Tobold's Blog
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Civ 5 opening moves

Last night I was experimenting a bit with opening moves in Civilization V. You start the game with a settler and a warrior unit by default. Usually the settler is already in a good position to found a city, so in your first move you found your first city, and then have to decide what to build in it.

After some experimentation I found that I usually got the best results by building units first: A warrior, a settler, and a worker, in this order. It is tempting to build a scout instead of a warrior, because that is faster, and the unit explores better. But scouts aren't doing very well against barbarians, and I found it safer to have two warriors.

The other alternative would be to concentrate on buildings, constructing a monument first while researching pottery, and then a granary. The risk of that strategy is other players expanding into the area where you would otherwise settle. That depends a bit on your neighbors, some leaders are expansionist, others not. But I got an expansionist streak myself, and like to control map space to secure resources.

How do you usually start in games of Civ 5? Any prefered strategy?
My standard "human hive" style opener is Warrior, Worker, Settler, Granary, Settler. Get the capital up to speed quickly and then start to churn out those Settlers to colonize the continent before others do. When I reach the point where there's no direction to peacefully expand into, I'll start churning out city upgrades and out-tech and out-produce my neighbors.
I always used to produce a second warrior first, but with the new auto-defended cities, I find that I skip that part and explore with a single warrior instead.

Since I can't make a settler when the city is new I instead usually build a monument first now, then a settler. I always used to go for this rapid expansion thing, which often turns in to a sort of game of chance where my empire is left virtually undefended for a while. It seems to me that Civ 5 is more open than previously to creating small empires, particularly with the civics choices. At some point, therefore, I'll try a non-expansionist approach. We'll see if that's possible :)

Oh, and don't underestimate the scout. Several times my scouts have found weapons in an explored region, turning it into a fast-moving (it still moves like a scout) archer. Early on in the game that's a *very* powerful unit. Not something to build a strategy around, prehaps. :)
Monument, worker, settler, warrior/archer should work fine in most cases. You really want to start getting some culture early on to expand your tiles and grab some early policies before you expand. The granary is completely worthless in Civ5, because you'll never be lacking in food as long as you cozy up to a few maritime city-states.
Oh, one thing: don't forget to set change your population focus to "production" when you make a settler early on. The city can't grow when you are producing a settler, so the default focus tends to be inefficient. The AI doesn't recognise this, so you have to adjust it manually. Later on in the game, this isn't hugely important, but with your first few settlers this can make a difference of 30% or more in production time.
I haven't played Civ 4 or 5 yet, but in 2 and 3 I found that in general I could instantly start a city, explore with my 1st warrior, and be instantly building a new settler to send out. Having 2 cities as close to the start as possible seemed to make a huge difference to how fast I could do research. First thing any new city built was always a settler as well, so the expansion never stopped. When I made the "sacrifice" of the 1st 20 or so turns of each city's existence of fueling my empire's expansion, I fond I had the most success.
I usually start with a worker and research animal husbandry while my warrior goes off exploring. If I discover a civilization close by and my research reveals horses in the vicinity of my first city, I tend to go for a more aggressive style, and research the wheel and then horseback riding and try to take out the nearby civilization early on with horsemen. If you leave it too long to attack, you meet more civilizations who will see you as a bully and might gang up on you.

If I don't have any horses, I tend to go for the usual settlers, monument, granary, more settlers and workers. Though you have to be careful you don't hamper your early growth too much, especially if you have aggressive civilizations near you.
My Standard openning is go for Scout, Worker, Warrior and then if I found any maritime city state I use to rush to medieval ages: after the last warrior I build Stonehenge, then Great Library to discover Philosphy, unlock all patronace pollices and I start to buy all city states that I can. Then I build a Settler, build a city and start to build an army to expand.
@Oscar : I confirm a non-expansionist approach is perfectly feasible in Civ V. I just won a culture victory in "prince" difficulty with just one city, and it was an (unexpected) walk in the park.

@William : agreed on the worthlessness of the granary. You'll be crying for gold much sooner than for food!
You need to build additional pylons.
Of course being an ultimate carebear tobold never plays MP :) And there building scouts is crucial as seeing the enemy is half the victory

I build first unit as a scout in SP as well though (faster discvoery of ruins ,more chances to get +15 gold from first seeing sity state) , then worker ,then another scout or settler or archer depending on situation
For those talking negatively about the Granary, doesn't having the increase in food allow you to work different resources? Your city won't need to work as many food resources, which frees you to work more gold and/or production instead.
Fast expansion at Prince and higher tends to quickly put me into unhappy land.

If I am on a land mass I will start with a worker or scout depending on what resources are around me. If there is 2+ farm or camp resources I will make a worker, if less a scout first.

A scout in hills or forest if attacked will win vs barbs. The Scout can then often mend of 1-2 turns and then attack the barbs and win. I will approach a barb camp, forifty in hill/woods eat the attack, mend and take the camp 1-2 turns later. The camp barbs don't seem to mend. I can often get a Scout to level 2 or 3 from combat early game.

The the cost effectiveness to build food buildings, or friend a city state depends on your nation size. Citystates can be a large expense depending on your policy and improvement choices, but provide bonus to your whole nation. Buildings, are much cheaper independently, but are a recurring expense you can never turn off. If you were going for a very small number of cities buildings would probably be cheaper than staying friends. Larger nation city states would be cheaper in gold and production than building in every city.
I don't think its anything to do with Tobold that he doesn't play Civ 5 MP. It is probably the least-played MP in all of PC gaming, and for a reason.

Civ lends itself so much moreso to SP, and I don't need to tell you guys the reasons. Most civ vets play games lasting 10s or 100s of times longer then the longest conceivable MP match.

And thats if you are someone who can set aside the many hours necessary for a good game (using the term "good" loosely here). I can't imagine this, but I assume there are those teenagers and grown-ups living in mom's basement that have so much time to waste. Same people who raid for 8 hours straight in WoW.


Anyway, personally I always used to
"optimize" my Civ game. Which pretty much entailed mass-producing settlers to secure maximum amount of territory, simultaneously expanding and limiting foes to seal victory early on.

But later in Civ 3 I started playing a bit more relaxed, letting the comp have some land and just trying to make a bad ass empire. I also began experimenting with going for scientific victories, etc.

However if you let yourself "optimize" all methods boiled down to an initial phase of rapid expansion as the true best strategy.

This is the foremost reason I am loving Civ 5. You can pretty much "roleplay" any type of nation you want, and fairly viably. A small but highly developed and advanced nation with a powerful diplomatic/trade empire or many protectorates that could focus on tech could be as viable as a massive far-flung empire. In some cases more so.

So already I have experienced a wide range of gameplay and never felt gimped for doing so. I have been able to flow easily between gameplay styles from game to game, exponentially increasing enjoyment ;)


Now to the actual question...sorry for WoTing you guys hard in the face.

My current 'style' is to attempt to craft a relatively realistic state. My initial plan revolves entirely around A) selected nation and B)starting location.

I facilitate this process in 2 different ways:
1) By using the real Earth map and making sure my starting location "fits" the nation I chose. Then develop it by semi-adhering to my historical knowledge of said nation. For example as Japan I develop fishing..military, whatever you get the point.

2) Randomizing my game to do an "alternate" history. For this I let my starting location on the map dictate my plan. So like real world nations I look at the resources and geography around me and base my development off what a civilization beginning there might be like.

For example, say my location happened to be an island or archipelago. Then - like real world Britain - my focus would most likely be creating a naval superpower.

Anyone else get bored of the "optimization" gameplay or even just trying all-out to win and experiment with other style?
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Warrior->Settler->Worker has been my mainstay in Civ 4 for forever, and I think I did it in 2 and 3 as well.

Stop talking and posting about Civ 5 though. I don't have it yet, and you make it hard to continue resisting. I'm still busy trying out ATITD!
Update on the scout: keep sending the same scout into many ruins and it will upgrade to a new unit type every time it finds new "advanced weapons". This is regardless of whether the upgraded tech has been discovered yet. Anywhere. In my last game I had a scout that I got upgraded to rifleman while everyone else was still running around hurling spears and rocks. My legendary rifleman virtually rocked the world.

I'd classify this as a bug, or at the very least as an unwanted feature. But, hey, I can't resist winning. :)

And J. Dangerous: yes, I agree wholeheartedly. The "I win" game is way less fun than simply playing through a more "realistic" game. But as I just mentioned... it's hard to resist winning!
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