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The Roman War Machine

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by cfacosta, Nov 29, 2005.

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  1. cfacosta

    cfacosta Praetorian

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    Having played games up through emperor, it warms my heart to see that the Roman war machine is as strong as ever. I warmongered as Rome in Civ3, and so I will keep doing for civ4. That being said, war takes a lot more cunning and strategy in this game. Upkeep, diverse tech paths, and unit promotions force the would be warmonger to make decisions well in advance and to keep as much versatility in resources as possible. Though many players on these forums are probably accomplished warmongers, I would still like to present my guide to wielding the power of Rome.

    Technology

    One of the keys to successful conquest as any civ is correctly choosing the path of your research. The designers did a good job in spreading out buildings and benefits across the tech tree, so you must know what is important and what is not. To begin, there are four technologies that all Romans must possess. These are Bronze Working, Iron Working, The Wheel, and Code of Laws. You must be able to chop rush, build praetorians, connect the iron you find, and build courthouses. My recommended research order is as follows:
    1.) Bronze Working -> 2.) Iron Working -> 3.) The Wheel
    4.) Mysticism
    5.) Meditation -> 6.) Priesthood
    7.) Pottery -> 8.) Writing
    9.) Code of Laws (usually by chop rushing oracle)
    A few comments:
    I always chop rush 2 warriors and then a settler. As a result, my second city is always settled before I get iron working. I do not recommend holding expansion or altering city locations in order to camp on iron. So long as it is 2 or less squares away from one of your cities, you'll be fine. You should learn early to defend your iron...building the city on top of it is a crutch and loses you valuable hammer production.
    Mysticism is not just a pre-req, it is there for chop rushing obelisks. This will only be useful for your first few cities, but those first few are the ones that will produce 75% of your army. They must be ready by the time iron is connected to the empire.
    The oracle is a valid way to acquire Code of Laws, even on higher difficulties. The AI does not prioritize it and it can be chop rushed easily. Use it for the quick tech and for the early great prophet. Also, even though many players seem to advocate oracle-ing Metal Casting, I belief this is a mistake. Metal Casting provides access to the forge. For a Roman player, the forge costs the equivalent of 3 praetorians. In order to benefit from the forge, a city will have to produce more than twelve praetorians. This feat will take even the best early cities 50 turns. If you do not develop Code of Laws, you might not make it through 50 turns of warfare with any semblance of a good economy.

    City Placement

    This one is short and easy... Place Roman cities in locations where they can produce many hammers. Use slave cities to produce commerce. You should have 4 core cities to turn out praetorians. These good, Roman cities should seek to have several hills and a food resource in their radius. The goal is 10 hammers per turn. At this rate you will receive the equivalent of 1 praetorian per turn to keep the war machine rolling. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Forget about pretty city placement, forget about overlap. The four core cities would ideally be as close as possible, providing that each had the required 10 hammers...and you have iron. The iron is simply a matter of luck. If you stick to building cities near hills, this is usually not a problem. But if you cannot acquire iron...bronze will be acceptable for axeman storming. If you have neither within reach....god hates you and wants you to use catapults. Retool and pray....

    Build Order for Core Cities

    -The capital should build worker, chop 2 warriors, chop settler, build warrior
    -concurrently, settler founds city and current worker chops a new worker in the new city
    -new city chops 2 warriors and a settler with its own worker
    -capital chops warrior in progress plus one more and another settler
    -capital should now either make a few key terrain improvements or chop oracle
    -new settlers should found 3rd and 4th cities
    -chop workers for the 3rd and 4th cities and then chop obelisks in the three cities that aren't the capital
    -connect iron as soon as it becomes visible
    -all cities build barracks -> commence praetorians and never look back

    This is obviously the ideal, but it is frequently very possible. On a temperate map, you will usually have 4-8 forests near the capital. Also, remember that chopping forests outside your cultural radius still works...and the penalty is usually not too great for a few tiles of distance.

    War

    Most everyone should know how to fight a fairly effective war, so I won't waste time on repeating stuff. Follow the basics:
    -advance along defensible terrain
    -always have a medic I unit in a stack if possible
    -never promote unless necesarry..save them for when you know what you are up against. suffice to say each stack should have a "medic one" and a "shock" unit. If they have cats already...you are being slow...but add a "charge" unit when you get 10 exp.
    -assume you will get unlucky with the RNG...take 2x numbers when possible
    Now for some (possibly) more insightful suggestions:
    -always take a worker along on an offensive...consider him a combat engineer. He should be building roads as you advance and should be ready to chop rush a courthouse once the city comes online. 2 chops will save you a lot of money. Don't drown your core cities in workers...you simply can't use more than 6-9 tiles in the beggining anyway. Send those workers out to where they can help...save your economy. Also, you must be ready to connect any resources you find *especially happiness resources. Workers can be your best tools to fight war weariness.
    -Once you specialize a unit by promoting "shock", consider giving it medic one in order to get march. It is redundant to have multiple medics, but what you want is march. The plus 35% against melee you already have is good enough to win most field combat, and being able to move the unit from engagement to engagement without stopping to heal is invaluable.
    -Don't waste time building anything but praetorians. I frequently never build anything but praetorians until they are obsolete. Use a garrison of 2-3 lightly promoted praetorians to guard cities. They may cost more than an archer...but the flexibility of being able to charge out of the city, or support an attack is important. Plus, the numbers of "shock" upgraded praetorians you have will be useful for this role...since the most prominent early city slayers are melee units.

    Civics Suggestions

    -ignore slavery, you can't afford to lose the turn to anarchy
    -adopt caste system when you get code of laws...see slave cities for reasons why
    -prioritize hereditary rule as a research path after getting the necesities. The extra 2-3 happy faces will help stave off war weariness.
    -shoot towards vassalage and theocracy. You should at least get one so that each new unit can instantly promote twice. Being 2 exp away from promotion three is a compelling reason for both. Plus, you are organized...put the 50% civic cost to work for you.

    Slave Cities

    This, as much as fighting, will make or break you. Always be discerning about what cities you keep. Everyone will hate you anyway, so feel free to raze garbage cities. Ideally you want cities with food bonuses and flat land. The slave cities will be what produces your commerce.
    -Use the 50% courthouses to immediately chop one upon putting down the city resistance. At the same time, use an artist from caste system to expand your borders to the fat cross. If the city is close to enemy borders...chances are it is starving anyway.
    -Chop rush a worker....this should be a habit for new cities by now....
    -After the cultural radius grows, maximize food production first with your new worker (the old one should be already building roads towards the next conquest). The key is to use caste system to turn two workers into merchants. Early on, the city won't have the infrastructure for utilizing commerce from the land but a merchant will always produce at least 3 gold. If each captured city has a courthouse and 2 merchants, you will be doing very well economically.
    -Once the city grows a bit more, make another citizen into a scientist. Even if the city can grow larger or develop more, stunt its growth 1 shy of the happiness limit. New cities will experience war weariness and take a hit from the bums wanting to return to their motherland. Turn riots into science every time, thanks to caste system. (if you haven't figured it out yet, caste system is the warmongers single best tool to make instant use of conquered cities)

    Closing Comments

    Use your early advantage to fight as long as possible. Keep up the pressure until you simply cannot gain any more ground. If you have handled your empire as I recommend, you will not have serious economic issues. War weariness may become a factor, but you can cycle between wars in order to keep it to a minimum. Get every last attack out of your praetorians and they will give you the world.
    After you accomplish the required research, consider getting monarchy and feudalism. The two civics will help you out. Also, consider beelining for currency... the +1 trade routes per city means 1 gold for every city you own. Not too shabby. And if you used the chop oracle -> code of laws method, you will be getting 1 gold from each city with your religion too.
    Throughout all this warring, try and find the person farthest from you and be somewhat nice to them. Even though you are warmongering, it is nice to have those lucrative foreign trade routes. Also, having someone who will actually give you tech when not at knife point will be useful. The AI seems to be stingy with the tech tributes even when you are about to wipe them out. Knife point -> cross trade ... its how business gets done.

    I hope you find my guide useful for supercharging the mighty Roman War Machine. Between a UU that trounces all its contemporaries and the benefits of 50% of courthouses/cheaper civic upkeep, Rome is truly a power to be feared.
     
  2. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Fantasy Warlord

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    Very interesting! Going to have to try this... I've avoided the Romans up to now because of their Organized trait, but this sounds awesome...

    BTW, this really should be in the Strategy articles!
     
  3. paceybaby

    paceybaby Chieftain

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    will definately give that a try- there's usually some iron lying around somewhere for this strategy to work
    do courthouses reduce your military maintenace costs??? so the maintenance score in cities includes the upkeep of your army too?? if that's the case its something i never realised and probably part of the reason i keep going bust when waging war at the higher levels!:lol:
     
  4. jeremiahrounds

    jeremiahrounds Prince

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    Building nothing but praetorians works until longbowmen appear. Then things get nasty. A fortified longbowmen on a hill gives my praetorians hell.

    At that point i usually just switch to a pillage supported science scheme. Because during the longbowmen age taking fortified cities is a pain but at the same time most Civs dont have a unit that can bring it to the preatorian effectively. The result is you can pillage entire enemy empires with a dozen. Where as you could blow a stack just trying to take one city with a few longbowmen if your not careful.

    You can work around this with suicide catapults which both bring down walls to take down longbowmen from that nasty 16 to a 12ish and put a good dent in a few longbowmen.

    The romans are the only empire ive played. (I believe in getting to know a civ!). Used in a defence posture praetorians give you a wonderful advantage in the old age even if you dont plan on taking other cities. The reason is for the most important part of the game nobody can make a unit that can survive a trip across your borders. A few praetorians can play hell with the AIs attempt to attack you with 6 units. And not even longbowmen survive if they try to bring it.

    So if your a peaceful player such as myself there is an interesting juxtaposition. There is a neener factor.
     
  5. Jakko

    Jakko Chieftain

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    Quick question,

    Do you actually scout the area in which you are going to build the capital? I mean the requirements for the several hills may mean you lose valuable time in searching for a suitable site. And this strategy demands a first mover strategy.
     
  6. G Julius Caesar

    G Julius Caesar Warlord

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    A great strategy! Takes me back to my days in Gaul in the early 50s (BC that is!);)
     
  7. King Ash

    King Ash Chieftain

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    We didn't have Praetorians back then...;)
     
  8. Toddpants

    Toddpants Chieftain

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    I just tried out the Roman civilization for the first time using this strategy. I played against five AI civilizations on a small pangea map. By 400AD I had crushed them all for a conquest victory. I didn't even break a sweat. I got lucky, though, because I had a source of iron pop up along the river to Rome inside Rome's cultural borders. :goodjob:
     
  9. ucel

    ucel Prince

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    Good, I use this strategy in the current GOTM :)
     
  10. ucel

    ucel Prince

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    double post, deleted
     
  11. BlackBetsy

    BlackBetsy Chieftain

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    I like your strategy. I have been using Rome as my preferred civilization lately, precisely because the Praetorian is *so* overpowered.

    On a continents or a Pangaea set up, the Praetorian will wipe out whatever early opposition you might have. In a recent game, I built 18 Praetorians and wiped out a very powerful Indian civilizations in two waves of assault. In the mean time, was able to pointy-stick research all the techs the Indians had acquired.

    My build/tech sequence is generally:

    Agriculture (get food going early)
    The Wheel (hook up resources)
    Bronze Working
    Iron Working

    I also typically build warriors to explore until I hit pop 3, then build worker, then build warriors until pop 5, then chop settler, settler, settler, settler.
     
  12. Melkus

    Melkus Chieftain

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    This strategy is totally convincing, of course. (I wish the Caesar AI would utilize those advantages better, the Romans always suck in my games.)

    However, the obvious problem is that if you don't find iron, you can basically start a new game, right? I mean, you have to research a very expensive early tech to find out that
    a) you can get iron easily or
    b) you're stuck.
    If b), you're basically dead, especially with opportunistic neighbours like Alex or Peter, or crippled at least.
     
  13. purplengold14

    purplengold14 Chieftain

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    I loved playing rome in civ 3 and do so in civ 4 as well. Ive been pretty successfull in both games doing so. I want to try your strategy the next time i play. Ecuse my ignorance but when you say "chop" rush i dont know what you mean.

    Could you explain what this term means and how you do it?
     
  14. thordk

    thordk Prince

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    i wanted to give this strat a try, rushed three cities, lost a settler and the fourth city to barbs what's bad luck already but still with the strong feel for warmongering and then THIS:



    lonely island, guess i won Oo
     
  15. thordk

    thordk Prince

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    purplengold14, "chop" rush means to chop forests to rush city production. you need bronze working to be able to command workers to chop.
     
  16. Puzzlinon

    Puzzlinon Insomaniac

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    One benefit of playing Rome in IV is that if you're Caesar, you don't have to look at his sorry mug in the diplo screen.
     
  17. cfacosta

    cfacosta Praetorian

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    I am glad you guys like the article...Dragonlord, I wouldn't mind having it up in the strategy articles section, but I don't know how to get it there...

    Purplengold14, the chop rush, as someone explained, is using a worker to chop a forest near the city. When it finishes, 30 hammers are granted to the city towards whatever it is building. Makes for fast early construction.

    I usually play pangaea..so I have not had the island syndrome happen too often but it does suck. So much to kill...so few boats with which to get there...

    Jeremiahrounds, I am a pure warmonger...but you raise a very good point. Next time I feel like playing the more "peaceful" route I will try and slow down expansion in favor of extreme pillaging. Sort of a Roman "builder" strat! I had not thought about how much the AI would be messed up by not being able to win field combat.

    Oh I almost forgot...someone asked about the capital city. I almost never move my first settler since each turn is precious. Usually the game places you near several bonus resources anyways and on temperate there should be a few hills lying around.
     
  18. Dairuka

    Dairuka Prince

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    Thats why you population rush it using slavery. Growth is restricted 99% of the time on monarch-diety levels anyways, so why not make good use out of it in the mean time by increasing your production? Usually you have to wait 2-3 turns before the Forge is cheap enough to use up 3 population. Then you rush it. Simple.

    All it costs is 1 turn of Anarchy to switch to slavery.

    Personally, I have the nasty habit of Population Rushing praetorians when the price is down to 1 pop to finish them up. Saves a bundle on trees, and only costs you a roman citizen who is more than likely red and angry. It's a good way to make use of them angry citizens who do nothing anyways.
     
  19. spincrus

    spincrus sol invictus...

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    (Nevermind, stupid question)
     
  20. vyapti

    vyapti Prince

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    Great article. In my current game, my Incas have failed as warmongers (trapped on an island) and I'm going for a cultural victory. I think I'll try the Romans next.
     
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