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Need Help: Always falling behind on Emperor

Discussion in 'Civ5 - Strategy & Tips' started by Haaaaah, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Haaaaah

    Haaaaah Chieftain

    Jan 3, 2013
    Hi all,

    I've been trying to win on Emperor, and I've constantly run into the same problem every game of falling behind in tech. I've only tried for Cultural and Domination victories. The common theme is still falling behind in tech. When I try for a Cultural victory, I'm either swarmed early on and punished for focusing too much on tech, or when I try to muster an army the AI out-techs me quickly and rolls me with advanced units (G&K's battle system sure makes it painful to see only -1 damage when you attack). Same with Domination. When I try to play aggressively early on, I get punished later for being behind in tech. If I try to tech for the advanced units...well, I'm still behind, except by a little less than usual. Obviously, Science and Diplomatic victories are completely out of the question for me so far.

    I would appreciate if anyone could give some general advice on winning at the higher difficulties, but I also have some specific questions to ask too. I've had no problems winning on King and below, but found the jump to Emperor rather devastating.

    1. Whether I go tall or wide I have happiness problems. When I go tall, after the first few eras the AIs begin demanding outrageous trades for luxury resources (which I'm unwilling to agree to). But when I try to quickly grab some extra land and resources with expansions, I find that in the time I've taken to set up another city, I've fallen behind and the AI quickly runs it over. I usually purchase my first 1 or 2 settlers rather than building them. Same deal when I go wide, where the problem is even worse.
    ---Question: What factors decide how the AI trades with you? What are some general expanding times for tall and wide, such as things I should look out for, questions I should ask myself, things I should do before expanding to prepare? What are generally some good methods of maintaining good happiness. I'm constantly ranked last in the World Happiness list every time it comes out. Also, any tips on teching in relation to happiness?

    2. I frequently find myself building what is probably too many *likely unimportant* buildings in one city. But I always find myself lacking something. Such as when I focus on gold buildings in my cash location cities, they end up building too slow so I add production as well. But by the end my income hasn't changed and my food growth is also thrown out of balance. I end up defaulting my cities to focus on production a lot because otherwise it feels like by the time I've set up the city, someone's already tearing it down because it spent so many turns producing really slowly.
    ---Question: For either Cultural or Domination, what buildings are important and which ones can I grab as icing? What kind of population growth is acceptable for going wide? I know that per city population is a big deal for tall but when I go wide the city is either uselessly underpopulated or overpopulating which hurts my happiness.

    3. I've never had it hit me too hard but I've also lost a lot of money due to income deficits. I've probably lost a good deal of science to those times my economy dips for just a few turns. Sometimes I don't even know where the budget deficits come from as in one turn I'm gaining a decent income and within a few turns that income plummets. For example +30 to -10 within a few turns in the appropriate era.
    ---Question: Any advice on maintaining a steady economy considering what the AIs around you are doing? My economy never really felt like a burden at all prior to Emperor. The difficulty in Emperor feels like it's added a lot more things to manage though.

    I believe the real basis of my problem is essentially that I'm not hitting enough Golden Ages. But fixing this problem is proving to be quite the issue for me. Hopefully someone can confirm for me that the teching problem will solve itself once I've managed to hit consistent Golden Ages.

    Any advice is welcome! I can't win them all but I'd at least like to feel hopeful during each try ;-;
  2. Dogmouth

    Dogmouth King

    Mar 19, 2012
    It's hard to know the problem without seeing a save. That said, contrary to your beliefs, you might actually be trying to hit too many golden ages or pumping your happiness up too high in the early game. Golden ages aren't necessary in the early game unless you're Persia and you feel like going on a conquering binge. Are you doing the following?

    1. Trading away your luxes for cash in cases where you've got 6 or more excess happiness (I like to keep myself at about 2 in the early unless I have a really good reason; others may advise cutting it even closer).

    2. Building the National College early (before turn 100 in standard). The key to this is to prioritize libraries (rush buy if neeeded). A strong capital + monarchy (tradition policy) + NC + library can solve your gold, production, and science problems all at once.

    3. Settling your second and third cities on top of luxes unless you a really good reason for doing otherwise (e.g., natural wonders, strategic defensibility, access to multiple unique luxes, etc.). Some people here may disagree with me on this one, but I've found that this approach is extremely helpful for avoiding happiness issues associated with expansion while conserving valuable worker turns.

    4. Making heavy use of early archers and compound bows? Melee units should be used sparingly (i.e., for capturing cities and killing archers). Construction (the tech) is key here, because it unlocks compound bows and the coliseum at the same time.

    Edit: For what it's worth, Emperor is my favorite difficulty. It allows a degree of strategic flexibility and RPing that you can't get in the higher difficulties. You can also snag early wonders, which is almost impossible on Diety for the good ones unless you're playng OCC.

    Edit2: Take a look at Tabarnak's 4 city tradition opener for some great tips. It's in this forum several threads down.
  3. Matthew.

    Matthew. Deity

    Sep 14, 2011
    Try playing "science" up until universities, then go for whatever victory you want. A bulk of the culture needed comes from planted GA's and finished Freedom tree, and you can't really go on a strong domination streak until some of the later happiness buildings/policies come into play. In both scenarios, it is useful to have a strong population/science base before focusing on culture or military tech.
  4. Ra's Head

    Ra's Head Chieftain

    Feb 6, 2011
    1 I suggest a tall tradition type start for your first emperor wins. Monarchy does a lot for happiness and lets you grow your capital a lot and the completed tree helps growth substantially. I essentially never trade for luxuries with the ai unless I am very desperate. I trade my extra luxuries for cash to keep my economy alive. If things are good, I may buy a city-state that has a luxury I don't already have. Doing quests for city-states is also very helpful for this.

    The main thing in luxury trades is how much the ai civ likes you. If friendly, you can normally trade excess luxuries one for one or an excess luxury of yours for 240 of their gold. If they have concerns about you (not always displayed) they will ask for more. If they really dislike you, it is impossible to get a reasonable trade. In general, you will always be dead last in happiness on emperor and above. The ai gets pretty humongous happiness bonuses and you can basically never compete with that, particularly early on. That is ok. Mostly, you just want to keep your happiness positive as much as you can. When you have negative happiness, move your citizens to maximize production since you won't grow quickly anyway.

    2 Buildings that matter vary based on what you are trying to do with a city. I generally always build science buildings, monuments, and production. Don't build happiness buildings until they benefit you, so don't build a theater if you only have 3 population. An important thing to do is use science specialists once you've built universities whenever you can. Try domination victory first since it is the most flexible.

    3 You should never go into actual deficit where your science is hit. That is very bad. Trading excess luxuries and strategic resources can normally keep you afloat. Make sure your roads are efficient and that you build markets everywhere. The easiest way to have a strong economy is to use the Tithe founder belief in religion and spread it far.

    In general, I agree with Dogmouth on most things, particularly points 1, 2, and 4. I don't settle on luxuries myself, but it is worth a try.
  5. tni

    tni Chieftain

    Jan 3, 2013
    I can't remember ever having negative income on Emperor.

    IMO, a cultural victory is going to be a lot more difficult than a science one. I did some testing with the In Game Editor with various saves and choosing Rationalism over Piety results in 30-50% more science - huge difference. Unless some AI was really successful early came, I can normally out tech everyone (with Rationalism, going tall with 4-6 cities). Going tall means 30+ population for me, 45+ in the capitol. Science + trade route income scale with city size. 4 excellent cities can be enough to out-tech everyone to the end (but your science growth will slow down, while AIs with more cities will start to catch up).

    If I have a tech lead, I place place my first spy in the capitol - this will tremendously slow tech stealing by the Ais (your spy levels up quickly, they don't get experienced spies).

    In terms of happiness, it's going to be a challenge, unless you are India (go for tall) or Greece (even early on, when you don't have that much cash, it will be worthwhile to befriend City states - you get their luxes as ally). Otherwise, I find wonders like Taj Mahal and Notre Dame quite important.

    Don't build too many units (but keep them upgraded), maintenance is quite expensive (there is a policy in Tradition that makes city garrisons free). I very often build defensive buildings, they are a deterrent for the AI (which might otherwise try a sneak attack, even with a small army) and don't cost maintenance. Even with a tiny army (I typically have less than 1.5 military units per city), you can generally hold off MUCH larger AI forces (roads in the proper places are important). Having slow terrain (forest/jungle/hills) around your border cities totally screws up the AI. (I almost always keep a cash reserve to rush buy walls/castle or a defensive unit in case an AI comes for me.)

    If you see a lot of AI units close to your borders, chances are they are gunning for you. It's usually fairly cheap to get them to agree to attack someone else (much cheaper than to keep a standing army that might deter someone). If cities exchange hands, chances are they will be enemies for the rest the game.

    In terms of lux trades, unless the AI has multiple copies, it's going to be unreasonably expensive. Otherwise, you should usually be able to make 1:1 trade for one of your luxes.

    In addition to your luxes, trade away your strategic resources as well (if they declare war on you, they lose them, either getting a penalty or they didn't need them in the first place), often there is someone who will pay something reasonable for them.
  6. Haaaaah

    Haaaaah Chieftain

    Jan 3, 2013
    Wow, thanks for the great answers. I tried another game keeping the tips you all have provided and even though I didn't win it didn't feel like I was getting stomped on. :D

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