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How to play the early game as France? (especially policies)

Discussion in 'Strategy Section' started by Randomized, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Randomized

    Randomized Chieftain

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    I really like the look of France's UA, especially since I recently had a blast playing Japan and France looks like a similar concept. However after numerous attempts I'm really having trouble getting off the ground. I've been picking Authority and trying some early warfare, mostly with spearmen + archers, but the UA seems rather ineffective in the early game when I don't have enough ranged units to get many successive attacks. I can only get up to about +30% which isn't much. At most I can take one border city before the AI produces a carpet of units and/or gets walls up and I have to go on the defensive. This only nets me about ~3 turns of bonus culture and hammers, which doesn't seem worth it given the hammers I have to invest to go to war.

    I was wondering if I'd be better off doing something like Tradition -> Artistry -> Imperialism and leaving war until I get musketeers or even later. Maybe capture a city state or two in the meantime. This could also have some nice synergy with the extra great people you're going to be generating from the UA.

    I recently increased the difficulty from Emperor (which was feeling a little too easy) to Immortal (which is feeling maybe a little too hard). Japan should have similar issues, but my Japan game was on Emperor, and on top of that I feel the UA with Goddess of Protection offers a stronger early game than France. Also, Japan's UU and UB come online earlier.

    So my question is: how do you guys think France should be played early on? What policy trees do you pick and what would be your general timing for your first war? Any other general tips etc.
     
  2. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    I recently tried an Authority early warmonger game as France and I also felt underwhelmed by it. Although France and Japan have similar looking UAs I think the differences in their kits are enough that Japan is the one that should go Authority while France is probably better off doing the Tradition-Artistry-Imperialism route and warring later on.

    First, I think France's Esprit de Corps UA (+10% damage for each subsequent attack on a target) is sort of at odds with an Authority opening in a weird way. You usually want early spearmen with Authority for tributing but France's UA really wants you to go heavy on ranged units to stack those +10%s. It can be difficult to tribute with a bunch of archers, though. Japan doesn't have this problem- they are perfectly happy to build spearmen and later samurai. Also, the +20% culture after conquering a city maybe benefits an Authority start less than a Tradition start- a lot of Authority's culture is from instant yields (barb kills, tributing, city settling/conquering) which I assume aren't boosted while Tradition's is primarily in the form of culture/turn which is. You could still potentially do some conquering with a Tradition start and maybe come away with more culture overall.

    I think Japan is also more consistent with his UA when warring. It's more consistent to generate great generals in war because even a war that doesn't net you cities will still likely generate generals. France is more volatile, though- you either cap a few cities and get a large benefit or you don't cap them and don't get any great people, culture, and production.

    Having said all that, if you do intend to go Authority as France I would say to get 4 spearmen out ASAP for tributing purposes but then fill out the rest of your unit cap with archers to stack the +10%s. I'd probably try to hit comp bowmen and time upgrading all of my archers to my first war with a neighbor. Comp bowmen should shred enemy units and 3-4 of them hitting a city will stack Esprit de Corps well enough to not necessarily need siege. Once I am having trouble tributing CSs (due to alliances, pledges of protection, etc) I would conquer them too for the great people and culture/production.

    If you go the Tradition route I would just be more opportunistic with war and conquering. If some neighbor looks particularly weak early on and maybe gets DoW'd by others then consider piling on and taking some cities too. Or maybe take a nearby CS every now and then while you build yourself up. If there are no easy targets then you just do without your UA in the beginning and rely on Chateaus to carry you until you can conquer later on.

    Another issue is that warmongering is just much harder with each patch that comes out. They've done an excellent job with AI combat IMO. It's much much harder to not lose units to the AI- you have to be extremely careful with unit placement but being conservative means it takes longer to actually conquer and make progress. It's a global nerf to warmongers and especially player warmongers who can't really afford to lose units typically.
     
  3. gozar

    gozar Chieftain

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    In my experience, France is a slow starter, even more so if you go authority. My advice for both paths is to focus on settling your core cities (4-5) and building infrastructure. Even if I go authority, I forsake tributing and only build a team of a archers for barb hunting. This is less important for tradition, but it is still good to level up your archers. Promoted bowmen are perfect for France´s kit.

    Conquering in the ancient/classical era is less valuable for a couple reasons. The production/culture bonus you get for conquering a city depends on the population of the city so conquering a is much more profitable once the cities increase in size. Also, you have to consider the GW slots. Japan will rarely earn two generals/admirals that early but an aggressive France could conceivably conquer two cities very early, only to find they lack the GW slots. Tradition will get you the GW slots but you won´t have the hammers for a conquering spree as a tradition civ in the ancient era, at least not on Immortal.

    One thing that i like to go is to leave some open holes between your cities where the AI is likely to forward settle you. Preferably spots without natural defenses (forests, hills, mountains). Your promoted bowmen and skirmishers can surround and slaughter the defenders. Don´t necessarily conquer the city too fast. Try to bleed the AI to the point where its army is so compromised you may be able to blitz a major city. (The AI has gotten smarter about giving up on a lost cause but feigning retreat sometimes works). France is one one the best (along with Assyria), at burning down a city fast. Most civs need to destroy the support defenders but that is not so for France because your ranged damage is so powerful. Plus you do not necessarily need to hold the city. Just capturing it for a turn earns a huge bonus and weakens a neighbor. Maybe you loser a horseman/knight when they retake it, but you can easily replace that with the production bonus you will win.

    Even if you are behind tech wise, you´ll do ok as long as none of your neighbors beat you to Chivalry by too much. Bowmen + spearmen will not hold up against knights (especially if you are next to Spain). Obviously you should beeline to your UI and UU, which are natural techs for any warmonger
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2019
  4. azum4roll

    azum4roll King

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    I used Skirmishers to stack bonuses early game in my playthrough (7-29-1 version). Early game I just played peacefully (heavy tribute nearby CSs for faith/gold/culture) until I founded a religion with Hero Worship. Then Polynesia forward settled me and I declared war on him. It took a very long time before I vassalized him, after we both got Knights.

    After Musketeers, Musketmen and Cannons (especially after logistics and range) warring becomes increasingly easy, but early game can be a pain. I suggest just grinding an easy neighbour for XP and great generals to prepare for later wars.
     
  5. andersw

    andersw King

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    While Japan shines from great generals France start to roll when you capture cities, which is ... worse but even stronger when you start rolling.
    Authority is the way to go for France warmonger (into fealty or artistry is somewhat optional, fealty is probably a bit better).
    Chateau is ... I'm not sure if they are needed even, its a lot of planning around some culture tiles which arent bad but require a lot of planning and worker turns, they also come rather late for a basic tile improve.
    An issue is that France often spawn in rather low production flatland, try to see where there are more hills for early production.
    However, "+10% Damage for each subsequent attack against a single target during a turn." this applies to siege, ranged and everything, with the low city strength it could be very strong to quickly take out cites and also units stronger than your own, it can also be used with multiple skirmishers for very strong hit and run tactics. I assume it applies to ships as well.
    Start attacking with 3 weak units and have the fourth stronger unit attack with a +30% attack ....
    It can take longer to start conquer on higher difficulty which means the French machine will start to roll a bit later but when you start taking cities....
    "When you conquer a City, gain Great Artist, Writer, and Musician Points Points in your Capital and a temporary boost to Culture and Production in all Cities."
    The production boost from this is HUGE, this is a civ when you start rolling, all cities will build everything, and you will be raking in great ppl, but if you don't take any cities it will feel mediocre.
    Add crusader spirit or defender of the faith and go bananas.
    Musketeers are really strong tercios (30cs+15%), the ignore zoc and +1 move should not be underestimated.
    TLDR: If you need a TLDR Civ is maybe not your game, but anyways, focus fire with lots of units and you are home safe.
     
  6. andersw

    andersw King

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    I tested a bit today and I think Espri de Corpse been nerfed since last time I played france, the duration is scaled to size of city captures and yeah it did not feel as powerful as it used to.
     
  7. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    It scaling by city size makes the argument to delay your conquest until later a bit stronger as the benefits are larger if you let enemy cities grow for a bit.
     
  8. Randomized

    Randomized Chieftain

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    Well I've tried a few more games and got pummeled every time. In my tradition games I'm always lagging behind most of the AI in tech, and this combined with my lack of promoted units and lack of war policies meant I had a hard time making headway against the AI when I do go aggressive. In my last game I went back to authority and it went better - I managed to take Brazil's capital fairly early with comp bows. However I ran out of money (very few gold rich tiles around) and couldn't upgrade my units so I got destroyed by Egypt, who was by FAR the strongest AI on the continent (Ramesses always seems to be a beast in the hands of the AI).

    In between France games I played some Songhai, and the difference is absolutely insane. I removed 3 AI from the game with just the UU and a few archers. This was on epic speed, which I don't normally play on, so I went back to standard to try Songhai again, thinking it was maybe a fluke. But no; this time I killed 2 AI with mancav then took Swedens capital with knights and vassalized him. In both games I was leading on almost every demographic, had an entire continent pretty much to myself, and it seemed like a sure win, so I didn't bother playing anymore. I think maybe Songhai should be adjusted - it seems ridiculously powerful in player hands.

    Anyway I'm nothing if not persistent, so I'll keep trying until I win with France. On the bright side I think I'm doing slightly better each time. Thanks for all the responses!
     
  9. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    When playing tradition are you working your free scientist specialist slot? Tradition's science comes from working science specialists (and working the resulting academy), population in the capital, and +1 science from each Tradition policy unlocked. When playing tradition you really need to grow your capital to take advantage of those specialists. I'll often use an internal food trade route to my capital to help with growth and target Hanging Gardens. I wouldn't think you should be falling behind so badly in tech.

    When playing authority it is somewhat common to have negative GPT but the key is that you should be getting some infusions of gold from tributing or from your city tiles expanding (both of which are instant sources rather than per turn). If you're too far negative in GPT, though, then you still run into problems. Did you have trade routes going? Selling luxuries? Villages on roads?

    Songhai is a nasty early warmonger. However, he has a tougher time turning that conquest into an actual win. Civs like Mongolia, the Huns, and Sweden are similar. They have lots of tools for conquering but less tools to turn that conquering into an actual win. I've had games with all of them where I conquer my continent fairly easily but then run into trouble actually finding a win condition after that. Invading another continent is a lot tougher than conquering your own- you start getting larger and larger warmonger fervor combat penalties and a tougher time logistically when invading the other continent. Pivoting to a diplo/science/tourism win can be difficult if there is a strong runaway on the other continent with better tools for those victories (a well established Austria/Brazil/Arabia/Korea will all probably beat you to a victory condition in the late game unless you directly intervene somehow). I wonder if you would have actually won that Songhai game if you played it out?

    France, on the other hand, doesn't have as good of tools for early conquering but if they do manage to conquer have a much easier path to a win condition. France can convert a conquered continent into tons of great works and culture/production. You can reasonably conquer your continent and win without having to directly conquer the other continent. France is sort of higher risk but higher reward in that way.
     
  10. Randomized

    Randomized Chieftain

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    I did not, I felt the production and food was more important at the time. In hindsight it may have been the wrong call.

    I had none of these, for the trade routes I again felt units and buildings were more important. As for the villages I think I had only just unlocked the tech and didn't have much time to build them. And selling luxuries, I don't remember what deals I had active. Honestly I didn't think of checking to see who would buy them. Usually I just let the AI send me offers and modify them as I want since they seem to offer immediately when I get something new. I'll try to pay more attention to these things next time, and prioritize them more if I have a low GPT start.

    You're making me doubt it now :lol:. But I think I would have. I had the tech and culture lead via taking so many cities, and had 13 wonders vs 17 of the remaining five AIs combined (I had just hit industrial era when I quit), including Parthenon and Neuschwanstein, which were really strong considering I had so many cities. Between all the gold I had (from hitting cities with the Raider promotion, barb camps, tributes and border growth in so many cities) and all the production I had (from my UB and heavy tributes) I was able to invest in every wonder I wanted and build it in a few turns. I might try finishing out the game if I get around to it before next patch.

    Edit: I should say I did have some happiness issues in that Songhai game.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
  11. andersw

    andersw King

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    Income is an issue, especially if you go on early wars, you have to sell lux for gold, early settle on lux can help (in fact some recommend this as france if you are looking to maximize chateau's), sometimes I have to prio markets and even work the specialist slots, its important to plan villages, I often make sure to grab cathedrals or thrift in my religion also to help with the income.
    When that stuff is up, usually around late medival, things roll more smooth.
     
  12. ShadedSkies

    ShadedSkies Chieftain

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    On Deity, get a bunch of archers and roll over your neighbor. I'm not sure what the issue is; if the enemy has walls or horses then you're way too slow and everything else crumples next to archers. Have your pathfinder take cities.
    Anyway the earlygame isn't really that important since Musketeers are absolute monsters even compared to other UUs, so basically if you're alive by then you get to annex a different empire for free which, with or without bonuses, will most certainly win you the game as long as you don't get denounced by everyone.
     
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  13. crdvis16

    crdvis16 Emperor

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    I think people are coming to the conclusion that the early archer rush is a bit cheesy and in need of a nerf, though it would be particularly effective for France.

    I haven't found Musketeers to be THAT strong personally, at least on my settings (deity, standard size/speed, continents++). Though now I'm wondering if the anti warmonger buffs your enemies get once you start conquering just overshadow things like a UU.
     
  14. Stalker0

    Stalker0 Baller Magnus

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    I agree with you playing on Immortal. Musketeers are nice don't get me wrong, but the tercio unit is more of a defensive unit...and the musketeers offensive powers don't really change that, especially against musketmen powered by anti-warmonger penalties. Now upgrading your musketeers to fusiliers is a different story, as the fusilier regains some offensive punch and can really put that lightning warfare to use.
     
  15. Randomized

    Randomized Chieftain

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    Musketeers' offensive focus seems to conflict with the idea of France's UA (you want to be spamming ranged units). Ideally I'd have either a durable unit like immortals to tank for my ranged, or preferably make musketeers a unique ranged unit instead (would make more sense imo). It's strange having "musketmen" and "musketeers" being different classes of units when they are synonymous terms. I haven't played a whole lot since my last post. But I haven't found musketeers to be very good so far. They suffer from the fundamental problem that using infantry to attack is not really what you want to be doing. If they could at least move after attacking (and perhaps have their combat strength reduced to compensate) that would be something. Then they wouldn't have to open themselves up to dying so much. Compared to impis, another offensive tercio replacement, they feel very underwhelming.
     

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