Introduction So you want to play GOTW and get a top time? Well to the surprise of most new players in Domination most games ARE winnable by about 2000BC. The Leader boards are not full of cheaters, just good players. In fact there is no known way to give yourself a big advantage in domination times by cheating so the leader boards are a good guide to what's possible with good strategy. If you are really eager and you want to get started right at the beginning of the week, another way to guess what the best time is is to determine what an optimal time is likely to be by determining how fast you can create a march HA and then count how many turns it takes to get it to the furthest cap. That (plus or minus a turn or two) will probably be your optimal time. So why do you care about this? well if you are going for a optimal time it provides a rough idea of where units should be a few turns before to get that score of a few turns better. This will make planning your game easier. currently a player called nogmeskls posts the details of the map and a player called o777o / kadera posts his spoilers. these two pieces of information a very useful in setting up to get good times. Remember that if you want to have the top time in GOTW, you have to be prepared to play the game quite a few times. In general a top Domination player can post a good time maybe within about 7 turns of optimal in the first few play-throughs (unless there is an absolutely critical against the odds seed required to take the first cap) but that will never be sufficient to beat another top player who has spent hours "seed hunting". So on to strategy... Strategic Overview the first section covers domination wins - if you want to go for non dom (culture tech econ) - it is pretty similar but we will get to that later From a higher perspective GOTW is about rushing in tech until you have an advantage over the AI at the moment you will hit their cap e.g. warriors vs.. Empty city, horses or WA vs.. Warriors, HA vs.. Single archer, Knight Templar vs. single archer, Knight Army (KA) vs.. Archer Army (AA). You need to rush the tech required and then go for the kill rather like you might in multi-player. But usually for optimal time the only tech required will be iron working or sometimes Horseback riding(Hbr). Very rarely Maths or feudalism are required. This means if you are happy to get a BC domination victory (as many new GOTW players are) then you can not worry quite as much about getting horses to every cap and instead tech to knights - form an army, get religion, and then rush all the caps. In some games this will be much easier than pushing for the horse based win. But before we get there we know the tools we will need. Tips and Tricks Have you ever ended a turn had more you wanted to do but the game just skipped to the next turn? Well - This is the auto turn feature. Remember by accessing the city screen at the beginning of a turn, or before your last unit move, the auto turn feature won't engage. This allows you to maximize what can be done in a single turn especially if you have gold available to rush a unit etc. Also in terms of squeezing more out of your turn, remember that if you form a stack of units you can flip through and use functions like settle on settlers even if they are out of moves. Especially in non domination, remember to pay attention to the status Report (right trigger) to check Amount of gold, and tech, what tech is being worked on, and the amount of each produced at turns end. Don't waste hammers or beakers you won't usually use food. For Domination the only use for growth is to build a settler if a road is absolutely critical to saving turns. This has happened before but usually 100g settler is sufficient. Map knowledge The map is the same every playthrough and your first game is never an instant final solution. So even if you lose an initial battle, keep playing and see what else you can find out about the map tile locations and huts. Remember however if you walked on a tile in 4000bc you have deactivated it - so there might still be a close tile you missed. Keep distances and possible barb huts or exploratory gold in mind. Also remember that planting a city directly on top of a resource that you have access to (e.g. everything if you are India) may be better than using it because it can automatically gain some hammers or beakers allowing you to get to hbr and build units faster. Even more useful - by placing a first city directly next to a barb village, you'll gain a militia. This unit can then be used to grab exploratory gold at your doorstep, and that gold could be used to rush a warrior, taking out the initial barb in the same turn, or march towards an enemy city. Getting there fast Roads I build these more often than most they can be very useful squeezing out an extra turn in a domination campaign. In general this means there is quite a lot of gold on the map spare after you bought the units required. In some situations will help to pay for themselves in non domination games where you really need to get to the AI at a certain date (maybe for a walkout) or the road pays for itself with settlers walking along it and settling just next to it. Boats If the AI are across the ocean often you will need to rush a boat to carry your troops to them, remember to disband the boat after using it to transport the units if you need that gold elsewhere. Because galleons can take short cuts across oceans and have another movement point getting Spain early can save a few turns. Note that by selecting workers to a specific sea tile, your boat should spawn on that tile. Just do this before rushing or building. Leave the city screen, and the galley should be where your worker tile was, return to the city screen and adjust your workers back to where needed. Note the militia can pop off the galley to name tiles and pop huts if required then hop back on the following turn. Taking the First cap: Now you know the map and have a method for getting across it your first goal is to take a enemy cap (regardless of your victory type). If you have options on who to attack, since the first city is the easiest capture, you may want to consider the Ai that occupies it. A heavy defensive Civ, like Greece, or England can make your life a lot harder. Remember the more time it takes to reach cities, the more resistance they'll offer. Also look for the most central civ so that you can shorten the time required to take the other civs. In general you will want to walk your settler to the first cap and in order of preference A) build/rush a warrior and walk into the cap before it has any defenses. B) build 3 warriors and attack with first one then form WA (Warrior Army) to take the capital C) build a LA to take capital D) build a HA to take the capital but also remember that at times it might be worthwhile to instead go for SoC or 7cog even before taking the first capital so going hard for that cap is not always best. Critical here is having enough gold that you dont waste turns later not being able to buy that 3rd unit for your army or a boat or whatever. You need to get to those critical gold/production amounts required to build the units you need. AI behavior : there are some tricks to making this task of taking the cap easier as the AI to behave in certain ways, First there are walk-ins when you reach the AI it is better to approach via a forest than a plain because you might stop them producing one extra unit (you can often calculate if this is going to matter based on how many turns they have had and what they are working). this may allow you to walk straight into their cap with no defenses. For deity you should try to reach the cap by 3500 with a warrior or reach it with a caravan or other unit that can block their forests a turn or two earlier until the warrior can arrive. Sometimes this will be impossible. Also remember that if you get a spy or a caravan to the ai first (maybe your horse poped a hut and the free unit thus has a turn extra movement) then you can use that unit to block the forest of the ai (or dance over the forest moving back and forth) until your attacking force can arrive thus slowing the production of their units. Similarly you can sell an ai democracy if you have it and that will also slow the production of their units. This very useful where you need just one more turn to pop a caravan to send into the ai cap and then take it on the same turn. Then Walkouts - Walkouts are when the AI just moves its best defensive unit out of a cap - in most cases this is because they are trying to protect a settler. AI will walkout when thy would normally build a settler around 2000BC - but they will also walkout if they get 100g. Note they will not walk out if you have a unit they can see (e.g. keep your units at least two squares away and not in a straight line from them) even a milita (but not a spy i think). Or rather they may produce the settler and protect it with a unit but that key archer army will probably remain in the capital. In terms of the 100g settler this can be encouraged by buying tech, letting them threaten GP (Great People) or by sending them caravans or getting them to step on named tiles. Tech like writing or pottery can allow you to give them around 70g. Next turn before you attack make sure to sell them your tech back to recoup some of your money. So in practice - let say you are outside a French cap and are ready to buy pottery to give them 100g - but you would rather not have to waste 70g that turn, and would rather just buy IW or bronze. well you can try to sell them your HBR and see how much they will pay. If they are willing to pay 40g that probably means they have 80g in the bank and you can go ahead and buy IW or bronze. if it says they will pay 15g they probably only have 30g and you will need to give them 70g somehow. Also when buying tech buy the cheapest tech first and when selling sell the most expensive first this is related to how the values of the tech are calculated relative to the gold you and the ai has. AI also appears to build legions rather than archers if it looks like they are in a better position. This is good because if you hit them with 2 legions and an archer things will go much easier than if you hit them with 3 archers. Also in terms of advanced strategy, at times you might make war with them and leave them some gold to encourage them to make archers and form an archer army so that they can them walkout with the whole archer army. Every once in a while they will leave the cap completely empty for an easy walk-in. Then once they do walkout hopefully they will do so with a full archer army. But sometimes you are hitting the city late and they have a couple of units still in the city. this can be a problem because your HA may not be able to take it before the AA walks back in. what to do? Well you can potentially "hold the walkout open" (i.e. give yourself another turn before the AA walks back into the city) by giving the archer army a Horse army to attack (where hopefully you can seed the win on a 4.5 vs 4.5 or so). If it has a barb to attack it will probably stay open and if it has a settler or GP to take it might stay open. The archer army may well sit where it is in a state of confusion not knowing whether to walk into the city or to take your sacrificial unit thereby letting you get both next turn. AI tech if the AI gets a higher tech they may be willing to disband some lower units to use it. So maybe they start with two archers and after they have democracy they disband and have 1 pikeman - possibly something you could use to your advantage. However this is a bit hit and miss the AI can also just plain cheat with a Leonardo's workshop type upgrade. Brute force without these two options you must use brute force. If this is your first cap you will be using warriors - so walk your 3 or 4 warriors up to the cap then attack Warrior 1 warrior 2 for warrior army (either single wounding or double wounding the archer defending) and attack. sometimes this will allow you to take the cap in 3500-3000BC that otherwise you would have to wait 1000 years later to take so this could be critical to a good time even if it takes a few turns to seed (not so bad in the first few turns). Seed hunting So what is seed hunting? Well in GOTW results of things that were otherwise random in multiplayer are not random. Doing a certain set of moves will result in blitz upgrade or a 50g from a hut. You can't predict it before you try but you can repeat it. So top players play through an opening and then if they get a guerilla upgrade they will go back to the start and try to do something different until they get a better one. Same thing with battles. Ways of flicking through the seed include 1 -forming armies with different units on top 2 - naming tiles 3 - popping friendly huts 4 - attacking units 5 - getting upgrades 6 - building upgraded units 7 - getting the AI to spawn upgraded units 8 - building a road Simply if you get an unlucky outcome do one of these things differently in the lead-up to the problem event. But also remember that some of these things different costs you something strategically. For example if you build a road that you dont need. So the first thing to try is something that doesnt cost at all, an example of that is forming your army with a different unit on top. Also of note is that this probably wont change your battle luck, but will change your upgrade. Usually your perfect seed on deity for a La attacking a city will be something like 6 vs 8 (1 injury vet upgrade) -> 4.5 vs 8 (blitz upgrade) 4.5 vs 8 (great general) walk-in with a W If you dont get the injury to 4.5 then you probably might as well go searching for the seed. Same again for the blitz upgrade. Usually there are pleanty of seeds available to get this all done. For a detained discussion of how this work try the thread by FF-GTR Advanced seed tweaking and what you will want to seed You will notice that friendly huts tend to come in chains (chains of settlers, caravans, spies. If you find yourself on a bad seed you will need to change your strategy a little earlier on to break that seed. For example if you tended to get lots of 'maps of the area' (useless) you may want to tech or not tech some tech or make other what we might term as major seed changes. The amount of money you get (as opposed to reward) however is tweaked by the standard seeding method what we might term minor seed tweaks. In this method the most useful is the number of battles you have fought where battles are defined in such a way that a warrior dying is 3 battles. So attacking and retreating with one damage is 1 battle. this means if you attack and you get 40g then try attacking taking two injuries somwhere in the game then attacking this means you will flick from 40g ->30g then back to 50g. Which SoC people you get are also determined by the standard seeding method, you will generally want to seed a GS (Great Scientist) if you can get to knights or catapults a GB (Great Builder) if you can get monarchy - maybe GE (Great Explorer) if you just need gold. Battles results themselves and upgrades are similarly determined. You will want to seed wins on critical battles like taking of a cap and will be willing to accept less important losses or retreats (like a loss against a barb) in order to do that or I might get a guerilla upgrade and then next attempt I might wait to pop a hut in order to get a blitz upgrade. It appears the turn before the system determines a set of battle odds and so on the turn you can use those battle odds against the AI there seems to be a pattern in that you can recognise chains of very good battle results and reseed then via different methods, so there seems to be logic rather than randomness to the pattern this can be useful if you are trying to win some long odds and want to know if you have good battle odds or bad ones coming up. Diplomacy By trading techs you gain gold to rush units or it can also deprive the AI's of doing the same. A turn before attacking cities, hit the diplomacy screen, if they have a good tech you can buy it or buy the other techs, then get as much gold as possible from them before attacking. They appear to pay about half their gold for your best tech (eg if you have navigation and bronze they might offer you 20g for navigation and 10g for bronze because they have 40g) This gold at an Ai's disposal would be used to defend their city and even if you take the city you only get a percentage of their gold (about 60%). It can be useful to sell good defensive tech like democracy as mentioned before but you better be sure you can take the city anyway! money on the map Caravans; Only one caravan will be awarded at one time. If there is a caravan (yours) on the map, another won't be awarded till it's off the map. This is usually the best result from a goodie hut except for late in the game, when a good tech is the best result. I usually like to send these to caps (if I don't think that will make their defences too strong) but they can also be disbanded or used to name tiles or choke a city's resources. You can also use them to find other civs so that you can trade with them. Barbs and friendly huts; The prizes gained, as well as the unit experience gained is usually crucial. At times you might attack them just for an upgrade then proceed to the AI or you might attack them for gold or set your tech and hope for a good tech. For non domination you might leave huts till later so that you can pop high level tech from them sometimes you can get key tech like industrialization from them and save quite a few turns on an econ win or the like. For domination you probably want one caravan and then after that the 25 g will have to do until you are rid of that caravan. Free units When gaining tech and getting the bonuses with it, whether it be walls, catapults, tanks etc. Keep in mind that these units go to your main city (which could be one just captured from AI), Which is typically the one with the highest culture. Something to keep in mind if you are waiting to get a galleon to get a wonder like 7cog. NON Domination Now for the othr types of victory.. for non domination there are key phases to the game. 1) The opening which is very similar to the domination opening in most games. You try to grab 3 caps as fast as possible and block the last cap from expanding (and prepare to steal GP and settlers), but in addition to this you want to save up some gold (in domination you will just waste it all on extra units even if just to tweak the seed). The second priority is getting Code of Laws (ideally from a hut) so that you can expand you might also tech literacy. After this you want to work production in any cities that might build settlers and gold elsewhere. Then you can expand until you have settled every good space on the map and working most of the sea squares. Somewhere around here you will want to get some tech from friendly huts. Generally top players will try to get into position to pop the huts asap after 3 caps. Ideally about 2400BC in most games. then on that year they will try to pop key tech such as Industrialization and corporation. If the year is early other tech like coL or Literacy might be useful. Now there are some rules to whether you will get tech from a hut or not. the details are iuncluded in revcast but in general you want to be in the lead in as many aspects of the game as possible. the reason why you want 3 caps is because now you hve 3 of the 4 buildings and gp that were out there in the game at deity level (barracks and agamemnon). if you get somthing other than a tech you can tell from that what you need to do. for example 1. if you have been getting caravans - then build a building or pop AoC or get a tech that gives you a building etc 2. if you are getting gold try to hit a gold milestone or just get a bit more gold 3. if you are getting spies get a wonder pop AW or kill egyptians maybe hit a culture milestone. 4. if you are getting elite opr map then build more units (there is a formula) you can apredict what the status of the above will be. also 1. meeting a barb unlocks caravans 2. settling near a hut sets it to tech 3. having a spy out sets it to spy 4. having a discovered (not built) caravan out gives you gold not caravan if you were set to caravan. 5. 0 units at beginning of turn = map elite You will want to pop as many tech as possible in the same turn, sometimes about 6 tech. Make sure to keep units so that you can stack settle cities on them, and build cities with production so they can hammer out new settlers especially if you are using USA. Make sure to rush quite a few settlers for 40g so they can be settled in medieval if possible. If you dont already have it from a hut you want literacy in this phase. After completing most of your expanding you will pop irrigation and any GH you might have although you must do this before the AI does it. You can use the civilopedia to check what tech they are up to and when they researched it or you can just try to trade with them. Getting the right GP can be crutial. here is a discussion of how GP are determined - useful for non dom strategies. The latest information is that GP are a result of the techs that you can directly research plus the ones that you already have. the beaker costs of these create a weighting for the probability of getting a GP associated with those techs (the list of associated GP is available on the net) but you wont get a repeat of a gp that another civ has poped after 4000bc. I have created a spread sheet that gives me the probability here. in addition to that there appears to be an order in which the "tickets" are added and a way to randomize the GP pick as well - but that is a bit beyond the scope of this article. anyway - note that invention will make scientists very likely if it is your top tech. so if you get invention before monarchy your monarchy GP may well be a GS same with your 500g GP. Note that you can do the same things with the AI GP. you may see the AI get a GA in one game and decide that is useless to you. maybe you want them to get a GB. well try selling them masonry or invention and see what happens. it is likely they will now get a GB or a GS which will be much more useful. All of this added together means you should be able to get 2 GB during a game if you want - but you may have to make some strategic sacrifices. if you are aiming for Culture steal gp to settle in your cities build all wonders, as usual pop AoC when you have many cities. Note many cities for an optimal game is probably 45-50 or so. But it depends on how much space you have as well as other factors. Find the best production site on the map - something with a lot of mountains is usually good. Remember you dont need a lot of population because you can build settlers in other cities and send them to the production city to grow about 1 population per turn. It is important to balance this production with your teching because if one finishes first it can just sit there doing nothing while you finish the other and that means you wasted resources earlier. Know the civ bonuses, and the eras they are gained. The best by far is Americas broken cheap units bonus. Conclusion The key trick to get those very good times is being able to figure out when you really need to seed a certain thing at the beginning - for example getting navigation when taking the Spanish and knowing if it is worth wasting a turn or gold to do that. The key restriction in domination is usually getting to the furthest civ as fast as possible with sufficient units, in non domination it is usually getting enough gold or getting the production for the key wonder (e.g. the world bank). Be willing to sacrifice in orther areas in order to deal with the key restriction. For example - remember that it is not always essential to take a civ at the first possible moment. In some games it may make sense to walk around a closer civ in order to get your units a turn or two sooner to a more distant civ, you can always get units to the closer civ later bought from gold collected in the meantime. Also remember that making peace with a civ moves you from their territory - if you are one move short on getting to another cap this may make a turn of difference - if that turn gets you there before an archer army is built it can make several turns of difference. Most importantly you need to be addicted to Civ!