[GS] Need Starting Strategy Advice for playing Indonesia, East Asia TS.


Aug 30, 2014
San Diego
Game Settings:
Civ: Indonesia
Map: East Asia True Start
Pace: Epic
Difficulty: Settler
Disaster Difficulty: 4
No Barbarians.

So my problem is that i am having trouble determining what is the best way to start out with this Civ on this map with these settings in Gathering Storm.

The problem is that it starts on an island, surrounded by volcanoes, with not much room to expand. I could move the city one tile to the southeast or 3 tiles to west, but either case would put the city center within 1 tile of a volcano which would really hamper growth if it erupted a lot. Second, i could rush for shipbuilding so that i can embark settlers into the water to settle the other islands, but that would take a long time and it means skipping a lot of technologies that would help out. It might also cause me to lose the race to religion which would kind of hurt since Indonesia can buy ships with faith.I've tried many options to see what is the best, but none of them seemed to work that well.

So does anybody have any advice on how to start in these conditions?


Nov 1, 2001
I would turn on barbarians. They won't hurt you, but will certainly hurt the competing AI on settler level giving you more time to develop your civ. I would get my religion first and foremost and then go for shipbuilding. I would lower disaster difficulty to 2 or even 1 given the proximity to volcanoes; "disasters" are just annoying.


Apr 11, 2011
So does anybody have any advice on how to start in these conditions?
one word... Jong.
TS maps have island civs that really are forced to take the naval approach. Indonesia can do this better than most.
Shipbuilding is your blessing not your albatross but you do need culture.


Sep 19, 2022
Old thread but i’ve been playing this map a lot lately.

Settle one hex to the west, on the rice. It’s okay that it’s next to the volcano. Even if it erupts a lot, the increased yields make up for it. Plus you want to be able to work as many of the land tiles on the island as possible eventually. The adjacent 2/2 stone tile will also accelerate early production.

You will get the first pantheon. Take Earth Goddess or Fire Goddess. The first is best in the long run for Faith generation if you settle well. Build your monument until you unlock Sailing and then start building galleys with the Maritime Industries red card. You’ll want at least 3 or 4 to deal with barbs, meet Bandar Brunei, the Khmer, discover Ha Long, etc

After Sailing, try this tech order: Astrology, Shipbuilding, Celestial Nav. Try to boost them all. None of the other techs are anywhere near as important as Shipbuilding or CN. You can do Pottery somewhere in between to build a granary which will give you the food/housing to boost Early Empire and get a bunch of Settlers out quickly. Civic boosts are easy btw. Produce 1 builder and make a (temporary) farm triangle to boost Craftsmanship. Finish your Holy Site to boost State Workforce. Discover the island of Sumatra to your west by walking your warrior over there to boost Foreign Trade. You’ll get Mysticism without trying. For Political Philosophy it depends on whether barbs are in the game. Really difficult to send a boat over to meet Kandy early if they are..

Have a Settler ready to go when Shipbuilding unlocks and don’t forget the Quadrireme. Buy one every time you have enough faith and then congrats: the sea (i.e. half the map) is yours!

As for strategy I recommend Culture Vic as she’s made for it on this map. Start forward settling the Khmer up Sumatra and then Sulawesi to get Iron and start moving up through the Philippines toward Hong Kong. Lots of Breathtaking. (Ignore uninviting/unproductive Borneo until Mercantilism.) If you think you can take out Japan/Korea with your fleet go for it, but I prefer friending/trading with them. Killing HK will keep the other civs from being in your business, but nice to eventually get the 6 envoys there to speed up Wonder production with Factories. Suzerain Nan Madol + Mohenjo and build Kilwa. Jesuit Education and Synagogue. Easily attainable combo with the 3rd religion. Religion and Dom vics are a bit of a slog for Gitarja due to the Asian terrain and your isolated start from it. Jayvaraman and Ghandi will frustrate your religious aggression, and if both Horse Lords are in the game just forget it. I’ve found that Science Vic only synergizes on this map with Korea and China (or whoever conquers that area), but ymmv


Nov 1, 2019
I tried several approaches. I also think settling on the rice is far superior. You get first pick of the pantheon whether you work the pearls or not. I suppose someone might get lucky with a relic in the first couple of turns but unless they found it very quickly, they will not beat you. I took divine spark since I was planning to expand a little bit later.

Let the volcanoes erupt. Like Dset said, the yields are helpful. I found that I wanted three districts as early as possible. The government plaza, the campus, and the holy site. I didn't care about getting a +3 site. I wanted the campus first so after settling on the rice, I teched for writing. I built the monument first and after pottery, I built the granary. I need 7 population for the districts, and I worked in a builder and fishing somewhere in the classical era to develop the pearls for an amenity and housing. I aimed for state workforce to unlock the government plaza. I built the campus next to the capital where the settler started at the beginning of the game, just in time to get the full value of the boost to state workforce. I built the government plaza next and by the time it was done I was getting close to getting early empire. These three governor ranks, two from state workforce and early empire and one from the building the government plaza gave me a rank three Llang. I ranked him up to reinforce materials. You still can lose some population by an eruption, but you don't have to worry about damage anymore. I also ran some campus research projects to get the great scientist that gave me a free library with an extra science point, and I ran them to speed up researching to shipbuilding for the Kampung. I built the Kampung all over to boost my housing and yields.

Well, I felt that the early campus and research projects speed things up for me. I didn't finish the game, but I was leading in the number of techs researched during the Medieval era. I played the game with the settings the OP gave so I didn't have barbarians. I ended the experiment with a golden medieval age, so I was buying settlers with faith to expand fairly rapidly.
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