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General tips for higher difficulties

Discussion in 'Strategy Section' started by Alpharius, Jan 14, 2021.

  1. Alpharius

    Alpharius Chieftain

    Jan 10, 2021
    So recently I've decided to take off the kiddie gloves and play on Emperor (yay).
    The most noticeable change is of course in combat; where enemies are tougher and hit harder, not to mention I had the (dis)pleasure of spawning next to Rome just a couple tiles away. And I find holding on to my main religion is really hard with Ethiopia constantly sending missionaries. Economy wise though I've never been better, probably because I'm playing Morocco.

    But anyway, my question is for general tips/strategies on higher difficulties. Might wanna try playing on Immortal after I've won a few games on Emperor. I'm asking because, I randomize a leader every game so it's fun alternating play styles and also, mostly I play with intuition and rarely do the maths when playing Civ aside from the basic stuff like maintaining happiness. I often play tall, even with warlike Civs as I find it hard to control happiness with wide Empires which is why I often have way less cities than the AI who settles very aggressively. How many cities is considered the "standard" amount in a large map? In the demographics screen I'm way behind in terms of soldiers and manufactured goods most of the time. Usually I have 3-4 cities before the end of medieval era, then I wait till I get the tech for pioneers unless there's a spot with excellent tiles nearby.

    Also, off-topic: when playing as Russia, is it worth it to get the Tradition policy which improves border growth even when I'm not planning to complete the policy tree?
    And does the Rome Latifundium work correctly? When I pillage a tile with Latifundium it spawns figs on an empty adjacent tile and claims it. Is this a bug?

    Post is all over the place, lol. Sorry about that.
  2. LifeOfBrian

    LifeOfBrian King

    Aug 21, 2019
    Alpharius, could you maybe share some screenshots from your games along with a few explanations of what's going on, which policies/beliefs you picked etc.? That way it would be easier for us to help you with our suggestions on how to improve.
  3. CrazyG

    CrazyG Deity

    Oct 14, 2016
    If you are taking progress or authority, you want more than 3 or 4 cities. It's okay if you need to lock growth in the early game for happiness reasons.

    If playing truly tall (like only 3 or 4 cities total), tradition should be your default pick.

    In general I think the best approach is to complete social policy trees and not put random policies elsewhere. I would either go all in on tradition or all in on authority as Russia. Mixing can work but it can also really slow you down.

    Also Ethiopia is just a terrible neighbor. Early on I would either accept that his religion will dominate me or attack him. This is a situation where I think a middle path is the worst option, choose a path and commit to it.
  4. Alpharius

    Alpharius Chieftain

    Jan 10, 2021
    SS isn't working for Civ V, unfortunately I've not yet found a fix for it.
    But anyway, I'm not asking for this specific game per se but in general, as I don't have a set playstyle or civ(though I tend to play tall more often). I just go with the flow. I'm just not familiar with some of the advanced mechanics and the meta, also on how to plan for future cities. Mine just end up all over the place, lol. Since playing below Emperor is surprisingly forgiving of mistakes I've had some quirky games where I still managed to eke out a win.
    e.g. Progress-tradition-industry, Progress on Russia with 1 policy both in Tradition and Authority, Progress on Warmonger civs(lol)
  5. Rean

    Rean Chieftain

    Jun 11, 2016
    If you wanna go full border blobs with Russia, try going full Authority into 4 Fealty/2 Tradition
  6. Melchizedek

    Melchizedek Warlord

    Jun 26, 2007
    I mostly play on Emperor and have the following suggestions (no idea if they carry over to Immortal/Deity, and would be thrilled to be corrected by stronger players.)
    • With Tradition, I like to get 3 cities down ASAP to snag a monopoly, then evaluate long term city count. I'm more comfortable having 5-7 eventually (including annexed cities) than with fewer, because of unit cap space. You don't want lots of cities with Tradition because most of the yields are in the capitol. Tradition does better with the % modifier monopolies.
    • With Progress, get as many cities as you have happiness/diplomatic space for, but remember they have to build the science and culture buildings! These cities don't pay off just by existing. Production is more valuable than food because happiness will limit growth most of the time, anyway. Border cities have to be defensible and it is better to choose a defensible position than one with most long-term yields. Progress does better with the +yield monopolies, since it works more tiles. (I am not really sure if there is an ideal max expansion for Progress, curious what better players think about this.) If you get near Banking, build settlers and then upgrade them to Pioneers before settling.
    • Settle early great people, including Engineers unless there is a specific wonder you think the AI will beat you to otherwise. Don't build too many wonders, because even if you can get them they increase future wonder costs, whereas settled Engineers make it easier to get future wonders in several ways.
    • You have to compete with your neighbors early to have a strong position later. Steal their first settler, wipe out their army with a war of attrition, promote up your units and get some citadels on their border, ruin their monopoly, or simply conquer their capitol and vassalize them...whatever it is, you've got to do something to permanently weaken the nearest and most threatening neighbor or two, and strengthen your own defenses, or those neighbors will menace you later. This doesn't mean you're going to win by conquest, or even necessarily conquer anyone at all, it just means you're not going to let anyone nearby get an equal start to yours. Early aggression is often an important part of peaceful victory. Warmonger diplo penalties care a lot more about conquest than war declarations. Ideally, you'd never have let Ethiopia reach the position of strength to run you over with missionaries, but if they are now, just declare war and kill the missionaries + start leveling up your units.
    • Don't lose units. There are almost no tradeoffs that make it worthwhile, considering the promotions and your production penalties relative to the AI.
    • Micromanage your tiles/specialists. The city governor is occasionally buggy, but even absent the truly weird and bugged choices, it doesn't take your overall situation and strategy into account. You want the specialists that will get you GP at the right times, and you usually want to work more gold/production tiles and fewer food tiles than it thinks after the ancient era, especially as Progress.
    • Mixing early policy tress can be fun but it is probably not optimal because the later trees and the finishers are strong, and if you mix tress you're missing out on one or the other.
    • Religious beliefs are strong, and founder/reformation beliefs are the strongest. You need to not miss out on either type of belief if you're trying to play peaceful/tall.
    These are just a few thoughts and I'm probably wrong in some places, but trying to move the conversation along. :)
    stii and LifeOfBrian like this.
  7. zeofig

    zeofig Warlord

    Jul 6, 2016
    Some ideas:
    • Defensive city positions are really good, often worth giving up a couple of good tiles. It can be better to let the AI found a really good city in a bad position, then conquer it later. They're basically growing it for you.
    • Having one or two cities that heavily overlap your capital is fine and even good, especially if your capital is going to work a lot of specialists.
    • Controlling happiness is not that hard. Just don't let cities grow when they're neutral (unhappy=happy) unless you're sure it will be OK. Not letting them grow might feel bad, but they'll quickly grow later when you unlock them. Locking growth is one of the most powerful tools in the game, and leaving cities at size 2/3/4/5 for a long time is absolutely fine. Focus on building mines and working a specialist or two in such cities.
    • In secondary cities, it's easy to focus too much on buildings which only provide some rather small yields. Building units, caravans and diplomats is often way better than things like libraries. Buildings also become cheaper as you advance in era. You should view most of your cities as "support" for 1-3 really good cities which work many specialists, build wonders, pump expensive units with heroic epic etc.
    • You should get a decent army as soon as possible, and start to use it. Experienced ranged units are insane and will last you the whole game. War with your neighbour can be a good thing, even if you aren't taking their cities and you don't have yields for kills. Many civs won't even hate you much for it, if you don't take their cities. Killing your neighbour's army is also great because it will weaken them considerably in the future.
    • When choosing policies, beliefs and tech paths, it's important to get things you lack. In particular, science, culture and production become more valuable the less you have of them.
    • Attacking city states early on just to kill their units is often a great idea. It will make them easy to bully, because it reduces their military "strength" when their units die. Plus you get XP and possibly yields. Tribute can be very nice, not just for authority. Conquering a CS can also be a good idea if it's in a good position and/or has great tiles.
    • Focus on quickly allying any CS that will help you in a war. The difference between them being allied with you and allied with the AI who just DOWed you is huge.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  8. Grassland Farm

    Grassland Farm Warlord

    Apr 16, 2011
    Le mighty motherland France
    I struggle like hell on Deity and I'm currently undergoing a... not-too-bad run in Immortal ; so while I'm not the one that will lead you to Deity, I feel like the best piece of advice for VP is that early on, you want to restrict the HELL out of the growth of your secondary cities. Every unit of food is a danger, every hammer taken instead is a win. Even when playing Progress like I do right now, your Capital will always be driving your economy.
    Your national wonder matter more than it seems, the Heroic Epic city should be pumpin near 100% of your army; and your scrivener/printing press city should most likely (I ****ed up regarding this part) not be your Heroic Epic city since one city can't provide the hammers for both your army and your diplomatic needs, except maybe a very tall very peaceful Tradition capital.

    I think one of my weaknesses is also delaying expansion a bit too much, but I'd need to learn from a good player to see about that. Then again, that aspect is also tied to restricting growth - Spreading lots of cities is important but you gotta make sure these cities do not ruin your happiness.
    In my current game I basically scouted each cities for the "tiles worth working" and knew that I wouldn't grow these cities beyond being able to work these tiles (plus a specialist, if I had some spare happiness) - Not until you have the techs to make "bland tiles" (no resources, etc) worth it (workshop for forests, for instance)
    Alpharius likes this.
  9. SuperNoobCamper

    SuperNoobCamper King

    Aug 27, 2017
    Long time Emperor/Immortal player, this is solely from my experience and by no mean is "The ultimate guide" or anything.
    1. Nothing will serve you better than flexibility; try to adapt to the current situation even if it's against your original gameplan will net you the best results ..... Started a game as Arabia wanting to play Tall tradition but found yourself surrounded by the Zulus and Rome? Authority will serve you better than Tradition ...... your BFF is an unarmed greedy wonder grabber? Backstab and force him into capitulation ..... A newly met Korea overseas is starting to runaway? hit them with the sanctions/ban luxury and plan to hit him in the middle of his continent.
    2. It's generally easier to play Authority> Fealty/Statecraft than Progress or Tradition on the long run; Wide warmonger is a simple approach that just works and it's even better if you play Epic speed.
    3. Plan when is your powerspike and try to make the most of it but also keep in mind that the AI also has powerspikes ...... Playing Persia? do not waste a golden age without a conquest .... England? SOTL wrecks havoc amongst the strongest of navies.
    4. Specialist yields are tempting but it's not always the best course of action to work them when you don't have a reasonable city growth rate.
    5. Recless expansion without the military power to back it up is a mistake you don't want to make, losing a city early on and all the resources poured into settling it is a huge back step you generally want to avoid.
    6. Evaluate the terrain you would be fighting in before training units so you don't run out of the limited supply with an unfavored army; open plains favor mounted melee and skirmisher line heavily while rough terrain with rivers and hills favor melee units that can take advantage of it and form a defensive linewith ranged units supporting them.
    7. As obvious as it seems to be do not ever lose a unit in the early game eepecially highly promoted ones; you cannot out produce the AI with the bonuses it gets and even trading one unit for two or three is a net loss for you.
    8. You need to set both short and long term goals for fights and the war; you don't have to completely annihilate an AI in the first try .... Attrition wars favor the human player, going to war solely for Farming XP is not a bad idea.
    9. Going to war on multiple fronts is common, set your goals and use your supply well to determine which front you want to advance and conquer and which one you are defender and just holding the line.
    10. Internal trade routes are invaluable to get new cities going quickly and indirectly generate gold by crossing villages/towns if you manage to plan your road networks.
    11. You really don't have to use "cheap human tricks" like snatching an early settler with a scout to win but it makes your early game way easier if you are into these types of moves.
    12. Religion is an invaluable asset, getting access to founder/enhancer beliefs sets you a step ahead of non founders; some founders are just that good even without totally commiting to a religious/culuture game and they reward handsomely for just playing the game as usual.
    13. A bit controversial take but i'm not that keen on restricting growth at all ... instead i limit my early expansion to three or four cities + capital until i secure enough happiness and the building order in satellites is usually directed towards early hammer generation after monument/shrine; the more i play, the more i prefer bigger Cities even early on and i really would not restrict growth on a city if i have settled it a location with good mix of food and hammers
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
    Alpharius likes this.
  10. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

    Dec 31, 2005
    Another tip I was reminded of recently. When playing on certain more isolated starts, you can be tempted to expand rapidly and try and take the whole area for yourself. But remember (and this is ESPECIALLY true on the map Communitas_79), that the more isolated you are, the more barbarians will swarm, as there is nothing out there to stop them. In those situations

    1) Focus on units early, you need a warrior to protect any worker that is near your city, and you need to be able to garrison your city if a barb comes knocking. If a barb starts pillaging a city tile, it can be crippling on higher levels.

    2) Create a kill squad. The perfect squad is like 3 spearmen, 3 warriors or 2 warriors and 1 archer do alright. Be aware that if you don't kill the camp in 1 round, the vast majority of the time a new barb unit will spawn. If your not playing Authority that can slow down your barb killing, so being able to snipe the camp in a single round is a force multiplier.

    3) Never ever ever compromise your guardians. I use to try and take risks like, pushing my warriors out to kill a really close barb camp and leave my main city unguarded for "just a few turns". But I've been knocked down too many times, the barbs are smart, you leave your main city unprotected even for a little bit, and they will pounce.

    4) If I barb can get to it, they will. If I am creating a trade route, every single hex on that path has to be well visible, and I have to be able to protect it (either because its places barbs can't get to, or I have a unit ready to block. If I can't do that, then the Trade unit sits, I would rather have an inactive TR unit than one that gets sniped by a barb, generating a new barb unit, and then I have to remake it. It has happened to me so often I just will not risk it anymore, a trade route going through unsighted hexs is a dead Trade route.
    DeAnno likes this.
  11. DeAnno

    DeAnno Prince

    Feb 22, 2011
    The worst is barb horses charging out of the Desert I have had a lot of Desert caravans on pretty starts eaten that way. Especially with flood plains the pounce gets pretty crazy. I have to agree especially when you aren't Authority barbarians can be a real serious problem not just a funny nuisance as some of us may be accustomed to. Another problem I often find is you can't really do anything with Archers alone these days, either they need a city to sit in or 1-2 Warriors to help them, they're just too frail to melee even on a hill. It's really made me prioritize Trapping less, the benefit of building more Archers early isn't a benefit anymore. Pathfinders can die easily to barbs too, especially if you're up against mountains or water, it can be safer to keep them inland when you're poking into really unknown areas. In a pinch though the Pathfinder can be a member of the kill squad, blocking, flanking, and even attacking every once and a while; they're really only terribly vulnerable when alone.
  12. Alpharius

    Alpharius Chieftain

    Jan 10, 2021
    (pic taken from phone as SS isn't working)
    First win as Arabia on Emperor, Standard speed, Classical Era start. Thanks for everyone who replied, btw. I applied some of the tips given here and worked wonders.

    A few more wins on other Civs and I might try my hand on Immortal. Think I need more practice as I feel this win was more because of proximity than skill. I started off with a continent all by myself and wasn't until near the end of Industrial Era when Indonesia settled nearby. Overall it was a pretty easy win, but during medieval-late industrial era I was near dead-last in literacy and score, until the modern era where I started to eclipse everyone else tech-wise. One thing I noticed though was that there wasn't much aggression from the AI. I haven't gone to war the whole game, except when I was already building Spaceship parts when Shoshone and Babylon declared a joint war on me, but at that point it was already too late. 20210205_191039.jpg
    Melchizedek and LifeOfBrian like this.

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