Sirian's Great Library - Strategies for Civilization III
A Harsh People

Civilization: Japanese
Difficulty: Monarch
World Size: Huge
Opponents: Fifteen
Climate: Hot
Rainfall: Arid
Mountains: Rugged
Land Mass: Small
Land Shape: Continents
Barbarians: Restless
Version: 1.07f
SPECIAL NOTE: this game was played on the original release version. In the wake of the first patch, version 1.16f, game elements have changed, rendering much of what I used here obsolete.
So I decided to try my hand at a "Huge" map and max opponents. For my first such attempt, I feared the endless spreading of the enemy, so I wanted the land to be as rugged and desolate as possible, so as not to support countless level 12 size cities for the enemy. I had visions dancing in my head from my first game of the German Reich swallowing half the world, and Panzers rolling out by the dozen to sweep over England and Russia and France. (Egads! A little TOO realistic there, in fact. Yikes.) So... desert lands, that's what I wanted. Huge mountain ranges. Wastelands. Cities two, three, four in size and unable to grow larger until railroads and electricity came along. I hoped that this would give me a chance to compete.
That was the plan, at least. The reality was that out of all sixteen civs, mine seems to have drawn the shortest straw, or at least one of the shorter ones. Look at this worthless plot of land I've been handed. No rivers, no fresh water, just a few patches of grass at my capital, one wheat and one horse out on the plains, and a couple forests to the north, at the foot of what would turn out to be a dreadfully large and barren mountain range. Oh, not the worst mountain range on the planet -- that would be the Endless Mountains separating England from Germany, but this would be pretty bad all the same. I strongly considered starting over, as this honestly looked very bleak to me, but I thought What the Hey and decided to see what I could do with it. Maybe beyond those mountains, I could find a green valley somewhere, build a Forbidden Palace, and have a "Real Kingdom" to manage. Maybe. The desolation's not the worst of this, you see. It's the land placement: at the tippytoe end of a huge peninsula at the end of a long, thin landmass. Arrgh! Can't get any worse for corruption than to have your capital at the far end of your landmass.
Let's talk city placement for a moment. I'm about to plunk down that settler right where you see him, to found my second city. (What choice is there??) Now, for the long term sake of efficient city layout, the square to the southeast would be the ideal location. No overlap with the capital, no wasted land left unused, perched on the sea to grab the maximum coastal waters and leave the most land available for more cities on the left. Of course, ideal is not always best. There are three considerations that can override what would otherwise be the "ideal" placement for a settlement: 1) Resources. In order to get resources within a city, and especially within one square radius of that city so you can gain immediate access to them without having to wait for cultural border expansion, it may be prudent to sacrifice some of your long term potential for immediate gains. Why? Because this may ultimately affect your long term potential even more, by speeding your growth. In this instance, I HAD to get that wheat into immediate play, therefore I founded this city in an otherwise undesirable location. Them's the breaks. If not for doing this, I'd have had to wait to build a temple, plus wait five more turns for the border to expand, to get that food. That would not have been a good plan. 2) Fresh water. If you build adjacent to a river or inland lake (if the ocean juts diagonally into your landmass, it forms an inland lake? Silly game) you do not need to build an aqueduct. This is HUGE, in three ways: you can grow past six before Construction, you don't have to wait to build an aqueduct to expand plus you don't have to pay for that thing, and this allows you to build cultural improvements sooner, making them more valuable long term. Building near a fresh water source may make it worth it to build in an otherwise undesirable spot. 3) For political purposes, it may be wise to build a city in an otherwise undesirable spot to push back the borders of an opponent, or to seize a strategic piece of land. For example, building on a hills conveys defense bonuses to your city.
So I found my second city and my warrior explores to the north. What do I find up there besides more and more mountains, deserts and plains? The Chinese. Beijing is located smack in the midst of Shangri-La, I'm telling you. I was SO infuriated! They stick me out on the end of some wasteland, nowhere, and the Chinese start not only with a river, but with eight or nine grassland, THREE WHEAT, a horse and an iron on a hills, all in range of their capital city????? OK, this means war.
That's right. You've got good land, and I want it. Care to hand it over? No? OK fine, we'll take it from you by force. All we have to do is make a dozen chariots and swarm over you!
"Uh... Emperor? We have a problem here. Our chariots cannot cross these mountains." "WHAT??? Arrgh!"
So archers it was, then. Lots and lots and lots of archers, as many as I could build. But they take so long to get there! Arrgh! So I punished the Chinese a bit, but could not take out their capital. Captured a couple of their workers and set them to building a road, along with my two workers. A road from Japan ALL THE WAY TO CHINA, that's what I needed.
So I kept them bottled up, or so I thought. Somehow they either already had a third city, or snuck a settler out of Shanghai when I wasn't looking, as they did get another city started. And dammit, the barbarians attacked that third city so often, that it developed an elite spearman, and that was all she wrote for me attacking THAT city for the next thousand years or so. Arrgh. But Shanghai to the east seemed vulnerable, so that would be my next target. If I could capture it, I'd have a foothold up there.
But there's another problem. Take a look at that last screenshot. Between two workers, enough military to keep order in my own cities, and offensive units marching north, I've got way more than the eight units I can support for free. So I'm maxing the taxes, got minimal into science, and I STILL can't pay for my armies! Arrgh. This must be stopped. I must have more cities, if for no other reason than to be able to support more military. So I decide to found two more cities in my desert homeland, even if they were doomed to be limited to size two or three. Check out that screenshot. You'll see my settler on the left. Above him, my two workers, building roads. One of them is standing on a wheat, which is why my next city is going right where that settler is stationed. I'll get the wheat and two forest, and be able to grow to size three. Sadly, that's the last wheat in my area, so my fourth city will be completely junky, limited to size TWO (no joke) but I'll found it anyway, build a temple and get some culture going, increase my unit capacity, and then churn out a new worker every twenty turns (no joke -- this is SAD land here. Sad land, and a harsh life.)
Horseback riding in four turns? I can't wait! As strong as archers, can move two squares, and will retreat from combat? That's what the Hell I need to bring down these stubborn Chinese bastards, who are simply too tough for my archers to handle alone (although I would soon manage to capture Shanghai).
This is the "military conquest in the ancient era" gambit. I had no choice. Peace was not an option, with lands this desolate. I had to overrun the Chinese while I still could. As yet, I did not know who else might be around, but as it turned out, it was just our two civs on this continent. To my northeast was a similar size continent with the Aztecs and Indians. To the west, a large but even more desolate continent, holding the Germans, English and Russians. To their south, a small icy continent holding the Zulu. And in the far east, a huge landmass holding the other eight civs. There were also a couple small islands here or there, future colonial material, but of course none of those were anywhere near Japan. Arrgh.
With pitiful cities, no time to build improvements, much less wonders, and at times being pressed for gold because of building so much military, I felt I had no choice but to keep research to the absolute minimum, to put everything into the treasury and take advantage of the "maximum turns" for discovery.
When you conduct research, no matter how much science you have, you cannot make a breakthrough in less than four turns. Conversely, no how little science you have (as long as it's more than zero), you will make a breakthrough in no more than 32 turns. So what you can do (I call this the "Minimal Science Option" is to get a breakthrough at very low cost, but at a slow pace, and during that time amass as much cash as possible. I thought of this as the best hope for my Japanese people: to research a few expensive techs with the minimal approach, and to use that cash to buy techs from other civs later on. I had no idea how effective it would be, but even at max research it was going to take me 24 or more turns per breakthrough, so it seemed like a good idea.
So I got Mysticism, Horseback Riding, Polytheism and Monarchy in this fashion, and bang, there goes about 140 turns. That's quite a lot. However, I amassed a large fortune, and being religious and getting those temples built early, to my amazement, turned out to make my civ the ancient cultural leader BY FAR. I eventually got passed by other religious or scientific civs, and fell into the mediocre ranks, mostly because I was so slow to build libraries, having to build so many aqueducts and courthouses, and being eaten alive for a long long time by corruption in all my northern holdings.
When I got horseback riding and built four or five veteran units, I went after Beijing. It cost me a couple of units, but I took it finally, and I decided to raze it to the ground. As costly as that might be, I knew that I would get two workers out of it (it was size four at the time) and I also knew that the Chinese had been whipping the population pretty badly, plus I also thought at the time that I wanted to relocate that city. As it turned out, I resettled the exact same spot. Oh well. Maybe I'd have done better to keep Beijing, but either way it wasn't that great a deal at that point. Two captured workers vs having to build another settler? I may even have made the best choice, all things considered. It was close either way, as far as I can see.
My fourth city, Edo, built before I took out Beijing, was settled in the wrong location. Not a bad location, really, but slightly inefficient. Have a look at this screenshot.
Edo should have been built one square to the south. That would have put it on a desert instead of a plains. Desert and Hills are actually GOOD locations to found a city, as you will get two food anyway, so it's like adding a free food to the city's ultimate potential. That's no reason to build in the wrong spot, but it's something to keep in mind. If I had built Edo one square south, it would have had the same overlap, the same mountains, the same everything, actually, EXCEPT that it would have had one more plains and one less desert. Minor point, and no game breaker, but worth noting. I might also have decided to build another city two squared north and one to the east of Tokyo, and squeeze in another small city. That one would have been badly overlapped, but had four plains and one hill to its own use, plus a mountain or two, and might have been almost as much worth it as Edo itself. With Edo where I put it, another city in there was out of the question.
I was pondering this because of Nara. I almost didn't bother with Nara. It had three plains, one with a wheat, a desert, some hills and coast, and mountains. Really bad land, I thought. But... I also thought I'd better grab it anyway. I was expecting to settle there and get just a single food, yet I got two. Two! Two food from that desert? Wow. OK, I should have guessed, because I already knew from my Iroquois game that building on a hills gives two food. I was still thinking Civ 1-2, where you can irrigate hills. Building a city would irrigate if it could, and that's how hills got two food, while desert stayed at one. Not in Civ 3! Nara was the best move I made all game, as that wheat let the city grow a bit early, enough to get a harbor quickly and expand to an 8 or 9 on the back of its healthy mines and iron ore. That city would turn out to have coal, too, to build the Iron Works and nab for me several world wonders in the industrial and modern eras, as well as crank out an inordinate amount of military hardware. All from a city I didn't think would be worth founding. The fact that railroads can double irrigation even in deserts, and harbors can get sustainable food supplies from the sea, can allow even some of the most pathetic looking cities to rise to power eventually. Even bad lands are more than worth settling IF they are relatively close to your capital or Forbidden Palace. That's the "Lesson of Nara".
Kagoshima was another desperate-looking plot of land, but that single wheat-grassland, along with some of the sea, carried it to nearly the same amount of fame as Nara. These two harsh city locations became rich producers. They grew quite slowly, and neither was at 12 by the time I had sanitation, but oh the shields! Oh my. Tokyo and Edo, by contrast, lagged far far behind (especially Edo). The main reason why was lack of access to irrigation until Electricity. That can be a real backbreaker. If not for irrigation up north, those other two cities would also have languished.
Moving further north, you see Satsuma on the old Beijing site. I resettled there after settling Nara and Kago, as it was the correct spot I finally deduced. Just to Satsuma's north is one of those "inland lakes formerly known as a diagonal ocean square". Two squares to the north of that lake is an ideal city location, but I would opt to found my next city directly north of the lake, to get around the need for an aqueduct, even at the cost of some overlap with Satsuma. Overlap would not be costly there until both cities were larger than 12, and that was forever and a day away. I made the right choice, as I believe the game bore out for me over time. Sometimes water is more urgent than symmetry, even though four squares of land would thusly go unused for all time.
North of Shanghai and Satsuma is nothing but jungle, a few hills, plus a couple mountains and a couple more rivers. As awful as that land looks now, and as useless, eventually that will be a sweeping vista of grassland, extremely rich lands compared to the arid wastes of the south. Canton, quite frankly, is in a bad location, and I fully intend to burn it to the ground. :) The correct location for a city up there is one square to the right of Canton's location. I can then put three cities along the northern coast, two of them on rivers, two of them amidst those spices, with minimal overlap and maximum long term efficiency. The city on the right will have no hills or mountains and will jut out into the sea, so it will have few shields. All three will be badly smashed by corruption for ages to come, but I will eventually build the Forbidden Palace in the central city, turning that entire northern area in a very low corruption "second Japan" paradise. All I have to do is get rid of those pesky Chinese bastards.
Uh... what's this landing on my shores? An English settler and a spearman? Well, I just happen to have archers and cavalry stationed RIGHT THERE to deal with barbarian villages that keep popping up and repopping up (chances to make my troops elite, to "train" them, and earn a free 25 gold every couple of turns, until I can get more settlers up there). I pasted the info from the Right-Click popup, from those English units. Of course I'm not going to give up control of ANY of this continent, so I declared war on the English, attacked their settler before it could build a city, and captured myself two more workers. (A settler you capture turns into two capturered workers.)
Now see, the thing about captured workers is that they cost no support, unlike your own workers. They also work at only half efficiency, but that is FOR FREE, and you can't beat that. Two of them together is like having another of your own workers, for free. So it's always good to capture workers, if the war won't cost you more than its worth. In fact, this is one of the new "AI Cheat Factors", in that they will produce settlers and attack one another and end up with armies of captured workers, all working for free. I don't know if that's by design, but it happens every game. I always see civs with other civs' workers, all over the place! You also get workers for free from razing cities, at one worker per two population destroyed. Keep that in mind. Capturing workers early in the game is of enormous benefit. You may even want to pay gold for them (at about 26 to 32 gold apiece) early on, if you get the option in the trade screen because they happen to have workers in their capital at the moment (more likely if they are at war with anybody, as AI workers hide in the cities when they are at war). Figuring that you save half a gold in upkeep per turn, workers you BUY off other civs pay for themselves in sixty turns or less, AND they don't cost you any population decreases or production time, so I see them as a real bargain. You also want to be capturing enemy settlers before they settle, unless you are sure they will settle in a location of your exact choosing. Usually, I prefer to have the workers and to do the settling for myself, but it may depend. In this case, I feared not being able to defend the captured English city (had no idea how close the English were, or how strong, but they HAD built the Lighthouse already) so I made my choice also on that basis. My capital, and my military production, were SO FAR away, and with no road, it just didn't seem prudent to risk having a city up there just yet. The captured workers went to work on building roads and clearing jungles up there, and that helped prepare the way for my own settlers coming along soon.
You can see a couple Chinese archers. There are also two plots of grassland there now, as their workers have cleared out two jungle squares. They were stuck at size 2 for the longest time, but eventually improved enough land to get to size 3, and build a settler, so I promptly redeclared war on them, and with the English arriving, decided it was time to try to finish off these Chinese bastids once and for all. But... I needed better offense. I needed swordsmen, so it was not until I got iron working and a few swordsmen in the field that I was finally able to exterminate the Chinese. I did capture more of their workers, including from that settler, wipe out their roaming archers, and pillage all their improvements, before re-establishing peace while I researched Iron Working. (I HAD tried swarming that elite spearman with horsemen and failed, so I needed those swords). I don't think they had walls, but sometimes I wondered. Tough old birds there, very strong units.
I was now "in the game", so to speak, with full control of one good continent. Barren to the south, rich but overrun with jungle to the north, this was actually a better setup than it first appeared. I had oceans separating me from any other enemies, and that is not to be underestimated (just ask the United States).
So those bastard English invaders in the northwest were slaughtered and captured, and my war with England lasted many hundred years. They did land one boat of troops, eventually, and delayed my final settlement in the northeast until I could get more military up there, but eventually we made peace, and through trade became good friends. In fact, for most of the game, England was my best friend. She liked to go to war a lot, though, and eventually we would part ways, but that was some time to come.
Playing on a huge map is fun, especially since there is less corruption per city added, and less per distance away from the capital, allowing you to build a vast empire, but the AI (probably the pathfinding elements, most of all) is enormously more taxing on the CPU, and time between turns grows. My Duron 600 can barely handle the load, taking MINUTES between turns as the game matures. Eventually, it was taking ten and fifteen minutes to calcuate everything between turns. I tell ya, that's one environment that is NOT friendly to lots of saved-game reloads. Fortunately for me, I don't do very many of those at all. Mostly, I just play and take what happens. I do make a pointed exception for the random disappearance of KEY strategic resources, though. That feature is so pathetic, so random, so senseless, that I have no qualms about defeating it by backing up two turns and doing something, anything, differently, so as to give the game a different random seed and cause it not to wipe out some make-or-break random resource that can torpedo my game with bad luck on a random roll of the dice. Screw that, and screw every game, game element, and game maker, that wants to base their games around that sort of crap. That's my beef with the old Master of Magic game, and with its sequel, Master of Orion II (How did the sequel to Master of Magic get named Orion instead? Long story, and don't even get me started, as I can rant and rave about that for hours on end in the most profane of ways.) Silly random luck factors of game-breaking degree can go bite me, and that includes this one little element with Civ III, having to do with resources randomly vanishing. Anyway, the time between turns was growing longer, and if I was at all inclined to do much if any reloading and do-overs, that alone was reason enough not to bother. In fact, it's quite nearly reason enough not to bother with large maps. I intend to go back to Normal or even smaller maps for next couple of games, at least. The game just performs so much better on my system, on smaller maps.
Final note from that last screenshot: note all the elite units. If you are going to engage in a ancient military gambit, it sure does help to be Militaristic. Not only do you get barracks at only 20 shields a pop, and walls at 10 (not that I needed walls, against these opponents), but you promote so much faster. Barbarians, in fact, present you a training option, even, so it may pay you to have them on Restless and farm them for cash and elite units. Be careful with that, though. Also know that barbarians only pop up away from settled lands, and out of eyeshot of any military. If you station lookouts in barbarian areas, and leave no land unwatched, they won't appear. That's also a way to stop them from appearing if you don't want them around. Expansionist Civs can make use of their soon-to-be-useless scout units to "keep watch on" potential barbarian lands and prevent or reduce their appearance, or at least keep them from forming too close to your cities. Watch out, though, as they may recruit mounted units if they already have warriors wandering around, and that can actually be Very Bad (TM). So stay on top of them! In that last screenshot, you can note that I'm farming barbarians in the northeast, mainly, and somewhat the northwest, too. I let a few turns pass with some land in the dark, then go have a look, and pummel the new barbarian village before it starts cranking out units. Also, don't let barbarians continue to form in the mountains. They can defeat you there, with big defense bonuses. Let them form out in some jungle or plains or tundra, where you can smash them easily.
Late in the first millenium AD, in exchange for an alliance against the Russians (in which I could do almost nothing, as I lacked the ship tech to cross an ocean) and several hundred gold, I got the English to give me their world map. Now whoever has the Lighthouse is going to have the biggest, baddest world map by leaps and bounds. They may even be the first to make contact with other continents, indeed the whole world, and thus will be in a position to trade all kinds of things to people for a huge advantage. It was in this game that I came to understand how Map Information is valued, traded, hoarded. If you yourself get the Lighthouse, and want to be the first to get to unsettled colonial lands by sea, you can't afford to give ANYONE your map information. If you sell it to someone, they will surely turn around and sell it to others! Pay them for theirs if you must, but don't give yours away. If you don't have the Lighthouse, forget it. Get the map info from the Lighthouse civ (PAY them in gold, if you must) then sell that info to every other civ on the planet and make a fortune. I botched this in this game, but... I learned as I went, and eventually I was in good position. It does mean that everyone will know the whole world and quickly, and civs will race to gobble up every last bit of worthless land anywhere, and you likely won't get much if any of it, but if you aren't going to get it anyway, broker map information and keep on doing it. Pay gold for new map info from the Lighthouse Civ every few turns, then sell it to everyone in the world, including trading them for their updated world maps in the process. This is a huge cash cow, and in some cases can even get you luxuries or tech, or help to do so -- as can that gold surplus. That's something else I found out here: buying tech not only works, but works BETTER than researching it yourself! The only problem with this approach (and it is a big problem) is that you can't get ahead in tech by buying someone else's. You also give out some cash advantage (which they will probably use to upgrade their troops or hurry production -- no matter how much you give them, it often disappears quickly in most cases). So be careful who you buy tech from: not everyone asks the same price, and you want to trade with non-leading civs if you can, so as not to give leaders even more advantage. You can almost always buy tech cheaper, in gold units, than you can research it in science units. Thus you use cash (and the "Minimum Science" move to get a free tech in 32 turns) to catch up if you are behind, or to get an advantage on a line no one else is researching, while you pay gold to keep up on the lines they are all pursuing. One nice thing: unlike Civ 1 and Civ 2, these AI's do not blatantly cheat by each researching a different tech then trading them amongst themselves. I HATED THAT in Civ1 and Civ2, as all the AI's played like a freaking team, instead of realistically as rival civs. This new diplomatic system and AI is vastly improved -- enough that I'm not yet rolling my eyes at every transparently cheap move they are pulling. There are still a few areas where the AI needs improvement, where I look at what they do and see it for the mindless algorithms and preset programming that is, but overall things are better in this regard. I'll talk more about the "holes" in the game that I've found in future writings.
One thing I noticed about the AI's, they do tend to gang up on what they see as the weakest target. Once someone starts to pick on someone else, they will try to bring others in on it. What looks to be the target may not always be the first civ to go down, but usually it is. These AI's can "smell blood", they are programmed to capitalize on weakness, whether yours or those of another AI. As such, weak civs tend to vanish, to be conquered. Only if they ally with a strong partner early on and stay allied will they be likely to stand the test of time. The Russians were the third target here. The Americans were carved up by all those eastern empires before I ever met them. In fact, before the Chinese were wiped out, the Americans were gone, only their city names left to mark their former presence in future ages. The Russians were the third target, but even as everybody ganged up on them, they had only two immediate neighbors, the weakish Zulu to the south, across some water, and the Germans. The English were to the north, but could get there faster by sea than across the Endless Mountains that separated them from Germany. You can see on this map below, the Endless Mountains range in the unsettlable gray area between the Orange and the Brown/Blue. That is 100% mountains all the way, dozens and dozens of squares of them, maybe even over a hundred, no hills, no nothing but mountains, no way to settle anywhere in there, at all. Anyway, the English stirred up a near-worldwide coalition against the Russians, whose only friend was the Zulu. When Germany got on board, they made the mistake of their lives. It was... STARTLING, to say the least, to watch Germany overrun by Russia, and to become the world's whipping boy. Even England went to war against them. In fact, I ended up GIVING them iron and horses, near the end, to try to defend themselves, because I saw it as not in my interest for them to disappear too quickly. They had always been friendly to me, and they were my closest neighbor. By 1300 AD, I realized the Germans were doomed. I gathered my Samurai and my last ship (I had lost two ships in naval engagements with the Russians in our earlier war -- humiliating defeats that must be avenged -- Japan WILL figure out how to build a great navy, some day, that I promise you!) Germany was almost gone, down to five towns and in total collapse now. I had to move into action. I did not like that England had grabbed one of the three rich German cities. (They had three good cities, and about eight useless wasteland cities in the desert or mountain regions). They were done for, but the Russians HAD TO BE overextending themselves in the push they were making. That was a prime opportunity for me! I finally had Astronomy and could safely cross the water with the right maneuvers. I sent over three samurai just as Russia was swallowing the last German cities. In fact, they burnt Cologne to the ground and founded their own city, Riga, in its place. Germany was down to two cities as I landed, you can see one of them in the upper left of this screenshot.
To the northwest of Riga is the other German City. Their capital, Berlin, had been burned to the ground, and every civ from the east had ships on the way to this land to try to grab a piece of it. This was now the world arena for war, but in fact my nation, Japan, was in the best position to captitalize. Just two turns by sea could get a shipment of troops into the theater of war. Not even the English could do that well. So my samurai warriors landed, and with the first blow against the Russian scum "in defense of Noble Germany", the Golden Age of Japan began, in the year 1330 AD. You can see my brilliant warriors arrayed in the desert, having captured Riga and downed some wounded Russian units. On the next turn, England captured Leipzig, and Russia captured the final German city, eliminating Germany from the game. There were now only thirteen civs left, but my Golden Age came under Democracy, at the perfect time! Extra gold, extra production! I would, in this time period, build my Forbidden Palace, the Iron Works, and four world wonders. I would capture three former German cities, a Russian city, and earn from Russia through negotians another German city they had just taken. (Getting them GIVE you a city in negotiations is sometimes possible, if you have punished them hard and are asking for a weak city, especially one they have captured from someone else, which has no cultural value for them). Any city GIVEN to you becomes fully yours, with all citizens therein converted to your nationality. That is far better than taking it by force! A total of eight new cities came under Japanese control during this golden age, and four more would soon follow (including one more GIVEN to us by the Russians, their next to last city as the Egyptians sat on the doorstep of their capital). Yes, the world arrived at Russia and carved it up. One city to the Romans, one to Iroquois, two to England, three to Egypt, one to Rome. The Greeks settled in the spot formerly known as Berlin, and since they were a key ally of mine at the time, they were allowed to have their Mycenae unmolested for centuries yet to come. Cavalry and more cavalry, that was my motto. I got infantry over there as I could, but it was the Cavalry with which I seized control of more cities. Samurai at first, then cavalry. For offensive options, speed is perhaps the most essential element. You need fast units to capitalize on weak enemies quickly, with a blitzkreig. You need fast units to weaken defenders then retreat without being destroyed. Some artillery doesn't hurt either, and some workers along (or captured) to build railroads or fortifications underneath you as you advance. "Combat engineers", they are called, though this game gives them no special distinction. If you've got the technological edge, you have to use it wisely, which often means "Carpe Diem": seize the day! Know when to strike, and strike hard. The AI's respect ONLY victory at cities. They are not impressed with military victories or defeats in the field, but with the taking of cities. It is right after you take a city from them (ironically, when you may be overstretched and at your weakest) that these AI's will yield the most to you in negotiations. I'm none too sure of the realism or even the wisdom of such a design element -- I'd rather it be more complex, less exploitable -- but that's the game we are faced with, so play it wisely. To the aggressor go the spoils, in Civ3. Just be sure to pick your wars with care. They also respect a show of force outside a city. If you are "threatening" one of their cities, they may yield you more -- but if you have enough to scare them, you probably have enough to take the city, so maybe you should do that, unless you are stretched too thin. This game is more ruthless than ever, and that's quite an accomplishment, seeing as Civ has always been a ruthless game. Yet... you can play this one more "peacefully", as well, though that may be problematic at higher difficulty. This will be my last game at Monarch level, unless I move up to Emperor and have my lunch handed to me badly enough to send me scurrying back down here, tail 'tween legs. We shall see.
As far as I can tell, you only get one shot at a Golden Age. I've not been able to induce a second or third one. Ironically, a Golden Age is of questionable use early in the game. Too early, and it practically goes to waste. This time I didn't get one until the threshold of the industrial age, and woooo did it make a difference or what! By the end of these twenty turns, Japan had risen from contender to champion, being the undisputed leader in the world in every category (including military) except for culture. I'd fallen behind there and would never regain the lead, that much I knew. Cultural power must be built early, and though I got a great start with those early temples, and had a commanding cultural lead at one point, that's where it stagnated for millenia, and then I was too far behind to do anything about it. Didn't matter, ultimately. Strong culture is something I am predisposed to pursue, but it's not a must-have. You can't afford to be too weak, either, but I did just fine here with mediocre cultural development. Culture couldn't save the Russians from my Cavalry, that's for sure.
It was such a neat thing, to sail three expeditionary units of samurai across the sea, land them and deal out retribution on land, with artful and overwhelmingly deadly sword play, in reply to our defeats at sea those centuries before. Japanese have a long memory! It was truly a golden age in every sense of the word! The world learned the power of the Japanese Warrior. I then built and moved armies and military to the new continent, to secure my gains and prepare for future aggression. A great leader, Tojo, was produced, and with him I founded an army, and got the Heroic Epic built.
The Russians were overextended, racing the English and every other civ on the planet to carve up the Germans and secure as much of that pie as possible. I moved another three troops (one caravel load) to the German continent every four turns. I moved a total of fifteen troops over there in this fashion, and between my samurai and then cavalry, I took a whopping seven cities from the Russians: four on the coast, all actually pretty close to my capital, and three in the mountains, all piteous specimens. In fact, all seven of these cities were sad. Two were ALL desert, a third had a few patches of plains, a fourth was desert and mostly hills. Two others had a couple patches of grass or plains, mostly hills, mountains and desert. The last was on the coast, had a fish and several plains, plus lots of water. Every last one of these spots was useless without railroads, but the rails were coming and soon! That one was closest to my capital, Sverdlovsk, was the city where I opted to build a harbor in coming turns. The Russians were running around with wounded or obsolete units. I had smashed their wounded knights early on, so there were spearmen and pikemen wandering around, I think one musketeer in one town. I lost a couple units despite my tech and firepower advantage -- such is war -- and was extending myself dangerously thin, so I offered peace, and got an eighth almost worthless town in the negotiation. My golden age ended and it was time to consolidate my gains. I sent more and more troops over there, almost every new troop I built went over there. I had a lot of securing to do. The Russians still had four strong cities, but the world had now turned its sights on them and the ships they were a-coming, filled with troops, from every nation on that huge eastern landmass.
I built wonders, took the tech lead, and moved into first place, thanks to this golden age. This is the first time my golden age has not come in the ancient era, when frankly it often does little good. This middle ages golden era was overwhelmingly successful, so much so that I don't wonder if civs built to avoid getting a golden age too early (Japan, England, France, Russia, India, America) don't actually have some advantage in that regard? I'm not sure as yet.
With the world war taking place in the west, over the former lands of Russia and Germany, I had the distinct and overwhelming advantage of being able to move new troops to the land in just two turns, compared to many many for the eastern powers. They might land a squad, but I could land a whole force. I put so many units over there, infantry and especially cavalry, that there was no doubt in my mind that I would dominate and eventually control ALL of that land. The logistics were entirely in my favor, even though England was herself part of that landmass. The Endless Mountains were a greater obstacle to her than the narrow ocean was to me.
Rome got one city over there, Iroquois took one from Egypt, Egypt got two others, and England got one, all of these on the coast. England also had grabbed four others, all former German towns, to the northwest of my position there, on this side of the Endless Mountains. Those were the forces I feared most, as they could be reinforced. The English were hard at work on a road through the mountains, and they soon completed it, speeding their reinforcements manyfold. I left her alone and concentrated on the Russians again, eventually. They had four cities left, including Moscow, all well defended, or at least well enough to fend off the other AI's a while. I massed troops, then took two of the four cities and they gave me the third. Thus I got control of three of the four remaining cities before the Egyptians took Moscow. That left me with 11 cities, the English with with 7, Egyptians 3, and 1 each for Rome, Greece, Iroquois and the Aztecs.
The Aztecs were surrounded by my cultural borders on three sides and I knew they would eventually revolt over to me, which they did. That gave me a full dozen cities over there. This arrangement held for decades, perhaps even a full century or two. As the modern era dawned, another world war was brewing from the leftover animosities of the previous war. I made the fateful decision to sign a Mutual Protection Pact with the Aztecs, who were now my closest homeland neighbor, across the ocean to the northeast. They were paying me a whopping 80-something gold per turn, I believe, and I was happy to have a firm ally in this uneasy time, especially one who would, frankly, make a more convenient target for all those eastern powers than I would. The Aztecs finally got greedy to take over the puny Indians on their continent. The cascade began.
The Powers lined up thusly: England, Iroquois and Egypt sided with the Indians, along with France. Greece and Persia sided with me. Babylon sided with Persia, Rome sided with Greece, but then also sided with Iroquois. Oops. Very confusing. Rome proved to be the key that would set everybody BUT the Aztecs and Persians against me eventually, but that was a little way off.
With England now officially at war with me (two turns later), they became my prime target. Egypt and Iroquois were also now against me, so their cities in Russia were forfeit to me. My forces swept over Moscow and the other Egyptian holdings in one turn, and also the Iroquois city and the English city on the south coast. I now held all of motherland Russia except the one city held by Rome, and all of motherland Germany except for the Greek-founded city on the site of former Berlin. I signed mutual protection pacts with both Rome and Greece (and still with the Aztecs), and was making about 140 per turn off the Greeks alone, for that service. The Romans had less to pay, but were paying highly. I pushed England back north, in mountainous Germany, turn by turn (went slowly with the rugged terrain, even with lots of cavalry and some tanks and heavy artillery). I pushed them all the way to the Endless Mountains and started up that way. Persia was pouncing on the remains of Zululand, so I grabbed one city over there, across the bay from Russia, to secure Wines for myself. With Russian ivory and gems from the mountains, I now had four luxuries. A measly four. Arrgh. Oh well.
Japan itself was completely secured by water. There was never even any ATTEMPT by any power to land on the Japanese mainland. I had plenty of military waiting there if they cared to try it, though. Heh. So I now had control of all of Russia and Germany except two tiny cities belonging to my vassals, the smallish nations of Greece and Rome. Well, Iroquois was slowly carving Greece up, and then the Romans declared war on the Aztecs. Hmm. What happens when two powers, both of whom you have mutual protection pacts with, go to war with one another? That's right, you be screwed. Taking a lesson from that, one should be VERY careful about protection pacts. You make a lot of enemies in a hurry. When Rome attack Azteca, my pact declared war for me, and the Greeks then declared war against me despite our spotless relationship because THEY also had a pact with Rome. The dominoes, they do fall, hard and fast, if even a single hostile crack forms in a large alliance. Arrgh. Babylon was allied with Greece, and off they went. So now it's the whole world against Japan, Azteca, and Persia... which just happened to be three of the four largest powers, the Iroquois being the fourth.
What do you expect happened? That's right, some more civs were due for extinction. India, France, Greece, and then Rome, all wiped out.
The space race was brewing, but only for me. No one else had sufficient tech. The thing is, I was past my city limit and corruption range. Even on the largest map size, where it seems you can afford to gather as many as 30 cities, past that it really starts to get bad. Cities that used to give half their resources to corruption were reduced to just a few trade and shields left intact. Everything past a certain distance was completely useless, and that including everything left on the map that could be taken. I already had 100% possession of all lands of ANY potential use to me, except additional luxuries, all located in distant eastern lands. With that mess, I had no desire to try to conquer the world or nurture and coax more points. I was ready to get it over with now. So I continued to fight and advance on England, and take her cities. Babylon and Persia were now trying to get a piece of her, too. These AI's are like sharks, I tell ya. They turn on anything that smells like a meal. Or maybe they are like vultures, circling, ready to dive in to compete for scraps of dying national flesh before life has even fled the body. I waged war on England to pass the time, fought some naval battles, then launched my spaceship once it was built, in the mid 1800's.
The score was a whopping 3200-something. Apparently, higher scores are to be earned on larger maps, mainly by controlling more territory. I'm not too sure about that balance, but there you have it.
One other reason I wanted out of this game by now: the turn length. My Duron 600 was absolutely CRAWLING between each turn, literally taking ten and twenty MINUTES to process everything. That might be sped up a little if I took off animations, but mostly that is just raw calculating time. I presume the pathfinding algorithm is much less efficient on huge maps, and has to run through a lot more dummy, dead-end paths before finding one that works. What else could be wasting so much CPU? I can hardly imagine. And this brings back the WORST part of my Civ-1 memories, from literally a decade ago now: playing Civ on my friend's Tandy 8086, with forty-five minutes to create a new game and twenty, thirty, forty minutes PER TURN between each turn in the later game. Only Civ and Sid Meier could make a game do that on a modern PC. Sheesh. I suppose that's good, in a sense, but it's also a little slower than I'd like to be dealing with. As a result, I will most likely stick to Normal size maps or smaller, most of the time. Even there, late-game turns can take a few minutes to pass. I'm not inclined to save and reload anyway, but if I were, that dreadful turn-taking time would sure be a big deterrent to that. Heck, it's bad enough deterrent for the game itself.
Here's my second capital, in the north of my homeland, near the end of the game. This is what a modern city in a late game can look like from the inside. Notice that one square not occupied? That's because of confusion over the dreadful Pollution Bug.
I don't yet know if this has been fixed in the patch -- I've seen no mention of it -- but I reported it on the Firaxis site weeks ago. When pollution hits, there's a bug with the game still giving you resources from the polluted square. I sure hope they've corrected that, as it's both an annoyance and a small exploit. I've been trying to leave it alone, to leave double-production squares unoccupied, but it's hard to keep track. Once a city changes size or has its land altered (by workers or global warming) it rechecks everything and resets production to correct levels. However, for a city that is maxed out on population, any pollution not only can add production, but likely adds free food, as well, allowing the city to grow beyond its max sustainable size and leading to starvation and the loss of all your stored food. It's just a real pain in the butt. As it turns out, in this shot, that blank square is NOT in double production. The city has grown since its last pollution event and fixed itself, but I've lost track and have been running a square empty for some time. Arrgh. I sure hope this patch corrects this problem. You can also afford to ignore pollution to a degree, as a result, as the penalty of losing production is not implemented immediately, in most cases. In some cases, you could chug along forever and not care, for a full city, unless you cleaned up some of the pollution and the next batch redirected workers to the double-production empty squares. What a mess that is, the whole thing. Of course, if the enemy comes along and bombs some of the land of a maxed city you've been ignoring while it accumulates pollution, BANG, all the effects will hit you at once, probably leading to serious starvation. I'll wait until I see the patch in play before I say anything else about this.
The location of the forbidden palace, which can't ever be moved or rebuilt, is likely the most urgent decision to be made the entire game, if you are playing to expand and build. You only get one chance, and to build it where it's needed most, you may be too badly hit with corruption to get it done in timely fashion. I didn't have to here, but in some cases it may be wise to use a leader to rush your forbidden palace. The amount of gold and shields saved could be staggering. You might be talking about the difference between three or four techs, and a wonder or two or a sizeable military force, in terms of shields and trade to be gained by effective placement of the second capital. In some cases, if your palace is centrally located, it may also pay you to build the forbidden palace nearby, then move the palace itself away a bit in the other direction by rebuiding it. The Palace can be moved, the forbidden palace cannot.
Corruption management is one of the prime keys to success. Proximity to your capital (or the forbidden palace) is a city's single MOST urgent factor for eventual value. You need to grab all the land near your capital, no matter how crappy looking it may be, as the lack of corruption there will pay off for you long term. Lands more distant are less attractive. Don't make the AI's mistake of hungering for any and all land you can get. Get good land, get resources (but make sure you can defend them), but don't bother with wastelands far from your capital. Let the AI have them.
In a situation like this, with you isolated on one large, central, connected landmass, far from most enemies and protected by water, there is little if any need to upgrade troops (as opposed to building new ones). Compare that to an archipelago game, where it may take you many turns to deliver reinforcements to endangered lands, if you can do it at all. In a spread out empire, especially one with a large seafaring component, the cost of upgrading troops will likely be less than that of trying to build more. Learn to pay attention to this, to figure out what is best or wisest for you to fit your situation.
Here's a shot of Russia and Germany on the final turn of the game. I won the space race in 1860. (Why doesn't the Hall of Fame list the year of game completion any more? Hmm?) As you can see, just seven civs left, out of sixteen. One of those is lowly Zululand, hard pressed all game, but managed to hold on, mostly due to creating a lot of leaders and armies during its defense. My, but they got bombarded hard from the sea. All their cities perpetually low on population, with all that whipping taking place. Poor guys. I tried to be their friends, but like the Germans and Russians, the eastern powers opted to pick on them.
This was a fun game, but with the slow turns and hitting the brick wall of total corruption in any further acquisitions, I was happy to get it over with. My first win at Civ3! Yay.
Now I think I'm ready for Emperor level. :)
If you would like to try your hand at replaying this game, you can Download the Save File and unzip it to your Civ III/Saves directory. These saved games are over a MB each, but they compress very nicely into zip format, so it's not at all a long download (although being a huge map, it's longer than my other saved-game downloads). Included are the save from the first turn, and from the final turn before my victory. It might be interesting to see how this would play differently under the patch, but I don't plan to replay it personally. If you decide to give it a go, feel free to drop me a line and let me know how it went for you. Oh yeah, and give those Chinese some Hell for me, will you? Thanks.

- Sirian

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