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Help me get better on Emperor!

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by zoiks, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. zoiks

    zoiks Chieftain

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    I have a few wins on Emperor but my gameplay is not good enough, particularly when it comes to balancing expanding the empire, keeping up with tech and keeping my military strength in line with rivals. I would love some advice on my game. For this, I'm playing Emperor, continents, normal speed and four AI opponents. Huts and events are off; barbarians and espionage are also off as I don't want to be distracted from concentrating on my empire management.

    The leader is Pacal of the Mayans, someone I rarely play as so I don't fall into bad habits. I've wanted to make one of these for a while, so let's go...

    Turn 1
    Spoiler Start :


    The place my people have chosen to end their nomadic ways and lay down roots seems nice. The first thing to notice is that there are floodplains galore - eight! My first thought is that the second city is going to be close by, somewhere to the north, to share some cottages with the capital. If I settle here, we've also five hills with two marbles. Bureaucracy will be powerful here. The pigs are out of the first ring but there's more than enough food in the plains to not worry about that as borders will pop in no time. I send the warrior 1W to see from the hill if anything exciting is happening there. It isn't, so I settle in place.

    Pacal starts with mysticism and mining. I must admit that I'm a fan of building Stonehenge as I love getting my new cities to pop asap, and now and then it's also proved useful for squeezing out neighbours who settle too close. With all those forests and mines, Stonehenge could be knocked out in no time. I'm sorely tempted to go for BW. It'll take a while to get to AH or Wheel/Pottery so my worker will have nothing to do (and a worker is my first build).

    Here's a question - is farming the floodplains instead of cottaging them a better idea? I've seen it said on here that you shouldn't cottage floodplains but I don't know why.

    Anyway, I am cottaging them so no point getting agriculture either. That leaves me with BW, so I go for that and send my warrior to explore while the eggheads get busy.




    Turn 26

    Spoiler Start :


    While waiting for bronze working, the worker appears and he sets to work mining the marble - it should be a quarry but he's got nothing else to do yet. A second worker starts being built. And we also meet our first opponent - Pericles of Greece. He appears to have come from the south. With BW in place, the worker gets chopping, we make a start on the wheel and delight the citizens by moving into Slavery.

    On turn 26, the wheel comes in and the settler is a few turns away so let's pause here and decide on the next step. To the north, the options are not as good as I'd hoped. Mountains block a second city from sharing the capital floodplains, although a gold mine is nice to see. I've identified two potential sites, but unfortunately they each share just a single floodplain with the capital.

    Are these my best choices or is there something better that I've missed?

     

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  2. Amao

    Amao King

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    I probably settle 2W to begin with and considering grow the city to size 2 by building warriors. Then, for the next city, probably, 1E of the elephant. If that's the elephant. With worker, farming the pig might worth more than mining the marble.
     
  3. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    Given the starting screenshot, I think I would aim on settling on top of the western marble. Forfeiting freshwater is perfecly ok with a exp leader.
    In any case, all possible starting locations should take into account that we need 4 hammers to get the free exp hammer from building worker.
    As for SIP, thats fine since we have access to a 3H tile right away for exp worker.

    A neat trick here would be to tech BW, grow to to pop2 and put 22+ hammers into a worker, to be able to 1pop whip him as soon as BW is in.
    I think this would work even on deity, since we have a financial oasis.

    I don't like that you start your settler at pop1. With floodplains around, it's nice to grow just to work more of them, they are quite ok even unimproved.
    You also forfeit working a financial oasis, not good.

    In the dotmap you have provided, no city really has the need for a monument. Getting SH just for the sake of it is a habit you need to break.

    Farming floodplains, yes that you should probably do. 1 or 2 at least.
    I think I would farm such floodplains that could be handed of to new cities, so that they would have access to a 4F tile right away.
    Converted to cottages later.

    Consider your wheat+cow city 1W instead. That gives more tile overlap with capital, and loses nothing really, save for freshwater.
    The gold+corn city should be 1E for sure. Makes no sense to shoot for a plains cow in the second ring when you can instead get two more FP, one of which is shared with capital.

    I do like the idea of going early pottery, with financial cottages and expansive granary. I think it was a mistake to go TW before agriculture though, that pig should be farmed and probably also a floodplain.
    Mining marble before masonry is a very good move, but it should probably have been done later, the city can't really work a -2F tile and grow effficiently.

    Abit torn about BW, whipping expansive workers is really nice, but I think I would have gone Agri->Tw->Pottery->BW here.
     
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  4. lymond

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

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    Well, considering you SIP and went BW you should have been chopping. Grow on warriors, chop into settlers. I see merit in BW first with the starting techs, but pigs is too strong a food tile to ignore. I woulda gone straight to AH via AG. Worker could farm a FP or mine the marble - things he could do while waiting for AH. He would not be idle.

    I have a feeling or assumption that your problem is you put less priority on food and growth, which is really what this game is about. I don't like stagnating at size 1 at all on a settler...unless maybe you actually chopped him out.

    Agree with krikav though...I would have been very keen on settling the marble 1NW of pigs...then a city could go on the other marble...probably bureau cap
     
  5. Fippy

    Fippy Mycro Junkie Queen

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    It's strange with 2 ph marble tiles lol, but i actually like SIP here (did i really say that?).
    One marble no option with pigs lost (imo), and the other one would be scouted and found out it's really bringing that great city down long term.
    + 3h start will not solve tech problems, and worker would also barely arrive faster as we move for 2t.

    Agree with Krikav on his trick of growing to size 2, and then having an Oasis + 3h tile for 10t worker.
    Compared with a regular worker start, he arrives 3t slower but we are already at size 2 so not really bad..
    and solves the myst start problem, now we could do normal Agri - AH teching.
     
  6. Swordnboard

    Swordnboard Warlord

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    Starting with a worker here is only 12T, yes? Vs. 18T for the Oasis version. And the worker would hardly be bored before AH with both a FP farm and marble mine being of use. The extra commerce from working the oasis is tempting, though. This one is a really fascinating puzzle on the research order, the right path isn't evident to me.

    Zoiks, your choice of settings is kind of strange. 4 AI opponents on a standard/medium sea level map leaves way more space than is normal or necessary, which is OK but won't give you a good opportunity to practice diplomacy, warfare, or the contested expansion often present on higher difficulties. No espionage is a really unnecessary change that IMO messes up culture too much (for example, 20T to pop borders even with a monument is ridiculous), and No Barbarians makes sense for such a spacious map but fogbusting is an important skill you may not want to neglect. Play whatever is fun to you, but this game is significantly different from what most people are used to.

    Anyways, I'll try to play until turn 50 or so and post some saves once you reach that point in your game.
     
  7. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    The trick I had in mind was not to grow to pop2 and then slow-build, but an other trick.

    You grow to pop2 on a warrior while working oasis and teching BW.
    Once you reach pop2, you put just enough hammers into worker, such that you can 1pop whip him as soon as you reach BW.
     
  8. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    To answer the OP question, regarding how you balance out teching, expansion and having an army - you don't. You shelve one of these as a "potential".
    For example, "I don't need an army right now, but I have the potiential to get one quick if need be", "I don't need to expand right now, but I secured a spot of land to do so".

    Until you get Forges, and due to how cottages work and how "build wealth/science" works, it's inefficient to "have a few cities hammer out units all the time".
    What you do instead is you build up your economy to the point you want to whip or draft an army, and then sacrifice the said economy, usually by whipping it to the bone in most cities.

    This is why it's beneficial to mentally stratify and separate cities into "very important commerce and production spots" and "whippable sacrificial cities". As others pointed out in many threads, the latter don't really need anything but a granary, (lighthouse, library), barracks and perhaps a forge. Sacrifical cities just need farms and mines, farms to grow, mines to hammer out science or gold. When the time comes, you whip them down and get an army in a few turns.

    The dotmap you created in the OP I'd say these are your three "very important spots", one commerce, one production, one a mix (the capital). The rest can be pretty much sacrificial cities that will produce workers, settlers, warriors, run backup specialists.

    On this map, the question of expansion could be summed up like this: you see a potential fourth city on the floodplains to the east. Do you grab it? If yes, is it another commerce city? Is it two production cities with farmed floodplains? This all depends on your long-term plans. If you plan a cav rush, that city won't be fully productive as a commerce city till like Gunpowder, so why even bother? You could just grab it from the AI as a semi or fully developed city.
    If you plan for space, that spot in the far east could be able to crank out lots of gold (perhaps even found a religion like Code of Laws), be the perfect forbidden palace/Wall street city, very valuable for the late game. I hestitate to put a Wall street into a potentially rioting city so either I kill of the AI that grabbed that spot or I grab it myself.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  9. zoiks

    zoiks Chieftain

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    Thanks everyone for the help so far! It's all been helpful, and everyone has helped me look at things from a new perspective. I restarted from the beginning to take some of the advice on board and this is how I have progressed.


    Spoiler Start :


    I settled 1W of the starting spot and built worker first. My opening techs were AG then AH, and when the worker appeared I put him on to farming a plain and started to build a warrior. The worker finishes the farm as AH arrives, so he moves on to the pigs. AH also reveals some horses 1N of the capital - this is a nice bonus. The next tech I choose is BW.

    Pericles founds Hinduism and converts, but I still don't know where he is. Exploring north finds the top of the continent so he is to the east or south. But where?

    The worker mines the marble 1NW of the pigs once he's finished the pasture and the warrior is ready at size 3. Next decision is settler or worker? I'll be ready to chop in four turns; a settler takes 10 and another worker takes 6.

    I decide to go for the worker, and then research TW so I can get the second city connected asap. When worker two appears, I start building my first settler and chop chop chop.

    On turn 29 I find Isabella's scout just to the north of my territory. Unsurprisingly, she is the one who founded Buddhism. A few turns later, Zara meets me.

    Having gone into slavery, I whip the settler and he arrives on turn 39. I have now got these two city spots - the production city to the east is now on top of hills/plains to get an extra hammer, and the commerce city is to the north. Production city first?




     

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  10. lymond

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

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    Coupla things I would point out:

    1) First, I'm not sure I'm seeing the logic in moving 1W to settle Mutal.. I apologize if someone else had mentioned that idea earlier, but otherwise the move seems totally illogical to me. You gained absolute zero, while losing a turn (and an FP as well). I would like to understand your thinking behind that move. (When considering moving a settler when must think of the gains received by moving. There are several reasons to move - improved city location (food, gold or whatnot), bonus center tile - usually hammers, but sometimes food or commerce, and more riverside tiles for cottages - bureau cap)

    2) I recommend thinking about the moves your worker is going to make before improving tiles - think about location and proximity of tiles. Literally every worker turn is important early, even half moves. You improved the FP 1NE of the capital knowing that the prime tile to improve is the pigs once AH is done. If I'm not mistaken the worker finished that FP farm, then had to move onto a hill (lost turn), then move to pigs (lost turn), then improve pigs next turn. That's a loss of at least 2 worker turns, maybe 3 turns. If you had improved the FP 1SE of Mutal, then the worker could start improving pigs immediately.

    Now another way to look at that too, besides the lost worker turns is the 2 or 3 turns lost in having 3 extra food from the pigs for growth. It all adds up to snowballing...or in this case snow-melting. (not to mention the lost turn moving settler)

    3) Mined marble tile is powerful in and of itself, but is still food deficit. Not saying this is a major mistake, but I would tend to still emphasis food neutral/plus improvements early like the horses, especially given the fact that that you have very good food surplus from the farmed FP and pigs. Now I'd have to play this a bit to really know the timings of everything, but I'd probably look to grow to size 4 and 4>2 whip a settler. (maybe you did a 4>2 whip..not sure ..but the timings here on the first settler is pretty slow by normal standards)

    4) So the question of mining the marble would probably be a consideration of overall growth timings and BW. In other words, I'm not saying it is bad to mine marble and in some starting situations it would be a good idea - faster EXP workers or IMP settlers if food is otherwise at a premium. But here I'm thinking growth and chopping so by the time farmed fp, pastured pigs and horses, then if BW is in then I'm in Slavery and chopping over mining marble at this point. If BW was not in at that point, then mining marble probably best move, and it will help with EXP workers later.
     
  11. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Agree capital 1W gained nothing here. Mistake! You also lose a 20H forest.

    Maybe logic on the farm FP is to give a new city a farmed tile? Reality is it wastes 2-3 worker turns moving towards pigs. I would settle corn city next and that would have a 5f resource once worked.

    Your red dot for cow/wheat city should have both cow/wheat in inner ring. Ideally it should be working at least 2 flood plain cottages for the capital.

    Double worker here? Mistake. Focus on expansion.

    I can see the logic in early flood plains but I can also see logic in expanding to grab nearby city spots. There is a lot of good land to cottage here.

    The main advantage of the marble pig site is you could use it to spam settlers/workers while you focus a new city on cottages. The pigs helps the capital to grow faster. Downside is you need many hammers on a palace later.

    Just noticed the double gems. So settling in place works well for that. The second city can borrow the pigs and then be whipped at S2 for a second worker. I think worker/worker was wrong here. With slavery getting a second worker was not going to be hard. I am at T39 and I am a turn away from a 2nd settler. Should have 2nd worker whipped in a few turns.

    I lost 2 worker turns as AH was not ready for pigs. So hard not to lose turns here unless you go BW first. I think delaying a 6f resource here is pointless.

    In terms of focusing on eatly commerce with oasis. I think this holds little value to me. You have gold/gems and are financial. This start is way over powered. I would rex heavily to grab the best spots. Also put in blocker cities near spanish.

    My save does contain a spoiler in terms of map.

    For me no value playing this out as it would be so easy to rush most Ai with HA or just power ahead science wise.

    Oh i settled the gems city 1st. I didn't load your save before the play through. 2 food gems? Nice!
     

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  12. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    Hm... so I recorded a 45 min video of the first 50 turns on this map... and ended up being a black screen. :-/

    Anyway, this map is a bit strange, I don't think it's a good map to learn Emperor. Played it for a space race win, although the game is pretty much in the bag since turn 1.
    Spoiler :
    Two less AIs, no barbs, no espionage, and the resource distribution favors early 18-pop cities, and lots of them, because you simply can.


    Civ4 is truly not only about cities, city buildings and land. If you play it like that, you reduce the gaming experience, at least in my opinion.
     
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  13. zoiks

    zoiks Chieftain

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    Thanks again everyone for taking the time to reply. Maybe I need to be a bit clearer on what I'm hoping to learn from this.

    I know this is not a typical game that people will play. I didn't want a game where the answer was to rush the next civ as this is how I've won most of my games at Emperor. I wouldn't learn from that. But I do need to improve how to get my empire set up, city placement and maximising my tech; I guess the micromanagement, like not wasting worker turns. This may well be a map where you can cruise to a space win by 1700AD, but the point is, I can't do that :)

    For example, the capital looks strong, but what's the best strategy for all those capital floodplains? Is it cottages grown by neighbouring cities, or is it farm them and max out specialists with CoL and Rep?

    Bibor, I'm disappointed your video didn't work, that would have been awesome but thank you for putting in the effort.
     
  14. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    I'll try to force myself to make a new video today, but no promises :)

    And this is precisely what this map won't teach you. This map requires your cities to have minimal overlap, because you can get to Pop 20 in all of them so fast (3 granary health resources, ball court, plenty of calendar happiness resources). In my game I placed cities so tight I was forced to run specialists because I ran out of room. My capital has a happy cap of 25 before astronomy, built Factories without running into unhealth with pop 18 cities... That's... not natural :)
     
  15. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Perrsonally I would mix cottages/specialists. You need to grow capital and other cities so they can be big. Big bureau capital will always helps with science.. I don't mind helper cities on this map. You will want to keep expanding to about 8-9+ cities. Mostly settled before 1ad. Blocking off Spanish will still be important.

    Late game strategy you will want to switch to a hammer economy but this will be much much later. Specialists are useful earlier if you got mids. You'll need to find stone. I think land is key for space as you want an economy that come 1700ad you can be producing 2000-3000 beakers. This will be harder if your restricting any conquest.

    I think at start of game you could of laid down some restrictions on how the game was to be played. I think if you had gone continents you could of played with 6 AI.

    You need to work on diplomacy to keep AI pleased/friendly. So gift techs/resources and avoid religions that will annoy Greeks. Adopting a different religion will really annoy Spanish and Greeks.
     
  16. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    This game specifically is perhaps a good sample game on rapid expansion and quick subsequent conquest. Izzy's lands are just too juicy to be left for her to ruin them.
    I don't see this one as a Pyramids game, besides we don't have stone, floodplain cottages should keep your economy afloat while you knock on Izzy's door.
    Except if going for space, I don't see communism as a viable option, domination seems to be the fastest win here.
     
  17. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    made the vid. Hopefully some of the deity players take a look and comment if I could've done something differently. EDIT: Just realized I plopped a cottage over a future farm. So 3 worker turns wasted, not ideal.

    First 50 turns.

     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  18. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Why build Stone Henge? The first 3 cities would all have resources in their inner ring. Plus it increases the risk of a great priest. I guess it helps with border pops later on. It has delayed your 3rd city by 10-12 turns.There are no barbs here either.

    If you intended to use hammers instead of food better to share the pigs resource with a second city. I don't agree mining the second marble when your corn resource is unimproved. High value food resources should always come before mines. Sure 5H is nice but you can't grow a city using a 5H tile. If this is a space race you want big cities that can be cottaged and then perhaps used for hammers.You need a good size empire for a space win. Early wonders here won't help much.

    On my Carthage game I am playing I opted to delay using the gold as it slowed my capital growth on each pop by 4-5 turns. Same would be true here for the marbles as you have flood plains and only 1 decent food resource. So running mines reduces surplus food by 2F. This is the advantage of gems over gold. No food loss so city continues to grow. If you plan to whip the capital a lot chances are you won't be using either marble for a while. Same is true if you intend to grow it for a large bureau capital.
     
  19. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    @Gumbolt Remember, this is Emperor, prophets are not wasted. One will bulb Theo, the other Code of Laws, both great trade bait. I plan for two, but hopefully getting only one.
    I forgot about no barbs :/
    I'm not mining the second marble, I'm quarrying it - planning to give Oracle a shot to pick up Metal Casting (we have gold & gems). With an engineer and two scientists running, my second or third GP should be one of the two, both great.
    I'm in no rush to that corn, I mean I'm getting there with my second worker, but with this much food, and expansive... the discount works only for hammers & whips. The dry rice is not in the picture yet anyway.

    At least this was my rationale.
     
  20. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    I'd hate not to settle on both marble hills, so I'd go 1E, even if it loses the pigs in cap. Worker, BW, chop and so on. This especially the lower the difficulty level, as expanding swiftly goes up in value (less maintenance) and techs are cheaper so can start chopping a bit earlier.

    @zoiks There are many mistakes already in city management and worker management that I can see from your screenshot. I don't think with these tiles whipping the settler is a good choice. Improving tiles goes to waste if you whip them away. So it's often better to improve say 3 strongest tiles and stagnate @size3 while the worker chops forests for more settlers+workers. You shouldn't be finishing settlers/workers with food bar nearly full, as that food is not put into use then. Because 3rd ring border pop is in, you've probably built Stonehenge, which is a very poor choice. Early game is about getting more cities asap in the most efficient way.
     

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