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In-Depth Guide to Offensive Wars (in progress)

Discussion in 'Strategy Section' started by amateurgamer88, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Hi everyone! This is amateurgamer88 and I'm starting this thread because combat and offensive wars can be complicated, especially for the newer players. Note that I'm still learning combat myself so I will add what I know. Ideally, we'll also have experienced players providing their observations, tips and advice to this guide. Overall, this will be a guide made by the community for the community. This will be a ongoing guide and hopefully changes to combat will be minimized until the gold version.

    This first post will serve as a Table of Contents for the various topics we'll encounter when we discuss offensive wars. With the Table of Contents, I hope to organize the information while allowing people to still discuss in this thread their thoughts about combat. Note that the order of topics is random and some topics will have overlaps. Feel free to suggest any topic that are being missed below.

    Table of Contents:
    1.0: Timing of Declaration of War
    2.0: Terrain
    2.1: Terrain II
    2.2: Terrain III
    3.0: Unit Composition
    3.1: Unit Composition II
    3.2: Unit Composition III
    3.3: Unit Composition IV
    3.4: Unit Composition V
    3.5: Unit Composition VI
    4.0: Important Promotions
    5.0: War Weariness (WW)
    6.0: Eras
    7.0: Unique Abilities
    8.0: Unique Units
    9.0: Unique Buildings, Buildings and Wonders
    10.0: Religion
    11.0: Social Policies
    12.0: Diplomacy
    13.0: City States
    14.0: Resources
    15.0: Improvements
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  2. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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  3. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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  4. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Timing of Declaration of War

    Before we declare war, we have to first when to declare war. A poorly timed war can not only be counterproductive but also can see other players/AIs taking advantage of the chaos. Knowing when to declare war is equally as important, if not more, than knowing how war. So, when are good times to declare war?

    Better Units

    If you are prioritizing war, then you will very likely focus on military techs more. Such a focus can give you an edge in combat, especially when your enemy isn't ready for war. Let's look at the scenario below:

    There are some units that give you a significant power spikes if you get those units before your neighbors. Two of my favorite units are Knights and Cruisers because they are very powerful and versatile for the era they become available. Now, this may differ for players as their play style can be vastly different. However, all the players will find themselves being able to wage war more effective when they hit a certain point of the game. For me, one game changer for wars is the introduction to the Indirect Fire for Siege units.

    In addition to units unlocked by technology and available to all the civilizations, there are unique units (UU) that are available to their respective civilization. These UU will differ in their strengths and weaknesses and are unlocked at different eras. More details will be discussed under the topic of Unique Units.

    Distracted Neighbor

    Both players and AI have supply limits which dictate how many units they can field at a time. Even AI on higher difficulty will still have a limit. This limit means that not all cities will be equally protected. What if your neighbor is busy fighting another civ and has less units defending the front it shares with you? A weakened front is very enticing to warmongers/expantionists and for good reasons. After all, fewer resistance means you can achieve more than if you had encountered heavy resistance. There's no shame is in attacking a weakened/vulnerable neighbor because your other neighbors (even AIs) will do the same to you if the tables were reversed. Here, diplomacy can play a big role but more details about diplomacy will be discussed in Diplomacy.

    Overextended Neighbor

    Ever have a neighbor forward settle by placing a city very close to your capital? That can be very annoying as they might deny you your luxury monopoly or stop you from expanding further out. Sometimes, these forward settled cities are closer to your capital than your neighbors. That means that you are able to wage war much easier since you can reinforce your front line faster and your units can heal faster. Sometimes, your neighbor will be greedy by expanding rapidly and those Settler costs production. If you've been focusing on military all this time, then you are going to be in a much better position to wage wars and take the cities your neighbor "built for you."

    Unlocking Policies

    While we will go into more details about this in Social Policies, there is something to be said about how your policies can decide the window when declaring war is optimal. The most obvious policies are Authority and Imperialism as these two policy trees are geared towards war. Authority favors war early on with the extra :c5production: Production for all your cities while Imperialism favors mid to late game by favoring expansionist play style. Of course, there are some other policies that may can give you a small spike in military strength you can take advantage of. For instance, Justice from Tradition can give your capital a pretty big :c5production: Production boost in the early game that you can translate to some early wars against your enemies.

    Unique Abilities (UA)

    It's pretty obvious that certain UA can give you an edge in wars, sometimes throughout the entire game. More details will be discussed in Unique Abilities but a few examples will be used here to give a rough idea. There are many UA that favors a warmonger play style but I'll stick with a few of my favorites. First, we have the Swedish UA that gives attacking :c5strength: bonus, extra :c5moves: movement to siege units and buffs Great Generals. Next, we have the French UA that rewards you for city captures and strengthens ranged units if you attack units/cities in the right order. There are many other instances and they are quite unique so you might see your play style changing depending on the civ you are playing.

    To be Continued...
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
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  5. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Terrain

    Terrain plays a key role in all wars. This can be a pretty big topic so it might take awhile to get through this. First, I want to go through the different terrain you can encounter and discuss briefly their importance regarding both logistics and the resources they may possess. Next, I hope to get some screenshots of random maps and discuss some things to think about when settling cities and invading your neighbors. Why settling cities? Proper city location can prepare you for future wars while poor settles can make your life harder. While this thread is about offensive wars, there will be situations where you need to go from defensive to the offensive so avoiding defensive wars doesn't make sense.

    Unimproved Terrain

    Coast:
    2 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5moves: Movement Expended

    Until you unlocked Compass, you will be stuck traversing on the Coast (unless you're Polynesia) for early game and part of mid game. Therefore, your naval combat will take place entirely on coastal tiles. Once you unlock Fishing, then your land units can embark and that can greatly change how wars take place. Coastal cities can be vulnerable or impenetrable depending how many coastal tiles are adjacent to the cities.

    The only strategic resource found on a Coast tile is Oil. For the late game, oil can be very important as it's needed for air and armored units. For games that do last that long to end, you don't want to lack Oil.

    Desert:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    Deserts are one of the biggest natural barriers available to you. They are often much better for the defender than the attacker. When planning wars, it's vital to plan for Deserts because they can slow your advances to a halt at times. Desert tiles limit your non-mounted units to only 1 :c5moves: Movement and mounted units lose 2 :c5moves: Movements. These can be detrimental if a speedy war is something you're aiming for. At least Desert tiles don't obstruct direct fire for ranged units.

    Desert tiles can potentially spawn four strategic resources: Iron, Oil, Aluminum and Uranium. Iron is very important early game while the other three resources are really geared for late game.

    Grassland:
    2 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5moves: Movement Expended

    There's not much to be said about Grassland other than that they don't obstruct your advances. For mounted units, an open terrain of just Grassland can really give them a chance to shine, especially those Chariot Archers.

    Grassland tiles can potentially spawn four strategic resources: Iron, Horses, Coal and Uranium. Iron and Horses and very important early game while Coal is vital mid game.

    Hill:
    2 :c5production: Production, 2 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Like Desert tiles, Hill tiles also uses up 2 :c5moves: Movements. Unlike Desert tiles, Hill tiles also greatly complicates combat with how vision, direct fire works and defensive bonus. Defensive bonus is the most straightforward as units stationed on a Hill tile is harder to kill (note the bonus doesn't apply when you're attacking).

    Regarding vision, units usually have a default vision of 2 tiles (correct me if I'm wrong). If the unit is on flat terrain like Grassland or Desert and is adjacent to a Hill tile, then that unit, despite have 2 tile vision, can't see the tile blocked by the Hill. Intelligence on the enemy is very powerful so lack of vision can actually make wars ineffective. Knowing where you enemy units are at is half the battle as you'll make better decisions from what you know. However, it does differ where you can see a hill 3 tiles away as opposed to only 2 tiles away. See screenshot below for clarification about vision with Hill tiles:

    hill_vision.png

    The third aspect, direct fire, matters throughout the game but it's more apparent early game where indirect fire promotion is nonexistent. Hills can prevent ranged units from supporting melee units and, when ranged units provide a lot of the damage early game, that can make pushes extremely difficult. Luckily for humans, AIs don't take into account of this factor so it's likely they settle cities that cannot target ranged units while nearby hills can provide the attackers an edge. If a ranged unit is on a hill, it can fire over any adjacent tiles except for Forest/Jungle Hill tiles.

    Hill tiles can potentially spawn four strategic resources: Iron, Coal, Aluminum and Uranium

    Forest/Jungle Hill:
    2 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5production: Production, 3 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +35% :c5strength: Bonus (Jungle, Plains/Forest, Grassland)
    1 :c5food: Food, 2 :c5production: Production, 3 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +35% :c5strength: Bonus (Forest, Plains)

    Forest/Jungle Hill tiles expend 3 :c5moves: Movements as opposed to the normal two. Take that into account when moving mounted units, especially the ranged ones, because it can leave them very exposed. Forest/Jungle Hill tiles also blocks all direct fire from all ranged units and vision for all units in adjacent tiles except maybe Mountains (hope someone can confirm or deny this). These hill tiles also give more :c5strength: Bonus so use that to your advantage when moving your melee units forward. See screenshot below for clarification about vision with Forest/Jungle Hill tiles:

    forest_hill_vision.png

    Forest/Jungle Hill tiles can potentially spawn the same strategic resources as Hill tiles. (Need confirmation for whether they might also spawn Oil for Jungle Hill Tiles.)

    Desert Hill:
    2 :c5production: Production, 3 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Desert Hill tiles also slows down movement drastically but it at least doesn't cause more issues to ranged units like Forest/Jungle Hill tiles. These hill tiles also provide the same amount of :c5strength: Bonus as ordinary hills.

    Desert Hill tiles can potentially spawn the same strategic resources as Hill tiles.

    Mountain:
    Impassable except certain conditions, +35% :c5strength: Bonus (someone confirm if :c5strength: is 10/25/35%?)

    The Incans can traverse Mountain thanks to their UA. There are other promotions like Hovering Unit (for Zeppelin and Helicopter Gunship) and Engineering Corps (though I don't know what units gets access to this). If a Worker builds a road on Mountains, then all units can traverse it like a hill.

    Ocean:
    1 :c5food: Food,1 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    Ocean is a very interesting when it comes to its importance. Early game, you won't be able to traverse unless you're Polynesia. Depending on what map you play on, naval combat can play an important and you'll see a fairly big portion of the battles happening both on Coast and Ocean tiles. In addition, you get larger discount on your tech if you meet more AIs that are ahead of you can those extra shaved turns can matter for the timing of your military techs. When there are large stretches of Ocean tiles, extra :c5moves: Movement and vision can play a greater role in dealing a devastating blow to your enemy's forces or withdraw with most of your units to fight another day.

    Ocean tiles can potentially spawn Oil.

    Plains:
    1 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5production: Production, 1 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    Plain tiles are bland like Grassland and there isn't much to be about them except that they can spawn the most strategic resources out of all the tiles mentioned so far and these can help both early, mid and late game.

    Plains tiles can potentially spawn five strategic resources: Iron, Horses, Coal, Aluminum and Uranium.

    Snow:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    In most cases, Snow tiles won't play any role in your wars. AIs will settle bad cities that requires you to go through Snow tiles but those cities won't be relevant if you capture the other (and often core) cities already or if you have vassalage enabled.

    Snow tiles can potentially spawn three strategic resources: Iron, Oil and Uranium.

    Tundra:
    1 :c5food: Food,1 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    Tundra tiles aren't great but they at least give some nice strategic resources if RNG goes your way.

    Tundra tiles can potentially spawn five strategic resources: Iron, Horses, Oil, Alunimum and Uranium.

    Features

    Atoll:
    2 :c5food: Food, 2 :c5production: Production, 1 :c5moves: Movements Expended

    Atoll gives decent yields but otherwise is no different a Coast tile.

    Atoll tiles don't spawn any strategic resources.

    Fallout:
    -3 :c5food: Food, -3 :c5production: Production, -3 :c5gold: Gold, 2 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +5% :c5strength: Bonus

    Fallout is caused when anyone used a nuke. It slows down advances, provides a tiny bit of :c5strength: bonus and deals 15 damage to any units ending their turn in it. In my opinion, fallout will slow down your conquest a lot due to the heals required and the extra :c5moves: Movement expended unless you have enemy in a really fortified position and grinding through it will take longer. In the scenario where you opponent gambled everything at defensive position, a nuke can devastate that defensive position and make rest of the war easier due to how much weaker other cities will be defensively. You can unlock the promotion, Fallout Resistance and Fallout Immunity, from very late techs to minimize or avoid taking damage from Fallout but that's one less promotion for that unit. (I need confirmation but do Workers eventually get the ability to clean Fallout tiles? I can't seem to find where on the tech tree that gives them the ability)

    Forest:
    1 :c5food: Food, 2 :c5production: Production, 2 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +25% :c5strength: Bonus (Forest, Plains)
    2 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5production: Production, 2 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +25% :c5strength: Bonus (Forest, Grasslands)

    Forest can be quite interesting in that they really hinder melee units (by limiting movement to only 1) and ranged units (by limiting the range to 1 unless the unit has Indirect Fire promotion) while helping mounted units that excel on hit and run tactics. For instance, ranged mounted units like Skirmishers can do quite well where they move into a Forest tile, attack a unit and back away with impunity except for some special cases. In addition to the movement limitations, Forest tiles also affect vision.

    Forest tiles causes same vision obstruction like Hills. See the screenshots below for clarification about vision with Forest tiles.

    forest_vision.png

    Forest tiles can potentially spawn Uranium and Iron.

    Flood Plains:
    3 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +5% :c5strength: Bonus (need confirmation about the :c5strength: bonus)

    Flood Plains tiles are really bland as they act as ordinary tiles. If there is indeed :c5strength: bonus, then they are slightly better than other flat tiles. This tile is mostly good for city growth.

    Flood Plains tiles don't spawn any strategic resources.

    Ice:
    Impassable except for special cases

    Ice tiles, like Mountain tiles, can be traversed with certain promotions. Engineering Corps and Hovering Units Promotion (both of which applies to Mountain as well) along with May Enter Ice Tiles promotion (for Submarines) allow units to pass over Ice

    Jungle:
    2 :c5food: Food, 1 :c5production: Production, 2 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +25% :c5strength: Bonus (Jungle, Plains)

    Jungle tiles function much like Forest tiles.

    Jungle tiles can potentially spawn Oil and Uranium.

    Marsh:
    3 :c5food: Food, 3 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +5% :c5strength: Bonus

    Marsh tiles are basically Desert tiles that force you to expend one more :c5moves: Movement. Considering that this terrain is considered flat, it's awful if it's surrounded by Forests and Hills for practically all units. As a result, Marsh tiles literally bogs down your forces but, for defending purposes, it's actually amazing. No UA or UU (at least that I know of) can make good use of this terrain so the attackers are slowed down drastically both advancing and withdrawing. I have noticed the Marsh Walkers promotion that apply to Barbarians on Civilopedia but I don't know if this promotion still gets used. Otherwise, that double movement can be quite strong for certain maps.

    Marsh tiles can potentially spawn Uranium and Oil.

    Oasis:
    3 :c5food: Food, 2 :c5gold: Gold, 1 :c5moves: Movements Expended. +5% :c5strength: Bonus

    Oasis tiles may appear like a vastly improved Desert tile but it can actually play a big role in battles. As mentioned earlier, Desert tiles are one of the natural barriers you can face. Since Oasis only expends 1 :c5moves: Movement as opposed to 2, it can potentially give you some interesting maneuverability. Now, this is a niche situation but the extra movement can play a bigger role than you can imagine and therefore place you cities with the location of Oasis tiles in mind.

    Rivers:
    Lose all movements crossing it except for special cases

    Rivers aren't tiles since they exist between tiles. Their existence can cause wars to be won or lost depending on where battles take place. In the early game, Rivers will make all units lose their movements regardless if there are roads or not (Engineering will enable bridges over roads that cross Rivers). The only exception to the rule is Songhai which excels with Rivers. For all the other civs, Rivers can be the best defense against invasions or the biggest obstacle for any offensives. More details about how valuable Rivers are will be discussed later as we get to screenshots and my discussion of city settling and invasions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
  6. Rekk

    Rekk Chieftain

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    I don't want to clutter up your thread, but you missed talking about plain forests.
     
  7. chicorbeef

    chicorbeef Warlord

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    I can see quite a lot of work put into this so good job!

    I don't think it's necessary for you to put the yields of each tile in a war guide.

    Mounted doesn't actually need Open terrain to shine-forested, desert and jungle hills, marshes, and rivers all screw up Mounted but they do fine in flat Jungle/Forest, Hills and Desert. Forest skirmishers are actually great, since there's no way for the 2-range archer units to hit back in normal circumstances, whereas in Open Terrain, they can.

    Do Flood Plains have a defensive malus? The wiki says it doesn't but I for some reason remember it in-game as giving one.
     
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  8. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    You don't have to worry about clutter. I have a Table of Contents for that reason. People can just search up what they want from there. As for plain forests, I am going to do that next. Just need to find time to update this more.

    Thanks but there's more work to be done. Terrain alone will eat up a lot of time. As for yields, I'll leave it there since it doesn't take that much extra energy. I might want to discuss those yields for early wars since tiles are usually unimproved. We'll see whether or not I'll get there.

    Regarding mounted, I will update that! Thanks for the reminder. I don't know why I missed that but it's true that ranged mounted units can excel in tiles that only expend 2 movements.

    I don't think Flood Plains have a defensive malus but, after checking in game, it actually says a 5% bonus so that's something new for me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  9. swapoer

    swapoer Chieftain

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    Awesome.
     
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  10. azum4roll

    azum4roll Chieftain

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    There are also passable Natural Wonders and Ocean tiles you missed. And more importantly, rivers and how flood plains are always adjacent to one.
     
  11. Minh Le

    Minh Le Chieftain

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    Desert without hill or river is a nightmare to defend actually. You defending force has no terrain modifier while defending and enemies ranged units can shot freely and you will have a hard time to counter attack because of movement restriction.
     
  12. Owlbebach

    Owlbebach Warlord

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    In my opinion attacking on flat desert is a nightmare. Defending is quite easy because desert eats all movement points.
     
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  13. Minh Le

    Minh Le Chieftain

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    Well it depends a bit more on the suround area but defending without counter attacking is very difficult. A city on open desert is very vulnerable. Movement is not very important since once you attack you will lose all movement poitn anyway. What really count here is you can attack freely with ranged unit and the enemy cannot counter attack. Its maybe slow but its easy to advance.
     
  14. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    I will be doing those once I have the time. Natural Wonders will be separate from the unimproved terrains and rivers will be covered as well. Still figuring out the best way to organize everything.

    River really changes things up since they create flood plains. I agree with hills but rivers can serve as both an advantage or disadvantage depending on where you or your opponent settle the city. Roads can play a critical role in the desert if you can afford them when defending.

    Attacking is a nightmare if the defenders are ready. If not, the time it takes for your enemy to react can make desert a nightmare for them as well while you're already attacking the city.

    A city on any open terrain is vulnerable but desert tiles offers a bit more protection (not much more). To be honest, I find Marches more painful for Desert when it comes to attacking as they force you to expend even more movement while forests and jungle can be nearby. Like I said early in this post, defending in desert is easier if you are ready. If you're unready, getting into position will be far more painful and launching an attack.
     
  15. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Terrain II

    Now that we discussed the Unimproved Terrain and some of the Features you can find in-game, we will move to Natural Wonders. I won't go into too much details unless there are some details that might matter in wars.

    Note: I need others to confirm for me if the Natural Wonders are basically either Hill or Mountain tiles (with the exception of Great Barrier Reef) so promotions and rules regarding Hill and Mountain tiles apply to them as well. I tested a couple and found this to be the case but I don't want to mislead if there are exceptions.

    Natural Wonders

    Cerro de Potosi:
    Impassable

    Impassable terrain is always important to consider as they can be a hindrance or an advantage. Don't be caught unready.

    El Dorado:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Assuming this still exists since I'm never so fortunate, if you can be the first to discover this Natural Wonder, then you get a nice sum of gold and that gold can make a pretty big difference in how you build up your forces early game.

    Fountain of Youth:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    I find this Natural to be very powerful regardless if you are fighting offensively or defensively. The extra HP healed per turn might see small at 5 but it can make huge differences. In enemy territory, you can heal 10 HP as opposed to the default 5 HP each turn. With Medic II promotion, you can heal 20 HP in enemy territory and that's what you normally get in your city without any buildings providing additional healing. The ability to keep your front line units alive longer can make a huge difference regarding how long you can hold back the enemy while you take a city. Defensively, this Natural Wonder can help your weaker front by giving you more time to send forces if needed to reinforce a hopefully really defensive location.

    King Solomon's Mines:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Krakatoa:
    Impassable

    Lake Victoria:
    Impassable

    Mt. Fuji:
    Impassable

    Mt. Kailash:
    Impassable

    Mt. Kilimanjaro:
    Impassable

    This is the other Natural Wonder that will affect your wars in a very direct way by giving a promotion. Altitude Training Promotion (Double Movement in Hills, +10% :c5strength: Combat Strength [CS] when fighting in Hill) can make very rough terrain an advantage you have over your opponent. Since this applies to your melee, ranged and mounted units, you know that your army won't be slowed down by Hill tiles anymore. With more maneuverability, it can be exceptionally powerful as you have more options to work with. With wars being fluid, more options means that you can adapt better than your opponent and find weak points that cannot be otherwise exploited.

    Mt. Sinai:
    Impassable

    Old Faithful:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Rock of Gibraltar:
    Impassable

    This Natural Wonder also spawns with a mountain adjacent to it. Take into account of that mountain when it comes to settling a city or preparing an invasion.

    Sri Pada:
    Impassable

    This Natural Wonder gives an interesting promotion, Sacred Steps (+2 :c5moves: Movements for Civilian Units). You might wonder what's so important about Civilian units. First, Workers are Civilian units and that extra movement can make a huge difference if you need Roads/Railroads in your newly conquered territory. Defenders have a big advantage of developed infrastructure. If you, as the attacker, can get your infrastructure in place quickly, you can push more efficiently and never give your opponent a chance to regroup. This might not be vital for many wars but it's a nice to have for sure. If there's one thing about war in VP, it's that you use any advantage you can get to overwhelm your enemies.

    Barringer Crater:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Grand Mesa:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    Great Barrier Reef:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus

    This is the only thing in the Coast ( and Ocean?) tiles that requires 2 :c5moves: Movements. Don't be caught off guard when you move your ships through them, especially through both tiles.

    Uluru:
    2 :c5moves: Movements Expended, +10% :c5strength: Bonus
     
  16. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Terrain III

    Now that we discussed the Unimproved Terrain, Features and Natural Wonders, I'll be including some screenshots and discuss about city placement. You might think that city placement should be important for defensive wars but they are equally if not more important than offensive wars. Remember that, by settling your cities, you are also denying your enemies from settling in certain areas. Proper settling can force AIs or your enemies to place cities that aren't as defensive and help you with your future wars. Of course, there's an alternative to settling cities which is taking cities. We'll discuss that as well depending on what maps I get.

    Without further ado, we'll start with the screenshot below and analyze our starting location along with potential settling spots.

    The map is Continents at Standard Size. I make it so I can see all the map with fog of war still on. I make it Turn 2/3 (some AIs actually don't settle the first turn) so we can see where our closest neighbors are to discuss how to approach settling. I will be doing a couple of these but there will likely be breaks as I want to cover things as well.

    Spoiler :

    Now, I realize that, for normal games, we won't have so much information at the start. Information in the early game is so critical because it decides what tech and policies you are going for. That's why that initial Pathfinder can make or break games so keep it alive. Back to the screenshot below.

    The first thing you'll notice is that Spain is very close to our capital. There are basically 8 tiles between the two capitals and that isn't a lot. With my play style, I'd like to focus on military and not bother with settling any cities yet. The idea is to eliminate Spain very early so I'll have more land to work with. Essentially, I want to let Spain build a couple of puppets for me to use and/or just give my units valuable experience to snowball from this point onward.

    How soon will we know about Madrid's whereabouts? This will depend on your difficulty. From King difficulty and above, the AI gets two Pathfinders instead of one. Higher difficulties also sees these Pathfinders getting more experience so it's possible for Pathfinders on Deity to have Trailblazers II from the very start and that means they can cover a lot of distances very quickly. If a Spanish Pathfinder decides to go north, then it should encounter us very quickly (as little as 2 turns if one of them happened to beeline for us). That tells us that Spain is very close and should convince you how you will approach such a close neighbor. With AI Pathfinders going in random directions, there's a chance that they don't find you until much later. What then?

    What about our own Pathfinder? If we go north, we'll find out that it's a dead end pretty end. If we go west, then we'll find the end of continent fairly quickly. Without Trailblazers I, we are going to be very slow to find out where our west coast is but it's still a reasonable time. If we go south, then we are going to find Spain quite quickly. If we go east, then we may encounter Spanish Pathfinders or we won't know about Spain for quite awhile. For both north and west, we have a good of discovering Spain next because we normally want to know our immediate surroundings. Overall, our odds of finding Spain is relatively good so we'll go with the case where we do find them before we get our first Social Policy.

    With the Policy tree, the obvious choice is Authority. Authority allows you to field a larger army faster as it benefits all of your cities by providing :c5production: Production and seems to gear you for war. Progress and Tradition can also work but their timing is different from Authority. Tradition gives your capital a huge boost in :c5production: Production when you take Justice. As for Progress, you get 2 :c5production: Production from Organization while Liberty gives you a :c5gold: Gold boost while saving you from building a Worker. All three are viable but pulling them off require practice.

    Regarding technology, it's obvious that you want to focus on military. I personally like a composition of Archer and Spearman. Cities can't attack two tiles away until they get walls so Archers can potentially attack cities with impunity. Spearmen are just noticeably better than Warriors and gives you quite the edge by protecting your Archers. Bronze Working, the tech needed for Spearman, also gives you a chance to build the Statue of Zeus and that's a powerful Wonder for early and mid game wars.

    Looking at the screenshot, you can see that Spain has Spices as luxury. This means that the AI will be prioritizing Calendar so they will eventually get Archers but no Spearman. Use that knowledge to your advantage as it can help you drastically by having a huge military edge at a time when AIs don't have any major advantage over you.
    20190222162318_1.jpg


    Spoiler :

    With the proximity between us and Spain, city placement is going to be complicated. On higher difficulties, the AIs can usually get their second city before you unless you literally just focused on getting your Settler. Therefore, I will skip city placement (will save for a future post) and discuss about mid-game planning. Early game will, based on my observation above, be focused on war on Spain and eliminating her for good. Not only will this eliminate a dangerous foe but also a religious rival as Spain usually has a good chance of grabbing a religion. How about the other civs on our continent?

    First, we have Polynesia who can be a problem as he'll be expanding while we're at war with and, hopefully, eliminating Spain for good. There are two approaches following the fall of Spain. You can either expand towards Polynesia to buildup for a future war or use your existing military (undoubtedly on par if not stronger than Polynesia's). If Polynesia expanded towards you, preparing for war is one of better options. If there are largely open space between you and Polynesia, then settling towards Polynesia will be a nice idea as it gives your units less travel distance to heal up faster to return to battle faster. The goal is not necessarily eliminate Polynesia but to cripple your neighbor so Polynesia will eventually be eliminated. One thing to watch out for is what techs Polynesia goes for as you don't want to fight at a disadvantage.
    20190222162328_1.jpg

    Secondly, we have Venice who is going to make things interesting by not settling any cities. Once Spain and Polynesia are eliminated, then you are the rest of continent to settle for yourself. In this situation, Progress would've been stronger but chances are you went Authority to get that boost to securely eliminate Spain and maybe even Polynesia. The presence of Venice means that CS quests will be harder to complete in time but you do have quite a bit more options. You will also know where and when Venice will attack you since his cities are already predetermined unless he puppets conquered cities. For me, this game is largely determined once I eliminated Polynesia and Spain unless the two continents can be reached before Compass. Otherwise, a whole continent to yourself will put you in a commanding position.
    20190222162337_1.jpg
    That's it for this map. I will do more in the future but I want to cover other topics as well.


    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  17. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Unit Composition

    Unit composition will differ depending the eras and, even then, there are many factors. These factors might be difference in tech, a lead in military tech, UU and policies to name a few. I will first break the situation down into eras where we look at your techs compared to whoever you plan on attacking.

    Ancient Era vs. Ancient Era

    This is the early game where a lot can decide regarding how the rest of the game will look. This era can see a lot of different scenarios play out and I'll list the scenarios below. Why are there so many scenarios? This is a stage where you are more or less on par with AI regardless of difficulty. As a result, more options opens up.

    Going Authority

    If you plan on going Authority, then you are going after three objectives: Barbarian Camps, Tributes from :c5citystate: City States (CS) and neighboring Cities. Why Barbarian Camps? They give you a fair bit of :c5culture: Culture that gives you policies faster and more policies means more :c5production: Production in all of your cities. In the early game, :c5production: Production is equivalent to how quickly you can get a large military and that helps with all three objectives. Tributes will give you :c5culture: Culture once you get Tribute and much needed resources like :c5gold: Gold, :c5science: Science, :c5culture: Culture and :c5production: Production depending the :c5citystate: CS. :c5food: Food isn't favorable early game so I don't recommend it from Tributes. The first two objectives aim to help you achieve the third objective faster and, to snowball, you want to capture your neighbor's cities.If your neighbor has fewer cities, then it will grow weaker while you grow stronger.

    First, you want units that help you take out Barbarian Camps faster. Warriors are alright but they are the default unit for a reason. With numbers, they can do alright but they will struggle against Barbarian units like Hand-ax. If the Barbarian Camp is garrisoned by a Brute, then taking the camp will take many turns and those turns in the early game are vital. For clearing Barbarian Camps faster, you have two options you can go for. Archer is the quicker way as it only requires one tech and they are relatively cheap to get. Archers can support from afar without needing lose HP so they can move onto another camp as soon as they cleared. Spearman is a slower option but a couple of these units can clear camps faster than Warriors. However, spearmen will need to heal up after each camp so that can make them slower than Archers. Ideally, you have Archers and Warriors/Spearmen working together to clear camps.

    I wish to thank @Minh Le and @CrazyG for insights into this. I will be paraphrasing theirs suggestions/discussion about taking out Barbarian Camps below.
    Secondly, you want units to help you get Tributes.

    Tributes depend heavily on the proximity of the CS to your capital and to each other. If you have a single CS near your capital, then it can only give decent yields every time you can demand Tributes. If you have a cluster of CS in relative close proximity near your capital, then you can demand a number of Tributes at one time with proper position of your units (within 6 tiles of the CS city). In addition, there are two types of tributes: Tributes and Heavy Tributes. As the name states, Heavy Tributes will give you more while being harder to demand. Luckily, the UI gives you, the player, a good idea of what you must do to get the Tributes as it states how close you are to getting access to Tributes (just gold) or Heavy Tributes (yields like Culture, Science that depends on what sort of the CS is). The greater your military advantage compared to the CS, then the higher your score is when determining what sort of Tributes you can get. When you go Authority, Tributes gives you :c5culture: Culture from the Tribute policy that scales with era. Early on, the extra :c5culture: Culture can make a pretty big difference.

    Generally, the best way to get Tributes is with Spearman. They are the quicker to access than Horsemen and, since they are upgraded from Warrior, you will likely have a couple built already so you can upgrade them rather quickly as opposed to building from scratch like Horsemen (in addition to improving Horses). Why do Spearman give you the best way early game? CS normally build Warriors and don't get Spearmen for quite awhile. While Horsemen can get you Tributes too, they come a bit later and the impact of the :c5culture: Culture along with the yields from the Tributes themselves is lesser at that point. Let's not forget, assuming you are working with the same map, Spearman will have already gotten you yields from Tributes before you'd even gotten Horsemen. As mentioned earlier, this does depend heavily on the location of the CS so, if they are relatively far away, Horsemen might be more worth it due to their mobility to help you secure Tributes.

    How important are the Heavy Tributes? While Tributes provide gold and that's quite nice in buying your military and a single Worker, some of the Heavy Tributes cannot be overlooked. Cultural CS gives you :c5culture: Culture for Heavy Tribute and that means faster policies resulting in more :c5production: Production in all your cities. Mercantile CS gives you :c5production: Production to help you speed up whatever you're building in your capital whether it's a unit, building or Wonder. Militaristic CS gives you :c5science: Science to help give a fairly a big boost to your tech to unlock crucial military techs giving you a bigger edge on your neighbor. Maritime and Religious are the odd ones in that they don't benefit you as much early on. Religious CS gives you :c5faith: Faith that helps you with mid-game more unless you have UA/UU that benefit from more :c5faith: Faith. Maritime CS gives you :c5food: Food which, in my opinion, is the worst. You don't wanna your cities too much as it produces a lot of :c5unhappy: unhappiness (though :c5happy: happiness is being reworked so this might be changed). For Authority players, Heavy Tributes is a huge aspect of their kit so neglecting means you aren't taking full advantage it.

    Thirdly, units are the key to taking cities from your neighbors. The acquisition of cities will help you snowball and slow down a dangerous neighbor. Therefore, it's actually the most important of the three (though the first two help prepare you for this key step). There are a couple of different compositions that can work and their success depends on a number of factors to be mentioned below.

    Early Rush 1:

    The earliest rush you can do is with Warriors and Archers. Archers are unlocked from Trapping and that can potentially be the first or second tech you research. A lot of :c5production: Production must be invested to get a few Archers and one Warrior (more Warriors are fine but one is enough to take that city). Archers cannot be underestimated in the very early game as they can kite units like Warriors and can attack cities with impunity if the terrain allows it. With higher difficulties, this can become harder to pull off due to the large number of Warriors the AI can build and replace. However, this is usually the best strategy against one extremely dangerous early game civs, Songhai, if this AI spawns very close to you. Unlike other dangerous civ like Greece and Persia, Songhai has a UU that comes slightly later but can be absolutely devastating. If you can eliminate Songhai before the AI even unlocks Military Theory, then you are going to survive the early game.

    Early Rush 2:

    Another early rush sees you go directly for Bronze Working. Since you are going to war early, then you aren't going to build Settlers and/or Stonehenge. After all, your :c5production: Production will be focused on the basics like Monument and Shrine along with the Warriors that will be upgraded to Spearman. Bronze Working, in addition to giving you access to Spearman that's the strongest unit for a relatively small window in Ancient Era, also allows you to build Statue of Zeus. I might be biased here but I find this Wonder to be quite good for a number of reason. First, it gives you a Barracks in your capital so you don't need Military Theory anytime soon and all future units built in your capital gets at least one promotion. Secondly, it gives your units extra :c5strength: CS when attacking cities and that can make a big difference in taking or not taking cities, especially capital cities for AI that went Tradition. Personally, I cannot nail down the timing of a pure Spearmen rush so I cannot share with you how successful this can be. However, there might be others who have a different opinion in the matter.

    What makes this rush much more effective is the Spearman replacements. Greece has Hoplites while Persia have Immortals. I know that the Celts also have a replacement but their UU is actually available from Mining so they actually can accomplish more. Regardless which of these civs you go for, you will find a huge power spike as soon as you get access to your UU. If you are close to any of these civs, then you should prepare for early wars because they are going to beeline for those UU and their aggression is quite high while possessing such units. In my opinion, you can better prepare to deal with these civs than Songhai as rough terrain, impassable terrain and rivers can all be used to your advantage.

    Early Rush 3:

    The third early rush, slightly later than the second rush, utilizes both Archers and Spearmen. Archers require Trapping only so you need one more tech than the second rush. What's strong about this rush is that Archers solves one of the bigger problems you face in war which's the enemy units standing between you and the city. While Spearmen are quite strong until Horsemen are built, they take damage from attacking and need time to heal up before pushing forward. Conversely, Archers can attack with impunity if you use terrain to your advantage and can kite enemies as well. With Spearmen guarding your Archers, the enemy would have a very difficult time getting to your Archers.

    Generally, I go for more Archers than Spearmen. If I'm going for this rush, I normally don't expect my enemy to have units that can eliminate Spearmen very easily. I just position Spearmen in strategic locations where they stand between the enemy Warriors and my Archers. If I can get the high grounds like Hills, then my Archers can often devastate my enemy if I have sufficient Archers. For me at least, two Spearmen is enough if you don't go too aggressive with them while three or more Archers can eliminate enemy units and even take cities (before Walls are built of course).

    What's the downside of this rush? Since you are going for Archers as well, then you are splitting :c5production: Production and :c5gold: Gold between Archers and Spearmen. As a result, your attack might be delayed a bit more and this gives the AI more time to come up with countermeasure. If your opponent get Archers and they can attack your Archers while inside the city, then this rush can be extremely hard. More often than not, this rush requires the terrain around enemy cities to work in your favor like Hills two tiles away from the city and Hill or Forest/Jungle in between to make direct fire impossible.

    Early Rush 4:

    The last rush is slowest of them all but I still see it as an early rush since you are beelining for a unit to attack the enemy before they have countermeasures. The last rush involves Horseman which's the most powerful unit in the Ancient Era excluding all the UU. Horsemen boasts both mobility and :c5strength: CS and have little counter except for lots of Spearmen or other Horsemen or, given certain terrains, Chariot Archers. Even Archers do little against the Horsemen as we have seen how deadly even Barbarian Horsemen are towards our Archers despite our bonuses towards Barbarians.

    What makes Horsemen so dangerous is their ability to capture cities without Walls. It takes awhile, even for AI, to get up Walls in all of their cities. By going straight for Horsemen, you can take those cities with little resistance. Enemy Archers are going to essentially tickle your Horsemen while Warriors aren't going to cut it. Even in the situation where your opponent get Spearmen, the mobility of your Horsemen can cause plenty of havoc by pillaging improvements and roads. Overall, Horsemen can cause a lot of damage and, with their hit and run tactics, can make early wars a one-side affair if you do it correctly.

    Why did I say this the slowest of them all? First, you need to connect Horses to make this work. Secondly, you have to build Horsemen from scratch and, being a fairly expensive unit, that can take awhile. Archers becomes available as soon as you get Trapping while Spearmen can be upgraded from Warriors that you can build beforehand. However, the strength of the Horsemen cannot be underestimated given their strengths and, unlike Archers and Spearmen, their usefulness lasts into late Classical Era.

    Going Progress:

    Unlike Authority, progress works a bit differently when it comes to priorities and early wars. Even Progress can potentially wipe out an enemy in the early game but it sees a different approach to early war.

    Hunting for Barbarian Camps isn't as valuable for a Progress civ (as you get :c5gold: Gold only) and you won't know the new Barbarian Camp locations unless you discover it with a unit. You don't get :c5culture: Culture from encampments nor :c5culture: Culture and :c5science: Science from kills. Tributes can give you valuable yields but a Progress civ won't be getting additional :c5culture: Culture to speed up policies. It's still worth to demand Tributes if you can but it's no longer imperative as your snowball won't depend on it. As for taking cities, you won't be getting any yields from Progress directly but weakening a neighbor is never a bad idea.

    What makes Progress different then? First, the Progress opener can make a huge difference in your early wars. Why? That opener gives you a big one-time :c5science: Science boost that lets you get your next technology sooner. If you discover a neighbor close by and decide to go aggressive first, then this can make a big difference. Let's say you want to go for Horsemen rush. You will need the Wheel and Animal Husbandry before you can get Military Theory. The :c5science: Science boost will let you unlock Horsemen sooner while Progress provides you with a free Worker and extra :c5gold: Gold per city with one of its policies. By the time you finish Military Theory, you could've potentially improved your Horses and have the :c5gold: Gold to buy a Horseman outright.

    Secondly, Progress isn't an early game policy. Therefore, you won't fall too terribly behind if you don't really snowball early game. If anything, you can delay your war by focusing on your infrastructure first before using your possible tech lead to overwhelm your enemies. In addition to infrastructure, you can also settle cities in strategic locations that are not only defensible but also block off your enemies' expansions. If your neighbor has only a handful of cities, then its army will be less dangerous overall while, as the game drags on, it will be less relevant. Of course, this approach doesn't hurt a Tradition civ as much but, with AIs on higher difficulties at least, fewer cities does mean the AI is less threatening.

    Going Tradition:

    Tradition seems to promote a peaceful play style but that's not quite the case in the early game. Why? Tradition has two policies that actually gives a Tradition civ capital the most :c5production: Production boost out of the three ancient era policy trees. The Tradition opener gives you two additional :c5citizen: Population and that can give you a pretty big :c5production: Production boost depending on your starting location. The extra :c5food: Food from the opener means that you can actually work more Hills without your city starving.

    Then, you can potentially take Justice that gives you +1 :c5production: Production from the policy alone and another 3 :c5production: Production if you work the specialist slot. The 4 :c5production: Production from this policy is already more than the 2 :c5production: Production you gain from unlocking two policies for Authority and Progress. When you take into account the extra :c5production: Production from the Tradition opener, then you are actually quite well geared for early wars to wipe out that dangerous neighbor. Due to the timing of this :c5production: Production spike, you are limited to what you have available so normally Archers and Warriors make up your composition.

    While wars are possible during late Ancient Era, your advantage with Tradition will have diminished at this point so, unlike you have lots of confidence or UU, then it's not advisable to take any rash actions. Do note that, if your neighbor is busy with another front, then you can always take advantage of the situation. However, this does depend heavily your military situation as it's possible that you've been focusing mostly on Wonders and infrastructures in your cities at this point.

    To be Continued...
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
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  18. Minh Le

    Minh Le Chieftain

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    Camp hunting strategy works best with horsemen/chariot though. Chariot is unlocked with 1 tech also and theyre twice as effective as an archer in hunting barb.
     
  19. amateurgamer88

    amateurgamer88 Chieftain

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    Horsemen and Chariots both require horses. Do you really have the Production/Gold to invest in one to connect the horses? In addition, Chariots are heavily dependent on terrain as rough terrain makes them worse than Archers. Of course, I'd happily hear your thoughts.
     
  20. displayer

    displayer Chieftain

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    You'll need to get a worker anyway. And if you have horses, you should try to use them. Maybe not the chariot if the terrain is really bad.
     

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