How I Play Civ2

How I Play Civ2

Author: Alan Nicoll (Homepage)

Editor’s Note: Alan Nicoll‘s How I Play Civ2 is the most comprehensive Civilization II strategy article I have seen. Not only does it contain detailed strategy against the AI, there are also TONS of excellent advice for winning multiplayer games against human players. Compared to Marc Fisher’s Fire! – Making War in Civilization II (also an excellent article), How I play Civ2 takes a more practical approach, while Fire! emphasizes more on conceptual and philosophical aspects of the game. I strongly recommend this article to both newbies and veterans of the game.   ~ Thunderfall


Introduction: Choice of Overall Strategy

My overall plan, whether against the computer or against human players, at any difficulty level, is to grow my civilization as quickly as possible by building settlers and founding many new cities, not taking time for irrigation, mines, extensive roads, granaries, or Ancient Wonders (except I go for the Pyramids at deity level). I also work to advance my technology as fast as possible to get, first, an improved government, and second, important military technologies and the later wonders. I then will be in position to conquer the world or build the spaceship. Of course, all plans may go awry, which is one reason I find this wonderful game remains playable after ten years or more of intense involvement.

Growth in civilization works like compounding interest. A fast start and efficient management, plus some luck, should let you hold your own in a "standard" 2x2x king-level multiplayer game; deity level AI is often tougher in the early stages. The most serious problem is lack of good land; sometimes you just have to quit and start over, or be content with a long uphill struggle.

I think it is important to have a general strategy or plan of play, largely because it forces you to think in general terms rather than floating from specific choice to specific choice. General plans and ideas can be refined and improved; specific choices will mostly be forgotten. Three basic strategies are discussed in this document, all dealing with how to start a game. Later decisions are mostly made opportunistically.

Difficulty Level and Production/Movement

When talking about how to play, it’s important to specify the game conditions: vs. AI at Deity level, or vs. human players. The main difference I’ve found between playing against deity-level computer and human players on the net is that human players are more likely to attack very early, on first contact (which I consider stupid except, naturally, in a 2-player game), and are more likely to build carefully to an overwhelming surprise attack that really hurts and maybe wins the game (which is smart, and something the AI can’t do). Human players also pursue critical wonders more effectively, forcing you to do so as well.

Because the game takes a long time, internet games are likely not to be at deity level; king level with double production is the most popular. Normal production and movement are, in general, to be preferred because the game was designed with them in mind. 2x2x introduces anomalies that distort the design of the game, but it is certainly playable and enjoyable. Double production speeds up growth and acquisition of technology. Double movement, which is also a common internet option, allows quicker exploration and earlier contact with other civilizations, but also changes the relative value of the pieces (Catapults become monster Chariots and greatly reduce the value of Pikemen). When playing at king level, citizen unrest is much less of a problem than at deity level; other differences seem very much less important.

I now play on the Internet almost exclusively. When I used to play vs the computer, I would play on a large map, because I like to build and build with minimum outside interference, as well as to go for a large score. Against human opponents, a small map is the more likely choice, to reduce game length and get earlier contact.

My Three Strategies

  • In the usual multiplayer internet game, which most often is at double production, double movement (called 2x2x), King level, I pursue what I call the Early PDS strategy: President’s Day Sale under Republic. This is as much a technique as a strategy; the population-pumping can happen in any game when Republic or Democracy is the government. The Early PDS strategy aims to make this happen as soon as possible, taking "reasonable risks" to speed growth and the research for Republic. This strategy has won me many games against some good players, and, because it starts militarily weak, has lost me some games against strongly militaristic human opponents. For the strategy to work, a long period of comparatively peaceful growth is needed at the start, such as is possible under low density conditions. As well, high trade is important to quick discovery of the Republic technology. If the initial start looks unpromising for high trade, I would give serious thought to one of the other strategies, reserving a later PDS for when conditions were right.
  • Against the computer at Deity-level I pursue a slower but less risky plan based on Monarchy and the Pyramids. This is less risky because more defensive military units are built to keep cities out of revolt. Early PDS at Deity level is impossible. It is usually necessary to defer Republic until the Michelangelo’s Chapel wonder is obtained. Then the PDS stratagem can be tried to pump up city size. This will be more important if the Pyramids are not acquired.
  • As an alternative to the above strategies, I consider a Maximum Growth and War strategy based on exploitation of AI Civs. I have little experience with this, so most of this document assumes one of the above strategies.

A good strategy should lead to won games, and should also be fun to play. Many more strategies have been devised, some better than these, perhaps. A good source for ideas is the Civilization Fanatics website.

Deity Level Against the Computer and How to Start a Game

Many of the ideas in this section will apply regardless of opening strategy or difficulty level.

Building the Capital

Locating the capital is often a hard decision. You want to start as fast as possible, but you also want as good a location as possible. At double production I will go after whales, given the chance, because high trade early brings tech in a hurry, and the extra shields builds settlers quicker. The food production is reduced compared to fishes or wheat, but I find that the extra shields compensate for this very well. However, going for whales may also mean that the capital is a port city, which makes it vulnerable later in the game (against human players). It might be worthwhile relocating the capital (by building a palace elsewhere) after factories are built, both for safety and to minimize corruption, but I’ve rarely or never done this. And since I normally build most of my wonders in the capital, moving the capital still leaves the wonders vulnerable. This is especially important for Leonardo’s Workshop, where losing it for one turn to an enemy will upgrade his units.

At 2x production a good site for the capital is on a river, because this gets you an extra trade arrow compared to building on grassland, as well as a 50% defensive bonus. At normal production, this advantage does not occur. Also, at 2x2x it often makes sense to build a road on a grassland or wheat square before building your capital on an adjacent location, because the road provides immediate additional trade. Ironically, with normal production and movement, the road is comparatively more valuable but takes longer to build and longer to move to the capital site. All this assumes, of course, that you’re stuck in grassland without rivers or whales or the other good things that would make this option unimportant.

Choice of First Tech

Your choice of which technology to research first should be determined by your overall strategy. My first choice for research is most likely going to be Alphabet, Bronze Working, or Horseback Riding. Because I have doubts about the usefulness of Horsemen for exploration and because I think Bronze Working can be delayed, my first choice these days most often will be Alphabet. Ceremonial Burial and Masonry are important tech that I will soon want, but my first goal is to improve my government to either Monarchy (at deity level) or Republic (king level multiplayer), so my first two choices will be Alphabet and Code of Laws (or Ceremonial Burial if I’m going for Monarchy, as both are needed).

If I am concerned about aggressive human players, or if I plan to build the Colossus, I may choose Bronze Working first. If I plan to try to intimidate neighboring AI, Horseback Riding is a good choice. These choices are not cut-and-dried, but rather depend on the particular parameters of the game, most notably, how crowded the map is (that is, the likelihood of early hostile contact). See the extensive discussion, "Pre-Republic Exploration: Horsemen or Warriors?", under Reconsidering Exploration, below, for my thoughts on why Horsemen are usually a poor choice for early exploration, and "Bronze Working" under Selected Technologies for reasons to delay this research.

Building the First Unit

I aim to have a second city as quickly as possible, but I want it well situated, so my first build is a Warrior unit to explore around the capital for a second city site. I think this is always worth doing regardless of the overall strategy you will be following and what subsequent builds you plan. The only other choice I would consider would be a Horseman if I already have Horseback Riding, or can get it before my first build, and if my capital is producing at least 5 shields per turn or I have enough gold to rush build the unit. After the first exploring unit is built, a Warrior unit is also necessary to keep the capital out of unrest (at deity level). At king level I’ll start building a settler immediately after the exploration unit, not worrying about defensive units until later.

Tech and Exploration

After the first exploring unit and Settler are built, then I may build a second Warrior or a Phalanx for crowd control (deity) and to defend the capital. In this early play I worry very little about defending, taking great risks to get more Settlers, more land, and more goody huts. Slow and steady at this stage is a sure way to poor scores. But at deity level, keeping cities out of disorder is essential, and tricky. Depending on the timing of growth and shield production, I may build a second Warrior or a Horseman to help with exploration, or a second Settler, before building a defensive unit. Extra money is spent as efficiently as possible to speed expansion. See the extensive discussion of "Rush Building" under Efficiency and Micromanagement, below.

Before building the second city, I may take the time to build a road or two for the increased trade (research), or I may get the road for free (see "Free" Roads!, below). Again this is more likely at 2x2x; at 1x1x it will less often be worth the delay.

With unlikely early contact (e.g., large map or 1x movement), I may skip Bronze Working and build more Warriors or Horsemen early. If you find enough goody huts, you’ll get "advanced tribes" or "wandering nomads" to speed your growth, more than making up for the loss of time in building explorers.

Technology is critical, and I always have my research set at maximum unless I’m in a desperate war. Once I start building factories, I’ll often greatly increase taxation to rush build factories, and go back to research after this is mostly done. If I can locate an early city by a wine, spice, gold, gems, or silk resource, I do so and sacrifice some growth and production for the extra research (especially for PDS). My first big research goal (at deity) is Monarchy. If I am first to Monarchy and also have the Pyramids, no AI civ is likely to beat me in population. Even if I’m behind early on, I’ll soon overtake them. This is one way I’ve sometimes gotten ahead as a late comer to a multiplayer game on the net, but the PDS Strategy (see below) is way more powerful at 2x2x king level. The technology path I follow for PDS is very different, so I’ll say no more about it here.

More Cities

For managing the growth of cities I typically rely on very few military units, one or two per city (maybe three in the capital) and build Temples to keep order. This works well with the Chapel, which allows transition to Republic at deity level, or reduction to 0% luxuries at king level. As much as possible I like to devote one or two cities with high shield production to building military units for all the other cities as this allows me to have veterans while economizing on barracks. I usually start this when I have 3 or 4 cities; I can then delay building defensive units in subsequent new cities in order to get veterans from this city. Unfortunately, at normal movement this is often too slow, and military units have to be built before Settlers in each new city to maintain control. After factories are built (much later!) I’ll build more barracks and gear up for conquest.

When I have four or five cities working, I like to start connecting them with roads. I frequently build roads in conjunction with building new cities, in order to keep the trade flowing. With luck (notably whales, wine, gold, etc.), I can keep the technology advances rolling in every 4 turns or better through the whole game. I never do any irrigation early, it’s way too slow, preferring to use settlers for roads and new cities. It’s generally not that important to population growth until much later (Railroads), especially if I have the Pyramids. I occasionally build a city on gold or wine at 2x production–but not the capital or earliest cities, when quick growth is very important. I lost in a multiplayer game because I built my capital on wine; the research was great, but the slow growth was fatal.

When I have about five to eight cities, I definitely want them connected by roads. This is important for defense (the fewer units you have, the better mobility they need) and for getting caravans to the capital for building wonders, as well as speeding expansion of new settlers to the frontier and keeping trade (research) high. However, I generally defer the bridge building tech until it’s needed for railroads. Aside from roads, I might irrigate the occasional buffalo, or mine where there’s coal, iron, gold, or wine. An oasis I’ll either mine (with road) or build on for extra wheat.

By the time I have 5-8 cities I expect to be first in all the important demographics. Against human opponents this doesn’t always happen, of course. I’m almost always militarily weaker than the leading opponent civ, but fewer units are needed for defense than for conquest. Against human players I’m definitely more cautious about this. I don’t build city walls against AI, considering them a ridiculous waste; I build more cities. Against human players, city walls are more important, especially later on, when big invasions are possible. This is because the humans can coordinate and plan attacks much more effectively than even deity AI. When spies become available to your enemies, you might as well sell off your city walls as to have them easily destroyed.

How Much Is a Barracks Worth?

Consider the pre-Gunpowder Barracks. If a veteran unit is worth 1.5 recruit (non-veteran) units of the same type, then a Barracks is worth one 40-shield unit or two 20-shield units. This seems obvious (a Barracks costs 40 shields!) but in fact it’s interesting that it works out that way. For example, if you’re building Elephants, two veteran Elephants are as strong (as a sum of A/D factors) as three recruit Elephants, and it takes as many shields to build the Barracks and two Elephants as it takes to build three Elephants. So a Barracks is worth one Elephant or two Phalanxes, militarily speaking.

Once you’ve built the Barracks and pumped 80 shields through it, the rest is gravy; you’re making a profit. If you sell the Barracks or lose the city before you used it to build 80 shields worth of units, you’ve suffered a loss. Looked at a certain way, a Barracks in essence increases the shield yield (say that five times fast) of a city by 50%, provided those shields are used to build military units.

This analysis neglects the cost of the gold to support the Barracks, but that cost is mostly negligible. To see the negligibility, we need to consider the equivalence (or lack of same) of gold and shields. Citizen assignments in the city window provide a tradeoff of about 1 trade arrow to 1 shield. For example, an ocean square (at normal production under Despotism) provides 2 trade arrows and 2 food; a forest square provides 1 food and 2 shields; a grassland square with road and shield dimple provide 2 food, 1 shield, and 1 trade. A well-employed citizen thus produces about four units of stuff per turn. Shields are perhaps a bit harder to come by than trade, which is readily available from ocean squares, but I like the 1-to-1 factor better than, say, 1.5 trade to 1 shield.

If this is accepted, then the pre-Gunpowder Barracks can be said to cost 1 shield per turn. This is negligible compared to the 50% increase in a city’s shields (metaphorically speaking) that a Barracks provides. Considering the example of the Elephants, if the city is producing 10 shields per turn, it will take 12 turns to build 3 Elephants or a Barracks and 2 Elephants. The latter choice additionally costs 8 gold. If the city is producing 5 shields, the cost in gold naturally doubles. 16 gold isn’t much compared to the quantity of shields involved (120).

So when should you build a Barracks? Naturally, when you have the leisure to do so, and when you can use that city to build at least 80 shields worth of military units. I generally prefer to rush build the Barracks when I can, because rushing city improvements is an effective use of "excess" gold. In fact, since a Barracks can later be sold, the start-up cost is actually somewhat less than calculated above.

Where should you build a Barracks? Because the effect of a Barracks is to "increase shield production," the cities with strong shield production should get preference. This is what most people do anyway, but it’s nice to know why.

How many Barracks should you build? In general, I prefer to build all military units out of Barracks, but usually end up building a non-vet Phalanx for city defense in about half of my new cities.

Leonardo’s Workshop upgrades units, but these units lose veteran status. In other words, when you build Leonardo’s you might as well sell your Barracks unless you’re already at war, or you’re building units not likely to be upgraded soon, or ever, such as Riflemen, Cavalry, or Marines.

Building Wonders

I offer extensive general comments elsewhere in this document about the relative values of the wonders. Here I am concerned about how they work in my various strategies. Versus the computer, when I have three cities and/or settlers going, I’ll start the capital building the Pyramids or another wonder. This assumes that I’m getting good production from the capital; otherwise, I’ll build in another city. I’ll probably want a Temple in the capital to maintain order, because the capital will grow during the time it takes to build the Pyramids, so I may have to build that first. I’ll rush build the Temple, if possible. Alternatively, I’ll build extra military units in another city and send them to the capital. If I haven’t gotten Masonry by this time, I’ll start building the Colossus while researching Masonry, then switch to Pyramids. I consider it a devastating failure if another civ beats me to this wonder. When that does happen I switch to the Great Library (if I’m isolated) or Sun Tzu (if I’m not).

Regarding wonders in general, against the computer in deity level I never build the Lighthouse, Hanging Gardens, Great Wall, or Oracle, and the Colossus and Richard’s Crusade only seldom. In any case I want Michelangelo’s Chapel (which allows a painless transition to Republic), Leonardo’s Workshop, Newton’s College, Darwin’s Voyage, Bach’s Cathedral, Hoover Dam, Women’s Suffrage, and Apollo, and Magellan’s (I usually don’t get this).

Against human players, above all I want Michelangelo’s Chapel, because I’ll be playing the PDS strategy (described below) and the Chapel works great with that strategy. Because the Chapel costs as much as three Pyramids, it is less urgent to start building right away (i.e., at 3 cities), and I’ll defer starting it until I have 5 or 6 cities, probably. Also, I most likely won’t have the tech (Monotheism) when I want to start working on it, so I’ll start the Colossus as I work for the tech. I have often built the Colossus first, waiting to get Trade to help with building the Chapel, but lately I’ve realized that the Colossus is no bargain. Against humans the Great Wall is very good if war happens early, but I’d prefer Sun Tzu’s Academy (and more military units) given the choice, though I usually don’t get it because it’s someone else’s top priority. If I need the Great Wall, I’ll switch the Chapel build over, and worry about that later.

The Great Library can be important if you are playing against 3 or more other humans, though it’s better to trade tech (via Marco Polo if necessary) if you can. Against AI only, it is still important and very worthwhile, though less so than the Pyramids, I think. One difference is that the GL won’t help the AI much if you win the game easily, because you will have many tech advances that will never get to a second civ (and thus be nabbed by the GL). If you have serious struggles against AI, the GL becomes more important.

Leonardo’s and Sun Tzu don’t work well together, because upgrading via Leonardo’s loses veteran status. I consider that a small price to pay when Warriors and Phalanxes become (eventually) rookie Riflemen; as well, it’s better to get less than optimum use out of these two wonders than allow other civs to get either one. Also, the value of Barracks is reduced when you have Leonardo’s. Either sell your Barracks or build units not likely to be upgraded soon, if ever, such as Riflemen, Cavalry, and Marines.

My second goal (after the Pyramids) is to get the Great Library. When playing against the computer, I generally select 7 civs, and the value of the GL increases with more opponents. I may skip the GL if opponent civs are willing to trade tech. Libraries are worth doing, but I consider them a luxury. While trying to beat other civs to the GL after building Pyramids, I always build a few caravans, so I pursue Trade as soon as possible after getting Monarchy, unless I need military tech to fight a war right away. In the quest to be first to important wonders, I’ll sometimes use a settler or two to increase the size of my capital quickly, and spend extra cash to rush build a Temple and extra military units to maintain control. This might be most sensible when you have plenty of cities started and plenty of room to expand further; then the race to wonders becomes a higher priority. You could set a city to building settlers which then go to the capital and do a (b)uild. Another option is to have two or three cities each building wonders.

If I do build the GL, one effective use of it is to set taxes at maximum (research at minimum) and concentrate on growth and military units, using the GL and conquest as sources of tech; this is especially attractive if I’m in an early war. Otherwise I push research hard in the direction of Religion and Invention, aiming for Mike’s Chapel, Leonard’s Workshop, Gunpowder, Metallurgy, and Railroads. Along the way I switch to Republic and build the Observatory or Newton’s. An ideal situation is to have both the Chapel and Bach’s; this may let me keep luxuries at 0 while not needing Coliseums for quite a while. When I get the Chapel (deity level), I immediately switch to Republic; there’s never any reason to wait once the Chapel is built. I seldom get Adam Smith’s or Marco’s Embassy; both are valuable, but I’d rather have the religious wonders. I’m usually first to Railroads, and so usually build Darwin’s Voyage, but I doubt it’s worth the cost when I’m getting tech every 2-4 turns anyway. Using that production to build Libraries and Universities may be more cost effective, but I usually end up with Darwin’s anyway, because by the time I get railroads, other good wonders are gone, and I should get almost all the rest of the wonders if I’m careful about what others are building.

Women’s Suffrage is also very important, as it allows a painless transition from Republic to Democracy. The Statue of Liberty seems most important against human players, I think, because humans are more dangerous, and one wants more options, but information provided at the Civilization Fanatics website (and in this document) make the SOL obsolete. I have used it primarily to switch to communism when I get the espionage tech, build swarms of veteran spies, then either switch back to democracy or republic to pursue further research, like armor, or stay in communism and reduce research to go on the attack. If I am leading the tech race, I want two veteran spies in each city to defend against tech theft, plus ten or more others to investigate and sabotage enemy cities. Against deity AI, this tactic is certainly unnecessary, because the AI seldom steal tech.

Dealing with AI Civs

In early encounters with AI civs I want to trade as much tech as possible, unless I have the GL; then I don’t trade. (Trade 2 or more at a time if possible to reduce the effect on your own research.) This is another reason to explore early and extensively. AI civs are ordinarily willing to trade early; once they’ve traded with another civ, though, they’re less likely to trade with you, or you may have nothing they want. If you can contact 2 or 3 AI civs very early, you can get a great start on tech. This is very helpful toward getting a high score, but the absolute essential (at least the way I play) is plenty of room and good terrain to build many good cities.

If an AI civ demands tribute early, I’ll generally pay it to avoid war. Usually they don’t ask more than once, as my growth overtakes them; then I start demanding payback.

I try not to give Polytheism (Elephants) or Mathematics (Catapults) to a strong neighbor, unless I have to to stay out of war. Also, I won’t trade the tech needed for a wonder I’m currently building or planning to build. I learned that lesson in Civ 1. After I discover Invention, I won’t trade tech unless I’m behind.

In a multiplayer game I’ll trade tech with anyone. In a multiplayer game it’s foolish to make enemies and wise to make friends. You’re not likely to overpower anyone early; an early war is a sure way to lose out to the guy on the other side of the world who is building, building, building. You may lose the tech race and almost certainly the growth race. But since I rarely play that way, I can’t say for sure that early aggression can’t work. And, of course, in a two-player game, war is on from the beginning.

There is an exception to the early peace rule, however. If you happen to be trapped on a peninsula by an opponent and have insufficient land for about 15 good cities, or if you simply encounter an AI civ very early (when you have only a couple of cities), a quick strike with horses might eliminate an opponent who will otherwise be a constant annoyance throughout a long game. This is very risky, but sometimes the alternative is to give up and start over anyway. 15 thriving cities is something of a practical minimum; if you have fewer than that, you’ll likely be overtaken by larger civs, even on a small map. If you’re out of land and don’t have room to build 15 or more cities, better start building Triremes or go to war, and don’t expect a top score. When I’ve got over a dozen cities, I tend to build more wonders and city improvements and fewer settlers. 30 cities is probably more than you need to win the game, but for high scores, the more the merrier. In some games on the net my opponents have built 30+ cities (they usually win these games, too).

It can be a big mistake to pile a lot of military units into a newly captured city; they may all go to the enemy along with the city (via bribery) unless you’re under democracy. A whole lot of stuff often goes very cheaply. Also, if you’re in all-out war against a human player, depending on the circumstances it may be best to destroy cities rather than capture or bribe them, lest they be bought back cheaply and give up units and important tech. It is possible to make a new (or newly captured) city more difficult to bribe by using settlers or engineers to pump up the population immediately; but it’s always discouraging when this enlarged city goes over to the enemy anyway. It may be worthwhile to move your palace closer to the front to discourage bribery; this is less important under communism. You can build courthouses, but it generally isn’t enough; you need to be in democracy, which means you need Suffrage. In multiplayer games, it often happens that the players agree to limit bribery.


Trade can be a big factor in your civilization’s later development. I sometimes get all my cities to have a full set of trade routes (3 each) established; the more trade I get done, the better I like it. It takes a lot of effort to do this if you have 15 cities, and I’ve only done it against the computer. Against human opponents, war is always on one’s mind, and trade gets done more haphazardly because there’s less time for that kind of attention to detail. You want to keep the game moving. One habit that helps is this. When you’ve looked at supply and demand and have decided to build a gold caravan to send to a foreign city, write down "Gold: Berlin" to remind yourself where that caravan needs to go. Otherwise, you forget and end up using the caravan for a wonder or just plugging it into any reasonably large city because there just isn’t time to look these things up over and over again in a multiplayer game.

The bigger your cities are, the more cost effective and important it is to establish trade routes. In a recent game (2x2x) a single freight unit delivered to a foreign city (size 12) on another continent brought in over 700 in gold and 11 or 12 trade arrows. It pays to trade with AI civs (rather than humans) because they usually have good trade routes established, which increases your result. If you need gold or more happy citizens, consider building caravans/freight. I tend to focus more on trade after I have factories built, probably because freight then takes fewer turns to build.

Trading with foreign cities gives you a research bonus (same number of beakers as you get gold), but also gives them a good trade route. Trade with your own cities gives each city a trade route but generally little gold and no research. It’s a trade-off! Best is to trade with allied human players.


I don’t build any ships early unless I discover that I’m on an island that’s too small for the minimum number of cities I want to build–at least 15 on a small map. I’d rather struggle along with a smallish island than try to expand onto adjacent continents because defense becomes much more difficult, and the new cities tend to be a drain on resources for a long time before they start paying back. Exploring for huts, however, is always worthwhile.

Later I’ll build one Trireme to sail around exposing sea squares (and, hopefully, resources) that my already-built cities can then use or for use by new cities, though just exposing ordinary ocean squares is important enough. Sometimes I’ll use 1 or 2 Triremes to bypass a strong defense point to attack weaker cities on my continent. I may also use Triremes to transport Caravans to other continents, because the cash and research bonus is increased.

When Ironclads become available, I’ll build these ASAP and use them both to defend my coast and to harass enemy shipping, and occasionally to bombard a Settler or Catapult.

When I have enough Marines and Spies I may make an invasion of enemy civs, or I may wait until I have Bombers and Armor. In any case, this means a D-Day invasion sooner or later.

If I get as far as Battleships, I’ll build a few and sail around hammering shore units while waiting to assemble invasion forces.

I rarely get the Lighthouse or Magellan’s except by conquest because I push for religious wonders and Leonardo’s rather than these.

Advanced Games

After Invention is discovered, Leonardo’s Workshop seems very big, though the loss of veteran status sometimes more than offsets the gains. Upgrading of diplomats and settlers (to spies and engineers, respectively), however, is delightful. I always go for Leonardo’s Workshop unless some other wonder (Michelangelo’s Chapel) seems even more important.

In an advanced game, railroads and espionage are important goals, though the reduced effectiveness of railroads (compared to Civ 1) is discouraging. Still, they allow fast movement of caravans and make for a quick response to perceived threats. Railroads also present a risk, allowing an enemy to invade more effectively. It pays to consider the risks. Build railroads first in those locations that are producing the most shields, such as on pheasant, bison, oil, and iron resources. City sites automatically receive railroads when you get the tech, giving you an instant production boost even if you never take the time to build any others.

Build and occupy forts at strategically critical locations to block out enemies. This may help keep roving spies in check, though at 2x movement they get 6 MP. I wrote at length about espionage in "Spy Power" (below) so I’m not going to repeat those thoughts here. Suffice it to say that against human opponents spies are more important than armor, and you might want to consider agreeing on "house rules" to limit the use of spies so they don’t end up dominating the game. One use of spies is to sabotage a wonder under construction; this happened to me in a recent game, and it was a telling blow. This is one reason to not trade maps with powerful opponents, as it gives away the location of all your cities. Of course, you get the same from your opponent; the player who prefers to defend and build rather than attack has the most to lose in this exchange.

When the end of the game is in sight, set your luxuries at maximum, both to increase population growth and to get more happy citizens (they count more towards your final score). Sell off unnecessary improvements (barracks, library, factories, etc.) so you can reduce taxes to keep luxuries high. Future tech is trivial by comparison in the final score.

No More 3-Turn Revolutions

A discovery has been made by Oedo concerning the turn on which government changes happen. It’s not random. See this page for the list of years for Deity and King level.

Early PDS Strategy for King-Level Multiplayer Games

The above strategy is inefficient at King level, where early PDS is winning play, and perhaps the one unbeatable strategy (assuming otherwise good play and good luck, such as getting control of plenty of land, building lots of cities early, avoiding early war, etc., etc.). Against the computer at deity level, however, early PDS is much less important because the quick growth leads to very many unhappy citizens, and unmanageable cities. Since playing PDS multiplayer extensively, I have gotten away from playing against the computer at deity level, so I’m a little vague on how it might be made to work there. The one game I tried lately came as a great shock. I couldn’t keep the citizens content even with Temples and very high luxuries. The technique was a complete failure; Michelangelo’s Chapel is needed to make it work, and that’s so far down the line that early Monarchy is much more sensible.

"PDS" stands for "President’s Day Sale," a term I first encountered in the Civ 1 book, Sid Meier’s Civilization, or Rome on 640K a Day. The important concept is that while a city is celebrating "We love the Consul," that city will grow one population point each turn. The PDS technique requires Republic or Democracy, though "We love the ______" does provide increased resources under lesser government types. I doubt that this latter tradeoff is worthwhile (though I’ve seen some good players apparently doing it).

I make a distinction between the "PDS technique" of using Republic and high luxuries to pump up city populations, and the "Early PDS Strategy," which aims to use the PDS technique as early in the game as possible. The basic theory behind the Early PDS Strategy is to take "reasonable chances" (defensively) to accelerate growth. The slope or angle of the power graph is the critical factor. The steeper you can get your line going, the quicker you will build an insurmountable lead over the other civilizations. Every game element that detracts from growth in cities and population must withstand careful scrutiny and "earn its keep." Exploration clearly earns its keep because you need to know where to put your cities, and you need to collect goody huts and contact other civs. Researching Horseback Riding and Bronze Working so you can build stronger units is a doubtful strategy because it will flatten out the power graph or growth curve. With the Early PDS Strategy you have to be willing to leave piddling 1 and 2 point cities undefended and at the mercy of enemies in order to build many more piddling 1 and 2 point cities that will later grow to 8 point game-winners. If you can’t bear to lose (sacrifice) a few cities, you should play a different strategy. Defense comes later. Growth comes first.

Getting to Republic is the top research priority. The other top priority is getting cities and keeping them out of unrest. Push hard in these two directions, and you have the "Early PDS Strategy." Until Republic is discovered, the main difference with the deity strategy is in choice of technology to research. But the consequences of this change are far-reaching.

If you’re unfamiliar with the requirements for a PDS, briefly they are these: in any city of size 3 or larger, if half or more of the citizens are happy and none are unhappy, you get a "We love the ______," where the fill-in depends on the kind of government in place (i.e., Republic fills in "Consul"). The result is that on the next turn any celebrating cities get resources as though the government were one level higher than that in place, or, if the government is Republic or Democracy, the population increases by one. If normal growth would result in a population increase that turn, the growth will be 2 that turn.

As each new city grows to size 3 and gets a Temple, 5 or 6 turns of carefully-managed PDS will inflate it to an 8. It is wise to maximize the efficiency of PDS by not having luxuries high all the time. Going into PDS mode when it can be used most efficiently will result in an astonishing rate of growth. Any civ that doesn’t use the PDS technique should be hopelessly behind by 1000 BC, and will have to attack you to have a chance of winning.

I always try to build Temples during the PDS rounds, or before, because this makes it fairly easy to keep most cities in PDS growth with luxuries at 40% up to size 7 or 8. However, it would be a worthwhile experiment (if something of a long-shot) to put off building Temples and instead increase luxuries to 60% or higher. This might be the best approach if you’re trying to manage PDS and a war at the same time, since you could build military units instead of Temples. It’s not a strategy I’ve tried yet; my guess is that it might get you one more population point than the 40% luxury level before unrest took the city out of PDS.

All details such as wonders and technologies are unimportant compared to early PDS, though of course you may be playing against others who are equally adept at the PDS technique. Michelangelo’s Chapel is exceptionally valuable in large Republics or Democracies, with Bach’s a poor second; the Great Library and Sun Tzu’s Academy are also important depending on conditions, but the Pyramids are suddenly less important (except to deny them to others) because PDS supplies all the growth one could wish. The Pyramids or granaries will become important much later in the game, once you’ve built factories, if you generally aren’t going into PDS for growth of cities past size 8. This is what’s happening in a game I’m playing now. I’ve built aqueducts, factories, and sewers, have cities of size 11-13. Building a granary, which takes 2 to 3 turns, seems well worth doing.

To play a PDS strategy and pursue the Pyramids while someone else beats you to Mike’s Chapel would be criminal. I frequently build the Colossus in my capital, intending to go on to the research wonders as well. In the same game I’m playing now, I am getting over 300 research beakers per turn from my 11-point capital, largely as a result of wonders. If I had better trade routes, it would be even higher. But the Colossus is relatively unimportant, and it would probably be better to pursue additional cities or store up Caravans to rush the Chapel.

Having maxed-out (i.e., 8 points before aqueduct) cities cranking out swarms of settlers is worth considering, because the reductions in size will be recovered at the next PDS or by normal growth. PDS should be even more powerful at 1X1X, because everyone else’s growth will be slower, while the PDS growth rate will remain virtually as high as at 2X2X during the PDS turns. These details can be worked out through experience, but the basic strategy seems clear:

  • Are you at King level or lower? If not, try another strategy.
  • Expand quickly at the start, maximizing number of cities. Gamble on growth, minimize defense. Do defend the capital, however, in two ways: with a Phalanx, and by building other cities in all directions around it. Make sure that the enemy will encounter other cities before stumbling onto your capital.
  • Direct research toward Republic, Philosophy, Trade, Construction (for aqueducts and forts), and Monotheism, in approximately that order; but especially Republic, of course. Philosophy is important mostly because it gets you a free advance if you’re first (you should be first if you’re following PDS strategy), but you’ll also need it to get to Monotheism.
  • When you’re soon to go Republic, start building Temples. Temples are necessary for keeping most cities in PDS up to size 7 or so without going to excessive luxuries. When you’ll soon have Republic and you found a new city, it might be wise to start building a temple as the first build for that city (assuming you get a veteran Phalanx from a city with a barracks); by the time the temple is built, the city may be in PDS already, and so can grow to maximum immediately.
  • When you get the Republic tech, or before, check the table on page 10 to see when you should go into revolution to avoid multiple turns of anarchy.
  • When Republic is established, raise luxury level as high as is needed to get all 3+ size cities into "We love the consul" mode; adjust entertainers and use of city squares (i.e., trade arrows) as necessary to keep enough happy citizens and no unhappy. At King level, 10% taxes, 50% science, and 40% luxuries generally works very well, though cities with low trade or high corruption will have trouble. 50% luxuries shouldn’t be necessary, but do that anyway if you have to; it’s better to be in PDS at 50% than not in it because you can’t quite get 40% to work.
  • If you have a number of 2 point cities and not that many 3 point cities, it makes sense to delay the PDS a few turns until most cities are size 3.
  • Build up your military ASAP. Once you’ve started the PDS technique, cities become more valuable and must be defended.
  • Build Mike’s Chapel as soon as possible–all other wonders are secondary if you’re playing PDS.
  • Check every city every turn to keep PDS going. This will take some time. Use the Attitude Advisor (F4 key) to pinpoint likely trouble spots if you need a shortcut, or raise luxuries to 50% or 60% if you get desperate to keep up.
  • When most cities reach size 7 or 8, reduce luxuries to maintenance level (20%); when Mike’s Chapel is built, reduce luxuries to 0 until aqueducts are built. Concentrate on building military strength for a while. Go after Leonardo’s Workshop as your next major goal.
  • When new cities reach size 3, pump them up with further PDS if you can do so efficiently (i.e., several cities at a time).
  • Build aqueducts, marketplaces, and sewers to continue growth, with or without further PDS. After factories and sewers are built, consider building granaries.
  • If you wish, point out to other players that you now dominate the game (direct their attention to "top 5 cities" display) and anticipate early resignations. If you don’t get them, start building military units, because you will be attacked. This assumes, of course, that you do dominate the game.
  • PDS strategy won’t compensate for lack of cities. If you have 8 cities at 7 or 8 population each, you’ll be in the lead in population, probably, right after your PDS turns. But you may still lose to the guy who has 15 cities and is building more as rapidly as possible. On the other hand, if you’re definitely trailing in all the important demographics, wonders, and so on, keep playing if you have enough land; you may be able to catch up just by building more and more cities. A late PDS may overtake the leader and win the game.
  • Whether to build a large or a smaller civilization is not an easy question, because although a larger civilization has more potential, it is also harder to manage and defend, especially in multiplayer games with limited time. I prefer a compact, defensible layout with about 15 cities minimum. The properly-sized island is ideal.

If you get Monarchy before you get Republic, go to Monarchy while waiting for Republic, if you know about how to stay out of Anarchy. If early war is probable, Monarchy is also probably the better choice for a while.

The Maximum Growth Strategy

A recent game (2001) persuades me that the PDS strategy is not the only way to compete, though it’s probably the easiest. The alternative (Maximum Growth and War, or MGW) is to create the maximum number of cities as quickly as possible, sacrificing all other values to do so. The details are unclear, since I’ve never played this and can only infer from the results of others. The following discussion is mostly theoretical, since I’ve tried only one game with a strategy like MGW.

Research is minimized from turn one, and city improvements, irrigation, roads, and wonders have to wait. Money is used to rush build settlers, military units, and barracks. Government will eventually be Monarchy, allowing maximum exploitation of foreign civs. Build one barracks for each 2 cities; cities with barracks build mostly military units, others build settlers only. Encounters with foreign civs are managed to extract the greatest possible amount of tech and money from them without provoking war before you’re ready. Keep an eye on your power readout in the F3 display; if you’re not mighty or supreme, you won’t intimidate AI civs, and if you try, you’ll get into a war you should not want. Peace treaties are not granted; extortion must be early and often. For this to work well, a good feel for what the AI will do is vital (though this will develop with experience), and playing at an easy level (e.g., King) is virtually required, both so that the AI civs will be easier pickings, and so that unrest is not an unmanageable problem. A small map may be essential. Human players are treated more kindly, as dangerous enemies, until quick conquest seems likely. This requires craft, painstaking preparation, and bold ruthlessness.

When you feel confident you can quickly conquer a neighboring AI civ, make demands and more demands until they declare war on you. Make sure you do this before moving your units. But don’t wait too long; if they build city walls, you’ve got trouble. And I think it likely that they will start building city walls the first time you demand tribute.

PDS possibly will lose to such a strategy. In one game, my opponent apparently created swarms of horsemen and used exploration as a strong ally of quick multiplication of cities. He also destroyed two of my new cities before I was able to erect a defense. It is also possible that I was cheated against; it does happen.

Details: minimize research, using your 40% for Horseback Riding, Warrior Code, Feudalism, and Chivalry, using extra money to build units. Build barracks? Probably not at first. Try to get seafaring from AI civs to obtain Explorers for faster exploration and ZOC evasion. If playing multiplayer, encourage a ban on bribery against other humans, because with a far-flung empire this is more likely to hurt you than help you.

An alternative tech policy would be to go for Horseback Riding, Ceremonial Burial, and Polytheism, to get Elephants as soon as possible to attack a neighbor. I don’t consider Elephants to be cost effective, yet they are undeniably the best attacking forces early in the game. Build barracks and Elephants, and stomp, stomp, stomp. In an ongoing game I did this, and destroyed an AI civ. This didn’t seem terribly profitable, as all I got was two small cities for my own, plus a lot of land and a few gold and tech. I had to build several barracks and about eight elephants to do this. I needed the land, but I feel I would have done better to avoid war and simply demand tribute.

Start by building a Warrior in the capital. This will enable quick exploration for location of the second city, and will be useful for defense and crowd control later. Research Horseback Riding, then build as many Horsemen and Settlers as possible. Build a horse or two from each new city before building Settlers. Explore, explore, explore, not making special efforts to explore thoroughly, but rather, trying to contact as many civs and grab as many goodie huts as possible. Build no Phalanxes and few Warriors (primarily for crowd control, but also to deny land to other civs) because you must be on the attack, not trying to hold little 2 point cities. When you encounter undefended AI cities, capture them immediately, and demand tribute from the owner. Use extra funds to build units (Settlers or military), not buildings. Go to Monarchy as soon as possible; build the Lighthouse if necessary; you need to find and conquer or exploit as many civs as possible. Rely on conquest, intimidation, and theft to get most of your tech. Build no other wonders or city improvements except Barracks. Don’t build Temples; rather, reduce city size by building more Settlers. Build Knights or veteran Chariots in preference to Elephants because they are too expensive for what you get.

This strategy may be beaten by difficult geography or perhaps by bribery. It should be possible to overwhelm any civ you meet early. A lot of time will be needed; you can’t do this at 30 seconds a turn.

This strategy is enhanced by certain game parameters: villages only; large land mass; many AI opponents; poor terrain (this reduces opponents’ ability to build settlers while not affecting settlers obtained from huts); plenty of time per turn (start at 2 minutes).

Main advantages to MGW: enemy civilizations can be attacked when they’re weak, forcing them to build defensive units and expand more cautiously, while your expansion continues unchecked in distant parts of the world. Something like this strategy is probably required to defeat PDS. You should be able to deny opponents land, confining them while you expand unchecked; this can be devastating. When war comes, you’ll have a lot of units for the attack. You should be able to intimidate and extort money, tech, and maps from AI civs. Building the Pyramids becomes very effective. The game is more fun to play (especially if you’re winning).

Main disadvantages: slow to get better government; you need time to move many units (better be the host!), and other players may not grant time increases. Your goals should be: money, tech, and cities you can keep, preferably without acquiring a too awful reputation.

Final comments: I tried to play an early version of this strategy last year and labored along in 2nd place. I was way too slow getting Monarchy, though I got Pyramids because opponent wanted Hanging Gardens instead. Land was poor, a big factor in this game. Two pointless wars against weaker opponents (one AI) slowed me down considerably. I got into these because I tried to intimidate them and failed–neglected to check my power first. I was on the point of attacking the leader with about six veteran Elephants and a few weaker units when game ended. The strategy might have worked if I had better land to start, and possibly, those elephants would have turned the tide, but overall I wasn’t happy with the result. Doubtless more experience would be helpful. In particular, I didn’t go for maximum growth by limiting research, probably a crucial part of the strategy. Also, I didn’t research the proper techs.

PDS or Maximum Growth? This is not an easy choice, but it must be made from the start because you need to decide where to set your research and taxation percentages. Also, this discussion is based more on theory than on practice; it’s possible that the MGW will usually lose out to PDS. It’s tough to try to capture phalanx-defended cities with horses. I think if the terrain promises good or excellent trade, especially for the capital, go for PDS, because you can get Republic early. I’d be inclined to think of MGW with a small map, lots of AI civs, 2x movement, and plenty of time; with few AI civs or, especially, insufficient time, MGW will be too tough. When conditions are right, consider MGW; at least it’s better than wandering around with that first settler, forlornly looking for whales or fish.

It occurs to me that maximum growth need not be coupled with war; perhaps it could be used as a preliminary to a later Republic and PDS. Minimizing research at the beginning in order to increase taxation, the money being used to speed expansion, might be more effective than starting with research at maximum. Certainly, ten gold are likely to be less useful than the first tech discovery . . . it’s something worth looking at, because one additional city early can make a big difference.

Going to War

Pursuing war early against AI civs might seem a good way to make a profit. One game I played recently suggests otherwise. I built many veteran Elephants early, extorted money from an AI civ, later turned down 150 gold to try for all the civ’s gold and tech, but got a war instead. Thought I was ready to roll over the AI civ (this was at King level), discovered that cities are more easily destroyed than captured. Ended up capturing two small cities (1 point and 2 points) for all my effort. It was painfully obvious that I would have done better to avoid war by being satisfied with the gold the AI offered.

My conclusion: war is hell unless you have an overwhelming tech advantage (e.g., Musketeers and Cannon) and your purpose is to destroy cities. Otherwise, just demand tribute (and not too often) and take what you get. Don’t violate your cease-fires.

Where Do I Stand?

It is important to know how well you’re doing compared to the other players. This is critical in deciding how to handle AI civs (especially with an MGW strategy) and when to attack another human player, but it is important in many lesser ways.

Three function keys provide most of the clues: F3, F8, and F11. F3 brings up the Foreign Affairs Advisor. Once you have made contact with another civ, you can get an instant readouts of where you stand regarding military might and trustworthiness, such as "Sire, our power is supreme and our reputation is spotless." Supreme power means yours is the top civ in the game. Here’s the full list:

  • Pathetic
  • Weak
  • Inadequate
  • Moderate
  • Strong
  • Mighty
  • Supreme

I would guess that this measure is based on the same information as the powergraph displayed on retirement. If so, it’s a measure of population, tech, and gold, and the factors are: 1 citizen = 2.67 techs = 256 gold (these factors taken from Power Graph Explained v2.0, by Andu Indorin, on the Civilization Fanatics web site. As a formula this would be:

Power = Population + (# of Techs/2.67) + (Gold/256)

where "Population" would be the total of the numbers of all your cities.

In addition, if you have established embassies, you can examine the tech and number of cities for that civ, as well as seeing which and how many wonders they are building. Of course, a player can switch wonders at any time; just because he’s building the Hanging Gardens doesn’t mean that that’s what he’ll eventually build, eh? You can also watch his gold fluctuate; a player with a lot of gold may be planning to rush build a wonder that you’re also working towards, or may be planning a bribery campaign against your cities. Don’t rely too heavily on the amount shown, however; a player going for a critical wonder may well sell off libraries or aqueducts or disband units to beat you to the punch, or he could have Caravans standing by.

F8 is the Top 5 Cities display. The clues here are generally harder to interpret, because even if you have no city in the top 5, you could be winning. However, with this display you can see when someone else is using a PDS strategy, when they have acquired Invention (faces change their mode of dress), and so on. How someone manages their cities also gives you a clue about their overall skill. If you see unnecessary entertainers, or defended 1 and 2 point cities very early in the game, chances are the player doesn’t know how to get the most out of his citizens. Also, if you want to raid a major city, this display informs you about the presence of city walls.

F11 gives comparative numbers and rankings for population, family size, land area, research, and so on. Being first in population is always welcome; if you are first in both population and family size, your civ is both larger and growing faster than any other, at least for the moment. In the early turns, or when civs are changing governments, demographics can fluctuate wildly, but later on it’s a solid clue to who is ahead. "Land area" indicates the area last occupied by your units, or, in essence, area explored; it is best to be first in this, but I often fall behind other players, especially after I get Republic, when I want to bring units home to diminish unrest. The critical factor is to get enough land for sufficient cities; if you’re playing PDS, you don’t necessarily have to be first in land area.

Trading Maps with AI

Trading maps can be very informative, but it is also risky because you have to give away your own location. If you want to trade maps with an AI civ, you’ll probably have to give them gifts until they are shown as "worshipful." Then offer the trade. I do this a lot when playing against human players with some AI civs in the game. I won’t give away certain key technologies unless they’re already being discovered by other civs or are likely to be soon. Despite being worshipful, a few leaders will still refuse to trade maps. If you’re lucky, you may discover that your human opponent has traded with this civ and you get his map along with the AI map. Of course, once you’ve traded, the same can happen to you.

Reasons to trade maps include: you don’t waste time exploring territory where the goody huts have already been taken; you obtain city locations for establishing trade routes; you know where to expand or attack.

Deity-level Example

I started a deity-level game recently against 3 AI civs on a large map. Movement and production were normal, and barbarians were raging hordes. Starting with 2 settlers, 1 tech (Horseback Riding) and average land (grassland with a lot of forest and no rivers), I came up with these demographics at 800 BC: 220,000 population in 7 cities, 11 units including 2 Settlers, the Pyramids, and Monarchy government. Many cities had Temples to keep order. I was extremely close to the best AI civ on the power graph, and our populations were about equal. I was on an island, with 55,000 sq. mi. of land. Most of the goody huts had contained not-great tech (Pottery and Warrior Code, I think). I considered this a good result, but because I was confined to a small island, future prospects were dim.

Reconsidering Exploration

When exploring, my first purpose is to find good sites for new cities. Because a good city site has resource squares such as whales or fish, I want to explore coastlines thoroughly, revealing all the ocean squares I can. This is slow. Also, I generally concentrate my exploration around the capital before expanding outwards. This approach results in finding the maximum possible fish and whales and best possible sites for new cities, but it is not the fastest way to find other civs. If pursuing MGW, it would make more sense to push on in approximately straight lines (though moving diagonally as much as possible) as quickly and as far as possible, hoping to contact other civs early, because to dominate other civs must be your goal from the beginning.

I won many games in Civ1 using a land grab strategy against the AI; that is, I would fortify Warriors or Horsemen near an AI civ to restrain its growth towards my civ. I have rarely used this tactic in Civ2, perhaps because I have learned much. It is still an important tactic if the other civ is close by. Also, when you first locate a foreign civ, build new cities ever closer to it; the land in the other direction may be available later, but the land between the two civs will go to the first to occupy it.

The Geometry of Movement

Moving diagonally into the dark can reveal up to five squares. Moving orthogonally (due north, south, east, or west) can reveal up to three squares. Therefore, when exploring, diagonal moves are to be preferred. When you must stop moving in a particular diagonal direction, a 90 turn left or right would be best because on such a turn you reveal up to four new squares. A 45 turn to the orthogonal will reveal only three squares at most.

So much is simple. However, if you have two movement points, but you can move diagonally only one square (say, onto a hill), you might do well to move orthogonally onto a grassland or plains square, revealing three, retaining one movement point to go on from the new location. This tactic can reveal up to eight new squares (one orthogonal, then one diagonal) in a single turn, rather than the five of the diagonal move. If that orthogonal move reveals only more hills, you have a 50% chance of moving onto a hill with your 1 MP. If that move is diagonal, you have a 50% chance of revealing 5 squares, for an expected outcome of 2.5 squares. This 2.5 plus the 3 for the orthogonal move gives a total of 5.5 for the expected outcome of that unit’s total movement, contrasted with the sure 5 of the original diagonal move.

We can look further. If you have a choice of moving diagonally onto the hill, orthogonally onto plains or grassland, or making a 90 turn to the other diagonal, you should make the turn if that move will take you onto plains or grassland (or other terrain that costs 1 MP to enter). By that move you reveal 4 squares. If you then encounter hills (or forest, swamp, or other terrain that costs 2 MP to enter) all around, you still have an expectation of another 2.5 squares (50% chance of a diagonal move), for a total of 6.5. This is another improvement, and offers the best chance with 2 MP available and 2 MP terrain diagonally ahead.

What about mountains? When you have a Horseman and try to move onto mountains with 2 MP available, you have a 2/3 chance of success, and a 1/3 chance of no movement. (Curiously enough, a Warrior or Settler can move diagonally onto the mountain every time.) Your expected outcome then is 5 times 2/3, a total of 3.33. Clearly, a turn aside onto grassland, either orthogonally or, preferably, onto the other diagonal, is the better choice.

The bottom line then, when you want to reveal as much unknown map as possible, is to move diagonally when it costs 1 MP, or turn aside when it costs less than to go diagonally. This does not take into account, of course, other factors such as the geometry of the squares already revealed, the presence of bodies of water and rivers, or the desire to complete a search pattern or to reveal every square of a shoreline. Also worth considering is the potential presence of enemies, which would probably encourage you to take to the hills (or any other terrain that offers a defensive bonus). With a unit that has 1 MP per turn, simply move diagonally regardless of terrain. Note, too, it makes good sense to use 1 MP units to explore mountains.

Pre-Republic Exploration: Horsemen or Warriors?

In the very early stages of multiplayer games I have always gone for Horseback Riding, usually as my first research goal. But giving it much thought, it now seems clear that building Warriors instead of Horsemen should be very cost effective for exploration, which is my main purpose in going for Horsemen. In a comparison of building two Warriors or one Horseman, note the following:

  • Horsemen require discovery of a specialized tech at a time when Republic beckons. This by itself is enough to convince me that I would do well to go for Warriors, unless other reasons are compelling. Also, if you build a Settler in your capital while waiting for Horseback Riding tech, in a slow research situation you may end up with a Settler built and no exploring done, which can be miserably inefficient. Even if you want to build Horsemen, start with a Warrior first in this situation so you can tell where to put that crucial second city.
  • Nominal cost to build is the same, but building Warriors may result in greater waste. Micromanagement can help.
  • Two Warriors can always explore more quickly than one Horseman. The more rough terrain (requiring 2 MP to enter) encountered, the more advantageous it is to have Warriors. For example, at 2x movement, when moving through mountains (3 MP required) two Warriors will always move 2 squares, while one Horseman will move an average of 1.33 squares (that is, usually 1 square per turn, and sometimes 2). With normal (1x) movement, the advantage is even greater, 2 for the Warriors to .667 for the Horseman.
  • Two Warriors double the chance you will meet an opposing civ during their movement; I consider this a plus, because I’m rarely interested in getting in a first attack.
  • A Warrior costs less to give up; a Warrior is less to lose than a Horseman. A Warrior’s defense is the same as a Horseman’s. If you lose to an attack, you still have the other Warrior. Even if you survive and have to go sleep for a while to recover, or if you want to fortify the unit on an enemy frontier, the other Warrior continues exploring. When switching to Republic, you will be able to disband a distant Warrior with a light heart compared to the doubly expensive Horseman. These are a real savings—you have the minimum number of eggs in each basket. On the other hand, returning the Horseman to the closest city will go almost twice as quickly, depending on terrain.
  • Come to think of it, the Warriors even have the advantage militarily: 2 attacking and 2 defending points, vs. 2 and 1 for a horse. When it comes to attacking a city, however, I would prefer a single horse to 2 Warriors. But put 2 Warriors and a single Horseman close together on a field, at the end, one wounded Warrior standing is the most likely result. But this is beside the point; the thrust of the section is, after all, "Exploration."

There are some drawbacks to using Warriors:

  • When entering a goody hut, Warriors are more vulnerable to barbarians, being unable to attack first.
  • Having two Warriors increases the chance that shield support will be required; this is usually avoidable, depending on how many Warriors you want and whether you’re at 2x production (faster city growth).
  • If you are offensively minded, Warriors are ineffective attackers compared to Horsemen. Also, and especially at 1x movement, the owner of an undefended city will get a chance to rush build a defender more often with approaching Warriors.
  • Using Warriors or Horsemen as defenders of cities is generally ineffective because either is likely to lose to an enemy Horseman. Warriors perform as well as Horsemen in static defense, but are less effective in active defense. Overall, if you’re going to war, you’re obviously better off with Horsemen; and, of course, you can never tell when you’ll end up in a war.
  • In multiplayer, you’ll need slightly more time to move two Warriors compared to one Horseman because of shifting of map display. With a very short time limit, Horsemen might be more effective.

Thoughts on effectively using Warriors:

  • If each new city builds a Warrior, then a Settler, support will seldom be required, especially at 2x production (multiplayer). This allows settler unit to be started quicker than if one must build a Horseman first. This also allows one to follow one set pattern of builds: Warrior (to explore), then Settlers (to expand).
  • If you’ll soon be building Leonardo’s Workshop, don’t be in a hurry to disband useless Warriors; they’ll become Musketeers, and later Riflemen. But, if it’s early, consider whether support costs will eat up this profit. Also, consider the benefits of disbanding (getting half the shields back).

Conclusion: whether to start with Horsemen or Warriors for early exploration is almost a toss-up. If you get Horseback Riding for free (from a goody hut—trading is not free), Horsemen are certainly a reasonable choice and can hardly be criticized as a bad choice. If you’re at higher difficulty/higher barbarian activity levels or are playing to "out-Mongol the Mongols," or anticipate early war because you know your opponents, Horsemen are definitely the better choice, making pursuit of that tech reasonable. If you do get into an early war, you’ll be very glad to have Horsemen instead of Warriors. But, if you are more interested in building than in conquest, and especially if you are in very tough terrain, Warriors are definitely more cost effective and can provide a reasonable defensive perimeter against Horsemen. A fortified Warrior on a hill or mountain is not lightly attacked. In future I will definitely skip the Horseback Riding tech to pursue Republic ever more quickly, because getting Republic four or five turns earlier will win me more (multiplayer) games.

Exploration Under Republic: Diplomats or Explorers?

Since I never go for Pottery until I need Navigation, and I generally go for Navigation primarily to get Physics and the Steam Engine, and because I don’t do much exploration after I get about 15 cities built, I’ve rarely built more than one or two Explorers. Even if I got Seafaring very early, I’d still be likely to go for Horses or Warriors to explore. However, under a Republic, Explorers don’t cause unhappy citizens, a big plus; but then, neither do Diplomats. I’d be more inclined to build Diplomats to do the exploring for my Republic, because they can establish embassies, steal tech, and bribe barbarians, turning them into support-free explorers and pillagers. Explorers at 2x movement, however, can move 6 through any terrain, and so can run away from trouble (barbarians). I suspect, too, that an Explorer could capture a barbarian leader for ransom, which a Diplomat could not do. At 2x movement I would consider building a few explorers, but in the past I’ve seldom done much late exploring except with warships. Once I’ve built a minimum of 15 cities I am generally content to occupy whatever land is readily available without crossing the ocean, preferring to concentrate on tech, city growth, and defense.

Goody Huts

It probably doesn’t need mentioning, but I will anyway. When taking a "goody hut," try to do it so you will have at least 1 movement point left. The point is that if you "release hordes of barbarians," you’ll have time to get in the first attack. If you are exploring with a Warrior, even a fraction of a movement point will allow you to fortify.

If you’re playing against the computer, you can always save the game before taking the hut. That way you can reload the game and try for a better result the second time. This is, I suppose, cheating; but it is mentioned in the manual.

The worst thing in the world to get from a goody hut is free tech that you don’t have use for, such as Pottery. This makes your own research go more slowly. Your first tech requires ten beakers. If you get Pottery from a goody hut, your first tech will require twenty beakers. I believe this will be true whether you get the goody hut before building your first city.

That’s another question that one must consider in the early game. Do I build my capital or take the goody hut first? In general, I always take the goody hut at 2x movement; at normal movement, it depends on how many turns it would take. Getting a support-free unit for exploration is great.

What do you get from goody huts? At King level, playing 4 civs, with barbarian activity set to "huts only," taking 20 huts (from the start of the game) resulted in the following:

  • 7 military units (3 Archers, 3 Horse, 1 Chariot)
  • 5 tech advances (Warrior Code, Warrior Code, Pottery, Alphabet, Masonry); I was playing 4 civs, hence the duplication
  • 4 advanced tribes or wandering nomads
  • 2 gold caches (150 total)
  • 2 empty huts
  • 0 barbarians

Playing one civ at King level with barbarian activity set to "raging hordes," taking 20 huts produced the following:

  • 4 military units (3 Chariots, 1 Archers)
  • 4 tech advances (Masonry, Pottery, Mapmaking, Seafaring); no duplication because I was playing 1 civ
  • 4 advanced tribes or wandering nomads
  • 5 gold caches (275 total)
  • 0 empty huts
  • 3 barbarian Horsemen.

Efficiency and Micromanagement

There are many opportunities to save: save time, save money, save wheat. By micromanaging production you can garner extra wheat or trade. By judicious rush building you can expand your civ more quickly. By paying attention to the geometry of exploration and taking advantage of 2x movement you can save time and improve your game. Good players are efficient.

The Economics of Rush Building

The goal of spending money to rush build units or improvements should be to save the maximum number of turns for your money. The following points may help. Note that city improvements are the cheapest thing you can rush build, so this discussion focuses on how to rush units (military or civilian) as economically as possible.

  • Where to build? When you get some gold to spend, look for large cities with low production (few shields). Under Despotism, a city can support, without cost, as many units as the city has population, so if some cities must pay to support units, see whether new units can be rushed in such underproducing cities. In other words, a city supporting fewer units than its population is a good place to rush build units. This assumes that all other factors are equal, naturally. You don’t want to rush build a catapult far behind the lines where it will take twenty turns to get to where it’s needed.
  • What to build? City improvements are the cheapest thing to rush build, wonders the most expensive, military and civilian units somewhere in between. Of course, there’s a 2 times penalty if the box starts empty. Here’s a comparison:

Rush Build Cost per Shield Formula for Cost
City Improvements 2 gold 2 x Shields
Units (including military and civilian, such as Settlers) built "stepwise" 2.5 gold

(building in steps of 10)

Sliding scale (see next table)


10 Shields cost 25 gold

Wonders 4 gold 4 x Shields
Shields to Rush Build Unit

(size of "step")

Cost per Shield Formula for Cost
1 to 4 2 gold 2 x Shields
5 2.2 gold 11 gold
6 to 14 2.17 to 2.64 gold (3 x Shields) – 5 gold
15 2.73 gold 41 gold
16 to 24 2.75 to 3.16 gold (4 x Shields) – 20 gold
25 3.24 gold 81 gold
26 to 34 3.27 to 3.68 gold (5 x Shields) – 45 gold

The second table reveals that it is cheapest (per shield) to buy units 1 to 4 shields at a time, but of course that doesn’t give you much of a "rush." Next best is to buy in steps of ten; each step then costs 25 gold. If you have to buy a step of 20, that costs 60 gold, or 10 more than if you could have done it in two steps. A step of 30 costs 105 gold, or 30 more than building in steps of 10. Larger steps are naturally even more expensive. Note that the rate per shield goes up at 5, 15, 25, etc.

  • When to build? The ideal situation is to spend 2 to 8 gold to save 1 turn of a build. Suppose a city is adding five shields to the production box each turn, the box contains 28 shields, and you’re building a Settler. It will take 3 turns to produce the settler. But if you switch to a Diplomat or Archer, you can pay 4 gold to add two shields to the box. Then switch back to Settler, and you’ll get that Settler one turn sooner. This is the ideal way to rush build. What if you wait a turn? The box will then contain 33 shields and require two more turns to produce the Settler. If you rush build now, it will cost 16 gold. You squandered 12 gold to get the Settler in the same number of turns, and you wasted the city’s last turn of production by filling the production box. Rush carefully.
  • How to build? Stepwise, naturally. To rush build a Settler, first rush build a Warrior, then a Phalanx or Horseman, then an Archer or Diplomat. You’ll save money rather than building the Settler in one step. And, of course, you need some shields in the box before starting to buy more; this avoids a 2x penalty at the first step. If you have to start with an empty box, either disband a unit or, if necessary, buy the cheapest unit you can and work upward from there.
  • How to build, again? Don’t think you have to rush build to completion. Look ahead. If you can spend gold to save one turn, do it. That’s the way. Be looking for these opportunities constantly. Scan all your cities in the F1 production display to spot such opportunities. Filling up the production box is always inefficient, because you lose the city’s last turn of shield production. If the city is producing 5 shields per turn, spending to put a total of 10 shields in the box to rush a Phalanx is fine; spending to put 20 in the box wastes the 5 the city will produce even though the box is full (1 turn of micromanagement can reduce the waste). Suppose you are rush building Factories, which require 200 shields. Suppose also that you don’t need them to come on line in a single turn, but rather, you are interested in getting your whole civilization fully "Factorized." You can rush build to completion, but it is more economical to switch to a University (which costs 160 shields), rush that, then switch back to Factory. Each time you do this you will save that city’s last round of shields instead of wasting them. You can do similar things with wonders, also. If you rush build a University, then switch to the wonder, you’ll have an 80-shield start (you lose 50% on the change from city improvement to wonder). This means in effect that you paid 4x gold for those shields you bought, the same as a wonder ordinarily costs. Add a couple of caravans and you have 180 shields, maybe enough to get you a 200-shield wonder on the next turn. If you start with the wonder, add the caravans, and rush build to completion, you’ll have paid gold for the 20 shields the city will produce anyway. This is sort of thing comes up often, and the more your thinking is correct, the more you’ll save.

Production Micromanagement

By paying close attention to each city’s resources you can get more out of each city. This is because growth and production occur by filling rigid boxes with batches of units of wheat or shields. As each box is filled, there is a chance that some units in a batch will be wasted. You can minimize that waste, switching excess citizen productivity to something else. For example, suppose you have a 3 point city producing 8 shields per turn (2x production), you are building a Settler, and the production box contains 35 shields. On the next turn 5 shields will go into the box and 3 will be wasted. Before that next turn occurs, you can switch a citizen from working in forest to working in ocean, thus getting more trade arrows and reducing the shield waste. When the Settler is produced, the citizen working the ocean square may disappear or be reassigned by the computer, or you can reassign him yourself.

Alternatively, if your city is producing 8 shields per turn and you can increase that to 10 by sacrificing some wheat income, you can build a new Settler (from scratch) in 4 turns instead of 5. You have that choice. By micromanaging the tradeoff among wheat, shields, and trade, you can get the most out of your cities. Naturally, this attention to detail takes time and can be tedious, but the more of it you can do, the faster your civilization will grow.

Reviewing your cities periodically is important, because the citizen assignments made by the computer are sometimes grossly inefficient. It often happens that the computer will assign a citizen to a hill, producing 2 food (at 2x production), where that same citizen could get 2 food and 2 trade by working an ordinary ocean square. In cities where every square is being worked, extra citizens are set to entertainers by the computer, where they could be tax collectors or scientists.

If you have to fill the production box by a rush build, consider rearranging the city resource squares to maximize food or trade and reduce shields for one turn. You can do this sort of thing with the food box also, because any wheat beyond that needed to fill up the box (the turn before city growth) will be wasted. The more of this kind of micromanagement you can do, the more games you should win. It’s especially important in the very early stages of the game, where every savings (and every inefficiency) will be compounded in later years, and easier to do because you have fewer cities to watch. Naturally, after such rearrangement you need to go back to that city on your next turn and fix what you did, putting the city resource squares back to what you consider optimum.

"Free" Roads!

The following considerations apply to double movement only, and only on terrain that costs 1 MP to enter, such as grassland and plains.

It often happens that you want to build a city on a site two squares away from the Settler. You can move onto the square this turn and build the following turn. Or you can move onto the square in between, and build a road. On the following turn you move onto the city site and build the city. By taking the latter course, you have gained a free road.

Then a second Settler comes along. With 1 MP he moves next to the road just built. You intend to move him past the new city into the unexplored territory beyond. With your remaining 1 MP you can move him onto the road, or you can build a road where he stands. If you choose the latter course, on your following turn it costs 1/3 MP to move the Settler to the square where the previous Settler built the "free" road. Thus it cost you 1/3 MP to build the road you just built.

You move that Settler into the city for another 1/3 MP, and then out of the city on the other side (1 MP), leaving you 1/3 MP to either move or build a road. If you try to move, you have a 1/3 chance of moving and a 2/3 chance of getting nothing. If you build a road, you get it for 1/3 MP.

You have two Settlers that are moving together across plains, grassland, or desert. They move 2 squares per turn. But, suppose one Settler builds a road where he stands, and the other moves one square ahead and builds a road. On the following turn, the trailing Settler moves onto the road the other Settler built (1/3 MP), then goes on ahead 1 square (1 MP), and with the remaining 2/3 MP he builds a road. The other Settler then does the same thing, moving onto the road just built, going one square past, and building a road. You can continue this procedure indefinitely, moving each Settler 2 squares, and building a road for free, provided the terrain costs only 1 MP to enter.

You are moving a unit along a road through a forest. With some MP remaining the unit encounters a Settler building a road in the forest or on a hill (or etc.). What do you do with the unit moving along the road? (W)ait. There is a chance that the Settler will finish the road he’s building this turn, allowing the other unit to move along that road and thus save 1-2/3 MP.

It is tedious to think about all this in the beginning, but once you’ve learned good habits, it becomes automatic and painless.

Raids and Invasions

If you know where a city is that has wonders, or if you know where an opponent’s capital is, you can try to make a raid to capture that city. It is often worth capturing a city even if you can’t hold on to it permanently. Capturing a capital throws a civ into disarray and can cost a bundle in lost trade and wasted production until a new Palace is built. Capturing a city that holds Leonardo’s Workshop will instantly upgrade your military units. Don’t overlook the possibility of selling off captured city improvements if the city is likely to fall back to the enemy. And, if you want to see that city destroyed because of the wonders it contains, be sure to sell off city walls, if they’re still standing. In addition, if the population is reduced to 1 when you capture it, you can rush-build a Settler to make the wonders disappear forever. Be aware, a 1 point city won’t necessarily be destroyed upon its being occupied.

The important thing about a raid against a human-controlled civ is to make sure it succeeds the first time, because a later attempt is likely to be more difficult or impossible. Don’t squander the element of surprise because you’re impatient to start the attack. (On the other hand, even an ineffective raid can cause a human opponent to change his plans, spending more resources on defense and less on growth, which works to your advantage if you aren’t planning further invasions.) So, have more than enough military units, Spies or Diplomats, Engineers or Settlers, and transport. Be prepared for city walls, either by having enough Diplomats to destroy them, or having sufficient firepower to overcome them. Also, it is helpful to isolate a city you are attacking by interdicting roads and shipping lanes. I failed to capture a minor, though large, city in a recent game because it was located on a narrow island and the foe was able to bring a transport full of Fanatics in through the other side. If I’d planned more carefully, I could have stationed a Cruiser at that key point. (This game is described more fully below.)

If you have stronger units than your opponent but not enough of them to take on his cities, pillaging can be effective. Don’t overlook this possibility when you have bombers but not enough materiel to cross a body of water for an invasion. This is probably going to be more effective and certainly less dangerous than simply attacking his military units. Partisans, if they have a use at all, would be excellent for pillaging raids.

Bombardment by ships may be an important tactic. Don’t let Battleships and Cruisers sit around doing nothing in particular, especially if the enemy doesn’t have them. Scour his shoreline relentlessly, picking off vulnerable units, especially Settlers, Engineers, Caravans, Freight, Cannons, and Artillery. If no units are exposed, use ships to explore, defend your coastline, watch shipping lanes, or (does this work? not with Triremes) park them on a whales or fish resource to deny the value to the enemy.

Engineers in War

When faced with a strong line of forts defending another civ, use Spies to move Engineers and troops through the enemy zone of control. Build roads (and railroads, if desired) to allow penetration of more spies and troops. To defend Engineers, bring in additional Engineers to build forts, then bring in defensive units. This tactic requires a minimum of two Engineers per square of "penetration" (for road and fortress, or three Engineers if railroad is also built). This method would be useful to bypass a strong fort, e.g., on a mountain, particularly for a capital raid, pillaging raids, or to set up nuisance defensive units to interdict troop movements. This tactic is much more effective at 2x movement, another reason to dislike 2x movement. With normal movement, the tactic will work only if the Engineers can have movement points left after moving onto the square where a road or fort is desired. In other words, it only works on 1 MP terrain.

A quick road and fortress is a good way to attack a strong city with ground units, even if you expect to take the city in one turn. The point is that even if the city is captured, a big stack of attacking units is vulnerable to counterattack until dispersed or inside the city. Building a fort allows you to stack your attacking units on the one square without losing them all to a counterattack. Again, you need sufficient movement points to do all this; it’s easy at 2x movement with Engineers, because you can always move 1 square and still have 1 MP left, even moving onto a mountain. Also, this is easier when you have Transports available (for seaborne invasion) because you’ll have more room available for Engineers. This may seem like an obvious tactic, but I’ve seen seemingly good players lose stacks of units through failure to adopt it.

An Example Invasion with Marines and Spies

A recent (May 2001) 2x2x King game with several AI and a "no bribery" rule played against human nev21 went like this. He had been in Monarchy most of the game, and had the Pyramids and Sun Tzu and some other wonders. I had run a PDS and had Michelangelo’s Chapel and Leonardo’s Workshop and others. Once I got the Espionage advance, I changed to Communism (using Statue of Liberty), set taxes to 80%, and started building spies. I was also building Marines. He went to Fundamentalism. I had about 15 cities (mostly sizes 8 to 14) to his 30+, he was leading in population and production. He invaded three times with transports full of Diplomats, and stole at least 6 or 7 tech, but failed to get Espionage or Machine Tools (Artillery), though he got Steel (Cruisers) and Amphibious Warfare (Marines, Port Facility). His later attempts were foiled by spies and the railroad routes were blocked by new forts. I attacked two of his cities that were located on small islands, attacking with spies and bombardment and (hasty) just 2 Marine units. These attacks failed to capture the cities, but prompted him to reinforce the cities with troops from the mainland. I felt bad about this, because I could have guarded against this possibility with my Cruisers, but a later attack on the mainland succeeded easily, in part because he had ferried troops away to those islands.

When I had control of the sea with (mostly) veteran Cruisers, and had enough units, I invaded with three Transport loads of units. Eventually about 10 veteran spies, maybe 15 veteran Marines, 3 Artillery, and two Engineers were involved. My first action was to unload an Engineer and build a fort next to a walled city of size 8 or 9. I then unloaded all troops and spies into the fort, and explored and sabotaged a bit with the spies but made no attacks that turn. I didn’t attack because the city I had built next to was not my main target, and I needed the additional MP to get there. My opponent attacked with veteran Cannon and Cavalry, but the 3 or 4 attacks failed to destroy even a single Marine. I focused on his two cities that had all his wonders. On my next turn I used his roads (he had built no railroads) to send spies to destroy his city walls, then used Marines to attack his cities, which were generally defended by 3 veteran Riflemen or Fanatics. Once I captured one of his cities, my spies were returned there after successful missions, rather than across the ocean to my homeland. The Marines were very successful attacking the cities (it’s comparable to Elephants against Phalanxes) and over the next few turns I captured his wonders, and he gave up. If the cities had been on rivers, adding a 50% defensive bonus, these attacks would mostly have failed.

My opponent had a far-flung empire (that was one of his problems). But I had control of the sea, or at least my own coastline, with ten Cruisers guarding the channel between us, so he was unable to mount an effective attack. Also, I had a several more wonders, including Mike’s Chapel and Bach’s Cathedral, Leonardo’s Workshop, the Statue of Liberty, Colossus, all the research wonders except the Great Library, plus Women’s Suffrage and the Marco Polo Embassy. All but Suffrage and one other were in my capital, which I turned into a "super fortress" by building forts with veteran Riflemen on 5 sides (it was on a pond so 3 squares were inaccessible). I felt this was necessary to protect Leonardo’s Workshop. He had 6 wonders including the Pyramids, Lighthouse, Great Wall, the very important Sun Tzu, plus Magellan’s and Adam Smith. My 11-point capital was producing 300+ research beakers a turn under Democracy before I went to Communism, so I had a substantial tech lead and factories and railroads everywhere. I also had city walls on all big cities. Pollution was keeping my Engineers pretty busy, though I was also working on transforming some sites to start new cities. I had several cities producing a veteran Marines unit each turn or in 2 turns, and the smaller ones building spies, so I was able to take about two more transport loads (after the initial 3) to press the attack. I had followed an early PDS strategy and was leading in all demographics for a while, but I stopped expanding (crowded by AI neighbors) and concentrated on building wonders, railroads, factories, trade routes, etc. I won this game because my tech advantage overpowered his growth advantage–I lost no more than 1 or 2 Marine units, and 2 Artillery to a counterattacking Partisan unit. He lost about 20 units. Control of the sea was critical for my defense and attack both, and veteran spies were absolutely vital in destroying city walls. Another factor was the Statue of Liberty, allowing "free" timely changes to Democracy and Communism. I never needed Armor or Bombers, and never got to the Hoover Dam, things I’ve always previously used to conquer the world versus the (deity) computer.

Bone in the Throat

Occupying a strong defensive point inside an enemy civ with a strong defensive unit (e.g., veteran Phalanx) can be very disruptive and troublesome. This is particularly so for mountain squares with a road, gold, or iron. A computer opponent might waste many units in ineffective attacks, and will be unlikely to effectively go around. Such units are vulnerable to bribery, so it would be necessary to stack with another unit or agree to no bribery (in multiplayer). It can also be effective to station a warship to control or observe a waterway, like guarding the Panama Canal.

AI civs are likely to waste a lot of units attacking too-strong positions. I’ve seen AI use Horsemen repeatedly to attack Riflemen fortified in a city, and they attack Destroyers with Triremes.

Defensive Techniques

I generally play a defensive game and try to win by outbuilding and outgrowing my opponents. Once I’ve built a minimum of 15 cities I am mostly content to occupy whatever land is readily available without crossing the ocean, and I concentrate on tech, wonders, city growth, and defense. Forts and ships are critical elements of my defensive plans. I usually hope to defend my coastline with Ironclads against a technology-poor opponent. Sometimes I have suffered attack from triremes and catapults before I get Ironclads. In that case I may build triremes or caravels to attempt to keep enemy ships away, or I may just lose.

I position forts along my railroads to prevent groups of diplomats from roaming free, stealing tech at will. A few strategically-placed forts can add much to the defense of the realm. Before railroads, I may build one or two particularly critical forts, but that’s about it. Later I’ll give more serious thought to the problems, usually after my opponent has stolen half a dozen tech by a well-planned raid. In almost all my extended multiplayer games I’ve had a strong lead in tech because I’ve pursued a PDS strategy. Once I get Espionage I build about two spies per city for defense against tech theft. Because a Diplomat is left exposed when tech theft is foiled, it doesn’t take too many of these losses for the opponent to stop trying.

Defense is a lot harder later in the game, when spies, transports, and stronger units become available. A port city is very vulnerable; critical wonders and the capital should be landlocked. Consider building a super fortress around any city containing Leonardo’s Workshop; you don’t want to lose this wonder to surprise raid, because the enemy’s units will all be upgraded before you recapture it. A super fortress is simply a city surrounded on all sides (including diagonally) by occupied forts. Forts are good because, unlike city walls, they can’t be destroyed by spies or diplomats; they’re not so good because an empty fort can be used by anyone. Once Leonardo’s expires (when Armor comes on the scene), the forts can be removed if desired; at least, you certainly don’t want them left unoccupied, lest the enemy use them against you.

Once factories come on line, against a human player I usually try to build city walls for all cities. Even though these are vulnerable to destruction by spies, at least I force the enemy to have those spies if he wants to invade. Walls can also be sold in time of urgent need for gold, such as to beat an opponent to a critical wonder like the Hoover Dam. I don’t build city walls against AI, considering them a ridiculous waste, but then I’m usually so far ahead of AI civs by the time I get factories that defense isn’t much of a factor in my decisions.

Don’t rely on zones of control to keep enemies out (except early in the game when a single Warrior or Phalanx may be a vital defense) because Diplomats will provide a gate through which vast hordes of enemies can pour. I wouldn’t bother with "heroic" defensive measures such as a super fortress for just the capital, though a city with multiple wonders might be worth such a defense. If the critical city is a port, I’d consider stationing a strong ship in any square that might serve as a site for an amphibious assault when Marines become available to the enemy. This might foil a surprise attack, but it’s hardly invulnerable. Again, I find such measures to be unnecessary against AI.

Technology Topics

Trading and Gifting Tech

Your research is affected by technology you acquire through means other than research, such as from goody huts. When you trade technology, your research effectiveness is reduced; that is, it will take more research to get you new technology after you trade than before. It is generally believed that if you trade multiple technologies rather than single technologies, your research rate will take less of a hit than if you trade those same technologies one at a time (i.e., over subsequent turns). I have not checked this out.

The Apolyton web site’s "Great Library" provides detailed information on how giving tech to another civ reduces your own research costs. It seems that your research cost is directly affected by how big a lead in tech you have over the other civs in the game, and giving tech to a particular civ reduces your costs more than if you gave to another civ. The Apolyton Great Library is presently at This web site provides much additional and often surprising information about the game of Civ 2. It is an impressive piece of work.

Bronze Working

Because a quick start and quick builds of settlers are critical in the early stages, it occurs to me that Bronze should wait. In the spirit of taking reasonable chances, it might be profitable to delay making Phalanxes (even if you have Bronze Working) and just make Warriors for exploration and to keep cities pacified. Later, you build veteran Phalanxes (mostly) for defense, either disbanding the Warriors because they aren’t worth supporting (under a Republic) or keeping them just for crowd control (Monarchy). This plan saves time in two ways:

  • No need to research Bronze Working until you’re ready to build Phalanxes or because you want to research Trade. This gets you to Republic quicker for the Early PDS strategy.
  • Warriors are quicker to build, allowing you to build Settlers that much faster under any strategy.

The one disadvantage is fairly obvious: if you are attacked, you are weak, and you may lose a couple of cities before your defense can be strengthened. This is unlikely against an AI civ, though you may have to buy off an aggressive AI ruler with a "gift" of money or tech. Humans, naturally, are less predictable and more dangerous. Systematic exploration and plugging of entry points can reduce this risk.

Invention or Religion?

Once Literacy has been obtained, there is a choice to push for either religion technologies (leading to Michelangelo’s Chapel and Bach’s Cathedral) or invention (leading to gunpowder, steam engines, etc.). The two tracks are completely independent except that mysticism is needed for philosophy and religion, as well as for astronomy/navigation/physics/steam engine. My practice in the past has been to push for religion, because the religious wonders allow easy maintenance of a Republic and the increased research this brings. But it might be possible and advisable to hold off on those wonders until factories are built. In any case, when selecting tech to research it is important to have your next big goal in mind.

Spy Power

Espionage may be the single most important advance in a long multiplayer game except nuclear weapons. A veteran spy is worth two battalions of Marines and costs 1/4 as many shields. Spies are too powerful, in my opinion. Here are some thoughts about spies:

  • Spies produced under Communist government are veterans, more effective both on attack and defense against theft of technology. When playing against human players, I routinely convert my government to Communism to build swarms of veteran spies. In a recent game at one point I had 17 veteran spies and was building more. Changing over to Communism (from Republic or Democracy) when you’re going on the offensive makes sense anyway, because unrest isn’t a problem. The major drawback is loss of research. Naturally, it helps to have the Statue of Liberty to ease the transition; nothing is more discouraging than to be eager for the attack (after playing a long building and defensive game due to Republic or Democracy government) then have to wait four or five turns to get the right government to build these vital units.
  • Spies are devastating on the attack because they can reveal the precise number of defenders (allowing you to choose your targets efficiently) and they can destroy city walls. When going for city wall sabotage, unless the situation is critical, allow the spy to choose her own target; you lose far fewer spies that way. Without spies, I would want Bombers to tackle a walled city defended by Riflemen. After spies have destroyed the city walls, veteran Marines become effective attackers, winning almost every battle against veteran Riflemen or Fanatics fortified in cities.
  • Spies can destroy Cathedrals, Temples, and Coliseums to try to cause collapse of Democracy (cities and units under Democracy can’t be subverted or bribed). To save money, destroy Courthouse before subverting city. Maybe destroy Cathedral to possibly cause unrest, subvert city on following turn. The other player may be able to create entertainers to keep the city from going into unrest; to give him the minimum possible time to react, make this attack the last thing you do on your turn.
  • Destroy city improvements in cost-effective trades; e.g., spy costs 30 to build, Library costs 80, and a veteran spy will usually survive the attack.
  • There are very limited means to protect your cities against spies. Your own spies in a city can prevent theft of technology by others, but does not retard other spy activities. Completely blocking access is seldom feasible. Courthouse and communist government make a city more costly to subvert; democracy prevents subversion and unit bribes.
  • In a multiplayer game, propose limiting or eliminating bribery.

About 6 months ago I was involved in a two player internet game (2x 2x with two AI civs). I though I could crush my opponent’s resistance in one or a few turns, even though he had 30 cities and about 11 million population to my 16 cities and 10 million. We had a narrow front (land), and I had a slight lead in tech and had built many railroads. The big difference, I thought, was that I had the espionage advance, and he did not. I had about 50 spy units and built more, since I wanted to keep about 30 for defense. I had a communist government to get veteran spies.

Plan 1 was to locate his capital and destroy it by repeatedly poisoning his water supply. This would also destroy his 5 wonders. As I later learned, it is not possible to reduce a city below 1 by poisoning; as well, repeated poisonings become more difficult. If I could not locate his capital right away, or after doing so, I could go to plan 2: just destroy as many of his city improvements as I could. If his democracy lapsed into anarchy as a result, I could be able to bribe away many of his cities rather cheaply, and the game would be mine. This overlooked the possibility of his bribing cities back. I tried building courthouses, but this was ineffective because the cities were still bribed.

At 2x movement it is virtually impossible to keep spies (6 MP) out. Even if he had few roads, as I thought, I could use engineers to build roads quickly, using spies to help the engineers through the zone of control of his cities. In this way I could build roads around any cities or troops that were in the way, all in one turn at a cost of one engineer per road built. I could also send transports loaded with spies and a few engineers around to the other side of his territory and invade on two fronts, though in fact this never happened. It was my hope to make a decisive blow in one turn, rather than going more slowly and so reducing loss of engineers. By going slower, it would have been possible to build a fort wherever an engineer built a road, and then bring in riflemen to protect the fort and (now 2) engineers. At 2x an engineer builds a road or a fort instantly, ready for immediate use. With unlimited engineers (and spies to evade ZOC) it would be possible to move around the world in one turn by building railroads.

This is not a nice way to defeat a good civ2 player. I wonder why it is possible and seemingly so easy. And I worry that there’s no practical defense against such tactics. The Gold manual mentions using spies for counterespionage, but spies can only protect against theft of technology, and not against the other horrors spies can inflict. It would certainly be possible to take the fun out of the game simply by destroying factories and cathedrals.

It would be possible to block entry of spies by surrounding every city with a ring of manned forts and occupying every port square with the best available naval vessels, but who has time for such heroic measures? If you have to spend that much effort on defense, you’re already dead and the game becomes unplayable. You would have to have a prior agreement among the players not to use spies. Am I wrong?

In this game I learned how easy and cheap it often is to bribe a city to defect. The presence of a diplomat or spy in the target city is no hindrance to such attacks, and indeed just provides another free unit to the bribing player. I was way behind in military units, as usual vs. this player. This is not inappropriate, perhaps, if one is defensively minded; but I was saved from being completely overrun by two events: I was able to "buy back" captured cities (and many of his units along with them) quite cheaply, and the discovery of gunpowder upgraded all my defensive units to musketeers (due to the Workshop wonder). But defense is difficult; it might be better to build less improvements and more military units. Make others defend against you—though this makes it difficult to build wonders.

I left myself vulnerable to the capture of the city that had Leonardo’s Workshop, which upgraded his units to musketeers and cannon. As it happened, the result wasn’t that significant in the long run, but it was momentarily very discouraging to see my three musketeer units fall to three catapults, not winning a single battle. City walls are needed to protect especially this wonder, because capturing it for a single turn was all that was needed to upgrade his units.

Finally, a diplomat was able to sneak into the heart of my territory (largely due to my railroads) and destroy my in-progress Suffrage wonder, costing me a bundle and resulting in my losing out on Suffrage. When building a wonder, make sure to keep spies away!

As it happened, I won that game, but though the player didn’t say it, I think it may have been that the destruction wrought by spies made the game unpalatable for him.

Partisans and Alpine Troops

In a stable frontier, no bribery situation, Partisans could invade a strongly-held line of fortifications because they are not restricted by Zone of Control. They could injure or tie up an enemy civ by occupying key points, staging hit and run raids, and pillaging. This could be cost effective tactics unless enemy Bombers are available to slaughter the invaders—which they might well be. If one already had Tactics and wanted Communism to make veteran spies, then Guerrilla Warfare to make Partisans–no, it just doesn’t make sense, because Guerrilla Warfare leads only to the Labor Union, which leads to nothing. With 6 MP at 2x Partisans could keep up with spies on raids. But overall, this seems like a feeble and unnecessary unit, too late on the scene and too lacking in firepower. Just build Riflemen, which are cheaper and stronger.

If Partisans didn’t require shield support (because they can "live off the fat of the land") or if they didn’t cause unhappy citizens under Republic or Democracy (because they’re volunteers), either of which seem sensible rule changes, then they would be more useful. Otherwise, I just can’t see building the things when it’s 10 shields cheaper to build Riflemen.

Alpine Troops, with a 5 defense, are a good alternative to Riflemen, who I mostly use for defense anyway. I generally am glad to build Mech. Infantry (6 defense) when they become available, but I have rarely used Alpine Troops. However, they can make use of otherwise wasted shields. That is, if it takes a city 2 turns to build either Riflemen or Alpine Troops, you build the latter to get free extra defense strength and movement capabilities. Or, build Partisans, I suppose.

Technology for Deity/AI

Goal Requires Allows Leads To
Bronze Working   Phalanx, Colossus Currency, Trade
Horseback Riding   Horsemen Polytheism
Masonry   Pyramids Mathematics
Monarchy Burial, Alphabet, Laws Monarchy Feudalism
Trade Currency, (Laws) Caravan Medicine, Banking
Literacy Writing, (Laws) Great Library Republic
Philosophy Mysticism, (Literacy) Free advance Monotheism, Medicine
Feudalism Warrior Code, (Monarchy) Sun Tzu’s War Academy Theology, Chivalry
Monotheism Polytheism, (Philosophy) Michelangelo’s Chapel Theology, Fundamentalism
Theology (Feudalism), (Monotheism) Bach’s Cathedral  
Construction (Masonry), (Currency) Aqueduct, Fortress Engineering, Bridge Building
Invention Wheel, Engineering, (Literacy) Leonardo’s Workshop Gunpowder, Steam Engine
Gunpowder Iron Working, (Invention)   Explosives (w/Univ,Chem), Metallurgy (w/Univ)
Astronomy Mathematics, (Mysticism) Copernicus’s Observatory Navigation, Gravity
Navigation Mapmaking, Pottery, Seafaring, (Astronomy) Magellan’s Expedition, Caravel Physics, Amphibious Warfare
Steam Engine Physics, (Invention) Eiffel Tower Railroad
Railroad Bridge Building, (Steam Engine) Darwin’s Voyage Industrialization
Industrialization Banking, (Railroad) Women’s Suffrage, Factory Communism, Corporation
Democracy (Banking), (Invention) Statue of Liberty Conscription, Espionage
Espionage Communism, (Democracy) Spies  

Astronomy and navigation may come before invention; literacy may come before trade; feudalism may come before philosophy, or be much delayed; mathematics may come much earlier than as a preliminary to astronomy; trade might well be deferred until philosophy is attained (i.e., go for mysticism ASAP after literacy)

Technology for PDS

Goal Requires Allows Leads To
Alphabet     Code of Laws, Mapmaking, Mathematics, Writing
Code of Laws Alphabet   Republic, Monarchy
Writing Laws Diplomat, Library Literacy
Literacy Writing, Laws Great Library Republic, Invention
Republic Literacy, Laws President’s Day Sale Philosophy
Ceremonial Burial   Temple Mysticism
Mysticism Burial Oracle Philosophy
Philosophy Mysticism, Literacy Free advance Monotheism, Medicine
Bronze Working   Colossus, Phalanx Currency, Iron Working
Currency Bronze Working Marketplace Trade
Trade Currency, Laws Caravan, Marco Polo Medicine, Banking
Horseback Riding   Horsemen Polytheism, theWheel
Polytheism Burial, Horseback Riding Elephants Monotheism
Monotheism Polytheism, Philosophy Michelangelo’s Chapel, Crusaders, Cathedral Theology, Fundamentalism
Masonry   Palace, City Walls, Pyramids, Great Wall Construction, Mathematics
Construction Currency, Masonry Aqueduct, Colosseum, Fortress Engineering, Bridge Building
The Wheel Horseback Riding Chariot Engineering
Engineering The Wheel, Construction King Richard’s Crusade  
Invention Literacy, Engineering Leonardo’s Workshop Steam Engine, Gunpowder

It’s often advisable to push Bronze Working up in the table, to allow Phalanxes for defense. Trade can be put off until after Monotheism, if desired. A tech in bold is the goal of the sequence of techs listed above it.

Technology for MGW

Goal Requires Allows Leads To
Horseback Riding   Horsemen Polytheism, theWheel
The Wheel Horseback Riding Chariots Engineering
Masonry   Palace, City Walls, Pyramids, Great Wall Construction, Mathematics
Alphabet     Code of Laws, Mapmaking, Mathematics, Writing
Code of Laws Alphabet   Republic, Monarchy
Ceremonial Burial   Temple Mysticism, Monarchy
Monarchy Burial, Laws Better government Feudalism
Warrior Code   Archers Feudalism
Feudalism Monarchy, Warrior Code Pikemen; Sun Tzu’s War Academy Chivalry
Chivalry Feudalism, Horseback Riding Knights Dragoons

I put the Wheel second because it seems a better choice than going for Polytheism and Elephants. Veteran Chariots should be able to take a city held by non-vet Phalanxes (without City Walls), and that level of force is what is needed. Chivalry won’t be that useful if opposing civs are building City Walls or Great Wall. The tech table stops at Chivalry because it is theoretical (not based on experience). Also, you should be getting tech from huts and AI rather than focusing on research. Once Monarchy is attained, I’d be inclined to select my tech based on what kind of attack units I needed, such as Catapults (for walled cities) or Knights, and on whether I anticipate needing to cross open ocean any time soon. Exploration is important to this strategy, but I can’t see going for Pottery and Seafaring just to build expensive Explorers when I can build 3 times as many Warriors for the same shields.

Military Unit Cost Effectiveness

Should I build two Warriors or one Phalanx? This kind of question cannot be answered based on some supposed "cost effectiveness," because a better answer will be based on the immediate and long-term needs of your civilization. If you are in Monarchy and need to control the population of a city that’s in unrest, two Warriors might be better than one Phalanx. If you need to defend against attacking Horsemen, one Phalanx is probably a better choice than two Warriors.

The real question to consider when building military units for war is, "what kind of unit will survive a battle against the kind of units my opponent has?" If your opponent has or is likely to have cities defended by Warriors, all you need is Horsemen to attack him. If your opponent is likely to attack you with Horsemen, you need Phalanxes defending your cities.

All that is needed to win battles is a slight numerical advantage after all factors have been accounted for. If your opponent has veteran Riflemen or Fanatics defending his cities, the defense factor is 4*1.5*1.5: 4 is the basic defense factor of the unit, multiplied by 1.5 for veteran status, and multiplied by 1.5 for being fortified. 4*1.5*1.5 = 9. Any attacker that gives you an attack greater than 9 should win most of the attacks, while attacking with less than 9 will lose most attacks. Attacking with veteran Marines or Cannon will give you an attack of 12, a nice cushion. Using the same units to attack a vet Rifleman fortified on a river will lose most of the time, because his defense is now 4*1.5*1.5*1.5 = 13.5. Hit points and firepower complicate the situation; consult the Apolyton web site for more details.

In a test using Horsemen to attack fortified Warriors (numerically 2 vs 1.5), 20 out of 20 attacks resulted in dead Warriors and wounded Horsemen.

The following table shows Cost, Attack, Defense, Movement, Hit Points, Firepower, and Cost Effectiveness results for the military units of Civ 2. See after the table for discussion of the cost effectiveness formulae.

Unit Cost A D M HP FP Cost Effectiveness 1 † Cost Effectiveness 2 ‡
Warrior 10 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Phalanx 20 1 2 1 1 1 0.625 0.75
Pikemen* 20 1 3 1 1 1 0.75 1
Archer 30 3 2 1 1 1 0.583 0.833
Legion 40 4 2 1 1 1 0.5 0.75
Catapult 40 6 1 1 1 1 0.563 0.875
Musketeer 30 3 3 1 2 1 0.917 1.5
Cannon 40 8 1 1 2 1 0.75 1.25
Fanatic 20 4 4 1 2 1 1.75 3
Partisan 50 4 4 1.5 2 1 0.75 1.4
Riflemen 40 5 4 1 2 1 0.938 1.625
Alpine Trp. 50 5 5 1.5 2 1 0.9 1.75
Marines 60 8 5 1 2 1 0.833 1.5
Paratroopers 60 6 4 1 2 1 0.667 1.167
Artillery 50 10 1 1 2 2 1.2 2.2
Howitzer 70 12 2 2 3 2 1.214 3.857
Horsemen 20 2 1 2 1 1 0.875 1.25
Chariot 30 3 1 2 1 1 0.667 1.167
Elephant 40 4 1 2 1 1 0.563 1.125
Knight 40 4 2 2 1 1 0.625 1.25
Crusader 40 5 1 2 1 1 0.625 1.375
Dragoon 50 5 2 2 2 1 0.65 1.4
Cavalry 60 8 3 2 2 1 0.75 1.833
Mech. Inf. 50 6 6 3 3 1 1.5 3.6
Armor 80 10 5 3 3 1 0.969 2.813
Frigate 50 4 2 4 2 1 0.8 2
Ironclad 60 4 4 4 3 1 1 2.333
Submarine 60 10 2 3 3 2 1.333 5.5
Destroyer 60 4 4 6 3 1 1.167 3
Cruiser 80 6 6 5 3 2 1.25 4.875
Battleship 160 12 12 4 4 2 1.25 4.5
Carrier 160 1 9 5 4 2 0.75 1.438
AEGIS* 100 8 12 5 3 2 1.55 5.8
Fighter 60 4 3 10 2 2 1.417 7.167
Bomber 120 12 1 8 2 2 0.875 8.083
Helicopter 100 10 3 6 2 2 0.95 6.3
Stealth Fgtr 80 8 4 14 2 2 1.625 14.5
Stealth Bmbr 160 14 5 12 2 2 0.969 10.813
Cruise Mis. 60 18 0 12 1 3 3.25 54
Nuclear Mis. 160 99 0 16 1 1 2.047 49.5

† 2.5*((A*FP)+(D*HP)+2M)/C

‡ 5*((A*FP*M)+(D*HP))/C

Factors of 2.5 and 5 allow comparison to Warriors = 1.

* Defense for pikemen is 4 vs. mounted units, 2 vs. others; use 3 for calculation of C.E. Defense for Aegis is 8 vs. ships, 16 vs. aircraft and missiles; use 12 for calculation of C.E. Alpine Troops and Partisans get 1 MP but treat all terrain as road. This is less effective than 3 MP because they cannot move and attack at full strength. Hence their M is set to 1.5.

Criticism of Formulas for Cost Effectiveness

  • The figures are surprisingly UNinformative! No hidden treasures are revealed, no unsuspected ripoffs are disclosed. More useful would be common comparisons: when an Elephant attacks a city defended by fortified Phalanxes, with no other defensive bonuses, what is the probable result? And so on.
  • Dominant terrain affects cost effectiveness of movement. Rough terrain effectively reduces the value of 2 MP to 1, which increases the C.E. of slower units and Explorer-type movement.
  • Double movement should reduce the C.E. of units normally having 2 MP. The most important value of movement is when MP > 2; then the unit can move and attack (such as unloading from a ship and making an immediate attack, or moving next to a city and attacking). Using 2x movement gives all units this capability, increasing the C.E. of slower units and reducing it for faster units.
  • Support affects cost. In support situations, cost effectiveness of costlier units should go up compared to cheaper units, because each requires 1 shield support. Also, bombers, missiles, and other units that cause unhappy citizens are costlier than the mere number of shields required to build them.
  • The added cost for support should reflect the expected lifetime of the unit, rather than the per-turn cost. That is, a missile or armor unit will more probably have a shorter life than a phalanx or musketeer, which are used primarily for defense and may sit in a city for a very long time. If a game lasts 100 turns, and a militia is built on turn 3, it could cost 97 in support.
  • Special abilities and limitations of various units not factored into C.E., such as:
    • Partisans evade ZOC.
    • Fanatics use no support.
    • Marines and Paratroops have special capabilities that may or may not come into play in a particular game.
    • Bomber, Fighter, Helicopter, Howitzer, and Stealth units all ignore city walls when attacking. Missile units also?
    • Ships which can bombard shore units are comparatively more cost effective than those that can’t.
    • Missiles can be used only once; Fighter can attack multiple targets in a turn.
    • Some units can spot enemy Subs.
  • Hit points and firepower don’t really work the way the formula suggests; that is, an attack value of 8 at 2 firepower is not equivalent to attack value of 16 at 1 firepower.
  • Veteran units are more cost effective. The costlier the unit, the more it justifies the investment in Barracks or Port Facility.
  Cost A D M HP FP Cap Cost Effectiveness † Formula for transport ships is 6.667*M*Cap*D/Cost.
Trireme 40 1 1 3 1 1 2 1.000
Caravel 40 2 1 3 1 1 3 1.500
Galleon 40 0 2 4 2 1 4 5.333
Transport 50 0 3 5 3 1 8 16.000

Reconsidering Wonders

I have provided a table of wonders (page 40), which shows "cost effectiveness" of a few of them. This comparison is not very informative, except to show how utterly cheap the Hoover Dam is.

The Greatest Bargains

The Pyramids are one of the biggest bargains in the game. For the cost of a mere 3 and a third granaries, you get cost-free, indestructible granaries in all your cities. Michelangelo’s Chapel is about as valuable, weighing in at the cost of 3 and a third cathedrals. Bach’s Cathedral isn’t as good as the Chapel, but still a bargain. And the Hoover Dam wonder is wonderfully cheap, costing a mere 2 and a half Hydro Plants. None of these wonders expires. The Great Library and Leonardo’s Workshop are the most important of the wonders that do expire.

I often fail to get the Pyramids because I’m pursuing PDS and I’m angling to get Michelangelo’s Chapel and Leonardo’s Workshop. When I’ve built these two, I’ll probably have a few extra Caravans coming up, and if the Pyramids are still available I’d snap them up quick with 4 Caravans unless (unlikely) I can get to work on Bach’s Cathedral or maybe Sun Tzu’s. This assumes the Early PDS strategy, King level, 2x2x; under Monarchy at deity level, I’d go for the Pyramids first and early, starting construction in the capital when I have a total of three cities built. If I don’t start as early as that, I’ll likely lose out to an AI civ.

Among the wonders that do expire, Leonardo’s Workshop is kind of expensive at a time when you’d probably rather be using those Caravans for trade routes, but don’t let anyone else get this wonder if you want to win the game. The mere upgrading of your dozen or twenty Settlers to Engineers is worth the cost of this wonder, not to mention those Warriors becoming Riflemen. When you’re going to get this wonder, sell your Barracks or build units that won’t upgrade, such as Riflemen, Alpine Troops, Marines, or Cavalry.

These are the wonders I consider practically indispensable. The Great Library can be just as important as any of the "bargain" wonders, depending on your long-term strategies and the game parameters. Naturally, the more civs in the game, the more valuable the GL will be. My inclination is always to push hard for technology, so for me the Great Library isn’t that useful because I usually manage to get a big tech lead. However, if one does build the GL, a strategy worth considering would be to set research at a minimum (taxes at maximum, natch) and push hard for speedy growth, relying on the GL to keep you near the top in tech. When you are ready, you push for advanced tech because you’ve grown so great. This strategy will cause you to lose out on some wonders, however, and could be a loser overall if one opponent is pushing hard for tech in a PDS strategy. That’s because you won’t get his tech from the GL until someone else gets it (if ever). So I wouldn’t try this except versus the computer.

Most wonders seem fairly attractive, but the ones discussed in the next section should generally be avoided as a matter of course, unless they form the basis of a particular strategy.

I Wonder Why: Losers

Which is worth more, a tech advance or the Pyramids? That’s what Darwin’s Voyage costs, 200 shields per tech gained. For the same 400 shields you could build 5 Libraries, or 3 Libraries and a University, or establish 8 trade routes, or build 13 Diplomats to steal the tech you lust for. Any of these is apparently a better bargain. However, if you’ve just built all these Factories and there are no other good wonders to be had, it is fun to nab this one and put despair into the hearts of your foes.

The Colossus is a joke, perhaps even if it’s going to form the foundation for a super-tech-producing big city (including a Library, University, Copernicus’ Observatory, Isaac Newton’s College, and carefully-selected trade routes). Two trade routes generally provide as much new trade as the Colossus, and the wonder does expire eventually. I believe it is more cost effective to build trade routes, libraries, aqueducts, and such, to build your city size and trade base, than to go for this wonder. Even if it does cost only 4 Caravans.

The Oracle expires quicker than just about any other wonder, and it’s not cheap. Build anything else instead. I can’t even think of a game strategy that would make this turkey worth building. Human opponents are likely going for Michelangelo’s Chapel; anyone who misses out on it will go for Theology and Bach’s Cathedral, and there goes your Oracle. Against AI at deity level it’s somewhat better because it’s likely to last longer, but I still wouldn’t build it.

I gather that the Eiffel Tower and Shakespeare’s Theater are essential if you’re playing the One City Challenge. The Tower might be useful if you’ve just tried deity level for the first time and the AI are beating you up. Other than that, these are foolish wastes of time, unless there are some subtle strategies out there that I’m not aware of. The only excuse I could see for the Eiffel Tower is if you want to wage a bribe-them-to-death campaign against AI. That might make it cost effective, if it makes bribery cheaper (I don’t know whether it does). Also, see the "Resource City" strategy below regarding Shakespeare’s Theater.

King Richard’s Crusade is an extra-expensive factory at a time when factories are not available. Factories cost so much to build (200 shields) and 4 gold per turn I’m often curious whether they’re really worth building. (I’m even less sure about Manufacturing Plants, Solar Plants, and the like.) But I keep on building them and keep on gnashing my teeth at how long they take to come on line. The KRC doesn’t last very long, and it costs 300 shields. If your city is bringing in 20 shields per turn, the KRC has to last 15 turns just to recover the shields it cost to build! What else could you have done with those 300 shields? I’ve built it only once, and I doubt I’ll ever build it again unless I’m trying to build Magellan’s and somebody beats me to it. I suppose if you want to build a whole bunch of wonders in one big, productive city, this thing might just pay for itself; but I doubt it. If it didn’t expire, I’d be more enthusiastic about it. If you want more shields, don’t start by squandering 300 on this "wonder."

One author at the Apolyton web site suggests using the KRC and other production-enhancing city improvements, plus Shakespeare’s Theater, to build a "Resource City" out of which you base all your non-defensive units under Democracy or Republic, the idea being that Shakespeare’s nullifies the unhappiness factor while the production enhancements provide the shields for support. It’s a plan with some tradeoffs. I don’t like it much because it makes a city, as with Leonardo’s Workshop, that one simply can’t afford to lose even for a turn. Because if you do, of course, all those supported units disappear. And, if you want to include ships in the strategy, that city is going to be vulnerable because it can’t be landlocked.

I always liked to go for the Statue of Liberty because of my usual overall strategy. I pursue Republic and an early PDS as hard as possible, and by the time I want to switch to Democracy I usually have a pretty large civilization. To languish in Anarchy for several turns while waiting for Democracy to come on line is almost intolerable, and almost surely costs as much in corruption and waste as the Statue costs to build. However, information available from the Civilization Fanatics web site (or see page 10, "No More 3-Turn Revolutions") shows how to avoid multiple turns of Anarchy. This knowledge should make the SOL obsolete.

Dubious Wonders

Is it important to build any wonders? I find it hard to argue against any of the "bargains," and all wonders are useful for increasing your score against the computer. But many wonders seem pretty darn expensive compared to approximately equivalent city improvements or just building more cities. You need to tailor your wonder building to your reading of how valuable it will be in this game. Some wonders can be worthwhile or losers, depending on your strategy and the game parameters and game situation. Among these I put the Lighthouse, Great Wall, Marco Polo’s Embassy, and the United Nations.

The Lighthouse is cheap enough, but if anyone decides to push hard in shipping tech, it’s going to expire pretty quickly. I would generally go for the Lighthouse only if I felt a compelling need to cross the seas with Triremes, such as to pursue an early war. You’d do better to push hard in shipping tech yourself, and build Magellan’s Expedition. Note that the Lighthouse does provide veteran Triremes (those built after the Lighthouse is built) which can be effective in attacking Caravels.

The Great Wall can be a killer. Conquering a city and getting immediate triple-strength protection is very hard to beat. However: if your opponent is pursuing a PDS strategy, you may find that your Great Wall has become a Great White Elephant, expiring before it ever becomes a factor in the game. I think you would do better to use those 300 shields to build seven more Knights. If your opponent has discovered Invention, count on it, Metallurgy will be in his immediate future if you have the Great Wall. I had one human opponent who was building the GW while I was researching Metallurgy. He completed it after it had expired. I would consider building the GW if I was involved in an early land war with my one human opponent. For a seaborne invasion, things seem to get under way ever so much more slowly, and I’d be too worried about the tech race making my GW obsolete before it got into play. This is more true of 2x2x King level, where things just go faster, including the discovery of Metallurgy. At normal production, the GW is a much better deal.

Marco Polo’s Embassy and the United Nations can be a bargain or a rip-off depending on game parameters and your general strategy. If you’re pursuing exploration and expansion at a breakneck pace, and you’re in a 3-civ game, the MPE and UN are a big waste. If you’re in a 7-civ game and plan to build about 15 big cities and defend, defend, defend, the MPE can be a bargain, and probably the UN as well.

Other Wonders

I don’t have a lot to say about the remaining wonders. The Hanging Gardens, Sun Tzu’s War Academy, Copernicus’ Observatory, Magellan’s Expedition, Isaac Newton’s College, Adam Smith’s Trading Co., Women’s Suffrage, the Manhattan Project, Apollo Program, Seti Program, and Cure for Cancer all seem to be about worth the effort it takes to build them, and none seems like an out-and-out bargain, though clearly there would be some mismatches. If you’re in Fanaticism or Communism and plan to stay there you don’t need Women’s Suffrage or the Cure for Cancer, eh? For someone with a Republic and a war, Women’s Suffrage is pretty important, either cutting unhappiness or allowing change to Democracy. Of course, the Manhattan Project and Apollo Program can be decisive depending on the advancement of the other civs. But ordinarily, these appear so late in the game that the game is already over. Adam Smith’s can help a leading civ cement its advantage, but it just doesn’t seem that important to me. Presumably it pays for itself eventually, but I wouldn’t build it until the game is already looking like a win or perhaps at deity-level Monarchy, when wonders seem easier to get because the pace is so slow. But in general I’d prefer to build Marketplaces and trade routes instead if income is needed.

Wonders Comparison Table

Those wonders in bold face are selected by the author as the "Biggest Bargains"; see page 37. The wonders in small print are considered losers; see "I Wonder Why: Losers," page 37.

Wonder Cost to Build Tech Required Approx. Equivalent City Improvement Cost to Build Improvement Relative Cost (cost1/cost2)
Pyramids 200 Mas Granary 60 3.33
Hanging Gardens 200 Pot      
Colossus 200 Bro      
Lighthouse 200 Map      
Great Library 300 Lit      
Oracle 300 Mys      
Great Wall 300 Mas City Walls 80 3.75
Sun Tzu’s War Academy 300 Feu Barracks 40 7.50
King Richard’s Crusade 300 Eng Factory (in this city only) 200 1.50
Marco Polo’s Embassy 200 Tra Diplomats + Travel    
Michelangelo’s Chapel 400 MT Cathedral 120 3.33
Copernicus’ Observatory 300 Ast      
Magellan’s Expedition 400 Nav      
Shakespeare’s Theatre 300 Med      
Leonardo’s Workshop 400 Inv      
J. S. Bach’s Cathedral 400 The Cathedral 120 3.33
Isaac Newton’s College 400 ToG      
Adam Smith’s Trading Co. 400 Eco      
Darwin’s Voyage 400 RR Library 80 5.00
Statue of Liberty 400 Dem      
Eiffel Tower 300 SE      
Women’s Suffrage 600 Ind      
Hoover Dam 600 E2 Hydro Plant 240 2.50
Manhattan Project 600 NF      
United Nations 600 Cmn      
Apollo Program 600 SFl      
SETI Program 600 Cmp Research Lab 160 3.75
Cure for Cancer 600 Gen      

Errors in the Documentation

The following are errors I’ve found in the Multiplayer Civilization II Gold Edition manual, First Edition, September, 1998.

Page 51: Spies can stop attempted theft of tech only, not attempted sabotage.

Page 89: Aegis cruiser has 2x defense against air units, according to Rules.txt, not 3x and 5x; but other sources (Apolyton) make me wonder.


Resources and City Growth

  • Figure out a "grassland baseline" of growth, compare with whales, fishes, wheat; decide on the cost effectiveness of exploring to find these resources versus building on grassland.
  • At 2x production, what changes?
  • What is the percentage of ocean resources to plain ocean squares? What is the expectation of number of squares explored before a resource is found?
  • Which is better, build directly on wheat or oasis, or build in knight-move away from the resource?
  • If you build on a resource, do you ever get another? (Don’t think so) How about ocean-land resource combination patterns?
  • Is one knight-move (between city and resource) better than another?
  • Consider, in general, how much "good land" is optimum per city versus how close together should cities be built? Try various rules and see how they compare for overall civ growth.

Attack and Defense

Calculate or test odds of attack and defense: 2 vs 1 (A vs D), 4 vs 2, 4.5 vs 2 fortified in city (i.e., veteran Chariot vs. Phalanx). Is 2 vs 1 the same, odds-wise, as 4 vs 2? If both are vets, is this the same as both are non-vets?

Is there a city defensive bonus, or does it depend only on the terrain?

How does firepower/hit points compare to A & D values in odds of results?

Marines in amphib. assault: which is worse, City Walls or Coastal Fortress?

Strategic Questions

When to build your first Barracks? Or save gold for rush build when enemy appears, so Barracks is near front lines?

How does strategy change when you get 15+ cities? Or is the change of government the critical factor?

What’s So Great about Civ2?

  • Continual new challenges.
  • The ability to try out a new strategy, even radically new, and at the end sometimes not be sure whether it’s better or worse than the old strategy. The OCC (One City Challenge) demonstrates that you don’t even need a lot of cities!
  • Best laid plans gang aft agley, but you don’t feel ripped off (usually).
  • Multiplayer capability.
  • You get a new map every time, and a new mix of opponents (in multiplayer).
  • Depth and breadth.
  • You can study it on your own and learn things about it.
  • I used to get bored with civ2 AI every few months and take a break with Master of Orion, chess, or something else, but it’s civ2 that I always came back to with new excitement. Since I got on the net and discovered multiplayer a couple of years ago, I’ve never gotten bored with it. And with the ability to change game parameters and create maps and scenarios, you essentially have a lifetime game system.
  • Is it the best game (excluding sports) ever invented? Well, chess and go, poker and bridge, and a few others might nose it out of the top spot, but it’s darn close.
  • Is it the best computer game ever invented? How should I know? But it is my favorite computer game.

~ END ~