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Rising from Noble to Emperor

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by shadojack, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. shadojack

    shadojack Chieftain

    Joined:
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    My rise to emperor level playing, some thoughts:
    I was a warlord level player. On my own I became a player who won sometimes on Noble, usually by rushing a neighbor and taking them out. Feeling a little frustrated trying to rise to Prince I came to this forum looking for guidance. Being stubborn and an infrequent player it has taken me a year to finally nab my first emperor domination victory. Emperor was my goal, and no cheesy diplo or culture victory would suffice. Having witnessed on video several Deity and Immortal games I can confidently say I wouldn’t care to play at those levels. Here is a list of the key changes in my play strategy that resulted in my improved play and hopefully qualifying this post for the Strategy and Tips forum.

    1. Consistent Noble victory:
    a. Learned to expand and place cities.
    b. Learned to specialize science and production cities, particularly an Oxford city.
    c. Learned to build enough workers.
    d. Learned to bring enough siege units to a fight.
    e. Learned to not try and build every wonder in the game.​
    2. Consistent Prince Victory – literally went and played each leader in alphabetical order, skipping leaders I had played at lower difficulties. By Victoria I was playing Monarch.
    a. The true key here was simply learning to only tech what I needed to gain a military edge and then war - let’s call this learning to prioritize techs, both early and late.
    b. I also learned to move my Science bar to either 0% or 100%.​
    3. Consistent (?) Monarch Victory – not sure I can say this yet. Haven’t played every leader at this level and find Tokugawa painful to play, although I had one fun game with him at Prince.
    a. Applying the lessons learned above brought me some initial stunning victories and then I manage to fumble with Pericles against a Saladin/Ramses/Stalin/Hannibal alliance. I probably could have won with the nukes and tanks I had, but my heart wasn’t in it. The alliance was pretty close to tech parity.
    b. Learned better diplo.
    c. Learned how to plan a Great Person City using Golden Ages, Caste System-Pacifism-National epic combo to generate great people for serious tech leads – haven’t loss at this level since.​
    4. One victory at Emperor
    a. I went unrestricted leaders and ran with Pericles of Mali.
    b. One big mistake at this level in this game was not scouting sufficiently. The map wasn’t Pangea, but all inhabited landmasses could have been visited with a workboat. I didn’t meet 3 of the other civs for a long time which resulted in a somewhat tricky diplo situation that I barely managed to navigate at the end.
    c. Learned to make early trades with resources I didn’t need at the moment for big diplomacy pay offs.
    d. Learned how to win a war even when all I had were cannons and the other guy had artillery. Numbers really do matter.​
    Playing Emperor is still a little stressful, but the last time I stepped back into Monarch shoes I found it a bit boring to once again to roll over the other nation’s longbows with Cuirassiers finishing with Cavalry. I don’t like culture victories (my first monarch victory) which are boring. I also don’t care for Space. But I’ll take a diplomatic win, particularly if I conquer a continent and it saves me the hassle of a long distance ocean war. Oh, and BTW, normal speed, standard map, no events or huts, choose religion and fractal are my usual settings. Occasionally I will use Pangaea, continents, unrestricted leaders and random personalities.

    I wish to offer my profound thanks to TMIT, Absolute Zero, and most recently CaF (Daniel?) for their videos that greatly improved my play. TMIT has got to be one of the fastest players on this forum. His videos are easy to work through because many of the early ones are only 15 minutes in length and it is hard for me to sit down for an entire hour in one session to watch someone else play. Unfortunately that speed also means that I missed some important actions. Still I learned some important key binds, how to plan a war, diplomacy, city specialization, and even when to move my capital. Absolute Zero best demonstrated to me the most efficient way to get into a position to war using a temporary tech advantage to gain a permanent territory advantage. CaF demonstrated some great trading techniques for diplomacy and monetary gains. All of the above was demonstrated to varying degrees by all three players, and the emphasis I depict probably just mostly represents the order in which I was ready to learn the lesson. I think the most important aspect of watching different videos by different players allows one to compare and contrast play style, picking different aspects of each to create one’s own strategy that works best for them

    I wish also to thank VoiceofUnreason, Snaaty and Sisiutil for their great War Academy articles.

    Finally I wish to thank this forum. Until now I have been silently enjoying the many great posts that help to improve my game.
     
  2. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Deity

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    Happy to help, welcome to CivFanatics.

    I'm a little startled by (b) in this list -- it's long been my opinion that city specialization, while definitely a huge boost, isn't really "necessary" for consistent wins at Noble. The other lessons alone are usually enough.

    But if that's what it took for you, then so be it.

    Similarly, I wouldn't not expect binary research to be a big deal... well, anywhere below Emperor at least.
     
  3. shadojack

    shadojack Chieftain

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    Thanks.

    Oh, I wouldn't say that it took all of those things. The lists just represent the different tools I started practicing at each level. Although the first item at Prince is what I remember resulting in consistent crushing defeats of the AI without having to resort to anything beyond Cavalry.
     
  4. blitzkrieg1980

    blitzkrieg1980 Octobrist

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    You can win noble level without planning any sort of city specialization. Just have a clear understanding of how best to use the land and to use the whip a little more often. Prince is the level where planning and city specialization will actual impact a victory (from what I remember of my Noble -> Prince days).
     
  5. Zx Zero Zx

    Zx Zero Zx Deity

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    You can win on up to Emperor with just the Horse Archer. So that's not saying much VoU.
     
  6. shadojack

    shadojack Chieftain

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    I would love to see a write up of that with say...Tokugawa and using Continents at normal speed, all at Emperor of course :crazyeye:
     
  7. ferros

    ferros Chieftain

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    Really, you don't need to know all that much to beat Emperor.

    - Have an army so you can defend yourself
    - Know how to support your civilization (cottages, specialists, GLH)
    - Know how to expand properly
    - Build siege
    - Don't go for too many wonders early unless you need it/got the rescourse + IND
    - Build workers

    If you just do these thigns you can easily beat Emperor with any leader, more than that is not needed. I'm an Emperor/Immortal player and unless I slack with army so I can't defend myself it's pretty much impossible to lose.

    Stuff like specializing cities is very overrated at this level, just know where to build the right National Wonders and you are alright. City placement isn't really that important either, as long as your cities can grow and you place your first few cities well. Knowing how to build to cut the AI off can help to secure land though. Knowing how to use GPs isn't that important either, it can speed things up a bit but it wont make or break your game at Emperor. Diplo is the same, it's not needed to win but it makes it easier to win. Whip is another thing that is extremely overrated, I never use it, it's not needed to become a good Emperor/Immortal player. Personally I never use it unless I'm spiritual and need to make something fast.

    Sometimes when I read on these forums I think that people overthink and overdo a lot, I see Noble players talking about specializing cities and Prince players talking about how to best use the Whip but those things wont make you win on that level, you need to understand the basics of the game and that will be enough to advance up to Emperor. Once you get to the higher levels you can start to think about those other things that will make you win faster.
     
  8. ahcos

    ahcos King

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    Given that you've played at least Monarch before you lay your hands on Emperor, all those "skills" should be mandatory already. Imo, Emperor is the first difficulty that in fact requires some of the more advanced stuff, and saying that you only have to focus on the things you've mentioned won't help people who really struggle. Imho, there are several other things you have to think about:

    1. TECH PLANING/CHOICES

    On Emperor, you will have to make the right decisions regarding which tech to research for the first time. If you understand the basics here it's actually quite simple, but it's nowhere near the ease Monarch provides, where you can basicly do everything you want researchwise as long as you beeline some important techs early enough.
    Especially techs for barb defense come to mind, Emperor is the first difficulty where you'll really feel the barb pressure and will have to make sure you can defend yourself.
    Also, chosing the best techs to fit the best strategy for the map is crucial.

    2. OVERALL STRATEGY

    Maybe the most important part. Rush? Wonderspam? REX? Fast research? Which wonders? Which techs in which order? With whom to trade? How to play out diplo nicely?
    Those are some of the things that come to my mind. You don't have to execute those routines perfectly in order to win, sure, but you usually will need some kind of plan and follow it. Also, Emperor usually won't allow you to, for example, wonderspam, REX and fight wars simultaniously, at least not when you're new to that difficulty. You'll need to focus, and trying to do everything will hurt you much more than it did on, say, Monarch.

    3. BASIC MECHANIC KNOWLEDGE

    Regards pretty much everything. Which leader is a nice felllow, and who's a douche? What civics to chose, and how will i profitate from them? What will certain building do for my city? In which way will diplo play out if i, for example, reject something or start a war against someone? How to achieve a certain VC the right/fastest way?


    I'm not saying that you'll have to master all these things, but i'm pretty confident that Emperor is actually quite a step to take at first. Nowadays, taking that step won't take too long if you're willing to invest time (-> read the forums and guides, maybe watch some let's plays from AZ and TMIT, play alot yourself), but for someone who doesn't have too much time left to spare it's still quite something. Really, i wouldn't talk it small.

    That said, the things in the quote above should be enough for Noble and most likely even Prince, maybe they even suffice for Monarch - but i'm almost positive that they won't do the trick for Emperor. From a more advanced players POV it might seem so, but that's only because they do so much things incidentally and are not aware, that a new player will have to learn those things too.
     
  9. ferros

    ferros Chieftain

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    I said that you need to know the basics and then those things I listed (if you don't count some of them as basics). If you do that, you wont struggle at Emperor - that's my point.

    So instead of making people focus on things that actually isn't needed to know to beat Emperor (specialization, GP usage etc) wont help as much as if they actually focused on being good at the basics, the so called "advanced stuff" isn't really needed to beat Emperor.
     
  10. ahcos

    ahcos King

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    And my point is that you actually need more than just the very basics to beat Emperor ;) We can argue about what the basics are, but without question is Emperor the first difficulty that gives a real challenge for the human in several aspects: maintenance, expansion speed of the AI, AI aggressiveness, AI tech speed, Barb pressure and last but not least the AI's starting techs/units. The fact that you cannot just rush out that easy on Emperor makes quite a difference.

    I kind of agree, but again: what are those basics? You can be bad in certain aspects of the game when you have a good and clear plan/strategy. Other way round won't work on Emperor from what i've experienced. But which part of that is "basic" and which is "advanced"? I certainly am not in the position to judge here, but if you just do the things you've mentioned, i'm almost certain that it won't be enough in many games.

    Maybe we're talking about different settings? Fyi, Emperor, Normal, Random, Random, Fractal is what i'd set as the standard settings... and with those settings, you'll run into some trouble without at least some advanced strategy.
     
  11. ShengWuLien

    ShengWuLien Warlord

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    OP posts a useful summary of what he/she has learned moving up through the difficult levels; a couple of other people post the typical "oh Emperor's so easy, I beat it blindfold" comments. I wonder why they bother. Clearly some people on the forum are still struggling at levels far below this, and we're lucky we have some high-level players here who can still see the game through the eyes of rookies and consistently take the time to post constructive advice.

    I think the jump from Monarch to Emperor is pretty big. The increased maintenance costs on your early cities and the danger from barbs makes the early game a lot different. I've been beating Emp pretty consistently and I just accidentally played a game at Monarch. I was amazed to find myself attacking pre-Engineering AIs with my Cavs, something I certainly don't experience at Emperor. Obviously it's possible to move up through the levels but none of it's automatic or necessarily even obvious to newer players.
     
  12. ferros

    ferros Chieftain

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    I think it depends on what you mean as basics. To me basics are facts about the game such as how maintence works, what kind of strength/weaknesses the leaders have, how commerce works, which buildings that are important etc.

    I think having a plan comes down to knowing how things works, which is a result of knowing the basics of the game. If you know how the game works you should be able to also make a plan on how to win. I guess it comes down to experience though, once you have figured out how a difficulty works than you can "lazy-play" through it, even on Emperor.

    I usually play Emperor/Immortal on Large, Fractal/Continents, Marathon. 10-14 AIs, No huts/events.

    I felt like this was aimed towards me, which it might have not been.

    Either way, I listed what I think is important to beat Emperor, if you can't beat Emperor you are most likely not doing one of those things right - that was my point, not to brag - "I'm so good, how can you not beat this difficulty". So instead of trying to focus too much on specializing or whipping (or something else that is not needed at this level)they should try to improve other aspects of their game which actually will make them win.
     
  13. shadojack

    shadojack Chieftain

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    This last part is probably very true for many advanced players. I've taught many complex skill sets as a professor, a parent, a researcher and a homebrewer. And when you get really good at a complex skill set it takes a lot of careful planning to make sure that you don't forget to talk about the incidentals or tasks you do by rote without even thinking about. I have no plans to teach Civ 4, but some habits die hard and I made my list to avoid forgetting some of the "basics" that many players don't even think about.

    I know that for me at Emperor, tacking on the purposeful planning of my diplo and creating a good GP-farm were critical for the scientists I wanted to bulb to Cuirassiers early enough to sweep the world or at least gain enough of it to create an insurmountable edge over the AI's. Perhaps I am using the word "specialization" incorrectly here in terms of its common usage on this forum? All of my games nowadays tend to feature a good bureaucracy capitol, a good GP farm and at least one good hammer city that will, given the chance, feature heroic epic. The rest tend to be food heavy and serve as whipping posts to turn that food into hammers for a fast army. Are these the only tasks I'm doing to give me a victory, of course not. See my post at the top :rolleyes:

    BTW: put up a second win at Emperor as Lincoln of Sumeria on a Pangea map. Went a lot faster not having to build all those boats like I did in my first win. Never got beyond Cavalry. I was in the middle, and hemmed in by Shaka, Sury, and Mao. Built three cities, nocked out Shaka with Horse Archers (thanks TMIT for videoing some excellent techiniques with HAs) and went up to 9 cities. Settled in for the Lib race and won Military Tradition with it. Small Charly went down next very quickly as I hit him with two stacks from two different directions. His neighbor and buddy Sury was paying me 1 gold a turn for peace, so no vassaling. I bribed Mao against Wang while I capped Sury, then turned on Mao, capped him and finally Wang who had Cuirassiers, but were no match for my experienced and huge cavalry army.
     
  14. goldys_lackey

    goldys_lackey Hitler

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    The most important lesson I've learned is to prep your capital for bureaucracy. Mainly this means growth and tile sharing cottages, and using your 2ndary cities for the grunt work of building units, expanding, and getting out great scientists. Its a bit formulaic and boring but its helped my game improve more than anything.
     

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