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Civ Tribe Traits Ranked in the MP Environment

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  • Civ Tribe Traits Ranked in the MP Environment

    Continuing in my trend of examining the effects of the MP environment on Civ3 play, I’d like to now address the issue of the Civ traits themselves in the MP environment. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, but rather address how the MP environment changes the priorities.

    1) As always, big ol’ “IMHO.”
    2) This work draws its background from two EXCELLENT works by Velociryx and Arrian, entitled “The Virtues of Being Industrious” ( and “The Breath of God: Only the Penitent Man shall pass,” ( respectively. If either of these gentlemen have any problem with me “standing on the shoulders of giants” so to speak, I will certainly pull down this post.
    3) This is based on what I perceive to be the current MP environment: namely, heavily biased to pangea/large continent, very violent ancient eras, and very few games reaching beyond the end of the feudal era. If you disagree with these criteria, you’re going to find a lot to disagree with ahead.

    The above two works, as you may surmise, propose that Industrious and Religious are the two most important traits in the SP game, both ranking theirs first and the other second, and do so in great detail. I will not re-hash their work here, so if you don’t understand why these two traits are considered one and two in SP, you might want to read their work first.

    And now on with our show.

    Number-one “Gotta Have It” in MP

    Industriousness is still king, but both Industrious and its holy rival Religious aren’t as stand-out great in the MP environment as they are SP. The ability to ramrod dozens of units/settlers down your quickly built roads is very powerful in such violent ancient eras, and the ability to drop mines/irrigation to assist in your efforts is still irrefutable. Particularly if you bumrush your research to one of the governments (and you should,) the well-developed land will pay big dividends in the “endgame” of the ancient era, where swarms of swordsmen or similar units are flooding the lands.

    And now to overturn applecarts – Number Two

    Don’t get me wrong- religious was a very close competitor for this slot, and the benefits of a religious society are still far more easily measured than expansionism will ever be. However, in the heavily-single-continent-dominated environment of MP, expansionism offers two powerful abilities you pass up at your peril. Firstly: Finding your enemy before he finds you! Many times wars can start on first sight- if your scouts find borders first – particularly if you are smart enough not to reveal yourself until you circle around the border a bit – you can buy your offensive a lot of time while your enemy is still trying to find you. You may also be able to see “into the future” noting where rivals will probably try to expand, and block them off, potentially restricting an empire which might be loathe to war with you. (Carthage and Greece in particular can use cities/territory blockading of rival expansion as a strong defense.) Secondly: It’s not news that tech and other positive benefits come more often to Expansionist tribes, and this can pay off big in MP games. Picking up The Wheel and Horseback Riding for free while your culture is chasing Monarchy can mean one heck of a war machine is developing. The same thing goes for Iron Working.

    Relegated to Number Three by only a hair

    The article cited at the top provides many, many strong reasons for choosing a Civ with this trait, and most – but not all – of those hold true in the MP environment. Cathedrals might or might not be seen, but temples certainly will. You might not switch governments four times, but you’ll switch once (or maybe twice) for certain. When your troops are racing to the front to meet opposing troops doing the same, you don’t want a 4 to 6 turn break in production. Later, those extra units you are producing because you rule from a mandate by God, rather than a mandate through having a big thug standing behind you, will probably make the difference. Border expansion and cultural flipping isn’t the power it is outside of MP, but the power of this civ trait is still a serious contender for ANY of the top three spots.

    This one will probably annoy people too – Number Four

    Before you close this window and call me insane, hear me out. Commercial cultures do receive benefits in commerce, blah blah blah, but they also have a larger radius in which cities can be built away from the capital before the dreaded 100 percent corruption kicks in. Being able to sustain – and adequately use – a larger empire means more tech, more units, more blah blah blah, you know the drill. Why is that important in MP? In MP, victory is very often determined by having just one more unit in place at the right time, and if that border city can squeeze out one unit every 10 turns, that might do it. (It's also worth noting that if your extreme border city is closer to his capital than vice versa, and can produce barracks and walls and your rival can't, good things shall come to pass for you.) Commercial cultures also start with alphabet, which is a component for two things people tend to value: Map Making and Construction. (The sometimes-maligned Great Wall can be very important in Elimination games.) Some folks also value the Great Library, but in my experience, players drop too fast in a MP game for the Library to meet its "three cultures must have it" qualification - particularly since the builder is often in the top three. Now I’ll explain why I’ve relegated the next one below commercialism.

    I can hear the screams of irate fury now – Number Five

    Let’s take a good, hard look at what Militarism really gives you: cheaper barracks, and more quickly promoted units. With all due respect to those staunch fans of Militarism, speaking as a ‘warmonger’ type player, barracks just aren’t THAT expensive. Yes, it does make barracks cheaper – but is it worth using up a Civ trait when there are so many other vital needs early in the game? Promotions are also a spiffy thing, but once you get that barracks built, there’s only one level of promotion to go. When you’re talking about units with values between 1-3 (4 if you count Persian Immortal offense) the difference between a veteran and an elite unit really isn’t that staggering. Random chance can see a regular with 2 defense crush an elite with 2 attack. Again- this isn’t to say that promotions aren’t important, and barracks aren’t important. It is saying that given the other needs in a MP environment these just aren’t quite as important as avoiding Anarchy or getting that road built to funnel your troops down, or knowing where to send your troops to begin with!

    Last, and decidedly least – Number Six

    A Civ trait of mediocre value in SP, Scientific simply isn’t worth the bother in MP. A free tech at the end of the ancient era? Enjoy your monotheism- you really plan to waste time building that cathedral? (Okay, if you’re a religious culture, it might be worthwhile in a few cities.) A cheaper library? I’ve played lots of games in which I never even researched literature. And uh…the other benefits….hmm. There aren’t any. For MP games, forget scientific.

    That’s all for now in part 3 of the “Let’s look at how the Civs operate in the multiplayer environment” saga. Hope you enjoyed it/laughed at it/learned something from it, and feel free to comment.
    Friedrich Psitalon
    Admin, Civ4Players Ladder
    Consultant, Firaxis Games

  • #2
    Um so I guess my China with Militaristic ain't that great afterall, but what's up with Expantionist? the real advantages... like you got a scout and can find your ennemy faster.. but beyond that is it really usefull... like is it really necessary to find your ennemy that fast?.. I never tried an Expantionist Civ but my bet is that they begin with Pottery so they can build Granary faster and expand faster... that seems to be the only advantage to me. So I think maybe Religious should be #2 since you can switch government pretty fast?


    • #3
      I would certainly agree that the ability to switch governments is useful (and don't forget cheaper temples) but remember: given that most (large majority) of MP games see two governments researched - Republic and Monarchy - switching governments won't happen as often. This isn't as if we're going to be hopping back and forth between Communism and Democracy in the Modern Era.

      Most games don't even SEE the Industrial Era in the MP format as it stands currently.

      As for Expansionist- when your two scouts discover what you need for Iron Working and then a civilization sitting in a peninsula with a bottleneck leading out of it.... the benefits are immeasurable. Does that happen every time? No. But at the very least, in a pangea, you can be sure that Expansionist will net you one or two researches saved, and that can be a major help when the difference between winning and losing rides on such a small difference.
      Friedrich Psitalon
      Admin, Civ4Players Ladder
      Consultant, Firaxis Games


      • #4
        I apologize if I'm doing anything seriously inappropo- bumping this thread (and the two others like it) back up because I'm very interested in advancing MP theory, and the recent spat of "Oh god, Civ3PTW is so evil!" that took over the front page seems to be over. I'll only do it this once if it dives right back down to the bottom of the list.
        Friedrich Psitalon
        Admin, Civ4Players Ladder
        Consultant, Firaxis Games


        • #5
          Militarsitc is great trait for same resons the Expansionistic is.

          Early Barraks (and maybe some pop-rush) can give you an army.

          In MP I would swap Commercial (and maybe even Religious trait) with Militaristic.


          • #6
            Expansionism and Militarism

            I am going to agree with Friedrich here on both points (expansionist and militarist) in MP. Scouts cannot be underestimated. Aside from the 1-2 techs he mentions, you will often find money 1-2 times (25-50 gold) which allows you to put your tech rate up to 100% again while others start to choke just before government techs are in grasp. Good hut money can give you full speed research straight to a good government, and can burst you ahead governmentally.

            Also, anyone who plays the expansionist civs (I like Iroquois myself) also knows how nice it is when you find a settler or city in a hut the first 10 turns of a game (This settler has exponential value since your cities still have time to multiply) and 9 extra squares and a person early on will definately raise that average score per turn at the beginning of the game and from then on.

            Find a skilled warrior, great, there's a free pillager you don't really care about losing, or twice the exporation, or even someone to watch your borders (which is also a good use of scouts)

            Remember that scouts can pillage, but are not usually suspected for it. Excellent way to be trusted enough to get close enough before war to take out those strategic resources or roads just as your forces arrive within view.

            And I will also reiterate the value of knowledge of your position, your enemies postion and where your and his resources are will let you know when it is right to make peace early and when you should blitz for all your worth. Otherwise your your negotiations are all in the dark, and humans are much deadlier and more deceptive there, than AI's will ever be.


            As for the militaristic rush. Well, aztecs can pull it off very early. Maybe Egypt who can move in fast when you aren't expecting, though they are not likely to have scouts to see anyone to rush once they have their chariots. The fact is that only the newbies haven't been burned by the rush before.....everyone else is counting on it and ready.
            Last edited by Sperricles; January 17, 2003, 18:46.
            Luck favors the skilled because it knows it will not be wasted.


            • #7
              Much depends on the game type. Expansionist trait can be death in an elimination game. Find one of those hut cities, closer to an opponent than you, and your soon on the sidelines. I do think that you can move expansioist to last in an elimination game enviorment.
              "The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."--Victor Hugo


              • #8
                I think the value of starting with Bronze Working so that you're one step closer to Iron Working is undervalued (scientific). In terms of cranking of swordsmen you don't need it that fast, but you do need Iron Working just to see Iron, which is crucial in early planning.

                You scout and find civs on either side of you. Who do you attack? If you knew which one of them had Iron, it would be obvious...especially if they don't about it themselves.

                Even if the Iron is unclaimed, getting Iron Working fast lets you get a city there fast (having an outpost to a blank tile is just a sign saying IRON FOUND HERE, GO AHEAD AND PILLAGE ME).

                It doesn't replace Industrial, but i'd much rather have Scientific or Military over _commercial_ (of all things).

                An extra 1 commerce? Map Making? Construction?

                Although i do end up with Commercial often because of my fondness for Rome/Carthage.


                • #9
                  Expansionist is definately a powerful trait. Here is why. Depending on what type of world you are playing on, like Pangea. And how you have your goody hut and barbs set. Just goody huts and no barbs. You can spit out 5-6 scouts, and due to luck, be out of ancient times and into middle ages real fast. And I mean real fast. I have been able to do this on a few occasions. Also, able to establish communications with other civs and then sell the communications to other civs. Also, you can totally explore your continent and see what luxuries and choke points are where, so you can build the foundations for your empire. Now a world with a ton of islands and rampaging barbs, can render the expanisionist trait pretty useless. Just my two cents, but sometimes that expansionist trait can really kick some butt. It all depends on how you set up your game.
                  "Calm down Nedlydidlydidlydidly. They did their best Shodidlyidlyidly.
                  "The Butcher with the Sharpest knife, has the warmest heart." "Mitchell!!"


                  • #10
                    If commercial were just about one extra commerce, I'd agree. What commercial is really about (I get the feeling I've said this already) is maximum distance that you can colonize before 100%+ corruption shuts down any attempt at making useful cities. Commercial can reach that much farther. It's also about the Great Lighthouse. As I've started to discover more and more lately, the Great Lighthouse can be the absolute gamebreaker in Elim environments. Pangea doesn't always mean connected land; when your opponent can't cross the sea to get to you, and you can hide in the sea (where, often times, city-culture lines cannot see you).... you can drop 12, 15 galleys full of troops wherever looks the weakest.

                    Don't get me wrong, I like having swords to wave in my opponent's face as much as the next guy. The expense of swordsmen, though, makes it difficult to field a meaningful army early on. Combine that with the significant number of First-Researched UU's that can face down a swordsman - and are all cheaper - (Egypt's Chariot, Carthage's Spearman, Greece's Hoplite, Aztec's Jag Warrior - sure, it's a 1/1, but it can retreat, and can be mass produced - Zulu's Impi....) a good player can slow down, harass, and eventually destroy a small column of swordsmen before they get to a place where they can do damage. (This assumes, admittedly, that you're smart enough to put scouts out.)

                    At the risk of sounding heretical I don't bother with Iron Working until after I get Monarchy- particularly if you're using one of the above Civs (or the Iroquois, or the Babylonians...) Swordsmen are a threat, but by no means unparryable. (Pun intended.)
                    Friedrich Psitalon
                    Admin, Civ4Players Ladder
                    Consultant, Firaxis Games


                    • #11
                      Nice post Fried. I agree with some of your assessment of the traits however I disagree with others. By your explanation the best civ would be the one who is both Industrious and Expansionist which is of course the Americans. In a Multiplayer game it is advantages for a player to select a civ which possess a UU in the ancient age in order the trigger a golden age so the Americans are immidiately discarded. By this fact it now becomes apparent that these two traits are no longer the top two contenders (I'm merely talking of course if these two traits had been given to a civ like the Iroquois or Persia then it would be different).

                      Industrial is definitley the most dominant trait in the game and any civ who possess it gains a major advantages over those that don't.

                      Religious and Scientific I think are close seconds (Whaaaaa scientific you say?). Religious civs are good for temples and gov changes. I NEVER change governments in a multiplayer game...the reason I don't is for several reasons:

                      - I don't want to waste tech research
                      - lose the pop rush ability (I stay pretty poor all game)
                      - troop support ability.
                      - Often times when I do switch governments I fall into greater debt.
                      - Games are too short for government change to be effective

                      So the only advantage remains is for temples. As for scientific they can build libraries as cheap (or nearly as cheap) as religious civs can build temples and produces more culture (I know that they cannot make citizens happy but its nothing a luxury tax increase couldn't cure). Also the free tech could come in handy if times become desperate and you need the midevil infantry or pikeman.

                      Then I would move expansionist to fourth because of its limited help. Its a hit or miss trait in which luck plays a big part. I played as the Zulu the other day and the host randomized everything which created a map where there wasn't a goodie hut to be found which meant no free tech or city. The map was tiny so I found the other civs quickly but by then they had all found themselves anyway so again I gained no advantage.

                      Those are my opinions feel free to rebuttle
                      "People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid."
                      - Soren Aabye Kierkegaard