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Optimum amount of cities...

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Jonny211, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. Jonny211

    Jonny211 Chieftain

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    Howdy,

    After playing for a while I can't help but think that despite trying SE, CE, Hybrid and other methods of playing that getting a good civ going comes down to one thing... the amount of cities you have at a certain point in the game.

    Playing on Monarch 3 core cities get's me swamped under a Cavalry rush in the 1800's, but with 5 cities I get to rush my neighbours instead.

    Does anyone know of a graph or something that details the optimum amount of cities you should have at certain points of the game? Like when you discover Confuciousism (sp? Sorry can't remember tech name either).

    What happens if you can't expand to gain the necessary amount of cities? I'm sure the answer is war but against a larger neighbour how can you do this and survive?

    Any thoughts are welcome.

    Cheers!
     
  2. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    The optimum number of city is certainly dependant on victory condition pursued.
    For conquest victory, the optimal number of cities is 2 or 3 until you can keep a well developped city of an ex-neighbour.

    For space race, you really need to found some very good late production cities. I'd say you want to have 6 cities asap, then expand through war.

    For cultural, i go for the 3 big ones asap, the fill out with junk cities than mature the cottages while the 3 big ones build all they can.

    For domination, well, it's a bargain. I often stick with 3/4 cities, until I'm in a good position to kill a neighbour.
    Then I'm usually at 6 cities (keep 2 raze the rest).

    After that, it's heal/rebuild time = no expansion for a while.
    I often go for increments of 2 cities (either razing the rest or sueing for peace).

    For diplomacy, you need population and good realtions to a few other tribes.
    City number is somehow the same as domination. 6 cities will be fine for a while.
     
  3. ElJojo

    ElJojo Chieftain

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    I find it quite hard to estimate an optimum number.
    As Cabert says it's linked with the victory you seek but not completely. After all you can always expand little by little. When playing cultural i often cities and good ones sometimes so I keep them.

    It also depends of the kind of city you are building. Commerce cities can easily pay for themselves! So it's more a ratio of "how much commerce cities among my cities". The ratio will go up with the number of cities.

    Discovering Code of laws will help for sure, but it depends of the path you have followed. Sometimes I discover CoL through currency rather than through Priesthood. Markets help me produce more gold and supporting more cities etc.

    In monarch you'll have to war and I think it's better to war soon so that you don't end up facing a big opponent. Raze of few cities between 2000BC and 1AD and there will be no such thing as a big opponent, a furious opponent yes but that's another problem.
     
  4. Jonny211

    Jonny211 Chieftain

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    Hmmm... I've never tried an early war in case I lost any gains I made in tech by building axemen instead. Maybe next game? Also it takes ages for the axemen to get to the enemy cities, by that time they have Feudalism and the dreaded longbow.
     
  5. InFlux5

    InFlux5 King

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    Um...with all due respect, if your opponent has Longbows by the time your Axemen show up you are doing something very wrong. You need to get a stack of Axes up much sooner. Try using slavery and/or chopping.
     
  6. ElJojo

    ElJojo Chieftain

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    To wage early wars you need close opponents of course. If there's nobody reachable try something else. When you start on a crowded continent, you can take two capitals.
    You may even go for a chariot rush. They move much quicker which means you can get to a capitol when it has only three archers and 40% cultural defense. 6 Chariots are all you need.
    Yesterday the chinese were kind enough to build the pyramids in Beijing before I took it!
    And the money you get from pillaging allowed me to keep the tech lead (it was on monarch).
     
  7. Jonny211

    Jonny211 Chieftain

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    Ya, I am doing something wrong in my Monarch games - but quite what it is eludes me - I chop forests, I whip citizens, I have Science specialists toiling away to produce Scientist GPP, I have villages/towns for gold, I have a religion or two but it all goes wrong at some point and the AI speeds off up the tech tree without me. Boohoo :)
     
  8. BCLG100

    BCLG100 Music Master

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    Well a few things
    Are you warring with the AI? this is one way to keep them in check and if your doing it well you can get tech in the resulting peace treaty/ies
    Your religion, does other AI have it, they could be usefull allies if so.
    Key is- are you trading, you need to be selling everything you own to keep up with tech.
    Dont forget that the AI does get a bonus on monarch in terms of tech so chances are you'd never keep up.
     
  9. illram

    illram Deity Retired Moderator

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    You can outpace the AI on monarch early on if you use science specialists correctly. I like to run a hybrid economy (at least one or two scientists in every city, more if I can afford it) while still running as many cottages as I can handle. Science Specialists early in the game make rapid improvements in early tech discovery since you dont need to wait for the cottages to grow.

    Another advantage you have automatically is that the AI doesn't beeline up the tech tree. For instance, get a tech like alphabet which the AI doesnt research early on and trade it to backfill the stuff you might have skipped. (But try to keep a tech edge if you can, don't just give up everything you have.) This also works with Code of Laws and Civil Service, to name a few. (The AI likes to get feudalism before civil service.) Advanced Techs which allow a wonder or new unit also attract good trade offers from the AI.

    With specialists you will also be generating great people who can lightbulb techs for you, and if you really want to get ahead build the pyramids and get representation. Scientists with +6 beakers make a huge difference, especially if you are also running cottages.

    edit: I guess I never answered the main question re: # of cities. It depends on the map size and difficulty level, but basically you should have as many cities as you can support. (Support meaning you are not taking too long to research science and your units are not going on strike.) I would never ever hope to win a game with 3 cities. The more cities, the more beakers, gold, hammers, etc. Just be sure to build courthouses. If you have a lot of cities and make it to the modern age get communism and go crazy.
     
  10. Ronan

    Ronan Chieftain

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    Im confused here. You said "For conquest victory, the optimal number of cities is 2 or 3 until you can keep a well developped city of an ex-neighbour". Will you not have a very small area of land under your control with only 3 cities or do you plan to attack a rival city quickly?

    I always have loads of cities (im on a beginner) and am confused when people talk of having small amounts of them. Do you just control map area by working on your culture?
     
  11. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    it's all very theoric, since i usually go for domination. Maybe some top notch warmonger could explain it better.
    The rational behind this is for conquest you often don't need to tech very fast after you reach some dominant unit.
    In the GotM subforum, you can see many games with early conquest victory (Deluche is a specialist of this, but he doesn't write much spoilers, 450 AD is a cool victory date isn't it?) using horse archers.
    If you have lots of cities, you need lots of defense+ you pay upkeep for those.
    It's better to churn out units at a really fast rate using chopping and pop-rushing + high production cities.
    It may be worth keeping a forest heavy city once in a while, to continue unit building, but the upkeep is going to kill you if you keep too many: you just can't wait for cities to pay for themselves.

    edit : you ask about landgrab, but for conquest, you don't need to grab land. You need units. And units. And units.
     
  12. Ronan

    Ronan Chieftain

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    Hmmm, looks like i need a whole rethink to the way i was playing. Thnaks :)
     
  13. Mutineer

    Mutineer Deity

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    Let me put it this way.
    More cities is better most of the time. If you really know how to use them fully I would say.
    If you have neitrall income when you have 40% research rate you can use more cities.
    If your research rate got this higth, you need more cities.
     
  14. asabahi

    asabahi Warlord

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    I am currently a prince level player. I have to agree with Cabert about the number of cities. If you are going to be warmmonger and attempt a conquest victory you need very few cities to start with. Just build units, specialy in early in the game since most AI cities cannot pay for themselves (no mature cottages). But for a game where teching is important you need a decent amount of cities, specialy if builder civs (Ghandi, Korea, Mali, Peter of Russia, Federick of Germany) are on the map. In one game I had reduced Korea to 3 or 4 cities and they became my vassal. I could then see what he was researching and how many turns it was taking him. On Epic speed he was researching late techs such as radio in 9 turns. That is with 4 cities only and I think one was in a tundra region. So to be a builder and survive the late game tech race you will need a fair number of commerace producing cities. I think looking at Aelf (Emperor master chalange) and Sisiutil (all leader challange) threads is a good place to start to figure out optimal play for a builder.
     
  15. Wlauzon

    Wlauzon Prince

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    I don't think that 3 cities is near enough to keep a sustained war going for long except very early in the game on small land masses.

    Quite often, one city is basically a non-producer, that is a GP or research farm, so that would only leave you two cities to make units with.

    I personally prefer to have 5-6, that way I can always have one building something in rotation, like a library, 3-4 making units. But that is for the early game.

    I often play on huge maps with only 3-5 other civs, so by the time war comes at least a couple probably have riflemen. It seems when it gets to that point, the only solution is to have about 8 cities churning out cavalry and catapults.
     
  16. Meatbuster

    Meatbuster formerly Robo Kai

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    In a Small Monarch Domination game I finished in 530 BC (still in HOF tables) I kept all cities for domination purposes but I think you can make do with 6-10 cities producing nothing but Immortals or War Chariots if you're lucky to kill everyone long before they hook up their copper (or if they don't have copper), with the occasional anarchy periods to stop money loss so you can capture/raze cities in the meantime to fill up your bank. I think it's viable in Standard size too. Horse Archers city attack reduction in Warlords make them less suitable for this purpose. Also play in Marathon speed to make your anarchy more effective.
     
  17. cabert

    cabert Big mouth

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    Although, you're somehow right (more cities is usually better), i'd like to point out some erroneous things in your post.
    If you go for an early conquest, you won't go for GP farms. You're going to produce military and workers to cut wood/build roads.
    teching? who needs teching ;) ?
    +
    I don't say my first post is the perfect rule that you should follow. Just my opinion.
    +
    If you read well, I write somewhere 3 cities "until you can keep a well developped city of an ex-neighbour" = don't keep all of those, but a good city really shouldn't be burnt down.
    What is good? That's another question.
    When going on conquest (i don't try too often), I think a good city is one where
    - i captured some workers
    - surrounded by a lot of forest
    - with a few good buildings/wonders/ressources

    + for me conquest is early, so cav and riflemen aren't even a remote question.
    I don't go for late conquest, it's just too tedious for me.
     

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