Thursday, October 14, 2010

Civilization V - Flawless Strategy

After beating Civ V fairly comfortably on King, I cranked it all the way up to Deity to see what strategies were going to work, and whether the AI improved any more from a pretty lacklustre showing so far. The plan was to go for a diplomatic Greek victory on a duel map so that there were less city states to deal with. I had tried a number of starts, one going pretty well against Siam until a couple of city-states were mysteriously annexed without being attacked (is there a buyout once you get them past allied?). I had also noted that even on duel maps, the space allocated for each player's expansion is more or less the same, so the game doesn't compress that much apart from making the world a bit easier to totally explore.

In the new setup, I chose archapeligos to limit the land mass for the AI expansion, and add another AI as well as a couple more city-states. There was a danger that I may not be able to control all the city-states, but I was a little afraid that some might be culled or absorbed into the AI monolith.

I needed to restart a couple of times to get a feel for the archapeligo layout, and to look for a start that I thought would take me to the end (plus being one of the more enjoyable parts of the game, starting out afresh with optimistic hopes of what the fog would reveal). Finally settled on a small river with 2 fish, marble and silk in sight. Turned out later to also have 4 fish in total as well as whales. Really was an ideal location in terms of special squares for the capital.

With a good idea that I'd be on an island by myself, I went immediately for the worker and left the initial warrior to mop up any barbarians. Milked a couple of them for added XP, but eventually swept the island clear. I'd rushed calendar first to get the worker occupied in opening up the resources, then pushed through fishing and optics to get my lonely warrior out and about.

On the next island over was England, but I noticed a peninsula projcting toward me that had dyes on it. My settler was enroute to a somewhat ordinary 2nd site on my island, so I diverted him to the peninsula to pinch the resource. My philosophy is that any new happy resource is worth a city, a legacy tactic from Civ4 that still seems appropriate.

With me in their back yard, England wasn't exactly chummy. By the time I had my 3rd city placed back on my continent, England was amassing at the borders. I'd scouted a fair bit of the map through an early trireme and had met most of the city-states, but none close were militaristic AND providing a resource I didn't have. England had also bagged 2 allies by this stage and had 2 main cities (~12,8) with 2 new ones on a seperate island.

It was a little suprising that Siam led off the combat, but both of us were significantly down on England's score. I'd jumped in on Siam's request, but soon was alone after Siam bailed at the first chance. My peninsula city was regularly surrounded, but I always seemed to have enough to pick off the melee units with only 2 land units and the trireme. The peninsula worked in my favour as there was only space for 2 units at a time to progress down from London, and one space was holed up by an archer unit. This forced wave after wave of units into the water for a simple trireme cleanup. After about 50 turns we still had control of the peninsula city and had killed at least 1 unit a turn for the entire battle with our 3 units. England sued for peace a couple of times demanding I give away just about everything, so it may not have dawned on the AI that I'm actually pretty happy with the current war. I'm raking in the experience, I'm not in any real danger, and I know that England is spending the majority of their Deity bonuses on making units.

Seeking some allies I signed up one of the city-states, but it turned out to be a poor choice as it simply made an them easy target for England to pick on instead of me. England had just researched their longbow archers for additional devastation, but unfortunately didn't support with a serious melee army. Once the city-state had wiped out the solitary melee unit in the attack, the rest of the archers ringed the city and rained arrows from afar. The ring couldn't let any other units in though, so the City-state sat at a near-destroyed state for the rest of the battle (another 50 turns or so)

England finally came to their senses and gave very favourable terms for peace. I'd contemplated continuing the war, but the appearance of cannons was more a deciding factor in signing than the promise of 20 gold per turn.

With so much fish and the Colossus of Rhodes, I'd been highly cash positive throughout the war and had managed to snag a couple more city-states onto my side. Now with peace through the land I teched hard to education, then back to the technology dregs to push exclusively for the United Nations. England went on an expansion spree at one point, settling any outcrop of land to take them out past 9 cities. I'd contemplated restarting the war to puppet the 2 colonies on my island, but Siam wasn't interested in starting up hostilities again and I'm sure I'd have lost something somewhere else (likely one of the city-states) in the process. We settled for puppeting one of the hostile city-states that happened to provide ivory, the only resource I needed from England.

By the time I finally got the Scholasticism bonus from the Patronage social policy, I had all 6 remaining city-states allied away. Scholasticism more than doubled my research, which was by that stage par with the AI anyway. We hit Globalization by the late 1850's and had a capital primed to build the UN in 11 turns.

Once I had built the UN, I'd prepared for war as I was expecting some fireworks from the AI now that I was so close to victory. Alas the AI was happy signing up for more research while the final 10 turns of the game ticked by. The rigged election in 1878 proclaimed me diplomatic winner with little fanfare...

Overall I'm fairly happy with he game. The start was excellent and it certainly felt like the long battle in the middle should have wiped me if the AI had any tactical awareness. If I'd known how powerful scholasticism was to this type of strategy I'd have pushed a little harder to get it earlier and possibly had the UN by the late 1700's. The game was running really slowly toward the end (much slower than even some of the larger maps) so I'm not particularly looking for a repeat outing any time soon.

Now that I've got that game out of my system I feel better about checking out the modding sections. I have a partially complete huge map of Australia to polish up and release, but I'm more keen on modding up an enhanced AI, a storymaker / exporter, a random terrain generator, and a per city happiness mod.