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My wayward play style needs direction - how do I plan for victory?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by PoweredBySoy, May 28, 2008.

  1. PoweredBySoy

    PoweredBySoy Warlord

    Apr 27, 2004
    Mnpls, Minnesota
    So in another thread critiquing my play, a specific comment has really got me thinking; for almost all the games I play, I hardly ever have a plan to win. The majority of the time all I do is build some cities, improve them in ways that best fit their needs, build some sort of army up and perhaps have a war or two, and try to make a lot of gold and tech fast. Basically, I try to make a nice little civilization that does well in the world and fetches me a nice score.

    But am I correct in thinking that Time (score) is the bastard victory condition?

    What I'd like to hear from the more experienced players is what kind of thought processes, or in-game events, lead you to decide which specific victory condition to strive for. Meaning, what kind of situations would lead you to think to yourself, "whoa, that just happened, so this would be a good time to shoot for that Cultural victory", or "ah ha, I'm in a prime position for a Diplomatic victory now".

    Basically, what kind of in-game conditions, be it either starting position, leader chosen, or resources available, lead you to determine which of the victory conditions are obtainable - and at which point in the game do you make these decisions? Feel free to be either as broad or specific as you like.
  2. troytheface

    troytheface Deity

    Mar 26, 2002
    Even a poor plan is better than no plan at all. - Mikhail Chigorin (chess guy)

    Not sure what to add, but how about give yourself some kind of theory based on one or more victory conditions.
  3. CivMonger

    CivMonger Ruler of Insignificants

    Mar 2, 2002
    Civmonger's rules for deciding victory on Civ IV:

    Does it belong to you?
    Yes - good, carry on

    No - Is it bigger than you?
    Yes - get more techs
    No - Kill it
  4. eewallace

    eewallace King

    Nov 1, 2005
    Time victory is actually the only kind I've never had. The following applies to BTS, for relatively peaceful games:

    When I'm just toying around and don't have much of a plan, I almost always end up building a space ship as my sort of default victory condition. If you are teching fast, look at the tech tree and see what you need to build one. If you are good at teching and making lots of cash, this is the condition to go for.

    The other peaceful victories, cultural and diplomatic, require quite a bit more planning--arguably from the ancient era. For cultural, choose a leader with industrious, as you will be building wonders. Then look at the tech tree and see where the wonders are that generate culture and great artist points. Build wonders only in your 3 culture cities. Build military in other cities.

    For diplomatic, make friends and trade early on. Plan to share a religion with your near neighbors, which may mean not founding your own religion. Trade alot. Build the AP. Get the AP religion to all other civs. (My earliest victory other than conquest was a diplomatic victory that way.)
  5. JTMacc99

    JTMacc99 That's a paddlin'

    Jan 10, 2008
    First, yes, I consider Time to be the least rewarding of the victory conditions. It means that I've done enough to prevent the AI from winning, but not decisively enough to make it seem like I did my best. It's the equivalent of winning a school yard brawl by sitting on your opponent until the recess bell rings.

    There is almost always a point in the game where I can identify the easiest path to victory. Sometimes it is early. In my current game, continents on a normal map, the random assignment gave me Kathy of Russia and dropped me a beautiful continent RIGHT next to Persia with India far away on the other side. Pacal II was the fourth civ on the continent, although mountains made it impossible to get to him by land. After immediately disposing of the Persians (with a winner takes all 4 archer rush), all I had to do was box in India with a reasonable amout of land and expand at my own pace. By 1500 BC I started down the path of victory by domination or diplomatic. I knew that I'd have the entire 4 civ continent to myself some day, which would almost certainly get me the population requirement and leave the land % requirement just about 10% short. IF it turns out that the other continent is way more advanced than I am when I meet them, (and my plans at that point will still be focused on capturing my own continent) then I will do everything in my power to suck up to one or more of them to get a Friendly-friend as I head straight for Mass Media and a UN victory. If they are equal or behind in techs, I'll just use them for trading purposes until I can show up some day with 60 or 70 Marines, City Raider Tanks and CR infantry parked outside of their coastal cities and take my remaining 10% of land.

    In other games, the decision might not happen until much later. I remember thinking I was going to win by domination only to miscalculate how long it was going to take to kill off my nearest neighbor. By the time my last Maceman had captured the final city, I found myself way behind in techs and economy. On the other hand, I had several religions and three pretty good cities, so I switched gears to head for a cultural victory.
  6. framserv

    framserv Chieftain

    Aug 31, 2006
    This is a really good question and I hope some of the "big" players chip in.

    Personally in the early part of the game I am trying to expand and tech as fast as possible. As the OP said, there comes a time when you have to decide what victory you are going for.

    For a cultural victory you need to start actively chasing it from 1200-1300 ad and you need enough cities and religions to build lots of cathedrals and run lots of artists (uck).

    I have only ever had a diplo victory once and would have had a domination shortly after anyway - so I am not sure how you would set about aiming for it.

    Domination and Space can be left until later before actively chasing them since both require you to have a production powerhouse civ that is also keeping up or ahead in tech. Invading another continent where the inhabitants are as advanced as you is difficult, therefore its often easier to chase a space victory. IMHO you should have some idea which way you are going when artillery becomes available.
  7. Lord Chambers

    Lord Chambers Emperor

    Nov 23, 2001
    An essay was formulating in my head while reading the original post, but CivMonger has explained with more grace than I could ever hope to.

    His post focuses on conquering your enemies, which is attainable and advisable on Continents or Pangea. On other map types invasions may be a losing strategy due to distances and insufficient hammers; in these instances you'll need to learn how to manage other victory types. With experience you'll be able to recognize earlier when going to war isn't a sensible option, and that should be your prompt to come here and read some articles about how to go about those.

    Until then, keep it simple. Learn to do one thing and learn to do it well. You can worry about the myriad of other options later.

    I advise anyone struggling with success to first figure out how to dominate their opponents on Domination maps like Continents or Pangea because that will give them the kind of frenzied sensibilities to aggressively implement any strategy. If you get locked into a "hey, it's time to leverage _____," or "I'ma jus' keep clickin' deez buttens," (possibly in your case) mindset you reduce your ability to make strategical decisions. You want to do it all, and all at once. Limiting your options by playing a particular map and on higher difficulties restricts your choices and teaches the ability to succeed within the constraints you've given yourself. At this point you can have some sort of confidence to expand your strategy repitoire and some knowledge to interpret the postings of people on this board.

    I think CivMonger might put it:
    Are you overwelmed?
    -- No - keep it up, play the map
    -- Yes - try to win by domination

    Did you lose?
    -- No - good, try something else
    -- Yes - is it because you are overwelmed?
  8. mystyfly

    mystyfly Knight of Cydonia

    Aug 29, 2007
    IMO culture is the only VC you have to start chasing on 4000BC. If you don't start preparing for culture victory, you'll face major problems: When you go cultural you hit a point where you don't tech anymore (due to culture slider). Then you are/become vulnerable. Now the point is to avoid that situation, usually to chase victory arount 1500AD (reasonnabely doable). The AIs will be busy expanding and/or can be bribed so they're busy while you go culture.

    What VC to persue is usually a matter of the enemies. If there's a military powerhouse on the other continent you may want to go space. OTOH if the other AIs are peaceful and don't have close relations (no religious lovefeste) you may want to kill them and go for DOM/Conquest.

    Diplo can be very hard if you want to do it properly (via real diplomacy). If you "aim" for backdoor domination (getting most of the votes yourself) it's pretty easy.

    Probabely the most important advice for any player is: Have a plan :goodjob:
  9. slobberinbear

    slobberinbear Ursine Skald

    Dec 21, 2006
    Foraging in your trashcan
    When you're new to the game and haven't won via the regular VCs, the idea of planning for a victory is somewhat daunting.

    I suggest you do a space race victory first. This has the advantage of being relatively builder-friendly, as most newbies are builder types. Space involves elements of research and production, skills that you need to have in all game types.

    Play at the beginning difficulty level. Focus on building cities and research. Build up your army so that you are not attacked. Try to build wonders that improve your research ability. Then build the spaceship.
  10. Mesix

    Mesix The Allfather

    Mar 17, 2006
    Planning for a paticular victory condition requires you to prioritize your tech research. When going for a spaceship victory you have to get Writing and Education fast to build Libraries and Universities. When going for a cultural victory the most important wonder in the game is the Sistine Chapel, so rush for Music (which will also give you a free great artist if you get there first). When going for a domination or conquest victory, you need to stay one step ahead on the military techs and also prioritize financial techs to support your unit upkeep. When going for a religious (AP) or diplomatic (UN) victory it is important to have several AIs that share your religion and to build good trade relations so that you can get their votes. Gift extra resources or outdated techs to them, and give in to their technology demands as long as it won't hurt your strategy (i.e. don't give someone Theocracy before you build the AP or Music before you build the SC if you need those wonders for your chosen victory).

    l always prepare three cities as my civ's core and prep them for a cultural victory from very early. I am not necessarily going for a cultural victory, but if I get behind in techs or if my war mongering is not as successful as planned, I can always "back door" myself into a cultural victory. Basically, you have to have three cities (one is usually the capitol) where you build all of your wonders and religious buildings. Getting all of the wonders isn't necessary, but spreading every relition possible is. Each cathedrial equavalent building gives you +50% culture in that city so you build temples in at least nine cities and you can build a cathedrial for that religion in all three of your core cities. The Sistine Chapel also gives you an additional 5 culture from each religious building.

    With my core cities prepped, I generally aim for a different victory condition. If early war mongering is successful, I may pound out units and go for a domination or conquest victory. If several of the AIs are the same religion as me (giving a good diplo bonus) I may shoot for a religious or diplomatic victory. If I am keeping up with the tech race, I may shoot for a spaceship. No matter what the circumstances, I always have the option to fall back to the cultural victory.

    This strategy works so well for me that I actually had a prolem getting a time victory when submitting games for the HOF quatromaster challenge. One game I was 9 turns from my elusive time victory when I ACCIDENTALLY got a cultural victory!
  11. Divaythsarmour

    Divaythsarmour Adventurer

    May 1, 2007
    Massachusetts USA
    In my opinion, a time victory is no less admirable than any other victory condition. It all depends on how the games's variables play out along with a given play style. From the way you describe your play style, I would say that you're doing very well in attaining that type of victory.

    Civilization is a game that exemplifies one of life's axioms that "the only limitations on my achievements are those that I place myself." Placing a limit on one's self isn't necessarily a bad thing. You can learn a lot by placing certain limits and seeing how far you can go with them. In the absence of a clear strategy, you could test theories that way.

    It sounds like you're looking for some different outcomes. You might want to consider modulating some of those variables and see if you can get a different outcome.

    This forum is full of articles and threads by people who delve deeply into the mechanics and strategies of the game. It's one thing to read them and feel like you have an understanding. It's another thing to try and put the theories into practice during a game. But you have to start somewhere.

    Reading and writing on this forum is definitely a step in the right direction. Eventually you'll notice that someone's style of play or description of the experience is similar to yours. Or maybe someone will describe something that you would like to achieve.

    I remember reading once in a thread about the incredible number of hammers per turn that someone had achieved. I can't remember the number but it was unbelievable (like 600 hammers or something). They showed the screenshots to prove it and it generated a lot of correspondence on the forum.

    After seeing that, I wanted to achieve something similar. I spent many games and a considerable amount of time in that effort. In a sense, I was placing a limit on myself, by focusing on that single outcome. In so doing, I learned a lot about the game that I never intended to learn.

    For my play style, the simplest type of victory is a domination victory. I can do it with any type of leader, but some are obviously better suited. I can do it on any type of map. The decision can be made before the game starts. It's simply a matter of prioritizing everything toward that outcome.

    My latest interest has been to see how many military instructors I can settle in a single city. I'm considering starting a thread on it. What I'm doing is playing as Cyrus on a Great Plains map. I build Stonehenge, the Great Wall and the Oracle, before expanding out to the limit. I settle near horses, pick horseback riding from the Oracle and begin making horse archers.

    Meanwhile I tech for construction. When the AI wages war, I use the horse archers to flank and destroy huge stacks of enemies. I literally thrive on the warfare. I settle all of the great generals as military instructors in my best production city.

    In my last game, by the time I had gotten to Military Theory, I had 9 military instructors in the same city along with the Heroic Epic. On marathon speed, running vassalage, Theocracy and Police State, I was producing level 22 Curiassers in a single turn.
  12. JTMacc99

    JTMacc99 That's a paddlin'

    Jan 10, 2008
    It's funny that more than one person has pointed out that it will be your style of play that will determine how you go about your victories. I never set out to get a cultural victory, because as it is described here, I don't think it is particularly enjoyable. Instead, I find myself making the surge for a cultural victory once I discover that either the land or the opponents are going to make all of the other options difficult. Instead of using the culture slider, I usually try to just stay out of trouble (tech and trade as fast as possible, keep at least one city constantly pumping out the latest units to keep up the power rating, and maybe even sign a defensive pact to deter the biggest bullies from dropping a stack on my doorstep) while I set up the three cities for a 1000 :culture: per turn run to victory using a combination of artists, buildings, and the three very powerful culture corporations.

    It ends up being a completely different kind of culture victory than the one you might achieve it you set out to get from the start.
  13. JBossch

    JBossch King

    Apr 16, 2006
    Washington, DC
    I agree that becoming more focused on the big questions like what VC to pursue is often aided by stepping up a difficulty to where one's options are more constricted. I really can't abide anyone playing below noble as the game mechanics are so nerfed you will not gain any understanding of effective play.

    The map seems to be the biggest factor in most of my games.
    I usually pursue domination when possible because it generally allows for the highest scores due to being fairly early and the huge amount of land seized.

    Diplomatic victory (UN, not AP) is one that often goes well with warmongering (ironic, eh) because you simply end up controlling enough votes to elect yourself Secretary General with little outside help (remember, your vassals have to vote for you ;))

    I agree that Cultural takes a lot more careful planning earlier on because it really helps to hoard religions (if you don't know why, check out Orion's home school: Nobles learn culture for a textbook Culture victory). My first immortal victory was an isolated start culture victory and I went for it as soon as I realized I was on an island. Again, the map has a lot to do with it.

    It seems to me Spaceship is the backup plan, and can be decided upon rather late, assuming an economy with reasonable potential. On a continents map I often do this one after conquering my landmass (assuming that isn't enough to trigger domination.)

    If you cannot achieve SS launch before time victory, step up the difficulty to where the AI beats you to space. That is the only way to learn.

    Hope this helps.

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