This is NOT a rant...I just want to win at higher levels

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Strategy & Tips' started by Buecephalus, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. Buecephalus

    Buecephalus Bolo Mark XXV

    Mar 5, 2001
    Just off Route 66, USA
    O.K. so I've been playing Civ III for almost 1 1/2 months. I used to regularly kick the AI's butt in Civ II at Prince level. I had only limited success above Prince level. Now I'm playing Civ III and have won many games at Chieftain but the scores are awfully low. My best score so far has been 994.
    So I thought I'd try and play at Warlord to increase my score. Much tougher, the AI kept pace with me researching stuff often outresearching me by one or two tech. They seemed to expand faster than I, even though I was cranking out a settler about every 5 turns. And everyone was annoyed with me and picked fights often.
    Now I don't mind that and I won several wars but doing so takes so much time that you get behind on research, growth, etc. But I digress, fast forward to the 18th century where Germany had destroyed Russia and I've got the Indians, French, Iriquois and Americans on my side.
    Suddenly Panzers are everywhere, no matter how quickly I produce tanks they make panzers faster, I've got fighters in every city but they NEVER defend against German bombers (yes, I've set all of them for air superiority missions).
    So I retire, frustrated, and you know what? Even though it counted as a loss, I tied my high score from chieftain level!
    And no matter how quickly I get a wonder built someone almost always gets it built first w/ a turn or two to spare.
    So, this isn't a rant. I love the game. I've even come to terms with getting screwed on resources a lot of the time, sometimes you gotta trade away your dignity to get oil or aluminum. And that's fine.
    I just wanna win at higher levels. I read about people on this forum all the time talking about kicking the computers ass @ Regent, Monarch and even Deity and I'm going "HOW?!?!"
    How the #@$% can this be done. So I'm doing something wrong. Help me, please.

    "do or do not, there is no try."
  2. eyrei

    eyrei Deity Retired Moderator

    Nov 1, 2001
    Durham, NC USA
    The AI usually builds a gigantic army. They probably weren't producing tanks faster than you , they probably had 3-4 times as many to begin with. If you haven't downloaded the patch, air superiority will not work. Score is based primarily on the amount of territory you control. Also, the reason people kept talking **** to you was probably because you had a small military. Always carry a big stick!
  3. Kulture

    Kulture Chieftain

    Nov 26, 2001
    I've played my last few games on Monarch - and generally end up kicking ass after a slow beginning.

    As an aside - I rarely finish a game, I love the early years when things move quickly. Once I'm well on top, I tend to start a new game - I find CivIII gets bogged down in wars and corruption in the mid-late years. Same with CivII for that matter.

    I like to play simple, I hate getting bogged down in micro-management. So my strategies may not always be the most efficient, but they work at Monarch level. A few key things

    1) Make sure you've got a good starting location - somewhere for 2-3 good balanced cities. Things to look for are rivers, hills and resources. Resources are critical - you need those wheat/cows/game and you need access to a couple of luxuries. The purists might hate it, but if my starting location is lousy, I'll start a new game - otherwise it's no fun constantly trying to keep up with the AI, and I play to have fun.

    2) Expand early - territory is crucial, and so is contact with other civs. Make sure all your cities are connected by roads, and that the luxuries are likewise connected.

    3) Trade techs at every opportunity - don't worry about giving them something good, they'll get it anyway. If you don't trade techs, you'll quickly fall behind the tech race. Contact with other civs is important.

    4) Stake out the resources early. If there is a mountain range full of gems - get a settler there on the foothills. Get horses and iron as soon as possible.

    5) Although I like being a pacifist - in this game an early war is almost essential. Start to build up a military force early. A combination of Swordsmen, Catapaults, Horsemen and Spearmen make a good army - mix 'em up and move them together. Don't wage war until you're ready. The enemy will leave you alone if your military is strong enough. They'll hassle you mercilessly if you are weak - this isn't CivII where you can focus entirely on temples, libraries and marketplaces and only have a minimal military.

    6) Identify a target civ - it'll be next door, it'll have resources, it'll be ahead of you in the tech race, and hopefully it'll have built a wonder or two in its capital.

    7) Hit hard! When your military is strong enough - take out your neighbour. Take his capital. Bombard with your catapaults, defend the army with spearmen, attack with your swordsmen and mop-up with your horsemen.

    8) He has probably got 7-8 cities - take em all except one and then sue for peace - he'll give you everything he's got. Now you're well up on the tech race and you've got the makings of a fine civ.

    9) Rush cultural improvements in the captive cities - stop the cultural flip. Later you might end up taking him out completely to prevent this.

    10) Hopefully you've generated a great leader or two in the conflict. I like playing the Japanese - they are militaristic and religious. Lot's of GLs, no anarchy, cheap temples and a reasonable unique unit.

    11) Use your first GL to rush the forbidden palace in one of your captive cities - probably his old capital.

    12) Use a second GL if available to make an army.

    13).... Ok you're away. You should be able to win from there. You might perhaps now go into pacificist mode for a while and focus on the economy. Keep the military strong - it keeps the peace!
  4. Buecephalus

    Buecephalus Bolo Mark XXV

    Mar 5, 2001
    Just off Route 66, USA
    thanks for all the advice. I'll give all of them a try and post the (hopefully) positive results.
    Thanks again.

    "do or do not, there is no try."
  5. Daaraa

    Daaraa King

    Oct 5, 2001
    Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
    That big stick eyrei referred to can be a bunch of workers. I've had three times as many workers as other units and the AI and my advisor think I have a big army.

    "It's all in the numbers...Just do the math."

    The AI will leave you alone more if you have a big stick or an "illusionary" big stick like I had.
  6. RAL2000

    RAL2000 Chieftain

    Nov 10, 2001
    Here is a slightly different slant

    1) Trade is probably the single most important part of this game from shortly after the beginning until late game. The key to trade is to establish communication and later connections (road/harbor).

    This means during the very early game you should right click on anybody you see wandering around from another civ and make contact with the leader. Depending on level, they will sometimes be snippy, but many times you can trade your early tech for new tech and save a lot of time.

    The key to successful trading is to lay out what you have, and ask what they will give for it. This seems to consistently produce more generous offers than trying to put together the deal yourself. If you haven't been doing this it would be a major disadvantage.

    Once you get control of resources, build a road to the nearest civilization. If you have something they want, they will usually pay dearly to get it. If you wait for them to come to you, they may have found it themselves or traded with someone else for it. Of course this works best if the route is relatively easy to establish.

    Make SURE you build a port city early on. I played a game once where I thought I was doing really well and had taken over a lot of inland territory -- then when I tried to tried with others overseas I realized I did not have a single seacoast city! And of course, build at least one port as soon as you can.

    2) Early seizure of territory -- I agree with the advice above. Especially grab RESOURCES. Critical, because you will want to trade them later. If you are on a small map or playing at an easy level, a military strategy may work very well here. On a huge map, you may find you have spent yourself just getting to the enemy when you should have been concentrating on building and expanding your own nest. By the time your crack horsemen reach his capital he has swordsmen to defend it and you are screwed.

    I'll bet the above two suggestions get you a lot of victories at lower levels.

    The next step up is to really understand the way production in the city works. As opposed to Civ2, you really want to emphasize building mines in Civ3, not irrigation -- not exclusively, but predominantly in most situations.
  7. moomin

    moomin Chieftain

    Dec 27, 2001
    Civ3 is a _lot_ more militaristic than Civ2. I think they should call it Warmongering 3 instead. But I'll tell you what; get over to the maps forum and download my map (Pangean Caldera). It's been tailored form scratch for the builder, and while keeping a stick is necessary, actaully wielding it isn't. I made this map for my six year old nephew and he managed to beat Deity on it...

    Once you get get a taste for what works, you can then progress to "real" random maps and be a whole lot more effective.

    These days, I think luxuries are actually more important than strategic resources. With the possible exeption of coal, that is.
  8. zebomba

    zebomba Warlord

    Dec 25, 2001
    right there
    A 6 years old beating deity? Kids are so mean nowadays...

    I guess military resources are more important. With them, I can take the luxuries I want. The oppposite isn't true.

    THe truth is, if the AI keeps attacking you, then why don't you build a huge army? If it costs half the maintenance of your cities, then you have the right size.
  9. Fusilade

    Fusilade Chieftain

    Jan 2, 2002
    Personally Civ2 was easy, on just about any terrain beginnning or map shape I could win on Deity with ease, now i'm playing civ3 on regent level and it's a *****, unless you have luck with the terrain at the begginning your civilisation gets relegated to third or fourth for the rest of the game.
  10. moomin

    moomin Chieftain

    Dec 27, 2001
    Well, he _is_ a relative. ;) But this map really favours the right starting spot. I've been playing at another starting position myself, and the AI that gets the good start is just steamrolling me. And I'm perfectly confident at Diety maps, normally. A riot, really.

    Well, since I play the game unmodified I find that I can actually do well with nothing but bowmen, catapults and pikemen against anything up to tanks, and I'll probably get the resources to build something better by then. In MP this wouldn't fly, but the AI isn't too much of a tactical challenge, is it? On the higher levels, I'll go for luxuries over strategics every time. Not that I spurn strategics, mind.

    Oh I agree. Having a sizeable army is simple life insurance. But frankly having to move your sizeable army one piece at the time is a godawful nuisance I can well do without.
  11. Sentinali

    Sentinali Chieftain

    Nov 5, 2001
    Edmonton, AB, Canada
    I sympathize with your predicament and much of the advice here is good and you should follow. Heres what I do:

    I simply turn monarch level into cheiftain difficulty using luxurys and the sistine chapel. In breif I usually play a map with only half the max starting number of civs and then expand like a rabbit on viagra in the Stone Age. I trade and swindle my way to allow me to keep up on tech, but really concentrate on expansion.

    I sequenster as many luxuries as possible and then try to make sure I have all possible coal areas covered.

    In the middle ages I head straight for the sistine chapel (the first wonder I usually build and the only one I can't live without). I usually have my second city building a "palace" which I switch with the discovery of theology to build the chapel ASAP.

    This strategy does an important thing, without having to build all the cultural buildings usually most of my people are happy, and therefore moreproductive overall than the comps.

    Next step is to beline for democracy, then astronomy (make contact with far off civs), then run for military tradition. Once I get calvary the computer is lucky if they have musketeers, usually they only have pikemen. I walk over the civ in second place, making them a vassel to use later. I have usually expanded to the point that I build my FP in the second ring of my own cities so I raze all enemy cities exept those with access to resources.

    This is were coal comes in. It is usually VERY rare. FInd it first control it well and you will have an enourmous production advantage (nobody else will have rail, factory bonus for you is 50% higher overall!). NEVER give coal to anybody, until you have modern armor, then the game is pretty much over anyway.

    With the coal advantage I then make sure I control OIL, then the game is pretty much over. Modern armor is eating infantry for breakfast and my battleships simply run over frigates all day long.

    Tech advantage is not such a big deal, use it when you have it (ie; Military Trad.) to control the future key resources, but the key is resources, go figure.

    hope this helps

  12. Exsanguination

    Exsanguination No longer here

    Oct 2, 2001
    Where this man is
    id just like to give my experience: after playing on chieftain several times and winning, i began playing warlord, and i found only one difference: When you build a GW before the other civs, they actually change to a different one instead of using it to build something small and wasting hundreds of shields. Moral of this story: getting a cultural city is hard as f*** on the higher levels!
  13. zebomba

    zebomba Warlord

    Dec 25, 2001
    right there
    I still stick with strategic resources. There are tons of ways of getting happy folks, but no military advantage is out of my mind.
    You mean you can beat even tanks using acient units? Though possible, I guess it's boring to spend huge numbers to fend off a single modern unit.
    A huge army isn't a pain if half of it is sitting quietly as city defenders.
  14. gormtheold

    gormtheold Chieftain

    Nov 28, 2001
    I was a King-level Civ I and II player (maybe not really, playing the earth is easier cause you know who and what to expect-playing the Zulus was great, you could close off Africa, and most importantly, didn't have the Zulus after you.

    However, I am now in a frustrating never-never land in Civ III-too easy at warlord, impossible at regent (Is there a big gap between warlord and regent? That's probably another thread) But, having analyzed my numerous losses, I find my conclusions are very similar to what's being said on this thread (haven't tried it yet). Conclusions from frequent losing--

    1.(and most important) I have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lost from overemphasizing my military. I am always paranoid about falling behind in tech so, even when I have a military advantage I try to do it on the cheap, and switch over to cathedrals and universities as soon as I can. I am also paranoid about culture flips. However, A. If you keep going you can get all their tech to leave them one city B.If you've got plenty of units you can retake the flips.

    2.NEVER, NEVER go halfway. When you get a military advantage, keep going until your enemy is rendered harmless. They will not repay you for leaving them standing. They will turn on you in an instant.

    3.The only wonder to build with shields is the Great Library--will enable you to keep up while the others are trading. With the big war, I'm planning on having (I've always been too chicken before), there should be plenty of great leaders, especially with militaristic civs (one pretty good game I was churning out one after another as the Chinese and got a whole bunch of wonders)

    4.Only use civs with a decent attack unit relatively early in the game-In my book, that's Persia, Japan, China, Iroquois. With Japan and China, you got a better chance at great leaders to build wonders. Persia has worked the best for me but I hate the revolutions. That leaves Japan and Iroquois (religious) but I've always found expansionist to be a no-gain quality. That leaves Japan. Used to play Egyptians and actually won at regent with them but low score (their special unit stinks and you can't begin to move out until relatively late--I was first at tanks and then kicked butt, but it was too late to up the score much). Persia's probably best if civs near enough to go after with slow units--Immortals are wonderful and early, but slow.

    5.Starting location-Unless you got at least one shield city (preferably the capital), one settler city (hopefully the second one, lots of grassland and some forest) and a happy resource, forget it and start over. If you are playing the Persians and nobody's nearby to conquer early (or you don't have any iron), quit. If you don't get the Great Library, quit. If the Zulus are right next door, quit (life's too short to have to fight off fifty impis before 1000 B.C.)

    6.Finally, since my natural bent is culture, try to play the Babylonians and, if you figure out how to stay unconquered, please tell me.
  15. Exocet

    Exocet Chieftain

    Dec 25, 2001
    Winnipeg, Canada
    I just finished a game (on Warlord, mind you) with the Babylonians. I stayed very meek in the early days (being on the same piece of land as the Persians and Zulus.. ouch) and generally paid them tribute of 1 gold per turn to keep them off my back. I made sure I stayed on top of everyone in terms of Science - and sold some of my advances for vast sums of money per turn (thus allowing me to buy luxuries from neighbours -> lowering my own luxury rate -> increasing my science rate [90-100%] -> keeping myself ahead of everyone) Then the day came that I was rolling my Modern Armor units (backed up with cruise missiles) against their puny infantry and tanks. I just had to be patient.. the early days were hell!
  16. Mongoloid Cow

    Mongoloid Cow Great Khan

    Dec 18, 2001
    Adelaide, Australia
    The Babylonians, Egyptians and Persians seem to be the only civs I can go well with. The Babylonians in my experience can easily conquer the Zulus (no other civs whether or not the Zulus are there :cry: ) with enough Bowmen, and still stay infront with Culture, Tech, Military and Cities. Cities will often 'flip' to your civ. The Egyptians' UU sucks, but the Industrious and Religious properties are good; especially if you get the Pyramids. With the Persians it is easy to build up a large empire early, and conquer the nearby civs with the Immortals.

    And I've never paid tribute to anyone!:D
  17. Doubtful Teeks

    Doubtful Teeks Chieftain

    Oct 13, 2001
    Bergen, Norway
    I've found the lever to be trade of techs. In CivII you could just race ahead, even at the higher levels, yet I find that to impossible in CivIII. Trade techs to keep up with the others, and expand.
  18. Zachriel

    Zachriel Kaiser

    Oct 7, 2001
    Jovian System
    Hail, Buecephalus.

    First, let me commend you on your ability to play the game from a weak position. One day I will tell you about my Luxembourg strategy.

    Others have covered the most important strategies, so let me contribute a couple of small tips:

    1. Pop-rush in the ancient days, especially settlers. Fill every available nook of the map. Do not trade your map until your culture controls all your "native" lands.

    2. Play the position. Sometimes an early military strike is best. Sometimes peaceful expansion is best. I usually play a crowded map (16 civs, standard, wet, continental, roaming), so I try to gain territory in the ancient era with the sword.

    3. You don't have to build ancient wonders to win. Whether you are concentrating on conquest or on culture, consider delaying your wonder building to the middle ages. Then get religion.
  19. goodbye_mr_bond

    goodbye_mr_bond Ancient

    Feb 19, 2001
    Nowhere, fast
    ANd don't forget to choke, choke, choke!

    One of my early priorities is to stake out MY lands, and choke off any civ that I can from expanding. This can mean overreaching yourself--settling that third or fourth city a bit farther off than you might think, but it's hardly ever unmanageable in my experience. It's worth the risk, and the AI won't usually dare to attack so early if you have a decent military--it's concerned with settling as well. Always keep an eye on what the other civs are doing.

    I win consistently at Deity in Civ II, though I've only ever played one Civ III game so far--at Regent. My score was 3050, which I see would be 5th or 6th in the current HOF. Not bad for first try--but let me tell you, the early game looked rough. It seems to me, after one game, that some basics apply which can be carried over from Civ II.

    From Prince level on in Civ II and (it seems to me) Regent and up in Civ III, what gets many people bogged down is not getting a good handle on the non-military aspects of the game. In Civ II, it's trading caravans and building a strong economy that makes all the difference. In Civ III it seems that it's trade PLUS culture PLUS keeping an eye on civ-specific abilities & the resources that go with them.

    One of my rival civs, for instance, was the Egyptians. I made it priority number one to hobble them before they got their war chariot, and I secured all the horseys on our continent. On the other continent were the Russians, English and Germans. THrough diplomacy, I engineered a war to squeeze out the Russians, who were between the other two, then came in in time to grab Moscow for myself as a homebase there. It worked like a charm, except that the English grabbed more than the Germans so started getting a bit too strong for my tastes. By this time I had tank tech, so I simply gave it and a supply of oil to the Germans and used them to hold the English in check while I prepared Moscow for a further expansion by flying in bombers, tanks, etc. THrough diplomacy, I ensured that I was guiding their actions--a protection pact here, a tech gift there, witholding maps... It all adds up.

    While all this was happening, I continued to build temples, libraries, etc, at a leisurely pace in my home continent, now clean of Egyptians and Greeks. I was looking forward to completing my spaceship when the computer suddenly announced that I won by "Domination." Must remember to turn that option off next time. ;)

    Anyway, my advice is essentially: look at the big picture to win at higher levels. It's not just about the military. You'll get the hang of it.:goodjob:
  20. MightMakesRight

    MightMakesRight Chieftain

    Jan 10, 2002
    After reading all the great (as well as the misleading) hints, suggestions, strategies, and so I on, I figured I would put my 2 cents in as well, since what I have read has been so useful to me.

    Anyway, when playing at the tougher levels (emperor & diety) with many civs on huge mapes, I have found a couple of key truths and formulated a couple of strategies:

    Truth #1: You have to get a good starting location (considering resources, competitors, barbarians, food, etc) or you can't win. Feel free to continue playing if you drew the short straw, 'cause you probably won't last for too long anyway.

    Truth #2: You will be playing catch-up with the AI for the first few millenia. Regardless of your luck of the draw and your Civ prowess, it's going to take you a while to overcome the AIs advantages that are built in at emperor & deity (and to some extent in lower levels).

    If anyone has a different opinion/experience with CIV 3, please share your secrets.

    Now for strategy (much of which is the same stuff espoused by others, but repackaged by me):

    I don't think any single 'strategy' will let you win consistently. You have to mix it up, being ready to adjust. On the lower levels you can take one formula and win. As the AI's advantages increase though, you need to be ready to adapt. However, I do tend to employ the following tactics:

    Tactic #1: Crank the research to 100% until you have iron working, the wheel, and have contacted a couple of other civs. You need to be able to identify the strategic resources as soon as possible. Then take science back to 0%, use the money and your military to acquire technology through any means necessary.

    Tactic #2: If you run into another civ early, trade what knowledge you can, gather your forces, and mount an offensive. Unless you cripple your closest neighbors, the AI's ability to crank out units and settlers will overwhelm you. Taking cities very early on is fairly easy, and you benefit from the additional cities, and then suing for peace (usually for tech or more cities). It might take too much to totally destroy the civ early, but be sure to take them out at your earliest convenience, but before they can really become a thorn in your side again.

    Tactic #3: Expand until you hit your neighbors. Keep the peace as much as possible and broker the technologies.

    Tactic #4: Take out your closest & smallest neighbors. Take a city, sue for peace, then take another. Use overwhelming force on each city. Do whatever it takes to keep the peace with other civs; you don't want a two-front war on your hands.

    Tactic #5: Continue expansion in this fashion until you have 'caught up' with the AI. You don't have to be the best, but you need to be one of the dominant civs fairly soon, or the AI will run away with it.

    Tactic #6: Once you are a dominant civ, choose your path (conquer, crank up the science, spread your culture, whatever).

    The bottom line is that the AI civs have huge advantages at the start. You must do whatever it takes to close that gap quickly. Once you become a dominant force, then the rest is easy. Many of the strategies seem to focus on being the best "military" or "science" or "culture" and then exploiting that strength. My argument is this: Once I have a serious lead in science, military, or culture, I will win. The challenge is overcoming the AIs advantages and getting in the lead.

    At the higher levels, it takes a combination of luck and tactics to win. (Then again, maybe I'm the only one that loses 3 out of 4 Deity games in the first few thousand years).:crazyeyes Unless you are actively using diplomacy, science, and military, you can't consistently win in Civ 3 (at tough levels).

    That's my (very long) 2 cents worth!

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