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Higher lvl research/expansion tactics

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Dyvim Tvar, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. Dyvim Tvar

    Dyvim Tvar Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    Germany
    Hello everyone!
    I recently began switching the level to Prince and still manage to stay ahead of my foes. But here's really freaks me out a bit: I usually catch up really quick, go in first place and then fight against losing it for the rest of the game. On noble, once I'm ahead the distance continues to grow. On prince, however, I can't figure out how to, so I'm asking you guys.

    My starting tactics:

    1. Build warrior
    2. Once city grows to 2, build worker
    3. Continue building warrior or sumpn else
    4. Once city grows to 3, build settler

    This usually gets me the 2nd city at the same time or a bit earlier than the AI, depending on my starting location.

    Research priorities:
    1. Techs that allow you to improve the most important resource tiles near the capital
    2. The Wheel -> Roads are essential
    3. Possibly meditation or polytheism, if religion is wanted and/or possible to get.

    Next priorities:
    1. Build third city
    2. Build more workers.
    3. Build barracks and units.
    4. Stonehenge - for culture (expansion of city borders) and GP

    Problems:
    What now??
    Usually, maintenance cost of the empire grows rediculously high once you have 5 or 6 cities. How many should one try to build and when?
    I usually have to wait til I get +1 traderoute/city tech.

    How do you stop your foes from expanding without war?
    Is war useful if you cannot capture the cities?

    What should you research first of the really expansive medieval techs?
    How many cities are necessary to win?

    Lots of porblems, hope to get some answers and ideas...
     
  2. LawLessOne

    LawLessOne Chieftain

    Joined:
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    When maintenance costs begin to stop me from founding more cities I make a research be-line for currency. This allows me to set some cities to building Wealth. Then I can expand again. This path also takes you through Code of Laws and you can build courthouses to reduce maintenance cost.

    Another tactic I use is to make Merchant and Priest specialists to bring in extra coin. Great Profits/Merchants can be used as super specialists to bring in more coin. Wonders like the Lighthouse and Colossus can bring in coin too.

    How many cities is completely subjective. It depends on a lot of factors that you cannot know until the very end of the game. I suggest that you can never have too many cities, just too many poor cities.

    I believe in quality instead of quantity. In so many games I have beat the pants off the AI in the late game by just simply out producing every other nation.
     
  3. Dyvim Tvar

    Dyvim Tvar Chieftain

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    Yeah, I use great prophets & great merchants for money production as super specialists now and then. I'm just not sure if it's worth to beeline for currency. It's a hard, long path and you miss a lot of other interesting stuff possibly.

    Currently, I always look at the techs available for research and decide according to the following points:
    1. Research cost -> the lower, the earlier the benefits
    2. Immediate profit -> extra trade routes? different units? reveals recources? allows new improvements?
    3. Leads to another interesting tech
    Sadly, this takes me through confusing paths along the tech tree. I'm also never really happy to completely skip techs... I guess I might try beelining some time soon...
     
  4. LawLessOne

    LawLessOne Chieftain

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    Not advocating be-lining to currency right away. Pastures, Farms, and Mining/Choping are too important to give up early. At some point though, maintenance begins to cripple you. That is when you be-line for currency.

    The AI likes currency too. If you get there first they will trade lesser techs for it. Sometimes 2 techs for the one. A good deal if you ask me.
     
  5. Bobbalouie

    Bobbalouie Chieftain

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    80
    I've played games where I financed my high research rate and expanded my empire simply by having a huge army. Demand gold from your religious enemies, who don't like you anyway, and when they go to war with you, take their towns for some more gold. ;)

    I did this in a prince level game, and I was the tech leader around the time musketmen start appearing. I lucked out in that I had a great start point (basically, 2/3's the nations were beyond a bottle neck isthmus where I plunked a city down) (not to mention that Alexander was on the opposite side of the continent as me) there were 2 religions that had about equal populations, so I just picked the one that spread to me first, and kept up holy wars between the two different sides.

    Anyway, the moral of the story is, if they're going to hate you anyway, can't hurt to give them an actual reason to. :)
     
  6. Dreef

    Dreef Chieftain

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    Nov 23, 2005
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    I was fumbling with the same kind of dilema as you for a while. I have found that up to Monarch(have not beaten higher yet) I like getting at least 3 very quality cities down early.

    I almost always grab bronzeworking very early. If you have a lot of forest chopping trees is huge production early on. If you are production poor/forest poor but have a couple huge food resources slavery+pop rush will help you to keep up production wise. I would have to have a food poor and forest free start area to not feel that bronzeworking is a good early tech. I almost always skip religions now, IMO a waste of beakers early when you can get 100% of the benefit by capturing the city later. Also the AI will use a Great Prophet to build the shrine meaning I don't need to waste my relatively limited great people on it.

    I can almost never get the pyramids unless I have stone but stonehenge is a great early wonder that I can chop out. The great lighthouse is a fantastic wonder if your cities are on the coasts.

    In fact I often don't choose a religion for a long while in the game. I pick and choose my religion based on who I want peace with as opposed to the city benefits.

    I place a very high priority on getting alphabet and becoming the tech broker early. I will pick up a handfull of the necessary techs like pottery or animal husbandry so I am not gimped but I will sometimes even push my luck and skip archery heading for alphabet. Trade trade trade for techs at this point. The computer super-trades with itself but at this point in the game none of the AI has alphabet so you are the only person reaping the rewards.

    So I have 3-5 cities at this point and am the tech broker of the known world. Time to evaluate my situation and determine if I have the production capacity and necessary advantage to make war or if I need to kiss everyones derriere to survive. If I plan on invading a neighbor I start producing axe/swords/elephants followed shortly by catapults. I also do not give any tribute to any of my neighbors. Construction is a high priority, currency is a high priority, and feudalism(longbowmen) is a high priority to me. I will usually aim to cripple one AI early if I have the production and the correct resources.

    Now if I have the production capacity I place a high priority on musketman and riflemen. I fill in as needed to develop my civ but I am always acting with the idea to monopolize those units first. I find that the most cost effective way to win a war is to wage defensive wars and the basic foot soldiers are the best way to do that. Grenadiers/Riflemen can take down everything up through musketmen with a little catapult support. When I have those units I might dump some gold to upgrade some existing units and then I switch over mostly to producing more riflemen/grenadiers and invade somebody. Move your units through hills and forests because once you are a threat to his cities he will attack your units giving you a major advantage. If you position correctly and have the tech advantage he will squader his offensive army and you can methodically catapult and invade his cities losing very few units. Casualty rates of 3+enemy/1 riflemen are very common and when you are done you already have the standing defensive army you need to garrison your civ. If you can cripple one AI with riflemen you should be in great positioning to hit infantry and tanks first so you can rinse and repeat. You should have your choice of a diplo, space, or domination victory.

    If I have very weak production capacity the game gets a lot more interesting. I have to cave on every tech demand and avoid war at all costs. I focus on currency, free trade, tech trading and beurocracy with an all out focus on cottages/commerce to keep up techwise. Any tech that gives a free great person or free tech is good to aim for. One later religion might not be a bad idea but the AI loves to beeline for those. Longbowmen remain a high priority but musketmen and rifling drop fairly low. I only go for the gunpowder units when other civs already have it and even then i try to trade for it. Pick your religion to maximize your peace. Lighthouse and great library are good wonders to aim for but if I am production weak I can almost never get any wonders like the statue of liberty. I try to maximize my trade route and commerce potential while constantly trading for techs. If I can get the UN up(Great Engineer) and have chosen my religion well I have a decent shot at getting a diplo win. Winning the space race with a small production weak civ is nearly impossible IMO. A large civs commerce will continue to grow dramatically and the AI stops trading techs.
     
  7. trundle

    trundle Warlord

    Joined:
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    Well, first off, what victory condition are you going for? Alternatively, what style of play are you pursuing (e.g. builder, warmonger, etc.)? What speed/map type are you playing on?

    I'm not an advocate of a "right" strategy or a "right" build order. It completely depends on your starting conditions and your objectives. Some handy tips, though, that you might be missing:

    1) I don't see a mention of chop-rushing here. Depending on my starting techs, I will often build a worker before anything else, if I can get Bronze Working about the same time the worker would be ready. Then your subsequent builds (military, settler, etc.) will go that much faster, if you have the forests to spare.
    2) Courthouses are supreme for expansion. The earlier you get CoL, the earlier you can press beyond that early economic wall.
    3) I pretty much expect my science rate to drop to about 50% on Prince if I'm expanding correctly. Then I'll wait until my cottages and Courthouses catch up and I can move the slider to 70-80% before I start expanding again.
    4) Prince is when the AI starts getting advantages. If you want to keep up with them, you must produce more (both hammers and commerce) than they do. The easiest way to do this is to be bigger.
    5) Avoid wonder addiction. You mention Stonehenge, for instance. I find this to be one of the least useful early wonders. Which isn't to say you should always avoid it, but you should definitely examine, in every game, what it benefits it will provide and what it will cost you. Often times those hammers will produce much greater results in the long run by getting you an extra settler or two or an extra few warriors.

    But, again, there's really not an "always right" strategy. These are really rules-of-thumb for me. For instance, I think Stonehenge would be much more useful in an Epic or Marathon game, which I rarely play. I do pretty decently (about 80% wins) on Monarch, but I almost always play on standard speed.

    To demonstrate what I mean about examining the situation, this is what I failed to do in the GotM this month. I let myself fall victim to the "starting strategy" mentality, without accounting for the fact that the GotM is at Epic speed. So I expanded and chopped some settlers like normal. In fact, I was even more conservative (adding a few more military units to the mix) than normal because I didn't want to take unnecessary risks in the GotM. But by ignoring the differences in Epic (e.g. more barbarian activity -- means you should be researching archery earlier, building more units, building walls and/or culture for defense, etc.), I set myself up for a completely mediocre game.

    Oh, there is one "always right" tip I can think to give people. Read these forums, especially the Succession Game forums, as much as possible. The Strategy & Tips section is nice and can give you a good sense of theory, but watching SGs will actually let you see other players at work. If they post a decent turnlog, you can figure out what they were thinking, get a sense of new tactics to try out, etc.
     
  8. DangerousMonkey

    DangerousMonkey Warlord

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    Looking at your tech path I can see you haven't prioritized bronze working. You're going to want to have that by the time your first worker gets cranked out, and you'll probably either want to build that worker as your first or second project (after a warrior). After this you have to use chop-rush liberaly to push out workers/settler/military units as fast as possible. Use these chop-rushed units to either take over another civ's empire, or to establish your own as fast as possible. The key to the higher difficulty levels is to establish a commanding early lead in the early game and ride it on through.
     
  9. Dreef

    Dreef Chieftain

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    Alright it might not be clear on how to do this...
    If you having mining starting tech the most basic chop rush goes like this...
    Turn 1: Start construction on worker, 15 turns. Start researching Bronzeworking, 15 turns.

    Turn 15: Worker is complete and Bronzeworking is complete. Begin researching whatever you need. Move worker to a forest and begin chop. Begin construction on either a worker or settler.

    Chop, chop, chop you have some workers, a couple cities, and a standing army. Remember to chop at your newly founded cities as well.

    This wouldn't always be the most ideal chop strat but it demonstrates how early some people pursue bronzeworking.
     
  10. jerry247

    jerry247 Warlord

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    Nov 24, 2005
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    i broke my chopping habit, and now I have fewer (noticably) health problems. I started spacing my cities farther apart too so if there is a need to chop I have a few to cut down. I feel I can get a good lead if I focus on $$, change that city from a 3/0/0 tile to a 2/0/1 tile early game is alot, especially over a few cities. playing on prince/epic I have learned to fear the barbs so I usually build military 1st and then worker or settler. this game I got my own continent and kept up in tech until I contacted gahndi after I built (read chopped) the great library. I used farseer (from apolyton vel's thread); its oracle used to grab metal casting. it puts me in a sweet position for tech trading.
     
  11. Dyvim Tvar

    Dyvim Tvar Chieftain

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    Location:
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    Hello again!
    I really have to say a couple more things it seems.
    First off, I always played epic and now turned to playing marathon and that speed is REALLY awesome.
    Second, I do chop when I consider it useful or necessary. Usually not to get my first settlers, but quite often to help new cities build courthouses or help major cities get wonders. But chopping only helps noticeably in the beginning. And my problems start once the beginning is over. I can usually keep up quite well until the techs take a while longer to research, expansion turns rediciulously expansive and I lose track of where I would like to get in the tech tree...

    I especially hate myself for not wanting to go to war. All in all any war I started or was forced into and won brought my empire a big step ahead, but for some reason I don't like starting wars. I believe it's fairly necessary on higher difficulties, though, isn't it?
     
  12. sandman_civ

    sandman_civ Warlord

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    War is necessary on higher difficulties (Emperor+) as the AI expands too fast and cramps your space. It's also necessary to stop them from winning the space race too fast. On Deity I have even had to resort to alliances just to get them to war against each other and slow them down, not that I've managed to win Deity yet! How do you beat infantry by the 1500's on normal speed!?
     
  13. Mahatmajon

    Mahatmajon Prince

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    I pretty much follow the same approach you have listed for the first 3 city builds. The only things that I suggest are:

    1. After getting the worker techs you need for your city resources I go for Bronze working ASAP for chopping and in case it reveals a better 3rd cityr location.

    2. Once I have 3 cities and a religion and/or Stonehenge I look to attack someone. I've had a lot of success with small sorties of:
    2-3 City raider swordsmen
    2-3 Combat I axemen (which then get +melee or +archer after their first victory)
    1 Archer (for defense)

    This is a great sized army for taking or destroying 2-3 enemy cities which both slows their expansion and maybe more importantly gets you some extra $ to support a 4th and 5th city. It's also fun to do battle without catapults. In the GOTM II (Prince level) this group took out a few cities without a loss and the swordsmen became City Raider III and axemen were combat II + another. I was able to build a few more units to support them and crippled a second AI.

    I like this because it mixes up combat instead of waiting for catapults and a SoD. With City Raider II it's not difficult at all to take out fortified Archers in cities with 20% or even 40% city defense bonuses. Not building settlers/workers during this mini army buildup time also allows cities to grow which makes finances/research approve and allows for more early wonders or faster continued expansion.
     
  14. Mahatmajon

    Mahatmajon Prince

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    Follow up to my own post.

    I also tend to have the issue that you do where I can get out to a lead but then end up trying to hold on instead of making the lead grow. In my last 2 games I've overcome this by fighting more and keeping the AI from catching up instead of worrying about trying to pull ahead myself. Raizing 2 AI cities and pillaging all of their improvements will knock their score down below you much faster than you can ever try to increase your score without fighting.
     
  15. Dyvim Tvar

    Dyvim Tvar Chieftain

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    I have to admit, I was afraid you were going to say so. But it was the only logical conclusion for me as well.

    Another thing I noticed on Marathon games and epic games specifically is that it is absolutely terrible to neglect exploring the area and meeting other nations. In one game I neglected this sitting on my lone continent for too long although galleys could have found other civs while in another I spread my religion to almost every existing civilization making them all love me *g* and making me rich of course *g*. Besides, war on marathon is more fun, because you can actually move your swordsman to an opposing city before he becomes obsolete *g*
     
  16. LawLessOne

    LawLessOne Chieftain

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    War becomes a necessary evil when the AI cuts you off from expanding. I almost never go for the conquest victory myself but a fast early war can put you in a better position fast. Like you, I look at war as the last desperate move of a hopeless situation.

    If you do have to go to war, remember the words of Civil War General Bedford Forest. "Get there first, with the most".
     
  17. odiez42

    odiez42 Chieftain

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    On higher difficulty levels you really are going to have to lose your aversion to war. War is a tool that you need to use to keep up with the AI. You don't necessarily have to be the one at war, but you'll probably have to start/finance one at the very least. Getting the other AI nations to go to war with each other is one of the few ways you can get them to stop doing "group research". At Prince and above the AI will stop trading with you later in the game, but continue to trade with each other making it very hard to keep up without going to, or instigating war.
     
  18. Grogs

    Grogs King

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    Wasn't it actually "get there fustest with the mostest?" I seem to remember he wasn't the most literate of men. Still good advice though.

    OK, here's some (pretty generic) advice:

    - starting tech: I usually base my starting tech on what I've got in my starting city's fat cross. Wheat/corn/rice - agriculture; cattle/sheep - Animal Husbandry (likely I'll have to research agriculture first); crab/fish/etc - fishing; gold/silver/gems - mining. If I already have what I need, bronze working.

    - My initial build depends on what I've got. If I'll have something for a worker to do by the time he's produced, I tend to go for a worker first. If not, usually a warrior/scout and let the city grow while I research the necessary techs.

    - I try to time my first settler to hit after I've researched bronze working. I want to found the 2nd city near copper if at all possible. If I already have copper in the first city, or copper is nowhere to be found, I would try and grab gems, gold, ivory, silver, or fur. These are some of the few +happiness resources you can get before monarchy/calendar.

    - Mysticism is usually pretty early in my list of techs. I rarely build stonehenge though. A single forest chop gets me an obelisk in each city. Building Stonehenge also means your first GP will probably be a prophet - great if you plan to found a religion, not so great otherwise. It's really a flavor thing though.

    - My next priorities are probably wheel->pottery -> writing -> alphabet *or* ironworking. If I have a lot of jungle, iron working probably comes first. I almost never research archery, and even hunting is rare unless I've got a resource that requires a camp. Once you have alphabet don't trade it. Once you trade alphabet away, the AI's will start trading techs and they'll close the gap with you. Trade other techs to pick up what you've missed. You can also see what none of the other AI's have and research that for trade bait. Check the F4 (technologies) screen often. Only after I saw that other civs had discovered alphabet would I start trading it away.
    Also, you don't have to trade tech for tech. Once you have currency, you can trade a tech for gold, which means you can run the science bar at a higher level and research faster.

    - In my cities: I usually stop my initial expansion at ~ 4 cities. I want to grow these cities as large as possible, as soon as possible. 4 size 6 cities are nearly as good as 8 size 3 cities, and cost much, much less in civics and city maintenance. Make sure you have enough workers. You want to eliminate citizens working unimproved tiles as soon as possible.

    - Build cottages. build lots, and build early. A city that has lots of grassland, on the other hand, should get lots of cottages. I still like to keep the food at +3/4 if I can, just so the city will grow faster and be able to work even more tiles in the future. On the other hand, if a city has multiple food bonuses and several hills, this city can be a production powerhouse. Build a barracks and start spamming out military. Maximize production here and don't sweat the cottages.

    - Look to the techs/wonders that will help you financially. Code of Laws and Currency look good here. Also, the Colossus/Great Lighthouse are *awesome* if you have (or will have) several coastal cities. The pyramids are also awesome: with Representation they raise the happiness cap of you 5 (largest) cities by 3 and get extra research for every specialist. Calendar is probably useful as well, since it lets you connect sugar/spices/dyes and increase your happiness limit.

    - Specialists. These guys are really useful in the early game. If you learn writing early, build a library, and assign a science specialist, you'll be getting extra research and earning GP points towards a great scientist, who can then build an academy and increase science output in that city by 50%. Or he could discover a tech. Most people usually don't like using a GP for a tech, but if he can discover philosophy and get you 6 techs in trade (+ found a religion) that's a pretty good deal.
     
  19. Nestorius

    Nestorius Prince

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    The key to Prince level is chopping, commerce, and great people. You chop your first settlers, then you chop some wonders for your super-growth great person city, then you try to found cities near rivers, grasslands, and floodplains for you to plants lots of cottages on. If there aren't many commerce-city spots for spamming cottages, found cities by the sea.
     
  20. CivCorpse

    CivCorpse Supreme Overlord of All

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    Obviously you play on the quicker speeds. On marathon it takes 46-50 turns to research bronzeworking from turn 1. And only 30 turns to build a worker, what does mr worker boy do for 20 turns? Especially if you don't have agriculture as your 2nd starting tech? your only hope is that you have some unforested hills.
     

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