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SirPleb, Going for Sid

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Hall of Fame Discussion' started by SirPleb, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    Introduction

    This thread begins with a description of an approach I've been developing for a Sid level HOF game.

    When I make significant progress in a game or refine my approach further and start over, I'll post additional notes on this thread.

    Note that this will not be a general purpose strategy for beating Sid! It is a specific approach to a HOF game. It is a combined strategy which includes the process of selecting the map: the game strategy influences the choice of map parameters, and the map parameters of course influence the game strategy.

    Background

    Sid level has great scoring potential - the base score is multiplied by 8. That's 33% more than the Civ3/PTW Deity level multiplier. It would be great to take advantage of this :)

    But Sid level also presents some major challenges in a HOF game. In addition to the basic challenge of Sid level (it is rather difficult on almost any map):
    o A huge map is necessary for maximum score. This increases the cost of buying techs to a very high level. And purchasing tech generally seems necessary at Sid level
    o A high scoring game must effectively be won by conquest to allow subsequent milking. I think that conquest is one of the harder victories to go for at Sid level.
    o The Sid level tech pace is murderous. This is tough at any time but is especially so for a high score game. For maximum score we want to take out opponents quickly. With the AIs running away in tech it is especially difficult to attack them in the early or mid game.
    o HOF huge map games must have at least eight opponents. The more opponents, the harder the game at Sid level. Each Sid opponent is nasty and will be expensive to subdue.
    o On a huge map with eight opponents resources and luxuries will be scarce. (They're scarcer in Conquests than in previous versions of Civ.)

    To offset these difficulties I think it is more important than ever to carefully choose the values of the discretionary HOF map parameters.

    The Experimental Approach

    I started out with some ideas about how to approach a huge Sid game, combined with a gut feel that those ideas wouldn't be enough to do the trick :) So I decided to dig in and to learn as I went.

    I'd already experimented a fair bit with Conquests to get a feel for it, and had played a bit at Sid level.

    I started out thinking that the Dutch or Maya would be a good Civ choice - agricultural and either industrious (always nice) or seafaring (make contacts quickly.) I figured on using archipelago, and using fast exploration combined with the resulting slow AI-AI contacts to claw my way along in Ancient Times tech trading.

    Much of that (and other things such as the opponent Civs I select) has changed. I've played about ten games so far, to game dates between 1500BC and 500BC. I've learned a bit from each attempt, both in terms of the strategy I'll use and the map settings I want for that strategy. The following notes describe what I'm currently using. My current game may or may not work out (it is off to an excellent start) but I think that regardless of that game's result the strategy is now fairly good. I don't expect to refine it much further before either having a successful game or abandoning this silly idea altogether :)

    Map Settings

    Difficulty level: Sid!

    Civilization: Iroquois. Agricultural, Commercial, Mounted Warrior. I haven't seriously considered a non-agricultural Civ. Agricultural is awesome for a high scoring game - fast initial growth, and a bit more food on the map. The other trait took some experimenting to decide. Seafaring (Dutch) was nice but not a big deal after all - making quick contact with the other Civs didn't give a huge boost and was a short-lived advantage. Industrious (Maya) was nice but still not great. I found along the way that one of the greatest Sid obstacles is the high corruption level. OCN is just 18 for a huge map. The new Forbidden Palace (I'm using Conquests v1.15) doesn't add another non-corrupt region. RCP has been squashed. All this adds up to a rather weak human civilization. I ended up choosing commercial as the second trait I most wanted, to combat corruption a bit by increasing OCN. Agricultural+Commercial = Iroquois. The Iroquois UU seems fine for my purposes. Mounted Warriors should still be useful against early Middle Ages adversaries, the time I expect to first be able to use them.

    Landform: Archipelago. The most important reason for this at Sid level is to delay AI contacts a bit. The longer the AI contacts are delayed, the slower the initial tech pace. A secondary reason is the higher scoring potential - archipelago maps can have nearly 10% more tiles than pangaea maps. I'm using the 60% water setting of course.

    Climate/age: Wet, warm, five billion years, as usual for HOF games. This produces maps which are fairly food-rich.

    Barbarians: None. Again, I want to slow the tech pace. There's little point in having goody huts at Sid level. The human player won't get anything except barbarians, maps, and the occasional unit from them. But the AIs will get good stuff.

    Rules: Default all except "Culturally Linked Start Loc" - I turned this off so that Civ placements will be a bit more random between one try and the next.

    AI aggression: Less aggressive. Initially I played using "least aggressive" on the theory that I don't want the AIs attacking me until I'm ready. I want to choose the fights. I still think that setting would work. But I was a bit uncomfortable with it, it didn't seem quite right to make such a safe world. And then in one of my attempts I decided to start my first war, saw that my opponent had units within my territory, and played the "aggravate them and ask them to leave" trick. (If they declare war there's a nice happiness boost.) It didn't work! A huge bully Civ which I expected would always tell me to stuff it meekly agreed to leave. That was the final straw, "less aggressive" is now my preferred setting.

    Rivals: Mongols, Zulu, Arabia, America, China, Egypt, Inca, Aztecs. I've been refining this list over time. There are many options here and this may not yet be an ideal set. My reasons for selecting this set of rivals:
    o None of them is scientific or seafaring. Scientific I don't want on principle - the more scientific Civs, the faster the tech pace. Slowing that has been one of my main objectives. Initially I thought seafaring opponents would be ok but they proved a nuisance in my early attempts. They tended to quickly contact other Civs and thus speed up the pace, as well as removing some of the advantage I could gain by having more isolated early contacts. So I subsequently excluded them.
    o Expansionist is a low-threat trait when there aren't any goody huts and the landform is archipelago.
    o Religious is less powerful for Sid level AIs than it is at low levels - the AIs flip government in one turn at Sid level whether they're religious or not.
    o None of these Civs starts with Alphabet, Bronze Working, or The Wheel. Note that this means none of them is commercial. That wasn't an objective for me, it is just an effect of eliminating Civs which start with Alphabet. Having no Civ which starts with any of those techs results in: (a) Slowing the tech pace a bit since they can't initially trade for those techs, (b) Gives me good odds that if I research Writing at the 50 turn rate and then Philosophy as quickly as I can, I'll be the first Civ to learn Philosophy. Note that this factor interacts with selecting the Iroquois. They start with Alphabet. When I was playing Maya my thinking was to exclude Civs who start with Masonry.

    Generating a Map

    Moonsinger's Map Finder utility is a wonderful aid in this process!

    I've been playing only maps which have:
    o At least a 4300 tile domination limit. Initially I set the limit at 4400. There are a good number of archipelago maps which have that much land. But I found that wasn't giving me enough maps after I played the opening sequence and applied my other selection criteria.
    o Start on a river.
    o Start with at least one food bonus in the 9 tile start radius.
    o At least two more food bonuses nearby for the second and third towns to use. The second bonus must become visible by the time the capital's boundaries expand at turn ten, and the third bonus must become visible by the time I found the second town - if I don't see those bonuses by then I abandon the map even if it looks great in other regards (e.g. a luxury beside the capital.)

    Finally, if I don't see a "required" resource by the time the expansion phase is nearing completion, I abandon the map. This is a painful thing. It will happen more with Conquests than with earlier versions of Civ because resources are scarcer. And playing with eight rivals means resources are already not plentiful. I've abandoned two games so far after playing them a long way due to the lack of a critical resource. It might be possible to win such maps but a really high score does not seem possible. In the case of playing the Iroquois I consider horses to be a critical resource.

    (continued in next post)
     
  2. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    (continued from first post)

    Game Strategy

    Rapid expansion: The agricultural trait helps quite a bit with this. An agricultural Civ can create a four turn settler factory or a two turn worker factory with just one grassland cattle or wheat. Getting a few of these factories running quickly is a priority.

    City spacing: Because OCN is very low I won't use a very tight spacing. I won't spread them nearly as wide as the AI but I will spread them out more than I usually do. I want each settler to claim a good chunk of territory, to settle on fresh water if at all possible, and to have a reasonably large region of workable tiles. (Twelve at least.)

    Military units: There are no barbarians. I won't produce any military units at the start of the game. Founding two or three towns to become settler factories will come before even exploration.

    Exploration: Once I have some towns working on granaries to become settler factories, I'll found one or two more towns which will produce explorers while my capital works on its granary. These towns will produce a few warriors and curraghs which will go exploring. The warriors will map the home region before exploring distant regions. The curraghs will immediately head for remote regions hoping to meet other Civs.

    AI Research: I'll do whatever I can to slow the AI tech pace. Most of what can be done in this regard is in the map setup parameters. If I can block AIs to delay their meeting I'll do so. I'll only trade tech to them when I can get a lot of gold for it or for specific purposes described in the following.

    Research: My early attempts showed me that sometimes it is possible to be first to learn Writing, even at the 50 turn rate. I then discovered that the AIs are putting a low priority on Literature in these games, and that sometimes it was possible to be first to learn it. So I tuned my map settings to increase this from possible to likely :) And I also started playing for Philosophy first. The AIs go for that tech before Literature but it is a faster one for the human to research, and by having no opponents who start with Alphabet it seems possible to reach Philosophy first most of the time. My current approach is: Research Writing at 50 turn rate, then research Philosophy as quickly as possible, about 20 turns. Take Literature as the free tech from Philosophy. If I don't get a free tech due to being first to learn Philosophy, I'll abandon the game at that point. It has worked three out of three times up to the time of writing this note. While researching Writing and Philosophy, trade for Masonry and The Wheel - Masonry so that a wonder prebuild via Palace is possible; The Wheel to see where there are horses and to start building a few chariots. And that will be it for research for quite a while!

    Initially I assumed that predictably getting The Great Library would be impossible in a Sid level HOF game. But this has now evolved to be a cornerstone in my plan! There are a couple of things which make it possible: 1) We can learn Literature well before any AI learns it, using the approach described above. 2) The Sid production pace is so high that by the time the AIs do learn Literature there may not be any wonder cascades remaining. I.e., the AI construction speed is what makes it possible for the human to build Great Library first! :lol: If the AIs were still building other wonders, e.g. Hanging Gardens, at the time they learn Literature and pass it around, they'd zoom past from behind and beat the human's build of Great Library. But in two of three tries so far I've had AI construction go so quickly that by the time they learned Literature, there were no ancient wonders unfinished except Great Library. And that allowed me to get there first, even with a relatively slow build which didn't impact my higher priority of rapid expansion. In my current game I've just passed that point, building the Great Library in 490BC.

    Great Library tricks: First trick is building it of course, as described above. If I can't build it I'll abandon the game. Having the Great Library means that there's no need to research, buy, or trade for any ancient tech except Writing, Philosophy, Masonry, and The Wheel. All tech can come from this wonder for quite a while, allowing a zero research rate to maximize income. It should also be possible to sell some techs learned from the Great Library for luxuries, resources, and gold. Second trick will be giving the libray away as soon as Education becomes known by two rivals. This part of the plan remains theoretical, I haven't gotten that far yet. I plan to give the Great Library to a rival, preferably one who isn't too far ahead in culture, has learned Education at the time, and isn't the most powerful of my rivals. If possible I'll build the Great Library in a coastal town to minimize the disruption this generous gift will cause. I'll leave it in my rival's hands until I'm fairly sure my rivals know Military Tradition, and perhaps even Steam Power. Then I'll take it back by force and get most of the Middle Age techs for free! My thinking is that I won't need those techs during the intervening time. I'll want Chivalry but that's about it until Military Tradition, so I'll let the AIs do the research.

    Forbidden Palace: This is another priority build, but not quite as high as Great Library. I'll dedicate a near-core town to building this as soon as I feel the production can be spared, probably completing it somewhere in the 600BC to 300BC range.

    Culture: This is going to be a problem. The Sid level AIs leave us in the dust culture-wise. I plan to raze and replace in early warfare instead of capturing towns. The agricultural trait will help a bit, allowing me to pump out the settlers for replacements a bit more quickly.

    Government: Although I strongly favor Republic in almost all of my games, I think this situation is going to call for using Monarchy. I'll switch to it as soon as possible, i.e. as soon as it is learned via the Great Library. (Which should be one turn after the Great Library is built :lol: ) The main problem with Republic in this game would be unit support cost. The extremely fast rapid expansion opening means that a lot of workers are required. I've been finding that I want nearly two workers per town as an overall ratio to keep up with growth. (Even more would be useful.) After adding some military units for an early Middle Ages assault, the resulting support cost seems intolerable in Republic. And added to that I expect worse war-weariness problems than usual. Wars against Sid AIs will be prolonged and painful, and luxuries are scarce in Conquests. Monarchy seems the best choice for the early game. Later in the game I'll reconsider Republic and I'll also consider Communism. I haven't put much thought into that choice yet.

    Warfare: I'll avoid war if possible during the early stages. I'll become a Monarchy, have a Forbidden Palace, and build a force of Mounted Warriors (say around 50, but this depends on map circumstances) before attacking anyone. By then I expect my rivals will have Pikemen and large forces, so progress will initially be slow. A Golden Age during the first assault will help. Archipelago geography may present some helpful opportunities in the form of choke points. I'll apply all the leader farming techniques I can - armies are extremely powerful in Conquests and leaders will therefore be very important. My warfare plans are vague at this time but I am hoping to: 1) Make a good dent in one rival with Mounted Warriors; 2) As soon as I learn Chivalry, upgrade all units to Knights and make a good dent in at least two more rivals; 3) Save most leaders produced during these wars as empty armies; 4) When the time comes to take back the Great Library and thus learn Military Tradition, I'll upgrade all units to Cavalry, load all the armies I've been able to stockpile, and go on a rampage - this is the stage where I hope to take control of the world; 5) If my Cavalry approach stalls before I control the world, wait until I can get to bombers and then use their lethal bombardment to go on a final rampage.

    Current Status

    My current game is looking good though there's a long way to go before it is a sure thing. It might go all the way, it might become just another lesson learned. So I won't detail it at the moment - I'll write it up later if it does reach a point where it seems sure to finish. But here's a sneak preview. It is my first try which has passed all the critical eary game obstacles. The screenshots below may not be the final state for 410BC. I just learned all the Ancient Times techs and became a Monarchy - I'll think further about all the new city projects before ending this turn. After an initial shuffle I couldn't resist pausing to write these notes :)

    Edit, 2004/3/29: I've continued with this map. Further down this thread I've posted additional notes about it.

    The game date is currently 410BC and I have:
    o just become a Monarchy
    o learned all Ancient techs except Republic, plus Feudalism
    o met five rivals, haven't met the other three yet
    o a town four turns from completing the Forbidden Palace
    o horses and one luxury available and connected; but I'll have to get iron through war or trade
    o had one uneventful war, with Aztecs - they invaded and sent a few units but did no significant damage

    I'm in 8th place (out of 9) in population, GNP, and land area; 7th place in Mfg.

    In the minimap below Aztecs are to my west, Inca northwest, Mongols northeast, Arabia far to my east wrapping around to the western part of the display.







     
  3. superslug

    superslug Still hatin' on Khan Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    I was shocked to discover this as well in some Sid20K attempts I've been tinkering with while waiting for a Monarch map.

    Anyway, as usual, your thought processes and write up are ubercoherent!:goodjob:
     
  4. Moonsinger

    Moonsinger Settler Retired Moderator

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    Good luck on capturing the Great Library SirPleb!:) Looking forward to hear more great story from you.


    PS: I'm currently around 600 AD on my Sid game too (patch 1.15 - domination limit of 3946 with 8 other civs in one big happy continent).
     
  5. boogaboo

    boogaboo Josef Popper 4ever

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    Happy hunting, sid!
     
  6. Svar

    Svar Chieftain

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    Good luck Sir Pleb!:goodjob: I look forward to reading and learning from your writeups.
     
  7. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    It is a strange thing indeed to be building Great Library at this level. I'd pretty much stopped thinking of doing it at Deity, but here it is back again at the next level :)

    Any luck with the Sid 20K attempts? Does it seem doable?
     
  8. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    How is it going? Do you have the game under control yet or does it still feel like Sid level at 600AD? :)
     
  9. superslug

    superslug Still hatin' on Khan Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    Not to jack your thread, but since you asked, no luck thus far. I don't even know if it's doable. I'm trying on Tiny maps and was going pangaea for a while, but now I'm trying islands for isolationist protection (buy foreign workers and then put them on the coast). I'm also using diplo and space as backup vic conditions.

    I may not try again for a while as Mapfinder finally generated something I like for Monarch. The day may come I join the Sid league, but not today. :damnweneedasalutesmiley:
     
  10. akots

    akots Poet

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    It would be of great interest to know how you are trying to overcome a possibility of 100K cultural victory by AI. Just kill them or cripple before they hit the mark? Or hope that some is going to 100K, another is close to 50K and hit that which is around 100K first. Incas look very strong in your game. And their culture is also tremendous for 410BC. Fortunately, they are very close...
     
  11. superslug

    superslug Still hatin' on Khan Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    The culture triggers were changed for C3C. Huge maps now require 160,000 culture points, although the 2x rule is still in effect. (Still 20K for individual cities.)
     
  12. akots

    akots Poet

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    So a possibility of cultural victory is not an issue then?
     
  13. superslug

    superslug Still hatin' on Khan Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    It depends on the numbers. As long as no one goes over 160,000 total, then no. Even if they do cross 160,000, as long as anyone else is 80,000+, they still can't win.
     
  14. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    I don't know yet how much of a problem avoiding an AI cultural victory will be. I'm hoping to get them all under control long before they can get there of course :)
     
  15. Moonsinger

    Moonsinger Settler Retired Moderator

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    I think at 600AD, the only thing I'm worrying about is that someone will launch their spaceship before I can reach them. Since it takes an average of 16 turns to win a war and 7 more of them to go, I hope I would have enough time to stop their launch (since I'm playing against 8 other scientific civs, excluding the Ottomans; my Mayan is the only one that isn't scientific in my game).
     
  16. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    Wow, the tech pace must be quite something! It will be very interesting to compare games when we've both gotten further since I've gone the opposite way in this regard with no scientific Civs.
     
  17. superslug

    superslug Still hatin' on Khan Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    SirPleb, far be it from me to dispute the tactics of a proven champion, but I have to kind of wonder about your decision on Monarchy. Given that you'll be razing everything, wouldn't the free slaves ease the unit crunch of Republic?

    Additionally, even though you'll be razing, will you be keeping the town with the Temple of Artemis? If you get it before you reacquire the Great Library, you could provide yourself with some nice border expansion, meaning not quite so many settlers needed to fill the razed gaps (perhaps further easing your unit crunch?).
     
  18. SirPleb

    SirPleb Shaken, not stirred.

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    It was a tough decision to go this way. I really like the Republic benefits and hate to think I must do without them for once. But I've played further now and I think that going Monarchy was the right decision: After my Golden Age, at 280AD, I have 44 towns/cities, am allowed 116 free units, and am paying 69gpt for extra unit support. I have just one luxury of my own and I'm importing three. That's as high as I've been, I've also been at a stage where I'm importing just one luxury and expect I'll be there again soon. With the temporary four luxuries my entertainment is down to 10%. Bottom line with all this: net gain 168gpt. It will be less when some luxury trades expire.

    As a Republic I'd be paying about 220gpt for unit support at this date. I'm still at war and war weariness would be very high by now, probably at the max. I think the luxury slider would have to be fairly high. I intend to go back and check this and a couple of other things after finishing with this game (either way :) ) - I'm curious how Republic would fare. I think it would be much worse than Monarchy, perhaps a deficit at this point.

    Re captured workers: I have only four so far. My first 20 turns of warfare just succeeded in taking over a supply of iron two turns before my GA ended. It was quite a struggle. The tide will turn at last but it will still be some time before captured workers can replace my native workers...

    That would have been nice but I won't have the opportunity. I'll need to retake the Great Library long before I can attack the Civ who has it. My first two logical targets (my immediate neighbors by land connections) don't have any wonders at all :(

    Still, the game is progressing very well. Now that I have a good supply of Knights, and seven Knight armies (that gives an idea of how much fighting it has taken to get at some iron :) ) I expect things to improve quite a bit. Don't know if I'll win yet. But it does look promising :)
     
  19. Coilean

    Coilean Chieftain

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    I wonder if it might be better when you are playing an agricultural civ on these insane difficulty levels, to go for an arid map. As long as you don't have any agricultural opponents, it may slow them down to run into a patch of desert near their starting location, but it's not really any worse for you than being stuck in a bunch of plains, as long as your workers can keep up with the demand for irrigated tiles.
     
  20. Darkness

    Darkness Shadow creature

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    Don't think so, 'cause arid maps give lower scores....
     

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