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You , Yourself and your shadow : Some lessons on isolated starts

Discussion in 'Civ4 Strategy Articles' started by r_rolo1, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Well another LHC is likely coming out soon, and this is the resident major strategy article for playing them.

    I've been playing in the LHC series since sully (in other words, a long, long time now) and have picked up some hints of my own that allow me to compete in isolation at the same level I can do so otherwise (now immortal):

    - You can gun for important wonders with lower opportunity cost, so prioritizing a wonder that looks strong w/ the start is worthy. Cities remain the best fogbuster and having more increases your research potential, however, so don't neglect them too long.

    - Currency, CoL, Monarchy, POSSIBLY Calendar, and Civil Service are your key techs in isolation (should look pretty familiar to non-iso games...). After these, I recommend going for optics. If you can pick up religion along the way or by bulbing philosophy, bulb it. It's a low-priority tech for the AI once founded (so you'll probably get trades for it later even in isolation), it will hike your GPP rate, and it's on the lib path

    - As mentioned above, optics lets you meet/trade w/ AIs. This is where bulbing philosophy and education are just as good as ever. Trade with some of the AIs, minding diplo. You can usually go from fairly backward to middle-of-the-pack rapidly.

    - AIs will frequently wind up backward if you don't trade with them. Plan for these suckers to be your target if you are going the military route.

    - You can go astro after optics rather than the lib path, depending on how much you think it will help you. Don't worry too much about losing lib, although of course try to win it regardless. Iso starts tend to give you enough land to compete/catch up.

    - I disagree that galleons, rifles, and cannons are a logistics nightmare. I very frequently dial up invasions at that point, especially if I won circumnavigation. Once you make your initial landing (which should be ~27-30 units or more), just use your galleons to shuttle more troops to new strategic landing points as your initial wave moves in on land. The hammer outlay is higher than a normal renaissance war but the war itself is typically just as fast. If you HAVE logistics ability, it's no nightmare ;).
     
  2. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    All fair points, TMIT.

    About my remarks about galleon invasions: they are definitely doable. I should had said "a logistical nightmare compared with the later transport based invasions" :p
     
  3. pigswill

    pigswill fly (one day)

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    Came across an obscure lightbulbing trick that helps in isolated. Build Glight asap and start earning GM points. Meanwhile research pottery, IW and compass. Go for monarchy after that to resolve your happiness problems. Avoid maths and alphabet. Use GM to bulb MC. (other cities should be starting to rack up GS points). Build some harbours to boost income from triple trade routes while researching machinery. If you've got a spare GS you can now bulb optics and travel round the world making new friends, you should be able to pick up stuff like maths, alphabet, calendar and currency.
    To bulb astronomy you need optics, calendar and 2 GS. You also need to have researched alphabet and maths, avoid either meditation or CoL to block the philosophy bulb, avoid CS or theology to avoid the paper bulb. Simple really.

    Great Lighthouse with harbours give you a fairly strong trade economy and picking up currency obviously helps. Once you've got astronomy and you've explored then most of your trade routes will be overseas. It helps using HR military police to grow your cities because bigger cities means richer trade routes.
     
  4. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    What's the time table on that vs just bulbing astro and building GLH without a merchant bulb? Is getting earlier MC worth it against running the slider higher for X turns while still isolated due to settling the merchant, or merely researching faster w/ an extra GS?

    I definitely buy the strength of harbor trade routes with GLH + astro...it's strong-to-ridiculous (not so good on low levels, but not horrible either). However, I'm not sold on burning a bulb on a tech that isn't even 1000 beakers on normal without being able to trade it. Even settling the merchant feels stronger, especially since fast astro makes the colossus weaker anyway.
     
  5. pigswill

    pigswill fly (one day)

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    Haven't done a rigorous analysis. However by bulbing MC you can research compass that much earlier which means earlier harbours. If you've got harbours then you'll likely bump trade routes from 2gpt to 3pt, with n cities that's n*3gpt (coz you've got 3 trade routes from Glight) which is better than settled GM if you've got more than 2 cities. In the long term you'll probably benefit more from a settled GM but in the short term if you can save 15 to 20 turns on getting harbours by avoiding researching MC that's a big boost to your early research.
     
  6. mc-red

    mc-red King

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    Maybe you could then build colossos and then bulb CS with a second merchant.
    I have bulbed CS with merchants before but not MC
     
  7. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    There is no way you can do a rigorous analysis on the GM bulb vs teching MC by it self, as in most things in Civ IV: it is definitely possible doing that comparation in a certain map, but doing a generalization may prove impossible, as you would need to count with the population of the cities, the number of cities, the time needed to make the harbours, the time of the bulb...... and this for every map :D I'm not a great fan of bulbing per se and even less of low beaker techs ( MC in terms of bulb is a low beaker tech ) and even less in a enviroment where you can't tech broker it... but I don't deny that it might be the best way in some maps and in some situations.
     
  8. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I think the ability to settle cities on another land mass plays a role too. Otherwise, trade routes are +1 and getting harbors sooner isn't very meaningful.

    We still have to weight the harbors against something else too, however: deliberately avoiding the merchant and using a scientist to bulb optics (in addition to the supposed two on astro...this is a lot of GPP fairly fast...).

    I'm not a huge fan of bulbing either, unless the trades doing so are huge (or in isolation, I get taoism and pacifism to get more GPP and faster lib race).

    One thing I've been playing around with doing, though clearly not in isolation, is bulbing mathematics (!). This is part of an early push for catapults, and is best done next to civs that won't just declare on you before you prep it. However, with fast writing ----> bulb math while researching masonry, you can start training catapults before 500 BC (you might get trades out of math, probably not, but construction is a possibility). Obviously 7-8 catapults + whatever can take down an AI on most levels (not so good on deity...), and might get you enough land to win. Probably not as good as renaissance war, but has the benefit of getting you out of crappy land.
     
  9. JTMacc99

    JTMacc99 That's a paddlin'

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    It seems like isolation makes me use GP for bulbing things I would otherwise never consider. I am in the middle of an isolated, but really nice, start. I built an academy with the first one. Beelined CoL, which was needed anyway and that allowed me to bulb Philosophy with #2, (which I would have done in almost any situation), but then the third GP turned out to be an engineer! I had no decent wonders to build, and was just about to complete metal casting, so I saved him and bulbed Machinery. This immediately opened up Optics, and I was off and running to meet the rest of the world. 20+ turns earlier than expected. Shortly after that, I'm trading off Code of Laws and Aesthetics for pretty much 70% of what I skipped on my way to Optics, and am still able to hold on to Philosophy and Machinery. (I've also got a taoist missionary on board, hoping to spread religion to another isolated civ with no god.)
     
  10. cleverhandle

    cleverhandle King

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    I'm in the middle of an attempt at an isolated Emperor culture win with Monty (hah!) and noticed one point not yet mentioned here. The Shwedegon Paya. It always seemed like a pretty crappy wonder to me before, but it gets you early access to Pacifism (pacifist Monty!) before contact and very early access to Free Religion to avoid diplo penalties after contact.

    Just a little background on the game, so that no one calls me a loony for planning an Emperor culture win with Monty... I ignored the early religions, but once I realized I was isolated I prioritized Stonehenge in hopes of bulbing Theo to help with happiness (I have very few luxes on the continent). I had almost no seafood and very poor coastal sites (so no TGL), but I did have lots of Gold inland, which helped my economy along. In fact, without even trying, I was the first to discover CoL (very surprising!) - so I discovered Confucianism two turns before my first Prophet and already had the techs done to bulb Theo. This was where a culture win first crossed my mind. Knowing the AI doesn't prioritize Aesthetics and that I had gold for Shwedagon Paya, I teched Aesthetics next and built it, having bulbed Theo once the Prophet came in. Switched to Pacifism, which got me a couple more Prophets in short order, one of which built the Kong Miao and the other of which helped get me get Islam. Lincoln sailed over to me around 900AD with only a slightly higher score (900 vs. 800), so I'll be switching over to Free Religion after I get my next Prophet for a second shrine. That will get me 2, eventually 3 (haven't spread Islam yet) happies per city, plus cheap temples for three more, plus extra religious culture, plus shrine money, plus 10% research, plus no diplo penalties, plus at least 2 cathedrals for each culture city. I like the way Shwedegon Paya played into all that.

    We'll see how it plays out, but I think it's a reasonably strong position for a culture win, though a very unexpected one.
     
  11. bestsss

    bestsss Emperor

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    Like pointed it's a good wonder for very early access to pacifism however w/o spiritual it's difficult to pull it off.
    Also keep in mind that you also want friends (not only avoiding enemies) and religion helps as well.
     
  12. dalamb

    dalamb Deity

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    It suddenly occurred to me to wonder why, if isolated starts are so difficult, why is it that a standard tactic in Continents maps is to kill off everyone else on the same continent? Doesn't that seem a little odd? or are you supposed to let them live just long enough to give you a few benefits like a developed capital?
     
  13. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Simple.... When you start in a continent and kill everyone, you are actually franchising a lot of the empire building to someone else with very little costs on you ;) Then you bring your police forces and forfeit the land :D

    They also found religions, make wonders, improve the land, tech trade with you, have trade routes with you, share a good part of the barb busting efforts ( inconsciously OFC ) .... all of this things have to be measured , but i would not be surprised that in most cases it would be roughly beneficial to not clean a continent for quite a while.
     
  14. oyzar

    oyzar Have quit civ/forums

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    With no TT in MP (where you have no AI to exploit), starting isolated can often be better than sharing a continent with someone else.
     
  15. Lord Parkin

    Lord Parkin aka emperor

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    Very nice article. Just a couple of small points that I would add:

    - You can easily ensure an isolated (or non-isolated) start by simply generating a map with your settings of choice, going into the WorldBuilder and checking whether or not it's an isolated start. Save the game under a generic filename (e.g. "Isolated 01" or "Non-isolated 03"), then hit the regenerate button and repeat. Keep doing this until you've looked at enough maps that you've forgotten what most of them even looked like (for me this happens rather quickly :lol: ). Then choose whether you want an isolated or non-isolated start, pick a random number, and load up that game. Voila! New and unknown map where you're guaranteed an isolated (or non-isolated) start. :)

    - In my experience, isolated starts tend to be more often than not either in the far north or south of the map. This can mean that there is no city on your home continent that will be able to build the Space Elevator when the time comes around. As a result, if you're planning on a Space Race win, it's a good idea to look around for a nice juicy production city in the middle of the map, and concentrate on taking it in one of your first wars after Astronomy. This will give you time to fill out the borders and bring the city up to scratch, so that once the space race gets into full swing you'll have a convenient location where you can quickly build the Space Elevator. Just remember to keep it well defended, as other civs will probably be eyeing it up too! ;)
     
  16. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    First, thanks for the compliment on the article ( I should finish it someday...... it was suposed to have atleast double of it's current size, but it has been hard to join both time and will to make the detailed analysis of 2 or 3 posted isolated games, the thing that is suposed to be the 2nd part of the article )

    About your points:

    - that is pretty much what I do ...I have a pretty decent library of stored isolated games that I use for the LHC ( maybe someday I'll post a older map with diferent civs just to see if someone notices it :D )

    - I've been finding the same as well: by some reason the mapscripts ( especially fractal )tend to not produce isolated landmasses big enough for having a starting spot near the equator ... probably this is due to geometrical considerations. About the Space elevator... I'm not a fan, except if i have surplus GE that I can't spend in a GA and even then I find it hard to convince myself to get the tech, that is not needed for the space race in BtS ( vanilla/Warlords is another cup of tea ). The big issue is that the net balance of hammers ( SS vs SS + SE ) only tilts in favor of the Space elevator if you spend most of SS hammers after the the Space elevator is ready. In normal games that is a big delay (with the internet too things are a little diferent ... you can beeline robotics while building it and get most of the SS techs of it, but even then I'm not so sure ) and making a city just for it does not look to me like a interesting proposition most of the times, regardless of being a isolated start or not.
     
  17. Lord Parkin

    Lord Parkin aka emperor

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    Sure, it's certainly possible to get by without the Space Elevator. However, in a close race I usually feel a bit more confident of victory if I can nab the Space Elevator ahead of the AI, especially if they're technologically ahead at the time and the Space Elevator would only compound the problem if they got it. Still, it comes down to personal preference I guess.

    I can certainly say that in a lot of the large-scale multiplayer games I've played in that have reached the space race stage, someone has almost always built the Space Elevator. Mind you, this is only secondhand experience - I haven't actually tried to win a large-scale multiplayer game by space race myself before. (When I win it usually seems to be by domination instead, for some reason... :evil: )
     
  18. r_rolo1

    r_rolo1 King of myself

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    Well, in MP things are a little diferent because Robotics also give mechs and the human-human games tend to be more military based even when people are gunning for non-military wins ( AI are far more easy to deal with :D I have a posted LHC where I had 5x less power than the weakest AI and I won by space ... now try that on MP without a big brother covering you :D ) ... and as you already have the tech, why not? :D My point of view is surely more centered in focusing only in a space win ( implying that you have the diplo situation somehow controled ), thus not needing a extra late power buff from mechs. That makes Robotics a far less desirable tech to get ....
     
  19. Lord Parkin

    Lord Parkin aka emperor

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    Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Certainly every multiplayer game I've been in that's lasted up to the modern age has ended up in one colossal blood-fest, with people mass-building Tanks/Mechs/Battleships/Bombers at an insane rate. Brilliant fun, but you have to keep your wits about you, and always have an eye out for a sneak invasion. ;)
     
  20. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    I will notice a repeat of ANY LHC that I have actually played, although I'm not opposed to the idea as long as you don't give us that toku island :mad:.

    I actually don't like the space elevator much either. It comes at an unnecessary tech (in SP anyhow...haven't seen MP get there much) for space and is fairly expensive. None of my LHC space wins have involved it, and IIRC those HoF cheese deity space games often skip it too.

    If you are gunning space, you are guaranteed to have the techs for nukes, a powerful navy, and probably modern armor (if you go for internet). These things certainly feel like enough to hold an island, or even same-continent wars (nukes are extremely oppressive defensive units...the AI can't cope).
     

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