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Horse archer rush guide

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by vicawoo, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

    Feb 12, 2007
    Horse archer build guide, incomplete draft
    The gist of a horse archer rush is
    -expand to your horses
    -build a barracks and possibly additional workers/settlers while
    -teching horsebackriding
    -build a stables while teching archery
    -alt build horse archers
    -attack and abuse.
    Unfortunately, horsebackriding is rather expensive, so you have to balance production with commerce appropriately. In fact, you can get away with relatively low production and slower early expansions in exchange for high commerce earlier commerce for horse archer builds. This guide attempts to optimize that balance.

    Tech costs
    Spoiler Discounts :
    Remember you get a 20% bonus/discount for each prerequisite, so horse backriding is listed at 405 beakers, but will actually cost 324 beakers since you animal husbandry counts as a prerequisite. Pottery requires at least two pre-requisites. You will also get discounts from difficulty

    Spoiler Number of turns to research and beaker costs :

    Ag 9 ( 97 )
    Wh 9 ( 97 )
    Mining 8 ( 80 )
    BW 15 ( 195 x 0.8 = 156)
    AH 13 (162 / 1.2 = 135)
    HBR 32 ( 405 / 1.2 = 338)
    Economic techs
    Po 10 ( 130 / 1.4 = 92 ???)
    Writing 15 ( 195 x 0.8 = 156 )
    Not including Hunting (65), Archery (97 / 1.2 = 81)
    These numbers are for immortal, and immortal is a 5% decrease in tech costs from deity.

    Animal husbandry and horsebackriding alone will take 45 turns to research at 10 (11) beakers per turn!

    Agriculture + AH + TW + Pottery + Mining + HBR = 81 turns. 80 turns is way too late, so you will want about 10 more beakers per turn. Each turn earlier you get an extra 10 beakers per turn, you'll shave off one turn of Horsebackriding. "free" starting techs save about 8 to 10 turns. If gold is your second improved tile (finishes turn 25), you can skip pottery and get HBR before turn 50!

    There are 3 main sources of those beakers, which determine different rush build orders.
    Commerce sources, pottery, and writing, which will be addressed later.

    Remember to prioritize commerce!
    It will be your limit your rush speed the most. So if you can fit in a few extra cottages before you expand, do it. If your target second city has gold, get it earlier.

    Extra cities pre-rush

    More cities, or more specifically, more hills and hammer tiles, means greater horse archer production. However, more cities delays horse archer infrastructure in your main cities, requires more barb defense, and delays horsebackriding if you get them too early.

    You can't rely on captured cities for horse archer reinforcements. By the time they're out of revolt and you've built the barracks and stable, you've probably killed off your first and even second opponent. So the momentum of your rush will live and die with your pre-rush cities.

    Build more when ...
    you want to take out multiple opponents.
    there are sites (food, possibly shared, and 2 to 3 hammer tiles, including hills).
    Your barracks/barb defense will finish far too early.

    Build fewer when ...
    You have a high happy cap
    there aren't enough hills.
    speed is of the essence
    Your barracks in your first two cities are so delayed that they won't finish when horsebackriding is teched.

    Build orders/priorities for extra cities:
    The ideal time to settle them is about when horsebackriding finishes. you need a strong economy to get to horse archer tech, but once you're there you want production. Pre-improve as many tiles as possible, then settle 1 to 3 settlers when you start your production explosion at the cost of beakers.

    Make barracks, stables, horse archers. Skipping stables or barracks leads faster, but weaker horse archer - often a necessary tradeoff in those later extra cities.

    Unless all the tiles are pre-improved, each new city will need a worker.

    Remember, you don't need roads to those extra cities until they start horse archer production.

    Build variants

    Spoiler pottery :

    When to do it: when you start with multiple riverside tiles in your capital, and agriculture or the wheel. If you have to tech bronze working and pottery, you're better off going writing. Early cottages are much faster than building libraries, they contribute 2 food/hammers to workers/settlers, and if you get cottages up by turn 30ish, you can aim for turn 60ish HBR.
    Tech path
    AH-The wheel, Pottery-HBR-Hunting-Archery. Bronze working is optional before or after HBR.

    The build
    Worker, grow on warrior.

    Remember always to time your growth so you can work just finished cottages.
    Spoiler :

    Here you see I go a second worker before second settler, timed so that I can have two workers cottaging

    I can grow straight to 4 or 5 now. 5 means a later settler/earlier HBR of course.

    Settler (when you don't need to grow/at size 4 or 5).
    Grow further on barracks if necessary.
    Make necessary workers, then settlers if there's time.
    Note the difference of a pottery build is you prioritize growing to cottage tiles first then stall, whereas with writing/special commerce you tend to grow more afterwards.

    Second city:
    Grow on warriors/chariots and barracks
    Make necessary workers, then settlers at cap if there's time.
    Spoiler :

    Note I can start a settler at size 2 or 3, especially with good tiles, for a stronger, 4 city rush, or I can just build the barracks for a faster rush.

    Extra cities:
    spawnbust the target sites, pre-improve as many tiles as possible, and settle them all when you tech horsebackriding and start barrack-stable-horse archers*
    Spoiler :

    Turn 54 Horsebackriding! Not bad for no commerce!

    Spoiler special commerce :

    Gold, silver, gems, fur.

    Gold and horse archers go hand in hand.

    A less common, but also viable commerce source, if found in multiples.

    When to do it: when you have them
    The fastest possible horse archer rush, but the most luck based. If you can get it in your capital, even better, you can hook it up after your food resource, at the cost of lower growth/production, but you'll shave off valuable turns.

    Tech path: worker techs, AH, optionally bronze working, horsebackriding, hunting, archery.

    The build:
    worker, grow on warrior to work special commerce tile if available and special tiles.
    Grow to as many commerce sources as possible at capital (if fish) with barb defense then on barracks, switch to worker at desired size.
    Settler(s) if there's time.

    2nd city:
    Grow on barb defense then barracks
    Necessary worker/settler(s) if there's time.

    If you have strong commerce and are getting a very fast horsebackriding, settle your 3rd settler instead of waiting and start barrack-stable-horse archers*

    Otherwise, spawnbust the target sites, pre-improve as many tiles as possible, and settle them all when you tech horsebackriding and start barrack-stable-horse archers*

    Spoiler example game :


    He finds gold in his second city, which with pottery fuel his expansion. Note it's much faster if you can get gold in your capital.

    Spoiler writing :

    When to do it: when you're creative, and there are no other options, although it can complement a commerce source build.
    You will get HBR around turn 70 :(
    You get 7.5 beakers per turn from 2 scientists, +8 x 0.25 = 2 extra beakers from the palace if you time your binary research well, plus any riverside commerce.
    However, the cost is 90 hammers + 17 x 4 = 68 food until you get your great scientist, which works out to be 158 food/hammers - incidentally about as much as a worker or settler. It takes slightly longer to set up, and you basically give up a city.

    The build
    Worker, improve tiles, settler.
    Transfer worker with settler, as the capital will be only be working 2-3 tiles post-library!
    Grow to at least 4 while building necessary barb defense/barracks in capital, while waiting for writing.

    Here I get writing earlier.

    Build the library/reach size 4 as fast as impossible. Don't be afraid to work forest tiles if they're your best hammer tiles, even if you don't have bronze working.

    Run 2 scientists in your capital while finishing barracks/barb defense and possibly another worker.

    Second city
    While your capital tied up with scientists, this will be your main production source.
    Grow while building barracks/barb defense.
    Build a second worker, timed so it will be back at your capital when bronze working finishes.

    Build a settler if there's time before horsebackriding.
    Build additional workers before that settler if there's even more time before horsebackriding, so they can chop. But 2 workers may be sufficient.

    Once the great scientist pops, settle him so you switch back from scientists to mines.
    Settle your cities and build barracks-stables-horse archers* as usual.

    Tech path
    Worker techs, animal husbandry, (mining if hills), writing.

    Set to 100% gold after writing for enough turns to get horsebackriding at 100% research
    Bronze working (compensates for lack of production), HBR, Hunting, archery.

    Example game
    Spoiler Noble Club 3 :


    Tech path

    Horses we want

    Capital build order
    worker-warrior to 3-settler-library (fast growth to 4 for 2 specialists)

    An even worse second city location than in the first game. I had to put horses in the first ring out of fear victoria might found a religion there.
    Pottery from a hut, but afterwards I pretended that I didn't receive pottery and switched to a barracks. The options for growing on the second city are a barracks, or in less crowded, more barb friendly conditions, warrior-chariot. Due to jungle, we chop a worker after the barracks; in fact with only 1 resource, 1 worker, and our low production capital, we might want to go worker first.

    Library built with unimproved hills. This happens a lot with writing before bronze working builds, since our 1 worker is too busy improving the second city. We could have gone mining first, which slows our tech while increasing production. Considering that after the library is built, we will only work two tiles, and we are tech hungry, skipping mining is the better choice.

    Horsebackriding just finishes; it's turn 68. Distance probably ate up 5 turns, but a low production capital and a suboptimal second city, we don't even have our 3rd settler yet! The capital slow built a worker while the 3rd city chopped a worker, so we actually probably could have went straight settler in our capital and chopped it out.
    The 3rd city is late by ~5 turns.

    An important trade

    Turn 100, 12 keshiks, 1 chariot. Pretty bad, due to a terrible capital and poor second city.

    Sent 3 to pillage the mine.

    Poor screenshot, but the teal city in the bottom right hand corner is on copper, we have 5 HA ready to take 2 archers and an axeman. The other horse archers are going to take out the size 1 city.

    1st turn of war, copper cut and city razed. Turn 3, capital and another city taken out. WK down to 2 small cities, and is willing to talk.

    Mistakes: not going worker first in second city (no pigs...), not shutting off research after writing finishes to save up gold for the library.

    Another good example game is Rusten's Ladies Night deity horse archer rush
    He has gold in his second city, though, and from my experience if he had went pottery and built 3 cottages, he would be about 5 turns faster with higher production.

    Spoiler seafood commerce build :

    Still testing it out! It gets a little tricky, specifically bronze working and worker timings.
    Good when: you start with fishing first OR are financial and have 3 to 4, coastal fish/lake tiles.
    Tends to be faster than a library horse archer rush build,

    Notes: coastal starts tend to want bronze working. I'm not sure whether it's better to skip bronze working or not, though.
    Maxing commerce the capital size first is preferable, to generate early commerce faster.
    Workboat first is fairly strong. It will generate about 20 turns of commerce (40 commerce) before you would have finished your second improvement with a worker first build, which is accelerates horsebackriding by 4 turns. But it doesn't offset the cost of bronze working.

    Combat and tactics from TMIT
    Spoiler :

  2. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

    Feb 12, 2007
    Reserved for splitting up the post/adding on more
  3. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

    Dec 5, 2005
    I think you need to rewrite the section on tech costs, which is either confusing, or wrong.... In particular, it looks like you are rounding down where you need to round up.

    Also, I'm not certain your remark about Pottery is right - AndPreReqs are not OrPreReqs, and a quick world builder test as Egypt shows a 20% bonus when researching Pottery out of the gate.
  4. arigold

    arigold Chieftain

    Jun 7, 2010
    Great guide. Thanks for the detailed explanation. I'm going to try this tomorrow. :)
  5. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

    Feb 12, 2007
    The number of turns to tech is done experimentally, but my explanations of the discount were by memory and definitely could be off. Pottery's numbers kind of confused me, because it didn't seem like a straight up 20%, so I'll definitely have to review it again.
  6. vranasm

    vranasm Deity

    Feb 2, 2002
    Czech Rep.
    hmm I think I saw here earlier some optimal turns number when to start at latest.
    What would you suggest (except for "the earlier the better")?

    yesterday I started a game on Emperor diff., where I was boxed in from russia (as ethiopia) I had gems to the north, gold to the south and some good FP land to the west, so I basically settled these spots and went for HA rush.

    At T91 I have prepared army of 6 HA's and 4 chariots (or was it 3?) with 4 HA "pumps", so in 3T I had another 4 HA's.
    At the T91 I declared war and took 1st city, in 5 turns it was over, with me having 4 out of 5 stalin's cities.

    Was it too late? Whole time I had the feeling that you stated the T90 limit some.
  7. Keilah

    Keilah King

    Aug 24, 2008
    6 month thread necro incoming!

    Referring to a library build:
    "However, the cost is 90 hammers + 17 x 4 = 68 food until you get your great scientist, which works out to be 158 food/hammers"
    Given that you only recommend doing this if creative, the library only costs 45 base hammers. If you are also philosophical (Pericles), the Great Scientist only costs 34 food. He also arrives 8 turns sooner, meaning 8 extra turns of a settled Great Scientist for philosophical civs.
    So 113 food + hammers for creative, 79 for cre + phil with a bonus 8 turns of 1 hammer + 7.5 beakers/turn.
  8. cain3456

    cain3456 Prince

    Nov 1, 2010
    What kind of promos do you like to use for HAs? Do you go up the flanking branch to get collateral damage before siege engines with a chance to withdraw, or go for straight combat bonues?
  9. AutomatedTeller

    AutomatedTeller Frequent poster

    Jan 25, 2006
    Medford, MA
    I generally do about half and half - I generally assume that, at least with the initial defenders, I'll need 2 HA to kill each one, so the first ones get flanking (so more survive) and the next ones get combat.
  10. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

    Jan 26, 2008
    Oracle can put out HBR fast on some starts IIRC. You'd be cutting pottery and/or writing in favor of meditation/ph which are cheaper. GPP towards a gold-granter is welcome even in the worst case (settling) though you might be able to shrine a captured earlygame religion (powerful).

    The benefit of this is your ability to functionally turn :hammers: -----> :science: and GPP through the wonder. Oracle is 150 :hammers: to HBR 338 :science:, so you're doing a little better than 1 ----> 2 (helped by GPP somewhat). I doubt this can dream of touching commerce starts but if I'm not mistaken should beat out some civs that would need to use writing as writing + library (unboosted) is arguably more expensive.
  11. Keilah

    Keilah King

    Aug 24, 2008
    yeah actually I tried it, Oracle's not bad, you get HBR around t51-55 with 2 cities/2 workers which is similar to other builds, and getting a Prophet isn't too bad when HA rushing since your economy will be low meaning an academy will be fairly meh.

    Best to have a plan B in mind when going Oracle though, can't always afford to tech AH before Priesthood and you don't actually know that you have horses!
  12. Ringo Kid

    Ringo Kid Prince

    Oct 20, 2004
    I tend to hold off the attack until I have 20 units, but I start building chariots until I can build the horse archers. For me the advantage is speed and certainty once the war starts. Also the territory you capture is more developed.
  13. cseanny

    cseanny Emperor

    Apr 3, 2008
    I prefer HA rushes with Sury/Cathy. Tech follows food-BW-AH if not your food tech-whl-writing-HBR-Archery-Math with 1st GS-Alpha.

    This allows for 2 very quick new cities and some workers, and an early Library in capital for reaching Hbr quicker. You don't need pottery or any cottages and can skip the tech till you trade for it. The timing of techs/chops/settlers/workers/roads/infrastructure works extremely well.

    I'm not sure how "quick" it really is but I like it, lol. I can usually get barracks/stable and my 1st 7-8 HA by around turn 75-77 or around 1100-1200BC range/normal speed and by turn 81/850BC usually have produced 11-14 HAs. From this point use building research/que chopping additional units while quickly reaching currency. Up to Immortal you can usually conquer yourself into 10+ cities quite easily before the BCs are up.
  14. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

    Aug 25, 2011
    I'm quite bad at managing my HA-rushes, so this guide is very helpfull.

    I'm have tried a few attempts on this Immortal University map with varying degree of success:

    In this map, I have a financial lake for commerce. A early pasture leads me into AH which reveals horses.
    At that point, we have found our close neightbour, and every possible alarmbell should go off. "Now it's time to go for horse archers."

    However, I have big difficulties determining what path to take!
    If I go for pottery, I need BW to clear forested riverside.
    Going for a library is dandy, especially since it later open up the possibility to bulb math for the sizable ammount of forests around.

    So, what general guidelines are there, to better determine when to go for pottery, and when to go for the library?
  15. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

    Aug 25, 2011
    Also, I have learned a few other things:
    To attack a garissoned archer in a city on flat ground, there is a huge differance in the chance of victory if you have one or two promotions. I don't have the exact numbers now, but I remember there was a sizable difference.

    Chariot-choking; If I apply this technique in this map, I think that I only provoce more unit spam, and also the land that I conquer won't be as developed.

    Is chariot choking predominantly usefull for the purpose of denying the target access to metal? (I sure get that feeling!)
  16. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

    Feb 12, 2007
    Pottery tends to produce extra food/hammers for more workers/settlers, you get 2 food and 2+ commerce per tile as opposed to 3.75 from a library (-90 hammers for building the library). Extra happiness certainly helps for pottery but not for libraries. But sometimes it takes bronze working, which often takes too long.

    Creative/philosophical lower the cost for library. My writing times seem slower than pottery.
  17. Sun Tzu Wu

    Sun Tzu Wu Deity Supporter

    Mar 26, 2007
    Yes, the Creative trait provides a +100% Hammer bonus for building Libraries. The Philosophical trait provides a similar bonus for building Universities, but it does not apply to Libraries.

    Sun Tzu Wu
  18. vicawoo

    vicawoo Chieftain

    Feb 12, 2007
    Philosophical reduces the number of turns before you get a great scientist, which can be used to replace or augment your assigned scientists.
  19. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

    Aug 25, 2011
    Creative/philosophical surely speak for the library aproach.
    In a simmilar fashion, expansive would increace the preference of a pottery aproach.

    What you say about happiness seem very relevant, I had not thought about that.

    Working cottages instead of specialists make you able to grow larger, hence such a aproach would benefit more from extra happiness.
    This would indicate that charismatic also would put a slight nudge toward the pottery-side.
  20. Ondskan

    Ondskan Emperor

    Dec 31, 2007
    You forgot a crucial part of your guide.

    Pray to the gods that you get horses!

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