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Having trouble adjusting to Civ 5

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Mongoose
PostPosted: 2014-06-07 03:39pm 

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My previous Civ experience is just with Alpha Centauri, one of my favorite games. I got Civ 5 recently and I like it, but aspects of it trip me up. Disclaimer: I'm not implying that any of these are flaws in the game; they're just parts of the game that I don't understand.

Recently, I played a game on the medium difficulty (prince) as the Byzantines on a huge earth map on the "marathon" time scale, and encountered the following difficulties:

1. The Byzantine early game unique units (and all the early game unique units in general) seem pointless. The AI isn't that aggressive and barbarians are easy to defeat with more basic units, so what the heck do I need a dromon or a cataphract for? I decided that since I had this ancient and classical era advantage, I should go and use these units to conquer a nearby city state, but doing so crippled my growth with the ensuing unhappiness until much later in the game, past the usefulness of those units, when I got the courthouse technology. Yet building that damn courthouse ruined my finances (it costs 4 or 5 in upkeep). In the end it felt like I just shouldn't have attacked that city.

Maybe what I'm missing is that early warfare isn't about conquering cities, but rather bout pillaging tile improvements and enslaving workers? I could see that working, and making early game unique units useful. I've noticed that this isn't like SMAC where getting even civs that are losing the war to agree to a cease fire after attacking them is like trying to convince a cat to take a bath, so maybe starting a war just to raid is viable now because you won't be stuck with that war until the game ends or you exterminate them.

2. The piety track seems like a completely disastrous move early game, since its best bonuses apply to your religion and to temples, both of which come pretty late. Is it always better to pick one of the other social policies and then get piety later? I chose piety first, and compared to the other games I tried, it seemed much, much worse than tradition or honor. It actually didn't seem especially viable mid-game either, but maybe I'm missing something. I ran around converting enemy cities to my religion and making sure all of my cities were religious, but doing so didn't seem to help me that much.

3. Cities seem too good at defending themselves without support, or with minimal support. A large city with composite bowman can kill a catapult in a single turn, which makes attacking cities difficult, which it should be, but I still think that taking cities should be hard because they are well defended, rather than just decked out with powerful auto-garrisons. The auto-garrisons and the ability of cities to barrage things without needing archers is part of why I feel the early game unique units are so useless (because barbarians aren't that big of a threat).

4. Roads are kinda meh. They cost so much to maintain and the gold they generate isn't really that much. I think maybe they work better when your cities are close together, so maybe what I'm doing wrong is just building cities too far away from eachother and then trying to connect them with overly long and expensive roads?

5. Warfare in general seems really heavily discouraged, which makes sense to me because this isn't a war game, and it certainly shouldn't be one. With the unhappiness penalties it almost feels like it isn't an option anymore, though, except in a few isolated circumstances. Does anyone else feel this way? Not that blitzing everyone was a smart idea in SMAC either, but I feel there it could sometimes if you planned well and waited for opportune times, whereas in 5, war always seems like a horrible, horrible idea.

Maybe here the issue is that one should simply NEVER capture an enemy city, but rather just raze it and then settle on the land if you want to benefit from the improvements?
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Tribble
PostPosted: 2014-06-07 07:40pm 

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Here is an in-depth explanation of what went wrong with Civ 5, coming from one of the Developer's no less:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jo ... sts/404789

Don't get me wrong, Civ 5 is still a good game. But in my opinion it's not the best one. Like the article states, most of the problems ultimately stem from the 1UPT cap. If they had built it around 3-5 UPT cap it would have been a lot better. They also should have stuck with CIV 4's diplomacy, there was no reason to change that.

And you are bang on about civ 5 strategy. The A.I.s can never be trusted. They will hate you and denounce you for pretty much any reason, and they will backstab you even if they have been friends since turn one. They will randomly declare war on you at some point even if their backstab had absolutely no chance of success, such as sending a single war elephant against a city on a hilltop being defended by infantry. :banghead:

The best strategy is to simply burn every A.I. city on your continent to the ground asap, then rebuild and resettle afterwards. There is no way of forming a meaningful relationship like in Civ 4, so why bother waiting for the inevitable war? Note that this does not apply to city-states, and it may be worthwhile befriending some of them for their bonuses rather than conquering them.
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Purple
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 09:29am 

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The title says it all. Basically, it's not you it's CIV 5. Or rather it's a bit of both. Civ 5 is kind of like Heroes IV. It's a departure from the norm that some people acclimatize to instantly and some people newer can.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 02:06pm 

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Purple, have you found ways to play the game using strategies that would make sense in real life, and get good results?

I mean, "burn all cities not your own to the ground and gradually expand your own empire to fill the ruins" isn't a strategy real civilizations have pursued with much success.
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Purple
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 05:09pm 

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Simon_Jester wrote:
I mean, "burn all cities not your own to the ground and gradually expand your own empire to fill the ruins" isn't a strategy real civilizations have pursued with much success.

Why would anyone play like that? Ever? I rarely ever raise cities in any of the Civ games unless it is absolutely necessary for me to do so.
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Vendetta
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 05:15pm 

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Purple wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
I mean, "burn all cities not your own to the ground and gradually expand your own empire to fill the ruins" isn't a strategy real civilizations have pursued with much success.

Why would anyone play like that? Ever? I rarely ever raise cities in any of the Civ games unless it is absolutely necessary for me to do so.


Because in the vast majority of Civ games and their descendents, having a lot of cities gives you economic and industrial power to overwhelm your opponents, and the game specifically scores you on having the most shit.
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Purple
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 06:47pm 

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Vendetta wrote:
Purple wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
I mean, "burn all cities not your own to the ground and gradually expand your own empire to fill the ruins" isn't a strategy real civilizations have pursued with much success.

Why would anyone play like that? Ever? I rarely ever raise cities in any of the Civ games unless it is absolutely necessary for me to do so.


Because in the vast majority of Civ games and their descendents, having a lot of cities gives you economic and industrial power to overwhelm your opponents, and the game specifically scores you on having the most shit.

How does that have anything to do with what I quoted? You can have more by NOT burning those cities than you can by burning them.
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 08:45pm 

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Purple wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
I mean, "burn all cities not your own to the ground and gradually expand your own empire to fill the ruins" isn't a strategy real civilizations have pursued with much success.

Why would anyone play like that? Ever? I rarely ever raise cities in any of the Civ games unless it is absolutely necessary for me to do so.
Vendetta wrote:
Because in the vast majority of Civ games and their descendents, having a lot of cities gives you economic and industrial power to overwhelm your opponents, and the game specifically scores you on having the most shit.
We have a comprehension problem caused by Purple using the word "raise" when he meant "raze."

"Raise" means 'to build,' and Vendetta is right that in Civ games you want to build many cities as a game convention.

"Raze" means 'to destroy,' which is what you to enemy cities you don't want to keep (in some Civilization games).

The catch is that from all I've heard about Civilization V, if you do not raze enemy cities, and instead capture them, the game starts hitting you with very steep penalties that impact your civilization's overall productivity. This is combined with (I am told) a diplomatic AI that tends to be chaotic, unpredictable, and prone to suddenly attacking you even if you've been on good terms for a long time.

So if you leave your enemies alone they'll predictably stab you in the back, if you conquer them outright your civilization suffers crippling economic penalties... which leaves only the decision to stage a military campaign and totally destroy them, then slowly expand your own civilization at a more controllable growth rate to avoid being crushed by the penalties.

The thing is, that's not a strategy pursued by real civilizations. So it's counterintuitive to the historically literate player. Also, it's based on the idea that there cannot be long term peace with the AI, which is a deeply frustrating idea for any human player.

Now Purple, my original question can be rephrased as follows:


Purple, you seem to like Civ V a lot and find it intuitive and fun to play. Does your experience match my description above? If so, do you have strategies that let you win, and if so what are they? Do they match up with what real life civilizations might do, in broad terms?
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Purple
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 08:51pm 

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Simon_Jester wrote:
We have a comprehension problem caused by Purple using the word "raise" when he meant "raze."

"Raise" means 'to build,' and Vendetta is right that in Civ games you want to build many cities as a game convention.

"Raze" means 'to destroy,' which is what you to enemy cities you don't want to keep (in some Civilization games).

I did not even realize the typo. Sorry.

Quote:
Purple, you seem to like Civ V a lot and find it intuitive and fun to play. Does your experience match my description above? If so, do you have strategies that let you win, and if so what are they? Do they match up with what real life civilizations might do, in broad terms?

I think you have my position wrong. I hate CIV V and find it to be an unintuitive mess and the worst of the series.
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Tribble
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 09:22pm 

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Oh, you can certainly win without razing every city to the ground if you don't mind playing a game where your so called "friends" constantly denounce and/or declare war on you. The A.I. is incapable of handling 1UPT on a hex grid properly so fending off its attacks is pretty easy, even if you are heavily outnumbered.

You can win via cultural / diplomatic victories, which I suppose is more "traditional" than slaughtering everyone who annoys you. The strategy for both of them is pretty straight forward.

If you are going for a cultural victory (through tourism) then have enough cities and build enough cultural improvements to overwhelm your opponents' culture. Using your great persons to create great works of art will expedite the process (though I tend to use great writers to add points towards my social policies).

If you want to win via diplomacy, build up a big enough economy to simply bribe all of your opponents and city states into voting for you. Like in the real world, giving someone a nice big wad of cash will work wonders in Civ 5.

In both cases, maintain a large enough military so that when some A.I. civ inevitably declare war you can deal with them. That's really all there is to it.
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Tribble
PostPosted: 2014-06-08 09:33pm 

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As for social policies, they depend on the Civ. For example, you would tend to choose Tradition over Liberty for India because India is best suited for having a few, large cites rather than expanding rapidly. If you are playing a warmonger like the Huns or the Mongels then tradition is an obvious choice. If you are playing a Civ which benefits from city states then Patronage would be a good choice etc. Not that these strategies are locked in stone (for example, if you are playing a game with an aggressive A.I. and raging barbarians you might want to take Honour even if you are a peaceful Civ) but matching policies to civs' effects tends to be more efficient.
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AniThyng
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 12:12am 

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In Civ V when you capture a city you have 3 options

1) Annex it - you gain full control of the city + a heavy happiness penalty that can be mitigated by courthouses or social policies
2) Puppet it - the city is counted as part of you empire, you can garrison it and gain tax income etc, but cannot control it's production - AI will build infrastructure but not units - minor penalties to happiness
3) Raze it - well, raze it.

Hmm actually it's a bit different in game mechanics than exactly what I remember, it's not too hard to figure it out when you actually play.
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Mongoose
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 01:01am 

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AniThyng wrote:
In Civ V when you capture a city you have 3 options

1) Annex it - you gain full control of the city + a heavy happiness penalty that can be mitigated by courthouses or social policies
2) Puppet it - the city is counted as part of you empire, you can garrison it and gain tax income etc, but cannot control it's production - AI will build infrastructure but not units - minor penalties to happiness
3) Raze it - well, raze it.

Hmm actually it's a bit different in game mechanics than exactly what I remember, it's not too hard to figure it out when you actually play.


The mechanics I get, it just confuses me that razing is almost always the smarter choice for long term growth, whereas intuitively, I would think razing is just good for plundering an area where you can't actually settle, like when you take a city but they're about to take it back.

I'm playing the Romans right now and I went "liberty" for my first ideology, and this time around I'm having less difficulty expanding and conquering - and even keeping - a few cities.

I find it weird that the AI denounces you for being aggressive towards people they asked you to attack. I mean, I would get it if they sent you "hey I want some of the spoils!" demand if you conquered some cities, but the constant barrage of denunciations and hostility, though often deserved, is also very often irrational or just weird.
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AniThyng
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 02:19am 

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That really depends, for cities in area I dont care about it actually might be better to puppet it rather than put your own not optimal city there especially if you want to keep your core city count low
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Simon_Jester
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 03:18am 

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Purple wrote:
Quote:
Purple, you seem to like Civ V a lot and find it intuitive and fun to play. Does your experience match my description above? If so, do you have strategies that let you win, and if so what are they? Do they match up with what real life civilizations might do, in broad terms?
I think you have my position wrong. I hate CIV V and find it to be an unintuitive mess and the worst of the series.
[blinks]

I could have sworn... okay, I'm remembering something from a previous thread, and remembering it completely wrong.

Tribble wrote:
Oh, you can certainly win without razing every city to the ground if you don't mind playing a game where your so called "friends" constantly denounce and/or declare war on you. The A.I. is incapable of handling 1UPT on a hex grid properly so fending off its attacks is pretty easy, even if you are heavily outnumbered.
There's something very perverse about the idea of a game where the AI routinely attacks you for no reason, but it's okay, because the AI can't fight its way out of a paper bag.

Quote:
You can win via cultural / diplomatic victories, which I suppose is more "traditional" than slaughtering everyone who annoys you. The strategy for both of them is pretty straight forward.

If you are going for a cultural victory (through tourism) then have enough cities and build enough cultural improvements to overwhelm your opponents' culture. Using your great persons to create great works of art will expedite the process (though I tend to use great writers to add points towards my social policies).

If you want to win via diplomacy, build up a big enough economy to simply bribe all of your opponents and city states into voting for you. Like in the real world, giving someone a nice big wad of cash will work wonders in Civ 5.
Now, these are fairly sensible and intuitive victory conditions- as long as they can realistically be met without razing every civilization on your continent for lebensraum.

Mongoose wrote:
I find it weird that the AI denounces you for being aggressive towards people they asked you to attack. I mean, I would get it if they sent you "hey I want some of the spoils!" demand if you conquered some cities, but the constant barrage of denunciations and hostility, though often deserved, is also very often irrational or just weird.
This ties back into the general observation (discussed in the article linked earlier) that the Civ V diplomatic AI is... neurotic. They ask you to do X, but actually doing X creates a situation that bothers them, and there's no preprogrammed exception to say "we don't mind you doing X if that's what we asked you to!"

Supposedly it's programmed to think like a human. The problem is that humans intuitively use concepts like 'fairness.' And humans remember past relations with a person, and let that influence future relations, rather than recalculating whether or not it's logical to pursue the relationship on a day to day basis.

From what I understand, the designers wanted to model nations with human-like behavior. What they actually got is a model that pictures each country as a single, isolated decision-maker who is constantly reevaluating his nation's 'best interests' in short-sighted pseudo-realpolitik terms.

It sounds kind of like having nations played by those backstabbing violence-fetishizing dickheads who pop up on Internet forums to speculate about how to MAXIMIZE EMPERIAL HEGEMONY by making TOUGH CHOICES that coincidentally involve slaughtering millions of people; we had a few of those around here a year or two ago.

The problem is that such people do not (at least in terms of their politics) act the way a normal human intuitively expects other normal humans to behave.
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Alferd Packer
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 07:54am 

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Tribble wrote:
As for social policies, they depend on the Civ. For example, you would tend to choose Tradition over Liberty for India because India is best suited for having a few, large cites rather than expanding rapidly. If you are playing a warmonger like the Huns or the Mongels then tradition is an obvious choice. If you are playing a Civ which benefits from city states then Patronage would be a good choice etc. Not that these strategies are locked in stone (for example, if you are playing a game with an aggressive A.I. and raging barbarians you might want to take Honour even if you are a peaceful Civ) but matching policies to civs' effects tends to be more efficient.


Couple things:

Tradition is the best opening policy track in the game. Period, end of story. The bonuses to culture and growth are staggeringly good, and at higher difficulties, almost necessary to have a good shot at winning. Because they had to nix ICS (infinite city spam) as a tactic between vanilla and G&K, Liberty is nowhere near as good, and aside from a few tenets, Honor is meh. Piety is next to useless unless you're taking a very specific approach to the game; you can win on Deity with a Piety opener, but it's a very specific strategy with no room for deviation.

As for India, its UU is such that they're actually one of the best civs for playing wide. The break-even point for the extra unhappiness you get for founding a city occurs at 6 population, meaning that if you have more than 6 pop in all of your cities, you will have less base unhappiness than any other civ with the same number of cities.
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Mongoose
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 01:20pm 

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Simon_Jester wrote:
Mongoose wrote:
I find it weird that the AI denounces you for being aggressive towards people they asked you to attack. I mean, I would get it if they sent you "hey I want some of the spoils!" demand if you conquered some cities, but the constant barrage of denunciations and hostility, though often deserved, is also very often irrational or just weird.
This ties back into the general observation (discussed in the article linked earlier) that the Civ V diplomatic AI is... neurotic. They ask you to do X, but actually doing X creates a situation that bothers them, and there's no preprogrammed exception to say "we don't mind you doing X if that's what we asked you to!"

Supposedly it's programmed to think like a human. The problem is that humans intuitively use concepts like 'fairness.' And humans remember past relations with a person, and let that influence future relations, rather than recalculating whether or not it's logical to pursue the relationship on a day to day basis.

From what I understand, the designers wanted to model nations with human-like behavior. What they actually got is a model that pictures each country as a single, isolated decision-maker who is constantly reevaluating his nation's 'best interests' in short-sighted pseudo-realpolitik terms.

It sounds kind of like having nations played by those backstabbing violence-fetishizing dickheads who pop up on Internet forums to speculate about how to MAXIMIZE EMPERIAL HEGEMONY by making TOUGH CHOICES that coincidentally involve slaughtering millions of people; we had a few of those around here a year or two ago.

The problem is that such people do not (at least in terms of their politics) act the way a normal human intuitively expects other normal humans to behave.


That pretty much sums up their behavior. Is this worse than in the rest of the series? I liked the AI in SMAC - it had problems with agreeing to end wars and it was almost impossible to repair your relationship with them if it went sour no matter what you did, but there at least a few things you could rely on and use to your advantage. Have a compatible ideology and faction really helped, making it possible to build coalitions centered on this (my favorite was Greens + Peacekeepers + University), and it even gave their unreasonable aggression some predictability and rationality: if you're the University, expect the Believers to attack you at some point if you share a boarder; if you're Morgan, expect to have problems with the Greens. Also, unlike in Civ 5, attacking someone's enemy at their behest was actually a good way to build your relations with them.

When I first played Civ 5, I played a quick game with one of my friends in hotseat mode, and since I was new, I followed his suggestions pretty closely. I actually completely loved it at first, especially the hex tiles and the ideology tracks. It's really only been confusing me now that I've tried playing a bunch of other games where I've tried other things and they just seem to not work. Compared to SMAC it feels like you have way fewer viable options.

Then again, SMAC had its share of optimal strategies, like how trees were generally the best improvement to make.
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Tribble
PostPosted: 2014-06-09 08:32pm 

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Alferd Packer wrote:
Tribble wrote:
As for social policies, they depend on the Civ. For example, you would tend to choose Tradition over Liberty for India because India is best suited for having a few, large cites rather than expanding rapidly. If you are playing a warmonger like the Huns or the Mongels then tradition is an obvious choice. If you are playing a Civ which benefits from city states then Patronage would be a good choice etc. Not that these strategies are locked in stone (for example, if you are playing a game with an aggressive A.I. and raging barbarians you might want to take Honour even if you are a peaceful Civ) but matching policies to civs' effects tends to be more efficient.


Couple things:

Tradition is the best opening policy track in the game. Period, end of story. The bonuses to culture and growth are staggeringly good, and at higher difficulties, almost necessary to have a good shot at winning. Because they had to nix ICS (infinite city spam) as a tactic between vanilla and G&K, Liberty is nowhere near as good, and aside from a few tenets, Honor is meh. Piety is next to useless unless you're taking a very specific approach to the game; you can win on Deity with a Piety opener, but it's a very specific strategy with no room for deviation.

As for India, its UU is such that they're actually one of the best civs for playing wide. The break-even point for the extra unhappiness you get for founding a city occurs at 6 population, meaning that if you have more than 6 pop in all of your cities, you will have less base unhappiness than any other civ with the same number of cities.


Upon further reflection, I agree. Tradition is by far the best one to start with over Liberty / Piety. I'd still say that Honour is the best choice if you are a warlike civ like the Mongols, Huns, Aztecs etc and are planning on warring early. The cultural (and later gold) bonus for slaughtering units left right and centre is nothing to sneeze at (especially if you are Montezuma), and you will be able to quickly fill the tree if you war often. You'll also be able to easily plow through any barbarians on the way to your opponents (while getting a culture bonus!). The rest of the tree is not as important as the initial effect, although it will certainly help in your war effort.

You also might want to consider Patronage if you are a civ that gets bonuses from city-states, though it might still be best to complete Tradition first.

As for India, while it's true that it can play a wide Empire, that doesn't mean its best suited for rapid expansion. Unless you have access to a bunch of luxuries early on India simply cannot expand as fast as other civs (apart from Venice, which cannot directly expand at all ). And I agree that while you can eventually have a large sprawling empire, I find that having a few megacities is usually more than enough to win. I guess India is good for both tall and wide empires.
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PainRack
PostPosted: 2014-06-21 04:27am 

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Razing cities to the ground will also earn you a much more hefty diplomatic penalty than simply capturing them, even as war monger. The difference is that penalty isn't applied world wide while war monger is.


Having said that..... war monger can be sidestepped by simply being allies in a war and having same ideology.


I like to point out that on lower difficulties or if playing cultural, liberty combined with explorer can be a very powerful tool that allows for city spam, especially on islands maps....
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Coaan
PostPosted: 2014-06-21 05:43am 

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Personally I tend to prefer liberty over tradition for starting policies because I tend to go in for the free settler/worker combination early on and the free great person (prophet) from completing liberty is great for starting up a religion early on

It's really hard to argue with decent expansion speed that Liberty provides, especially since it will also reduce the required production costs for workers and settlers just by taking those policies.

For wonder whoring, tradition is hands down awesome though.
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PainRack
PostPosted: 2014-06-22 10:26am 

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Shrugs.. liberty at high difficulties is quite subpar... Again, unless playing archipelago and exploration.

Combine that with communism and cultural victory for fun.. you won't need to chase wonders if you play the religion card right, although some form of theming or world congress resolutions speed up the game.

Alternatively,if your civ gets to have tons of gold, be it from trade to war, you can choose Freedom for more great works and Shit.
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Alferd Packer
PostPosted: 2014-07-02 12:27pm 

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Yeah, on lower difficulties (Prince and below) you can do whatever you like and still reliably win. On King you need to be ready to win by around 2030 or so, Emperor around 2000, Immortal 1950, and Deity around 1850-1900, depending on the circumstances of the game.
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