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On expansion - avoid the middle

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by maltz, Feb 9, 2006.

  1. maltz

    maltz Chieftain

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    Recently I started to push my ancient PC to its limit, by playing a Standard map. Since I prefer visitors, friendly or not, I usually go with Terra/Pangea. As the map size goes up from duel, tiny, small to standard, I can see a major difference - the location of a Civ usually determines its success.

    To be more specific -- the corner Civ that starts with a sweet, wide land mass always prosper. The Civ in the middle always go down, no matter how much resource and land it has.

    In other words, it is not a good iea expand towards the middle unless necessary, especially in higher difficulties.

    Middle land = more neighbors. Chances are some of your neighbors are aggressive -- they will attack you as soon as you have any sign of military weakness.

    Owning the middle land is like a dead-end. You can't move your army away, or your vicious neighbors are going to backstab you. You can't really initiate another military campaign unless you spend a lot of resources producing militaries. Military upkeep isn't cheap at start, the best time for expansion.

    Middle land = more border overlap. Sooner or later, the AIs will sit their settlers right on your border. Even worse, they are creative leaders, or they found a religion right there, so these annoying cities never gets swallowed by your cultures. Chances are your used-to-be-pleased neighbors won't like you soon, due to the border overlap.

    With the need for more military and the prescence of more annoyed neighbors, you are guaranteed of:

    - little further expansion
    - less income
    - slower research
    - less tech trade

    So what if you do start at the middle? Better take a corner as soon as possible. In the meantime, you may be able to get away by completely aligning with the other fronts. Once you take a corner, you should soon considering taking another corner. After that, you may even take another corner. Then you will have enough power to pursue whatever winning conditions you like.

    I am sure you know this -- always kill the aggressive neighbors first.

    It is nice to have a peace-loving neighbor who is at the middle, shielding you from all the aggressive forces on the other end of the world. Don't expand towards your friendly neighbor, since good friend is hard to come by in Civ. Just get your friendly neighbor involved in another warfare, and while he is too busy to backstab you, take another corner via either (his/her) land or the sea. :)
     
  2. ionimplant

    ionimplant Chieftain

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    you can choose inland sea to avoid the middle. and in pangea, there isn't really a corner since the globe is a sphere. there're edges though to the south and north.
     
  3. AngryPants

    AngryPants Chieftain

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    I love the inland sea maps, those rock. Also, if you start in the middle, isn't that just Civ's way of giving you your choice of "corners"?
     
  4. Canadian Bacon

    Canadian Bacon Chieftain

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    If you start near a corner, you will need to expand at least a little toward the middle. If you fill in the back area first, you may have a better strategic position, but you wont have enough space to do much.
     
  5. polypheus

    polypheus Chieftain

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    I agree that having your own little corner or even better your own continent (while still having contact with most other Civs) on good large area of land makes the game easier to win. In terms of security and response to threats it is far easier to deal with a single border than multi-borders.

    HOWEVER, I find those huge maps where you start in the middle and are surrounded by 4-5 powerful Civs to be very interesting and fun. Sure, you have to consider threats from all sides but this is also the kind of situation where diplomacy and religion plays such a crucial role which is the aspect of the game I enjoy. Yes you can be easily crushed from all sides. But it is also in these situations that I developed good diplomatic skills which I find most Civ players don't appreciate or develop fully.

    If you practice Triangle Diplomacy, make sure to pick the right religion and such, you can survive and prosper even if you not only expand towards the middle but even start in the very middle itself. Being in the middle means more action and more excitement and ultimately more fun than being stuck on your own Australian-type continent even if the latter is far easier to deal with to win.
     
  6. CarlCarlson

    CarlCarlson Chieftain

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    In my current game I had this problem. The Russians were giving me issues so I decided to take them out. I started in the south east corner of the world and the Russians were in the middle. Expanding out like that lead to some problems with the French (I killed them off later because of this and point lead) and left my conquered cities harder to defend. I also lost a city to the English because of culture issues. Currently that formerly Russian territory is sandwiched between the English and the Persians. Luckily they both love me because of religion and shared conflicts and all that garbage.
     
  7. greentea

    greentea Chieftain

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    The middle might suck, but I think you are forgetting a factor - climate! If you are in some corner of tundra, you would prefer to expand towards more fertile land. Especially in a game of high sea levels and huge ice caps, the middle might be the only viable position. Of course, the game becomes quite challenging indeed.
     
  8. drkodos

    drkodos Chieftain

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    I just got my first ever cultural win through a middle start with Noble Mansa Musa on Huge Pangea map @ normal speed. I used to like corner starts, but now prefer middle starts because they are moe dynamic and offer greater options. I agree with an above poster regarding greater use of diplomacy skills and triangulation.
     
  9. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    Newbie here hellooo

    Playing my second game of civ 4 still in learning mode. Current game had 2 other civs on island on chieftain. One about 8 squares away and one 15 or so. Problem on expansion is by time i had built my production/ commerce cities and developed these 5 cities for commerce the AI civ had land grabbed all the areas i left as impracticle to build or next to or on AI land area. IE desert or tundra in abundance.

    Up to 1400ad in current game just found the English across the sea who have double my cities but about 500 civ score less than me. I still think if i hadnt spaced each city 6 squares apart i could squeeze a 6th-7th city in but i still gained the resources outside the 2 square area surrounding the city where all my used farms and cottages mines etc were. Does the 3 square around the city ever get used for farming to help city growth / production?

    Am i otimising city placement? How do you maximise land use in terms of city growth up to 20 size, maximising all squares of the land in terms of use of food, hammers, commerce and number of squares between cities using N E W S.. I noticed in my cities i had built they only used in terms of land to work on the resource up to 2 squares around the city. Although resources to provide happy faces were used if connected by road and worked.

    This does not seem efficient to me although i accept the average terrain wont allow a nice criss cross pattern of cities as i used to get with civ 3. (Throws out rule book) If i was land grabbing resource fair enough.

    Whats better maximising land use keeping cities 4 squares apart so they will reach 20 and wain in size. Or is maximising land area to grab resources/ forest when your culture grows spacing cities 5-6 squares apart more effective. Im sure health and happiness will play its part but im only thinking inital build of the first few cities not.

    Game play Normal speed. normal sized map.
     
  10. ADHansa

    ADHansa Chieftain

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    I'd say nay to maximize in the beginning.
    Explore the map, think out 4-5 possible mayor cities that are good. Don't bother if you overlap a few squares, or leave a few squares outside sity borders, normal nonresourse squares only make a minor differens as the 10th+ square .
    Then block off your opponent so you get those cities. Later in the game when you have a bigger budget you can start thinking on if you should build secondary cities inbetween your mayor ones and along shorelines that hasn't been used.
     
  11. Gumbolt

    Gumbolt Phoenix Rising

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    I kind of did that by blind game play. I did feel sorry for the other civ come 1400 ad when its 2nd and 3rd city had half its land taken by my culture grab :goodjob: Perhaps i should of started a war earlier instead of trading resources but why kill off my religion. :hmm:

    Gonna try a game on noble. I think creative and aggressive will make a fun game. Hmm Mongols.Time to play around a bit more learning needed.
     
  12. troglodyte

    troglodyte Chieftain

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  13. maltz

    maltz Chieftain

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    Recently I had a game where I started right in the middle of the Pangea (Small size, 11AI + myself, marathon, deity). I decided to play this map because I got both copper and stone in my capital!

    bc2680.jpg

    There was no way that I could secure one end first. My capital was losing land, and my score was miserable as usual by the time my first axeman came out.

    This is what I had after I hit the absolute limit of early expansion (losing money at 0% research)

    bc1850.jpg

    You might think I am screwed, but it turned out all right. First I gave back ShangHai to the Qin Emperor for peace (he was also stabbed by Mongols in his back, don't want him to die that fast. A weak neighbor who hates you is better than a strong neighbor who may attack any friend), so I am about balanced at 0% research. I then chopped some library out, and slowly got Alphabat with scientists. :) To my west are 3 war Civs, and the other end contains Hindu pagens of Tokugawa and Cathy, another 2 war Civs. Still a long way to go!
     
  14. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    I don't even want to try deity!
    one funny thing : you are chinese? Qin is egyptian????
     
  15. Dieters

    Dieters Chieftain

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    I think the random map generator was trying to make me (newbie!) feel bad for a while. Every game I'd start, I'd be right in the middle of a continent. That wouldn't be so bad, but the random map generator also plopped 3-4 civs right around me. My slow newbie skills couldn't keep up. I'd turn around a few times and my borders would be surrounded by other civs.

    I'm getting better though, so next time that happens, I think I'm going to bust out of my cage with a little bit of force. :)
     
  16. Rubruk

    Rubruk Chieftain

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    Yes. Enough Axeman, or later Catapults and Swordman with Cityraider promoyion help definitely.
     
  17. COUGAR69

    COUGAR69 Chieftain

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    USA on warlord large contenents.Barb settings unchanged.Middle of the map and who do the barbs come after.Me I ain't seen so many barb cities at one time.I had three to the east with noone else there and one to the southwest with Egyptians.She seemed fine with them being there and was going to leave them.After all they were'nt bothering her.Took alittle while but I got rid of them.Had to wait for cats for one city.It had 4 archers and a worker in it.Had to use swords and mountedarchers on another one.Man what a pain but I have atleast three if not four units with 4 promotions each at least so it was worth it I think.Did'nt get a religion till late and had to use Moses to found Islam.Now what is up with that.The US as Islamic.Man this has been one strange game.:lol:
     
  18. Smokey McDope

    Smokey McDope Chieftain

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    Damn son you need to fix your sig. His name is Dave Mustaine (see the "e") and the band is Megadeth.. not Mega Death.

    Damn kids have no respect for metal anymore.
     
  19. Lord Chambers

    Lord Chambers Chieftain

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    First thing he should do is fix his space bar.It doesn't work after periods for some reason.
     
  20. COUGAR69

    COUGAR69 Chieftain

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    :mad: Duh. Haven't looked at the cd in awhile.Stays in cd player at the ready. Good civ music.
     

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