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    It's impossible to say, since the devs would have balanced it against vanilla 1.0 Monarch, not 3.19(?) BTS Monarch. That said, here's a (paraphrased, translated) quote from the instruction manual - yes, I still have that thing:
    There's some talk about how religions generate happiness and culture, but I think those three quotes pretty much wrap up what the manual thinks about the importance of early religions.

    Incidentally, if any of you ever wanted to know specifically what kind of clam a Civ IV Clam is, my manual claims to have the answer:
    Spoiler :
    Pecten maximus, common name St James shell, I assume based on how it was translated.
    It also claims that Slavery is Serfdom and that Slavery itself doesn't exist, so grain of salt and all of that :p.
     
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  8. BornInCantaloup

    BornInCantaloup Agent of Chaos

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    ^ Very interesting that the manual distinguishes between holding a city where a religion was founded and founding the religion itself.

    The main aspect of religion is that it contributes to define diplomatic blocks in the game. There's this divide and the peacemongers/warmongers one.
    Having several factors to influence the diplomatic game helps keep the game dynamic.

    Early game, if you're founding a religion, you're basically giving up on your first settler. And that settler is the most important one since, being the earliest, it helps with everything that comes further (i.e. the whole game).
    Getting a religion early could be said to be premature : you do not need the happy bonus at this point. Getting a city early gives you that extra worker and that other one that snowballs into another extra city and that other one, too.
    Not only that (production, Bronze Working), but you're also giving up on improvements and, thus, tech pace : less workers and later Pottery means fewer, less developped cottages.

    So, the usual Player founded religions are the later ones : Confucianism (possibly Oracled) and Taoism (possibly bulb with a Great Scientist).
    Unless Player is isolated, those religions won't usually get spread much and contribute to the diplomacy.

    That said, capturing a shrined holy city is great. Depending on the spread of the religion, it could be a reason to declare the war.
    Spreading religion (choosing a block) is important to get use from civics and, possibly, Apostolic Palace, Sankore, Sistine bonuses.
    Judaism spreads the best, because it is the first religion to check for autospreads (coded that way). Also the first religion that comes with a civic and a missionary (right ? maybe not a missionary, then).
    Judaism also allows to go for the religion a little bit later. E.g. : research Agriculture or Mining or Bronze, first.
    Having 2x corn + 2x gold or such a start would allow for this cute play. Not efficient but still cute. You'd probably want to uncover routes to the other AIs (coastal) and/or road towards them, so that the religion gets the chance to spread.
    You do not need an actual trade route for the spread but the chance for it must exist.
    Lacking good spots to expand into and having Masonry resources nearby / wanting to dump hammers into the Pyramids could be a reason to consider going for the early religion.
     
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  9. BornInCantaloup

    BornInCantaloup Agent of Chaos

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    Also note that, if barbarians control a holy city, the religion will never spread. This can be a useful tactic to prevent explosive situations, when, for example, you are surrounded by Genghis and Shaka. In this case, it would be better if everybody shared the same religion, so as to keep the peace. The holy city will hold strong for a long time, due to its cultural defenses, and attract the hostile intentions of your warmonger neighbours, effectively giving you free reign to devise mischievous plans. Of course, it will be better for the barbarians if they can get a hold of a strategic resource, since the AIs (them again !!!!) get fighting bonuses against them. In the worst case scenario, Genghis would capture the barbarian holy city and instantly convert to Judaism, which would spell war on the continent. To avoid such situations, I've seen players attempt to gift workers to the barbarian city but be aware that this tactic doesn't work, since the barbarians will destroy the worker. A more common approach consists to pre-improve tiles, so that the barbarian city can prosper : a few mines and a couple of cottages would go a long way, possibly allowing the barbarians to research up to longbows and secure both their survival and the diplomatic stances at play.

    This is an example from one of my games :
    Spoiler :


    ^ I couldn't improve very many tiles in Bombay but I did farm the wheat in time ;)
     
  10. Fippy

    Fippy Micro Junkie Queen

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    Good post by BIC (you have a way with words ;)).
    Tempting to sum up pros and cons, so.. :lol:

    Good:
    - chance of auto spread and border pops (not relevant for CRE civs)
    - more happy secured early
    - could be benefical for culture victory

    Short list, but i cannot add shrines since they are overall weaker than other stuff that can be done with Great People.

    Bad:
    - AIs can steal your Reli if one or more start with Myst, at least on higher levels with reduced tech cost. Emp already qualifies i think.
    - If we start with Myst, we already have only 1 worker tech (or worse, none)
    - 1 Reli less for AIs means they might like each other more later.
    - all efforts might have been pointless, many AIs like spreading their Relis to us.

    Not adding the rather obvious delay of other techs (snowball).
    Biggest minus imo is rng dependance, but having fun with trying ofc outweights everything.
    I can think of only 1 situation where i would go for a Reli first, Isolated (Lonely Hearts Club, happy cap the most common problem),
    where 5t of scouting reveal that spending beakers should be fine.
     
  11. BornInCantaloup

    BornInCantaloup Agent of Chaos

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    Thank you, Fippy, I'm glad you appreciate my modest insight but you didn't click the right post ;)
     
  12. Fish Man

    Fish Man Emperor

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    Your mistake was adopting the religion instead of just founding it. As I said, holy city culture is no slouch and having 2 border pops so early is great for blocking off land which can be crucial on deity, and securing your ring 2 resources. So that should be the main benefit you seek from say beelining Hinduism, not the happiness (that you don’t really need that early on anyways).
     
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  13. Lennier

    Lennier Emperor

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    No missionary with Judaism. :(. Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism, and Islam get the missionary upon founding.
     
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