Stuck at emperor


Jul 23, 2008
So for the last two days I've been having a pretty good time with civ rev, and it felt pretty good beating up the AI on the first three difficulty levels. As soon as I ramped it up to emperor, though, the AI began consistently kicking my butt.

I've been perusing these forums (lots of great tips here guys, btw) and I thought I'd ask a couple of questions:

1.) At the beginning of the game, should I be building settlers as soon as I can and spreading out my civilization? Or should I build up my capital a little bit first? Where is the balance there? I'm really curious to know how many cities you better players build and how much you let them grow before you make a settler and expand?

2.) I feel like the AI is ganging up on me. What is the best response to AI that constantly demands my great people and techs? I have no problem holding them off individually but I feel my resources get diverted so the AI can win a tech or cultural victory. I guess that balance is the whole point of the game.

Anyway, thanks for your help.
About a week ago I made the jump from King to Emperor, so in the beginning I had a couple of really good (and somewhat lucky) games, and was able to win. Now that I've been playing Emperor more, and not getting so lucky in some games (sometimes extremely unlucky) I notice it is harder to keep up with the AI. Although, it all really depends on your play style and how you would like to win. As to your questions:

1) Again, it depends on your play style. Do you prefer to expand fast, and is there good opportunity or reason to? Can you use units / a city to block off another civ, leaving it ripe for conquest later in the game?

Generally in the beginning I build about 3 warriors, then a galley. I can usually get the 100g for a free settler in a decent amount of time (especially when you get 50g from barb huts). So I use the free settler to build my second city. From there I kind of analyze what I've explored, where I'd like to build future cities, and what kind of cities I'm going to build (production/science/gold). Sometimes I'll build more warriors off the beginning, but really only if I know I can use them to block off a civ and limit their area.

After my capital is done building warriors/galleys I switch to a building, typically a library for a science boost (unless my capital is more of a production area, and has little science). If my capital can't currently produce a building, I switch to a wonder, so that when I get the tech for the building, all the production switches into the building. I generally don't build many settlers to be honest. Usually if I build a settler I only build 1, or maybe 2, early in the game. I prefer to spend more of my time towards getting prepared to take over a civ, or gaining tech/economic/culture lead while still building up a good defense.

In the emperor games I have done well, I usually have conquered atleast 1 other civ. I try to make sure that the civ I declare war on is doing the best out of all the civs, so that way I can eliminate the biggest threat, early. Sometimes this isn't possible, and it's more beneficial to pick on someone else close by / someone who you could foresee as being a nuisance.

2) I don't think there is any straight answer to this. I have only ever given up my great people a few times, and that was to either secure my victory (or make it easier to do so, with one less AI trying to stop me), or there was one time when I didn't build up enough defense, and all of a sudden all the AI decided to declare war on me. I wouldn't blame them I was winning, but I hadn't counted on all 4 civs invading me at that point. I gave up a great person, to get peace, with who I thought was the strongest civ. He was also the closest, and blocked another of the civs from coming to war with me. One of the remaining two civs also blocked the other civ from coming to war with me (other than by boat of course). This way I really only had to focus on one front, and if any ships came near me I tried to sink them before they could land units, or if they landed units then I would counter attack with an army I had waiting in my city.

(Sometimes I leave my cities near the coast, and not bordering any civs, with little defense, but a good army to counter attack with, so this way if someone does try to land and take over my weakly defended city, I will have a way of preventing them from doing so. If my counter attacking unit dies then I just rush a unit to create an army anyways. This seems to work well for me).

I think giving up great people for X turns of peace is a waste generally, but I will do it if I feel I need to. I'm much more inclined to give up technology, but again, I hate giving anything up for free. I'm almost always in a state of war, but I prepare for it, and don't mind when the AI invades with multiple armies. To me it then becomes a challenge of how I can not only defend, but counter, and counter strong enough so that I'm set up to invade him.

I think your point about "balance is the whole point of the game" couldn't be more correct. Even when I go for tech victory, I still have a couple gold cities. It's very useful to get the bonuses from economic milestones, and to be able to rush units and buildings when you need to. And having a strong economy is great when several AI's decide to gang up on you, because not only can you rush units, but you can rush more units sooner, than if you had just went straight with all science cities.

Another thing about balance is to not get to building crazy, or too unit crazy. I watched my dad try civ rev, and told him he would enjoy it more than civ 4, because civ 4 was a little too complicated for him. But just like in civ 4, I find he places too much time on producing buildings, and generally leaves his cities with weak/mediocre defense, but no offense to counter. It should almost be a no brainer in civ rev that you should take some time to build units instead of buildings. They cost much less than buildings, and it never hurts to be prepared for war.
Thanks for the detailed response. I've been just expanding as much as possible which seemed to be fine in the earlier difficulty levels but not so much on this one (never mind against human opponents!)

You know, I've been thinking, mad expansion seemed to work pretty well in Civ 4. But the then I got to thinking, it's been a minute since i played civ 4, maybe that's actually something that worked in galactic civ 2?

To many civs ;-)
Mad expansion did NOT work in civ 4.

Expanding too quickly or too much at once in civ 4 would rapidly cripple your economy and you would have to drop your science research down to near nil just to break even.

You may be thinking of civ 2 or civ 3 where mad expansion was the name of the game usually.
I usually expand early on by what seems like too much, but then it all works out. I almost always play the "It's Only Money That Matters" scenario, because it helps everyone get off the ground much faster. I settle two other cities almost right away, then plan out spots for two or three more as my warriors wander around, then get those settlers out as soon as I have the population to support it. It sucks early on because you've spent all you have and you have to really babysit each city, which are all prone to attack and culture flipping, since they all started up so quickly. Also, since all of my cities are stuck with a population of 2 for a while, research just isn't happening. Then, as population slowly starts to build, everything else catches up. Assign one or two to gold production, and a couple workhorse cities to keep pumping out archers and legions to your border cities, and sit tight until you've got temples and courthouses built in at least half of your cities. By now, science has caught you up to the rest of the pack and will most likely surpass everyone else, your culture boosts from temples and monarchy have netted you a few great people, and you've got at least three armies in each city. If you can make it to mass production and rush the Leonardo's Workshop wonder, it's pretty impossible to stop you. This general strategy has netted me four wins on Deity so far (Aztecs, Romans, Germans and Americans).
Great info, Aden52! I am about done with king level, so I will definitely give your strategy some serious thought as I enter the tougher levels.

Civ IV got me used to the idea of fewer cities, as expansion was my game in the previous versions. But once I realized the strategy behind IV's engine, it all made sense. And I notice the same thing about Rev, that if you get too big, it's tougher to defend and the AI tends to be a bit more aggressive towards me, as well.
Yes, I finally won at emperor. Followed Aden's advice and rocked about two cities, the second coming only from my 100 gold perk. Finally got a third from a culture flip. Basically I had the cash to build an impenetrable fortress around my cities, and decent science until the end game to keep my defenses up. I was originally going for a cultural victory but in the mid 20th century the ramifications of the zulu +50% gold really dawned on me and i just switched to grinding gold for the next few decades until i could pull out an economic one.

And by the way, that one victory was worth 4 achievements for 95 points :D. I've been texting people who don't even care about games just to share.
Good job badwithnames! Getting 4 achievements from one game is pretty sweet. :D I'm Glad my advice could help you out.
The keys are chokepoints and not being afraid to take risks and be opportunistic. On deity, don't bother attacking an enemy capital, unless you can get infiltration for a warrior army and attack from a hill before 2500BC. Still, hang about and watch what is going on. Whenever I see an enemy capital lose 2 population points, I know they have built a settler. The AI usually has an escort (archer), which can be taken out pretty safely by a veteran warrior army or 2 horsemen. Capture the settler to build your own city or capture the newly built city. After you've done so, offer peace, build an archer army of your own and continue looking for opportunities. Doubling the amount of cities like that in the early game is huge!

If you let these opportunities slide, the enemy will create yet another production house to build units that will haunt you.

And try to build your second city far away from your capital, preferably at a chokepoint. Build a road between the cities, so you can move units back and forth in one turn. Since you secured the area, you can expand at your own leisure without the need for escorts for your settlers.
Today I was playing with the Romans on Emperor.

I was taking advantage of the Republic to build a few settlers early on and expand quickly. I had 3 cities while the other AI around me still had just their capital. I got a few spies from barbarian huts, so I took one spy to steal the Great Person from America, and used the other spies to disrupt Settler production from the Americans and nearby Aztecs. This kept them stuck at 1 city for awhile, and I put my 4th city pretty close to the Americans to try to block off their expansion. The Americans then built Seattle close to my 4th city, maybe to try to set up an attack or a culture flip, but it backfired when I got a Great Person and was able to use him to culture flip Seattle into my empire. The game's actually not over yet, I had to pause it to go to work, but so far I have 8 cities and producing enough science to stay ahead in the tech race, and also enough gold to get economic milestones and rush units.

The particular map I'm playing on happens to have a lot of choke points, and I am taking advantage of that feature so that I only heavily fortify a couple of cities that will be taking all the attacks, and I can keep minimal defenses on the inner cities. I was able to beat everyone to Mass Production and used Rome's half-priced wonders to my advantage to get Leonardo's Workshop and upgrade all my front-line troops to Modern Infantry and Cannons. They're still attacking me with catapults and legions. I think I will win this game.
I've won three times now on Emperor, all economic victories - twice with the Spanish and once with the Romans. Although it's great to get the win, I feel like I'm not understanding the key concepts well enough to ever win at the next level. Every time I try Diety, I get crushed around the year 1900.

Any insights on how to win a technology or culture victory at Emperor level? Perhaps it will help me understand how to improve my skill at this level, so I can fare better on Diety. Thanks!
I've won three times now on Emperor, all economic victories - twice with the Spanish and once with the Romans. Although it's great to get the win, I feel like I'm not understanding the key concepts well enough to ever win at the next level. Every time I try Diety, I get crushed around the year 1900.

Any insights on how to win a technology or culture victory at Emperor level? Perhaps it will help me understand how to improve my skill at this level, so I can fare better on Diety. Thanks!

Get the Romans. They're perfect for a cultural victory. Next make sure that once your capital is at size 5, you build a settler unit and make a new city. Then, once your capital reaches 5 again, make another settler and build a new city. make sure you start towards that 100 gold point for that free settler.

While doing all of that, make sure you keep your defense up. Then, start mapping out more points to build more cities and keeping any enemies or possible enemies at bay. Also, make sure you have some good production and that you've been researching well and are getting a good income flow.

In the city with good production, start building wonders. Use 2 cities to go faster. If you're at the right era, wonders are only half cost for you. make sure you build roads between your cities btw

By now, I think you're rivals have expanded too so keep a strong hold on the cities you have, and keep bringing culture. Remember, you need good defenses, good science/gold production, and normal production.

By now, you should have quit a few wonders and good defense. If you need to, rush those wonders. Obviously, you have great people. Now listen, when you get someone like Karl Marx or Aristotle (someone who improves culture) make sure you took the flip city thing cuz those cities will help.

Keep playing like that and your cultural win should be easy with some difficulties on the way. That's how I won it at least.
Well i did originally have this issue but at deity rather than emperor, if you think the AI is aggressive at emperor be prepared for another big step up to deity!!!

back to advice, i now have settle into a mix settle style that can win more or less anyway against any civ AI. i dont expand too rapidly normal settling my 2nd city after my first 100 gold and then my next 2 or 3 dependant on map when i open republic, then using the bonus you get from irrigation and such to improve and expand the cities noticeably. a tip for first few times at this level is pick the aztecs as their units healing after every victory will aid your defence making it much cheaper to keep the other civs at bay. next learn to explore and customise your cities. building cities in coastal or wooded areas can be more effective than even the best resources in the games early stages. then picking the custom square your city uses allows you to double or even triple you science, production or gold meaning you can build units fast without rushing, then once you have enough exploring warriors, changing to science and even on emperor and deity mode you can start grabbing the tech bonuses if your selective and pick things like masonary (free walls) irrigation(+1 pop in every city) over the obvious was techs like bronze, iron and horseback riding. when i have 4 or 5 cities, i'll change 1 to gold and build a market(or get one free ;-) ) and in every other city i'll build a libriary to boost tech. then its a race to feudalism and eventually combustion and with these armies you'll be able to steamroller all and sundry.... one more thing

dont build cities next to hills and build remote cities on them, no point in giving every attacking unit a 50% attack and defence bonus is there.......
Any insights on how to win a technology or culture victory at Emperor level? Perhaps it will help me understand how to improve my skill at this level, so I can fare better on Diety. Thanks!

The trick is specialization of your cities. I usually have 4-5 cities. 1 focusing on production, 1 on gold, 1 on science and then 1-2 other cities focusing on either of the others depending on your starting position. Always try to have resources close to the cities you found as number 2-5 and specialize accordingly, e.g., if you have oak close by then put that city on production. Never have your city on "balanced" always specialize them towards your focus area or even manage your workers individually to get exactly what you want at the moment.

An example of active management from the start of the game. You have two squares to work, one with 2 food and one with 2 hammers if you chose balanced. Instead put two squares on production and build your warrior, then switch directly to two squares on food and your city will grow equally quick in total, but you will have your warrior early on. The same logic goes for the rest of the game.

In other words. If you want to win a science victory put your city 4 and 5 on science. If you want to win a culture victory put your city 4 and 5 on food (to grow your city and thereby get more culture). Of course always build the building supporting your specialization, and almost never build the buildings that doesn´t. E.g., NEVER build market/bank in a science city and never build library/university in a gold city. You can always build culture buildings in all cities (as long as you think culture is important for your strat).

Hope this helps.
I'll add a bit more on how important specializing cites is. Specialized cities make your empire. You can get more gold or science off of one specialize city, then you can from 3+ non-specialized cities. Placing these cites are key, your production city should be far away from your capital (Preferably) and should be on a choke point with lots of Mountain and Hill squares. Choke point is key, as you want to pump out units as soon as possible to attack/defend against the enemy. You may have the urge to settle by forests, instead of Mountain/Hills, but don't, unless those forests are Oak (Or other good resourses). You'll get more production from mountains and hills in the long run, once you build mines and workshops. After you build mines and the workshop, only other building you should be building is a factory (Plus a courthouse, if you need to, this goes for all cities though), and possibly some wonders to help flip other cities. After the three buildings listed are complete, build as many units as you possibly can. On all difficulties, and no matter what victory you're going for, war is key. On higher difficulties, unless you get lucky, no war = no win.

Your science city should be near lots of water tiles, preferably in your starting square you should have, one food square, one forest and the rest water. This city should be at the back of your empire, as if you lose this, you'll be producing little science compared to your enemies (Especially the one who took your science city). You'll need to build a library and a university in this city. Once you get those buildings done, you might want to consider building East India Trading Company, depending on what victory you're going for, as it doubles trade squares on water tiles, and water tiles are what you're going to be having a lot of :).

For gold city, build it by one food, one forest and the rest should be by Gold, Gems, Water or Desert. Try to get this city up quick, preferably as your second city, as gold is a game winner. The GP and population bonuses from gold are unbelievable, especially if you get them once you're at your empires time of need. Again, this city should be at the back of your empire, as it needs to be safe. Build a Market, a Trading Post and a Bank in this city, as well as Trade Fair and Colossus. East India is a bonus if you're going for Economical victory, and couldn't find any good desert squares.

I generally have 5-8 cities, 4 of them being my Capital, Gold City, Science City and Production city. I try to go Capital--->Gold City (Relatively close.)--->Production City (Far Away)---->Science City (Pretty much beside my capital). The other cities are for choke-points and fillers. Getting your production city up quick while having it far away helps a lot. It will be close to your enemies cities, so as soon as you pump out units they're at the action. While having good production will make wonder building easy, flipping close enemy cites.

The jump between King-Emperor is a big jump, as the AI goes from occasional war to war all the time.

A good reminder is always try to be the first to get good early techs (While getting the bonus) good techs are Math, Monarchy, Invention, Code of Laws and Irrigation. ONLY BUILD CITIES IF YOU HAVE A REPUBLIC. Losing that 1 extra population could end up being a extra 20 science, which is a lot early in the game. Early war and good early production and gold will win you the game, it just takes time to master your technique.
I like Kadazzle's post. As far as city specialization what I do is roughly follow one of the guides I saw on here:

1. First two cities = science + libraries (buy them with cash from roaming warriors taking goody huts... or sell Alphabet to rival civs... also make sure you hit that 100 mark for the settler for 2nd city before rushing libraries).
2. Third+ cities = gold
3. Stay in front on tech... i go for Code of Laws asap (it's only a slight deviation from the Mathematics->Democracy path i think). Then land grab like mad (first choke points, then good resource spots, then fillers). And like Kadazzle said ONLY BUILD SETTLERS AS A REPUBLIC. Excellent point there. Going from a 4 to a 2 pop kills you for a while.

I do get into a little trouble with high culture civs because I tend to have low culture for say the first quarter of the game.

Ultimately though I shoot for currency, and try to build up my economy. so i can buy anything I need.

if i capture a city thats got a science GP present i leave it science but of the cities i create only the first two are science.

When i hit tanks I smash everyone usually because most are still defending with pikemen but a few might have riflemen. Then I decide how i want to win.

Admittedly I would like to try to play an offbeat civ... i read the French thread and might try them. not sure how my usual mode of play will translate.
I disagree about the Republic only for settlers. First this is going to affect different cities differently, if I get a whale in my capital with Spain, I'll be building a settler and losing 2 long before I get to Republic. That sort of strategy puts a unreasonable force to research to Code which isn't always that strong.

The only reason I mayl not build a settler right after the first warriors and a galley in my capital is if I get lots of gold quickly for the free settler and I get my second city on a high food growth position, like multiple fish. In which case I'll be building the settler in my second city. Other wise, getting that free city could be delayed due to bad luck and completely kill a game if you depend on it. Therefore I always build at least one settler before republic.
Also there is no better return for any settler any where else in the game than that first one. You're either doubling your power, or adding 33% (if the free one was first).

Additionally, growth is easier at lower pop, so a key thing to consider when to build the settler is whether your good growth tiles will be worked once it pops. I'd say +4 is a good number that balances speed of producing the settler and not killing the growth afterwards. Thats a mere 5 turns to growth at 2 or so, and you've lost nothing if you settle quickly and on a good spot.
As always there are lots of variables, in games where I get lots of early gold, I even rush that first settler once I get the 100 gold for the free one.

Anyway unless you follow the advice of an earlier poster about moving that settler far away (Don't do this early, the road is wastefully expensive and it losses you many turns of production.) you're going to get that population back as soon as you settle and likely double your food growth.

I'd further strengthing the topic that specializing cities is a strong strategy. This even applies to temporary measures, specialize hammers for that first warrior, then specialize food. Getting your food tiles worked gives you population and will allow you to work those other tiles faster and all the while maintaining the growth pattern. Unlike previous Civs each pop doesn't cost you more food so your food growth rate will forever determine the population of the city. Get them worked quickly and this will pay for the rest of the game.
(Of course later game you may want to ignore food to get a killer science or hammer city, the former you'd just rush a harbor the later may require some settler joining.)
Thanks everyone for the excellent information. Since my post, I have won a domination victory at emperor level (with the Egyptians), but no tech or culture victory. I have to say, though, that the map you're dealt plays such a huge role in what you can do. I had an amazing territory, and was able to easily dominate my neighbours (who I curtailed early on from expanding). I won the domination in 1998, but I think I would have won a tech victory if I had kept playing.

Again, thanks for your assistance!

I have won once and yes, Boomsie, with the Romans... but it was an economic victory. Now I want to win with another civ, preferably a cultural victory, but dang, it's tough! I almost won a tech victory last night but all the other civs ganged up on me and I couldn't finish my ship. Oh so close!
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