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How many cities do you need to keep up in the late game?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by pi-r8, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    It seems like the standard method for winning in civ4 is to win a war at some point. That gives you a huge advantage in land/cities, and then you can easily out-tech any AI, even with the huge bonuses they get on higher difficulties (some of which increase over time).

    But what if you can't, or don't want to, play that way? Is there a way to out-tech an AI with the same number, or even fewer cities? I'm talking peaceful strategies mind you, so no nukes or marines. I want to win the space race fair and square.
    There are two problems, as I see it.

    1: The AI bonuses increase over time. They have 'iAIPerEraModifier' which decreases their tech costs more for each era, especially at Deity. Deity AI gets a 30% discount on tech costs, 20% inflation, and much lower unit maintenance costs. You'll need more and more to keep up with what they get for free.

    2: There just aren't as many ways to gain an advantage in the late game. In the first half of the game there are lots of ways to out-smart the AI: city placement, worker micro, choosing buildings, wonders, tech routes, great people, tech trading. It's a complicated game! But by the end, all your cities are placed, all your tiles are improved, all the buildings are done (especially for a deity AI), the wonders are less important, there are diminishing returns on great people, and they probably won't trade with you anymore (at least not anything helpful in winning the space race). The late game in Civ4, even with BTS, is just kinda straightforward.

    So what can you do?
    • City placement still matters. A city with no food or production is still going to be limited, even for a deity AI. But it's not like you can chance the placement of the cities you already have.
    • Change civics. But there's not much room for creativity here. Late game, with a limited number of well developed cities, you almost certainly want Free Speech, Emancipation, Free Market, plus either Free Religion or Pacifism and Representation or Universal Suffrage. The strong teching AIs tend toward those same civics too. It's also harder to switch civics, unless you're spiritual or have Cristo Redentor.
    • Spy Stuff. But you'll probably have to run the espionage slider to get enough points, and the AI can generate espionage points more than you, so I'm not sure it's worth it in the late game. I guess you can endlessly change their civics, but that's pretty cheesy and unreliable.
    • Tech Path. You can gain some advantage by skipping the military techs if you know you're going for space. So you skip artillery, advanced flight, laser, etc. But there's only a limited benefit from that.
    • Wonders. Most wonders have either expired, or just don't matter in the late game. There's the Statue of Liberty, but that's not so important when your cities are all really large. The Kremlin is good for warfare, but you can't rush-buy spaceship parts, so it's limited and also expires. The Cristo Redentor might be good if you really need to switch civics, but once you're in late game civics you probably want to just stay there. The internet only works if there are TWO AIs more advanced than you, and in that case they'd probably build it first. Rock and Roll/Broadway/Hollywood don't seem that powerful, just some extra resources for trading.
    • Corporations! This seems like the big one, since they scale up with more resources. And they can be really powerful, much more than religion. But still, they're a bit limited:
      • The HQ gold bonus doesn't increase
      • Food bonuses will make your cities unhappy and unhealthy
      • To get more resources, you probably have to pay for them
      • The AIs only have so many resources to trade away
      • If you spread them corps to extract money, they'll stop trading you their resources
      • 'Competing Corporations' limit their effectiveness. In practice, only Sid's Sushi and Mining Inc seem really good.
    So I'm at a loss. Is there any way to peacefully defeat an AI in the late game, going for space? Or am I just supposed to go to war at some point?
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  2. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    Not sure the exact point here. Need clarification. City placement is always important. I guess the one thing I could say here is that by settling wisely and using overlap you may be able to fit more cities in smaller swath of land..if playing small anyway.
    First point is not to look to the AIs for pointers on how to play the game. The AIs are the AIs and largely their strengths come from their bonuses, traits to a degree, and rng.

    If playing a smaller empire I'd say Free Speech would definitely not be a good choice. And Emancipation is something I avoid like the plague unless I just have to. If you are small you are going to rely on a strong cottage Bureau Ox cap for space, which will be a high percentage of your research. Cottages should develop long before Emancipation is in play.

    I'd say if you are playing peaceful small space game, then late game your ideal civics are: Rep/Bureau/Caste/Free Market or State Property/Pacifism or OR.

    Civics can be switch easily if you save odd great people for running golden ages, speaking of which a couple of late golden ages will help a lot late game.

    Granted if you are Spiritual, then you have some leeway for some strategic civic switches, needed. Like maybe a bit of Universal Sufferage to buy Factories, Plants, Labs...which are really all you need.
    Yeah, I'd say Spy stuff would have diminishing returns unless playing a full espionage economy where you basically steal most of your techs throughout the game.However, that approach is untenable for Space cause at most you will be at tech parity.
    Pretty sure artillery leads to Rocketry so is mandatory. There are several late game techs that are not needed including the useless tech that gives you the useless Space Elevator.
    Wonders are not going to do much for you late other than putting hammers into them for fail gold, which is useful. SoL really only worthwhile in large empires with a lot of land on one landmass,of course. Democracy is actually a dead end tech I believe as well, although you might trade for it.
    Corps are questionable. Depends on your access to resources. Since you are playing small you will have less access to resources. You can trade for more or buy more. It may be made to work for a moderate sized empire. Oh and map dependent as well. Maybe you have access to settle a few island cities for extra seafood. Really hard to say. State Property is very powerful too. I often use it to power a hammer economy late..but again, that benefit increase with empire size.
    As to answer your title question. assuming normal settings, the simple answer is a minimum of 6 cities....for national wonders, especially OX and NE. You can win Space with the 6 city empire. Heck can win Space playing OCC. But two things of note is that you will have more difficulty the higher the difficulty, and you will not win as fast as a larger empire.

    For perspective though, when I'm playing a space game I try to get as close to the Domination land limit as possible without tripping that victory. The more land you have the more potential for massive beakers..we're talking thousands and thousands..and you can convert to a hammer economy late game.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  3. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    Do you have a good example of someone winning deity or immortal with 6 cities? I was actually thinking more like 10-15. But not "get as close as possible to the domination limit." Nothing wrong with that of course, I'm just curious how far you can go with only peaceful development.

    Or if you want, we can talk in terms of ratios. If, say, Mansa Musa has X cities, how many cities would you need to peacefully out-tech him in the very late game?

    All I meant with city placement is that it's not something you can change in the late game. You're stuck with whatever you chose early on. Maybe you chose a suboptimal early city to block off land or grab copper or something, but you can't shift it around later to grab aluminum 3000 years later.

    Re civics: Emancipation in the late game is more about unhappiness than cottage growth. With (standard map settings) 6 rivals, that's at least 6 unhappiness, when you're already pushing the limits of city size. Bureaucracy, of course depends on how many cities and how many towns you have, but basically if you have more towns outside the capital than in it you'll be better with Free Speech. And with large, well developed cities, State Property isn't going to be as good as Free Market + Corporations [citation needed I know].
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  4. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    If you really want to make some stunt by winning space with very few cities the stars probably have to align in a very weird way.

    Firstly, something need to happen for the AIs to not run away in their usual way and win their usual victories in the usual timeframe. Something need to happen to stall them and make them waste time.

    Then....
    You want most of the AIs as friendly, and of such kind that they don't trade much with each other, so you can pull of some really savvy tech brokering.
    Probably have to secure the internet, as the amount of beakers you need to crunch for space is ridiculus and a small empire will have problem keeping up.

    Then...
    More or less every one of your cities will have to be fully fledged production geared so you can build the parts fast.

    You are making a tall order! :D
     
  5. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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  6. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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  7. georgjorge

    georgjorge Deity Wannabe

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    I agree with the opening post as well as with krikav - winning Space on Deity without owning at least ten cities (which you usually don't get without a war) will be really hard. For me, this is a flaw of this great game: there's no real incentive for a peaceful game, as sooner or later you'll have to go to war - it only becomes a question of when you start. And once you start warring, stopping has huge costs, as you'll have a big useless army (thousands of hammers) left over, diplomacy has taken a hit, and you'll be facing intense cultural pressure.

    When playing a peaceful game, Cultural Victory is far more viable than Space. Right now, the only times I go for Space is when competing against other humans (as in BOTM where victory conditions are counted separately).

    It could be possible if you are really good at diplomacy and can keep the AIs at each others throats for most of the late game, limiting their trades and slowing them down. But you'd probably still have to go to space before 1750 or so not to lose to an AI victory. And your best bet would be a (semi-)isolated start, where war is more tedious and you can take your time to secure land. Speaking of it, if someone posts a viable map here I'd be more than willing to give it a go winning space on Deity without warring!
     
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  8. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    Terra map might be an option if you really want to play a pacifist space race game as it gives you a peaceful way of gaining more land.
     
  9. Tobiyogi

    Tobiyogi Prince

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    These Era Modifiers, how big is their impact on Immortal? I was always wondering why some leaders like Pacal/Mansa/Frederick/Liz get those late game techs in no-time
     
  10. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    Yeah, it really is a challenge! It came up for me in a recent game where I had a great start and managed to get a lot of land peacefully, so I thought I could cruise to a win easily. But it was surprising how hard it was to maintain tech parity in the late game. I thought it was an interesting challenge.

    Thanks for linking those games. Looks like BurN in his game had 17 cities, and you had 13, so you both were decently large but not running away with it That's the kind of thing I wanted to see. And you both built the internet (and then mass workshops) which is interesting. Were there two AIs with equal tech that you could exploit? My problem was there was just one AI in particular with more tech, so the internet wouldn't help. And that meant I had to keep cottages in most of my cities, so production was limited.

    Looks like you both benefited a lot from having the AIs war with each other. That's something to consider, even if you have to bribe them into it. I still wish there was more I could do "peacefully", though.

    Yeah, that's why I made this post. I've gotten a little tired of fighting wars in this game. I wanted to try something different, even if it's not optimal. By the way, I'm not being a purist about this- I don't mind fighting a small war to gain a decent amount of cities, I'm just trying to avoid the grind of conquering dozens of cities with a massive army.

    Agreed that Cultural is a lot easier than Space, but I wanted to go to Space for the challenge of it.

    Can you think of any late game diplomacy tricks? Sure, if there's two AIs that already don't like each other, and you have some tech they want, you can bribe them into war. But what if they're friends with each other?
     
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  11. drewisfat

    drewisfat Prince

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    Should be doable with Internet / Espionage Economy -> part sabotage.

    Should be doable with a map script where everyone gets their own island.

    Should be doable on archipelago with some combination of city spam, GLH, Fin + Colossus and sushi.

    Should be doable on any "colonization" like map with rushing Astro.

    Might also be doable with gimmicks based on cheesy AI selection. Like picking all warmongers while you hide away. Or maybe pangea with no mysticism starters and you hog religions. I never select leaders but I'm sure HOFers know some shenanigans.
     
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  12. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    The era modifier is -4 on immortal, so -24% tech cost in the future era. But then they're also getting much lower inflation and building costs too.
     
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  13. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Winning space with 6 cities will require a lot of work on immortal. I would rather have an entire continent before 1300ad. Land=power. If you had 6 absolute power houses of cities maybe. I feel another game challenge coming on.

    It would be hard if an Ai got to 10-15+ cities and just came at you with a 30-40+ strong stack.
     
  14. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    Thinking to myself now... I wonder if I should prioritize academies more for this? Normally I just get one in my capital, maybe one somewhere else, and all my other scientists get used for bulbs or golden ages. Might be worth sacrificing some early/midgame power in favor of maximizing the late game, if I know it'll be a long tech race. With 6 cities, you could get an academy in every single one if you really want it, although it might be hard to do that and still get enough golden ages and corporations.
     
  15. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    The relative utility of golden ages is smaller, the smaller your empire is, so that the odds would tilt more in favour of more academies rings true here I think.
     
  16. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    Think of it OCC with 5 helper cities, and settle them instead.
     
  17. georgjorge

    georgjorge Deity Wannabe

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    I'm going to try this map which was posted a while ago as a good isolated start (Washington, no mods)...

    EDIT: or not...got another one which looks promising. Pacal, BUFFY mod (if anyone wants to play along).

    Both are Deity level.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  18. AcaMetis

    AcaMetis Prince

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    Swap into a heathen religion, use spies to convert one of the two, than flip into the Free Religion civic: AIs no longer friends because they're heathens, and you're not a heathen to either of them so diplo isn't too difficult to pull off. Obviously benefits from being SPI/being in a Golden Age, since that allows you to pull it off in a single turn.

    Out of curiosity, which leader would be the best choice for a fully peaceful space game? Gandhi, probably?
     
  19. pi-r8

    pi-r8 Luddite

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    What about using Standard Ethanol for late game science? It does compete with Sid's Sushi and General Mills, but I think it has some advantages over the food corps. It gives research directly for resources, whereas the food corps force you to grow larger first and run rep specialists to get more science, which takes time and causes health and happiness problems. On the other hand, they also boost your trade route income a lot, and guarantee that every city can work all of its tiles. I'm not sure which is more powerful for this.
     
  20. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    I agree that you'll probably be too small to make any corp out produce SP(reduced maint) and workshops.
     

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