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MP Strategies #3: Ironman/ffa - The great Modern war

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This edition of MP Strategies features about the only possibility to fight a war relying on brute force against an opponent that is rather close to you in tech and production in an Ironman/ffa game.

The Idea

When you are running a cottage economy from the point of having researched Democracy on, your production will quickly multiply. While before you have virtually no base production and slave everything, Universal Suffrage already gives you about 1:4prod: per tile you are working, providing you with a good base production.

Now we will combine two effects in order to again quadruple our production and then pump out a huge army. First is that with running Universal Suffrage a golden age about doubles your base production giving you a huge production boost. This is the reason, why you should safe your golden ages for after Democracy anyway, but for this strategy it's even more vital.

The second effect is, that with Steam Power and Assembly Line the huge bulk of building for increasing production becomes available: Levee, Factory and Coal Plant also doubling your production, both things combined make the quadrupling.

Obviously golden ages don't last forever, but for the major part of the army production phase, you will be running them. Usually you will blow two, if possible GP wise even three golden ages into this. This is 18 Turns golden age - if you were able to the Mausoleum of Mausolossos (probably strongest Ironman wonder anyway) even 27 turns. Thats the time you will you for building your army.

After having set up your production you produce a huge stack of Infantry, Machine Guns and Artillery, that is very difficult to counter, because of Machine Guns immunity to collateral damage and move in on your opponent.

The Tech path

After going the usual midgame techpath, you tech tree should about look like this:



Now the first thing you need, are the building to increase your production, so the first aims are Steam power and then Assembly Line. Quickly throw in Rifling if you haven´t teched it already, so Infantry is available. Now building Factories and Coal Plants everywhere will cause severe health problems, so the next thing we need is Medicine for Environmentalism, which we will adopt right away (together with theocracy if you have a religion) without anarchy thanks to our golden ages. Then we research the remaining units. First Railroads, so we can start building them and lastly Artillery. The reasons that we go Railroads first are that it's all right to pre build some cannons and then upgrade them, incase you are running out of time and you will need some time to build Railroads everywhere to get your units to the front quickly.

The model tech path then looks like this:



However there are some possible alternations:

Mining Inc: If you have an engineer ready and will be able to found Mining Inc. if you head straight for Railroads, then you should do so first and spread Mining Inc. right away. This will give you a considerable production and economy boost.

Free Great Scientist from Physics: If you can grab that one, by teching Physics before Medicine, then you should probably do so, especially if you will get another golden age that way.

Free Great Spy from Communism: Same as for Physics goes for this, but only do this, if it gives you an additional golden age, because Communism isn´t on your general tech path.

The Stack

The second reason for this strategy´s strength, besides the time being the first possibility to attack with produced units, is the composition of the stack you will be using. This should be about 25% Artillery 55% Infantry and 20% Machine Guns. This combination of units is very difficult to hit with lower numbers or worse units. The unique combinations of Machine Guns being the perfect cover unit and being immune to collateral damage, force your opponent to hit the Machine Guns on full strength with his usual units (likely Infantry), especially since Machine Guns won´t defend against enemy Artillery. So before being able to actually do damage to your stack, your opponent has to sacrifice your number of Machine Guns in Infantry to break the stacks defense. Additionally he needs a considerable number of siege weapons to weaken your Infantry. Thus he has to sacrifice about 35% the size of your stack in units before he can start killing stuff, which means he needs more than 70% of your stacks size for the fight to turn in his favor. This is a very good value, as most of the time, you can kill attacking stacks with half the number of units.

Promotions: Your Machine Guns are promoted Drill, since it's the only available one. Your Infantry will be promoted Combat I and then Pinch for fighting enemy Infantry (if your opponent is defending with Cavalry, only promote strength). Your Artillery is promoted with City Raider and not Barrage as you may expect, because City Raider will give you considerable odds on the unit you are attacking, besides the collateral damage. Also take a healer general with you if possible, otherwise promote an infantry with healing.

The order of producing units is pretty easy: As soon as you´ve finished all the buildings, start doing Infantry as nothing else will be available yet. When you get Machine Guns and Artillery add the necessary amount of those to the stack and move in. How big your stack has to be, obviously depends on your opponents strength, but on usual Ironman/ffa maps with 10 cities per player, something about 70-100 units is a good estimate.

Fighting the War

Attacking is actually pretty simple: You just plain move in with everything as one big stack. Try take a city in the middle of your enemies empire as target, so you can split of into all direction after killing his army. Bomb down his city, hit with your Artillery first and wipe up. There isn´t anything to stop city raider Artillery. If you were able to kill his stack, split your stack of into several small ones and head for several cities. Otherwise continue as one stack.

Continue to constantly produce units and send them to reinforce your stack. You will likely need about 50% artillery now, since those are the units that die in combat. In case your opponent is putting up considerable resistance also build enough Machine Guns to compensate possible losses on your stacks defense and cover conquered cities.

In case you get into happiness problems from war weariness build Theatres everywhere and turn up your culture slider. This will hurt your research rate, but there isn´t any alternative.

Your further tech path is headed straight for Tanks, which will be you opponents death-blow in case he isn´t broken till then. In case you have a map with some water, you can also get some Transports on the way to speed up conquering his remaining cities by shipping small stacks to cities further back in his empire.

Defense

The one rules of defending against this is: NEVER LET HIM HIT YOU! As already said 20-30 Artillery will grill your stack. If you have enough units (meaning about 70% his stacks size, rather 80% if you don't have Artillery yet) you can hit him, just make sure to do so when he is on flat land. If you don't have that, always keep your stack in the city he is marching towards, till the moment he moves in front of it. Then pull back except for 5 units (3 Infantry 2 Machine Guns if you have those) you keep there to force him to bomb down and use some Artillery. Dont try to let him hit with his Artillery and pull back then, because any good opponent will just stack attack with his whole stack as soon as he gets the opportunity and then you are done for.

Summing Up

For this being one of the best strategies to conquer someone and finally decide a game in your favour it`s pretty simple: Tech above mentioned tech path, start blowing as many GP into Golden Ages as possible from the point you researched Assembly Line, build Levees, Factories and Coal Plants, then produce a huge stack and go kill.

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