Songhai - very powerful

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Randall Turner, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    I usually play just to play, not to win, in epic/huge games. On of the problems I've had is the cliff-like difficulty curve, ie, hard early, easy later, that make it a bit of a problem to play on higher difficulty levels without a focused strategy. Then I stumbled on the Songhai.

    It's basically fun to thump barbarians anyway, and I saw they had the triple-gold for encampments trait, so thought, "why not".

    Man. These guys are studs.

    A lot of the other civs have multiplier advantages, ie, when they get into the mid-late game they get an overall improvement for (gold/resources/tech/pick-em), and the Songhai trait is a "flat" bonus that doesn't scale so well. But, there's an implicit multiplier to getting gold early, and I've found that the ability to exploit that while setting up early infrastructure completely changes the way the game flows. At 225 gold a pop, you can finance basically anything early if you've a good detection system (first honor policy and good exploration) along with a mobile early force.

    In one of the other threads, a poster was asking how the AI could possibly ally with a CS by turn 14. That is, of course, completely trivial if you're playing Songhai. It's so easy that you can depend on supplementing food intake with an early maritime CS ally or two. This in turn means you can position your capitol and early cities to maximize production and dependably expand population with the CS food intake alone. This in turn typically leads to excellent early wonder production in the capitol.

    Likewise, you can leverage early gold into key first- or second-production buildings in new cities, giving yourself a hefty advantage in early city development.

    And again, if you're going to concentrate on hunting down and destroying barbarians early, you can save a huge amount of production on barracks and the like - you can develop your troops solely on experience from fighting barbarians.

    And finally, through the industrial age there's really no boredom factor. Every encampment that pops up triggers the early-warning system and a race to get your troops there before nearby civilizations, which in turn promotes a more peaceful, growth-oriented play style.

    This just snowballs incredibly. From buying that first scout, through earning enough encampment money to finance mid-game research agreements, it completely changes the game flow in a very entertaining way.

    I can't speak to smaller scale games, but for epic/huge "just piddling around" games if you haven't tried Songhai, I'd highly recommend them. I'd also recommend not trying for any one victory condition, it's too easy - instead, I try for all simultaneously. (Policy city count limitation keeps your country fairly small, domination keeps you militarily active, tech keeps you able to compete with larger polities as well as eventually winning the space race, etc.) On Immortal it's just totally fun.

    The late-game city plunder bonus is nothing to sneeze at either, btw. :)
     
  2. jojorah

    jojorah Prince

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    I like songhia, but i dont play with them unless i feel like being hitler or stalin.
     
  3. Roghar

    Roghar Warlord

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    I'm guessing on huge maps you have a fair bit of space for encampments to pop up? Playing a standard map the songhai bonus is handy early on but as the map quickly fills the money isn't really relevant past the early stages

    To utilise the songhai I find you really need to be warring a lot, city plunder is great, and puppets tend to build Mud Pyramid Mosques early on, which is a fantastic free boost to culture
     
  4. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    Monies from encampments are a mainstay of the economy through the industrial period. They're overwhelmingly important (as in, give you a better economy than any AI civ, even with the difficulty boosts) through at least the Medieval, and usually the Renaissance, period.

    I don't play them warlike at all. In my current game, I went to war with one (1) civ before the Industrial age, and that only because I made the noob mistake of a friendship pact with Gandhi. (God I hate that guy.) And then only one other war before the modern period.

    Basically, their power is economic. There's no reason to play them warlike, an early city pillage is only on the same order as a barbarian encampment pillage - why do it? (Or as the AI would say, "why let that define you?") Frankly, you don't want the puppets, you don't really benefit from making everyone hate you, and though you could probably win the game early that way, what's the point? Like I said, I play to play.

    Well, at least up to the point where you start crashing every turn. Huge/epic is not very stable. Modern era with fully explored world, even my machine has problems.
     
  5. NukeAJS

    NukeAJS King

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    Songhai's biggest advantage is waiting until Egypt gets Burial tombs and kicking the crap out of them with Songhai knights.

    Oh, and mud pyramids are great, not at good as the wat but at least it comes earlier.

    The barbarian encampment bonus really teters off towards the end of the game for two reasons: not as many barb camps and 75 gold per encampment isn't that great later in the game -- I'm usually turning around 75 gold per turn pretty quickly (definitely being helped by those encampments though.)
     
  6. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    One of my buddies at work mentioned the barb encampment bonus being lower. I've never played on anything but epic time scale. The bonus is 225 per playing epic, of course. But for me, there are other very good reasons to play epic anyway. (Game is basically more fun when my newly-minted crossbowman doesn't go obsolete before I can march/sail him from point A to point B.)
     
  7. Doctor Phibes

    Doctor Phibes Prince

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    Oh yum, lots of gold, I know a song about that. Haven't played the Songhai yet, but you've sold me, next on my list once I've finished winning with Russia. And I do play on huge maps, just hadn't realised what an advantage they might have there. (Though AI Songhai doesn't seem to do all that well even with all that dosh as far as I can see).
     
  8. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    Nope, Songhai AI isn't good, their trait doesn't fit well with how the AI plays.

    (The AI doesn't have the competence to go for the "Honor" policy, get the early-warning on encampments, tailor their army to mobility, maintain open border agreements with and move through their neighbors, stage troops to key points near spawn regions, or really even use the gold intelligently.)

    To be fair, you'll probably have to do it once or twice before getting it all down. Good idea to leave open areas, deserts and tundra are your friends, and you'll realize early on that a few roads to nowhere pay off big time. :)

    I think you'll find they don't have any weak points, either. Archipelago? They can blissfully embark in the face of a whole fleet of destroyers and go "nyaa-nyaa". Pangea? Their medieval Mandekalu cav is a hammer, a group can easily blitz any threat's cities. And gold is just gold, gives you enormous flexibility. <shrug> Really sold on these guys.
     
  9. jojorah

    jojorah Prince

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    theres a new mod out that might improve Ais songhi ability, called the ais hunt for gold. Its supposed to make the AI be more agressive with dealing with encampments.
     
  10. Strategist83

    Strategist83 King

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    I don't think you're right not to play them warlike. Settling for just the encampments is not leveraging their ability to the fullest. They're definitely a war civ. You don't get units like the Mandekalu just to hunt down barbarians.
    Definitely a smart play. Poor Egyptians!
     
  11. TPQ

    TPQ Cogito Ergo Civ

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    Have to agree with you Randall Turner.

    On large and huge maps, epic and marathon speed, the Songhai are amazing.

    I try not to play with them too much as I get to used to having all that gold, but they're really powerful for every victory condition as gold is so important in Civ5.

    Now that trading posts need economics for 2 gpt, the Songhai are more powerful than ever.

    You can even have a reasonable sized empire of your own cities with the mud pyramid mosques and not hurt policy acquisition.

    As the game stands now, at the 217 patch, the Songhai are the best Civ imo.
     
  12. Drawmeus

    Drawmeus Emperor

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    My Songhai conquest game, I was getting enough gold per city conquer to annex and rush buy a courthouse in each city as I conquered it. Sick.

    Songhai are definitely one of the strongest civs I've tried in SP (and I've won with nearly all of them at this point).
     
  13. ImperialSteeze

    ImperialSteeze Chieftain

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    What?
     
  14. Michl2602

    Michl2602 Warlord

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    And you didn't even mention the "Mud Pyramid Mosque" (their UB) yet.

    If you research 'Pottery --> Writing --> Philosophy' before taking Legalism (and Landed Elite afterwards), you get such buildings in your first 4 cities for free (bringing +5 culture each and costing no maintainance). That also gives you plenty of time to take the first policy of honor (which is at least nice to have) somewhere in between, especially when you combine this with an NC start.
     
  15. Drawmeus

    Drawmeus Emperor

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    This works?

    Daaaang.
     
  16. Michl2602

    Michl2602 Warlord

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    This works, as I know since today morning. :)
     
  17. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    Well, it's a matter of taste, I don't think there's an absolute "right" or "wrong" way to go about it. It's definitely not necessary, though, and there are tradeoffs.

    The Songhai will have a strong early army, just so that you have enough barbarian hunter-killer groups to get full coverage on the whole continent you're starting on.** You certainly can go offensive early. But...

    The #1 thing I use money for is research agreements. I'll have agreements with every civ I've contacted. As a matter of course I'll gift other civs enough gold so that they can make an agreement with me. (I don't even build universities, actually. My cities look "weird".)

    So, every time you declare war, you limit your research partners. Even if you don't kill them outright, you'll weaken them enough economically that once you make peace, any subsequent research agreement you'll likely have to pay near double-price for. (ie, Gift them 600, then make the research agreement for 600.)

    And face it - sooner or later the dummies are going to declare war on you for some stupid reason anyway. At the higher difficulty levels you're going to get your war even if you don't go looking for it. (And I don't think playing Songhai at a lower difficulty level is really "fair".)

    By the way - if you do decide to go thump someone early, consider just razing everything and creating a dead area instead of the normal expansionist puppets. You'll actually get more money from the subsequent barbarian spawns than you will from the puppets, without the happiness hit, and money is all puppets are really good for anyway. Meanwhile you'll be racking up the golden ages, pumping production even more, and all your core cities will be rolling out wonders.


    ** - strong early army: this is another one of the serendipity things with them. Normally, to ramp up early you'd want to keep a moderately small army to keep costs down while building initial infrastructure. With the Songhai, though, a good sized army pays for itself. It not only allows you to go after multiple remote encampments simultaneously, it keeps you strong enough that you won't get picked on.

    Edit: Michael, what is an "NC start"?
     
  18. Michl2602

    Michl2602 Warlord

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  19. Randall Turner

    Randall Turner King

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    Thanks, partner.

    You know, it's time to switch to another civ. These guys don't use any "normal" strategy, internal science production doesn't even matter, it's so overwhelmed by research agreements (from early money) and City-State tech (from money + patronage) that these guys are usually into industrial before most others even get to renaissance.

    I'm getting spoiled. And stupid. :)

    I suspect if you guys beat the higher difficulty levels now, these guys might be just too easy.
     
  20. Michl2602

    Michl2602 Warlord

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    I'm only a lurker there. I never beat the game higher than prince so far.

    To show that for our grandmasters also other "easy" civs exist:
    http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=416112
     

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