Tips for Emperor difficulty

BillChin

Prince
Joined
Jan 7, 2002
Messages
494
February's game is an Emperor level game. This is the level I play all the time so I thought I would share a few tips for people playing their first Emperor level game. These are suggestions, not rules, and they work for me. There are many other ways to go about it. I play random map, random civ, standard map size, default barbs, eight players. These techniques help me survive the worst imaginable starting positions on Emperor difficulty.

A fast build out is a must. There are two basic ways to accomplish this. The most popular is hurrying production using the whip (slave camps). I prefer a dense build, building my cities right on top of each other. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and you can read a lot more about each in the Strategy and tips section.

I prefer to build the first two settlers before building a temple or granary. I settle these first guys very close to the capital. Either one square away on the diagonal, or two squares away on the straight. There is zero corruption at this distance. It makes it very easy to connect them with roads to share luxuries and these suburbs can use the tile improvements made for the capital. There is some micromanagement of overlapping tiles. The suburbs can not grow up to be big sprawling cities, but they can often support pop 6 to 12 later in the game.

Under the articles section, I wrote about three basic starting strategies: Swordsmen conquest, Horsemen conquest and open map build out. As I read the January game thread, a fourth seems very popular: Warrior Gambit. Very quickly I'll outline each:

Warrior Gambit
Send the first two warriors looking for an enemy city. Attack. There is about a 65% chance of victory. In normal games, many players reload if they lose the first battle. Keep in mind that reloading is not allowed under Game of the Month rules. The odds of winning increase to about 75% if you send three warriors or one warrior and an archer.

Swordsmen conquest
Research Bronze then Iron. Build 4 to 6 cities. Claim iron. Build 10+ swordsmen or upgrade from warriors. If no iron, archers. Attack the nearest enemy and claim all their land. An excellent strategy for cramp conditions and this may be the best way to deal with hostile Zulus next door.

Horsemen conquest
Research the wheel to see horses. Build 8 to 15 cities. Claim a horse icon. Build 20+ horsemen. If no horses, swordsmen. Pick one enemy. Bribe the others. Attack in force and crush the enemy. Catapults are handy if the opponent has hoplites, legionaires, or pikemen. This is the strategy I favor. It has gotten me out of some of the worst imaginable starting positions.

Open land build out
Again, I like to build the first two settlers very close in. I scout out the surrounding area. If there are no enemy units at all, that usually means a lot of open land. In this situation an early switch to Monarchy often pays off big. Build cities nicely spaced, pay special attention to claiming luxuries.

A few other points:
On Emperor difficulty happiness is a big issue. Only one citizen is born happy, the rest need luxuries, temple, marketplace, etc. I usually limit population until I bring several luxuries on line. One key point in the game is switching governments. Republic and Democracy require at least three luxuries. Trying them with fewer can be very frustrating.
 

ERIKK

multiplayer
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Jan 30, 2002
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Netherlands
Thanks Billchin, there're only two luxuries and trading is not possible for a while. I guess I'll stick with monarchy. But how do you know you need at least three luxuries?
 

BillChin

Prince
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Jan 7, 2002
Messages
494
How do I know? I do not know, but after about 30 game starts, you get a feel for these things. You can try Republic, but it may be frustrating on Emperor difficulty, especially after building Aqueducts. Monarchy is better for size 12 cities because of the three military police option.

P. S. Please keep any spoilers in the appropiate thread. There are many people who have not started the game yet.
 

IronKnight

Master of Disaster
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Jan 15, 2002
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Vermont, USA
One more question...

About your city spacing. Having them only 2 squares away on the straight, doesn't this decrease the output that they can perform? Is it not counter productive for you. What would you refer to as normal spacing? I typically try to space my cities with 4 tiles between each on the straight. My thinking was that no overlapping tiles meant maximum production. Am I wrong in my thinking? How many of these tight "suburbs do you produce? Whenever possible I adjust my spacing based on the resources available in the area.

Anyway, I'm interested in trying your philosophy. I always like to try new strategies.

I look forward to hearing your responses.
 

BillChin

Prince
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Jan 7, 2002
Messages
494
Military police help keep your citizens content. On Emperor difficulty, only one citizen is born happy in each city. The rest need military police (units such as warriors, spearmen, archers) in the city, or luxuries, or a temple. For example, if you have a population two city with no extras, and no garrison, it will go into civil disorder. With one warrior in town, the pop can go to two, with two warriors in town, pop three. Add a luxury and a temple and it is up to pop five. Add a second luxury for pop six. Under Monarchy, up to three units can help with happiness, vs. two units under Despotism.

I usually build two cities close to the capital. Then I look to claim resources, or build cities at strategic locations. The two suburbs will not grow up to be big sprawling cities, but can usually support pop 6 to 12 later in the game. Output gets a big boost at two squares vs. four squares distance. Corruption is essentially zero, and the suburbs can use the roads and mines built for the capital. If you are still not convinced, try it on a test game before committing to it for the Game of the Month.
 

IronKnight

Master of Disaster
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Thanks Billchin. I will try your method. Do you find that the "suburbs" don't produce much shields or food because they share tiles?

I recently tried a strategy that you or somebody else mentioned. It has worked good for me so far. I set tech spending to zero, make hoards of money, and get all of my techs through war. This has worked really good for me in a test game.

Another strategy I am trying which looks good so far is designating a large shield town to build a palace. When a new wonder becomes available, I switch to it immediately and get a big jump start.
 

ChumChum

Chieftain
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Jan 15, 2002
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46
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Scotland
hey bill, do you find that emperor games can be done with the warrior gambit. i haven't tried it but i was under the impression that the computer starts with about 5 extra warriors so this wouldn't work (unless you went the aztecs or greeks and rushed a golden age).

certainly on monarch he starts with 2 extra warriors to you...
 

BillChin

Prince
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Jan 7, 2002
Messages
494
Originally posted by ChumChum
hey bill, do you find that emperor games can be done with the warrior gambit. i haven't tried it but i was under the impression that the computer starts with about 5 extra warriors so this wouldn't work (unless you went the aztecs or greeks and rushed a golden age).

certainly on monarch he starts with 2 extra warriors to you...

Warrior Gambit is much more of a gamble on Emperor difficulty. It can work, but has a higher chance of failure compared to Regent or Monarch. As you said, the AI starts with more extra units. In general, a militarist civ has a much better shot with this strategy because they can build archers right at the start. Aztecs are also good with their fast Jag Warriors.

In one Emperor level game, I observed the AI getting a free Spearman after building a city. I do not know if this is part of the code or what, but I saw a settler being escorted by a warrior. Two turns later there was a spearman guarding the settled city and it did not walk there. This observation makes me very reluctant to try attacking until I have swordmen or horsemen and lots of them.
 

BillChin

Prince
Joined
Jan 7, 2002
Messages
494
Originally posted by IronKnight
Thanks Billchin. I will try your method. Do you find that the "suburbs" don't produce much shields or food because they share tiles?

I recently tried a strategy that you or somebody else mentioned. It has worked good for me so far. I set tech spending to zero, make hoards of money, and get all of my techs through war. This has worked really good for me in a test game.

Another strategy I am trying which looks good so far is designating a large shield town to build a palace. When a new wonder becomes available, I switch to it immediately and get a big jump start.

The suburbs remain good production cities until the end of the game. Think of it this way, a pop six city with zero corruption is better than a pop 20 city on great terrain with high corruption. At the beginning of the game, sharing tiles means extra gold and extra shields. The capital is building settlers and the pop varies between 1 and 3, so when the pop is low, the suburbs can use the improved tiles. This is where a lot of the production boost comes from. These extra shields and extra gold during the early game are a big boost.

Another benefit is easy defense with cities close together all connected by roads. If cities are four spaces apart only fast units can make it from one city to another in case of emergency and it takes four times as long to build the road network. Sometimes that is too late and a city gets pillaged by barbarians or attacked by an early expansionist.

I can not take credit for the tech broker strategy. That dates back to before my time on this board. The palace trick was posted by someone else as well. These are both good tips. I hope some folks are reading along and use them.
 

Drakken

Warlord
Joined
Feb 6, 2002
Messages
130
Location
Chicago
Good tips. Thanks for posting them. I personally don't like the fact that on harder levels most strategies get ruled out. :( The game seems to become one faceted. The conquering strategy seems the only one to work well. I wish on harder settings the game was still balanced and all strategies would work equally.

I'm curious; besides the happiness factor and the comps cheating is anything else tweaked at emperor level? Is corruption higher, do cities culture flip easer, etc.?
 

IronKnight

Master of Disaster
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Messages
99
Location
Vermont, USA
This is something that happend to me, not sure if its typical.

I am playing a practice game for GOTM4. I'm using all of the same settings: Emperor, English, Med. Map, etc. I border Germany to my north. We're in the early AD's, just started the middle ages. I've taken out Persia, he's taken out Russia. France and Babylon are also present. Germany has more culture than me. Suddenly one of my productive border towns pledges allegiance to Germany. OUCH! I just lost a really good town! I go to war against France. I successfully capture one of their towns. Suddenly my new town I just capture converts over to Germany after a few turns. QUITE FRUSTRATING!

I take the blame for not matching their culture, but 2 towns in about 10 turns...that's HARSH!

I will be interested in hearing what others have encountered.
 
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