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Neighbours - get them to do the work !

Captain Pugwash

Feb 10, 2001
I found it annoying that many of my starting positions had another tribe located too close to me. Sometimes several of them. It seemed to me that they were taking land which I would like to use for my key cities.. surely a disadvantage. So I carried out a few experiments.

I made dozens of starts and found that the game always gives another tribe on the same landmass, usually very close. Its not random, its a feature of the game. For example, I tried standard map, archipelago, max water and still got 4 of the 7 tribes on my island ! So I asked myself why the game does this. The conclusion I came to is that the game does this because it actually gives you an advantage to have close neighbours !

Here is what I think that advantage is :


If I have a close neighbour, say the Germans, who I have obviously met, then I can trade techs with them. I research one tech and they research another and then we swap techs and after 40 turns or so we both have two techs. Compare this to a tribe which starts on an island alone ..after 40 turns, that tribe has one tech.


When I capture a nearby city, this has saved me some work. To get a city there myself I would have had to build a settler but this way the other tribe has done that work for me. Mostly, they will have also built some roads and stuff which I would have had to build.


As we know foreign workers dont cost any maintainance in this game so when the neighbours start sending their settlers across my territory (as they always do), then I get a truckload of foreign workers for free. Yes, I have to go to war to achieve this, but as we shall see, this was inevitable anyway. So now I get a load of workers just when I need them without having to build them myself and they dont count as units in my military quota under despotism.


The inevitable war against my neighbours is almost certain to make some of my troops elite and is quite likely to give me a great leader.

All this adds up to a considerable advantage in the game. And the strategy to realise this advantage becomes obvious. First explore and find the neighbours. Then trade techs with them. Build up your military and get ready to take over their cities at the first opportunity. Lure their settlers into your territory (always a good excuse to start the war if you need one)

The bottom line is that having close neighbours on the same landmass at the start is a good thing because you can get them to do some of the work which you would have had to do. And getting other tribes to do work for you gives you a big advantage in the game.
You are NOT guaranteed to get a neighbor. On huge archipelago maps, for example, about 3 times out of 4 you will be alone. (Of course, lately I'm always alone on the worst-producing islands you've ever seen, but that's a different story.) Sounds like you're overgeneralizing from an insufficient sample.
well, I guess it was always possible but I haven't seen it.

Sounds like a good game to abort cos you dont get any of the advantage I described. It will be interesting to see how you make out in that game.
I agree that having close neighbors has real advantages, but I don't think it's a default. I recently started a game (standard, 8 civs) where I'm on an island alone. This is great in one respect, they are well developed, productive cities for the most part. However, it's bad because I have to travel and fight to expand and that's tedious this early in the game (moving two units at a time in galleys.)
I think Captain Pugwash has some good points. Personally, I like to be in early contact with a few nice neighbours for tech-trading, but I don't like 'em too close, because for me going to war before gun-powder is an anathema.

In summary: close, but not too close.
I agree with Captain Pugwash on one thing if your playing on anything past 3rd lowest level you definately want the advantage of haveing some neighbors. but I think its random ive only played like 12 game in the last 2 months but I get diffrent groupings all the time.
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