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Tips for People Who Hate Civ 4

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by dh_epic, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. dh_epic

    dh_epic Cold War Veteran

    Feb 10, 2002
    Seasonal Residences
    Civ 3 is so much better right?

    Wrong. All your strategies have stopped working and now you're sad because you have to learn a new game. But if you can stop being proud for just one second and read on -- or even just experiment -- you might learn a few things. And once you understand the method to Civ 4's madness, you'll start to love the game.

    Civ 4 is a vast improvement on Civ 3 because strategy matters more than a recipe book.

    1) Tip One: Expand, Expand, Expand!!!

    The first thing you should do is turn your main city into a settler factory. Try to build as many cities as possible to grab as much land as possible. Be sure to build the occasional unit to defend your outermost cities.

    If you don't get your third settler killed by a barbarian, you'll find that this surely puts you in a losing position by 250 AD, with your tech rate hovering around 10%, and the AI several techs ahead. Congratulations, you suck at Civ 4!

    There are a few reasons why fast expansion is bad.

    - Maintainance (more cities leads to a lot more maintainance!)
    - Lack of improvements (if you're not generating a profit now, you can't afford to take on another city)
    - Barbarians (yep, once barbarians discover archery and bronzeworking, they become a fearsome sight)

    Not only that, but you don't NEED to expand like hell. Other than expansion, the following things generate money/research: religion, specialists, cottages. I won't say more than that. Having lots of cities isn't the be all and end all.

    2) Tip Two: Micromanage Like Hell

    As you approach the completion of a building or unit, be sure to juggle around your tiles so that way you don't overflow. Same thing with your research rate. By lowering your research rate before discovering Meditation, you can make sure that the AI discovers buddhism and you get left with jack squat.

    Yep. You played with overflow, and actually paid the price.

    Overflow is no longer something you have to juggle, because overflow isn't discarded, it's added to the next thing you build/research. Moreover, you WANT lots of overflow. In my experience, an AI got buddhism instead of me because I lowered my tech rate on the last turn of meditation. I reloaded, didn't lower my tech rate, and presto, my nation was the holy land of buddha.

    3) Tip Three: Try to Grab All the Wonders

    All the wonders are useful so try to grab all of them. Once you build your first, try to build all the others. Once you lose that one, take your excess cash and try to build another wonder. Once you lose that one, take your excess cash and try to build another wonder. Once your cities are without any kind of infrastucture, grab your ankles and brace yourself for Caesar to hit you with his Praetorians.

    You simply cannot build all the wonders. Industrious civs will have an advantage on you. And marble/stone are also very helpful. And if you're not one of the first people to discover a tech, you can forget about even trying to build the corresponding wonder. You have to know what wonder will help you the most and plan towards it.

    Not to mention that in the time it takes to build all those wonders, you could have libraries in all your cities and all your tiles improved. Or you could be the first person to have 8 horse archers. Wonders aren't the be all and end all.

    4) Tip Four: Generate Lots of Cash and Buy Techs

    Lower your tech rate to 0%. Absorb lots of cash. Now contact the AI. You can buy your first tech!

    But wait, you need the alphabet to do that. So scratch that. Beeline to the alphabet. Now lower your tech rate to 0 and start buying those techs.

    But nobody will sell you anything good, right? That's because the AI knows that their tech lead is more important than any amount of cash you can give them. They want to finish that wonder first. They want to keep you in the stone age while they get medieval on your buttocks.

    The AI's tendency to hang onto its techs means that 100% research and trading for smaller techs won't work

    How do you get around this?

    THINK HARD. What technology do you REALLY need?

    5) Tip Five: Keep the best defender in your cities, and pump out lots of the best attacker on your conquest

    Swordsmen are the best attacker. And this game is exactly like Civ 3 -- your best defence is a good spearman. Keep two or three spearmen in each city, and build a stack of swordsmen and go after the AI.

    Alright, so you just found out that your spearmen and swordsmen are incredibly vulnerable to axemen. Axemen have 5 strength to a swordsman's 6, but they gain huge bonuses against other melee units.

    Building only one unit type is a surefire way to get yourself killed. Because that means the enemy only has to build one unit type to stop you. And the defender has a huge advantage from tile bonuses, city bonuses, and getting to 'choose' the ideal defender against whatever attacker you use. Attackers need to be SMART.

    Read the manual. Really look at those units. Try to figure out the best counter for each one. And there IS a counter for each one. The line between offense and defence is blurred, too. Consider a defensive catapult waiting behind your city walls. Consider an offensive spearmen, to provide your marauding swordsmen a defence against war elephants. The more you mix your units, the harder it is for your opponent to deal with your case.

    And a stack of units is expensive. You can't just keep them on the shelf. You have to use em.

    6) Tip Six: Play the same way every game

    Now that you've read these tips, you know a surefire to win every single Civ 4 game. A strategy that always works.

    And that's "adapt". You need to be responsive to the situation on the ground, or else you're about as smart as a speak & spell.

    Look at your starting technologies. Each Civ starts with 2 free techs, and they're never the same. Consider this your Civ's unique advantage. More than Civ 3, there's no surefire best path anymore. Which means that any techs you have give you an advantage towards SOME later tech that offers you some kind of benefit -- a religion, a new unit, a wonder, a key tile improvement, a building... You just have to figure out what tech you can get to first that will give you an early advantage.

    Look at your traits. You have an advantage. Use it. As a philosophical leader, you should ask the best way to start generating great people. As an aggressive leader, you should ask yourself when you plan on attacking. As a financial leader, you should figure out how to start generating cash as soon as possible.

    Look at the AI opponents around you. Genghis Khan is likely to pick on you. Isabella cares a lot about what religion you are. You need to address the strengths and desires of your neighbors, or else you'll find yourself very vulnerable.

    The Summary

    Snarkiness aside, if there's one thing that's still true of Civ 4 that was true of Civ 3 is that the early game is very important. But try not to think in terms of fast expansion. After seeing my units go on strike, this is the best advice I've come across.

    Technology is always important in Civ, and in Civ 4 it's even more important. Getting your research roaring has little to do with holding an 100% research rate all the time. And fast expansion chokes your research. Put two and two together: if you're not pumping out settlers, there are lots of other things you can do to further your society's progress.

    Yep, there are very few actual concrete tips in here. That's because it's been less than a week with the game, and I honestly don't know how to be the best.

    But I do know how to be bad at Civ 4: play like it's still Civ 3.
  2. JayThomas

    JayThomas Chieftain

    Apr 10, 2003
    Western New York
    Very good article! I've been enjoying the game but keep finding myself leaning toward things I'd do in Civ3.

    This is a new game and stands well on it's own merits.
  3. BeefBayford

    BeefBayford Going Steady

    Aug 1, 2005
    East Yorkshire
    Brilliant well-written article congrats :goodjob: I don't have the game yet but your article will be taken into account during my first game.

    The biggest criticism that Civ4 is getting is that its NOT Civ3, but its not supposed to be!!! The sooner people realise that, the sooner they will start enjoying this NEW game.
  4. Marquis Mark

    Marquis Mark Chieftain

    Oct 29, 2005
    Tacoma, WA
    Excellent read. I believe a lot of people end up disliking improved versions of games because of the "unlearning" you have to do. The system is deeper and requires more playing and less memorizing. Simply put, Civ 4 is a superior game to Civ III.

  5. Lord Chambers

    Lord Chambers Chieftain

    Nov 23, 2001
    I was going to LAY INTO YOU at first, since I scanned and read the bold. Thank goodness you were just being funny.

    And it was a funny article. I enjoy making fun of those who don't adapt, even when it's myself.
  6. dh_epic

    dh_epic Cold War Veteran

    Feb 10, 2002
    Seasonal Residences
    Yeah. I have to say, I'm really making fun of myself. I'm guilty of trying all of the above strategies in one way or another. Civ 4 is just a different game -- and that's for the better.
  7. Tunguska

    Tunguska Chieftain

    Oct 27, 2005
    I've been playing my first game of civ4 for about 3 days now.
    And started out very much in the dark of what to research next and what to build in my cities.
    Slowly I'm getting the hang of it, and "lets play another turn" is taking hold of me (need sleep!!).

    Good post: don't cry just play.
  8. paulfish

    paulfish cheese head

    Mar 14, 2004
    beer town
    Lets face it somebody who is playing civ IV for the first time with out playing any of the others in the series won't have the learning curve we will.

    ie break old habits.
  9. Eyemaze

    Eyemaze Chieftain

    Oct 25, 2005
    great post
  10. TylerDurdon

    TylerDurdon Chieftain

    Sep 12, 2005
    Quebec, Canada
    Excellent article... and so very true.... I'm in my first game and saw fast that over extention can lead you into trouble... But Expention IS POSSIBLE... you have to be smart... and that why we all loved Civs game.... its another step ahead in smartness land!!!!:goodjob:
  11. MSTK

    MSTK Chieftain

    Dec 30, 2003
    omg leik, tihs post duznt tell m3 h0w 2 b good @ civ 4. ju5t h0w 2 b3 bad. u phail.
  12. sayhey

    sayhey Chieftain

    Dec 20, 2001
    wonderful post well written
  13. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

    Jun 6, 2004
    West Lorne, Ontario
    And when you do expand, look for where the resourses are. The more cities you have, the more expensive your civ is, so make sure that your city will net you some goodies (preferably multiple goodies). Later, if you build near the enemy border, make sure you have a Great artist. The Culture bomb trick really does work. I got a Barbarian city and a german city easy like that.

    Secondly, build on your strengths. As the Arabs, try to monopolize on holy cities. You'll get a but load of great prophets to rush the religion specific wonders, then still get a few great prophets to act as super priests.

    Third, remember their UU. They will want to use their UU as much as possible. The Malinese have a replacement for Archers. Giving my Swordsmen and Axemen "cover" (+25% vs Archery units) helped me over come that. Making my Horse archers immune to first strikes also worked to neutralize that edge. Also, if you can hit their suply lines (chariots and horse archers work wonders there), you lower the class of units they have (without iron or copper, they have warriors and archers, without horses, they have no cavalry, no Ivory, their war elephants don't get built). What I did was one city building Swordsmen, one building Axemen, and one building Keshiks (when I finally got horses that is).

    I have yet to find much use for cash. Upgrading units is expensive as hell, and when I get better units, send the old ones to die taking the fight to the enemy.

    With technology, be-lining is more important now than ever before. For the Mongol's it's four steps to their UU. Make them fast and give the enemy hell. Bronze working and Iron working also are vital, especially to a warmonger...

    Production is key to any effort, military ot cultural, so make sure that you have cities that can build stuff fast...
  14. Ruffin

    Ruffin Chieftain

    Nov 1, 2001
    Va., US
    Played a very short game today... very short because I conquered three of my neighbors by 1AD. By then I was being overrun by barbarians and too poor to upgrade my warrior hordes to something that can kill an axeman. My tech was down to 10%, my neighbors were leaving me in the dust tech-wise, and there was no real prospect for improvement. It's a very, very different game than Civ3.

    The game I'm in now I'm leading comfortably at the same stage. With three cities. A very different game.
  15. dh_epic

    dh_epic Cold War Veteran

    Feb 10, 2002
    Seasonal Residences
    I'm glad people are enjoying this little article.

    Especially note Gnarfflinger's advice: you have to make those cities count. Don't just expand for the sake of expanding, but see cities as an opportunity to grab key resources.

    Today I won my first conquest victory at monarch, and I didn't build my second city until 0 AD. There's a lot more to the game than land-grabbing. Try fewer cities rather than more -- that's the best advice I can offer.
  16. Darwin420

    Darwin420 Darwin Plays Video Games

    Jan 21, 2005
    In my first game, I got what seemed to be a poor starting location (lots of desert and hills). I was the Arabs. I nabbed an early religion, and went the culture/science route. My immediate neighbors were Cathy and Washington. Cathy expanded phenomenally fast, but had a VERY weak infrastructure. Washington stayed middle ground the entire time.

    By 1300AD I only had six cities, but I was the tech lead and had an impressive amount of culture in my cities. I know now in that game, if it had come to war, I would've lost a city or two at first, but by concentrating on a small amount of cities, it wouldn't have taken me long to bring a superior military to my enemies' doorstep.

    All in all, expansion is NOT a very good policy in cIV. I've also learned that there really isn't such a thing as a bad starting position anymore. You just have to know how to use it to your advantage. And I'm still trying to get the hang of that.

    I've yet to actually complete a game. I'm having too much fun in the Ancient/Classical/Medieval periods learning the tricks of the trade, so to speak.
  17. ytsejam02

    ytsejam02 Chieftain

    Oct 28, 2005
    Rhode Island
    I'm still working on my first game, and I have to say, I did all those same things too. :) That's what happens when you spend literally 100's of hours playing Civ 3!

    And actually you do give some good advice. Just like real life, it's important to know your neighbors. You mention to play your leader's strengths, I agree. You should also play your neighbors weaknesses and be aware of their strengths so you can neutralize them.

    I'm really impressed with the updates on this one. It's much more of a learning curve than the transition from Civ 2 to Civ 3, which I like because I feel like i'm getting my money's worth. It's going to take me awhile before I figure out how I like to use missionaries and Great People.

    I think the game was a tad rushed (witness the bugs), and I was worried that certain areas of game play would be susceptible. My fears were unjustified. The new gameplay and concepts are awesome!

    I can't wait for the SDK to come out! There will always be things we don't like, so they gave us a way to improve the game on our own. I'm looking forward to tweaking the game!
  18. IglooDude

    IglooDude Enforcing Rule 34 Retired Moderator

    Oct 2, 2003
    Igloo, New Hampshire
    Awesome article. I'm still trying to unlearn Civ3 strategies too - pumping out settlers hasn't been doing me any favors.
  19. dh_epic

    dh_epic Cold War Veteran

    Feb 10, 2002
    Seasonal Residences
    As a good experiment, I suggest waiting until your capital can't grow anymore before you build your first settler. You'd be surprised just how much further you can get in the tech tree this way -- since you don't have to deal with maintainance costs.

    The key to taking this strategy is you have to get techs that let you do something with your first city. Worker techs like Pottery and Agriculture. Or Masonry or Writing to give you some buildings to build. Or, hell, head for horseback writing or iron working if you think you can wage an effective early war.

    (Speaking of early war, it's much easier to wage an early war if you don't build too many cities of your own. I just won a conquest victory on a small monarch map and I didn't build my second city until 1000 BC -- choosing to conquer other peoples' cities first.)
  20. denyd

    denyd Emperor

    Oct 31, 2001
    Chino Hills, CA
    My only game so far has been a continuation of the tutorial and I'll second most every thing you've said. A couple of things I tried to do.

    1. Be very picky on where to place cities. Look for resources and try to found next to a river. That provides an instant trade route and will allow farming around that city, not to mention the defensive bonus.

    2. Building a settler/worker costs only production time (no population drop), so let the city get bigger before building those units.

    3. Specialize cities, one for military units (barracks there) and one for wonders (stone/marble nearby).

    4. Secure new resources before trading the tech that unveils them to prevent your neighbor from getting there first.

    What I'm still trying to figure out is:

    How important exploration beyond the local area is?

    How important is it to make sure your cities form a connected empire.

    What the important technologies are.

    For those unable to get Civ 4 yet, try out Rise & Rule (see Civ 3 mod pack forum) to get a feel for some of the new techs & wonders.

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