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The Byzantines

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Ision, May 2, 2004.

  1. Ision

    Ision Master

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    I have decided to do a review on each CIV. My intention is to encourage debate and hopefully to help others (and myself) in their game play.

    The Byzantines

    Just off the coast of that peaceful AI Civ awaits certain doom. An armada of transport ships loaded with troops and escorted by the finest warships known to man has arrived at their launch point. The rain of flames that will descend on the enemy cities and ships is an irresistible force. This review is of that seafaring nightmare known by the name of the Byzantines.

    Seafaring and Scientific, the Byz have a set of traits that in combination results in game play that is uniquely different from most of the other Civs. With the starting techs of Alphabet and Bronze Working the Byz have 2 of the most valued techs by the AIs (alphabet highly so - bronze working is very average in value) – this in turn leads to a very strong position at the bargaining table come tech trading time. Early on it is not uncommon for the Byz to keep up in tech even with the goody hut-popping expansionist Civs. The Seafaring trait produces extra commerce in cities built on the coast, gives a half priced discount on harbors, increases ship range by 1 and most importantly decreases the chances of sinking out at sea prior to Astronomy. The ‘suicide galley strat’ is one that you must use - and use extensively! This last attribute alone (in the hands of a human) makes the Seafaring trait unmatched on Arch maps and quite strong on Cont maps. The AI is supremely stupid with Seafaring in that it will never attempt a suicide run for contact – the generally poor AI handling of this trait makes newer players mistake Seafaring as a weak trait.

    Working along with Seafaring, is the Byz Scientific trait giving a boost to science research, producing the occasional SGL and most importantly providing the half priced libraries and universities that the Byz will build in order to keep up in the tech race, and quite often dominate it. The 2 traits are simply deadly on Arch maps – the ability to get strong tech research even when isolated, a head start on the Writing/Literature/Map Making research path and the Seafaring advantage of early ‘first’ contacts that establishes diplomatic and commercial dominance. For obvious reasons the Byz should quite often consider targeting the ‘seafaring’ Great Wonders – the Great Lighthouse being the most invaluable. This Great Wonder combined with a decent start can quite often leave your game victory in no doubt very early on. The Republic to Demo government line is well suited for this Civ.

    The Byz UU is the dreaded Droman. Available with Map Making and replacing the Galley, the Droman is the absolute terror of the seas for well over an entire age! A 30 shield 2-1-3 super-galley with a transport capacity of 2 and ‘bombard ability’, the Droman can more than hold its own even with the advent of Caravels. The most controversial aspect of the Droman is its bombard ability. The Byz can play absolute havoc with enemy coastlines – delaying and retarding enemy growth to the point of a standstill – it is a ‘pillager’ second to none. In the role of amphibious escort/transport there simply is nothing like it in the game. Invading with near impunity (galleys and caravels are loath to intercept this monster) the Droman is unique in that its job has only really just begun. The enemy city will be treated to a ‘stream of fire’ reducing the defense strength of the units within, also once the city is taken the Droman can enter the city itself and provide bombard service to the responding AI units in the surrounding inland squares, and thus greatly diminish the AIs counter-attack power. The Droman will rule the seas until the advent of Frigate class warships.

    The Byz are supremely well suited for the ‘balance of power’ type player, the player that likes to alternate between wars and peace – culture building and warmongering. A nice mid-sized core empire along with numerous far away Colonies (overseas captured coastal cities that provide strategic or luxury resources) is a Byz staple. As a warmongering CIV they dominate on Arch maps and do ‘nicely’ on Conts maps. As a culture Civ the cheap science buildings will have the Byz more than hold their own against a good half of the Civs in the game. On Pang maps the Civs value is drastically reduced, one upside however is that the Droman can still be put to good use even on Pang maps.

    There are 3 primary downsides to this Civ. First and foremost is the map dependant nature of the Seafaring trait, like Expansionist on Arch maps – Seafaring on Pang maps is reduced to the status of a mere ‘afterthought’. Secondly, despite the fearsome nature of the Droman, it is quite awkward to properly initiate your GA with it – especially with the AI sea vessels running like hell in your presence! You will often times be forced to initiate a war of ‘expediency’ when there is a handy target vessel around. Thirdly, the Byz are generally ‘slow starters’ – without the REX advantages that other traits give, the Byz are often playing a game of catch-up. On a Conts map with the Germans and the Mongols as neighbors – a good deal of early ‘boot-licking’ is often in order. An early land based war will often retard your own growth severely. That said, on Arch maps the Byz are second to none!

    Summary: An undisputed 1st tier Civ on Arch maps, a 2nd tier Civ on Conts maps and a below average 3rd tier Civ on Pang maps: the Byzantines average out to an overall 2nd tier Civ. With its unique trait combo and fascinating UU, the Byz popularity will continue to be among the highest in the game.

    below is the link to my other Civ reviews:

    other CIV Reviews by Ision
     
  2. Gainy

    Gainy Guest

    Bronze working is not one of the most valued techs. Of the first set of technologies, it is Alphabet. Then in 2nd, it is Masonry and The Wheel.
    Just a small edit needed :)
     
  3. Chieftess

    Chieftess Moderator Retired Moderator

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    BW is just one tech the AI often goes for because of it having a wonder, and a defender (and a UU for some civs). Saying that it's the "most valued tech" is misleading. Yes, it's valued to the AI becuase of the wonders and units, but it's not a high value tech in terms of tech costs.
     
  4. Ision

    Ision Master

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    Gainey bo,

    Bronze working IS one the most valued techs. War Academy articles and comments confirm this, as well as my own expierence. From a tech trading persepective (which is the CONTEXT in which the term 'valued' is being used) the AI will spill its guts for this tech, and almost always research it first.

    Let me state this more simply - it has been MY expierence that on average Alphabet and Bronze Working are starting techs that AI CIVs will trade their own techs for almost without exception - naturally the number of CIVs that already have the tech in question is a factor.

    For the sake of avoiding this CIV review becoming a debate on a single issue, I have edited the sentence.

    Ision
     
  5. Gainy

    Gainy Guest

    I'm sorry, but that is wrong. I just created a test scenario, where I started off next to 1 other civ.
    In the first instance, I was Korea, and started next to Japan (I set this up) I immediately went onto the diplomacy screen and asked to trade Bronze working for The Wheel. They would not accept this. They also would not accept it even when I offered 10 gold ontop of Bronze working. This is when we were on polite terms, hence they should not be unwilling to trade.
    I then set it up for the Chinese to start next to me. I offered them the same deal, but for Masonry this time. They would not accept, even with 10 gold -- they were also polite to me.

    Thus, I can conclude that the AI do not value Bronze working higher than Masonry or The Wheel during trade -- which you stated.

    Btw CT, can you unban me please? :(
     
  6. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    How can you post if you're banned? #Civfanatics?

    Great article!
     
  7. Gainy

    Gainy Guest

    Yeah.

    Erm... Good article Ision. I respect your commitment to writing them, and hope you will be able to finish the set :)
     
  8. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Chieftain

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    Personally I like Byzantine. One drawback to the Dromon is that its a naval UU. You need quite a few of them to be effective and each one is one less swordsman/immortal or a few defensive units. Also using galleys/Dromons to invade is a big pain unless they are right next door. Still one of my favourite civs anyway.
     
  9. yankees

    yankees Chieftain

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    Another fantastic review by Ision!!!!!!! the points you make about the Droman and the civ traits are right on the money. you civ reviews have helped me so much.

    Y
     
  10. dgfred

    dgfred Sports Freak

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    :thanx: for the great review Ision. Right on target.:worship:
     
  11. Ision

    Ision Master

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    dgfred, Gainey bo, and yankees.........

    Many many thanks for your kind words and comments.

    While not among my favorite CIVs, the Byz do have a higher than avergae 'fun' factor over many other CIVs - its those Dromans!

    Ision
     
  12. Ision

    Ision Master

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    by the way gentlemen,

    There is now a sticky in this forum with a link to all of my CIV reviews.

    Ision
     
  13. frank_mosta

    frank_mosta Chieftain

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    How about the Vikings? My current standard size map, random settings games turns out to be a small land mass archipelago, with the Vikes furthest away from me. They've annihilated America, reduced Aztecs to 3 cities, pillaged the Iroqois core, and now in the mid-to-late Industrial Age, I am suddenly seeing half a dozen caravels loaded with Berserks converging on my lightly defended home island. That amphibious attack of 6 is not to be taken lightly! Being on the business end of a Viking sneak attack is a humbling experience....
     
  14. Ision

    Ision Master

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    frank,

    I feel your pain -lol-

    Second to none does not mean - better than all - personally all things being equal, I would rather be the Byz on Arch than the Vikings. Also, from MY expierence the AI plays the Byz somewhat better than the Vikings 'on average'....

    Ision
     
  15. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Chieftain

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    Got to agree with the fun factor. Although not one of the true power civs of the game the Dromons one of the most fun units in the game. Beaten by Man O Wars
     
  16. troytheface

    troytheface Chieftain

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    i have always wanted to play byzantines multi player by every time i try i get warnings of .."take carthage instead" (seafaring ) i am assuming that this is due to the fact that -as you have written- the byzantines are slow starters and weak on heavy land maps-and as most if not all multi player games are Elimination (1 city loss=death) . But i would sure like to play them and launch a successful ship invasion/w loaded sword - strike against someone as i have found that in multi player, a good ship attack still seems to catch an opponent off guard...the byzantines seem like they would be the perfect civ for this....On this note...perhaps a small comment about multi player could be included in ur reviews- for ancient uu civs in particular- maybe something like a sentence or two..."and if u draw China on a random game my advice is to ...." or " if ur using ( ) in multi player my advice is" .... or even ..."a great multi player( or a terrrible multiplayer) civ......"
     
  17. Ision

    Ision Master

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    troytheface,

    I will consider it.

    Ision
     
  18. WackenOpenAir

    WackenOpenAir Chieftain

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    The Dutch are masters of the sea and we will always be ! :beer:
    death to all byzantines :ar15: :spear:
     
  19. Longasc

    Longasc Chieftain

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    I agree, the Dromon is powerful. A shame that the Vikings have the Viking, but no Longships -> let's wait for Civ4, perhaps we will have there more than only one unique unit. :)
     
  20. foods

    foods Chieftain

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    I just played through a game on a huge map, archipelago, 80% water as Byz. The Dromons really helped me out early, as I had a slow start. Their bombard feature really helped me out as I was attacked by the Celts early on. Later, they helped me conquer the Incas and explore the world, with help from the Great Lighthouse, long before any other civ. I went for Philosophy after Map Making and after that the scientific leaders just started popping up. After that it all went smooth and after the ancient age I got all of the wonders.

    Dead on review. Very fun to play.
     

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