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What makes a game challenging, map or leaders?

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Strategy & Tips' started by Thor7, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. Thor7

    Thor7 Warlord

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    I want to play a more challenging game without upping the difficulty. I usually play monarch, have won a couple emperor games but not with consistency.

    My question is, are certain leaders always more/less challenging to you or is it more dependant on where the map places them? For example mansa next to a warmonger is probably going to vassalize quickly, but on a continent apart from yours full of peaceful leaders he'll run away with tech. So it seems to me that the map usually plays a much greater part than the leaders.

    But anyway, for a real challenging game what leaders should I try playing as and against? I want to play against at least 12 civs on a large map, either continents, terra, fractal or pangea. My thoughts:

    Large terra map, playing as Mehmed. He is pretty balanced, fine for expansion, teching, or war with his traits. Doesn't have an extremely powerful UU or UB but both are good and useful.

    Opponents would be a mix of who I think are strong leaders at various points in the game and who make things difficult for me usually. Thinking Shaka, Monty, Cathy, Sury, Pacal, Elizabeth, Pericles, Hayuna, Charlemagne, Toku and Hannibal.

    This leans towards warmongers/aggressive civs with some techers to keep them updated. Though I'm thinking J Ceasar might be a good replacement for Pericles or Hannibal.

    If I get some really interesting ideas and this turns into a good game maybe I'll post it here. I appreciate any ideas!
     
  2. Silu

    Silu Deity

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    "At least 12" Civs on a Large map makes it easier than the default number on Monarch. Especially on terra. Mehmed is one of the best leaders in the game so if you're looking for a challenge that's a weird pick as well :p

    I generally consider Fractal the hardest map type since any predictability and deviation from the norm (*cough*terra*cough*) gimps the AI as the human can adapt more easily. Default number of AIs is advisable as well. Anyway, most of the difficulty comes from the map, I'd say 75% from the top of my head. Rest is your Civ (~5-10%) and the enemies (15-20%).

    For a "challenge game" I'd just play a normal fractal/pangaea (where the predictability doesn't benefit you as much) and handpick the enemies to be annoying ones, like many of the ones you mentioned. Though I'd prioritize all-around annoyances like Gilga, Sury, Cathy and Joao over one-trick ponys like Monte who often just ends up gumming the gears of your rivals and being a net benefit to you if he doesn't start next to you.
     
  3. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Huge maps with less than the default # of AIs can be next to impossible on high difficulties.

    I would argue fractal is hardest on mid difficulties, while trashfest terra 60% is probably harder than fractal on high ones since the AI can city spam and afford it, and the trash cities can do something with their bonuses.
     
  4. Silu

    Silu Deity

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    Yeah, on high levels really crammed quarters can become a hindrance (hence the specific "on Monarch" in my first sentence of the last post :) )... On midlevels it's usually strictly a boon (individual AIs are smaller, more trading, yada yada) and the downsides don't hit you more than the AIs.
     
  5. DaveMcW

    DaveMcW Deity

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    It's very hard to tell a map is challenging unless you peek in worldbuilder (then map knowledge ruins the challenge...)

    Tokugawa is guaranteed to be a challenging leader. :p
     
  6. Riot

    Riot Warlord

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    Semisolation with Shaka. Get DoW'd every 15 turns.
     
  7. bobbyboy29

    bobbyboy29 I was saying boo-urns...

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    Surely you jest!!! :lol:, on monarch or emp, get steel for lib and go drafted jans plus cannons and then we'll see about the UU. And the UB... +2happy and +2 Healthy AND comes cheap for Mehmed, its one of the best (if not THE best) in the game! Actually, come to think about it, one AI that is frequently challenging IS Mehmed. He tends to expand well, tech well, build a few units and wonders as well...
     
  8. oranje willem

    oranje willem Prince

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    I agree that Tokuguwa is the hardest leader, in general, to play with. Weakest traits, but also weak uniques and starting techs (samurai being debatable, but medieval warfare sucks compared to renaissance)
     
  9. Thor7

    Thor7 Warlord

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    So the consensus is I underestimated Mehmed lol. I guess that's not too surprising, I've had some very good games with him. I was just thinking trait wise expansive is a middle tier trait, pretty balanced without being easy to leverage hugely like financial or creative. Organized I guess is one of the better traits though. I don't see jannisarys as extremely useful just because I usually don't use muskets, end up doing most warfare early with swords/cats maybe maces/trebs, then jump to cavalry. So mehmeds out, maybe I'll use Bismark. His UU and UB are extremely late game. I don't want to play a particularly weak leader, just someone not super easy like my usual routes with darius- I want to play against particularly challenging civs.

    Good map suggestions. Any opponent suggestions? Or does removing the randomness and surprise make the game easier?
     
  10. NihilZero

    NihilZero WHEOOHRNY

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    Challenging leaders is difficulty dependant. The archetypal example being our old favourite Shaka again. Below Emperor he's a bit of a joke, so primitive and backward is he. On Immortal he can be really nasty as the AIs don't get punished for mindlessly spamming cities and units all over the map.

    That caveat notwithstanding, I find the most consistent irritants to be Hannibal (one of the best techers yet never stints on building enough units, unlike Willem or Pacal), Justinian and Charlemagne (give them a little space and watch the map turn their colour in the blink of an eye...with massively strong shrined religion), Gilgamesh (another rexer, quite aggressive too), Zara (strong in every area), Cathy (yet another rexer, say bye-bye to all your favourite city sites...or indeed any possible city sites), and then of course there's the unit spammers who vary in effectiveness with difficulty. Sury gets mantioned a lot, and he's troublesome, but leaves himself vulnerable late game by not emphasising military quite as much as he might.
     
  11. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    I'd say it is more a combination of map and leaders than one xor the other.

    Shaka can be a royal pain with constant declarations, but if he's on another landmass he lowers its tech rate and due to his massive unit spam he becomes an easy target for using the nuke "easy button" (I've taken down a diety Shaka who rolled his whole continent in one turn with a sufficient number of tac nukes). Isolate him against a good defensive AI and he just become cheap expo land.

    Gandhi near you is an easy shot; you can abuse him in diplomacy for minimal risk while you can overrun him with relative ease. Put him on another cotinent and he can become a tech monster with a massively overpowered shrine. Put him on another landmass where he peacefully becomes a vassal of someone dangerous and you have an insane tech rate until he goes for culture and then you have to fight somebody with lots of good units.

    Land type depends heavily on your civ and your opponents. The potentially idioticly overpowered carrack can be decisive if you use it early on some maps; on others Portugal has a weak, reasonably late UB with a minimally useful UU, and potentially weak traits. Lots of open land is good for the human with poor REXing wonder/religion whores; it is the kiss of death against good AI REXers (assuming they are too distant to rush in a timely fashion). In close quarters good defensive civs (Pro, Agg, CRE, religion whores and early unit spammers) are much stronger.

    If you just want a challenging map by picking map type and opponents, I vote for fractal or tectonics with a good mix of:
    1. REXers (e.g. Justinian, Cathy, Jao)
    2. Military Nutcases (e.g. Shaka, Monty, Ragnar)
    3. Religios Nutcases (e.g. Izzy, Justinian, Monty)
    4. Tech/vasssal and culture whores (e.g. Pacal, Gandhi)

    The most challenging games will be those where you have nutcases on your borders with techers and REXers across the water. This should be obvious pretty quick once you meet a civ or two.
     
  12. Riot

    Riot Warlord

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    Re: Nihil and Mirthadir

    All REXers make the game harder for you because any AI that becomes huge is well... a huge problem.

    btw, re Sury and such:

    Sury is another religious REXer who builds a decent amount of units, but should never be a tech threat. He just doesn't prioritize tech as much.

    Anyway, want challenging opponents? My suggestions:

    Military Nuts: Shaka, Julius Caesar
    Runaway Techers/Cultural Whores: Mansa Musa, Pericles
    Generally Strong leaders: Suleiman, Hannibal, Bismarck, Zara Yaqob, Huayna Capac.
     
  13. iggymnrr

    iggymnrr Deity

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    Ironic that my only vanilla diety win came on precisely that kind of map. And, yes, the AI city spam was brutal.
     
  14. mirthadir

    mirthadir Emperor

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    Rexers are only dangerous if they are allowed to get big. Place a landmass full of Rexers (including (semi)isolated Rexers) and they underperform; place one Rexer with a few religion/wonder whores and now you have problems. If they all start near you, you can still block settle pretty well with Cre or use their expansion (when they have few military units per city) as your own. This works particularly well with immortals or WC as many of the Rexers lag in getting Cu online. If you have a tame nutcase you can sick, even a large somewhat advanced AI gives up a lot of territory when you sucker its SoD off against another AI. Lastly, if you are alone there is always just steal their worker and sitzkrieg them for a few thousand years.
     
  15. Etheric

    Etheric Warlord

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    Right now in my emp game (as darius) I have MM on my continent, then Pacal, Hanibal, HC, Sitting bull and someone else peaceful on the other one (might have been suleman, not sure). The tech rate is pretty brutal, righ now is looking like a space race victory in the 1800's or something. Thankfully the start gave me massive amounts of land (blocked MM early in a small part, which was stupidly easy).
     
  16. LordOfTheDrinks

    LordOfTheDrinks Chieftain

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    I usually check Raging Barbarians, Aggresive AI and Permanent Alliances.
    But there's a catch: YOU are not allowed to form an alliance, you must win alone. :)
    Exciting start AND exciting endgame.
     
  17. KeloGBites

    KeloGBites Warlord

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    Try an Always War Pangea with only Tier-1 Unit spammers. Only time you'll pray and thank the gods for Protective.
     

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