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Having trouble with Emperor difficulty

regeneration64

Warlord
Joined
May 15, 2012
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222
Location
Shropshire, England
EDIT: PLEASE SEE POST #35 as the OP only refers to my first game on Emperor (pre-G&K) which has already been discussed

As the thread title suggests, I am having trouble with the transition from King to Emperor.

I've found that Emperor is good in that it is the first difficulty level to offer a real challenge but I'm clearly making some mistakes and struggling to get off the ground.

Here's the story from my latest game (a save file is also attached):

Set-up info: England, Standard map and time, Continents Plus, 5 random AI.

I was on a large continent with the Inca as my neighbours and Persia not too far away. I started out as usual, taking Liberty and just having two cities taking a peaceful builder strategy and constructing a few wonders. After some exploration I decided that it was time to takeover my continent, starting with my closest neighbours, the Inca so I beelined for Iron Working.

The Inca's capital was not a challenge (even with the unfortune of only having two iron). However, my new neighbour, Persia, was expanding rapidly from the outset and I was becoming incresingly concerned of their presence as I was no match for them. I had a 'pretend' friendship with Darius but after they took out the rest of Pachacuti's cities I knew I was next. I upped my defences around Manchester (Pachacuti's old capital) but as you can see from the screenshot/save file there was no way I was going to be a match for Darius' military.

The DoW came (the save file is this turn) and I held out as long as I could. 3 turns was all it took to wipe out my units and take the city. I knew that Nottingham was next and wasn't worth defending and it was only a matter of time before London and York were taken too so I admitted defeat.


On reflection this is where I think I went wrong:

1. I was too slow to build up my defences. This is likely from being used to King where it is possible to adopt a peaceful builder strategy and defend against a few units that the AI throws at you.
2. I shouldn't have bothered with wonders at all and taken them from the AI later. Most games (again, on King) I am a wonder whore from the outset and it is only in the late industrial era where I build up a strong military for defence/waging war.
3. I should have targeted Darius first.
4. I should have concentrated on London and York (and perhaps settled a third city nearby) and not worried about my neighbours until they bothered me. I considered this but i am accutely aware that the longer you leave a problem (my neighbours in this case) the worse that problem gets and I didn't fancy getting bogged down in a war of attrition whilst Egpyt and Spain became runaways on the other continent.
5. Some bad luck as Darius clearly had some crazy bonuses to enable him to sustain that many cities and a military of that size! (Although I understand that the bonuses are a feature of Emperor).


I would have liked to have just beelined for ironworking from the outset and then straight onto Machinery but I am not content with being aggressive from Turn 1. Although this appears to be the only option in many game on Emperor. The best form of defence is offense as it were. My problem then would likely be money though as it is tough financing a large enough military as well as signing RAs and building buildings that cost GPT.


Any constructive advice would be most welcome.

EDIT: From the screenshot, my capital and York are to the north, Nottingham is to the North-West and Persia is to the West.
 

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It looks like you've already identified what you did wrong and most of it is accurate so you're off to a good start!

With regards your third point - targeting Darius first. Frankly, I don't think that was ever a realistic option. I'm looking at the minimap and it seems pretty clear to me that the Inca were between you and him and marching your troops through their territory (or attempting an amphibious landing) isn't really something I'd consider to be on the cards given your situation. The sheer distance involved from you to Darius is just not workable.

Your fourth and fifth point are what I think damaged your game the most, even more so than if you wonder-whore'd yourself into ecstasy. Which, to be fair, is always entertaining.

There is a huge amount of land available to you at the northern end of that continent yet you've ignored most of it. Compare that to Darius who has used every inch. Put very simply, you can't compete with that. Not a chance mate. Taking out the Inca was a good move, but that should have been followed up with (or preceded by) filling in the space between London and Manchester with cities. Unless you're going for a culture game, which you clearly aren't (if you were, why did you take out the Inca?), then limiting yourself to so few cities on a Continent with such a huge disparity between you and your neighbour is asking for trouble. If there was ever a time for Liberty+settlers for a couple dozen turns, that was it. Right there.

I'm not sure of the military situation as unfortunately I don't have the DLC you have active to view your savegame but there looks like a natural chokepoint to hold against Darius in between the two groupings of three cities to the west of your screenshot. There are a couple of mountains there and blocking him there will also roughly divide the continent in half so you'll be on a par with him.

Frankly, however, I think you lost this game before you even hit End Turn for the first time. A standard/standard Continents map with only 6 Civs? Reducing the number of Civs on a map almost guarantees a runaway AI, potentially two. The settings and Darius' start is the most likely culprit in your defeat here.

Beelining for Ironworking and then Machinery is a pretty decent move for England if it wants to go to war. In fact, delaying that beeline hurts you because it reduces the effective lifespan of your Longbowmen.

If you wanted to avoid war and the Machinery beeline then what you could have done is gone along the top of the tree and beelined for Ships of the Line and colonized those islands to the north. As I said I can't see if they're any good but by just keeping London on that continent (go down the Tradition tree) and going for colonies first you could make a reasonable go at Space or Diplomacy, you could even try for a late game domination capital snipe. You'd still have the problem of Darius as a runaway AI though, I think that's pretty much unavoidable. Despite what people say it is possible to stop the AI from killing you, you just have to be very careful and don't do anything to annoy it. Easier said than done mind you, but not having any cities but London on the continent should help. Plus, even if you lost London you'd still have your island cities.

I do think though that if you want to play England well you have to beeline for Ships of the Line or Longbowmen, if you don't you're delaying your unique advantages and reducing their period of effectiveness. Going along the top of the research tree (Ship of the Line) is slightly less warfare orientated if that's a concern to you. OTOH, if the whole colony thing isn't your style then you're kinda stuck with the Machinery path.
 
Frankly, however, I think you lost this game before you even hit End Turn for the first time. A standard/standard Continents map with only 6 Civs? Reducing the number of Civs on a map almost guarantees a runaway AI, potentially two. The settings and Darius' start is the most likely culprit in your defeat here.
You can't be serious. No runaway can jeopardize a win on emperor.

regeneration64
You did figure out most of the things got you in trouble.
As it was pointed out to you before ;), wonder whoring is extremely evil habit that makes people struggle when they try higher difficulties. If you plan to do iron rush there are no early wonders that should come earlier than that. Only Great Library, which is also far from being a must have. What else did you build? Stonehenge, Oracle - all of them? For iron rush GL is useful, because you can discover Iron Working with it and send a settler to grab 6 iron right off the bat. Other wonders in this scenario are redundant. You may later grab the Oracle, but there is no hurry, it doesn't go very early.
I agree with Veneke, you should have settled all that unclaimed land instead of staying with only two core cities. Staying so small can be viable when you start massive conquering (not one neighbor, or half a neighbor in your case) early to somehow control the unhappiness. Otherwise there is no reason to do so (with culture victory as obvious exception, although I don't think that was your goal here).

Another critical point, which I believe was a game breaker, is your low science per turn rate. Despite the fact you're not behind technologically, since Darius has much more cities, he easily outproduces you and can bury under piles of cannon fodder. If you stay small, you should make sure you maintain technological lead that allows to train highly advanced units. In this case even when your foe has bigger military, you can resist successfully. To increase science output you need to build National College as early as possible - much more important than wonders! To beeline Education and build/buy universities, then fill them with scientists. If you only have couple of core cities it still may not be enough, so you should have considered annexing inca's former cities or/and signing research agreements. However, b/c there are too few AI in the game left, more cities with universities was pretty much your only option.

On top of everything, England has an incredible UU, which if beelined, is deadly. To get the hand of emperor, you might want to try medieval tech bulb with Liberty finisher strategy. It works with every civ that has knight/crossbow/LS based UU or just basic LS. 2 cities NC start works quite well with it. You beeline the desired tech (Chivalry/Machinery/Steel), ally cultural CS around turn 50 and finish Liberty in 80s. Then you can pick GS and bulb Chivalry/Machinery/Steel, upgrade your prebuilt units (horsemen/archers/swords) and wipe out the continent with ease.
 
One of the first things I noticed when going from King to Emperor, was that at Emperor, the AIs will start filling in the vacant areas of a continent with many cities very quickly, and will generally grow in your direction. At Emperor you will need a way to deal with this expansion.

Starting at Emperor level, I like to select a victory path very early on, and begin to focus on strategies for that path. If you want a peaceful game (science,culture, or diplomatic), get a bunch of early archers/crossbows, and beeline rifling (this is a safe play because you can never rely on getting 6 + iron). 5+ crossbows with a few pikes can hold off just about any normal early DoW. Getting rifles early on (even though it may take you off your tech path a bit) is really important at Emperor and above, to keep you from getting wiped off the map. As the game wears on researching dynamite for artillery is also good for keeping your game peaceful.

Of course, if you get sandwiched between 2-3 aggressive AIs at Emperor and above, think about a reroll.
 
You can't be serious. No runaway can jeopardize a win on emperor.

It can if you're not able to regularly beat Emperor.

I agree with all your other points though.


@Tiber4321: I wouldn't be as keen to suggest an early beeline to Rifling but I pretty much exclusively play on Marathon so maybe that's more viable on the quicker speeds? You do have a fair point about the inability to rely on Iron+Swords rush though.
 
It can if you're not able to regularly beat Emperor.

Outside of catching the player's civ pants down with a massive early rush (no.1 AI fav tactic from Emperor onwards), its really hard to beat down a human player.

Even if they win every other victory on the other continent, the human can always fall back to good ol' Domination with Tom Clancy's hypertech, and the AI becomes just another bad guy of the week to beat.
 
Outside of catching the player's civ pants down with a massive early rush (no.1 AI fav tactic from Emperor onwards), its really hard to beat down a human player.

Even if they win every other victory on the other continent, the human can always fall back to good ol' Domination with Tom Clancy's hypertech, and the AI becomes just another bad guy of the week to beat.

*points to OP*

Runaway AI on Emperor on same continent and the game would appear lost. Although to be fair I suppose you could probably rescue the above game. My point was that if you're not able to regularly beat Emperor then a runaway AI civ on Emperor (potentially two due to the setup) can cost you the game.
 
*points to OP*

Runaway AI on Emperor on same continent and the game would appear lost. Although to be fair I suppose you could probably rescue the above game. My point was that if you're not able to regularly beat Emperor then a runaway AI civ on Emperor (potentially two due to the setup) can cost you the game.

I'm not going to lie: my point includes things like not building your cities so far apart, and using your own surrounding given terrain to turtle up until Late Modern. Also, rushing that runaway with riflemen/artillery before he gets the chance to go boogabaloo in late Renaissance/Industrial.

I'm also not going to lie: I've had a game where there was Runaway China, and me Roma Amigos, sharing the same continent. On Emperor. It was a horrible experience, it was a philosophical lesson in the adage "never piss off the Chinese, because their memories are long" and I really should have maximized my tech advantages when there were actually tech advantages for me to stand on (respectively, Longswords period and Riflemen period).

Even better not lying: Persian Golden Ages. One game I saw him sharing a continent with Runaway Russia. Runaway Russia had the uranium. ALL OF THE URANIUMS. She basically nuked the Persians until Persepolis was soaked in fallout. Still, the Persians crushed her like a runaway speedbump. Apparently he was in a GA during that period.
 
You should have crushed the Persians long before you did anything with the Incans. Their UA is obscenely powerful for you to leave alone to runaway.
 
Absolutely no idea what the first post of your double post is about.

Persians first is a fool's errand, assuming their capital is off at the southern end of the continent which, judging by the culture spread, I'm pretty sure it is. You'd have had to march an army through the Inca or ship them over the ocean and hope that the Incas don't turn on you while you've got your army the other side of the continent. Going after the Incas and Persians earlier, however, is probably fairly valid.
 
Yeah, getting to Persia first would have been a mistake, given the long traveling distance.

It can if you're not able to regularly beat Emperor.
Still, it's much more constructive to say to yourself the game was winnable and what you could have done differently to avoid a loss, rather than comforting an ego by saying it was a lost case to begin with, since you're not experienced emperor beater.

@Tiber4321: I wouldn't be as keen to suggest an early beeline to Rifling but I pretty much exclusively play on Marathon so maybe that's more viable on the quicker speeds? You do have a fair point about the inability to rely on Iron+Swords rush though.
On standard it's not uncommon to double bulb Metallurgy and Rifling. But on emperor there is no real risk involved in researching IW. Unless you're iron biased civ you're pretty much guaranteed to get some, simply because you can send settlers wherever you want and there is no restrictive time frame. And even if you're very unlucky and can't reach iron, the effort you've lost is not critical, as you can successfully defend with plain archers for a long time.
 
Thanks all for the tips/debate. ;)

Just to clarify for those who mentioned going after Persia first. This wasn't a viable option as I was too far away from their capital or even their frontline cities to mount a successful assault, especially this early in the game.

I have attached a few more screenshots to show Persia's capital location in relation to London. The last one (003 I believe) is from Turn 78 and the sprawl has already started. It's insane how the AI can keep their happiness up!

I've just checked my last save file for that game and I had built 7 wonders (including 5 world wonders) and was starting an 8th. In hindsight that was a fatal error right there. I'm practising on King atm and have toned down the wonders to this:

1. Great Library (I dont see the issue in going for this as the free tech and long term boost in science enables me to go down the military side of the tech tree straight afterwards if neccessary).
2. National College (Getting this out of the way early saves wasting hammers later and again will provide a long term science boost).
3. Perhaps Porcelain Tower/Oxford University for the same reasons as above.
4. STOP! (Or at least wait and see how the game is going).

Veneke, you mentioned settling between London and the Inca. Whilst I see the strategic benefits to this I find that happiness becomes an insurmountable problem without enough luxury resources. I suppose I could limit population but then I suffer a science and production loss. :undecide: Maybe, as smallfish has mentioned I should have simply turtled up and waited for the Persians to come but at least I would be ready for them (with a few advanced units, thanks The Pilgrim) and London and York could have held their own together that close. The Persians would have taken out the Inca for me too!

The inability to rely on the availability of iron is offset somewhat with England and their Longbowman. I guess if there is not enough iron it means I have to make do with what I've got for now and stay on the defensive. I've just had a similar situation in my current game (on King) where Catherine and Harold both DoW me and went for both of my cities with around 4-5 warriors and 3 archers. I held off with a single warrior garrisoned in my smallest city and a single archer in my capital. I presume that this will still work on Emperor if I get a very early DoW.

For the record, I like to play with a couple less AIs (and city states) than the default as I like the extra space and island colonies that can be conquered. I understand that this can make the game somewhat more difficult as by having the default amount of AIs they would be able to battle with each other whilst I get a tach lead. Maybe I'll try a game with 8 civs next.

Less wonders, more science and more military would appear to be the order of the day. Start tall and then conquer wide.

I should also point out that, if at all possible, I prefer warfare in the late industrial era onwards as I like the variety of units available and am not proficient with using mounted units.

EDIT: A question regarding city defence. I understand that walls, castles etc increase a city's "Combat Strength" (i.e. ranged attack) and a cities "Hit Points" are always 20. So... does that mean that defensive buildings make almost no difference as to whether an enemy unit can capture a city - especially if the enemy is using ranged units and the city cannot counter-attack?
 

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Wow, it looks like you have 20 iron around. why didn't you settle some of those spots?

And as other people mentioned, you should've had at least a few longbows by now, they are amazing. You could've make a stand with 4 LB's and 4-5 LS, maybe throwing in a treb here and there.
 
Wow, it looks like you have 20 iron around. why didn't you settle some of those spots?

And as other people mentioned, you should've had at least a few longbows by now, they are amazing. You could've make a stand with 4 LB's and 4-5 LS, maybe throwing in a treb here and there.

I agree. I settled London and York before Iron Working and built them up and concentrated on wonders/buildings and not military or the bottom of the tech tree. I learnt my lesson the hard way: by the time I discovered Iron Working my happiness was low and I had next to no time to build up my military and settle on iron before the war with Persia started. In my latest game I have three cities - one of which is settled around plenty of iron - and have only built a couple of wonders! I'm not making the same mistake twice.
 
Still, it's much more constructive to say to yourself the game was winnable and what you could have done differently to avoid a loss, rather than comforting an ego by saying it was a lost case to begin with, since you're not experienced emperor beater.

Fair point, although it wasn't my intent to massage egos, though I certainly see what you're saying. I was simply pointing out that changing the default settings needs to be factored in given that the advice that's most helpful is that which helps a person understand why things are more difficult than a default Emperor game would be.

I'm practising on King atm and have toned down the wonders to this:

1. Great Library (I dont see the issue in going for this as the free tech and long term boost in science enables me to go down the military side of the tech tree straight afterwards if neccessary).
2. National College (Getting this out of the way early saves wasting hammers later and again will provide a long term science boost).
3. Perhaps Porcelain Tower/Oxford University for the same reasons as above.
4. STOP! (Or at least wait and see how the game is going).

Definitely National College, that should be priority 1. Then Great Library and Porcelain Tower only if you're in a position to waste a city's production on it. You can always capture an enemy city with the PT after all. There's a pretty decent Great Library, Liberty Great Scientist, [Optional Hagia Sophia], Porcelain Tower gambit you can usually pull off on Emperor that'll catapult you ahead of the AI that you shouldn't discount. However, unless you're in a comfortable strategic position then you don't want to go further than the National College/Great Library.

Veneke, you mentioned settling between London and the Inca. Whilst I see the strategic benefits to this I find that happiness becomes an insurmountable problem without enough luxury resources. I suppose I could limit population but then I suffer a science and production loss. :undecide: Maybe, as smallfish has mentioned I should have simply turtled up and waited for the Persians to come but at least I would be ready for them (with a few advanced units, thanks The Pilgrim) and London and York could have held their own together that close. The Persians would have taken out the Inca for me too!

You're right that Happiness is something that can stunt growth if not handled carefully. Let's take an example though of a larger number of cities: Keep London, Nottingham and York as they are and add one city near the fork in the river between Nottingham and London and another city near the two iron, dye and stone SW of London. That'll give you 4 luxury resources (Dyes, Silver, Spices, Marble), a Horse in each city to get a Circus and every city but one will be able to build a stone works. Add in a Colleseum to each of those for good measure. That's 40 happiness (16 from resources (4x4), 10 from colleseum (5x2), 10 from Circus (5x2), 4 from Stoneworks (4x1)). You start with 9 happiness so let's up that to 49. Let's toss in the Circus Maximus (built early) as well to make it 54. The cost of all that we'll say is that you haven't built any wonders except the Nat. College and we don't have Manchester. I haven't done the math but I think that's probably fair if we pick the Liberty Social Policy tree for the free worker and settler. While we're at it, we can toss in another 4 happiness for connecting each city to the capital. So we're at 58 happiness now. With 5 cities you're going to have 15 unhappiness from that, so we're down to 43 happiness. You won't have an even divide or fill all of it, but you have the potential for a divide like 12/10/8/8/5. You also have some luxury resources to trade and I haven't factored in anything like city-states either. If you went Tradition instead then you'd have an extra 4 happiness with Monarchy and Aristocracy (+6 from half capital +1 from over 10 - 3 for loss of Meritocracy). Either way you'd have been in a far better position to deal with Inca+Persia.

Edit: Just realized that my initial post had incorrect math on this point. I think I've fixed it.

I'd definitely recommend you read this thread: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=436022


The inability to rely on the availability of iron is offset somewhat with England and their Longbowman. I guess if there is not enough iron it means I have to make do with what I've got for now and stay on the defensive. I've just had a similar situation in my current game (on King) where Catherine and Harold both DoW me and went for both of my cities with around 4-5 warriors and 3 archers. I held off with a single warrior garrisoned in my smallest city and a single archer in my capital. I presume that this will still work on Emperor if I get a very early DoW.

Depending on terrain/luck, that will usually work yeah. I'd just point out that Longbowmen really should be considered as artillery rather than as typical archery units. I'd be very comfortable with leading an offensive with Longbowmen provided you're careful.

For the record, I like to play with a couple less AIs (and city states) than the default as I like the extra space and island colonies that can be conquered. I understand that this can make the game somewhat more difficult as by having the default amount of AIs they would be able to battle with each other whilst I get a tach lead. Maybe I'll try a game with 8 civs next.

Less wonders, more science and more military would appear to be the order of the day. Start tall and then conquer wide.

I should also point out that, if at all possible, I prefer warfare in the late industrial era onwards as I like the variety of units available and am not proficient with using mounted units.

Heh, yeah. It depends on the terrain, obviously, but going for 3/4 cities and then looking to start some serious warmongering is a pretty decent game plan. I also prefer late-industrial warfare, so much so that I usually went for small continents or waited until I had an isolated start and basically just waited until the game got to the interesting stage. Enjoyable.

EDIT: A question regarding city defence. I understand that walls, castles etc increase a city's "Combat Strength" (i.e. ranged attack) and a cities "Hit Points" are always 20. So... does that mean that defensive buildings make almost no difference as to whether an enemy unit can capture a city - especially if the enemy is using ranged units and the city cannot counter-attack?

Ah, this depends on what you mean. Defensive buildings increase the combat strength of the city. So if a melee unit attacks it then the damage dealt to the melee unit is based on the combat strength of the city. The exception to this is when the city has 0 hit points (it's been bombarded by ranged units to death). So, they do make a difference in that they reduce the amount of damage ranged units deal to the hitpoints of a city but that doesn't matter very much if its hit points are all gone.
 
@Veneke I'm still not sure if the OP had a victory path in mind or not. But I'm currently only playing peaceful games, until G&K comes out (I'm hoping they fix some things I hate about domination).

In peaceful games, its all about deterrence and taking advantage of defensive terrain (if you have any). Early on, archers/crossbows are your best friend. Getting several early rifles before your neighboring AIs will back them off, and then clogging your borders with artillery will make them leave you alone for good. I'm talking about Emperor and Immortal games primarily. I've come to really like the idea of rushing rifles, even when I do have iron. Longswords are just way too expensive to upgrade
(220 gold a pop), so I don't like to build too many of them if I can avoid it. I build pikes instead and use them as cannon fodder.
 
Yeah, getting to Persia first would have been a mistake, given the long traveling distance.

Nay

Capture his cities, then sell them to another AI - on the other continent. Or if his capital city has wonders, annex it and build a harbor trade route if its coastal (looks like it).

Once that was done he could have just shifted back to the Incans.


Killing distance is worth it if its going to nip a runaway in its bud before it really takes root. It's why I see so many high level games completed around 200-300ish - not just because of the challenge or comp problems, but because the AI will really be formidable beyond that stage. You want to extinguish them as fast as possible.

Nothing a nice stack of Logistics SBs can't solve of course, but that comes with its own Social Policy and resource allocation issues.:)


edit: something else I noticed: you are having tech parity units with Darius. Really bad move there. You should have bulbed Rifling and Chemistry when you could (did you staff your unis?)
 
Fair point, although it wasn't my intent to massage egos, though I certainly see what you're saying. I was simply pointing out that changing the default settings needs to be factored in given that the advice that's most helpful is that which helps a person understand why things are more difficult than a default Emperor game would be.
Well, if you ask me, there should not be advanced settings screen at all. :D I wouldn't recommend changing anything from standard to anyone who wants to learn and improve. But that's just me.

@Veneke I'm still not sure if the OP had a victory path in mind or not.
Yeah. I think no matter what level you play, having a solid plan makes achieving whatever victory much easier. Although on emperor you can fool around for a long time before you have to choose its type, good habits don't hurt.

Nay

Capture his cities, then sell them to another AI - on the other continent. Or if his capital city has wonders, annex it and build a harbor trade route if its coastal (looks like it).
Non-coastal capital, half of which in tundra, with GW, Darius defensive nature (meaning tons of fast healing immortals and fast healing pikes) miles away from your core cities... Good luck with that. Also... what selling? With that amount of iron both Inca and Persia should have been beaten before Astronomy. Not to mention that at that stage killing one runaway in order to buff another and gift him half of your continent is not the best plan.

BTW, wonders-wise, I suggest to give up on world wonders entirely, except for HS-PT-ND gambit.
 
BTW, wonders-wise, I suggest to give up on world wonders entirely, except for HS-PT-ND gambit.
I can still build wonders on Emperor, but forget it on Immortal.

My strat for play atm is to beeline walls, the math for catapults. Every city should build those as soon as they are available. Then keep the beeline going straight to riflemen and cannons and clear the content if you've got neighbors.

I can't outtech the AI yet on Immortal though, so I'm really working Immortal strats on Emperor to try and perfect them.

I am in no way saying this is a good strat but it does get me fairly consistent Emperor wins.

If you have DLC then Babylon would be my choice for this strat. Of the vanilla civs, probably Egypt.

Edited to add @Pilgram, I always set Legendary Start for resources, and sometimes if I'm cranky and just don't want the hassle I'll set no barbarians. Otherwise I leave it alone.

One strat, I have no idea if the game still gives you the achieve though, is larger map fewer players. Just setup a game like usual, then delete a couple AI players. That should give you a little more elbow room and time to start.
 
Regarding wonders, It's totally dependent on your victory path. I can't state this strongly enough. Also, at Immortal, many powerful early wonders ARE buildable such as HG. If you don't believe, try it.

For an Immortal cultural win, you will need more wonders than the HS-PT-ND thing. Hanging Gardens is a game changer in cultural games at Immortal. Sistine as an almost must as it is so easy to bulb to and build. The later wonders are problematic. For other victory paths, HS-PT-ND may be the only wonders you ever need.
 
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