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Island start strategies?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by JoeBlade, Mar 4, 2006.

  1. JoeBlade

    JoeBlade Warlord

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    I'm a rather obsessive continents and random leaders player; I can't bring myself to play other types really. I tend to leave all other settings standard and play Prince exclusively (Noble's too easy and I don't feel quite ready for the higher levels)

    With these settings I'm frequently 'blessed' with a smallish island/continent to myself - room for 6 decent cities at most, say - and no means to contact other civs bar reaching Optics and building caravels. To add insult to injury I often find such islands to have only 4 types of health and 2 types of happiness resources, or so (hence, no hopes of letting my cities grow much until late-game)
    Result: by the time I finally crawl out of my corner of the globe the other civs are so much more advanced I don't have a single tradeable tech anymore. When my scientists begin formulating the principles of gravity those other civs are happily building spaceships... Well, you get the idea.

    So, how do master strategists deal with this type of starting position? Strategies not involving picking specific leaders/traits, if possible...
     
  2. Wodan

    Wodan Deity

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    Pyramids, Great Lighthouse, Colossus, cottage spam.

    If you have a coastal route to other civs, then get Alphabet before them and get the early trades.

    If you're feeling in a warmonger mood, play sea dominance. Send your ships in groups of 3. Declare war on anything afloat and keep them stuck to their own little bits of land.

    (See... if you're stuck on a small continent, so are they. CIV is very good, I've found, at keeping the planet pretty uniform.)

    Wodan
     
  3. CaptainEO

    CaptainEO Chieftain

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    Hereditary rule (I think - the one that gets +1 :) for each military unit) can help with your happiness problems.
     
  4. Cam_H

    Cam_H Deity

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    Wodan makes some good points, and The Pyramids is a great Wonder if you have access to stone, even for a self-researcher.

    You can aim for a Cultural victory. Try to found a couple of the religions (gamble on either Buddhism or Hinduism, plus Confucianism - refer the Stonehenge / Great Library strategy - which means no Pyramids!) and settle three quality cities fairly early on. Spread your religion(s), and fortify a few Archers in the shade to bust the fog and prevent Barbarian problems. Get your Temples up fairly early on, but keep the science rate high. When things are bubbling along, add in your extra cities without causing undue financial crisis due to upkeep costs. Again, spread the religions, get Temples and Libraries up, and eventually after nine cities (I know you said six good city sites, but maybe nine half decent ones might fit?), you should have your other Cathedrals built. Feudalism should be included in your technology path, as by the time the AI has Optics (assuming Monarch level here) you'll want to have your coastal cities protected by a few Longbowmen at least. Try to stay out of trouble, and adopt the religion of your closest psychotic neighbour if need be. You can stop researching earlyish if you feel you can turtle up with Grenadiers or whatever and still get over the line, or pursue the Mass Media path to get the modern cultural wonders.

    This is hardly a 'no risk' approach I admit, but can work with a bit of micromanagement and good diplomatic relations.
     
  5. Uiler

    Uiler Emperor

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    Caravels can't transport troops (or settlers either - damn them!). Until they get Astronomy and Galleons other civs can bluster all they like but they can't do anything. I don't bother to get Feudalism until after I get Optics and then I don't start really ramping up military until I see the first Galleon.
     
  6. Roland Johansen

    Roland Johansen Deity

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    There's one thing that these small islands are very good at: they learn you how to optimally use the land that is available to you.

    Very often, I see screenshots of games where people have lots of tiles that aren't used by any city. You can get away with that when there's an abundance of land and the AI opposition is not very tough. But on such a small island, you'll have to use every tile available to you. Place that city high up north in the icy regions if it can use a decent number of coastal tiles. It will pay for itself and more after growing a bit. Of course, you shouldn't build 2 cities where one city would also use all the tiles that are available. But you also shouldn't waste any good tiles.

    The Great Lighthouse and the Colossus are of course very good wonders in this situation (I agree with Wodan here and the Pyramids is always good).
     
  7. Fragment

    Fragment Chieftain

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    Warning: I usually play on noble.

    Hi,

    when you beeline along one of the technological branches (military, religious, economical, scientific/technological or whatever they were), you should easily be able to have a half decent tech to trade against base techs of another branch. With one far developed branch you should be able to trade for the techs you left out and still come out way ahead, since you can trade a single tech multiple times. Just don't try to research everything level by level. The wonders Great Library and Oracle can be very helpful in gaining such a single tradeable tech, also try the research button sometime on a great person.

    I would believe proper specialization is key.

    Regards.
     
  8. katank

    katank Prince

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    Cultural victory is definitely doable. If you are one of the leaders that start with Mysticism, you can usually snatch Hinduism, Judaism, and then either Confucianism or Christianity.

    Also, we have to distinguish between galley reachable and non galley reachable.

    If other landmasses are galley reachable, then most things are the same, just a bit harder to land a full invasion force.

    If not galley reachable, then until galleons, don't worry about a thing and try to build up your continent ASAP. Consider investing in Pyramids. The choice is no longer between Pyramids and swords/settlers as you can no longer conquer/settle more land. Early representation can really help your research. Great Lighthouse and Colossus as well as Great Library will help you stay afloat.

    Hereditary rule isn't as good as representation as you mainly need the research. For government civic, bureaucracy is usually what you want for a long time in this case. Slavery is still a no brainer. Caste system might be good when coupled with representation. You can also run organized religion if you can afford it.

    Definitely beeline to caravels as much as possible (having researched the basic techs). Oracling metal casting can help you along nicely or get you stuck with some not so very useful religious techs.
     
  9. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Chieftain

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    It depends what victory you want to achieve.

    You need to beeline for optics as early as possible for any of the victory targets, you need the ability to trade.

    Being alone means you can pick and choose your city placement without worrying about other civs getting there first, so getting plenty of good, commerce cities up and running as early as possible is a must.

    Plenty of worked cottages to keep your research rate as high as possible early in the game, move up the tech tree to monarchy/calendar for those happiness resources, then get to optics asap.

    Once you start building a caravel or two get alphabet (if you haven't already), as soon as you meet the other civs you can make a few tech trades.

    If you plan on a cultural victory then you can play the game without interference from the AI for a long time after that. If however you want domination/conquest then you need to beeline for Astronomy or Liberalism.

    I've probably haven't mentioned anything here that hasn't already been said, but I want to get my post count up to warlord as soon as possible. :D
     
  10. PublicEnemy

    PublicEnemy Chieftain

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    I've been reading the "learning to walk" SG over the last couple of hours.
    Fantastic stuff, if you need to learn about isolated starts then I suggest you all read it.

    That's of course if my previous posts on this thread aren't good enough for you! :p
     
  11. Cam_H

    Cam_H Deity

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    :hammer2:
    My apologies - I didn't explain myself well. You're quite right, but as they float around your island (a.) the AI gets to notice that your Size 7 city is guarded by an Archer and a Warrior, and I fear invasion can't be too far behind, and (b.) if one AI tribe has Caravels, there's a good chance another may have Galleons.
     
  12. xdeath2

    xdeath2 Chieftain

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    I really like playing island maps because I can do pretty decent on Emperor because the A.I. doesn't play them very well. I especially like the tiny island variations. I can win on them with pretty much any leader, but I would recommend spiritual or financial traits. Financial especially because The Colossus is a must.

    Generally as far as tech path goes, I start to research a worker tech if I have a resource near that needs to be hooked up right away. You need as many hammers as you can get, because you can get ahead of the AI very easily on maps like tiny islands because hammers are pretty hard to come by in the early going. If I have a fish resource, I will research fishing or if I already have it my first build would be a work boat and optimize growth. I generally go with worker techs... fishing... then sailing. After I get that I beeline to metal casting... build the colossus in your best hammer producing island. Expansion is much slower on these types of map because of having to research to sailing in order to expand so basically you can expand as fast as you can without having to worry too much about maintenance.

    Once you get The Colossus built up... beeline to Astronomy and get a caravel out exploring ASAP to get the extra movement bonus. That will help your future warmongering if necessary, but a peaceful win is always a very viable goal. I've never failed to get the circumnavigating the globe bonus when playing this map because the A.I. doesn't seem to optimize it as much as it should.

    The best game I played was I used the above strategy and I luckily got Gandhi as my nearest neighbor. He founded 3 religions, hindu, islam, and christianity and had barely any military and no good defensive cities aside from cultural bonus. I beelined to astronomy, built galleons + swordsmen in my best hammer producing cities and overran all of his cities and was able to afford the expansion due to the high commerce sea based maps provide, plus the substantial gold build up I had from The Colossus.

    This is my first time trying to type out a strategy for this game, so hopefully it's understandable :X
     
  13. JoeBlade

    JoeBlade Warlord

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    Thanks for the info everyone. I tend to go for massive research cities when cut off from the rest of the world anyhow, but those particular wonders would indeed be well worth it.
    And I've also come to love Hereditary Rule since I've moved to Prince level.

    However, I do feel my main issue remains unaddressed: even with the highest amount of beakers I'll still fall behind in techs, simply because the other civs are so eager on tech trading. Typically they only have to research somewhere between one out of two and one out of four techs, while I have to research them all. I really don't see how any amount of beakers can measure up to that.
    Combined with Optics not exactly being an early tech I find I'm so backwards by the time I meet other civs there's nothing left to trade for on my part, as stated in my original post. Well, that's my experience with island starts so far at least.

    Hmm, perhaps I've been very unlucky but that's not what I've seen thusfar. Often I find that while I'm on a smallish islands the other civs share one or two large continents. As a result some of them will be able to grow quite large (conquest, culture flips or simply more luck at the start making for a rapid expansion) and they'll typically all be more advanced than I am due to tech trading.
    Are you sure you're not referring to island maps rather than continents? Again, could very well be my (bad) luck instead.
     
  14. katank

    katank Prince

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    I've heard this complaint a lot that AIs are really trade happy. Usually, that's not true. How's your GNP compared to the rest? You just need to trade a lot more.

    Good techs to research include Metal Casting, Code of Laws via Oracle and the Literature route near the top. The AI doesn't prioritize those a lot and you can trade them around for 4-5 techs a piece. Techs like Music where you receive a great person for discovering it first also becomes not so very useful to hold a monopoly on and can be traded around.

    On higher difficulty levels, tech trading reduces difficulty at least one level.
     
  15. Crighton

    Crighton Emperor

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    my advice: expand early to cover teh continent then cottage spam, keep the military light until you start seeing the ai poking around, convert to the first religion that washes up since it will probably come from your closest neighbor, once you see the ai sailing by rev up the war machine, keep oodles of units in your cities then raise up a an invasion force and if possible take the holy city of your religion, it'll probably have a shrine in it so it'll help defray the cost of your invasion, plus a side benefit to invasions is that when you lose units you lose their upkeep cost too. Also the beauty of naval warfare is you can park you ships off their borders declare war then usually in one turn land your troops next to most of their cities and then BLAMO city soon becoms yours.
     
  16. Marmoset

    Marmoset Chieftain

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    I'll share my current situation (and welcome any advice as well):

    In my current prince game (I've just stepped up from noble), I'm playing as the Incas and started off on my own small continent. It's bigger than what you're talking about - I've managed to put 8 cities on it, but the eastern half has a lot of useless desert tiles.

    I'm having my most successful prince game so far after getting blown away the first couple of times. Since I was isolated to start, I aimed my research towards alphabet and optics, the two techs that I feel are essential to get quickly, and mostly neglected the middle branches of the tech tree. Once I had my caravels and made contact with the other civs, I was able to trade for a lot of what I was missing. I then continued to research the lower part of the tech tree, usually being the first or one of the first to techs such as Steel, Physics, Combustion, etc., and trading them around as appropriate. Also, by hitting astronomy around the same time as a couple other civs, I was able to found 2 cities on an initially uninhabited small continent, one of which is on an excellent site with sugar, crabs, lots of forest, and a nice river and floodplain and doing extremely well. (The other is so-so).

    Unfortunately I have some problems in this game. In the mid 1800s I'm 3rd in game score, slightly behind Peter but quite a bit behind Kublai Khan. Peter is my biggest concern, because he has slightly superior tech. But I seem to be having serious problems maintaining my economy and keeping my tech up while maintaing my military. I have fallen well behind 2-3 civs in the power rankings, even though I don't think I'm really behind in tech - it seems to be a problem with pure number of troops. I think this is where my poor skills at specialization might be causing a problem.

    At the current point, Caesar has just declared war on me, which is a bit bizarre, because he is NOT one of the 2-3 civs that is far more powerful than me, and his invasion force (at least so far) is no match for my defences. Relations have been frosty throughout the game, but had actually improved to 'cautious' recently.

    Because of my initial isolation, and inability to keep myself high on the power scale (and therefore very reluctant to warmonger), I'm not sure what to do now to try and win. I think capturing any significant chunk of Caesar's territory will be difficult; and besides, at this stage of the game, domination is almost impossible. I could attack Egypt, who is fairly weak, if I want some easy territory/cities. I can't win by culture or diplomatic (given current global relations), so I think I'll have to either try for a space victory, or perhaps even time/score.
     
  17. Marmoset

    Marmoset Chieftain

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    In the game I just described in my above post, I saw the Mongols suddenly show up with 2 or 3 fairly high-level techs in the span of about 3 turns. It could only have come from trading with Russia, since I certainly didn't give them those techs!
     
  18. emills

    emills Warlord

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    From Large map archipelago experience (good to monarch, okay on emperor)

    When cut off and not knowing anybody until optics, if you can get up to 10 - 12 cities by yourself you will be fine. As a human with a brain, your dozen or so cities will be so optimized, that you will not be that outclassed in tech. Most likely you will have other paths that the AI doesn't. When you meet someone, become a tech ho and trade with everybody. There are some good strategy articles on trading a single tech for for more than its worth by using multiple trading partners and less valued techs.

    From then on, it is a standard game.
     
  19. Crighton

    Crighton Emperor

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    @marmoset

    The Ai can have superior numbers all it wants, you just have to deliver superior numbers one spot at a time. If you feel like taking a risk and have a better than good navy, land on Caesars island and take then keep Rome. Leave defenders in it then reload your troops onto ships and leapfrog with the navy to some of his coastal cities then raze aobut half of them and conquer the others.

    Basically NOW is the time for you to start the warmongering BEFORE the other civs can severely outpace you militarily. If you can conquer then raze two of teh major cities of each of your rivals you stand a great chance to cripple them permanantly if now eliminating the small frye.

    @emills

    good points
     

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