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The Japanese

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Keirador, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    The Japanese

    The people who settled the Japanese islands built a rich and proud culture. When knights were sallying forth from castles in Medieval Europe, the Japanese were experiencing their own feudal age, but it could hardly be called a Dark Age. Arts, literature, and national pride flourished during this period. A centuries-long policy of proud isolationism only came to an end when Portuguese sailors landed on the islands, showing the Japanese how far they lagged behind the Western powers. Japan immediately abandoned isolationism and seized upon Western technologies and empire building. This culminated in the creation of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Japanese empire during World War II. After a crushing defeat, Japan abandoned militarism and founded a new empire based on economics. Today, despite having only nominal military forces, Japan is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and an industry leader in all forms of technology.

    Japan is Militaristic and Religious, two traits that, while decent individually, do not have the extradordinary synergy that marks the first-tier civs. Japan does, however, have the flexibility to pursue any victory condition which the current game conditions make most convenient. Unlikes the Mongols, who are primarily warmongers, or the Babylonians, who are primarily builders, a Japanese player can change his objective along the course of the game without abandoning his natural strengths. Your rivals look unconquerable militarily? Use the Religious trait to build up temples and cathedrals, striving for a cultural victory. Suddenly a war breaks out among other nations, significantly weakening your enemies' military advantage? You can abandon your culture-building, use the Religious trait to quickly change to a more war-focused government, and use the Militaristic trait to start pumping out veteran units and perhaps grab a couple of armies with your plentiful elite soldiers. Unlike many Civs, who are dependant on map conditions or the state of the AI for their success, a Japanese player can always be confident that his nation can succeed, if its managed properly.

    Any Religious civilization has the potential to be a succesful builder, and Japan is no exception. Though it doesn't receive any production or commerce bonuses, Japan's half-priced temples and cathedrals can be some of the first in the game, and as a good Civ player knows, older culture buildings produce more culture. These buildings also create a happier populace, which frees a Japanese player from wasting potentially useful citizens on becoming entertainers or spending excess money on the luxury slider. However, Japan's prowess as a builder only begins to take serious effect after the mid-to-late Ancient Age. A bit of a slow starter, Japan can usually only acquire the sprawling empire many Civers like to see by careful and prudent use of the military.

    Cheaper barracks and harbors, combat-hardened troops, and more abundant armies are the hallmarks of the Militaristic trait, which Japan possesses. Therefore, Japan has a respectable capacity to wage war. Unfortunately, Japan is prevented from being a first-rate warmonger because the Religious trait does little to speed along the warmaking process. In a martial sense, probably the best effect of the Religious trait is the ability to quickly switch to a war-focused government like Communism. A Religious Civ can also stay in a representative government during war longer than most Civs, due to more temples and cathedrals delaying the effects of War Weariness. This boost of happiness can also allow a player to more easily subdue conquered populations. These benefits, while noticeable, are not as much of an aid to warmongering as many other traits. Not every Militaristic civ is a first tier warmonger, and Japan is no exception.

    The Japanese Samurai reflects Japan's status as a balance-of-power player. A knight replacement that has an additional defense point and does not require horses, the Samurai costs the same as the knight. An extra defense point may not seem very important for a fast offensive unit, but because the Samurai is perfectly capable of defending itself, it does not have to wait for an escort of musketmen or pikemen. A combined arms force is usually best, of course, but for quick, decisive wars the Samurai is hard to beat. A force of fast-moving Samurai can quickly penetrate an enemy's border, ravaging the trade network and taking out cities. The Japanese Golden Age is also very well timed. The early Middle Ages, ripe with marketplaces, libraries, universities, cathedrals, and great wonders, are a perfect time for a Golden Age. The downside is that even though Samurai are better defenders than pikemen and equal with musketmen, they are considerably more expensive. A player can field two pikemen for less than the cost of a single Samurai, making their viability as defenders dubious.

    Summary: Japan can be very interesting to play because a player is not locked into a specific strategy in order to succeed. This versatility is augmented by a flexible, multi-use unique unit. Japan has a balance of play that makes it attractive to many players, but suffers from not being able to outperform its enemies in any particular area. As respectable at building as it is at warmongering, Japan is a solid 2nd tier Civilization.
     
  2. Pfeffersack

    Pfeffersack Deity

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    Your reviews are getting better and better...and I'm impressed by the frequency you write them.Simply excellent :goodjob:

    I fully agree to your points about the traits and the UU.The Samurai is to expense for an extended defense use; I tend to support them with pikemen ASAP.But as you said the nice thing about the Samurai is it can move forward quickly and defend itself perfectly if necessary.And needing a ressource less is always nice.However, not a gamebreaker as you mentioned...some of the comparable knight-UUs offer more benefits (war elephants, riders, ansars).
     
  3. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    NIce review and I agree with the 2nd tier status. Not all militaristic civs get a 1st tier warmonger status.
     
  4. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    I don't think the Japanese have been given enough credit here.

    It's religious trait makes it one of the few playable Civs on the higher difficulty levels when the AI gets 1 turn anarchies.

    But more importantly, the real strength of the Japanese (on all difficulty levels ) is its suitability for a kind of hybrid Warmonger-Builder playstyle that I am certain fits many players out there. The ability to capture cities and very quicky build up culture, and barracks is an invaluable and powerful combination in defensive pruning wars. Here the idea is to attack a rival and turn their cities in your own production centers in peacetime to make your economy even stronger.
     
  5. Mr. Hyperbole

    Mr. Hyperbole understated cynic

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    Kierador: I agree w/Pfeffersack. Your reviews are just getting better. I'm glad to see that you and Zardnaar are keeping these reviews alive. Any idea what civ you'll be reviewing next?
     
  6. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    There aren't too many left, Hyperbole. (I would have added "and that's no exaggeration", but I would have had to stab myself) I belive the only remaning civs are the Vikings, Dutch, Russians, and Zulus. Scoutsout plans on doing the Vikings and Zardnaar the Dutch. If neither of them want the Russians or Zulus, I'll do them. It doesn't seem like demand is that high anymore, though.

    dexters: You're certainly entitled to your opinion. These reviews aren't written in stone and forced down everyone's throat, they are just observations. I, for one, disagree with Ision's and Zardnaar's ranking of the Dutch as a first-tier civ over the French. Everyone will have slightly different tier rankings, the reviews just help people to see them in a different or perhaps more analytical perspective. However, I did make mention many times of Japan being a hybridized, balance-of-power player who does not suck at warmongering or building. Its just thats it doesn't excel at either. As far as taking enemy cities and building them up, this is not a strategy unique to Japan, nor does Japan do it best. Because enemy cities tend to be far from the capital, in my opinion the corruption-reducing Commercial trait is best for that sort of assimilation; but Japan certainly isn't bad at it. Neither, as is the over-riding point of the article, is it the best. Japan is decent but not excellent in almost all areas of the game.
     
  7. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    I got the distinct feeling they were penalized being not excelling at either. I wasn't aware you had to have all the traits of either a warmonger or a builder be considered a great Civ. I suspect most people don't play purely in those terms anyways. I certainly don't.

    Sulla had observed that Japan is a popular Civ for exactly the reason we've agreed on. It is very well balanced between going to war and building in peacetime. The sum is greater than the parts of each trait. Their Religious trait also means they are one of the few viable Civs in the higher difficulty levels where 1 turn anarchies are very powerful.
     
  8. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    Being a balance of power player is fine, but Japan simply isn't one of the best. The Celts, Iroquois, Ottomans, Persians, Mayans, and Arabs are all good balanced choices, but rather than being simply adequate at warmongering and building, they excel at both. I'm not saying Japan is horrible, I credited it several times in my article. Its simply not one of the best, so its not first tier, in my and many others' opinion. Again, you're by all means welcome to write your own review. What first-tier civ would you like to see dropped in favor of Japan?
     
  9. Mr. Hyperbole

    Mr. Hyperbole understated cynic

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    LOL

    There are still a few of us out here who appreciate what you guys are doing. And know, too that there are many who'll read these w/out posting. I had read through most of Ision's before I ever posted.

    And I agree with your ranking of Japan as 2nd tier...
     
  10. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    Why would you have to drop one of the first tier Civs to make room for Japan?

    What makes a first tier Civ? What are the weights given to each facet of the Civ. How to you reconcile different playstyles. Difficulty levels? (scientific is weaker the higher the difficulty is, whereas the power of Religious becomes increasingly apparent)

    Ision's review of the Chinese credits it as a 1st tier Civ for being exceptional at warmongering. But what if I'm a builder, China is most clearly a 2nd or 3rd tier Civ. The tiers in the reviews are so vague (there are now 31 Civs to throw into 3 vageuly general categories ) I'd say they are an exercise in arbitrary categorization. Japan may very well be a 2nd tier Civ, but without a proper scoring method and a rankings system to give the big picture of where the Civs stand, as you've said, your opinion is as good as mine.

    Ultimately, I work under the assumption you arrive at a reasonable weighing of each Civ based on their overall performance in different playstyles. A Civ that is exceptional at waging war may be poor at building and that has to be taken into account. however, I detect a distinct preference towards warmongering and specialization of 'pure' playstyles with marginalization of the more balanced Civs.

    The only problem is, your opinion is in a stickied thread, which gives you a responsibility to be more impartial, fair and listen to those who disagree with you, and not dismiss them by repeating the generic 'we are all entitled to our opinion.'

    For example, you noted the two traits fail to complement each other. Perhaps if you want to go pure warmonger (where industrious is better) or build (where scientific may be better for cheap culture and science buildings) however, you condradict yourself by paying some credit to the Civ being a fairly balanced Hybrid which allows for warmongering and building. I'd say they complement each other quite nicely. And is among the better balanced Civs, with perhaps a slight skew towards more military action.

    At the end of the day, I'm not too concerned about which tier Japan falls under. As noted, they are so vague as to be meaningless. But I want to say again that perhaps the wording, empahsis and ideas in your review could be altered to give Japan 'more credit'.
     
  11. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    If the tiers are to be of equal size, one of the first tier civs would have to be dropped for Japan. If they are not of equal size, then eventually every single one will be forced into the first tier by a small but devoted group of people who adhere to a particular Civ.

    First-tier civs tend to be more efficient warmongers AND faster builders than the Civs below them. Of course different play styles affect this, but on average a player will be more succesful with these civs than with any other. When I say that not everyone will agree, I am not saying some people are wrong. Some people's style of play actually would make a second or third tier Civ very well suited to them, and they are correct in considering it first-tier. For them. But these reviews are written with an eye towards the majority.

    I'm in a stickied thread?
    HEY I'M IN A STICKIED THREAD!!! You're the first to tell me. I did not put myself there, clearly someone experienced with the game saw some merit in my words. That or no other review existed (hint hint).
    Anyway, I don't think I am dismissing you (I've replied to each criticism I've been given), I'm trying to explain myself. First, China is not a pure warmonger. The Industrious trait allows for quite decent building skill. The Mongols, who ARE a first tier warmonger, have been given third tier status due to their poor building abilites. The one and only first-tier civ that excels at one area and is perhaps lacking in another is Babylon, but you'd have to argue that one out with Ision, if you can find him.
    What I mean when I say traits are complimentary is that each helps the other out, improves it, they are synergistic. Religious and Militaristic are fine traits, but the one has little DIRECT effect on the other, unlike Agricultural and Industrious, who both magnify the effects of the other, without the use of specialized strategies or abstract thinking.
    And I don't believe I do contradict myself. I value balanced Civs immensely. However, the Celts and such, though they are balanced, are better at warmongering AND building than the Japanese. Japan is balanced, yes. But this balance is lower than the balance achieved by other Civs, ie, to give Civs numerical values, the Celts would be a level 9 builder and a level 8 warmonger; whereas the Japanese would be a level 6 builder and a level 6 warmonger. Balanced, but still worse.
    (Those numerical rankings were just for example. I put no thought into them.)
     
  12. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    I'll try and explain how I have ranked my reviews. 1st I consider the "holy trinity" of civ. Generally if a civ have 2 good traits and a top 10 UU its a good candidate for 1st tier. eg Persia and Iroqous- some of the best traits and UU. Another factor is trait synergy- how well do they go togather- Babylon makes 1st tier because of this, Greece because of its trait combo and UU. As for the difficulty level I assume its around Monarchy/Emperor. The tier list would look different for the higher levels and the lower levels. Since you can't really say waht the best style of play is we've included the best civ at its play style as a 1st tier civ. We;'' end up with 11 1st tier, 10 2nd tier, and 10 3rd tier civs. Looking at the 1st tier (in no particular order BTW)

    1. Maya. Trait combo. Consistantly the fastest expanding civ in the game. Average UU but does anyone honestly think this is a 2nd tier civ?

    2. Persia. Great builder/culture/ and warmonger civ. One of the best UU's in the game. Great all round civ with no real weakness.

    3. China. One of the best(maybe THE best) warmonger civs. One of the best UU's.

    4. Greece. Great trait combo makes for some of the fastest research in the game. Great builder civ and one of the best defensive UU in the game.

    5. Babylon. Trait combo. Probably the best builder/culture civ in the game.

    6. Iroqous. 2 of the best traits in the game. One of the best UU's in the game. OK builder with few if any downsides.

    7. Celts. Agriculture trait and UU make this a standout civ. Decent builder to.

    8. Ottomans. Similar to Persia. Also has a great UU although it comes later in the game.

    9. Inca. One of the fastest expanding civs in the game.

    10 Arabia. Good all round civ with the superb Ansar Warrior.

    11. Netherlands. Surprisingly powerful civ. Great defensive UU.

    Depending on playstyle and personal preference civs 8-11 could be 2nd tier but the 1st 7 you would be hard pressed to argue against being 2nd tier. France doesn't quite cut it IMHO as a 1st tier civ. Good trait combo but no cheap buildings, doesn't start with pottery, 4th best defensive unit in the game (behind Enkidu, Hoplite, Swiss Mercenary), and is usually slower than an agricultural civ. However IMHO France, Sumeria, and Egypt are good candidates for 1st tier depending on playstyle and preference
     
  13. Bloodied66

    Bloodied66 Chieftain

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    I think that you might have forgot that the Samurai is perhaps the coolest looking unit in the game :D
     
  14. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    Yeah, those guys can certainly run. Does anyone else think its funny that they took away the horse and then honestly believe that people will swallow that an armor-laden runner can move as fast as a horseman?
     
  15. dexters

    dexters Gods & Emperors Supporter

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    That's all well and good, but you've not really answered what I'm asking. Outside of saying basically any Civ can be a first tier civ and that basically you've written it with the notion of the 'mass' of people out there in mind. Whoever they may be.

    If that's true America would be down below in the list, probably in tier 3, as it is one of the least straightforward and easy to play Civs in the game and requires some skill and understanding of the trait combinations (industrious/exp) to shine. Yet, I see you speak favourably of America in another thread and Ision's review actually did an OK job of putting in some conditionals into his assesment by attaching a different rank value based on map type and size.

    Unfortunatelly, not enough of this is done consistently and it is certainly not done here. Civ's relatively power should be ranked in terms of how to perform under various map sizes, pangea to archipelago, types of play. And If you consider all that, I would argue some of the Civs will get rated down a few notches and Japan would get more credit than you give it.

    Since I started my Civ3 career playing with Americans, I can say that I'm one of the few that appreciate its charm.

    The Japanese have a Civ trait combo that you claim is not synergistic but a combo I feel works quite well for what it is (which is not a pure warmongering civ). It allows for quick 'pruning' conquests and very fast building after the fact with cheap happiness buildings and military infratructure to turn enemies cities into your own military production bases. Not to mention the ability to keep a happier empire. The power of the Japanese is magnified the higher up you go, where happiness is more important and researching (thus the scientific trait in general) is less important. In my view all civs with a scientific trait becomes less derisable.

    You'll more than likely come back and tell me I have my right to my opinion and that you are writing a review for the masses. But I'm not sure which mass you are speaking too since the way this game is played virtually guarantees everyone has distinct set-up. This is not to attack you personally but is my general beef with these reviews in their unstructured, unscientific descriptions of each Civ. That's fine, but you run into problems when you start to vaguely rank them.

    I think the temptation is there to give a definitive list of the best Civs out there, and it looks like one of the reviewers has already taken the challenge in the post above. But I doubt there will be agreement on the rankings and because there is no rational weights, scores and rankings on how the score is arrived at, having a list based on subjective interpretations is the same as not having a list. The problem I have, and you acknowledge this already, is that anyone's opinion is as good as yours. That is absolutely correct. And I'm telling you, with my opinion of equal weight, you have to give the Japanese more credit.

    Since it is unlikely you'll go back and change anything, I'm satisfied that future readers of your review will probably see my dissenting voice and give some thought on it.

    I'd like to end the discussion here.
     
  16. Keirador

    Keirador Deity

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    Well you certainly don't leave much room for discussion. I guess I'd just like to say that since you basically already wrote a review on the Japanese, formalize your thoughts and make it into an article.
    If you're so against the idea of Civ reviews that you refuse to write one, then I guess I don't see why you're spending your time inveighing them, because they won't (or shouldn't) be taken down. These reviews were not written so pompous people could convince people of their own cleverness, they were written because there was demand for them, and because at least some people benefitted from them. The reason I decided to write mine is because I took a lot out of Zardnaar's and Ision's reviews, and wanted to see the tradition continued. If I can help anyone, great. If not, my secondary purpose here was to convince other people to write up their own views. This is not a cop-out; if you read my first couple posts in the Portuguese review and Ision's sticky I immediately commented that regardless of the worth of my own articles I'd like to see other people's thoughts. Discussion, especially dissent, is helpful. I'm not so opinionated that I can't admit when I'm wrong, I made drastic changes to my Portuguese review, but so far I just haven't seen the quantity or quality of dissent necessary to change my mind.

    Which particular question didn't I answer?
     
  17. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    Looking forward to a Zulu review. :D
     
  18. punkbass2000

    punkbass2000 Des An artiste

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    Good work. Don't let naysayers discourage you from writing further reviews (and Japan is a second-tier civ, IMO).
     
  19. Scuffer

    Scuffer Scuffer says...

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    Excellent, thank you. I really appreciate all these articles, and hope you and your 'colleagues' continue with them. Not only do they tell me about whoever the random civ selector has given me this time, but also how to make the best of them. I just don't have the time to pick up that kind of insight, so thank you for sharing yours.
     
  20. allin1joe

    allin1joe Prince

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    I've read all of the reviews without posting. They are invaluable. Thanks for the hard work, and I look forward to reading the rest :)
     

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