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Warmongering for Builders (at higher levels)

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by The-Hawk, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. The-Hawk

    The-Hawk Old Original Geezer

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    I have had some recent luck warmongering at higher levels (emperor through deity). However, I must admit that I am a builder at heart… warmongering is an acquired skill. Another Civfanatic member PM’d me and asked for some thoughts on how a builder might improve warmongering at higher levels. I thought I’d start a thread in case there are other builders out there who secretly want to pillage and burn. :D For builders, this is as much about attitude as it is about techniques. So, with that, here are my initial thoughts:

    Warmongering for Builders (at higher levels):

    1) For me, the biggest challenge has been learning to "pull the trigger" and start my wars quickly. As a builder (and as a relatively cautious player), I always wanted to get one more tech or build one more unit before attacking. For example, once I finished researching knights, then it was only a little longer to get cavs. So I would hold off my wars and research cavs. Then I would want to build a giant cav stack that could not be beat… just one more unit…. just one more unit :rolleyes: . Of course, at higher levels, any delays in going to war are playing to the AI's advantage. During that delay, the AI is teching and building faster than me. So, instead of attacking 2 longbows with 5 knights, maybe I’ll be facing 5 rifles with 7 cavs. I thought I was improving my odds, but I actually was making them worse. Now when I play, I am almost impatient to get to war because I know I am losing ground.

    2) I find it helpful to have a mental image of “trimming the AI's back” :hammer: . At the start of the game, you are almost even with them. However, from the moment you click the button to end your first turn, they will be pulling ahead you, and the gap will widen over time. They are simply on a different power curve than you are. At some point, they will get away from you and there is nothing you can do to beat them (militarily). So, I try to quickly “trim them back”… i.e. knock them down to a power curve that is below mine while I can still handle them. Right from the start, I am very focused on getting Axemen (or Praets!) up and getting after my next door neighbors. I try to hit each AI at least once early in the game to get them under control. If I can't get to an AI soon enough to trim him back (therefore he gets too strong), I try to make friends and hope I can get enough land from the other AIs to trigger a domination win.

    3) Decent players don't need superior technology or more units to beat an AI... the AI simply does not fight battles as well as a human does. I go to war much sooner and against somewhat longer odds than in the past. Note however that I’m talking about “longer odds” from a strategic perspective. I will not play “long odds” in individual attacks. You win battles by concentrating overwhelming force (and the AI sucks at this :mischief:). This means I will never go after a city unless I am pretty confident I can almost overrun it on one turn. You need to have enough attacking units to cycle through all of the defenders more than once. This will give you second cracks at the wounded. If you throw too few units at a city in a futile attack, and therefore can’t kill any of the wounded, you will simply be promoting them and making it harder the next time.

    4) I really try hard to keep the pressure on. In the past, when war weariness started to appear, I would make peace. Now, I simply ignore it until my cities are so unhappy that I can't keep producing units. I will routinely allow population to starve rather than stop a war and let the AI off the hook. Since I will be at war long before I have Hereditary Rule or calendars, and since upper levels handicap happiness, I simply accept the fact that my population will not be happy. I fight until I can’t produce units fast enough to maintain the attack. If my people don’t like it, well… tough :whipped: ! One fringe benefit… given you are most likely warring before you have researched courthouses, the gold bonuses from a steady stream of captured cities will allow you to keep some of them without going bankrupt.

    So there’s a start… I suspect all pretty obvious to those of you who are warmongers at heart. Please chip in and add your ideas
     
  2. Woobi

    Woobi ...

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    Thank you very much for this post Hawk...

    A problem I often come across in my games is deciding when to reasearch Iron Working. I find myself looking at the techs other than Iron Working on the science trail and seeing them as more beneficial. Obviosuly every game is different, but for general purposes, when you reasearch IW, what other techs do you have???

    Also, I again can't push myself to war without seige units. Do you generally start wars before construction, and finish them after? Is it better to wait untill cats to invade a city and untill then just pester them, or should you go right ahead and attack with your Swordsmen?

    I apreachiate all the help I can get, thank you...
     
  3. The Tyrant

    The Tyrant Chieftain

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    Hawk, for a builder, you have an amazing grasp of the warmongerer mind-set. I have builder tendencies, but am a warmongerer above all else. You've pretty well outlined the way I think and play on a strategic level. My comments on your points:

    1) Dead on! Wars should begin early. The earlier the better, for three reasons:
    a) Less chance of effective resistance/retaliation. Delay only makes your enemy stronger and fortune favors the bold. If I can get an axemen rush and overpower them, even if I can't eliminate them, they won't be strong enough to retaliate for a very long time.
    b) The power of exponential growth. Taking a city or two early allows the player a huge power boost when considered over the course of a game. That means more commerce / science and production from near the beginning, and less of the same for the AI. Better yet, this effect gets multiplied by the number of turns left in the game.
    c) The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the AI will have friends who will be upset with you for the rest of the game for declaring war on their friend. The earlier you attack, the fewer diplo penalties you'll incur. If there are only a few AIs in the game, this might not be a major factor to consider, but if you're playing a large/huge map with 18 civs, diplomacy is a must even for a warmongerer.

    2) This is the only item I approach a little differently. I don't try to trim *all* of my neighbors back. I do want friends later on and actively work on triangle diplomacy from the start, so rather than upset everyone I'll pick one or two and hit them hard as early as possible. I'll try to eliminate one and seriously hurt a second. After that I settle down for a period of building infrastructure and an economy that can support increased expansion. Once I'm ready, I go for wars of complete elimination / assimilation.

    3) Exactly. When choosing a target civ I'm likely to take on my strongest competitor, even if (especially if) they are stronger than me. When it comes to individual battles, however, "In Overkill I Trust!"

    4) I want to keep most AIs as happy as possible with me until they find my troops marching into their cities. For this reason I'll try to eliminate a civ in one war, if at all possible, to reduce the number of diplo penalties I'll get for "You declared war on our friend." Sometimes this means I'm willing to accept pretty steep happiness issues. There does come a point sometimes where it is better to temporarily halt the war to let your economy recover. Faster wars are definitely better but don't be afraid of a few local dissidents. Frequent stop/start wars will hurt an economy more than a sustained effort.

    And you say you're a builder? ;)
     
  4. The Tyrant

    The Tyrant Chieftain

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    If you have the ability to do an axemen rush (BW and access to copper or iron), then do so. By all means do so. Don't wait for catapults. It's okay to attack archers fortified in cities with 20% city defense in addition to their own defense bonuses. Axemen can handle that. If you wait until catapults, on higher levels you will be so hemmed in that you won't have enough cities to be able to outproduce the AI and they'll likely have strong units to counter your attack, making the whole affair much more expensive in terms of turns-to-produce the assault group and in terms of losses. Early war means pre-catapult.

    I know a lot of people like to use swordsmen because of their city attack bonus. I never, ever, ever build swordsmen. Axemen are a much better all-around unit and the difference in strength is so minor that I prefer spending my production turns on units with the bonus against melee units. Considered in terms of turns-to-benefit ratio, your production is much better spent on axemen, IMO.

    Of course each game is different and the size of the map and number of opponents will have an effect on what stage you're at when you have each war, but on a packed map I generally follow:
    First war -> axemen only.
    Second war -> axemen and catapults.
    Third war -> axemen and catapults.
    Fourth war -> macemen and catapults.
    When possible I'll try to throw in a couple of different unit types for the sole purpose of mixed-unit-type stack defense. Not for attacking cities, but for defending my stack in the field. Otherwise, my early wars tend to not use mixed unit types very much. Send out the hard hitters and let 'em rip.

    Edit: Fixed typo.
     
  5. Mutineer

    Mutineer Chieftain

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    Well, I am builder, but I found wars to be compulsory for most types of win.
    I will pull of Axeman rush if I can. If not depends on my position, civ, avalible resources next one could be Axes/swords/spears/cat mixture -> Maceman/spears/cats-> Muskets/cats-> Cavalry/muskets/cats....
     
  6. HypnosTene

    HypnosTene Chieftain

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    What an excellent post, The-Hawk. I admit that i've always been a builder <it was effective enough to reguarly win on Deity, back in civ2>, but after getting civ4 I realised that unless i wage war, i am going to get raped. Your tips are most welcome, as I am still struggling against my urge to build...

    Also, I agree with Tyrant's comments on axeman/swordsman, I've discovered that some 2 games ago and i am pretty sure I won't go back to the latter unit.
     
  7. mice

    mice Moose

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    edit: post no relevant
     
  8. Mano3

    Mano3 Chieftain

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    Good post! I'm a build-a-holic and desperately need to go back to 'boot camp'.

    What's the 'usual' build-order for a warmonger at the start of the game?
     
  9. VoiceOfUnreason

    VoiceOfUnreason Chieftain

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    One approach is geared toward mixing slavery with Axemen. When to pop rush? has some discussion of an food fueled axeman rush.
     
  10. terelli

    terelli Chieftain

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    I'm a builder usually playing on Prince level.....but I'm interested in warmongering. Keep up the discussion.

    What wonders, if any, do warmongerers go for? Can you get Stonehenge or Pyramids? Pyramids would cost you major axemen.
     
  11. cv431410

    cv431410 Chieftain

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    At higher levels, consider using AI to do research for you:

    declare war, after 10 turns, ask all of AI technologies and you will have them all. Do this repeatedly. This has never failed me.
     
  12. Spartan117

    Spartan117 Immortal

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    im confused:confused: i thought i was a warmonger but i try to build a near overwhelming force and have enough units in key positions, does this make me a builder??... I fight wars that i could win and will try my hardest to have the least amount of casualties... more units that survive less i have to build and the units will have alot of experience...so early war for me would depend on what the AI has on defense and their city defense bonus and what civ i am.. but i only play on normal and sometimes prince

    in one game i was montezuma, this was realism mod, in a random map and i was behind and built a huge force and razed as many AI cities as i could, they overexpanded, i raze holy cities too that are deep within enemies cultural borders... no point to keep them as they will revolt join previous owner, so i decide to hurt economy of enemy nation... :lol: :lol:

    in realism mod,when anybody conquers a an enemy city then the invader gets a sort of research bonus to one of the techs that the defending civ has... so attacking strongest nation pulled up my lack of research and get gold for pillaging..
     
  13. UnspokenRequest

    UnspokenRequest Chieftain

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    This thread shows one thing: with the current system, warmongerer have a VERY LARGE advantage on builder on higher levels. Moreover, it seems being a builder on the highest levels is close to impossible.
    Though I like to wage war a lot, I think it's a bit sad really. Pathways to victory are not as diverse as I would want them to be on higher level (or as the game designer advertised...).

    That's why I like med-high levels (prince and monarch). More freedom to design the civ you want to build.
     
  14. Melkongla

    Melkongla Chieftain

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    For non-"cheesy" settings (i.e. standard+ map, default # of civs) has anybody ever executed or even read about a reliable strategy for winning on Emperor+ without going to war at reasonably regular intervals? Not me anyway... I don't think this makes you a warmonger. On higher levels I think a "builder" still goes to war often enough to support his or her main goals such as tech lead, culture or politics.

    In my experience a very early war is almost mandatory on Emperor, even more so on Immortal or Deity unless your starting position allows you to settle enough land before the AIs take it all. If you take that as a given you may as well beeline for the tech which gives you the units you want while building barracks, then stop research and build nothing but units until your chosen target is crushed (preferrably eliminated to avoid future vendettas).

    At that point you will have carved out an equal or hopefully superior chunk of territory to be able to pursue your higher instincts as a builder....

    BTW I think there are many different unit options which work well with this approach: basically any unit of 4 strength or better, including Skirmishers, Immortals, Axemen, Horse Archers,... whatever you have the capability and resources to build. The earlier the tech which gives you the unit, the better... for example it can be tough to reach Iron Working before your enemies' defences become impregnable. Even Axemen are a gamble if you have only 2-3 cities and no copper.

    Units weaker than strength 4 have a really tough time against all the free Archers which the AI gets at these levels. Archers might just work if you start with the tech and get going immediately.
     
  15. Mano3

    Mano3 Chieftain

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    How true! My building ways are now weak. My soul is starving - where's the chicken soup?! :cry:
     
  16. nealhunt

    nealhunt Chieftain

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    I agree 100%. I've found that at any level above monarch you should just play as if you are at war all the time whether it's been officially declared or not. The AIs are coming. It's just a matter of time, so you might as well go pre-emptive.
     
  17. Sisiutil

    Sisiutil All Leader Challenger

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    When I warmonger, I will usually chop Stonehenge since I'm almost never Creative and don't want to waste city production on obelisks. One city can quickly chop Stonehenge while others build units.

    The Pyramids cause too big a delay and diversion of resources for a warmonger. But with a little luck, a nearby civ will have built them and it's very likely you can capture them. Same goes for the other early wonders, though the only benefit of capturing the Oracle is its GPP.
     
  18. Oggums

    Oggums Chieftain

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    It's not a proper game of Civ if there's no war! Conquest or space race...ahh, the good old days.

    Apparently, you can still do cultural if you must insist on missing the spirit of Civ. ;)
     
  19. Mano3

    Mano3 Chieftain

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    :( I think you're right... It's all war unless you go for the cultural win. I wonder if the game was built that way on purpose. Makes sense...
     
  20. UnspokenRequest

    UnspokenRequest Chieftain

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    I don't mean no war at all. I like a few wars. I just don't like the fact that on higher level, you have to play like you are constantly at war. Nealhunt's comments is awfully true. Your civ can never relax. Everything about your civ is focused on military power. Every decision is weighed in terms of military power or advantage.
    Your civ becomes a permanent war economy. It gets boring after a while.

    Constant wars or constant preparation for yet another war can be tedious. I also like the other aspects of Civ4, getting a tech lead, weilding influence through diplomacy, religion, culture or the economy. I like to spend time managing these aspects too.
     

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