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The Portuguese

Discussion in 'Civ3 Strategy Articles' started by Keirador, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    A small but influential nation on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula, Portugal emerged as a nation independant of Spain in the 12th century AD. Portugal led the drive for colonization and discovery in Europe, and the sprawling nation of Brazil is a legacy of Portuguese ambition. Though during the height of Spanish power Portugal came once again under Spanish dominion, Portugal regained its independance late in the 17th century. Today, Portugal continues to be a prosperous nation, active in the European economy and world affairs.

    Portugal is accurately historically portrayed as Expansionist and Seafaring, with the carrack as its unique unit. While extremely complimentary traits in real life, the game mechanics of Civilization III seem to give a Portuguese player an uphill battle from the start. While not bad traits individually, they have a sort of negative synergy between them. Both traits are very map dependant- Seafaring is of course best on archipelago and small continental maps, while the Expansionist trait shines best on pangaea or large continent maps. With these two contradicting traits, a Portuguese player has difficult decisions to make in the very first screen of the game. It has been said that Portugal's advantage is having one optimal trait no matter what the starting conditions, and this is true, but if one trait is optimal, then the other is useless. Having one great trait is still worse than having two OK traits. One of Portugal's redeeming qualities, however, is that its goody-hut popping scouts allow it to gain an early tech lead. Combine this with Portugal's fast-moving ships and scouts to quickly contact other Civilizations, Portugal can shine as an early tech-broker, and a crafty player can turn this early advantage into a game-defining lead.

    As a peaceful builder, Portugal can only succeed in the way that all Expansionist civilizations can- by sheer numbers. A Civ that has no half-priced culture buildings, or even any growth or production bonuses, Portugal will not shine culturally in the early game. However, a Portuguese player has an advantage in the early scouting of the game. Scouts and fast-moving curraghs will allow for an excellent understanding of local geography. This gives a player the ability to place cities at the best locations, and quickly grab desirable resources. So, to compete as a builder, Portugal must attain a significant empire in the rapid expansion phase, and even though a Portuguese player will not have the oldest culture buildings, they could have a great number of them by the late medieval ages.

    Portugal's warmongering abilites are dubious. Portugal usually cannot compete with powerful aggressive neighbors, as it has no production bonuses or cheap barracks to compensate. It can, however, boast an impressive navy. With half-priced harbors pumping out veteran ships, faster ships, and a higher chance of surviving sea and ocean crossings, Portugal can threaten its overseas enemies long before most other nations have built up naval defenses. The Portuguese unique unit, the Carrack, is one of the first powerful naval units, comparable to the Byzantine Dromon with a defense of two and a higher attack. The Carrack also has the ability to cross ocean squares, and is available with Astronomy. Of course, no unit is obsolete faster than the Carrack. If it was available earlier in the tech tree it would be remarkable, but Navigation, available one tech after the Carrack, allows ocean crossing. Frigates and Galleons, two techs later, make better warships and better transports. On a good note, the Carrack costs no more than the unit it replaces, and if the rate of tech discovery is slow, then it can still carve out a niche for itself. Even if Portugal manages to capitalize on its benefits and build a strong navy, a navy does not give Portugal the ability to take and hold territroy, only the ability to reach out and surprise a neighbor. If Portugal does not strike quickly and decisively, it will eventually be pushed back, and if a war reaches Portugal's borders, Portugal's best chance is usually to counterattack with its navy, distracting the aggressor.

    Summary: The potential to be a strong naval power and colonizer does not fully compensate for Portugal's intrinsic flaw: two traits that are contradictory to each other in nature. If a player starts on an island, the Expansionist trait quickly becomes useless. If a player starts on a large landmass, the Seafaring trait loses its value. A poor builder and an awkward warmongerer, Portugal is a challenge for most players. Overall a 3rd rate Civilization.
     
  2. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    Please feel free to criticize this article. If you like my analysis, I'd be happy to write more. If not, I encourage people to write their own, especially scoutsout and Zardnaar! Though the clever Ision may have left us, the Individual Civ Review series of articles is too precious to abandon!

    Any and all comments, approbatory or vitriolic, are encouraged and welcome!
     
  3. Mr. Hyperbole

    Mr. Hyperbole understated cynic

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    Very well-written article, Keirador. I agree with your assessment; a decent UU but a very unforgiving civ combo.
    I'm not sure if this article should be included w/Ision's articles or not; those written by Zarnaar & Scoutsout were "endorsed" by Ision. Obviously, that's no longer possible. I'm going to PM a mod & encourage it to be moved nontheless.
    Who might be next, Keirador? I'd really like to see the Koreans...
     
  4. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    I've haven't played the Koreans extensively, so any review I did of them would be part deduction. I was thinking France. I'd like to see one on the Dutch, but I don't feel qualified to write it.
    Thanks very much for your encouragement.

    EDIT: OK I did the Koreans. Played a few games and found that if I survived past the middle ages it, predictably, was just like Greek play. A bit similar to Babylon's as well.
     
  5. Pfeffersack

    Pfeffersack Chieftain

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    Good work! And I am glad someone continues this great civ reviews (I even though about writng one by my self...but I don't see a civ with which I am familiar enough at the moment).Your contribution is as good as the existing ones, IMO.

    However, a small additon regarding the civ traits...I agree on negative synergie and lacking builder boni.But an advantage of this combo is flexibility - it shines especially if you play with randomized (landform) settings - you will have the "optimal" trait regardless of what the RNG brings...
     
  6. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    You may have the optimal trait for that landmass, but your other trait is useless. Having one great trait is still a lot worse than having two OK traits.
    I have edited my post to reflect that.
     
  7. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Chieftain

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    Good review.Personally I don't care if other people review civs- even one I have done or Ision has done. Just remember we're only 2 guys with opinions. I don't agree 100% with Isions 1st tier list and I don't expect anyone to agree with me either. If I can get most people agreeing with me 60% of the time I think I've done well. I'll PM Scoutsout and see whats happening.
     
  8. SJ Frank

    SJ Frank Spamalot Co-court

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    Another well written civ review! I think it's doesn't matter who writes them, as long as they present accurate facts and promote lively dicussion, they are good. So please keep them coming.

    I do disagree with you on one account. I rank the Carrack as one of the worst UU in the game, because while I have minimal experience fighting with Carracks, I do have extensive experience fighting Frigate wars.

    The key to Frigate war success is bombardment. All naval units in this era have 2 defense, and the best attack of any naval ship in this era is also 2. Which means that in a straight attack, the human player has only 50% chance of winning. However, at higher difficulty levels, 1 to 1 kill ratios are not acceptable. This is where the 3 bombardment strength of the Frigate comes into play.

    One successful Frigate strategy involves first scouting, which allow my Frigate stack to stay just outside the range of the enemy stack. After the enemy moves closer to me, but not close enough to attack, my Frigates sail in to bombard the enemy, hopfully damaging every ship in their stack, then using the rest of the movement points to position my ships to intercept the enemy stack next turn, as the enemy is retreating back to their home port to heal. The bombardment and interception routine is then repeated until the odds become overwhelmingly in my favor, only then do my Frigates attack.

    Without the bombardment ability, it is not possible to employ advance naval tactics like the one I outlined above, so it is not possible to achieve good kill ratios in naval war fare.

    In games where you can't afford to trade ships with the AI. The carrack becomes just another transport with an extra attack point, and that's a really useless unit.
     
  9. Pfeffersack

    Pfeffersack Chieftain

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    The chances are even lower than 1:1, because every defender gets 10% defense bonus on flat or sea terrains.Nevertheless - if you need a combat ship in middleages before the frigate arrives or if you end up with no salpeter/iron, you have an advantage if you are Portugese (only Byzanz has an attack-2-ship this time).Carracks may have a hard time gainst caravels, but caravel against caravel is suicide pure.
    And I like the Crrack for a rather irrational reason, too - it is the best looking ship of the first two ages, IMO :)
     
  10. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Chieftain

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    Its UU is bad though. bad traits, bad synergy, bad UU. Overall the worst civ?
     
  11. Richard Cribb

    Richard Cribb He does monologues

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    I think you are doing great :goodjob: and I for one will look forward to read more of your reviews. Keep up the good work!:rockon:
    And regarding Portugal, I agree that this civilization leaves a lot to be desired.:ack:
     
  12. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    Zardnaar: In my opinion, Portugal vies with the Hitties for the title of Worst Overall Civ. I would include the Mongols, but I suppose they can warmonger decently enough to put them above the other two.
     
  13. socralynnek

    socralynnek Civ & Hattrick addict

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    I agree with your analysis, Keirador, although I only played with Portugal once.
    And you wrote it just in time, before COTM6 introduces them...perfect timing!
    On archipelao, I think Hittites are worse, in other settings with bigger landmasses, I think the Hittites are stronger.
     
  14. solenoozerec

    solenoozerec Stranger

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    Yes, the timing is perfect, Keirador :goodjob:
    What is the next civ you are going to describe? :mischief:
    Also any ideas about a map which will be the best for Portugal?
     
  15. Keirador

    Keirador Chieftain

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    Next Civ? The, um, Koreans. Its actually already done. The French and Japanese, too.
    After that? I'm open to requests. There aren't many that Ision, Zardnaar, and scoutsout haven't already done. I believe there's the Vikings, Russians, Zulus, and Dutch left, and the Austrians, perhaps. The only remaining Civ I feel totally unqualified to review is the Dutch; because I belive them a second tier civ, yet Ision ranks them first. As he is pretty good at that sort of thing, I must at least temporarily assume that I'm missing something.


    Best map for Portugal? Thats just the thing. No matter what map you choose, one of your traits is rendered inefficient. If I was forced to play as Portugal, though, I would probably choose archipelago with only 60% water. In those maps, I find I often don't get actual islands, but small landmasses connected by thin strips of land. Perhaps this is a quirk of my computer, but if its not, its probably the best option. The interconnected land allows the scouts somewhere to go and theres still enough water to make seatravel important. Of course, landmasses are so close together in these maps that the Seafaring trait is often not required, as oceans tend to be very thin and easily crossable with normal boats.
     
  16. sorky

    sorky Chieftain

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    I have tried Portugal on a standard pangea 80%water with few AI... it works somewhat well. A lot of coastal cities, naval units usefull, all map scouted, lot of hut hunted, the trait combo do have synergie in this game.

    That said, it was on emperor, but I think on higher difficulties, seafaring on pangea with 80% water is not that bad, where exp keep is power :)
     
  17. Hergiswi

    Hergiswi fart

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    Great article, and so accurate! I always play as Portugal, and even though I'm on Chieftain, what you said seems to describe my situations perfectly. =P
     
  18. ajccs

    ajccs Chieftain

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    well, you have a "small" error in your article. When Portugal become an independent country, spain didn't exist... in the XII century you had 5 kindoms. Only in the XV century Spain unite as country.
     
  19. RickFGS

    RickFGS Chieftain

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    Worst civ? lol, it does great in future, great in medieval and if the player plays the cards right, great in ancient.
     
  20. SimpleMonkey

    SimpleMonkey Chieftain

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    One aspect that gets overlooked in discussing the Portuguese is the synergy of their starting techs -- Alphabet and Pottery. In my opinion, this is hands down the most useful combination from Emperor on up.

    Alphabet allows the fast research path to Writing and then on to Philo or Lit. (FYI, I can still manage to get to Philo first on Demigod. Deity, not likely. And I don't ever use Lit for the GLib unless I pop a scientific leader -- I just really favor an early push for libraries.)

    And, more importantly, Pottery allows the immediate construction of a settler factory, one of the most -- if not the most -- important factors in a successful game. These two traits, plus the ability to combine curraughs and scouts for rapid trade contacts and territory knowlege, can make for an excellent expansion phase.

    The Dutch can still be uber-powerful with the addition of accelerated growth from Agriculture and an outstanding UU, but the Portuguese can be wielded to great effect as well.
     

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