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Thoughts and Tips about Civ4 Internet games.

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by MamboJoel, Feb 27, 2006.

  1. MamboJoel

    MamboJoel Cool.

    Nov 5, 2001
    Paris, France
    I bought the game when it came out and read few strategy articles on this board, Sullla's guid, REX, Catherine cottage etc etc... I mainly played single player games since from the very first CIV (civ I) I've allways thought it did not make any sense playing MP for this game. I haven't even bothered looking at the way it was managed in civ 2 and 3.
    Eventually, after another single player game (I play Emperor) my curiousity led me to the Multi player menu, and I got positively surprised by the fact that all was concentrated in a single lobby; I come from a game (Combat Mission) where you have to take care of all the meeting with an adversary in a seperate chat room, and connect IP yourself.
    I tried to join a game, it was quite easy in fact, because it was during the week mainly. This brings me to my first thought : Joining games.

    Joining games in this lobby is very anoying. When the lobby is crowded (afternoons weekends mainly) it's almost impossible to join a game. Experienced players seem to have created a new religion : Peerism (research the Internet to found it). There goes all sorts of beliefs that are passed from players to players not without using their imagination. "You shall unckeck the ready button to let other parishioners join our church", "You shall uncheck the no cheat button to let our church stand the test of time". The game host is some kind of priest who is communicating with the other world -the lobby- where Great Inquisitors proclame "You have a bad peer on slot number 2 !". And then you get burned.
    Nobody really knows what is happening, but soon you'll find out that you are not faithful enough to the Peerism and be you'll be recorded as a "Bad Peer". When you're at that point you only have two options:
    1. Quit your job, play during the week.
    2. Quit your girlffriend, spend 3 hours during the weekend trying to join a few games.

    Enough for the Lobby digression. We'll have plenty of time to think about in our next Join/Wait/QuitGameSpy/RejoinGameSpy session.

    To choose a game you have it's ping, the type of the map and the title. I'm in Europe, I tend to play european games. It's not chauvinism, it's simply that after so much online games I figured out that :
    1. Better connection to european hosts
    2. Better gameplay, polite players
    Mainly it's German game, Deutsch, Austria, Spanish. Unfortunatly I don't have so much "France" game, francophone players are organized in a sort of ladder that I don't like (I'll talk about it latter on).

    Then you're in the room ! You made it without beeing kicked out. The point is : You can pretty much find out what kind of guys you're going to face, by knowing the game's name, reading the player's messages, looking at the settings and the civs they want to play.

    Usually you have joined a game that includes "No quitters" in it's name. Don't take too much care about that, I've seen so many host leave the game they themselves called that way. In a way, I tend to be more optimistic when the game doesn't mention anything about quitting to avoid reminding players it's an option maybe. :) If it's not "No quitters" it's FFA or both. Welcome to the world of Acronym. FFA No TT = Free For All No Tech Trading.

    First I take a look at the size of the map. If it's above standard I just ask for a smaller one, if it's a no I get back to the lobby. Same thing goes for the speed of the game and the timer (can't play without a timer anyway). A blazing game can last 5 hours.
    I don't really care about the type of the map, though I don't really appreciate symetrical ones (Hub etc ...). But I can say Island doesn't make very much sense. Since it's like playing on our one for 4 hours. I even saw an Island game with only conquest victory enabled. Clearly, the players are new to the game or the MP ones. I wont stay in this room.

    Another indicator of not very good player is when they ask for No Barbarians. Every time I see this request I take a close look at the player's evolution in the game and I end up with the conlusion he is a little new. Barbarians are exciting, the game is cheesy without them. The early expansion relies on several parameters that fit nicely in together in terms of game play (scouting, occupying uncolonized land, working tiles etc etc), barbarians are one of these and removing them just breaks the harmony. I even support the raging barbs on. Eventually it doesn't slower your expansion too much, it makes you think more and at the end of the day your units even have promotions.
    If too many players support the request to remove barbs, I leave the room.

    Players choosing a leader of their own nationality is suspicious. Not in 100% of the cases of course. Some play it because they like their play style, some because they want to play it because it's their country but still are good players, others are a bit nationalistic and these tend to be quitters.
    I don't really like team games so I play them only if the lobby is crowded and it's the only game I could join. When players propose to make teams, I leave. For me it's throwing away a enormous aspect of the game : diplomacy.

    Players choosing a financial civs are of course potentially good ones. A roman player is saying to you "Hello I want to rush", not very discrete.

    When the host choses exotic parameters such as tropical or ice and that the players agree on it, I'm pretty confident.

    A player that doesn't send a single message in the game room has a high potential of quitting in my point of view. A good chatting room is often a security to have a nice game.
    Funnny : last time, the game that had the best ping had a sleepy host. Players kept joining and filling the game, talking about the settings and so on, getting upset at each others and eventually discovering the host was absent! I joined this game a few times to see this happened: very funny, human nature.

    My Civ. Allways financial. So it leaves :
    Catherine. I like her start techs. I'll take her if I know the map will be crowded (Terra for instance) to use the creative trait against the others. Also this trait makes you're early expansion much faster (get ressources fast, no compromise in your city location). The UU is ok too. Cool to have a scout too!
    Qin. Good first techs. This mean I'll have to chop some Obelix, but it's ok (same for all the others). I like the ability to build fast wonders and forges, though I tend to build wonders quite late in the game, maybe I'll go for the oracle with him. EXCELLENT UU. MP is allways about axemen, with the China UU you rock everybody.
    Mali. Spiritual is a great trait. But I really like it's UU (good archer). I'll choose him if there is barbs.
    Huayna. Agressive is ok, but I don't like the UU too much, just build wariors instead of archers and you're as good as them. But he's quite a good choice anyway.
    Wash. He's overall good, big money. Not very good start techs nor UU though. I don't play him often.
    Liz. Well I don't use the philosophical thing too much so I rarely use her. I'm a great cottage beliver, they are more adaptable than scientist. The game is about adapting your strategy.
    Victoria. On high difficulty levels.
    Anyway, I'm ok for other leaders. I see random leaders or personality as a good indication for a nice game. But if I have too chose it would be the three or four formers.

    Playing the game. A nice thing about CIV4 is that you can't get stupid start position. There is allways something to do. Wow, how much quitters would we get if it wasn't the case ! Depending on the parameters (barbs, continent, pangea, fish ressource etc ...) I'll choose the strategy. I'm not going too much in details, it's not a strategy guide.

    Indication : Players founding an early religion are not in a so good shape. First it means they start with mysticism, so they are not financial or have Huayna Capac wich is not the fastest growing civ. Founding a religion means more focus on the capital and less on the second city and the improvments.
    BTW, if Huyna founds a religion chances are he is not planning on building much more cities ;-)

    Basically without fish I build 2 workers and a settler. When I produce workers or settlers at this stage, I allways chope them. The question is when to build them and what to build between them.
    Risky : Build first worker at size one. Then let city grow to 3 while building 2/3 warriors. Chope 2nd worker, chope settler with both workers.
    Security : Only build army wait for size 3 and build 2 worker and the settler in a row.
    Good compromise : Warrior till size 2. Worker at size 2 improves tile while city grows 3 (building warrior). At size 3 build 2nd worker and settler.
    With fish : Build a warior, search fishing (if you're Catherine, you can maybe go for a religion) build a worker chope ships, chope worker, chope settler.

    The thing is (and that will explain why I said early religion delays growth) that you usually need an improvment tech before you discover Bronze Working. I don't think it makes too much sense to chope warriors. So when the first worker comes out, he will build a food improvment, +2 or +3 food is awsome at the start of the game. If you need one or two imrpovment tech you don't have time for a risky religion rush.

    The first settler is allways escorted by ... A worker. He doesn't need to be slowed down by a warrior. I place warriors on hills to cover the area he's traveling thru and the new city location anyway. Warriors need to move around to ensure the area is clear. I think we all know what a good city location is ...
    If possible The second city's first build is a worker choped by the escorting one (if not Catherine, chope obelix maybe). If you manage to make things like this you are probably note very high in score but you're allready a juggernaut.

    Indication : Players on the top of the rankings at this stage are often bad players.

    Beeline for pottery, build cottages on riversides first then everywhere (even lux ressources, you only need one per type) you know the music. Basically the worker that is left alone in the capital starts building cottages as soon as the team settler/worker left the area.
    Getting Iron soon is good if you don't have cooper. It's mainly to know where the good tiles are before choosing a city location.

    Indication : ludicrous. Unless you have a philosophical leader going for a specific GP farm city (My opinion is that it's not a good idea anyway) if you see farms on grassland or flood plains you are facing a brilliant auto worker : This civ doesn't represent a danger for you.

    You can do all your game without religion, but I tend to like to go for Theo or Code, since they are not too hard to get : you have a commerce lead at this stage to get them first, people don't bother too much with them (except maybe a magic oracle) at the very start, but beelining for priesthood is IMO a suicide strategy. You NEED to go for writing to build libraries fast, so code comes in quicky.

    Anyway : classical strategies here, nothing new.

    Indication : allways build armies. It doesn't slow your expansion at all. I like to build a city near hills and prod ressource quite early (maybe 3d of 4th city) building only a barrack and then ONLY units). So the indication is : press F9, take a look at two things :
    1. GNP you're certainly very high above the others, your real competitors are the one that on the top of this graph.
    2. Power. Essential. You'll find out that a lot of players don't build units at all. They have some kind of Civ2 way of thinking (the time when you had 124 456 thousands of MUSTPRODUCE buildings INALLCITIES) that makes them build a granary when it's lethal (you don't to let cities go above what they can afford) or a market (who builds markets anyway ? :o) ). These are bad players. They think the only way to stay on the tech race is to accept a wrong compromise on military. Very often, these players will be attacked.

    How many of these players have I see quitting immediatly when attacked ? Worse : they gift all their cities. Worse, they take all the defenders away to let the attacker take over every cities. Human nature.

    Tip : it's allways a good thing beeing reactive with your army as a diplomatic force. When a good civ attacks a weak one, I send all my best units in the defender's territory to gift them, I stop all my current projects to replace the units I gave (takes no more than 10 turns). The guy attacking didn't plan on facing such resistance and since we allways loose wars because of bad planning ...
    You gain a good friend (be carefull you didn't gave him too much units near one of your city that got weak because of the gifts ;-)), you make a good ennemy become weaker. I tend to be implicated in absolutly all the wars that are declared. Just be carefull not gifting your UU ;-).
    Human nature again : a player once noticed this situation, insulted me and abandonned the game.

    A thought (it's getting long !!!) about 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3.
    Well I don't like these games, it's not civilization, it's age of empire. Often it's even almost RTS because of the simultaneous turns !!! I said previously that I play them sometimes when nothing else is available.
    3v3 tends to go wrong because when one of the 3 is dead the other 2 allmost allways quit.
    2v2 is quite ok. I had a few lately that gave a good surprise : the players where very nice, polite and kept playing till the very last city was destroyed. I don't like this type of Age Of Empire play but if it's against such players I'll play them more often. Ah ! Tip : remember the names of the good players.

    A thought about CivFR. I can play english, german or french games. I said previously I liked european games better (though the 2vs2 previous games i mentionned were very good US players). On the lobby I often see games called "CivFR something". They have a password wich is available on their french site. I subscribed to it and it took me a month to find the password in their messy site (vive civfanatics!).
    I was very excited to join such a game because I had the experience of french communities with very serious players, absolutly NO quitters etc etc... So I entered (very fast) a room and got crazy with :
    1. The settings
    2. The fact that ALL CivFR games have these same settings all the time :
    - 100 turns
    - All at war
    - One city taken and the whole civ is destroyed
    - No barbs
    I played this thinking I was playing AOE or Rise Of Nation. Same thing withouth the thrill.
    I hate these parameters because they design a game that is not in the spirit of Civilization. 100 turns is not Civilization. All at war means no diplomacy ! One city destroys all empire neglects the principle of invasion, counter attack etc etc etc (how many game have I won while loosing cities ?)
    You find yourself in situation with a guy on your right, a guy on your left. The guy on the left keeps attacking with all his troups and finally the guy on his left takes one of his city : everything disappears.
    But a good thing about CivFR though is that NOBODY EVER quits. If a guy is disconnected, all the players will vote "WAIT". We can wait half an hour, but the game will restart. If needed we reload the game, no matter how long it takes.

    Give me french player's fair play and other player's competitivity and we'll have a good game !
  2. DangerousMonkey

    DangerousMonkey Warlord

    Oct 2, 2005
    Well, a lot of what you've said make sense, but I should probably point out a few things. Firstly, this stuff about "pad peers" isn't some kind of folk religion, it's a real problem. Some player don't have the right ports open on their firewalls, or don't have thier routers set right, and when they join a game it makes it impossible for other players to join. This is because subsequent players can't properly contact the "bad peer's" computer. As a result you end up with unjoinable games. Smart hosts will kick these "bad peers" because they screw up games.

    From what you've said it seems that you may well be a bad peer. Have you configured your firewall or router for gamespy? Visit gamespy's firewall help page if you haven't.

    Also, players that insist no barbarians arn't always just bad players, though they often are, they might be really good players that are just obsessed with ironing out every trace of randomness they can from the game. This is a habit you can get into when you play a lot of high level leauge games, and some people get a little over-zealous about it in my opinion. Personaly, I often like raging barbarians on too, it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

    Actually, I find the best sign of a sub-par player is one that insists on maps that are way too big for the number of players involved. They like maps that are too big because they like to be insulated from other players, because they get killed a lot otherwise. This isn't an absolute indicator, but it is a strong trend.

    And yeah, I agree that games where the players are tightly packed are way, way more exiting. But a lot of people don't like these games because they a) are good players that have become very keen (too keen I'd say) on reducing randomness, as smaller maps tend to distribute advantages more randomly, because of the advantages of getting starting copper/horses become much more signifigant or b) are not very skilled and tend to whine a lot about getting wasted early by better players, or "stupid rushers that don't know how to play" in the words of said whiner.

    Also, I heard you say something about sending your first settler out unescorted and undefended. That might work in a lot of pickup games because players dont' know what they're doing, but if you come up against someone savvy he wont' hesitate to kill your settler and/or raize your city if he can.
  3. Dueck

    Dueck Walrold

    Jan 24, 2006
    Calgary, AB
    Admittedly, I didn't read the entire beginning strategy. Truth is, I only marginally agree with what you have for your beginning-game strategy. There's no real cookie-cutter strategy which will work with whatever you've got.

    I entirely agree with your lobby assessment for Civ. In just about any potentially multiplayer game you're going to get the same problems, though. I'm personally safe from these hazards, as I only play LAN with my friends. Try persuading a bunch of friends (who have a tendency toward strategy games, maybe) to try Civ.
  4. aaronflavor

    aaronflavor Warlord

    Dec 11, 2005
    San Francisco Bay Area, California
    Nice summary. I haven't tried a Civ4 MP game, but I want to as soon as I feel I am good enough. (Presently, I play very comfortably on Noble on pretty much any map type at Normal speed, but I figure this isn't good enough. I'm also in a PBEM.)

    One very important question: How long does an ordinary MP game last? What factors make it more or less time?

    Another question: Is it acceptable to "Retire" when you are sure you have lost, as in other games? Or is it expected you will continue to play until your last city falls?
  5. Zekrazey1

    Zekrazey1 Chieftain

    Dec 26, 2005
    MP games last anywhere from 1/2 an hour to 10 hours :p (usually played with blazing turns, quick speed). A duel (single players or teams) would be very short, a tiny ffa on pangaea maybe a few hours, a standard ffa more than 5 hours. However, player skill can make a huge difference. With evenly matched players, even a tiny ffa can last as long as a much larger game with no-one able to gain the upper hand. If there's little conflict (e.g. an islands map), that will tend to prolong the game length. Things like tech trading will reduce game length since everyone progresses through the tech tree faster.

    Given how stupid the AI is (and the tendency of humans to try risky strategies), it's really only fair to other players to play until the last city falls. Otherwise what happens is a human will try something risky, fail to make it work as well as they'd like, quit when they get attacked (and it's obvious they will lose) and leave the already stupid AI even less prepared than it would otherwise be and give the aggressor a whole free civ (and possibly the results of their risk taking, if it were a wonder, say) to take over with minimal effort :p. When I try risky things, get caught with my pants down and have no hope of winning, I still stay in the game and make the aggressor pay for every inch of my territory (after I get over the initial scurry to get my pants back up :p).

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not whether you can win or lose, it's the magnitude of the difference in effect between your staying or leaving that you should consider before leaving.
  6. New Sun

    New Sun Chieftain

    Jan 28, 2006
    Where my hat is.
    I'm not sure if this falls under the human nature category or what but the last game I played in, every time this one guy would attack (I think his screen name was nate23), he would say in to all in capital (should that be capitol? I always mix those up) letters "WHOOPS UPSIDE YO HED SAY WHOOPS UPSIDE YO HED"(sic)

    It was real weird.

    You know what I think his name was nat23. Yeah and he said some real mean things about the guy who was playing Egypt's (his name isn't that important(the guy playing Egypt I mean), as he's not the focus of this story) mother.

    Know what? nate23. Beware his galley rush.

  7. 5cats

    5cats Warlord

    Dec 24, 2005
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Galley rush!
    I'm... terrified!

    Thanks MamboJoel for the insight into the mysterious world of MP :) Which I have yet to venture into...
  8. MamboJoel

    MamboJoel Cool.

    Nov 5, 2001
    Paris, France
    Hehe, yep open port 2056 etc etc ... No problem. The thing is when the lobby is crowded, even if you have good conn, machine, open ports from the first one to 9999 you get peer problems. What I think is a mistake is to kick out the last peer because a single player outside the room can't join. This doesn't mean the one inside the room has a bad peer. Anyway, it's just about pinging the other side, could be one of the two players or even both.
    I play on different locations so I sometimes have bad pings, sometimes good ones. Well anyway, the producer of the game has to come up with solutions on this issue, I think everybody agrees on that ! :)

    I agree, this sometimes is relevant to high level players. Though, when you get to such conditions, you kind of get away from the spirit of the game. Strategy is adapting to events you don't control.

    Hehe, read the whole paragraph. I control he's path to the new city location with warriors moving around the area on hills. I think the original scouting of most players is like sending a bottle in the ocean, they let their unit walk for thousand miles in a direction, it doesn't make sense since :
    1. They wont find any goody huts in a far away territory that has allready been explored by another player.
    2. They don't need info right now about potential city locations/strategic so far away.
    3. Their is allways better opportunity to explore the rest of the world during other ages of the game.
    My opinion is that you take much more advantages of your early scouts/warriors/archers by scouting only the area you can potentially occupy in the future and use them to patrol this area, specifically in the direction where you're next city is going to be built.

    Zekrazey1 answered other questions.

    Terrible experience :
    You know the lobby is sometimes spammed by extremist/racist players. I never remember their name cause I just don't give too much attention to idiocy.
    Well anyway I played a horrible game last night. It was a 7 players FFA Standard Continents. I took Mali though there were no barbarians.
    Stupid game from the settings, I'm alone on a continent with no barbarians and no tech trading. I have a river for my cap, a 2 rivers flood plain for a GPP farm, a hill based city and a few spots for commerce cities. A jungernaut ...
    Only problem, I missed lux ressources, I had to go for hereditary rule.
    Anyway... After a few turns a player called "EINSTEIN" sent a message to a player that did not hit the Enter button : "Enter negro".
    The player answered "Do you know I'm black ?"
    EINSTEIN : "Yes negro"
    The player left the game, einstein was proud of him self "There goes the first one, who's next ?"
    And this guy kept sending stupid messages about his civ building all the wonders etc etc... It was true though : He got Pyramids, Oracle, Stone, Hanging gardens (and bunch of others). From this kind of religious rush you can be sure he'll be in bad economic shape hehe :)
    Anyway, with the excellent land I had I got liberalism very fast and the rankings were like :
    1. Me at 1100
    2. the host at 700
    3. EINSTEIN at 650
    other players between 500 and 600
    with printing press and new commerce cities, things were getting crazy.
    EINSTEIN started to ask everybody to team against me. Fine, no problem. Though I was the only one to have galleons (liberalism > Astronomy) and nobody even had caravelles to cross the oceans and spot me. But he kept trying to team everybody which again is totally normal.
    Though he started to be racist again : "Every body stop negro joel"
    Ludicrous, even though I'm not black, it doesn't make sense ...
    When the rankings got bigger he changed he's policy and said I was a cheater. Arguments :
    "negro Joel is a **** cheater"
    "it's impossible to have a city size 18, I have the pyramids !!"
    (he couldn't understand my civ was under hereditary rule and this flood plain city full of units).
    "i'm very good ladder player he's cheating"
    I took a look at his land and adviced him to build a little more cottages (he was financial GW) and a he answered :
    (I figured out latter what it meant : shut the **** up)
    "you can't grow a city with cottages, negro joel"
    experienced player...
    Anyway I wanted him to stay in the game so I was arguing with him I was not a cheater : "If I was a cheater why wouldn't have built all the wonders you have ?". He was the guy that was repeating in the game room "no quitters". And he was saying :
    "You're a ******* cheater I'm leaving"
    Then he noticed I was french and said : "frogs are all cheaters" etc ...
    I got sick of this child, sent a galeon to Holly New York (he had like 3 religions) and took it with NO defenders, he immediatly left the game. I was so offended, I asked other players if I could leave too, I left (I was really sick of playing anyway, just advertised for this game and Mali in the lobby) and found him in the lobby. But he didn't answer and eventually left the lobby.

    SO ! Indication. If you see a player called EINSTEIN : leave the room :)
  9. aaronflavor

    aaronflavor Warlord

    Dec 11, 2005
    San Francisco Bay Area, California
    Another question, based on your comments: What is "cheating"? How often does it occur?

    I think I've gotten used to hate on the Internet, though. It's a perfect outlet for hateful people who don't dare pull that crap elsewhere.
  10. MamboJoel

    MamboJoel Cool.

    Nov 5, 2001
    Paris, France
    I have absolutly no idea !

    Hehe you're right !
  11. Azash

    Azash La Sombra

    Apr 30, 2005
    The Net
    I would like the game removing all player-specific passwords when the game is loaded. It's a bummer remembering PW's from a week back or more.
  12. Phyr_Negator

    Phyr_Negator Anti-tolerast

    Aug 26, 2005
    Eye of Terror
    Bad peer along with sync makes it almost impossible to join a game - if you manage somehow to pass peer then 60% that game will be ruined due to sync - and you can tell everyone a billion times that that problem can be solved by re-joining - 95% will just leave and never rejoin.
  13. Azash

    Azash La Sombra

    Apr 30, 2005
    The Net

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