The Americans

“I love thee, I love thee not, I love thee, I love thee not.” would be the national anthem of America if the Civs had one. Beloved, despised and sometimes both at the same time – America is one of the most debated Civs in the game. Typically this Civ is disliked by ‘newbies’ and praised by the higher-level players. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Industrious and Expansionist, America has the traits that can result in an explosive early game start. In combination these two traits are arguably the most complimentary traits in the game. Together these two traits result in pure production power. The Industrious trait will result in a faster road network. This will quickly translates out to higher gold revenues than most other Civs. The Expansionist trait usually results into a quick tech lead combined with a greater knowledge of the map. Add to this the fact that America starts with Pottery, which allows for immediate access to granaries, and this results in a faster city expansion. Add yet again the fact that those early scouts will have located the ‘prime real estate’ for the settlers to found the cities. Combine all these elements and what results is a total city lead, scientific lead, commercial lead, production lead, and trade advantage. Out of the starting gate, few if any Civs can rival the sheer force of the American expansion.

The trick to America is to translate that early lead into a permanent state of affairs. It is here that the ‘newbie’ loses patience and the veteran begins to cement his dominance. America, and only 2 other Civs, has no half priced buildings of any sort. The American pays ‘sticker’ price on everything! To offset this it is imperative that the American maintain his expansion as long as possible. He may not crank out temples and libraries as fast as others – but he will have more. He may take longer on those barracks and airports – but he will have more. His cities may not produce as much science, food, or commerce as other Civs – but he will out produce them nevertheless. With America – SIZE DOES MATTER. The key to this Civ is simple. It’s a numbers game.

As a warmonger Civ America is greatly underrated. The lack of a UU in the first 3 ages leads many to this false conclusion. Whatever America may lack in quality is easily made up in quantity. Or to quote a particularly evil man, “quantity is it’s own quality”. Given the typical large sprawling empire of the Americans, the ability to crank out what will seem like an endless stream of units can quickly overwhelm even the best equipped or cutting edge of armies. America wins it wars with its economy (pure production/commerce/quantity advantage) and logistics (faster workers facilitating military movement by roading). A successful early war with America will pay off more than perhaps any other Civ. Launch that war at the end of your expansion phase (or during – if the conditions are perfect) and you indirectly lengthen that expansion phase. Remember, with America – SIZE DOES MATTER. If you’re the type of player that likes to have high scores – you will be hard pressed to find a better Civ than America. As a builder America is again, often underrated. No you will not have the oldest temples/libraries in the game, but to repeat myself – you will have the most. America builds almost in the same manner that it wars – it relies on the power of its economy. While not the best of builder Civs, America can hold it’s own well. I will add this however; with this Civ you are often better served waiting (Middle Ages) to build temples or libraries. Their benefit simply does not outweigh the fact that they are slowing that crucial expansion phase. Chase those luxury resources like crazy – while important to any Civ, their impact on America is especially strong.

America has 3 major downsides. Firstly a Modern Age UU (the F-15 jet fighter) that while an excellent and versatile unit (now with the C3C improvements) it simply is a non-factor in all but the most unusual of circumstances. Secondly, the lack of an early UU necessitates that America pursue at least a minimal wonder strategy in order to initiate a Golden Age. This will tie up a valuable city or two in the part of the game – where it hurts America the most. As a production powerhouse, I strongly recommend the pursuit of the Pyramids for this Civ – free granaries for America accentuates their production advantage to near ridiculous levels! Regardless, pull 1 Industrious wonder in the Ancient Age and Copernicus or Magellan’s in the Middle Ages, for your GA.

The 3rd downside is a subtle one, but the most important one. In essence America plays ‘differently’ than any other Civ. There is a certain commonality of play between most Civs that is not as consistent with America. The Civ trait combo that is perhaps the most complimentary in the game – may also be the most demanding. The fundamental problem with America is that no other Civ is as unforgiving of early mistakes as America. New players struggle with proper worker management, happiness, and tech research. America is built around proper worker management and getting the absolute most out of their traits. This Civ is a challenge even to mid-level players, no wonder that ‘newbies’ dislike this Civ so intensely! Every Civ provides players with built in advantages; America has very subtle advantages that require patience and attention to detail.

Summary:

Before C3C, I often said that if America had a UU like the Immortal or Rider, there would have been a ‘best’ Civ – America would have been untouchable. Had you asked me to rate this Civ prior to C3C, I would have given it an unqualified top tier status (among my personal top 5). This is no longer the case. The toning down of the Industrious trait hits America harder than any other Industrious Civ. America relies on the strengths of this trait to a greater extent than all the other Industrious Civs. The greater value of expansionist does mitigate this somewhat, but not enough to balance out the loss. So where does Ision put them? As usual America doesn’t make anything easy. On a huge/pang map – 1st tier choice, on a stand/continents map – 2nd tier choice – on a small map or island map – 3rd tier bottom level. So I’ll split the difference, overall a middle of the pack – second tier Civ.

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