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A MP Primer

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  • A MP Primer


    Now before I get started here, let me state that all the information below is purely my own opinion and is based on my own playing style with Civ 4. I also don't have a lot of BTS experience but assume that most of the main points still hold true for that expansion. I also believe that much of this can also be applied equally successful to a SP game.

    Now having said that, the goal with this primer is to provide information which may make you more competitive in Civ 4 multiplayer games. I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have done a fair amount of SP and been in 6+ MP games, having won my share of them. ;)

    The big challenge in Civ 4 games is finding the right balance between your economics and military. It seems like most all of the decisions you make are a compromise in one form or another. To try to write a primer that is all encompassing would be a book likely the size of the US tax code. What I'll do is break it down into 3 main areas with highlights in each.


    Ignore your defenses at your own peril! I can't stress this enough for MP and it's a mistake I see people make again and again. If you show your neighbors a weak front, you are asking to be invaded. The same holds true for the AI in SP. No amount of empire building is going to help when the enemy shows up with a big stack at your door step. Check the demographics and the power chart in particular to see how you compare against other nations who you have made contact with. If you see a neighbor's power rating starting to climb steeply, that can be an indicator that they are rapidly building up their military.

    Now on the other side of the coin, an early war can give you some very nice cities, especially when you capture an opponent's capital. Be warned though! Against a human player it is advisable to only start a fight you can finish. ;)

    My favorite early game military unit is the Catapault. It is extremely useful on both offense and defense. Not only is it strength 5, which is decent, but the collateral damage is a stack killer. I've seen so many offensives fail because not enough Cats were brought along to the party. A unit's combat effectiveness in Civ 4 quickly starts going downhill once it takes damage. Cats will damage up to 6 units and can take them down to 1/2 strength. Your str 5 Axe is going to have a whole lot easier time of it when the best Archer on defense is only strength 1.5. It doesn't matter what the city defenses look like at that point.


    Every hammer is precious, most especially in the early game. Absolutely do not build things until you have a real need for them. For example: is that library really worth it if the base commerce for your city is 8? That's 90 hammers for a +2 research gain. How about an Aqueduct, 100 hammers, for a city with great food sources? A city with pollution is not a problem if you have more than enough food for it. If you have a weak neighbor and are inclined to go to war, each city you capture saves you 100 hammers for a Settler. The list goes on and on.

    Related to production is 2 key areas. Chopping and Whipping.
    • Chopping: each forest in your workable city area (the fat cross as it is called) will give you 20 hammers, 30 if you have Mathematics. Now people will argue that forests also give you health. That may be all well and good but the extra early game production can help you get key buildings produced or perhaps pump out that extra military for defense or to go on offense. Since 2 forests gives you +1 health I like to keep 2 forests if I can. Ideally they would be on plains tiles. But I always make it a rule to clear forests immediately adjacent to my cities regardless. Giving your opponents +50% defense as they sit next to your cities and bombard them is not a good idea. And if following the above means I don't keep 2 forests then I don't sweat it. With good food sources, a city with pollution is not a big deal anyhow and you can always build stuff to give you extra health.
    • Whipping: with Bronze Working you get the Slavery civic and it is in my books essential. Each population you whip gives you about 30 hammers. So what I like to do is wait until I only need to sacrifice 1 population to finish building something. Then 10 turns later after the happiness penalty is gone, I'll do it again. If you are at war I also consider this civic to be very important, most especially if you are on the defensive. Smaller cities are meaningless when you are on the verge of having it captured or even destroyed by an opponent.


    I like to have at least 1 Worker per city with even more than that in the early game. This is another area I see players consistently neglect. The faster you get your improvements online, the better your city and overall situation is going to be. Workers can also be used to chop those forests and put in the all important road infrastructure which is so critical when on defense. Not to mention to get those extra benefits from your improved tiles!

    Another key aspect of economy is... commerce, commerce, commerce. Why is it so important? Because commerce translates directly into research and gold. The more commerce you have the more you will get. And what's the main way to get commerce? Cottages. It's even sweeter if you have the Financial trait. My favorite cottage tile is grasslands, preferably along a river, or flood plains. Now with this in mind, it's my opinion that farms have very limited uses and should only be needed on cities which are desperate for food. Why do I mention this? Tiles that don't have farms on them are eligible for something more useful.

    What's the drawback with this Cottage approach? They are vulnerable to being pillaged by mounted units. Having defenses on hand against this is a good idea. Another tip is to check the demographics to compare your GNP against the rest of the people in the game. This will be a very good indicator of how your economy is faring against theirs.

    Well...that's the end of the primer and I hope you found some useful information in it. I'd also encourage everyone to reply here and provide their own tips and information that helps them in their games! :)

    Last edited by Bernout; 03-02-2008, 11:40 PM. Reason: Corrected a small error in the Whipping/Chopping part of production notes.


  • #2
    Re: A MP Primer

    This link was referenced on another site and I thought it was worthwhile adding here:






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