Comprehensive Leader Guide: Pacal

I sometimes have difficulty figuring out how to play some of the leaders. So I decided to start this thread in the hope that other people would make comprehensive leader guides for the other leaders that I’m not familiar with. If you enjoyed this writeup for Pacal and have a full understanding of some other leader, please create a similar thread for that leader!
Pacal II: Mayans

Traits: Financial, Expansive
Building: Ball Court (Replaces colisseum; +3 happiness instead of +1.)
Unit: Holkan (Replaces spearman; no copper needed, immune first strike.)
Techs: Mysticism, Mining
Overall Power: 7 (On a scale of 1-10)

The Mayan’s power comes from the synergy between Pacal’s leader traits and their unique building. Pacal’s financial trait is better the more cottages you work. Pacal’s expansive trait gives you cheaper workers to create those cottages, thus allowing you to build more workers for the same amount of production and as a corollary building more cottages faster. The quicker you start working cottages, the sooner you get towns. Expansive also gives Pacal cheaper granaries, allowing new cities to complete their granaries faster and therefore growing quicker, which lets them take advantage of the greater number of cottages. Pacal’s unique building provides significantly more happiness than the normal colisseum, which allows cities a higher “happiness ceiling” they can grow to. The total sustainable city size is also raised by Pacal’s expansive trait, which grants +2 health per city.

The result of all of these interactions is that Pacal gets bigger and more productive cities in the critical classical and medieval phases of the game. The extra commerce suits expansion of either the peaceful or warlike variety. Moreover, new cities you found will reach maturity faster due to the extra workers improving tiles around the city and cheaper granaries.

Flexibility is one of the keys to playing Pacal. The Zulus can be overpowering in small pangaea maps, but typically falter in larger maps or ocean-heavy maps. Pacal can adapt to suit the environment he is placed in, and can win in virtually any type of map or game.

The bad news is that the unique unit doesn’t really fit in with Pacal’s expected strategy. A holkan rush can be effective, but it does not really suit Pacal’s overall strategy, which wants the wheel and pottery. A unique chariot unit like the immortal or war chariot would have been ridiculous, allowing you to get your unique unit while researching the technologies you need to build cottages. (Sadly, horses didn’t inhabit North America during the era of the Mayan empire.) As it is, I still think that axemen or chariots are better rushing units for Pacal than the holkan. The holkan is best used as a dependable defender. You don’t need copper or bronze to be able to defend yourself from an Immortal attack by Darius while playing as Pacal, which is nice in its own way.

Tech Path
Techs paths are impossible to decide without knowing which resources are available to you. If you begin with cows, then you will want to prioritize Animal Husbandry. If you have a lot of forested hills in the vicinity of Mutal, then Bronze Working should be considered soon.

On noble level and below, you will be able to leverage the fact that you begin with Mysticism to found an early religion. On prince, you can make a later attempt at Judaism after you finish researching Pottery. On monarch and above, don’t bother trying for a religion earlier than Confucianism.

Pottery should be a priority when playing Pacal because he gets significant utility from cottages. It also gives him access to cheap granaries.

The Holkan
The Holkan can be a decent unit for an early rush for two reasons. First, it can ignore the first strike attacks of enemy archers, including those of recalcitrant Protective leaders. Second, it is dependable. You know that you can start building Holkans as soon as you complete your research of Hunting and Bronze Working. There’s no need to build roads or even bother researching The Wheel until after your rush.

However spearmen -even the almighty Holkan- are significantly less effective at attacking archers than axemen are. For the same cost, a Holkan only has a 30.8% chance of killing an enemy archer fortified in a city, while an axeman has a 63% chance of killing that same archer. While Holkans might be dependable rushers, they are merely dependably mediocre rushers.

The real use for Holkans is defensive. You can depend upon having counters to Immortals and War Chariots even if you don’t have copper or if your enemy has pillaged the roads to your copper resource.

Map Types
Pacal is interesting in that he works well with a number of different types of maps. Archipelago or continental maps let Pacal work coastal tiles, which he excels at due to the financial trait. He also gets to build harbors at half cost. And if you pursue the tech path listed above and grab metal casting, you can build the Colossus and get four commerce per coastal tile.

However Pacal can also succeed on non-oceanic maps. Contact with a larger number of civilizations allows for greater spread of religions, which nets more gold through shrines. This will enable wars of conquest to grab more cities, which you can support due to the extra gold from the shrines and financial trait.

Ideal War Period
The ideal war period for Pacal occurs when you research Construction. At this point your catapults can take down enemy culture defense bonuses and weaken stacks of units, you should have a shrine or two to provide gold for expansion. But most importantly you now have access to Ball Courts, which will allow you to create units using slavery without suffering quite as much from unhappiness.

You can also build war elephants once you have Construction, which will discourage your opponent from making flanking attacks against your catapults. That assumes, of course, that you have ivory. If you don’t you may be stuck using holkans to screen your catapults. The good news is that holkans aren’t horrible, and can attack archers if you need them to due to their immunity to first strikes.

Your objectives in warmongering with Pacal should be to start the game peacefully and build your empire to the point where it has an economic and technological advantage in the late classical or early medieval period. At that point you can go on a rampage.

Questions? Comments? Think my advice is wrong? Please tell me!

Discuss this article on the forum