Portugal 1.17 600AD/Monarch/Epic


Jan 27, 2012
Before addressing each goal let's take a look at the general situation:
I've most frequently played on Monarch/Epic; epic is more forgiving in fulfilling goals that require lots of long-distance movement. Success will depend somewhat on luck, but most critical is striking an optimal balance between expansion and economy/research. Portugal's largest will expense will be city distance maintenance. It's unavoidable since you need settlements in Africa and Asia, and of course settling or conquering these lands can't be put for too long. Luckily after having played so many games I think I've finally nailed the timing.

The Spanish Question: From Day 1, maintaining Friendly relations with your yellow neighbor underpins your entire existence.

General Advantages:
1.UP negates the urgency to research Optics. This isn't a mere convenience; it allows the player to both gain commerce from international trade immediately on opening borders with far-off civs as well as trade techs to fill in gaps.

2.The UU gives the player a huge head-start in claiming critical land before other Europeans.

3.UP allows the player to pretty much forget about expansion stability. I have to confess that I only recently checked to see exactly how it works, mainly because it was just never something I had to even think about, and it's kind of mind-blowing: As long as the continent is not Europe, there's no difference between Foreign and Historical areas. Yup. Settle anywhere.

4.As long as you remain on good terms with Spain you're free from any possibility of invasion.

5. Two UHV goals compliment each other.

6. Crucial techs only reach into the Renaissance and they mostly fall within the same narrow branches. Beeline everything "Colonial", fill in a bit of this and that here and there. This is incontrast to civs like France, just as one example, that have to excel at almost the entire tech tree.

General Disadvantages:
1. If you piss off Spain the game is over.

2. You need to build a world-spanning empire from a single city, requiring a disciplined production schedule. Everything you build needs to have a purpose.

3. The Bandereinte's slave capture ability likely won't be unlocked until you've practically won. EDIT: No longer true.

4. You're literally all over the place, making it difficult to focus on and develop any single area. You'll have 8 or more carracks crisscrossing the oceans with this worker or this settler or this slave yadda yadda and it's easy to lose track of the overall mission. Then just when you've moved units to the other side of the Indian ocean, natives attack.

1.16 Changes:
  • City maintenance is slightly more forgiving.
  • 2nd UU The Banderainte. I still haven't fully taken advantage but I know its got potential. I do know it's perfect for defending plantations in the African rainforest (EDIT 1.17: They’re confirmed badasses. Use them to fullest.)
  • Settlers can now be used on existing cities to grant every building that would be included with a new settlement. This is pretty big. Conquest (especially in East Africa, for example) can now result in capturing viable cities.
  • The Asia area for UHV 3 now includes all of Indonesia.
  • Tech trading is an absolute necessity, leaving you at the whims of other civs moods and fortunes.
1.17 Updates:
*New Expansion mechanics have made Spain more eager to attack. I’m not yet able to determine if this can be consistently avoided by good relations alone. In most troubling case they DoWd with Pleased attitude *while* we were both at war with Moors.

*Expansion mechanic also nearly guarantees Spain will attack Moors as soon as their birth protection expires (around 900). Auto-running maybe two dozen games has shown this leads to several possible outcomes with mixed implications for you.

*Bandeirantes can capture slaves from the get go. It’s now worth sending a gang to West Africa to load up.

*State of game is generally so stable that UHV 1 is near trivial.

Other Recent or General Trends:
  • Spain prioritizes military techs and focuses on Europe. They're not likely to be colonial rivals. As Portugal, this means you the player can be a bit more generous trading away colonial-oriented techs.
  • Changes to Foreign stability code have removed the almost ubiquitous malus for all civs - in general, I've notice civ durability has increased noticeably. I'll list a few consequences below, but the results are more widespread and as yet not entirely known.
  • As a result of the above, Byzantium, Mongols, and Vikings are just as likely to send caravels to the new world first. These civs used to be easy dumps for tech trades. Not a sure thing anymore.
The Goals:
UHV 1. You have until 1550 but it's important to get this out of the way ASAP due to civs rising and falling unpredictably as well as the Reformation. Your UP also incentives early contact. (EDIT 1.17: Rise/collapse far less volatile. There will be plenty of civs to OB)

UHV 2. 12 TC Resources by 1650. The real challenge. Spices, Sugar, Bananas, Tea, and Tobacco. Bear in mind that slaves can be used in Africa and the New World to instantly hook-up every one of these except Spices (which requires workers to build an orchard or fort). Roughly 8 out of 12 are a sure thing on every game. Two spices in Brazil by the mouth of the Amazon. Two Bananas in North Brazil which appear in 1600. Bananas and Coffee in the Kongo. Sugar next to Quelimane. Tobacco in southern Brazil near Sao Paolo/Portgo Alegre. All of these are in Portugal's Historical Area and also count toward UHV three. I'll list additional options based on circumstances, first with cities that also count toward UHV Three: Sugar near Mogadishu, Sugar in Guyana (can be reached from the northernmost city in Brazil (make sure you check the UHV overlay), Spices on the island of Ceylon (can only founded via peaceful Trading Company Event - EDIT: City is now founded at 600 AD scenario start), Sugar NW of Malacca, Spices and Banana on the island of Java, Banana on Borneo that can be reached from a city on Java. Be advised that this area (as well as Ceylon) lies within the Netherlands' TC area. You run the risk of losing without enough time to make-up. There are 3 more spices, a banana, and sugar at the far end of Indonesia but I don't think they're worth the effort.

UHV 3: Settle 15 cities in Brazil, Africa, and Asia. Too easy so I make an extra challenge by settling or conquering cities that are worthwhile instead of just spamming and plopping settlers wherever they fit. If I'm in the midst of an extra strong game I try to be extra extra historical and even gun for a city in India.

Opening Moves for Nearly Every Game:

BEFORE YOU SETTLE: Gift Spain 50 gold and try OB. If not gift another 25. It’s crucial to get OB before “close borders” malus takes effect.

The initial roll isn't crucial. Some starts are just easier than others. You might get a few extra units (EDIT: Obsolete for 1.17) a few civs might hang on for tech trading and open borders. Research order: Paper, Cartography (trade for Compass, preferably with a non-colonial civ),Cartography, Finance, Logistics, Exploration, Optics, Geography. The logic behind Paper first, as opposed to Compass at least, is that other civs seem much more inclined to delay researching Paper in favor Compass. Since you need both, it's a safer bet to depend on getting Compass by trade. The most crucial techs are Cartography and Exploration, and really Exploration is the last tech you need to win; Georgraphy if you want to finish strong and stable. Try to fill in the other prerequisites through trade, being mindful not to be too generous with your colonial rivals because the longest the conquerors can be put off, the better. Take the first opportunity to trade for wheat. Going rate sees to be 5 GPT.

I experimented with switching to despotism on Turn 1 to fast-track capital infrastructure. Lisboa is food rich but hits a health ceiling. Whipping resulted in a happiness ceiling and lost commerce, in addition to the anarchy. Neither was a clear winner, so sticking with Monarchy is the safer bet.

As of 1.16 it's now once again worth settling Ponta Delgada in the Azores at the game start. Drop a settler upon reaching the Renaissance for free buildings and it'll start to grow.

I've tried various configurations for Lisbon but have settled on farms for all non-resource tiles, except for a lumbermill if the forest hasn't already been chopped down. In 1600 you'll get Corn on tile N of the city. Once all improved tiles can be worked, start running a single engineer and only an engineer. You absolutely have to pop a GE for the Trading Company. Lisbon simply as to many other things to build to be tied for 20 or so turns building the TC. After you've popped the GE, run an engineer and two merchants. If you grow enough for an additional specialist go with Artist or Scientist). Build scout, monastery, wharf immediately with Companss, aqueduct, bath, Once you've got Cartography, upgrade your starting ships to Carracks, train two-three bandeirantes, and afterwords build Carracks to reach a total of four.

Making Contact. (The scout you built has one job: beeline toward the Pacific by way of Asia Minor and greater Iran. France will need a 50-75g gift to OB. Do it. Seljuks are usually good for a very favorable trade or two but watch their Worst Enemies. Your cog can head north to pick up the remaining Europeans. Russia tends to be weird after contact so get OB first turn even if the tech gift need be generous. Catch Mughals before picking up Silk Road to China. Tech trades with China and Korea seem less fruitful than in the past but they’re still possible sources of gold. I’d also strongly advise paying China for Rice but this must be done before the Ming take power and their attitude sours.

Keep heavy galleys in home waters in case of war with Moors. In some cases, Spain whittles down the defenders of Cordoba but doesn't take the city. If your odds look good, take it yourself; what to do with it I can say for certain. I've always just razed it to give Lisbon more tiles. Call me a wuss, but I've never kept out of fear of giving Spain a reason to DoW, especially since Cordoba becomes their Core in the Renaissance. Even if this prospect isn’t presented, it’s advisable to DoW Moors just to augment relations with Spain.

We can now start focusing on UHV 1:
(General Note: recent updates have removed the ubiquitous Foreign stability malus, increasing the general stability of civs across the board as well their attitudes. This goal has gotten even easier).
By about 1250 you're guaranteed OB with England, Spain, France, Germany, Vikings, Poland, Russia. Half way there. Byzantium is almost never around by the time you get all 14, so when the Ottomans spawn, declare war on Byzantium to get OB with Ottomans. Vikings are also prone to collapse but sometimes they make it. If you can make contact with the Mongols early) you'll have a tech to gift them for OB. They'll probably collapse before you meet the goal, but you need OB to reach the Asian civs via land, and you'll be able to leave the same unit there in order to maintain contact throughout the game. If China and/or Korea are vassals to Mongolia you'll meet them immediately. If not continue on via the silk road.

You should have Cartography around 1300. You should have been able to get Gunpowder and Companies by trade, and I'd go so far as to say that it's crucial to have both techs before triggering the conquerors. Load a Bandeirante onto 2 carracks. One ship goes west to drop the Bandeirante off in south america, the other east drop off in Africa, both for goodie huts and to bolster your maps to sell later. Oh and also slaves. Units of various quality (including warriors lol) spawn in the jungles of West Africa. Cultivate good relations with Mali; they'll be a dependable source of slaves and gold (EDIT 1.17: Malis overall attitude is less friendly after a few turns from contact so acquiring slaves is less feasible. Its might worth trying to avoid meetting them until you’ve settled first overseas so you can get slaves on first turn ). Get Conquerors on Aztecs and try to vassalize if you can do so without losing too many units (especially the precious Bombard). The reason for vassalizing is for both Open Borders, slaves, and resources if available (and slime empire-wide happiness) . After that's accomplished start ferrying your free units back to Ponta Delgada (or any other city if you’ve settled, ideally El Mina) so you're not eating the supply costs (save the missionary!). You'll be eating the unit costs for a while but it's worth it. Depending on how badly you mauled the natives, it might be worth gifting back jaguars and auacacs to save money and bolster their defenses. Don't be too generous, of course, since the whole reason you triggered the conquerors was for the free armies. Jaguars and Holkans can garrison Brazil.

Make contact with the Inca near one of their non-capital cities, vassalize for same reason as Aztecs. (Update for latest version: Tributaries now grants Capital commerce for each city owned by vassals. I'd recommend switching at this point until colonialism.) Try your absolute best to vassalize these two without taking any cities, or at least without taking their capital. Recent updates have changed the nature of city conquest; not only can't you liberate cities with resistance, but without sufficient gold resistance could last several turns and severely deplete population. Start marching these units toward the east coast to be picked up. Ferry these units to 1NE of the gold tile in south africa (you'll be founding Sofala city here.). EDIT 1.17: Inca conquerors units aren’t needed for UHV goals but still might be worth triggering if a quick capitulation is viable.

The ship that went east should continue to India. OB with Mughals and Tamils. Continue to Far East. Indonesia will require a tech gift for OB but hold off unless you need them. You can get OB with Thailand by declaring war on Khmer. I've never been able to crack Japan so don't waste any gifts (EDIT: Finally did it. Last game, Khmer was Japan's worst enemy. Finally did it). Use this ship to circumnavigate and to the help ferry your free units from South America.

After you've circumnavigated (NOT ONE TURN BEFORE!!!) start selling maps. You should be able to bank a few hundred bucks if not more.

If all went well UHV 1 should be in the bag. Last game I got it around 1350.

UHV 2 (Phase 1):
With Cartography, you can start settling the world. The catch is that you can't without wrecking your economy. And until you hit the Rensaissance you don't get any bonus population or buildings for new cities, making them worse than not having at all. You can, however, start dropping off settlers, workers, units, etc. where you intend to settle (watch supply costs). Start with a settler in Northern Brazil one tile NW of Spices (EDIT: I still haven’t settled on a Brazil policy so by all means use your own judgement). There's 2 TC Resources (plus a whale). Second settler one tile N of other Spice (I'm still not totally set on Brazilian cities so there's plenty of wiggle room here - but claiming this area first is fundamental). A Banana will spawn in 1600. We're up to 4. Third in Brazil on Fresh water to get both Spices. Fourth to south Africa 1 NW of Gold tile . There's a chance France goes for Guyana and/or England goes for South Africa before you hit Renaissance; if so, I'm afraid you have to bite the bullet and settle; these spots are crucial. Just make sure to work two additional settlers into your production program to drop on these cities later.

EDIT: I’m now close to set on Puerto Rico (no Portuguese city name - single island with Spice) as first settle. Maintenance isn’t bad and religion and TC doesn’t take long to spread. 2nd settler and missionary found El Mina in Guinea (1s of ivory) of there’s room. Settle two slaves here if available. Work boat then Feitoria and workers. BUT if France is close to Exploration settle in Guyana/Brazil 2nd instead. Consider settling slaves around if you see fit.

Options: There's a Tobacco in Cuba and a Spice in the Caribbean (EDIT: nm). They don't count toward UHV 3, but they can be decent cities (especially with Feitorias) and aren't killers on distance maintenance. Unless the Moors have collapsed, Funchal won't be able to grab the crab and might be worth skipping altogether because it's such a crap city. Depending on army strength, transports, time, and expansion stability, conquer Thailand (EDIT 1.17: just forget that part)

Reformation: If it triggers before UHV 1 is complete, joining the Counter Reformation almost certainly isn't an option. Even if you have completed UHV 1, it might still be worth taking option 2 since you won't lack for excess happiness, you won't get hit too hard on domestic stability, and the possibility of losing carracks (especially loaded ones!) is just too great. I'd only recommend joining if the Ref triggers after you've settled a good amount of cities, or if your relations with Spain are less than Pleased and you'd stand to gain relations as a cobelligerant. Play this one by ear.

Phase 2: Two Broad options are available:

1. Begin major expansion now with TC armies, ruin economy and research. You can still meet the UHVs, but without the profound economic boosts from Logistics (for Feitorias) and Geography (for trade routes and Colonialsm), you run the risk of severe Recession instability. You’ll need missionaries for conquests. You’ll pay through the ass to minimize resistance and building destruction. RNG might bone you hard. To me it just doesn't feel right to painfully hobble along toward the distant finish line.

2. This is a more delicate balancing act requiring more risky timing but the reward is that, with Georgraphy and Colonialism, you'll have an economy that will not just sustain but actually benefit from expansion. This is the way I go.

Phase 2 General Strategy: We're going to aim to have at least 600 gold in the bank (map and tech sales), have researched Logistics and then Georgraphy (or be well underway), and as a bonus have traded for Firearms. You’ll have been running a healthy deficit this entire time. We’re counting on a Great Merchant but until then sell maps, techs, slaves whatever to keep a reasonable scientific pace. If you pop a GM send to Chinese holy city.

But first, we can use a portion of the free units to conquer Mbaza Congo (scout and use what you think is necessary - there's also no harm in letting the Kongo develop the land a bit first), the other portion to start sweeping up the East African coast. Mombasa and Mogadishu will either be native or Ethiopian. Shouldn't make a difference. Once you've got The Congo and Quelimane, and Mombasa (why now? simply to take them out of the "lottery"; Kongo is close and Quelimane is poorly defended. The Eastern cities are far and possibly impenetrable), and you've either researched Colonialism or are close its time to use your GE to build the Trading Company and take the pay gold option (EDIT: this can be put off since resources are almost guaranteed to already be hooked up). Why this option instead of drafting an army? I could write a book (population loss, unhappiness, even more unit costs, possibility of failure, destruction and resistance; ugh, take my word that this is way to go. The best possible outcome is the peaceful handover of Colombo, Guangzhou, and Malacca. The worst possible outcome is for a powerful China to refuse, declare war, and destroy pitiful stack before it can make a move, and for Muscat to be one the cities you roll. In my last game both China and Indonesia declared war but I was still able to conquer easily and not face any further trouble. That also gave me extra units without sacrificing population and happiness. Your maintenance costs are gonna increase significantly, so try to keep acquiring gold through trade so you can run a big deficit to get Geography ASAP. Between the extra trade routes, feitorias, and Colonialism turning Lisboa into a commercial powerhouse you'll be in possession of an empire to be proud of.

One outstanding issue that remains is whether and when to switch to Regulated Trade (EDIT: No longer question. RT all the way). I used to switch on Turn 1 since your civ is pretty much your capital. Then I actually compared the results. Merchant trade, especially with multiple cities, results in retaining more overall commerce. On the other hand, feitorias are simply stupendous, so the near-term commerce trade-off can might be worth it to get as many built as possible asap, especially since most of your cities will not have strong production. What I can say is that it probably wouldn't be worth switching until you at least have Colonialism and the TC built in Lisboa to truly get the most out of the 50% commerce modifier. Here's the best I got: stick with Merchant Trade at game start, switch to Regulated Trade after Logistics at the earliest, use this time to build as many Feitorias as possible. Save game. Hit F2 and look at Commerce. Switch back to Merchant Trade. Hit F2 and look at Commerce. Compare. (Side Rant: I always go for Regulated Trade for historical reasons. Portugal was never a true sea-loving nation of private merchants - like its larger Iberian neighbor, it was a kingdom born from and committed to The Crusade. The ocean was a mere road to war, a place between land, a means to an end. They found the wind and brought hellfire to the Indian Ocean, and brought back exotic stuff. What goods did reach Lisbon were controlled as a crown monopoly, only to then be sold off to Dutch carriers (true "merchant traders") who executed the actual distribution across Europe. End of rant. Apologies.)

Any way, time for a TC Resource Count:
3 from Brazil
2 from Congo.
2 from Quelimane and Mogadishu.
1 in South Africa
1 (possibly two depending on culture) from Canton
1 from Malacca.
1 from Colombo.

11 in the bag. Remember 2 Bananas will spawn in Brazil in 1600. Make sure you have workers or slaves ready to hook them up. That makes 12. UHV 2 and a Golden Age with a century to spare.

All the while, keep an eye on opportunities to trade for slaves, sell maps, trade for techs, resources, etc.

Possible Contingencies:

Either another civ gets the conquerors or you're forced to trigger without Gunpowder and Companies. I'd consider either outcome cause for a restart. France could settle in southern Brazil if you put off founding Rio for too long. Sometimes France gets vassalized by Spain, making them untouchable. Regardless of Indonesia's tech rate, as soon as they collapse the Indy units will be upgraded to Arquebusiers (often with city defense promotions), possibly leaving 4 of each in the two cities on Java. Sometimes they settle cities with no adjacent tile to land on (e.g. on New Guinea and Sulaweisi), making conquest effectively impossible. Additionally, you can't use slaves to hook-up TC resources here and due to rainforest take ages to improve with workers. And of course if you conquer these cities they could be taken by the Dutch. In the game's current state, I'd recommend just forgetting about Indonesia altogether.

All the while Lisboa and Sofala will have been producing a mixture of settlers (remember they can be used on conquered cities!), missionaries, workers, carracks if necessary. Lisboa likely will have popped two more GPs. If engineer go for Torre. Scientist bulb techs and use for trade (not set on that as opposed to academy). In my last I game I burned a merchant on bulbing a portion of Economics but realized a trade mission might have been more worthwhile. But of course another Merchant after Economics can build a Stock Exchange, which synergizes beautifully with Lisboa's base commerce and TC gold, sweeter yet combined with Centralism. If Statesman go for Admin Center somewhere in the east. Feitorias everywhere. Maybe some jails in the far east.

If you want to win UHV 3 the easy way that's your business. I think it's more satisfying to recreate the historical empire. 6 cities in Brazil, 5 in Africa (plus the Cape if somehow Britain doesn't claim it), 5 or so in Asia. You can both win with dignity and be the score leader. Santiago!

Lastly, of course, I can't declare that this is undoubtedly the best strategy. What I can say for sure is that 60% of the time, it works all the time!

FINAL NOTE: Recent experiments with early, proactive slave capturing with Bandies have been fruitful enough that I tried settling 2 in my first 3-4 cities. The implications of this turned out to be massive, since heretofore no settlement came anywhere close to Lisbon in production. Suddenly I was now pumping out workers at twice the rate and that permitted real snowballing. You’ll continue to gain plenty more slaves as the game progresses so won’t lack for either plantations or sales.
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I´m playing Portugal and gains a lot of slaves.

Where can I force them into the cities as labour?
Is it only South America and Sub-Sahara where that is possible?

I cannot use them in Lissabon, Jerusalem or my cities in North Africa.
I´m playing Portugal and gains a lot of slaves.

Where can I force them into the cities as labour?
Is it only South America and Sub-Sahara where that is possible?

I cannot use them in Lissabon, Jerusalem or my cities in North Africa.
You should be able to use them anywhere outside of Europe as either settled specialists or to create slave plantations
I play 1.17.1
No joy.
Cannot settle slave specialists in my cities. I have Egypt and Jerusalem. No cities in the Americas yet.
I play 1.17.1
No joy.
Cannot settle slave specialists in my cities. I have Egypt and Jerusalem. No cities in the Americas yet.
Maybe you're running one of the civics that block the uses of slaves?
I tried the World builder to create a city south of Sahara.
There I was able to settle slaves.

I also moved my Capital to Jerusalem, Africa and stay in Europe. Nothing changed. Mayby it a feature (bug).
But dunno if others have the same issue.
Slaves can only be used in Americas and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using them in Africa also requires your capital to be on different continent.
Civilopedia under hints says:
"Acquire slaves to build Slave plantation or settle in your cities. This option is only available in North America or in Africa unless your capital is in Africa."

I recall I previously have settled slaves in Jerusalem.

So I still have an issue here.
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