Part One Intro I've been around for a while. Here at the forum I have been part of many Succession Games, a Democracy Game, two Multi Team Democracy Games, and even an Inter Site Democracy Game. I been in some Training Day games as a learner and have had occasion to be a teacher too. I even have some games in the Hall of Fame, which was easier than I expected. Those are not great games, but when each setting of map size/difficulty/victory condition can hold ten games and only three have been submitted for that combination, well, anything can happen. I have been fortunate enough to play in the Greebley and ThERat series of Always War games and lately in the CCM SGs. Those all were played against the full set of AI bad guys on extra large maps. But I haven't done a solo AW game. Until now. And it wasn't pretty. Now, I knew, in my mind I knew that a solo game would not be as easy as an SG. I wasn't prepared for the reality, however. It took me thirteen (13!) starts before I won my first game. Before I started I was prepared for a bad start or two, but not thirteen. I was a little bit smug regarding my solo playing. And the game was smugger about bringing me down to size. So, for those of you considering this rather demanding form of Civ3, let me share with you some of my insights into this challenging maelstorm of wits and naked aggression. What is Always War? Most of you know how an AW war game is defined. You don't make peace with anyone, ever. You meet them and delcare war. Well, maybe you give them a chance to take your gold for a tech. Or generously sell them a tech before you yell, "Off with their heads!". But mostly, war, war and more war. Pretty easy to grasp, actually. What can be overlooked is that war, war, war also removes your ability to be a trade broker and tech dealer. Now there is only one possible trade with each civ, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. One shot per civ. No more and (too often) sometimes less. In turn, that means each tech must be self-taught or otherwise acquired outside of trade deals. Thus, learning Writing so that you can sell it to the Dutch for Bronze Working and to the Aztecs for Horseback Riding isn't going to be an option. That extra Spice won't work as trade bait either. Ouch. An AW game is a very different beast from a normal C3C Space Race game. Very different indeed. You Can't Win From Australia This isn't Risk. That strategy is fine for a normal Civ game but is the kiss of death in AW. Unless your island is close to the mainland. Meaning either coastal waters or narrow seas that can be crossed a galley. Any further out than that and all bets are off. Of my first four starts, two were large islands and required two IBTs to find the next closest land mass. To safely navigate the ocean blue would require either Navigation or Magnetism, which are at the tail end of the Middle Ages. Unless you have Iron, Horses and Saltpeter on your island, your military will be outclassed by the time you invade. Not really a fun experience. Map location is key to a good game. You do want to be somewhat isolated so that you can expand without a lot of problems. Ideally you would want to be on one end of a long serpentine land mass or start next to a good sized pennisula. Starting in the middle of the map, where you can be attacked on all sides, is not desired. But since you don't control this aspect of the game, you've just gotta start and see what happens. You do control map size and land mass. I started out with Huge maps, pangea land mass. Pangea wasn't a good idea and after five false starts I learned that lesson. I downsized to Huge Continents and did better but even in my best game I didn't do that well. Game 13 was Standard map size and continents and that was okay. Now I am tempted to go back to the a prior game and pick it up again. I am not sure it is a winnable game but it would be instructive. I played at Monarch difficulty. I like that level. It gives the AI a 10% discount on everything, which isn't too bad. And since it is an AW game, the difficulty goes up a bit, according to Arathorn in Comprehensive Guide to Variants. With a Standard map and Continents land mass, I think AW made this roughly equivalent of a normal Emperor level game. Huge and Pangea would definitely bump it up two levels. Know Who You Are I tend to play as a random civ. I let the game decide for me. That way I don't get stuck playing only one or two civs that I like best. It allows me to experience all the traits and play with civs I would normally avoid. I mean, who wants to conquer the world with India? I didn't, but I did. In AW, I don't think that is a good idea for your first game. You could get stuck with Rome or Persia and that would be bad. Both of thier UUs are Super Swords, and they are awesome units. All you need is Iron Working and Iron. Win a battle with them and that kicks off your Golden Age. Yipee! In Despotism. With small cities. Not so Yipee! In a normal game with Rome or Persia you could time your Golden Age to begin shortly after you became a Monarchy or Republic. After all, you'll be a peace with everyone until you decide it is time to shine. In AW you don't get that chance. And you will need Swords sooner rather than later. I played five of my thirteen games as Persia unitl I realized that I was avoiding Iron Working so as to prevent a too-early GA and therefore heading towards Monarchy was not the best tech route to follow. I was zigging when I really should have been zagging. Instead, choose a civ with a later UU, like a Super Knight or Super Cavalry. Of the civ traits, I think that SCI is critical, at least in your first game. It guarantees two, perhaps even three free techs for you. And they might even be helpful ones, too. At least you won't have to spend time learning them. MIL is nice, but not critical, since your veterans will promote to elites and they will become leaders. There will be plenty of battles for those promotions, never fear. REL is rather worthless in an AW game. COM, AGR, EXP and SEA don't impress me as good AW traits. IND is good for faster workers, which I always like. My last four games I went with the Ottomans, SCI and IND and the Sipahi is a Super Cavalry unit. And that worked for me. Be Pingy To my mind their are four basic military units in an AW game: Sneakers, Stickers, Pingers and Killers. And you need some of all of them. Sneakers are the fast units; Horses, Knights, Cavalry and such. They can swoop down on an isolated unit that has friends near by, eliminate that unit and then sneak back to the safety of a city or a stack of other units. Stickers are Spears, Pikes, Muskets, Rifle and Infantry. They defend and rarely attack. They sorta stick where you put them. Fortify and forget. Pingers are Catapults, Trebuchets, Cannons, Artillery and to a lesser extent Archers, since they have a defensive bombardment ablity. The rock throwing family of units are not helped by barracks and that fact can be helpful at times. While all of them have the defensive bombardment abilty, offensively they are potent too. Generally, just inflicting 1 HP on an enemy unit is enough for the AI to pull that unit outside of your borders and let it heal. Reducing a stack from 4 to 2 can be a big deal, especially when you need to bring in reinforcements. Plus, wounding units makes it easier to kill them. Killers are just that, the heavy hitters that pack and deliver your offensive punch. Archers, Swords, Maces and of course all the fast units. These are the units you use when you just need to whack someone and make sure they stack whacked. Now, none of that is new. But in AW, the Pingers are much more important than a normal game. Your cities will be attacked and you will have units on hills that you want to go away. An Archer on a hill is much harder to kill than one in the flatlands. You will need Pingers to soften up targets for an eventual kill. You will also need them to wound units and go away. One of the realities of the early AW game is that you won't have enough Killers to go around. In the Ancient Times, it is common that you are in a city and face a stack of three or four bad guys, say Swords. Pingers wound all of them but only two Killers, a Sword and a Horse, are on hand, along with a pair of Stickers. So, two of the trespassers die and the other two run away on the IBT. Your Pingers stay in place and reload some rocks for IBT attacks (which means they can be used twice in one turn!). This round goes to you. Now replay that without the Pingers. Four healthy Swords facing a Sword, Horse and two Spears. If both Killers win, that still leaves two healthy Swords ready to do damage to you. On the IBT, the Sword and a Spear are lost, and now the city is defended with a Spear and a Horse. And two bad guys banging on the front door. Not very pleasant. And if more bad guys show up from another civ, it is even worse. Morale: Don't scrimp on the Pingers! Don't go overboard with them either, but don't ignore them. Scout and Expand with Care You want to be able to build and place your first three to four cities rather quickly and without bother. You don't want to find neighbors too soon. Sure, they will die once they have met your fine and overly belligernt people, but for now you need some peace and quite in which to get set up. So don't scout too far from your borders. I send my first Warrior 3 tiles from the capital and then started to circle around, looking for good city sites. By the time you are ready to build your fifth city you are at war with somebody. Now building a new city is a bit trickier. The AI loves settler pairs but you cannot afford to do that. Starting a new city with only one defender is a good way to lose both. All of your cities will need at least two units in them. And they will need to be connected by roads as soon as possible, so that you can move reinforcements in quickly. Two units in a city will make them harder to capture. And make them happier, since in Despotism military units (MPs) in cities reduce unhappiness. Eventually this needs to become three untis per city, in anticpation of changing governments from Despotism to Monarchy. Monarchy has no War Weariness and the first three MPs reduce unhappiness. For MP duty, Warriors work just as well as Infantry. The need for more military units for attack and defense will slow down your expansion but it should not stop it. Unit support in Despotism is the same regardless of city size, so squeezing a settler out of a large city can be a good thing. It will make that city less cranky and easier to manage. The luxury slider can go down, which will help your economy. When you buidl a city in AW in Ancient Times, it must be able to defend itself until it is roaded. Even if the battles are all in the west and you are expanding eastwards, send two units with the settler. The second can be a turn or two behind but make sure it gets there. As a rule of thumb, I place cities in a CxxC pattern (City tile tile City) so that each city is three roaded tiles away from another city. This allows Spears and Archers and other Move 1 units to be shuffled around when needed and still have MPs in place. Sometimes it is possible to expand towards your enemies. When that can be done rather safely, do it. This will increase the number of uncontested and inaccessible tiles in your core, which makes it easier and safer for your workers to do improvements. Ancient eLearning Self research is the curse of AW games. Right off the bat you are at a disadvantage since tech trading is so unpredictable. So if you can trade for a tech, do so. It is one less that you have to pick up on your own. The techs in red give you military units. The ones in green are needed city improvements, with granaries and aqueducts being the two key improvements. Temples will be needed in the better producing core cities to keep them happy. Markets are not marked as needed, since three luxuries need to be connected before they begin to have an affect. Unless you are very lucky, you won't have three luxuries until the middle of the Middle Ages or so and by then markets will be needed. In the Ancient Times they are a needless expense. The Blue E are the needed survival techs of the Ancient Times. That would include Writing (to get to Literature) though it could exclude Currency (except that without Currency the blue doesn't look much like an 'E'). Those techs that are not part of the E will not let you live long and prosper in the era of stone knives and bearskin rugs. I am normally Wonder Adverse. I avoid Great Wonders as a rule. In AW, I think that The Great Library is almost a given build for you. It does take a city out of unit production for a good number of turns, often more than 30, but the results are worth it. You will pick up a lot of techs and their benefits without having to learn them yourself. And you won't have to build a bunch of libraries, either, when you really need to be cranking out military units. Education kills the affects of The Great Library but it does get you over the hump of the Ancient Times and into the Middle Ages. If it gives you Chivalry, great. If not, you do need to learn that tech. Knights are pretty awesome and Horses have a hard time killing them. (I've had Horses attacking Knights and it is pretty hard on the Horses; they die.) After that, beeline to Military Tradition. By now you will have some libraries built and may have even begun on a science farm area. Learning is still a slow process, but as you begin to grind down your opponents the technology gap becomes less of a problem. They may be three techs ahead of you, but if all they have is a one tile tropical island paradise, they are not a great threat.