The Incans

Imagine for a moment that CIV III was a 2-stage horse race. 31 horses all lined up on a huge mega-track with a flat ¼ mile track that leads into a 20-mile rough cross-country track. Some would argue that the horses that broke out early at full speed will lose the marathon – winded and burned out, unable to capitalize on their early lead. These sprinters being better suited to a fast flat-track, but lacking the stamina on those hills. Others would say that as long as they don’t stumble too often on that rough cross-country terrain, and pace themselves well- they will translate that slight early lead into victory. So place your bets gentlemen! My money is on horse named Inca!
Out of the starting gate, the Incas are often the single most explosive CIV in the game. Expansionist and Agricultural, the Incas trait synergy is difficult to measure compared to other trait combos, and their UU magnifies this even further. Among the trait combos, it is perhaps the most one-dimensional. It has a singular purpose – speed. In all other aspects of the game, this trait combo is bested by nearly every CIV. Expansionist, the Incas begin the game with a scout and immediate access to their scout-replacement UU – the Chasqui. Like all Expansionist CIVs the Incas posses the ability to pop goody huts without generating barbs. Goody huts that will yield free; gold, techs, units, maps, and even the occasional settler. Their faster scouts allow them to more rapidly explore the map giving them an advantage in spotting crucial resources, mapping enemy territory and in making better decisions about where to found new cities. Furthermore, the scouting advantage often leads to early contacts with neighboring CIVs, the early contacts often lead to the Incas having an advantage in tech trading and brokering – the result being an advantage (depending on difficulty level and player skill level) ranging from ‘catching up’ better to the tech/growth leaders – to cases of ‘being’ the early tech/growth leader.

The agricultural bonus of 1 extra food in every base city square (that borders a river) gives the Inca that slight edge in early growth that can be so pivotal in maintaining pace with the early expansion of the AIs. Add to this the ability to produce 2 foods from irrigated deserts. The Agri half-priced aqueducts along with immediate access to granaries complete the best of the REX traits. God forbid that an Inca scout pops a goody hut for a settler, it is not a common event – but neither is it a rare exception, – the Inca that does so any time in the early game will have added a rocket booster to an already fast start! Agri working in combination with Expansionist has enormous potential results – faster high shield cities from pop growth, faster mapping, faster contacts/techs, faster settler/worker production and faster combat unit production. Add up all those, “fasters” and the results are often record-breaking ‘high scores’ for the Inca player.

The Incas differ from other expansionist civs in this: on average, they are better at it. One reason is the Chasqui Scout, a 1-1-2, scout class unit with the ability to treat hills and mountains as regular terrain. Unlike a regular scout, the Chasqui has the ability to attack and defend, this increases their survivability from barb attack over long stretches of exploring – thus increasing your odds of reaping more contacts and goody huts over the long term. Also, Chasqui’s can substitute for a warrior and pop enemy workers or settlers. Another role the Chasqui can assume is similar to that of the Aztec Jag. It can be used to dart in and out of enemy territory pillaging terrain improvements, popping workers and diverting enemy units from other activities. Lastly, an often overlooked advantage of this unit is that in spite of being available from the beginning of the game, you will more often than not be able to initiate your GA at a time of your own choosing – the unit being greatly ignored as it passes through AI territory (its scout status), being made in very small numbers, and its ability to avoid battle with near impunity make it a much safer ultra-early UU. Unfortunately among the mega-scout type units, at 20-sheilds the Chasqui is hugely expensive for the role it plays. In order to build these units where their cost does more good than harm a player must meticulously plan to the very last shield when, how and if to build a Chasqui(s). Even then, the unit is quite a gamble. A true boon or bust unit, difficult to employ well even among the most skilled of players.

The Incas have a great amount in common with the America CIV, in many ways they play alike. Sharing many of the same strengths and weaknesses – so much so, that what follows will have a greatly familiar ring to it. Both warmongering and building with the Incas are conducted in the same style. Whatever the Incas may lack in quality is easily made up in quantity. The trick to the Incas 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. The Incas have no half priced culture buildings of any sort. To offset this it is imperative that the Inca 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 Inca – size MORE than matters – it is an absolute must! A warmongering Inca is often better served with a late ancient swordsman rush, than ultra early warring. A beeline to Iron working, followed by warrior upgrades and heavy swordsman production, in conjunction with a Chasqui ‘strangler’ strat’ you will often see an Inca launch one of the most devastating swordsman rushes in the game – extending an already powerful REX phase even further. The key to this Civ is simple. It’s a numbers game. Press that advantage to the limit – and the Inca will eclipse even America as king of the Expansionist. With the Inca, ‘momentum’ is everything, grab that momentum early – and never let go!

Summary:

An extremely unforgiving civ – early mistakes are magnified in their repercussions. To play well, this civ requires a player that is highly skilled within his difficulty level. A ‘finesse’ civ, the Incas require greater planning than most, with an obsessive attention to detail in the early game. That said, for the player willing to make the commitment, the payoff is often huge. An outstanding Pang/Conts map civ (mediocre performance on Arch) with an explosive early game, the Incas stack up with the best of them; 1st tier overall.

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