Before I begin, I would like to thank madscientist for his wonderful article “The Power of Great Spies,” which served as the initial inspiration for me to develop this strategy. I highly recommend anyone wishing to familiarize themselves with my strategy read it first (the link is below), as it served as my foundation. Secondly, I would like to admit that this is both my first article AND my first post on these forums, although I’ve been a long time lurker and have read most of the articles in this sub-forum. Finally, for those of you who are curious, the settings I play on are as follows
-18 random AIs
madscientists “The Power of Settled Great Spies”: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=269801
There are several basic tenants which serve as the pillars of this strategy:
1. REX in the early game as much as possible. The Ottomons don’t have a UB, UU, starting techs, or even traits that assist in fighting wars at the very beginning of the game. Thus, put that imperialistic trait to good use and pump out as many settlers as possible, grabbing good spots that will be the foundation of your empire. Luckily, thanks to the next tenant, you won’t have much trouble defending them from barbarians.
2. Build the Great Wall– The great wall serves two critical functions. The first is giving you the points necessary to give you your first great spy. The second is that it repels barbarians, which means defending your REXed cities is much easier.
3. Run a normal Cottage Economy– Unfortunately, it is impossible to have an economy that depends entirely on spies. It is nearly impossible to generate the kind of EPs you would need to steal every single tech. So, before we get to the next tenant, you need to realize that you should be prepared to build a strong cottage economy that will serve as the basis of your research.
4. Make friends with a nearby techer.– Certain leaders have a tendency to be way ahead of their peers technologically, and you will want to find one of these nearby and start investing all your EPs into this neighbor. Then, you must do everything within your power to keep him on your good side. Adopt his religion, his favorite civic, join his wars, etc. You want to be on his good side because having open borders, sharing a religion, etc gives you discounts on your EP spending. Also, if your spies get caught, it can lead to diplomacy penalties, so you want to be friendly with your target to serve as a buffer.
5. Use tech stealing to augment your normal research. Thanks to the invested EP you have against your tech-savvy friend, you can find out what he’s researching and research something else. Then, when he’s done, you steal whatever tech he’s been working on. Then, to get extra mileage out of your stolen tech, feel free to start trading it away to other leaders as long as it’s not a critically important tech; thanks to the fact that most leaders like to have a “monopoly” on their newest tech before they start to trade it away, you can beat the AIs to the punch by trading away their hard earned tech long before they’re willing.
6. Go to war when it is profitable. Suleiman is imperialistic, and in order to get those extra great generals, you’re going to need to knock some heads. With my game settings, it’s very difficult to get a domination/conquest win due to the large map size and the numerable enemy AIs, so constant war is not a good thing. However, there are many situations that going to war is very profitable, such as gaining resources, good land, capturing wonders/holy cities, or even just for diplomatic purposes. Learn to be opportunistic with your fighting; if you have something to gain by fighting, then fight. If you will lose more than you gain, do not fight.
7. Beeline to techs that give espionage or military benefits. Techs that either give you new, powerful military units or new buildings that help augment your EP gain are of critical importance. Other techs can typically be traded for or stolen. I know this may sound like a shocker, but I typically AVOID the liberalism race, and instead choose to beeline to gunpowder through the much shorter guilds path, due to the fact that that Janissaries are very powerful against medieval units, but aren’t necessarily any better against units of its own age. Techs like Code of laws, constitution, communism, etc are of critical importance due to the buildings they unlock, all of which give espionage benefit.
When originally deciding to give madscientist’s “settled great spy” strategy, I ultimately decided that Suleiman would have wonderful synergy with such a strategy. There are many reasons for this:
1. His traits. As philosophical leader, Suleiman will get his great spies earlier and more frequently, ultimately resulting in more EP, and thus, more techs stolen. This especially hurts in the earliest stages of the game, where your only source of GPPs is the great wall, which gives you a measely +2 GPPs. Second, Suleiman is imperialistic, which means he has many incentives to REX and wage war. As I listed in the basic tenants, the Great Wall allows you to REX in peace thanks to its repelling of barbarians, and, if an enemy is foolish enough to declare war on you, any units you kill within your own borders will give you simply ridiculous amounts of Great General Points thanks to the bonus from both the Great Wall and being imperialistic. Finally, espionage synergizes well with warfare, due to the fact that you can afford to lower your science slider a bit to pay for war upkeep, since you can steal techs to “make up” for your temporarily lowered science output. You can also invest EP into your war enemy in order to see his cities, thus knowing how well they are defended. This intelligence can be critical in successful warmongering.
2. His UB. The Hammam is, in one of my opinion, one of the best unique buildings in the game, mainly because its bonus (+2 happiness, +2 health) is so universally applicable that you’ll want one in nearly every city. The +2 happiness is huge; it not only helps your cities grow larger, but it also helps deal with war weariness you will likely encounter from being at war.
3. His UU. The Janissary is an amazing unit, and if gunpowder is obtained early enough, can dominate an entire era of warfare. The Ottoman Unique Unit couldn’t have better timing either, for reasons I will explain next.
4. The Ottoman’s are a renaissance powerhouse. Espionage really begins to become very powerful in the renaissance era (roughly the same time you get janissaries) for several reasons. The nationalism—constitution—democracy tech path greatly multiplies your espionage out put. But in addition, these techs also give you other very important benefits. Nationalism allows you to run Nationhood, a civic which gives you +25% espionage points in all cities, +2 happiness from barracks, and allows you to draft units. This last benefit is huge for one very important reason: Janissaries can be drafted. I will discuss this huge benefit in more detail later in the article. Constitution unlocks Jails, a critical building which not only gives more espionage points and allows you to run more spy specialists, but also reduces war weariness by an impressive 25%, allowing you to wage war with fewer hindrances. Finally, Democracy unlocks the Security Bureau which gives you more EP/spy specialists, and also two wonderful civics: Universal Suffrage and Emancipation, which will be discussed later. Suleiman also builds universities, a renaissance building unlocked by Education, twice as fast. Finally, Military Science, a renaissance technology, unlocks the ability to build Military Academies from your great generals. Because you unlock great generals much quicker, you will be able to build military academies in nearly every important production city.
As with any strategy, some civics synergize with it better than others. I will go through each category of civics and highlight which civics I think fit best. (I will not bother to rate the first “default” civic in each category for obvious reasons.)
1. Hereditary Rule– This civic is a pretty good choice for the early game. It’s better than despotism almost by default, so if you have monarchy, go ahead and use this civic. Combined with the Hammam, you can make your cities grow very large thanks to abundant happiness.
2. Representation– This civic, normally the hallmark of philosophical leaders, does not work well with this strategy. Since the only city likely to be running a lot of specialists is your capital (which should be running spies), the +3 beakers for each specialist is not going to count for much; meanwhile, only your biggest cities receive the happiness benefit from representation, while any city can gain happiness from Hereditary Rule. I would recommend sticking with HR, especially since you’ll soon unlock US from democracy.
3. Police State– Although I prefer Universal Suffrage for its potential to turn river-side science cities into respectable production facilities, Police State has some definite benefits that cannot be overlooked. -25% war weariness and +25% bonus military production is nothing to sneeze at; if you’re at war and you feel like you need more units and war weariness is an issue, adopt police state.
4. Universal Suffrage– I feel as though US has the most synergy; due to the fact that your main research will be funded by a CE, the +1 hammer on every town can help you build infrastructure quickly, and can turn riverside towns with levees into respectable production facilities. Also, the ability to rush-buy production is a powerful ability.
1. Vassalage- By definition it’s better than Barbarism, and the +2 experience and free unit upkeeps are useful for war. Running vassalage until you get Nationhood is a good idea.
2 . Bureaucracy- Because your capital is going to be your great spy factory and very little else, Bureaucracy actually has very little synergy with this strategy. You’re better off running Vassalage.
3. Nationhood- Nationhood is a wonderful civic for this strategy. The +25% bonus to espionage in every city is wonderful. +2 happiness from the barracks helps to offset war weariness and draft unhappiness. Nationhood also has no
upkeep whatsoever, making it the cheapest civic to run in the game. Finally,
drafting is a very powerful mechanic, particularly in the hands of the Ottoman.
First, the Janissary is draftable, and Janissaries are unlocked around the same time
that Nationhood is. Second, the Ottoman Unique Building’s +2 happiness,
combined with the +2 happiness from the barracks, help to offset the potentially crippling unhappiness that drafting can cause. Drafting allows even your
low-production cities to contribute to the war effort, and also allows you to quickly produce a defense force in cities under attack.
5. Free Speech– I typically switch to free speech later in the game, when most of my cottages have developed into towns, and the later units start to cost more than one population to draft. The +2 gold on every town greatly boosts your income, and the +100% culture allows your border cities to have access to most of their tiles earlier.
1. Slavery– Slavery is always a good early game choice, for reasons that other guides will be able to explain much better than this one will be able to. Use it, abuse it, love it.
2. Serfdom– Serfdom is terrible. Don’t use it.
3. Caste System– Since caste system doesn’t let us run infinite spies, the only specialist we care about in this strategy, it is essentially a useless civic to us.
4. Emancipation– Finally, another labor civic we actually care about. Since you’ll be beelining for democracy, you can switch to this early and lay down some unhappiness on ever other civ in the world until they too switch to emancipation. The quicker growth on your cottages will also help your economy grow faster. Switch to this as soon as it’s available.
1. Mercantilism– Although you would think that the extra spy specialists would be a boon, I find that giving up foreign trade routes is simply too much of a sacrifice. I typically avoid this civic.
2. Free Trade– A great and no-brainer civic to adopt until State Property becomes
3. State Property– This civic is wonderful for an espionage war monger. First, the tech needed to use the civic grants you a great spy if you are the first to reach it (which you should, since it’s a bee-line target), and also grants the powerful Intelligence Agency, which boosts your espionage. Secondly, the tech has many other wonderful benefits for the warmonger. The most obvious is the +10% production, which enables you to build more units. The less obvious is the fact that workshops now have +1 food; you may be thinking “how does this help my production?” It’s very easy; with state property enabled, workshops are now food neutral instead of detracting from your food total. Thus, a grassland with a workshop now gives 2 food and 3 hammers instead of 1 food and 3 hammers. This civic enables you to turn even areas without any hills into great production sites. Finally, the elimination of distance-based maintenance on your cities helps keep maintenance on your hopefully-sprawling empire down. Also, not being able to use corporations isn’t so bad, since hopefully all the great people you’ll be generating should be great spies, which can’t found corporations anyway.
4. Environmentalism- Only adopt this if you’re a tree-hugging hippy who can’t stand the thought of virtual global warming, or if your cities are in desperate need of health. Otherwise, state property is vastly superior.
1. Organized Religion: Since religious techs will not be a priority, it’s unlikely that
you will have access to this early enough for it to be useful. I skipped over it in favor of Theocracy.
2. Theocracy– The +2 experience points to military units is very helpful. I recommend using this while planning to gear up for war.
3. Pacifism– The 100% great people points helps generate great spies faster; I typically use pacifism to help alleviate the fact that you can only run one spy spy specialist until Constitution. After I unlock constitution, I typically switch to
4. Free Religion– I don’t recommend this civic; the experience or GPPs from theocracy/pacifism are too useful, not to mention the fact that having a state religion can be a life saver diplomatically. I only recommend adopting this if most of the world has adopted it too, and thus you no longer benefit diplomatically from having a religion.
The ultimate victory condition you will be pursuing is the space race. After you become a world power in the renaissance (which you should, if you utilize the Ottoman and espionage correctly), your goal is to conquer as much land as possible, preferably from relatively strong opponents. Prior to the renaissance, you only want to declare war on enemies weaker than you in order to make your empire swell. During and after the renaissance, you want to start eliminating long term rivals who might potentially beat you to the space race. By conquering relatively powerful neighbors, you increase your own production and research power and weaken theirs, thus increasing your chance of space race while decreasing theirs. Particularly easy targets are neighbors foolish enough to adopt free religion while surrounded by allies of your religion. It’s fairly easy to bribe civs with state religions into declaring war on former allies when they adopt free religion.
Near the end of the game, you have two main strategies available to you to ensure your victory in the space race. The first is a military-focused path, where you declare war on anyone who even thinks about getting close to completing a space ship. At this point in the game, you’re not worried about keeping and maintaining an empire, so swiftly capture and raze their biggest cities into the ground. This will hamper their research and production significantly, and if you do it enough, will make them unable to compete in the space race effectively. Your second option is to put your massive EP total to good use by constant spy harassment. Find out which cities are building space ship parts, and constantly send spies to destroy production-rich tiles, sabotage production, destroy buildings that give production bonuses (forges, factories, etc), or send the city into revolt, etc. Basically use all the spy tools available to you so that your enemy is constantly delayed by slowed production. Typically, the war path works better on civs that hate you, while the spy path works better on friendly civs. If another civ is particularly close to building a spaceship, it might do well to do both methods, attacking them both militarily and spy harassment.
The bad news
Although I feel espionage is a very strong option for Suleiman to take, this strategy is not without its weaknesses. First, its highly dependant on the Great Wall. If you get beaten to the Great Wall, you either should adopt a new strategy or just start your game over. Secondly, it takes a long time for it to fully develop. As I’ve shown above, an espionage based strategy with Suleiman is VERY powerful in the renaissance and beyond, but it takes a lot of careful preparation to get to that point. In the early game, play VERY diplomatically and do everything you can (within reason) to appease your tech-stealing target and the powerful players around you. Feel free to declare war and take over the lands of weak neighbors (particularly those that are of different religions and are at war with said tech-friend and powerful neighbors), but DO not play too aggressively.
Tech-stealing also requires a lot of patience. Gathering up enough EP to steal a tech is a long-term investment. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a long time for the AI to research that one tech in particular. This can be alleviated occasionally if the AI is researching a trivial tech you already have; you can gift or trade them the tech, and hopefully they’ll begin researching something you don’t have. You’ll also have to live with the fact that you’ll very rarely be the first to a tech unless you explicitly beeline towards it (which you should for communism, gunpowder, etc.) This means I typically give up the ever-coveted Liberalism free tech.
Finally, espionage requires a lot of micromanagement. You have to constantly be assessing your enemies and figuring out which of them is most likely to have the techs you want to steal. Then you’ll have to send spies their way, find the city that is not only closest, but also shares your state religion and doesn’t have a security bureau. Some civ players may not enjoy the level of micromanagement that espionage adds, and if you’re not playing to have fun, then why are you playing?
Espionage is easily the most underutilized feature of the BTS expansion, but is one that, if properly utilized and cultivated, can easily give you a slew of new options to approach your game. So I challenge you civ players who haven’t given espionage a fair trial to do so; Suleiman the Spy King will not disappoint you.Discuss this article on the forum