Montezuma’s Revenge (BTS)

MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE: AN AZTEC GUIDE FOR BEYOND THE SWORD
I. Initial Assessment

A. The Leader

Montezuma, your glorious and insane leader, is Aggressive and Spiritual. His melee units start with the Combat I promotion, he incurs no anarchy for switching civics, and he builds barracks, drydocks, and temples at double speed. Together, these traits make him militarily strong and flexible in adapting his civics to his current needs.

B. The Unique Unit

The Jaguar Warrior is a swordsman unit with a strength of 5 that starts with the Woodsman I and Combat I (from Aggressive) promotions. It requires the Iron Working technology but no resources.

As a pure city raider in the Classical Age, the Jag is slightly inferior to the standard Swordsman (5.5 strength compared to 6). However, his resourceless construction and access to Woodsman II make him enter the game much sooner than a swordsman, be a quick raider, and allows the Aztecs to settle their cities with less regard to nearby metal.

C. The Unique Building

The Sacrificial Altar is a Courthouse that also halves the unhappiness time from using the Slavery “whip.”

This doesn’t sound all that impressive until you see it in action. Whipping every five turns with no happiness penalty is huge, especially if you locate your cities in high-food locations and build granaries. You can then essentially whip for free without a loss of production or major happiness problems.

D. Starting Techs

The Aztecs begin play with Mysticism and Hunting. While neither of these are warmonger techs in and of themselves, they are useful. Mysticism gives you access to an early religion and starts you on the path to Code of Laws, necessary for your Sacrificial Altars. Starting with Hunting means beginning the game with a scout and the ability to quickly explore the map, secure the tribal villages, and locate your first victim.

II. Suggested Strategy

A. Goals

A successful strategy will leverage all of Monty’s strengths and result in the Aztecs wiping out one or more opponents in the early game, setting the stage for future conquest or peaceful expansion.

[INDENT]1. Medium-Term Goal (i.e., before 1 A.D.): to eliminate one or two of Monty’s neighbors.[/INDENT]

[INDENT]2. Short-Term Goal: to have three or four cities capable of sustaining a lot of whipping for massive, rapid production.[/INDENT]

[INDENT]3. Immediate Goal: quickly settle two or three cities and build the Oracle to research Code of Laws.[/INDENT]

B. Suggested Game Parameters

Any map with more land than sea is good for Monty. You want at least one neighbor on the same continent as you. Epic speed is a good way to get more mileage from your Jags, before they get absolutely spanked in the later eras.

C. Cities to Settle

The main requirement for an Aztec city is its ability to generate a big food surplus. Preferred locations are floodplains, grassland rivers with food resources, or coastal locations with two or more seafood resources. Ideally, your cities will also have 2 to 4 hills to eventually mine within the workable area. You will also want at least one city site that is loaded with trees so that you can chop out the Oracle. Seek out cities with a lot of food bonus tiles; the presence of other resources is nice but not your main priority. Also, because you may not be able to grab an early religion and may not want to take the time to produce a monument right away, try to position the city so the food tiles are adjacent to the city, and not in the “outer ring” of the city’s big fat cross, because your cities may not have border expansion for awhile.

D. Early Tech Research Order

[INDENT]1. Meditation or Polytheism. To get Buddhism or Hinduism and access Priesthood. Hey, you start with Mysticism and might as well grab an early religion. The extra happy face and border expansion for your growing cities will come in handy. If the AI beats you to the religion, fear not, as the Oracle slingshot to Code of Laws will almost certainly give us Confucianism. On higher difficulties (Monarch and above), getting Buddhism as Monty will be tough unless you work a high commerce tile right away, and you may want to go for Polytheism or simply delay getting Meditation or Polytheism until after Pottery.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]2. Mining. Needed for Bronze Working.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]3. Bronze Working. For wood chopping and slavery! Having copper is a bonus but not strictly necessary.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]4. Agriculture. To succeed in this strategy, you will be a farming fool, even if you have a seafood starting location (however, if you have two or more seafood resources to start, take Fishing right away).[/INDENT]
[INDENT]5. The Wheel. Mainly useful for connecting your cities and driving a road towards your enemies. If you can hook up resources, that’s a bonus. This is required for Pottery as well.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]6. Pottery. Needed for Writing, plus allows you to build granaries. The granary should be the first thing you whip. Granaries are essential for getting the maximum mileage out of Slavery and the Sacrificial Altar.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]7. Priesthood. Allows the construction of Temples (cheap ones, too, for Monty) and the Oracle.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]8. Writing. This is a prerequisite for Code of Laws and will be useful in your post-conquest expansion period.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]9. Iron Working. For the Jags. ‘Nuff said.[/INDENT]
[INDENT]10. Code of Laws (from the Oracle). Sacrificial Altars supercharge the Slavery civic and halve your city maintenance costs. As a bonus, you found a religion and unlock the Caste System civic granting Monty a fun post-war civic option. [/INDENT]

E. Other Early Research Issues

Once your military build-up begins, your research should now be directed towards other worker techs (i.e., the stuff you missed before) and techs to improve your civics and economy — Monarchy, Feudalism, Currency, and Theology. With Theocracy or Vassalage running, and a barracks in your cities, your Jags will start with Combat I, Woodsman I, and 5 extra xp points for two immediate promotions. Starting with CR II instead of I, or Woodsman III instead of II, is a big deal and will aid your troops’ survivability. For this reason, you may consider using your first Great Prophet (from the Oracle) to “lightbulb” Theology for the immediate military payoff.

If you have a plethora of seafood or livestock, you should try to work in Fishing or Animal Husbandry. Otherwise, they can wait. Likewise, unless you have stone or marble right next to you, give Masonry a pass until after Iron Working. If you do have nearby stone, though, you should seriously consider trying to build the Pyramids. The ability to freely transfer (with no Anarchy!) to any government civic is a boon for Spiritual Monty. Stonehenge and the Great Wall can also be helpful, but just remember that building multiple wonders will slow down your military plans considerably.

F. Early Tenochtitlan Build Order

Remember that the Aztecs begin with no worker techs except hunting. Unless you have deer, furs, or ‘phants in your BFC, you shouldn’t build a worker right away, as he will arrive with nothing to do. The build order to follow assumes you don’t have a seafood start:

[INDENT]1. Scout. You want to locate your first victim, pop all the huts you can, and find good sites for your first few cities. Two scouts (including the one you start with) are more than enough, but you may want to make a replacement for the inevitable bear-maiming. Make sure you manually control them, as scouts on auto-explore do silly things and die alarmingly fast.
2. Worker. Your tree choppers and farmers.
4. Worker. Ditto.
5. Warrior (settler escort)
6. Settler (chopped). Send this guy to the best food site, or a Tree-heavy site (preferably with a lot of riverside grassland underneath it) if Tenochtitlan is not heavily wooded.
7. Granary (whipped). The lynchpin of Slavery. Just build it and enjoy the regrowth of your fanatical Aztec minions.
8. Warrior (settler escort)
9. Settler (whipped)
10. Warrior garrison for Tenochtitlan.
11. The Oracle, if you have at least 4 trees to chop. If not, build another settler and build the Oracle at the Tree city.
12. Sacrificial Altar
13. Barracks
14. Jaguar Warriors until your opponents beg you not to stop. I like to alternate whipping and regularly producing military units … it usually gives enough time (with the Altar) for the unhappiness to go away, and you get two units in the time it would take to produce just one.
15. As needed and as you have the tech, whip out a library, temple, and other key buildings to sustain happiness and keep your economy going. These are great to whip when you need to reduce your population by 2 or more at once.[/INDENT]

G. New City Build Order

[INDENT]1. Monument, if you absolutely have to have a resource in the outer ring of the BFC
2. Granary (chopped/whipped)
3. Worker. Every city needs to contribute at least one worker to the overall worker pool. Remember, Tenochtitlan can’t do it all.
4. Sacrificial Altar (chopped/whipped)
5. Barracks
6. Jaguar Warriors[/INDENT]

If you need to build the Oracle in your second or third city (i.e., because Tenochtitlan has insufficient wood to do it), start on it right away so the AI doesn’t beat you to it.

H. How many cities before starting your Conquest?

Try to go with two to four total cities. Any more, and you run the risk of your Jaguar Warriors meeting a ton of enemy Axemen and high cultural defenses. Your main reason for building a fourth city is if you can get a prime location that blocks your foe or denies him a key military resource. If you can get the Oracle built and have enough cities ready to pump out Jags, don’t build any new cities until your foe is eliminated.

The other reason for building cities (instead of an army) is that you can’t build your Jag army until you have Iron Working, which is a fairly expensive tech. Building cities lets you create a Jag army much faster while securing key resources for your post-conquest period.

An alternative strategy would be to beeline Iron Working, not settle any new cities at all (or perhaps just one city), and build (chopping and whipping) 6-10 Jags from Tenochtitlan. If you are going for a quick knock-out, promote the Jags with the Woodsman II promotion for fast movement through forests and jungles, and cross your fingers. This strategy works best early; do it too late, and the cultural defenses and axemen will eat your Jags for lunch.

III. Early Classical Age Aztec Military Doctrine

A. Choosing a Victim

Choose a nearby civilization that you can defeat quickly. A protective civilization, or a civ with a strong early unique unit, can be hard to wipe out early. The Native Americans, in particular, will absolutely own the Aztecs. Go after a squishy target if at all possible. I’m talking to YOU, Gandhi!

B. Preparedness and Stack Composition (pre-Construction)

Make sure you are in good war-waging civics. Hereditary Rule (or Police State, if you built the Pyramids), Vassalage, Slavery, and Theology will all be useful. Slavery is practically mandatory for this strategy.

Concrentrate most of your units into a city-busting stack. Ideally if you have copper or iron hooked up you will have:

[INDENT]8-12 Jags with Combat I, Woodsman I, and CR I — your main assault units. While it is tempting to give them Woodsman II and III, they won’t be able to use the high movement while traveling with the other troops in the stack, and in practice the CR promotions are simply better for taking cities out than Woodsman III, even with the two first strikes.
1-2 Axes with Combat I and Shock — your stack defenders
1-2 Spears with Combat I and II — your anti-chariot and/or leave-behind garrison troops
1 Spear with Combat I and Medic — your medic to maintain your offensive (you can also use a Great General woodsman-promoted Jag for medic duty, for extra movement and bonus healing via Woodsman II and III)
1-2 Archers (optional) — your leave-behind garrison troops[/INDENT]

You should also consider building a few “Raider” Jags. These Jags are your outriders, scouting, pillaging, and worker stealing. Give them Combat I, Woodsman I and II, and watch them tear across the landscape. The Raiders’ main pillaging targets are enemy copper, iron, and horse tiles. Try to end their turn on a forest square, because the AI will throw a lot of troops at your raiders trying to kill them. If you they live, you may want to give them Shock promotions to help survive Axemen counterattacks.

While you are at war, keep producing more Jags with the occasional other troop thrown in as needed. Since you’ll be razing a lot of cities, you won’t need to make too many garrison troops. Assume the worst in battle, and be prepared to whip out a force of Jags from scratch, if need be. Expect losses, and keep building units until the foe is obviously defeated. Remember, you will not have catapults and are overcoming cultural defenses with sheer numbers.

Use your great general to pump up your spearman medic to Medic III and March, or make a Jag Medic III/Woodsman III. He’ll be very busy healing, especially for your basic CR I Jags, who will take a major beating or die trying.

C. War-Waging Details

Move to just outside the target city’s cultural borders. Choose an attack path that is the shortest distance to the city — this is usually on a diagonal from the city tile. Remember to declare war before you enter his territory; if you have open borders, your stack will simply enter the territory and nothing will happen. 😆

Chances are your foe will have a small variety of units in the defending city: 1-3 archers and a chariot, axeman, or spearman or two. Go through your stack selecting your best unit of each type and compare the attack odds by pressing the alt key while mousing over the defending unit. In most cases, due to the AI’s unit diversity, your Jags will have the best odds.

Bite the bullet and attack you opponent’s cities. As you conquer, watch your income carefully. If you feel that you can capture and keep enemy cities (perhaps because of your excellent Sacrificial Altars’ maintenance reduction), try keeping a few cities. The safe move, however, is to raze them all except the capitol.

Be aware that razing sometimes results in the creation of “partisan” units, which in this early period may be axemen. 5 axeman suddenly appearing adjacent to your (injured) units can spell disaster, especially if you don’t have axes mixed in as stack defenders.

Sometimes you may find yourself facing a city you just can’t take. Perhaps due to attrition your army has run out of gas. Take a peace treaty, reload, and hit ’em again in 10 turns with a big stack.

IV. Late Classical Age: War or Peace?

You now must decide whether to take the fight to another foe. Realistically, you must assume that any new target has cultural defenses, walls, and lots of metal-using troops.

A. Keep on’ Warrin’

You need Construction and Horseback Riding for Catapults and (hopefully) Elephants. Sadly, your Jags will start to become inferior as city attackers (especially against Longbows), but are still great raider troops with the Woodsman II (or III!) promotion. So whip a bunch of Catapults and let the rocks fly! If you have ivory, throw war elephants in there. A great late classical city buster stack is catapult/war elephant/axemen. If you have no ivory and want to keep warring, just stick with your Jags and keep making replacements.

B. Temporary Outbreak of Peace

You should strongly consider a peaceful period if your opponents have secured a technological advantage that you cannot immediately overcome or if your economy is in shambles. The post-war period is generally characterized by territorial consolidation, growth of cities, and development of economic technologies.

The good news is that Monty is Spiritual. Now is a good time to switch into more peaceful civics as they become available. Bureaucracy and Organized Religion, in particular, are great “builder” civics to use during this period.

[INDENT]1. Late Classical Peacetime Technologies[/INDENT]

At a minimum, you will want Construction, Currency, and Calendar to go along with your already-researched Code of Laws and Monarchy. Compass (Harbors) is also useful if you have multiple coastal cities, and Feudalism gives you both a warmonger and a builder civic. Civil Service will give you Bureaucracy and aid your farming efforts. Metal Casting is necessary for enhanced production and access to later military techs.

[INDENT]2. Worker Tasks[/INDENT]

Your workers are going to be very busy during this period. Whereas your previous improvements were focused on farms and mines, your workers will need to build cottages, pastures, and plantations. You may need to cottage over some riverside farms to provide much-needed commerce.

Just remember that the lower your food surplus, the less powerful Slavery becomes.

[INDENT]3. When to give up Slavery?[/INDENT]

Fortunately, giving up Slavery is not a permanent decision; Monty just has to wait five turns before switching back.

Your other viable Labor civic choices at this stage are Serfdom (requires Feudalism) and Caste System. Serfdom is underrated and is especially handy when you need to develop and/or change the tile improvements in your cities. The increased worker task-speed is significant. If you decide to build a lot of cottages, Serfdom can make that go much more quickly and require fewer workers to do it.

On the other hand, Caste System has the tremendous advantage of being food-friendly. You can essentially keep your cities in high-food slavery mode and switch over to the specialist economy (SE) and then back again to slavery as needed.

Slavery itself is handy for the first part of this phase, to create much-needed infrastructure buildings, particularly in captured cities. After these buildings are complete, however, it’s time for Serfdom or Caste System.

C. Late Classical Age Economics

Ideally, the Aztec Empire is now 8-10 cities strong, with markets, forges, sacrificial altars, libaries, and temples in your cities, lovingly whipped out as necessary. The cities themselves are getting bigger (size 9-13 or so) and making money via cottages or specialists.

At this stage you will probably have the ability to grab another wonder or two. Swedegon Paya (allowing access to all religious civics) and the Colossus (bonus commerce for water tiles) are desirable and reachable if you don’t have an immediate wartime need.

Try to establish good relations and trade routes with a civ or two that is not your next target. Be nice. Send them a freshly carved out human heart as a token of your esteem.

V. Medieval Period: Conquerin’ for Queztalcoatl

You are ready for Medieval warfare if you have a target civ you can march to on land and when you have your production and economy running and have researched Civil Service, Machinery, and Alphabet. Feudalism and Engineering are also nice to have at this stage.

A. Civics for Medieval War

1. Government: Hereditary Rule (or Police State if you can take it)
2. Legal: Vassalage for the free units and extra XP, or Bureaucracy for the production boost if you think your units’ promotions are sufficient
3. Labor: This is a tough one. If you have maintained high food surplussage in your cities (perhaps by running a Specialist Economy), you can run in Slavery during the initial military build-up phase then switch back to Caste System to maintain your economy. The key here is not to over-whip, because losing three or more population points on a well-improved city results in a loss of production that is greater than the benefit of whipping. Try to whip no more than two population at a time unless it’s absolutely necessary. Slavery, again, is very handy for whipping out necessary buildings in newly captured cities. You may find yourself switching between Caste System and Slavery during this period.
4. Economy: Decentralization (no choice)
5. Religion: Organized Religion’s production boost is hard to beat. However, you will want some bonus XPs, and Theocracy delivers those. If you go with OR, you should consider taking Vassalage instead of Bureaucracy. Likewise, if you go with Theocracy, Bureaucracy is a good fit. Taking both Vassalage and Theocracy is overkill, as the difference is starting with 7 xp instead of 5, and you miss out on OR & Bureaucracy’s production bonuses.

B. Espionage

Remember those Sacrificial Altars? They are wonderful for generating Espionage Points (EPs). Direct all of your espionage to your next victim and build a spy or three.

A few turns before you will declare war, send a spy to an enemy city and do a counterespionage mission. This can save you a lot of hassles later. Your other spies are going to be used to cause unrest in your target cities, which has the effect of temporarily removing cultural defense. This will save a lot of your siege units from certain death. Remember that causing unrest costs a lot of EPs; try to save the missions for when they are truly necessary, unless you have a huge stockpile of EPs.

C. Medieval Aztec Assault Stacks

8-12 Macemen (Combat I, CR I & II)
2-4 Macemen (Combat I & II, Shock) or Crossbows (Drill I, Shock)
2-4 Longbows (Drill I & II)
1-2 Pikemen (Combat I & II) — more of these if your opponent has a lot of mounted units
4 Trebuchets or 6 Catapults (CR I, Accuracy)
4+ Trebuchets or Catapults (CR I, Barrage)
Medic Unit, likely a Maceman with Great General (Combat I, Woodsman I-III, Medic I-III)

Later, when you get Guilds and Horseback Riding, add 2-6 Knights to the stack. Your reinforcements should be primarily your assault macemen and siege units, with a few longbows thrown in to garrison captured cities.

Discuss this article on the forum