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Help with opening moves

Discussion in 'Civ3 - General Discussions' started by Mike Hussey, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. Mike Hussey

    Mike Hussey Cricketer

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    Started a new game trying to beat Demigod for the first time. Setup a tiny map and am facing Korea, Babylon and the Byzantines with me playing as the lovely Iroquois. One thing I realised that I struggle with is when to stop REXing and when to start building military. Should I be REXing and building military at the same time or should I do one and then the other?

    In any case I managed to build up to about 12 Mounted Warriors before Babylon declared on me after I refused a demand. Right from the outset I was facing Longbowmen. I knew immediately that I shouldn't have gone for the 0% research, 0 trading 'gambit' from 4000BC (beside teching to horseback riding) :blush:

    Anyway, because they had mainly spearmen at that stage, I managed to grab a few cities before I started seeing pikemen. I still managed to take out a few cities guarded by pikemen but the AI were well into the middle ages by that time. I then saw a message that popped up on the screen which informed me that the Great Library had just been built in the capital. I went straight for capture and leapfrogged from not knowing Masonry to knowing Chemistry in one turn.

    The screenshot below shows the empire at 310BC. Inventory suggests:

    19 cities
    30 workers
    27 mounted warriors

    Have the following questions:

    1) Utilise knights or tech straight to Cavalry considering that my core is still very underdeveloped?
    2) Peace or war in the short to medium term?
    3) Any ways to improve my empire management?

    I've attached a save below as well

     
  2. ahman

    ahman Chieftain

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    A settler costs 30 shields + 20 food (10 food with granary) = 50 or 40 total. Plus the shields that you lose while growing those 2 pop again. A settler factory that grows back in 4 turns, only loses 2 * 2 + 2 * 1 = 6 shields. A town that grows every 10 turns will lose 10 * 2 + 10 * 1 = 30 shields.

    Would the cost of military losses while defeating an AI town's 2 defenders, be higher or lower than that?
     
  3. Mike Hussey

    Mike Hussey Cricketer

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    The thing is the concepts I feel are a bit more subjective than that so I don't think we can break it down into straight shields.

    For example, looking at rapid expansion first, we can know that settlers cost shield and foods which sucks up both the production and growth of a city. That being said, if there is free land available, then this would certainly be the faster of the two ways to grow (provided that you only build settlers, workers and granaries) and already have a decent road network. The problem in my mind is that if you do this for too long, yes you end up with a large empire, but it consists of size 1-4 cities with no buildings and it will take time to grow to the core. This is compounded by the fact that turns 'slow down' the further you are into the game, so it may seem that later growth will be harder and have more detrimental and longer lasting effects.
    One other point I'd like to make is that it delays military production. The problem here again is twofold. 1) the AI techs quite rapidly so that the units you build become more expensive, and with an underdeveloped core, this means that unit production is slowed and 2) if you don't keep up with tech and build the low tech attackers, they are not effective enough to conquer empires rapidly. I feel that we need to take this opportunity cost into account along with the fact that turns become slower over time and that the growth rate of military strength is almost like an exponential graph with it starting very slowly but then building up quickly later on.

    On the other hand with simply establishing a handful of cities and then starting to pump units this is also wonderful initially because you have a whole bunch of units along with your military infrastructure up quite quickly and early and you have a large standing army which then simply be upgraded for the rest of the game. However during wars, how do you fill the territory left by razing or abandoning enemy cities? I don't think it would be feasible in a lot of cases to keep cities (unless very early in the game) due to the amount of military required to be stationed in cities in order to prevent culture flips.
    In the case that you do start to build settlers, then they are going to stifle your reinforcements during your wars or they will set your population back considerably due to the overall lack granaries compared to city setups when rapidly expanding.

    This is why I feel that it cannot be simply broken down into a matter of shields due to the other factors involved. Although feel free to correct me as I may be horrendously wrong.
     
  4. tjs282

    tjs282 Un(a)bashed immigrant

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    I think part of the problem might be that you're looking at things far too much in an 'either/or' fashion. If you can build a reasonably good 1st-ring (6-7 towns), reasonably early, you should then have enough cities to churn out both military and Settlers/Workers, while also building infrastructure (as needed for your intended VC) in 1 or 2 towns at a time.
    I would suggest building units in most of the outer-ring cities -- and maybe half of the inner cities, and building VC-directed infrastructure/ growth in the rest (i.e. only your capital, to start with)... So that by the time you have a large empire (2-3 rings of cities, maybe some farms), the inner-ring cities should be fully-developed, and capable of building whatever you need in a reasonably short time.

    The worst thing you can do is under-expand in the early game, because the AI's production bonuses (and starting unit strength) get brutal at higher levels. Starting early wars (before the AICivs have had a chance to build massive unit-stacks) may actually help to slow down their expansion significantly. You need to be able to produce at least 60-70% of the units that they do, and ideally kill at least 3-5 of theirs for every one you lose in the early game (to eliminate their initial unit-lead and bonus production), or you are going to get hammered. Fortunately that's more than possible (because the AI behaves predictably, and you can always out-think it) and once their stack-attacks are blown, that's when you can begin your advance.
    This is mainly because all growth in Civ is exponential, because 1 city can make 2 cities, which can make 4 cities, etc... The trick is being able to stay on the growth/ tech/ units curve yourself (which will be set by the AI at the higher levels), or at least not too far behind it, using e.g. tech-trading and/or strategic alliances to stay up to par. Because if you do drop too far behind, then yes, the AI will simply roll over you through sheer weight of numbers if nothing else.
    One or two Settler-pumps chugging steadily in your core will put out a new Settler every 2-4T. How much faster do you want to fill those gaps...?
    This is one point specifically that I struggled with for a while, until I realised: Don't worry too much about preventing flips in captured cities, especially if (still) at war with its new owner. Instead, just re-take the flipper on your next turn, since it won't have more than a couple of defenders at most -- and so long as you've got near-parity with respect to techs, resources, etc., you should be able to beat them. (And if you haven't got parity by the late Mid-Age/ early Ind-Age, then the game is probably already lost anyway...).

    Sure, flips are annoying, but so long as you haven't still got half your military fortified in a city if/when it flips -- and especially if that city would be 90% corrupt anyway -- you won't really 'lose' anything significant. Conversely, if you've put a stack of 30+ units in there because that's what CivAssist said you needed, and then the city flips anyway, you're really going to be up the smelly creek with no means of propulsion...

    If the flipper's on your front-lines, true, that could be dangerous, because it might give the AI a clearer intrusion path towards your core -- if you let them keep it. But why would you? If you're still at war with that AICiv anyway (which you certainly will be if you're playing an AW variant!), then you'll most likely have plenty of (fast) units in the vicinity to re-take the city. And if it's behind your lines, the AI won't be able to reach it/ reinforce it anyway: if you have units on their way to the front, making a quick detour to retake the city on their way past, shouldn't slow them down too much.

    And you will never lose a city to a flip on the IBT immediately after taking it. So (if you didn't want to raze the city for whatever reason) all you really need is a small stack (4-6 units, e.g. some damaged fast-attackers which need some time to heal, or even just some low-A-value and/or obsolete units on their way to die heroically at the front) which you can fortify there for 1T. They'll help to restore order on that first IBT, and then you can move most of them out on the next turn, while you begin starving/enslaving the AICiv's citizens.

    Retaking a flipping city once (or even twice!) will also reduce the number of foreign citizens, thereby allowing you to pacify the city with fewer units, and also reducing subsequent flip-chances. Or if you then change your mind about keeping it (and/or you're not particularly fussed about the AI's Attitude to you), then you could just raze it and plonk one of your own Settlers down instead.
     
  5. ahman

    ahman Chieftain

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    Sure you can, gold and shields is what the game is about, and how you invest it to get more.

    You grow the core to get more gold and shields. Can you get more income in the long run from another town, than by letting a core city grow and build city improvements? Even a 95% corrupt town is gonna give you 4 gold upkeep in despotism, 1 gold, 1 shield and 2 food per turn.
     
  6. Mike Hussey

    Mike Hussey Cricketer

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    Actually I'm starting to see this. However, I'm still not sure if we can assign the actual shield counts and food counts to their costs directly from the cost in the game. It might be for example that a horsemen costs 40 shields to begin with, then it costs 30 shields and then it costs 20 shields based on the changing lost opportunity costs as the game develops.

    This I will take on board. I think previously I neglected development of the core so I would always have large but weak empires. So basically like tjs said just build a strong core of 6-7 cities all producing military and conquer the cities from 3rd ring onwards.

    I just find this city specialisation hard to achieve. In a lot of examples posted on these boards I find that most starts are with some food bonus or multiple bonus. I feel that food bonuses are incredibly powerful and change the game early on way too dramatically basically deciding it then and there. For example, even one 4 turn settler factory is sufficient to out expand Emperor level advantages.

    On the flipside of this however, on starts or tiles where there are no food bonuses in any of your first ring cities (which unfortunately or fortunately) are the rolls I get, it's hard to specialise because the maximum food bonus is +2 food bonus on grassland. This meanas you only get a 10 turn settler factory (or something like that) which is a huge difference in rate of expansion. Maybe I'm thinking then that regarding starts with no food bonus, the length of settler spam should be curtailed leading into military expansion and that in starts with a food bonus settler spam should continue on for longer?

    I'm not sure how I can see that working out. Don't the outer cities take longer to develop, produce less shields and be less effective in building units?

    From the 'vibe' I get from the game I think I disagree at this stage :) in a specific context though. For example let's say you only have one size 1 city to start off with, then you build another city size 1, that's an effective doubling of your total production, income and growth. Then you build another city and that's increasing production, income and growth by one third. Then you build another city and that increases production income and growth by one fourth. However as you increase in cities and corruption starts to take hold, you get diminshing returns in gold. Maybe the outer cities in the short to medium term will only net you +3 gold and a worker every 10 turns for 2000-3000 years before growth, tile improvements and railroads come into play. This in my mind almost represents a logarithmic growth style (in the earlier parts of the game).

    Military on the other hand is slightly different right? If you have one lone horseman it could probably only be used for defence. However if you increase the numbers, one, two, three, four etc as the numbers go up, the increase in military value is at a higher rate compared to city growth. For example with an army of 10 horsemen you could probably take 2-3 cities (or even more depending upon circumstances). My point is that military growth has a slightly longer period where the investment versus return is favourable toward the player. Whereas for settler expansion you are stealing food and shields and gold from your core to fund a backwater city that will give you plus a few gold per turn and a worker every 10. This means currently I put military growth as an exponential growth style (in the earlier parts of the game).

    However that doesn't mean of course we build units only. I'm just trying to figure out the right balance or the right mentality to approach this situation.

    Hmm this is quite a good strategy. I will simply be more diligent with starving and rushing workers where possible in order to delay! abandoning the city before replacing with my own slow settlers. Things might get tricky if wonders get involved where you can't exterminate a civ completely but I might station a few attackers outside the city then.
     
  7. tjs282

    tjs282 Un(a)bashed immigrant

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    You can't build the 'multiplier' Ancient-Age improvements -- Libs, Markets, Courthouses, Harbours -- until you've researched/ exchanged a lot of optional and/or late-AA techs anyway, so until then you can't really be specialising your cities beyond 'Settlers/Workers vs. Military,' either. Also, in the Ancient Age, all mil-units cost less than Settlers to produce, in terms of shields+food. You'll need mil-units anyway to keep order in your cities, and intimidate/ attack/ defend yourself from the AICivs once you meet them, so without a 'good' bonus-start/ pump-site as your capital, mil-units (even if only Warriors) should almost always be your first build(s). You would then use your exploring reg-Warriors to look around for the local bonus city-sites while your capital grows a bit, and then build 1-2 Settlers to occupy those sites (see below). And if you're unlucky enough to get no visible food-bonuses in '1st-ring' positions at all, then that will tell you that your expansion will probably have to be military-driven, so all your cities can then be turned over to making mil-units (with the fastest grower perhaps also building the occasional Settler), and then sending those mil-stacks out to make the AI miserable.
    Well, yes. Having bonuses, especially food-bonuses, will clearly make any start more powerful. But I don't think they're absolutely essential for a win at Emp/DG, and possibly not even at Deity (AI gets a 60% bonus and lots of starting units), unless your criteria for a 'win' also includes getting a HoF-worthy score (yes, Lanzelot, I'm looking at you...).
    In a normal game (i.e. not a 1CC!) you will almost certainly need to build at least the first Settler out of your Capital (because you will have no other place to do it), but there's no rule that says that your Capital must become your pump -- or indeed that the first pump you build will be your only pump throughout the entire game. Doing so would almost always be counterproductive: while your first pump will probably be one of your 1st-ring towns, once you start building your 2nd-ring, you will certainly want to get your capital and most/all of your high-commerce/ high-shield 1st-ring cities to Pop12 ASAP (and build the necessary infrastructure), to be able to use them as e.g. Lib-towns, Barracks-towns, or your 20K Culture/ Wonder-city. The only circumstances where a 1st-ring town might then stay as a Settler-pump a little bit longer would be if it had no freshwater -- and you hadn't got Construction yet, so couldn't build a 'Duct.
    Yes, the further away from your capital a town is, the more corruption/waste there will be, ramping up sharply once you're over your OCN. But I'm not using 'inner' and 'outer' as synoyms for 'core' and 'farms' here, I'm using them as comparative terms. In the very early game (first 50-70T), only your capital will be 'inner' and your 1st-ring cities will be 'outer' -- but so long as you've built all those at around distance 3-5 from your Capital, connected them, and improved all the tiles they're working, they should still be reasonably productive, even after the corruption/waste is accounted for.

    Once you've started building/capturing your 2nd ring, your 1st-ring cities become 'inner', and by that time, they should also be reasonably well-grown (Pop5-7), and you should have switched govs, and therefore have the lowered waste/corruption and higher shield-output to build the more expensive 'specialist' multiplier-improvements (Libs, Markets, 'Ducts) or mil-units (Swords/ Maces/ LBMs, Pikes/ Muskets, Horses/ Knights, Trebs/ Cannon) as needed. This is also when you'll need to start (thinking about) building your FP somewhere to maximise your OCN, especially when this is reduced by built-in constraints (e.g. high difficulty-levels, Small/Tiny maps).

    Your 2nd-ringers are now your 'outer' towns, and with their lower/ more significantly corrupted SPTs, these should be building only the cheaper improvements or mil-units (e.g. Barracks, Walls, Warriors, Chariots, Archers, Spears, Cats) -- until you start acquiring your 3rd ring...
    In terms of proportionality, you're right. But you could also look at at it this way: doubling your number of cities doubles your output of, well, everything! Here's an example, using a non-Agri (no city food bonus), non-Exp (no Scout), non-Ind (normal Worker-speed) Civ, starting on a 'minimally good' Grass/Plains site, with no food-bonuses, but still useable (i.e. +2FPT, 2SPT at Pop1), and building only Settlers, Warriors and Workers:

    Turns 1-10:
    • Capital founded, builds Warrior1+2 (5T+5T)
    • Worker1 improves 'best' local tile (e.g. roads+mines (B)Grass or roads+irrigates Plains) (8-10T)
    • Warrior1 begins exploring around Capital (e.g. 3W, 2N, i.e. expanding spiral)
    • Capital --> Pop2, Cultural border expands
    Turns 11-20:
    • Capital (minimum +2FPT, 3SPT) begins Settler1 (10T)
    • Worker1 roads+mines/irrigates 'second-best' tile near Capital (8-10T)
    • Warrior1 continues exploration (e.g. 1N, 6E, 3S)
      • Around 1/2 of the 1st-ring area will be explored by Turn 20
    • Warrior2 keeps order in Capital (assuming Emp+, no Lux)
    • Capital --> Pop3, builds Settler1 --> Pop1
    Turns 21-25:
    • Capital (+2FPT, 2SPT) builds Warrior3 (5T)
    • Settler1 moves to 'best visible' 1st-ring site (distance 3-4), founds City2 (4-5T)
      • In this example, City2 will therefore be in the northern (explored) half of the 1st ring
    • Warrior1 continues exploring (3S, 2W)
    • Warrior2 begins exploring, covering still-fogged ground (3S, 2W)
      • Entire 1st-ring area now visible, so you should now have a pretty good idea where you want to place the rest of your 1st-ring cities -- and in which order -- to maximise return on Settler-investment ASAP
    • Worker1 roads towards City2 (max. 12-16T)
    Turns 26-30:
    • Capital begins Worker2 (5T)
    • City2 builds Warrior4 (5T)
    • Warrior1 and/or Warrior2 can now
      • Continue their outward spiral(s)
      • Start moving directly away from Capital and City2 to contact your neighbouring AICivs (if they haven't sent anything your way yet)
      • Fortify at your next planned city-site(s) -- with the next-built Warriors from the Capital and/or City2 heading northwards/ eastwards rather than accompanying a Settler
    • Warrior3 fortifies in Capital
    • Capital --> Pop2, builds Worker2 --> Pop1
    • City2 --> Pop2
    Turns 30-40:
    • Capital (+2FPT, 2SPT) builds Warrior5+6 (5+5T) or Chariot/ Archer/ Spear1 (10T) or Barracks (10T if Mil, 10+7T if not)
    • City2 (+2FPT, 3SPT) begins Settler2 (10T)
    • Worker1 begins improving City2's best tile (8-10T)
    • Worker2 begins improving Capital's 3rd-best tile (8-10T)
    • [Warriors1+2 continue exploring, hopefully contacting AICivs]
    • Warrior4 fortifies in City2
    • Capital --> Pop2
    • City2 --> Pop3, Settler2 built -->Pop1
    Turns 40-50:
    • Capital (+2FPT, 3SPT) begins Settler3 (10T)
    • City2 (+2FPT, 2SPT) builds Warrior7+8 (5+5T) or Chariot/ Spear/ Archer2 (10T) or Barracks (10-17T)
    • Settler2+Warrior4 move to best available 1st-ring site, founds City3 (4-5T)
    • City3 begins Warrior9 (5T) or Barracks (10-17T)
    • Capital --> Pop3, Settler3 built --> Pop1
    • City2 --> Pop2
    Turns 50-55:
    • Settler3+Warrior7 move to next best available 1st-ring site, founds City4 (4-5T)
    So by this point in the game, at worst, with no bonuses or Luxes anywhere in your 1st ring, and no chopping/ rushing/ whipping anywhere, you could still have at least 4 cities (including your capital), and have done quite a lot of exploration (assuming no Barbarians!). You might also have contacted at least your nearest neighbours, hopefully been able to exchange a few techs, and (if you haven't already picked a specific Civ/ Map-settings to channel a specific VC) have a pretty good idea of what VC you want to aim for.

    Using the same 'Pop2 city (+2FPT, 3SPT) makes a Settler, Pop1 city (+2FPT, 2SPT) makes Warriors/Workers' scheme outlined above, those 4 cities can in the next 20T make another 4 Settlers, and more than enough Warriors/Workers to guard/improve the resulting cities. Therefore by Turns 75-80 at the latest you could have your first ring finished, with ~8 cities (including your capital), and possibly some city-improvements already built (e.g. Walls/ Barracks/ Granaries/ Temples, depending on your city-sites, and your Civ-Traits/ starting techs).

    Notice that in the above -- very conservative -- example, the second city was founded after 25 turns, the 3rd about 20 turns later (Turn 45), and the 4th city 10T after that (Turn 55), with the next 4 cities predicted within the next 25 turns -- now that's what I call exponential!

    And obviously, if your Civ does have any of the Trait-advantages that I deliberately excluded, and/or you do have any food-bonuses or Luxes in/near your 1st ring, and/or you do start forest-chopping/ whipping etc., you should be able to complete a full 1st-ring in (much) less time than this.
    Yes, so long as you have Horses and HBR... ;) But that example just serves to illustrate my point about more cities = more pop = more output = more options = more everything. Military is just one aspect of this: the more cities you have (up to the OCN, anyway), the faster you can churn out those mil-units for conquest (if that's the way you've decided to play), and the more cities you can capture/PT-extort from the AI (which will itself raise your free unit-limit). With only a few cities, how long will it take you to get the tech and build those 10 Horses? And how many mil-units/cities will the AI have been able to build/ plant in the meantime?

    Something else to bear in mind: at every stage in the game, the most modern mil-units always cost you (a lot) less to build/maintain than the latest city-improvements. And at higher difficulty-levels, city-improvements cost the AIs (a lot) less to build than they'll cost you. So it's almost always cheaper to build a Barracks (or 3) and a stack of veteran mil-units, and then go and capture AI cities which already have infrastructure built, than to build it yourself.
     
  8. Mike Hussey

    Mike Hussey Cricketer

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    Yes this is what I was struggling. Most of the games I play do not have food bonuses so for the longest time I did not know how people differentiated between military factories and worker/settler factories considering that grasslands and plains both on produce a 2 food bonus? So basically without food bonuses all cities near the core are simply military factories whether they contain plains, grassland or bonus grasslands.

    Yes definitely some of the best games are without food bonuses. But unfortunately for most SGs there is some kind of food bonus involved even when playing at lower levels. I'm not sure there are any public games just showcasing a very average start contain just normal grasslands and plains with heaps of jungle/swamp nearby. With 2 food surpluses in your best cities you end up with like 10 turn settler factors or 3-4 turn worker factories.

    You propose an interesting graduated approach which I've never considered. I've only ever gone for all core cities ubilding improvements or all core cities building units. I guess this could work particularly considering the necessity of going for the resource connect disconnect into mass upgrade given that the outer rings are building cheaper units.

    So basically you think of a triangle then with the following points:

    Military - Empire Size - Infrastructure

    The more you invest into one point, the less you have to invest into other points, although once you invest into one point the results of that investment generate other points.

    E.g. having a massive army (military) allows you to acquire a large empire size at the cost of your army, or having good infrastructure allows you to acquire a large military due to ...
     
  9. Mike Hussey

    Mike Hussey Cricketer

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    Hey guys,

    I managed to get my first Demigod victory on that tiny map and with my highest ever score as well, barely missed out on 10k points at the end. I used the strategy of resource denial, denying my oponents crucial saltpeter, iron and horses which meant that a I only faced pikemen and spearmen defenders for the most part. The map structure was very helpful as well due to the many virtual chokepoints available helping to minimise wars on wide fronts.

    Seriously though that 0% near-ICS science farm strategy is too strong. Even in the middle ages I pretty much maxed out my grassland territory generating 9 beaker per 4 tiles of grassland and some for plains due to food bonuses. Was able to perform 4-6 turn research at 0% science still generating about 300-400 GPT.

    One observation is that all games have a 'tipping point' after which you know you have won already. I guess moving up in difficulty means that the tipping point increases to the middle ages and then industrial ages etc, although playing on a tiny map meant that the tipping point was artificially lower.

    Attached the save for viewing 'pleasure'

     

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