Introduction/New Player Questions :)

Discussion in 'Civ4 - General Discussions' started by Daitanis, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Daitanis

    Daitanis Chieftain

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    Hello All,

    After a brief stint in the MMO genre for the past few years I decided that it was time to satisfy my RTS itch so I ended up installing Civ IV along with its 2 expansions (Warlords and BTS). I haven't started to play them quite yet, but I just had a few questions about the game as a whole before I get back into the swing of things.

    I read through the "New Players" link at the top of the page to get some hints and tricks as to HOW to play CIV IV. This is my first Civ game ever. Never played a map, so I'm a little more than green at this. I realize that I'm behind the ball but you always have to start somewhere right? I'm NOT new to the RTS or turn-based genre as I've been playing these types of games for a while (Starcraft, Warcraft, AoE, Medeival 2TW, etc.)

    Is there anything imperative that I need to know about Civ, as apposed to playing these other games? I was a very highly ranked AoE 2 player for years, so I'm just trying to get a feel as to what makes Civ different than other RTSs that I might be used to. That was my first question. I realize that CIV isn't an RTS since its turn based, perhaps that in itself is a huge distinction.

    Secondly, when I play these types of games I typically tend to turtle while expanding. I typically don't attack for a while, like to build up an overwhelming army and just crush people. It might not work with the style of this game. I realize that all of the leaders have different traits and there is unique units and builders, etc. For a player such as myself that has the mindset to not attack until late in the game, which leader(s) do you recommend trying to master? Again, I pick up these games quickly but which ones would you try out if you were me? Are there any traits that appeal to players that like to wait to attack? I was thinking Defensive and Financial but I'm not sure.

    Lastly, after I get everything installed I'll probably mess around playing single player for a while. Would you recommend trying the campaigns for a while? Or delve right into the multiplayer aspect? I'm almost certain that I'll probably get rushed and slaughtered but I'll try to get used to it.

    Regardless, I appreciate all of your comments and recommendations. I have been trolling these boards for a little while trying to get a better feel for the game. It seems like a lot of fun and quite a few of my friends play it.

    Thank you for everything and I look forward to learning :)
     
  2. Boom12389

    Boom12389 Chieftain

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    Uhhh, you might wanna check out the Strategy and Tips forums and guides on how to start or specific tricks and tips. Also, one thing to know... Civ isn't a RTS. It's a Turn-Based Strategy.
     
  3. Bluto_Longneck

    Bluto_Longneck Chieftain

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    As the guy above me said, find out more in the articles in the War Academy, that players have written for us, they're are great help.

    Play BTS, best value!

    If this is your first time with civ, start a game at Settler difficulty to get a look at the controls and the basics of terrain, resources and teching. The city interface is very important, so you should learn about that too.

    For leaders on lower levels, it all depends on things. You don't want to fight early, then pick FIN, IND or even SPI, to grab a religion. Find out about cottages and specialists, they are important.

    If you do want to fight fairly early, Persia and Rome are nice civs for warmongering and if you choose to war early, both those civs have ORG leaders, which will help you overcome some of the burden of expanding too quickly.

    There are thousands of better advices than I can give you, so just start a game at the lowest setting, play a custom game, choose your mapscript and your civ. Then press OK, you will love it from that point. :)
     
  4. Deckhand

    Deckhand Procrastination at its finest GOTM Staff

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    ^ what they said

    Don't worry about playing optimally at first. Just learn how to play the game. Try the Tutorial. Then check out the war academy articles. Try different leaders, different settings and different styles.
    One thing that makes the game great is its variety. Lots of different strategies will work.

    Start at easy difficulties and don't try multi player (vs humans) until you are winning at Prince. Yes do single player vs AIs and skip the scenarios at first. Play small maps for faster games.

    If you browse these forums much, you will see posts by TheMeInTeam. He used to be a StarCraft player and plays 5 times faster than most of us. And plays 10 times as many games. So, if you are like him: you will love Civ IV BtS, will play quickly and will get better soon.

    Have Fun and welcome to the forums.
     
  5. Baldyr

    Baldyr "Hit It"

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    Welcome to the community! :king: I'm sure you're gonna master this game pretty soon, since you seem very determined. :)

    There is a learning curve to this game, though. Its supposedly designed to be intuitive so that you don't have to understand everything in order to play it - and be successful. But since its actually a really old game (in its fourth incarnation) there are some stuff that haven't changed since its conceptions in the early 1990s. You will simply have to accept some things as they are, and before you acquire this base knowledge things might seem more difficult than they actually are.

    I'm talking about stuff like its normal for a empire or nation to dedicate anything up to 100% of its economy (well, "Commerce" at least) to scientific research. Or that population growth is only (well not really true in this latest version) dependent on your food supply. Or that it takes 100s of years (depending on game speed and game turn) to circumnavigate the World. Or that the exact configuration of national borders are determined by a notions of "culture".

    I'm sure you are able to accept stuff like this since its a game, and you have probably seen worse. Something you might try for your first few games is to disable some of the game options (like Vassal states, Espionage or Barbarians) in order to keep it simple. (Go Single Player / Custom Game.) You could also automate (in the in-game options) some things like Worker actions or Promotions for your units, since you're bound to make a mistake or two that will cost you dearly. If you let the AI decide these things you're at least not worse off than your opponents, and thats a start at least. You can and should observe what decisions are made so that you can learn from them - and maybe get some ideas for optimizing.

    One of the biggest decisions facing you as a player is the Tech tree and what Technologies to research (in what order). I haven't really tried this myself, but maybe you should consider the recommendations of your "advisors" early on? (I believe these are listed whenever you have a choice to make. I don't even notice these myself...) The game is basically about planning ahead, but you're probably better off just playing one game to the end before trying to get clever with your research path. At your second game you will probably have lots of ideas, though...

    Also, Wonders of the World are powerful and you will of course be building some of these in your games. They do give very specific benefits though, so it helps if you actually understand what they will do for you. Otherwise you might just get used to having some of them in your games, not realizing that you're actually playing at an advantage. (This inhibits learning.) Wonders can also be addictive and if you always have to get a certain Wonder you're just handicapping your games as to what options will be available to you. I've actually started playing without Wonders (well, not entirely...) in order to see what areas I could improve!

    You should probably try and build different Wonders in your games and try and take active advantage of the bonuses they give you. What Wonders you build should reflect your overall strategy - otherwise they might be a waste of your production capacity. Some are of course always good to have, but there could also be other considerations to be made at that juncture.

    Something to consider already at an early stage is to try and figure out what is going on in the City Screen. (You access it by double clicking on a city label.) It is shock full of figures and symbols and whatnot, but you will eventually realize that everything in there is actually vital information. By managing your cities you in effect manage your empire, so no effort in understanding the inner workings of you cities will be in vain.

    Speaking of cities, note that you have a "city governor" at your disposal. (Bottom section of the City Screen, to the right of the build options.) He will eventually become your biggest headache, but you should probably just give him some guidelines as how to manage your cities for you. Keep an eye out what the different settings will do and learn from the decisions made by the governor. Before you know it you will be trying to disable him entirely as you will start to see opportunities for optimizing left, right and center. :rolleyes:

    It really shows that you're a RTS player and its not a good idea to apply such strategies to a game like Civ. Your approach is, of course, as viable a strategy as any - if done right. But hopefully you will realize that there could be better strategies available, all depending on your settings, starting location and Civilization/leader. You really have to "play the map", as they say. Meaning that you should try and take note of opportunities as they present themselves and exploit them, rather than just turtle up for some future date when you steamroll the entire map...

    As to what leader to play, I tend to recommend a Creative leader for first time players. Otherwise you will be crippled as for culture :)culture:), which will create big problems for you initially! But don't get too comfortable with playing Creative leaders, as it will be somewhat of a shock once you no longer get that culture bonus playing other traits.

    As to choosing a Civilization with late game warfare in mind, you should probably try Germany. Both their Unique Building and Unique Unit are designed for this very aim. Bismarck is probably a more "basic" leader for learning the game, while I'd probably recommend Frederick once you try out more advanced strategies. (None of them is Creative, though. But if you play without Espionage you will get at least some relief when it comes to :culture:. Long story, don't ask...)

    Good luck and have fun! :goodjob:
     
  6. Willem

    Willem Deity

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    Well you wasted your time then because, as mentioned, Civ 4 is not an RTS it's turn-based.

    None of those compare to the gameplay of Civ 4.

    Yes it is, it will play quite differently. Forget what you know about those types of games as they don't apply.

    Yes it will. You don't have to attack anyone if you don't want to, unless of course you are attacked first. War is not an imperative in this game, you can win even just building a peaceful and enlightened society.

    I'd recommend you select the random option. This will give you a chance to learn about all the leaders and how they play out.

    There is no Defensive trait, you're probably thinking of Protective.

    There are no campaigns in Civ, there's only the main game and some scenarios.
     
  7. Scoottr

    Scoottr Prince

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    Just start a game at Settler difficulty and play. You will get the basics down on your own probably and have fun with the 'Oh! I get it now' occurances.

    Then come here when you have questions. That way you aren't reading for a month and then playing!
     
  8. Baldyr

    Baldyr "Hit It"

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    I believe that he has already done exactly that! :eek: So I agree: Start the bleeping game up now! :king:

    I doubt a seasoned strategist like Daitanis will go for this, but here goes nothing: Start your first game with the original CivIV game (aka "Vanilla") and play the tutorial. (There are no tutorials for the expansions, AFAIK.)

    edit: I'm sure Willem didn't mean to get all defensive about his favorite game. ;) As I understand it Daitanis plays both real time and turn based games, right?
     
  9. Willem

    Willem Deity

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    I wasn't being defensive at all, just trying to clear up some obvious misconceptions. Civ 4 plays much differently than all the games he's mentioned, simply because it is turn based. It has very little in common with any of those titles. About the only one that compares to it is Galactic Civilizations. It doesn't sound to me like he has any experience with turn based.
     
  10. Daitanis

    Daitanis Chieftain

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    I somewhat disagree. Medieval 2 Total War is turn based as you can only accomplish so much before the enemy moves and does everything. After my initial walkthrough trying this game, it reminds me the most of that.

    Obviously it isn't an RTS, but you do create units and buildings, and that was the best description that I could think of, rather than the RPG style that I was used to previously.

    Baldyr, thank you very much for your comments and suggestions. I've spent the better part of the day attempting to read through the strategies section of this site for beginners. It looks like there is a LOT to learn.

    Counters it still appears are imperative. It doesn't look like you're going to be able to win by spamming one unit and kill things. It looks like in later battles (post WW1 or so) varied groups of units are key.

    Creative does appear to be quite handy in the early stages of the game as it initally expands your territory. It seems that particular trait though is probably a "beginner" trait in the scheme of things. I suppose that making sure that your settlers get cranked out in the beginning and picking the right spots to settle is much more important.

    Ideally I suppose I'd like to play as a leader that has financial, since that appears to be quite useful and a huge cashflow. I'm also assuming that "Protective" would be a good trait for me since I like to turtle for a while and build up my army rather than rush. I suppose I could learn to rush, but I don't enjoy it as much.

    I'll try and fire up a few more games tonight and get the hang of it. I'm half Irish and half Italian so I'm tempted to try and learn either the Romans or the Celts, but a lot of what I've read says that the Celts are a fairly subpar choice (UU and UB aren't so hot).
     
  11. Midnight-Blue766

    Midnight-Blue766 The filidh that cam frae Skye

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    How about "Empire Building"?
     
  12. FriendoftheDork

    FriendoftheDork Keiser

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    As a fellow Total War player I agree they are probably the closest games to Civ you have played.

    Just like in that game, money makes the world go around. The most common scource of it (called commerce) is gained by working tiles around your cities. Thus you want to build or conquer more cities, use workers to improve resources around the cities (very important!), and construct buildings that encourage growth, increases science, and later, gold output.

    Technologies are very important for both war and peace, thus you want 100% science for as long as you can. The gold in your treasury is only pretty much only used for random event payments (optional), upgrading obslete units, and diplomacy. Production (hammers) is much more important for units and buildings.

    Early on, low difficulty, you won't need much of an army. A few warriors or scouts to explore and pretty much one defender per city should do fine. Once barbarians starts to rear their ugly heads you'll want some units to counter them - axemen, spearmen and archers. Animals will never get inside your borders, but barbarians will eventually. They only appear in places where you can't see, so keep the defensive units near the fog of war where you don't have cities yet.

    BTW, cities will cost you. You have to pay for having lots of cities, or if your cities are far from your capitol. Thus be careful about overexpanding without having the commerce to back it up. In any case, unless you can found and spread a religion AND get the sacred building, you will have to lower the science rating as you get more cities.

    Once you come to the point where you can't really expand because of neighbours, you could try some conquest. If the enemy has high culture or walls direct attack say axemen vs archers will be very costly. It could be worth it to build catapults, use bombardment to get the defense bonus to 0%, and then attack with the catapults in order to damage the defenders.
     
  13. Deckhand

    Deckhand Procrastination at its finest GOTM Staff

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    The INSERT key opens the city screen for the closest city.


    Yes. That is similar.
    Things happen a lot more slowly and take more attention on your part. e.g. You can't just send your army off to fight, you have to keep your eye on them all the time and tell them everything to do.

    Correct. Usually just a few defensive counters with most of your army offensive.

    The value of the traits can change depending on difficulty. Both Creative and Protective are good traits for the AIs. Creative could be considered a beginner trait in that you don't have to do anything at all to use it. It is very strong for the AIs (I don't know if they know how to take advantage of traits). Most humans are on the offense, not the defense, so Protective is not generally highly rated. If you play easy levels to learn the game, then you will have production advantages over the AIs and don't really need the Protective advantages as well.
     
  14. God-Emperor

    God-Emperor Deity

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    One aspect of the Creative trait that is often overlooked is the +100% production for building libraries. Libraries are your friends. You want lots of them. They are probably the best value, in terms of benefit per hammer, to boosting your tech advancement rate in the game even without this bonus - the bonus just makes it that much better.
     
  15. Baldyr

    Baldyr "Hit It"

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    Yes, most units have counters. Pre-gunpowder every unit tends to have a counter, so its imperative to build a balanced force even on defense. (Don't neglect siege units for stationary defense. Two words: collateral damage.)

    The Musketman unit kinda equals everything out as it can basically replace any melee unit (which incidentally become obsolete shortly). Beyond this point its a scissor/rock/paper situation with Cannon being countered by Cavalry, Cavalry by Rifleman and Rifleman by Grenadier. Once again the Infantry unit equal things out but then Armor comes into play. Also, the Machinegun unit throws some gravel into the war machinery before Infantry becomes available and can be used defensively well into the Modern Age.

    I believe, and I might be dead wrong, that Modern Armor is the only unit you really need for late game warfare. It can both take cities and hold ground, it can strike several times in a turn and has the most Strength of all ground units. This would be your weapon of choice, then, even if I wouldn't even dream of playing in this manner myself... (I like to plan my combined arms assaults.) Artillery and Mechanized Infantry still has a role to play (as they are cheaper), and Gunships are good against Tanks, but apparently you can do just as well without them.

    Don't, by the way, confuse Commerce :)commerce:) with Gold :)gold:). While :commerce: is what drives your development a :gold: surplus isn't necessary all. Sure, I really like to have a nice :gold: flow but I could probably play as well (or better!) without diverting resources to this aim.

    I'm sure Financial is good for the player who's yet to master the finer points of managing the economy. But it would probably be that much more powerful once you actually now that you're doing. Organized could end up being better for your finances than Financial, actually. (As it cuts some of the overhead that will require you to divert :commerce: to :gold: in the first place.)

    As long as you play on lower levels I don't believe you have to worry so much about defense. Consider your military a part of your empire and just build a solid empire to stand the test of time. You could try building every unit type that become available to you and have some sort of pattern as to how many and where you locate your units. (This way you're not caught with your pants down once you get attacked.) No need to go totally overboard unless you actually get attacked!

    So I agree with the poster who said the Protective trail probably shouldn't be necessary. There are some others that might make the initial learning period smoother, like Spiritual or Imperialistic. (That way you don't get any penalty for changing your civics all the time, or need to micromanage your cities to get those early Settlers out in a timely fashion, respectively.)

    Traits that I would consider better suited for more advanced and specific strategies would probably be Industrious and Philosophical. You probably wouldn't make any real use of them at this early stage. Also, you don't need Expansive or Charismatic as long as you don't play on higher difficulty levels.

    Try to stick with a game just for the hell of it. Then you will have a more clear picture of the whole span of the game (as you intend to be a builder initially and a warmonger at the very last stage).

    The problem with these Classical civilizations is that you get the military edge early on. If you don't use it to your advantage you're basically using them wrong. In that case you shouldn't care whether their UU is any good or not. (I do however believe than the Celts is a good choice for a defensive strategy early on, but I don't have any practical experience to back this up.)

    edit: Looking at the leaders I'd suppose Julius Ceasar (Imperialistic/Organized) would fit any new player. You pretty much need to found a religion for :culture: though, but its not inconceivable to pull this off since there are 7 of them available...
     
  16. Daitanis

    Daitanis Chieftain

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    I'd again like to thank everyone very much for their comments and answers to my questions. This is one of the reasons why I joined this community, the invaluable support from your peers :-D

    So, I tried my first game last night. I played as the Mayans (Pacal II) and I seemed to enjoy playing as that race. You folks are correct. The majority of the beginning of the game seems like its empire building with settlers, defending your city with axemen, etc.

    Here's another question for you. Should I automate my workers? Or should I instruct them what to do? I'm not sure how "smart" the AI is for that. I'd imagine that you'd select the "Automate Improvements" option if anything.

    Another question... should I have certain cities focus on certain things? By that I mean should it be like Medieval where I have one city that is my culture city, another that is my military city, another that is my religion capital, etc? Or is it better to just build EVERY building in every city?

    Likewise, with wonders... should I just build as many as I can? I'm assuming that World Wonders are that anyone can build them and its a one and done deal, but you can build as many as you want... National Wonders you can only have 2 per city? Or 2 total? Are Wonders a "game changer" in multi player? I know that in vanilla having Stonehenge was huge... some of them are actually really nice with the bonuses that they give (Eiffel Tower, Angor Wat, etc.) Some actually give you free great people, which is awesome.

    Also, how does the penalty with being far away from your capital work with cities? I'd imagine that you would then ideally not want to have your first few cities really far away from your capital? And what do these little blue circles mean with your settlers? The ideal places to start?

    YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!!! Thanks for your help!
     
  17. Deckhand

    Deckhand Procrastination at its finest GOTM Staff

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    Maybe - to see what they do. Set the option so they don't replace existing improvements or chop forests on thier own. Generally the AI automation isn't nearly as good as a human - because the AI doesn't understand what you want to do and how you are specializing your cities.
    Excellent question. Specialization is the way to go. Have commerce cities and production cities. Don't build everything in every city. [advice I need to take]
    no, build them for a reason, they cost production
    correct. 2 Natl wonders per city.

    They are very useful but not essential.

    What Baldyr said above about wonders:
    Spoiler :
    Also, Wonders of the World are powerful and you will of course be building some of these in your games. They do give very specific benefits though, so it helps if you actually understand what they will do for you. Otherwise you might just get used to having some of them in your games, not realizing that you're actually playing at an advantage. (This inhibits learning.) Wonders can also be addictive and if you always have to get a certain Wonder you're just handicapping your games as to what options will be available to you. I've actually started playing without Wonders (well, not entirely...) in order to see what areas I could improve!


    Each city pays maintenance based on its size, its distance from the capital (or Forbidden Palace) and your total number of cities. So yes, closer is better.
    The blue circle is where the computer thinks you should settle (or improve). It is wrong about half the time. One important thing: have a food resource in each city's workable tiles (big fat cross = bfc).

    You are welcome, have fun.
     
  18. Baldyr

    Baldyr "Hit It"

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    I'd say the natural city defender is the Archer/Longbowman since it gets a bonus on city defense, and also has the City Garrison promotion available. But since the best city sacker in the early game is a melee unit (Swordman) an additional Axeman is a very good choice also, as it get a bonus against other melee units. Was this why you built them, or what was your thinking?

    How did you end up playing as the Maya, by the way? Random leader, right? :king: (I mean ball kicking midgets with funny hats. :confused:)

    As I said earlier, automate anything you can initially. (Hell, I'd suggest automated Tech tree if there was one.) Chances are that you are making some pretty huge mistakes, like building mines you can't work because of food shortages, or building improvements outside of your city's reach, or not connecting resources to your trade network, or failing to connect a city properly. This was my own initial pitfall before I learned Civilization (back with version 1) and one can read about new players repeating these mistakes on a regular basis on these boards.

    Once you fully understand the City Screen you will probably want to use your Workers manually.

    Specialization is cost-effective and generally a key to playing on higher levels. But, I'd say that you probably should pay attention to this but not try go all out with city specialization quite yet. Do some light experimentation and keep an eye for what it does for you.

    Having all buildings in all cities doesn't hurt (well, not much and probably not on lover levels) but they're not free, now are they? There are priorities to be made and its actually not that hard to see what should be built. If something gives you a +25% bonus on some yield (like :science: or :gold:) it won't make much difference if the city isn't producing any or very little of that commodity, right? So +25% of 3 isn't really doing much for you, but +25% of 10 could be worth the :hammers;. This is how you probably should tackle city specialization early on - priorities.

    The specializations I find useful are cities for production (emphasis on :hammers:), research :)science:), money :)gold:) and Great People :)gp:). Culture :)culture:) is something that needs to be more evenly spread throughout your empire, so I'd only focus culture in a city for a specific reason (political, geographical or military). There is a cultural victory conditions though, but it requires that three cities reach a "Legendary" level of culture, not just one.

    Most of my productions cities would be geared towards the production of military units. Again, certain buildings might only be found in these cities, and National Wonders would be placed accordingly. You can also settle :gp: to add to a city's specialization, but you probably have other uses for you Great People...

    Sure, having any and all Wonders can't hurt you, but they aren't free either. In fact, they cost more than most things you can build. But you can also do without them if you, say, are in midst of a huge war or just have other plans as to what you wanna prioritize. There's one good reason to build any World Wonder though, and its to deny it from your rivals.

    National Wonders on the other hand should always be built, sooner rather than later. They are in fact a part of city specialization, so there's often one city that is the best candidate to have them. It wouldn't make any sense to build a National Wonder what gives you +100% :gold: (Wall Street) in a city not producing any, right? It would make that much more sense to build it in the city generating the most :gold: - and then specialize it further in order to cash in on the National Wonder.

    A city with Market, Grocer, Bank and Wall Street will give you a whopping +200% :gold: and could pretty much run your economy if used right...

    You're welcome! :king: Keep us posted on your development. :goodjob:
     
  19. Daitanis

    Daitanis Chieftain

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    Thank you again for the responses, I appreciate your help.

    As an update, I've been messing around with single player on the default difficulty settings. I seem to be doing rather well at defending myself, although I did have to realize how important it is to NOT send out a settler all by his lonesome without a warrior with him. That was dumb. Otherwise things are going well for the most part.

    A question in terms of city placement. Lets say for arguments sake that I'm going to attempt to establish those "specialized" cities that we talked about before. Is it still important for a city to be even balanced with resources? By that I mean that if I want to make a production city and I see an area with a ton of hammers but few food, it will obviously produce things quickly but it won't have the food to really grow or sustain itself. I'm just curious how you folks balance that.

    Likewise, when I try to make a city specialized, lets say that if I'm trying to make a city a "production" city and I build a forge and I try to have it crank out military troops. It seems as though with production cities I'm always fighting a losing battle with health being a problem. I'll build aqueducts but it seems like the people are usually unhappy and unhealthy.

    My next few games I played as Elizabeth from England. Her traits are pretty powerful! I really like the constant stream of great people that you get, it leads to lots of Golden Ages which really seems to be a great boost for things. Financial is pretty nifty, it really generates a ton of money. It seems like a trait that I can really take advantage of if I typically wait to attack people. (Instead of maybe aggressive or expansive, etc.)

    How does espionage work btw? I know that I can set the slider but what does that do? Increases the chance of detecting spies? Or creating them? I was only asking that because I bought the BTS game via Direct 2 Download and it didn't come with the little guide thingy.

    I'll keep you updated! Maybe I'll try a higher difficult setting in the next few days! :)
     
  20. Baldyr

    Baldyr "Hit It"

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    The most important thing to remember about defense is to actually build those units. If you forget about building an army you're done for. Also, you don't have to go for a stationary defense with walls and archery units. You could defend just as well with a mobile army with a good mixture of units, even siege units. So the bottom line remains: don't neglect your empire's defenses until its too late!

    About unescorted Settlers - you could have sent the Warrior in beforehand to occupy the future city location, and then catched up with the fast moving Settler. (Otherwise you will lose a few turns moving in tandem with the Warrior, as it only moves with half the speed.) Also, it actually prohibits barbarians spawns to have a unit out in the wilderness ("fogbusting").

    The basic thing about city placement is that you wanna cover all the good tiles in the area you regard as your domain. These are the green (Grassland) tiles and of course any resources, but also riverside tiles (especially whose with the Floodplains feature). Also Coast tiles count as good tiles, since you wanna have some good ports for trade routes and for your future navy. (The water tiles also produce some :commerce:.)

    Try to place your cities so that they will eventually be able to work all those good tiles. If you have to build a city in a less fortunate location just in order to get an important resource, you should go for it. Such cities will never be that good as they lack growth potential :)food:) but they may be necessary nonetheless. This also goes for cities you place on defensive ground (Hills) or in a strategic location to spread culture or to halt enemy advances.

    Its not as important how closely you build your cities, as there will be advantages and disadvantages with any approach. But in the end it comes down to priorities, and every city should have at least some special resource to work.

    If you take a few steps back (scroll out your map) and take a look at the lay of the land, you can plan your expansion so that you cover all the good tiles. Then it becomes obvious what potential those sites eventually will have. If its not obvious at first, it will eventually become clear from what yields they produce. (Press F1 to compare the output from different cities.) The ones that end up producing high yields of :hammers: will be your weapons forges, and the ones that produce large amounts of :commerce: could be specialized towards :gold: and/or :science:.

    I don't think you need to worry so much about city specialization yet, but do try to get a handle on city placement for starters. As an afterthought, not all cities need to be large to be of any use. A size 10 production city could easily outproduce any city at size 20-30 if the circumstances are right and the city has been properly fitted with Buildings, Wonders and/or specialists. Measure your cities by what they can give you, not how large they end up getting.

    This doesn't really make that much sense because a pure production city tends to be smaller than other types of cities, and both health and happiness are essentially a factor of the city's size. A Forge won't plunge your city into unhealthiness, and if anything it will provide happiness for your city. (Later on you could end up polluting a portion of your population to death with Factories, Coal Plants and Industrial Parks. But lets not worry about that yet. :p)

    If you already are working all the good production tiles (any special resources, Mines or Workshops, essentially) in such a city there really isn't any need for further growth. You can stop working Farms and the like and put those citizens to work on additional high :hammers: tiles. That will effectively stop any further health or happiness issues from arising. Consider that city "full grown" at this point.

    I'm sure you can feel the power of those traits, but chances are that you aren't even close to taking full advantage from them. The Financial trait only gives you a bonus if you already produce (more than one unit of) :commerce: so the trick is to get as many tiles as possible to produce enough :commerce:. Only then are you reaping the benefits from that trait. And the Philosophical trait may give you additional :gp: from your Wonders (I'm guessing that's how you get them), but specialists are in fact an even more powerful way to generate :gp:. So if you can manage to maximize the number of specialists in key cities, in collaboration with the Philosophical trait, it would be many times as effective!

    This is actually what I meant earlier by those traits being suited for more "advanced" strategies. Also, Financial don't generate any Gold :)gold:) but rather Commerce :)commerce:), so its actually as good - or better - for research (as most :commerce: tends to be converted into :science:).

    Espionage really is a chapter all to itself, but there are some guides on this subject on this site. The good news is that there's both passive and active espionage, and the first sort is pretty much automatic. So you really don't have to think about it - if you can't spare the attention. Since the more :espionage: points you generate, the more effective the passive espionage will be. I'm talking about things like being able to access intelligence about your rivals or getting protection against foreign espionage missions (the "active" kind).

    Only if you feel like someone is hammering you with Spy units (which are in fact invisible) and you're constantly under attack (probably mostly sabotage), should you have to rise the :espionage: percentage of your :commerce: allocation (the "slider"). You also generate these espionage points by building Courthouses and Jails - or the dedicated espionage buildings. There's also the option to employ Spy specialists in your cities for additional points, if you feel you need them.

    Spy units can also be used actively or passively. If you wanna have some additional protection you could post Spy units in your cities, on important resources or along border sections facing your rivals. They will help advert enemy spies just by occupying those tiles. Note that you can, and should, also use Spy units to scout enemy territory. Especially before an invasion!

    Once you feel like tinkering a bit with espionage, you could open the :espionage: screen and change what rivals should be the targets of your own espionage spending (since you will get espionage points whatever you do). You simply click on the + and - icons associated with known rivals and the interface will tell you how many points are allocated towards that rival. It takes some getting used to, but its actually a good idea to customize your espionage a little in order to target your main rivals, your age old enemies and those whom you'd like to keep an eye on. (Your efforts will mostly be wasted on the far away lightweights.)

    Later on you can of course take the plunge and play the entire espionage game, as there are some pretty useful tools there. The espionage system is there for a reason but its not by far the most important thing to master. You could, as I've said previously, just disable it all at this early point. (I assumed you played BTS previously, by the way.)

    You do that, but there's no hurry to climb the difficulty levels. Take it all in strides and you're not as likely to be overwhelmed. Eventually you'll reach Noble though, and it might be good to know that you will be on somewhat equal terms with the AI at that point. That will be your first baptism of fire, but as I said; there's no hurry. :king:
     

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