Deity is the level I play, so all that I say is true at least there. I use the patched version of the game.
As I have told to people how to play to win, they have told me to enjoy the game. I don’t understand. I enjoy the game. To me, enjoying means: Try to win using every possible in-game method. So I try to win. If you are not interested to hear the perfect plan to master civ, there’s no point reading further.
Think it like this: Anyone can drive a car in a summer’s sunshine on a highway. But only true pro’s can drive F1 or indy-car. And they drive it fast. I play civ’s the same way. To beat them all.
This game has several bad flaws.
1. The ships are too slow compared to walking units. There’s no point to use ships to move troops on the same continent. Historically, a failure.
2. There’s no group move. Why has every individual unit to be moved individually? Why do I have to give GoTo orders to every unit? [Editor Note: v1.17f patch added stack movement]
3. There’s no logistics. A unit can be in the middle of hostile enemy territory, still not taking any damage from hunger or losing it’s equipment(arrows etc.) And it still costs money to maintain it. I was in war with Romans and had a lone hoplite standing in the middle of their territory, in a mountain observing their movements. There was no way to supply that unit. And it still cost me one gold every turn. Where did that money go?
4. The AI is lousy.
Now, the numbers 1-3 can’t be used to player’s advantage in the game, but 4 surely can.
At deity, AI gets a huge starting bonus and produces a lot faster. There’s no way a human could prevent AI to have 6-8 cities while having only 2-3 by himself. There’s no way to peacefully build and produce out of that pit, the AI is just too large and you too small. The only way out is the military way.
AI receives at start a lot free units, I don’t know how many, but they are a lot. And still, they can be beaten.
4.1. AI doesn’t take it’s resources to use immediately(iron, horses)
4.2. AI doesn’t protect it’s resources at all. At least I haven’t noticed.
4.3. AI doesn’t attack your resources, unless you need colonies.
4.4. AI’s primary interest is to protect it’s own cities.
4.5. AI units follow you to open.
4.6. AI units attack sometimes when you are in the mountains.
4.7. While at war, AI usually starts to build things like Pyramids or Hanging gardens instead of units.
4.8. AI doesn’t use it’s workers effectively.
4.9. It’s possible to manipulate other AI’s to declare war to the civ you fight with, regardless of their own possibilities or relationships between them.
4.10. AI doesn’t react properly to a threat an aggressive human player presents to it’s existence. DECISION INITIATIVE DANCE
4.11. AI doesn’t realize when the war is lost.
4.12. For some obscure reason, AI won’t use barracks.
4.13. AI doesn’t use workers at war.
4.14. AI attacks workers.
4.15. AI uses units as individuals.
In the following I use a simple example. I play the Greeks and my rivals are Romans nearby and Egyptians behind them. The rest are on a separate island, and won’t interact a lot.
Greeks have Hoplite. Truly great defender. The Romans are militaristic and they have legions. Same defense as the hoplites have and good attack. So, if Greeks go to offense in ancient times, Romans should be absolutely victorious, right?
Wrong. If I start to develop iron working at the beginning, I’ll probably get it the same time the Romans get it too. It’s my first discovery and to them about 6th. They have 9 cities, I have 3. There are two irons visible, the other in our border and the other in the middle of Roman territory. I build a settler and secure that iron to me, using two workers to make a necessary road. Then I start to build swordsmen, fearing all the time the dreaded legions, their special unit. I use one of my workers to spy on roman road construction, and there’s one worker at sight, quickly irrigating.
4.1. is true in most games I’ve played.
After I built a massive army of 3 veteran swordsmen, I went to invasion. I had 4 cities building units, 2 normal and 2 despot rush. At first I went to the roman iron, there weren’t still any workers at sight.
I’ve never seen AI to either protect it’s strategic resources or attack mine. Why? 4.2, 4.3
A few turns after the declaration of war and the fall of first roman city, they started to build the Oracle. Why? Why didn’t they build units? 4.7.
A roman bunch of 4 archers and 4 spearmen approaches, while I have only two swordsmen in defense, 3 in attack. The solution? I move my swordsmen close to Rome, 6 of that bunch turn back to “protect” the Rome, leaving 2 behind to be slaughtered. Works EVERY time. The threat needs to be “credible”, i.e. needs to be at least two offensive units(warriors, spearmen… won’t do) 4.4.
4.5. AI can take advantage of mountains. However, if you retreat from mountains to grassland, they follow you kindly to the flat too, just in front of your waiting swordsmen. Poor AI. And sometimes they attack you at mountains, though there’s no true need to do that. Never do that, it’s not worth it. The only exception are wounded fast units. (4.6.)
4.8. AI uses it’s workers to irrigate and build mines around the towns instead of linking it’s towns to each others. That is the primary job of a worker. To link your cities with each others and with your advancing army. That’s why Rome controlled all the med for a thousand years. If there’s spare time from building network of connection, then your workers can build mines or sometimes irrigation.
4.9. Back to example. My swordsmen surrounded the city of Rome, size of 12 and wonders inside. AI didn’t bring help, so I captured it, losing one swordsman in battle.
There’s nothing I could have done to prevent Rome from jumping back to Romans, so I garrisoned my units there for only one turn. For some strange reason, cities never change owner immediately after capture, but almost always after one turn of control, if they are big enough.
Pre-patch, I would have sold Rome to Romans for several smaller cities and then captured it again. This could have been repeated endlessly.
Patch fixed that, so that was not an option. Roman army was in ruins and their capital in my hands, but they still didn’t want peace hard enough to give me few cities. So I talked to their friends the Egyptians, who didn’t want to pay anything for it, but became gracious towards me as I gave it for free.
The Romans got angry to Egyptians and declared war on them, capturing Rome, but not garrisoning it strongly, when I came and took it again. It had reduced in size enough for me to be able to hold it. And now the Egyptian were at war with Romans too. They didn’t accomplish anything, but at least they couldn’t ally against me.
4.11. The Romans had lost the war, their cities steadily falling to my hands and my armies in the total control of the countryside. Still they didn’t surrender and beg for peace. They had no chance, but kept on fighting. Brave, but stupid.
4.12. During the war, I used only veteran or elite swordsmen, Romans only regulars. Can’t they build barracks? Veteran is about twice as good as veteran, AND it has a far greater chance of eventually producing a leader. If a veteran swordsman attacks a regular spearman fortified in a town, 4 out of 5 attacks result in swordsman’s victory.
4.13. Immediately after war breaks out, AI draws all workers from the front to his cities, instead of sending them to the back to be useful. Now they just get captured when the city falls. Workers are NEEDED in the war: they build the roads your armies walk.
4.14. If there’s a worker and a military unit side by side, which one does the AI attack? The worker. Why? It poses no direct threat, unlike the unit, and it can be captured back, unlike the unit which is lost forever. This is so unfair a tactic, I use it no more, AI can be noseled using the same workers again and again after they are captured back. And AI loses it’s units under my attacks. What’s the point? Why to attack workers??
4.15. Romans had about three times as much units as I had, archers and warriors. Despite of their inferior quality compared to swordsmen, they would have overrun me if they had come as a total attack from all direction. But no, they came by ones and twos, allowing me to heal between attacks and to get elite. I used my precious units in pairs or fours, protecting each others and finishing units other’s had wounded. I left no death of my swordsman unrevenged, they left almost everyone of my wounded swordsmen alive. I protected my wounded and I got elites, they got dead units.
4.10. Though all these are serious flaws, this last one is lethal. The AI has no goal. It’s aim always misses, because there’s no goal. When I start playing I have a clear goal(I want to win/I’ll try to win by culture with no aggression/I’ll play like Simcity/…)and I go towards that goal all the time. Everything I do, I do to achieve that goal. When I go to war, I’ll set a clear goal and go until I reach it. This is called DECISION. AI is indecisive. The goal is needed to avoid indecision. I use all my resources to reach that goal.
When I have a goal I take the INITIATIVE in my hands. Initiative means that I decide where to fight, who to fight and how to fight. That is the thing that generals in the real world try to get. Initiative brings the strategic victory.
The initiative is taken by learning the DANCE. Dance means the way AI thinks, where it will concentrate it’s units, where it will move that archer over there, how do I move my swordsman to get that spearman to flat ground… Dance brings the tactical victory.
After I had won the war against the Romans, and they would have agreed to peace, and I had enough room to develop my civ, one question was left unanswered. Why would I stop here and go peaceful? I had the strongest army in the whole world. If all the four others had brought their entire armies to the field, I still believe I would have won them. I had plenty of swordsmen, though my cities had been building improvements for a while already. So I decided. Genocide to the Romans and most likely to the Egyptians. That would consume my swordsmen so they wouldn’t go waste, but I’d still win the Egyptians. At that point, there would be a point to become a peaceful republic contesting only economically.
If you have army, use it. There’s no point disbanding it just because you’ve achieved your goals. Set new ones. Or perhaps you can disband if you feel the challenge would otherwise be too low.
Use all your resources effectively, and you will win.