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Is rapid early expansion no longer the way to success?

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  • Is rapid early expansion no longer the way to success?

    In Civ 2 and 3, the way to success was to pump out as many settlers as possible and claim every single square of land possible (until you run out of land). In most games, the entire continent and any islands within easy reach was claimed by no later than 1AD!

    This settler factory/settler rush strategy was fairly tiring and unrealistic but it was the only way to succeed. In fact in Civ 3, they made it a necessity as the AIs were doing this very thing so it became a "settler rush" race from the get go!

    Now in Civ 4, it would seem that they've retool this annoying aspect of the game with new features. How successful is Civ 4 in doing so? Has the mandatory settler rush phase been eliminated in Civ 4? I'm curious to hear from people who have played it. This "settler rush" race thing in Civ 3 was really tiring so hopefully that aspect has been diminished if not entirely eliminated.

  • #2
    At Noble. I was ahead of everyone with 5 cities on a small maps(I'm not sure if it's called small, but it's the size just before standart). I was having the same number of city than the A.I. or a little less.

    I was able to do more settler, but you cant make too much settler, like in Civ3.You need to focus on culture, building, defense.... otherwise, you'll be kicked by the A.I.

    The colonization of a continent is a slower than in Civ3. Slower and better. If you expand too quickly i pretty sure the A.I. is able to kick your ass in war.

    And you have lion, wolf roaming in forest. Ready to kill your warrior\settler\worker. You have scout who is able to defend well against animals.

    Last edited by CrONoS; November 3, 2005, 03:22.


    • #3
      Yes, it seems to be more about expanding at a reasonable pace while attending to other needs. My wife and I are currently playing a hotseat game on the 'equal' difficulty setting, Noble, and it is around 250AD. We have just recently completed settling cities in our territory, that is 6-7 cities each. The 3 AI civs sharing the continent with us have not yet settled the entire area available to them; they have 3, 6 and 7 cities each, if I remember right.

      Another nice little feature of Civ4 is that oceans are impossible, rather than risky, to cross until the middle ages (caravels), and settlers cannot be carried across at all until galleons. There are no sea tiles anymore, so this means that an island only 3 tiles away from your land may be inaccessable until fairly late in the game. I think if your culture spreads into the ocean, galleys can enter those squares, but otherwise, forget about sending those galleys out to find new territory, hoping they won't sink (or reloading each time they do ).

      The first 4000 years of Civ4 are much more enjoyable than they were in Civ3.

      edit: Not to say that rapid expansion cannot be successful, I cannot say much about this, but I can say that at least up to medium difficulty, it is not *necessary*.


      • #4
        You can still expand early, it just is no longer the only way to play because it has disadvantages as well as advantages.
        Jacob's Law "To err is human: to blame it on someone else is even more human."


        • #5
          3-4x warriors, settler... about - 30 turns to start first settler, which in civ3 it was

          spearman, settler, spearman, settler, worker, settler.....(and the same in each new city BC.)


          • #6
            I started a Chieftan game last night.

            Started building a Scout as soon as I could to find possible city sites / resources. Found a fantastic collection of Elephants / Ivory quite a bit away.

            Changed my strat to the settler rush to get the ivory before anyone else could - espically since before I found the ivory my scout had made contact with more than half the civs in the game.

            I rushed out there only to be beaten back several times because of barbarians / animals. Since I focused on settlers, I neglected my military and paid for it big time. I ended up losing 2 cities, including a fairly large one, and decided to scrap the game since I had to get up for work (yes, I know, that terrible four letter word).

            Moral is - don't forget the military



            • #7
              It's no longer important to expand as fast and as far as possible but it IS very highly advisable to quickly expand out to 3 or 4 cities in carefully chosen locations. I generally try to expand out to about 6 cities and then start building up.

              Gaining access to several different special resources can be very important later in the game and it's also good to cover enough territory that it's likely for new special resources to appear within your territory when you discover the techs that unlock them. You can't always count on the AI to trade them to you.


              • #8
                There was one component of REX that still applies: Expand toward your nearest rival Civ, and establish cities that block their expansion in your direction. Even with Open Borders I have yet to see the AI try to settle beyond my territory, and I keep closed borders with my closest neighbor just in case.

                Right now my expansion after the first four cities is just based on whether a REALLY REALLY good spot is available (luxuries, flood plains, stone/marble, etc). I no longer feel the drive to settle just to expand my space. Often my second wave of cities is pretty far away from my first set, and I let my culture seep into the gap.


                • #9
                  You do need to hurry up to expand but in Civ4 if you don't develop your cities then your treasury goes negative and you're toast. I try to expand at a slow to medium rate until I get to 5 good cities then try to double my empire once those cities have forges & market places. Doing it faster will either bankrupt you or leave you so far behind in techs that you'd lose the game.

                  Another common tactic is to play teams where one team member builds up a small but advanced empire while the other ICSes as much as possible. Since team members share techs the ICSer doesn't fall behind and by midgame with ICSers has developed his empire to the point where he is a world power and can carry the team.
                  Try for discussion and debate.


                  • #10
                    If you expand too much without improving your core, you will go broke and fall behind research, simple as that. How rapid is feasible depends on your traits, civics, amount of military you need, etc. I have found quality is more important than quality. Sticking fishing villages on bad terrain generally isnt worth it unless there is a resource have to have. This especially true on other landmass you do not control. These can cause more touble then they are worth with high maintenance and possible culture squeezing.
                    Citizen of the Apolyton team in the ISDG
                    Currently known as Senor Rubris in the PTW DG team


                    • #11
                      I still REX. The strategy I've concocted so far is playing with a creative civ, take as much land mass culturally as you can with well spaced out cities. When possible I block off my opponent by making a cultural wall from one coast of the continent to the other without allowing open borders. Then with part of the continent blocked i can wait to settle that area and push towards enemy civs. Then I rush to be the first one to get Music, and drop the culture bomb in my closest city to enemy borders. This often results in flipping 1 or 2 enemy cities in the process.


                      • #12
                        Perhaps not "rapid" expansion. But what I've noticed thus far is the largest civs tend to lead or win -- at least the points/space/UN victories-- whether it be the AI or me.

                        So, grabbing lots of land and growing population is still a priority. Just have to temper it a bit with economy.


                        • #13
                          Play on Prince or Monarch and you have to expand quickly. You need to box out your close opponents and grab specific resources away from them (horses, iron, copper, marble, stone). It makes it much easier to win via conquest because that is the only way to beat the AI at higher levels.


                          • #14
                            I think REX is still a viable option but it is both risky (you may overstretch yourself and be forced to reduce tech, which will eventually spell your doom) and you cannot turn it into ICS any more. I usually REX the first 3-5 cities, depending on map, available land and a number of surrounding civs, and then start building up.
                            The problem with leadership is inevitably: Who will play God?
                            - Frank Herbert


                            • #15
                              Well, just learned right now if i try to build of my first city: Warrior, Warrior, Settler, Warrior, Settler, Archer, Settler, which was a good thing in Civ3, the only thing I got is three early desmilitarized cities.

                              Three spearman, or one or two promo-chariot could easily raze my "empire", even if I build archers.

                              The increased cost of having more cities is very expensive in ancient age. Maybe the most effective number of cities of ancient age is three undeveloped cities. More than that, your economy is crippled.

                              Building a early worker to improve tiles is so great now! Cleaning forests are a major bonus for the starting game.

                              So many things to learn yet!
                              If ten thousand of your men die in front of the walls of an enemy city, order the other ten thousands men to climb their bodies and attack the city.