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Rack em and pack em gambit - how denser city packing got me to Immortal

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by InvisibleStalke, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. futurehermit

    futurehermit Deity

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    I tried this out in one game and couldn't make it work that well relative to my usual expansion plans. However, if at first you don't succeed, try try again, they say :lol:
     
  2. absimiliard

    absimiliard Warlord

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    I keep having trouble placing those helper cities.

    I really like the concept. But it's tough forcing myself to place cities so close.

    I usually use a fairly wide-stance, regarding city placement. Packing them so tightly makes it tough for me to grab as much land as I'm used to. This leads to me using my normal technique and promising myself I'll infill later, which I never do.

    Welp. Guess I'd best go off and try again.

    Yet another HC game. (actually maybe I'll do someone else. the temptation to quechua rush my nearest opponent can be a bit overwhelming.)

    -abs
     
  3. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    To echo everyone else - interesting! So ICS continues to thrive in the series.

    Just a small consideration: Wouldn't Expansive be somewhat beneficial due to the cheap granaries? The filler cities can grow faster with them, so it can't be that bad a trait for this strat.
     
  4. Halt

    Halt Warlord

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    Would not HC of Incan be the best for this?

    The Culture Grainery + Killer Warriors + Financial/Ind?
     
  5. absimiliard

    absimiliard Warlord

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    Oh HC is perfect for it.

    You just have to resist the overwhelming urge to rush your neighbor and acquire an early 2nd capitol.

    -abs
     
  6. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    The filler cities aren't viable until you get some empire-infrastructure in place, so the culture granary is moot except for the intial land-grab, the killer warriors moot except for the same initial land-grab (2 capitals at 2000 BC is never a bad thing), but both Fin/Ind is a nice trait combo for it.

    Any trait that makes the needed buildings cheaper would help. Ideally you should have the needed infrastructure to make a newly settled city instantly paying for itself - so even if you have to slow-grow a bunch of crap at size one it still won't hurt you at all short-term and will help you long-term.

    Slow-growing for fewer hammers makes Spiritual (temples for hammers), Organized (courthouses for maintenance, of course), and Expansive (granaries) all appealing.

    I am particularly fond of Spiritual for this because the temples are a must for the AP and it allows for majority-caste system while switching to the whip for your mini-cities a lot less painful. Additionally, temples allow a priest when you're not in caste system, and is there any better multitasker out there than a Representation Priest?

    Additionally, Spiritual usually means starting with Mysticism, which means you can grab that early religion and get a prophet early for your shrine. Anything over and above Spiritual is just gravy. Do you need it for this strat? No. I think it's the best, though.
     
  7. Morgrad

    Morgrad Attack Rodent

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    Oh - I forgot to mention - Mysticism also means early Priesthood, so Oracle slingshot to Theology = your early religion AND a prophet for the shrine forthcoming. That makes any Spiritual civ that stats with Mysticism a huge leap forwards compared to other civs.
     
  8. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Granaries are already fairly cheap - they usually are the first whip for these cities. But I guess it would mean the city gets established more quickly giving you more cottage turns, so I probably underrated it. The health benefit isn't that big a deal - when I add +13 food with Sushi I am far more happiness constrained than health constrained.
     
  9. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Spiritual I think is extremely good for this. I'll have to try that for my next game - maybe as Mansa.

    I really miss the ability to switch in and draft away to bump up my power - spending 5 turns out of 20 in nationalism isn't too harmful for your economy - but its +15 troops!
     
  10. Bleys

    Bleys Deity

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    I think you underestimate the health benefit of Expansive. It allows you a lot more flexibility when deciding where to place your cities, especially early in the game. Sure, later, when you have tons of +health resources hooked up its less important, but I really enjoy not feeling like I HAVE to settle on fresh water early, when I want to grab as many resources as I can with each city.
     
  11. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    Indeed. How good Expansive is really depends on difficulty level, though. This is more and more true the higher up you go.
     
  12. PimpyMicPimp

    PimpyMicPimp Regrets His Username.

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    Hmm, it seems a little counterintuitive, but I'll have to give it a shot sometime.
     
  13. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    It may be good - but I haven't seen health as pressing with this strategy. That may be because early on I am whipping heavily and late in the game I have Sids Sushi (there are few health problems that can't be fixed by 13 additional food) and because I am running US rather than HR I am constrained much more by happiness.

    However I'm still learning my way around Immortal so maybe thats a problem in my game rather than a definitive view on Expansive.
     
  14. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Just completed an Immortal game with Willem, winning a peaceful space race in 1908 using this approach. I was both lucky and unlucky in this game - I was alone on a continent with Saladin who wouldn't trade with me. But I was able to become his best friend and sign a defensive pact with him - not bad as he was the military power throughout the game - so I got away with a weak military for a long time. I played at first for a UN win - everything was lined up to vote myself in against Mansa and then my best friend Saladin become #2 in population and I had to switch to space.

    A couple more observations:

    - The Great Lighthouse and coastal cities really help the REX. It may even be essential for a non industrious leader at this level. A coastal city every three tiles almost pays for itself as soon as it is built. I had 21 cities in this game, all built peacefully and only two weren't on the coast. Of course the UB of the Dutch was perfect for this.

    - Building banks earlier so you can build wall street immediately is something I really need to learn to do. Not doing this meant that spamming Sushi to every single city slows down your research. Of course it picked up hugely once wall street was built and my coastal cities reached size 18-20 (not bad given the density of these cities).

    - I came to appreciate Hereditary Rule a lot more in this game. I switched back to it after building CR and just switched to US when I was running golden ages (I ran three). Without HR I had to run at 20% culture just to keep my big cities happy.

    - I had to build a lot of health buildings, but health wasn't really so important. There are diminishing returns the bigger the cities get as they are forced to run less useful specialists. With +11-13 from Sushi, balancing health was fairly easy.

    - Harbours and Custom Houses are very good - once your cities get big you get a lot of income from trade.

    My next attempt will probably be with a specialist strategy to compare and I might drop back to Emperor for that.
     
  15. The Rook

    The Rook King

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    @InvisibleStalke: Very interesting strategy. Which speed and map size settings do you play?

    Just a thought... would Ramesses be any good for this strategy? Not Financial or Organised, but Industrious for Spiral Minaret, UoS, Pyramids (Representation), Angkor Wat, Sol, Stonehenge and possibly AP. Stonehenge enables two free priest slots from the UB in every city. Spiritual would be nice for cheap Temples. Run a super priest SE. Obviously, founding a religion would rake in a fortune from the shrine too. One problem might be the initial rexing. If you build Pyramids, SH and possibly GW, you might struggle for time to build enough settlers if you plan on seizing a good chunk of land.
     
  16. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    Both standard. I hate the speed in the late game of huge maps. I'm not sure if map size makes much difference as I haven't tried other sizes. I doubt speed makes much difference - Epic will help if you want to warmonger.


    I think Ramses would be fairly good to run a wonder/SE based version. When I played with Roosevelt I basically ran a super science/production/wonder spamming capital - ala Obsoletes games. Then spammed the rest of the land. You might need to use a prophet to lightbulb Theology - depending on what level you are playing I've not always been able to get it with the Oracle before the AI builds it.

    The tradeof between capturing enough land and building early wonders is a struggle. In my Roosevelt game I shared a continent with 2 AIs and only settled about a quarter of the continent so they each got 50% more land. In the Willem game I did better, but I was still 3rd in land area with the leader having 20% more land.

    Despite that I was first in population - which I think is what counts most. In fact in the Willem game I had around double the population of the best rival (I think the pop count is a bit skewed though - on the victory screen I had 28% of the worlds population and Saladin had 20%). I had nearly twice the food production of the next rival.

    So the tradeof is helped by the fact that you can get more out of a smaller land area. In Roosevelts game I went to war with Seals (love those units) and conquered more land. In other games I increased my land area through taking out a single AI and then just shot for space. In the Willem game I was totally peaceful and was able to win off the land I had.

    The key I think to getting enough land is to send out settlers a little further at the start so you can settle in the gaps and also to settle towars the AI before settling away from it. As the number of cities grows, more can be dedicated to settler production. Usually I will have at least one city building settlers. I also grab all the islands I can.
     
  17. BurN

    BurN Prince

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    I'm wondering while browsing quickly trough this thread .. you do place cities where it can at least work a resource don't you?

    If that's the case, this is not something new that overlapping doesn't matter much.

    If you actually place "junk" cities that are not working resources and just "help" other cities with cottage growth .. it seems like a lot of trouble but if you say it pays off, I'll take your word for it.
     
  18. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    No. I make sure all resources get worked, and often a resource might be shared by a couple of cities to make sure it is always worked - eg if one city is recovering from a whip then another city might work the resource temporarily. But there are sometimes cities that have no resources at all - I think in the last game maybe 3 out of 21 had absolutely nothing. Most had at least one resource - often seafood.

    They aren't necessarily "junk" cities though. They might still be able to work 6-8 cottages fairly quickly which more than covers their maintenance costs. Late game even my worst cities are producing 50-100 science. Adding Sids Sushi to a city is like adding four cornfields. You would settle a city with four cornfields wouldn't you?
     
  19. BurN

    BurN Prince

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    I see, I just wanted to make sure what you were talking about exactly. Then yes I agree with the consensus of this thread.

    I used to make less but resource rich cities as well when I was newer to the game. And I think I can agree that more dense city placement makes a better game. Though I still prefer early wars so I tend to put off back filling till later and spend those early hammers into military.

    I tried a peaceful game like you about a week ago I think. (After looking at this thread). But I got declared on by kublai, who brought an impressive sod to my lands. I ended up resigning. From my feeling this tactic isn't without risk. It is hard to defend a lot of cities against immortal/deity ai's, especially if you put your early hammers into expansion and wonders.

    Though I am certain you are more capable in this gamestyle then me. If I'd tell you I build an average of 3 cities before going to war, you can understand this type of play was rather different.
    Maybe I'll give it another try sometime and I bet this thread might prove useful to other players.
     
  20. InvisibleStalke

    InvisibleStalke Emperor

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    I called this a gambit, because its not a sure fire strategy that will work every game for every leader. I'm still experimenting to find out what works and what doesn't - when it does work it is powerful and has moved my play up a level - but that doesn't mean its always going to work.

    You raise very valid concerns about defense. Every game I've played so far I have had a weak military until the midgame at least. Some of the games have been isolated starts - I think the strategy is strong for them too - you have to make the most of your land. And others I have relied on diplomacy to keep me safe, particularly shared religion.

    Unless I have a really horrible warmonger next to me, I think I can manage OK - either through diplomacy or by fighting a defensive war which uses a lot less hammers. But if Shaka or Monte was my immediate neighbour I'd maybe not be so keen unless I had a good chokepoint where I could concentrate defenses. And I don't think I'd want to try the strategy at high levels on a map where you can be attacked from 360 degrees like a lakes map. (I have played a game on Monarch using this strategy on a lakes map - which was essentially an always war game without the setting).

    With a lot of cities you can raise a big army in a hurry if you need to which is one plus. And you don't care so much about whip unhappiness in the small cities.
     

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