The beauty of Civ III:Conquests is there is no need to download any program nor set up accounts so getting online is easy. Simply click Multiplayer game and then click Online and your in.
There are two ways of occupying the lobby, either by using the game or by using Gamespy (GS). Gamespy is a very useful lobby tool it allows you to private message (PM) other Gamespy users, check what players are currently in the lobby, mute annoying players, see what players are currently starting games and add friendly players to buddy lists. Conquests lobby is very simple allowing you to see players games, start and join games, connect directly by IP, or switch connection to LAN.
Joining a game is easy. Simply click on any open game and enter the players room. Often players may wait to collect a certain amount of players so patience in getting a game setup is important.
We've all been here. You join a game and the host asks you if you are ladder. You reply no and you are asked to leave . What is a ladder? Why can't a new player play in a ladder? Are they elitist? No. The ladder is a league of online multiplayers who use win/loss reports to keep players from quitting games due to bad land, no resources, etc. If a ladder player allows you into their game he/she has no guarantee that you will not quit. It's free and easy to sign up and you find games are more rewarding using this style of play.
Ok now its time to decide what sort of game you will play. Multiplayers have broaden their horizons quit a bit so simply choosing ancient start games are a thing of the past. Now there are several choices like Quick Civ, Medieval start, Industrious Start, Modern Start, Future Start, UU Madness (All civs are capable of building any UU depending on what resources, strategic and luxury, they hold...for instance anyone can build a Jaguar Warrior if you hold Wine.) , One city challenge, CTON, Team Games, FFA, etc. A couple things you can count on for any game is that they game will use Simultaneous Moves and accelerated production. Both are important for making a game as short and fun as possible.
Ok we have decided to play the most popular online style; an ancient game, acc production, pangea, one city elimination normal point system and 90 turns. Ancient era starts will usually never get far beyond early medieval techs...perhaps one or two techs, so now we must decide on what civ we should chose. Which is the most powerful? First lets see what sort of traits will be useful in the ancient era.
Agricultural: Basically the dominant trait in the ancient era. Players without this trait will have a hard time keeping up with players who do. Its ability to grant an extra food per turn for each city built near a fresh water terrain square adds up over 90 turns. Also it's ability to make use of desert is a huge advantage of being able to overcome poor starts. Drawbacks are if you find yourself without a river or lake you basically now have a one trait civ.
Industrious: Still a popular trait even though it was somewhat hamstringed from its glory in the PTW days. Still over time this trait is dominant over non-industrious civs. Drawbacks are workers are cheap and a non-industrious civ can overcome their shortcomings by simply increasing its workers, also since it is rare for civs in a 90 turn game to switch governments you do not receive your shield bonus.
Religious: Cheap temples = more points = good. Drawbacks are that rarely does anyone change governments so the 1 turn anarchy is lost.
Militaristic: Cheap barracks, faster unit promotions, and a higher percent of gaining a military leader all excellent benefits. Drawbacks are in acc production barracks can be population rushed with one shield for any civ.
Expansionist: The gamblers trait. This can be the most powerful or most worthless trait in the game. Expansionist is good for getting an early feel for the terrain, quickly finding enemies, find strategic resources, pop early settlers, techs, and friends. Drawbacks are if you find your self on an island, in a huge jungle and goody huts only gives you maps or conscript warriors then your trait has become worthless.
Commercial: This traits main purpose in Ancient start is getting an early b-line for philosophy since it starts with Alpha. Drawbacks are since it takes awhile to develop your cities the gold bonus is short lived and the reduced corruption is almost unnoticeable.
Scientific: Cheap libraries, free techs, and increased SGL chance...nuff said. Drawbacks are if you find yourself in a gold crunch you may have to shut off your research and thus losing any advance you have.
Seafaring: Early naval 4 movement is very powerful along with extra commerce for coastal cities. Drawbacks are that Seafaring isn't paired up with a good civ combination for the ancient era. Carthage and Netherlands are decent civs but Carthage without being agricultural and with an expensive UU often falls behind in development while Netherlands UU comes far too late.
Ok now we have gone over the traits lets look at what civs bring it together the best. For time sake I will only go over the 8 most popular civ choices for online multiplayer games.
Sumeria A spear for the price of a warrior is an incredible advantage...what makes it worse for sumeria's enemies is this civ is also agricultural. This is thee most dominant civ in Multiplayerdom and is often the first civ to be selected. They are impervious to early jag or chasqui rushes and make excellent choking instruments. The strategy with this civ is to expand like crazy...build nothing but workers, settlers, enkidu and archers. With Sumeria you will have 20 cities while other players have 10. Drawbacks are inability to chose when to have your Golden Age (GA). A player can attack your enkidu while you have one or two city giving you a weak GA and basically ruin your production for the rest of the game.
Aztecs Not the unstoppable early threat they once were but still the second best civ in the game. Cheap barracks and fast growth can in the right hands make this civ a powerhouse. There are varying strategies to use the Aztecs, you can build a handful of Jaguars Warriors and go for an early kill (remember all you need is to take one city), or sit back and use your Jaguar Warriors for a sentinel net then trigger your GA in a timely manner. Drawbacks are early GA's and the Jaguar Warrior becomes an obsolete military weapon eventually.
Celts Can you say Gallics? With the decrease in cost of the Gallic Swordsman the Celts are now one of the most powerful civs in Conquests. With proper development and the correct resource you can utterly dominate a game. The popular strategy with this civ is to play defensively early, build cities, develop your land in preparation for a mid game GA. Drawbacks are if you find yourself without iron you have a toothless civ.
Iroquois A cheap three attack 2 movement UU is nothing to sneeze at. Iroq is often played in the same manner as the Celts. The commercial trait gives you a free shot at philosophy. Drawbacks are without horse you are also gumming your food and MountedWarrior defense is only a 1 and a stack of archers and warriors can make your life a living hell.
Inca A lot of debate over the usefulness of this civ however it is often the third most popular civ. The traits are what make this civ and the ability to chose either an early or later GA. The drawbacks are the expensive and weak traits of the Chasqui Scout and inability to build cheaper scouts. Not to mention the expansionist trait runs its course after about 40 turns.
Zulu The Impi is a terrifying foe if he finds you unprepared. The militaristic trait and the retreat ability of the impi means you'll be seeing plenty of elite units . The drawbacks are this civ is not agricultural so he will not be able to keep up with the other civs in development. If zulu finds himself without a close nieghbor he has lost his advantage entirely.
Maya This is one of the most underrated civs in the multiplayer world. Often near last to be picked due to its near worthless UU it more than makes up for it in its traits. Increased growth and faster production means you can out build ANYONE. The drawbacks is as mentioned its weak UU. So what that means is you have to rely on ancient units like horsemen or swordsmen which both fall short of either MWs or Gallics.
Egypt O how the mighty have fallen. Once the coveted civ of MPers it is now a trash can pick. For Egyptian players it is a must to attack a neighbor as soon as possible since attempting to out develop an agricultural civ is futile. Drawbacks is without horse you are worthless. You will not be able to keep up with your agricultural neighbors and all you can do is hope that other civs will be killed before they come for you .
For this I will simply reference a friends strategy article here.
So you wanna learn how to build 20, 40, 80, 160 unit stacks? Well I'm about to unveil some secrets of some seasoned veteran MPers.
First thing you need to build the Mega stack is an agricultural civ. The extra food is a must in order to get your city sizes up. You will also need fresh water to plant subsequent cities in order to get their sizes up or b-line for aqueducts. For the mega stack player (MSP) early granaries are a must and should be the only improvement he builds for the time being. For now the MSP is not interested in warfare and should build a good sentinel net capable of detecting any invading army.
From these granary cities the MSP will build early workers and settlers...his goal is by 1700-1500 b.c. to have 10-15 or more cities and all workable tiles improved with mines on grassland and irrigation on plains and desert. Don't bother mining hills or mtns since you will not receive any bonus in GA...also do not bother mining or irrigating bonus grassland since again in a despotism you do not receive any bonus for improving this land during a GA (In team games in which you have research help it is possible to reach monarchy but it is rarely done unless you are religious).
At about 2000 b.c. build a barracks in your capital and in one or two other cities and hook up your resource and begin to build warriors or chariots (depending on which unit you are looking to upgrade). Cut off research and save money. With well worked tiles and high city sizes you should be able to save a good sum of money. At or near 1700 b.c begin building barracks and temples in all your cities and by 1500 b.c. you should trigger your GA. If you did this right (and it will take some practice) You should be able to upgrade 10-20 units and begin building 5-10 units a turn. After 10 turns you should have near 80 to a 100 units. Go forth and destroy .
Multiplayer is becoming increasingly popular as the patches become more stable. Another popular way of playing by joining a ladder which gives you a rank among other players. After playing hours of online I have developed a series of strategies to help you win a greater number of games .
First thing you have to consider is most games are played with a time limit. Usually about two and a half hours is the standard with three hours being the longest among most people. Knowing this you have to realize that you will not get much beyond Ancient Age if you pass it at all. So you have to throw out your single player strategy and conform to a strategy that gives you the best possible advantage in the shortest possible time.
What kind of game are you playing??? The general setup for MP and ladder games are Pangea, Regent, Elimination, Tiny or small (depending on number of players) but these do change from group to group so understand how your strategy will work for each style of game. For example elimination games should be played different than a normal game.
Increased warfare... Especially in ladder games you will rarely spend the entire game at peace. Trust noone even if you are offered an alliance...especially if they offer you an alliance. If you are a peaceful builder you may have trouble playing online.
Who should I play with..? I would recommend playing with an civ with ancient age UU. Mainly because they give you the greatest chance of getting a golden age. Other than it is up to you and your style but I found that Egypt (for points) and Carthage (for elimination) are the best civs. Persia is second but if you find yourself without iron your S.O.L.
In the beginning... The start location can make or break your game but remember a bad location does not mean all is lost. Even if you start behind in points you can always recover given enough time. Develop an opening sequence of play that is the most efficient...DO NOT WASTE A TURN OF PRODUCTION This may seem obvious but if it takes 4 turns for your city to reach size 3 and 3 turns to build a settler you will have wasted a turn of production.
First turn.. Build your city immediately do not waste time looking for a more suitable location if you do you will fall behind in points. Start locations can be overcome. After building your city and putting your worker to work quickly get to your science advisor and click on a tech you wish to research (I recommend Bronze working for elimination games and Ceremonial Burial for all others). Then as quick as you can get to your domestic advisor and move your research to 90 percent. This will give you a turn advantage in techs. I usually begin by building 3 warriors 2 of which I send as scout. Then I build a settler. I then build two more warriors (or spearman if I have bronze working) then another settler..Under no circumstances should you send a settler alone...you lose valuable points if he is killed or your city is destroyed by another player. Do not build improvements
Pack em tight Build your cities very close to one another only about three squares away if possible. Rarely will your city get beyond size 6 unless it is by a river...even then this style can support a few size 12 cities. This close building will help in defense of your empire (important in elimination games) and also in corruption. Make sure you have a good supply of workers going to help with infrastructure. Again you must be able to create the greatest amount of production in the shortest amount of time. Never spread your cities too far and never leave a city unprotected. Make sure you have at least one defender (spearman) and one attacker (archer, horseman, or swordsman). A popular tactic is for a player to move a spearman or 3 defense UU through your empire destroying roads, mines, and irrigation. If you don't have an attacker you may get caught with your pants down. Don't worry about barracks or temples until you have build the number of cities you are comfortable with. After which you may pop rush both the temple and barracks (granaries in towns by a river otherwise don't bother). Then concentrate on your military.
Techs only a few techs are vitally important in a MP game. Again you will often only play a short time and in ladder games other players will rarely trade techs with you unless you are playing teams or have an alliance. Even so as your army increases in size your ability to research will diminish so my advice is to pick 4 or 5 techs you absolutely need then forget about the rest. After researching your techs immediately switch all your resources into luxuries. Again this will help your score.
governments NEVER change your government...even if you decide you want the hanging gardens do not change over another government since you will waste valuable time in anarchy which could make or break your game. Even if your religious I've found that no other government can handle the large army your bound to posses as Despotism can. Plus the pop rush is second to none.
Bait and switch Elimination is a very popular mode of play since even someone who is far behind can win if they build a proper military. One tactic I like to use is very effective. Build two armies with stacks of swordsman (if possible) and another with horseman or archers (cheaper). Move up to one side of the player's empire with your cheaper military and draw his military to that side. Then sweep around with your swordsman to his most recent city on the other side and watch him squirm.
The Rush/ The Choke A popular strategy within the online community is do a Aztec or Zulu rush. I have to admit that I would find myself falling victim to it and it seemed undefendable.
The Strategy For those who aren't familiar, The Rush or Choke is when early in the game another player sends a large stack of Jaguar Warriors or Impi to destroy you or serious hinder your progress.
How to defend it may seem tempting to build spearman at the beginning of the game and I use to do this as well...but as I found out this only makes the situation worse. Look at the units that are involved in the rush they posses a one attack while spearman have the ability to defend well enough it is doubtful you will counter attack with them (one they are expensive and two you won't have many)...which brings me to my next point, Warriors are cheaper and you can build more cheaply than spearman (20 v 10 shield).
The Scenario (Jaguar Rush) A group of 5 to eight Jag comes into your territory and unless your retarded you know he's coming for you. As most games played online are elimination (if you lose one city you lose the game) that city must be defended...hopefully you have build roads connecting your other city or cities. Pop rush a wall quickly and fortify those 3 or 4 warriors you have already premade. Move any spare units into that city and fortify...this may leave your other cities lightly or undefended but that's a risk your going to have to take since you cannot lose that city. By now you should have at least 4 to 5 warriors fortified (+25%) if you were smart you built your city on a hill (+50 %), and the wall gives another (+50 %). So now instead of a 1 defender warrior you have 5 2.25 defenders. So the Defender has a 92.3 percent chance of winning (Spearman have a 98 percent only 6 percent increase). The attack happens and he loses about 2 to 4 jag warriors with only 2 to 4 left (jags have retreat ability)...so now you can clean up with the other warriors you have and have built during that turn. Again even though spearman are a tempting choice in this situation you lose a kind of flexibility.
Impi Choke Impi rush is generally an entirely different and less scary strategy but still effective...This strategy is based on keeping an opponent from expanding by destroying roads, mines, etc and to get them too scared to build any settlers. Again this strategy is thwarted by (sound of bugle) THE WARRIOR. The imp is more expensive than a jag so expect only 2 or 3 to come into your territory and you should always have about 3 or 4 warriors in a city at a given time. So pop rush that wall (if you haven't built it) to deter an attack and move your warriors to defend your mines and roads...You may think "I gotta get an archer out" not so fast because before you can he will kill himself attacking your warriors or at least hurt himself greatly (remember you still get bonuses for terrain and fortify). So now if he's not dead he's hurt and you can clean up with the other warriors you have built or have defending. Luck plays a part and he may get to an improvement (that two move is deadly) but he won't be their for long with this strategy.