It was said the sun never set on the English empire. How could an such a small island kingdom rule most of the world? From Maori tribes to the Zulu and the American War of Independence no other country has influenced the modern world as much as England. Its imperial legacy lingers in many countries in the form of their language, law, and political system. While a detailed history lesson is beyond the scope of this review my theory is the English had a secret weapon- the English channel. Also the industrial revolution began in England. War canoes are no match for Frigates and Ironclads.
In the game the English have the seafaring and commercial traits. While initially puzzling as I thought they should be seafaring and industrial this is the England of Elizabeth 1st and Drake not the industrial revolution era. Individually they are some of the best traits in the game and they have great synergy between them. The extra gold both traits get are cumulative with each other. Also the English get perhaps the two best techs to start the game with- alphabet and pottery. So far so good however……
At first things look positive for the English player. Great traits, great synergy but there are several flaws that bring the grim reality that is civ 3. In this game speed equals power and England is one of the slowest expanding civs in the game. It has no early UU to offer you an early golden age or military expansion. This is compounded by having few discounted buildings either. Only the seafaring trait offers half priced harbors reasonably early in the game. While not a fatal flaw most other civs are cranking out cheap temples, library’s, barracks etc and the ones that don’t usually have an early UU or a civ trait that allows for rapid expansion. In the early game England is militarily weak, slow at expansion compared to other civs and has weak culture as well. On the plus side on island maps you can use curraghs and set yourself up as an excellent tech trader and there’s a good chance you can be the 1st to research philosophy and get a free tech- usually the republic or literature.
In the middle ages things start to look better for England. An initial change to Republic tends to net you alot gold due to you civ traits. Gold that can be used to rush marketplaces for example which earn you more gold. Later on a switch to democracy usually allows and English player to milk the proverbial cash cow. For the wargamer the traits can help offset the cost of a large army under a monarchy government. In either scenario the late middle ages are where England starts to bloom as the trait effects kick in. England’s golden age usually happens here via completing Magellan’s Voyage or sinking any enemy ship with the Man O War -England’s UU. A republic or democratic government with England’s traits provide a massive vault to send you into the industrial age. Also that UU needs a little attention.
The Man O War is a great unit. It has an A/D/M value of 4/2/5 (effectively 6 with seafaring) for 70 shields that requires iron and saltpeter. It also has a bombard value of 4 and enslavement- a 33% chance to convert any defeated enemy naval unit into another Man O War. In practice you build half a dozen MoW and use bombard to redline AI ships and you try and enslave them. Enslaved units don’t count for unit support and it is easy to get a free fleet. Given enough MoW they are useful for redlining defending units in port cities, stripping away all improvements on the coast, and breaking up counter attacks by putting them inside captured port cities and bombarding any slow AI units that move nearby. Best of all they never become obsolete as there’s always a use for them, require no upkeep if enslaved and a stack of 20-30+ are capable of redlining units well into the modern era. However due to the game engine and AI stupidity naval encounters are largely optional. You really only need transports and a big enough fleet to ensure they can sail from A to B. As good as the MoW is it is rarely decisive in a world of immortals and mounted warriors. Treat them as highly mobile artillery and you can’t go to far wrong.
Overall England is a 3rd tier civ. Its to slow and weak during the early game compared to other civs to rate any higher. On the right island map they are a 1st tier civ. England’s main advantage is it economy and makes an excellent tech trader civ. It is also an interesting civ for an advanced player to use. A great choice for the manipulative/balance of power type player as opposed to a warmonger or builder. England requires a different style of play compared to most other civs
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