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HA rushing

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Lexicus, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    So, I can't seem to get the hang of this. IIRC I couldn't even pull off HA rush on Monarch (with Keshiks no less), though Agg AI was ticked if that makes a difference.

    How exactly does one go about this tactic? What is an example of a "standard" tech path and what date do you aim to get HBR researched?

    I've moved up to playing Emperor since the last time I played an HA rush, which is the difficulty I have in mind for trying it now.
     
  2. ConfusedCounsel

    ConfusedCounsel Chieftain

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    Not sure, since I never play that way, but I think it might. The whole point of HA rushing is to give an enemy minimal time to 'military up'. You use the speed of the horses to strike fast, preventing an opponent from building lots of archers, or worse, spearmen. Horse archers are kinda expensive for their raw power (since they are also fast), and are thus quite bad at assaulting towns with lots of defenders, from a hammer perspective.

    Tech path first, usually you just get the necesities first: agriculture, AH, mining, bronze working, usually also pottery for a granary to enhance your wipping, roads of coarse, and hunting/fishing only if you need it. Then you beeline. I tend to skip stuff like writing or sailing. You build usually between 2-4 cities, usually 3 or 4, with decent hammers and of course also food. Then you build barracks and stables if a city is productive, never mind the stable if you can only get 3 or so HA out of it. Then you whip the hell out of those cities. 2 pops whips of course, so you wont get too unhappy a city. Get a decent amount of them, so you can quickly overwhelm a couple of major cities of your chosen target. Between 8 to 12 is usually the amount i start with, but keep reinforcements coming.

    The tricky part usually isn't so much taking out an enemy, it is taking out an enemy without completely crashing your economy. You will quickly get a large empire, with few trade routes, won't always have open borders and any cottages often wont be worked due to the singing of your whip. You kind of want to quickly get Alpha and currency to recover from your early (over)expansion by military might and possibly to get some techs for a temporary peace. You also spend hammers used to build military instead of stuff for commerce (in the form of wonders like oracle, GLH or Mids, or Great person points, roads into a neighbor, etc.).
    Getting that balance right is quite difficult.

    On actually attacking, keep in mind that you do pay for the speed of HA. Taking on a heavily militarized opponent, or a very aggressive one that you did not choke on metal isn't really what they are for. They use their speed to attack and enemy without giving them much or any time to respond. They use their speed to threaten multiple cities at once, forcing bad decisions by an AI. Or maybe, you use them to take out a big city and their capital, and as they reinforce their other important city, take out the rest of the small ones. Trade for Alpha by then and get some techs for a peace. Then, after healing an reinforcing, take out the last strongholds. Stuff like that.
     
  3. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    The Aggressive AI builds lots more units I think. So that would explain why it didn't work that well.

    I'm still getting used to playing Emperor without Agg AI checked. The AI stacks are way smaller, it is actually easier in that sense....but I'm having trouble getting a tech lead because they're too fast (also building too many units in rushes, costing me more money than I need to spend). Case in point, my last game, I easily overwhelmed two AIs with Immortals but then just I was on the point of getting my economy going I got invaded by two AIs and had to fight a long defensive war, which flatlined research to the point that Mansa was in the industrial age before I had gotten to the Renaissance.

    I ended up conquering maybe four more AIs but Mansa launched a spaceship long before I was ready to attack him.
     
  4. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    I'd usually go via writing (and maybe alpha). GS can be used to bulb maths to boost chops. This is very good especially if you plan to conquer the map with HAs so you don't need to worry about teching further much.

    1000BC is a good attack date. AIs that don't build a lot of units are prime targets. Unit spammers and protective civs are not.
     
  5. futurehermit

    futurehermit Chieftain

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    I usually expand to 3-4 total cities, as it is good to be able to pump units from a few spots. I wouldn't go with less than 3 unless there were unique conditions. I would tech pottery/writing to build up a modest economic infrastructure but then straight to hbr/archery (NOT alpha/math first, as that slows down your rush quite a lot). Once hbr/archery are in and I am pumping units like mad, then I am headed straight for currency or COL, as economy will be tanking shortly. I usually attack with 15-20 harchers in the BC era. Usually you can wipe out 1, 2, or even 3 opponents before you start running up against longbows. This is assuming emperor, continents map, normal speed. On pangaea map on emperor and below, it is possible to run the whole map with harchers if you can time it right and depending on your opponents.

    Make sure you use slavery effectively to whip out harchers and also make sure to emphasize production (mines) in your starting cities. Capital can get a library to run scientists to boost research toward hbr.

    ps, sometimes a harcher (or any) rush just isn't the right call. if you closest neighbour is a long ways away and you have enough room to expand peacefully to 8+ cities -- especially if it is GOOD land -- then just expand and play more defensively, as you can tech happily toward rifling and then wipe the continent with rifle drafting.

    of course, every map is different ymmv
     
  6. DrCron

    DrCron Chieftain

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    Absolute Zero has a YT channel in which he did an HA rush, on Deity difficulty... against Genghis!

    Apart from what people already told you here, he regenerated the map a few times to make sure he had a lot of forest, to chop as many HA as possible.

    Check it out:


    Link to video.
     
  7. elitetroops

    elitetroops Chieftain

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    I love HAs. Absolutely the best rush units on levels up to immortal imo. Only negative is that they require a tech detour you otherwise wouldn't need.

    I also like to go writing first. Bulbing maths is a good idea if you intend to take the whole map with HAs. Otherwise it might be better to get math some other way and use first GS for something else. Getting open borders with your targets before you attack is great, so that you can plan the attack well and time it right. You can also spot all their metals in advance and make plans for how to take them out as soon as possible.

    If the intention is to take out everyone with HAs, I start the rush with 2-3 cities. Smaller empire gives faster HBR and you can spend worker turns prechopping all your forests while waiting for HBR. If you go with 2 cities, HBR before archery is good, then you can build stables while you tech archery and possibly hunting. If more cities, there's usually not enough resources to spare for stables. Also, if you intend to tech much further, then there is also probably better things to invest hammers in than stables. Still can be worth it to get them up in your best production city (=the one with the most forests).

    There's a few tricks that help successful HA rushing.

    • Fork cities. Put your stack so that they can choose to attack 2 different cities. This confuses the AI and they can't move defenders into both of them. Also allows you to take both on the same turn if you have enough units and combat luck.
    • Avoid fighting spears in cities. If a city is defended by 2 archers and a spear, you can lure the spear out. Put one HA within reach of the spear and it will attack if the city isn't otherwise threatened. Make sure the spear cannot attack and move back to the city on the same turn using roads. Ideally you put a C1+shock HA on a flatland tile that the spear has to attack across a river. Despite quite bad odds, they still usually attack and either you win, or you can take out the severely wounded spear on the next turn without defensive bonuses.
    • If you see a settler in a city, they are about to move it out together with one or two defenders. They won't do this if the city is threatened (HAs within 2 tiles). Keep your HAs away until the settler moves out and either take out the settler party in the open, or let them settle a new city for you, if it seems it's going to a good spot.
    • Plan for efficient worker stealing. With open borders you can locate all their workers before the war and plan your attack to take as many of them as possible when you declare. If you rid them of workers, they are likely to build workers instead of defenders in cities that are not currently threatened. There's no greater feeling than moving your stack up to a city hoping they build no more defenders between turns, then you end turn and see another dot on the city indicating another unit, and it turns out to be a worker they built.
    • Taking out metals asap goes without saying. Best is of course if you can rid them of metals by taking the city that controls it. If not, pillage it.
    • Expect losses. Some cities will be tough. Just bring enough units and you can handle it. However:
    • Don't wait too long to start the war. In some situations you should attack as soon as you have enough units in place to take the first city. If for example their only metal is hooked up in a flatland city with 20% cultural defenses and only one archer, and you don't see any spears yet, then a stack of 2 HAs is enough to declare and grab the city on the first turn of the war. One HA and a chariot could also be enough. Or even one HA if you are feeling lucky.
    • Which reminds me, building a couple of chariots on the way to HBR can be good. They can clean up wounded units, take out the cities defended by only axes and function as extra worker stealers.
    • Worker stealing before you have HBR and are ready to take cities is a double edged sword. Having more workers to chop HAs is of course awesome, but it can also cause the target to build more defenders. Worst case scenario is that they kill your warrior, refuse to talk for a long time and by the time you finally get peace they have 6-7 archers defending their hill capital. I usually prefer to steal workers from someone else than my first target and let the first target keep expanding. As long as they have room to expand, they won't build a stack, but instead build units mainly as settler escorts.
     
  8. alfred_noobel

    alfred_noobel Chieftain

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    Not yet won immortal, i learned one thing. Teching hbr isnt that bad detour, because you can trade it for all Basic techs!

    Btw. I assume you need either libraries or cottages for early rush, but not both?
     
  9. MegaLurker

    MegaLurker Chieftain

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    You don't really need either, but cottages are a good idea if you have no natural commerce tiles.

    Going writing first and bulbing math is debatable. Math is generally a poor use of a Scientist, and going writing first doesn't necessarily speed up your attack date. I certainly wouldn't go writing first specifically to bulb math. You only need those extra hammers if you're attacking a target you can barely handle in the first place.

    If your target has metal he most important thing is scouting. Then writing becomes super-important for open borders, and I like to get out an early chariot to find their source. Then you want to camp a couple guys at the border where they can get to it the fastest.

    Unless you're playing as Hannibal, in which case facing metal units doesn't really matter.
     
  10. lymond

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

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    elite's post = HA Rush 101

    and yep, HAs are the best pound for pound on most maps

    Maths bulb is fine if depending on your goals. If you are going straight super conquest, it is all you need. But if going for a longer term strategy or victory, where HA is just a piece of the whole, then it may be less optimal to use on Maths. I do often bulb Maths as a Philo leader, since my second GS comes soon after.

    Writing is not always needed for HA rush for sure though. If you have some gold it may be best to just head straight for it..should be earlier. Almost always will though with Creative leaders since you can get up a Library in a turn.
     
  11. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Plenty of guides on here for HA rushes. You can build 1-2 more cities at start. Then think about techs and if you even have horse nearby. Also how close the Ai is. With 2-3 cities this should not cripple your science rate on immortal. If you are building 2nd and 3rd cities 4+ tiles from your capital you will struggle.

    Attacking an Ai without metal will always help. Also declaring before they reach IW and find/ hook up iron.

    Of course HA attacks may fail if you take till 500bc to actually build up a stack. Whipping/chopping is assumed. Beelining HBR after key techs too. E.g going for Aesth before HBR would really slow you down.
     
  12. MegaLurker

    MegaLurker Chieftain

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    The most powerful HA rush is when your target gets early Alphabet and you force it out of them for peace, and then broker it around. Then it's comically overpowered on Immortal.

    More likely you can put some turns into Alpha and get it from someone for HBR, then sometimes extort Monarchy or various back-fill for peace. Of course only to give you time to heal up and move your stack into position to re-declare. If you attack someone who took a good tech from the Oracle you can sometimes extort Metal Casting or CoL.

    If you manage to take the 'Mids with an HA rush it makes the game too easy. But even getting taking Stonehenge with a Charismatic leader is a sweet bonus.
     
  13. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I guess the main problem I'm having is that HBR seems to take too long to research with the available resources at the time when I've finished the basic techs and have a few cities going. Maybe I'm just rolling commerce-poor starts but it seems to take an absurd length of time to get HBR researched, a few of the AIs all have alpha, IW, and lots of other techs by the time I've finished HBR (tech path in my last attempt IIRC was AH->Mining->BW->Ag->Pot->Writing->HBR). I think I'll try it without even bothering for writing this time. I played as the Mongols so started with Wheel and Hunting.

    I dunno, I'm going to take another crack at it today I think. I've been trying to find a new place to live the past few days so there hasn't been much time for serious Civving.
     
  14. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    If you are struggling to reach HBR by 1000bc you are doing something wrong. The AI are much slower to expand on Monarch compared to immortal. Agg ai should barely matter.

    On Monarch your tech rate will be much faster than immortal too.

    I think you need to spend more time reading the S and T section of Civ forum. Politics won't get you an HA rush. ;)

    Try this save. I have kept the BFC free from commerce.
     

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  15. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    I played that save, pretty easily rolled Izzy and Willem and then stopped playing.

    It's not Monarch I'm having trouble on, it's Emperor.
     
  16. MegaLurker

    MegaLurker Chieftain

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    If that was your tech path and you got to HBR too late you probably should have gone pottery before BW. You really only need 3 cities for your HA rush so there's no hurry to get to BW. You will rely on archers or chariots for barb defense on Immortal/Deity. Getting a granary and some cottages worked while you research BW/writing/HBR will get you there earlier.

    If commerce is quite low then you're right that you might want to go writing after HBR as well.
     
  17. elmurcis

    elmurcis Chieftain

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    Few times I have gone for HA rush pretty succesful but attack 1st neigbour with Axes already (against no-PRO, no-CRE leader with no-hill capital and no-copper, iron might be too late for that AI). There is this gap between BW and HBR that can use to catch moment when AI sends out Archer/Settler and 2nd Archer is defending worker... and maybe even 3rd archer just went out to lost 25% fortify bonus.. and with 20% city defense bonus only odds allow 2-2,5vs1 fight. And there I can get 3rd and 4th city for later HBR to 2 other guys (well, timing usually allow Catapults+anything at that time) :D But just my 5 cents.
    Its all about "smelling" right moment and place for attack :D
     
  18. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    I would of created emperor save if you had said. On that save posted pottery first was likely better as no commerce. Yes rolling over Spanish was not hard. On my attempt she only had archers. Chariots and KK were way too easy.
     
  19. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    Yeah, that's my bad, I guess it wasn't clear that the difficulties were on Emperor. The last time I failed on Monarch was like four months ago :)

    I did have some trouble with Willem because he planted a city on Iron in territory I hadn't explored yet, in the snow far to the west. I pillaged the iron and bronze that were closer to his (former) border with Spain, but he kept building spears.

    At any rate, I think the advice I've gotten so far will probably be enough for an Emperor attempt. Frankly in my last few tries I wasn't microing much (I know, you guys don't need to micro much on these low difficulties but bear with me ;)) and made several stupid mistakes like forgetting to adjust the slider and building too many chariots.

    I think the main thing tripping me up is the tech diversion, I find mace/xbow rushes are pretty easy to pull off because CS and machinery are part of my "normal" research path in any case.
     
  20. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    I used a lot of micro on my attempt. For instance moving of worker. There is no point moving a worker 2 tiles to a grassland and ending it's turn. I might move it 1 tile and perform an action like building a cottage. Then cancel the cottage and move it another tile and farm corn the next turn.

    Small things add up to a lot. No one is saying you should conquer a map with HA. Situationally HA can be very strong to take down 1-2 nearby Ai.

    If an Ai does get metal you need a plan for this. Use OB to see where iron/copper is. Iron is pretty obvious if you see Ai building mines on grassland. Early scouting when the Ai is on one city will normally show you which Ai have copper.

    If an Ai is a tough target due to him/her spamming spears pick a target that is not so hard to beat down. Of course only attack once you know you have enough units to take down the AI main cities. So a stack of 9-11HA is not unusual. As Elite suggested pillaging metals on T1 of a war is also key. Choosing the right target is also important.

    Maybe you should try aggressive Ai once you feel comfortable with emperor. Get the basics right first.
     

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