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What to do with low food starts?

Choeimok

Spreading the confusion
Joined
Jan 27, 2011
Messages
211
I'm a Monarch player playing irregularly. My last game I got two of the infamous double plains cow as Freddy, and had an awful slog surrounded by Alex, Nappy and Giggles I abandoned somewhere in the middle ages. I had like 10 cities maybe, carried by one non-capital floodplains city. With the low commerce capital I had struggling to get past size 6, I couldn't go for bureau or anything.

Next game I wanted to try out a hub map, and got a pretty yucky start, with one gold but very bad food and a lot of desert, fittingly as Saladin. And my map turned out to be infested with peaceful tech mongers. :sad: They started to run away while I was taking ages for researching Paper, Philo, etc.
I think my capital was size 4 well into the ADs.
I played around the lib race which I might win if Mansa, whom I avoided trading with as much as possible, keeps being stupid but I'm very behind with almost no military and struggled with the :) cap for a long time, my production is pretty awful, save 2 cities with actually good land my country is basically a confederation of fishing villages.

I probay made some mistakes like getting a freak prophet from Madrassa and settling him, or delaying some of my less terrible backfill cities for worse frontline ones, and might still have a chance with backfill trades with the slower AIs (I've been holding off on getting crap like Feudalism that does nothing for me for now) and Rifling but it's not pretty.

How would you play this stupid start? I feel like this is worse than Plains Cow Forests since you can't even chop all that much. Although the early tech pace until Currency or so was alright from that gold.
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River rice is a high food start! You have never had dry plains hill sheep as Isabella or something?
 
Well i see 2 options here..
go 1w and build a settler at size 2 (with rice + gold), worker first ofc.
Or move on the ph 2e1n & gamble on something good in the fog.

Those are your standard options in most cases.
Build a settler without much delay, scout for a powerful city spot (don't run off too far with your warriors..your settler wants safety later).
Or scout with the starting settler in hope for something better.

@sylvanllewelyn that rice looks dry ;)
 
That desert tile 3W looks bit suspicious. I wanna send warrior on the gold to check for a fish + gold spot. Otherwise settle on plains hill 1W. There might be something near the lake too, can move settler 1E and back on turn 1. Lose 1 turn, but if food does indeed suck then you haven't lost that much by waiting.
 
I wouldn't call double plains cow a bad start necessarily. It is often a very good production capital for settlers/workers, and you can delay for example bronze working since you have so much production and little interest in using slavery, then beeline Alphabet to build research and backfill techs by trading.
 
T50
Spoiler :
I think 1W is good enough, though with better warrior movement it's possible to settle 2W. Anyway, gold+ph settle is always good enough short-term, long-term you might need to relocate capital which is no disaster at all.

As Fippy said, settler at size 2 is clear with only two good tiles and there is a river with floodplains in the south so I think cities 2 and 3 should go there. 4th on the stone probably.

Note how conveniently cap border pop claims both pigs and copper with this settling pattern. Build riverside cottages, expand, take it from there. Probably even with only 2 forests you are guaranteed to get Mids in capital. Have 1 chariot and probably will make 2nd one. No idea how this map script works and where the hell are the AIs.

I think green river by the capital should be farmed mostly. You should be size 8 by 1AD surely.

Civ4ScreenShot0041.JPG

 
Spoiler :

The only reason I did not go 2E1N is because of no guaranteed food. If the rice were in range of it I would have let go of capital gold and settled pig-gold city later.

Anyway, instead of @sampsa's opening (which is clearly better in hindsight given horses), I went Agri-Min-BW for chops to help get first settler and 2nd worker out faster, then settled Medina between rice and copper. Then, tech from Pottery to Alpha delaying AH, and 3rd city *on* pigs to offload gold from capital and develop its river cottages.
 
@Choeimok

Spoiler :

Based on the later save, I think one thing that slowed your tech rate was to settle cities 4 to 6 far from your capital towards the center of the hub. These would have cost a lot of maintenance early on. Instead you could have focused initially on settling next to the food in your section of the hub first. Also you are building a lot of temples, which are not very impactful buildings unless you are going for a cultural victory.
 
T87
Spoiler :
Mids finished, now can start finishing granaries and growing. Going towards CoL because I think caste is so good with Mids+SPI. Can peacefully get at least 5 cities more and it's smooth sailing from here.

Civ4ScreenShot0042.JPG
 
Played to T66:

T1 Moved warrior 1W, settler 1E+1SW on rice. T2 moved warrior on gold, no fish, but nice spot with pig. Here, I thought it was rare situation to go settler before worker! Plan was settler first, then worker who can improve gold by the time second city is size 2. Went hunting->AH->mining. Horses nice! Worker first improved horse before gold mine. Then improved pig and connected road to capital. I now have plenty of production with horse, pig, mine. So beeline to writing (so I can build one first in gold city). Writing -> agriculture. Built next settler in capital. Built second worker in gold city at size 3. It's a great spot to crank out more settlers and workers. Also decided to farm 1E of capital to make up for food issues. Also sacrificed a scout in north to archer, so the archer leaves me alone a while until he heals. I did my best to convert bad food situation and some unorthodox (maybe bad) moves :)

Now going to beeline to monarchy, grow economy and prob going for lib/astronomy here. Need to explore more with fishing boat, and settle near rice and stone. Then I will get the crab

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Looked at save a bit. No library in capital at 1200AD! You're in caste system but not running many specialists. Are you starting a golden age soon? If so, might be better to switch into caste during the golden age. Because you are working many coastal tiles instead of specialists, so it's a waste of running caste. Also I think too many temples. I mean they are cheap but you can built more units.
 
@Tecumseh1
Spoiler :
Frankly I think your position is not great. You are expanding slowly and putting :hammers: into granaries that are useless for now. Maybe you can do some 2-pop whips but still. I don't think the rice settle is very good, you just lack tiles to work. I am working cottages already 14T earlier...
 
@Tecumseh1
Spoiler :
Frankly I think your position is not great. You are expanding slowly and putting :hammers: into granaries that are useless for now. Maybe you can do some 2-pop whips but still. I don't think the rice settle is very good, you just lack tiles to work. I am working cottages already 14T earlier...

Yup. Definitely don't think this is my best work. Was trying some weird stuff and seeing how it turns out. And for some reason I was blind and didn't think I could reach gold from plains hill in capital.
 
I'm a Monarch player playing irregularly. My last game I got two of the infamous double plains cow as Freddy, and had an awful slog surrounded by Alex, Nappy and Giggles I abandoned somewhere in the middle ages. I had like 10 cities maybe, carried by one non-capital floodplains city. With the low commerce capital I had struggling to get past size 6, I couldn't go for bureau or anything.

Next game I wanted to try out a hub map, and got a pretty yucky start, with one gold but very bad food and a lot of desert, fittingly as Saladin. And my map turned out to be infested with peaceful tech mongers. :sad: They started to run away while I was taking ages for researching Paper, Philo, etc.
I think my capital was size 4 well into the ADs.
I played around the lib race which I might win if Mansa, whom I avoided trading with as much as possible, keeps being stupid but I'm very behind with almost no military and struggled with the :) cap for a long time, my production is pretty awful, save 2 cities with actually good land my country is basically a confederation of fishing villages.

I probay made some mistakes like getting a freak prophet from Madrassa and settling him, or delaying some of my less terrible backfill cities for worse frontline ones, and might still have a chance with backfill trades with the slower AIs (I've been holding off on getting crap like Feudalism that does nothing for me for now) and Rifling but it's not pretty.

How would you play this stupid start? I feel like this is worse than Plains Cow Forests since you can't even chop all that much. Although the early tech pace until Currency or so was alright from that gold.
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So what you're saying is that you had TWO of the best starting tiles in the game as Freddy and thought that you were out of luck on Monarch? Perhaps your fear of success, perfectionism regarding how best to use your surplus hammers, or which plains-cow tile to develop first caused you to burn too many worker turns? It's alright; it happens to the best of us. In the future, there are some key things you can do to beat the AI as it techs away:

1) Research techs that the AI typically doesn't and trade with them to catch up. This is critical on higher difficulties as well. You can check which AI will trade for what using the tabs on the top-right that manage diplomacy and techs (you can choose techs on the bottom right after clicking the little scroll icon). Generally, the Music line is pretty great for trading for econ techs for as the AI loves it and typically don't research it very quickly in favor of military flavor techs or econ techs.

2) Use a city to make dedicated settlers. On monarch, you don't need to worry about upkeep costs of your empire nearly as much, and you can get away with settling more and expanding into areas that are NOT jungle so you can cottage them up.

3) Play the religion card and buddy up with the strongest neighbor that's a tech-y-but-strong peacenik. Willem is a great example. Settle away from aggressive AIs (Shaka, Napoleon, Ragnar, Monty, Isabella, Cathy).

4) If you're somehow pressed on space regardless of land quality (one good food city won't cut it when everyone else is settling 5 good food cities,) use CHOP-slavery and just pile into a war with a warmonger against the smallest civ on the map that you share a border with. Use one of your Music tech lines to bribe them in. Have them declare first, and then once their stack moves into the other civ's cultural borders, declare yourself at war next and sweep through the lightly-defended cities.

4.5) If going with strat 4, chop the forests to snowball over enemies. If you have nothing but plains and forests, rush better chopping techs and whip-chop out an army while preserving as much pop as possible for more troops. Invest all-or-nothing in an early war and don't worry about one or two unhappiness because you're essentially moving your civ into another civ's territory. On that note, feel free to invade civs with lots of forests! You don't need to chop just your own trees; chop theirs ASAP as the culture expands. This works especially well if you have horses. Chopping is reasonable all the way up through knights, and by this time, you should have more than enough decent land and a capital or two under your belt.

5) Focus on bulbing techs to leapfrog your way. Putting a few turns of research into a tech also will make an AI much more likely to trade it with you. It might feel like a pain, but just keep checking the tech trading tab to see how things are going. Some amazing trades can be had, but sometimes only for a single turn if the AI techs away with one another. Warmongers make for some of the best trades mid-game because they're so behind from fighting pointless wars that they'll backfill everything on Monarch and you don't need to worry about reaching the trade cap too much at that point.

6) Vassalize a stronger tech-lead civ than you and FORCE them to give you techs during capitulation. However, this is not the most important thing. Rather, divert their research using diplomacy to techs you WANT (but can't really research on your own because your economy sucks) but AWAY from another specific tech line totally so that you can always have something they'll be willing to trade it for. Willem is again a great example, as he's pathologically incapable of teching rifling or most military techs in general. If you have more than one civ as a vassal with a decent research rate, you can have each of them research a different line and trade with them separately, using each's techs they've just researched to keep yourself at-pace with whatever the opposite vassal civ's line is that you're forcing them to stick with. This way you can just focus on ONE line yourself and have your vassals do most of the research for you!
 
Double cow is amazing. 6 turn settlers and 4 turn workers.
The dry rice with gold is pretty sad, scout to the west before settling on the plains hill.
Otherwise with rice and gold get a size 2 settler and grab some better land, you'll have the commerce to support it.
 
My main issue will be if the AI have really bad land they will struggle. Map type seems to be hub so the Ai once they do start to expand will be settling some pretty poor cities. If they go war mode they might be travelling a long way to capture a few tundra cities.

If you are planning wars. Galleons or 2mps units is the best way. Forts to cross land masses with ships.
 
I don't think the map script is necessarily that bad for learning the game (SimCitylike empire setup), but I can't see myself finishing a game...
 
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