[NFP] Is it possible to rush Tagma consistently?

Alex Vance

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I'm beginning to wonder if Tagma are meant to be a unit capable of being consistently rushed.

1) I'm tried building around Culture, but Byzantium has zero ways of boosting their Culture output in any significant way except by building Theatre Squares next to Hippodrome -- yet you want to save your Hippodrome to pump out Tagmata AFTER you have them available. So that isn't a truly valid option.

2) You can rush Choral Music religious tenet, but since you'll basically never get 1st religion it's not a guarenteed move. Besides, the best building for Choral Music (Temples) isn't available until ONE tech away from getting Tagma anyway. That strategy seems weak unless you're going for a Culture victory -- in which case, why bother playing Byzantium?

3) You can build an early game army of warriors and archers and attempt to raid, but I find that Theatre Squares are rare at this period of the game, and since you don't have enough government slots to juggle increased raiding yields, increased unit production speed, and reduced gold upkeep for units... it's an iffy strategy at best. Getting burst yields is cool and all, but I find Tagma are much better at raiding than warriors and archers -- kinda putting the cart in front of the horse in this scenario.

4) Take over and/or build max amount of cities as humanly possible and build a +2 culture monument in each? Seems slow, unwieldly, and unsustainable across individual game scenarios. You can also rush Theatre Squares in each of these cities too, but I'm almost certain you can't produce enough Culture via this method to consistently get Tagma by Medieval era. Am I wrong?

5) Get lucky and spawn near a Wonder that has you rolling in enough culture to produce Tagmata on Medieval turn 1.

In any case, it seems like a struggle and a combination of intense effort plus luck.
Am I missing something? Am I thinking of Tagma in the wrong way? Am I playing Byzantium wrong?

There have been games in the past that I've absolutely dominated as Byzantium, but I can't seem to reproduce fast Tagma each game. By the time I get them, I'm nearing the renaissance.

Please help! I'm about to give up and just play Charizard Byzantium (I call Dromon "Charizard" because they have a dragon head, shoot fire arrows, and kick all kinds of ass) but I know that's a niche strategy for water maps. To paraphrase J.G. Wentworth: I want my Tagmata and I want them now!

Eternal love and loyalty for genuine help! Please...
 
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UWHabs

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Choral Music would give you culture from shrines which would be enough to get there soon enough. But yeah, it's far from guaranteed.

At some level though, you don't need to rush it. Tagma are strong, you can get a ton of them for free, and you get a bunch of combat bonuses. They can easily hold their own against muskets and pikes, so even if you're a little slow to them, you can still dominate. Sure, the earlier you get them, the better place you're in. But as long as you survive early, build up your religion, and get Crusade, you can take it as a true medieval invasion.

The other advantage is that since their UU comes from the culture tree, they're one of the few civs that can nearly completely avoid science. Like, I basically wouldn't bother building a campus with them, since I'm probably going to want a holy site and a hippodrome in every city, and then your usual commerce hub/harbor too. Obviously you need enough that you aren't a pushover if an AI declares war on you, but at least being able to avoid science is one less thing to worry about.
 

Buktu

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You can build TS even without hippodromes. Cluster them with other districts and your government plaza to get a little adjacencies at least. Get monuments in every city. If you get golden you can take pen brush and voice to get some extra culture from every districts and a little extra for the inspirations.
 

Leyrann

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Rushing Monument in every city (except your first) already gets you a decent culture output. Unless you're going for a chopping strategy, Pingala tends to be the best early-game governor anyway, and you want to prioritize getting the +1 culture per population on him (and you want to place him in your highest population city) because that gets you the +1 science per population earlier as you go through the culture tree faster.

Those two things together are usually enough for a good early-game culture output. I'd also recommend rushing Divine Right, stopping only to take Games and Recreation along the way as far as techs you don't require are concerned. Even Military Tradition can wait until after you have Divine Right (though it's very high priority at that point due to the combat bonuses) unless you are attacked. You can also prebuild your Hippodromes by switching away from them one turn before completing them.

If you go for an early wonder, you can get culture from building Theater Squares next to them, also Amphitheaters can be good culture income if there are cultural city-states out there. However, building Theater Squares and prebuilding Hippodromes all before unlocking Divine Right is probably not feasible as a Tagma rush should always be coupled with a religion. In fact, based on that I'd say that you probably just want to completely avoid Theater Squares because you don't have space for them in your district slots.

I do think going for a religious source of culture can be beneficial, so long as you make sure to get Crusade, at the very least by the time you unlock the Tagma (whether or not that means you're evangelising or using your base tenets doesn't matter so long as you have it by then). It might be a good idea to already look for this when you're picking your pantheon. If memory serves me right, there's both a pantheon that gives culture from pastures, and one that gives culture from plantations. Maybe more that I'm forgetting in the moment. Of course, you still have to weigh whether the higher culture yield is worth it compared to whatever other pantheons are available (imo, they tend to not be worth it if you aren't focusing on culture unless the resources match up exceptionally well).

Let's see... have I missed any potential sources of culture income? I don't think I really have, to be honest, though I am eager to be corrected on that if I have. However, Divine Right is a relatively early tech and can be decently rushed, so just the flat early culture bonuses I mentioned in my first paragraph should get you quite far along.

It is also good to keep in mind that Tagmas are exceptionally strong units. With the Crusade belief, the Tagmas buffing each other and Byzantium's unique civ ability, you're already sitting at 67 combat strength units when you start your first war (once the city is converted and Crusade kicks in, that is). You'll probably be able to convert two to three holy cities by the time Tagmas get close to being outdated, at which point you're looking at 73 to 76 combat strength. To put that into perspective, Cuirassiers (the units which Tagmas upgrade into) only have 64 combat strength. So your Tagmas (medieval era units) will beat the opposing Cuirassiers (industrial era units). Note that it's still worth upgrading your own Tagmas into Cuirassiers, as those upgraded units will still benefit from Crusade and Byzantium's unique ability that I factored into these calculations. All you lose is the Tagma adjacency bonus, which means your Cuirassiers effectively still have 10 combat strength more.

But yeah, it's amazing if you're able to rush Tagmas, as they're unlocked around the same time as Men-At-Arms with their 45 combat strength, which a 75 combat strength unit can oneshot, but even if it takes a little longer, they are still exceptionally strong units. Don't fret too much about the speed at which you can rush them.

(also I really need to play a Byzantium game myself, these numbers are juicy)
 

kaspergm

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I do think going for a religious source of culture can be beneficial, so long as you make sure to get Crusade, at the very least by the time you unlock the Tagma (whether or not that means you're evangelising or using your base tenets doesn't matter so long as you have it by then). It might be a good idea to already look for this when you're picking your pantheon. If memory serves me right, there's both a pantheon that gives culture from pastures, and one that gives culture from plantations. Maybe more that I'm forgetting in the moment. Of course, you still have to weigh whether the higher culture yield is worth it compared to whatever other pantheons are available (imo, they tend to not be worth it if you aren't focusing on culture unless the resources match up exceptionally well).
Not sure if it's a viable strategy, but if you have a high early faith income and want to go Crusade and spread your religion to your frien... eh, neighbors, anyway, there's also the option of choosing World Church as your founder belief. I'm not sure if this will be a viable strategy, but it will bring your in some extra culture, and since they changed it in GS, it's become a quite powerful belief, although perhaps more so in late game. I guess this might work best if you rush Mahabodhi Temple and use the free inquisitors to add beliefs to your religion, but I'm not familiar enough with Byzantium strategies to know exactly how that would time into the required timeline.
 

Leyrann

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Not sure if it's a viable strategy, but if you have a high early faith income and want to go Crusade and spread your religion to your frien... eh, neighbors, anyway, there's also the option of choosing World Church as your founder belief. I'm not sure if this will be a viable strategy, but it will bring your in some extra culture, and since they changed it in GS, it's become a quite powerful belief, although perhaps more so in late game. I guess this might work best if you rush Mahabodhi Temple and use the free inquisitors to add beliefs to your religion, but I'm not familiar enough with Byzantium strategies to know exactly how that would time into the required timeline.

I'm not sure if it's feasible to do that. It's a founder belief, which means you have to evangelize at least once if you also want Crusade, which costs you another 400 faith on top of the missionaries you use to evangelize your own cities (and you can't get the faith purchase cost reduction because it clashes with Crusade). That's quite a bit if the thing you're rushing is only in the Medieval Era, and it also interferes with a Monumentality golden age, which is by far the strongest; you could probably get two Settlers instead of that Apostle. You're right that rushing Mahabodi Temple would probably be the best way to go about it.

Spreading to your neighbors through missionaries and apostles also isn't very effective for Byzantium. Chances are there's at least one weaker unit that you can kill, after which you get the Crusade bonus on all your units. That seems a far cheaper strategy - you're already going on a conquering spree anyway - than spending a few hundred faith to convert the city.

Also, mentioning Monumentality actually made me realize there's another potential source of culture: the Pen, Brush and Voice golden age dedication. If you're going for early religion you'll probably be rushing a few Holy Sites anyway, and with war in the future it's never a bad idea to get some Encampments up for the Great General Points, not to mention you might as well get some economy districts up as those are always useful. With some district focus, the dedication might be worth it, even if it's admittedly weak in the base game (in Better Balanced Game, it's actually buffed significantly, giving 2 culture and 1 gold per district - definitely worth there if you're going for culture). Of course, that'd also mean you don't have Monumentality in the first place, so getting World Church also becomes a more feasible option. Encampments give some production (further boosted by militaristic city states) that could allow you to hard-build settlers instead, and with the economy districts up, you might be able to buy one or two even without Monumentality.

So yeah, that's another possible avenue of approach, though it comes with more trade-offs.
 
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The way I play byzantium is without rushing Tagmas.
Imo, rushing them at all is essentially wasting most of byzantium's potential in that regard.

Byzantium is extremely strong when pairing a religion (ideally with crusade) and any type of cavalry.
Not necessarily Tagmas, but the two cavalry types as a whole, which ones doesnt matter in the slightest.
Personally I just rush the religion, spend the first faith on a missionary (to convert my first target city) and proceed to go to town with heavy chariots and horsemen.
Waiting for Tagmas is a mistake, because you are wasting a lot of momentum when you could just rush with heavy chariots and horsemen.
It's especially bad when people talk about timing Hippodromes with Tagmas, because that is wasting a huge potential for taking out your neighbours in the early classical era when you just finished the religion.
Sure you get some Tagmas for free that way, but is it worth it to delay killing off a neighbouring civ or two?
My reasoning is no, it absolutely isnt.
Upgrade to Tagmas when you can, but dont delay your war just for the sake of having them.
Byzantium is extremely strong already without Tagmas, so use that momentum to it's fullest.
 

UWHabs

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The way I play byzantium is without rushing Tagmas.
Imo, rushing them at all is essentially wasting most of byzantium's potential in that regard.

Byzantium is extremely strong when pairing a religion (ideally with crusade) and any type of cavalry.
Not necessarily Tagmas, but the two cavalry types as a whole, which ones doesnt matter in the slightest.
Personally I just rush the religion, spend the first faith on a missionary (to convert my first target city) and proceed to go to town with heavy chariots and horsemen.
Waiting for Tagmas is a mistake, because you are wasting a lot of momentum when you could just rush with heavy chariots and horsemen.
It's especially bad when people talk about timing Hippodromes with Tagmas, because that is wasting a huge potential for taking out your neighbours in the early classical era when you just finished the religion.
Sure you get some Tagmas for free that way, but is it worth it to delay killing off a neighbouring civ or two?
My reasoning is no, it absolutely isnt.
Upgrade to Tagmas when you can, but dont delay your war just for the sake of having them.
Byzantium is extremely strong already without Tagmas, so use that momentum to it's fullest.

I think a lot of that would depend on the game and the space you have. They can wait for Tagma if they have space to develop, but if you're pressed, then yeah, you absolutely can rush earlier. And you have the big edge where your horseman rush won't get destroyed because the AI barely gets up walls in a city the turn before you were going to take it. Arguably they're probably in the best shape to use a horseman rush to take out their close neighbour, and then get a bunch of free Tagma from hippodromes to take out neighbour #2 and probably the rest of the world.
 
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As others have said, you don't need to begin your crusade (see what I did?) with Tagmas. Double holy site opening with an encampment for a GG and you have the strongest classical horse rush in the game since walls are trivialized. While your neighbor is falling, you can sim to Tagmas and pick your next target.
 

rgp151

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Just to add, in terms of "rushing culture", often the best thing at this stage is simply Pingala and high population, which means building farms. Also, don't forget a well placed Colosseum, which can net 4 to 6 culture.
 

Leyrann

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Just to add, in terms of "rushing culture", often the best thing at this stage is simply Pingala and high population, which means building farms. Also, don't forget a well placed Colosseum, which can net 4 to 6 culture.

I'd be disappointed if I can't get 10 culture out of my Colosseum. But yeah, agreed. If you want to rush an early civic that much, a high pop city with Pingala might honestly be the most efficient method.
 

rgp151

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I'd be disappointed if I can't get 10 culture out of my Colosseum. But yeah, agreed. If you want to rush an early civic that much, a high pop city with Pingala might honestly be the most efficient method.

I guess I tend to spread out more, but in any case, the Colosseum works well with Byzantium and the Hippodrome so its a natural fit. They key, as you point out, is planning your cities to maximize the culture from the Colosseum. Since you are building Hippodrome's anyway, it only makes sense to plan on building a high yield Colosseum sooner than later.

Let's just say that you get 8 culture from it, which means its hitting 4 cities. That's the equivalent of 8 Monuments or 4 Amphitheaters. Needless to say the Colosseum costs less than either of those, and that's not even counting the cost of making Theater Square districts, even if you could get that out of 3 Theater Square + Amphitheaters, the Colosseum is still cheaper. So yeah, if you can get 10 or 12 out of it, all the better.

So basically, Pingala in 10ish pop city and the Colosseum yielding 8 Culture, is a conservative estimate of what can be done at that stage to yield around 20 culture fairly easily. If you add in Choral Music or whatever, then yeah, you should be pretty good. Of course this is a general strat that works for all civs and is good to do in most scenarios.
 

Leyrann

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Let's just say that you get 8 culture from it, which means its hitting 4 cities. That's the equivalent of 8 Monuments or 4 Amphitheaters. Needless to say the Colosseum costs less than either of those, and that's not even counting the cost of making Theater Square districts, even if you could get that out of 3 Theater Square + Amphitheaters, the Colosseum is still cheaper. So yeah, if you can get 10 or 12 out of it, all the better.

Keep in mind that the Monument generates 2 culture per turn instead of 1 if the city is at full loyalty.

Also, speaking of World Church, an additional benefit of having more culture after getting to Divine Right is that you unlock Natural History and Professional Sports earlier on, allowing you to build the tier 2 and 3 Hippodrome buildings earlier and giving you more free units.
 

Buktu

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Also, speaking of World Church, an additional benefit of having more culture after getting to Divine Right is that you unlock Natural History and Professional Sports earlier on, allowing you to build the tier 2 and 3 Hippodrome buildings earlier and giving you more free units.

And dont forget faster corps and armies as well!
 
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