[LP] Good early domination leaders for learning?


Dec 27, 2023
I'm finding I'm having trouble transitioning to having an army and starting wars in the early game. What are some ideal civs for a player new to the higher difficulties to start with, if I want to improve my domination game? While I enjoy civs with unique mechanics (Hammurabi, who was recommended in my unique mechanics thread, is incredibly fun), they're not the best for learning basics, especially since I"m determined to play at Emperor in anticipation of being a deity only player once I get the hang of things. I don't care if i lose a lot in the mean time, but I want to play better before I do.
Some of the best Civs for Classical era rush, which snowballs throughout the game, are Babylon, Gaul, Hungary, Mapuche (higher difficulty = AI gets golden in Classical), and Rome. For the sake of learning early empire development and training armies, Rome is probably the best best. Free monuments from Trajan get you to Oligarchy right when you're ready to attack without investment. Great early UU in the Legion that destroys Deity AI w/ a general.

I would do a quick three city setup (cap plus two expands). I'd recommend delaying the third city settlement until you can see iron, because you'll need it for Legions. Get a builder in each city to work improved tiles and get an encampment w/ Barracks down. Identify your neighbor, send them a trade route for the war road, kill.

Early scouting and expansion:
  1. Double scout in your cap. Send in opposite directions to explore and identify future city locations. Look for "naked" hills for potential iron spots. Keep starting warrior relatively close to deal with barbs. Try and get a barb camp kill with this warrior.
  2. Build settler and settle a close second city. Start working on a builder or second warrior (future Legion) immediately.
  3. Build a builder in cap and improve three tiles.
  4. Tech path: Animal Husbandry -> Mining -> Bronze Working -> Iron Working. Animal Husbandry reveals horses, which is an amazing resource, and allows you to improve popular early bonus and lux resources as well.
  5. Try and time third settler w/ iron reveal to make an educated third settle. You need much iron.
After expansion and learning Bronze Working:
  1. Improve all available iron and lay down 1-2 encampments. 1 is fine since you can project for a general but I prefer 2 in most cases. I like getting a quick barracks for the +1 production and housing and XP boost as well.
  2. Pre build Legions by slotting Agoge and building warriors. Try and save all your gold for upgrades. You'll need to spend gold to buy tiles for encampments in most cases, however.
  3. Build a trade route and send to desired target.
  4. Research Masonry after Iron Working in case you need a battering ram.
  5. Project for a General if you only build 1 encampment.

Pingala is a good choice. Consider choosing the +1 science per pop as your second title since the free monuments will get you to Political Philosophy in a reliable timeframe. Magnus is a good governor to grab for chops once you build the Government Plaza and tier 1 building. Amani can be used for a valuable suzerain. Additionally, you can use either to quell loyalty issues in newly conquered cities.

Other notes:
  1. Free roads will help move units between your cities. This works throughout the whole game, even across the map since every city has a trading post. Another reason Rome is good.
  2. Sell your horses to far away Civs for early gold. I wouldn't sell to my target unless they have them anyways. Another reason Animal Husbandry is a good first research.
  3. Use the Legion charges to chop additional units. Don't waste the charge on the Roman Fort. Any unused charges can be used to repair pillaged tiles in conquered cities.
  4. Bring the battering ram even if there are no walls. Deity AI has a tendency to throw up walls last minute.
  5. After sending initial wave of units, don't neglect continued expansion. Chop out Terracota's Army once you have a large fighting force for the free promo and heal to all your units.
The bottom line is Rome has all the early tempo needed for a strong Classical era rush. Julius Caesar is great too now that's he's been buffed. But Trajan is a little more user friendly and has zero map dependency with the free monuments. Enjoy!
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