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Guide to 5CC

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Charis, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. Charis

    Charis Realms Beyond

    Dec 20, 2001
    Midwest, USA
    Charis' Guide to 5CC

    Five city challenge, or 5CC, is a variant game where your civilization
    can ONLY have five cities. That means accepting no flips, always razing
    instead of capturing, and making the most out of the few cities you have. :)

    Having done well in several medium difficulty 5CC, and somehow pulling
    off a 5CC conquest victory on deity, there's a lot I've picked up
    and wanted to share in this guide.

    What makes 5CC hard?
    - Quite limited production, income, and area
    - High likelihood of missing several key resources
    - Likely few luxury resources as well
    - Can never have more than one army (can support 1 army per 4 cities)
    - No forbidden palace (which means no using FP as placeholder either)

    What makes 5CC doable, in fact, why five and not 4 or 6?
    - With five cities you can build Wall Street and boost income
    - With five cities you can build Battlefield Medicine
    - With five you can get a capital plus one very nice ring of core cities
    - Compared to more cities, the 'top five' often account for about 50% of
    the income, research, and culture, due to extremely low corruption

    === Pregame ===

    Three things are very important to consider before the game even starts:
    Desired win condition, civilization, and map conditions.
    Any win condition (other than domination) is possible, although the
    feasibility will depend alot on the difficulty. Diplomacy is in general
    one of the easiest ways to win (especially on deity). Conquest is a
    bear, an extra challenge, but it's possible. Culture victory would come
    as a 20K victory in one city with support by its other four. This is
    a highly viable choice on lower diffs, and nearly impossible on deity
    due to the speed the AI will reach space launch.

    Your civilization choice should (naturally) match your desired win
    condition. Egyptians and Babylonians are great choices for the peaceful
    victories, while Germans, Chinese, Celts, Vikings, etc., are excellent
    choice for military games (or combo games). Despotic Golden Ages are
    definitely to be avoided. The expansionist trait is less useful than
    in normal games, and scientific slightly more useful. You're more
    likely to be well behind in tech, and the 'slingshot' provided on
    entering a new era can make all the difference.

    Map conditions also take increased importance, as pulling off naval
    conquest when you can't capture or build new cities would make for
    an extremely difficult 5CC. Large and huge maps make less sense for
    5CC because you can't take advantage of added space. A 'common'
    choice would be standard map, pangaea, random conditions. Pick
    the barbarian level to taste - some don't want added headaches, while
    others would like the chance to promote some troops without being at war.

    Variations on the theme: i) 'loose' 5CC where you can temporarily have
    an extra city but never end a turn with more than five, ii) start with
    four cities and save the fifth for another continent, and for the truly
    insane, iii) all four cities other than capital must be captured,
    and iv) always war.

    === The Opening ===

    To have a good chance at winning your core area, and especially your
    capital city, should be fairly fertile, and should have some hilly areas.
    With high food and low shields a granary is an option but it's far less
    crucial than in other games where REX and/or settler factory is used. You
    only need build only four settlers, ever.

    It at all possible, found your capital on a river tile with some kind
    of food bonus. A near ideal setup is: non-coastal capital surrounded by
    four well spaced cities, at least one city on the coast, taking up a
    space (penninsula or subcontinent) that will be swallowed up completely
    by your cultural borders, with a chokepoint leading to your single
    nearest neighbor. While you don't need all of these factors, the more
    the merrier.

    Pick good spots! Do not overlap cities, in fact spacing them an extra
    tile or two apart will let you claim more area and the culture gaps will
    fill in after a few expansions. Definitely strive to snag as many luxuries
    and strategic resources as possible. Get the Wheel asap to make sure you
    get horses for one city, and get Iron Working for sure before you found
    the fifth city. If you've not snagged Iron in the first four its worth
    taking your time settling the last one, and even founding a little further
    away from the other cities. Found on good fertile land, but if there is
    tundra or dessert outside the 21 tiles but very closeby, excellent! With
    late game expansions you might get lucky and snag saltpeter or oil,
    or have it close enough to easily colonize. (Rubber-jungles, coal-mtns too).
    River spots are especially nice, allowing your cities to reach size 12
    without an aqueduct. The commerce bonus of the river is helpful too.

    Initial research - plan to either research or buy techs that display
    new resources. If the Great Library is in your plans, get to Literature
    asap. In general, pick techs the AI tends to neglect and research those
    for great bartering opportunieis. Mathematics and Polytheism come to mind.

    At the end of the era you'll very likely want to get into a Republic.
    Your cities are quite highly developed, the military unit support is
    puny with just five cities, and the bonus commerce from size 12 cities
    is huge. Even if you plan to fight several wars, you'll VERY likely do
    better in Republic. (If you don't believe me, ask T-Hawk :p )

    === Middle Ages ===

    In the early part of the middle ages you'll start to feel the sting
    of five cities, as all other civs in the game are much larger, and
    think nothing of bullying you around. Giving in to tribute is likely
    unless you have a decidely military focus. 'Hang in there' is the
    key to the middle ages, it's the low point of many games, and you may
    fall way behind for a time on higher difficulties. Stay out of trouble,
    and build-build-build. Once you get Wall Street going and have all size
    12 or greater cities, and have a few lux or resources to sell, and are
    in democracy, your economy will soar!

    === Industrial Era ===

    Railroad quickly, have some workers on hand to add in instantly when you
    build hospitals, and jockey for tech position on Scientific Method. With a
    prebuild go for ToE and use it to snag Hoover (for denial even if you could do
    without it yourself). Target size 20 or 21 with your cities, so that you have
    zero extra food with as many tiles mined instead of irrigated - this will
    maximize production and you will likely have several cities able to crank
    100 shields per turn. With size 21 cities, banks (and stock exchanges on PtW),
    full railroad network, and Wall Street, you will have a highly efficient
    empire capable of heading toward several goals -- firm up your idea of
    what win to strive for, and focus on that direction heavily now.

    === Modern Era ===

    The human player has a huge advantage at this stage, in knowing how to use
    railroad networks, artillery, air support, strategic alliances, and
    how to effectively manage the space race, that he's in great shape if
    he has survived this far. For diplo win this phase is short and sweet.
    For other wins, do what you need to in order to slow down the superpower
    who threatens your win condition. Declare war and bring the whole world
    in on alliances, deny resources, and force him into the quadmire of
    communism. Unlike the AI, you can use the luxury slider and stay in
    democracy though just about the bloodiest warmongery if you need to.
    In 5CC there would almost never be a need to drop out of a representative

    (end of Part I)
  2. Charis

    Charis Realms Beyond

    Dec 20, 2001
    Midwest, USA
    Charis' Guide to 5CC -- Part II

    === Colonies ===

    Some players have never built a colony, or think them useless. Put that
    thinking aside in a 5CC game and learn the amazing power of colonies!
    With dire needs for strategic resources and luxuries that can never be
    met by expansion, colonies are vital - IF you're willing to go a military
    route or at least a combination game with some warfare. It's important
    to raze any cities remotely close to the resource, and to post units
    permanently around them as far as practical, to keep others from
    settling there and stealing your resource. You can later make an airstrip
    (but not radio tower) in an area outside your cultural borders to help
    get units there quickly when needed.

    === Trading ===

    Trading is a very important part of playing the 5CC. You WILL be behind
    in tech and you will lack resources you need, and you will want to
    know how to keep hungry AI at peace. Something to keep in mind is that you
    can sell your ONLY source of a lux or resource even if you have no extra -
    forgoing the benefits of having it yourself. Playing a peaceful game you
    can make great friends and learn many techs by selling saltpeter to the planet
    warmonger, or coal to the rich nation who lacks it, or a few lux to the civ
    with the most cities. They'll pay through the nose for them.

    Conversely, with so few cities, you will pay *peanuts* to buy lux or
    resources. Insanely cheap prices. You might be able to trade your only
    dye for three or four lux with a much larger civ!

    Relations are important too - in 5CC you can't afford to be the one everyone
    is dogpiling on! For diplo win especially, see if you can avoid ever
    being in a war, and having everyone giddy about being your friend. If
    that's your desired win, be generous on deals when you can, rather than
    haggling for the last penny. Use MPP's wisely and don't get dragged into
    unwanted wars. RoP will be expensive for you due to small area controlled.

    === Wonders ===

    The decision for wonder building depends a LOT on difficulty level and
    desired victory condition. If 20K culture victory you better get cranking
    on them early. Colossus is one of the easiest to get (needs to be coastal).
    Probably the most important wonder is the Great Library, both for its
    nice benefits and for its whopping 8 culture per turn. With lower income
    and research potential, the GL is more useful in 5CC than in other games.
    The Pyramids would usually be a top choice, but just five cities, it's less
    important. Snagging GL and one other ancient wonder is nearly essential for
    a 20K win. For middle Ages, Sistine and Bach's are excellent, since you
    will be on one continent and will have large cities with few luxuries.
    Sun Tzu and Leo's are less valuable, unless for denial. Try to get at
    least one or two Middle Age wonders if going for cultural win. In the
    Industrial Age, there's nothing more useful and powerful than the combo
    of ToE and Hoover, taking Atomic Theory and Electronics with the former
    to secure the latter uncontested. If you can't get Hoover, don't fret though.
    It's easy to build five power plants, and you can use ToE for replaceable
    parts or corporation or something useful. A game that snags these two is well
    on its way to victory. In the Modern Era, UN is usually vital - either for
    the victory or for denial. Fortunately, it's easy to snag using a placeholder.
    On sub-deity levels, SETI along with Copernicus or Newton will be helpful
    in doing your own research (on deity it's almost impossible to do research).

    === Warfare ===

    A realm in which to tread carefully, but where the benefits may be
    quite nice. Five cities is definitely enough for an early rush of
    archers, horsemen or swordsmen. On Monarch and below this is of
    definite benefit, so that your nearest neighbor(s) are the weakest.
    The last thing you want in 5CC is to be next to an aggressive superpower!
    Emperor gets dicey for very early action, but it's possible, and on deity
    you better have a UU up to the task - even then by the time you're ready
    with five cities and barracks and a dozen units, the AI might be just
    about at Feudalism!

    Fighting for resources or nearby lux to colonize may very well be worth
    it. Fighting for a monopoly of a pivotal resource like oil or uranium will
    often the a game-winning move if you can pull it off. Keep a close eye on
    who has what (in strategic resources).

    The key timeframes to consider for warfare include ancient era (when they
    don't have much more than five cities themselves), Chivalry era if you
    have a knight-based UU or a neighbor who lacks iron (pikes). Cavalry
    provide probably the biggest advantage for warfare, as do Tanks. In
    the era between infantry and tanks don't let the AI boss you around, as
    they will use infantry on offense vs your fortified / fortressed units
    and take such a severe beating they'll pay for peace.

    If you find yourself sharing an island with one other civ, and if it's
    at all feasible, take them out in a series of wars. Beat on them and
    raze a few cities, take tech for peace, wait 20 turns and repeat,
    each time leaving them with less cities. When you reach tech parity
    with them, finish them off and colonize any resources. This should
    be considered even if going for a diplo win, as dead civs can't vote
    against you :p

    On higher difficulty levels you may find everything progressing nicely
    toward your desired win with one problem... the AI will launch a ship
    before you win. It's time for a resource denial campaign. Aluminum
    rubber and uranium are all needed for a spaceship - and razing the
    capital will destroy any existing spaceship. To pull this off, you'll
    want as many of these factors as possible: no other civs who can sell
    them the resource, an alliance or two against the target (required if
    the ally can sell them the goods), and a large number of military units
    built up before you actually start the war. Your troops need to get
    there safely, raze possibly several cities so that the resource falls
    into neutral territory (for long term denial, if you expect peace
    after the campaign), and a strong enough force to hold it once you
    take the resource site. If it falls into neutral territory by razings,
    use a captured worker to build an airstrip next to the spot, build
    a fortress or a colony on the tile itself, and surround the area several
    squares out with troops so they can't re-settle in the area and get
    it back.

    In a conquest game - oscillate or wipe out a civ? The advantage of
    little wars against many civs is that it keeps them trimmed down
    and nets you many techs. But due to corruption there is only so
    much productivity on the planet, and wiping out a civ will often
    help slow things down. Two other foes sharing the world will have
    far less 'total' productivity and research potential than many
    peaceful civs trading with each other.

    Leaders? They're nice, sure, but less useful than in normal games.
    You can't use one to rush a Forbidden Palace, and you can never have
    more than one army. In a military game you'll end up rushing battleships
    or nukes. In a non-military game don't even bother with the army or
    Epic. For example, I would take SunTzu just to deny it to the AI rather
    than increase odds for another leader with the Heroic Epic (unlesss I was
    planning a conquest game, where I would get lots of leaders, and will end
    up razing the SunTzu anyway). GL's would mostly be used for rushing Great Wonders.

    === Specific Tips for different victory conditions ===

    - In diplo game, always give in to tribute demands, cut the AI slack
    on deals, gift techs to the most backward nations and help them
    live to see the vote. Trade away your saltpeter and rubber and oil
    for cash and brownie points. Instead of a large military, use alliances
    to protect you in case of war.
    - In conquest game, you'll need a very large amount of units, and quite
    a few are well used for blockade duty. Resettling of lands that you
    raze is hard to completely avoid, but it's important to maintain
    a road network out in completely neutral territory, connecting your
    core to the 'front line'. This becomes essential once railroads are
    in place, or when you have distant colonies. Areas very close to home
    that are resettled are often a blessing, as you can pound on the AI
    that dares do such a thing repeatedly and get much gold and tech.
    - In a culture game have a *total focus* on culture on the city you
    plan to hit 20K. Have other units make workers to add in to that city,
    produce all the military, and support the culture city. If other cities
    go for wonders at all, it would be almost stricly for the purpose of
    breaking the cascade, or to catch lower culture-generating wonders
    that your culture city can't get but the AI will. (e.g. say your culture
    city is working on Newton's and another city can get Smith's)
    - Spaceship game is most effective on lower and medium difficulty levels where
    you can self-research the needed techs more effectively. In a close race you
    may need a resource denial campaign (see above). Here more than with other
    victory conditions you might need to make judicious use of espionage
    to snag techs quickly.

    === Miscellaneous Tips ===

    - Espionage can be your friend, but it can also be your worst enemy.
    Be prepared for war if you try to steal a tech, whether safely or immed.
    Sometimes, especially on higher difficulties, it might make the difference
    between falling so far behind that you lose and keeping in the race
    enough to win. Look for 'broker' steals, where you can steal a monopoly
    tech and sell it to others to net you several techs for the price of one.
    Pick on the weakest civ to steal from, and if possible use a spy rather
    than the embassy. Also... don't get addicted. Past performance is no
    guarantee of future success. Steal tech because you need to or because
    you can't bear to line the pockets of the top researcher with cash by
    buying it from him.
    - If the AI has an 'obvious' sneak attack coming, see if you can buy
    a tech from him for a large gpt deal, and if he wants to attack let
    him shoot himself in the foot
    - If playing for non-military win, do so aggressively, building like
    a madman and forsaking all military. Keep the others happy, pay
    tribute when demanded, and keep aggressors in gpt deals.
    - If playing for a military win, do so aggressively. Don't wait until
    Modern Armor before your first wars, but war early and war often. If
    another civ has to cross the sea to get to your land, be especiallly
    bold with him! Raze any cities he settles on your continent, don't
    cave in to his tribute demands. Get some Great Leaders and techs from
    such an AI - punish them for incompetence at waging war across the sea.
    - Micromanage. Unless this thought makes you ill, there is great benefit
    gained from watching your citizens closely, swapping tiles, haggling
    at deals, selling your world map and looking for broker opportunities
    almost every turn. You've only got five cities to manage, so it's not
    as burdensome as in other games.
    - Game length, in real-life terms, varies greatly depending on win
    condition. Diplo wins can involve many 'next turn' no action turns and
    are the quickest to play. Culture is not much different. Conquest games
    can take a loooong time (trust me), and spaceship games might go
    quickly (Monarch or below) or very long (Emperor or anywhere where you
    need a military campaign to stop an opponent about to launch)


    I hope this guide has been helpful, and hope it might inspire
    some of you to try this great variant challenge!


    PS This guide is dedicated to my wonder wife, "Mrs. C" on this Valentine's
    Day, and is my 1000th post at CivFanatics :love:
  3. Justus II

    Justus II General Staff

    Dec 14, 2001
    Peoria, IL, USA
    Great article! I want to try this approach, I read about your recent Celtic 5cc campaign, and it got my interest. I actually like fewer, large cities with all the improvements rather than big, spread-out empires, but it seems the last few games I have played have all been wide open races to expand. I will have to try this soon.
  4. Darkness

    Darkness Shadow creature

    Jul 18, 2002
    Rotterdam, the Netherlands
    Good article. Very interesting. I will try this sometime soon....
  5. CivAgamemnon

    CivAgamemnon King

    Jul 10, 2002
    Earth. Unfortunately.
    I am gonna have to try this... Thank you for writing such an interesting and informative article with a great idea. This could be the basis for some PBEM games. :)
  6. [GoD]Toxic

    [GoD]Toxic Chieftain

    Feb 16, 2003
    Like the others i HAVE to try this out (could really improve gameplay).

    Please write about your next 5CC game

  7. Anrky

    Anrky Chieftain

    Nov 13, 2002
    Toronto, Ontario CANADA
    This sounds like a very intresting way to play... is the a scenario somewhere that does this? where can i get it?
  8. anarres

    anarres anarchist revolutionary

    Apr 22, 2002
    Anrky, just only build 5 cities, that's the only condition :)

    BTW Charis, a very good and comprehensive guide :D
  9. Stuck_as_a_Mac

    Stuck_as_a_Mac Aptenodytes forsteri

    Apr 4, 2002
    Magnificent! Its seeing all the plans layed out in Celtic Christmas (loved it, BTW) for others to use.
    :worshp: :worshp: :worshp: :worshp::worshp::worshp::worshp:
    Cant wait for the next tale. And to see whats instore for GOTM16.
  10. Techpriest

    Techpriest Chieftain

    Feb 18, 2003
    I've played through this variant a couple of times now trying for a diplo victory, and never made it. The problem is that without being able to give technologies to the underdog (behind in tech) or expand to create a buffer zone (5 cities), its next to impossible to prevent one power from dominating the others. I always end up having to just attack the superpower (Usually France or Persia, for some reason), and end up losing due to their larger, more advanced military. Maybe I'm just playing it wrong. Advice?
  11. hbdragon88

    hbdragon88 haunted by blackness

    Aug 10, 2002
    Very nice, I liked it.

    Just one thing: Great Library yields 6 cp/turn, it's only Shakespeare that trounces all with it's wielding 8 cp/turn.

    I would think that (just from reading) that to wipe out a civ is better than to keep them alive. The way it is worded, it makes it seem that you'd keep the city, but you're not because it's a 5CC. So corruption, with just five cities, wouldn't be that bad. So it leaves the other reason to keep the civ alive: to net techs, money, etc.

    It's quite a differnet perspective with a 5CC. In regular games I value Sun Tzu's and Leo's very valuably, beause there's a lot of cities that I build and lots of units to upgrade. But in a 5CC it just gives you five barracks.
  12. Matt P

    Matt P Fly my pretties fly

    Jan 15, 2003
    Van Diemen's land
    Great article Charis. I've had success with a OCC before, but a 5CC opens up new challengs and will be very different.

    I'll have to give it a go.
  13. Bose

    Bose Antipodean

    Oct 20, 2002
    Too close to Victoria
    Awesome guide. Just wondering if you could give me a link to ur Celtic game??
  14. Charis

    Charis Realms Beyond

    Dec 20, 2001
    Midwest, USA
    >I've played through this variant a couple of times now trying for
    > a diplo victory, and never made it. The problem is that without
    > being able to give technologies to the underdog (behind in
    > tech) or expand to create a buffer zone (5 cities), its next to
    > impossible to prevent one power from dominating the others.

    One of the biggest problems with 5CC or OCC is that if one civ is really strong there's almost nothing you can do to stop it from getting a domination victory. There's two things to keep in mind here:
    i) take steps early, before it's too late. Sure it may be painful to get into a war when you're small and weak, but if you do it before the monster is TOO big, and get alliances from all around the world to join in, you can usually survive the 20 turns, and see them take a big hit. (Worst case scenario is when that superpower is your nearest neighbor) Besides... who are you going to end up going against in the diplo vote? The big power! So it's good now to get all other civs to hate them
    ii) help out power#2 and do nothing to help power#1. Don't trade number 1 lux even if you could use the cash. They don't use the lux slider and you will greatly increase their productivity if you give them a luxury. Never buy your tech from the superpower - buy it from #2, to reduce the chance of domination. If there is a weak nation right next to the 'monster', be especially nice with them. (Buy your techs there, sell them lux, GIVE them saltpeter, whatever)

    @ hbdragon88
    >Just one thing: Great Library yields 6 cp/turn, it's only
    > Shakespeare that trounces all with it's wielding 8 cp/turn.

    Ah yes, tnx for the corection.

    As far as whether it's best to wipe out a civ, or leave them alive, it depends on victory condition. If they hate you and you want a diplo win, get rid of them. If you're going for cultural 20K win and want to slow the tech pace, let them live. If you're way behind in tech -- if they are too then GIVE them tech and try to set them us as a trading partner, if they're not, go to war and demand tech as a peace concession, let them live, and repeat later.

    I would think that (just from reading) that to wipe out a civ is better than to keep them alive. The way it is worded, it makes it seem that you'd keep the city, but you're not because it's a 5CC. So corruption, with just five cities, wouldn't be that bad. So it leaves the other reason to keep the civ alive: to net techs, money, etc. (You're right though, I could have worded it better)

    Actually, you still might value Leo or Sun Tzu, but more so now for denial purposes. If it looks like the world superpower, on your continent, is going to get Leo's, it would be REALLY nice to keep him from getting it. Likewise if the Russians with Cossacks have low cash but a ton of horses, you don't want them to get Leo's :p

    @Matt P, Darkness, DJ54, Toxic, anrky, . Good luck!!

    @Bose - > Just wondering if you could give me a link to ur Celtic game??

    Sure thing, it's at:

    If I get another good 5CC or OCC, I'll be sure to post the story.
    Thanks for the feedback guys :hammer:
  15. Grey Fox

    Grey Fox Master of Points

    Dec 19, 2001
    Very good and thorough article Charis.

    I already think I have this knowledge, but I will read it anyway. Havn't read it all yet, but I will do so in a near future.
  16. Karasu

    Karasu Wanderer GOTM Staff

    Jun 28, 2002
    Only for a while
    It's all your fault, Charis! Now I wish I had some time to try my first 5CC... ;)
  17. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

    Dec 1, 2002
    A great article, but IIRC (I read it months ago) you said to trade generously, and not squeezing for the last gold. Since Bamsppedy found that does nothing with the A.I.'s attitude, then woulnd't the opposite be true?
  18. Tone

    Tone Deity Hall of Fame Staff

    Feb 2, 2003
    Fantastic article, Charis!

    I've now played a few 5CC games and enjoyed them thoroughly. I was particularly pleased with my first ever 20K win, due in no small part to your detailed notes and expert advice. I'm yet to try for a conquest victory but give me a spare week and I'll try it out.
  19. WackenOpenAir

    WackenOpenAir Deity

    Sep 16, 2003
    Eindhoven, the Netherlands
    What number of cities is standard to pose a chalenge on each diff level in civ3?

    in civ2 i did an OCC once on deity, but it was extremely boring as it is only just building your stuff in the right order and doing research in the right order. Not to mention it was extremely easy to win the OCC in civ2.

    so i already figured OCC would be harder in civ3, and maybe impossible on deity. now i see you writing about 5CC, what are the lowest number of cities succesfully done at each difficulty level?
  20. Bam-Bam

    Bam-Bam Hammerhead

    Mar 20, 2003
    Alexandria, VA
    There have been succesful OCC's on deity. A two-part report on Zed's deity OCC one can be found at the following links:

    Part 1
    Part 2

    There have also been successful 5CC's on deity, including 5CC conquests. The most recent one of these can be seen here.

    Zwingli completed a 2CC conquest on Monarch in GOTM 18. You can find the story of this tale at the following five locations
    Industrial #2
    Industrial #3

    Hope that helps.

    - Bam-Bam

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