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General guidelines for an aggressive playstyle ?

Discussion in 'Community Patch Project' started by Magean, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Hi,

    I remember I posted a game about ancient warfare. What I read there helped me in my Persian game, but now I'm wondering about an overall aggressive playstyle. The thing is, I'm more of a peaceful builder, only fighting when I'm attacked or when I really have to in order to eliminate a potential runaway. So, I now know the "builder" side of the mod fairly well, as well as diplomacy, but I lack military experience...

    What I'm thinking about is not necessarily an early rush rush, nor a world-conquering frenzy bent on achieving domination ASAP. Just a playstyle in which you apply pressure on your neighbors, occasionally conquer cities and follow a proactive stance in world politics, without being seen as the unredeemable blood-thirsty bane of the world. I'm not very-interested in a pure domination game, after all. So, I'm looking at maximizing the value from the French or Aztec UA, for example.

    My big question is : how do you balance unit production with buildings and development? I'm the kind of person who feels dirty when not building hard, lasting stuff, namely buildings and wonders. I typically have enough units to keep safe. When invaded, I take advantage of the defender's position, and then I momentarily focus on building enough units to bite back. But I can't see myself doing that all the time. As a result, I often let the AI choose our wars for me...

    Thus, I'm wondering, where do people who play aggressively put unit production in their priority list as compared to buildings?

    Also, what's your tactical advice? What kind of units do you typically use and under which circumstances? In what formation? What do you bring to pierce the enemy front and take a city? Personally, I don't use infantry ranged unit much in this mod. They aren't nearly as powerful as in Vanilla, don't make good garrisons because of their low combat strength... I am a huge fan of cavalry, however. And what about naval warfare?

    Next thing, how do you handle diplomacy when you still want to keep one?

    Thanks for your answers :)
     
  2. Strigvir

    Strigvir Chieftain

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    Aztec UA is quite hard to maximize without being seen as a bloodthirsty bane of the world.
     
  3. ashendashin

    ashendashin Chieftain

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    I personally recommend Germany. It gives you huge benefits from diplomacy and once the world congress comes up, you'll find yourself hated by everyone if you're even slightly aggressive and played your cards right. Keep a strong force of cavalry with plenty of promotions and you'll have the best army in the world when you hit tanks(from my experience on emperor anyways).

    Get as many trade routes to city states as you possibly can and production will be no worry at all. The production boost towards buildings with progress makes it even easier.

    I'd like to give tactical advice, but honestly it varies greatly depending on resources and terrain. You can't go wrong with mounted units though. It's good to have infantry and such for sieges sometimes, but movement is king. Naval warfare has apparently been massively improved since I last had a strong navy, so I'll just say that you should secure heaps of iron.

    Diplomacy? Screw the AI out of the city states you want. Either pump so many points into your alliances that you can focus on more important stuff or even go to war for them. Once world congress hits, spheres of influence makes this even easier, though expect a sudden surge of aggression once you're powerful enough.
     
  4. Navanod

    Navanod Chieftain

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    I'm currently addicted to the Mongols. The extra 2 movement and freedom from ZoC meant that all the mounted ranged units are very effective for responding to threats and surviving. The Great general's ability to boost healing makes them even harder to knock out.
    With the army requiring little replacement, it is possible to keep building infrastructures during war.
     
  5. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Thanks guys :)

    Well I was under the impression that you needed to be killing something and making favorable peace deals to maximize this UA's effects. Which means that you just need someone to farm kills and peace deals from; there's no need to commit to a full-scale conquest of your starting landmass to use Monty's ability.

    Which brings me to the important question I forgot about: what are the main differences between Warmonger penalty in VP and in Vanilla? In Vanilla BNW, you can get away with declaring wars, but as soon as you conquer a large city in the early game (or a few cities later), then really everyone will hate your guts. I know that VP makes you get warmonger "points" for stealing civilians, but that's all I remember.
     
  6. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

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    I was a lot like you, a builder. It took me several tries to change the paradigm. If you play aggressively, you pick Authority, right? This policy is quite good if you can kill things and support more units. What I didn't realize at the beggining is that we don't really need most of the buildings. We don't need even to invest in faith. Just produce units (and workers).
    If you feel you need some buildings, go for statue of zeus (free forge), maybe Pyramids (free settler). If you plan on Terracotta Army, try to have at least one unit of every type. A balanced army is best to face any terrain.

    For general guidelines, try to avoid difficult terrain. You are the aggressor, you are likely to have a bigger army, and you'll need the room to maneuver. Start fights even if you miss some units, just hold terrain until reinforcements arrive. Use sea support, many cities are on the coast that you can surround with units, but you need to protect your units while at sea and you can use ranged ships like weaker siege units. You can take cities without siege units, just check city strenght. A couple of experienced swordsman with drill promotions can be enough in some cases.

    For unit management, scouts can be used as buffer (with high defense bonus) or for flanking bonuses, just don't attack with them. Ranged are good as support, make them healers and place them in second line. Mounted are good for pillaging and flanking. Horseman are specially good against ranged. (A horseman and a skirmisher is a fantastic anti-barb squad, with the help of nearby garrison).
    Use roads. Put a couple of workers to ease your path and protect them. You want faster reinforcement and retreat your wounded units.
    If the terrain is very difficult, bring strong melee units with cover promos and use spare generals for citadels, scouts for flanking, healers and skirmishers. An archer on a hilly forest has complete sight over flat forests. Take at least one melee unit with anfibious promotion and another for rough terrain, so you always have a unit to send first.
    I prefer fortifications to protect the side of my empire where I don't plan to fight, just in case.

    Use the flanking maneuver: 1. Position your unit at one side of the enemy (best if a horseman). 2. Position another unit if you can at the other side of the enemy (possibly a scout). 3. Hit the front with another unit, preferably a melee with a high flanking bonus. 4. Make the other flankers attack. NOTE. If some of those units are ranged, position your units first, then attack with ranged and finish with melee.

    EDIT:
    For buildings, I always build production buildings first, then money (traders are a must). Barracks is a hidden production building, with the Arena, that goes after forge and well. Remember that you want your culture and science come from fights. The rest, I build them when I cannot spend more money on units.
    Then, every city speaks for itself. If there is lots of food and fresh water, I put some guilds. If there is many forests/mountains I put more science buildings. If there are TR in a city, I put markets and caravansaries. If unhappiness becomes a problem, I look for an unprotected city and build some defenses (which I don't really need, because I am the one aggressing, but citizens don't understand).
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
    avl8 likes this.
  7. Der_Zorn_gottes

    Der_Zorn_gottes Chieftain

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    It is wrong to think that you have to build units nonstop in your cities if you want to wage war.
    Actaully, a force of aproximately 10 units is enough to handle most wars (mediveal age. Add 2 units per age). This is not enough to conquer the world, but for wars with medium aims (say, conquer 4-5 cities) you should be fine.
     
  8. krazyhades

    krazyhades Chieftain

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    These thoughts of mine are from play on Emperor, standard pace and map size, HB Pangaea map. I think it is 100% necessary to state what settings one is applying one's strategies to, something that I rarely see others do here.

    Build a scout first. When you find a close AI that you want as your first war target, declare war and take 1-2 workers and maybe pillage a little bit, to slow them down so they're easier to take, but don't spend turns visible to enemy ranged damage if you can help it. Also declare war on some hostile CS and take worker, then STAY AT WAR so you can keep taking workers and getting XP. Early Archery is really good for taking one AI down early, since city bombardment only has range 1 before Mathematics, so with 3 archers and a warrior you can take a cap if it's close enough, though unfortunately you'll not usually have the authority conquest bonuses policy when you take the cap if you go for an archery timing. I tend to NOT do archer rushes for a single cap any more because it's just too early and costly; it's better to pump out a lot of settlers (starting early, at cap pop 3-4, I like to get out at least 5 settlers even though you won't have the settler/conquest policy from authority yet for most of them, I find you need those cities down). Consider forward settling one or two neighbors, then filling in the middle. Your ideal forward settle spots should be focused more on defense and the positioning for a later push into AI lands than for optimizing city power. Then you can let the AI settle some 6-defense city and take it with a couple of spears, then hold your ground, rather than gunning for a cap and screwing your own settles. The AI gets stupid when it is in war for a long time, even if you are not actively pressing it beyond the easy city or two that you've taken, the AI will cripple itself by not properly sim-citying. By alternately harassing a neighbor on each side with early wars, you get free workers, screw up their build orders, and keep getting XP for your ranged units.

    Be very cautious about singing declarations of friendship. You never know when some AI is going to start a runaway, or when they'll settle some crappy city right next to you that you need to take. DoFs last a long time and breaking them makes all the AIs dislike you even more than they already will. Your life will get way easier if there are other warmonger AIs in the game, as they will cause the AIs to screw up one another's build orders and waste lots of hammers mutually smashing units into nothing. They are also more likely to keep trading with you, as warmonger AIs are tolerant of other warmongers (so long as you're not neighbors).

    Whenever an AI forward settles you in the early game, take that defense-6 city ASAP with melee slams and possibly tiny bit of archer help, but then just hold because you are probably not going to be ready to take their cap yet unless you have gotten range or indirect fire promotions on your archers. Your next (or first, if you didn't do archery rush) non-opportunistic war should be at Mathematics, using maybe 3-6 spears, 2-5 archers, and 1-3 catapults for a cap. Then swing up to universities if you can (if you're bogged down in a war you may need longswords but ughhhh), then after unis go back to the lower half of the tree for a long time.

    Manually control what tiles your core (self-built or annexed) cities are working from turn 1. You'll work a lot of tiles with more hammers than food in order to pump out units and the occasional building while keeping population low enough to prevent unhappiness from getting out of hand. Since there will be long periods where these core cities are not making infrastructure, they cannot afford to grow too big or else you'll kill yourself under unnecessary unhappiness penalties; you need to be at least happy enough to keep taking cities without going to -20 happiness whenever possible, and obviously more happiness is better (it even affects combat strength). So don't let your core cities grow without your consent! Manage their tiles pretty much every turn.

    Puppet all but the very best cities (and puppet ALL cities before you have Philosophy tech for courthouses). The puppeted cities will make buildings that contribute to your empire's culture, science, and gold, when your nonpuppeted cities should mostly be making units for the whole game (with brief detours only for key infrastructure e.g. libraries and universities). You will want a lot of knights as soon as you get the tech, and will want to keep producing them for a long time; knights are your go-to expendable Kill The Thing On This Tile unit for a *long* time. Getting high XP units is nice, but doing a lot of work to preserve a unit is only important for ranged units (indirect fire, +1 range, and logistics of course being the best ones), for melee units with blitz, and for high medic promotions.

    You will probably spend a lot of the game in unhappiness. That is okay, though you don't want to declare a new war of conquest when you're already at -17 happiness.

    A decent religion helps a lot, and Piety is good for wide empires. If you're able to found one, great. If not, make conquering the nearest Holy City that has a worthwhile religion a reasonably high priority sometime in the Classical period if you can manage it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
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  9. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Wow, that's quite detailed advice. Thanks a lot :) Though, most of it seems to be aimed at fully aggressive games. This is not what I'm planning to do right now, as I like the building side of the game too much : watching my cities grow, expanding infrastructure etc. I will practice taking your advice into account, while trying to follow a more moderate course of action. That is to say, waging war to cripple my immediate neighbors, make room for further expansion by blocking theirs, preemptively ensure the security of my core cities, and tap on the potential of war-designed civs, without being the perpetual Mordor of the map with nothing but military facilities and forges for the whole game.
     
  10. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

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    I advice you to try this Mordor playstyle just for once . As Zorn gottes said, units non-stop is not going to work. But you need to think that you are going to produce them non-stop, so you can counter your natural builder mentality. My firsts tries at being aggressive ended bad because I lacked enough units or I attacked too late.
     
  11. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Hmm, I may do that indeed. You are very right on the builder mentality. There have been games where I intended to be the local Burning Legion, but ended up building up once I had carved a satisfactory empire. I'll probably go with the Aztecs, Zulu, Huns, Japanese or Mongols. Maybe Assyria, Sweden, the Ottomans or Songhai. The usual suspects. The thing with the Aztecs is that their UB looks so good that it may drag me toward my builder mentality...
     
  12. krazyhades

    krazyhades Chieftain

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    Yeah it took me doing an extreme couple of aggressive games to help me win some flexibility with my habit of trying to optimize infrastructure orders. My second most recently completed game was a very aggressive one and wow did I get granaries late. The game ended around turn 263 while still in the Renaissance Era, and almost none of my core cities had aqueducts up. It took some aggro play to get more comfortable with clicking spearman instead of granary in the build queue ("pumping a cycle of granaries was just going to give me unhappiness I couldn't afford now anyways!" <-- a thought that used to never occur to me as a builder only player)
     
  13. Dawnbringer

    Dawnbringer Chieftain

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    What you should look to do is specialize each city in a certain aspect, (science, culture, or gold/trade) and then use them to produce units during war. When you sign a peace treaty, get some of the other structures so your happiness goes up (because people will be complaining about being illiterate and being bored, or being poor). Prioritize cities with different luxuries early (or happiness monopolies) early on to help with the happiness issues. Or, just simply do a gold based strat and buy units while building structures, which is what I've been doing mostly. You can't be the builder who gets everything unless your monopoly is either salt, copper, or tea.
     
  14. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Yep, specializing seems the way to go here.

    @krazyhades : I'm not a fan of Pangaeas, and I suppose a fully aggressive strategy neglecting development doesn't work as well on maps where there's only so many people you can roll over before setting sail to the other continents. In this case, you can't focus as much on war I suppose.
     
  15. tu_79

    tu_79 Warlord

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    I play Continents. It depends. If you just focus on land army, then you have problems when trying to conquer other continents, but if you mixed some navy, as soon as you have Astronomy you can continue your rampaging.
     
  16. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Quick question : when you have practically destroyed an AI, by taking their capital and most of their cities (all the good ones at least) while leaving them hopelessly backward, do you finish them off or switch to the next "real" target? On the one hand, if they live, they may be a perpetual thorn in my foot by constantly denouncing me. On the other hand, they are no real threat, sparing them will save me some warmonger penalty and I may come back later to take their remaining cities after they have developed them a little more.
     
  17. tompliss

    tompliss Chieftain

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    I vassalize them, letting them the cities I don't want to take.
    It needs medieval era, so that may not happen for early conquests.

    Also, once they're vassals, I try to give them simple deals which they shouldn't mind (their iron/horses for gold), to get the diplomatic "we're trading so we're friendly" bonus up and running. Once I get there and if they're friendly, I even give them some techs, so they can help in a war, or simply defend their country.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  18. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    I play much like you, first on Emperor and now on Immortal. I outgrew Emperor without ever playing particularly aggressively, although games without enough wars are boring for me. Here's what I learned on that level: if you have a small army, you are unlikely to set the tone, meaning others will decide when to attack you. The only way around that is to build a larger army, and... I just refuse to. My equalizer is a strong navy, and I can't emphasize this enough. A current, usually cutting-edge navy of at least 4 ranged units and one melee is enough for me to win asymetrically. (The exception is when you are in the middle of a continent, with a lot of exposed borders. That's when you should have a larger army!)

    Moving on to Immortal, I thought along the same lines as you and chose the Aztecs, with Authority. In two consecutive games, it allowed me to do what you seem to be after: war consistently, yet focus on a "builder" empire of about 10-12 cities by the end that allowed me to win a Science victory. In these games, for me it was about striking en masse early, which often meant 3 jags and an archer or two; rarely building siege units, but developing a fleet to balance out my average army size (bigger than in Emperor, but still just mid-ranking). Late game, I almost always count on my fleets, and then air force to carry the day. There are games where I use artillery, but it seems easier to me to rely on sea-air power, in terms of having my builder cake and eating it, too.
     
  19. Magean

    Magean Chieftain

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    Haha, I see we are quite the kindred spirits :D What you describe is what I'm after. I also love late combinations of sea+air power. How do you manage to take cities without siege units ? I always need at least two of them, if not three, when there's a garrison. Unless we're talking of a crappy newfound city.
     
  20. Txurce

    Txurce Warlord

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    I'll use siege units if they're gifted to me (and then three do the trick, and I will use them), but otherwise never seem to have enough need to build such specialized units. Promoted ranged units work up to a point. Once they don't, I tend to skip non-coastal cities. Why get caught up in a battle where the numerically superior enemy can throw wave after wave at me? Instead, I tend to play defense with my army, and offense with my navy (and sometimes air force) against coastal cities, which are certainly plentiful, and easier to hang on to. This works more than well enough, since I don't want too many enemy cities anyway (unhappiness). In fact, I raze at least as many as I keep. I don't need most of them for the ultimate goal: a non-domination victory.
     

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