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Playing Vikings on the Earth Challenge, Noble difficulty

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by guspasho, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. guspasho

    guspasho Prince

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    Hello. I am trying out the Earth Challenge that was posted here and playing the Vikings. The goal is to get the highest score and the map has tech trading and vassals disabled. Since maintaining a tech lead is so important and the Vikings have such an excellent coast-heavy, resource-rich location, and the financial trait, I thought they would be the best civ to play on this map.

    I decided my strategy should be three stages: 1) expand, 2) research, 3) conquer. Grab as much land as quickly as I can until I run in to my neighbors, tech my way to tanks while everyone else is still in the medieval era, and steamroll everybody.

    I haven't been successful fighting any early wars, or balancing the research hit you take when you build units and capture cities. I'm just not good at it, and I haven't found any strategy tips that help me in that area. I tried this map where I conquered Rome with Berserkers but it was a long, hard slog, and Russia ended up with half of the Roman cities. I then tried to conquer Russia with cavalry when they still had knights but it was another long, hard slog (Russia had lots of war elephants.) I felt my tech falling behind all the while.

    So I'm hinging my hopes on solidifying a tech lead, then worry about going to war when research is no longer necessary.

    To that end I started with an Oracle slingshot to Code of Laws, then built the Pyramids, Colossus, and the Great Lighthouse. Taoism (the religion I picked with CoL) spread rapidly to most of my neighbors, and I switched my civics to Representation, Bureaucracy, Caste System, and Organized Religion as quickly as I could. I'm keeping Rome and Russia pleased with me by trading them deer and clams respectively, and renewing the agreements every ten turns so theoretically they cannot declare war. That feels like a cheap tactic but it keeps them from declaring on me, which Rome did frequently in my earlier attempt at playing this game, and helps me stay focused. Plus, I hate their non-coastal cities.

    Now I am at a spot where I am unsure about several things.

    1) Which wonders do I need? The only one I'm certain of is the Great Library, where I'll put the National Epic and later Oxford, run scientists and make a science/GP farm from which I can spam academies.

    Is it worthwhile to get any other wonders? Do I want the Apostolic Palace and its hammer bonus? Sankore and the Spiral Minaret? All require spamming monasteries and temples. Is this just an inefficient waste of hammers?

    And I can find benefits to the Statue of Zeus, Hagia Sophia, Parthenon, Mausoleum, Chichen Itza, Taj Mahal, and Notre Dame but will they worth it? A free golden age is nice, so are longer golden ages, faster workers, more happy citizens, faster great person production, enemies' war weariness, cities' defensive bonus, but are they nice enough? I can't tell.

    2) Where should I build the GL, and consequently locate my science city/GP farm? Tonsberg has a lot of food and production potential but is undeveloped, and is isolated so it won't make a good unit production city anyway. Nidaros already makes the most beakers due to its worked water tiles and silver, and has the best production of any city by far. Uppsala is developed and has a lot of food and good production. Haithabu has a lot of food and good production too and makes the most gold due to its shrine, so would be a good Wall Street city. I have to decide right away where to build the GL, then send workers there to chop.

    3) I have an unused great artist from when I researched Music. What should I do with him? Is it most efficient to settle him, or research Monarchy, or culture bomb a continental city for a few tiles?

    4) How should I direct my research right now? I could beeline Liberalism but then I feel like I'd waste the free tech on something cheap, when I think I could get something expensive for it. But I don't see any powerful slingshot opportunity like Oracle -> CoL. Should I delay Astronomy or Scientific Method since they will make essential wonders Colossus and GL obsolete? Or prioritize them and get past the pain quickly?

    5) What building queues should I consider? This is still a challenge for me even when I try city specialization. I generally just follow what appears to be most necessary at the time, but it's hard to compare apples and oranges when you can't find a compelling bottleneck reason. I usually choose granaries, trading posts, and libraries have precedence, theaters in border towns, no courthouses yet, markets and forges when I can get to them. Cheaper buildings get higher priority when I can't decide.

    6) If you were to play Vikings for a high score on a map with no tech trading allowed, is this even remotely the strategy that you would choose? If not, what? How would you manage expansion/research and war/research? I noticed one player won a domination victory in 1490AD and was already researching Assembly Line in 1410AD.

    I'll probably have even more questions later. Thanks for reading and thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Spoiler :
     

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  2. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Hall of Fame Staff

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    First question I would ask myself is how do I want to win this game?

    If it is conquest or Dom, the only wonders I might consider are Oracle and GLH. Oracle for Civil Service and GLH to fund conquest.

    The 3rd wonder I would build is the called the "Berzerker Raging Stack of Death".

    As for build queues, I'd get up barracks/granaries/forges, and libraries in more research oriented cities. Build wealth and research to get to Machinery asap. Then mass whip Zerks and galleys to start raining death at what should be a very superior tech advantage on Noble. Afterwards, you might want to shoot for Lib>Astro to get Galleons to speed things up or get a GP farm running to get some bulbs in that direction. At a certain point your cities will be focused on either building units or wealth. You might want to build settlers to fill in gaps though if going for Domination. As for workers, you will capture a ton of them for later cities.

    Waiting for Tanks on Noble level = Fail

    All the other wonders? Capture them

    Dom/Conq should be achievable much earlier than 1490AD on Noble.
     
  3. DesertPfox

    DesertPfox Chieftain

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    I wouldn't bother waiting for tanks to steamroll your opponents either, especially on noble. You could quickly get to Military Tradition and start with cuirassiers and then don't stop until you are done.

    As far as your great artist sitting around, use him for a golden age. With the big empire that comes on a huge map the extra hammers and commerce from all those cities is a lot.
     
  4. huerfanista

    huerfanista Emperor

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    I'd settle Nidaros 1S2E of where you put it, and my 2nd city would go 2N1E of Birka. Send my warriors to steal Cathy's workers and pin her so she can't hook up her copper or expand, while I tech AH> wheel> mining> BW and take her out with chariots. I've played this map with 4 different leaders (Zulu, Mali, Egypt, China) and the key to a good score (300K+) seems to be grabbing a lot of land early. If I could take out Mali, Egypt, and India before 1500BC playing as Shaka and still recover easily and get a big tech lead, you should certainly be able to afford Russia with Ragnar. :lol: Just cottage up that Russian riverland, take JC out with zerks + trebs, lib MilTrad and kill everyone else with cavalry.
     
  5. Skallagrimson

    Skallagrimson Deity

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    Tried the Shaka romp on that map on monarch and got owned by a combined force of cathy and genghis stacks right after I finished my conquest of africa. I plan to replay with more focus on a strong answer to those tsunamis of knights and crossbows. Musketmen did well but I didn't have enough. For pure numbers I might try to get pyramids and run police state. Also open up HE faster.
     
  6. guspasho

    guspasho Prince

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    Thanks,everyone. Huerfanista and lymond were especially helpful. It was unnecessary to prioritize any wonders, I was able to build Oracle (for Civil Service), Great Lighthouse, and the Colossus after I overran Russia and Rome. Building the Colossus was easy with the copper from Moscow and with Bureaucracy, only 8 turns. The gold surplus in the screenshots is from a GM trade mission to Beijing.

    Huerfanista's strategy of stealing Russia's worker and pinning it with warriors worked tremendously. I opened with AH>Wheel>Mining>BW and whipped out a stack of chariots, picked up a few other worker techs, then beelined to Berserkers.

    I sent my first warrior to Moscow and captured their worker and pillaged their improvements, built more in Uppsala and razed their second city with two warriors. I left several warriors fortified in the forests around Moscow and kept them pinned, they just built archers, a worker and settler, and kept them in the city until my chariots came.

    I might have been able to do things faster if I followed Huerfanista's advice for building my first two cities further east but I liked the locations I had too much, so I built my third city next to the horses but still on the coast so I could get the GLH trade routes. I may reload play the start again and see how that plays out.

    I don't know if this is a cheap strategy but after several attempts to feel out how this would work I knew where to send my scouts to find the goodie huts, and when to get there to beat Rome to the European ones, but the only tech I ever got was Agriculture. In other games I've gotten better techs, sometimes two good ones. I suspect the game may give you fewer techs when you reload a lot. :lol:

    After Russia went down I sent my stack to Rome and they went down easily. My first unit to attack Cumae on the copper razed it. They only had warriors and archers. Easy.

    Russia went down in 1775BC, Rome in 1300BC. Now I'm trying to figure out how to efficiently expand. Since I stopped warring I found myself with the same old dilemma, how to focus my efforts at expansion and economy without falling back on doing everything haphazardly and slowly. I'm picking up techs without any real focus, not sure if there is one to be had yet, sending out a few settlers at a time and building workers to chop granaries, barracks, libraries, and now markets now that I have currency. Once they have those they build defenders, workers, and settlers. I'll need to build courthouses soon too.

    I'm not sure what to do after defeating Russia and Rome. Everyone else is too far away, and I had to stop whipping at some point or risk unhappiness for hundreds of turns. I want to build out my empire as quickly as I can so I can conquer Egypt and China sooner rather than later but I don't know to prioritize at this point. Any more help?

    Where should I have built the city south of Moscow? On the coast for the extra trade routes or inland to work the iron? I chose inland for the production, as I'm emphasizing coastal cities a lot elsewhere. I razed Antium because it was inland so I could fill France with coastal cities.

    Also, I just realized I forgot the Great Library. I have the luxury of marble, but what's the best science city in which to build it? My idea is to have a high-food city running as many scientists as possible to generate lots of great scientists which I will use to build lots of academies. Also, the library/university/observatory/oxford multipliers will help with science output too. Another question about that: do harbors help too, since they increase raw commerce? I'm assuming markets do not?
     

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  7. strijder20

    strijder20 Wallowing in irony

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    That was me ;)

    As mentioned before by players in this thread, it can be done even better than that - but I'm only prince/monarch, just let a deity try this :p

    As the challenge is to get as much score as possible, you probably want to go domination. Population + land gives a lot of score.

    I would rush Cathy instead of going for all of these wonders. In Earth maps, she or Qin tend to be the best player ( besides the human ) , so the earlier she is taken out, the better.
    I had a bit of luck - her first archer only popped up the moment I reached her city. She probably just finished archery, so couldn't build up proper garrisons in time.

    As for the start: settle in place, build workboat.
    Settle second city SW of the stone (copper will pop up NW later).
    Tech Bronze working - the wheel .
    Chop/whip another settler and settle him in a forested area.
    Chop/whip axes, take Cathy out.
    Now I was fast/ got lucky. If Rome doesn't get it's Praetorians, it's basically a sitting duck. There is a copper north of the Alps, an iron East of the Alps, and an Iron in Turkey. Go for those spots ASAP and pillage the mines. Then tech construction, get catapults and take over Rome.
    You should also have researched code of laws/have begun research towards it by now.
    Once you get CoL, whip out courthouses, GET ENOUGH WORKERS, chop forests, build roads, build cottages, and tech to civil service/machinery.
    Build a few cities east of Moscow in order to keep the Mongols away.
    Invade Egypt with Berserkers and catapults - tech Engineering. I did it by +- 300 AD.
    Your economy should be more or less recovered by now - thanks to financial.
    I took over Egypt by 1000 AD, then went for India - with Berserkers upgrading to rifles halfway.
    Then I took on Mali, China and Mongolia- and won.
    Drafting units when you have over 50 cities is useful - nationhood + rifling is a very good combo. You can even whip cannons, if you wish, but slowbuilding goes too.

    Of course, I'm not nearly as experienced as some players here, and there are a lot of other ways to get a high score, but this worked for me.
     
  8. strijder20

    strijder20 Wallowing in irony

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    Sorry, I posted my previous post before seeing you already began.

    There is a good cottage city in the Netherlands which you already seem to have - if possible production-wise, build the GL there.
    You need another city south-east of Germany, after that, Europe is filled.
    Settle England with two or three cities.
    Colonize eastwards till you have trebs and berserkers, after that kill Hattie (?).
    Then you can do pretty much what you want - a victory will be sure.
     
  9. Skallagrimson

    Skallagrimson Deity

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    A couple of things to add after having done some Monarch rounds with Vikings on this map:

    1) Shaka has only Ramses in his path on his way to come after you. In other words Shaka had NOTHING in his path onhis way to come after you. Mansa will just giggle like a schoolgirl as he gets taken over so don't count on him slowing Shaka down either.

    2) Rome is dangerous, possibly moreso early game than Cathy if you let him spam his Praets. (Cathy later on as she beelines toward Mil Trad to open up her Cossacks). The problem is that Julius and Shaka tend to like to team up with Ramses as a common conquest target, which means fighting Julius puts you in Shaka's crosshairs. It's a tricky diplo situation because being friends with Genghis (usually with Cathy as a common enemy) is still not enough to convince the Great Khan to go after Shaka, and Chicken Wing will snub you every time with such requests. Rome will ALSO beeline Machinery and can't wait to nerf his own UU via Macemen. A hilltop city spammed with Crossbows means you'll probably have to wait until Steel unless you've got about 50 or so Trebs you can spare to suicide. IMO if early war is the goal here (and it is), Cathy has to wait; Julius can't wait. It'll piss off Shaka but he's going to march on your cities anyway, might as well get the show on the road and beat his stacks down while they're still backward. Soon as possible after Julius is at least under control (maybe with just Spain and some African cities), march eastward and take Cathy out. If you time it right you'll be finger-cuffing her empire with Genghis on the other end, nice little Cathy sandwich, om nom nom nom. In some situations though, Genghis decides to dogpile Asoka with Cathy as an ally (religion being a factor here, esp. on Cathy's end). If Cathy and Genghis are friends, brace yourself.

    3) Apostolic Palace will absolutely KILL your conquests if it's a continental love-fest. It might be counter-intuitive but avoiding the AP religion here might make more sense so you can defy its tidal wave of resolutions against you with only a small number of angry cities as a result. You lose the hammer bonus, but, c'est la vie.

    4) Good luck. :)
     
  10. strijder20

    strijder20 Wallowing in irony

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    It's only Noble (which makes crazy warmongerer leaders like Shaka and Montezuma a LOT less dangerous, in my opinion), and didn't he already take out Cathy and Rome :p?
    In my game, Shaka did, err, nothing, but sitting around in South-Africa. I just left him alone.
    Or am I wrong and are you playing Monarch?
     
  11. guspasho

    guspasho Prince

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    Thanks, for both your posts, and for your Vikings game earlier, which I was quite impressed by.

    Yet another question! In general how far apart should I space my cities? I generally like to settle Britain where I have done so in the screenshot in the first post. I can see the tradeoff of having more cities but fewer tiles for each city, more cities are generally better except late in the game where you have enough citizens to work each tile. So where would you build your cities in Britain?

    Also, settling Russia: should I crowd it too, or leave lots of empty, unworked land, riverland even? Is it better to overlap a lot of tiles among cities than to have a lot of unused river tiles, especially with Russia's riverland? Can anyone recommend better city locations for Russia, assuming the Moscow location I have? I try to settle based on fitting resources in my BFC and that tends to leave me with a lot of unused tiles. I have Colossus and GLH and I try to consider coastal sites to take advantage of them.
     
  12. guspasho

    guspasho Prince

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    I've managed to kill Russia and Rome quite early, before either had anything better than archers. Check out my second post. I think trying to steal that worker from Rome early on somehow tweaked JC's UI since I was expecting him to be better developed when I came for him, but I guess I slowed him down just enough that he only just settled on the copper when I attacked, and had no time to whip axes or hook up his copper. I guess since I'm playing on Noble I don't have to worry about Shaka, I suppose no one will attack me anymore in this game. Maybe I'll reload and send some Berzerkers to Africa and see what happens.

    The first time I played this game I planned to turtle and tech but Rome kept attacking me and I finally just gave in and fought them, got Cathy to dogpile and she took the eastern Roman cities while I took the western ones. But this had unfortunate result of strengthening Russia such that it could produce a ton of units to oppose my cavalries, and I couldn't keep the Russian cities I captured when I attacked them. In this game the AP was a HUGE nuisance, even when I didn't have the AP religion, some of my cities did. I resolved to build it to deprive anyone else of getting it. This time around it's so early I don't know yet if I'll need to worry about that. Buddhism (founded in Uppsala) has spread across Asia though.
     
  13. strijder20

    strijder20 Wallowing in irony

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    In Britain, I would settle a commerce city one north of the dye and cottage everything but the Wales hill which you mine for production/windmill. Whip out infrastructure.
    The other city : east of the horse seems like a good location. It has enough food (two fishes) to work all off the hills and the pasture, and you can workshop the two other tiles.
    You might also want to found a city in Ireland to hook up the Whale. If you found it one NW of the whale, it would make a good Moai (although Rome is probably a better canditate for that.

    The rest of the world, including Russia: found your cities about four tiles from eachother, with no overlap but no empty space either. Just fill everything, as you seem to be going for domination (that's the best way to get score, in my opinion, as the system seems to be biased to give higher scores to domination wins due to the high amount of land and pop). Farm everything in cities which have more than fifty % plains, and use them as whip centers + troop builders. Cottage the more grassy cities for commerce.
    You should try to expand as fast as possible, because your financial and your economy can take quite a hit, and land = power.
    And as you have Colossus + GLH, settling the north coast of Siberia can be profitable.
     
  14. huerfanista

    huerfanista Emperor

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    Distance is not a problem on this map. I had an empire stretching from the southern tip of Africa to SE Asia (formerly Khmer) at 1500BC and it was no impediment to getting a huge tech lead. Speaking of tech, it's hard to tell where you are in tech at this point. You obviously have CS, CoL, and currency, and you're cash flow is positive at 40%, so where are you relative to the other civs? If you don't have machinery yet I'd be running the slider at 100% to get it ASAP, with engineering to follow. You could probably come close to clearing the map with zerks and trebs at this point.

    A high food city would be best for the GL, but I'd be looking to bulb Phil, Edu, and PP after building an academy. I'd also be looking to move the capital to a high-commerce city (you don't seem to have one yet) in a more central location, but that's probably less important on noble. I usually try to take MilTrad off of liberalism - cuirassiers are pretty devastating. Theology seems like a bit of a sidetrack, but if you're sure the religion hasn't been founded yet the AP can give a big boost. Unless you're sure that you can win control, I'd consider switching to the new religion briefly just before completing it so that you have exclusive control and use of the hammer benefit. In any case, this game seems ripe for the taking.
     
  15. guspasho

    guspasho Prince

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    I finally won domination. 1665AD, 22 hours, Noble, 171k. The worker management is brutal. I can't imagine how people finish these games in under 4 hours.

    Picking up from where I left before, I had just taken out Rome and Russia very early. I started consolidating a bit.

    Egypt started crowding me earlier than I had liked, and I needed time to whip an army. We raced to settle the Bosporus and I won but she instead settled on the north coast of the Black Sea. Worthless land, and annoyingly in my way. I had managed to take out Russia and Rome with some "just enough" rushes, just enough units to do it as long as I was careful, but I didn't know how many units I'd need for Egypt, I just knew that I'd need a lot more. So it took me a while to build up a force to attack Egypt. But once Egypt fell my unit production was rolling smoothly. It only took a few turns to declar on Mali, then Zulu, India, Mongolia, Khmer, and finally China. I settled filler cities as I went, and improved the land (ugh!!!!!!!) and eventually I just turned down the tech slider and turned up the cultural slider for faster boundary pops.

    I think I mentioned before that I planned to use Birka as a wonder/gold/GP farm, and that worked early on, I managed to get Oracle, Great Lighthouse, and Colossus there, after which I let it build workers/settlers/wealth. Somehow I popped two great engineers so I used one for the Great Library and another for Notre Dame.

    I probably got five or six great scientists, all of which went to academies. They came kind of late, the first 4-5 were engineers and merchants. The merchants went to Beijing.

    Looking back, I probably shouldn't have bothered with the Great Library or attempting to create any SE cities. I never switched away from slavery. All my other cities had the general queue of granary/lighthouse/library/barracks before lots and lots of berzerkers. It was pretty uniform. I should have used one of those great engineers for the Forbidden Palace in Thebes which I built entirely too late, and Versailles in Dehli or somewhere like that, though I never got around to building that.

    Nidaros became a great unit pump. I settled three great generals there before I could build military academies. Then I built academies in all my highest production cities. Nidaros, Rome, Moscow, a couple others. Eventually, I had enough cities producing units that I didn't need to whip units, only the initial infrastructure queue.

    By the time I got to China they had a few muskets, but not many. I had hundreds of berzerkers and enough unit replenishment that I could afford to throw many away to soften their defenses before I sent the experienced ones in. While I was fighting Mongolia and Khmer I had switched to cavalries and had enough surplus gold to upgrade a lot of my zerks to infantries. Next time I need to experiment more with using trebs for ammunition instead of weaker zerks, they are probably cheaper, though the tech path is different.

    All the bouncing between random units that are waiting for orders has my head spinning. Is there a mod out there that fixes some of that behavior, like preferring units near the ones you just selected, or not bouncing away when you're trying to change a unit's orders?
     

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  16. Skallagrimson

    Skallagrimson Deity

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    It was Monarch. Now I'm trying Prince to see if I can hit dom by the mid 1600s.

    To me the challenging thing is the size of the map--on normal map sizes you hit dom after taking out a land mass half the size of just what Cathy owns right now. It takes a whole new way of thinking about war to realize how many more cities you have to conquer to get your dom vic. Faster units, and a greater ability to withstand casualties because you have no time to bomb down city defenses. Fast fast fast...
     

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