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Tips for remembering to slow down, strategize?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by isa1, Jan 25, 2021.

  1. isa1

    isa1 Chieftain

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    Hi all! I'm new to this forum, but I've been playing Civ4 since I was a kid, recently rediscovered my love for the game.

    My problem is that I always start my games with the intent of "really thinking through my strategy this time", but find myself speeding through turns, picking 'whatever seems good' to build/research next, directing my workers, etc. Especially when I'm fighting a war, it seems my mind just focuses on troop movements and I tend to totally forget about domestic strategy. And even without war, it seems that I always neglect something - my economy and military are usually fine, but I find myself neglecting some other aspects, like infrastructure, religion or diplomacy.

    I think this would be helped if I could find some way to 'slow down' during the game, so that I could remember to take a moment to think through my strategy and plan out my moves.

    So my question is this: do you have a similar problem? Do you have any tips for how to avoid this? For example, do you take notes? Or do you stop to consider each turn and movement carefully? How many turns do you play before stopping to re-evaluate your strategy?

    Edit: I play on Noble/Prince difficulties, if that matters!

    Moderator Action: Welcome to CivFanatics. Moved this thread to the Strategy and Tips forum. Good luck and enjoy your time here. leif
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2021
  2. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    I think there is two concepts at play here really: a) slowing down b) playing better...and they are not mutually exclusive. I think the first step is learning how to play better. That is, learning the concepts that help you be more successful in the early game - expansion, economy, worker micro, diplo, etc.. I think once you learn these things you will learn to slow down, because much of that involves spending more time on a single turn. "Slowing down" with this game is helpful but really only somewhat effective if you are already playing poorly.

    I've request a move of this thread to Strategy & Tips forum where it is better suited, but really a forum where you should spend most of your time to learn the game. Following the other games going on like Nobles Club or other shadow games, or start your own for advice. Watching Let's Plays of really good players is extremely helpful, like Lain's stuff here:

    Lain's YT

    Lain plays Deity and plays veeeery slowly. You don't have to watch all of a series but at least watching for first 100 turns or so from some of his game will do wonders for you.

    No I don't have that problem, but I've been microing the game for over 10 years or so now. I reassess things and check all the boxes very turn. I don't take notes, but a lot of the pros do...ha

    So I don't have direct tips on slowing down per se, other than "Slow Down!" :). But again, once you learn more about the game and see how the really good players play you will become more invested and I believe naturally slow your gameplay.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  3. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    I disagree! Think he plays at a blistering pace :lol: But then I have the inverse problem of playing too slowly I suppose. Can easily spend four hours where seemingly everybody else alive spends one hour.

    One thing I do, which has simply become a habit that is hard to shake, is to go through all cities each turn (right arrow in city screen). Easy in the early game, but takes a little more time when you have 20+ cities. However, it does mean you have a good overview of everything that happens in all cities, and can fix errors the city governor does, like hiring spy specialists and working the 'wrong' tiles from time to time -- particularly common when a city is near the happy cap.

    Other than that, it's about thinking about your longterm goals. How do you want to play the game? How do you want to win? Do you want an early war, like rushing with Axes or Horse Archers? Do you want to go to space? Diplo? These longterm goals change the gameplay a little, and you then need to amend the cities according to your needs. Maybe you want a few barracks. Maybe libraries in the better commerce cities. When going for something like space, maybe you want to get up Oxford. That requires 6 libraries (on standard size) + 6 universities. That takes planning too.

    In a very military-focused game, it's nice to get a good Heroic Epic city going. Do you have a nice city with good food and many hammers? That may be a good location for the HE. No particular need for a library there, but you want a barracks, forge and once the city is large enough, probably some happy and health boosting buildings.

    Essentially it's about preparing the cities so that they fit with your longterm goals. And spending time thinking about what you want to do with your workers. How can you use them effectively, so they don't waste turns going across the empire to improve something, then back again. Make sure you have enough workers, and spend their time wisely. Only build the roads you need in the early game, improve the best tiles, and get the economy in good shape.
     
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  4. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    So when get some Pangaea LPS ....:sleep: :lol:
     
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  5. jnebbe

    jnebbe Warlord

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    Welcome!

    I had the exact same problem, I just started playing smaller turnsets. I'll play a max of 100 turns at a time, which takes 1-1.5 hours. If I play longer then my decision-making suffers a lot.
     
  6. isa1

    isa1 Chieftain

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    Thanks for the replies! I guess I really need to see/read some micromanagement how-to's. I've gotten better at micromanaging early cities/workers lately, i.e. thinking about exactly which tiles will be worked first, what size I will be able to support, etc. But then again, this is early-game talk. I seem to lose even that around the late Classical/Early Medieval era. It just seems there is so much going on, so many cities to manage, so somehow I forget about it.

    And thanks, I will definitely watch some of Lain's videos! I've only found Sulllas Civ4 Let's Plays on YouTube, and while his are good, watching the same person gets kind of boring/samey after a while.
     
  7. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    Sullla knows a lot about Civ IV, but he's not a particularly good player.

    Early game is most important. This is where you need to focus your learning for now. Everything builds off of that.

    You talk about tiles, but I really don't know what that means without seeing a game. Workers most important early duties are connecting specials (namely food) and chopping forests. Let's order that priority:

    1)Food specials
    2) chopping forests
    3) Strategic resource (?)..maybe..usually good production tile but may need it for barbs.
    4) connect city(ies) with road (if needed)...connecting to foreign trade network(if needed...that is foreign routes are very much needed but you may not need roads to do it)
    5) cottages (in the right places..ha)
    6) maybe a mine..maybe

    Most early production comes from food and chops
     
  8. isa1

    isa1 Chieftain

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    lymond: I don't know, Sullla plays on higher difficulty levels than me (and I also like his presentation style a lot). And yeah, I've learned to prioritize food first, that has definitely helped me go up a level. But again, it's not just about early game. In early game, I find it easiest because there is the least to control. My main problem is more with eras past Classical/Medieval, when you have so many cities and so many units. It's hard for me to figure out how to micromanage, when there is so much to manage. If that makes sense.

    jnebbe: I think that's what I need to do as well. Civ4 is pretty addictive, so I tend to get stuck on playing these long sessions and that makes me more impatient in terms of strategy. Do you have some kind of alert for when to stop, or do you just keep an eye on the clock/turn counter?
     
  9. 5tephen

    5tephen Warlord

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    What @Pangaea said about goals - what is it you want to slow down for? Slowing down for the sake of it is boring, knowing what you want to achieve will cause you to slow down spontaneously to plan how best to achieve it.

    Playing a lot of maps helps too. A lot of my goals relate to what failed previously e.g. my perfect cuirassier rush when I found out I didn’t have iron just as I was ready to whip out my army.

    There was a guy called @OldDude who @lymond helped with a couple of shadow games who had a checklist of things he’d check every turn - could search for his threads if you fancy a didactic way of not forgetting things.

    I found the most effective method for me was to move up in difficulty. Noble/Prince will forgive a lot of mistakes which won’t motivate you to really improve. In my opinion becoming decent at immortal is pretty achievable without too much work from where you’re at - deity is a different matter...
     
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  10. drewisfat

    drewisfat King

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    I am probably an even slower player than Pangaea or Lain. Kind of hard to measure because my game time is inflated by my habit of leaving the game up and doing something else around the house, or leaving it minimized and playing something else (an old habit from back when it took my comp like 5 mins to load civ). But especially when you consider that Lain is playing live and can't reload for micro mistakes/misclicks, yeah I am quite slow. And it's not because I'm an uber genius, more like I'm a perfectionist that rarely plays sober :mischief:
    As for intentional breaks, I will usually step back from the game whenever something bad happens; once I hit a tech goal and I have to think again about my tech path; or once I capture an important city. I don't even necessarily think about the game, often just clear my head entirely and come back with fresh eyes. I think it's a good habit to stop at those times though. If something bad happens, you may need to rethink everything (and you're also probably demoralized and might make further mistakes out of frustration). Once you hit like a checkpoint on the tech path, you should see where the AIs are, and reevaluate your mid-term and long-term tech goals instead of looking at what immediate tech is most appealing. And lastly, heavy war can just be draining. I can often play 50 turns of peace faster than 10 turns of war. It's also good to re-evaluate which cities to head for next, or if you should even continue the war or peace out.
     
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  11. lymond

    lymond Rise Up! (Phoenix Style!) Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

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    Ha..that probably sounded a bit harsh on poor Sullla. My point really is that Sullla never really spent a lot of time here on these forums, at least in many many years. He's not really privy to the on-going strategy discussion we've been having here for years and how things evolved. For a less experienced players, there can certainly be some foundational stuff gleaned from watching one of his now old let's plays, but you are not really going to get many of the advanced concepts you can get here now.

    My point that is that it all starts with the early game..say first 100 turns assuming normal speed. This period is the most important part of the game by a mile. You need to learn the finer details of mastering the start. Learning about micro here will translate later when move to the later stages and larger empire. Some things will become second nature over time, and you will get used to glancing through your cities each turn checking tiles or specialist worked, checking your worker actions, identifying good whip points, checking trade screen (tech and resources, checking diplo situation.

    When you are in periods of war later. Let's say you are starting your Cur rush. At this time you main focus will be on managing the war itself, but you need to pay attention to your cities some too. You can auto-queue Curs and then check each turn if they are ready to be whipping. In most cases you will just whip a new Cur when you can, except in cities with very high unit production like an HE city or important cities like your Bureau cap which is the bulk of your research, and should have decent hammers anyway.

    So, keep in mind that while I've not gone into great detail here on tips or strategy per se, cause that is really better done when analyzing one of your games, the idea here is to start small with focus on the early stages and build off that. I think once you get the knowledge and satisfaction of getting off to a good start, you will slow things down eventually.

    I'd advise to start you own shadow game. Normal settings, Pangaea, no huts/events, nothing funky. Let's step you up to Monarch level. You will get advice from Turn 0 and play short turnsets, 10 turns or so or whenever a good place to stop and report. There are usually several going on in this forum that you can look at here. jnebbe has one going on at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  12. sampsa

    sampsa Ghost

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    I also find Lain's play astonishingly fast, taking account the quality of his decisions. I tend to formulate some kind of plan, check, double check, think about some meaningful detail, think about some meaningless detail, tweak some cities, double check, then get another idea... Time is not limited in this game, so why not? I enjoy it.

    Yes, this is fair. I've tried watching some of his streams, but his play is severely "outdated" as we have the habit of putting it on this forum.
     
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  13. SittinDown

    SittinDown King Supporter

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    I like Lain's videos. He goes through diplomatic screens absurdly fast - I often have to rewind to see what he's doing. Diplomacy was probably the best thing I learned from watching that. He really manipulates deity AI's at a level I never fathomed until I saw it.

    Lain does micro though, which most streamers won't do too heavily. Sometimes he'll sit and swap what tiles he's working between 2 or 3 cities for 2 minutes only to go back to what he started with.
     
  14. Snowygerry

    Snowygerry Warlord

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    It helps to keep a record of your overal strategy and a few short notes of your intentions for each city.

    Maybe write an AAR, or a journal, in a thread here just on a scrap of paper.

    Renaming cities to their intended purpose may also help to focus your strategy through the ages I've found :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  15. Qactus

    Qactus Romani ite domum

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    When I started to play more slowly, I found that checking every screen and city each turn was too much for me and I needed to find some middle ground.
    What did the trick for me was installing the BUFFY mod. Or BUG/BULL which is more versatile for forum play.
    These will help you immensely by pointing your attention to items worth checking. So you can slow down "with purpose" and not for the sake of it.

    You will get messages such as
    City X has grown to size 5 -> I'll check and maybe change which tile has been added
    Clearing a forest has created 30 hammers for City Y -> I will check if the hammers are going into the right item. My building queues often have two or three items that are switched multiple times, e.g. a worker/settler waiting to be whipped, something to grow back on (granary, lighthouse, unit,...) and maybe a wonder for failgold that collects overflow.
    City Z can hurry settler for 3pop with x overflow -> Do I want to whip now? Wait a turn and whip with more overflow? If I whip, do I assign some tiles to the neighbouring city?
    AI 1 will trade Metal Casting / AI 2 has 330 gold available for trade -> Check out the trade screen for your options

    By now, I tend to check most things each turn anyway (especially the tech screen). But when starting to slow down and play more carefully, these messages helped me a lot.
     
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  16. isa1

    isa1 Chieftain

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    Good pointers, thanks! I would actually be curious to see that checklist, I think going through something like that for a while might be a good exercise.

    And aahh, I'm way too nervous to actually post about my games on here (for now), but maybe I'll start writing more careful journals just for myself.

    And Qactus, agreed, BUG (I think that's what I have) is a godsend!
     
  17. civac

    civac Warlord

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    Your experience is exactly like mine. Especially overly focusing on troop movement and combat in war and neglecting domestic development and decisions. Using turn sets and closing the game in between was the only thing that worked for me. Then I would think about the game possibly doing something else (laundry, cooking). If I staid in the game I would invariably get impatient and move some units or make other non-reversible decisions and then regret it.

    As for Sulla, he plays without tech trading and without vassals usually which changes priorities. Having said that I also think he is not a super strong player and has some clear weaknesses.
     
  18. Pangaea

    Pangaea Rock N Roller

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    Think it's also pertinent to point out that not all players play the game with the intent or desire to become as "good" as possible, as that tends to often include various forms of exploits or abusing AI weaknesses, stuff like that. Sullla was very active on realmsbeyond, where they had more focus on role-playing, or having fun with some type of theme for a game. It was more about the story you generated, than winning as fast as possible. At least that was my impression from reading some of those threads years later.

    And as mentioned above, he has great knowledge of the game, having been pretty directly involved with the development of the game (or was it as a beta tester? I forget).

    I'd still say players can learn from some of his videos, but I also highly recommend Lain's, and reading threads in this very forum. That is the best way to learn. Maybe later, you will dare to post a game here, and get feedback from the regulars. In the meantime, you can read some of those threads, and Nobles Club and the like. I'm sure there is much that can be learned :)
     
  19. krikav

    krikav Theorycrafter

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    Well... sort of.
    When I get engaged in warfare, the domestic managment tend to suffer.
    I kind of take this for granted when I play. Warfare and it's buildup is one of the most enjoyable things with civ4, so when I get to that point I really want to savour that, can't really be bothered with micromanagment in all cities at that point, even though I do that alot at other stages of the game (to the point of obsession at the opening).
    There are plenty of times when I have signed peace, or have gotten that vassal, and only then do I start to go through cities and everything in the empire is a complete mess.

    But more often than not, thats no big deal. If the buildup was good, and the execution of the war was good, then I have gotten so much more ahead that the slight loss in lack of micro isn't a problem.

    I don't take notes, but I do take screenshots quite often in my games. I use notes (alt+s) and mark stuff like "last turn of GA", "@ Pottery" etc etc.
    And after a game or inbetween sessions I often scroll through the screenshots to see what happend that I thought was noteworthy.

    If a game was perticularly enjoying, or if something of noteworthyness happend, I often share those in writeups here on the forums.
    Both to give something back to a wonderful community, and to get an opportunity to get meaningful critique and improve on my skills.
     
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  20. Donald Duck1

    Donald Duck1 Chieftain

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    What helped me a lot in bringing focus to my games was by selecting a specific break-out strategy and try to optimize that. I went for cuirassier rushes, where you start with settling like 5-6 decent cities, and maybe a few crappy ones for their resources. Next phase you grow those cities and fast tech/bulb the required military techs. Final phase you whip all cities (except bureau cap) to the ground and conquer the world. And then do it again, trying to beat your victory date.

    With such strategy, it becomes much easier to make trade offs. Does this building help me get all techs earlier? If not, maybe better to build wealth instead. How many techs can be bulbed, how many GS can I generate, and when do I have to start running science specialists/caste system so the GS arrive in time?

    And the limited size of your empire makes micro-ing feasible. (In fact, I always return conquered cities to my vassals, so I don't have to babysit them myself)
     
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