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Last edited by Martin Gühmann; March 6, 2011 at 15:17.
Civ2 military advisor: "No complaints, Sir!"
During the Ancient Era, only the Tradition, Liberty and Honor paths are available to you. The Tier 1 abilities of each each are useful for most Civilizations regardless of strategy. Tradition grants your Capital free Food every turn, which means more Citizens. Liberty makes Settlers cheaper, and can save you several turns of early-game Production. Honor gives you a distinct military advantage over the stupid Barbarians which plague early game civilizations.
You'll probably end up having to select one of these simply because you likely won't be a Classical Era civilization by the time your first Policy opens up. All three are good, but Honor may be the best buy. Barbarians are a big pain in the early game, a threat to both Improvements and explorers. Having the upper hand on them is useful for the first 100 turns or so. Their camps are a decent source of extra Gold. Fighting them a good way to get early game experience for Units you're trying to promote. Most importantly, many City-States will request that you eliminate Barbarian camps early in the game in exchange for Influence. Honor ensures that you can accomplish these requests expediently, usually with a single Warrior Unit. This means more free stuff, more Luxury Resources, and more Allies in war.
Honor is by far the weakest path. Go for tradition if you want to go for a tall strategy, go for liberty(but tradition is not bad either) for a wide strategy.
The moment Piety opens up, grab it. The advantages of the Piety tree are fantastic. The very first selection raises Happiness empire-wide, and by the time you reach the growth explosion of the classical Era you will need every smiley face you can get. Apply the Opiate of the People liberally on your populace, excavating the tree toward the wonderful Tier 4 meta-Policy of Free Religion, which grants 2 Free Policies when taken.
The only reason to balk at Piety is if you eventually want to adopt Rationalism, since many of Piety's Happiness advantages are lost if you do so. But Rationalism isn't available until some time after Piety, and as long as you have planned ahead, built up some extra Happiness and built Universities, selecting Humanism as your first Policy after opening the Rationalism tree should compensate.
Uh... Piety is great for a cultural win, for military and scientific wins rationalism is much better. Happiness under the current patch is no problem. It's very easy to keep a positive happiness throughout the game.
Commerce is a pretty good deal when it opens up if you've got a lot of coastal Cities. The Tier 1 ability is pretty good, and while Naval Tradition isn't all that great, it opens up Merchant Navy, which grants a nice benefit if you've planned ahead for it. The Influence-prolonging Policies available are useful in some games.
Commerce is not bad, but it is definitely among the weaker of the paths. Much better to go for some other path instead. Patronage is GREAT, especially if you want to go for a diplomatic win, and this path isn't even mentioned in this section?
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.-Isaiah 41:10
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made - Psalms 139.14a
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