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Getting back into CIV IV trying to improve have a few questions

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Le Singe, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. Le Singe

    Le Singe Chieftain

    Apr 25, 2009
    Hey, guys and gals I recently started playing Civ IV again [BTS], one of my all time favorite games. I am a monarch player that is hoping to improve. I can win on monarch, but not consistently enough for me to be ready to move up. I have a few questions.

    1. I seem to have this instinctual desire to lay cities out so I rarely leave any green tiles unable to be worked. In doing, this I seem to find that, I have a lot of average cities and it is somewhat hard to specialize them. Should I instead be trying to group 4 or more food (when improved) tiles to were most cities have two or possibly more of them. This means wasted (unworkable) tiles less cities but the one I have are much stronger and easier to specialize? I know it is never black and white and you will have to do some of each but just as a general rule of thumb.

    2. How do you approach war, take several bites of the apple with rest between (I've been reading sisuitils games and he seems to do this a lot) or take someone out in one go. I tend try to get it all in one go, but too often find that once I’m done dispatching one or maybe two foes I'm too far behind to get a good advantage situation on the remaining AIs. The downside of taking a pause is conquered boarder cities are almost useless because of culture and it give the AI time to tech up etc. What is best practice? Alternatively, is vassals the best they seem useless and often times are even spamming spy missions AT me.

    3. If you get a decent number of cities to start with is it possible to get a domination win if you don't start warring till the gun powder age or do you need to take at least one CIv out with a catapult and swordsman (elephants if possible) war?

    4. I usually just expand until I’m out of room. This sometimes can put my economy in a hole that’s hard to get out of without getting hopelessly behind the best CIVs. Is it best to grab what you can and make it work or is there point where I should consolidate what I have and let the AI take the left overs then take it from them?

  2. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis King

    May 21, 2018
    1. As a general rule, settling cities closer together is good. Less Distance Maintenance you need to pay, quicker to reinforce (if not because of early DoWs from neighbours than because Barbs will become harder and harder to manage as you move up in difficulty), and able to share food. City specialization is also more dependant on power tiles than the amount of green tiles it can work - a city with two Plains Cows and a dozen green tiles is never going to be a GP farm, for instance.

    2. It depends on whether you can keep the pain train rolling. If you pull off a HA rush you're not likely to be able to take out another civ with them (or at least maintain any semblance of an economy even if you could), so finish off your target and consolidate. Border cities will be swamped with culture, but you should have gotten a decent core to work with. If you've got an army of Cavalry and multiple civs are dragging their heels when it comes to teching Rifling, however, vassal your target and keep the pain train rolling. It's not a matter of taking cities at that point, it's a matter of gaining control over the AIs and preventing them from winning the game.

    3. Of course it's possible, in fact on many Iso maps it'd be downright impossible to rush someone with Swords. On certain maps it would be harder/easier to pull off, of course, and it might be easier to do so even when it's not strictly necessary, but on an average map it certainly should be doable.

    4. There's a point past which you shouldn't settle more cities, which gets eased a bit when you research Writing (can still tech a bit by running Scientists) and later Currency (can build Wealth), but it's very map and situation dependant.
    krikav likes this.
  3. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

    Aug 25, 2011
    Thats a somewhat good instinct, more green tiles are always good, and killing tiles is generally a bad practice.
    But I can speak from my own perepective, and that is that I _want_ to have a beautifully set up empire with all the cities in the "right" places, and I often have to supress or work around this urge, because quite often what I want is in opposition to what the map really calls for.
    If you speed up the development of the city by 2-3 turns by killing a tile long term, then thats probably a very wise thing to to, even thought it really hurts our inner feelings.
    In general, it's these feelings of whats cute or fun or appealing thats often in the way of a playstyle that more often leads to victory on higher difficulties.

    Abit too general question to really ellaborate on, so a very general answer...
    Take as much as you can, as soon as you can and only stop because you have to.
    If you forsee too big losses if you continue, or if the target reaches some key military tech that make them way harder to deal with. Perhaps longbows show up? Or rifles? Time to take a break and tech toward engineering/assembly line!

    You need suprisingly little, and you do not have to start taking stuff untill the gunpowder era. Often it's sensible to wait until that era because you can really get an edge just then.
    The most fresh example I have is to show is from this game, but feel free to look and ask:
    But you can watch any of Lains videos too. :)
    If you are stuck on like 2-3 cities then yes you probably have to break out and get some breathing room already at catapults.

    I see that as a good habit, if you can get more land for "free" then you should. Having overexpanded and being behind in tech is waaaay less problematic than being starved for land.
    Izuul likes this.
  4. lymond

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

    Mar 11, 2008
    I'll try to answer some of these as best I can, but may not fully understand your questions. Plus, some questions may relate to specific in-game dates, so in other words what you do early may be different from what you do late. Less experienced players tend to have a skewed perspective when it comes to timings in the game.

    Furthermore, I'm going to assume that you play with normal settings - standard speed and maps.

    But to really hit home on learning this game, I recommend that you post a shadow game for advice and learn or relearn how to manage the early game (first 50 to 100 turns), which are the most important part of the game.

    I don't fully understand this question, and there are no examples for context, so I'm going to assume that this is basically about how to settle cities. Basic rule of thumb is to settle cities with food in the first ring (or possibly strat resources or Gold). Food though is always the most important thing. Secondly, overlapping cities is not only not a bad thing, but actually encouraged for many reasons. Distance maintenance and tile sharing for one, and in the case of a Bureau capable cap - cottage growth.

    Creative trait provides a little flexibility in settling cities, but even so, going with what gets cities working faster is the best approach.

    It's all really very situational really. And again, the timing of the game may be a factor. Very early rushes you generally won't have too much culture issues, even if you stop and start. (And if you are not aware, you can call a "cease fire" instead of a "peace treaty" which allows you to immediately attack the same turn, next turn, or when you are ready - as opposed to 10 turns). Also, note that you don't have to keep all the cities if some are crap - and AIs tend to often settle crap cities. You can resettle better cities later or ignore terrible land like ice, tundra or desert.

    Anyway, killing off an AI vs. taking bites as you say is again situational. Are the cities better in your hands? Will you kill your economy? Is your army overextended and needs healing and/or reinforcements? I mean, it really depends on a number of factors. Also, if you have Alpha, you can try getting some good techs in peace deals...that is always a good thing.

    Vassal can be good if you leave them something to work with. Unless I really want a particular city or the wonders, I will often gift back cities. You can control what they tech via the dialogue screen and have them tech things you want to avoid. Vassals can be helpful in wars as well, certainly, as either meat shields or simply helping to attack (you can sorta direct them to cities but that is not always reliable).

    More land for you is always best, but vassals can be useful.

    Absolutely. Wars are much about opportunity and planning - whether you attack early or late. Often on highest difficulty levels, many experience players breakout with units like Curs. But if opportunity presents itself early to rush an AI or use something like Horse Archers or Elepults, then that is certainly worth pursuing.

    Where most less experienced players fail when it comes to war is foremost related to the things they do early that are not even related directly to war. Empire management, teching, diplo, growth, worker management, economy, great people, tech trading etc. Secondly, it is use of the whip or lack thereof. If you've set up a nice solid empire, there is no reason you can't break out at any point in the game and get out armies fast.

    Expansion is good, but balance is also good. Don't just settle crap land for the sake of it. You need to balance expansion with your economy. Settle good cities for food and other resources. There is no need just to fill up land because it is there, but you do want to grab the good land, and by that I mean food resources in your immediate area such that you have at least 6 to 8 cities by 1AD (but keep in mind that here is no rule of thumb on that number, you can have many more or fewer and still be effective as long as you are doing other things correctly.)

    Again, I don't know if we are talking about BC timeframe or 1800 AD. Sometimes folks come on here asking for similar advice only to realize later that they are talking about very late game, while making huge mistakes for hundreds of turns prior.

    Right now, though, I highly encourage you to focus specifically on the early game - first 100 turns - and not even worry about long term winning the game. Just learn basic mechanics and concepts. A shadow game will work wonders for you. But note that you should expect to relearn things and break bad habits.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
    coanda, Fippy, Izuul and 1 other person like this.
  5. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

    Aug 25, 2011
  6. Izuul

    Izuul Level 86

    Jan 26, 2012
    I responded inside of your quote.
    coanda, Fippy, krikav and 1 other person like this.
  7. lymond

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

    Mar 11, 2008
    Great stuff, Iz, especially #1
  8. Windsor

    Windsor Flawless

    Feb 14, 2008
    That's important advice. Very easy to start dreaming about how the city will be at size 20.

    If you can keep the momentum up yes, but once you start getting into a slugfest where you eventually will grind the AI down then I'd much rather take peace. Long wars are very costly in Civ4. The winners of a long war are those not fighting in it.

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