Most Civs begin densely packed in Europe and the Middle East, with the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, Australia, India, Indo-China, Polynesia, and most of Asia left open for colonization. England and Celts also start with their own islands in Europe. China starts off alone in East Asia, and Japan, starts on the Japanese island. Players that want to try to be mostly left alone in their own part of the world to face a different kind of challenge might choose Japan, China, England, Celts, Vikings, Persia, Russia or Arabia.
Since space will be so tight in mainland Europe, settling in place is recommended, but not required. There will probably be very little room to move your starting location, and moving your start might result in missing your opportunity to settle, and having to walk to a totally different area of the Map, possibly being forced to declare war to cross territory. Also, moving away from the Coast to settle your first city inland will destroy your ability to set sail to found colonies, and possibly cripple you for the rest of the game. Accordingly, Spain, Portugal and France are STRONGLY encouraged to settle in place.
Once you have settled, you should resist any attempt by your neighbors to cross your land or your waters. Try to keep them boxed in to limit their expansion. On the flip side, you should not allow your neighbors to box you in. If necessary, be ready to declare war and cross their land without an Open Border agreement, because if you don’t found colonies you will fall hopelessly behind.
The Civs & Leaders - Note that these are the ones assigned in the Map (but they can be changed)
France - Louis (IND, CRE)
Spain - Isabella (EXP, SPI)
Portugal - (IMP, EXP)
Netherlands - Willem (FIN, CRE)
Rome - Augustus (IND, IMP)
Greece - Pericles (PHI, CRE)
Germany - Bismarck (IND, EXP)
Ottomans - Suleiman (PHI, IMP)
Holy Rome - (IMP, PRO)
Russia - Catherine (CRE, IMP)
Persia - Darius (FIN, ORG)
Byzantines - Justinian (IMP, SPI)
China - Qin Shi Huang (IND, PRO)
Arabia - Saladin (SPI, PRO)
Viking - Ragnar (FIN, AGG)
Japan - Tokugawa (AGG, PRO)
England - Elizabeth (FIN, PHI)
Celts - Brennus (SPI, CHA)
There will be 6 basic challenges in the early game depending on starting locations. The Tier system from DoE will be used for choosing Civs:
Tier 1 – These 'best' few are good at Diplogaming, good at Pitboss, MP, PBEM etc, and comfortable with writing Treaties, Brinksmanship, trading Cities, Unit upgrade contracts etc. Players in this tier are familiar with running CE, SE, EE or WE/SSE economies. These players are experienced with the use of religion, culture, and espionage to wage different forms of 'Cold' War. These players can easily handle Barbarians on the 'Raging' setting. Tier 1 players are expecting to win the game, and capable of doing well in SP on Emperor difficulty level and above.
Tier 2 – This is for people who have played multiple diplogames, and are very experienced playing MP, Pitboss, or PBEM etc. This tier is for players who consider their skill level above average, are expecting to be a Superpower, with a good chance to win the game. Players in this tier generally play SP on Monarch difficulty level or above.
Tier 3 – This is for people who have played a diplogame before, and are experienced playing MP, Pitboss, or PBEM etc. This tier is for players who consider their skill level average or above, are expecting to do well, maybe even be a Major Nation at the end and want to go for the win. Players in this tier would generally not play SP below Prince or Monarch difficulty level.
Tier 4 – This is for people who have a little experience playing MP, Pitboss, PBEM etc. This tier is for players who consider their skill level around average, have no idea how well they might do, and plan to try their best and see what happens. Players in this tier would generally play SP at Noble or Prince difficulty level.
Tier 5 – This is for people who are relatively new to MP, Pitboss, PBEM etc. This tier is for players who consider their skill level below average, are not expecting to do well, and just want to get some experience playing against better players. Players in this tier would not play SP above Noble difficulty level.
Tier 6 – This is for people who are very new to MP, Pitboss, PBEM etc. This tier is for players who consider their skill level far below average, are expecting to do poorly, and just want to participate, observe and learn from the better players. Players in this tier would not play SP above Warlord difficulty level.
1. Tier 1 - Western Europe Civs (France, Spain, Portugal) - These Civs will find themselves totally boxed in by neighbors, pressed by culture and squeezed for space. Those Civs are expected to try to quickly extend their empire by founding remote colonies. These Civs have no room to expand safely, and will be competing, fighting Barbarians and possibly even Warring for colonial holdings almost immediately. The expectation is that at least one of these Civs will move their capital, and become a regional power in another part of the world.
2. Tier 2 - Peninsular Europe Civs (Netherlands, Rome, Greece) - These Civs will also be pressed by culture and squeezed for space, however, these Civs will have a small amount of room to expand locally, if they move quickly. These Civs are expected to move quickly to take the open land or islands readily available to them, and take to the sea if necessary to grab those nearby viable spots before their neighbors do. Once that is done, they must look to establish more remote colonies. The expectation is that some, if not most of the original European Civs will eventually move their capitals, either by necessity or choice, and emerge as the regional powers elsewhere in the world.
3. Tier 3 - Eastern Europe Civs (Germany, Ottomans, Holy Rome) - These Civs are blocked out of the West by neighbors, and will also be pressed by culture and squeezed for space. However, these Civs have a little room to found cities in the East if they move quickly. These Civs can choose to try rapid colonial expansion, or try to quickly expand into the frontier first, and found more remote colonies later.
4. Tier 4 - Frontier Civs (Russia, Persia, Byzantines) – The Civs on the European, African and Asian frontier will have the dubious task of facing off against the relentless Barbarian attacks. Expansion will be very tough, as you will need to produce substantial soldiers to protect your homelands from being pillaged, while simultaneously producing equally large garrisons to escort settlers to new settlements. Focus on military, there is plenty of land available to you, but you have to be strong enough to take it and hold it. Keep an eye on your back door though, as your older cities will be an easy, irresistible target for your secure European neighbors.
5. Tier 5 - Isolated Civs (China, Arabia and Vikings) – China stands alone, all the way on the far Eastern side of Asia. Arabia and Vikings are alone on the Arabian and Scandinavian Peninsulas. As isolated mainland Civs, China, Arabia and Vikings will be under constant, relentless, overwhelming attack from barbs. China will face attack from all directions, while Arabia will be protected on one side by the Red sea. For China, there will be no sides that are covered by the ocean or by other Civs. The challenge then, is to fight off the barbarian hordes, but simultaneously expand into more and better lands before the Europeans get there and take it all.
6. Tier 6 - Island Civs (Japan, England and Celts) – With small islands to themselves, they will have an easy time expanding initially, but will find it very hard after that. The expectation is that they will turtle inside their islands, and try to build super cities, or use their brief advantage to focus on establishing large Colonies and rebase their empires on other continents. If you want to play as a peaceful Wonder Builder, these are probably the Civs to pick. England and Celts have a more complicated go of it because they are also in Europe. So they have far less space, but more trading partners. As Japan, the name of the game is to exploit your advantage and become well established before the more militarily advanced Europeans arrive.