Japan 1.16.9 Domination strategy - Monarch/Epic


Jul 10, 2010
Hey guys,

I am an oldschool DOC fan who keeps coming back to the mod year afer year.
I am by no means an expert player but I have always enjoy a little bit of min-maxing and aiming for Domination victories in both DOC and RFC. Though I have to admit I was rarely successful.

Recently I successfully achieved Domination victory playing as Japan on Monarch/Epic leveraging a rather unconventional strategy, which I thought you guys might like.

"The big picture"
DoC has a really interesting stability mechanic which takes into account Core vs. Periphery population. Typically this really incentivizes the player to settle as many high-quality cities in the Core area as possible and grow them to gargantuan city sizes, securing a large enough buffer for you periphery cities. Town improvements further increase these Core stability thresholds to make up for the opportunity cost of working food-neutral tiles. All in all, a player is typically presented with a choice of either running a cottage economy or taking advantage of farms boosted by Vassalage and Manorialism to grow cities in the Core area super tall.

Enter "Republic" civic, which breaks this dual-economy-paradigm as it ruins cottages, farms, rice paddies and even plantations making both of the above economies not too viable. The thing is, not all civilizations have the land quality to truly leverage the power of cottages or farms. Japan is a prime example - there are very few flat landtiles to leverage in their Core area. Instead, Japan has an abudance of food in both Kyouto and Toukyou and its main food sources (apart from Rice) don't get ruined by running Republic. So instead of relying on our tiles to power our economy, we will be relying on our Specialists, each of which will be providing half the necessary :food: for a population. Kyouto is one the best cities on the map for this strategy as it has 5 available Food resources, 2 extremely powerful Copper and Iron tiles to help produce key buildings and wonders, and a decent number of Happines resource nearby to allow it to grow tall. Buddhism and Confucianism both provide some excellent wonders, which further boost this "Specialist economy", namely Borobodur, Itsukushima Shrine, Emerald Buddha Temple, Cheomseongdae, and Porcelain Tower (I noticed that this does not stack with Republic - is this intended?) and both of these religions are easy for Japan to access and take advantage of.

The centerpiece of our strategy will be to grow Kyouto as tall as possible by running as many Specialists and also settling Great People as specialists (Great Merchants are absolutely fantastic in this regard as they provide as much :food: as food-neutral tiles), securing key wonders and prioritizing buildings which grant modifiers and specialist slots.

Starting moves
I recommend starting as China and settling Taiwan and your preferred Chinese city configuration but it should not be necessary. The benefit of doing this is that you can immediately capture Taiwan with your starting Swordsmen (and a Galley which you can rush) once you switch to Japan and have a lovely fourth city for infrastructure projects such as Temples (4 needed for Cathedrals) and simply to run additional specialists. The three cities on Japanese islands should be Kyouto, Toukyou and Kagoshima (on top of gold). I typically don't settle Sapporo on Hokkaido until much later on as it lacks a dedicated food source, is outside of Core Area and just doesn't provide much of anything. I am kind of hoping Hokkaido will receive a bit more love in the new map, which will incentivize the player to prioritize the area earlier on.

Starting civics: Republic (explained above), Citizenship (ton of building discounts, stability bonus with Republic and the ability to quickbuy a Galley for Taiwan conquest), Caste system (quicker improvement speed and making Plantations somewhat decent tiles under Republic), Redistribution (double production speed of Granaries and more importantly extra food in Kyouto), Clergy (25% boost to all buildings is amazing) and Conquest (we don't care about Cottage growth).
Do not be too ambitious with your conquests as China will likely respawn and any cities acquired in the mainland would flip back to them. Additionally, Mongol Keshiks beat absolutely anything you can field at them and Samurai are no match for them. Consequently, I'd recommend against keeping cities in mainland China and South Korea before Mongols collapse.

Early wonders to aim for should include Borobodur (not sure if this is possible - personally I wasn't able to get it, but it would be fantastic) Shwedagon Paya, Cheomseongdae, Itsukushima Shrine (huuuuge buff to :gp:) and Emerald Buddha Temple (to make happiness an issue of the past for Kyouto).

In terms of :gp: generation, save all Great Artists for future conquest (culture bomb lets you grab huge chunks of land easily), save 1 Great Statesman for late game civic switch and settle the rest - you will get an additional one at Representation for your midgame civic switch, use 1st Great Scientist for an academy, settle all other Great People in Kyouto.

Get the conquerors and vassalize both Aztec and Inca - you can exploit them for resource and slaves, which you can sell to Europeans.

Once Mongols collapse/you can somehow deal with Keshiks, we can begin our expansion phase. I recommend razing Hanseong and only keeping Pyongyang. Pyongyang (or 'Heijo' under Japanese control) is a production powerhouse and is able to work all tiles that Hanseong can apart from dyes, silk and rice. You should also settle you Manchurian cities - I personally chose Hakuniuu 1W of Deer, Chichiharu on top of Coal (another amazing production city and a seat of my Ironworks) and Chengde between Coal and Horse. They are all within Japan's light green Historical area. Use Lumbermills and Windmills as neither are affected by Republic. Don't forget to settle Sapporo in Hokkaido and send some settlers to US West Coast to settle Ritoru Yokohama (1N of lake) and Nihonmachi (1S of deer). I also settled all the good spots in Australia. It's not necessary to settle Manila as Spain will colonize it for you and you can just take it from them once you feel strong enough. Bombards+Samurai+Arquebusiers combo can typically snipe some Coastal Chinese cities. In my game I was able to secure the entire coast before China respawned. I couldn't spend the resource to truly go into war with their core as I was focused on reaching my late-game targets.

Once you secure all Buddhist wonders, you should switch to Confucianism and build Forbidden Palace in Heijo. It's an S-tier wonder, which does not obsolete and will probably save you more money than two maxxed-out shrines. Your other key Wonders include Hermitage, Menlo Park and Tsukiji Fish Market in Kyouto, Westminster Palace (Heijo), Abbey Mills (Hakuniuu), Brooklyn Bridge (I built it in Australia), Bellrock Lighthouse (Heijo). I used Chichiharu for Ironworks and expensive lategame wonders such as Palace of the Nations.

In the midgame you should also switch to Meritocracy, Regulated Trade and Isolationism once available (you can tank the brief anarchy) and upon researching Representation, use the free Great Statesman to switch to Constitution, Egalitarianism and Tolerance (Clergy or Monasticism would be better but my stability just could not take it).

Don't forget to take full advantage of Espionage and steal any techs you can from Europeans. I had spies permanently stationed in Hanoi and stole some really nice techs from France before completely eclipsing them.

Before switching to Totalitarian Civics, Kyouto should look something like this:

Spoiler :

During lategame your goals are quite simple:
  1. Beeline your Unique Building, which is the best part of being Japan (it even synergizes really nicely with Republic!)
  2. Beeline Oil and Tanks and start building them in most cities
  3. Plant spies in your neighbour's cities and ensure you have enough EP for Support city revolt missions
  4. Beeline Totalitarian civic combo. This provides a very nice +25 Stability points buffer and is worth leaving Republic for :) You should still be at "Stable" stability level by the time you reach the Domination thresholds.
  5. Beeline Bombers and Zeros. This is the last tech you need. A mix of Tanks, spies, Bombers, Zeroes, Battleships and Transports is all you need to take over the map.
  6. Strategically use your Great Artists to grab large chunks of land in newly conquered cities and make sure to leverage the Culture slider (since you no longer need to research any techs).
Spoiler :

Japan is a fun civilization, which lets you play in a very unique way compared to most Lategame powerhouses such as England, Spain, France, Russia...
I adore the Unique Building - Zaibatsu, which synergizes well with absolutely everything. Samurai are okay, although the window to use them is relatively short. Unfortunately they are completely overshadowed by Keshiks and as a result, your conquest of mainland will rely more on Bombards than your unique unit. Zeroes are a cute little lategame unit with an interesting mechanic vs. Naval units.
Japan truly leverages all te resources it has at its disposal and the available religions (Buddhism and Confucianism) contribute towards the 'grand strategy' really nicely.
I genuinely enjoyed this playthrough and can only recommend you guys try it yourself. Thank you, Leoreth, for this awesome experience.

What I really don't like about Japan is their Unique Power. I probably did not get to use it even once during my long game - it provides absolutely no benefits if you min-max hard enough and outpace everyone in tech as well as use your spies and EPs to steal remaining techs from a European civ. If it could be reworked ever-so-slightly to reward players for having a good tech pace, rather than punishing them, it would be a much more interesting UP.

Similarly, currently there is very little incentive to settle a city in Hokkaido until much later on apart from some role-play reasons. My suggestion would be to have the Cows spawn much sooner than they do. I do not think that would break the balance in any way, although I respect if it's a flavor/creative choice to leave the region sparsely populated.

Porcelain tower does not work with Republic. My Statesmen were still receiving only +1 :food: . If this is intended, fair enough.
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Porcelain tower does not work with Republic. My Statesmen were still receiving only +1 :food: . If this is intended, fair enough.
Republic was nerfed so that a given specialist type can only benefit from one "+1 :food:" bonus at a time, you can't combine it with similar wonder effects anymore.
Actually you can stay with republic entry all game. I started from 600AD scenario, build up my cites with despotism and clergy and citezenship, then switched for republic. And i was goin with UHV path, so i played with 2 city until 1404 (got 1UHV). My "adventures" waited12 turns around Mexico, waiting for compliting 1 UHV)))
Also i seatled 2 more city in Digital Era for core population. And its not final nubers of population. Where some room to grow, and a lot of great ppl, what i didnt setled yeat
Republic, Constitution, Egalitarianism, Central Planning, Tolerance (+4 for religios unity), Multilateralism - overall give +15 domestic stability (dont foget to build Statue of Lyberty)


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