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Having trouble figure this game out


Apr 25, 2024
Hey! Been reading this area for awhile, and watching a lot of @Henrik75 content getting back into Civ. I played mostly noble back in the day as a kid, and I've been using that content to help level me up to a monarch level player right now. I play marathon/huge maps because that's just what I've always done. That creates some unique challenges, which brings me to this game. I have attached an initial save because I'd be really curious to see others work with it. It's a Chinese, Qin Shi Huang game.

I didn't think to SS, but the opening is pretty standard SIP.

I'm going to spoil a description of what I know (I've played the start 3 times, and played one game out to about 600AD with a dead end economy, so I know a decent amount about the map, I just can't figure out how to play out the game correctly. It's a weird problem for me because the issue isn't my usual struggles.

The start is an isolated continent with Mansa Musa about 25-30 tiles south. Despite being a huge map (Fractal), somehow Mansa is the only competitor. There's about 8-10 spots of gold within reasonable distance of the palace, but no food around most of them. There's no iron on Mansa's side of the continent if you can block him into the bottom SE area. The problem is north of the capital is about 35-40% of the continent that's totally uninhabited. It's barb central by about 2000BC and if you haven't grabbed into axeman by then, it's game over quick. Once you weather the storm, you have all the land you want.

I tried a couple strats. I've also considered moving the cap away from the gold to get the copper into the BFC for the cap. The warmonger strat bankrupted me by mid game, so I decided to try again. I managed to chop build oracle into metal casting by 2100 BC, but then got barb smashed. I'm trying to figure out how to balance this start out appropriately. I would be curious to see what you guys do with it because there's so much land, and it's decent, so it feels like you should be a monster if you navigate the early game correctly.


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Barbs should not be too bad on Monarch. I suspect Great Wall is an easy win here as you start with mining.

Grab BW/AH/masonry. Start worker chop/grow settler at size 3. Improve food resources.Not sure timing on AH but maybe it gives time for 1 chop?
After settler 2nd worker. Grab Rice city. 3rd worker there at size 2? Improve rice there with your second worker.
3 workers chop GW. Then chop out 1-2 settlers once Great Wall is complete. Be pretty unlucky if an AI beats you to GW before 2000bc. I suspect 2200bc is easily possible for GW. Just need the workers to speed it up.

Scout out entire land towards Mansa. You would need city visibility for sea trade routes. Great Spy to infiltrate and steal all Mansa's techs. Really not sure Ai tech that fast on Monarch.

Main advantage of marathan is you can spam units for ages. So CKN here will be nice.Keeping Mansa alive gives you 2-3C trade routes. make sure you have a land or sea connection. Disadvantage is you will be clicking next turn 100-150+ turns before anything really starts to happen.

There will be a lot of dead land if you have no food resources. If Mansa has to expand into jungle let him. Let him clear it for you. His start is pretty much Nerfed from the brief scout I did. AI don't start with a worker so he won't be a huge threat.
Definitely not playing marathon, so worldbuildersaved and played some turns on immortal/normal to get a feel for the map.

Spoiler :
You have 4 decent tiles, so grow to size 4 building warriors, then settler. The northern spot is connected so probably the best 2nd city spot. 3rd for the rice, 4th to NW flood plains. SE area has no food so ignore it. Build cottages, let your empire flourish.

No reason to attack Mansa really, he will trade with you even when semi-isolated.


pretended not to read the semi iso thing, so gave it a try as if it were my game,
first thing, hate marathon. lost a warrior to a lion, felt really really bad
also, the east is a must settle, if only for copper, but it would be a bad second city, far away unless settling next to the dry rice wich sadly we will need in the cap for a while. cow on the north + river + protective after loosing a warrior so going archery anyway
went for stonhenge. first for failgold, but ended up getting it, turns game into a creative + protective + ind kinda game. polluted great prophet points, but who knows, may end up giving gold + hammers on a slow game or bulbing theology for all I know.
there seems to be an island to the west worth exploring, goiing for sailing to get foreign trade routes anyway
not gonna go GW since I'm pretending not to know we're isolated with mansa. this is a no tech trade, no vassals and he plots at pleased, so whenever I can draw out the conclusion that we're semi iso, I'm gonna do my best to kill him or at least maim him. otherwise, going great wall and stealing tech from him is a posibility.

Spoiler map at turn 146 :


Okay tried worker/worker settler. Went settler size 2 for commerce with gold and because 3 food flood plains not great.

Size 1 worker in city 2 best as growing to 2f1h forest is not great.

2280bc Great Wall built and I can now chop out 1-2 settler. I do need pottery soon.

Barb issues zero. I got lazy and fortified warriors in capital to save moving 2-3 units each turn.

Okay you have 3 very different approaches. :)

Will 100% not be playing this out on marathan settings.


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Thanks for the replies.

I’ve been trying to develop my early game to progress on difficulties, and it seems like I still have a ways to go. I fell into strategic resource traps instead of finding food/growth.

The game I played out to 600AD was attempted one, and I settled City 2 exactly where chinemol has his x marked to the east. I shared the rice to get the gold and copper both simultaneously workable, and then used farms on plains to get an ok city. It didn’t have a future though.

City 3 actually went even further east into a spot that gets fish, horse, and cow in BFC and I just chopped out a monument since commerce was easy to get to mysticism.

Eventually I went to horse archers and stagnated when I opened a war with the barbarians and captured 3 cities. I decided to use my trained army to beat up Mansa as Timbuktu is a really good city, but I didn’t have enough juice and eventually totally crashed any semblance of teching.

I never even thought about using Great Wall. Amateur I guess.

I started a new game last night. I moved the capital to the plains hill under the gold to get the gold other rice and cow, and then put the second city in a spot to get copper, marble and original rice. I was able to chop Great Wall, Stonehenge (complete accident, was trying to fail gold), Oracle (for MC), and then get 1K of pyramids chopped fail gold. Industrious chopping is way stronger early game than I’d ever considered. That bonus is fun. I put third city north (where most of you put second city) and my economy is so much stronger because of fail gold that I’m up to 6 cities much quicker without tanking my teching, and I was able to get more gold online faster to keep pushing forward.
Plains hill under gold is a good city location. Of course on first playthrough you might not know about the wet rice, although in general on marathon you can afford moving a few more turns to get a better capital (here first worker is 6 turns less to build). You can also build warriors faster initially, though I find there are just so many animals around, they are doing more fogbusting than me haha. I got a few warriors still around the capital to guard the expansion city sites. In addition to the cluster or resources to the east, cow-copper to the southwest is decent as well.

If you put city 2 to get rice and marble to the east, does that mean you get neither of them until you grow the borders? At least you get copper right away? You could also put it between rice and copper and get gold when borders grow. Marble early is not necessary here, you don't even save that much on oracle if you're already IND.
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I never even thought about using Great Wall. Amateur I guess.
I don't want to give contradictory advice, but I don't think GW is something to go for on monarch. Perhaps it is better on marathon than on normal, but still. It's not very difficult to contain barbarians even with warriors, a skill that will be beneficial in every game you play. Learning to rely on GW will hold you back. It is a much much better wonder on deity because the barbarian activity is much more annoying to handle and because on deity the GSpy-points are good. On monarch you do close to nothing with a GSpy, because you can run away in tech by building some early cottages. Which brings me to my second point, one which I already made in my last post. I am repeating it only because your post ignores it.

When you have rivers with some green tiles and some food (flood plains are good enough), your first cities should go there. This will give your empire a solid :commerce:-base which allows you to expand to as many cities as you want to, eventually. Just play the start correctly, settle strongest sites first and you'll see how much easier everything will be later. Claiming resources, wonders etc is of secondary importance.
Yeah, I kinda connected to it when I mentioned everyone put the second city north. I noticed I fell into traps of getting copper, more gold, etc. even though those cities weren’t going to be as effective either short or long term. City placement is an art im still working through as I grow.

I hear what you are saying about GW - but being open about trying to figure out the map and optimize, I should have at least thought of the option. Teenage me tried to wonder spam, so I’ve been heavily backing off wonders and trying to be more intentional about building an army (I’ve lost more than a few games to power level issues and just not caring about military). I recognize that on playthrough 1 of this you probably don’t know to try to Beeline it as a potential out.
The north city would of worked better. I didn't bother scouting due to time it took. Was merely showing that Great Wall was possible. I think barbs would enter borders around 1900bc. If it's only 2-3 barbs then maybe Great Wall is not required. There is a lot of empty land here so hard to guess. It's not a normal game where the AI free units and city culture stop most barbs spawning. I would definitely settle where the food is. As all those gold tiles give zero food for growth.
kept playing a little

Spoiler :



okay, so by the time of this, we know that we're semi iso, that the continent is very big, that barbs will keep spamming, that we could box mansa into the south, that he's pleased, but can plot
how to go ahead?
firs things first, security:
barbs might trample on stuff, but are no threat to protective archers. conecting metal to safeguard a cople cottages. barb galleys will be a problem for coastal seafood. mansa can't scratch us till construction and even then not hard to spam walls and protective archers. so security-wise, let mansa live. a buffer to the south of capital is desirable, but can wait. letting him expand will help with the barb issue. allowing him a route to the east to expand is a possibility.
now how to deal with a huge continent to settle and not go broke?
keep empire small 6 to 7 cities, working commerce till currency and code of laws, build courthouses pretty much everywhere before expanding.
we might want great lighthouse, but the core of the empire is and will be inland, so only as a posibility, not as a priority.
there's stone to the north east, should we build pyramids? think not. there is not a lot of food to work specialists.
so only taking this things into account, I'd say try great lighthouse, settle only when necessary. failgold economy is possible, but wouldn't outpace massive expenses of overexpansion
as for civics, I'd aim for organized religion and monarchy. try to grow the cities we've got and expand religion. caste and start working on specialists is a possibility since we're going for COL
tech-wise: we have a great prophet in the oven, so the whole bulbing theology is a possibility. in any case, meditation, priesthood, have a go at oracle (if we get it, code of laws, get organized, buld courhouses). this is a slow game, so get religious route is not a detour in my view. poli, organized, monarchy.
only then we go COL if we didn't oracle it.
build courthouses and only then switch to caste. try to get 1 scientist, maybe a merchant.
aesthetics to failgold shwedagon and parthenon (not out of the question getting it, since it is a long game), we go for the great library and then, only then push for math, currency, then reassess the whole strategy.
meeting the other players is desirable, but not necessary. getting the upper hand in the continent might be the way to go or not. preventing mansa from growing a lot or not.
beforehand it is har to know, I'd say get to that milestone and look back. other players (better ones) will have a different aproach. just saying, I'm mediocre, don't chose the optimal strategy, loose units, lost improvements, but still this seems doable by just stopping and taking a wider lool from time to time
If you're playing huge marathon then pretty much regardless of the map you're going to have problems with barbarians and there's just too much land to fogbust efficiently so Great Wall is a good play.
I tried playing normal speed last night and it was very jarring how quickly things came at me.
No, I just played through a bit to compare.

I started a game with Joao and it’s one of my best research games (I think). What’s considered a goal civil service date?
1ad is my benchmark on immortal for CS. Depends on game.
I got to it at about 250 BC. It’s a pretty insane flood plains setup. I’ll post the save where I’ve gotten to when I can because I’d be curious to get some judgements.
Here's a link to my current Joao game linked above. Ignore the aquaducts if you could XD! I'd love some feedback on choices and where I'm at in comparison to other potential places I could have gone. I'm theoretically about to start trying to cuir rush but I also recently learned horses aren't really a thing on my continent.


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It's not horrible.

You could trade resources with the AI! Free :health: and :gold:pt. Your first build in a city should be a granary (though it's possible that someone blew it up with a spy). Switching to free religion was a massive mistake. New civics aren't necessarily better! Christianity is good for you for relations and pacifism which pairs up nicely with caste.
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