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How to get better at Civ

Discussion in 'Civ1 - General Discussions' started by ChiTheCynic, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    I love Civilization (as well as II, III, IV, V & CTP) but I'd be the first to admit that, despite my many years of playing them all, I'm just not *that* good. I often get beaten, and if I do win it's with a pretty mediocre score. Not only that, but I haven't really ventured much beyond Warlord-difficulty.

    Where am I going wrong? I've had a look at the strategies and they all look good, but somehow I just fail on implementation. When I read about some of the people here winning by 1AD I almost can't believe it (not that I doubt them, just that for me, by 1AD I've barely got more than 4 cities and am hemorrhaging cash on maintenance costs).

    My usual gameplay goes something like this...

    Found a city on the first, if not second turn. Instantly build a Militia to defend, then a Settler, then a Barracks to build a second (veteran) defensive unit. Use the second Settler to irrigate / mine a few tiles and build a road to the next position where I found my second city (and repeat, until I have about 4 or 5 cities). In the meantime, I try as much as possible to avoid war - because I never feel I'm strong enough to wage a successful campaign - and whack up the science rate to try and advance more quickly. Trouble is, my cities stagnate without building granaries and aqueducts but then the maintenance costs (partly due to my low tax rate) start eating away my treasury until I'm having to sell improvements only to rebuild 'em. Vicious cycle. Meantime, the Zulus are careering around in Frigates invading my shorelines and building Wonders like they're going out of fashion.

    Oh, and if I have a revolution and pick Democracy or Republic, it disbands my units and I get civil disorder all over the place. So government collapses and I end up back at Despotism again, just to keep a handle on my cities not falling into disorder again.

    Now, I've had some limited success with caravans (to get a bit more cash going) but I haven't figured out how to keep the trade internal - sometimes a caravan arrives at one of my cities and establishes a trade route but other times it just walks into the city and waits for the next command.

    Inevitably I end up at war (without wanting to) because the Mongols keep demanding tribute or tech or cancellations of existing treaties and I ain't giving. Then it's a weary exercise in trying to defend my cities while finding one of theirs to capture (which usually results in them offering peace, but they sneak attack a few turns later anyway).

    All of this keeps me from being able to realise my dream of space exploration - or, on the rare occasions that I'm not beaten to it by the Romans, I win the game with a rating of about 14%

    Can anyone offer me a diagnosis of where I'm going wrong and how I can improve my game?
     
  2. kirkham7

    kirkham7 Warlord

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    As a starter, republic and democracy are great governments (especially for trade and science), but there is one part that you are forgetting. Under these governments, you are allowed one or two military units out of your city before your citizens start becoming unhappy. Also under these governments, all units require a shield to upkeep them. If you don't have the shield, it will just disband the unit.
    Anyways if you really want peace as much as possible, build the great wall and everyone is forced to offer peace. :) If another civ builds it, reload your game (civs building wonders is randomized).
     
  3. hansmoleman

    hansmoleman Chieftain

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    The Zulus have got the right idea - attack attack attack :) You'll have better luck focusing on a conquest victory, rather than a space race victory.

    Anyway - skip the barracks, granary and start building chariots as soon as you can. Barracks don't really offer a cost/benefit value. Leave tax at 0% for as long as you can. Stay in despotism. Only build temples when absolutely necessary.
     
  4. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried pursuing a despotic conquest victory before, but it gets a little tiresome when you've obliterated everyone bar one civ and then you can't find them on the map. Meanwhile they plough all their resources into science and so by the time you *do* find them, they're sporting Armors and Ironclads, which my trusty Chariots and Sails are no match for.

    Is there any other way of locating rival civs besides just random Sail-based trawling? I recall in later Civ versions there were Wonders that automatically opened embassies with other tribes. I know the Apollo Program reveals all cities on the map, but that's usually beyond my grasp if I'm going all-in for Luddite bloodlust...
     
  5. hansmoleman

    hansmoleman Chieftain

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    Unfortunately, yes, you have to explore every square on every island. That adds the most years, finding that last civilization. Usually though they aren't that advanced, so taking them out isn't too much of a problem. Not sure if there is a better way... I guess that's why many play on Earth, since then you know where everyone should be (that and larger land masses too).
     
  6. Valen

    Valen TWAYF Builder

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    Build the Apollo Program. From space, you can see every city on the map. It's kinda strange to see cities in the middle of the black unexplored territory.
     
  7. hansmoleman

    hansmoleman Chieftain

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    Apollo Program only works if you are going the space race route (it is one of the final wonders made available), but I've found that winning that way is nigh impossible on Emperor, other civilizations will rush ahead of you, and they build the spaceship much faster than you can.
     
  8. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    ^ This.

    You're right, the Earth map does make things considerably easier to locate that last outpost of Babylonians skulking in Japan or New Zealand...

    I think the thing I'm missing (and which I'd really like to understand) is how you balance pursuing the spaceship route against not being constantly under threat from other civs and/or depletion of your treasury. The point about democracy being susceptible to unhappiness based on troops being outside their home city is very helpful. So, if you can command full control of a land mass and then patrol it with a strong navy, would that allow me to build my spaceship in peace, do you think?
     
  9. kirkham7

    kirkham7 Warlord

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    Maybe. Just remember that they might also use fighters and bombers which can ignore land-bound units when maneuvering around. In which case, look for their aircraft carriers and/or cities which is where they must land at the end of their next turn.
     
  10. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    It's working! I just won (despotic conquest by 1842AD) with a score of 1320 and a rating of 52%... playing as Warlord! That's my best ever score. Plenty of room for improvement, naturally, but I'm pleased with that :king:
     
  11. Tristan_C

    Tristan_C Emperor

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    Read your OP and the thread, and here are some tidbits that can help. Awesome to hear that things are looking up!

    Chariot spam and massacring everything that lives/lands on your landmass is a perfect way to set up for a space race. In other words it's the best strategy no matter what; master it first, before considering subtle alternatives.

    Instead of building cities upwards and paying increasingly out of the ass for each population point, spam settlers and keep populations low to prevent growing into disorder.

    To switch to Rep/Dem, recall the troops first. Press H to change a unit's Home to their current location, when it's a city, when it's convenient. Important for shuffling around defenders (i.e., chariots) and settlers in an ongoing fashion. Only units with attack strength > 0 generate "Away" unrest.

    Techs don't have their own research costs; rather, costs scale up per tech already in the bag. Starting techs don't count. On Warlord the first advance costs 8, second 16, etc. Finding or trading a tech bumps this increment immediately. So if you trade for tech you can't use, you've just also increased the cost of current research and all subsequent. Ugh!

    Born-Content
    The first unhappy population to appear depends on the difficulty (chieftan pop 7, warlord 6, ... etc), the number of cities, and the government. Higher difficulties, higher numbers of cities, and lower governments will combine to put a crunch on the number of born-contents.

    The "Happy" button in the city screen shows the order in which attitude is computed and this is very important. Lower items override. If you have an away unit in Democracy, a city will have 2 unrest. If you build a temple there, it will still have 2 unrest. The buildings only counter the base unrest.

    To massively increase population, very fast, for a space race, use We Love The President day (WLTK). There are articles about how to prepare and execute that strategy, somewhere around here.
     
  12. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    Tristan - thank you for this, I didn't know any of the stuff you mentioned about tech and base happiness. I admit I've tended to ignore the 'happiness problem' and just tried buying them off with temples & colosseums (which then incur the dreaded maintenance costs) without even realising they only affect base unrest. Plus I'd always assumed it was good to increase population as soon as possible, but from what you say it sounds like a low population in the early days is better.

    Out of interest, do you know what the 'rule' is on balancing building a new settler vs. not losing the city as a result? I've had occasions where the settler effectively consumes the host city that built it! Also, some cities I've built rigidly stick at 1 pop and never increase, even after I've railroaded, mined and irrigated all the squares in their vicinity. What gives?

    Will need to read more about WLTK, have to confess I just thought of it as an ego boost (ala palace improvements) rather than an integral part of game strategy!

    Thanks again.
     
  13. Posidonius

    Posidonius Civherder

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    Here's a decent begin-game choreography...

    Start 4000 BC. If your Settler is on a nice shield/grasslands place and you can see another shield/grasslands in your limited view, then save the 4000 BC game and immediately build a city. If your starting Settler is on a Plains square but you can see two shield/grasslands squares, move to one of them and build a road. When done, move to the second one and build your 1st city. If your starting Settler is on a Plains and you only see one shield/grasslands in your view, move there and hope for the best. If the best doesn't happen, just quit and start a new game.

    With one city on the board, adjust your Tax Rate to 30% and Science Rate to 70%. Set your city to work building a Militia. When offered a technology to pursue, choose Horseback Riding if possible, Pottery if not, and Ceremonial Burial as a third resort. When you build the Militia, immediately build a Settler.

    Move the Militia in a rough spiral around your first city, widening your view and with one revolution you should have identified your prospective second city site. When you build a Settler, set your first city to building a Barracks. Make your Settler build one road in the direction of the second citysite, then move there one square per turn and build your second city. Adjust your second city's serfs to make 2 food surplus and 1 shield surplus per turn, and tell them to build a Settler.

    During this time, you should have gained your first civilization advance. If it was Horseback Riding, then immediately switch your first city from building a Barracks to building a Cavalry. If it is Pottery or Ceremonial Burial, then the game will certainly offer you Horseback Riding next. Choose it. By the time you build a Barracks, you should be able to build a Cavalry unit. Do so.

    By the time your capital has built a Cavalry, your original Militia should have discovered a few villages and a few more potential citysites. Send the first Cavalry to City #2 to re-home as soon as they build their Settler. The 1st city builds another Cavalry. After that, City #1 builds another Settlers.

    Within a few turns, you have 2 Cavalries ready to explore at 2x move rate, the original Militia can come home to defend, and you have two new Settlers. One Settler develops your countryside with roads and irrigation, the other seeks out the 3rd citysite. In the meantime, build Barracks if needed in your capital, and a Granary in your 2nd city.

    By the time you found your 3rd city, City #1 should be in a position to supply all the military hardware you need, and City #2 should be able to ensure a constant supply of Settlers for new cities. From here on out, each new city builds like this:

    Settlers -> Granary -> Settlers -> Temple -> Settlers -> Barracks -> Chariot -> Phalanx -> Settlers -> Marketplace -> Diplomat

    All Settlers should be founding new cities as soon as a site is identified, and when you have about 8 cities, switch to the Monarchy. From there it's up to you, however you want to run the game. Might depend on your choice of AI level. At Chieftain level, you can concentrate more on the Granaries then Temples. At Emperor level, you'd better concentrate first on Barracks and then on Granaries.

    In general, you should kill any other people on your own home island or continent. You don't want to trade with them later on, and they're far more likely to attack you than someone on another island or continent. Kill thy neighbors swiftly. Don't bother to make peace with them in vain, you have your dignity to consider. Just slaughter them.

    Once you get Monarchy in place, drop back to 50% Taxes and 50% Science. As long as you are making new cities consistently, your civilization advances will keep a good pace, and you'll build up some good cash to just buy enemy cities out from under them without risking your own troops.
     
  14. hansmoleman

    hansmoleman Chieftain

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    I've found that space race on Emperor level is impossible, so I haven't tried that in a very long time. The other civilizations will relentlessly attack you, and while you defend against those attacks, the research based civilizations (Babylonians, Aztecs, etc) will rush ahead with research. That late in the game, the other civilizations will have absolutely no qualms about using nuclear weapons, diplomacy is futile.

    The game also goes 'slower' then (in that most of your time will be building enough fighters to take on a heavily fortified city, maneuvering them into place, etc). The game is at its most fun at the beginning when you are exploring (and, initially, generally evenly matched with the other civilizations)

    Though, on Warlord/Prince it should still be possible, but conquest is even easier, I think. Don't bother with barracks/granaries/wonders, just roll out chariots and catapults as fast as you can. Keep cities fairly close to one another (as the other poster mentioned, generally keep cities at a small size - 6 or 7 is usually fine). Use up most every available square on a land mass.

    One overall good tip is take out the enemy's capital city first, then, using diplomats, subvert the rest of the cities (where possible, wait for the city to go into disorder so you can get it at half price!) This is MUCH quicker than capturing cities by force.
     
  15. millansoft

    millansoft Warlord

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    In all Civs, I always like to do a dirty trick, towards the end of the game, I put near the AI Civ with more points, nuclear weapons and in the last 5/10 turns I just drop them in his bigger cities and in next turn you see how his score goes down nicely :)
     
  16. Tristan_C

    Tristan_C Emperor

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    Settlers always subtract exactly 1 pop when they are built. That's probably the rule you're not clear on.

    Growth occurs 1 turn after the food storage hits full. I think Civ1's basic food/growth rules hold for all the other Civ games actually: have to draw a food surplus from the tiles that are worked. 1 pop works 1 square. The city's own tile works free. Maintenance of settlers eats into the surplus in civ1.

    Knowing that 1 pop works 1 square, the main tiles to work will be plains and shield grass, under all governments, since these squares can both feed themselves and add productivity. On despotism, road the shield grass first and then road+irrigate the plains. That causes the tile to generate 2F, 1H, 1T — about the highest per-tile productivity you can get out of that government.

    There are a lot of tricks, gotta know all the rules and be willing to micro everything. Everything. It is possible to launch before 1AD, though not in all maps and never probable.
     
  17. ChiTheCynic

    ChiTheCynic Chieftain

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    Thanks, Posidonius, I am going to give that strategy a try tonight after work...

    And thanks again, Tristan, for the info on settlers / growth.
     
  18. Posidonius

    Posidonius Civherder

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    Six is a magic number. Alot of tutorials say that you should declare the Monarchy when you get to 6 cities. I disagree. The shield-to-population ratio under Despotism is at it's peak when you get to six cities, so you have unique flexibility. You can either build a large army guilt-free, or you can jam shields into a few early Wonders, or you can hop into Monarchy and start bloating your empire's treasury.

    By the time you're at 6 cities, which you should build as soon as possible, there are three possible threat-levels. First, you may have a rival civ on your own continent. In this case, build that Chariot squadron and wage war, putting off Monarchy until you are alone on your land-mass. Thus, build Barracks in cities #2 and #3, build up to 6 Chariots while you get to 8 cities.

    Second, you may have sporadic amphibious traffic on your shores by Barbies and rival civs. In this case, build a Barracks in city #3 and set your capital and Second City to building Wonders. City #3 pumps out military, Settlers from 4, 5, and 6 make new cities, and while those Settlers are active, then cities 4, 5 and 6 build Caravans to speed along the Wonders in #1 and #2. Once 2 Wonders are built, and you're at 8 cities, so switch to the Monarchy.

    Third, you might have only Barbies to deal with, either seaborne or land-based rebellions. In this case, switch to the Monarchy as soon as you're at 6 cities. Build six more cities as soon as possible, have city #6 build a Barracks to stock the empire with teeth, and build 5 new Wonders in the early cities.

    There is usually a lull in Civ1, between mastering your own continent and taking on foreign civs offshore. If this lull comes 10 turns after your 6th city, then that's ideal. If you've got six Settlers running around, you can exploit truly worthy citysites, by clearing jungles and mining coal. This is why it's so useful to have 2 cheap Cavalries roaming around early in the game. You get 20 turns early warning, about where to send your Chariots once you can afford their 2x cost.

    That advance knowledge, including all the goodies wrenched from discovered Villages, makes an early Cavalry more beneficial then either of the standard early favorites, the Phalanx and Chariot. So build to six cities as fast as you can, then evaluate your position. In most scenarios it makes sense to keep to Despotism until 8 or 10 cities, but sometimes you can reap a better harvest by switching to Monarchy with 6 cities.
     
  19. Tristan_C

    Tristan_C Emperor

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    Monarchy's advantage over despotism is yields:
    irrigated grass 1:food:
    mined hills 1:hammers:
    Gold 1:commerce:
    Gem 1:commerce:
    Game 1:hammers:
    Coal 1:hammers:
    Fish 1:food:
    Also, in version 04 and 05 you can control around 3 more cities before unrest gets increased.

    Note that the extra yields are either for lengthy improvements or uncommon specials. Monarchy eats up all its extra yields by requiring a tech diversion, more settlers mining and irrigating sup-optimally during despotism, and shield maintenance on every unit. In practice it bogs the game down, and it was boosted in the later civ games in response to feedback that it sucked. It's a roleplaying government in Civ1. Switch to monarchy, build tons of knights, kick butt everywhere, hella fun. But tech and production will crawl compared to beelining rep/dem.

    Speaking of governments, anarchy ends every 4 turns. So in the ancient era for example, clicking REVOLUTION 20 years before the following dates means only 1 turn of anarchy:

    3920 BC
    3840
    3760
    3680
    3600
    3520
    3440
    3360
    3280
    3200
    3120
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    2400
    2320
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    2080
    2000
    1920
    1840
    1760
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    1200
    1120
    1040
     
  20. Mize

    Mize Prince

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    Well, I don't completely agree about monarchy... Under some circumstances it can be a very good government. If you're running a lot of trade from your main cities, you can make them celebrate WLTKD with some lux and basically turn them into mini-republics, generating much more trade, but no unhappiness for away units, keeping martial law, etc. You also have the benefit of having your hands completely untied in case some of your 'peacful neighbours' decide to land en masse on your shores. I've had very effective games running mostly on monarchy.

    Another thing I've noticed is that this is also the best way to get culture flips in civ, probably because this strategy requires you to run 2-3 big cities in constant celebration and thus they're much more likely to 'pick up' a revolting foreign city when it actually revolts.

    Still, I agree, Civ in general is a lot about role-playing. Math-minded people will go to other extremes, but for me it kind of spoils the fun, because overcalculating everything gives you this huge precog advantage over the AI it's not even fun.
     

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