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The Settler/Defender "Factory"

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  • The Settler/Defender "Factory"

    In my current game, I've been using renegotiation of peace treaties to get the AI to give me useless size 1 or 2 cities. Having gotten to a point where the AI fears me, I can usually get all the size 1 or 2 cities with no growth potential (no tiles with 2+ food sources) for renegotiation. When the AI turns the city over, I get a free defensive unit, and it's the best defensive unit available with the resources that can reach that city. At first I was just using these cities to produce extra workers, or the slow pop-rushing of units (they all grow in 20 turns, max size of 2).

    Quite by accident I noticed that I could pop rush a settler when at size 2, making sure there was no excess food production, and the next turn the settler would be built, disbanding the city. Then a few turns later the AI would rebuild a worthless city in the same spot, which when the next peace treaty was renegotiated, I would get again. I was getting Musketmen and Impies for free, depending on whether the cities had road connections to my empire or not. Once I research Nationalism, I would assume Riflemen will be the free unit. With 16 AI, I was able to renegotiate a treaty on an average of almost 1 per turn. A few of the AI were weakened to the point that renegotiations were no longer of use though.

    Using this tactic seems to have brought the AI expansion to a grinding halt. I have recieved about 30 free settlers (they can often be pop-rushed the first turn you own the city) and an equal number of defensive units, which I had been neglecting to build myself. This allowed me to get a good sized lead in number of cities, and concentrate on building offensive units. The larger army and empire made the AI more willing to give up cities in later negotiations. A self-perpetuating cycle.

    In case you were wondering, this was all done on Deity level. The hardest part is obviously getting into a position where the AI fears you enough to give away it's cities. Often though, a few of the AI get beat down early, and their cities can be used as a stepping stone to the next most powerful Civs.

  • #2
    Something I posted on a different thread, which further improves on this idea to the extent of exploitation...

    True, but you can still give them cities as a 'token of goodwill', which is what I did above and do regularly with those cities I don't want, don't need or forgot to raze when capturing.
    I hadn't noticed this, guess the few times I was trying to give away cities for free I had something else in the trade box. Giving away cities, combined with the strategy I outlined in "The Settler/Defender Strategy" would be an extremely effective way of building up an army.

    The main idea was to demand all the worthless cities that the AI builds for a renegotiated peace treaty. "Worthless" cities are ones which cannot grow beyond size 2 without a harbor. When the city is turned over by the AI, the best available (depending on resources) defensive unit comes free of charge. By pop rushing a settler at size 2, the city is disbanded, giving a free settler and defensive unit. The AI will rebuild in the same spot, making another city you can do the same thing with later on.

    With 16 AI, you can almost renegotiate a treaty every turn, as you have to wait 20 turns between renegotiations. By just giving the city back to the AI instead of disbanding by rushing a settler, you could follow a rotation so that each of these "worthless" cities would produce 16 defensive units every 20 turns! When you gave the city away, the free unit would be teleported to your capitol, meaning it could be used on other continents effectively as well. Of course this doesn't allow for the free settlers, but the production value of the cities would be much higher in this scenario.

    This certainly could be considered an exploit, as founding a bunch of cities on barren terrain (ICS style) could quickly turn into a massive outpouring of defensive units. Musketmen would become viable offensive forces with the sheer numbers that they would be available in, not to mention Riflemen and later Infantry.


    • #3
      if every time you are given a city by the AI, it comes with a free defensive unit, wouldn't it follow that every time you gave that city back to them, they would also get a free defensive unit?


      • #4
        Yes it would, but the ratio of your defenders to theirs would be much greater. With 16 AI, you would get 16 defenders from a given city every 20 turns, but each AI would only get 1 defender in that time span. Also, this could be set up so that the AI only recieved spearmen while you were getting musketmen or pikemen. This would be done by building worthless cities hooked up to your sources of Saltpeter or Iron, but not to the AI's resource network.


        • #5
          Once you get nationalism you don't need saltpeter anymore, so maybe the AI would get a rifleman. The AI will prob leave it to garrison losing it with the city.
          Above all, avoid zeal. --Tallyrand.


          • #6
            How large a military do you need to be intimidating enough to do this? Even after wiping out 3/4 of a civ, my knights outnumbering their spearmen 10:1, they often refuse any terms at all beyond a treaty. (Of course, no treaty gets signed in this case ) How powerful must you be to negotiate these terms?
            The first President of the first Apolyton Democracy Game (CivII, that is)

            The gift of speech is given to many,
            intelligence to few.


            • #7
              I've been trying to reproduce this, and it seems some "worthless" cities just can't be traded this way, as the AI values them more than others. It may have something to do with unseen resources, as they almost never will trade a city that has a luxury or a resource. I was only testing during the middle ages, so there may have been rubber, oil, uranium, or coal in the city radius that the AI "knew" was there even though the techs to see them hadn't been researched. The AI may place some sort of strategic defensive value on some cities as well, though I haven't noticed any pattern.

              I can't figure out exactly what the AI looks at when determining whether to give up cities for peace or not. I had better luck with Civ's that I had never gone to war with, or at least never broken a treaty with. Also land area seems to be more important than city numbers, and city size may have something to do with it. Number of military only seems important to the point where they fear a unit, and the forces are equal or better.

              Overall this is something that won't make too much of a difference on smaller maps, or with a small number of AI. It worked best for me on a Huge/16 Civ map. On a all standard map, the best I was able to do was 5 city trades to 7 AI (35 units every 20 turns). It might be something that in multiplayer could be very powerful, as 2 players could be swapping cities endlessly to gain an advantage over any other players.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Aeson
                It may have something to do with unseen resources, as they almost never will trade a city that has a luxury or a resource. I was only testing during the middle ages, so there may have been rubber, oil, uranium, or coal in the city radius that the AI "knew" was there even though the techs to see them hadn't been researched.
                Ohhh! Do I sense a way to get the game to show its cards early?


                • #9

                  First of all, thanks for all your contributions to Vel's Great Strat Thread (a Wonder of the World, don't you think?).

                  Now, I may be having a Lombard Brain Fart (a civ-specific special ability), but how do you get "16 defenders from a given city every 20 turns" or have "5 city trades to 7 AI [generate] 35 units every 20 turns?" I see how you get ONE unit per city per 20-turn cycle, but not how you appear to be able to use the same city for each AI.

                  -- Hermann
                  "...your Caravel has killed a Spanish Man-o-War."


                  • #10
                    Barefootbadass -

                    Interesting take on it. Entirely possible to use this to approximate future resource locations if that is the case.

                    Hermann -

                    Yes, Vel's thread is full of great ideas and advice

                    When I said 16 units per city every 20 turns, it was a mistake on my part. It would actually be 15 units per city every 20 turns, as one of the Civs is the player and can't trade with themselves. As it turns out though, 16 is still possible, just in a different way than I was thinking.

                    Because of the fact that cities may still be gifted to the AI, it is possible to take a city that has just been recieved from one AI and give it to another.

                    An Example:

                    1. City demanded from Civ A for renegotiated peace treaty.
                    2. City given to Civ B as a "token of goodwill".
                    3. City demanded from Civ B for renegotiated peace treaty.
                    4. Repeat 2-3 for Civ C, D, E... ect.
                    5. When there are no more AI to trade with, the city can be kept, and should be able to pop rush one more 60 shield unit in the 20 turns between renegotiations. The city grows to size 2 in 20 turns, and will produce 20 shields in that time as well.

                    The number of cities each AI is willing to give up is depending on relative power. Just how this is figured out I don't know yet. On a Regent/Standard/Continents map, the most I have had work is 5 cities with 7 Civs c. 500AD. On a Deity/Marla's World Map game, 2-9 cities with 13 Civs c. 500BC, the other 2 civs were too powerful to participate. I hadn't played the Deity game specifically to take advantage of this though, which is why there was so much difference between the number of cities that each AI would accept. I was taking the free units out of the cities manually in both games, as they were more useful out in the feild, but allowing "teleportation" to the capitol should work as well.


                    • #11
                      Thanks, Aeson. "I am but an egg" among the masters here.

                      Some how I think the programmers must bang their heads on the wall from time to time, asking "How *DO* they figure out these things? That would never occur to me in a million years!!" I'm a programmer, and my when my business simulations reach the users, they come up with amazing permutations I never thought of. Mind you, some of those permutations are amazingly *stupid* (as in "There's no such thing as a foolproof system because fools are so ingenious!") But some of the others are loopholes allowing exploits that I would never have noticed because I know too well how it's *supposed* to work.

                      Unfortunately, many of the loopholes (or opportunities) in Civ2 and Civ3 lead to mind-numbing repetition and micromanagement, like having to cycle through all the AI civs to fully utilize (OK, "exploit") this one.
                      "...your Caravel has killed a Spanish Man-o-War."


                      • #12
                        Just got around to checking this out, and it's brilliant! Whenever I was getting AI cities with defensive units, I had always assumed they had been previously built by the AI and left there. I'll bet this "free" defensive unit is gone in the next patch.

                        By the way, I have renegotiated peace and have been able to trade for cities sitting on luxury clusters, but had to add quite a few thousand gold before the AI would accept the deal.

                        I'm a firm believer, too, that the AI are programmed to stake out those locations where resources pop up later, since I have seen their settlers trot right on past fertile and grassy areas, to found cities in the middle of deserts and swamps.


                        • #13
                          One problem with this strategy...

                          For some reason, when I demand and get cities from the computer, they come without a defender. This was particularly frustrating the first time - it hadn't occured to me to double check, and when I re-declared war I lost them very quickly.

                          Granted, I'm using the original version- was this fixed in a patch?

                          Second, regarding what cities will be available in a peace treaty. I've found this also depends on the extent to which you've pounded the enemy into submission. If they only have a few cities left, and the computer knows that it might just come down to keeping their capital and losing the other cities, they'll give them up. I got the Germans to do this in one of my very first games, and caputured some small but key cities that controlled some aluminum, rubber, and oil, much to my surprise.

                          The computer just seems more reluctant to give up cities in the early game - it's just that much easier to be overpowering when you have modern armor and they have riflemen I guess.


                          • #14

                            Since it takes two citizens to become a Settler, where is the extra pop coming from to burn in the construction effort if your city is only reaching size 2?
                            The other guys are always barbarians


                            • #15
                              For purposes of disbanding a city, the population can be at size 1 or 2. The key is to have no excess food production when the settler is ready to be produced.

                              With the 1.17f patch, they seem to have changed this so that defenders no longer come with cities that have been demanded from the AI. I think in the original 1.07 version this was the case as well. The defenders were only given in 1.16f. Firaxis was giving the AI free units when the player would give away cities to deal with city trading exploits most likely. The player benefitted from this change as well. Once they fixed city trading, the free defenders were no longer needed.