The hidden power of agg+cha (or, why Boudica is actually the best leader in the game)

Fish Man

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Yes, you read that right. Forget HC or Lizzy or Darius, Hannibal or Mansa or Pacal or Willem. In this thread, I will prove to you why Boudica is truly the strongest.

I've been missing @Lain 's videos for a while now, as I'm sure others have too, so in that spirit - and honestly just because I felt like playing a ridiculously hard map that would offer a challenge even with constant reloading - I decided to take on his infamous Boudica isolation save, which he got absolutely destroyed by (albeit on his first ever civ video, I think he's gotten a lot better since then), and which I don't think any other player on the forums has beat (or, someone may have, but discussion around this save stopped as new maps came up).

The main challenge on this map were three things, a religious lovefest on the biggest continent caused by Ragnar defying his militaristic nature to found Buddhism and ensuring friendly relations and constant trading between all low-peaceweight leaders; and Ragnar himself getting absolutely out of control with 13-15 extremely good cities, before going to space and/or taking out someone like Joao, perhaps even getting a peacevassal. Finally, the starting location was absolutely awful, with basically 5 unique health/happy resources on the entire continent, no horse, not a lot of food or rivers, and enough space for only 6-7 cities (if you really squeeze it at that). Cannons would be reached 1100AD or so at the earliest, by which people people would be handily getting machine guns and infantry because of said ridiculous tech pace (and even then, you barely have any good spots to whip from). So, how did I handle this start?

The answer was a combination of several strategies, some of which would have not been possible with prior map knowledge, but all of them combining into perhaps the most unique and entertaining civ game I’ve ever played.

First, from watching Lain’s series, I knew the original capital location was just going to be awful, and needed to be moved anyways. So, why not save myself the hassle of building a new palace and walking my settler to the much better flood plains location to start? Sure, it’s extremely slow because I can’t improve the sheep or cottage or chop until much later…but the head-start on those cottages and the hammers saved on moving the palace was enough to make up for that (as well as the eventual ability to settle the westmost cities in better spots to share food/tiles). Here’s where I settled the cap:

Spoiler :

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Next, I did something crucial to negate the main challenge of this map: Buddhism denial. I start with mysticism, which normally would have been a curse, especially with such a pottery/BW-heavy start…but I took advantage of that and selected meditation as my first tech, winning the religion race (since I knew Rags didn’t start with myst). Getting a religion basically took care of fogbusting, since the capital in my current location covered the entire east of the continent with 2 border pops. It also gave me happiness, and access to monasteries, which were a small but much-needed resource boost with land as bad as this. Since meditation was on the way to PH -> monarchy, it was essentially free to found the religion beaker-wise, as those were all techs I needed anyways. Finally, and most importantly, without a religion, all the AIs’ development were substantially slowed without access to culture (especially holy city border pops) or happiness early on, especially Ragnar having wasted 14 turns essentially getting nothing—and there was no lovefest. Without the lovefest, there was no handing around monopoly techs and in fact several wars started, first Qin declaring on Surry and then Ragnar declaring on Qin, substantially slowing down everyone’s progress. The degree of delay was evident at around the 1000AD mark, when even a top player @Rusten was stuck with AIs almost a full era ahead of the cavemen in my game:

Spoiler :

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So getting meditation early also let me Oracle monarchy, which somewhat made up for I admit the major flaw in this strat, an extremely slow first worker and settler (after 13-14 turns on settler walk + meditation, I also had to then tech: mining, BW, the wheel, agriculture, pottery, and then AH just to get all my tiles up). I got astro 840AD (t152), which was later than Rusten and @Pedro78, but nobody had it yet. In fact, people were so behind that only one person had education by the time I libbed steel 1170AD (t177)!!! How do they let me keep getting away with this…

Spoiler :

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Obviously, you can’t rely on doing something like this without prior map knowledge, but that just goes to show how important early religions are for the AI and how devastating it is to deny them (or, fun for you to do so).

So I picked off Qin with cannons and rifles—some were drafted with a short stint into nationalism, though agg/cha draft rifles were still pretty good (and no, this isn’t even the best part of the trait combo yet). Qin never got rifling, and I made sure it stayed that way until the end of the war with trade denial. Here’s how it works: AIs, even friendly, will never make trades that are “lopsided” (hence, they never get the +4 “fair and forthright” relations bonus with each other). All you have to do is make sure that the AIs don’t have the gold to balance out the exact trade that they would otherwise make, OR hand the tech over to the other AI if you have it! For example, let’s say that Qin has democracy to trade, and Ragnar has rifling + 300 gold. If that 300g is enough to cover the difference between democracy and rifling, you have two options: either just straight up give Ragnar democracy if you have it, or give him some other tech/map that will take the 300g from him and stop him from “making the accounting work”. Then, he won’t make the trade. This technique works best when reloading but I’m pretty sure you can approximate it even without doing so, with some patient math and calculations that I can’t be bothered to do.

I took out Surry as well, confident he wasn’t going to get infantry in time. Here’s a piece of advice—when AIs see oil in their territory, they will go crazy for combustion and always go for it before AL or artillery, sometimes even before rifling. The AI is hard-coded to prioritize techs which let them improve resources in their territory (you see this with everyone bum-rushing calendar in cases where people start with lots of dyes or spices or whatnot). This goes double for oil, which is valued so highly as a resource (perhaps the highest in the game) that they often demand you pay 500gpt for it, and I’m sure even a single oil resource in their territory is automatically assigned the highest value. So, Surry is close to AL, but he took his sweet time getting machine guns (useless against CR3 cannons), then destroyers (also pretty useless, as by that time I had landed like 30 cannons). And finally, as I capped him, I beat railroad out of him and then traded for the rest of AL from him for communism just as he finished it. Perfect timing!

Afterwards I was left with a dilemma. Despite my best efforts, Ragnar was indeed beginning to run away with the game, though not as unmanageable as he may have been without Buddhism denial. He had a lot of good cities, but all of them were extremely deep in his territory, and nevertheless he’d started getting extremely dangerous units like gunships and mobile artillery, even modern armor (though I think he lacked aluminum). He’d already vassaled Joao and in fact seemed to be in danger of running over even Arabia. So, what could I do to stop all my efforts thus far from going down the drain?

This was the answer:

Spoiler :

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That’s right. With agg + cha, you only need 13XP to reach commando for gunpowder units, compared to the 26 normally. Now usually, commando is a rather useless promotion, because you’ll only be able to make a handful of these units from a single city or two if you can even reach the XP needed for a level 6 promo, but I actually had two high-production cities that came with enough GGs to get them right out the gate! Both Qin and Surry were nice enough to mass-settle all their generals in their capitals, which made for excellent commando farms. So, I started spamming infantry and later marines promoted to commando from those cities (marines because, combat IV marines are actually surprisingly strong, enough to best gunships, mobile SAMs/artillery, and even tanks in a head-on confrontation). As for how I was going to deal with city defenses…well, I also started spamming and stockpiling nukes in virtually all my other cities.

At last it was time to strike. On the first turn of the war, I took 8 cities and destroyed his navy, both his main army in Joao’s former cities and his secondary army in Visigoth, his artillery stack, and took his capital, permanently crippling him. It was absolutely hilarious to see marines and infantry, normally “slow” units, zoom across all the railroads he built to snipe every single city that made up his core, before he could even fire a shot in retaliation.

Spoiler :

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In subsequent turns he took some stuff back, but a second round of nukes shredded whatever resistance was left and permanently broke his army. I took 15 cities in 7 turns, and he capitulated a bit later, 13 turns into the war, after some stubbornness from him thinking his strength was higher due to his battleships and carriers. Capping Saladin to get domination (he was so behind he didn’t even have electricity by t300) was a formality, at that point, to finish off the game.

The endgame was complete devastation. With nukes and commando I turned what would’ve been an uphill grind against modern-era units into the fastest and most decisive slaughter in the game. Nobody, not even any other of the superpowered financial leaders, could’ve pulled off such a feat. I’m not even joking—under the right circumstances, when she can fully unleash, this is why Boudica is the truly the strongest leader.

Spoiler :

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And finally, some more pics (including of the victory), and the winning save attached:

Spoiler :

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I love Boudica, and I roll her often. I actually love Agg trait, and Tokugawa is my favorite leader (mostly for sentimental reasons)
I am not familiar with the game you played, but I think it really shows why CIV4 is such a great game. I also think this shows that even in iso, getting a religion can be a beneficial strategy to the player because of how you cripple the AI and additional border pops lets you save hammers on fogbusting units.

If you ever want to test your Boudica skills again, I will attach a nice map for you. Might not be a challenge for you, I played it on Immortal and managed fine, but I think Deity could be a massive challenge.
 

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I did read your whole post. Cannot reply to all of it. Basically, as I have always said, the biggest threat to this type of map is the Apostolic Palace. As soon as you get astronomy and the religion spreads to one of your cities, you can lose instantly.

If you did not have prior map knowledge though, was a non-military victory possible?

About this leader... it's the only leader where I will build the West Point.
 
I did read your whole post. Cannot reply to all of it. Basically, as I have always said, the biggest threat to this type of map is the Apostolic Palace. As soon as you get astronomy and the religion spreads to one of your cities, you can lose instantly.

If you did not have prior map knowledge though, was a non-military victory possible?

About this leader... it's the only leader where I will build the West Point.

Ah, another good thing about Buddhism denial - because my religion had naturally spread to all my cities by the point I made contact, there was no risk of AP victory since natural spread only happens if there's no religion in a city already.

Non-military victory would've been so unlikely as to be impossible without prior knowledge. Maybe in 1/100 games, Ragnar declares on Qin and gets bloodied and beaten up instead of just eating up Joao, also ruining the lovefest, but even then Qin may become the runaway. Or he declares Surry and just rolls him over, creating even bigger problems. Without prior knowledge, Buddhism denial could be too risky, as there may be like 3 leaders who start with myst for all you know.

Even on Rusten's save, by the time he got cannons, Ragnar already had them, and also was 1 tech from rifling, 5 from infantry. Also his research sucked; with just the island, your bpt is kind of hard-capped at 350, which is pathetic and unworkable long-term.
 
Even with no natural religious spread, you still have to run theocracy to prevent missionaries. Also, as soon as you capture the first city on the other continent, same problem.

Only real solution short of razing the AP city is to found 3 cities on an island, grant it independence, spread another religion, and then ask the colony to run theocracy.

Without map knowledge, could you have beaten this map on immortal?
 
The main challenge on this map were three things, a religious lovefest on the biggest continent caused by Ragnar defying his militaristic nature to found Buddhism and ensuring friendly relations and constant trading between all low-peaceweight leaders
I didn't get this. Could you clarify more? Particularly you provided explanations:

Finally, and most importantly, without a religion, all the AIs’ development were substantially slowed without access to culture (especially holy city border pops) or happiness early on, especially Ragnar having wasted 14 turns essentially getting nothing—and there was no lovefest. Without the lovefest, there was no handing around monopoly techs and in fact several wars started, first Qin declaring on Surry and then Ragnar declaring on Qin, substantially slowing down everyone’s progress

but Buddism is only a single religion. Was you goal to cripple only Ragnar? Why don't you founded Hinduism / Judaism too (following similar arguments)?

It is an interesting strategy to cause quarrels between AIs if you know for sure you are in the Astro isolation (when you win all early religions) but I cannot justify it as lack game experience.
 
Yeah, haven't seen lain in ages. :(
Longest hiatus so far I think.

Until I have been told otherwise, I will always believe that Lain rage-quit after losing as Charlemagne for the third time on-camera (Youtube). Losing on-camera is emotionally difficult for anyone. Now it's up to us to avenge him :hammer:.

In general, I am curious:
1. Pick a horrible isolation map. If you could choose any leader, which one?
2. Pick a horrible semi-isolation map. If you could choose any leader, which one?

Note that this question is - - not - - the same as "Which is the best isolation leader" and "Which is the best semi-isolation leader". The best leader for isolation maps in general, is not the same as the best leader in a horrible isolation map.
 
With or without HC? Sadly he's the best leader for almost anything ;)
Best traits for Iso (and maybe also semi) are Fin, Phi, Cha and Ind.
Prolly Lizzy if no HC. She can have much more trouble with barbs, but even a slower start can be boosted with those optimal traits.
 
The hidden power of combat rng just for :lol:
Spoiler :

Seems like I siphoned all your luck :)

In all seriousness, though, I think the most outrageous loss I've seen was 99.6%. Sometimes I think if you got guaranteed wins above 70% and losses below 30%, perhaps that may finally solve my reloading addiction...
 
Ouch, that is a bad loss. I had one like that recently too, think the stated odds was 99.9%, but I don't recall what units it was now. But for all the annoyances we have with the RNG when it bites us in the arse, I'm glad we have it. The game wouldn't be the same without it. It 'controls' almost all facets of the game, from combat to tech choices to trades to diplo. Would be terribly boring if all AIs always picked the same techs in the same order, and so forth, or if we always won fights at e.g. 51% odds.
 
I once had a treb win at 0.4% odds. Refused to perform its duty as "suicide siege." Being that we attack with 99.6% odds much more often than with 0.4% odds, we see losses of the former much more often that wins with the latter.
 
I can live with losing the odd 95%+ combat. Obviously that kind of RNG screwjob can be a gamebreaker in the early game, but later on...it's bearable.

What drives me crazy is losing four 80%+ combats in a row. Those were my can openers; now even if I take this city, my offensive stops right there.
 
Topical (?):
Just won 4 successive combats with odds of 21.1%, 31.0%, 40.2% and 32.7% (Cavalry vs Machine Gun/Mobile Artillery/Mobile SAM/Mobile Artillery).

:dunno:
 
In the early game, bad RNG can screw you over. Later on, if losing 5 80% battles in a row inconveniences you that only means you did not make enough units. :dunno:
 
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