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Victory conditions discussion/critique

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by kurdi, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. kurdi

    kurdi Chieftain

    Nov 15, 2005
    I really like this game, but after playing my 10th game now (on noble and prince) I am starting to wonder if some of the (non performance related) dissatisfaction with Civ4 that we see sometimes in these forums has a lot to do with victory conditions. I certainly think that they all leave something to be desired.

    Although I realize there are threads in this forum that address each and every victory condition in detail, I am writing this as a general strategic overview for those who, like me, often find themselves in the middle of a game wondering what path to victory is best to pursue. I am also hoping to get some comments on my understanding of the various victory scenarios. Finally, I am subjectively rating each victory condition; please feel free to do the same.

    1- The Space Race victory:
    This one seems to me to be the easiest victory, and is certainly how I won most of my games. I have recently taken to switching it off after a few games where I increasingly felt that the pressure to “join” the race was robbing my games of variety and “hijacking” my game.

    Strategy description: You seem to need 10 or so good industrial cities. Have to focus on science and wealth production. Seems well suited to the defensive player who will have enough military techs to fend off harassing Civs while making a beeline to the needed spacerace techs. If you are not in touch with and trading techs with AI Civs from the get go you will probably end up way behind in tech and spend too much time trying to catch up.

    Wonders do not seem too important. Space elevator, as was mentioned elsewhere on these forums, seems irrelevant as by the time you build it you’re probably well on your way to completion.

    Questions regarding Space Race:
    I read somewhere that the 1.09 patch has made this victory more expensive; I hope that’s the case. Do most people find this victory to be completely boring or is it just me?

    Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 2

    2-Cultural victory:
    Seems like you have to plan this one way in advance. I always get two, sometimes three wonders in the early game through chopping down forests and/or plopping my second or third settler straight onto a stone resource if I can find it. Have to focus on Great People generation, getting the defensive techs you need, and otherwise more or less switching off all science production in the late game to generate culture instead. All well and good, except I really dislike having all the other cultures get so far ahead of me technologically and militarily in the late game while I wait for my 3 cities to amass culture and for my great artists to emerge.

    I also find this victory condition extremely difficult to achieve for the following reasons:
    a) Cultural victories are risky, in my opinion. Not only do they have to be planned in advance, but culture is only useful for creating your legendary cities and extending your borders (perhaps landing you a defecting city and a subsequent war in the process) – i.e. unlike gold or techs, it cannot be traded in a pinch. Also, significantly, culture in itself is a minor factor a time based victory score, except indirectly through making your boundaries a bit bigger and your citizens happier.
    b) I am somehow always pre-empted by other Civs forcing me to join a Space Race

    Questions regarding Cultural Victory:
    - Are early religions good or bad for a cultural victory? Religious buildings generate a decent amount of culture, but in a recent game when I developed both Hinduism and Judaism in my biggest culture city I ended up with 5-6 great prophets when what I really needed were great artists (this despite forcing artist specialists).

    Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 4

    3-Diplomatic Victory:
    This one I just plain don’t get. It just seems too risky to pursue willingly – the only time I tried for this was to salvage some 30+ man hours of gameplay in a game where it was obvious that I was not going to win any other way. I suppose you can “plan” this one in advance by somehow becoming really good friends with the 2nd and 3rd or so biggest cultures who have most of the votes after #1 (who will be a candidate for the election himself), but somehow I think that that’s not really a viable strategy.

    I did not win despite a handful of ‘elections’ because others civs were not very enthusiastic about handing me or my opponent a diplomatic victory (he eventually won on Space Race). In fact my biggest problem with this victory is that it doesn’t make any sense to me; I always abstain unless voting for myself, and I don’t understand why any culture would choose to give the game away no matter how much they like you.

    I noticed that after several elections other civs were more likely to become partisan and less likely to abstain (again, why?) and it was obvious to me that my victory hinged on getting Julius Caesar’s vote. He had been annoyed (and annoying) for the entire game and suddenly I was giving him free techs and resources in a feeble, futile attempt to bribe him for his vote. It wasn’t very fun – I mean all those many hours of thoughtful (and, ahem, intelligent) gameplay had come to this?? Next time around I think I will just switch this victory condition off.

    Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 2. It just seems so arbitrary.

    4-Time Victory:
    To me this one makes the most sense. Engage in wars just enough to make your Civ land area significantly large (not necessarily as large as the biggest Civ around), then develop your cities to get high population, commerce, and science growth. Race to get techs and build wonders in order to boost your score, and use culture to expand your borders and grab border resources that will help make your population healthier and happier. This is not to say this is an easy win, esp. when Tokugawa or another warmongering Civ start expanding like nobody’s business.

    The problems with pursuing this victory condition are (a) you will be preempted by other CIVs landing their own victory some other way. I don’t really mind this except in the case of Space Race, which I think is easier than the others. (b) I really think the amount of culture your Civ generates should logically factor directly into the score (c) It seems from what I’ve read that the “leadership” rating you get after you win hinges on the time it took to do so, which means that this victory guarantees you an ego-boosting “Dan Quale” rating. (Is this correct?)

    Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 3.5

    5-Conquest and 6-Domination:
    I don’t usually aim for these so I can’t really say too much about them. Both of these are the warmongerer’s path to victory, and seem to involve the following.

    - Make a beeline to the war techs when everyone else (probably) isn’t, OR start pumping out UU’s as soon as you can for their (time-limited) comparative combat advantage AND cheap production cost
    - Concentrate your production on military units
    - Overwhelm your neighbors when they haven’t yet had the chance to build up militarily and/or have not yet invested/have fallen behind in military techs
    - Do all of the above while keeping your economy afloat and your citizens happy. Ok I admit again I am not an expert on these and don’t have much to say about the subject.

    What I do not find appealing in the warmongering victories is that I personally like to build up my civilization and snap up certain wonders before others do, and it seems that it is very difficult to land a conquest victory unless you start really really early (is that true?).

    Satisfaction rating 1-5, Conquest (in my opinion): Don’t know
    Satisfaction rating 1-5 Domination (in my opinion): 3, although I haven’t achieved it yet.

    Last thing I want to say is: I wish there were more options for victory conditions, as all of them seem a tad lacking in one way or another.
  2. jeremiahrounds

    jeremiahrounds Chieftain

    Nov 3, 2003
    I agree about cultural victory being the most interesting because you have to shoot yourself in the foot to pull it off.

    I see all these people turning off space race victory in the name of skill. However i think it takes away from the other victories to disable space race. It seems to be the only way the AI can really challenge the player in a way that involves the AI winning. So even if you dont go for it your nonspace-race victory is more impressive with space race enabled.

    If the AI was better at some other victory types i wouldnt say that.
  3. Roxtar

    Roxtar Leader of the Musicians

    Aug 2, 2003
    Idaho USA
    For me the most common has been Culture. I did win Space Race once, but usually 3 of my cities (including my capital) attain Legendary status sometime between 2000 & 2025. But as far as Diplo goes, I agree with you--I'm always a few votes short of the votes needed to win Diplo. Also like you, I tend to play peacefully, so Conquest & Domination are out.
  4. slothman

    slothman Chieftain

    Sep 14, 2001
    I was losing a game so I tried building the UN.
    I did build it but I didn't even come in first.

    Since it was so late in the game I could only go for a space win.
    Luckely I did.

    I got both the Three Gorges Dam and The Space Elevator.
    It's like the AI completely ignored them.

    About the UN.
    I don't think it is supposed to work that way.
    I thought Firaxis specifacally made it so you couldn't bribe the other civs with money/tech just before voting.
  5. walkerjks

    walkerjks Chieftain

    Oct 29, 2005
    The religions themselves aren't bad, but the common mechanisms to generate your first great prohpet (Stonehenge, The Oracle) usually are bad, since you will get more great prophets than you want. These will keep generating the occasional great prophet long after you need them, unless you are careful about building them somewhere other than you great person factory city.

    Having lots of religions (whether you found them or not) is mainly important in the mid-game (to get cathedrals going) and late (when you have the +% culture modifiers in place). Having multiple religions early doesn't really help that much in a culture game since the amount of culture you get per turn is trivial compared to what you ultimately need (of course you have to build the temples sometime, so early isn't a bad thing).
  6. petey

    petey Chieftain

    Mar 7, 2002
    Atlanta, GA, USA
    For a Cultural Victory, I found what works best is to build all the Wonders that generate Great Artist points in one city (Parthenon, Sistine Chapel, Notre Dame, etc) and any other Wonders you want in another city. Then build National Epic in your artist city and you'll start cranking out Great Artists. Also, make a beeline up to Music to get the free one. Settle the first three you get in your three cities as super-specialists and then leave the rest for the end-game to culture bomb for the win. It's the most satisfying way to win the game.

    Space Race is as lame as it was in Civ III and I turned it off there and do so in this game as well. Whatever strategy you have gets thrown out and it's just a race to build up the parts instead of playing the end game.
  7. Shillen

    Shillen Chieftain

    Feb 18, 2003
    I dislike the cultural victory. I think it's highly luck based and not much skill involved. Luck with the AI's not declaring war on your technologically backwards civ, luck with getting religions before the AI, luck with building wonders before the AI gets them, luck with getting great artists instead of other types. I know you can improve your chances of all these things going the right way for you with doing things a certain way, but in the end the luck factor is still quite large.

    Also, like the other guy above said, turning off the space race victory condition may make the game more fun, but it is handicapping the AI's substantially. So you're basically making the game much easier to win.

    So far I like diplomatic victory the best. It is something you can shoot for and succeed at at an early date if you understand how it all works. It's like a space race victory needing a fast tech pace but you also need to worry about pleasing the other AI's and rampantly spreading religion around. You also have to analyze the different AI's relationships with each other and determine which civs you can win over and which ones you can't, etc. The other option is you can carve out a giant empire and vote yourself to diplomatic victory. So it has flexibility. I think there's a lot of strategy involved with diplo wins.
  8. kurdi

    kurdi Chieftain

    Nov 15, 2005
    Interesting. I didn't realize that there was a SIGNIFICANT connection between other people liking you and rampant spread of your religion, because other Civs with my religion always declare war on me anyway (or I them). And I suppose diplo victory can be a good victory clincher if you have good relations with other civs, instead of waiting for the clock to wind down or other civs to beat you to some form of victory

    As for hoping not to be attacked in the cultural victory, rest assured that on high difficulty levels you WILL be attacked viciously. In my current game on monarch I am at war with 3 Civs simultaneously, but I am still maintaining 90% culture production while successfully fending them off with my Mechanised infantry and Bombers. I made sure to get Robotics and flight before I switched off tech research, although admittedly I do have space race turned off so I can afford to postpone my win a little bit and grab a few extra techs.
  9. walkerjks

    walkerjks Chieftain

    Oct 29, 2005
    Less luck that you outline here. You don't need to found any religions. You don't need to build any world wonders. If you don't build any world wonders, you have complete control over what great people you get. So that leaves us with one "luck" factor - keeping the AI from pounding your backwards civ into the ground. But just as you can manage relations for your diplomatic victory, you can do it for a cultural win as well. Worst case, you fight your defensive war with cavalry, grenadiers, and catapults and buy your opponent off with one of your non-core cities first chance you get.

    I've won about 75% of my cultural games on Emperor (about 9 out of 12) and a higher percentage on Monarch. I've gotten to the point where I am pretty consistently inside a 25 turn window (1875 AD to 1925 AD), regardless of starting position. So yeah, it's not perfect, but there isn't that much luck involved. The three things that I really can't control for:

    1) Starting alone on an island when everyone else in on continents. This is rough because you can't trade tech early and you often get (any) religion very late. This isn't a complete deal-breaker, but these games are harder, with victory generally coming after 1925 (which cuts it very close for AI space wins).

    Now archipelago and custom island games are actually easier, since everyone's advance is slowed. This only applies to games where nobody is isolated but you.

    2) Very fast AI space wins. In a non-cultural game, you can slow down the pre-1875 space wins by fighting an offensive war against that civ or using spies. That's not possible when you stop researching military techs at gunpowder or chemistry and/or military tradition. This becomes a bigger problem on Immortal. My win date doesn't really change at all, but the AI's win date moves forward.

    3) Somebody who really, really, really wants to kill you. I get attacked, on average, a little over once a game. Usually it's stuff a little better than what I have (infantry, for example). I can deal with that. In fact, I can fight off 6 tanks easily enough. But sometimes somebody attacks with 2 stacks of 12 or more units each. Catapults and Cossacks aren't enough to handle this.

    But usually, this doesn't occur in the first wave. If I can survive the first wave, trading a scrub city for peace has always kept that civ away long enough to win. But if they do show up in force for the first wave, I'm toast. I just have to hope that they attack a scrub city full of grenadiers rather than pillage my precious cottages around my core cities (or worse take a core city).

    I will agree that there isn't much skill involved. By removing founding religions and building world wonders, I've managed to develop a strategy that is a little too cookie-cutter. The only variations seem to be in a few early tech and development decisions.
  10. dh_epic

    dh_epic Cold War Veteran

    Feb 10, 2002
    Seasonal Residences
    I've always felt like the victory conditions were one of the biggest places for improvement in Civ. Civ 4 made small strides, but I feel like many of your complaints are valid.

    Still, to talk about strategy...

    - Conquest victory happens more often on a map like Terra, where there's a large chunk of uncolonized land.

    - Domination is quite satisfying once you achieve it. But the problem with Domination is once you're half way there, it really makes more sense to coast until the space race victory. Nobody has a chance to stop you.

    - Cultural victory is actually a cathedral victory. Strangely enough, being a really strong proponent of one religion will work against you. It makes more sense to just let religions slip into your borders, so you can spread multiple religions between your cities, build temples, and thus enable cathedrals. 9 is the magic number here. And once you have the cathedrals, you either want to max out your culture slider (and stop all research), or switch your production to culture, or both.

    - the space race is still the victory you settle for when you're large enough to be the best, but not large enough to claim domination. this makes it boring. but you know what to do -- get ahead on techs, and coordinate your production.

    - diplomacy victory is still a cheap unfulfilling victory to me. in my experience, you can kind of settle for it as a dominator the same way you settle for a space race. but if i can offer one useful piece of advice -- find someone that lots of people hate, and make them a mutual enemy. people love it when you hate their enemy. "+4 our mutual struggle brings us together!"
  11. fung3

    fung3 Chieftain

    Nov 9, 2005
    51st. State, UK
    If you have maintained decent relations with the Civ in question it is possible to trade/ gift them and in doing so warm a tepid relationship prior to the vote.

    I have done this by offering Washington a very favourable (for Him) trade or a gift (I cannot remember). He abstained in the previous vote but after improving relations he voted for me next time around and I won the Diplomatic victory!!
  12. ElderVogl

    ElderVogl Chieftain

    Dec 4, 2005
    What do people think about victory conditions in multiplayer games? Or in games with several humans and several AI players?

    In human-only multiplayer games, it would seem diplomatic victories are pretty much impossible unless you populate enough of the world to vote yourself winner. There would be no reason for an opponent to vote for you.

    Cultural victories are probably pretty difficult in multiplayer, too. You'd need to keep a real strong (and modern) standing army to protect your legendary cities, or your human opponents will roll right over you.
  13. calyth

    calyth /bin/sh of a man

    Nov 8, 2005
    Religion should help for cultural victories. Only the broadcast tower would +50% your culture rate, and this is pretty late in the game, while if you've got enough temples going around, you can build the stupas/academy that +50%.
    Building 2 of these in your culture cities are going to double. If you can get 4-5 religion in them, then it's going to be crazy.
    But yeah, I'd be the first one to admit that cultural victory is hard. There's always the danger of being attacked in an attempt to stop you from winning. I'm not good enough yet to make great person factories so that I could culture bomb my way to victory.
  14. Covert22

    Covert22 Chieftain

    Dec 1, 2005
    eh still have yet to get a cultural victory.
  15. Roxtar

    Roxtar Leader of the Musicians

    Aug 2, 2003
    Idaho USA
    Since I'm a low-level, peaceful player, AIs seldom declare war on me. I tend to keep only 2 defenders in every city, but I do upgrade them as I get the tech & the cash. But yes, it does help to have multiple rels in most of my cities. I have spent late games building temples & cathedrals (as well as wonders) in core cities, so maybe that is why I win Culture so often.

    Just the other day, however, I won Domination in game year 1998. I suppose it was due in large part to my playing on a Duel map vs Egypt at Settler. On larger maps, at higher levels, vs multiple opponents, one would have to warmonger to achieve Domination.

    I even got a Time vic once--the only vic I never could get in Civ2 or 3 because I'd always get one of the other vics LONG before 2050 AD.

    So now, in Civ4, the only wins I have not achieved are Diplo & Conquest.
  16. seta_san

    seta_san Chieftain

    Sep 22, 2005
    Cultural victory was my win on my very first civ4 game. It does seem the most interesting out of the lot. Though I have yet to get a diplo,conquest and domination victory. It would be good to add additional victory conditions like capturing a certain city/capital of someone, or reaching a specific population, or protecting a certain city or civ, or researching a specific tech or a combination of those. Kinda like in scenarios.
  17. eewallace

    eewallace Chieftain

    Nov 1, 2005
    I've won space race, diplomatic, conquest and cultural victories. Cultural was the most satisfying because it required a lot of planning (as well as more diplomacy than the diplomatic victory, frankly). Space race was, frankly, a little boring--too much like earlier civ games, I think.

    Next I will try for a domination win--I wonder if it might be possible to get one relatively peacefully using culture as well as might for expansion?
  18. Shqype

    Shqype Shqyptar

    Nov 15, 2005
    New York + Shqypni
    It is not true about having to start really early to win a conquest/domination victory. I usually go for this type of victory as it's my favorite (Space Race IS so boring, and a 'cheap' victory in my opinion). In the beginning of the game , I usually play with very little military units ... pretty much just 1 defender per city. I use this time to build up infrastructure and my economy + science.

    Once I find someone I don't like (or who has land that I need for resources or other reasons) , I build up my military and strategize an attack. I don't like to use the open borders exploit , I feel it is a cheap, dishonorable way to battle someone. I do, however, like to make enough units to capture at least 2 enemy cities and have some left over to continue an attack.

    The other way is if I'm not ready for war but am forced into it by an aggressor which unnecessarily declared. In that case I pump up my military production and effectively distribute retribution, not stopping until every single one of his (or her) cities is destroyed :)

    The UU approach is logical because for that time you have an advantage over other players (assuming they're not ahead of you technologically) , but it is not necessary or required. I've won without using my UU before , it's pretty much all up to strategy and how you use your units.
  19. Xenophonos

    Xenophonos Chieftain

    Nov 25, 2005
    Queens, NY
    I think the problem with the Diplomatic Win is that it's almost contradictory. Assuming you go through the process of building, you don't really get a benefit by building it, aside from inclusion, but it's highly unlikely that the other Civs will vote for your Diplomatic Win. So even though your name is on the board and you went through the trouble to build it, odds are, the wonder isn't going to pay off.

    By having the United Nations within your OWN borders, there should be definitely be a plus in Prestige for your nation. As a result, there should be bonus points, as in your Civilization has more weight in UN votes, or you should get a reputation boost, giving you +3 relations among all the Civs, given the fact that you built such an Institution in the name of Global unity. (Or even make the other Civs more obliged when the UN builder asks for Favors, something like that)

    Or maybe to change the way the voting process works. Put everyone's name on the board when choosing a Secretary General. Why not, the UN is designed for Global inclusion. But have it where Civs can NOT vote for themselves (but can abstain). This would force more of a diplomatic effort among ALL the Civs, allows the potential for other Civs to be Secretary Generals and would give it more of a 3 Dimensional feel.

    In my opinion, the Diplomacy Victory and indeed the United Nations wonder could use some revamping.
  20. TylerDurdon

    TylerDurdon Chieftain

    Sep 12, 2005
    Quebec, Canada
    I think almost everything has been said already about the victory conditions!!! Space Race is boring plain and simple (I turn it off most of the time). I also tried cultural but miss by less than 10 turns to a AI space, Its the hardest I think to get... but the satisfaction level must be great, I also won 1 domination which is pretty entertaining in my opinion but... the point I wanted to bring is Diplomatic victory!!!!

    In some ways its more a under acheived Domination victory turn into Diplo!!! The victory I got is exactly that... I was conquering every Civ that didnt vote for me and after a while I just saw that I had enough vote to elect myself secretary and pass every thing that I wanted (like putting back NUKE ;)) and played with it a little... I finally realized that I needed only 2 more ai civ to make myself a winner... which I did get... and won

    IMO we have to consider it a SIDE victory condition cause I dont think you really can aim for it... Most of the time you're elected Secretary with 80% + of the vote but when you ask to be the victor some turn on you (even with a +15 relation) and you dont get it!!! the ai just seem to do everything it can to not make u win, so you have to own more than 50% of the vote seeking for the last 25. Might as well just blow them away at this point!!!! that was my 2 cents

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