Protective Espionage game + Strong Vassals


May 24, 2006
Auckland, New Zealand
I am playing a game as Gilgamesh (Protective+Creative+Vultures+Ziggurat), hemispheres map on Monarch. The game was intended to be an exploration of the power of Espionage. Its also turned into an object lesson for me on exploiting religion, managing vassals and the power of protective as a military trait. Its a bit of a rant on what happened - but it was so different to most of my games I thought I would post a synopsis and what I learned.

My early gameplan was:
- Build great wall (mainly for the great spy, but I think it is a really underrated military wonder - esp for protective leaders)
- Avoid founding religion (let religion spread to me to better spy on my neighbours)
- Build cottages - I want the flexibility of flipping into high research or high espionage easily.
- Build vultures early for landgrabbing - if necessary letting science tank since I can catchup with spies.

It worked pretty well. Asoka, Cathy and Portugese on the same continent. Portugal became my military target. Vultures didn't really shine because I didn't have copper.

Then Cathy backstabbed me - which was where I really appreciated protective. Cities defended by a single protective CG2 archer are still pretty strong. Cheap walls can be whipped and time bought to whip more troops and bring back soldiers from the front line. First lesson for self - protective is a great trait to allow you to put more troops in the field without risking your home defenses.

The great wall fits really well with a protective defense - my GG points racked up as I kept slaughtering Cathy's invasion armies. Eventually my HE city had three settled great generals.

My troops from Portugal came back (took peace with them - I had most of their cities thanks to the Vultures and a complete lack of concern about my economy which was running at around 0% science. They then vassalized to Asoka who was easily the tech leader.)

Asoka meanwhile spread buddism around the whole continent. I mean everywhere - every single city. He also founded Judaism and Taoism.

Eventually I felt strong enough to send an army to take a couple of nearby cities. She sent a big army to take one of the cities back. She didn't quite have enough troops and kept reinforcing this army. I kept reinforcing the city. Eventually she had weakened herself elsewhere and I sent an army to capture her capital. She then started to march her army back towards the capital, landed on open ground and got slaughtered as I hit her with catapults and everything I had left in the city. She then vassalized.

What proved unusual with this was that Cathy was still quite strong. She had lost a ton of troops in her initial offenses which I slaughtered in my own territory and when her recapture stack was killed she was down to just a few defenders in each city. I was threatening another city of hers and had killed some defenders, but she still had several good cities left.

Once I vassalized her she proved an incredibly useful vassal. We had shared religion and she had attacked me so there was no lingering resentment. She quickly reached friendly status. Because she still had good cities and not many troops her research rate was pretty good. As good as mine in fact (I recovered to around 40% science after building lots of ziggurats and the forbidden palace).

It proved extremely useful - I ended up with three sources of research:
1) Steal techs from Asoka - I used up the great spy to score most of the classical techs - it was enough for me to get literature and the GL first, calendar and build the mauseleum. If the next tech I wanted was one that Asoka already had (or would shortly get) I pumped my commerce into espionage and stole it.
2) My own research. If there was a tech I wanted that Asoka didn't have I pumped commerce into my own research.
3) Cathies research which was directed into tech paths compatible with Asoka and my researching so I could trade with her.

Effectively I had two AIs researching techs for me. And Asoka wasn't getting anything back from me. Even though my science rate was low and Asoka was my equal in land and was getting a huge cash income from the buddist shrine, I was able to keep up in tech and win liberalism. Cathy researched Philosophy for me and also scored techs like machinery, compass and optics to open up overseas trade for me. I researched music and scored a golden age which was enough to get through education. Asoka contributed feudalism and civil service (as well as many non beeline techs).

So, second lesson to self - can I win a war in such a way as to leave a vassal as a strong partner? Normally they just sit in quite oblivion and do little to help me. However if I can capture enough land that they fall below half my size, but no more than that. And kill lots of their troops even without capturing cities then I might capture a vassal that can continue to help me. Warring on a religious friend seems to help there too - you need the vassal up to friendly to make it easy to keep trading.

The cost of getting techs through espionage was less than researching them. With the religion discount and settled spies, it costs less to steal than found a tech. Of course it means you are always behind the AI, but having lots of cottages and switching between espionage and teching works extremely well. I can keep with this strategy until I gain the tech lead.

My next step in the game was to build up to attack Asoka who I was really worried about. He had the statue of Zeus, a big army, a vassal of his own and I was really worried he would get the AP and be impossible to war on without all my buddist cities revolting. So I had to get a few more buddist cities of my own.

Gunpowder was the next tech and the next synergy in the plan. With vassalage that meant drill 4 muskets from my HE city. But I couldn't afford to wait and attacked early with maces and spies. Spies could drop the defenses of the cities I wanted to take. I took two cities and marched a big army towards his capital while war weariness racked up. A second army marched towards the status of Zeus city - mainly horse archers to get there quickly.

Then, a very lucky coincidence. A quest to build colleseums in 7 cities. With a bonus for having the statue of zeus. Which I am about to try and capture. And I need happiness. Whip the colleseums!

I drop defenses in the Status city. My troops roll in and it is the last chariot that manages to capture the city. Normally I wouldn't take a city with my last attacker, but I am desperate - full defenses will return next turn. I'm outside Asoka's capital but the army I have is not enough to take that city anymore - at least not in one turn and I don't have enough espionage points to drop defenses more than once.

I sue for peace, whip the remaining colleseums and take the free golden age. Enhanced by the mauseleum. And of course I can trade for nationalism and start building the taj with the bonus hammers.

The extra three cities now makes me the largest buddist empire. So my third lesson to self is that warring on your religious allies can carry a lot of benefits. I am now immune to the AP, I can still trade with them despite declaring war twice on Portugal. In fact I was pretty much destroyed if I hadn't gone to war with Asoka and taken enough cities. He could have forced me to cease any war and return cities to Portugal - which would have been 2/3 of my empire. Building the AP myself wasn't a solution - I had no other religion to support and it would have just given him the leadership.

The AP was built almost immediately afterwards. But now I had the leadership. And a golden age to build a lot more troops for Asoka's vassalization. I still need to take him out because he is still very capable of a culture win and still techs faster than I do - Cathy and I combined can only just keep up.

I took Astronomy from Liberalism. One possible win is an AP diplomacy win now that I am the leader if I can spread to the remaining civs. I will still need to take more votes off Asoka though. Espionage can help me there too - I can always let Cathy take over the research reigns and use espionage to switch civics and drop off missionaries.

The next plan is to attack Asoka again, see if I can capture his capital and a couple of minor cities but leave enough cities to leave him as strong vassal. If I can get him working like Cathy, then the two AIs can do all the research for me - I can direct their research and use trade to avoid having to research any techs myself! Which lets me concentrate on espionage against the other AIs. Cheap castles can up my espionage rate (thanks Asoka for engineering). I plan to self research divine right which is still unfounded and build the Minaret which gives me AP+Minaret+Sankore bonuses for temples and monasteries.

With a protective leader I can send armies deep into Asoka's lands. Drill 4muskets and guerilla 3 muskets protect the army as it travels. Catapults for collateral. Maces for the assault. Elephants for horse defense. Spies to drop defenses. And CG3Drill2 muskets defending my exposed cities (since Asoka still has a big army).

I'm also about to revolt to Nationalism. More espionage bonuses. Draft muskets which get two free promotions. Cheap castles for more espionage points and trade routes. Have Cathy research constitution for jails and more espionage points. It all seems to be working very well together.
An interesting approach that I think we'll see more of. Espionage from the slider can be leveraged to gain the techs you've bypassed by beelining. It can be a second source of techs if you use it to steal. So far I've used it mainly for intelligence and revolting a city to bypass its defence bonus, although in my latest game I saved enough EPs to steal Economics ;) which with the religious bonus and the spy being stationary for a time only cost 1300 EPs (less than its beaker cost, IIRC).

My latest game is with Gilgamesh and I am using his potential for espionage although not quite as successfully as you. I had a very different approach from you, no Great Wall, no Pyramids, few cottages but I decided to use a HE based on specialists. Also I had no copper for the Vulture rush although iron was eventually just outside my capital's fat cross. I had 2 gold mines in my capital so I used those to beeline to Monarchy and then took Feudalism from Oracle. I tried a longbow rush using Vasslage to get Drill 3 and they were quite successful.
I've almost won the above game - and I am still seeing a lot of synergy between Espionage and Protective:

- Nationhood benefits both (since you get full promotions on draftees)
- Castles get built cheaper and benefit espionage
- Great wall works well for a protective style of warfare and generates spies
- Your style of warfare changes - commanding the espionage lead means you war by inciting revolts which means cities don't gain reinforcements while you bombard them. And then your protective units are great for holding against the counterattack.

Its not a huge synergy - but its nice to find something that Protective is good at - and I am really enjoying the trait now.

Next stop is probably Charlemagne on Emperor. Getting the great wall with an imperialistic, protective leader, go to war with everyone. Spy on them for techs and rack up the GG points as they march into your territory.
Very nice and interesting story and a consequent strategy! I tried an espionage aproach with Gilgamesch too once. But i failed totally, because i had no real concept: I also built the Great Wall to get the spy, but simultanously assigned two scientists from the library as always. Stupid. I also didn't have enough courage to lower my sciece slider for espionage. At the end it was a total mess and fall behind.
But i am still very interested in spy stretegies. Is there already a good general strategy in these forums?
Very nice and interesting story and a consequent strategy! I tried an espionage aproach with Gilgamesch too once. But i failed totally, because i had no real concept: I also built the Great Wall to get the spy, but simultanously assigned two scientists from the library as always. Stupid. I also didn't have enough courage to lower my sciece slider for espionage. At the end it was a total mess and fall behind.
But i am still very interested in spy stretegies. Is there already a good general strategy in these forums?

I think the key with the slider is that you have the flexibility to either chase techs through self research or through theft. If you know what the AI has then you can plan which is most effective for you at the time. You aren't committed to stay in espionage the whole game.
Very interesting story..... till now on Ive havent really cared about espionage, I should try an espionage game too, seems like a lot of fun :)
Cool! Sounds like a really fun game.

I'm playing Gilgamesh right now too, but haven't done much with espionage this game. My Ziggurats kept me in a good situation early on, but now (19th century) I can see the stats for only 3 other civs, and not the ones who are really my rivals.

Last game I played as Justinian and got the Great Wall, and that was quite different.
The game ended in the 1500s with a religious diplomatic victory for me and a score of 102k. The religious victory looks the easiest, but at that point I controlled most of one continent and was the tech leader. The world was over half buddist so I thought I would take the victory - any other condition would have been easier from there anyway.

Anyway, it looks like espionage can be extremely useful - I'm sure around half my techs after Alphabet were taken this way. Using the slider and switching between self research and espionage works well.

I also want to explore getting the Statue of Zeus early in my next game - see if I can let the AI exhaust itself and refuse to declare peace.
Thanks for posting your story InvisibleStalker, very cool new ideas. I've never played a protective civ but now I think I'll give it a try.
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