How does a newbie not die?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by kevlarcardhouse, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. kevlarcardhouse

    kevlarcardhouse Chieftain

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    Okay, big fan of turn-based strategy but never played a Civilization game until recently (was afraid they would be too complicated). I did start to enjoy it, until the same problem started cropping up. Now I'm getting frustrated.

    Every time I start a new game, I almost always become ahead of the pack in no time and stay that way. Then, 9.5 times out of ten, at about 1750 A.D. one or more other civilizations declares war on me, then promptly wipes the floor with me. I even tried lower difficulty levels, picking a leader with the Defensive characteristic, and focusing on military advancement, and yet I still watch as all my progress is slowly ruined as wave after wave of my musketmen and cannons are easily destroyed by archers and swordsman from the opposing side(s).

    What in the hell could I be doing wrong? Every bit of advice I can find for newbies online make suggestions that are exactly what I already do. (Don't expand too fast? I usually can't seem to be able to expand enough for the game's expectations, especially since I keep spending more and more on military advancements.)

    Help me out here, please.
     
  2. Woobi

    Woobi ...

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    More units???

    Also, usually the best defense, is a strong offense...
     
  3. automator

    automator King

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    There are a few "prime times" to be ready against an attack.

    600-400ish BC. That's when the barbs swarm in with axes. Until then, they roam.

    ~1400AD. You'll probably get your first peek at AI war strategy here, but it'll be pretty limited. If you beat back a wave or two and maybe take a city, your enemy will bow down with a load of cash and maybe a tech.

    ~1700-1800AD. Especially if you haven't seen war yet, now's the time. Slow boiled tensions bubble over. It'll start with muskets and rifles and escalate into infantry.

    In any case, welcome to Civ.

    Woobi has the simple advice. More units. Use offense. To expand ...

    Have a couple good defenders in your frontier cities. You don't need six fortified archers in a city that's in the center of your empire. Fan those defenders out to your borders. You can't just sit back with defenders though. You need something that'll beat back the onslaught. In each, or every couple border cities (moving units between border cities as needed), have a mix of attackers. A collateral damage seige unit or two to soften a stack, then something against whatever the enemy has. Grenadiers are excellent against rifles, and vice versa. Even those pikemen you've had sitting around for a few hundred years can pick off weakened Calvary. It all depends on the era ... and what the enemy has. If you've scouted their area or have gotten their map, look at what resources they have. If they got no horses and aren't trading with someone who has horses, you don't need to worry about a mounted unit coming at you!

    Not sure if you have enough units? Go to the graphs (little line graph image in the top right corner of the main screen) and choose power. If someone's power is bigger than yours, you are a potential target for an attack. Power isn't directly linked to your army size (it also takes in population and techs), but it's a great tool.

    As for offense, use it. While you're working the defense by protecting your outer cities and picking off attackers, move in with your own stack or two. Take a city or two and hold 'em if they're nice, raze 'em if they're crap. Most enemies will then direct much of their effort to retaking their cities or destroying your stack. If you don't have the forces to successfully continue the war, now would be a good time to see what kind of a peace deal you can get.

    Again, welcome to Civ. Once you get the feel for these forums (jargon, mostly), delve into the War Academy. Tons of great articles. Or try posting a game save for critique. Lotta folks will pop it open and let you know where you could be doing better. (Come to think about it, I should post a game save.)
     
  4. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    as woobi and automator said, best defense is offense.
    + if you plan to attack you will build the units needed to deter an attack on you
    That's the single best move you need to go for.
    Try a game without building any wonders. You'll be amazed of how many wonders you can actually capture ;)
     
  5. B1sh0p

    B1sh0p Chieftain

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    Aside from the military advice these guys have given, you might want to consider diplomacy as well. You say you inevitably get attacked... Are you keeping good diplomatic relations?

    Something I do all the time now is when any AI civ comes to me asking for something, or wanting to trade, I open up the foreign advisor and look to see who he/she is friends/enemies with. If he/she is annoyed with anyone I want to remain in the good books with, I won't deal with him.

    I used to trade with absolutely anyone that would trade with me. That just lead to hurt diplomatic relations with people who didn't like my trading parners.

    Pick your partners carefully. Don't trade with potential enemies.
     
  6. Rathelm

    Rathelm Chieftain

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    Give us a save file and we could probably give you a good idea on what your issues could be.
     
  7. petey

    petey Prince

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    One key is to become good friends with one of your neighbours. If you get a religion, spread it to him and if his spreads to you, adopt it. Trade with him and give him gifts from time to time and don't so much as sign Open Borders with anyone else without checking his attitude towards that Civ first. If you go to war, bring him along with you, even if you have to pay him a lot for it.

    The first thing this will do is protect one of your borders, since no one will be able to come through him to get to you. The second thing is that you can get him to declare on anyone who goes to war against you, which gives extra units attacking your enemy, which means the enemy has less units to attack you.

    There are many other strategies, but I've found that's that is one of the best and easiest.
     
  8. kevlarcardhouse

    kevlarcardhouse Chieftain

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    Thanks for your advice guys. I just like to avoid war at all costs, which is strange because all my other favourite turn-based strategy games are all about combat.

    I've started playing a new game and am watching the bars more closely, and now I make sure I put a lot of the military units I make on automated explore, so if war is declared on me I'll automatically have preparation instead of scurrying to meet up with them.

    What B1sh0p says make sense too. Whenever a country asks me to stop trading with another nation, I always refuse. Maybe if they're big, aggressive and have borders right next to me I'll agree for the time being.
     
  9. Thomas G.

    Thomas G. Warlord

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    Build more units. You are so far ahead in tech (musket vs. archer/swordman) that there is no excuse for losing any battles. Build roads all over your territory, with engineering you have 3 moves on road. Put 1 military unit in internal cities, and at least 3 in all border cities. Include a cannon among the 3.

    In ADDITION to this, build up a strike force, which you will use when attacking the enemy lands, or counterattacking invading enemies. This is very important, because any 3-unit citiy can fall against an invading horde. So without the strike force ALL your cities will fall, one after another.

    So you build up defense, but keep building units after you are "done" with the city defenders. Pure production cities do not need libraby, bank, market etc. Granary + courthouse is usually good for all cities, but after that many should build units.

    One of your cities should have the national wonder "heroic epic". It should be a good production city. This city will build units at double speed. It should get a forge, granary, barracks and then just pump out units the rest of the time (factroy when that time comes). This will quickly build your strike force.

    How to fight:
    I: Defense against enemy invasion is just a matter of destroying his gathered force. Do not attack with a few units in a round, gather up a good force and then hit him hard. Start with 10 cannon attacks, and the rest of the enemies in that area will be half-dead and will easily be killed by ANY unit you got. If you need more time, let your enemy take a city while you gather your army. It will not help him in the war anyway.

    II: When attacking, gather your strike force in ONE tile, and send it TOGETHER towards an enemy city. Cannon or catapults are needed, first to bombard the cultural defense (%) and then to attack (and die) so the enemy gets weakened. A good strike force around 1500-1700 would be 10 cannon + 10 other (mixed) units. However do not invade until you have completed step I: Defense first.

    Cannon is a great unit, they easily take cities. But only if you concentrate their attacks. Musketmen are not that good, a longbowman will do a better job defending a city (even if lower tech). After gunpowder you should get engineering and chemistry ASAP to get the much better grenadiers. Macemen are pretty good when you get them

    Dont worry THAT much about tech, you seem to do well in that regard. 2 swordmen will usually beat 1 musket. (Which they would not do in real history), so you need quantity as well as quality. You cannot afford to wait for the ultimate unit before building your army, you need to do it continually. You can also upgrade units later.

    You might wanna build a few more cities. This will lower your tech rate (by costing more upkeep, you won't get as much research done) but will help you build more. Units. These producion cities should get NOTHING more than barracks, granary, forge, courthouse. At most. This way you trade technology for army.

    And finally - My tips are intended as a cure for unwanted enemy aggression, you can win games without military at all. But then you need great diplomacy, and you are at the mercy of the computer. And you don't want that do you?
     
  10. Mongolia

    Mongolia Khan

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    I can't open up any advisors while I am talking to anouther leader which is something I think is very VERY stupid since I can't see who someone is at war with when they are asking to be my vassal and I don't know if if I exept for them to be my vassal I will be dragged into a war with a very strong civilization.
     
  11. TheRealCzar

    TheRealCzar Chieftain

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    Ah economic addiction, a severe case by the sounds of it.

    One of the great things in Civ 4 is the need for balance, since buildings cost no upkeep anymore, there's a real incentive to just keep building and building, but sooner or later you'll meet someone who's just been burning and burning. The AI's will always attack somene with a weak power graph, so will humans. As mentioned by another poster, the key to success in cIV is the setting up of military production centres who concentrate on industrial improvements and military.

    Case in point: In a long running PBEM game I'm involved in, the score leader (was nearly double score on me in number 2 spot) has spent the whole game building wonders, he's streets ahead in tech. I got to optics, sent a caravel, found his capital.

    It had the colossus, great lighthouse, great library, sistine chapel, bach's catedral, the oracle, the hanging gardens, the parthenon, the pyramids, chechen itza, spiral minaret, in fact the only one he didn't have is Stonehenge.

    Garrison? 1 warrior, 1 spear. It took about 10 turns to get navigation and get my army together, and now his capital is ashes (didn't feel I could hold on to it).
     
  12. zyphyr

    zyphyr Prince

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    Use the F-keys to bring up the advisors. (F1,F2,F3,etc).
     
  13. JimT

    JimT Warlord

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    Don't like automated explore unless you are actually using them to explore as

    i) they cost more in upkeep when outside your body
    ii) they are likely to be away from where you need them most (i.e. on your borders). If they are inside your enemies cultural territory they will just spirit themselves out when war is declared.
    iii) they will be a disparate ineffective force (the combat system means mixed stacks of units are generally better)

    If about go to war position them in the perfect position on your enemies border for a quick strike against one of his cities, otherwise keep them ready for an unexpected assault. Just have a couple of chariots/other mounted units to scout out in the early game. If your using open borders to scout out AI land then missionaries/scouts are good as well.
     
  14. automator

    automator King

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    Too true.

    Unless you're going for complete and utter conquest (if so, be an opportunitist when it comes to trades), be picky. Build a coalition. Hopefully you can find two or more trading partners, all of whom are pleased or friendly with each other. Your group can trade amongst each other while ignoring the rest of the world.

    In doing so, you'll do better for a couple reasons:

    1. Better trades. A happy friend will be more likely to trade evenly or give you more money for your goods. A happy friend will do good tech trades with you, and will probably be the only way to get a non-obsolete military tech off the AI. For example, if you shop around a 9,000 beaker tech, a friendly civ would give you a 9,000 beaker tech in return, whereas an unfriendly civ would probably give you a 4,000 beaker tech and still demand money from you.

    2. Possible protection. If you happen to experience a war, that friendly coalition is much more likely to agree to join you in war.

    3. Potential defensive pact (even better than just asking to join), vassal (if you get much larger), or even a Permanent Alliance.
     
  15. Stolen Rutters

    Stolen Rutters Deity

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    Welcome to the forum.

    More units. Move in big stacks near the enemy when war starts. They like picking off stragglers so protect your attackers. If they are in a big stack, have your cannons attack first to weaken them up, then kill as many units as possible with everyone else, leaving as few wounded as possible. When they survive combat, they gain experience and get promotions just like you. You want them dead, not hurt.

    To avoid war at all costs, make better use of diplomacy. Trading with someone makes their enemies mad at you. Trading with everyone, without regard to who likes who, makes pretty much everyone mad at you. Select the best friends and don't bother with anyone else. Talk your friends into attacking your enemies, and you can keep everyone weaker, and help keep you out of combat. Playing the various enemies against each other is a good way to keep them weak, too. Keeping the AI in a state of war and at eachother's throats slows down their tech progress and city spread (for example, they defend new settlers with more units, and retreat their workers into the city until it's safe).

    Actually, I would say don't be afraid of war. It's one of the things the AI isn't too bad at any more with the latest patches (it is better at taking out your straggler units and balancing their military stacks than it used to be), but it's still not good at it either, so when you get up to the higher levels, it's another effective way to keep up.
     
  16. LlamaCat

    LlamaCat Emperor

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    You're getting great advice from all these Civ veterans, but take it from a fellow newbie: seek help from CivAnon! :crazyeye:
     
  17. Stolen Rutters

    Stolen Rutters Deity

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    Wow, good site. I should try it.

    Also, read the help stickies. ;)
     
  18. Bjorn190

    Bjorn190 Warlord

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    Dont attack units on hills. Dont attack units in forests. Dont attack units in jungles. Dont attack units in towns where there are numbers in front that say 80%. Dont attack spearmen with chariots or horse archers. Dont attack axemen with spearmen.

    In short, use tactics in your battles. If he has swordmen, build axemen. If he has chariots, build spearmen. If he is likely to attack you, fortify on a forest hill. If you cant defeat his stack in the field, fortify a town and watch him break himself on your walls.
     
  19. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    I tried a game with patch 2.08.
    I don't know if it's me making too many :smoke: moves or the AI that got better, but here are a few war facts:
    - Aztec attacked with a good stack
    - i killed the mounted units pillaging my cottages with spears (roading still is good, wounded spears could move away;) ), so the stack was too light to conquer. The woodsman jaguar fortified on the woods next to my capital waiting for more troops
    - When I conquered later one city, it counterattacked efficiently, and pillaged me to death. Not being able to take back the city, the AI retreated his wounded units! It still didn't let them heal completely, and they got killed by my mounted units.
    ...

    a few other facts :
    - I got outteched by aztecs! On monarch level!
    - I lost the music race (I never failed to have this Great Artist when I wanted him before!)
    - I lost liberalism race (not sure, I retired when I saw the Aztecs taking back the few cities I captured :cry:)
    - The AI placed his cities well enough : I could actually keep them.

    Either I'm too tired to play right, or the AI got a good deal better...
     
  20. The Lardossen

    The Lardossen Warlord

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    If you're double the size of your opponent, your power level will be very high even without having a really big army, because of the way power is calculated.

    So expand rapidly early on, and make sure you're the biggest ASAP.
     

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