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How come I never hear about how awesome cataphracts are?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Gwynnja, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Gwynnja

    Gwynnja Deity

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    I drew Justinian from the random leader generator and figured I'd give it a go. I just finished a game with Queen Vic so I was getting used to leveraging Imperialistic (I still think it's a weak trait, but that's a whole different subject,) and I love the freedom spiritual gives you. I started out (prince/standard size fractal map/marathon) on a continent with Monty, Catherine, and Gilgamesh and immediately axe rushed Moscow then Tenochtitlan and eliminated Monty and Catherine. Monty had then Hindu and Jew holy cities which I cottaged up and focused on rebuilding my empire with Gilgamesh in my sights the whole time. I got guilds and put my bureaucratic capital to work spamming Cataphracts while the my other production cities built catapults. Man. These guys are unbelievable. They mowed through everything Gil had to offer, spears, elephants, it didn't matter. by the time I had the continent to myself i had a pretty big stack of combat II/shock/formation Cataphracts. I went back to building infrastructure and met the other continent: Kublai, Fred, and Mehmed and set my sights on Mehmed being the weakest of the three. I got some galleons some rifles and some cannons and brought my Cataphracts along for the ride and they're hunting down grenadiers and cossacks! [edit: oops. i mean curiassers] Unbelievable! They've been waiting patiently for 500 years and are still quite useful. As a side note, I really like Justy's UB as well and kind of wished I could figure out how to run a SE so that upping the culture slider wouldn't kill my research, but it sure helps with WW.
     
  2. Gliese 581

    Gliese 581 Your average civ junkie

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    I think one of the reasons is that Guilds is on a tech path that is not optimal in most cases when you're shooting for Liberalism. You get better economy techs from the other route to paper, Currency, COL, Caste System and you need to get Philosophy anyhow.
    This means getting cataphracts early can often become a second priority.
    I agree that the UB is awesome, the starting techs are crappy though and many players are not big fans of imperialistic so I guess Justinian is not the overall most popular leader chocie.
     
  3. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I'm willing to give anything that makes knights better a go. I love the horse archer charges, because in numbers withdrawal mounted dominates pretty easily (especially with espionage). I've been meaning to try sal with a bit of a guilds beeline for a while now (this would be a medieval mounted charge, using currency/col/guilds/merchants to pay as needed and grab game breaking land, lib race be damned).
     
  4. y2jaus

    y2jaus Chieftain

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    I would also like to give Justinian support- he is often not played, it seems, because he is perceived perhaps as a 'weaker' choice, but I have just won my first Domination victory (I am more of a culture player) at Monarch using Justinian and Cataphracts. Once you establish a foothold, you can leverage the UB to expand massively, and just steamroll everything with your UU.

    As for SE- I ran a pure CE, sure my research suffered as I ramped the culture slider to leverage my UB, but as a wiser poster than me wrote- they can't out tech you when they are dead..
     
  5. DigitalBoy

    DigitalBoy Emperor

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    I have heard people talk about how powerful cataphracts, but that was right after Beyond the Sword was released. I imagine cataphracts are old news now, sort of like how you don't need to explain why praetorians are so powerful. Justinian is reputedly very good for pursuing domination victories, mostly and admittedly because of his uniques, although I won't malign the advantages that spiritual and mysticism give him with regards to early religion and religious civics.

    And I take objection to the statement that researching Guilds is less than optimal. You have to keep your priorities straight, and if you want to get the most out of the cataphract, you just have to deal with the "diversion" from the "liberalism race." The cataphract steamrolls over its opposition, especially when you get them early. I wouldn't delay that sort of military advantage for the paltry luxury of a free tech.
     
  6. Nares

    Nares Emperor

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    I really don't like the Liberalism race. It's too one-sided, even with two tech paths capable of reaching it.

    I'd like to see the free tech converted to a free Great Person, but that's unlikely to happen.
     
  7. Lugh

    Lugh Prince

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    I agree with the later posters, the point of civs with super-horse units is to get them + spies and steamroll before they can be effectively countered. That's the strategic choice, Liberalism or leverage your uniques, and likewise
    You don't even need super-horse if you can get a lead over your target. Knights [stable = 2 promos] + spies can be very effective for a blitzkrieg. Especially as France, with beelined [and drafted] Musketeers keeping up with the Knights and Spies--in effect you have city raiders, defense barrage and city/stack defenders all available at double speed.
     
  8. slaze

    slaze Deity

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    I think alot of people just aren't comfortable enough with an Imperialistic leader; they are one of the toughest to play. Dealing with the right amount of expansion is not an easy task. But I believe there's alot of synergy in Justinian. Imperialistic does point towards the low end of the slider, so why not play in that side of the economy. Pump your cities out shooting for early markets leading to big cities, low slider, lots of land.

    Screw Liberalism. Leave that for the philosophical
     
  9. Quotey

    Quotey Emperor

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    I played a game as Justin (freedom of culture slider = AWESOME), and started a war against Issy with Cataphracts. She was at tech parity, so I didn't roll over her as you could if she had spears. So I just decided to go to Rifling and draft the everloving christ out of my cities. That works well in any case. I wouldn't say Cataphracts are bad, but I wouldn't use them as a main offensive force.

    And Byzantines are pretty much my favourite civ. Never seen anyone knocking them.
     
  10. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    Justinian seems an Ok leader, Spiritual is a good trait if you're prepared to make use of a religion and Imperialistic is not bad if you are prepared to warmonger. The main problem I have with him, although I haven't played him yet, is that he really needs horses.

    His UB which replaces the theatre gets +1 happy from horses INSTEAD of dye. That does not seem a very strong UB no better than the ordinary theatre unless you are willing to raise the cultural slider, something I feel is wasteful. The happiness rate is 2 happy per 10% culture slider but who really wants to do that for long? Useful in wartime to counter WW I suppose and as I say I haven't actually played Justinian, maybe it works.

    Furthermore his UU needs horses AND iron to be built, certainly not difficult in most games but in maybe 30% of games you won't have either one or other of these on some maps unless the player is very aggressive or makes a big effort. And you need to research iron working early to make plans for expansion either by settling the iron or liberating it from a neighbour.

    The cataphract is a good UU once you actually get them. But note they do lose immunity to first strike which can make longbows in a hill city tough to take out, but then all attacking units in that era find them to be tough. It seems to me there are basically two promotion routes to take assuming they're built with a stables. Either just take combat 2 and get a basic 14.4 attacking strength with no frills or go with flanking 2 for the 30% withdraw and immunity to first strikes and a basic 12 strength. The latter type is superior to a basic knight promoted along the combat line since it has the same strength and abilities but a 30% withdraw chance from losing combats. I guess a mixture of both types would work well depending on the target.

    After a few victories the combat line of promotions for the cataphract can get to combat 3 + march (needs 17 exp) and these units will speed up conquests. That is rapidly becoming my favorite promotion combination for all mounted troops.
     
  11. J-man

    J-man Deity

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    Remember that Justinian's UB also provides 3 (IIRC) base happiness without even horse of culture. With Justinian you just need horse.
     
  12. UncleJJ

    UncleJJ Deity

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    Not quite but on checking I was wrong too ;). The hippodrome is a threatre replacement that gets +1 happy, and it can get another +1 happy with horses (instead of the dye that a theatre has). It also has double the rate of happiness with the cultural slider and gets +2 happy per 10% instead of the normal +1 happy. The basic +1 happiness makes it a slightly better building than I first thought and so Justinian is not quite so dependent on horses.
     
  13. Gliese 581

    Gliese 581 Your average civ junkie

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    It's not just the Liberalism race, it's the advantage of currency, col and CS. Of course it depends on the map settings difficulty and so on but I think they are often a priority.
    Anyhow, looking for reasons we don't hear much about Cataphracts.
    I guess the biggest reason could be he's not the most popular leader.
     
  14. J-man

    J-man Deity

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    Justy is just not a top leader. His UB is nice, but if you're not running caste system you will not be able to run artist's for a long time. Cataphracts absolutely rock though.
    It all depends on horses I guess, if you don't have them you're in trouble. Good thing they aren't rare.
     
  15. Quotey

    Quotey Emperor

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    Oh gads, what a loss ;P

    My method for Justinian is run a whole lot of specialists after libs grnaries and courthouses are up, switching to Caste. Bulbing all the way, try to Lib Rifling, Rep Parts or Nationalism. Of course, by now you have a bunch of size 15+ cities, with your super cultural slider. Draft the hell out of them after Rifling (spiritual!!!).

    If you want to wage a pillage these guys, and take out stacks, Guilds is on the way to Rifling. Cataphracts!

    Another way to use Cataphracts is to quickly take some border cities, and by the time you have Rifling you can draft from those as well, because of your likely superior culture.
     
  16. Kev

    Kev Hired Goon

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    On lower levels it can be quite possible to get 'phracts up early enough to tear through regular archery units. If you hustle and have some luck, you can beeline Monarchy and make sure you have the Oracle ready to finish quickly. From there, the Oracle can give you Feudalism - a very handy tech to have early no matter what the circumstances, but in this case it clears the way for Guilds very early. Of course, you still need Metal Casting, HBR and Machinery (not to mention horses and iron) to get your Cataphracts on board, but consider the possibility of a Great Person bulbing MC/Mach as well (An engineer would work - and I cannot recall if a merchant would help).

    If you want to, you can also utilize Monarchy & Feud to tech trade for one as well - though that presents an obvious danger. Still, phracts can take out longbows in 40% culture pretty well. Add to this the ability to hit Vassalage early, and you have the potential to be a real terror on your continent for a long while.

    For some kicks, use a different leader for Byz and see how well other traits work with the given UB and UU. An industrious leader would be fun, and a Charasmatic one would also be interesting. Perhaps HC of the Byzantines (financial/industrious) might make an interesting choice - decent early teching and quick wonder building will surely help you get Feud nice and early....
     
  17. 50_dollar_bag

    50_dollar_bag Imitation Louis Vuitton

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    Doesn't the Hippodrome work as 1 :) per 5% meaning that if you wanted to go and adjust the commerce slider step 5% increments you would have better control of your economy?

    I don't have civ 4 in front of me at the moment and the BTS info centre states it as being 1 happy per 20% of the slider.
     
  18. slaze

    slaze Deity

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    You get 1 :) per 10% :culture: anyway, with a theater or not, and then with a theater you get an additional :) for every 10% :culture:. So a theater is 2 happy per 10% of the slider.

    And a Hippodrome:
    2 :) @ 0% :culture:
    5 :) @ 10% :culture:
    7 :) @ 20% :culture: 8 :) with a colloseum
     
  19. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Justinian is awesome - everything works together and he is made for war.

    Think of the UB as near infinite drafting. Immunity to war weariness. Laugh at the statue of Zeus. Cities as big as your health can sustain.

    Spiritual lets you rush forward on techs using caste system and then switch to total production with nationhood/slavery. Imperialistic isn't great - but Justinian will get full use of it.

    Cataphracts are very good if you can get them before the AI gets Engineering. But thats not always easy. Unfortunately a Guilds beeline is hard to lightbulb - which is probably what makes it less attractive than the Liberalism beeline.
     
  20. slaze

    slaze Deity

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    Add to that list immunity to Hereditary Rule. Your units can just walk off and...
     

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